The Pioneer History of
 Orleans County, NY
Town of Carlton

By Arad Thomas

Online Edition by Holice & Deb




Name -- Lumber Trade -- First Settlement of White Men in County -- James Walsworth -- Village of Manilla -- Names of persons Who Took Articles of Land in Carlton in 1803 and 1805 -- Matthew Dunham -- Curious Mill to Pound Corn -- Dunham's Saw Mill and Grist Mill--First in County -- First Frame Barn --The Union Company--Death of Elijah Brown -- First Children Born in Town -- First Store--Biographies of Early Settlers.

Carlton was set off from Gaines and Ridgeway April 13, 1822, by the name of Oak Orchard. The name was changed to Carlton in 1825.

The region of land lying north of the Ridge Road in this vicinity was called the "north woods" in early times. It was heavily timbered land, containing large numbers of immense whitewood trees, and white and red oaks of the largest kind. Some pine grew neat the Oak Orchard Creek. Hemlock was abundant in some localities, and basswood, elm, beech, and some maple comprised the principal kinds of trees.

The settlers in their haste to clear their lands, generally burned up all of this fine timber that they did not want for fencing, in the first few years of their settlement. After sawmills were built, white wood was sawed and the boards hauled to the canal for sale, and large quantities of oak trees were squared to the top and sent down the Lake to Europe for ship timber. The prices obtained were barely sufficient to pay the expense of the labor required to move the lumber, but the destructive work was kept up till most of the timber trees of every kind have been cut down through this town.

The first settlement of white men in Orleans County was made in this town in the year 1803 by William and James Walsworth, who came from Canada. James settled near the mouth of Oak Orchard Creek, and William near the mouth of Johnson's Creek. James Walsworth was the pioneer settler of this county. He came across from Canada in May, 1803, in an open boat wit his family, and built a log cabin for his residence, which at that time was the only house near the shore of Lake Ontario, between Fort Niagara and Braddock's Bay. His nearest neighbor at first, resided near Lockport, Niagara County. Mr. Walsworth was very poor then. the only provisions they had when they landed were a few potatoes; these and fish from Oak orchard, in which there was then an abundance, supplied their sustenance; except an occasional barter with boatmen, who, coasting along the south shore of the lake, would put into the mouth of the Oak Orchard for shelter. Walsworth hunted and fished mainly for a living, and when he collected any store of peltries he took them east along the shore of the lake to a market. After two or three years he removed to what used to be called "The Lewiston Road." Between Lockport and Batavia, where he was afterwards, well known as a tavern keeper.

The Walsworths and the few other settlers who came in and stopped along the Lake Shore in Carlton, comprised all the settlers in Orleans County before the year 1800, with one or two exceptions.

About the year 1803, Joseph Ellicott concluded that eventually a village must grow up at the mouth of Oak Orchard Creek. In anticipation of that event me made a plat for a town there and called it Manilla, a name which is now found on some maps for the place more commonly known as Oak Orchard Harbor. It was supposed in those days that most of the trade to and from the Holland Purchase, would take the lake route, and Manilla would be the depot. At that time the sand bar, at the mouth of Oak Orchard Creek was less than in later years, and the small schooners then on the lake could come over it without difficulty. It was in furtherance of this thought that the Holland Company did what they did towards opening the Oak Orchard road to travel. The Erie Canal, however, effectually stifled this project, and turned trade and commerce in another direction.

John G. Brown took up two and one-half acres of land from the Company, on the west side of Oak Orchard creek near the mouth and held it on speculation for a time, but nothing was done in the way of founding a village. This land was deeded to him by the Holland Company, Dec. 2, 1806, and was described in the deed as lot No. 15, on a plan of the village of Manilla. This was the first deed of land in the town of Carlton given by the Company. Brown conveyed the land to Silas Joy, Nov. 28, 1815. The following named persons took Articles of the Holland company for land lying in the present town of Carlton, in the years following, viz.:

IN 1803.

John Farrin, James DeGraw, Cornelius DeGraw, James Walsworth, Elijah Brown, John G. Brown, James McKinney, Elijah Hunt, James Dunham, David Musleman, Samuel Utter, Ray Marsh, Henry Lovewell, John Parmeter, William Carter, Martin Griffin, Eli Griffin, William Griffith and Stephen Hoyt.

IN 1804.

Samuel McKinney, John Jason, Henry Lovewell, William Carter, Job Shipman and Ephraim Waldo.

IN 1805.

Paul Brown, Job Johnson, Ephraim Waldo, David Miller, and Thaddeus Moore.

Matthew Dunham and his sons Matthew, James and Charles, came from Berkshire County, mass., to Wayne county, new York, about 1795. They removed to Carlton in 1804. They were chair makers, and began working at their trade soon as they could get settled after they came in.

Henry Lovewell from New Hampshire, and Moses Root and his family from Cooperstown, N. Y., came to Carlton with Mr. Dunham and his family.

Matthew Dunham, Jr., married Rachel Lovewell, daughter of Henry Lovewell, in the year 1814. Mr. Dunham died in 1854, but Mrs. Rachel Dunham is yet living, 1871, aged eighty-six years.

In the summer of 1804, Matthew Dunham and his sons built a dam across Johnson's Creek where the dam now stands at Kuckville, and erected a small building on it, with machinery for turning wood. The Dunham family carried on the business of turning in a small way in this building several years. they did not find much sale for this goods near home, but sold some chairs and wooden bowls to the new settlers. The most of their work they took across the lake and disposed of in Canada. They continued this commerce until the embargo was declared in 1808, and after that they smuggled their chair stuff over to considerable extent on a sail boar which they owned.

It is related by some of the first settlers that in this turning shop the Dunhams fixed an apparatus for pounding corn, by making a tub or box in which the corn was placed, and a heavy pestle was made to fall at each turn of the water wheel. Into this box they would put abut a bushel of corn, occasionally stirring it up to bring it under the pestle, and thus pounds it until it was reduced to meal. It took considerable time to turn a bushel of corn into mean by this process, and aid could be afforded to but few families this way.

Several families coming into settle in the neighborhood, the want of a sawmill and a gristmill was greatly felt. Three or four years after the Dunhams built their turning shop, the Holland Land company offered to furnish the irons for a sawmill, and the irons and a paid of mill stones for a grist mill if they would erect such mills on their dam. A saw mill and a grist mill were built accordingly.

These were the first saw and grist mills built in Carlton, they were small, coarse affairs, but they were very useful tot hose living near them. They remained the property of the Dunhams until about 1816, they were purchased by George Kuck, and rebuilt on a much larger pattern then the old mills.

Mr. Reuben Root owned a small sail boat of a few tons burthen which he used to run across the lake. On this, pine lumber was brought from Canada before sawmills were built there, and it was the principal conveyance by which passengers and property were carried across the lake either way for a number of years.

Mr. Moses Root built a framed barn before Dunham's sawmill was erected, bringing the boards from Canada. This is supposed to have been the first frame barn built in Orleans county.

Reuben Fuller and John Fuller came from Bradford County, in Pennsylvania, and settled near Kuckville in 1811.


In December, 1810, eight young men in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, formed a company, which they named, "the Union company," and agreed each to contribute an equal share of stock, and go together and forma settlement on the Holland Purchase, where each partner should buy for himself a farm with his own means, and the company would help him clear a certain portion of land and build a house and barn. The buildings to be alike on each man's farm.

They limited the company to two years, during which they would all live and work together, and share the avails of their labor equally.

Before leaving Stockbridge, they drew up and signed their agreement in writing.

Thus organized they came to Carlton and took up land west of Oak orchard Creek, each a farm, which was worked according to contract.

Fitch Chamberlain was married, but left his wife at home until he could get a home for her made ready. They brought no women with them and kept bachelor's hall the first year when Giles Slater, Jr., went back to Stockbridge and married a wife and brought her to his new home, and soon after his example was followed by the remainder of the company.

The company made judicious selections of land; its affairs were well managed and successful. All of the partners were fortunate in accumulating property, the sure reward of honest, persevering industry. Their families have ever been among the most respected and influential in town.

Fitch Chamberlain was a physician and practiced medicine in the later years of his life. The members of the company are all dead , except Anthony Miles, now aged 84 years, in 1871.

The Union company consisted of Minoris Day, Fitch Chamberlain, Charles Webster, Anthony Miles, Selah Bardslee, Moses Barnum, Jr., Russell Smith, and Giles Slater, Jr.

The first death among the settlers was that of Elijah Brown. The first birth was a pair of twins, children of James Walsworth, in 1806. At their birth no physician or person of her own sex was present with the mother. The first marriage was that of William Carter and Amy Hunt, in 1804. Peleg helms taught the first school in 1810-11. And George Kuck kept the first store in 1816.

The first public religious services in Carlton were held about the year 1810, and were conducted by Rev. Mr. Steele, a Methodist preacher who came from Canada.

Elder Simeon Dutcher, of the Baptist denomination, settled in Carlton in 1817. He was the only preacher residing in town for several years.

Among the first settlers were Elijah Hunt, Moses Root, Henry Lovewell, Paul Brown, Elijah Brown, Job Shipman, Matthew Dunham.

Dr. Richard W. Gates, was the first regular physician who settled in the practice of his profession in Carlton. After a few years he moved to Barre, and thence to Yates, he represented Orleans county in the State Legislature in 1841, and was supervisor of Carlton in 1826.

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


Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Deb

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