CHAPTER IV.

STATE JURISDICTION - NEW YORK STATE DIVIDED INTO COUNTIES.

Massachusetts claimed jurisdiction, as well as sovereignty over all of Western New York under the Charters of 1620 and 1628.

New York claimed the same under the Charter of 1664. Naturally, trouble between the governing authorities of the two colonies, as well as with the inhabitants, grew out of these conflicting claims; and these troubles grew to be more and more bitter, as, settlements were extended by each colony until actual hostilities were threatened on both sides.

The settlement was finally made on December 16th, 1786, by a commission appointed by Congress, which gave to New York jurisdiction over all the disputed territory in this State. The acts of New York will now be considered in this matter of State jurisdiction.

The New York Assembly, having been called together by Gov. Dongan, then the Colonial governor of New York, among other acts, on October 17th, 1683, passed the act entitled "Charter of Liberties, &c.," and on November 1st, 1683, the governor signed the act dividing the territory of New York into nine counties.

Kings, Queens and Suffolk on Long Island were organized with practically the same boundaries as at present.

The southeast part of the State, east of the Delaware River, was divided into Westchester, Richmond, Duchess, Ulster, Orange and Albany Counties.

The first post-office in New York City was established in 1775.

COUNTIES ORGANIZED.

Albany County, as organized at that time, extending south from Albany about fifty miles, then west and southwest to the Delaware River, then south to the Pennsylvania State line, and embraced all of the west and north part of New York and the whole of Vermont - quite a fair sized county, containing over 40,000 square miles. Elma was then and for nearly ninety years in Albany County.

Tryon County, formed from Albany County, March 12th, 1772 embraced all the State west of the Delaware river and a line extending from the head of that river, northeast through what is now Scoharie County, and along the east line of Montgomery, Fulton, and Hamilton Counties, then north on a straight line to Canada. This placed Elma in Tryon County.

Montgomery County - The name of Tryon County was changed to Montgomery, April 2d, 1784, the people at that time having a greater love and respect for a noble general than for the old British governor.

This placed Elma in Montgomery County.

Ontario County was formed from Montgomery County, January 27th, 1789, to embrace all of the Massachusetts tract and the New York State reservation on the east side of the Niagara River, being all west of a meridian line passing due north from the eighty second mile post in the north line of the State of Pennsylvania, through Seneca Lake to Sodus Bay on Lake Ontario. Contain 6,000,000 acres of land. County seat at Canandaigua. This placed Elma in Ontario County.

TOWNS AND COUNTIES.

Genesee County, formed from Ontario, by act of legislature, March 30th, 1802, the east line of the County being the Genesee River and a line from the junction of Caneseraga Creek, with the Genesee, south to the Pennsylvania State line. All west of this line is the new County of Genesee. By the same act the County was divided into four towns; Northampton (later the name changed to Gates), Southampton, Leister and Batavia, the county seat to be at Batavia. By this act, the town of Batavia consisted of the whole of what is now Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Erie and Niagara Counties, and nearly all of Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming and Alleghany Counties - about 4,000,000 acres.

This act placed Elma in the town of Batavia, Genesee County. The surveys of the Holland Company's land being complete, settlers came, and the Holland Purchase was talked about everywhere.

April 11th, 1804, by act of the Legislature, Batavia was divided into four towns. Batavia was to consist of the 1st, 2d and 3d Ranges of towns of the Holland Company's surveys; the west line of Batavia being the east line of Darien, and that line north and south from the Pennsylvania State line to Lake Ontario; Willink to consist of the 4th, 5th and 6th Ranges, making the west Transit line the west line, and extending from the Pennsylvania line to Lake Ontario; Erie to consist of the 7th, 8th,9th and 10th Ranges and New York Reservation; Chautauqua to contain all of what is now Chautauqua County.

This placed Elma in the town of Willink, Genesee County.

In the early part of 1808, settlements had been made in every part of the large county of Genesee, and the -inhabitants found it very inconvenient to attend the town meetings and elections; thus a reorganization of the county and of the towns seemed to have become a necessity. Towns eighteen miles wide and one hundred miles long were well enough when the inhabitants were few, and all at or near one end; but now all this was changed, for the people living at Olean to go to Vandeventers in the new town of Clarence - eighty miles - to attend town meetings and elections was a little too much.

The same conditions existed in the towns of Batavia and Erie. Genesee County. - March 11th 1808, by act of the Legislature, the line between the 4th and 5th Ranges was to be as it is now, the West line of Genesee County. Niagara County was formed by the same act to embrace all the territory west of Genesee County to Niagara River and between the Cattaraugus Creek and Lake Ontario; being the present counties of Niagara and Erie. Cattaraugus County by same act was formed with present boundaries.

Chautauqua County by same act was formed with present boundaries.

Cambria, a new town, by same act was formed from Willink and Erie, to comprise ah of Niagara County north of the center of Tonawanda Creek.

Clarence, a new town, all of Niagara County, between the centre of Tonawanda Creek and the centre of the Indian Reservation, including the village of Buffalo and Grand Island.

Willink, to include all of Niagara County, between the centre of the Reservation and the Cattaraugus Creek. This wipes out the town of Erie, and places the town of Elma partly in Willink and partly in Clarence, in Niagara County; the line between Willink and Clarence, is the lot line about sixty rods north of Elma railroad station.

Buffalo as a town was formed by act of Legislature February 8th, 1810, from the town of Clarence, taking all west of the Transit line, viz: - what is now the city of Buffalo, also Grand Island, Tonawanda, Amherst, Cheektowaga and north part of West Seneca. Willink changed Name changed by act of Legislature, April to Aurora.

Erie County, formed April 2d, 1821, from Niagara County; the Tonawanda Creek being the dividing line, giving to both Erie and Niagara their present limits. Erie County is twenty-three miles from the centre of Niagara River at the foot of Lake Erie to the Range line between the 4th and 5th Ranges of the Holland Company's survey; this Range line is one and a quarter miles east of the east line of Marilla. Erie County, is forty-three and a half miles north and south.

This places Elma partly in Aurora and partly in Clarence, Erie County. Lancaster, formed March 20th, 1833, from Clarence, the new town comprising Township eleven. Range six of the Holland Company's surveys and south to the centre of the Reservation.

This places Elma partly in Aurora and partly in Lancaster, Erie County. The Legislature of the State of New York, from the first organization of the Colonial Assembly on October 17th, 1683, had organized and made all changes in the size and boundaries of the towns of the State until 1849, when by Chapter 194 of the laws of 1849, entitled an Act to vest in the Boards of Supervisors certain legislative powers, etc., was passed April 3, 1849, as follows,:

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS.

"Chapter 194 of Laws of 1849."

The people of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:

Section 1 - The Boards of Supervisors of the several counties of this State (the county of New York excepted) at their annual meeting, shall have power within their respective counties by a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected, to divide, or alter in its bounds any town, or erect a new town, but they shall not make any alteration that shall place parts of the same town in more than one assembly district. Upon application to the board as hereinafter provided (of at least twelve freeholders of each of the towns to be affected by the division), and upon being furnished with a map and survey of all the towns to be affected, showing the proposed alterations, and if the application be granted, a copy of said map with a certified statement of the action of said board thereunto annexed, shall be filed in the office of the Secretary of State, and it shall be the duty of the Secretary to cause the same to be printed with the laws of the next legislature after such division takes place and to cause the same to be published in the same manner as other laws are published.

Section 2 - Notice in writing of such intended application, subscribed by not less than twelve freeholders of the town or towns to be affected, shall be posted in five of the most public places in each of the towns to be affected thereby for four weeks next previous to such meeting of the board of Supervisors and a copy of such notice shall also be published for at least six weeks successively immediately before the meeting of the board of Supervisors at which the application is to be made, in the newspapers printed in the county, not exceeding three in number.

Section 3 - Whenever the board of Supervisors shall erect a new town in any county, they shall designate the name thereof, the time and place of holding the first annual town meeting therein, and three electors of such town whose duty it shall be to preside at such meeting, appoint a clerk, open and keep the polls, and exercise the same powers as Justices of the Peace when presiding at town meetings, and in case any of the said electors shall refuse or neglect to serve, the electors of the said town present at such meeting shall have power to substitute some elector of said town for each one so refusing or neglecting to serve. Notice of the time and place of such town meeting signed by the Chairman or Clerk of the Board of Supervisors shall be posted in four of the most public places in said town, by the persons designated to preside at such town meeting, at least fourteen days before holding the same. They shall also fix the place for holding the first town meeting in the town or towns from which such new town shall be taken, but nothing in this act shall affect the rights or abridge the term of office of any Justice of the Peace or other town officer in any such town whose term of office has not expired.

In accordance with the foregoing act of the Legislature, the following notice was duly posted and printed:

NOTICE.

Is hereby given that an application will be made to the Board of Supervisors of the County of Erie, New York, at their next annual meeting, to erect a new town in said county from the north part of the town of Aurora, and south part of the town of Lancaster to be composed of all that part of Township No. 10 in the Sixth Range of Townships lying east of a line commencing at the northwest corner of the town of Marilla, and running westerly to the Transit line, forty-five rods north of the northeast corner of the town of West Seneca, containing all the lands in said bounds.

Lancaster

Aurora.

William Winspear

John Barnet

Henry F. Pate

David J. Morris

Frederick Hinemann

Henry M. Guptill

John Wolf

William M. Lockwood

Daniel Christ

Robert M. Miller

Jacob Knab

Horace Keyser

George Standart

Zenas M. Cobb

Edward Healey

James Davis 2nd

Frederick Metzel

Lewis Northrup

Washington Standart

Noah Wertman

Matthias Baker

J. H. Aylesworth

Thomas D. Tiffany

John Morris.

October 29th, 1856, Mr. Harris, Supervisor from the town of Aurora, presented to the Board of Supervisors a petition of William Lockwood and others of Aurora for the erection of a town from parts of Aurora and Lancaster. Referred to Committee on Erection and Division of Towns.

November 24th, 1856, Mr. Harris presented petition of Z. A. Hemstreet and others, in reference to erection of a new town, from parts of Aurora and Lancaster.

Mr. Bingham presented petition of Henry T. Jett and others in reference to the same matter. Both petitions were referred to Committee on Erection and Division of Towns.

November 27th, 1856, Mr. Carpenter presented a remonstrance of Warren Jackman and others against a division of this town of Lancaster. Referred to Committee on Erection and Division of Towns.

November 28th, 1856, Mr. Rowley presented the petition of D. J. Morris and others to have the new town from Aurora and Lancaster named Spring Brook. Referred to Committee on Erection and Division of Towns. Also the petition of Erasmus Briggs and others to have a new town erected from Lancaster and Aurora. Referred to same committee.

Mr. Bingham presented a remonstrance of Edward Holmes and others against the proposed north line of the new town which petitioners ask to have erected from Lancaster and Aurora. Referred to same committee.

Thursday, December 4th, 1856. Report of the Committee on Erection and Division of Towns.

Mr. Morgan, from the Committee on Division and Erection of Towns, made a report as follows:

"Your Committee, to whom was referred the petitions and remonstrances of different persons of the towns of Lancaster and Aurora, have had the same under consideration and, after examining all the petitions and remonstrances both for and against the erection of a new town from parts of the towns of Lancaster and Aurora and, finding that all the notices and affidavits required to be given by the act passed by the Legislature of April 3d, 1849, have been furnished on the part of the petitioners, are of the opinion that the prayers of the petitioners should be granted. We therefore offer the following resolutions: 1st. Resolved, That all that part of the towns of Lancaster and Aurora in the County of Erie described as follows: Beginning at the northeast corner of the town of West Seneca, running thence east on the line of lots to the west line of the town of Marilla and to the northeast corner of Lot No. 1; thence south on the said west line of the town of Marilla to the southwest corner of said town; thence westerly along the Reservation line to the Transit line; thence northerly along the said Transit line to the place of beginning, is hereby erected into a separate town to be hereafter known and distinguished by the name of Elma.

2nd. Resolved, That all the remaining part of Lancaster, shall be and remain a separate town by the name of Lancaster, and all the remaining part of Aurora shall be and remain a separate town by the name of Aurora.

3rd. Resolved, The first annual town meeting in the town hereby erected shall be held at the house of Clark W. Hurd, in said town, on the first Tuesday of March, 1857, and thereafter the same shall be held on the same day that other towns hold their annual town meetings in said county of Erie.

4th. Resolved, That Joseph B. Briggs, Deforest Standart and Lewis Northrup are hereby appointed to preside at the first town meeting to be held in said town of Elma; to appoint a clerk; open and keep the polls and shall exercise the same powers as Justices of the Peace when presiding at town meetings. All of which is respectfully submitted.

Daniel Morgan,

Niles Carpenter,

O. G. Rowley,

Martin Keller,

Thomas O'Dwyer.

Committee.

Mr. Dwyer moved to lay the report on the table and make it the special order for Monday afternoon, immediately after the reading of the minutes.

Mr. Taylor moved to amend, by making it the special order for this P. M. at 3 o'clock.

The question taken by ayes and noes, resulted as follows:

Ayes, - Z. C. Allen, Barnard, Bingham, Ballou, Buffum, Covey, Clark, Carpenter, Cunningham, Dayton, Grove, Morgan, Patterson, Rowley, Sherman, Smith, Taylor, Winslow - 19.

Noes - Allen, Brooks, Bellinger, O'Dwyer, Diebold, Edmunds, Fish, Harris, Hecox, Hall, Keller, Loveland, Marvin, Richmond, Sterns, Welch - 16.

The motion as amended was put and carried.

Thursday, December 4th, 1856 - Afternoon session.

The report of the Committee on Division and Erection of Towns having been the special order it was taken up.

Mr. Taylor moved that the report be adopted. The question being taken by ayes and noes resulted as follows:

Ayes - Z. G. Allen, Barnard, Bingham, Ballou, Buffum, Covey, Clark, Carpenter, Cunningham, O'Dwyer, Diebold, Dayton, Edmunds, Fish, Grove, Harris, Hall, Keller, Morgan, Patterson, Rowley, Richmond, Stevens, Sherman, Smith, Taylor, Welch, Winslow -28.

Noes - Brooks, Loveland, Marvin- 3. Report adopted.

December 9th, 1856 - Mr. Brooks moved that the town of Elma be made a part of School Commissioner District No. 2.

Mr. Allen moved that the said motion be referred to a committee of three to be appointed by the chairman. Carried. The chairman appointed as said commitee, Messrs. Covey, Cunningham and Welch.

Mr. Bingham presented the petition of John Wright and others to have the new town, now called Elma, called Clyde or London. Referred to a committee on Erection and Division of Towns.

December 10th, 1856 - Mr. Morgan from the Committee on Erection and Division of Towns made the following report:

ELMA THE NEW TOWN.

"Your Committee, to whom was referred the petition of the inhabitants of the town of Lancaster for an alteration in the name of the new town of Elma, have had the same under consideration and beg leave to make the following report:

That in the opinion of your Committee, we have no right to alter the name and should not be disposed to do so if we had such right. All of which is respectfully submitted.

Daniel Morgan, Niles Carpenter, 0. G. Rowley, Martin Keller, Thomas O'Dwyer.

Committee. Report adopted unanimously.

December 12th, 1856, Mr. Cunningham from the Committee on School Committee District No. 2 made the following report:

"The Committee to whom was referred the subject of altering the boundary of the Second School Commissioner District have had the same under consideration and offer the following resolution:

Resolved, That the boundaries of the Second School Commissioner District in the County of Erie be and is hereby extended so as to include the town of Elma within its limits. Adopted.

L. D. Covey, Nelson Welch, H. S. Cunningham,

Committee. Thus was the Board of Supervisors authorized to erect the new town; and the Town of Elma with full power and authority became one of the towns of the Empire State.

SOURCE: History of the Town of Elma Erie County, N. Y. 1620 To 1901; Warren Jackman; Buffalo; G. M. Hausauer & Son; 1902