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

By Arad Thomas

Online Edition by Holice & Deb



Extracts from the local history of Thomas W. Allis, written by himself for the Pioneer association.

"I was born in Gorham, Ontario Co., N. Y., Nov. 1, 1798. My father died in the year 1805, and I was brought up from that time until I attained my majority, in the family of an uncle, In Hampshire, Mass.

In March, 1820, in company with a younger brother, I moved to Murray, in Orleans County, to what is now the town of Kendall.

We brought with us four barrels of flour, one barrel of pork, one barrel of whiskey, and a bed.

We located three and-fourth miles north of the Ridge Road, and one mile east of the Transit Line.

In going from the Ridge to our place, we passed but one family and they lived in a log house, with only part of the ground covered by a floor, a bark roof, no chimney.

We hired our provisions cooked, and lived with a family near by, in a log cabin similar to the one above described

We bought a contract for one hundred acres of land, by the terms of which we agreed to pay #300 for the improvements, and $600 for the soil.

We kept bachelor's hall there most of the time for four years.

I soon bought fifty acres more of land, with six acres improvement on it, for which I agreed to pay $450. But few families were then north of the Ridge, in that section of country.

I worked at clearing land and raising crops. Wheat was worth only three shillings per bushel, delivered in Rochester.

The first plow in our settlement, I bought in company with two neighbors. We walked to Gaines village, bought on of Wood's patent plows and carried it on our backs from the ridge road three and one-fourth miles to our home.

I was married Nov. 18, 1824, to Miss elizabeth Clements, of Queensberry, Warren Co., N. Y.

On the 9th of January, 1826, my house was burned with all my furniture and clothing and one years' provisions. Our neighbors turned out and drew logs and rolled up part of a house, but a snow storm came on and stopped the work before it was finished. My brother and myself afterwards built a log house, commencing on Thursday at noon, built a stone chimney, finished and moved into it the next Saturday. Size of the house was sixteen by thirteen feet. We lived in this small house for about two years and then I finished the house which had been begun by my neighbors soon after the fire.

I resided in the house last built about fourteen years. I paid interest on the purchase money, for the first hundred acres I bought, to about the amount of the principal before I took a deed.

I afterwards bought fifty-three acres for $450, for which I paid with the avails of one crop of wheat. In 1837 I bought a timber lot of 48 acres. In 1840 I built a frame house, thirty by seventy feet, which cost me $2,000.

In March, 1860, I sold my farm in Kendall, part of which I had held for forty years, and bought a house and fifteen acres of land in Albion, on which I now reside.

Albion, January, 1863 

Mr. T. W. Allis, above referred to, was for many years one of the solid men of the town of Kendall, honored and respected by all who knew him. He was a Justice of the Peace and held various other town offices. Having acquired a competency, by many years' steady toil and economy, he retired from hard labor on a farm, to a village residence, where he is now (1871) spending a quiet old age, in the enjoyment of the fruits of his labors.


Extracts from the local history of Col. Joseph Barker, written by himself.

"I was born in Tadmorden, Lancashire, England, September 21st, 1802, and emigrated with my father's family to America in the spring of 1816. I arrived in the town of Seneca, Ontario County, in July of that year, and resided there until I bought the farm in Barre, in November, 1825, on which I now reside. I was married in October, 1822, to Miss Submit Cowles, who was born in Heath, Franklin county, Massachusetts, by whom I had nine children. My wife died February 15th, 1851. I lived a widower two and a half years, and the married widow Elizabeth Guernsey, who was born in Middleburgh, Schoharie Co., N. Y., March 9th, 1810.

In the fall of 1819, I started with another man from Seneca, N. Y., to go to Lundy's Lane, in Canada. We traveled on foot with knapsacks on our backs. Passing through Rochester, then a small town and very muddy, we took the Ridge Road, then thinly settled. Before we arrived at Hartland Corners our provisions gave out; we tried to buy some bread; could get none; then begging, with no better success. We went on to Buck's Tavern in the Eleven Mile Woods. It was very dark when we got there and rained very hard. We had not a dry thread in our clothes, and out shoes and stockings were full of mud and water. Buck's Tavern was a log house with a Dutch fire place, and had a good rousing fire. After taking some rum and supper, we hung our other garments up to dry and went to bed. The next morning we started early, and after getting through the woods, I went into a house and bought six pence worth of bread which lasted us through to Lundy's Lane, We stated there three weeks and returned home.

In September, 1823, I set out to look me up a farm; came by way of Batavia, and through the Indian Reservation to a place now called Alabama Center, and took up sixty acres of land lying about three-fourths of a mile north of that place. I chopped the trees on about one acre, and left for home, where I stayed, working out until the fall of 1825, then started out again and bought the place on which I have ever since resided in Barre, lot fifty-four, township fourteen, rage two.

I moved to my place in January, 1826. There was a shanty on my land with a shingled roof. I got ready to begin work about February 1st, and measured off ten acres of woods for my next year's work to chop, clear, fence and sow with wheat; all of which I did, sowing the last of my wheat in October. The reason of my being so late sowing wheat was, my wife was taken sick soon after harvest. I could get no girl to work and I was obliged to take care of my sick wife and do all my work indoors, and our of doors. I had to milk, churn, work butter, wash and iron clothes, mix and bake bread, and in fact do all there was to be done. I worked on my fallow days and nights whenever I could leave my sick wife. At last I hired a girl, but she stayed with us only four or five days, and then I had to do housework again. My wife recovered so as to be bout, the forepart of October.

I worked out some of the next winter to get potatoes to eat and to plant and to pay my doctor's bills. I bought four small pigs in the summer, and beachnuts being plenty they grew finely and when killed weighed about one hundred and twenty pounds apiece. The pork was rather soft but tasted good.

The second winter I chopped about seven acres. The weather was fine, but on the night of April 13th, the wind blowing a fearful gale while we were snugly in bed, took the roof or chamber floor on our house. I got up and put out the fire; we put on our clothes and taking our little girl went to Mr. Russell's, our nearest neighbor, about forty rods, where we stayed until, with the help of our kind neighbors, we got up the body of another log house. In two or three weeks we had out house so far made that we moved into it and lived in it all summer with a chimney. In the all I built a Dutch fire place and a stick chimney.

It was about two years after I moved my on my lot before the highway was chopped out either way, north or south fro me. The logs and underbrush were cut so that we could drive a team through. I was poor when I came here and I lived according to my means, One-fourth pound of tea lasted us over seven months. I bought a barrel of pork and half a barrel of beef, when I got the tea, and they were all gone in about the same time together.

We had plenty of flour and some potatoes. My cow was not used to the woods, and sometimes I could find her and again I could not, so sometimes we were obliged to eat our bread and potatoes for a meal. I thought it rather dry living to work hard on, but we lived through it, always hoping for 'the better time coming."

The next year I fatted three fine hogs and put them all down for home use. The third summer I had over 20 acres cleared and had got to living pretty comfortably. In July of this year I was elected Second Sergeant in Capt. Gates Infantry Company rather against my wishes. I however accepted.

In August following I was taken sick with fever and ague which lasted me three months. I could hire no men to work for me for love or money. Almost everybody was sick this year. The neighbors turned out however, late in the fall and sowed about six acres worth wheat for me, and I hired a boy a month to husk corn and dig potatoes. About the time the boy got through work the ague left me and I was pretty well all the next winter. The next spring I had three fits of ague, then sores came all over my face. I had no more ague shakes for the next three or four years.

About this time my wife was taken sick with inflammation of the bowels just at the commencement of the wheat harvest. I had fourteen acres to harvest and no one to help me. I got a physician to attend my wife, and went to my harvest field and worked, whether by day or night. Thus I harvested my fourteen acres and took care of my wife. Just before I finished cutting my wheat however, I was again taken with "chills" and began to shake, and kept on shaking about an hour, did not stop cradling but when the fever came on I had to quit and steer for the house and had a hard time to get there. I had two more fits, when my face broke out in sores as formerly and I had no more fever and ague. My wife getting no better, I went to find a girl to take care of her, feeling I was not able to take proper care of myself, much less of her. I travelled all day, found plenty of girls who wanted to go out to spin, but would not do housework. I went a second and third day with like results, and came home sick both in body and mind, and found my wife some better. I finally succeeded in getting a woman to help until my wife got able to be about.

I kept chopping and clearing my land as fast as I could alone, for I was not able to hire. I changed work occasionally with my neighbors, and sometimes hired a day's work. My crops were sometimes good, sometimes poor; but I got along and made money.

In July, 1833, I was elected Captain over the Company in which I had served as Sergeant over four years, and I was afterwards elected Colonel. This military office, as every body knows, was not a money making business in those days; but I had got into it and determined to carry it through to the best of my ability. It cost me much time and money, for which I received nothing back. I had the honor of commanding as good a regiment as there was in the country, and felt proud of it. I did military duty nineteen years; eleven years as an officer, serving as a Captain before I was naturalized, or a voter in town or State. I resigned all military office April 20th, 1839.

I have labored steadily as a farmer, enjoying good health, except having the ague, as I have stated, and had a good degree of prosperity attend my labors.

March 9th, 1863.


Enos Rice was born in Conway, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, in 1790, and came with his father's family in 1804, to Madison County, N. Y.

In June, 1816, with a pack on his back, he came to Barre, Orleans County, and located on lot eighteen, in township fifteen, range two, where he cleared about twenty acres. He next lived a few years in Shelby, where he ever since resided.

Mr. Rice began in the world poor, but by perseverance, industry and frugality, he has acquired a fair amount of property to make his old age comfortable.


"My father, Stephen Porter, was born in Lebanon, Connecticut. About the year 1812 or '13 he started wit his wife and five children on an ox sled, with one yoke of small oxen to come to 'York State.' He had but few articles of furniture and but $65 in money. After a journey of twenty-two days, with extraordinary good luck, he landed in Smyrna, Chenango County, N. Y., with cash reduced to $18. Here he hired an old log house in which he resided for one year. The he hitched his oxen tot he old sled, and with his traps and family aboard, started for Ontario County. After traveling seven days, he arrived at his place of destination and hired a house and twenty-five acres of land.

In the fall of 1815, he took an article from the Holland Land Company, of the west hundred acres of lot 40, township 14, range 2, in Barre, the same on which I now reside, about three-fourths of a mile west of Porter's Corners. In March following, in company with Allen Porter, Samuel Porter, and Joseph Rockwood, he started with provisions for five weeks, to make a beginning on their lands. They established their depot of provisions at the house of Dea. Ebenezer Rogers, in the south part of what now the village of Albion.

They took what provisions they wanted for a week on their backs, with their axes and started through the woods to their lands, about five miles away, the snow being about knee deep.

The first thing in order was to select a place to build a cabin. The site was fixed on the farm now owned by J. W. Stocking, about twenty rods east of where Stocking's house stands. They cut such poles as they could carry and built their first cabin ten by twelve feet square, covered it with split basswood troughs, got it tenable, and the colony moved in and took possession the same day. they cut hemlock boughs and spread them on the ground, covering them with blankets, which made a good bed. The room not occupied by the bed served for culinary and dining purposes. After thus preparing their house they commenced chopping in earnest, working through the week until Saturday afternoon, when they all returned to Mr. Rogers' to spend the Sabbath and get another weeks' provisions. In this way they worked until they had chopped about five acres each, when they all returned to Ontario Co., to spend the summer.

In January, 1820, my father moved his family to his new home in Barre, where he made a comfortable residence the remainder of his life, and died in the fall of 1831, aged 53 years.

My father paid little more than the interest on the purchase money for his land, while he lived. It was paid for by his sons and has been a home for the family ever since.

In the spring of 1816 there was no house occupied by a family in Barre, west of the Oak Orchard Road, on the line on which my father located, although several were in process of erection. My mother died on the homestead, August, 1857, aged 77 years. I was my father's second son, and now own and reside on the old premises, to which I have made additions by purchase.

I was born in Ashfield, Mass., in 1805, and came to this county with my father, in 1820, being then about fifteen years old.

I have had abundant experience in pioneer life. I have chopped and logged and cleared land, I boiled black salts three or four years, a part of the time barefoot, because my father was too poor to furnish me shoes, with little other damage than the occasional loss of a toe nail, or a small wound in the foot from sharp stubs.

I have lived through it all, and by dint of economy and industry have advanced from poverty to competence.

I have held various offices in the gift of fellow-citizens. I was supervisor of the town of Barre from 1857 to 1862, five successive years.

There was no school in my neighborhood for several years after 1820. The first district school house built there was erected at Sheldon's Corners. The district was afterwards divided and a log school house built about a mile north of Ferguson's Corners. Again the district was divided and now stands as district No. 12, with a good school house.

I married for my first wife, Lydia Scoot, daughter of Capt. Justin Scoot, of Ontario County, Oct. 20, 1830. She died Dec. 3, 1842. I married for my second wife, Caroline Culver, daughter of Orange Culver, of South Barre, June 27, 1844, with whom I am still living.

Barre, may 27, 1863 


Nehemiah Ingersoll was born in Stanford, Dutchess Co., N. Y., in 1786. In 1816, he removed to Batavia, where he remained a year or two, then bought a farm in Elba, five miles north of Batavia, to which he removed and where he kept a public house several years. In April, 8122, in company with James P. Smith and Chillian F. Buckley, he bought of William Bradner one hundred acres of land in Albion, bounded north by the town of Gaines; west by the Oak Orchard Road; south by Joel Bradner's farm, and extending east one hundred rods from the Oak Orchard Road. For this tract they paid $4,000. Mr. Ingersoll soon bought of Smith and Buckley, off their interest in this land.

Soon after purchasing this tract Mr. Ingersoll had a large part of it surveyed and laid out into village lots, believing a town would soon grow up. He did not immediately remove to Albion but did commence improving his property there.

He and his associates built the large warehouse standing on the canal at the foot of Platt street and a framed building for a store on the corner of Main and Canal streets, where the Empire block now stands.

Ingersoll & Wells (Dudley Wells) traded some years in this store, and business was carried on in the warehouse by Ingersoll and Lewis P. Buckley.

In the struggle for the location of the County buildings, mr. Ingersoll engaged with spirit. In competing with the village of Gaines, he offered the commissioners appointed to locate the Court House, the grounds on which the Court House not stands as a free gift, which offer was finally accepted and the location thus secured here.

Early in 1826 he removed to Albion to reside. He was prominent among those engaged in effecting the organization of the county of Orleans from the county of Genesee, and in establishing all those institution required and consequent upon beginning a new county.

In 1835, having sold or contracted for the sale of most of his land in Albion, he removed to Detroit and engaged in large business there, in which he sustained severe loss; and in 1845 he went to Lee, Oneida County, N. Y., at which place he resided until his death.

Mr. Ingersoll married in his youth Miss Polly Halsey, daughter of Col. Nathan Halsey, of Columbia County. She died in 1831.

For a second wife he married Miss Elizabeth C. Brown, of Lee who survived him.

Mr. Ingersoll died February 21, 1868, aged eighty-two years. He was naturally of a strong constitution and of an active temperament and appeared twenty years younger then he was. Although the later years of life were spent away from Albion, he was often here and always manifested the deepest interest in the prosperity of the village and county of Orleans. At his request his remains were brought to Albion after his decease and deposited besides his first wife in Mount Albion Cemetery.

His second wife, Mrs. Elizabeth C. Ingersoll, died August 17th, 1869. After her marriage, she resided several years in Albion and shared with her husband in a feeling of attachment to the place and people, which proved itself in a generous gift of ten thousand dollars, which she made in her will to the Protestant Episcopal Church in Albion. Both Mr. Ingersoll and his wife were members of that communion.


Hon. Justus Ingersoll was born in Stanford, Dutchess County, N. Y., in 1794. He learned the trade of tanner.

On the breaking out of war with Great Britain, in 1812, he entered the United States army as ensign in the twenty-third regiment of infantry. He served on the northern frontier in several engagements, and was in the celebrated charge on Queenstown Heights. He was promoted to the rank of Captain for meritorious service.

In one of the battles of Canada, in which he served as Captain of Infantry, he was wounded in the foot. Refusing to leave his Company, and being unable to walk, he mounted a horse and continued with his men. In another engagement he was shot through the body, the ball lodging in a rib. He refused to have it removed, as he was informed a portion of rib would have to be cut away, which would probably cause him to stoop ever after in his gait.

He was a favorite wit his company, and much esteemed by Gen. Scott under whom he served.

In 1818 he came to Elba, Genesee County, N. Y., and soon after settled at Shelby Center, in Orleans county, where he carried on tanning and shoe-making, and held the office of Justice of the Peace.

After the canal was made navigable, and Medina began to be settled as a village, he removed there, built a large tannery and transferred his business to that place.

He was appointed Indian Agent and postmaster at Medina, by President Jackson; he was also Judge of Orleans County Courts.

His tannery being accidentally burned and sustaining other misfortunes in business, he removed to Detroit with his brother Nehemiah, in 1835, where they went into the leather business on a large scale, in which they were not finally successful.

Mr. Ingersoll was a man of firm and persistent character, active and enterprising--esteemed among his acquaintances for the uprightness of his conduct and the courtesy of his manners. He died in 1845.

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


Transcribed by Holice B. Young

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