The history of events which have transpired in one's own neighborhood is the most interesting of all history. There is a fascination in the recital of past occurrences, and that fascination is heightened by the act of their having occurred on familiar ground. The river which flows through a region is invested with an interest beyond what its beauty inspires when it is remembered as an ancient landmark, or as the route of the ancient warrior's trail and the later commercial thoroughfare; when it is known that for centuries it has affected the course of events along its banks - has determined the location of the Indian's village or the white man's city. The valley through which it flows has an interest beyond that which its beauty and fertility lend when it is known to have been the scene of sanguinary conflicts, the retreat of vanquished warriors, or the abiding place of historic characters. The road that has been traveled unthinkingly for years is invested with a new interest when it is learned that it was once an Indian trail. The field where one has harvested but grain or fruit for many a season brings forth a crop of associations and ideas when it is known that it was the scene of one of those battles in which the land was redeemed from savagery, and the character of its civilization determined. The people will look with a heightened and more intelligent interest upon ancient buildings in their midst, already venerated by them they hardly know why, when they read the authentic record of events with which these monuments of the past are associated.
Although the region of which these pages treat is not known to have been the theater of bloody strife among its ancient inhabitants, and although it has only an incidental Revolutionary history, yet the annals of its settlement, of the experiences of its early settlers and its development into its present beautiful and prosperous condition, cannot fail to possess a charm for its present inhabitants, and to strengthen the patriotism which consists not alone in the love of one's country, but also of one's own locality.
Heretofore it has only been possible for the student, with abundant leisure and with ready access to government documents and comprehensive libraries, to trace the written history of his own county by patient and persevering research; but this leisure and these facilities are accessible to but few of those who are intelligently interested in this history, and there are many unwritten facts to be preserved from the failing memories of old residents who will soon carry them to the grave, and others to be gleaned from those best informed concerning present important institutions and interests.
This service of compilation and research, which very few can undertake for themselves, the publishers of this work have endeavored to perform; and though some mistakes may doubtless be found among such a multitude of details in spite of the care exercised, yet the publishers confidently present this result of many months' labor as a true narrative of the events in the history of this county which were of sufficient importance to merit such record.
Events are the offspring of events that have preceded, and the parents of those which follow them. They constitute such an intricate net-work that the history of even so limited a region as a county has its ramifications in remote times and distant regions, and cannot be justly written without transcending the county limits for many essential facts; hence the necessity for such an outline as has been presented of the State history.
To avoid circumlocution, present geographical names are often used in the following pages where the events narrated occurred long before these names had an existence.
In addition to original sources of information, the following works have been consulted in the preparation of this volume: A. W. Young's Histories of Warsaw and of Chautauqua County; Turner's Histories of the Holland Purchase and of Phelps and Gorham's Purchase; Stone's Lives of Brant and Red Jacket; Morgan's League of the Iroquois; Parkman/s The Jesuits in North America; Merril's History of the Twenty-fourth Independent Battery; files of the Western New Yorker, etc.
Those possessing desirable information have uniformly been kind and courteous in imparting it, and have thus facilitated the preparation of the work. Especial acknowledgments are due to Hon. Augustus Frank and Hon. William P. Letchworth for valuable aid and encouragement; also to Miss Elizabeth Young, for permission to use the works and manuscripts of her father, the late A. W. Young; to David E. E. Mix, of Batavia, for the use of the Holland Land Company's ledgers; to C. A. Hull, clerk of Genesee county, for assistance in his office; and to Charles J. Gardner, clerk of Wyoming county, and his deputy, Mr. Quackenbush, for many acts of kindness. The editors of the various journals in the county have been uniformly courteous and obliging, and to them thanks are due, as well as to the pastors of churches and the secretaries of other organizations.
The following gentlemen are the authors of the histories of their respective towns: Hon. Hugh T. Brooks, Covington; Hon. A. B. Rose and Prof. D. W. Smith, Castile; A. P. Sherrill, Pike; Colonel G. G. Prey, Eagle; B. F. Bristol, Prof. Edson J. Quigley and Augustus Harrington, Gainesville; and Hon. Lucius Peck, Arcade.
Acknowledgments for good offices are also due to the Hon. Wolcott J. Humphrey, General Linus W. Thayer, the Hon. Samuel Tewksbury, Captain A. B. Lawrence, Ephraim Brainard, Colonel J. O. McClure, Lloyd A. Hayward, Esq., C. W. Bailey, Esq., Marvin Wood, Anson Elmer, Amos Otis, Mrs. James McElroy, Simeon Hodges, S. N. Naramore, Captain William S. Agett and James Tolles. The gentleman last named, one of the most prominent pioneers of the town of Bennington, except a most full and interesting record of noteworthy events, which furnished a large portion of the history of that town in the following pages. We should also mention among those who rendered valuable assistance Ephraim Wheeler, Harvey Merrell (since deceased) and Harvey Stone, of Orangeville; Richard L. Charles, Mrs. Daniel Wolcott and John J. Doolittle, of Wethersfield; and Squire Lockwood, Justus Blakely. Mrs. Moses Twiss and John Eddy, of Java.
SOURCE: History of Wyoming County, N.Y., with Illustrations, Biographical Sketches and Portraits of Some Pioneers and Prominent Residents; F.W. Beers & Co.; 1880