The Pioneer History of
 Orleans County, NY
Barre
Biographies, Part II

By Arad Thomas

Online Edition by Holice & Deb

 

GIDEON HARD.

Hon. Gideon Hard was born in Arlington, Vermont, April 29, 1797. His grand-mother was sister of col. Seth Warner, celebrated in the history of the Revolutionary War for his services in taking Ticonderago, and in the battle of Bennington. In his youth he labored first upon farm, afterwards with an older brother at the trade of house joiner for two years.

About this time he resolved to obtain a college education. Being poor and dependent mainly on his own exertions, like many other New England boys, he taught school in the winter seasons and studied the remainder of the time, until he succeeded in passing through Union college at Schenectady, where he received his first degree in July, 1822. In the autumn of that year he commenced studying law with Hon, John L. Wendell, then of Cambridge, Washington County, since law reporter of the Supreme Court of the State of New York.

The rules of the Supreme Court at that time required three years of law study previous to admission to practice. By the aid of his friend and teacher J. L. Wendell, he was allowed to take his examination at the May term of the court 1825, and was then admitted attorney in the Supreme court.

In March, 1826, he settled to practice his profession in Newport, now Albion, but did not move his wife to his new home until July of the same year. He opened his office and began his practice.

In 1827 he was elected Commissioner of Schools for Barre and in the autumn of that year he was appointed County Treasurer, an office he held six years. In 1832 he was elected a Representative in Congress from the district comprising Orleans and Niagara counties, and took his seat in congress in Dec. 1833, during the first year of President Jackson's administration, in political classification being ranked as a Whig. In 1834 he was re-elected to Congress, and during the long session of 1836 he served on the committee on elections. The case of James Graham, a member from North Carolina, whose seat was contested, came before that committee, where after a lengthy examination a majority of the committee reported in favor of the contestant, General Newland.

Mr. Hard drafted a counter report of the minority in favor of Graham, which he presented and advocated in a personnel effort before the House. He was sustained by the vote of the House. This result, in a body where he was largely in the minority, on a question which was decided mainly on party grounds and by his political opponents, was highly gratifying to his political friends and party and flattering to his ambition.

On the 4th of March, 1837, he left Congress and returned to Albion to practice his profession.

In 1841 he was elected Senator in the State Senate to represent the eighth district of new York, and was the only Whig senator elected in the State that year. The Senate of the State at that time constituted the Court for the Correction of Errors, of which Court he thus became a member.

The business of the Court consisted in reviewing the decisions of the Supreme Court and the Court of chancery, which might be brought before them on appeal. The Court held three terms of four weeks each annually.

As the Senate was composed largely of civilians, who in the decision of cases which came before them while sitting as a court of law, did little more then vote upon the final questions, the main labor of the Court fell upon the members who were lawyers, in investigating the questions of law presented, and writing out the opinions that were given.

Mr. Hard took his share of this labor, thoroughly examining the causes in the Court and writing out his opinion, many of which are published in the Law Reports of the State.

In 1845 his office as Senator having terminated by the adoption of the new constitution of the State, which abolished the old Senate and Court for Correction of errors, Mr. Hard was appointed a Canal appraiser, which office he held two years, and in 1850 returned to the practice of his profession until the fall of 1856, when he was elected County Judge and Surrogate of Orleans County, which office he held four years.

The year 1860 he was in ill health and did little business. The next three year he spent mainly in attendance upon his sick wife She died, an event which broke up his family, and since then he has resided most of the time with his children engaged in no business.

Mr. Hard married Adeline Burrell, of Hoosie Falls, New York, in August, 1824.

They had two children, Samuel B. Hard, a lawyer and business man residing in the city of New York, and Helen B. who married Geo. H. Potts, and resides in New York also.

Mrs. Hard died at Albion Sept. 15, 1864.

EBENEZER ROGERS.

Dea. Ebenezer Rogers was born in Norwich, Conn., October 3, 1769. He married Betsey Lyman of Lebanon, Connecticut, who died August 28, 1849. Mr. Rogers removed from New England to Onondaga Co., N. Y., in 1812, and in March, 1810, settled on the farm on which he afterwards resided in the south part of the village of Albion. When he came, not more then twenty families had settled in Barre and his house was a home for many of the young men, who came here to select a farm for themselves, or, who, having a lot, were clearing it and building a cabin, preparatory to occupying with their families.

Being a professor of religion and deeply impressed with the importance of that subject, he was among the most earnest of the settlers in introducing the stated observance of the forms of public worship among then; and with his near neighbor, Joseph Hart and others, he assisted to form the first Congregational Church and Society in Barre, which finally was established at Barre Center, and after Albion became a village, he was conspicuous in organizing the First Presbyterian Church and Society in Albion, which was an offshoot from the organization first described. Of the latter church, Mr. Rogers was a long time deacon, and a ruling elder.

He was by trade a tanner and shoemaker, but never followed that business.

Of a strong physical constitution, Mr. Rogers lived to see his children settled around him in competence, enjoying the abundance of the good things of this good land, which he and his worthy compeers had done so much to reclaim from the wilderness of nature. Mr. Rogers died January 28, 1865, aged ninety-six years, three months and twenty-five days.

ASA SANFORD.

"I was born in the town of Farmington, Hartford Co., Conn., June 2, 1797. My parents were members of the Presbyterian Church and gave their children a strictly religious, as well as a common school education, as was the custom in New England. In February, 1806, my father removed with his family, then consisting of wife, four sons and two daughters, to Candor, Tioga Co., N. Y., a journey of about three hundred miles.

My father, oldest brother and myself, performed this journey, with a pair of oxen and one horse, attached to a sled, being twelve days on the road.

A hired man brought my mother and her other children in a sleigh.

That country was then wild, with but few settlers scattered along the Susquehanna and Chemung rivers, with dense forests stretching back thirty miles with a human being, inhabited by bears, wolves, panthers, deer and smaller animals.

A road had been opened between Owego and Ithaca, on which a few settlers had located.

In the fall of 1806, I went to Ithaca with my father, with oxen and wagon, after a load of salt.

I think Ithaca was then the most loathsome and desolate place I had ever seen. It stood on low, black soil, surrounded north and west by a quagmire swamp. It rained hard, and the black mud was so deep, it was with difficulty our oxen could draw two barrels of sale home.

My father and another man, built the first school house in the town of Candor, and opened the first school there. The schoolhouse stood three miles from my father's swelling and I went there to school through the woods, with no other shoes as than such as my mother made, from woolen cloth from day to day.

In June, 1806, my father, his hired man, my brother and myself, were hoeing corn, between ten and eleven o'clock in the forenoon, when we noticed a singular appearance, in the atmosphere; the sky looked sombre, the birds retired tot he woods, the hens to their roosts, and went to the house. The sun was all darkened, but a rim around the edge; the gloom and chill of evening settled on all the earth around. This lasted but a short time; when the sun came out from its dark pall, everything assumed its wonted activity and light and the 'great eclipse' passed off.

I continued most of the time working with and for my father, occasionally working for others, till one day as I was chopping in the woods, a young man came along and said to me, he was not going to live longer in that hilly, sterile place; that he had been in the 'Genesee' and found a country far preferable to that for beauty and farming purposes.

I heard this story and determined that at some time I would see that famous 'Genesee country.'

In the spring of 1816, I bought my time of my father for $100. I was nineteen years old. I hired out to work for $14 per month and in less than a year earned enough to pay my father for my time, and had money left. I continued working where I could make it most profitable, got plenty of work and good pay, until in the summer of 1819, feeling as if I had worked for others long enough, having then ten acres of land and several head of cattle, I felt a desire to get a good wheat farm for myself.

I started with two young men, on foot, knapsacks on our backs, Aug. 27, 1819, to go the Genesee county. We went through Ithaca, and took the road to Geneva, traveling as far as Ovid the first day, forty miles. Next day through Geneva and Canandaigua, we reached West Bloomfield. Next day through Lima and Avon, we arrived at Batavia and went to the office of the Holland Company to see about land.

In the office, the agent appeared rather sour, little disposed to be sociable. He said he had. He was asked where it lay and replied, 'everywhere, all over, you cannot go amiss.' I asked him if it was wild, or improved farms? He answered 'go and look, when you run your head into a great improvement you will know it, won't you?' I turned indignantly and walked out of the office, saying, 'I had a mind to boot that fellow.'

The agent followed us out to close the blinds and hearing our conversation, said rather pleasantly, 'boys, keep a stiff upper lip.'

We stayed that night at the old 'Pioneer Tavern.' the landlord tried hard to convince ne that the agent was a New England gentleman, one that I would be pleased to do business with.

We were informed of the rapid growth of a new town north of Batavia, called Barre, lying between the Tonawanda Swamp and the Ridge road. Towards this new town we set out the next morning.

After examining various parts of Barre and Gaines, we selected our locations in Barre, and returned to the Land office to secure our Articles for our land; but finding we lacked a few dollars required to pay the first payment, the agent kindly offered to 'book' the lots to us, until we got the money.

We made no further complaint against the agent, who 'booked' the land to us and we returned to make preparations for felling the timber on our new farms. Never before did we complain of the rapid flight of time, but here, while laboring for ourselves, we thought these the shortest days we have ever see.

On the 12th of October, 1819, having obtained the money, we went to the office of took our Articles for our land, went back to our work and after chopping five or six acres apiece, we returned to our friends in Tioga county.

During the next winter, we fitted out with teams, tools, clothing and a quantity of pork, and in march, 1820, set out for our new homes and after a tedious journey of twelve days, through snow, water and mud, we arrived home April 1st.

Having no hay for our cattle, we cut browse to feed them, giving a few ears of corn procured from our neighbors, till vegetation grew so that they could live in the woods.

We hired our board cooked at a neighbors and cleared off what we had chopped the previous season and planted the land with corn. The season being propitious, we had good crops of corn, with oats, potatoes, beans and other vegetables, and melons in abundance. We also cleared off and sowed several acres with wheat.

In the autumn, the bears were very troublesome in our cornfields, committing their nightly depredations, till it became necessary to put our veto upon them; this we did in various ways--by trapping, shooting, night watching, &c., until we had captured four of them and thus saved our crops.

After securing our crops and preparing for winter, we sold our teams and returned to our parental homes.

During the next season we experienced much inconvenience in getting our board dressed for us. The woman who did it became quite tired of doing the work for the 'old bachelors' and I began to realize the truth of the Divine declaration that 'it is not good for a man to be alone.'

After visiting among friends in Tioga County a few days, I hired out for three months. march 4, 1821, I was married. About the middle of the month, putting all on board a covered wagon, with two yoke of oxen attached, and in company with the two young men previously referred to, we set out again for our new wilderness home, in the Genesee country.

After two weeks hard labor, we arrived at our home, to the great joy of our neighbors, especially the women. We moved into a small house with one of our neighbors, until we could build us a house, which we built a few weeks after

While the early pioneers of a new country are necessarily subject to many hardships and privations, unknown to settlers of older countries, still there are many enjoyments and pleasing reminiscences for these pioneers, which they never forget. Aristocracy is unknown in a new country. The people are all friendly, and kindly disposed towards each other. If any are sick, they are at once cared for. If a farmer was attacked with the ague, that dread disease, so common among the pioneers of this county, before he could get his spring crops into the ground, his neighbors would turnout and put them in for him and if necessary, they would keep his work along until he was able to do it himself. If there is any state of society where men fulfill the Divine injunction 'love thy neighbor as thyself,' it is found among the pioneers of a new country.

If any one got lost in the woods, and did not return at night, search was at once made by everybody and no sleep was had until the lost one was found.

After we moved into our new house, I started out to buy me a cow, bought one and we now commenced housekeeping under circumstances quite favorable, at least our neighbor's thought so. My wife had a few necessary articles of furniture, so that we were about as well of as any of our neighbors.

There were no pianos or melodeons in those days. The little wheel for spinning flax and the great wheel for spinning tow, furnished the music. A few years later and we had other house music.

I plodded on for eight years, adding field to field of my cleared, improved land, and then found myself unable to pay even the interest due on my Article to the Land Company.

I raised about $70, and with this went to Batavia to see the agent. I determined this time to walk into the office with my head up and meet any insult I might receive with manly independence.

I found the agent alone in the office, went up to him and laid down my Article and all the money I had, saying my Article has expired and here is all the money I have. I want to renew my contract, as I have no idea of giving up my premises yet.

The agent walked up, took my Article, unfolded it and said, 'you have not assigned it I see.' Then taking up the money he said pleasantly, 'walk into the other room.' I did so and in less time than II have been writing this, my new Article was made out, my payment indorsed and I was ready to start for home. But on returning to the contractor's room, the agent said to me he had relinquished all the back interest and $1 per acre of the principal, making an entire new sale, with eight years' pay day, as at first, and asked me if I was satisfied. My gratitude had by this time become almost unbounded and I left the office, thanking the old agent for his kindness and thinking after all, beneath a rough exterior he had a generous heart.

I mention this incident to show the kind and generous treatment extended towards the poor industrious settlers upon the lands of the Holland Company.--Many incidents of a like character might be recorded to the credit of the Company.

I came home inspired with new energy and determination to struggle on and overcome every hardship and difficulty in my way.

We had but little sickness compared with our neighbors, as yet. In the spring of 1823, I had severe inflammation of the lungs, and in the spring of 1828, I was taken with fever and ague, which held me through the season.

The next spring my wife was sick with fever and ague and thrush, which kept her ill till the October following.

Our children, then four in number, had their full shares of fever and ague. It was painful to see the little ones draw up to the fire while suffering their chill, then see then retire to their beds, tormented with the raging thirst and fever following the chills, while their mother could do little for them, except to supply their frequent calls for water.

In the fall of 1824 or 1825 two men living near Barre Center, named Selah Belden, and Nathan Angel, started on Saturday morning to hunt deer west from the Center. They parted in the afternoon, each after separate game. At night Mr. Belden returned--Mr. Angel did not. Next morning Belden with some of his neighbors, went out and spent the day looking for Angel, but not finding him, the next morning a general rally of all the men in town was made and the woods thoroughly searched and the dead body of Mr. Angel was found, having apparently fallen and died from exhaustion. The body was carried to Benton's Corners, then the centre of the settlement,--a jury called by Ithamar Hibbard, Esq., one of the first coroners, and it is believed this was the first coroner's inquest in Orleans County. As the county was cleared up and the low lands drained of their surface water the people suffered less from ague.

The canal being now opened, farmers found a ready market and better prices for their produce. Home manufactures were protected from foreign competition and the price of domestic goods greatly reduced. It was then the farmers began to thrive and soon to pay up for their lands. The price of real estate advanced and some even predicted the time would come when the best farms would be worth one hundred dollars per acre, hardly expecting to live to see their predictions fulfilled as they have done.

The attention of the early pioneers was called to the subject of common schools for their children and the next building to go up after a log cabin for a dwelling was a log school house.

One of our own statesmen while a member of the Legislature being asked where he graduated, replied: 'In a log school house up in Orleans county.' I have often carried my eldest son to and from school on my back through the deep snows of winter.

More than forty years ago I united with the Methodist Episcopal church at West Barre and in 1843 withdrew from that church and united with the Wesleyan Methodists.

Many years ago, convinced of the sin of intemperance, I resolved to use no more intoxicating liquor as a beverage, a resolution to which I have strictly adhered ever since.

January 28th, 1862. 
ASA SANFORD.

Andrew H. Green, of Bryon, Genesee County, N. Y., writes for the Orleans County Pioneer Association records, his local history as follows:

"I was born in Johnstown, Montgomery Co., N. Y., Oct. 16th. 1797, and in June, 1809, came to Genesee county from Rome, Oneida County, N. Y.

In 1792 my father and Judge Tryon of New Lebanon, came to Irondequoit, near Rochester and built a storehouse; and in 1808, my father came to what is now Bergen and Sweden and purchased something of a farm and commenced on the north bounds of what is now the Methodist camp ground, in Bergen, running north to the road running east to Sweden Centre, twenty-five lots containing three thousand acres at twenty-two shillings per acre.

It was a hard country to settle. There were but few inhabitants and the roads were very bad. As soon as they began to erect mill-dams there was a great deal of sickness.

We went to Hanford's Landing, at the mouth of Genesee river, to trade and sell potash. I found but two houses between our house and Clarkson Corners, and but two from there to Genesee river. For several years I was as familiar in every family from my father's to Genesee river as I am now with my near neighbors.

The first time I passed through Rochester was in the summer of 1809. The next I remember about it was the bad roads and that I was very much frightened crossing the Genesee river. the water was deep and ran very swiftly. I expected to go down stream and over the falls.

I think there was one mill and two or three shanties to be seen there then. There was a small clearing where the Eagle tavern formerly stood, but I had as much as I could do to get my load through the mud. I little thought then that black ash swamp was ever to be the place it now is. Late in the fall of 1809 my father sent me to Sangersfield Huddle after a load of merchandise. East of Canandaigua was a new turnpike where I got stuck in the mud and had to wait until the next teamster came along to help me out. I was then fourteen years old. My father had fifteen workmen and the first summer cleared one hundred acres.

In October, Judge Findley from Genesee came on with a company of men to survey township number two of the one hundred thousand acre tract. They also stopped with us, making a family of twenty-six men, besides having two families in the house.

The 'latch-string' was always out and none ever went away hungry as we had plenty of pork and wild game to season it. Deer, bears, and wolves were plenty. I never heard of but one panther. The surveyors had their tent near where the steam saw mill now stand in Clarendon. Their cook came in on Wednesday night for bread. One evening he had got to where col. Shubael Lewis afterwards lived when he heard some one halloo. He soon found it was a panther on his track. It followed him to the clearing. The man was much exhausted and said he knew it was a panther. The men all came in Saturday afternoon. The Sabbath was as well kept in 1809 as in 1863. We were seldom without evangelical preaching. We had one close communion Baptist Elder, some Methodists and some Presbyterians. All could sing the good old tunes and sing then with a will. In 1810, about July 20th, we had a frost that killed most of the wheat and corn. In the fall of 1811 was very sickly. There were several families settled at Sandy Creek village. They were all sick. We made up a load of some six or seven and went down to help them. I never saw so happy a company, We carried two load of necessities and staid two nights and when some of them go so they could take care of the others we left for home.

I used to have many hard and lonesome rides through the woods on horseback. One very dark night I had been to Dr. Ward's after medicine. Coming home I lost my road and also my hat. Before I found my hat the wolves began to howl. I took off my shoes so that I night find the road, and by the time I had mounted my horse to go on, the wolves were within 'speaking distance' and before I had gone far they struck my barefoot tracks; then they made a terrific roaring. I thought I was a 'goner' sure enough, but I presume if the wolves had seen me then on the old white hose they would have been as frightened as I was.

Our men had all kinds of musical instruments and any time when the drum was beat the wolves were almost sure to respond.

About the beginning of winter my father started me off with an ox team and load of grain to find judge Farwell's grist mill, After a tedious day's travel I came insight of water pouring over rocks. It was no small stream. I was glad to find I could get my grist ground, so I chained my oxen to a tree and found a comfortable night's lodging among the bags in the mill, I got home the next day with my grist. Our folks thought I had done well and I thought so too.

The first winter I walked seven miles to school every day and back again.

Byron, Genesee Co., N. Y. June 16, 1863 
A. H. Green"

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

 

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

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