The Pioneer History of
 Orleans County, NY

By Arad Thomas

Online Edition by Holice & Deb




Harley N. Bushnell was born in Starksborough, Vt., the youngest of thirteen children in his father's family, Feb. 18th, 1796. When he was fifteen years old, he went to Connecticut to learn the trade of a clothier of his brother. He served as an apprentice in that business five years, and received thirty days schooling in the time. In February, 1817, he came to Batavia, Genesee County, and went to work at his trade. In august afterwards his employer ran away, owing Mr. Bushnell one hundred Dolores, and the Sheriff came, and seized all his employer's property,. Turning Bushnell out of business. He finally bought the establishment and ran it on his own account, and with a partner; but in the end found it a losing business. After a time he gave up his trade and was elected constable. In this business he was not successful in laying up money, and in the end found himself about even with the world.

He did some business as a justice, and labored some at his trade until February, 1823, he removed to Holley, north of where the canal now is, which was then covered with felled timber, not cleared off; bought two acres of ground and leased two acres more for a mill pond. He commended getting out timber for a house eighteen by twenty-four feet square, hewing and framing it at the stump. There was considerable snow on the ground, and on the snow crust mornings, he drew all the timber for his house to the spot with a rope over his shoulder. After getting his family settled in his new house, he cleared off part of his land, and with the help of his neighbors at one or two "bees," he built a log dam, got out timber and built a sawmill, and began sawing about May 1st, 1824. In 1825, in company with Samuel Clarke he built works for wool carding and cloth dressing at Holley.

In October, 1826, his house burned with all its contents, In two weeks he had another house up. In June, 1828, he bought the interest of his partner in the wool carding and cloth dressing works, which he carried on alone until 1833, when he sold out and bought a farm. After a few years he sold his farm, moved to Holley, and ever after did business as an insurance agent.

For many years he was Superintendent of the Presbyterian Sunday School in Holley.

He was one of the founders of the Orleans County Pioneer Association, and many year its President. He was kind hearted, genial man, benevolent and philanthropic, earnest and zealous in support of every good cause, and died lamented by all who knew him, October 28th, 1868.


Aretas Pierce was born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, March 27th, 1799. He came with his father's family to settle in Clarendon, where he arrived April 7th, 1815. The family moved into a house built for a school house, until they could build a house for themselves.

They built a house and moved into it April 24th, 1815. The first year they lived on provisions they brought in with them. The next year being the cold season, they bought rye at one dollars and twenty-five cents a bushel, and pork at twenty-five dollars a barrel, in Palmyra. The next year they were out of bread stuff before harvest, and ate green what boiled in milk as a substitute, and what is strange none of the family had dyspepsia.

He married Matilda Stedman, May 8th, 1823, and has always resided on the lot originally taken by his father.

When his father came in it was an unbroken wilderness on the west, from his place to the Oak Orchard Road, eight miles; north to Sandy Creek, four miles; east two miles; south to Farwell's Mills, Eldridge Farwell, a. Dudley, John Cone, Wm. Austin and Mr. West, had settled in Clarendon, and other settlers towards Sandy Creek came in the same year as Mr. Pierce. A few came before them.

In the years 1817-18, the inhabitants in this settlement suffered for want of food.

Samuel Miller worked for Artemas Daggett, chopping wood for one dollar a day and board himself. All he had to eat, most of the time, was corn meal and water; but he did not complain or tell of it then.

Ebenezer Fox settled a mile and a half east of Murray depot, and all they had to eat for a number of weeks was what they could pickup in the woods. The best they could find was the inner bark of the beech tree.

Mrs. Fox had a young babe, and her next oldest child was in feeble health, and she had to nurse them both to keep them from starving.

Almost all the money the settlers had was obtained by leaching ashes and boiling the lye to black salts, and taking these to Gaines or Clarkson and selling them for about three dollars a hundred pounds.

After 1818 the country filled up rapidly with settlers and more produce began to be raised than was wanted for home consumption. The price of what fell to twenty-five cents a bushel, and only thirty-one cents after hauling to Rochester, and so remained until the Erie Canal was opened.

Mr. Pierce settled on lands owned by the Pultney Estate, and these did not come into market for sale until 1821, though settlers were allowed to locate themselves with the expectation of buying their land when it came into market. The price of his lot was fixed at eight dollars per acre, but having expended so much in building and clearing, he was compelled to pay the price or suffer loss by abandoning all he had done.

The reason given by the company for not bringing their lands into market was, they had "so much business on hand, they could not attend to it," but the settlers thought they were waiting to have the canal located before establishing their price.


Hubbard rice was born in Pompey, Onondaga County, July 28th, 1795. He removed with his father' family to the town of Murray, and settled on a lot adjoining the village of Holley, in May 1812. His father, Mr. William Rice, continued to reside on this place until about the year 1830, he went to Ohio to reside with his children, and died there.

Hubbard rice lived with his father until 1825, then he moved to the south part of Clarendon, where he remained until he removed to Holley in 1804, where he still resides, 1871.

After Lewiston was burned in the late war with England, Mr. Hubbard Rice, then a boy of eighteen years, volunteered as a soldier and served a campaign on the Niagara Frontier.

Coming to Holley when a boy, he grew up to manhood there, seeing and sharing in all the toils, dangers, hardships and privations which the settlers endured.

He has been spared to a ripe old age to witness the founding, growth and development of a beautiful village on a spot he has seen when it was a native forest covered with mighty hemlock, through which now by canal, railroad, and telegraph, the commerce and intelligence of the world are flowing.


Chauncey Robinson was born in Durham, Connecticut, January 5th, 1792. When he was two years old he was carried with his father's family to Sauquoit, Oneida County, n. Y., where, to use his own words, "I was educated in a district school, and graduated, at twelve years of age, between the plow handles."

He removed to Clarendon, Orleans county, and settled about two miles south of Farwell's Mills, July, 1813; cleared a farm and carried it on until May, 1851, he removed to Holley, where he resided until his death, which took place May 8th, 1866.

In the war with England in 1814, he was called out with the other inhabitants of the frontier generally to aid in repelling the British who were then besieging Fort Erie.

He was several months in this service; was in the battle and sortie at Fort Erie, September 17th, 1814, which was the last battle of the war fought on this frontier.

Very few families had located in Clarendon when Mr. Robinson went there. He began in the woods, built a log house, and all its fixtures, furniture and surroundings, were in the primitive style of those times.

He was a man of ardent temperament, a fluent and earnest talker \in private conversation, or public debate, noted for his intense hatred of slavery and oppression, and his love of freedom and free government, and for his zeal in the cause of temperance. Upon this and kindred topics he frequently wrote articles for the newspapers.

He was an active man in organizing the town of Clarendon, laying out and opening highways, and locating school district, frequently holding public office as the gift of his fellow townsmen. He was Supervisor of Clarendon four years, in succession. He was an original and free thinker on those subjects of public policy which excited his attention, enforcing his doctrines with a zeal which some of his opponents thought fanatical.

In his personal habits he was industrious, frugal and temperate. When he was an old man he said: "I have never used one pound of tea, coffee, or tobacco, and comparatively little liquor; none for the last thirty years; not even cider. My constant drink at home and abroad is cold water."


Hiram Frisbie was born in Granville, N. Y., Aug., 1791. He first came to Orleans County with a view of taking the job of building the embankment for the Erie Canal, at Holley. Failing in this he went with his brother-in-law, William Pierpont, to Farwell's Mills in the town of Clarendon, and opened a store there in 1821. They sold goods and made pot and pearl ashes there, Pierpont also keeping tavern several years, when Pierpont sold out the whole business to Mr. Frisbie, who managed it all alone several years, until the insolvency of some leading merchants in Holley made an opening for his business there, he then closed out in Clarendon and moved to Holley to reside about the year 1828 or 1829.

In connection with Mr. James Seymour of Clarkson, he bought all the unsold land in Holley, of a one hundred acre tract, which had been taken up originally by Mr. Areovester Hamlin.

At Holley he sold goods as a merchant, built houses, sold village lots, bought produce, opened street, and became wealthy from the rise in price of his lands and the profits of his trade.

He was appointed postmaster soon after he came to Holley, an office he held fifteen years.

Some years ago he was thrown from his carriage while driving some high spirited horses, several of his bones broken and was so badly injured as to render him incapable of active labor, as before. He still resides in Holley, one of the few old men yet remaining who settled here before the canal was made. Enjoying in quiet the avails of a long life, of busy industry and sagacious investment.


Jacob Hinds was born in the town of Arlington, Bennington County, Vt. He settled in the town of Murray in 1829, and bought a farm which had been taken up by article from the State of Connecticut by Jared Luttenton.

The Erie Canal passes through this farm. Boating on the canal was then brisk, and no station between Albion and Hulberton was established at which boatmen could get their supplies.

Mr. Hinds built a grocery store and began that business.

It was a good location from which to ship wheat, which began to be produced in considerable quantities, and Mr. Hinds built a warehouse in 1830. About this time his brothers Joel, Darius, and Franklin, came on and joined him in business, and being active, energetic business men, a little settlement sprang up around them, which was named Hindsburgh.

Jacob Hinds had been engaged in boating on the canal and became acquainted with the canal and its boatmen and men engaged in traffic through it; in 1839 he was appointed Superintendent of Repairs on the western section, an office he held three years.

After an interval of ten years, in 1849 he was elected one of the State Canal Commissioners, and served three year in that capacity.

Since retiring from these office, Mr. Hinds has followed farming as his principal occupation.

Austin Day.

Austin Day was born in Windhall, Vermont, April 10th. 1789.

He married Polly Chapman,. July 23d, 1810. He moved to the town of Murray, in the winter of 1815.

For some years after he came to Murray he served as a constable, and being a good talked he practiced pettifogging, or acted as counsel in justice's courts, and for a number of years, and until professional lawyers came in,. he did a large business.

After the Erie Canal was made navigable, he engaged in buying wheat, which he followed some years, shipping large quantities chiefly from Holley.

He was appointed Judge in the Old Court of common Pleas, of Orleans County, an office he held five years.

He was elected sheriff of Orleans County in November, 1847, and held the office three years. In January, 1848, he removed to Albion, where until within a few years he has resided. He was Supervisor of Barre in 1852.

His wife died October 15th, 1858, which broke up his family, and since then he has resided in the family of his son, F. A. Day, in Albion, and lately with his daughter, Mrs. Buell, in Holley, relieved from the cares and anxieties of business.


Elijah W. wood was born in Pelham, Mass., April 22d, 1782. He removed to the town of Murray at an early day, where for many years he served as Constable and Justice of the Peace, and during one term of five years, he was Judge in the Old Court of Common Pleas of Orleans County.

He was a shrewd and successful pettifogger in justices' courts, where he made up in wit and natural sagacity any lack he may have suffered in legal attainments. He died in Murray at the age of eighty years.


"I was born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, in 1795. My father removed wit his family, including myself, to LeRoy, New York, in 1816. We were twenty-one days on the journey.

I came to Murray in 1817, and taught school in district No. 8, in a log house in which a family resided at the time. My wages were nine shillings a week and boarded among my patrons. I taught eight months during which time I was happy and fared well.

While I was boarding at the house of David Gould, in the winter time, his stock of fodder for his cattle gave out and he was obliged to feed them with 'browse,' and to save them from starving on such fare he went to Victor, Ontario county, and bought a load of corn for his cattle. His brother-in-law brought the corn to Murray on a sleigh with two horses, and arrived at Mr. Gould's house late in the evening of a cold and stormy night.

There was no stable nearer then Sandy Creek, three miles, where the horses could be sheltered. Mr. Gould's house had but one room, but it was concluded to keep the horses there over night. Mr. Gould and wife occupied a bed in a corner of the room, two girls and myself had our bed with its foot at the side of Mr. Gould's bed, and the horses stood in the other corner and ate their corn, and thus we all slept that night as we could.

I married Artemas Daggett, February 14th, 1819, and commenced housekeeping on the farm where I now reside, September, 1870.

Mr. Daggett died in 1831 and left me with three small children and one hundred acres of land, owing about nine hundred dollars. In two years I raised the money and paid our debts and took a deed of the land.

About this time I married Isaac smith, with whom I lived in peace and plenty until his death in August, 1866.

During a great sickness at Sandy Creek, Mr. Brace, his wife, and six children resided there. One of his daughters fell sick and went to the house of a doctoress in town to be treated. Others of the children were taken ill. Mr. brace was notified that his daughter under the doctoress' care was much worse and he went to see her. She died and he was taken down sick and could not go home. In the mean time a son at home died. Mrs. Brace had taken sold care of him in his sickness and while watching his corpse the dead body of Mr. Brace was brought home and father and son buried at the same time. The other sick ones recovered.

At this time Mr. Aretas Pierce, Sr., who lived four miles away, came and found the Brace family miserably poor, and destitute of all the comforts and most of the necessaries of life. He went about and got a contribution, and next day the pressing wants of the family were supplied by the benevolent settles around.

Murray, September., 1870. SALLY SMITH."


Alanson Mansfield was born in Vermont, March 9th, 1793.

With an ax which constituted his whole personal estate, he came into the town of Murray in the year 1814, and hired out to work, chopping until he earned enough to take an article of lot number two hundred and nineteen, a little north of Hindsburgh. He then returned to Vermont to being his father's family to settle on his land. They started from Vermont, his father and mother and six children,--Alanson being oldest of the children,--with a pair of horses and a sleigh, in which was a barrel of pork and some meal, a few household goods and the family. A milch cow was led behind. The port and meal and milk of the cow supplied most of their provisions on the road, and helped sustain them after arriving in Murray, until they could otherwise be supplied.

They arrived in the winter of 1815, put up a log house for a dwelling, and began clearing the timber from a piece of land, and the first season planted the corn from four ears among the logs, from which they raised a good crop.

He married Polly Hart, in Murray, October 14th, 1817. Her father settled near where Murray depot now stand, in 1816.

He united with the Baptist Church in Holley, in 1831. The next year the Gaines and Murray Baptist Church on the Transit was formed, and Mansfield untied with them and was chosen deacon. He was a worthy, honored and good man, and died respected by all who knew him September 30th, 1850.


Abner Balcom was born in Richfield, Otsego county., N. Y., September 15, 1796, and brought up in Hopewell, Ontario County.

He married Ruth Williams, of Hopewell, March, 1816. She died in March, 1822.

In the fall of 1822, he married Philotheta Baker. She died February 7th, 1865, and for his third wife he married Mrs. Philena Waring.

In the fall of 1812, in company with his older brother, Horace, and two other men, he chopped over twenty-two acres on lot one hundred and ninety-two, which Horace had purchased in the spring of 1816, and where he died. This was the first clearing in Murray, on this line between the Ridge and Clarendon.

Mr. Abner Balcom first settled in the town of Ridgeway, on the farm now or lately owned by Grosvenor Daniels, to whom he sold it and removed to Murray before the canal was made.

In company with Mr. Hiel Brockway he built the dam and mills on the west branch of Sandy Creek, on lot one hundred and ninety-five, near which he has ever since resided.

These mills, a sawmill and gristmill, are known as "Balcom's Mills," and in them Mr. Balcom has always retained an interest.

Mr. Balcom has always been much respected among his fellow townsmen. He has held all the town offices except clerk. He served as supervisor of Murray in 1847-8. He is an influential and consistent member of the Transit Baptist Church, in which he has been deacon.

His son, Francis Balcom, was among the volunteers who went into the Union Army in the first years of the great rebellion, and was killed in battle while gallantly fighting to save the country which the instructions of his father and instincts of his own nature had taught him to love.


Reuben Bryant was born in Templeton, Worcester County, Massachusetts, July 13th, 1792. He graduated at Brown University, Rhode island, about the year 1815.

After some time spent in teaching, he removed to Livingston County, N. Y., and studied law in the office of the late Judge Smith, in Caledonia. Having been admitted to the bar of the Supreme court, he settled to practice his profession in Holley about the year 1823, in which village he was the pioneer lawyer.

In the fall of 1849 he removed to Albion, and in 1855 he removed to buffalo to aid his only son, William C. Bryant, a rising young lawyer just getting into practice in that city.

He was appointed Master in Chancery by Governor Silas Wright, an office he held when the Court of Chancery was abolished under the Constitution of 1846.

He was a thorough classical scholar, and had his mind well stored with Greek and Latin lore, which he delighted to quote in social moments wit his friends when circumstances made it proper.

As a lawyer he had a clear perception of the law and the facts., and of their bearing in his cases; but he was too exact, cautious, and diffident of himself to be an advocate. All his life he suffered forma malady which was a perpetual burden and cross to him, and annoyed him in his business. He died in Buffalo in January, 1863.

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


Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Deb

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