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

By Arad Thomas

Online Edition by Holice & Deb



Hon. Henry R. Curtis was born in Hoosie, Rensselaer County, N. Y., in the year 1800. After passing his youth at labor on a farm, and in acquiring such elementary education as his own exertions and the limited means of his widowed mother could supply, he commenced the study of law with Daniel Kellogg of Skanesteles, and pursued it afterwards with Hon. Hiram Mather in Elbridge, New York.

In the fall of 1824 he settled in Albion, Orleans county before he was admitted to the Bar, going into partnership with Alexis Ward, who was here before him, and who had been admitted to the Supreme Court.

In 1831 he was appointed District Attorney for Orleans county, in which office he was continued by subsequent appointments, (excepting the year 1832,) until June 1847, when he was elected County Judge and Surrogate, being the first county Judge chosen under the constitution of 1846. He was re-elected to the same office in Nov. 1850, and died before the expiration of his second term.

Before he was a judge he had held the offices of Examiner and Master in Chancery, and many civil offices in town and village.

He was a hard student devoting himself to the labors of his profession wit untiring assiduity, never engaging in other business speculations.

For twenty-five years he was a ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church and much of that time a faithful teacher in the Sunday School in his Church.

As an advocate he was cool, clear and persuasive, and the known honesty of his character and the sincerity of his manner and language, commonly carried conviction in his favor to the courts and juries he addressed.

As a counselor he was a peacemaker, judicious, cautious, and sound. Never encouraging litigation when it could be avoided. He was a man with new enemies and many friends, an honest lawyer and good man. He died September 20, 1855.


"I was born in Scroon, Essex County, New York, April 4, 1804. My ancestors were of Scotch descent, and were among those who fled to this country from the oppressions of the old world, to enjoy civil and religious liberty in the new world.

My father afterwards removed from Scroon to Brandon, Vermont, and from Brandon he moved in the summer of 1816, to what is now Barre, New York, July 12, 1816, on lot 10, township 15, range 2, of the Holland Purchase, one mile west of Albion where he lived sixteen years. He then removed to Barre Center where he resided until his death, which occurred February 5, 1853.

I attended the first school taught in Barre, in a log schoolhouse, which stood on the west side of Oak Orchard Road, in what is now the village of Albion. Also attended the first town meeting in Barre after the town was organized, at the house of Abraham Mattison, about two miles south of Albion. I also attended the great celebration of the opening of the Erie Canal, when the waters of Lake Erie mingled with those the Hudson River. I was also present when the site for the county buildings was located at Albion, which was the most exciting time, perhaps ever known in this county.

I was present when the First Congregational Church in the town of Barre was formed, at the house of Joseph Hart. This church then consisted of the following named persons, viz.: Joseph Hart and wife, Ebenezer Rogers and wife, Ithamar Hibbard and wife, Artemas Thayer and wife, Artemas Houghton and thankful Thurston.

I was married to Amanda Wrisley, in Barre, June 19, 1828. She was born in Gill, Mass., Nov. 18, 1809.

Dated--Barre Center, April 4th, 1865. Z. F. Hibbard."

LETTER FROM WILLIAM Tanner, formerly of Orleans County, N. Y., written to the Pioneer Association:

"To the officers and members of the Orleans county Pioneer Association:


As fond memory often sharpens old ears to catch some word of the old home of our youth, so now at three score years and one I have heard of your society. What you do or what you say, I do not know, but I do know if you are the real pioneers I should be glad indeed to meet with you at you annual gathering.

Tell, dear Sirs, are you together to speak of the days when Albion was a mud hole, and Jesse Bumpus and Dea. Hart and a few others owned the whole of it? And when the old log schoolhouse half a mile north of Albion was built, where Francis Tanner first declared martial law among the little folks; and when Mr. Jakeway so well adapted to the business by his six feet four inches of body and legs, used to break the road through four feet of snow, with three yoke of oxen, from the Ridge road to father Crandall's near one Angel's not Gabriel, but 'Cabin Angel,' as he was called by way of distinction.

And there was Dea. Daniels, and Esq. Babbitt a little eat, the workings of whose face denoted wisdom as he sat in judgment to decide weighty matters between neighbors.

Never shall I forget envying that man his high office as justice of the peace when I was a small boy.

Then there was John proctor and his tall and amiable wife and large farm.

Then again in Gaines Corners, the corpulent landlord booth, together with Dr. Anderson, with his mild and pleasant way of tell people it wouldn't hurt much to pull teeth, and then almost taking their heads off with his strong arms.

Later, there was good Jeptha wood, who first taught me that hot and cold iron would not weld together.

But I must not name other lest I have not room to say a word tot he old Pioneers.

How simple was I in my boyhood days to envy the honored Esq. Babbitt, or the rich farmer Proctor of those early times. I have since been 'Esq.' myself. I have been rich also; but neither the honor of the one nor the old of the other, brings happiness while on this mundane sphere. When I turn my thoughts to the spot of all others most dear to me, Samuel N. Tanners old farm, and the 'city of the dead,' Mount Albion, opposite to his once earthly habitation, where I once chased deed, and see the monumental slabs erected over heads many of whom were my friends in youth, I am ready to exclaim.--'Where are the pioneers I once knew.'

But, sirs, some of you still live, and allow me to speak of what you have done. You are among the greatest men of the nation. You have leveled the sturdy forest, planted fruitful fields, orchards and gardens, built railroads, and canals, set up talking wires by which we carry our freight and travel cheaply over three hundred miles a day and converse with lightning speed with far distant friends.

I imagine I see De Witt Clinton standing in his beautiful garden in the city of New York, listening, as it were, to hear the sound of the axes of Dea. Hart, Bumpus, Proctor, Babbitt, and along list of names I have no room to refer to. And I see him turn to give the Commissions to the Chief Engineer and Surveyor; and what do I hear him say? 'The pioneers are there at work; you can accomplish your work now.'

Teach it to your children and grand-children, that they are indebted to you for all the vast improvements made in the great west, as the result of hard toil and labor. Labor, which always precedes the development of everything great and good; labor, that is so conducive to health and comfort and that bring its sure reward. I love labor, even in deepest old age. I would obey god and benefit myself by laboring when able, seeing it is the only sure road leading to individual and national wealth and greatness, as well as to personal happiness and comfort.

Had out statesmen spent money without stint and built your railroad and canals, unless preceded and accompanied by the pioneers, it would have availed but little.

Education is a less acquisition; give it to the you by all means, but do not forget to teach them the great value and benefit of intelligent and well directed labor.

And now, gentlemen, I ask your patience in deciphering my trembling writing, and excuse bad spelling for I see much of it. I have labored too long and hard to be able now to write elegantly.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

East Liberty, Allen Co., Ind., March 13, 1865.


Roswell S. Burrows was born in Groton, Conn., Feb. 22, 1798. He was fitted for college at Bacon Academy, Conn., entered the Sophomore Class in Yale College in 1819, and took a dismission in the fall of 1820, in consequence of protracted ill health. He never returned to college, but in the year 1867, the honorary degree of A. M. was conferred on him by Yale College.

He received some capital by devise from his grand-father with which he purchased a cotton factory in Rhode Island, and there carried on business for some time for himself. His factory not proving as profitable an investment as he expected, he sold out, receiving a small payment down and a mortgage for the balance, which, through the fraud of another party, proved a total loss.

In July, 1824, he came to Orleans County and located at Albion, and in Sept., next after, he borrowed two thousand dollars of his father, and a like sum of his father-in-law, laid it out in a stock of goods, and with this capital, increased by a small sum saved from the ruin of his factory speculation, commenced business as a merchant, in a little wooden building, standing very near the site of the First National Bank of Albion.

In November, 1824, his younger brother, Lorenzo Burrows, came to Albion to assist him as his clerk.

This arrangement continued until in 1826 the firm of R. S. & L. Burrows was formed, which existed in business as dry goods merchants, produce dealers and in warehousing and forwarding on the Erie Canal for ten or eleven years, when they sold out their entire stock of goods.

When Mr. burrows settled in Albion the canal was made navigable as far west as Lockport, and one inducement he had to stop here was the promise of Canal Commissioner, Wm. C. Bouck, that he should receive the appointment of collector of Canal revenue, an office then about to be established at Albion.

This office of Collector was given to him in 1825, and was continued by re-appointment until 1832, when he was succeeded by C. S. McConnell.

Mr. burrows built the warehouse now standing next east from Main Street on the canal, in 1827. After the sale of their goods in store, as above stated, Messrs. R. S. & L. burrows continued their warehouse business and dealt in produce until the general banking went into operation, under which they established the Bank of Albion, which commenced business under that law July 15th, 1839. This bank continued in operation about twenty-seven years, and was finally closed under the new policy which substituted national Banks. Its first officers were Roswell S. Burrows, president; Lorenzo Burrows, Cashier; and Andrew J. Chester, teller.

Mr. Burros organized a new bank in Albion, December 23, 1863, called 'The First national Bank of Albion.' This was the first National Bank which went into operation in the State of New York west of Syracuse. Roswell s. burrows, President; Alexander Stewart, Cashier; and Albert S. Warner, Teller, Mr. R. S. Burrows owned a majority of the capital stock of both these banks, was always their President and a Director and the principal manager.

Within the last forty years Mr. Burrows has been Director and Trustee of many corporations and companies, such as railroad companies, telegraph companies, the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge Company, and one mining company. He has been Trustee of several religious, benevolent and literary institutions. He has frequently been proposed by his friends as a candidate for various civil offices but always declined a nomination.

Several years since the extensive and very valuable library of Professor Neander, of Germany, was offered for sale by reason of the deal of its owner, Mr. Burrows purchased this library and presented it to the Rochester Theological Seminary, connected with the Baptist denomination this library, consisting of several thousand volumes of rare and valuable books collected through many years by one of the best scholar of his time in Europe, is valued at from fifteen to twenty thousand dollars.

In addition to this library, a few years ago Mr. Burrows offered to give this theological Seminary the munificent gift of one hundred thousand dollars to add to its endowments with the promise of more if prospered in business as he hope to be. The Trustees of the Seminary proposed to Mr. burrows if he would increase his proposed endowment of that institution to two hundred and fifty thousand dollars they would give it the name of 'The Burrows theological Seminary of Rochester, N. Y.'

These proposals it is understood have never been formally withdrawn or acted on.

As a business man Mr. burrows is cool, shrewd, clear-headed and sagacious'; never disturbed by panics, or deceived by false appearances. He has accumulated a great fortune by indefatigable industry, and prudently and sagely investing his accumulations. Although advanced in years, he was never perhaps more busy than now, and never found his great experience and capital yielding him a larger profit.


Judge Penniman was born in Peterborough, Hillsborough County, N. H., August 5, 1793. After obtaining a good common school and academic education in his native State, he emigrated to Ontario Co., new York, in Sept., 1816, and from thence to Shelby, Orleans County, in October, 1820. He took up land in that town on which he resided about eight years; he then removed to Albion, remaining there more than two years, finally settling on a farm in Barre, near Eagle Harbor, where he has ever since resided.

In 1846, he represented Orleans County, as a member of the convention to revise the constitution of the State of New York.

Judge Penniman was a celebrated school teacher for many years after he came to Orleans County, having taught school fourteen winters and seven summers. He always took a lively interest in the subject of common schools, was commissioner of schools and town inspector each of the eight years he resided in Shelby, and served as town superintendent of schools in Barre three years, while that system was the law.

He was a popular Justice of the Peace, while acting in that capacity. He used to say, he once issued 108 summons in one day, in all of which Dr. William White was plaintiff. As a Judge, he was firm, upright and impartial, aiming to sustain the right in his decisions, and in all his official and social relations he has sustained a character marked for sound views of men and things, honest, faithful, sagacious and true; and now in his old age and retirement enjoys the respect of all who know him.


Jesse Mason was born in Cheshire, Mass., July 24, 1779. By occupation he was a farmer. He removed to Phelps, Ontario County, N. Y., about the year 1810, where he resided six years, then removed to Barre, Orleans County, and settled on lot 17, in township 15, range 2, now owned by Wm. H. Pendry.

In the year 1837, he sold his property in Barre and removed to Ohio, where he resided until his death, in Nov., 1854.

Mr. Mason served one campaign in the war of 1812, was one of the last American soldiers to leave Buffalo when it was burned by the British.

Mr. mason was a man of positive convictions in all matters of his belief, political, moral or religious. Energetic, enterprising and liberal in all that pertained to public affairs in his neighborhood, he bore even more than his share of all the labors, expense and trouble in opening roads, founding school and church and organizing society in the new country. All such duties and burdens were performed and borne by him as labors of love, in which he seemed to delight.

Mrs. Hannah Mason, wife of Jesse Mason, daughter of Rev. John Leland, a Baptist minister, residing in orange County, Va., was born Dec. 18, 1778. Mr. Leland was originally from Mass. While living in Virginia he became the intimate friend of president Jefferson, and it is said Mr. Jefferson derived his first clear idea of genuine democracy from what he saw of the working of that principle in a church, of which Mr. Leland was pastor. Miss Leland married Mr. mason, in Cheshire, about the year 1800, moved with him to the west, and as long as he lived, proved herself a helpmeet indeed, fully sharing and sympathizing with him in all the toils, hardships and anxieties through which he passed in a long and active life. She died January 21, 1867.


"I was born in Westmoreland, Oneida Co., N. Y., January 3, 1808, and removed with my father, Caleb C. Thurston, to Barre to reside, in the spring of 1814. My father being a farmer, brought me up to labor in that honorable calling. I resided with my father, attending school occasionally winters, until I was twenty-two years old, when I bought seventy-six acres of land, part of lot 19, township 15, range 2, in Barre, on which I resided until April, 1865, when I removed into the village of Albion, where I now reside.

I was married to Miss Julianna Williams, daughter of Samuel Williams, of Barre, January 11, 1832.--she was born in Burlington, Otsego Co., N. Y., April 5, 1812.

S. B. Thurston."
Albion, July, 1867.


Rufus Hallock was born in Richmond, Chittendon Co., Vt., Nov. 7, 1802. His father was a farmer, and young Rufus labored on his father's farm summers and attended school winters.

In February, 1815, with his father's family, he removed to Murray, Orleans Co., N. Y. In 1832, he removed with his father's family to Louisville, St. Lawrence Co., where he resided two years, and then came to Barre, Orleans Co., and settled on lot 43, township 14, range 2, of the Holland Purchase, where he resided till his death in 1870. He was married July 3,m 1826, to Susan Tucker, of Shelby, who was born in New Hampshire, May 9, 1804.

Mrs. Hallock died at her home in Barre, May 18th, 1868, aged 64 years. Mr. Hallock by his industry and economy accumulated a competence of property.

In religious belief a Baptist, Mr. Hallock was regarded as an exemplary christian man, respected by all who knew him. Resolute and prompt in his character and conduct, he generally met and overcome or removed every obstacle and adversity which he has encountered in his path of life.

He told a story of his father which illustrates what sort of a man his father was, and exhibits a dash and courage which has been transmitted to his descendants.

Traveling along through the woods one day after he came to this county, he saw a bear and two cubs asleep under the roots of a fallen tree. Resolving to capture a cub, Mr. Hallock stealthily crept up to the spot where they lay and seized a cub by its hind legs and back away dragging his prize and keeping his eyes fixed on the mother bear who followed after him growling and gnashing her teeth. He kept on in this way several rods until he backed and fell over a fallen tree, when the old bear attracted by the cries of the cub left behind returned to that and came after him no more. Mr. Hallock carried the cub home tamed and raised it. He died Jan. 18, 1871.

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


Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Deb

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