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

By Arad Thomas

Online Edition by Holice & Deb



Joseph L. Perry was born in Huntington, Connecticut, November 30th, 1794. In 1804, his father removed his family to Aurelius, Cayuga County, N. Y., to a farm near Auburn.

Joseph L. Perry married Julia Ann Reed, daughter of Jesse Reed, of Aurelius, July 15th, 1819, and in March, 1820, removed to Ridgeway, Orleans County, and located half a mile west of Ridgeway Corners, on the Ridge Road, on lot twenty-four.

He was town collector and clerk of Ridgeway, and deputy sheriff while this county was part of Genesee county, also deputy sheriff of Orleans County afterwards.

In 1825 he purchased the store and hotel at Ridgeway Corners, and carried on the mercantile business for a number of years,. Then moved into the hotel and kept tavern there many years. He also carried on the ashery business, and at one time run ten miles of the old pioneer line of stages, on the Ridge road, in company with Champion, Bussell and Walbridge. He was postmaster a number of years, and mail contractor between Ridgeway and Shelby, several years. he was extensively engaged in buying and shipping grain on the Erie Canal, running two boats of his own, which he sometimes commanded in person. He was a shrewd, sharp, quick witted man, a good judge of human nature, always jovial and abounding in fun.

He never lacked for expedients to extricate himself from any perplexity, and his sagacity and energy always carried him safely through, or over, every impediment which interfered with his purposes. He died September 17th, 1845, at his residence in the town of Ridgeway.


"I was born in Greenfield, Saratoga County, N. Y., February 8th, 1810, being the fifth of my father's eleven children.

In 1818 my father removed with his family to Perry, now in Wyoming county, on what is known as 'The Cotringer tract.' The western line of our farm was the eastern bounds of the Holland Purchase. the farm contained one hundred acres, fifteen of which had been cleared and a log house and barn erected when we came on.

In clearing our land we were accustomed to make 'black salts' for sale, as these, with pot and pearlash were the principal articles of export that brought money into the settlement.

In common with our neighbors, we sometimes suffered some hardships for lack of the necessaries of life. My father at one time went to the Genesee flats, twelve or fifteen miles distant, and bought corn that was nearly spoiled by the flood of the previous season, paying one dollar and twenty-five cents a bushel, to help us long in the spring.

I remember one pleasant incident of our pioneer history,. After getting along as best as would at one time, without any bread for several weeks, we at down to a meal of boiled new unground wheat, and maple molasses, all the product of our own farm, the most delicious dinner, it seemed tome, I ever ate. Ah, that was a dinner a little boy could not easily forget, and that was the crisis, the turning point in the pinch.

Not long after this we had grain to sell, wheat at the nominal price of thirty-one cents, and corn at eighteen cents per bushel, with very limited sales at those prices.

Our house stood, as I then thought, in about the center of the world, and having joined to it an addition of another house of about the like size, we were frequently favored with social gatherings of people there of all classes during the winter evenings. Those were occasions never to be forgotten by me. The children and young people would amuse themselves in harmless play and gossip, and the parents enjoy themselves in planning and story telling, while a few of the venerable mothers were intent on preparing the invariable accompaniment of every gathering, a good supper.

Starch, prim, and upper ten, were unknown there. Liberty, equality and fraternity reigned supreme in those halcyon days. Ah me, but those were days of 'Auld land Syne,' the memory of which is exceeding pleasant.

In those times our religious meetings were held in a private house about half a mile from ours. Elder Luther, a man of more than ordinary ability, was the preacher who visited the place occasionally. He was a little eccentric in his manners and language, but quite well adapted to the times, and character of his congregations.

As a specimen of pioneer preaching, it is remembered of elder Luther, as he was in the midst of a sermon, urging some topic, and wishing to adduce authority to sustain some point, he stopped a moment, then said, 'John, what do you say?' then changing his tone of voice to imitate a fancied reply, he repeated what the apostle says on that subject. And then he called out, 'Paul, what are your views?' giving a reply as before, in like manner thus interrogating other apostles and our Savior, and giving their answers, closing up with ----'And now, old Ben. Luther, what have you to say to all this?' and then he gace his own conclusions, making the point deeply impressive upon his hearers.

Our chorister was the blacksmith of the settlement.

'Uncle Seava' as he was called by everyone; a white haired, tall, slim, straight and solemn old gentlemen. He would rise and give the pitch for New Durham, Exhortation, Northfield, or Majesty, or some such tune in which the whole congregation who could sing would join, taking their style from the chorister, giving to the words and the music that peculiar 'nasal twang,' common in those days, which was designed to be especially impressive upon the hearers, and it had its intended effect, at least upon me, for I have not forgotten those auspicious occasions I witnessed when I was a little boy. Although some of the young people seemed to be amused by the queer preaching and nasal singing, and some who attended failed to be profited, apparently, by the services, yet those religious meetings were really the 'green spots,' in our early pioneer life, and were doubtless of great moral value to the settlement.

Though district schools were established at an early day around us, my early advantages for attending school were quite limited. However, at the age of eighteen years, I went before the board of inspectors for examination, and being found by them of sufficient capacity, I was installed into office as a school master in a district school, which calling I alternated with mercantile business, until I was thirty years old.

I embraced religion while teaching school in Portageville, Wyoming County, in April, 1831, and soon after became a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

I married Adeline C. Miller, in New Berlin, N. Y., in September, 1834.

In 1840 I was received as a member of the Genesee conference of the M. E. Church, and began preaching, in which service I have ever since been engaged, removing to Knowlesville in 1862.

Knowlesville, April, 1864.


"I was born in Clarendon, Vermont, August 17th, 1795.

I received a fair common school education like other farmers' sons in that neighborhood.

I came to the town of Ridgeway, N. Y., with my brother, William C. Tanner, in March, 1816, where I have resided ever since.

I was married November 28th, 1825, to Miss Lucy Baldwin.

I have lived on my farm forty-eight years. I have had four children. My youngest son, Benj. B. Tanner, was a Lieutenant in the 151st Regiment N. Y. Volunteers, and died in the service of his country in the war of the rebellion.

Ridgeway, April, 1864.


"I was born in Fabius, N. Y., April 13th, 1807. I was son of Amos Barrett. My father removed with his family to Ridgeway, N. Y., in March, 1812, and settled on the Ridge road, one mile west of Ridgeway Corners. We moved into the house of Jonathan Cobb, and resided with his family until my father got his house ready for his family. Mr. Cobb was an old neighbor of my father, and had moved to Ridgeway the year before we came.

I well remember the house my father first built with the help of the settlers in that vicinity. The walls were logs, the floor basswood logs split, and hewed, the roof covered with long shingles split from black ash, not a door about the premises, nor a board. A blanket hunt at the entrance served as a door, and kept out the cold and wild beasts. The fireplace was some stones against the logs at one end of the house, and the chimney was a hole through the roof. This sheltered us from the rain, but the snow sifted in plentifully.

Farming has been my business. I bought the farm on which I have since resided , in 1831.

I was married to Electra B. Chase, of Clarkson, N. Y., April 23d, 1833.

I have lived to see the various changes through which this section of country has passed. I have known by experience the pinching pains of poverty, and I have enjoyed the comforts of competence. I have seen broad fields, smiling with harvests of plenty, emerge from the wild forests. I have not only seen this, but I have realized it. I have lived it, and I trust my claim will not be disallowed when I assert that, in a humble manner perhaps, I have contributed my part to bring about these happy results.

Ridgeway, 1864. 


"I was born in Dutchess County, N. y., April 8th, 1796.

My father, Seymour Murdock, emigrated to Orleans county in 1810, when I was fourteen year of age, and located on a part of the farm now owned and occupied by me on the Ridge, in Ridgeway.

In the transit from Dutchess County, we had a hard time, traveling with an ox team, with a family of twelve persons. We were a little over a month on the way, and reached out place of destination June 1st, 1819, and dwelt in our wagons nearly six weeks, and until we had time to erect a house in which we could reside.

From the Genesee river to Clarkson Corners was one dense wilderness, with only an occasional commencement of clearing made by a few settlers. At Clarkson was a log tavern at which we stopped. From Clarkson to our first stopping place there was the, I thin, but three houses, and they were cheaply erected log cabins.

We were two days in journeying from Clarkson to Ridgeway. The roads, if roads they could properly be called, were almost impassable.

At the crossing of Otter Creek, in Gaines, fire had consumed the logs, which had been thrown into the bank to form a sort of dugway up the ascent from the stream, which left an almost perpendicular ascent for us to rise. To accomplish this, we took off our oxen and drove them up the old road, and then with teams on the hill, and chains extending from then to the tongues of the wagon below, we drew our wagon up. In doing this, at one time the draft appeared too much for the team, the oxen fell and were drawn back by the load, and the horn of one of the oxen catching under a root, was torn entirely off.

The next difficulty we encountered was at a slashing about two miles east of Oak Orchard Creek, where a man by the name of Sibley had cut down timber along the track, and just then had set it on fire, which rendered our path both difficult and dangerous, as we were obliged to go through the midst of the fire.

The next difficulty was at Oak orchard Creek. A dugway has been made down the bank only to accommodate Yankee wagons, and ours being a Pennsylvania wagon, with longer axles, it was seriously endangered by its liability to be thrown down the bank.

On ascending the bank out of the creek on the west side, one of my brothers, then a little fellow, feel of the wagon and night have been left if he had not screamed lustily for help.

On arriving at our journey's end, our first business was to eat from the stock of prepared provisions we brought with us. The food was laid out in order around a large stump which stood conveniently by, and I well remember the relish with which we all partook of this our first meal, at our new home in the woods.

The scenery here, as I now remember it, was truly magnificent, one dense forest, composed of large, sturdy oaks, extended as far as the eye could see, eat and west, and on the south side of the ridge road. on the north side the forest was more dense, and composed of a greater variety of timber. The nearest opening east of us, was the one alluded to above, where we encountered the fire, two miles east of Oak Orchard Creek. The nearest one west was at Johnson's Creek, although Mr. Dunn had erected the body of a log house, but had made no clearing at the place on which he has since resided, two miles east from Johnson's Creek.

At Johnson's Creek, which was about five miles west from our then home, there was one log house built, and a small clearing. This was our nearest neighbor, as north of us was an unbroken forest extending to Lake Ontario, with no mark of human habitation west of Oak Orchard Creek.

At the head of Stillwater, in Carlton, lived a widow Brown, and I have heard of residents at the mouth of Johnson's Creek, but of this we knew nothing then. South of us were no families, so far as we knew, except two families by the name of Coon, who I think came in the same season we did, and one family by the name of Walsworth, residing near Tonawanda Swamp, which was our only stopping place between our place and Batavia, on this side of the swamp. We had no necessity then for the law we now have called the 'cattle law.'

The store nearest to us then was at Batavia, thirty miles distant.

Our neatest post office was also at Batavia, and there also was the nearest church, and so far as I know, that was the nearest place to us where religious meetings were held.

There was also the nearest school house known to me, unless there was one at what is called Slater's Settlement, near Lockport.

The nearest gristmill was at Niagara Falls, forty miles distant.

The health of our family continued good during the first year, and yet the season was so far advanced before we could be prepared to put in seed, that we raised nothing the first year except some potatoes and a few turnips.

I remember a man called at our house that summer, and knowing the family he kindly offered to make my mother a garden gate, there being then no fence around the garden, or within five miles of it. The general health of our family, and of those who became our neighbors, continued good, with trifling exceptions in the form of ague and fevers, &c., until after the war of 1812.

During this war much suffering prevailed, as no provisions had been laid by, and the war necessarily took the time of many who would have other wise been raising all necessary good, thus ceasing to be producers, and yet remaining consumers. This produced a great dearth of provisions, and much suffering, consequently in some instances whole families left the country, some on foot; in some instances women went away carrying their children in their arms, in hopes of reaching a land of plenty and safety.

At the taking of Fort Niagara, I and most of our family, and our neighbors of sufficient age and size to bear arms, went to the defence of our country. During our absence a band of Tuscarora Indians on a retreat passed through our neighborhood and greatly frightened our women and children before they could be made to understand that these Indians were our friends.

Up to this time the settlers were sparse and illy prepared to encounter the horrors of war in our midst, and were in constant preparation for immediate flight.

The hardships and privations and sufferings of our people consequent upon the war, were speedily followed by fearful sickness.

About this time emigrants coming to this region were many and frequent, and as the population increased so the sickness increased. Great and almost universal suffering among the inhabitants followed. If any were so fortunate as to escape sickness themselves, their physical abilities were overtaxed with care of those who were sick, and still the improvements of the county continued; perfect harmony abounded among the people, and contentment, founded on hope, was universal.

On June 1st, 1825, fifteen years after dining off that stump above referred to, I was married to Miss Eliza Reed, of Cayuga County, N. Y., and we took up our residence within a stones throw of the log hut first erected by my father. I have resided on the place ever since, and am happy and contented in the realization of the hopes entertained when a boy fighting musketoes and felling trees in the then wilderness, where is now a good flourishing neighborhood of inhabitants.

Ridgeway, June, 1864. 


Lyman Bates was born in Palmyra, N. Y., January 16th, 1798.

In November, 1819, he came to Ridgeway and commenced clearing a new farm.

In January, 1821, he married Miss Abinerva Kingman, who was born in Palmyra in June, 1796. When not employed in discharging the duties of public office, in which much of his life has been spent, he has labored on his farm. He has served nine years as Supervisor of the town of Ridgeway, been several terms justice of the peace, and held other town offices. He served one term of five years as a Judge of the Old court of common Pleas of Orleans County. He was a member of Assembly for Orleans County in 1828. He was President of the Farmer's Bank of Orleans, and has always been deeply engaged in business.

Coming here when everything was new and unsettled, he identified himself with every movement made to develop the resources of the country, and to establish and maintain good order and prosperity. Of a plausible address and sound mind, honorable, fair, impartial and honest in all he did, his party, his friends, and all who knew him, have ever made him the prominent man in his town and neighborhood, whose opinions have been sought, whose counsel has been followed, and whose influence for good has been seen and felt.

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


Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Deb

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