The Pioneer History of
 Orleans County, NY

By Arad Thomas

Online Edition by Holice & Deb




"I was born in Farmington, Hartford Co., Conn., April 15th, 1802. In the spring of 1817, I hired out to drive cattle, sheep and hogs to Buffalo, and went on with a drove. The mud was deep and I had a hard time wading through it after my drove. I went through, however, and came back to Farwell's Mills in Clarendon, expecting to meet my father and his family there, as they had made arrangements to move when I left them.

On my journey back from buffalo, all I had to eat was six crackers, and I drank one glass of cider.

I found my father had not come on. I was alone, but fourteen years of age, had four dollars in money, my pay for driving the drove, and had no acquaintances there. This was the next spring after the cold season. It was difficult for me to find a place to stay for the reason no one had anything to eat or to spare. I found friends, however, in Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Foster. They said I might stay with them till my folks came on. After that I fared well. they divided their best fare with me, which consisted of hoe cake and maple molasses, and we had to be sparing of that.

I stayed with my benefactors three weeks, when my parents and their family arrived. My father had prepared a small log cabin shingled with bark the summer before. We moved into it. All the provisions were had on hand to eat was half a barrel of very lean pork.

My father had no money left, owned no living creature except his family. We had no table and only two chairs. We had an acre of cleared land on our lot sown with wheat. These were gloomy times to me. The first thing was to procure something to eat. I paid my four dollars to David church for two bushels of wheat. The next thing was to get some straw to sleep on. This we got of our neighbor, Chauncey Robinson, for two cents a bundle.

We had hard fare until the next harvest. We ate bran bread and had not enough of that. After harvest we had enough to eat, and I thought at this time, could I be sure of enough to eat hereafter I should be content.

The next year my father bought a two-year-old cow, which helped us very much.

In the winter of 1818/19, my eldest brother, Luther C. peck, taught a district school near where Holley now stands, for three months, for which he was to have thirty bushels of wheat after the next harvest.

When father received the wheat the price had fallen. Father drew the wheat to Rochester, and received after deducting expenses, thirty one cents per bushel.

In 1820 we bought a yoke of oxen. We then considered ourselves well off. Previous to this I went to school winters. I went one winter to Farwell's Mills, three miles from my fathers. I worked summers chopping and logging with my father, working out for others when I could get an opportunity.

In the winter 1819-20, I taught school on the fourth section road for ten dollars per month. I followed that business for ten winters--had higher wages as I advanced inexperience.

During this time and up to my majority, I began to consider myself a man, used to attend parties, would yoke the oxen and hitch them to a sled, go after the young ladies and wait on them very politely. And I enjoyed it as well and even better than in after times riding in a fashionable carriage.

I one thought it quite smart to visit a young lady who resided in Le Roy. On one occasion I had been to see her, had a very pleasant visit, time passed very agreeably, and before I was aware it was getting rather late. Sometime before daylight, however, I started for home on foot through the woods near three miles. When I came to about the middle of the woods, a wolf appeared in the road before me. I hallooed right lustily, the wolf left the road rather leisurely, and I passed on rapidly. Soon a howling commenced, which was answered by other wolves at a distance, and before I got through the woods, a pack of these animals was on my track, and near to me judging by their cries. They made all sorts of noises but pleasant ones to me. I saved myself from them by the energetic use of my locomotive powers.

I cam readily to the conclusion that this business of being out so late nights 'would not pay.'

I married Miss Anna White January 22, 1829. She was born June 19, 1802, and died January 15, 1834. I married Miss Adaline Nichols, January 31, 18436. She was born February 1809.

Clarendon, 1871. 


"I was born in Lewiston, Lincoln County,. In the State of Maine. In 1817, I started for the Genesee County with my pack on my back and walked to Portland, thirty-five miles, where I went on board a vessel and sailed to Boston. I left Boston on foot with my pack on my back for the place of my destination. My pack was not very heavy, but I had in it, among other things, forty silver dollars. After a hard journey I arrived at Ogden, Monroe county, on the first day of April. I stopped there a while with an uncle of mine, was very homesick, wished myself back in Maine many times.

I worked out that summer by the month, and in the fall bought some land in what is now Clarendon, Orleans County, then a part of Sweden.

I labored hard in the commencement, had considerable sickness in my family, but a good providence has been mindful of me and mine, and in all my lawful undertaking I have been blest, for which I feel truly grateful.

Clarendon, 1864. BENJAMIN G. PETTINGILL."


Mrs. Harriet S. Merrill, a daughter of Mr. Spafford, gives the following account of him:

"My father came from Connecticut about the year, 1811, and purchased a farm about a mile south of Holley, on which he resided until his death in 1828. He was twice married--my mother, Mrs. Eunice Darrow, being his second wife. My father had but one child by his first wife, a daughter named Hester, who in after years became Mrs. Daniels, and is not Mrs. Blonden.

When this sister was four years old her mother died of consumption. At that time my father's house was the only one between Holley and Farwell's Mills. In other directions it was a mile to the nearest neighbors. During her last illness my father was her principal physician and nurse. He used frequently to say to his friends he feared she would die suddenly while along with him.

It was arranged between my father and his nearest neighbors, that if anything more alarming occurred in her case, he should blow the horn as a signal for them to come.

Not long after, at midnight of a dark winter night, death knocked at his door; he took his tin horn and blew the warning notes; but the winds were adverse, and nobody heard. Again and again he blew, longer and louder, but no one heard or came. His wife soon expired. My father closed her eyes, placed a napkin about her head and covered her lifeless form more closely, fearing it would become rigid before he could obtain assistance to habit it in the winding sheet preparatory for the tomb, for such were the habiliments used in those days.

He dressed his little daughter, placed her in her little chair by the fire, gave her her kitten to play with, and told her to sit there until he came back. he then went a mile to his nearest neighbors and roused them to come to his aid, and returned finding his little daughter as he had left her, alone with her dead mother.

I was one of the first children born in the town of Clarendon, being now 40 years of age.

Clarendon, June, 1863. 


"I was born in the town of Chatham, Columbia County, N. Y., April 1st, 1808; have been a farmer by occupation. My father, John Darrow, came to Wheatland, Monroe County, N. Y., in 1811, and worked there two seasons, then returned to Columbia County, sold his farm and was nearly ready to move his family to the Genesee country when he was taken sick and died March 22d, 1813.

In June, 1815, my father's family removed to the farm he had bought two years previous. My mother, then a widow, married Mr. Bradstreet Spafford, who had settled in Clarendon, about the year 1811 or '12. I grew up among the hardships of the new country, and December 30th, 1830, was married to Sarah A. Sweet, daughter of Noah Sweet, who came to Clarendon from Saratoga County, in 1815. My wife was born in Saratoga County in 1812.

My father was a blacksmith by trade, but owned and worked a farm. He was one of the leading mechanics who made the great chain which was put across the Hudson River to prevent the British fleet from coming up in the Revolutionary War, links of which are nor in the State Library at Albany.

I have resided most of the time since 1815, in Clarendon; and for the last twenty-four years on the same farm. I lived a short time in Murray and a short time in Ohio.

I attended school in the first school house built in Clarendon. It stood a little south of Clarendon village, and was built in 1813, of logs, and in size was about fourteen by eighteen feet square, with slab floor and benches. The writing desks were made by boring holes in the logs in the wall, driving in pins and putting boards on these.

We have ten children, nine of whom are living. My second son is now serving in the army of the Potomac in the war of the great rebellion.

I should have said in connection with my father's history, that himself and three of his brothers served in the revolutionary War.

Clarendon, April 1864.


Eldridge Farwell was born in Vermont in 1770.

Sometime previous to 1811, Mr. Farwell located near Clarkson village on the ridge road, but removed in that year to the town of Clarendon, then an unbroken wilderness, where he built the first saw mill in the town on Sandy Creek. This sawmill made the first boards had in all this region. In 1813, he built a grist mill on the same stream, which was the pioneer gristmill in that town.

On the organization of Orleans County, Mr. Farwell was appointed in 1825 one of the judges of the Court of common Pleas, which office he held five year.  the village sometimes called Farwell's Mill in the town of Clarendon, was so named in his honor be being the first to settle there.

He married a daughter of Judge John Lee, of Barre. Judge Farwell died October 15, 1843.


William Lewis was a Deputy Sheriff of Genesee County. He was the first sheriff of Orleans County. He had held the office of Supervisor and Justice of the Peace in Clarendon. He was a prompt and efficient officer, and a worthy man. He died July 23d, 1824, aged about 43 years.


Martin Evarts was born in Riga, Monroe County, N. Y., July 21st, 1812. He removed with his father's family to Clarendon in 1817. Until with a few years he resided on the farm originally taken up by his father. Mr. Evarts was Supervisor of Clarendon in 1863. He married Charlotte Burnham, August 19th, 1835. She died June 20th, 1862.


Lemuel Cook was born in New Haven County, Ct., September 10th, 1763. His father died while Lemuel was a child, leaving his widow and children in destitute circumstances.

In the Revolutionary war he with two brothers entered the army, Lemuel enlisting November 1st, 1779, being then in his 17th year. He was honorably discharged June 11th, 1783. After leaving the army his poll tax was remitted to him by the Select Men of his town, on account of wounds he had received in battle while serving in the armies of his country. In 1792, he settled in Pompey, Onondaga County. In 1838, he removed to Bergen, Genesee County, and from thence to Clarendon, where he died May 20th, 1866, of old age, being 102 years, 8 months and 10 days old. He was probably the oldest man that has lived in Orleans County. He was a revolutionary pensioner.


Isaac Cady was born in Alstead, New Hampshire, July 26th, 1793. He married Betsey Pierce, October 26th, 1816. He came to Clarendon in 1815, on foot, from Kingston, Vt., and located the land on which he afterwards settled and has since resided.

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


Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Deb

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