Part of the Steuben Co., NY GenWeb - Judy Allen Cwiklinski coordinator
|Hist. Steuben by McMasters Table of Contents|
History of the Settlement of Steuben County, New York
by: Guy McMasters 
Settlement of Pleasant Valley: Frederickton, including Wayne, Tyrone and Reading: Prattsburgh: Wheeler: Pulteney: Howard: Hornby: Conhocton: the towns south of Canisteo: Orange: Campbell: Avoca: Wayland
Pleasant Valley--(Town of Urbana.)
The settlement in that well known prolongation of the bed of Crooked Lake, famed as Pleasant Valley, was the first made under the auspices of Captain Williamson, and was for many years the most prosperous and one of the most important in the country. The soil was exceedingly productive, and yielded not only an abundance for the settlers, but furnished much of the food by which the inhabitants of the hungry Pine Plains were saved from starvation. For the young settlers in various parts of the county, the employment afforded by the bountiful fields of the valley during haying and harvest, was for many years an important assistance. In the midst of pitiless hills and forests that clung to their treasures like misers, Pleasant Valley was generous and free-handed--yielding fruit, grain and grass with marvelous prodigality.
The fist settlers of Pleasant Valley were William Aulls and Samuel Baker. Mr. Aulls, previous to the year 1793, was living in the Southern part of Pennsylvania. In the spring of 1793, he made the first clearing and built the first house in the valley. In the autumn of the same year he brought up his family. The house which he built stood on the farm now occupied by John Powers, Esq.
Samuel Baker was a native of Bradford County, in Connecticut. When 15 years of age, he was taken prisoner by a party of Burgoynes Indians, and remained with the British army in captivity till relieved by the Surrender at Saratoga. After this event he enlisted in Col. Willetts corps, and was engaged in the pursuit and skirmish at Canada Creek, in which Captain William Butler (a brother of the noted Col. John Butler), a troublesome leader of the Tories in the border wars of this State, was shot and tomahawked by the Oneidas. In the spring of 1787, he went alone into the West, passed up the Tioga, and built a cabin on the open flat between the Tioga and Cowenisque, at their junction. He was the first settler in the valley of the Tioga. Harris, the trader, was at the Painted Post, and his next neighbor was Col. Handy, on the Chemung, below Big Flats. Of beasts, he had a cow, of plunder, the few trifling articles that would suffice for an Arab or an Arapaho; but like a true son of Connecticut, he readily managed to live through the summer, planted with a hoe a patch of corn on the flats, and raised a good crop. Before autumn he joined by Captain Amos Stone, a kind of Hungarian exile. Captain Stone had been out in Shays War, and dreading the vengeance of the government, he sought an asylum under the southern shadow of Steuben County, where the wilderness was two hundred miles deep, and where the Marshal would not care to venture, even when backed by the great seal of the Republic. On Christmas day of 1786, Mr. Baker leaving Captain Stone in his cabin, went down the Tioga on the ice to Newtown as previously mentioned, and thence to Hudson ,where his family was living. At the opening of the rivers in the spring, he took his family down the Susquehanna to Tioga Point in a canoe. A great freshet prevented him from moving up the Chemung for many days, and leaving his family, he stuck across the hills to see how his friend Captain Stone fared. On reaching the bank of the river opposite his cabin, not a human being was seen, except an Indian pounding corn in a Samp-morter. Mr. Baker supposed that his friend had been murdered by the savages, and he lay in the bushes an hour or two to watch the movements of the red miller, who proved, after all, to be only a very good-natured sort of a Man-Friday, for at length the Captain came along driving the cow by the bank of the river. Mr. Baker hailed him, and he sprang unto the air with delight. Captain Stone had passed the winter without seeing a white man. His Man-Friday stopped thumping at the Samp-morter, and the party had a very agreeable re-union.
Mr. Baker brought his family up from Tioga Point, and lived here six years. During that time the pioneer advance had penetrated the region of which the lower Tioga Valley is a member. A few settlers had established themselves on the valley below them, and around the Painted Post were gathered a few cabins where now are the termini of railroads--the gate of coal and lumber trade, bridges, mills and machinery. Elsewhere all was wilderness.. The region, however, had been partially explored by surveyors and hunters. Benjamin Patterson, while employed as hunter for a party of surveyors, discovered the deep and beautiful valley which extends from the Crooked Lake to the Conhocton. Seen from the brink of the uplands, there is hardly a more picturesque landscape in the county, or one which partakes more strongly of the character of mountain scenery. The abrupt wooded wall on either side, the ravines occasionally opening the flank of the hills, the curving valley that slopes to the lake on one hand, and meets the blue Conhocton range on the other, form at this day a pleasing picture. But to the hunter, leaning on his rifle above the sudden declivity--before the country had been disfigured with a patchwork of farms and forest--the bed of the valley was like a river of trees, and the gulf, from which now rise the deadly vapor of a steam sawmill, seemed like a creek to pour its tributary timber into the broader gorge below.
In his wanderings the hunter occasionally stopped at the cabins of Tioga, and brought report of this fine valley. Mr. Baker did not hold a satisfactory title to his Pennsylvania farm, and was inclined to emigrate. Capt. Williamson visited his house in 1792, (probably while exploring the Lycoming Road,) and promised him a farm of any shape or size, (land in New York, previous to this, could only be bought by the township,) wherever he should locate it. Mr. Baker accordingly selected a farm of some three hundred acres in Pleasant Valley--built a house upon it in the autumn of 1793, and in the following spring removed his family from Tioga. He resided here till his death in 1842, at the age of 80. He was several years Associate and First Judge of the County Court. Judge Baker was a man of a strong practical mind, and of correct and sagacious observations.
Before 1795, the whole valley was occupied. Beginning with Judge Bakers farm, the next farm towards the lake was occupied by Capt. Amos Stone, the next by William Aulls, the next by Ephraim Aulls, the next by James Shether. Crossing the valley, the first farm (where now is the village of Hammondsport,) was occupied by Capt. John Shether, the next by Eli Read, the next by William Barney, the next by Richard Daniels. Nearly all of these had been soldiers of the revolution. Capt. Shether had been an active officer, and was engaged in several battles. Of him, Gen. McClure says:--He was Captain of Dragons, and had the reputation of being an excellent officer and a favorite of Gen. Washington. He lived on his farm at the head of Crooked Lake in good style, and fared sumptuously. He was a generous, hospitable man, and a true patriot. The Shethers were from Connecticut.
Judge William Read was a Rhode Island Quaker. He settled a few years after the revolution on the Squatter lands above Owego, and, being ejected, moved westward his household after the manner of the times. Indians pushed the family up the river in canoes, while the men drove the cattle along the trail on the bank. Judge Read was a man of clear head and strong sense of orderly and accurate business talent, and was much relied upon by his neighbors to make crooked matters straight.
The Cold Spring Valley was occupied by Gen. McClure in 1802, or about that time. He erected mills, and kept them in activities till 1814, when Mr. Henry A. Townsend entered into possession of the valley, and resided in the well known Cold Spring House till his death in 1839. Mr. Townsend removed from Orange County, in the state, to Bath in 1796. He was County Clerk from 1799 to 1814--the longest tenure in the catalogue of county officers.
Mr. Lazarus Hammond removed from Dansville to Cold Spring in 1810, or about that time, and afterwards resided near Crooked Lake till his death. He was Sheriff of the county in 1814, and, at a recent period, Associate Judge of the County Court.
At the organization of the county, all that territory which now forms the towns of Tyrone, Wayne, Reading, in Steuben County, and the towns of Barrington and Starkey, in Yates, were erected into the town of Frederickton. The name was given in honor of Frederick Bartles, a German, who emigrated with his family from New Jersey in 1793, or about that time, and located himself at the outlet of Mud Lake, at the place known far and wide in early days as Bartles Hollow. He erected under the patronage of Captain Williamson a flouring and saw mill. General McClure says of him, Mr. Bartles was appointed a Justice of the Peace. He was an intelligent, generous and hospitable man. His mill-pond was very large, covering about one thousand acres of land, and was filled with fish, such as pike, suckers, perch and eels, which afforded a great deal of sport for the Bath gentlemen in the fishing season. Such parties of pleasure were entertained by Squire Bartles, free of costs or charge, and in the best style.
We fared sumptuously, and enjoyed the company of the old gentlemen. He possessed an inexhaustible fund of pleasant and interesting anecdote. His dialect was a mixture of Dutch and English, and was very amusing.
Bartles Hollow, in the days of Captain Williamson, was thought a spot of great importance. Mud Creek was then a navigable stream, and it was thought that the commerce of Mud Lake and its outlet would require a town of considerable magnitude at the point where Squire Bartles had established himself. In the speculating summer of 1796 the proprietor was offered enormous prices for his hollow, but he declined to part with it. In 1768 Mr. Bartles rafted one hundred thousand feet of boards from his mills to Baltimore. In 1800 he ran two arks from the same place, of which adventure the following minute was entered by the County Clerk, in Vol. I, of Records of Deeds:--
Steuben County.--This fourth day of April, one thousand eight hundred, started from the mills of Frederick Bartles, on the outlet of Mud Lake, (Frederickstown,) two arks of the following dimensions:--One built by Col. Charles Williamson, of Bath, 72 feet long and 15 feet wide: the other built by Nathan Harvey, 71 feet long and 15 feet wide, were conducted down the Cohocton, (after coming through Mud Creek without any accident,) to Painted Post for Baltimore. Those arks are the first built in this county, except one built on the Conhocton at Whites saw mill, five miles below Bath,, by a Mr. Patterson, Sweeney, and others, from Penna., 70 feet long and 16 wide, was finished and started about the 20th of March the same year.
This minute is entered to show at a future day the first commencement of embarkation in the (as is hoped) useful invention.
By HENRY A. TOWNSEND, Clerk of Steuben Co.
The success of Squire Bartles arks produced as great a sensation in the county as the triumph of the Collins steamships has created in our day; but craft of this species have long been abandoned by our lumberman. Mud Creek has failed since the clearing of the forests, and the produce of the Mud Lake country seeks the eastern market by canals and railroads.
Among the early residents in the town of Bradford were Henry Switzer, Samuel S. Camp, Abram Rosenbury, Henry Switzer, senior, Thomas Rolls, Michael Scott, Daniel Bartholomew and Captain John N. Haight.
General William Kernan, of County Kavan, in Ireland, was the first settler in the part of the old town of Fredericktown, which is now the town of Tyrone. He settled in 1800 upon a lot in a tract of 4000 acres, which had been purchased of Low & Harrison, by Mr. Thomas OConnor of the County of Roscommon in Ireland. Mr. OConnor proposed to settle a colony of his countrymen on this tract. He himself lived for a time in a log-house on the hill by Little Lake, above the farm now occupied by Gen. Kernan. Two children, a son and daughter, accompanied him in his sojourn in the woods. The former is now Charles OConnor, Esq., the eminent lawyer of New York City. A large number of Irish Emigrants settled on the OConnor tract, but after a few seasons abandoned their improvement--being discouraged at the labor of clearing the land, and discontented at the want of religious advantages according to the practice of the Roman Catholic Church. Gen. Kernan alone remained on the tract.
Other early settlers of the town of Tyrone were Benjamin Sackett, Abram Fleet, Sen., Gersham Bennett, Thaddeus Bennett, Abram Bennett, Jonathan Townsend, Capt. John Sebring.
Elder Ephraim Sanford, Josiah Bennett, Solomon Wixon, Josiah Bennett, Joshua Smith, John Teeples, Simeon Sackett, John Sackett, Sen.., and John Woodard, were among the early settlers of the town of Wayne, in 1800 or 1803. It seems, however, that this township was settled several years before. Judge Dow, of Reading, says, I think it was in the fall of 1791, I went to view land in township No. 5, second range, (now Wayne). At that time two families only were there, Henry Mapes and Zebulon Huff. I went to the same place again in 1794, and learned that Solomon Wixon, with a large family, two of name of Silsbee, two or three Sandfords and others had settled there.
Judge Dow settled near the present village of Reading Centre, in 1798. David Culver followed him in 1800 to 1804, or about that time, were William Eddy, Abner Hurd, Timothy Hurd, Simeon Royce, Matthew Royce, Reuben Henderson, Andrew Booth, Samuel Gustin, John Bruce and Samuel Shoemaker. Among others who settled about the year 1806, were John and James Roberts, Daniel Shannon, Caleb Fulkerson, Richard Lanning, George Plumer, and Andrew McDowell.
Judge Dow having been consulted by the writer of this sketch with regard to a supposed inaccuracy in the outline of Seneca Lake on an old map, gave him a few notes of the settlement of the country, which are as follows:
I left Connecticut and came to the head of Seneca Lake in April, 1789, and stayed there, and at the Friends Settlement until late in the fall, then after being away a few months, returned to the head of Seneca Lake in March, 1790, and continued to reside there and at the place where I now reside until the present time. The Friends (Jemima Wilkinsons followers) made their settlement in 1788 and 1789, but between them and the head of the lake, a distance of 20 miles, it was not settled till the time above mentioned (1798).
The map represents the Seneca Lake as extending south to Catharines Town. This is not correct. There were Indian clearings at the Head and at Catharine (as the two places were familiarly called) when white people came there in 1789. There was a marsh but a little higher than the level of the lake extending from the beach of the lake, up south, nearly to Catharines, and quite across the valley, excepting a tract of tillable land lying between the northern part of said marsh and the west hill, and extending south from the beach about one-half or three-fourths of a mile to a part of said marsh. This land was called the Flat at the Head on which David Culver and myself resided. This flat was the true locality of the Culverstown of the map and the village of Culvers of the book, anything to the contrary notwithstanding.
The rains and the melting of the snow raised the lake some every spring about that time, (1790), and the greatest part of the marsh was covered with water. A stranger might possibly mark down the marsh for part of the lake.
I saw Caleb Gardner in 1789, who said he lived at Big Flats, and understood from him that others had settled there. In the spring of 1790 I saw Col. Erwin at Chemung, who with one or two men was driving some cattle to his sons at Painted Post. The lands along each side of Catharine Valley were not settled, I think, till 1798 or 1799. People then came and settled, three, four, and five miles southeast of Catharine. This place was called Johnsons Settlement. On the lands west of the valley settlements were made probably about the same time or soon after.
When I first came to Newtown Point as it was then called (now Elmira) there were but few houses in that place. There were six or seven on the road and at Horse-heads. Further on were two houses, but at that time I think they were not occupied. There was one house within about a mile of Catharine; there were two or three in Catharine, and two or three on the flat at the head of Seneca Lake. I am pretty sure these were all the houses that had been built at that time (April 1789) at Newtown, at the head of the Lake and between the two places.
[Most of the facts contained in the following sketch of the settlement of the town of Prattsburg, are derived from a manuscript history of the town prepared by Samuel Hotchkin, Esq., of Fredonia, (late of the village of Prattsburgh,) and politely furnished by that gentlemen to the Editor. The manuscript is in the form of a Report made by the direction of the Prattsburgh Lyceum. It is to be regretted that the limits of this volume do not permit more liberal extracts from Mr. Hotchkins interesting chronicle.]
The pioneer of Prattsburgh was Captain Joel Pratt. There were actual residents within the boundaries of that town before Captain Pratt, but its settlement and sale were conducted by him; by his care it was peopled by citizens who at an early day were reputed by all the county, men of good conscience and steady habits; and by his sound sense, and his discretion in conducting the settlement of the town, he gained an influence and enjoyed a public confidence at home, which entitle him to be styled the Founder of Prattsburgh.
The first purchase of Township Number Six, in the third range, was made in the year 1797, or about the time, by a surveyor named Preston, from Westerlo, in Albany County. Judge Kersey was admitted to an interest in the purchase by Preston, but a difficulty arose between the two which it is unnecessary to detail and the claims of both were ultimately relinquished. The township was first known as Kerseytown.
In 1799, or about that time, Capt. Pratt came into Steuben County. He had previously resided in Spencertown, Columbia County, and was induced by the promised importance of the Steuben region, under the Williamson administration, to make a purchase among the discouraging mountains of the Five-mile Creek country in preference to settling himself upon lands in the neighborhood of Geneva or Canandaigua, which were then held at a lower price than the hemlock hills of Wheeler. Captain Pratts first purchase was of several thousand acres in Township No. 5, Range 3, being in the present town of Wheeler. Captain Pratt entered the forest with a gang of men, cleared one hundred and ten acres, and sowed it with wheat. On his returned to the East, the rough life of the Steuben woods had so reduced and blackened the fair and portly farmer of Columbia County, that he was not recognized by his family. The following winter Captain Pratt removed his family into the wilderness. In 1802, being not altogether satisfied with his purchase, he was permitted to exchange it for the township above.
William Root, of Albany County, joined with him in the contract for the purchase of Township No. 6, by the terms of which contract, Messrs. Pratt and Root charged themselves with the survey, sale and settlement of the Township, two hundred acres being reserved for the support of a resident clergyman. They were to sell no land at a lower price than $2.50 per acre, and were to receive one-half of all monies paid for land, at a rate exceed $2.00 per acre, after they had paid the sum of $30,000 into Pulteney Land Office. The connection of Messrs. Pratt & Root was terminated in 1806.
Mr. Pratt had determined to form a church as well as a town. It appears to have been his intention to have cast his lot with hardy pioneers of the forest, while Mr. Root, who continued to reside at Albany, seemed to regard the whole enterprise in no other light than as a hopeful speculation.. . . . . . . . Captain Pratt was a member of a Congregational Church in the village of Spencertown. It was his determination to settle himself and family in this Township, and establish a religious society in the order to which he had been accustomed. With a view to the accomplishment of this object, he required every person to whom he sold land, to give a note to the amount of fifteen dollars on each hundred acres of land purchased from him, payable within a given time, with the legal interest annually, till paid to the Trustees of the Religious Society which should be formed.
The first permanent settler within this township Mr. Jared Pratt, a nephew of Capt. Pratt, who came her to reside in the spring of 1801. Mr. Pratt had just set out in his career of life, and brought with him a wife to cheer and sweeten the deprivations incident to a pioneers life. The farm which he selected, and which he continued to occupy as long as he lived, is the same as is now owned by Mr. John Van Housen, and there a row of Lombardy poplars at this day marks the place of the fist shelter built for civilized man within this township. Concerning this family, Rev. Mr. Hotchkin, in his history of Presbyterian Church in Western New York, takes the following notice:--They constituted the only family in the township for about two years and a half. Their hardships were many, and their privations great. No neighbor within several miles, no roads except a mere trail and a dense forest all around them. To obtain flour for their bread, Mr. Pratt would yoke his oxen, fill his bag with grain, lay it across the yoke of his oxen, and drive his team eleven miles to Naples, where was the nearest mill to his habitation, the road all the way lying in a dense forest without any habitation contiguous to it. Mr. Pratt continued to reside here till 1840, when, by a fall, he broke his neck, and died instantly in the 63d year of his age. Throughout his long life, he was respected and beloved, and in his death it may with perfect truthfulness be said, Tho many died as sudden, few as well.
The next settler, if settler he might be called, was Daniel Buell. He built him a rude shanty on what is now an orchard, and attached to Mr. Isaac Ainsworth farm. Buell was a jolly and most eccentric bachelor. His usual and almost constant employment was hunting. He resided here but a few years, when he sought a deeper solitude, and soon afterwards was murdered by a party of Indians in Ohio.--(M.S. Hist. of Prattsburgh.)
Rev. John Niles, a licentiate of a Congregational Association, settled in 1803, with his family a lot of eighty acres, being part of the farm occupied by the late Mr. Josiah Allis, upon the east side of the present Bath road, which was given to him by Capt. Pratt as an inducement to settle upon his township. The Sabbath after Mr. Niles arrival he held divine service in Jared Pratts house, and from the day to the present, these people have never been without these sacred ministrations. About this time, the sons of Capt. Pratt, in advance of their parents, settled upon the farm which has ever since been held by some one or more of his immediate descendants.
Next in order of settlers, and in the winter of 1804, came the families of William P. Curtis, Samuel Tuthill, and Pomroy Hull. At this time, the only road leading to town was the Two Rod Road, (from Bath toward Naples). Solsbury Burton came likewise in 1804, and occupied what used to be well known as the Burton farm. About this time came Capt. Pratt himself, with the remainder of his family from the East Hill, in Wheeler, and where he had resided for two or three years previous.
In the year 1806, we find a goodly array of settlers. In addition to those we have named are following: --Enoch Niles, Rufus Blodget, Isaac Waldo, Judge Hopkins, John Hopkins, Dea. Ebenezer Rice, Robert Porter, Dea. Gamaliel Loomis, Samuel Hayes, Dea. Abial Lindley, Moses Lyon, Uriel Chapin, Asher Bull, Bohan Hills,, Stephen Prentiss, and perhaps others.
Whoever, at the present day, will walk through our graveyard, to read there the records of the past generation, will find most of these names upon those rude headstones, now defaced and nearly obliterated by the hand of time, for most of them have long since gone down to the silent resting place of the dead. The inscriptions were recorded are homely, but they are truthful.--(MS. Hist.)
The first extensive clearing in Prattsburgh was one of seventy acres, including the Public Square of the Village, made in 1803, under the direction of Capt. Pratt. The first framed building was a barn built by Joel Pratt, Jr., in 1804, and that identical building yet stands by Bishop Smiths orchard, and upon his lot. This building was during the first few years of our annals a sort of Hotel Dieu. Families there rested until they could arrange the rude appointment of their own homes, sometimes in numbers of half a dozen at once. And till the erection of the first meeting-house, it was the usual place of holding public worship....... The first merchants of our town were Joel Pratt, Jr., and Ira Pratt, two sons of Capt. Pratt. The first hotel-keeper was Aaron Bull. His house, which was but a log one, was probably opened in 1806 or 1807, and adjoined Dr. Pratts office. The building of Dr. Hayes now cover the same ground.......The same burying ground we at present use for interment, was set apart for this purpose in 1806. The first contribution to this now immense multitude, was Harvey Pratt, a young man of 22 years, and son of Capt. Joel Pratt. (MS. Hist.)
The Congregational church was organized in 1804, and at that time consisted of eleven members. The first church edifice was erected in 1807, and was a framed building standing near the southeast corned of the public square. The worshippers it seems were at first inclined to build it of logs, greatly to the displeasure of Capt. Pratt, who retorted upon the society the anathema pronounced against those who dwelt in ceiled houses while the temple of the Lord laid waste. Rev. John Niles and Rev. James H. Hotchkin were the early ministers of this society.
The West Hill settlement was commenced in 1805, by Stephen Prentiss, Warham Parsons, and Aaron Cook. The Settlement of Rikers Hollow was commenced in 1807, by Michael Keith, who joined in 1810, by Thomas Riker, John Riker, and William Drake.
Captain Pratt, who figures so conspicuously in our early history, and who was the founder of our town, and to a great extent the fashioner of its polity, continued to reside among this people till 1820, when he ended his mortal career. His last days were a sort of patriarchal retirement, and to this day his memory is cherished by all who knew him.-- (MS. Hist.)
Judge Porter died in 1847. He was for many years one of the most prominent citizens of the town, and was a man of liberal education, of much literary taste, and an efficient and conscientious magistrate. The annalist of the town says, He probably filled more offices of trust among this people than any other man of his day. Our early town records show that all the most responsible offices within our bounds have from time to time been filled by him.
Rev. Jas. H. Hotchkin, a venerable and widely known citizen of Prattsburgh, (author of The History of the Presbyterian Church in Western New York, heretofore alluded to,) died September 2d, 1851. He was the son of Beriah Hotchkin, a pioneer missionary. He graduated at Williams College, 1800; studied theology with Dr. Porter, of Catskill, removed to Prattsburgh in 1809, and there labored twenty-one years. The Genesee Evangelist says of him He had a mind of a strong masculine order, well disciplined by various reading, and stored with general knowledge. The doctrinal views of the good old orthodox New England stamp which he imbibed at first, he maintained strenuously to the last, and left a distinct impression of them wherever he had an opportunity to inculcate them. His labors through the half century were abundant and indefatigable... He had the happiness of closing his life in the scenes of his greatest usefulness.
The first permanent settler in this town was Capt. Silas Wheeler, a native of Rhode Island, who emigrated from Albany County, in the State of New York, in the year 1790 or 1800. Capt. Joel Pratt made a purchase of several thousand acres in this town, in the year previous, and had made a clearing of one hundred and ten acres, and raised a crop of wheat from it, on what is now known as the Mitchell farm. Capt. Pratt was permitted, by Capt. Williamson, to exchange this for a tract in the town of Prattsburgh, where he removed in 1804, or about that time.
Capt. Wheeler had been a man of adventure. He was one of Benedict Arnolds men in the perilous march through the forests of Maine, and at the assault of Quebec stood near Montgomery when he fell. He was four times taken prisoner in the Revolutionary war--twice on land, and twice when roving the high seas as privateers man. From the first captivity, he was soon released by exchange. After another capture, he lay in prison more than a year. Being taken a second time on one of the daring privateers that tormented the British coast, he was confined in the Jail of Kinsale, in Ireland, and condemned to be hung as a pirate--or at least was very rudely treated, and threatened with hanging by powers that had the authority to make good their threats. He escaped this disagreeable fate by the assistance of a friendly Irishman, and of the distinguished orator and statesman, Henry Gratton. Mr. Gratton procured for him a passport, protected him from press-gangs and the police, and secured for him a passage to Dunkirk, in France.
Capt. Wheeler was induced to settle in Steuben County by Preston, the Surveyor, (mentioned in the sketch of the settlement of Prattsburgh,) who, on his return to Westerlo, spread the most glowing accounts of the fertility with prospects of the Conhocton Country. Capt. Wheelers settlement was made at the place now occupied by his grand-son, Mr. Gratton H. Wheeler.
Capt. Wheelers first trip to mill, is worthy of record. There were, at the time when he had occasion to go to mill, three institutions in the neighborhood where grinding done--at the Friends settlement, at Bath, and at Naples. The mill-stones of Bath had suspended operations--there being nothing there to grind, as was reported. Capt. Wheeler made a cart, of which the wheels were sawn from the end of a log of curley-maple; the box was of corresponding architecture. He started for Naples with two oxen attached to this vehicle. Two young men went before the oxen with axes and chopped a road, and the clumsy chariot came floundering through the bushes behind--bouncing over the logs, and snubbing the stumps, like a ship working through an ice-field. The first day they reached a point a little beyond the present village of Prattsburgh a distance of six miles from their starting point--and on the second, moored triumphantly at the mill of Naples.
Capt. Wheeler was a man famous for anecdotes throughout all the land. Not one of the multitude of Captains, who flourished in our country in early years, earned his military title more fairly. He died in 1828, aged 78. Hon. Gratton H. Wheeler, son of Captain Wheeler, died in 1852. He had been a prominent citizen of the county many years, and had served in the State of National Legislature.
After Capt. Wheelers settlement, lots were purchased, and improvements made by persons residing abroad, some of whom after established themselves on these farms. Thomas Aulls, Esq., son of William Aulls, the first settler in Pleasant Valley, and Col. Barney, of the same neighborhood, with Phillip Murtle (Myrtle), who lived on the farm now owned by Gen. Otto F. Marshall, were among the earliest settlers of the Wheelers. These, with settlers named Bear, Ferral, and Rifle, were mentioned by our informant as constituting all, or nearly all, of the original stock of settlers. Esq. Gray came in at an early time. The Gulf Road to Bath was opened by Capt. Wheeler; the Kennedyville Road was opened a year or two afterwards. The first saw-mill in the town stood at the Narrows of the Five Mile Creek, and was built by Capt. Wheeler.
The first settlement in the town of Pulteney, was made on Bully Hill, by John Van Camp and D. Thompson in 1790. The following are the names of other early settlers from 1799 to 1807:--Samuel Miller, G. F. Fitz Simmons, Thomas Hoyt, Abraham Bennet, Ephraim Eggleston, John Kent, Joseph Hall, senior, Samuel Wallis, John Turner, John Ellis, Augustus Tyler, and Ezra Pelton. John Gulick kept the first dry goods store in the town.
Abraham Johnston settled in 1806 where Richard Towle now lives, about the same time, Samuel Baker settled where J. Rice now lives, and Reuben Smith, Abraham Smith and Abel Bullard, settled on the road between Goffs Mills and the old Turnpike, near the old State Road. Jacob, Benjamin and Daniel N. Bennett, settled in 1807, or about that time, on what is yet called Bennetts Flatts, Job. B. Rathbun, with three of his brothers, in the Rathbun settlement, in 1808 or 1809. William Allen and David Smith, in the Pond settlement in 1810 or 11, and Capt. Joel Rice and Esq. Israel Baldwin in 1811 or 12. Major Thomas Bennett settled on the old turnpike about six miles east of Hornellsville, toward 1808. William Goff, Esq., came in in 1812.
The town of Howard was set off from the old town of Canisteo in 1812. The first town meeting was held at the house of Simeon Bacon, on the old turnpike, in the spring of 1813. In the year 1812, there were about thirty families in town.
HORNBY AND ORANGE
Asia and Uriah Nash, the first settlers of Hornby, settled in 1814, in the north part of town called Nash Settlement. Edward Stubbs, Ezra Shaw, Samuel Adams, and Jesse Underwood, settled in 1815. In the same year, Jesse Platt, John Babbins and Amasa Stanton, settled in the Platt settlement, in the southwestern part of the town. James S. Gardner, Chester Knowlton, and Adin Palmer settled in the Palmer settlement in 1816.
Darius Hunt, Chauncey Hunt, James Overhister and Thomas Hurd, were the first settlers in Orange, and Meads Creek, probably in 1812.
Captain Williamson about the time of the settlement of Bath, sent a man named Bivin, to the Twenty-two mile Tree, (now Bloods Corners,) to keep a tavern. This point was known in early times as Bivins Corners. The first settlement made in the town of Conhocton after this, was made, according to the best of our information, in the Raymond Settlement, by James and Aruna Woodward. In 1806, Joseph Chamberlain, of Herkimer County, settled on the Davis farm, near Liberty Corners. His household consisted of a cow and a dog. All his property, besides his axe, was contained a small pack. For his cow the accommodations were rather rude. When the hour of milking arrived, the settler resorted to the strange expedient of driving the beast a straddle of a log, and milking into a notch cut with his axe. Into this he crumbled his bread, and ate therefrom with a wooden spoon.
In the following year, Levi Chamberlain, Captain Jones Cleland, Joseph Shattuck and Deacon Horace Fowler, settled in this neighborhood. Other early settlers were--Timothy Sherman, James Barnard, Samuel Rhoades, Jesse Atwood, Isaac Morehouse and Charles Burlingham. The Brownsons settled at Loon Lake at an early day. Abram Lint settled at Lint Hill, in in 1809, or about that time, and afterwards the Hatches, the Ketches, and others.
Capt. Cleland built in 1809 the first mills. Levi Chamberlain built in 1809, the first frame house at Liberty Corners, and Joseph Shattuck kept the first tavern at the same place about the same time.
On account of some legislative awkwardness, the settlers in the northern part of the town, went for several years to Bath, to vote at town meetings, while those in the southern part went to Dansville. The two squads of voters used to meet each other on the road when going to the polls.
THE COUNTRY SOUTH OF CANISTEO.
The following are names of settlers who were living in 1810 in the town of Troupsburgh, which then comprised nearly all the territory in the county south of Canisteo River, Beginning on the east side, the settlers were Caleb Smith, Daniel Johnson, Lemuel Benham, Breakhill Patrick, Samuel B. Rice, Nathaniel Mallory, Elijah Johnson, Joseph Smith, Reazin Searle and Bethuel Tubbs. Further West, on the old State Road, were Ebenezer Spencer, Andrew Simpson, and a family of Marlatts, Elisha Hance, Philip
Cady, Elijah Cady, Samuel Cady, Peter Cady, Caleb Colvin, Matthew Grinnolds, William Card, Charles Card; and west of the old State Road, were Nathan Coffin, Henry Garrison, Edmund Robinson, Jeremiah Nudd. The last three came in 1812, Alanson Perry came in 1810. There were some other here in an early day, as by the census of 1815, there were over 500 inhabitants. Daniel Johnson was Supervisor till 1812, and Charles Card from 1813 to 1819. Samuel Rice was Town Clerk for about twenty years. The first grist-mill was built by Caleb Smith, the second by George Martin in 1812. There was but little improvement made for several years, and many of the first settlers became discouraged and emigrated to the West, and the town seemed to be at a stand. Those remaining have become comfortable in circumstances. The Brotzmans, Andrew Boyd, the Rowleys, and John Craig and early settlers of Jasper.
That part of the town Orange called Meads Creek was settled, or began to be settled, a few years previous to 1820. Among the inhabitants who were there previous to or about that time, were Jedediah Miller, Andrew Fort, David Kimball, Esq., and his brother Moses, John Dyer, Sylvester Goodrich, and three settlers named Hewitt. Joshua Chamberlain came there four or five years later and brought land where the village of Monterey stands, of a man by the name of De Witt.
The northeast part of the town of Orange known by the appellation of Sugar Hill, did not receive its name from any distinguished elevation or large hill, but from the following circumstance. Some of the men and boys from the older settlements used to come to this place to make sugar in the spring of the year, while it was yet a wildness. They had traversed the woods in quest of deer, and taken notice of the fine groves of maple in this locality, and as there were no settlers on the land, and nobody in their way, they had an excellent chance for making sugar; and as they had to give the place some name, they called it Sugar Hill. The settlement began about the year 1819 or 1820. Lewis Nichols, William Webb, Thomas Horton, Abraham Allen, John Allen, Ebenezer Beach, Mr. Eveleth, Seymour Lockwood, and two families of Comptons, were among the first settlers. Dr. Hibbard arrived in 1821, and Abraham Lybolt, Esq., came about the same time.
After the commencement of the settlement the land was very soon taken up by actual settlers. The fertility of the soil, its proximity to the head of Seneca Lake, their anticipated place of market, the easy manner of obtaining the land from the Land Office at Bath, their confidence in the validity of the title, and perhaps the novelty of the name, might all have contributed to the speedy settlement of the place.
The first permanent settlers of that part of the old Town of Bath which is now the Town of Campbell, were Joseph Stevens, Robert Campbell, Solomon Campbell, and Archa Campbell. In addition to these, the remaining inhabitants of the Town in the year 1800, and about that time, were, Elias Williams, blacksmith, Samuel Calkins, farmer, Abram Thomas and Isaac Thomas, hunter, James Pearsall, farmer, David McNutt, Joseph Woolcott, and ----- Sailor.
Avoca was known in the early part of Col. Williamsons time as Buchanans, or the Eight-Mile-Tree. The name of the first settler, as the title of the settlement indicates, was Buchanan. He established at that point by the agent and kept accommodations for travelers. A correspondent has returned the names of the oldest residents as follows: James McWhorter, Abraham Towner, Gersham Towner, Daniel Tilton, John Donnahee, Spence Moore, Henry Smith, Allen Smith, who have been residents for about thirty years, and John B. Calkins, Joseph Matthewson, Gersham Salmon, James Davis and James Silsbee, who have been residents about twenty-four years.
The first Settlement in the town Wayland was made by ---- Zimmerman, in 1806, on the farm now occupied by J. Hess, at the depot. The north part of the town was settled by Captain Bowles (1808), Mr. Hicks (about 1810), Thomas Begole (1814), Mr. Bowen (1808), and John Hume (1808).
The settlements at Loon Lake in the south part of the town, were made in 1813 by Salmon Brownson, James Brownson, Elisha Brownson and Isaac Willie.
The settlers of the central part of the town were, Walter Patchin, (1814), Dr. Warren Patchin (1815), Dennis Hess (1815), Benjamin Perkins, and Samuel Draper.
No road passed through the town except the ancient one from Bath to Dansville. It was a hard town to settle, and people were generally poor. They passed through many hardships and privations, but now their town is in a prosperous condition.
One circumstance connected with the early settlement of this town may be somewhat interesting. In 1815, there being a scarcity of bread, I went through the towns of Springwater, Livonia, and Sparta, and thence to Dansville, in search of grain for sale, and none was to be found in those towns, nor in Western New York. People had to hull green wheat and rye for food. I found a field of rye on William Perines farm which was thought nearly fit to cut. I went home and got some neighbors, and with oxen and cart went and cut some of it, threshed it, and took it to the mill and had it mashed, for it was too damp to grind, thought ourselves the happiest people in the world because we had bread.
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