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

By Arad Thomas

Online Edition by Holice & Deb



David Demara was born in Albany County, October 16th, 1808, and removed with his father's family to Shelby, in 1811. His father first located in the woods two miles from any house, built a log house fourteen by sixteen feet, covered it with bark and moved into it, without floors, doors, or windows. He left the country in 1812, on account of the war, and returned in 1815.

David Demara married Maria Upham, April 12th, 1837. She was born in Ward, Massachusetts, March 29th, 1814.


"I was born March 10th, 1800, in Manheim, Montgomery County, N. Y.

In January, 1817, I removed with my father's family to Ridgeway, Orleans County. We built a log house and moved into it in the month of March. While building our house, and just previous to putting on the roof, a large tree fell upon the building and cost us much labor to remove it and repair damages.

Cornelius Ashton and John Timmerman had settled within half a mile of my father' s location when we came in. My father's family consisted of my father and mother and ten children. When he moved here, the was to all intents and purposes, poor, I do not think, besides a paid of old ordinary horses and a cow, my father could boast he was worth other property worth fifty dollars. I worked out to help support the family until I was twenty-one years of age.

I married Miss Lucinda Michael in 1824. My father, Henry Bidelman, died in 1860, aged eighty-two years.

In March, 1818, snow fell about two feet deep; next day it thawed, and a frost following made it had crust on the snow. On this James Woodward and myself resolved to have a day hunting deer. We made snow shoes from a seasoned board, which enabled us to walk on the crust with ease. We were attended by a small dog, and armed each with a common pocket knife. We soon started a fine buck from his browse in a fallen tree top, the dog gave chase, and after a few bounds, in which the deer broke through the crust to the ground, he stood at bay. We rushed upon the deer without knives, and cut his throat. We soon started another deer, which we killed in the same manner. So e brought in two deer in about an hour. Our success so animated George Holsenburgh, a neighbor, that he joined us in another hunt. In our second hunt we had not gone far into the woods before we started as large a buck as I ever saw. The dog soon brought him to a bay. Holsenburgh, who was a quick, athletic man, rushed up to the head of the deer with intent to seize his horns, when he received a blow from the fore foot of the animal which laid open his clothing from his chin down, as if cut by a knife. The hoof took the skin off upon his breast, and left a visible mark down his body. Holsenburgh was terribly alarmed at this change in affairs. He turned pale, and retired from the contest he was so prompt to commence. Woodward and myself went to the rescue, and quickly despatched the deer as we had done the others. Our friend Holsenburgh had had sufficient experience of that kind of deer hunting to satisfy him, and we went in with our game. Woodward and myself went out again the third time and brought in two more deer, making five in all killed by us in one day.

In March, 1822, I helped the contractor who had taken a section of canal to dig where Medina now stands, build a log cabin. We cut our trees for the building on the ground now the site of the village We finished our cabin in five and a half days. I then engaged to work for the contractor half a month for six dollars and fifty cents and be boarded. Our work was digging for the canal. The first two days we had fifteen hands, and the third day about fifty. We were allowed a liquor ration. Mr. Eggleston, the contractor, brought in on an ox cart from Rochester, three barrels of whisky among other stores to use on his job. Of this each man eas allowed on gill a day.

At this time I was unacquainted with the nature of whisky, and I with others, drank my first allowance. I will not here attempt to describe its effects. Suffice it to say, it was the first and last liquor ration I ever drank. I sold the remainder of my whisky rations to those who were familiar with their use, at three cents each.

In the year 1828 I built for myself a log house, twenty feet square, into which I moved my family, having but one room which we used for kitchen and parlor, living room, bedroom &c. Our furniture was such as pioneer farmers in this country usually possessed, viz.: a loom, quill wheel, and swifts, great wheel and little wheel for spinning, necessary bedding, seven chairs, a table and a cradle, with a few exceedingly plain culinary utensils, which were indispensable to our comfort.

For many years my wife manufactured our clothing, both woolen and linen, wove our own coverlets and blankets, and hundred of yards for our neighbors.

Shelby, October, 1866. ABRAM BIDELMAN."

Mr. Abram Bidelman died June 8th, 1868.


"I was born in Providence, Saratoga County, N. Y., June 14th, 1793.

I was married to Dorcas Ferris, August 15th, 1814. I hired a man to move me to Ridgeway, agreeing to pay him forty dollars for it. Our outfit consisted of a good team of horses and wagon, as there was no snow then. My family consisted of my mother, my wife and two children.

After we had been two or three days on the road, a 'thaw' came that compelled us to stop a week. The earth then became frozen and we went to Palmyra, when one horse gave out. I bought another horse for forty-five dollars, paid my watch, a fur hat, and a pair of boots, for thirty-two dollars, and gave my note for thirteen dollars, and with my three horse team went on to Rochester, which then consisted only of a few log buildings, one of which was a tavern where we stopped. On examining here I found our only bed had been stolen. I afterwards found it pawned at Palmyra by the thief and had to pay two dollars and a half to get it again. We came by the Ridge road to West Gaines, where we found an empty shanty and moved into it. I went to Batavia through Shelby and procured an article of a piece of land west of Eagle Harbor, and returned in one day as far as Millville. It snowed hard all day, and I think I did a good day's work, traveling so far through the woods on foot. I acknowledge my steps were some hurried by seeing tracks of wolves in the snow, and seeing some evidences of a bloody encounter they had had.

I bought a three year old heifer and paid for her chopping three acres of timber, and fitting it for logging, going three miles to the place where I did my work.

In time of haying and harvest I walked to Palmyra and worked there three weeks to buy pork and wheat for my family. The next fall I moved into a log house I had built, and felt at home. The next year I had a little trial such as was common to pioneer settlers in those days. It was before harvest. My cow has lost her bell, and had been gone in the woods eight days. We were destitute of provisions, except a small piece of bread, some sugar, and some vinegar. I went to the nearest place where flour was sold and could get none. On my return we gave the last morsel of bread to our children. I picked some potato tops which my wife boiled and we ate, dressing them with vinegar. Our empty stomachs would not retain this diet. We speedily vomited them up and retired supperless to bed. Early next morning I arose and went to my neighbors a mile away, and they divided their small store of flour with me. I carried it home and my wife speedily salted some water, and made some pudding, which we ate with maple sugar, and this seemed to me to be truly the best meal of victuals I ever ate. i felt, even in this straight, the words of Solomon to be true: "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and contention therewith."

Another incident. Myself and immediate neighbors were destitute of flour. I had money which I had taken in exchange of land, so a neighbor took me with his team and wagon to Hanford's Landing, at the mouth of Genesee River, to purchase flour. I bought six barrels of flour and one barrel of salt and took out my money to pay for it. Mr. Hanford, the man of whom I had made my, divided the money I handed him into piles of about thirty-six dollars in each pile, after doing which I was astonished to hear him accuse me, in a an angry tone, of being a dealer in counterfeit money, and to learn that he had condemned about one-half of what I had paid him. He ordered a man in his employ to go immediately to Rochester and procure a precept for my arrest. I felt alarmed, and that I was in trouble. I knew not what to do, but God, who is ever watchful over those things who put their trust in Him, was with me. While things were growing more threatening, a gentleman whom I had never seen but once before came up, and after learning the facts, strongly condemned Mr. Hanford's course. The money was again examined, and only about nineteen dollars found bad. This was replaced by current funds, and we were then allowed to return to our homes in peace.

this supply carried the settlement through until harvest, and by the blessing of Heaven and our own industry, and economy, we have been saved from such destitution until the present time.

I have seen the wilderness disappear, and beauty and civilization spring up inits place around me. I have, in common with mankind, drank of the cup of affliction, perhaps more deeply than many others. I have been called to mourn over the graves of two loved companions and four children, from a family of fourteen.

I now reside with my third wife, in West Shelby, and preach every Sunday at the Christian Church in Barre, N. Y., where I have labored in the ministry, more or less, for fifty years.

West Shelby, May, 1868 JOTHAM MORSE."


David Burroughs was born near Trenton, New jersey, and died in the town of Shelby Orleans Co., N. Y., in 1822, aged 46 years.

Mr. Burroughs removed to Ovid, Seneca County, about the year 1798, where he resided, working a farm and keeping hotel until the year 1818, when he removed to Shelby, and settled on a farm about two miles south-west from Shelby Center.

Mr. Burroughs took first rank among his townsmen for his capacity and intelligence. He was the first Supervisor of Shelby, while it belonged to Genesee County, and was appointed justice of the peace about the year 1820, an office he held till his death. He is a member of the Convention that framed the Constitution of the State in the year 1821. He took an article of his farm from the Holland Company a year or two before he moved his family to Shelby. He had a few acres cleared and a log house built, ready for his family when they came in. He left two sons, I. K. Burroughs, formerly a merchant and business man in Medina, where he now resides, and Hon. Silas M. Burroughs, who began life for himself as a merchant. He afterwards abandoned merchandise for the practice of law. He represented the County of Orleans four years in the lower House, in the Legislature of the State, and was twice elected member of Congress, and died before the end of his second term. He also resided in Medina.


Darius Southworth was born in Palmyra, N. Y., March 18th, 1800. He worked some at the trade of a carpenter while a minor, but since the year 1825, he has made that this principal business.

He married Mercy Mason, daughter of James mason, of Millville, in Shelby, where he has ever since resided. They have four children, Elvira A., Albert, Dexter L., and George J. H., all now living.


Newman Curtis was born in Dalton, Massachusetts, September 9th, 1797.

He married Maria Van Bergen, of Kattskill, N. Y., June 9th, 1818. In September, 1824, he settled on a farm in Shelby, one mile south of Millville. Mr. Curtis had fourteen children, eight sons and six daughters, all of whom lived to become men and women, and all of whom received their education at Millville Academy.

In 1854 Mr. Curtis sold his farm in Shelby and removed to the town of Independence, in Iowa, where he purchased two hundred and fifty acres for his own farm, and located a large quantity of wild land of the Government, for his children. Mr. Curtis became wealthy from the rise in the value of these lands. And the practice of industry and economy. He died in the year 1858. His widow and twelve children survived him.


Horatio N. Hewes settled in Shelby in the year 1825, as a partner in business with L. A. G. B. Grant. He was engaged in selling goods, running mills, and dealing in produce with Mr. Grant for some years, and after that became a large contractor to do public work, and had large jobs of work on the Erie Canal. He removed to Medina to reside about the year 1854, where he died June 17th, 1862.

He was an energetic business man, and was extensively known in this part of the State. He married a daughter of Col. A. A. Ellicott.


Lathrop A. B. G. Grant settled in Shelby about the year 1824, as a merchant. He married a daughter of Col. A. A. Ellicott.

Mr. Grant gradually extended his business operations, and at length became a large dealer in farmer's produce.

About the year 1851 he built the large stone mills at Shelby Center, and run them for a time. He was an active and influential man in public affairs of his town and county, and was the representative of Orleans County in the State Legislature in 1826, being the first member elected after the county was organized.

Twelve or fifteen years ago he sold out his property in Shelby, and removed to Oswego, N. Y., where he has since resided engaged in extensive business.


Andrew A. Ellicott was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

He married Sarah A. Williams, of Elizabethtown, new Jersey. He came to Batavia In May, 1803.

In July, 1817, he removed to Shelby, Orleans County, where his uncle, Joseph Ellicott, had given him eight hundred acres of land, which included the water power at Shelby Center. He settled at Shelby Center, where he built mills, officiated as justice of the peace, and postmaster. He was the first postmaster in that town.

His influence with his wealthy and numerous fam-

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ily connexions, his own benevolence and disposition to aid such as needed help, which he always bestowed liberally when he had opportunity, endeared him to the pioneers in Shelby, and contributed much towards settlements to be made there.

He died September 7th, 1839. His wife died August 26th, 1850. His daughter Sarah, widow of the late Horatio N. Hewes, resides in Medina.


Alexander Coon was the first, or among the first settlers in Shelby. He came from Rensselaer County, N. Y., and located about two miles west of Shelby Center, in 1810.

In a statement furnished by Mr. Alexander Coon, Jr., for Turner's History of the Holland Purchase, he says:

"My father's family left the Lewiston Road at Walsworths, and arriving upon our land, four crotches were set in the ground, sticks laid across, the whole covered with elm bank, making a sleeping place. The cooking was done in the open air. A very comfortable log house was then built in five days, without boards, nails, or shingles. Our cattle were fed the first winter on browse, the next winter on browse and corn stalks.

Our nearest neighbor south, was Walworth; west, the nearest was in Hartland; north, one family on the Ridge road."

Mr. Alexander Coon, senior, left several sons, and the family became among the most respectable in the community.

Alexander Coon, Jr., was afterward a prominent public man, well and favorably known in the affairs of his town and county. For eleven years he represented the town of Shelby in the Board of Supervisors of Orleans County,--a longer time than any other man ever served as a member of that Board. He also held many other town office. He said when he was collector of taxes in Shelby, he had a tax of less than a dollar against a man who, to pay it, made black salts, drew them to Gaines on a handsled, and sold them for the money.


Jacob A. Zimmerman was born in Manheim, N. Y.,. August 23d, 1795.

In 1817 he came to Shelby with John B. Snell, who moved from the same town.

In the summer of 1817, he married Nancy Snell. In the spring of 1819, they commenced keeping house in Shelby, on the farm they ever afterwards occupied.

Mr. Zimmerman says:

"I made a table, We had no chairs. I made three stools, two for ourselves and one for company. Our window lights were white paper; no window glass could be had here then. Our cooking utensils were a four quart kettle, and a black earthen teapot. I gave a dollar for six cast iron knives and forks and six cups and saucers, which completed our eating tools.

Times were very hard. I was eleven months without a sixpence in money; two months without any shoes. When we saw shoes tied up with bark we called them half worn out. I gave five bushels of wheat for a pair of poor coarse shoes, made of flank leather.

In 1821 my hog house was burned. The neighbors helped me build another house, and in two weeks after the fire we moved to the new house. In November, 1826, I had bought and paid for eighty-seven acres of land. I afterwards increased my farm to one hundred sixteen acres."

Mr. Zimmerman's children are Morris, married Phebe Bent; Eleanor, unmarried; Gilbert, married Janette Sanderson; John A., married Mary Powers; Arvilla, married Egbert B. Simonds; and Andrew L., married Jennie Bartsom. Jacob a. Zimmerman, died December 6th, 1864.


John Grinnell was born in Edinburgh, Saratoga County, December 4th, 1796.

His father, Josiah Grinnell, was a native of Rhode Island. He settled in Saratoga County and re moved from there to Oneida County, where he died.

John Grinnell purchased a farm in Barre, in 1820, on which in the fall of that year he built a log house into which he moved in April, 1821. He cleared his farm and resided there till 1854, when he moved to Shelby.

He was three times married. First, to Roxanna Kirkham; second to Lucy Babcock; she died January 25th, 1846; third, to Mrs. Julia Ann Abbott, October 27th, 1847.

His children, Cyrene and Daniel, are dead. Paul,, married Sarah Butler; Peter, married Eliza Berry; Lyman, married Leonora Rooker; Andrew J., married Mary Rodman; J. Wesley, married Alice Haines; Mahala married William J. Caldwell; Harley, married Maria Kelsey; John Jr., married Margaret Root; Ella J., married Frederick Hopkins.

His brother, Ezra, Major and Amos, and his sisters, Betsey, wife of Alanson Tinkham; Eliza, wife of William Tyler; Chloe, wife of Relly Tinkham, and Anna, wife of Weston Wetherby, all settled in Orleans County soon after Mr. John Grinnell came in.

these families so early settled here, have been prosperous in business. Being upright in purpose, and honorable in character, they have become among the most respected families in the County.

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


Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Deb

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