The town of
Farmersville lies upon the east border of the county, north of the
Its surface is a hilly upland and forms a
water-shed, from which streams flow north into Lake Erie, cast into the
Genesee, and south into the Allegany. The highest point, near the
centre, is from 800 to 900 feet above the railroad at Olean.
The only considerable stream is Ischua Creek, which
flows south through the west part. Mud Lake, in the north part,
covers an area of about 40 acres, and discharges its waters to the
The soil upon the uplands is chiefly a vegetable
mould, resting on clay, slate, and shale; that in the valleys is a
It is well adapted to grazing and
stock-raising. The people are chiefly agriculturists, and cheese
is the chief source of revenue. The milk of about 2400 cows in
manufactured into this product by the different cheese-factories
situated within its borders.
The town contains a total area of 29, 843 acres, of
which 19, 830 acres are improved. Its population in 1875 was
1094, a decrease of 295 since 1860.
While the settlement in 1817 of Peter and Cornelius
Ten Broeck, Richard Tozer, Peleg Robbins, and Levi Peet, in its
results, may have been the first permanent one in the territory now
known as Farmersville, it is an established fact that settlements were
projected some twelve years previously. In 1805, Asaph Butler,
Jeremiah Burroughs, John McClure, William Vinton, Calvin Chamberlain,
and Elijah Johnson entered into contracts with the agents of the
Holland Land Company for lands in township 5, range 4; and in 1811,
Gideon Lewis, Ezekiel Runals, Samuel Blancher, Benjamin Jenks, Jr.,
William Parks, and George Parks mode contracts with the same company
for lands in township 5, range 3.
It has not been ascertained that any of these
contractors became settlers. If they did, their stay was brief,
and no improvements were made. But we have very good evidence
that settlers, other than those named, were hear as early as 1810 or
Hon. Smith Parish, of Portville, became a resident
of Farmersville in 1821. The country was then a wilderness,
comparatively; there were but few settlers, and they had but a few
acres of cleared land each, and things as they then appeared to
him are remembered with great distinctness. He says that when he
came here a deserted log house and barn were standing on a small
clearing, situated near the outlet of Mud Lake. The rafters or
poles that supported the roof of the house had rotted, and were falling
in, and that both buildings presented the appearance of having been
built some ten or twelve years. He learned that the builder and
original occupant of the premises was a man named Pixley, who, after
living here some two or three years, gave up the undertaking of
clearing away the large elms and other giants of the forest, which
encumbered the ground on all side, and removed farther west.
He also remembers that near the inlet of the same
lake was another small log house, surrounded by a little patch of
cleared ground. This house had been built and occupied by a man
named Bradford; yet he thinks that at the time Judge Ten Broeck and his
comrades made their settlement in the central part of the town, in 1817
these cabins were already deserted, and there is justice in their claim
that they were the first permanent settlers.
As Judge Peter Ten Broeck was the pioneer of those
men who became the first permanent residents of the town of
Farmersville, and as he was, during his lifetime, the prominent man of
the town, as well as one of the most prominent men of Cattaraugus
County, we reproduce the following from the "Old Pioneers of
In 1816, Peter Ten Broeck, a young man twenty-three
years of age and of German extraction, left his father's house in
Otsego Co., N. Y., to seek his fortune in the far "West." His
outfit was scanty, consisting of a single change of clothing, and
barely ready money enough to defray his traveling expenses. With
his pack on his back he traveled alone and on foot the entire distance
from Otsego County to Erie, Pa., reaching that borough the latter part
of May. He had examined with considerable care the country over
which he had passed, and after a rest at Erie for a few days he set out
on his return. Taking his route across the country, through
Chautauqua County to Connewango, Little Valley, and Ellicottville, he
reached a small settlement on Ischua Creek, now known as Franklinville,
June 6, 1816. Spending a day or two hereabouts, for rest, he
renewed his journey homeward, where he arrived in the early part of
In October of the same year, accompanied by his
brother, Cornelius (who died in Farmersville in 1843), and Richard
Tozer, he again started on foot to seek a home in Cattaraugus.
They carried their own provisions, which were replenished by purchase
from farmers and others living along their route. They were
nearly a month on the road, reaching Farmersville, Franklinville,
Ellicottville, Little Valley, Great Valley, and a part of Napoli and
Connewango. They saw nothing particularly attractive after they
left the valley of Ischua, and finally resolved to return to
Franklinville, or Farmersville, and take up farms in that
vicinity. Soon after their return to Franklinville, Mr. Ten
Broeck was deputed by his associates to go to the land-office at
Batavia and contract with the Holland Land Company for three
farms. This he did, contracting for 600 acres, -- 200 for
himself, 200 for his brother Cornelius, and 200 for Mr. Tozer.
Cornelius and Tozer accompanied him out as far as the Genesee River,
where they worked by the day during Mr. Ten Broeck's absence. On
his return they had earned money enough to purchase a month's supply of
flour, beef, and butter. The flour was baked into bread, and the
supplies divided into three equal parts, and each taking his sack on
his shoulder, they then again sought their wilderness home.
Arriving there in due time, they set about staking and "blazing" out
their lots. Winter coming on, and no preparations having been
made for a stay through it, they returned to Otsego County. In
February, 1817, the three returned again, their company increased by
the addition of Capt. Peleg Robbins and Levi Peet.
Before leaving the fall previous, the three new
settlers had erected a small log house, and completed it except the
roof. The first business of the party, on their return, was to
procure the necessary covering for their "log mansion." The first
two nights were spent in the inclosure, which was partially covered
with canvas. This illy protected the stout-hearted pioneers from
the storm, which began the evening they reached there, and continued
for thirty-six hours. Snow fell to the depth of three feet; but
notwithstanding this, as their necessities were great, Ten Broeck and
Tozer with an ox-team made their way through the woods and snow to
McClure's saw-mill, 10 miles distant, for boards to cover their log
house, which was to serve as an abiding-place for the whole
party. The boards were obtained, the house finished as well as it
could be, and soon the curling smoke of an old-fashioned log fire was
making its way above the surrounding tree-tops. Here the five new
settlers labored together, ate, drank, slept, and whiled away their
leisure hours, until the following May, when various members of the
party erected two or three additional log houses, and the locality
began to look like a thriving settlement. This was the
establishment of the first settlement within the boundaries of
Farmersville, and was upon the site of the present village of the same
About the middle of May, 1817, Mr. Peter Ten Broeck
caught the "Western fever," and disposing of his land interest to Levi
Peet, one of his companions, he, accompanied by Capt. Robbins, left for
They returned to Farmersville the latter part of
August of the same year. Here they remained for a few weeks, when
Mr. Ten Broeck and his brother Cornelius returned on foot to Otsego
County, by the way of Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Rochester.
The greater part of the fall and winter of 1817-18,
the brothers remained at their old home in Otsego County. In
February, 1818, they returned to Farmersville. The fall of the
same year Peter Ten Broeck contracted for 50 acres of land in the
southwest part of the town, while he brother settled in the central
part, in the vicinity of Messrs. Robbins, Peet, and Tozer. Peter
Ten Broeck built a log house the same fall, and in it kept "bachelor's
hall" until about 1822, when he married a Miss Freeman, daughter of
Judge Freeman, then one of the judges of the old Court of Common Pleas
of Cattaraugus County. Soon after his marriage, Mr. Ten Broeck
began to enlarge his landed possessions, adding a little year by year
for a period of forty years, until his acres were numbered by the
thousands, and his personal estate by the hundred thousands. His
farm was about six miles long by one mile wide, and raising,
purchasing, and fattening cattle became his principal business.
In 1822 he was appointed an associate county judge by Gov. Yates, and
continued to officiate in that capacity until 1827. In 1837 he
was reappointed to the same office by Gov. Marcy, and held the office
and discharged its duties acceptably until the adoption of the new
constitution of 1846.
During the interim from 1827 to 1837 he was
appointed an agent of the Holland Land Company, charged with the duty
of collecting the debts due the company in the counties of Cattaraugus,
Allegany, and Wyoming. He held this appointment until the Holland
Land Company sold their interests to other parties, and was for two or
three years the agent of the company's successors, represented by the
Hon. Staley N. Clarke.
Judge Ten Broeck was a man of iron nerve, and of
large proportions, being over six feet in height. In private life
he was courteous, of easy manners, cordial and confiding to his
friends. He attained his high rank as a private citizen, and
became the largest land-owner in Western New York by the closest
attention to business, and the practice of frugality, without being in
the last degree open to the charge of covetousness or penuriousness.
The settlers before mentioned were all unmarried men
except Richard Tozer.
Isolated as they were in their wilderness home, they
found it necessary to make some local laws for the government of their
small colony. They drew up a code, signed it themselves, and
induced others to sign it as they came in. One section of their mutual
statute was as follows:
"If any single woman who is over fourteen years of
age shall come to reside in out village, and no one of this Confederacy
shall offer her his company within a fortnight thereafter, then, and in
such case, our board shall be called together, and some one shall be
appointed to make her a visit, whose duty it shall be to perform the
same or forfeit the disapprobation of the Company, and pay a fine
sufficiently large to buy the lady thus neglected a new dress."
Few towns upon the Purchase have been more
prosperous, and it is quite likely that this early regulation aided
essentially in the work of founding a new settlement and speeding its
progress. These pioneers carried their provisions ten, and even
twenty, miles upon their backs through the woods; and, as a contrast
between the past and present, as an example of what industry and
enterprise will accomplish, it is only necessary to point to the
remarkable success of one of their number, -- Judge Ten Broeck.
Peleg Robbins, Richard Tozer, and Levi Peet settled
upon lot 36, the present site of the village of Farmersville.
Here Tozer built the first framed house, which he occupied as an inn
for many years. It is believed that he began keeping a place of
entertainment about 1818. He was also the first supervisor in
1821. Levi Peet erected the first framed barn about 1820, and in
it were held the early religious meetings, as it was for some years the
most commodious room in the settlement. He was appointed
postmaster in 1836.
Nehemiah Parish, a soldier of the Revolution, came
from Henrietta, Monroe Co., N.Y., and settled here in 1818. He
was accompanied by his sons, Roswell, Shubael, and Zabad.
Jeremiah Parish, brother of Nehemiah, also a veteran of the Revolution,
accompanied by his son, Smith, became a resident in 1821. The
Parishes were from Vermont originally. Smith Parish removed to
Portville in 1831, and has since been one of its most prominent
citizens. Among other residents of the town of Farmersville, in
1821, were William Adams, William J. Burns, Simeon Bradford, Solomon
Curtis, Jr., Ashbel Freeman, John Flagg, William Gilley, Russell
Hubbard (who represented the county in the State Legislature in 1831,
and was supervisor for several terms), Lyman Hubbard, Daniel Hodges
(who represented the county in the State Legislature in 1825), Joseph
Hazleton, James Leland, Thomas Leet, Caleb Lewis, Joseph Mills, John D.
Older (a surveyor), William Older, Jesse Older, Elijah Rice, John Rice
(2d), Clark Rice, David Rood, Cyrus Rood, William Stillwell, Chauncey
Taylor, Lucius Tyler (an early justice of the peace), Uriah D. Wood,
Alfred Willey, Samuel G. White, Moses Wade, and William Wareing.
The settlers of 1822 were Zachariah Blackman (a
soldier of the Revolution), Franklin Blackman, Jabez Blackman, Gain R.
Blackman, Jabez S. Blackman, Ora Bond (an early justice of the peace,
and supervisor for several terms), Brightman Brooks, Robert Bard,
Michael Chaffee, Jeremiah Freeman, John Hayford, Zaccheus Lawrence,
Zachariah Lawrence, David Norton, Edward Stone, Edmund Stone, Erastus
Skinner, Frederick Swan, William Springer, David Springer, Henry
Saxton, Stephen Town, Alvah Town, and James Worden, who built the first
saw-mill, on the outlet of Mud Lake, in 1824.
Previous to 1825, Israel B. Abbott, Tracy Avery,
John Aiken, John Barnhart, Solomon S. Butler, Edward Bumpus, John
Bowers, Samuel Butler, Perry H. Bonney, Ezra Belknap, Harry Butler,
Preserved Bullock, Artemas Barnes, Alva Burgess, James E. Bishop, Asa
Bullard, Solomon Burns, Frances E. Baillet (who was county clerk in
1837, 1843, 1846), Eli Burbank, Jonathan Carpenter, Curtis Carpenter,
Zenas Carpenter, Elam Clark, Caleb S. Cooley, Dyar Cowdry, Abram
Cayter, Jacob Comstock (who kept the first store in 1828), Ashbel
Carter , James Calkins, Curtis B. Devine, Willine Dunham, Silas Dort,
Salmon Dutton, Albert Fancher, Ezekiel Flanders, Frederick Farrington,
Timothy Henry, George W. Gillet, Charles Gary, Abner Grinnell, Richard
Goodwin, Ira S. Hatch, Ebenezer Harris, Ira Hatch, Hiram A. Hill, John
Henry, Peter Holmes, Cicero Holmes, Gordon Henry, Peter Hadlack,
William A. Harris, Samuel S. Henry, Ezra Kellogg, Samuel Milliken,
Marcellus McGown, Enoch Richardson, Ebenezer Reed, Ebenezer Reed, Jr.,
Nathaniel Rowley, Gershom Rowley, Jr., Amos Rose, Benjamin Rose,
Jonathan Rich, Jr., William Ross, Simeon Smead, John Squired, Enoch
Sanborn, Alvah Skinner, Asahel Spooner, Nicholas Spoor, James Tarbell,
William L. Thomas, Marvel Thayer, Anthony Van Schaick, Jacob Wade,
Henry Wade, John D. Wood, James Weston, Oliver Wakefield, Joseph Wedge,
James West, and George Wickwire were residents of the town. From
1820 to 1825 settlements had been rapid and continuous, for we find, by
referring to the census reports of the latter date, that the town then
contained a population of 636 inhabitants.
Marsena Baker represented the county in the State
Legislature during the session of 1859.
The first marriage was that of Peter Ten Broeck to
Miss Polly Freeman, in 1822.
The first birth was that of Joseph A. Tozer, who was
born in 1817.
Mrs. Magdalene Adams died Nov. 7, 1820, but it is
claimed that deaths occurred previous to this time; that children of
Rice, Hollister, and the widow McCaa, were buried near the southeast
corner of lot 33, township 5, range 4, prior to 1818.
By an act of the Legislature of the State of New
York, passed March 29, 1821, the town of Farmersville was formed from
Ischua, and the territory embraced within its boundaries are, by that
act, described as follows: "All that part of the town of Ischua
consisting of the fifth township in the third range, and the fifth
township in the fourth range of townships, shall be set off from the
town of Ischua, and be erected into a separate town, by the name of
Farmersville; and the first town-meeting shall be held at the house of
Richard Tozer, on the first Tuesday of March next, and annually on the
fist Tuesday of March thereafter."
The following are the proceedings of the first
town-meeting, and are copied verbatim; "At the first annual meeting of
the inhabitants of the town of Farmersville, holden in and for said
town, at the house of Richard Tozer, on Tuesday, March 5, in the year
of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty-two, the following
officers were elected, and resolutions passed, viz.: Richard Tozer,
Supervisor; Elijah Rice, Town Clerk; Russell Hubbard, John D. Older,
Peter Ten Broeck, Assessors; Peleg Robbins, Collector; James Leland,
Uriah D. Wood, Oversees of the Poor; Lyman Hubbard, William Stillwell,
Joseph Mills, Commissioners of Highways; Solomon Curtis, Jr., Alfred
Willey, Peter Ten Broeck, Commissioners of Common Schools; Thomas Leet,
Peter Ten Broeck, Russell Hubbard, Samuel G. White, Inspectors of
Common Schools; Moses Wade, William Burns, Jr., Peleg Robbins,
Constables; Daniel Hodges, Levi Peet, John Flagg, William Gilley, Zabod
Parrish, Moses Wade, Joseph Mills, Solomon Curtis, Jr., Chauncey
Taylor, Alfred Willey, Joseph Haselton, Overseers of Highways.
"Voted, by the freeholders and inhabitants of the
town of Farmersville, that pathmasters be fence-viewers, that there be
one poundmaster, that Levi Peet be poundmaster, and that his south
barnyard be a pound for the year ensuing.
"Voted, that hogs be allowed to run at large until
they do damage, and then that the owners of said hogs take care of the
same and pay the damage down.
"Voted, that there be the sum of $250 raised for the
improvement of roads.
"Voted, that there be raised the sum of $25 for the
support of common schools.
"Voted, that fence-viewers be allowed $1 per day.
"Voted, this meeting be adjourned to the house of
Richard Tozer, in the town of Farmersville, the first Tuesday in march,
The supervisors, town clerks, and justices of the
peace of the town of Farmersville from 1822 to 1878 have been as
follows. The years inclusive, opposite their respective names,
show the time those offices were filled by them: