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SOUTHERN ERIE COUNTY, NY

Welcome to the Southern Erie County, NY web page. Here you will find cemetery listings, town histories and other historical information that is of interest to genealogists.  We hope you will find something you are looking for.  Scroll down for links to these pages.

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The Holland Land Company, which owned most of Western New York, was not an actual company but rather an association of banks and five principal investors speculating in American land. The “company” purchased over five million acres in Western New York and Pennsylvania. The Holland Purchase was surveyed in 1797 by Joseph Ellicott, fifth son in a Quaker family who grew up on a frontier homestead in PA. His theories for marketing the wilderness lots in WNY brought settlers in quickly. As in North Collins, the first settlers were largely poor families from New England’s hardscrabble farms seeking land to leave to their sons.

The land sold for $1.00-$1.50 per acre before roads were built, no down payment, with a provisional agreement for improvements on the lots at the settlers’ expense, payment to be completed in ten years. As roads, grist mills and saw mills were built and more settlers arrived, land cost rose to $3-$5 to reflect its increased value.

The first settlers frequently cleared a small amount of acres, built a small log cabin, grazed out the underbrush, and then gave the land and its provisional purchase agreement to the next buyer for whatever value they could sell their “improvements” for. The Dutch-based group agreed the farmers were entitled to some compensation for their improvements. It was not unusual for a provisional agreement to change hands three or four times before its ten years expired. This explains why some of the earliest settlers seemed to just evaporate between censuses. They either died, returned home or, most likely, moved further west.

No record was kept of persons to whom provisional agreements were issued since it would then constitute a mortgage agreement and transfer actual title to the land from “the company” to the buyer. This resulted in the lag time of 2-3 years and sometimes more between the time a settler moved here, cleared land and built a cabin, and the time a title change was registered on completion of “articles of agreement” (usually ten-years) which succeeded the original “provisional agreement.” Since the Company considered payments to be rent until the full purchase price had been paid, the settler ended up paying taxes on land he technically did not own.

The great majority of first settlers in southern Erie County were Quakers who, along with others, purchased their land from the Holland Land Company.

The first stage of settlement was back country clearing by pioneers who made few improvements before moving further west. The second stage was development of farms by more permanent farmers who cleared the forest, planted crops and drained low land. The third stage was of expansion of agricultural fields with fences to protect crops and establishment of small villages, a transition that protected the Holland Company’s investment by raising the value of the land. The fourth stage was construction of framed barns, dug wells and curbs, and a kitchen garden with a picket fence.

To keep settlers, generous terms of sale were offered and “lenient conduct” when the payment was in arrears. During the first year of operation, the Company dropped the 15 percent down payment and refunded even small amounts offered on down payment. The Company agent termed down payments as “counterproductive” to enticing settlement because he considered the labor of pioneer settlers in making improvements more valuable. Every acre cleared and fenced at the expense of others enhanced the value of the district for the company by $20.

In southern Erie County, the company allowed two months "chopover" of a minimum of two acres and eight months to build a house (log cabin) and move the family in. By two to six months later, it required six acres well cleared and fenced. If this was done on time as proof of good faith, 10 percent of the purchase price was considered paid and the settler would receive an article of agreement. If it was not done on time, the property was sold to another buyer. Rent of $5 to $10 was required the second year but there was no interest payment for the first two years.

An “article of agreement” was a contract obligating the settler to pay for the land but did not transfer title until paid in full. It preceded preparation of an actual deed. In an article of agreement, the Company promised to transfer the title via deed when the purchase price was paid in full. Extended contracts of six to ten years allowed time to clear land and make payments from surplus on produce of the farm. If the price was not paid at the end of the contract, the company reclaimed the land plus the improvements.

The Company soon learned the need for "articles of agreement." There was no transfer of title until the purchase price was paid in full because laws gave "alien proprietors” (the principals of the Holland Company were all from Holland) the right to purchase and hold property but prohibited them from recovering property after the title was transferred (no right of foreclosure). Therefore, on a mortgage with title transfer on which the purchaser defaulted, the Company could not legally reclaim the property. When a default occurred on property deeded by alien proprietors, the land reverted to the use of the people of NY State.

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Quaker history in North Collins began with the Shirley Meeting which was established about 1812 at Shirley (a hamlet centered at the intersection of Shirley Road and Quaker Road, now part of the Town of North Collins) shortly after the arrival of the first settlers in the area. A log meeting house was built on the land deeded the society by Stephen White and wife near the corner of what is now Quaker Road and Wilcox Road. The overgrown cemetery still exists at that corner and is known to be the burial place of three Revolutionary War soldiers as well as a possible War of 1812 soldier.

In 1826 and 1827, a division in the meeting occurred because of the preaching of Elias Hicks, who spoke so eloquently nationally as to lead a large number of Quakers into views diametrically opposed to those of the original meeting. The Hicksites were not strong enough to gain control of the Shirley Meeting (which became known as Orthodox). The Hicksites built themselves a log meeting house about one mile south of the village of Kerr’s Corners (now the Village of North Collins) on the Gowanda Road (now Route 62) in 1836 and designated a cemetery on land deeded by Stephen Hussey for these purposes. Quarterly meetings were held with noted speakers, both men and women.

The Hicksites built a second meeting house of frame construction in 1852 to replace the smaller meeting house. This is the structure that still stands today in North Collins Cemetery on Route 62. A shed for horses was located on the area where the southernmost driveway for the cemetery today is located. There was a fairly large outhouse immediately behind the structure where there are still no graves today. The photo below was taken circa 1880-1900. Note the separate entrances for men and for women.

When the older Hicksite members passed away the younger ones lost interest, and for a few years the building and cemetery were neglected. While on a pleasure trip in Orchard Park, Mrs. Grace Parker, a resident of the village and grand-daughter of one of the founders of the Hicksite Friends--Job Southwick-spotted a notice that the Hicksite Church at North Collins was to be sold. When she immediately pursued the issue, she was told that if she could prove anyone cared about keeping the meeting house as it was and she could guarantee it would be maintained, the sale would be stopped.

Through her influence, the Historic Quaker Protective Association formed in North Collins 5 March 1908 to preserve and protect the Meeting House. The grounds were cleared of brush and the building repaired and painted. Although there were no regular speakers, the church was free for funerals. The last funeral held there was that of Martin Taft’s young wife in the 1920s. The last known use of the meeting house for its original purpose was a Farmington Half-Yearly (Quaker) Meeting held there 15 October 1950.

Susan B. Anthony was among the prominent speakers who spoke at the Hicksite Meeting House at the meeting of the Friends of Human Progress held there September 25-26-27, 1857. She disputed the nature of women with spiritualist Andrew Jackson Davis. Davis maintained that women should be given rights because they were morally superior to men. Anthony was a firm believer in the equality of men and women and based her disagreement on that basis. Anthony described the meeting to her friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton in a letter, saying the resolutions passed at that assembly “set my soul afire.”

Hicksite Quaker Meeting House and Burying Ground at North Collins
Courtesy Mardon Erbland

Today, the 1852 Hicksite Meeting House is in need of rehabilitation. North Collins Historical Society has sought grants for this work but the state of the economy has prevented sizeable grants, so additional funding and volunteers are needed.

This is the only known Quaker Meeting House in Western New York (possibly NYS) which has never been remodeled inside. It still has the benches for the congregation and the benches facing the congregation for the elders. The dividing wall in the center which separated the men’s meeting from the women’s meeting still has the large panels which could have been raised and lowered by ropes and pulleys.

The meeting house is too important a piece of history to let it deteriorate. Work needed already includes replacement of the roof (with wood shingles as it originally had), repair of the plaster ceiling beneath the leak in the roof (North Collins Historical Society applied roll roofing and tar in fall 2008 to prevent further leakage) and stabilization of cracks, replacement of about 20 percent the clapboards, repair of the foundation on the west side, replacement of shutters, exterior paint, window repair and installation of replacement panes in some places. Also needed is a handicapped ramp with handrails at the south side entrance and handrails at the concrete step at the north side entrance for safety purposes.

Anyone interested in being part of this project can contact the Society at  nchistoricalsociety@yahoo.com  or any North Collins Historical Society member.


Cemeteries::

Farnham Holy Cross Lutheran Cemetery
Forest Avenue Cemetery, Angola, N.Y.
Quaker Cemetery, North Collins, N.Y.

Huson Cemetery, Brant, New York
Abandoned Cemetery, Farnham, N.Y.
Shaw Cemetery, Brant, New York

Brant Cemetery, Brant, New York
Jerusalem Corners Cemetery, Evans, N.Y.
Cash Cemetery, Evans, N.Y.

Evans Center/Pioneer Cemetery, Evans, N.Y.
North Evans Cemetery, Evans, N.Y.
Grabau Cemetery, Eden, New York

St. Jacob's Lutheran Cemetery, Eden, N.Y.
Mol's Hill (St. John's) Cemetery, Eden, N.Y.
Webster (Quaker) Cemetery, Eden, New York

Wilcox Cemetery, North Collins, N.Y.
Marshfield Burying Ground, Purchasers of Plots
Marshfield Burying Ground

  North Collins Cemetery, South Third, Quaker Section, Part 1
North Collins Cemetery, South Third, Quaker Section, Part 2
North Collins Cemetery, South Third, Quaker Section, West of Cross Driveway

North Collins Cemetery, Center Section, Part 1
North Collins Cemetery, Center Section, Part 2
North Collins Cemetery, Center Section, Part 3

North Collins Cemetery, North Third
Dittman Cemetery, North Collins, New York
Eden Valley Cemetery, Eden, New York

Irish, Shaw or Cook Cemetery, Foster Road, Collins, New York
Mount Pleasant, Knight, or Scrabble Hill Cemetery
Marshfield Methodist Cemetery

Harris Cemetery
Route 39 Quaker Cemetery
Buffalo Street Presbyterian Cemetery

Pine Grove Cemetery in Rosenberg
Collins Center Cemetery
St Martin's Cemetery, Langford, New York
Sweet Family Cemetery


Town Histories:

History of Angola, N.Y. from 1873 to 1973
History of Angola, N.Y. from 1973 to 1998
An Early Map of Angola, New York

History of the Town of Evans from 1821 to 1971
1860 Map of Evans, New York
History of North Collins, New York

History of St. Mary's Church, New Oregon
1880 Map of the Village of North Collins, New York
1880 Map of the Village of Langford, New York

History of Lawtons, New York
The History of New Oregon
1880 Map of New Oregon

A Brief Early History of the Town of Persia
Where has Pontiac Gone
North Collins, New York Quaker History

The History of Brant, N.Y. from 1839 to 1939
A History of the Town of Collins
Churches of Collins Township
Oldtime (Collins) Cemeteries Listed

  Poverty Hill Road (Collins)
History of Rosenburg
Zoar of Yesterday

Neighborhood of the Little Red Schoolhouse
Knights and Kings of Collins
An Old Homestead East of Collins Center

Evolution of Wyandale
History of Scrabble Hill
Glancing Backward Over Collins Center

Old Taverns of Collins
Abandoned Collins Roads as Memory Trails
Collins Center M.E. Church

By the Old Mill Stream
Photo of Carlotta Wood
Photo of Alice Stewart

Photo of Nora Brown
1898 Historical Sketch of the Village of Gowanda,N.Y.
Mini-History of the Town of Pembroke
Bill Scholtz-Some of My Favorite Genealogy


Census Data:

1875 Brant, N.Y. Census Index
1875 Brant, N.Y. Census
1915 Brant. N.Y. Census
1915 Farnham, N.Y. Census

Miscellaneous::

Hascall Story
1867 Angola, NY Train Disaster
Leroy Farnham Story

Sprague Green Corn Cutting Machine
North Collins Floral Society - 1912 Membership List
North Collins, New York Schools

North Collins High School Graduates, 1898-1924
Common School System in New York State
Marion J. Fricano Story by Heidi Bamford

A North Collins Poem by Harry Parker (1881)
Old German Script Alphabet
How Brant, N.Y. was given an Indian name

  Brodhead's Expedition into New York
Historic Photos of Brant and Farnham, New York
Assessment Roll for Evans, N.Y. (1882)

A Genealogy Puzzle
Answers to Genealogy Puzzle
A Radio Pioneer of Collins

Holy Spirit Guild
1860 Map of Farnham, New York
1860 Map of Brant, New York

1843 Collins Center Death Notice
1928 Hibbard Reunion in North Collins, N.Y.


Church Records:

Holy Cross Lutheran Church Birth Records, Farnham, N.Y., March 1877-July 1889
Holy Cross Lutheran Church Birth Records, Farnham, N.Y., May 1889-May 1901
Holy Cross Lutheran Church Confirmation Records, Farnham, N.Y., April 1878-April 1906
Holy Cross Lutheran Church Weddings, Farnham, N.Y., April 1878-June 1900
Holy Cross Lutheran Church Death Records, Farnham, N.Y., January 5, 1878-1906
Holy Cross Lutheran Church Baptism Records, Farnham, N.Y., 1901-1950
Holy Cross Lutheran Church Death Records, Farnham, N.Y., 1907-1950
Holy Cross Lutheran Church Confirmation Records, Farnham, N.Y., 1902-1949
Holy Cross Lutheran Church Wedings, Farnham, N.Y., 1902-1949
Holy Cross Ministers 1861-1980

Civil War:

North Collins Civil War Enlistees
The Civil War Honor Roll for North Collins, New York
Civil War Soldiers from Brant, New York
1860's Foods: Union, Confederate and on the Frontier

Page specific questions, additions and comments should be sent to the contact listed on that page.

Comments may be e-mailed to: nchistorian@gmail.com