The Pioneer History of
 Orleans County, NY
Biographical Notices of 
Joseph Ellicott and
Joseph Mix

By Arad Thomas

Online Edition by Holice & Deb

 

 CHAPTER XXX.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICES OF JOSEPH ELLICOTT AND JOSEPH MIX.

JOSEPH ELLICOTT.

Although Mr. Ellicott was never a resident of Orleans County, and consequently not strictly included among its pioneers, whose history it is the main object of this work to record, yet, as the agent of the Holland Land Company, for so many years, no man had more to do in organizing and settling this county, and in planning and bringing into action the means by which the varied resources of Western new York have been developed.

The ancestors of Mr. Ellicott came from Wales to America at an early day, and were among the early pioneers in Buck's County, Pennsylvania.

Mr. Joseph Ellicott was thoroughly educated as a surveyor, by lessons given him by his elder brother, Andrew. His first practical lessons were taken while assisting his brother in surveying the city of Washington, after that place has been selected for the National Capital.

In 1791 he was appointed to run the line between Georgia and the Creek Indians. He was then engaged in surveying the land of the Holland company lying in the state of Pennsylvania. When this was completed he was sent to survey the Company's land in Western New York.

He spent many years in the woods, in the arduous labors of a surveyor, and when he left the woods to Engage in the business of local agent of the Company, his toil was scarcely lessened. During this time he carried on an immense correspondence with the general office, at Philadelphia, in reference to the business entrusted to him, and also with the prominent men of his time and country in relation to public affairs generally, in which he manifested great interest. He is especially remembered aside from his connexion with the Holland land Company, for the part he took in promoting that great work of internal improvement, the Erie Canal. With the schemes for the origin and prosecution of that work, and its progress to success, he was conspicuously identified; and among the great men who comprehensive minds devised that canal, and urged it forward to completion, his name will ever rank among the first.

By a life of activity and enterprise, he was enabled to accumulate a large property without being charged with peculation in office, or mal-administration of the vast business entrusted to his care.

A spirit of discontent had begun to be manifested among the settlers on the Holland Purchase, growing our of their enormous indebtedness to the company for their lands which they had been permitted to buy on credit, and while the ;leniency of the agents had not enforced payment on their contracts, accumulating interest had largely swelled the original debts.

Worried, and worn by the load of labor he had sustained, and aware of the discontent which prevailed, and which he hoped might be allayed if directed by other counsels, Mr. E. resigned his agency and thus closed a busy life. From that time he was afflicted with am monomania upon real or imaginary diseases with which he believe himself to suffer. He was taken by his friends to New York and placed in the hospital at Bellevue, where about August, 1826, he committed suicide.

Joseph Ellicott was never married, but for his numerous family of relatives he made most ample provision, some of the choicest lands on the Holland Purchase being selected and secured by title to the Ellicotts.

His remains were brought to Batavia, and interred in the village cemetery, a beautiful monument being erected under the superintence of David E. Evans, his nephew, and successor as local agent of the Holland company, marks the spot.

From his intimate acquaintance as surveyor with the Holland Purchase lands in Western New York, he was enabled to make some judicious selections of lands for himself.

In the original survey of Buffalo, he laid off for himself one hundred acres, now included in the best part of that city.

In the county of Orleans he bought seven hundred acres, including the water power at Shelby Center, and afterwards fourteen hundred acres farther down the Oak Orchard Creek, which included the village of Medina, and the best water power on that creek.

About the year 1824, he made his will, in which he devised a large part of his great landed estate in special gifts to his favorite relatives. The residue was devised to others of his kindred, nearly one hundred in number, share and share alike, with a few exceptions.

His property at the time of his death, even at the low price lands then bore, was estimated at six hundred thousand dollars From the great advance in value at this time, this property is worth many millions of dollars.

He was the first Judge appointed in and for Genesee County courts.

EBENEZER MIX

EBENEZER Mix is a name familiar as household words to the old settlers on the Holland Purchase, and no history of the pioneers, or of the early settlers, would be made complete without a reference to him.

Mr. Mix was born at New Haven, Connecticut. He died at Cleveland, Ohio, January 12th, 1869, aged 81 years.

In his native New England he learned and worked at the trade of a mason.

He came to Batavia, Genesee County to seek his fortune, in the year 1809. There he worked first at his trade as a mason.. He afterwards taught school; was for a time a student in a law office, and finally went into the service of the Holland Land Company as a clerk in their office at Batavia, in 1811, where he remained twenty-seven years.

Being a good theoretical and practical surveyor, and a clear headed and competent business man, in a short time he was made contracting clerk in the Batavia office, in which capacity it was his duty to make, renew, and modify contracts for the sale of land, calculate quantities of land, make sub-divisions of tracts of land, and act as salesman generally. In this way he became intimately connected with every transaction of the Company relating to gifts of land to churches and school districts, and took part in all business matters between the Company and the people who settled on their lands. And few men could be found who would have done the business as well. He excelled as a mathematician, was a practical surveyor and possessed a remarkable memory of boundaries, localities dates and distances. Indeed the whole transactions of the Land Company, and the map of their territory seemed to be pictured on his mind with singular fidelity, making it a treasury of facts, exceedingly convenient for reference in settling conflicting questions concerning highways, boundaries and original surveys, which arise among the people.

Naturally of a somewhat irritable temperament, when aroused by the perplexities of business, he was sometimes rather sour and rough in manner towards persons by whom he was annoyed, but his wish and aim was to do right and justice, and however austere and crabbed his manner, his conclusions and final settlement of matters he had in hand was kind and benevolent to those with whom he had to do.

Full many a time has the unfortunate settler who had been unable to make the payments on his article, and whom sickness and calamity had driven almost to despair of ever paying for his land, had reason to be grateful for the humanity and generous treatment he received from Mr. Mix in extending his payments, renewing his article, and abating his interest money.

In the war of 1812 he served for a time as volunteer aid to Gen. P. B. Porter, and was at the sortie at Fort Erie.

For twenty years in succession he was Surrogate of Genesee County.

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

 

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

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