The Pioneer History of
By Arad Thomas
Online Edition by Holice & Deb
"I was born in Londonderry, Rockingham County, New Hampshire, July 3d, 1790. My father died when I was quite young. I lived with my grandfather, John Clark, until I was fifteen years of age; I then went to live with my Uncle, John Clark, Jr., inSalem, Massachusetts, where I remained until I was twenty-two years of age.
March, 1812, I went aboard the schooner Talbot, Capt. George Burchmore, headed for the East Indies, with a miscellaneous cargo in the capacity of a common seaman.
Nothing worthy of note happened to us until we reached the equinoctial line, when the Captain said "Old Neptune must come aboard that afternoon, and the given ones must be shaved and sworn." The oath which we were required to take in connection with the other raw hands, was as follows:
"I promise to never eat brown bread when I can get white; never to leave the pump until I call for a spell; and never to kiss the maid when I can kiss the mistress."
The shaving process consisted, in brief, in placing the subject on the windlass, brushing his face with filth and scraping it off with an iron hoop, as a substitute for a razor, the subject in the meantime being in great danger of having the unsavory lather thrust into his mouth while taking the oath. Luckily for me I passed the ordeal more happily then my comrades having, in advance, circulated a bottle of sailors 'O be joyful.'
Crossing the line is a great occasion for jokes and fun in general among sailors.
In due time, and without harm, we reached the vicinity of the capes, when we encountered heavy weather.
We ran twenty-three days under close reefed topsails, shipped a heavy sea on our starboard quarter which washed the whole length of the deck and carried away our bulwarks. We double the Cape of good Hope and reached the Isle of France one hundred and thirteen day out from Salem. We lay there two months, discharged cargo, took in ballast, andsailed for the Island of Sumatra. We were running into Lemonarger when we were met by an armed boat commanded by a man claiming to be King of Archeen, who demanded of us a duty on the pepper we might purchase. We regarded him and his crew as savages and pirates, and declining to trade with them put to sea again. We ran to Soo-Soo and saw a sail approaching. That excited our apprehensions of danger.
The Captain inquired if we would fight should the occasion demand it. Out unanimous response was "we will."
My station was on the side of the ship with an ax to cut off their hands should they attempt to board us. All the men were armed with deadly weapons, and we had a six-pounder ready for any emergency.
The strange vessel send a boat to us with a letter written in English, requesting us to trade with the king of Archeen, or in case of our refusal he would seize us and our vessel.
The night following being very dark we weighed anchor and put to sea, bidding his suspicious majesty good bye.
We then sailed to an English port, Topanooley, where we took in a cargo of pepper and sailed for home.
We were to touch the Brazils to receive the orders of the owners. Her we were hailed by what we regarded as a hostile vessel and chased and fired at astern; and when forced to yield, to our great joy we found the strange vessel to be a man-of-war from our own Salem, named 'The Grand Turk,' a privateer sent out to re-take our ship, which the owners supposed to be in the hands of the British.
The mutual congratulations between the crews of the 'Talbot' and 'The Grand Turk' were very pleasant to us all. Here we first learned of the war between the United States and Great Britain, which had then been doing its work of destruction ten months.
We entered the port of Pernambuco, March 18th, 1813, having been absent just one year. The cargo was put in Portuguese bottoms and sent to Europe. The second mate and myself remained to take care of the ship until November, 1815, when I left for Gibraltar on board the Rebecca, with a cargo of hides and sugar. We stopped at Gibraltar a few days, then ran down to Naples and discharged cargo and took in a miscellaneous loading and returned homewards, landing in New York where I was discharged, and started for Salem where I arrived January 1st, 1816.
I give the names of the places in the East Indies as I hear them pronounced, I may have spelled them wrong. Thus ends my seafaring life,
July 5th, 1816, I left Boston for Western New York. I traveled through Albany, taking the Great Western Turnpike, walking on foot all the way, until near auburn when a traveler kindly permitted me to ride with him, saying he would take me to where I could find good land.
We passed through Rochester, and taking the Ridge Road came to Sheldon's Corners, now West Gaines. We then turned south, and traveling about a mile reached a schoolhouse, just as the school was out for noon. A little sunny-faced girl ran up to us and said to the man who had so kindly assisted me: 'Well, Dad, we are glad you have come for we are about half starved out,'
That man was Gideon Freeman and the little girl was Sally Freeman.
I looked around a little and finally bought the farm on which I have ever since resided, part of the fifty, in township fifteen, range two, of the Holland Purchase, lying in the north-western part of Barre, then Gaines, near the south end of what is now known as 'The Long Bridge,' over the Erie Canal. My land cost five dollars per acre. I took an article for it and was able to pay in full in about eight years.
I underbrushed five acres, built a log house and went back to Salem.
I was married November 25th, 1816, to Abigail Simonds, who was born in Salem, Massachusetts,. July 6th, 1790.
While I was preparing to start on our journey west I was accosted by an old sailor friend who inquired where I was going? I said, 'to the Holland Purchase.' Said he, 'where can that be? I never heard of that place before.' I told him 'it was a fine country in Western New York;' that 'I had bought a farm there, built a log house, and was going to live there.' Said he, "I would not give the gold I could scrape from a card of gingerbread for the entire Holland Purchase.' But he did not know everything.
My wife and I left Salem for our new western home with a span of horses and a wagon. We were twenty one days on the road. We arrived at my place and began housekeeping January 1st. 1817, without a table, a chair or a bedstead, all of which articles I soon made in true Genesee pioneer style.
For many years in the settlement I was called 'Sailor Clark' to distinguish me from another Clark who was, I am happy to say, a very decent man.
Money being very hard to be got, we made black salts, which became practically a legal tender or substitute for money.
I and my neighbor, Mr. Benjamin Foot, worked together in the manufacture,. But after at time he sold to a Mr. Elijah Shaw, who conducted the business with me until that necessary calling was 'played out.'
Mr. Shaw and I were the only persons living in this school district who in as early as 1816.
My wife having been reared in the city knew nothing of spinning wheels, thoug she was a good housekeeper; but under the influence of her neighbor's example, she urged me to raise flax and purchase her a Pioneer Piano, which I did, bringing home one of the largest size one my shoulder from a distance of several miles; and before lone she could discourse as melodious music as any in the settlement.
In the early part of my pioneer life, like others, I had to cut down browse for my cow. One evening I went out and felled a tree, thinking it could certainly fall west, but alas for my sagacity, it fell east striking our house, breaking down about half the roof and alarming me greatly for the safety of my family. However no one was hurt except by being badly frightened. The roof was easily repaired, but a fine mirror, aver elegant one for a new country, which my wife's father, who was a seaman had brought from Hamburgh, in Europe, was broken into fragments, and could not be repaired.
During the cold season many of the settlers suffered for the necessaries of life, but happily for me and mine we did not suffer. I went east with my teach far enough to find all the provisions we needed and brought home a full supply of all our necessities.
The fall of 1824 was a sad period to me. My wife died October 20th of this year.
I desire here to record my grateful sense of the kindness of our neighbors during her sickness. Their attentions were timely, cordial and continued. All those kind women then living in the district are dead except Mrs. Benj. Foot.
I married my present wife, Elizabeth Stephens, in Gaines, March 20, 1825. She was born in Middletown, Rutland County, Vt., June 20th, 1806.
We left our pioneer log house and moved into our present dwelling in 1825. About this time the boats were seen passing along in 'Gov. Clinton's big ditch,' the Erie Canal, on the north border of my farm, connecting the great commercial and agricultural interests of our country. And I trust that our natural and artificial channels of trade may remain open, and the love of freedom among our people continue to aid, with the blessing of God, to preserve and perpetuate our nationality, restore the Union of these States, and the free institutions of our country,.
In 1825 I experienced religion, and about 1829 my wife and myself connected ourselves with the Methodist Episcopal Church, in whose communion we still remain.
Barre, April 7th, 1864.
Oliver Benton was born in Ashfield, Mass., April 10th, 1791. He came to Barre to reside in 1812. He married Elvira Starr, May 15th, 1817. Mr. Benton took up a large tract of land two miles south of Albion, on which he resided.
After the town of Barre was organized, and about 1818 or '19 the first postoffice in the town was established and called Barre, and Mr. Benton was appointed postmaster, an office he held many years.
For many years he was a noted tavern keeper on the Oak Orchard Road, and as he had a large andcommodious house for the times, town meetings, balls and gatherings of the people were held at his house.
On the death of William Lewis, who was the first Sheriff, Mr. Benton was elected sheriff of Orleans Co., Nov. 1825, and held the office three years/. He died Feb. 12th. 1848.
Moses Smith was born in Newburg, New York, February 6th, 1785. He married Chloe Dickinson, of Phelps, New York, April 11th, 1811, and moved to Barre, Orleans County, Nov. 16th,. 1811, and moved to Barre, Orleans County, Nov. 16th. 1824, and took a deed from the Holland Company of a part of lot two, township fifteen, range one, on which he continued to reside until his death May 16th, 1869. He has fourteen children, eight of whom survived him. He was a carpenter and joiner by trade, but the main occupation of his life was farmer.
He was of Scotch descent. His grandfather emigrated from Scotland and settled on what is known in history as the Hasbrouck place, in the South part of the city of Newburgh, on two hundred and fifty acres. On this farm, Mr. Moses Smith was born, and on this farm stands the celebrated building known as "Washington's Headquarters."
Anthony Tripp was born in Providence, Rhode Island. In his childhood he removed with his father's family to Columbia County, N. Y., where he grew up to manhood, was married and settled. He afterwards removed to Delaware County, where he resided until he moved to Barre.
In 1811 he came to Barre and took up one hundred acres of land about two miles south of Albion. It is claimed this was the first article for land issued bythe Holland Company in Barre. The war breaking out next year, he did not settle on his land.
In 1817 his eldest son, Samuel, commenced clearing this land and built a lot house there, into which Mr. Tripp moved with his family in 1824, and where he continued to reside until his death.
He married Mary Brown. Their children were Samuel; Tabitha, who married Sylvester Patterson; Stephen R., who married Ruth Mott; Anthony; Alvah, who married Jane H. Blakely. She was killed January, 1866, by a chimney and battlement from an adjoining building falling through the roof of a store in Albion, in which she was trading, crushing her to death. Mary, who married Psalter S. Mason. Almeron, who married Sylvia Burns.
Allen Porter was born in Franklin County, Mass., Aug. 24th, 1795. He married Electra Scott, Dec. 22, 1819. In the fall of 1815 he located for himself a farm in the town of Barre, upon which he removed in march, 1816, and commenced felling the trees, and on which he has ever since resided.
At the time Mr. Porter came in, not more then fifteen families had settled in the present limits of Barre.
Previous to this time the Holland Company had cut out the road from the Oak Orchard Road to Shelby Center, which now passes the County Poor House. A few lots had been taken but no dwelling had been erected on the road so cut out in Barre, and no settlement had been made in this town south of the Poor House Road and west of the Oak Orchard Road.
Mr. Porter remembers hauling wheat raised on his farm, to Rochester, and selling it there for thirty-one cents a bushel, and paying five dollars per barrel forsalt, seventeen cents per pound for nails, and other goods in like proportion.
While Mr. Porter was a boy his father removed to Seneca County, N. Y. Allen being yet in his minority was drafted in the war of 1812 and sent tot he frontier. He volunteered at buffalo to go over into Canada to reinforce our troops at Fort Erie, and was present in the sortie from that Fort in Sept,. 1814. Mr. Porter has held carious offices, civil and military, and is a well known and much respected citizen.
ELIZUR R. HART.
Elizur Hart was born in Durham, Green County, N. Y., May 23rd, 1803. His father, Dea. Joseph Hart, removed to Seneca County, N. Y., in 1806, and to Barre, Orleans County, in October, 1812. It was several years after he came to Barre, before any school was opened in his father's neighborhood, and he never had the benefit of much instruction in school. While residing with his father he was employed mainly in clearing up land and in labor on the farm, and grew up to manhood as other boys did in that new country, without much knowledge of books or business, or of the world beyond the community where he lived.
About the year 1827 he was elected constable, an office he had two years. his business now called him to spend much of his time in Albion. He had about five hundred dollars in money. His brother William had a like sum which he put into Elizur's hands to use for their joint benefit. Elizur began to buy small promissory notes and to lend small sums to such customers as applied, and sometimes to relieve debtors in executions which were put in his hands to collect as constable.
About this time his father deeded to his sons William and Elizur one hundred acres of hi farm forwhich they paid him five hundred dollars. They continued joint owners several years when William gave Elizur the five hundred dollars he had put into his hands and all the profit he had made on it for a deed of the whole on hundred acres to himself. This land lies in the village of Albion; is still owned and occupied by Wm. Hart, and the rise in its value has made him a wealthy man.
As Mr. Hart found his means increase he began to invest in bonds and mortgages, and in articles for land issued by the Holland Company. He seldom lost but generally made money in all his trades, and continued this business for many years.
In 1852 he was made an assignee, and in a year or two after receiver of the property of the Orleans Insurance Company. And on the failure of the old Bank of Orleans he was appointed receiver of that institution.
On February 10th, 1860, in company with Mr. Jos. N. Cornell, he established 'The Orleans County Bank' at Albion, with a capital of $100,000. Of this Bank he was President as long as it existed. When all State Banks were superseded by National Banks, he changed his institution and organized 'The Orleans County National Bank,' in its stead Aug. 9th, 1865, of which he was president the remainder of his life.
Mr. Hart was not a speculator in business, advancing money in uncertain ventures and taking the chances on their success. His investments were the results of careful calculations, and usually returned the profit he had computed before hand.
Always attentive to his business, but never dilatory or impulsive, correct and exemplary in all his habits, beginning with comparatively nothing, without the aid or influence of wealthy connections, he became one of the opulent country bankers in the State, andat his death was master of a fortune amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In His will he gave the Presbyterian Church of Albion, of which he was member, fifty thousand dollars to build a house of worship, and an endowment of five thousand dollars to the Sunday School connected wit his church.
Mr. Hart married Miss Loraine Field in May, 1835. She died Feb. 11th, 1847. Me married Miss Cornelia King, Oct. 16th, 1849.
His surviving children are Frances E., who married Oliver C. Day, and resides in Adrian, Michigan. Jennie K. and E. Kirk; the last named married Louisa Sanderson and resides in Albion, is Cashier and principal owner of the Orleans County National Bank.
Elizur Hart died August 13th. 1870.
JARVIS M. SKINNER.
"I was born in Providence, Saratoga Co., N. Y., June 3, 1799. I married Mary Delano, Feb. 14, 1822. She was born in Providence, Dec. 25, 1800.
I labored on a farm, of which my father laid a lease, in the summer season, and with my father in the winter, part of the time, in his shop, making saddles and harness, he being a saddler by trade.
When I became of age, I hired out to work on a farm for Earl Stimson, then a large farmer in Galway, first eight months, at $11 a month, then a year for $110. My wages for this work, deducting my clothing bills, constituted all my capital.
On the 18th day of March, 1822, I started for the Holland Purchase, and came along to Durfee Delano's, a little west of Eagle Harbor, in Gaines.
I bought fifty-five acres of land of Winsor Paine, for which I agreed to give him $250--$100 down, my horse, saddle and bridle, for $80, and $70 worth of saddles, to be delivered in a year.
I worked on my place until the next fall; Mrs. Paine did my washing and cooking and I furnished a portion of the provisions. I chopped and cleared and sowed with wheat, six acres; raised one acre of spring wheat, one hundred bushels of corn. I returned to Saratoga in the fall, made the saddles in the winter, to pay for my farm, and in January, 1823, moved my wife to our new home in Barre, where we have since resided, on lot 33, township 15, range 2.
Dated Dec. 1, 1863
Was born ins Savoy, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts, Dec. 14, 1796. He has always followed farming. He came to Palmyra in 1801, settled in Gaines, Orleans Co., n. Y., in 1819, married Sarah Wickham in 1821. She was born in Chatham, Columbia Co.., July 15, 1799, and removed to Gaines in 1816.
Mr. Braley removed to Barre, where he now resides, in 1838.
"I was born in West Springfield, Massachusetts, Dec. 19, 1795. My father gave me a good common school education for those times and brought me up in his occupation, as a farmer.
I followed the business ofd teaching school for several winters, when I was a young man.
May 5, 1818, my brother Chapin and myself started from my father's house in Hinsdale, Mass., on foot, with knapsacks on our backs, for the 'Genesee' country.
After going to Batavia and looking over the towns of Orangeville and China, we came to Barre and settled on lot 3, township 14, range 2, of the Holland Purchase, about two miles south of Barre Center where we still reside, (1864.)
We took our article for our land, May 18, 1818, and immediately began chopping, boarding with a family named Cuthbret.
I taught a district school, in all, seven winters, and singing school two terms.
One of our neighbors, Henry Edgerton, a strong, athletic man, carried a bushel and a half of wheat on his back, to Farwell's mill, in Clarendon, eight miles, got it ground, and brought it home.
In the fall of 1820, my brother and myself, having partially recovered from fever and ague, from which we had suffered, and getting somewhat homesick, went on foot back to Mass., being quite discouraged at the prospect of ever paying for our land, as the price of produce was so low. We wanted to sell out.
Finding no opportunity to sellout articles, we worked out for farmers in Massachusetts the next season, at $8 a month, then the common wages, and returned to Barre, in the fall of 1821, to sell our improvements, but found no buyers.
WE had agreed to give six dollars an acre for our land, on ten years' time--the first two years without interest. At this time, wheat was worth in Rochester from thirty-one to thirty-seven cents a bushel.
While I was teaching school in Springfield, Mass., in 1821, I saw Esq. Brewster of Riga, Monroe Co., N. Y., who, with one of his neighbors, had come there from Riga, with two large loads of flour, drawn by four yoke of oxen. The flour sold for $5 a barrel.--they sold their oxen and Genesee sleds, bought a span of horses and an old sleigh and returned to Riga.
In the summer of 1822, I boarded with Mr. Edgerton, and worked two days of every nine for him, to pay my board,. That season, I cleared, fenced and sowed ten acres with wheat, from which next season I harvested 255 bushels of good wheat. The canalbeing then navigable west as far as Brockport, I could sell my wheat there at $1 a bushel.
My brother and myself divided our land, giving me 109 acres. I then abandoned the intention of selling, and Nov. 16, 1823, was married to Miss Martha M. Buckland, daughter of John A. Buckland, of South Barre.
In those day we were required b y law to 'train' as soldiers, two day in each year, viz.: on the first Monday in June, and September, company training, and one day for a general muster which was often held at Oak Orchard Creek. We were often called to meet at Oak Orchard and made the journey, 16 miles, on foot, carrying our gun and equipments and paying our own expenses. WE would rill until near night, then on being dismissed, return home the same day, if indeed we were able to reach home before the next morning.
In the early times in this country, inspectors of common Schools were allowed no compensation for their services, the honor of the office being deemed sufficient remuneration. After serving the town in that office several years gratis, Dr. J. K. Brown and I agreed and declared to the electors, that if appointed to that office again we would pay our fines of $10 and thus relieve ourselves of the service, where upon the town voted to give us seventy-five cents each per day, for the time we might be on duty.
Under circumstances like these, not as many were seeking the small town offices then as now.
Bears, wolves, wild cats, deer, raccoons, hedge hogs and other wild animals, were plenty here then.
In the summer of 1818, my brother and I being at work chopping on our farm, head a hog squeal, and saw a bear walking off very deliberately carrying the hog in his paws. WE gave chase and as we came near, the bear dropped his prey and ran off;he had killed the hog. We then made 'a dead fall,' as it was called, in which to entrap the bear, which was a pen made by driving stakes into the ground, and interweaving them with brush horizontally, in which the hog was placed. Into this pen we expected the bear would come and spring a trap, which would let a weight fall upon him. It proved a success, for in the morning we found the bear in the pen; he had sprung the trap, and a spike of the dead fall through his leg held him fast.
Religious meetings were early established and maintained at South Barre and Barre Center. Deacon Orange Starr was among the foremost in these meetings.
Many pleasant reminiscences of pioneer life might be mentioned, for though we endured many hardships and privations, we had plenty of sport mingled with them, giving us a pleasant variety of mirthful enjoyment. Major Daniel Bigelow, being a good horseman, and having no horse, broke one of his oxen tot he saddle, and was accustomed to ride him through the settlement.
Riding out one day, his ox, being very thirsty and coming near a large puddle of water, started forward to the drink on double-quick time, and plunging into the water, stopped so suddenly as to throw his good-natured rider over his head, sprawling into the mud, much to the amusement of those looking on.
I am a descendent, on my mother's side, of the seventh generation, from Samuel Chapin, an early pioneer of Springfield, Mass., who settled there when only three families were in the place. At a gathering of his descendants at Springfield, on Sept. 17, 1862, fifteen hundred such descendants were present. Dr. J. G. Holland, known as 'Timothy Titcomb,' delivered a poem on the occasion, which he said he was requested to do because he has married into the Chapin family.
I am also descended in the sixth generation on my father's side, from Rev. Nicholas Street, who came from England and was ordained pastor over the first church in new Haven, in 1659.
Dated, Barre, Feb. 25, 1864.
The Pioneer History of Orleans County, NY, By Arad Thomas
Transcribed by Holice B. Young
HTML by Deb
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