Chapter 10 - Spring Brook and Vicinity - 1834 to 18565



An Indian sawmill had been built on the Cazenove Creek at or near the Transit line; but it was gone before any white settler came into the town of Elma. It probably was carried away by high water, as the only trace left of it was the race, also some large stones that had been a part of the foundation for the mill. No person now living ever saw the mill and it cannot be learned by whom or when it was built.

The early settlers in the towns of Wales, Holland, and Aurora had their road to Buffalo by the way of Hamburgh, called the Big Tree Road; but they soon learned of the nearer way of the Indian trail, and after the Mile Strip had been secured by the Ogden Co., the Commissioner of Highways of the town of Aurora, April 21st, 1832, laid out a highway on or near the Indian trail, and on the lot lines across the Mile Strip. When that tract was surveyed, the lot lines were made to conform to this trail as nearly as possible; and to continue this road on toward Buffalo, the same Commissioner, on March 31st, 1834, following the same trail, laid out a highway from the road at North Star Tavern, across the Reservation through Spring Brook to the Transit line. By what authority the Commissioner acted is not known, but it is presumed that the Indians gave the necessary consent as it was entirely across their lands. This road was later to be known as the Aurora and Buffalo Plank Road.


For several years before the Aurora and Buffalo road was laid out across the Reservation, on March 31st, 1834, there was a log house on the north side of the Indian trail on the hill in the east part of the Village of Spring Brook, which was occupied by an Indian Chief by the name of Daniel Two Guns.

A man by the name of Burns had kept the North Star Tavern in 1837, and while there he was so strongly suspected of making counterfeit half and quarter dollars that officers visited the place.

They found moulds, tools and some material in his cellar but he so stoutly maintained that he knew nothing about it, and that the things had been left there without his knowledge, that he was not arrested, but he soon left the tavern.

In 1839, this same Burns and Plin Barnum hired of Two Guns, his house for a tavern. They started to build a barn and shed to accommodate travelers who should call on them. While framing timber for the barn in the woods near there (for it was woods all around the place), the wind broke a limb off an oak tree, under which they were working. The limb striking Burns on the head, killed him instantly. This was the first death by accident on Elma soil.

Plin Barnum and his brother, Chauncey, then put up the barn and shed and kept tavern in the Two Guns house in 1839 and 1840. This was the first house occupied by white people at Spring Brook.

After the Barnums, H. B. Denio kept the tavern two years, from 1841 and to the spring of 1843. This house was kept as a tavern for many years and was known far and near as the ' ' Mouse Nest."

"MOUSE NEST"- 1842.

As stated in a previous chapter, the parts of the Buffalo Creek Reservation, in the towns of Aurora and Lancaster were surveyed and numbered separately. The Indian trail on and near where the Aurora and Buffalo Road had been laid out, was the only road across the town of Elma, leading to the city.

The lumber from the Hatch sawmill, and the people from the east end of the Mile Strip, and from Wales, Aurora, Golden, and Holland, went by that road and the lumber from the Estabrook sawmill came through a woods road on and near where the Woodard and Rice Roads are now located, reaching the Aurora and Buffalo Road at Spring Brook. When the Ogden Co., by the treaty of May 20th, 1842, secured title to the balance of the Buffalo Creek Reservation from the Seneca Indians, the treaty gave to the Indians the privilege of possession and occupancy of their improvements until April 1st, 1846, and until the improvements were paid for by the company. By this arrangement. Two Guns and his assignees had the right to keep the Mouse Nest Tavern until April 1st, 1846; and the tavern was kept as before stated by Plin and Chauncey Barnum in 1839 and 1840, and by H. B. Denio in 1841 and to April 1843, by Felstein to April, 1844, and by David J. Morris, from April, 1844, to the fall of 1845. The Indians residing on the Aurora part of the Reservation nearly all left for the Allegany and Cattaraugus Reservations in 1844 and 1845; a few remaining until 1846. The Davis road from Spring Brook south across the Reservation, was laid out June 20th, 1842.


The Ogden Co., after having made a sale of the 5000 acre tract to the Ebenezer Company, in April, 1843, settled with the Indians for their improvements on this 5000 acre tract and had the balance of the Reservation west of the Transit line surveyed; and the company advertised "that on and after August 14th, 1844, they would sell certain lots, which were marked on their map of the Reservation. Those marked comprised a large part of the town of Elma. "

As the Aurora part of Elma was settled mostly by people coming from Wales, Aurora, and Hamburgh, all going to Aurora to elections and town meeting; and the Lancaster part settled largely by people from Lancaster and Alden, they going to Lancaster for election and town meeting, there had been but little communication between the early settlers of these two parts previous to the formation of the town of Elma on December 4th, 1856. So it has seemed best to treat the early settlement of the Aurora and Lancaster parts of the town separately, up to the time the town was organized.

The Hatch Mill (East Elma) part was mentioned in Chapter VIII; and the Lancaster part in the previous chapter; and now, we take up the settlement of the balance of the Aurora part, or Spring Brook and vicinity.


Near the Indian trial and now on lot 71 on the north side of the Aurora and Buffalo Road and a few rods southeast from Daniel Two Guns house, was a large spring.

At that time all around was a dense forest, allowing but little if any evaporation and the melting snows and the rains gradually settled into the low places in the woods, the swamps retaining the water which was slowly given up by the soil in numerous springs (most of them now dry), but then giving a steady and in many cases a large supply of water. This Two Guns spring was one of the very large springs giving a stream many times larger than in 1900; the water crossing the road on to lot 82, taking a westerly course in a gully, growing gradually deeper, passing on to lot 81, where the gulf came near the bend in the Cazenove Creek, only a narrow bank thirty feet high separating them; then the brook takes a northwest course nearly parallel to the highway, passing on to lot 84, where at the Northrup Road it enters a wide ravine and makes way along the east side of the Northrup Road to the Creek. This spring and brook gives the name to the Village.


While David J. Morris was keeping the Mouse Nest tavern, in September 1844, Lewis Northrup and George Baker, both of Aurora, made the first purchase of land at Spring Brook, when they bought lot 84 in the west part of Spring Brook, the lot lying between the Aurora and Buffalo Road and the Cazenove Creek; the deed from Joseph Fellows being dated January 1st, 1845, and recorded in Liber 79, Page 317. Immediately after they bought the lot in September, 1844, they began to clear the ground and prepare for building a sawmill and to build a millhouse for the family to board the hands. While this work of preparation was going on, the men boarded with D. J. Morris at his tavern. To furnish room, Morris built a frame addition (16 x 24 feet, 12 feet high) to the log tavern for a sitting room, and this frame building was enclosed on the outside with siding, and lathed and plastered inside, and is used by Charles Thayer, owner of the premises in 1900, as a kitchen and woodhouse.

This Two Guns tavern is the only log tavern ever kept in Springbrook, and this addition is all the tavern, in whole or part, frame or log, that David J. Morris ever built.

In October of 1844, Lewis Northrup moved his family from Aurora into the plank mill house; living there and boarding the hands while the dam and sawmill was being built, and, until he built a frame house on the north end of the lot, and on the southwest side of the highway in the spring of 1845.

Horace Kyser, Asa Palmer and John Morris, came in the fall of 1844. Kyser bought fifty acres in the centre of lot 75, of William D. Waddington; deed elated September 1st, 1845, recorded in Liber 81, Page 80. John Morris built a house on the southeast part of lot 82.


On April 19th, 1845, the Aurora Commissioner of Highways laid out the Rice Road, from the Girdled Road west on lot lines to the Aurora and Buffalo Road, at the northwest corner of lot 75; the Pound Road, on east line of lot 83 and the Jimeson Road, from Marilla town line, west, on lot lines through East Elma, to the Aurora and Buffalo Road, at the northwest corner of lot 63.

The bridge at East Elma across the Millpond, went off with the spring freshet, and a new bridge, nearer the sawmill was built on the lot lines during the summer of 1845.

Northrup and Baker completed their double sawmill on the north bank of the Creek in the early part of 1845 on the site now occupied by Eli B. Northrup 's sawmill. Northrup and Baker operated their mill as a company mill about one year, when Northrup sold his interest to Baker.

Zenas M. Cobb bought lot 83 and built a house opposite the Northrup house and moved into it in the spring of 1845.

On May 1st, 1845, David J. Morris bought of Northrup and Baker sixteen and four one hundredths acres of lot 84, being that part of the lot lying east of the road to the sawmills; and that summer he built a house on that lot, into which he moved that fall from the tavern, and where he lived many years; and, on September 1st, 1845, he bought of Joseph Fellows, twenty-five acres of the west end of lot 75, being all of lot 75 west of Kyser's fifty acres. Deed recorded in Liber 81, Page 77; and, as he owned on both sides of the Road he sold off small lots to make the village of Spring Brook.

In the summer of 1845, Zebina Lee and family came from Oswego County and lived with Asa Palmer in an Indian log house on lot 67. While there he built a plank house on lot 76 where Mr. O. J. Wannemacher now lives and into which he moved in the fall of 1845. William M. Rice moved on to Lot 56 in the fall of 1845.

Thomas Flannigan came in the fall of 1845 and moved into the Mouse Nest tavern which he kept two years. He bought of Joseph Fellows part of Lot 71, the deed dated November 29, 1847. He sold or rented the Mouse Nest tavern stand to Holmes who moved into the tavern in the fall of 1847.

On November 1st, 1845, Northrup & Baker bought a mill site and privilege of Joseph Fellows on the south side of the Creek and opposite the sawmill, being six and ninety-five one hundredths acres off the north side of Lot 85 where the gristmill now stands.


In February of 1846, Northrup & Baker had a sawmill on the south side of the Creek ready for business and in the course of the summer, Northrup bought out Baker's entire interest, thus becoming owner and operator of both mills. During that summer he built a bridge across the Creek below the mill.

Nathaniel Graves moved with his family from Aurora in the spring of 1846, and worked for Northrup at the mills, living in one of the mill houses.

Joseph Grace came in the spring of 1846 and bought of D. J. Morris, one and one-half acres of land west of and adjoining Horace Kyser on which he built a house and blacksmith shop, the first of its kind in Spring Brook and in December he bought of Louis Northrup twenty-five acres off the east end of Lot 75. In May 1846, Joseph Tillou moved with his family on Lot 66 on the south side of the Rice Road.

The first schoolhouse, 24x 30 feet in Spring Brook, was built on the present schoolhouse site in the spring of 1846; to be ready for school on June 1st and to be completed by November 15, contract price $254; deed from David J. Morris, dated October 23d, 1850. The first school was kept by Miss Calpherina Johnson of Holland in the summer of 1846.

Truman Case built a house and moved on Lot 52, on the west side of the Bowen Road in the summer of 1847.


Alfred Marvel and James Davis moved on their farms south of Spring Brook in the early part of 1848.

Wilham Jones in 1848 bought the five acre lot on the west side of the Davis Road south of Spring Brook, later known as the Talmadge place, and built a house on the lot. The same summer, Jones opened a meat market in a building on the southeast corner of the Davis and Aurora roads.

The Spring Brook Postoffice was established in 1848, with David J. Morris as first Postmaster. This was under President Polk, and Morris had the Postoffice in his house, until after President Taylor was inaugurated in 1849.

The first steam sawmill in Spring Brook was built in 1848, by Finley Robinson and William English, on the lot across the road from Kyser's house.

The bridge that Northrup built in the summer of 1846 across the Creek below the sawmills, went out with the ice at the spring breakup and freshet in 1849.

James H Ward, Esq., moved into Spring Brook May 11th, 1849, and that summer the Aurora and Buffalo Plank Road was built through Spring Brook and was completed to Buffalo that year; so that heavy loads of lumber, cordwood and farm produce could be hauled to the Buffalo market.

On June 23d, 1849, the Aurora Commissioner of Highways laid out a highway from the Plank Road east of Northrup's house to the Transit line, crossing the Cazenove Creek below the saw mills, and let the building of a bridge across the Creek at that point. The bridge was built that summer.


Joseph Grace moved his blacksmith shop and family on to the twenty-five acres, on east end of Lot 75, which he bought in 1846.

Nathaniel Graves built a house and blacksmith shop on the lot west of the Pail Factory lot and there worked at his blacksmith trade.

Zenas M. Cobb was appointed Postmaster of the Spring Brook Postoffice under President Taylor in 1849; and had the office in his house until after President Fillmore was inaugurated in 1850.

A steam sawmill and pail factory was erected on the lot across the road from Horace Kyser's house by William H. Corbin in June 1849 with J. J. French and Sherman Roscoe as proprietors. Deed from John Morris dated February 19th, 1850, recorded in Liber 117, Page 482. A fifty horse power engine was put in to drive the sawmill and factory machinery. This gave employment to quite a force of men. The pails, tubs, and other articles manufactured, found a ready market in Buffalo and the business was carried on by this company for two or three years.

The steam sawmill built by Robinson & English in 1848, burned in 1850 and another steam sawmill was immediately built on the same grounds by George and Edward Good.

In 1850, E. G. Kent bought of D. J. Morris the lot at the southeast corner of the Northrup and Plank Roads, and built a store, putting in a good stock of goods for a country store and this was the first store in Spring Brook.

John McFee bought of Hiram Harris, on February 20th, 1850, the lot on the southwest side of the Plank Road, on Lot 82, and that summer built the house now across the road from the Catholic church and opened a saloon, at that time called a "grocery."

James Dunbar moved into the Mouse Nest April 1st, 1850, and kept the tavern one year.

Eron Woodard and Martha Bostwick were married April 22d, 1850 and moved on to Lot 52, on the west side of the Bowen Road, on land bought of Truman Case.

Cyrus S. Spencer moved into a house on the north side of the Plank Road at west end of Lot 71, and had his shoeshop in the building at the corner of the Davis and Plank Roads, known as the Meat Market in the early part of 1850, and here he worked for about two years.

D. L. Wilson came on May 7th, 1850 and worked for Lewis Northrup. The Spring Brook cemetery was laid out by D. J. Morris in the spring of 1850. Two children of Austin J. French had been buried there in August and September 1849.

James H. Ward was appointed Postmaster of the Spring Brook Postoffice in 1850, under President Fillmore. He held the office four years and until the Postoffice was moved to West Seneca.

The first church built in Spring Brook was the Catholic church, 20 X 30 feet on the north side of the Plank Road and east side of the Rice Road on Lot 71; the deed being from Thomas Flannigan, to John Timon, dated February 23d, 1850; recorded in Liber 111, Page 43, and another deed, with some difference in the boundary lines from the first deed, but each description to contain one acre. This deed, from Thomas Flannigan to John Timon, is dated September 18th, 1850, recorded in Liber 94, Page 229; and here, at the junction of the Rice and Plank Roads was the church built. It served as a place of worship for the members of that society for about twenty-four years when it was moved on to the east end of the acre lot and was for many years used as a barn for their parsonage; the present fine church building having been erected in 1874. A part of the east end of the lot was set off as a cemetery.


James Wolcott built a blacksmith shop at west end of Lot 75, and carried on blacksmithing one and one-half years, then sold to John Barnett.

The bridge which was built across the Creek below the mills in 1849 was carried off by the ice and freshet in the spring of 1851 and was rebuilt that summer.

James Dunbar moved April 1st, 1851, from the Mouse Nest tavern into the building on the south side of the Plank Road, later known as the Leger place, where he opened a store of dry goods and groceries and a saloon.

James W. Simons, on April 1st, moved into the Mouse Nest tavern and having bought the property, began to change the appearance of the place. During the summer he tore down the log house thus removing one of the Indian land marks and in its place erected the two-story frame building which was for many years used as a tavern and is now owned and occupied by Charles Thayer as a family residence.

As soon as Simons new building was sufficiently completed so as to admit of occupation, he opened it as a tavern.

John McFee, having the year before built a house and opened a saloon across the Plank Road from the Catholic church, as soon as Simons tore down the log tavern, he, McFee, opened up as a tavern.


In 1851 or 1852, Rev. Nehemiah Cobb, who had been sent in 1849 by some Presbyterian church in Buffalo' as a missionary, succeeded in getting contributions and donations so that he had a church built on the western part of Lot 75, on land purchased or donated by David J. Morris, where religious services were held for several years.


In May, 1852, Lewis Northup moved the plank house which he had built on the south side of the Plank Road in the spring of 1845, and put in its place another much larger and better house which is owned and occupied in 1900 by Eh B. Northrup as his residence. The old house was later sold to Horatio Winspear, and by him it was moved into the town of West Seneca, on the north bank of the Cazenove Creek.

Cyrus S. Spencer, having bought the building lot at the south corner of lot 84 on the southwest side of the plank Road and between the road and the Spring Brook cemetery, had his house ready to raise and it was raised the same day and by the same gang of men who had raised the Northrup house.

Dr. James Gilmore came to Spring Brook in the summer of 1852 and with his family lived in a house across the Plank Road and nearly opposite to the Congregational church; and on October 22d, of that year, he bought of Henry G. Stamback, the house and lot on Lot 82, on the southwest side of the Plank Road, joining McFee on the south.

Wilham Jones, on April 3d, 1853, bought James Dunbar's store of goods in the Leger store and carried on the business for one year.

John Barnett came in the spring of 1853, and in the fall bought Wolcott's blacksmith shop at the west end of Lot 75, at the junction of the Pound and Plank Roads, and opened up for business - the fourth blacksmith shop in Spring Brook. This shop is, in 1900, the leading shop in the village. Although it has changed hands several times since 1853, the shop has been run continuously.


In the summer of 1853, Lewis Northrup built an addition on the lower end of the sawmill, on the south side of the Creek, for a gristmill, and had it ready for business in the fall of that year.

George Leger moved into Spring Brook in the fall of 1853, living in the millhouse on the south side of the creek, working for Mr. Northrup in the gristmill for nearly three years.

Wm. Jones, in April, 1854, with James Dunbar, left Spring Brook, taking their goods to Wales where they carried on the mercantile business for one and one-half years, when Dunbar left for California.

Asa J. W. Palmer was appointed Postmaster of the Springbrook Postoffice, in 1854, under President Pierce; but he refused to qualify or to take the office. After considerable correspondence, the Postoffice Department at Washington, in order to force Palmer to take the office, issued orders for the Spring Brook Postoffice to be removed to West Seneca, and directed

Henry Hill, the Postmaster of the West Seneca Postoffice to take charge of the Spring Brook office until Palmer should qualify. This removal of the office, was a great inconvenience to the Springbrook people, and after much urging Palmer gave in, and qualified, having the office in his house on the north side of the Plank Road east of the school house, on Lot 75. Palmer held the office only a short time, when James W. Simon was appointed, with Mrs. John McFee as assistant; and the office was moved from Palmer's house into McFee 's grocery where it was kept when the town of Elma was formed, and until Austin Twitchell was appointed in January 1861.


No very important changes were made in 1855; business was fairly good with the mills, lumbermen, farmers, and stores; the steam and watermills were very hard at work as the farmers were clearing their lands and were taking all the timber that would make a sawlog to the mills, and then take the lumber to Buffalo.

Northrup's gristmill, at the lower end of the sawmill, on the south side of the Creek, was taken off by the freshet of January, 1856, the bridge below the mills going at the same time.

The bridge was rebuilt during that summer.

Eli Simmons came from Buffalo in February, 1856. The Pail Factory business having been closed out and the property having changed hands several times in a few months, Lewis Northrup bought it November 6th, 1854, and he then sold the property to Henry Meeker and Myrtle Wattles, (the deed dated March 1st, 1856, recorded in Liber 172, page 34), and they changed the building into a tannery, and opened a general store in a building on the same spot, occupied by Richard Barnett's brick store in 1900.

George Leger and Anthony Diebold, in the spring of 1856, bought George and Edward Good's steam sawmill, and that summer they put in a gristmill.

The Erie County Sunday School Association was organized in Buffalo in May, 1856.

Stephen Northrup's store on the south-west corner of Aurora and Northrup Roads was finished and trade begun in December, 1856, with flour, feed and groceries; soon he put in general merchandise.

On December 4th, 1856, the Supervisors of Erie County formed a new town from parts of Aurora and Lancaster, the proceedings of the Board having been fully set forth in Chapter IV, to which reference is made.


When the town of Elma was formed, December 4th, 1856; the business at Spring Brook was about as follows:

Northrup's sawmills on both sides of the creek, Leger & Diebold's steam sawmill and gristmill on Lot 81, Meeker & Wattle's tannery and store on Lot 81, E. G. Kent's store at Northrup Road on Lot 84, Stephen Northrup's store at Northrup Road on Lot 84, James W. Simon's tavern (the rebuilt Mouse Nest) on Lot 71,, John McFee's saloon and grocery on Lot 82, blacksmith shop of John Barnett, on west end of Lot 75, Joseph Grace's blacksmith shop on east end of Lot 75, Postoffice in McFee's place on Lot 82, schoolhouse built in 1846 on Lot 75, Presbyterian church built in 1852 on Lot 75, Catholic church built in 1850 on Lot 71. It is not possible in 1900, to give the names of all the residents of Spring Brook and vicinity, when the town was formed, but among them we find the following, a few living in 1900:

John B. Bristol, Luke Baker, John Barnet, Stephen Calkins, Zenas M. Cobb, Patrick Conley, Bernard Conley, Anthony Diebold, John Davis, James Davis, Wm. H. Davis, Patrick Donohue, Milton H. Dunham, Wallace W. Tones, Thomas Flannigan, Joseph Grace, James J. Grace, Wm. W. Grace, Dr. James Gilmore, John Hannivan, Wm. Hunt, Peter Kihm, E. G. Kent, Stephen Kinsley, Horace Kyser, Charles Kennedy, George Leger, Zebina Lee, George Lee, Wm. M. Lockwood, John McFee, Henry Meeker, John Morris, David J. Morris, Lafayette Morris, Alfred Marvel, Lewis Northrup, Eli B. Northrup, Stephen Northrup, Asa Palmer, Asa J. W. Palmer, Patrick Phalen, Lyman Parker, Wm. M. Rice, Michael Schnorr, James W. Simons, Lewis Sisler, Eli Simmons, Cyrus S. Spencer, Joseph Tillou, Isaac Tillou, James Tillou, Harrison Tillou, Erastus Tillou, Charles Talmadge, C. J. Talmadge, Wm. Thayer, Myrtle Wattles, James H. Ward, D. L. Wilson, Thomas E. Wier, Elias Weed, Charles Whitney, Noah Wertman.

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