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Tyre, Seneca Co., NY

This town history is dedicated to Howie Compson who died on Dec. 23, 2001 at the age of 92. I *met* Howie through an e-mail he sent me after he visited the Seneca Co. website. We corresponded periodically, and Howie's love for the Seneca Co. area was always evident as was his sense of humor. - Diane
This transcript is from "History of Seneca Co., 1786-1876" [Ensign, Everts, Ensign, Philadelphia, 1876; reprinted by W.E. Morrison & Co., 1976] pp. 124-127.
      "The town of Tyre, having a large portion of its surface a waste of swamp, and the remainder a jungle of forest, presented few attractions to those who early sought homes for life in this part of the just-formed Onondaga County. They were met by sufficient obstacles apart from the depressing and unhealthy influence engendered by the immediate presence of an extended tract of stagnant water. Even at this late day, when the appliances of art are so numerous, and land has grown so valuable, the Montezuma Marshes remain unredeemed. How, then, save by the trap and rifle, could a living be gained in such a locality? Nevertheless, the soil of higher ground once cleared, was fertile, rude tillage produced ample yield, and there were those who did not want resolution to enter upon the work. The history of a strictly rural town deals in little else than a chronology of settlement and a genealogy of pioneers. The present dwellers upon Tyre's Military Lots must feel an interest in knowing who preceeded them upon their farms, and the grandson looks with satisfaction upon his grandsire's simple record. Plying the axe, the bush-hook, and the grubbing hoe, the trees were felled and the land was cleared and put in crop. Steadily men came in and settled, sometimes an entire lot, again an hundred acres only. Habitations built of trunks of trees, rude, warm, but comprising but a single room, were raised, and chinked and plastered with clay. These log houses, as they were called, were the homes of settlers for many years. A soft of communism prevailed by which united efforts accomplished the raising, the rolling, the harvesting, and the work upon highways. A strange, but inherent, ready adaptaion to circumstances smoothed the toisome routine of labor, and continued association wove about the cabin and its surrounds the sense of ownership, interest and home. When the first adventurous settler came upon what is now Tyre, of Seneca, it formed a part of that wilderness comprehended in Washington, of Onondaga. His name was EZEKIEL CRANE, of Eastern New York. To him is ascribed the honor of erecting the first white man's dweilling and barm, and planting for the first crop of potatoes in that locality. Upon Lot No. 48 Crane set out, in 1794, the first orchard, and many of those wellnigh centenarian apple-trees are still living. In the spring of the following year, Mr. Crane brought on his wife and four children, and as the years began to pass and settlements to thicken, obtained rhe rewards of industry. His half-lot seemed not enough, and he was out in search of land to purchase, when unhappy fate led him to the cabin where he met his trafic death. This one event, linked with early associations, has made a durable impress upon the mind, and at each allusion, the whole scene reappears to the few who bore a part, the appearence of Droe, the apprehension of eveil, the night capture of the murderer, the death of Crane, the execution of the Indian - all seem to pass in panoramic view upon the memory. The estate of Crane passed to his children, and the homestead is now the property of P.SMITH. LEWIS WINANS settled on the other half-lot about 1803. ASHER HALSEY is reported to have come from New Jersey in 1798, and with Crane were several relatives, among them the DEGARMOS, PETER and EZRA, and Stephen Crane. The next settler was ASA SMITH, from Vermont. It was a long, slow, tedious journey that he made with a cart and yoke of oxen in 1802, and when he had cleared a patch of fround, sown some wheat, and raised a cabin upon his one hundred acres of Lot No. 36, he returned East and passed the winter. On April 12, 1803, Smith arrived at his clearing with a family consisting of a wife and six children; but one of these was a son, Jason Smith, who still lives on the old homestead, and is the source of our information, and the present oldest male inhabitant of Tyre. CALEB WOODWORTH had bought Lot No. 36 of COLONEL LIVINGSTONE some time prior to 1802, and sold a sixth, as we have stated to Asa Smith. Woodworth moved upon his lands in 1805, and there sounourned till the occurrence of his death five years later. Elder SAMUEL MESSENGER bought of Woodworth a part of his farm in 1807. This minister was the pioneer of the Baptists, and while he ministered to wants spiritual, he did not forget to labor physically upon his tract. Eight years elapsed, and he sold out and went West. The four hundred acres of Woodworth were divided among heirs, and in time passed to other hands. The third prominent settler in Tyre was THOMAS W. ROOSEVELT, of New York City. Thomas received from his father a gift of title to Lot No. 47. At Aurelius, CAyuga County, he married Miss BETSY COOK, and in 1803 took up a home in the forest with her and his infant son, NELSON. Of an aristocratic and educated family, he had acquired a knowledge of surveying, and was soon frequently called to exercise his skill in laying off farms taken from the lots. He sold off all his lot excepting one hundred and seventy eight acres, which PETER M. WESTBROOK now owns and occupies. In 1804, JOHN HUTCHINS, of Albany County, bought a farm from the northwest corner of the lot, and partly paid for it by clearing land. Roosevelt gave him two acres for clearing one. Hutchins sold out in 1811 to GEORGE NEARPASS, and went out West; the heirs of Nearpass are present occupants. Roosevelt entered the army in 1812, and in 1814 was an officer in a Seneca company; he fell in action near Erie, and was buried in the military cemetery at Buffalo.
      Lot No. 35, owned by DANIEL CADY, a lawyer at Johnston, Montgomery County, was settled by MOSES MARSH, of New Jersey, in 1804. Marsh bought frm Cady one hundred and fifty acres from the northeast part of the lot, cleared it up, and lived upon it till 1835. Dying, it passed to his son, ORRA, who in turn passing away, it came to REUBEN, his son, and present owner. Marsh, in 1810, sold the west half of his tract to SIMEON CUDDYBACK, a present resident upon his old purchase. NICHOLAS TRAVER, from Vermont, had lived a year at Aurelius, and, in 1807, bought one hundred and fifty acres of Cady, and moved on. He was a sawyer by trade, and long ran a saw-mill on Black Brook. He died and left his property to his son Thomas, who died in 1836, and in turn left it to NICHOLAS TRAVER JR., the present owner. Mr. SACKETT, of Skaneateles, owner of Lot No. 61, sold the east half to SAMUEL LAY of Connecticut. Lay located in 1809, died in 1830, and his estate was separated into a number of farms and held by his descendents. The west half was sold to AMOS NICHOLAS, who came in 1811, and died about 1828, when the farm passed to his son, ALEXANDER H. NICHOLAS, the present possessor. Beginning at the northwest corner of the tract, the lots were numbered to the east line, and Lot No. 7 is seen to be the northwest corner lot of the present town of Tyre. The reader will follow us from lot to log, and test the accuracy of an old pioneer's recollections, and if a resident of the locality, find many an old acquaintance brought to memory. Uon Lot 7, SAMUEL NORTH became an occupant in the year 1806. He was a minister of the Methodist denomination, and the earliest of his sect in that section. There were no churches nor school-houses in those days, and his pioneer services were held at the houses of ROYAL W. DUNHAM, ELJAH CHALKER, and others. A score of years elapsedm and Rev. Dunham had seen a church ereted in Tyre City, and preached therein; his death occurred in 1826. ROBERT HARPER, from Orange County, became part owner of the lot. He occupied the northeast corner for ten years, then sold out and moved elsewhere. A third purchaser was MALCOLM LITTLE, from Ireland. M.Little, his son, lives on the same farm cleared by the father many years ago. The title to Lot No. 8 was a matter of doubt and dispute. It was said to belong to a soldier, who, dying, left no claimant. About 1810, a man named JOHN ROBERTS, from New Jersey, came on, squatted upon the lot, and laid clai to one hundred and fifty acres; his example was followed by RICHARD THOMAS and several others. GILES HOWLAND came into the neighborhood in 1822, bought out the squatters, gained a title, and built a saw-mill on White Brook.

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© 2001, 2002 Diane Lerch Kurtz