The Pioneer History of
 Orleans County, NY

Chapter 15
The Town of Barre

Online Edition by Holice & Deb




First Settled along Oak Orchard Road -- Land Given by the Holland Company for Congregational Society -- Congregational Church -- Presbyterian Church in Albion -- First Tavern--First Store -- First Lawyer -- First Doctor -- First Deed of Land to Settler -- Deeds of Land in Albion -- First House in Albion -- Death of Mrs. McCallister -- First Warehouse -- First Saw Mill -- First Grist Mill -- Trade in Lumber -- First Ball -- First Town Meeting -- Fourth of July, 1821 -- First Wedding in Albion -- Story -- Biographies of Early Settlers.

This town, so named by Judge John Lee, in honor of Barre, Mass., his native town, was set off from Gaines, by Act of the Legislature, March 6, 1818. At the time of the first settlement of this town, the main road, by which people traveled to and from the old States, was the ridge Road. The Ridge was always dry, and comfortable for travel when the streams, which cross it, could be forded, before the bridges were made; but on leaving the Ridge north or south, when the ground was not frozen, the roads were terribly muddy, long tracts of low land requiring to be covered with logs laid transversely side by side for a carriage track, called "corduroy." As this was a work of considerable labor, the settlers had to wallow through the mud, as best they could, until they were able to build their highways.

There was no sawmills, and even if there had been mills, upon such roads lumber could not be moved to market, and there was no market for lumber south of the ridge, before the canal was dug.

The Indians had a trail, or Indian Road, from their settlements in Livingston County, on the Genesee River, to an Indian village in Niagara county; and another trail from the mouth of Oak Orchard Creek, to intersect the first mentioned trail, which was used by white men and known as the Oak Orchard Road, passing through Barre, from north to south. On this trail or road, the travel to Batavia was conducted.--it was not passable for carriages, as the Indians had none, and the settlers had to clear the brush and remove the fallen trees, which obstructed, before they could get their teams through. This was done by the Holland Company at an early day.

Several families came into Barre before the war of 1812, but that event nearly suspended emigration while it lasted.

Salt was made on the Oak Orchard Creek north of Medina, before the canal was made; and to accommodate the people and benefit themselves, the Holland Company opened a road from the Salt Works, in a south-easterly direction, to intersect the Oak Orchard Road, about two miles south of Albion. This was known as the "Salt Works Road" and was discontinued many years ago.

Among the inducements offered by the Land Company to settlers on their lands, was an offer of a tract of land, to the first religious society that should be organized in each town on their Purchase. In pursuance of this custom, the Holland Company deeded, March 8, 1822, tot he Trustees of "The First Congregational Society in the town of Barre," one hundred acres of land, lying on the north part of lot nineteen, town fifteen, range two; being part of the farm afterwards cleared and owned by Azariah Loveland.--the deed conveys this land to said "Trustees and their successors in office, for the benefit of the said Congregational order, and those who preach the doctrines contained in the Assembly's Catechism, and no other." So careful were our fathers in Barre, to provide for keeping their religious faith pure, and free from heresy, as they regarded it. That religious society was the first organized in Barre, and still exists, now located at Barre Center. Its first board of Trustees was Orange Starr, Cyril Wilson, Ithamar Hibbard, John Bradner, Caleb C. Thurston, and Oliver Benton. The church connected with this society, was organized Dec. 5, 1817.

"The First Presbyterian Society of Albion" was incorporated March 20, 1826, and was the second religious society incorporated in the town of Barre, and the first in the village of Albion. Its first Trustees were Harvey Goodrich, Joseph Hart, Ebenezer Rogers, William White, Hiram Sickels, and Milton W. Hopkins. Their first house of worship, the same now occupied by the Episcopalians, was erected in 1830.--the whole number of communicants, in this church at its organization, was sixteen. Rev. Wm. Johnson, their first pastor, commenced his labors here in 1824.

The first tavern in Barre was kept by Abram Mattison, in 1815, on the west side of the Oak Orchard Road, about two miles south of Albion. The first tavern in Albion was kept by ------- Churchill, on the south corner of Main and Canal Streets. The first school was taught by Mrs. Silas Benton, in the south part of what is not the village of Albion.

The first store, for the sale of dry goods, and groceries, is believed to have been kept by E. & A. Mix, at porter's Corners. Mr. Abiathar Mix removed to that place, and took an Article for a tract of land, in 1817. Being a mason by trade, and having no mason work to do, he went into the business of making potash, and selling goods, his brother, Ebenezer Mix, of Batavia, furnishing a part of the capital.

About the year 1819, a store was opened by Orris H. Gardner, near Benton's Corners, on the Oak Orchard Road.

The Oak Orchard Road was the first public highway laid out in this town. About 1803, the Holland Company caused a survey to be made of this road from "The Five Corners," in Gaines, about a mile north of Albion, to the forks of the road south of Barre Center. This survey was due north and south, to straighten the old trail. The highway was not opened and worked precisely as laid.

Many of the earliest locations of land by settlers were made along this road, and it was these locations, this highway and the Erie Canal, which established the village of Albion.

The first regular lawyer in this town was Theopohilus Capen, who came here about the time work on the Canal was begun, and kept an office for a while in Albion. William J. Moody came to Albion to practice law, a short time before the count of Orleans was organized, he was followed by Alexis Ward, Henry r. Curtis, A. Hyde Cole, Geo. W. Fleming, and several others.

Dr. Orson Nichoson was the first physician. He settled tin Barre in 1819.

The first deed of land lying in the town of Barre, from the Holland Land Company, was given to jacob Young, dated June 7, 1813, and conveyed one hundred acres of lot thirty-three, town fifteen, range one. This land is now owned by Stephen N. Whitney, and lies about a mile and a half south from Albion, on the west side of the Oak Orchard Road.

William Bradner took a deed from the Company, of the land in Albion, on the east side of Main Street, from Bailey Street, to the north bounds of Barre, December 3, 1819, containing two hundred and sixty-six acres. Roswell Burrows took a like deed of one hundred and sixty-six acres, lying on the west side of Main Street, bounded north by the town line of Gaines, October 11, 1825. This tract, so deeded to Burrows, was taken up by Article from the Company by Jesse Bumpus, in august, 1815, and afterwards sold by him to Mr. Burrows. The land so deeded to William Bradner, was taken by Article from the Land company, by William McCollister, about the year 1811. Mr. McCollister made the first clearing in the village of Albion, where the Court House now stands,. He first dwellinghouse erected in Albion was a log cabin, built by McCollister,. Near where Phipps Union Seminary now stands. In that he lived, and there his wife died, about the year 1812; being the first white women who died in the town of Barre. No clergyman was then in town to conduct religious services on the occasion and no boards could be obtained to make her coffin. Her sorrowing husband, assisted by two or three men, split and hewed some rough planks from trees, pinned them together with wooden pins, to make a box, in which the corpse was placed, and buried, this little company, present at this first funeral comprised almost the entire population of the town.

The first warehouse in town was built by Nehemiah Ingersoll, on the canal, about fifteen rods east of Main Street, in Albion.

The first saw-mill in town was built by Dr. Wm. White, on the creek south-east of Albion, about eighty rods south of the railroad, in the year 1816. William Bradner built a small grist-mill on this creek, farther down, in 1819.

For several years after the Erie Canal was first opened, a brisk trade in white-wood lumber was carried on, from, timber cut convenient to draw to the canal. Good whitewood boards sold on the bank of the canal for $5 per thousand feet, and other lumber at corresponding prices. Whitewood was a common tree in this town. the lumber was carried to Albany. After buildings began to be constructed by carpenters and joiners, the floors and finishing were principally done with whitewood.

The first regular ball in Barre was at Mattison's tavern, July 4, 1819. To fit the house for the party, they took up the split basswood floor and laid down boards in the bar-room to dance on.

The first town meetings, after this town was organized, were held at Mattison's tavern, the next afterwards at Benton's tavern.

The 4th of July, 1821, was celebrated by the people of Barre in a grove near where "the round school house" was afterwards built, on Lee Street. A committee was appointed, who procured the necessary gunpowder, liquor and sugar, at Batavia. Provisions for the tables were furnished by voluntary contributions, and a diner gotten up which was partaken of by everybody in pic-nic style. Dr. Orson Nichoson delivered an oration and the customary patriotic toasts were drunk, to the sound of discharges of musketry, as they had no cannon. In the evening, the remains from the tables and the bottles, were taken to a neighboring log cabin, and there disposed of by all who chose to take part; and music and dancing, and festivity, were kept up till next morning, by a company of old and young. This was the first public celebration of our National Independence in Barre.

Among the first settlers in Barre were William McCollister, Lansing bailey, Joseph Hart, Joseph Stoddard, Elijah Darrow, Reuben Clark and Silas Benton.

The first marriage, in what is not the village of Albion, took place under the following circumstances. An action was tried before Robert Anderson, a Justice of the Peace, at the village of Gaines, to recover damages for a hog that had been killed by the defendant wrongfully. The plaintiff recovered a judgment. As soon as the result was declared, the defendant took the Justice aside, and asked him to go at once to a house mentioned and marry him; giving as his reason for haste, that execution would soon be issued against him on the judgment, which he was unable to pay that he would be taken to Batavia to jail, and, if he was a single man, he did not know when he should get out, but if he was married he could swear out in thirty days. The Justice objected, that it was then midnight, the house named was three miles off, the night was dark, and the road was through the woods most of the way. He finally agreed to go after getting supper. In the mean time, the would-be bride-groom hurried to the house to wake up the family, and the bride, and put a light in the window to guide the Esquire. The marriage took place according to programme. The house stood on the west side of Main street, about a quarter of a mile north of the canal.

The Pioneer History of Orleans County, NY, By Arad Thomas


Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Deb

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