The Pioneer History of
 Orleans County, NY
Town of Ridgeway

By Arad Thomas

Online Edition by Holice & Deb




Formed from Batavia -- First Town Meeting -- Turner, White & Hooker's Grist Mill -- First Saw Mill -- Dr. Wm. White -- Salt Works -- Seymour Murdock -- Eli Moore First Tavern Keeper and Merchant -- School Districts -- First School -- Universalist Society -- First Stage -- Isaac Bennett -- Biographies of Early Settlers.

Ridgeway was formed from the town of Batavia, June 8th, 1812, and included in its original limits what now comprises Ridgeway, Gaines, Barre, Shelby, Yates, and Carlton.

In 1830 the west tier of lots in the town of Gaines, and three lots lying next south of them in Barre, being part of the most western tier of lots in the 15th Township, second range of the Holland Purchase, were added to the east side of Ridgeway, in order to include the whole village of Knowlesville in one town.

This town was named from the Ridge Road, or natural embankment called "The Ridge," which runs through the county, parallel with the shore of Lake Ontario, and was the first town incorporated in Orleans county.

The first town meeting in this county was held at Oak Orchard, in Ridgeway,. April 6th, 1813. At this meeting Oliver booth, of Gaines Corners, was elected Supervisor.

Judge Otis turner removed with his family from Palmyra, N. Y., and settled at Oak Orchard in November, 1811. His brother-in-law, Dr. Wm. white, came from Palmyra shortly after and settled near Mr. Turner.

Turner, White & Hooker built a grist mill on Oak Orchard Creek, between the Ridge and Medina in 1812.

The Holland Company built a sawmill on the same creed, near Medina, in 1805.

Dr. William White was the first physician who settled in Orleans County. After a few years he removed to Albion and built a sawmill there on Sandy Creek, a little south of the village.

As settlers came in Dr. White gave more attention to the practice of his profession, and did a large business. And about the time of the digging and opening of the canal, he kept a small drug store in connection with his other business, practicing medicine in partnership with Dr. O. Nichoson.

When Orleans County was organized he was appointed the first Surrogate.

He was afterwards engaged in boating on the canal; then carried on a farm in Carlton, and about 1842 he returned to Albion and resumed the practice of medicine, adopting the homeopathic system. Not getting much practice he removed to Holley, where he served several years as justice of the peace of Murray, and died a few years later.

The Holland Company cut out roads to the bring springs north of Medina, and built works for making salt. But little salt was made until the works passed into possession of Isaac Bennett, in 1818. He bored about one hundred and fifty feet and obtained brine which he boiled into salt, having at one time as many as seventy kettles in use, furnishing a large portion of all the salt used in this portion of the country. At the time of opening the canal these salt works were superseded by Onondaga salt, and discontinued.

Mr. James H. Perry, of Ridgeway, had furnished the following additional history of this town:

"The first permanent settlement in this town was made by Seymour Murdock. In the spring of 1810, he started with his family to remove to western New York to settle where he might find a place to suit. Arriving at Avon, he left his family there, which consisted of twelve besides himself, and with his oldest son went to the land office at Batavia. He there learned that the Ridge road had been opened, and a few settlements made on it.

From Batavia he went to buffalo, followed down the river to Lewiston, then went east along the Ridge road, and when about two miles east of the western boundary of Orleans County, he came to two men by the mane of Lampson, eating their dinner by a tree they had just cut down.

These men had contracted with the Holland company to buy part of lot twenty-four, township fifteen, range four, and Mr. Murdock purchased of them their rights to the land they had selected. This done he returned to Avon after his family, going by way of Batavia, while his son went eat on the Ridge to find the best route to get through.

His eldest daughter declared she would go no farther into the woods and was left at Avon. Taking the remainder of the family he started for Ridgeway, traveling through a dense forest to Clarkson, thence west on the Ridge road, they reached their new hone June 1st, 1810.

A Mr. William Davis began to build a log house on the lot next west of Murdock's about this time, but did not move his family there till September, 1810.

Soon after this two men located at the Salt Works one and a half miles south of the Ridge on the bank of Oak Orchard Creek, in a log house erected by the Land Company.

Ezra D. Barnes came the same summer and boarded at Murdock's while he was building his house two and a half miles east, and working two days in each week for Mr. Murdock to pay for his board. At that tine there was in the present town of Ridgeway five horses, two yoke of oxen, and three cows, all the animals of the kind in town. These were brought in by Seymour Murdock.

Eli Moore moved to Ridgeway Corners in the spring of 1811, and built a block house which he opened as a tavern the same season, and which still comprises a part of the large hotel standing there.

The same season he opened a small store for the sale of dry goods and groceries, which makes him no doubt the pioneer landlord and merchant of Ridgeway, if not of Orleans County.

Sholes and Cheeney were the first blacksmiths, Isaac A. Bullard the first tanner and currier and shoemaker, Dr. Wm. White the first physician, Israel Douglass, the first justice of the peace, Cyrus Harwood, the first lawyer, and Elijah Hawley the first postmaster.

In 1814, the town was divided into school districts, by William White, Micah Harrington and Gideon Freeman, three commissioners of common Schools.

District No. 2 extended on the ridge from the County Line on the west to Oak orchard Creek on the east, a distance of about seven miles, the boundaries north and south were unlimited.

The first schoolhouse was built of logs, in 1815, on the north-west corner of lot number twenty-four, on the south side of the Ridge road.

The first school in town was taught by Betsey Murdock in 1814, in a barn build by her father, Seymour Murdock. This barn is still standing.

A daughter of William Davis was the first person who died in town. She was buried about a mile west of the Corners, in what is probably the oldest burying ground in town, and by some said to be the oldest in the County.

The first birth in town was a daughter of John Murdock.

The first Universalist Society was organized Dec. 14, 1833. Mrs. Julia A. Perry gave them a site on which their present church edifice was erected and dedicated in June, 1835. Rev. Charles Hammond was the first pastor of that church.

Mr. Hildreth, of Vienna, drove the first public conveyance for carrying passengers, and the mail between Rochester and Lewiston, being a covered wagon drawn by two horses.

When Isaac Bennett commenced salt boiling at Oak Orchard, Israel and Seymour B. Murdock, contracted to furnish him sixty-five cauldron kettles by a day set. They bought the kettles near Utica, sent them by lake to the mouth of Oak Orchard Creek, where they did not arrive until the day before the contract expired. They raised teams enough to transport all the kettles to the Salt Works, at one trip in time to perform their contract, and get they pay in gold."

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


Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Deb

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