The Pioneer History of
 Orleans County, NY
Yates Biographies

By Arad Thomas

Online Edition by Holice & Deb




"I was born in Cooperstown, Otsego County, N. Y., December 28th, 1792. My father removed with his family, then consisting of his wife and five sons, to Big Sodus Bay, in 1801 or '02. In April, 1804, we moved by way of Irondequoit Bay and Lake Ottawa to the mouth of Johnson's Creek, in Carlton, near which place my father took an article of land from the Holland land Company, and located on it to make him a farm.

The party that came consisted of my father's family and the Dunham Family, of six or seven persons and these constituted the whole white population north of the ridge, between the Niagara and Genesee Rivers, except a family by the name of Walsworth, who had settled at the mouth of Oak Orchard Creek.

My father built a house of such poles as we could carry, as we had no team to draw logs, and covered it with elm bark, in which we lived with out a floor for one or two years, then a floor was made of split basswood logs.

After building a shelter for the family, the next thing in order was to get supplied with food and clothing, the stock we brought with us getting low. We cleared a small piece of land and planted it with corn; from this we made our bread. Our meat consisted of fish, venison, bear, raccoon, and hedgehog. We pounded our corn for meal two or three years, by which time we began to raise wheat, which we took to Norton's Mill, in Lima, to be ground. It was about seventy miles by way of Irondequoit Bay and the lake. The country was so infested with bears and wolves at that time we could not keep domestic animals.

In the summer of 1806 or '7, my father got a cow from Canada, but the following fall she was killed by wolves.

Our clothing was made from hemp of our own raising. We could not raise flax on account of the rust that destroyed the fibre.

For several years we had no boots or shoes for want of material to make them.

My father built the first frame barn in what is now Orleans county., the lumber and nails be brought from Canada.

Turner, in his history of the Holland Purchase, is in error when he says that "James Mather built the first frame barn and got part of his lumber from Dunham's mill," Our barn was built before Dunham's sawmill was built. The barn was torn down by Daniel Gates twenty-one or twenty-two years since, who then owned the place, and some of the flooring cane now be seen on the premises. They were split and hewn from whitewood logs. The nails used were all wrought nails.

In September,. 1814, my father and myself being the only ones in our family liable to do military duty, were ordered to meet at Batavia, and go from there to Buffalo to serve in the United States Army, in the war then being carried on against great Britain.

On our arrival at Buffalo, there was a call made for volunteers to go to Fort Erie, under General Porter, to take the British batteries that were then besieging Fort Erie. My father and myself volunteered and went over and assisted in taking the batteries and capturing some five hundred prisoners. This was on the 17th of September, 1814. After this we were discharged, receiving at the rate of $8 per month for our services.

In 1814, I took an article from the Holland Land Company of the land on which I now reside, on lot one, section three, township sixteen, range three.

In April, 1815, I went to Canada and worked on a farm there during the summer the sinter following I returned and chopped over twenty acres of my farm, and in March, 1816, I went to Toronto and took command of a vessel and sailed on Lake Ontario during the season of navigation until the year 1820.

In January 28th, 1819, I was married to Miss elizabeth Hastings, of Toronto. We moved upon my farm in Yates, in December, 1820, where we still reside. We have raised a family of ten children, five sons and five daughters. My eldest and youngest sons are now serving in the armies of their country in the war of the great rebellion.

Yates, June 1864. REUBEN ROOT."


Samuel Tappan was born in Saco, Maine, November 19, 1781. When nine years ole he went to reside with an uncle in Massachusetts. His father was Quaker in religious opinion, a zealous advocate of their peculiar principles until his death. On the death of his father Samuel was placed with a man in Saco, to learn the tailor's trade. Disliking this business he was soon after bound as an apprentice to a shoemaker, and commenced his "servitude," as he called it, august, 1793. His master belonged to the sect of Quakers, hard and exacting, he made no allowance for the faults and failings, or the weakness or feelings of others. He obliged his apprentice to assume the dress, and conform to the mode of worship of the Quakers, both of which were repugnant to the feeling of the young man. His master had no books but the bible, and a few religious works on subjects connected with the Quakers. Samuel was inclined to read whatever came in his way. His inclinations, however, were strictly restrained by his master, by whom all books of poetry and romance were absolutely forbidden, and the range of other books to which he was admitted, was exceedingly limited. After several years spent in this manner, a friendly Congregational minister kindly supplied him with books, and gave him discreet counsel, which rendered his servitude more tolerable and happy. He had no benefit of schooling, never having attended school as a scholar but three days in his life.

In 1801, with the help of friends he purchased his freedom from his apprenticeship, and returned to Saco and work at his trade about two years, studying what he could in the mean time to fit himself for a school teacher.

In 1803 he taught his first school, in which occupation he was mainly employed for a number of years, occasionally working at his trade, and studying when he could with a teacher.

For several years he supplied the poets corner in the village newspaper, and became considerably interested in politics, on the republican side, under the lead of Mr. Jefferson.

In 1809 he was appointed deputy sheriff for York and Oxford Counties, which office he held for two years.

In 1811 he removed to Pittstown, Rensselaer County, N. Y. the troubles between the United states and Great Britain thickening at this time, on his application he was appointed an Ensign in the Infantry in the United States Army, and assigned to duty in the 18th Regiment; and stationed in the recruiting service at Hoosie, N. Y.

After war was declared in 1812, he was transferred to the 23rd Regiment.

In May, 1813, he was ordered with his company to the Niagara frontier. Fort George, at the mouth of the Niagara River, on the Canada side, was taken by our forces, and Ensign Tappan was sent with forty men to plant the American flag on the fort, which was the first time that flag was raised over conquered British territory in that war. Ensign Tappan was now appointed adjutant. In September he was sent with a convoy of prisoners to Greenbush, being twenty-one days on the road. He remained in Greenbush the next autumn and winter, teaching school in the meantime.

In June, 1814, he was again ordered to the frontier, and assigned to the command of a company, and served at the capture of Fort Erie. He was engaged in the battles of Chippewa and Lundy's Lane, In this last battle his company lost seventeen out of forty-five in killed and wounded. In this battle Lieutenant Tappan, at the head of his company, captured Capt. Frazier, of the Royal Scots, with twenty of his men. The American Army afterwards returned to Fort Eire, and was besieged there by the British, but they were finally compelled to raise the siege. Afterwards, by the bursting of a shell in our camp which had been thrown there by the British, his knee was broken, which confined him in hospital a long time, and on account of which he received a pension the remainder of his life. After he became sufficiently recovered to return to duty, he was retained on the peace establishment, war with England being ended, but resigned his commission in February, 1816. He then returned to Pittstown, and there taught school the next seven years, serving in the mean time as inspector and commissioner of schools, commissioner of deeds, auctioneer and coroner. In 1823 he moved to Ridgeway, moving in October, his family consisting of a wife and five children, with all his effects on two Dutch wagons, reaching Ridgeway, November 10th. After fitting a log cabin for his family he took a school for the winter. In the spring he went to work clearing land, but as he said his farming was not a success. "My fruit trees would fall down and my forest trees would stand up; my crops were light but my bills were heavy, and one year's experience taught me I was not born to be a farmer."

In the spring of 1825 he moved to Yates and opened a tavern at Yates Center, keeping the first tavern opened in that town. after keeping tavern one year and retailing fifty-three barrels of liquor in that time, he sold out his tavern, was elected constable and inspector of schools and commissioner of deeds, which last named office he held twenty years. He was elected justice of the peace in 1828. In the winter of 1827 he taught school for the last time, concluding his nineteen years service in that capacity. In 1829 he was appointed post master, which office he held thirteen years. in 1832 he was appointed one of the Judges of the Orleans County Court of Common Pleas, which office he held five years. In 1846 he was elected town superintendent of common schools. The later years of his life were spent in quiet at home with his books, and enjoying the society of family and friends. He was constitutionally frail in body, but energetic and active in his habits of life. Being ready with his pen, and having considerable experience in business, he was frequently employed to draft deeds, wills and contracts for his neighbors, and had some practice in trying suits in justices' courts, as counsel for parties. Of a cheerful and lively turn of mind and easy flow of language, and having an inexhaustible fund of anecdotes and stories at his command, he would make himself exceeding interesting in conversation, and give zest and enjoyment to society wherever he was. His character as a man is aptly described by his daughter in a memoir of him prepared by her, from which we extract as follows:

"Judge Tappan may be decried as a man of more than ordinary intellect, well acquainted with the leading events of the day. of the strictest integrity in his business relations, noted for punctuality, a public-spirited citizen, ready to bear his full share of responsibility. In his social relations, his keen perceptions and ready wit made him an instructive companion. Although many eccentricities mingled in his character, yet those who knew him best overlooked these, knowing his heart was right, though his words might sometimes wound."

He was married four times and had nineteen children.

Many anecdotes might be told of him illustrative of his different traits of character. He possessed no mechanical ability and often related one of his experiment in this department. After he moved to Ridgeway and became a farmer, he found a well curb needed and concluded to make on without assistance. He ascertained the size required, collected the materials together and made it in the house during the evenings, being engaged in teaching in the day time, but after its completion, when he attempted to take it through the doorway he found it several inches wider than the door. He was a great pedestrian, often making excursions on foot, showing greater power of endurance than many younger and stronger men.

In the spring of 1844, when starting on one of his eastern journeys, he tell us in his journal that arriving in Albion and not finding the water let into the canal as he expected, he managed to get as far as Rochester and walked most of the distance to Geneva. After he was seventy years old, he walked from Medina to Saw's Corners, near Batavia, at one time.

While post master, he often left two hoses in his stable and walked from Yates to Ridgeway with the mail bag on his arm.

He died February 8th, 1868, aged eighty-six years.


John H. Tyler was born in Randolph, Orange Co., Vermont, November 30th, 1793. He attended the Academy in Randolph, a short time, and removed to Massena, N. Y., in 1810. On war with Great Britain being declared in 1812, he volunteered as a soldier and served near Ogdensburg six months. In 1817 he removed to the Holland Purchase, and March 22d, took an article for one hundred seventy-six acres of land in Yates, part of lot two, section two, range three, on Johnson's Creek, on which he afterwards resided and labored as a farmer. He was Supervisor of the town of Yates nine years, justice of the peace a number of years, and represented the county of Orleans in the Assembly of the State in 1830 and '31. He was a man of vigorous intellect and good judgment, and enjoyed the confidence of all who knew him.

He married Selina Gilbert, Daughter of Simeon Gilbert, of Yates, in 1819. She died October 7th, 1842. He married Saloma Gates, daughter of Daniel Gates, of Carlton, in 1843.

He died in August, 1856.


Horace O. Goold was born in Lyme, New London County, Connecticut, august 12th, 1800. In March, 1818, in company with two other men in a one horse wagon, he came to Bloomfield, N. Y., after a journey of fifteen days. He labored on a farm the next summer, taught school the next winter and in the spring of 1819, removed to Carlton, N. Y., and located about two miles west of the heat of Stillwater.

The first year of his settlement here he raised thirty bushels of corn and as many bushels of potatoes.

Mr. Goold said: "During the first season we were sometimes rather short of food, especially meat, but some of the boys would often kill some wild animal, and we were not very particular what name it bore, as hunger had driven us 'to esteem nothing unclean, but to receive it with thanksgiving.'"

Mr. Goold married Laurenda Fuller, of Carlton, November 15th, 1820.

Several years before his death, Mr. Goold removed to Lyndonville, in Yates, where he died October 5th, 1865. His wife died October 24th, 1865.


Josiah Perry was born in Shaftsbury, Vermont, September 6th, 1787. He removed to Yates in April, 1817, and commenced clearing a farm, and planted and raised corn and potatoes among the logs and sowed wheat, all the first year.

The people in Yates, in those day, generally went to Dunham's gristmill, at Kuckville, in Carlton, to get grain ground, and Mr. Perry relates of his carrying a bushel of wheat on his back a half dozen miles to that mill to be ground, going through the woods by marked trees, no road being cut out.

Mr. Perry taught the first school that was kept in town. He held office as justice of the peace a short time. He is yet living in Yates.


Alfred Bullard was born in Barre, Massachusetts, February 19th, 1793.

He removed with his parents to Shrewsbury, Vermont, and there received a fair common school education, with the addition of a knowledge of field surveying.

In 1817 he came to Batavia, Genesee County, and in 1818 he removed to Barre, Orleans County,. And he finally settled in Yates in 1824, where he has ever since resided.

For many years after coming into this county, his principal employment consisted in surveying land, and he was known to almost everybody in Orleans County as "Surveyor Bullard." When he was not surveying he worked on a farm. He married Cynthia peck in 1821. She died and he married Sally Smith, who is dead also.

Mr. Bullard has not engaged in surveying for a number of years on account of lameness, which compelled him to use one, and sometimes two canes in walking. He may be considered the pioneer surveyor located in Orleans County.


Henry McNeal was born in Pittstown, Rensselaer County, N. Y., in 1792.

He married Lucy Sternberg in 1814. They moved to Yates in 1817.

Mr. McNeal was the first Captain of a militia company in Yates.


AMOS Spencer was born in Connecticut in 1787. He married Jerusha Murdock, September 10th, 1811. They moved to Yates and settled on the lake shore in 1818.

After a few years they removed to Hartland, Niagara County, where he was living in 1870. The first year he resided in Yates, he cleared the land and sowed ten acres with winter wheat. On this the next year he harvested three hundred and thirty bushels of wheat. He drew forty bushels to Ridgeway Corners, hired Amos Barrett to carry it to Rochester with his team, gave him five dollars for drawing and paid his expenses on the road. he sold his wheat for fifty-four cents per bushel. They were gone four days, and on getting home found they have only five dollars of the money received for their wheat left, all the remainder having been spent in paying necessary expenses.


Elisha Sawyer was born in Reading, Vermont, September 30th, 1785. He settled in Yates in 1816. He took up four hundred acres of land on the south line of the town. After some years he removed to Lyndonville, on a small lace. He removed to Paxton, Illinois, and died there December 8th, 1868.


Baruch H. Gilbert was born in the town of Northeast, Dutchess County, New York, August 24th, 1795.

His father, Simeon Gilbert,. Came to Yates in the fall of 1816, and took an a article of land on the west side of the line between ranges three and four, about a mile and a half south from Lake Ontario, and returned to his eastern home without making any improvement on his lands, to which he did not return until the spring of 1818.

Baruch H. Gilbert, settled on the south part of the land so taken by his father in the spring of 1817, and cleared a farm there on which he resided about fifty years.

Mr. Gilbert was of fair education, of considerable spirit and energy of character, and settling in this town among the very first, he interested himself in every movement made to improve the country, introduce and maintain the institutions of civilized society and induce people to settle in Yates. He soon took a prominent position in the business of his town and neighborhood, and so long as he resided here he was one of the leading men in all public affairs. He officiated as justice of the peace for thirty years.

He married Miss Fanny Skellinger, in 1821. His children are Simeon, who married Olive Skellinger, and resides in Illinois; Stephen B., married Ann Watkins, resides in California; Nathan S., married Mary E. lane, resides in Lockport; and Cordelia, who is unmarried.


Dr. Elisha Bowen was born in Reading, Windsor County, Vermont, in the year 1791.

He received a diploma from Dartmouth College. He was first married and removed to Palmyra, N. Y., in 1817, where he wife died.

In the year 1820 he removed to the town of Yates, and settled on a farm between Yates Center and the lake.

He was the first, and for several years the only regular physician residing and practicing in the town of Yates.

He married for his second wife, Miss Adeline Rawson. After her death he married his third wife Miss Mary Ann Clark. She died in 1861.

Dr. Brown had twelve children, of whom nine are living, viz.: Francis W., married a daughter of Dr. Whaley, resides in Sacramento, California; Samuel C., married Kate, daughter of James Jackson, of Ridgeway, resides in Medina; Adeline, unmarried, resides in Wisconsin; Charles C., married Julia hard, resides in Detroit; Edgar J., married Mary Winn, resides in Chicago; Susan, married Samuel Boyd, resides in Appleton, Wisconsin; Mary, unmarried resides in Appleton, Wisconsin; Theodore E., married Mary Loomis, resides in Chicago.

Dr. Bowen was one of thirteen persons who united to form the Baptist Church in Yates, in 1822, of which church he continued an active member until his death. He was a strong advocate of temperance, and among the first who united in the town of Yates, to forma society to promote that cause.

Dr. Bowen was conscientious and correct in all the habits of his life, and had the confidence and respect of all who knew him. In the later years of his life he did not practice his profession. He died April 6, 1863, aged 72 years.

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


Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Deb

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