Canisteo - Part of the Steuben Co., NY GenWeb page - Judy Cwiklinski - coordinator

Part of the Steuben Co., NY GenWeb - Judy Allen Cwiklinski coordinator


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Steuben County, New York


Compiled by: Millard F. Roberts

John Single Paper Company, Ltd., Syracuse, N.Y., 1891

This was typed and contributed by Gloria Banks Kirkwood

CANISTEO page 192

"Lies southwest of the center of the county, and is one of the original towns of Steuben, having been formed in March, 1796. As originally surveyed it was known as Township 3, Range 5, of the Phelps and Gorham purchase, an account of the first purchase of which is given in the history of the town of Hornellsville, which was originally a part of Canisteo. In 1808 a portion of the town was annexed to Troupsburg, Hornellsville was taken off in 1820, and parts of Jasper and Greenwood in 1827. Another portion was annexed to Troupsburg in 1818. It is bounded north by Howard and a small portion of Hornellsville, east by Cameron, south by Jasper and a small part of Greenwood, and west by Hornellsville and Hartsville. Its surface is principally a hilly upland, broken by the deep valleys of the streams. Canisteo river flows eastward through the north part of the town in a valley of half a mile to a mile in width, surrounded by hills from four hundred to four hundred and fifty feet in height. Bennett's and Col. Bill's creeks flow from the south through deep, narrow valleys, bordered by steep hillsides, and empty in the river below Canisteo village. The soil is clayey and gravelly loam, with rich alluvium in the valleys of the streams."

CANISTEO - FIRST SETTLEMENT: page 192 - 194 (added: 6/2/1999)

"The valley of the Canisteo was among the earliest settled portions of the county. Early in 1788, SOLOMON BENNETT, CAPTAIN JOHN JAMISON, URIAH STEPHENS, BENJAMIN CROSBY and son RICHARD CROSBY from the Wyoming valley in PA, started on an exploring expedition up the western tributaries of the Susquehanna. They passed up the Chemung, and at Painted Post (where they found a half dozen settlers and SAXTON and PORTER, the Phelps and Gorham surveyors) the company divided, a portion going up the Conhocton as far as the site of the present village of Bath, while others continued their way up the Canisteo. Finding no suitable place for a settlement on the Conhocton, the party which followed that stream crossed the hills and came onto the Canisteo near the present residence of JOSHUA C. STEPHENS and there joined their companions.

These explorers determined to become the possessors of the two townships on the river, which included these flats. They were joined in the purchase by the following: COL. ARTHUR ERWIN, JOEL THOMAS, URIAH STEPHENS, Sr., and his son, JOHN STEPHENS, WILLIAM WYNCOOP, JAMES HADLEY, ELISHA BROWN AND CHRISTIAN KRESS.

In the summer of 1789, a number of men were sent to the flats to cut and stack a sufficient quantity of wild grass to winter the cattle that were to be driven on. In the fall of the same year, URIAH STEPHENS, Sr., and BENJAMIN CROSBY, with portions of their families, came from Newtown to commence settlement. The provisions, baggage and families were carried up in seven-ton boats, while four sons of Mr. STEPHENS, ELIAS, ELIJAH, BENJAMIN and WILLIAM drove along the shore the cattle belonging to the families in the boats, and the cattle of four other families who were to join the settlers the following spring. From the mouth of the Canisteo to the upper flats, the movement was slow. The frequent rifts to be ascended, the accumulation of driftwood and the trunks of fallen trees which obstructed the channel, rendered the journey tedious and toilsome in the extreme. On one day but six miles were made...

The first work of these hardy men after landing on the flats, was to take their axes into the woods, cut down suitable trees and build a house of logs 24 x 26 feet. There was but one room below, and this contained a cavernous fireplace in each of its four corners. The two families passed the winter here very comfortably. In the following spring they were joined by two more families, and one domiciled before each fireplace, and "each family occupied its own territory with as much good humor as if divided from the others by stone walls and gates of brass".

In the spring of 1790, they were joined by SOLOMON BENNETT, URIAH STEPHENS, Jr., and COL. JOHN STEPHENS, his brother, with their families. As soon as the weather permitted, they set about preparing the ground for seed. Although the flat was free from timber, this was no trifling task. The roots of the gigantic wild grass, braided and tangled together below the surface, protected the earth against the plow with a net so tight and stout that ordinary means of breaking the soil failed entirely. Four yoke of oxen forced the coulter through this well-woven netting, and the snapping and tearing of the roots as they gave way before the strength of eight healthy beeves was heard a considerable distance, like the ripping of a mat. The settlers never learned the origin of these meadows. CAPT. JOHN, THE INDIAN, said that he knew nothing of their origin; they were cleared before the time of his people. After the frost, when the herbage had become dry and crisp, the grass was set on fire, and a very pretty miniature of a prairie on fire it made. The flames flashed over the flats almost as over a floor strewn with gunpowder. A swift horse could not keep before them. The wild grass, by successive mowings and burning, became less rank and more nutritious, and in time gradually changed to 'tame grass'.

After sowing and planting the spring crops, the settlers constructed a log fence on a scale as magnificent, considering their numbers, as that of the Chinese wall. Their were nearly four hundred acres within the enclosure. From the site of the present village of Canisteo down to the next township, a distance of six miles, twelve lots were laid out across the valley from hill to hill, and assigned by lot to the several proprietors. The lot upon which the log house mentioned above was built, was that known formerly as the "Bennett" or "Pumpelly farm". That part of it upon which the house stood is upon the farm owned now by WILLIAM H. ORDWAY and occupied by CLARK BRASTED. The settlement was augmented the same spring ( 1790) by the arrival of JEDEDIAH STEPHENS, JOHN REDFORD and ANDREW BENNETT who took up their residence here.

The fertility of this valley was abundantly attested by the harvest which was gathered. Seventy or seventy-five bushels of corn was yielded to the acre."

  1. Woodlawn Cemetery - (cn1)

  2. Hillside Cemetery - (cn1a)

  3. Old Settlers Cemetery - (cn2)

  4. Stephens Cemetery - (cn3) (9/20)

  5. Halletsville Cemetery - (cn4) (11/23)

  6. Baker Farm Cemetery - (cn5) (7/23)

  7. Ross Cemetery - (cn6)

  8. Oak Hill Cemetery - (cn7) (10/20)

  9. Hadleyville Cemetery - (cn8)

  10. Carter Cemetery - (cn9)

  11. Thomas Plot Cemetery - (cn10)

  12. Bennetts Cemetery - (cn11)

  13. Swale - (upper) Cemetery - (cn12) (9/20)

  14. Brown's Crossing Cemetery - (cn13)

  15. Moore-Farnham Cemetery - (cn14)

  16. Unknown Burial Site - (cn15)

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Last modified Tuesday, 28-Aug-2001 14:18:23 MDT