The Pioneer History of
 Orleans County, NY
Town of Yates

By Arad Thomas

Online Edition by Holice & Deb




Formerly called Northton -- George Houseman -- Discouragement to Early Settlers -- First Deed --Tappan's Tavern -- Liquor Sold -- First Marriage -- First Death -- First Store -- First Sawmill -- Bear Story -- Preserved Greenman -- Anecdotes of First Justice --Yates Center -- First Post Office -- Peter Saxe -- Names of First Settlers along Ridge Line Road -- Village of Lyndonville -- Biographies of Early Settlers.

Yates was formed from Ridgeway, April 17, 1822, by the name of Northton. The next year the name was changed to Yates, in honor of governor Yates.

George Houseman, from Adams, Jefferson County, came into this town and settled in 1809. John Eaton came in 1810.

Very few settlers came in before or during the War of 1812. The extreme difficulty of getting farm produce to a market, and the prospect that such a difficulty would long exist, from the locality, discouraged emigrants from stopping here, and little eland was taken before 1817.

Persons coming to this county to look for a place for their home, generally sought a locality in the vicinity of neighbors, where roads were opened, and where the social enjoyments of human life could in some degree be realized. It required considerable heroism for a man to go back five or eight miles from any settlement into the thick, heavy forest, and begin with the intention there to clear for himself a farm.

A few hardy resolute men located in Yates, regardless of every discouragement, but no considerable settlement was effected until after the cold season of 1816-17, when the country rapidly filled up with settlers.

The first deed of land given by the Holland Land Company, in this town, was to Preserved Greenman, June 18th, 1810. Almost the whole of this town was deeded by the Holland Company between the years 1831 and 1835.

The first tavern was kept by Samuel Tappan, at Yates Center, in the year 1825. The population of the town at that time was less then eight hundred, yet Judge Tappan, in a biographical sketch of himself, says:

"In the thirteen months in which I kept this tavern, I retailed fifty-three barrels of spirituous liquors."

The first marriage in town was that of George Houseman, Jr., and Sally Covert, in 1817. The first death that of Mrs. George Houseman, senior, December, 1813.

The first store was kept by Moore & Hughes, at Yates Center, in 1824.

The first school was taught by Josiah Perry, in the year 1819, in the district including Yates Center.

A sawmill was built in Johnson's Creek, below Lyndonville, by Gardner and Irons, about the year 1819, and a gristmill on the same dam in 1821. These mill, at a later day, have been known as Bullock's Mills, named from a subsequent owner. The mills and dam are now gone.

Chamberlain & Simpson build a warehouse on the Lake shore, north from Yates Center.

A family by the name of Wilkeson lived in the east part of the town in 1811 or '12. In the summer season of that year, Miss Eliza Wilkeson saw a young cub bear near the house, among some vines they had planted. She was alone in the house, but seizing the old-fashioned fire shovel, she went and killed the bear with it.

Mr. Preserved Greenman took up about six hundred acres of land lying east from Lyndonville, before the war of 1812. Mr. Greenman did not occupy his land himself, but settled his sons Daniel and Enos there, giving the neighborhood the name of the "Greenman Settlement."

Some years after, Mr. P. Greenman removed from Montgomery County to Yates, to reside. After a few years he removed to Genesee County, and died there.

Mr. P. Greenman was noted for being "set in his way," and having made up his mind, it was hard to turn him. Having sold his farm in Montgomery Co., while preparing to move to Yates, he had a valuable ox-cart to dispose of. He named a price for his cart. A man offered him a less price and would give no more. Greenman declared he would not abate a cent, and would burn his cart before he would sell for less. No better offer was made, and when he came away he piled his cart in a heap and burnt it.

A rule he made way, that a pail of water must be left standing in his house every night, and the past person who retired must see that it was done, under the penalty of being horse-whipped by Mr. Greenman next morning, in case of neglect. It happened once his daughter had a beau who made her a rather long evening visit, and she was the last in the family to retire for the night, and forgot the pail of water. Her father rose first, as usual, in the morning, and finding the waterpail empty, called up his daughter and gave her a sound thrashing to maintain the rule he had established.

Amos Spencer was the first justice of the peace within the territory now called Yates. He was appointed by the Council in 1819.

The first schoolhouse in town stood three-fourths of a mile north of Yates Center, and was built in 1818. Mr. Josiah Perry kept the first school there in 1819.


Yates Center at first seemed to be the point where the village would be built. A hotel was opened here by Samuel Tappan, and a store by Moore & Hughes, the first in town, and several dwelling houses were built.

Here the first post office was located, Wm. Hughes first postmaster.

When population and trade began to settle at Lyndonville, Yates Center ceased to enlarge, but its inhabitants were not discouraged. About this time Peter Saxe, from Vermont, a brother of John G. Saxe, the port, located here as a merchant. He may be considered the found of Yates Academy, for through his influence and energy it was planned, the stock subscribed, and the institution incorporated. Mr. Saxe traded here a few years, them removed to Troy, N. Y.

After the canal was made navigable, he produce of the town of Yates found a market that way; this trade, and the mills at Lyndonville, operated in favor of that place, and against the Center.

The Methodist Chapel; at Lyndonville, which was the first house of worship built in town, was soon followed by the building of the Baptist and Presbyterian churches at that place.

Considerable oak timber grew in Yates. This was cut down long since, squared for ship building, or riven into staves, and sent down the lake to market.

The following is a list of names of person who, if not first, were among the first who settled on the road in the center of the town from the lake to Ridgeway, beginning on the lake:

On the west side of the highway:

Amos Spencer settled here on the lake shore in 1818.
Next south, Simeon Gilbert, in 1818.
Next, Baruch H. Gilbert, in 1817.
Next, Luther St. John.
Next, Isaiah Lewis, in 1818.
Next a man by the name of Wing sold to Dr. Elisha Bowen who resided there many years.
Next, Zenas Conger.
Next, -------- Nellis.
Next, Thomas Stafford.
Next, Moses Wheeler.
Next, ---------- Nichols.
Next, -------- Rowley.
Next, Samuel and O. Whipple.
Next, --------Peck.
Next, ---------- Collins.
Next, Josiah Campbell.
Next, Elisha Sawyer.

On the east side of the highway, beginning at the lake:

First, Robert Simpson,
Next, Elisha Gilbert,
Next, Nathan Skellinger.
Next, Zacheus Swift.
Next, Comfort Joy, in 1817.
Next, Lemuel L. Downs.
Next, Isaac Hurd took two hundred acres.
Next, Stephen Austin.
Next, Benjamin Drake.
Next, Truman Austin.
Next, Jacob Winegar.
Next, Stephen B. Johnson, in 1817.

The next two hundred acres were owned by several different parties under article, but the deed from the Land company was taken by Samuel Clark, Esq.

Next, Harvey Clark.
Next, Elisha Sawyer.

These settlements were chiefly made between the year 1816 and 1819.


Mr. Stephen W. Mudgett, who had carried on tanning and shoemaking in Ridgeway, purchased fifty acres of land, part of lot two, section seven, on the east side of the north and south road in Lyndonville, and removed there and set up tanning and shoemaking.

Samuel Clark took a deed of two hundred acres next north of S. W. Mudgett, on the east side of the road.

About the year 1817, a man by the name of Peck took up one hundred acres on the west side where William Mudgett afterwards resided. Samuel and Oliver Whipple took up land next north of Peck.

Soon after the county of Orleans was organized, settlers began to gather here. Mechanics and tradesmen came in and a village began to be formed. Samuel Tappan, who was postmaster, and kept his office at Yates Center, removed it here, much to the disgust of those living at the Center.

L. & N. Martin, from Peacham, Vermont, kept the first store, in 1830. Smith & Babcock soon followed, and Royal Chamberlain was an early merchant. C. Peabody was first blacksmith.

Blanchard and Chamberlain build the tavern which stands there yet, which was kept by Miner Sherwin, in 1830.

To settle the post office satisfactorily to the people, Yates post office was transferred to the Center, and application was made to the department for anew post office, to be called Lyndon, that being the name that had been agreed on at a public meeting of the inhabitants, several of whom came from Lyndon, Vermont. The post office department established the post office by name of Lyndonville, to distinguish it from Linden, in Genesee County.

S. W. Mudgett, Samuel Tappan, Richard Barry, and others, built the first flouring mills at Lyndonville, in 1836. The Union School house was built in 1843.

Royal Chamberlain, from Vermont, settled here as a merchant about the time the village began to be established.

As there was no lawyer by profession in town, Mr. Chamberlain being a ready talker and possessed of some education and sufficient self assurance, engaged in trying suits, in justice's courts, and continued the practice several years, until he became a noted "pettifogger" through several town around. he was a judge of the Court of Common Pleas one term. He removed from Yates several years ago, and now resides in Lockport, where he has edited a newspaper. He did considerable to build up a village at Lyndonville.

Dr. Horace Phippany was the first regular physician who settled in Lyndonville.

Rev. Jeremiah irons was the first Baptist minister who resided in Yates.

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


Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Deb

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