The Pioneer History of
 Orleans County, NY
Biographies, Part III

By Arad Thomas

Online Edition by Holice & Deb




Mr. Peck furnished his local history for the Orleans County Pioneer Association Records as follows:

"I was born in October 27th, 1816, in a very cheap log house on Onondaga Hill, in Onondaga Co., N. Y., about a mile and a half from the old Court House. Up to eleven years of age I was engaged principally in endeavoring to get something to eat, not always however with much success, and in going to school barefoot both summer and winter.

I never had anything made of leather to wear on my feet until the spring of 1828.

My amusements consisted in listening to the howlings of the wolves and in gymnastic exercises with the musketos.

In May, 1828, I had a pair of shoes and was sent to Pike, Allegany county, to live with my brother Luther. I stayed there until May 1833, when I returned to my parents with whom I lived until 1836, when I went to Wyoming to attend the Middlebury Academy.

In the spring of 1838 I returned to pike to read law in my brothers office. In 1841 he removed to Nunda, now in Livingston county and I stayed with him in his office till 1848. In July of that year I commenced jobbing on the canals and continued in that business until the simmer of 1861, since which time I have done little business of any kind. I was never married.

I left the town where I was born in 1817 and arrived in Clarendon, or what is now Clarendon, Orleans county, just forty years ago to-day (March 20, 1864.) I came to Holley first in the spring of 1856 and stayed until December. I then returned to Pendleton in Niagara County and completed a large job I had on the Erie Canal through the Mountain ridge and went back to Holley in the spring of 1857, since which time Holley has been my residence.

My mother died March 4, 1848, aged 71 years. My father died June 2, 1852, aged 82 years. I am the youngest of my brothers, all of whom are living.

There are, or were, no incidents in my early history or that of my brothers, not common to all the early settlers in this vicinity, except I thought we managed to be a little poorer then any body else. My father had the misfortune of having two trades, that of a farmer and carpenter and joiner. He worked his hands altogether too much and his brains altogether too little, and dividing the time between the two, necessarily resulted in doing neither well. consequently neither prospered. This his sons turned all about in 1825, when my brothers became old enough to take charge of affairs. Since which time there has been an improvement.

Dated--Holley, March 20, 1864


Harvey Goodrich was born in Herkimer County, N. Y., in Nov. 1791. His father, Zenas Goodrich, removed to that place from Berkshire, Mass. When a young man Harvey Goodrich removed to Auburn, N. Y., and worked for some time at the business of making hats, and fro several years he officiated as a constable. Having been successful in accumulating property, he with his brother-in-law, George W. Standart, took a job of work in making the Erie canal, and leaving Auburn after his canal work was completed, he located permanently at Albion in the year 1824, and engaged in selling dry good and groceries in company of Mr. george W. Standart.

After the death of Mr. Standart, Mr. Goodrich soon quit selling dry goods and for many years carried on the business of manufacturing hats and dealing in hats and furs. He was also engaged in buying produce. For a number of years he held the office of postmaster of Albion.

Being of an active, energetic temperament and by education and inclination fitted to take a leading part in public affairs, he was one of the prominent men in the community where he lived, always conspicuous and busy on public occasions, generally holding some official position.

In politics he was a democrat of the straitest sect, faithful and true to his party. But perhaps the ardent and earnest character of the man appeared clearest in his zeal in the cause of religion.

While a resident in Auburn and about the year 1847, he made a public profession of religion and united with the First Presbyterian Church in that place, then under the pastoral care of Rev. Dr. Lansing.

One of the first enterprises in which he became interested after he came to Albion was in establishing a Presbyterian Church there. That denomination had no church organization in Barre.

Through the agency of Mr. Goodrich, more especially, aided by several other Presbyterians who had settled in Albion and its vicinity, the services of a young preacher from Auburn Theological Seminary, Rev. William Johnson, were obtained and the Presbyterian Church in Albion was organized about Feb. 22, 1824 by Rev. Andrew Rawson, then laboring as a missionary here, who was distinguished as a veteran pioneer minister in Orleans county, the new church consisting at the first of Harvey Goodrich, Jedediah Phelps, Joseph Hart, Ebenezer Rogers, James Smith and Franklin Cowdry and their wives, and Artemas Phelps, Fay Clark, Lavinia Bassett and Betsey Phelps, sixteen members in all.

July 29, 1824, together with Messrs. Hart and Phelps, Mr. Goodrich was elected a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church, an office he continued to hold until his death. Although never formally chosen as a Deacon in the church to which he belonged, he was always known and called "Deacon Goodrich" by everybody who spoke to him or of him.

It was a remarkable trait of Mr. Goodrich's character, that seldom a case of sickness and death of any person in his neighborhood occurred but what he attended, administering what he could to aid the sufferers according to their needs and usually taking charge of the funeral ceremonies over the dead.

Thus for over forty years, he was a leading and useful man in the church and society at large, largely identified with the business and growth of the village of Albion, a friend of the poor and needy, and well known and respected by the people of the county.

About two years before his death he suffered a stroke of paralysis, completely disabling him in the midst of his most active industry, from which he lingered and languished until he died August 4, 1863, aged 71 years.


Dr. Orson Nichoson was born in Galway, Saratoga County, N. Y., March 2, 1795. He was educated as a physician. In the year 1795 he removed to the village of Albion, which was then beginning to be settled. He entered ardently into every undertaking of a public character connected with the organization of the county of Orleans and the civil and social institutions which such an organization occasioned.

He was elected the first County Clerk of Orleans county and by a re-election to a second term, held that office six years.

In August, 1819, he settled about two miles south of Albion. In 1822 he moved to Albion and there, for many years had a large practice as a physician.

His health failing, we went into business with Dr. Luke C. Paine, and dealt in drugs,. Medicines and books until a few years before his death.

He was the first regular physician who settled in Barre, he was also the first physician who settled in Albion.

Dr. Nichoson married Lucy Morris in the year 1820. They had three children, Adeline E., Caroline A., and Helen J. Adeline E. married Jonathan S. Stewart, and Helen J. married Charles A. Stanton. She died May 12, 1862. Mrs. Lucy Nichoson died October 8, 1864. Dr. Orson Nichoson died May 7, 1870.


Timothy C. Strong was born in Southampton, Mass., March 5, 1790. At the age of sixteen years he entered as an apprentice to lean the art of printing with J. D. Huntington, at Middlebury, Vermont. He married Aurelia Goodsell, daughter of Dr. Penfield Goodsell, of Litchfield, Ct., April 14, 1811. He commenced business for himself at Middlebury, by publishing a newspaper called the "Vermont Mirror," also a magazine edited by Samuel Swift, and literary work called the "philosophical Repository," edited by Prof. Hall, of Middlebury College.

In Sept. 1817, he removed to Palmyra, N. Y., where he published a newspaper. In the fall of 1823 he removed to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and in February, 1825, he removed to Newport, now Albion, Orleans county, N. Y., and purchased of Franklin Cowdry a newspaper establishment called "the Newport Patriot," which was started by Mr. Cowdry, Feb. 9th, 1824. Mr. Strong changed the name of this paper to 'The Orleans Advocate.' In February, 1828, in the midst of the excitement following the abduction of Morgan, Mr. Strong changed it to 'The Orleans Advocate, and Anti-Masonic Telegraph,' and soon after to 'The American Standard.' Under this name it was published two years by Mr. J. Kempshall, when it passed back into the hands of Mr. Strong who changed it to the 'Orleans American,' and published it till in April 1844, when he sold his paper and printing establishment to J & J. H. Denio, who continued the paper until 1853, when they sold out; and after passing through several hands it was bought in January, 1861,m by H. A. Bruner, its present proprietor.

In November, 1834, Mr. Strong was elected County Clerk of Orleans County, an office he continued to hold by re-election for nine years.

Mr. Strong made a profession of religion in early life and united with the Presbyterian Church. He died at Albion of a cancer August 6th, 1844, in the fifty-fifth years of his age, leaving a wife and twelve surviving children.


Nathan Whitney was born in Conway, Massachusetts, January 22d, 1791. He removed to Orleans County, in February, 1814, and settled in what is now Barre. He was at the taking of Fort Erie in September, 1814. When the town of Barre was organized he was elected Justice of the Peace, an office he held several years and when Orleans county was set off he was elected Supervisor of Barre and served in the year 1826. Being fond of military exercises, he held various military offices from Lieutenant to Lieutenant-Colonel. Being regarded as a capable, honest and efficient man by his fellow citizens, he was often put forward by them to official positions and discharged the duties of almost every town office. He removed from Barre to Elba, Genesee County, in 1827, and afterwards removed to Lee County, Illinois, where he was living in the fall of 1869.


Avery M. Starkweather was born in Preston, Connecticut, October 3d, 1790. He resided a time in Palmyra, N. Y., and came tot he town of Barre and took an article for his farm in April, 1816. After the Erie Canal was opened, for thirteen hears he had charge of the first State repairing scow boat on this section. He was Superintendent of Canal Repairs one year. His beat extended from Holley to Lockport, and at a salary of $500, with a clerk or any perquisites. His instructions required him to travel over and personally inspect his section at least once each week in the season of navigation which he did.

For thirteen years he was an assessor of the town of Barre, and was Supervisor of the town for the year 1842 and 1843. He was an active, thorough business man, honest and conscientious, much respected as far as he was known. He died Oct. 3, 1865.


Amos Root was born at Sand Lake, Rensselaer County, N. Y., July 12th, 1803. He was apprenticed to learn the trade of blacksmith and removed to Allegany county, N. Y., in 1818. After serving his apprenticeship he carried on business as a blacksmith nearly thirty years, since which time he has been a farmer.

About 1836, he moved from Allegany county to Michigan, and returned tot he town of Barre in 1838, where he has since resided.

He married Rhoda Ann Bennett July 11th, 1824. Being a large and strong man in his youth, he as noted as a great wood chopper. While residing in Allegany County he was engaged with a large company cutting out a new road. A bet of fifty dollars was was made by the Company as to his power as a chopper. A large white oak tree was felled and Mr. root and his antagonist stood on it to try which could first chop off a log. Root taking the butt. Mr. Root won the bet. It was a hot day in July. The man opposed to him overworked himself and died in a week afterward from the effects.

Mr. Israel Root, father of Amos, who was a soldier of the Revolution, removed from Allegany to Orleans County in 1825, and settled on the farm now owned by his son Amos, in Barre. He came across the country in a wagon with his family, and Amos brought the goods on two canoes made of large pine logs and lashed together. These he launched on the Genesee River at Gardeau and paddled down to Rochester and then put them ina the canal and came to Gaines' Basin, then a favorite landing place for emigrants who came by canal to settle in this vicinity.


Ozias S. church was born in Windham, Connecticut, January 31st. 1785. By occupation he was farmer, though he labored with his father at the blacksmithing business during his minority. October 13, 1809, he married Parmelia Palmer, who was born in Windham, Oct., 3d, 1786. They removed to Otsego County N. Y., in 1812, where he worked at farming until 1817, when he removed to Henrietta, Monroe Co., N. Y., and thence to the town of Barre in 1834.

Mr. Church was a democrat in politics and took a deep and active interest in his party. As United States Marshal he took the census of Monroe County in 1830, and of Orleans County in 1840. He was Post Master at South Barre, for twenty years.

Mrs. Church died Dec. 7, 1861, and Mr. Church Dec. 10th, 1863. They were parents of John P. Church, who died while County Clerk of Orleans County, in December, 1858, and of Hon. Sanford E. Church, present Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals of the State of New York.


William Bradner removed tot he town of Gaines from Palmyra, N. Y. Soon after he bought of Mr. McCollister the article for lot thirty-five, on the East side of Main street in Albion, and took a deed from the Holland Company for 266-1/2 acres, December 3, 1819. His brother, Joel Bradner, took a deed from the Company for ninety-two acres lying on the southwest corner of said lot thirty-five. William Bradner sold one hundred acres of the north-west part of his tract April 22nd, 1822 to Ingersoll, Smith & Buckley.


Hon. Almeron Hyde Cole was born at Lavanna, Cayuga County, N. Y., April 20th,1798. His parents removed to Auburn in 1807, and there he prepared for college and entered the Sophomore class in Union college in 1815. Among his classmates were George W. Doane, late Bishop of New Jersey, Alonzo Potter, late Bishop of Pennsylvania, Dr. Hickok, late President of Union college, and William H. Seward, late Governor, Senator, &c. He remained in college two years, and then left without completing his college course, in consequence of the death of his mother, and other changes in his father's family.

In the fall of 1817, he entered the law office of Judge Joseph L. Richardson, then first Judge of Cayuga County, as a student. He was admitted Attorney in the Supreme court in his twenty-first year and formed a partnership with Judge Richardson in practice. A few month afterwards he dissolved with Judge Richardson and entered into partnership to practice law with Mr. George W. Fleming. After being at Seneca Falls for a time, they removed to Albion, in the spring of 1825, where they practiced till 1832. After dissolving with Mr. Fleming, Mr. Cole was for some years in practice of law with his brother, Hon. Dan H. Cole.

Mr. Cole served seventeen years as a Justice of the Peace of the town of Barre, and transacted an immense amount of official business.

In November, 1847, he was elected member of the Senate of the State of New York, where he served one term of two years and declined a re-election. After leaving the Senate he resumed his law practice in Albion, but a large amount of business coming into his hands as executor in the settlement of an estate in Cayuga County, he closed his law practice in Albion and devoted his time exclusively to the duties of his executorship, and to the management of a large farm he owned in the town of Gaines.

Although a good advocate and a strong and logical reasoner at the bar, Mr. Cole was not so fluent and polished a speaker as his partner Mr. Fleming. In their earlier years of practice together, Mr. Cole furnished his quota of brains to the firm, while Mr. Fleming furnished the tongue.

Mr. Cole was esteemed to be a well read and sound lawyer whose opinions on legal questions were much sought and relied on. His counsel and advise were so much valued among the people that he early became distinguished by way of eminence as the 'counselor' or 'counselor Cole,' by which title or name he was always spoken of and well known.

In temperament he was ardent, impulsive and sensitive, feeling quick and sharply the irritations of the moment. But nothing like hatred ever had a place in his bosom.

From the peculiarity of his character he sometimes appeared brusque and rough to those who approached him, but no man had a kinder heart. The sternness or apparent harshness of manner which he possessed, was more than balanced in his case by the keen regret he felt when he knew he had caused pain to any and the hearty sympathy and generosity he ever manifested to those in distress.

Mr. Cole was never married. Coming to Orleans County when it was first organized, among the first lawyers who settled here, he was a prominent man in public affairs and well known to the people of the county. He died Oct. 14, 1859.


"I was born in the town of New Baltimore, Greene County, N. Y., March 12th, 1807. The death of my mother which occurred when I was twelve years of age, threw me upon the family of my grand parents where I remained until I was fourteen years old. My father, who was a blacksmith by trade, and who resided in the county of Chenango, having married a second time and closed up his business is Chenango, started for the State of Ohio with a view of commencing business there as a farmer. This was in the fall of 1821. When he arrived in the town of Clarence, Erie County, a snow storm set in and prevented his further progress that fall, and having with him some tools and a small stock of iron he rented a shop and began work as a blacksmith at Ransom's Grove, as it is now called, at Clarence Hollow. He soon after purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land at the Great Rapids on the Tonawanda Creek, six miles south of Lockport.

In the summer of 1822, having obtained a scanty common school education, and being large enough to help my father in his shop and on his farm, he wrote to me giving a glowing account of the country, of his farm, of the fine fish in the creek and the fine sport in taking them, and desiring me to come and help him.

I accordingly went to Albany and put my baggage onboard a seven horse wagon, then about to sail for Buffalo, loaded with specie for the United States' Bank at Erie, Pennsylvania. Thus equipped I started for the Holland Purchase in July, 1822, in care of Mr. Hockins, the owner of the establishment. We traveled slowly, not making over fifteen miles a day, sleeping on our wagon nights and watching our treasure. Getting tired of this slow mode of traveling, when we arrived at Canandaigua I took the stage and came on to Clarence, and arrived at my father's July 22nd, 1822. In a few days I went with my father to explore his new farm, he carrying a bag of provisions and I a compass and chain with other articles fro our journey. My half-brother William, then thirteen years old, accompanied us.

It was here, in July, 1822, in what was then called the north woods that I commenced my pioneer life, and for the next three years, and until October, 1825, I shared in the hardships, labors and privations of the early settlers. During that time, I assisted in chopping and partly clearing forty acres of heavily timbered land and erecting a comfortable log building. Being possessed of a strong, athletic frame, and a good robust constitution, and never having been sick a day in my life, I endured the hardships and labors of the wilderness with cheerfulness and pleasure, and I often look back to those days and reckon them among the happiest of my life. And I would not omit to record here with grateful heart the kind care of my Heavenly Father in preserving my life amid the dangers and accidents through which I passed I in my youthful days.

Not possessing at my fathers the advantages for mental improvement which I desired, I concluded in the fall of 1825 to abandon my pioneer life, return to the east, obtain an education and study a profession. Accordingly October 2d, 1825, I left my ax and handspike, and went to Lockport, got on board the canal boat 'De Witt Clinton' and sailed for the east. Stopping at Albion for the boat to take on loading I took an excursion through that low, muddy, and as I thought unsightly young village. I thought little then that 'Newport' as it was called destined to be my future home. I then pronounced Newport a queer place on which to build a town.

I returned to the boat and passed on through Holley, Brockport, Adams' and Spencer's Basins, all little straggling hamlets, as I thought them, arriving in Rochester in the night. Here I expected to meet a gentleman from Tompkins County by appointment, with whom I was intending to travel to visit my relatives in this vicinity and then go by boat with some relatives to Albany. But the gentleman did not come as I expected. My little stock of money was exhausted on Tuesday night in paying for my supper. I was now a stranger in a strange land. I knew not what to do or how I should be provided for. I wandered about Rochester until Saturday morning, eating nothing except a few apples which I picked up in an orchard in the town of Brighton. I slept nights on the piazza of the Exchange Hotel, on the corner at the intersection of the canal with the basin, where the packet boats used to lay up. Every morning when a fire was made up in the old bakery at the west end of the aqueduct, I went into the front room and warmed myself, tantalized by the smell of the bread which was piled up on the counter, steaming hot, and for which I was starving. I was too proud to beg, and I thank God for it, too honest to steal.

Thus the week passed until Saturday morning when I had a passing invitation to join a circus company then performing there. I was then young, active and strong, but my good Quaker training, and above all the hand of Providence shaping my ways, kept my youthful feet from that path.

On Saturday morning I met a man who asked me if I would work, and I gladly hired to him for a part of the day. he led the way to the barn back of the canal, between Fitzhugh and Sophia streets. Where the ground was literally strewn with heavy cannon, and I worked until the middle of the afternoon assisting to put them on a scow boat for distribution along the canal, to be used in firing a grand salute at the meeting of the waters of Lake Erie with the Hudson River, November 2d, 1825. I received half a dollar for my work and went to a humble tavern for supper and had lodging in a bed. A better meal or sweeter sleep I never enjoyed. The next morning I went out on the street and almost the first man I met was the friend for whom I was waiting.

After writing to my relatives in Tompkins county I left for Albany and entered the city with the fleet of canal boats in the canal celebration November 2d, 1825, amid the road of artillery and the sound of martial music.

The Erie and Champlain canals were now finished. Navigation between the ocean and lake was now opened, and a new era of unparalleled prosperity had commenced, and the exultant people were duly celebrating the auspicious event. 'Peace hath her victories.'

After mingling with the throng that crowded the streets a few hours, I started on foot for the home of my childhood, where loved ones I had not seem for more than three years were daily expecting me. It was nightfall when I ascended the last hill and the well-known trees were standing like sentinels around the old homestead in the fading twilight. My truant feet once more passed the threshold. The old watchdog knew my step. With a fluttering heart I looked in at the window, and for a moment surveyed the group as they sat around the cheerful fireside. God in his goodness had kept them all and the wandering child had got home.

I was past eighteen years of age when I returned from Western new York. I had seen something of the world and had some experience in pioneer life. My education was not such as the district schools of this day afford. My mind had been somewhat improved by reading in a desultory and aimless manner. I taught a winter school in my native town, and in the spring of 1826 hired out as farm laborer at nine dollars per month in the county of Albany.

I taught school in the same county the winter of 1826/7, and in the spring entered the Greenville Academy, in Greene County, where I remained until the coming fall, and by this time I had succeeded in preparing myself to enter the sophomore class at Union college; my friends however preferred that I should follow a mercantile life, and procured me a situation in a wholesale dry goods house in the city of new York, where I remained until the termination of fall business. I then returned to my native town intending to go back to new York the following spring.

I taught school at Marbletown, Ulster County, N. Y., the winter of 1827-28, with great success, forming many pleasant acquaintances that have been cherished through subsequent life.

Early in the spring I was attacked with Pleurisy, and lay at the point of death for a number of days.

On recovering the spring had so far advanced I did not go to new York at I intended, but continued my school until the spring of 1829, when laying down the ferule I commenced business on my own account in the village of West Troy, Albany county, being nearly twenty-two years old.

April 11, 1830, I was married to Deborah, daughter of Rev. Simeon Dickinson, of East Haddam, Connecticut. She was at that time a teacher in Mrs. Willard's Female Seminary at Troy.

I continued my business at West Troy, until the fall of that year, when I sold out and removed with my wife to the city of Mobile, Alabama, where she opened the Mobile Female Seminary, under the most favorable auspices.

I was clerk in the United States Bank in that city. In the month of Dec. 1831, my wife died suddenly and I was left alone in a strange city without a relative nearer then the State of New York.

I transferred the Seminary to other hands, resigned my clerkship in the Bank, closed up my business matters, and in March 1832, returned to my old home.

I spent that summer and the following winter in traveling for recreation, and in the spring of 1833, being twenty-six years old, I entered upon the study of the law with Amasa Mattison, Esq., then a prominent lawyer of Cairo, in the county of Greene, where I remained until fall, when I entered the office of Judge Hiram Gardner of Lockport and remained with him until April 1835, when I came to Albion where I have ever since resided.

June 18, 1835, I was married to Caroline G., daughter of Samuel Baker of Coeymans, in the county of Albany and in August following purchased the property on which I have since resided.

I am now (1862) nearly fifty-four years of age, and must soon, in all human probability, lay aside the active duties of my profession, and yield my place to those younger and better fitted for the responsibilities of the station.

In reviewing the pathway of my life, I behold it plentifully strewn with incidents, always overshadowed by the watchful care of my heavenly Father, who unnumbered mercies I am called upon to record.

When fourteen years of age I united with the Reformed Dutch Church in Greene county, upon a confession of my faith, and in 1842 I untied with the Presbyterian church in Albion, my wife coming with me to the same altar.

Albion, January 8, 1862 B. L. BESSAC."

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


Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Deb

You are the Visitor to this USGenNet Safe-Site™ Since January 9, 2002.

January 2002