Appendix - Hist. Steuben Co - McMasters [1853] - Steuben Co., NY GenWeb

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Hist. Steuben by McMasters Table of Contents

History of the Settlement of Steuben County, New York

by: Guy McMasters [1853]

APPENDIX.

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Organization of Steuben County, and statistical tables--Sketch of General History of settlement in Western New York-Settler-Life-Home-Pioneers-The village of Corning--The “Great Windfall” of 1791--The Settlers of Dansville

ORGANIZATION OF STEUBEN COUNTY.

The County of Steuben was detached from the old County of Ontario and constituted a separate County in the year 1796. At the time of it organization it was divided into six towns, viz: Bath, Canisteo, Dansville, Fredericton, Middletown, and Painted Post. Since the organization, one tier of towns has been taken from the western side of the County and attached to Allegany County, the territory constituting the present town of Barrington and Starkey with part of the town of Jerusalem has been taken from the northern towns and annexed to Yates County, and one quarter of a Township, including the village of Dansville, has been given to Livingston.

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COUNTY JUDGES

William Kersey, appointed 1796 George C. Edwards, appointed 1826
James Faulkner, “ 1804 Ziba A. Leland, “ 1838
Samuel Baker, “ 1814 Jacob Larrowe, “ 1843
Thomas McBurney, “ 1816 William M. Hawley, “ 1846
James Norton, “ 1823 David McMaster, “ 1847
Jacob Larrowe, elected 1851

COUNTY CLERKS

George D. Cooper, 1796 David Rumsey, 1829
Henry A. Townsend, 1799 William H. Bull, 1832
John Wilson, 1815 William Hamilton, 1838      
Edward Howell, 1818 Paul C. Cook, 1844
John Metcalfe, 1821 Philo P. Hubbell, 1850

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SHERIFFS

William Dunn, appointed 1796   John Magee, elected 1822
John Willson, “ 1800 John Kennedy, “ 1825
Dugald Cameron, “ 1805 Alvah Ellas, “ 1828
Jacob Teeple, “ 1809 George Huntington, “ 1831
Howell Bull “ 1811 John T. Andrews, “ 1834
Thomas McBurney, “ 1812 Henry Brother, “ 1837
Lazarus Hammond, “ 1814 Hiram Potter, “ 1840
George McClure, “ 1816 Hugh Magee, “ 1843
Henry Shriver, “ 1819 Henry Brother, “ 1846
John Magee, “ 1821 Oliver Allen, “ 1849
Gabriel T. Harrower, elected 1852.

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SURROGATES.

Stephen Ross, appointed 1796 William Woods, appointed 1827
Henry A. Townsend, “ 1800 Robert Campbell, Jr. “ 1835
George McClure, “ 1805 David Rumsey, Jr. “ 1840
John Metcalfe, “ 1813 Ansel J. McCall “ 1844
James Brundage “ David McMaster, elected 1847
Jacob Larrowe, elected 1851.

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POPULATION OF STEUBEN COUNTY.

Population in “ 1790 168
Population in “ 1800 1,788
Population in “ 1810 7,246
Population in “ 1820 21,989
Population in “ 1830 33,975
Population in “ 1840 46,138
Population in “ 1850 62,969

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POPULATION ACCORDING TO THE CENSUS OF 1850.

FIRST ASSEMBLY DISTRICT.

Bath, 6185 Pulteney, 1815    
Reading, 1435 Wheeler, 1471
Tyrone, 1899 Urbana, 2079
Prattsburgh, 2736 Wayne, 1350

SECOND ASSEMBLY DISTRICT.

Bradford, 2010 Lindley, 686
Caton, 1215 Orange, 1887
Campbell, 1175   Painted Post, 4411
Cameron, 1663 Addison, 3723
Erwin, 1477 Woodhull 1769
Hornby, 1314 Thurston 726

THIRD ASSEMBLY DISTRICT.

Avoca, 1574 Troupsburgh, 1656
Conhocton, 2006 Greenwood, 1186
Dansville, 2545 West Union, 950
Howard, 3144 Jasper, 1749
Hornellsville, 2637 Canisteo, 2030
Hartsville, 854 Wayland, 2067

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VOTES POLLED AT THE GENERAL ELECTION IN 1852.

FOR                                   FOR

FRANKLIN PIERCE, 6880| WINFIELD SCOTT, 5236

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AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION, ETC.

Acres of Land improved....................................................................................336,981
Acres of Land unimproved.................................................................................338,415
Cash value of farms.....................................................................................$13,581,268
Value of farming implements and machinery.....................................................$ 676,792
Horses................................................................................................................12,744
Asses and mules...........................................................................................................4
Milch cows..........................................................................................................21,584
Working oxen........................................................................................................6,744
Other cattle..........................................................................................................27,162
Sheep.................................................................................................................156,776
Swine...................................................................................................................23,939
Value of live stock.........................................................................................$2,155,090

PRODUCE DURING YEAR ENDING JUNE 1, 1850.

Wheat, bushels of...............................................................................................653,484
Rye, bushels of...................................................................................................16,033
Indian corn, bushels of.........................................................................................297,717
Oats, bushels of.................................................................................................913,948
Wood, pounds of...............................................................................................399,543
Peas and beans, bushels of...................................................................................45,202
Irish potatoes, bushels of.......................................................................................360,725
Sweet potatoes, bushels of...........................................................................................245
Barley, bushels of..................................................................................................153,056
Buckwheat, bushels of..........................................................................................115,390
Value of orchard products....................................................................................$30,565
Wine, gallons of............................................................................................................285
Value of produce of market gardens........................................................................$3,740
Butter, pounds of..............................................................................................1,918,465
Cheese, pounds of...............................................................................................210,889
Hay, tons of........................................................................................................111,869
Clover seed, bushels of............................................................................................1,386
Other grass seeds....................................................................................................4,479
Hops, lbs. of...............................................................................................................424
Flax, lbs of.............................................................................................................16,241
Flax seed, bushels of................................................................................................1,276
Silk cocoons, lbs. of.......................................................................................................2
Maple sugar, lbs. of.............................................................................................294,897
Molasses, gallons of...............................................................................................3,547
Beeswax and honey, lbs. of....................................................................................94,991
Value of home-made manufactures......................................................................$76,287
Value of animals slaughtered...............................................................................$296,798

SKETCH OF THE GENERAL HISTORY OF SETTLEMENT IN WESTERN NEW-YORK.

The first European visitants of Western New York were the French. During the first thirty years of the seventeenth century the English made their earliest settlements in New England and Virginia, the Dutch on the Hudson River, and the French on the St. Lawrence. One hundred and fifty years afterwards the English were lords of the Continent. At the beginning of the race, however, the French displayed a more daring genius for adventure and conquest than their competitors. While the English Colonists were yet doubtfully struggling for existence on the Atlantic shores, and the Hollanders, with beaver-like prudence strengthened their habitations at Fort Orange and New Amsterdam, French adventurers had ascended the Great Lakes, and before the end of the seventeenth century, crossed thence to the Mississippi, descended that river to its mouth, and established trading posts and missions half way across the continent.

During the first century of French dominion in Canada, their relations with the fierce proprietor of Western New York were not peaceful. Champlain, the founder of Quebec, soon after his advent to Canada, gave mortal offence to the Five Nations, by assisting their enemies, the Hurons and Algonquins in a battle near Ticonderoga, where the firearms of the Europeans gained for their confederates victory over the Iroquois. From that time down to the beginning of the eighteenth century, the implacable enmity of the red leaguers harassed the colonists of Canada. The expeditions of the French Governors into the territory of their foes gained for them little beside disgrace. From the year 1700, however, the influence of the Jesuit missionaries, and the prudence of the Governors preserved peace between the former belligerents, and neutrality on the part of the savages in the contests of France and Great Britain. When the great rivals joined in the final struggles of 1754, the four Western tribes of the Six Nations even took up the hatchet for the French. Ten years later the English were supreme in North America.

In 1774 in the county of Albany embraced all the northern and western part of the province of New York, and extended from the Hudson river to the Niagara. In 1772 the county of Tryon was formed. It embraced all that part of the state lying west of a North and South line running nearly through the centre of the present county of Schoharie. It was named in honor of Sir William Tryon, the provincial governor. The boundary between the British and Indian territory as agreed upon in the treaty of 1768, ran from Fort Stanwix, near Oneida Creek, southward to the Susquehanna and Delaware.

The settlement of this district was commenced early in the 18th century, when nearly three thousand German Palatinates emigrated to this country under patronage of Queen Anne. Most of them settled in Pennsylvania; a few made their way in 1773 from Albany over the Helderberg to the bottom lands of Schoharie creek and there effected a settlement. Small colonies from here and from Albany established themselves in various places along the Mohawk, and in 1772 had extended as far up as the German Flats, near where stands the village of Herkimer.

In 1739, Mr. John Lindsay, a Scotch gentlemen, founded the settlement at Cherry Valley, which in a few years became the home of a most worthy and intelligent community, mostly of Scotch and “Scotch-Irish” origin.

The gallant family of Harpers settled at Harpersfield in 1768, and about the same time settlements were planted near Unadilla, and scattered families took up their residence in other districts. The population of Cherry Valley was short of three hundred, and that of all Tryon county not far from ten thousand inhabitants when the Revolution opened.

For twenty years previous to the Revolutionary War, Sir William Johnson lived at Johnstown, the capital of Tryon county, by far the most notable man bearing a British commission in the American provinces. Emigrating from Ireland in the year 1737, as agent for the Mohawk estate of his uncle, Sir Peter Warren, he early obtained distinguished reputation and influence--rose to high military command, and in the last French war, by his victory over Baron Dieskau, at Lake George, and his successful siege of Fort Niagara, gained fame, fortune, and a Baronetcy. From the time till near the rupture between the Crown and the Colonies, he lived at Johnson Hall, near Johnstown, Superintendent of Indian affairs for the Northern provinces, with princely wealth and power, displaying an administrative genius superior to any which had before been at the service of British government in America. In the year 1774 an Indian Council was held at Johnstown, at which were present a large number of the warriors of the Six Nations, besides many civil dignitaries of the provinces of New York and New Jersey. In the midst of the council Sir William suddenly died. On the 13th of July he was borne from the Hall to his grave, followed by a great concourse of citizens and Indians, and lamented by all.

At the time of his decease, his department included 130,000 Indians, of whom 25,420 were fighting men. The Six Nations numbered about 10,000 and had two thousand bold and skillful warriors. Colonel Guy Johnson, son-in-law of the late Superintendent, succeeded Sir William in this important post.

In a few months the long gathering political agitations of the Eastern provinces broke out into open and determined rebellion. The patriots of Tryon county hailed with enthusiasm the tidings from Boston, and met to express sympathy with their friends in New England, and to organize for similar measures. Guy Johnson became leader of the loyalists. Sharp discussions and correspondence between him and the revolutionary committee followed and in a few months Colonel Johnson abandoned his residence at Guy Park, and attended by a formidable body of Indian and Tory adherents, among whom were Col. Claus, the Butlers and Brant, made his head quarters at Fort Stanwix, afterwards at Oswego, and finally at Montreal. To the latter place Sir John Johnson, the son and heir of Sir William, followed him with a body of three hundred loyalists, chiefly Scotch.

Then followed the bloody border wars of New York and Pennsylvania. The British Government having determined to commit the dastardly and disgusting wickedness of setting ten thousand savages upon the scattered frontier settlements of the United Colonies, found in the Johnsons and Butlers fit dispensers of massacre to the Northern borders. A brief notice of the incursions into Western New York, must suffice in this place.

It was not till the campaign of 1777 that the citizens of Tryon county felt the power which had been enlisted against them. Rumors of savage invasion it is true had alarmed them, and a reported concentration of Indians at Ooquago (now Windsor) on the Susquehanna, excited at one time much apprehension. In July of that year Gen. Herkimer, of the Tryon county militia, marched to Unadilla with 300 men, and there held an interview with Brant, the celebrated war-chief, who also appeared with a force of warriors. The Indians manifested a decided leaning toward the English, and the conference, after nearly becoming a deadly affray, terminated.

In a few days afterwards it became necessary for the General to issue a proclamation, announcing impending invasion. Burgoyne with his well appointed army of 7,500 regular troops beside Canadian and Indian auxiliaries, had reached Ticonderoga on his march from Montreal to N. York, and Gen. St. Leger with about 2000 soldiers and savages began his march from Oswego, with orders to take Fort Schuyler, and pass down the Mohawk to Johnstown, and to fortify himself there. On the 3d of August he arrived before Fort Schuyler, and found the garrison under Col. Gansevoort, prepared for a determined resistance. Gen Herkimer with 800 militia marched to reinforce the garrison. Apprised of this, St. Leger detached a body of soldiers and Tories under Brant and Col. Butler to watch his approach, and if possible to intercept his march. A desperate hand-to-hand battle was fought on the 6th August in the woods at Oriskany, a few miles from the Fort. The militia were surprised, and suffered severely for their negligence. The rear division of the column gave way to the first attack, and fled. The forward division had no alternative but to fight. “Facing out in every direction they sought shelter under the trees, and returned the fire of the enemy with spirit. In the beginning of the battle, the Indians, whenever they saw that a gun was fired from behind a tree, rushed up and tomahawked the person thus firing before he had time to reload his gun. To counteract this, two men were ordered to station themselves behind one tree, the one reserving his fire till the Indian ran up. In this way the Indians were made to suffer severely in return. The fighting had continued for some time, and the Indians had begun to give way, when Major Watts, a brother-in-law of Sir John Johnson, brought up a reinforcement consisting of a detachment of Johnson’s Greens. The blood of the German boiled with indignation at the sight of these men. Many of the Greens were personally known to them. They had fled their country and were not returned in arms to subdue it. Their presence under any circumstances would have kindled up the resentment of these militia, but coming up as they now did in aid of a retreating foe, called into exercise the most bitter feelings of hostility.--They fired on them as they advanced, and then rushing from behind their covers attacked them with their bayonets, and those who had none with the butt end of their muskets. This contest was maintained hand to hand for nearly half an hour.--The Greens made a manful resistance, but were finally obliged to give before the dreadful fury of their assailants, with the loss of thirty killed upon the spot where they first entered.”-- (Annals of Tryon County.)

The Americans lost in killed nearly 200, and about as many wounded and prisoners. The Indians according to their own statement lost 100 warriors killed; and the Tories and regulars about the same number. Gen. Herkimer was wounded, and a few days after the battle died. During the battle an efficient sally was made from the Fort by Col. Willet. On the 22d of August, St. Leger, alarmed at the rumored approach of Arnold, abandoned the siege, and retired in great confusion, leaving behind a great part of his baggage.

In the summer of 1778, Brant made his head-quarters at Oquago and Unadilla, and there mustered a band of Indians and Tories, ready for any barbarity which might offer. The inhabitants of Cherry Valley threw up rude fortifications, of the need of which the hovering parties of enemies gave warning. Several attacks and skirmishes occurred along the frontiers. In July of this year, Col John Butler made the celebrated incursion into Wyoming. After ravaging that ill-fated valley, Col. Butler returned to Niagara, but the Indian again took their station at Oquago. In the month of November Col. Walter Butler, a son of the devastator of Wyoming, to gratify a personal resentment, obtained from his father a detachment of 2000 “Butler Ranger,” and permission to employ the 500 Indians which Butler commanded at Oquago. Under circumstances which proved the Tory commanded to be the most pitiless barbarian of the troop, their united forces assailed the little settlement of Cherry Valley, on the morning of the 11th November. Through the inexcusable neglect of the officer in command of the Fort, the farmers were surprised in their houses, with several officers from the Fort, who were their lodgers. The commander of the post, refusing to yield himself a prisoner, fell by the tomahawk. A piteous scene of massacre and devastation followed. The Senecas, the most untamable of the savages, with some Tories, were first in the fray, and slew without mercy or discrimination. Brant and his Mohawk, less inhuman here than their barbarous or renegade allies, plied their hatchets with less fury. The buildings and stacks of hay and grain were fired. The troops in the Fort repelled the attack of the enemy, but were not strong enough to sally from their entrenchments. At night the Indians had begun their march homeward, with about forty prisoners. On the following day a detachment of militia arrived from the Mohawk, and the last prowling parties of Indians disappeared. The Annalist of Tryon County says, “the most wanton acts of cruelty had been committed, but the detail is too horrible and I will not pursue it further. The whole settlement exhibited an aspect of entire and complete desolation. The cocks crew from the tops of the forest trees, and the dogs howled through the fields and woods. The inhabitants who escaped with the prisoners who were set at liberty, abandoned the settlement.”

During the same year, McDonald, a Tory, with 300 Indians and Tories was ravaging the Dutch settlements of Schoharie.--”What shall be done?” said Col. Harper, the bold partisan, to Col. Vroeman, the commander of the Fort, while the enemy were scouring the country around. “Oh, nothing at all,” the officer replied, “we be so weak we cannot do anything” Col. Harper ordered his horse and laid his course for Albany--he rode right down through the enemy who were scattered over all the country. At Fox’s Creek he put up at a Tory tavern for the night. He retired to bed after having locked the door. Soon there was a loud rapping at the door. “What is wanted?” “We want to see Col. Harper.” The Col. arose and unlocked the door, seated himself on the bed, and laid his sword and pistols before him. In stepped four men. “Step one inch over that mark,” said the Colonel, “and you are dead men.” After taking a little time with him they left the room. He again secured the door, and sat on his bed till daylight appeared. He then ordered his horse, mounted and rode for Albany and the enemy were round the house. An Indian followed him almost into Albany, taking to his heels when the Colonel wheeled around and presented his pistol. Next morning the Schoharie people heard a tremendous shrieking and yelling, and looking out, saw the enterprising partisan amongst the enemy with a troop of horse.--The men in the fort rushed out, and the country was soon cleared of the whole crew of the marauders.

The narrow limits allowed to this portion of the volume, warn that no further space can be occupied with a detail of the incidents of the Border Wars of New York. In 1779, Gen. Sullivan made his well known expedition into the territory of the Indians. During the remaining years of the war the frontiers were sorely harassed. Bands of savages and loyalists incessantly emerged from the forests to ravage, burn and kill. And if they succeeded in bringing dreadful misery upon the homes of the borderers, it was not without resolute resistance on the part of the latter. Under the lead of Willett, the Harpers and other partisans not less sagacious than determined, the marauders often felt to their discomfiture the rifles of the frontiers; and the well authenticated traditions of individual daring and adventure, rivals in interest the annuals of knight-errantry.

Soon after the close of the Revolutionary War, emigration began to penetrate Western New York from three quarters. Pennsylvanians, particularly inhabitants of the region of Wyoming, pushed up the Susquehanna to Tioga Point, where, diverging, some made settlements along the Chemung and Canisteo, while others established themselves on the East branch of the Susquehanna and its tributaries. Adventurers from the East, crossing from New England or the Hudson river counties to Unadilla, dropped down the river in canoes and settled along the Susquehanna or Chemung, or traveled into the upper Genesee country. Yet another band took the ancient road through the Mohawk valley to Oneida Lake, then on to Canadesaga.

In May, 1784, Hugh White passing the boundary of civilization settled at Whitestown, near Utica. In the same year James Dean settled at Rome. In 1786, a Mr. Webster, became the first white settler of the territory now comprised in the county of Onondaga. In 1788, Asa Danforth and Comfort Tyler, located at Onondaga Hollow. In 1793, John L. Hardenburgh settled on the site of the city of Auburn. In 1789, James Bennett and John Harris established a ferry at Cayuga Lake. In 1787, Jemima Wilkinson’s disciples made their first settlement on the outlet of Crooked Lake one mile South of the present village of Dresden. On their arrival at Geneva from the East they found, says a local historian, but a solitary log house, and that not finished, inhabited by one Jennings.

After the purchase of Phelps and Gorham, of their Western estate, Mr. Phelps selected the site at the foot of Canandaigua Lake as the central locality in his purchase, and the village of Canandaigua received its first settler in the spring of 1789. Many others followed during the same season, and in the August ensuing the new village was described as being “full of people resident, surveyors, explorers, adventurers. Houses were going up--it was a busy, thriving place.”

In the fall of 1788, Kanadesaga (now Geneva) is described as having become “a pretty brisk place, the focus of speculators, explorers, the Lessee Company and their agents, and the principal seat of Indian trade for a wide region. Haratio Jones (the Interpreter) was living in a log house covered with bark on the bank of the lake, and had a small stock of goods for the Indian trade. Asa Ransom, (the afterwards Pioneer of Buffalo,) occupied a hut and was manufacturing Indian trinkets. Lark Jennings had a long cabin and trading establishment covered with bark on the lake shore, which was occupied by Dr. Benton. There was a cluster of log houses all along on the low ground near the lake.” In 1794, Col. Williamson having assumed the agency of the Pulteney Estate, began improvements at Geneva by the erection of the Geneva Hotel.

In the meantime the valleys of the Susquehanna and its tributaries, had been penetrated by adventurers from the South and East. In the year 1787, Captain Joseph Leonard moved up the Susquehanna in a canoe with his family from Wyoming, made the first permanent settlement at Binghamton. In the same year Col. Rose, Joshua Whitney, and a few others, settled in the same vicinity. The settlement at Wattles’ Ferry, (now Unadilla village,) a well known locality in the early days, had been made sometime previous.

In Indian settlement at Oquago, (now Windsor,) as has been stated before, was of long standing. For a few years previous to the French War of 1756, an Indian mission had been established there, at the instance of the elder President Edwards. A small colony of emigrants made a settlement at this place in 1785. In the same year James McMaster made the first settlement at Owego. Tioga Point is said to have been settled as early as 1780, but this seems incredible, unless the first residents were Tories. The pioneers of the Chemung Valley were principally Wyoming people, originally from Connecticut. Col. John Handy was the pioneer at Elmira, settling there in 1788.

The Chemung Valley enjoyed some fame before the arrival of the pioneers. John Miller, Enoch Warner, John Squires, Abijah Patterson, Abner Wells, and others, are given as the names of pioneers of the valley at Elmira and it vicinity; Lebbeus Hammond, of Wyoming, renowned for personal prowess above the border. A notice of the settlements of Chemung, Canisteo and Conhocton, has been given in the preceding portions of this volume.

The brief time allowed for the preparation of this sketch, and the unparalleled confusion of the otherwise valuable works from which our facts must be derived, will compel a random notice of the time of commencing the principal settlements remaining unnoticed. Rev. Andrew Gray and Major Moses Van Campen, with a small colony, settled at Almond, Allegany county, in 1796. Judge Church, of Angelica, not long afterward, began the settlement of Genesee Valley in the same county. William and James Wadsworth, emigrated to their fine estate of Big Tree or Geneseo from Connecticut, in 1790.

It was till about the year 1798, that the State Road from Utica to the Genesee River at Avon, by way of Cayuga Ferry and Canandaigua, was completed. In 1799, a stage passed over this road in three days. In 1800, a road was made from Avon to Ganson’s, now Le Roy. For many years this old Buffalo Road was the centre of settlement. The wide belt of dark, west forest, which extended along the shore of Lake Ontario from Sodus to Niagara, formed a strong-hold of pestilence, which few dared to venture into. Not even the unmatched hydraulic advantages of the Genesee Falls, could tempt the speculator to encounter the fevers that there unnerved the arm of enterprise. It is true that as early as 1790, “Indian Allen,” a demi-savage renegade from New Jersey, resuming a sort of civilization after the Revolutionary war, erected mills at these falls on a certain “one hundred acre tract” given him for that purpose by Mr. Phelps, but it seems that the enterprise was premature.--Other mills along the line of settlement engrossed the custom, and the solitary miller had hardly employment enough to keep his mill in repair. Sometimes it was wholly abandoned, and the chance customer put the mill in motion, ground his own grist, and departed through the forest. In 1810, however, settlements having been made in the Lake district, a bridge was built across the Genesee at this point, and in the following year Col. Nathaniel Rochester, with two associates, Cols. Fitzhugh and Carrol, had become the proprietors of Allen’s lot, laid out a village plot and sold several lots. Thus was founded the city of Rochester. In 1817, it was incorporated a village with the name of Rochesterville. In 1834, it received its city charter.

The Holland Company purchased their great estate west of the Genesee of Robert Morris, in 1792 and 1793. Mr. Joseph Ellicott, of Maryland, the first agent of this Company, and for many years a prominent citizen, arrived in West New York, in 1797. In 1801, Batavia was founded under his auspices.--In 1798, there was an insignificant huddle of log houses, not a dozen in all, on the site of the present city of Buffalo. The possession of the lands at the mouth of Buffalo Creek, long a favorite place of rendezvous of the Indians, was deemed of importance of Mr. Ellicott, and on purchasing it, plotted there the village of New Amsterdam, with its Schimmelpinninck, Stadtnitski, and Vollenhoven Avenues

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SETTLER-LIFE.

The Editor has had in his possession a manuscript sketch of Settler-life, of much value for its exactness and particularly of detail, prepared several years since by a gentlemen of accurate observation and most just sympathies, himself in early life a woodsman and a true lover of nature, and always a hearty friend of the pioneer. It was expected that liberal extracts from this manuscript might have been given, but being unexpectedly curtailed in space, we can present but a passage or two.

A SETTLER’S HOME.

As I was traveling through the county on horseback on a summer day in an early year of settlement I fell in the company with two gentlemen, who were going in the same direction. One of them was the land agent from Bath, who was going to the Genesee river, the other was a foreigner on his way from Easton, in Pennsylvania, to Presque Isle (now Erie) on Lake Erie. We had followed in Indian file a mere path through the woods for several miles, passing at long intervals a log house where the occupants had just made a beginning; when having passed the outskirts of settlement and penetrated deep into the woods, our attention was attached by the tinkling of a cow bell, and the sound of an axe in chopping. We soon saw a little break in the forest, and a log house. As we approached we heard the loud barking of a dog, and as we got near the clearing were met by him with an angry growl as if he would have said, “You can come no further without my master’s permission.” A shrill whistle from within called off the dog. We proceeded to the house. A short distance from it, standing on the fallen trunk of a large hemlock tree, which he had just chopped one in two, was a fine looking young man four or five and twenty years, with an axe in his hand. He was dressed in a tow frock and trousers, with his head and feet bare. The frock, open at the top, showed that he wore no shirt, and exhibited the muscular shoulders and full chest of a very athletic and powerful man. When we stopped our horses he stepped off the log, shook hands with the agent, and saluting us frankly, asked us to dismount and rest ourselves, urging that the distance to the next house was six miles, with nothing but marked trees to guide us a part of the way; that it was nearly noon, and although he could not promise us anything very good to eat, yet he could give us something to prevent us from suffering with hunger. He had no grass growing yet, but he would give the horses some green oats. We concluded to accept the invitation and dismounted and went into the house.

Before describing the house I will notice the appearance of things around it, premising that the settler had begun his improvements in the spring before our arrival. A little boy about three years old was playing with the dog, which though so resolute at our approach, now permitted the child to push him over and sit down upon him. A pair of oxen and a cow with a bell on, were lying in the shade of the woods; two or three hogs were rooting in the leaves near the cattle, and a few fowls were scratching the soil. There was a clearing, or rather chopping around the house of about four acres, half of which had been cleared off and sowed with oats, which had grown very rank and good. The other half of the chopping had been merely burnt over and then planted with corn and potatoes, a hill being planted where there were room between the logs. The corn did not look very well. The chopping was enclosed with a log fence. A short distance from the house a fine spring of water gushed out of the gravel bank, from which a small brook ran down across the clearing, along the borders of which a few geese were feeding.

When we entered the house the young settler said, “Wife, here is the land-agent and two other men,” and turning to us said, “This is my wife.” She was a pretty looking young woman dressed in a coarse loose dress and bare footed. When her husband introduced us, she was a good deal embarrassed, and the flash of her dark eyes and the crimson glow that passed over her countenance, showed that she was vexed at our intrusion. The young settler observed her vexation and said, “Never mind, Sally, the Squire (so he called the agent) knows how people have to live in the woods.” She regained her composure in a moment and greeted us hospitably, and without any apologies for her house or her costume. After a few minutes conversation, on the settler’s suggesting that he had promised “these men something to eat to prevent their getting hungry,” she began to prepare the frugal meal. When we first entered the house she sat near the door, spinning flax on a little wheel, and a baby was lying near her in a cradle formed of the bark of a birch tree, which resting like a trough on rockers, made a very smooth, neat little cradle. While the settler and his other guests were engaged in conversation, I took notice of the house and furniture. The house about 20 by 26 feet, constructed of round logs chinked with pieces of split logs, and plastered on the outside with clay. The floors was made of split logs with the flat sides up; the door, of thin pieces split out of a large log, and the roof of the same. The windows were holes unprotected by glass or sash; the fire place was made of stone and the chimney of sticks and clay. On one side of the fire place was a ladder leading to the chamber. There was a bed in a one corner of the room, a table and five or six chairs, and on one side a few shelves of split boards, on which were a few articles of crockery and some tin-ware, and on one of them a few books. Behind the door was a large spinning wheel and a reel, and over head on wooden hooks fastened to the beams were a number of things, among which were a nice rifle, powder horn, bullet pouch, tomahawk and hunting knife--the complete equipment of the hunter and the frontier settler. Everything looked nice and tidy, even to the rough stones which had been laid down for a hearth.

In a short time our dinner was ready. It consisted of corn bread and milk, eaten out of tin basins with iron spoons. The settler ate with us, but his wife was employed while we were at dinner in sewing on what appeared to be a child’s dress. The settler and the agent talked all the time, generally on the subject of the settlement of the country. After dinner the latter and his companion took their departure, the one making the little boy a present of a half dollar, and the other giving the same sum to the baby.

I have now introduced to the reader one of the best and most intelligent among the first settlers of the county. He was a man of limited information, except as to what related to his own particular business; but his judgment was good, and he was frank, candid and fearless. He belonged to that class of men who distinguished themselves as soldiers during the Revolutionary War, and who were in many instances the descendants of the celebrated “bold yeomanry of old England,” whose praises were commemorated by the English bard when he wrote,

“Princes and lords may flourish or may fade,
A breath can make them, as a breath has made;
But a bold yeomanry, their country’s pride,
When once destroyed, can never be supplied.”

THE FRIENDLINESS OF THE PIONEERS.

The social relations and neighborly intercourse of the settlers were of the most kind and friendly character, and proved the truth of the common saying that “people were much more friendly in new countries than they were in the old settlements.” It was no uncommon thing among them to comply literally with the injunctions of scripture which requires us “to give to him that sketch and from him that would borrow to turn not away.” Their kindness and sympathy to and for each other was indeed most extraordinary, and showed a degree of sensibility which we look for in vain in a more cultivated and enlightened state of society. At the commencement of the sugar-making perhaps, some one in the settlement would cut his leg badly with an axe, making a deep and ghastly wound, which would render him a cripple for weeks and perhaps for months. The neighbors would assemble, that is, make a bee and do all his work as far as it could be done at that time, and then, by arrangement among themselves, one man would go every afternoon and gather the sap, carrying it to the house where it could be boiled up by the settler’s wife. Again, one would be taken sick in harvest time: his neighbors would make a bee, harvest and secure his crops, when, at the same time, their own grain very likely would be going to waste for want of gathering. In seed time a man’s ox would perhaps be killed by the falling of a tree: the neighbors would come with their teams and drag in his wheat when they had not yet sowed their own. A settler’s house would accidentally burn down--his family would be provided for at the nearest neighbors, and all would turn out and build and finish a house in a day or two so that the man could take his family into it. Instances like these, in which the settlers exhibited their kindness and sympathy for each other might be extended indefinitely, but we have referred to a sufficient number to show the kindness and good feeling that existed among them.

A REMINISCENCE.

For the purpose of showing how much time and labor it required in many cases for the first settlers to procure even the most common articles of food, I will state what has been related to me by one of the most respectable and intelligent of the first settlers of Dansville. He stated that when he first settled in that town, it was very difficult to procure provisions of any kind; and there was no grain to be had anywhere but of the Indians, at Squeaky Hill, who had corn, which they would sell for a silver dollar a bushel. In order to get some corn for bread--his supply having become exhausted--he went several miles to a place where a wealthy man was making large improvements and employed a good many hands. He chopped for him four days, for which he received two dollars. The corn had been kept by the Indians tied up in bunches by the husks, and hung around the walls of their cabin, and was by black and dirty, covered with soot and ashes. He took the corn home and his wife washed it clean with a good deal of labor and dried it so that it could be ground. He then got the horse another day, and carried the corn to mill, twelve or fifteen miles, and was fortunate enough to get it ground and reach home the same day. Here we see that it took seven days work of the settler to get the meal of two bushels of corn. The old gentlemen’s eye kindled when he related these circumstances, and he said that the satisfaction and happiness he felt when sitting by the fire and looking at the bag full of meal standing in the corner of his log house, for surpassed what he experienced at any other time in the acquisition of property, although he became in time the owner of a large farm, with a large stock of horses, cattle, and sheep, and all the necessary implements of a substantial and wealthy farmer.

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THE VILLAGE OF CORNING.

Corning owes its existence and prosperity to no original superiority of location over neighboring villages, but has sprung up to a thriving and commanding position by having become the centre of great public improvements. The history of these is the history of the place.

By the construction of the Chemung Canal this point was made an inland termination of navigable communication with the Hudson river and the ocean. It was consequently the point from which the products of the forest, the field, and the river, for a vast extent of country were destined to seek a market. The sagacious enterprise of a few capitalists pointed to it as the future centre of an extensive commerce.

The extensive mines of bituminous coal, at Blossburgh, in the state of Pennsylvania, had early attracted attention, and shortly after the completion of the Chemung canal two corporations, one of which had been created by the state of Pennsylvania, to construct a slack water navigation from Blossburgh to the state line, and the other by the State of New York, to continue the same to Elmira, were authorized by their respective states to build railroads connecting at the state line, and in this state, extending to a point at or near the termination of the Chemung canal.

The work of constructing these railroads was commenced in 1836, and at the same time an association of gentlemen now known as the Corning Company, having purchased a large tract of land on both sides of the Chemung river, and laying out streets and lots, made a beginning of the future village of Corning by the erection of a large hotel called the “Corning House.” The Corning and Blossburgh railroad was completed and put into operation in 1840. About the same time the work of building the New York and Eire railroad which passes through the village was commenced in the vicinity and prosecuted vigorously till the suspension of the work in 1842. The Bank of Corning, with a capital of $104,000, had been organized and put in operation in 1839. So rapid was the growth of the village, that the population amounted in 1841 to 900.

Here its prosperity was for a time arrested. The commercial revolutions which paralyzed enterprise and industry everywhere were felt with peculiar severity here. The work upon the New York and Erie railroad which had drawn together a considerable population, was suspended. The property of the Corning and Blossburgh railroad was seized by creditors. The price of lumber, the great staple of the country, would hardly pay the cost of manufacture. Large quantities of coal lay upon the bank of the river and in eastern markets, wanting purchasers. Bankruptcy was almost universal, and the resource of industry was almost entirely cut off.

Notwithstanding these drawbacks to the prosperity of the village, the advantages of its position and the hopeful energies of its citizens did not suffer the relapse to continue long.--After a while the demand for coal increased and the market enlarged. Improved prices of lumber stimulated it manufacture, and larger quantities were brought here for shipment. The place became the centre of a heavy trade, and capital sought investment in manufacturers. In 1848 the village was incorporated under the general law, containing at the time 1700 inhabitants.

In the meantime the work of building the Erie railroad was resumed, and on the first day of January, 1850, was opened a direct railway communication with the city of New York. The elements of prosperity seemed complete.

But there were elements to contend with of an adverse and direful character. On the eighteenth day of May, 1850, occurred a fire, more extended and disastrous in proportion of the size of the place, than has often, if ever happened elsewhere. The entire business part of the village comprising nearly one hundred buildings, with large quantities of lumber, was in a few hours laid in ashes. Yet the disaster was so common and universal--misfortune had so many companions--there were so many to share the loss that the burden seemed to be scarcely felt. The embers had not cooled before shanties of rough boards supplied the place of stores, and for months almost the entire business was carried on in places neither secure for summer rains or thieves. In the meantime the work of rebuilding was going on, and in no long time substantial and splendid buildings again occupied the place of the ruins.

In the year 1852 was opened the first section of the Buffalo, Corning and New York railroad, having its eastern terminus at Corning. The remainder of the line to Buffalo, will be in operation in the course of 1853. The Corning and Blossburgh railroad also was relied with a new and heavy rail and newly equipped throughout.

The annual exports of coal and lumber are forty thousand tons of the former, and fifty million feet of the latter. In its canal commerce, Corning is the fifth port in the state.

In new villages and settlements, schools and churches are apt to receive but secondary attention. In Corning its Union School of four or five hundred scholars has maintained a not inferior rank, and its five Churches give evidence of some considerable attention to morals and religion.

The population is now not far from three thousand, and the sanguine predict an increase vastly more rapid in future than it has been in former years.

THE GREAT WINDFALL.

The first stable in the town of Bath was literally “put up by a whirlwind.” In 1791, or about that time, a destructive hurricane swept over the land. Judge Baker in after years took pains to collect information of the movements of the great “northern fanatic,” and was of the opinion that its path from Lake Erie to the Atlantic was about ninety miles in breadth, and that the northern limit of its agitation in this county was at the upper town line of Urbana. A more violent “agitator” never passed through the land. Thousands of acres of forest were prostrated, and the frightful windfall, briar-grown and tangled, which settlers afterwards found in this county were the effects of this “inflammatory appeal” to the weak brethren of the wilderness. We have met a veteran farmer who was a child at the time when the tornado passed, and happened on that day to be left by his parents to take care of still younger children, and remembers hiding in a hole in the ground with his little brothers while the forest was filled with the terrific roar of falling pines.

Mr. Jonathan Cook, an early settler at Painted Post, was driving a pack horse laden with provisions to Pleasant Valley where Phelps and Gorham’s surveyors were at work, and was near the mouth of Smith’s Creek, on the Conhocton, when the storm struck him. He took refuge under an oak tree, while the wind, sweeping furiously up the ravine, uprooted the maples, twisted branches from the trees and scattered them in the air like wisps of hay. A whirling gust caught the cluster under which he was standing. The oak beneath which he had taken refuge was prostrated, but he himself fell with his face to the ground and escaped unhurt. His horse however met with a strange catastrophe. The whirlwind tore up several large trees and imprisoned the unfortunate animal in a cage so impregnable that the driver was enable to extricate him, but was obliged to go over to the surveyors’ camp and get men to return with axes and make a breach in the walls of the stable. This was rather a rough joke, even for a whirlwind, but the horse was but little hurt.

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THE SETTLERS OF DANSVILLE.

(The notice of the settlement of the town of Dansville originally prepared for this work was accidentally lost. At this time it is impossible to supply the names of the settlers in the southern part of the town, furnished by Wm. C. Rogers, Esq., of Rogersville. The village of Dansville falling within the province of the author of the History of Phelps and Gorham’s Purchase, a brief notice of the settlers of that portion of the old town, formerly a part of Steuben county is condensed from the valuable and copious work.) The first settlers upon the site of the village of Dansville, was Neil McCoy. He came from Painted Post and located whose his step-son, James McCurdy, who came in with him, now resides. The family was four days making the journey from Painted Post, camping out two nights on the way. To raise their log-home, help came from Bath, Geneseo and Mount Morris, with Indians from Squeaky Hill and Geared. During the first season, it is mentioned that Mrs. McCoy, hearing of the arrival of Judge Hurlburt’s family at Arkport, eleven miles distant, resolved as an act of backwoods courtesy to make the first call. Taking her son with her, she made the journey through the woods by marked trees, dined with her new neighbors, and returned in time to do her milking after a walk of twenty-two miles.

Amariah Hammond, Esq., a widely known pioneer of the town who died at a venerable age in the winter of 1850, “coming in to explore, slept two nights under a pine tree on the premises he afterwards purchased. Early in the spring of 1796 he removed his young family from Bath to this place; his wife and infant child on horseback, his household goods and farming utensils on a sled drawn by four oxen, and a hired man driving the cattle.”

Captain Daniel P. Faulkner was an early property holder and spirited citizen of the town in the palsy days of Col. Williamson, and from his familiar appellate, “Captain Dan” the village took its name. In 1798 Jacob Welch, Jacob Martz, Conrad Martz, George Shirey, and Frederick Barnhart emigrated to Dansville with their families. They came up the Conhocton valley, and were three days on the road from Bath, camping out two nights. At the arrival of this party the names of the settlers already on the ground besides those before named were Mr. Phoenix, James Logan, David Scholl, James Vanderwenter, Jared Erwin, William Perine. Col. Nathaniel Rochester became a resident of Dansville in 1810.

The settlement of the southern part of this town was not commenced till about the year 1816. Of the settlers in that district we can only recall the names of Messrs. Wm. C. Rogers and Jonas Bridge. In the year 1816 (or about that time) Mr. Rogers, on arriving in the vicinity of the present village of Rogersville, found the merest handful of settlers in all that quarter. At this day the wilderness has given place to a pleasant village with an academy of substantial worth, surrounded by a thriving farming country.


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