History of Ontario Co., NY   

Published 1878


Chapter XXVI       Pg 63  - 64

Kindly transcribed by Donna Walker Judge & Deborah Spencer 



The principle of strength in unity and mutual benefit, by act of association, has long been of full acknowledgment, but incomplete practice.  The history of every notable enterprise which has engaged the attention of Ontario citizens has brought into prominence, uniformly, a certain class to which present prosperity is greatly to be ascribed.  Whether in the formation of associations to secure canals or railways, banks and public buildings, academies and colleges, support of the needy, or help to the orphan, the sick, or the deranged, the forethought of the citizen has resulted in the establishment of such institutions under such guidance as are efficient to the object sought.  The files of old-time papers are filled with notices of a multitude of organizations, short-lived, many of them, but sub-serving some degree of good, and teaching by their failure the method of a future prosperity and stability. 

Agriculture, in all its branches, has had its representative element.  Religion early originated its Bible and missionary societies.  Temperance has had its uncompromising advocates, and fraternity the anciently-derived rules for its conduct and enjoyment.  The change of climate, and the destitution of remedial agents, the exhalations of miasma from the soil, opened to the direct evaporative influences of a sun, whose beams had been heretofore arrested by forest growth, and the sickness resultant, made the presence of the doctor greatly desired.

THE INDEPENDENT ORDER OF ODD FELLOWS  was introduced into the United States from England, and the first regular lodge opened at Baltimore, in 1819.  A reference to the different town histories presents the origin and success of this noble order.  Eloquently and truthfully its three pillars, "Friendship, Love, and Truth," are portrayed by an expounder of the principles held.  "At creation's dawn," says he, "before Nature had fixed the trembling land, or gathered the swelling floods; before the vesper dew had been flung from her golden urn, Friendship had woven her silken bonds.  Before the glimmering stars were hung around the sky, or the sun had marked the circling hours; before the first intelligences had strung their golden harps to sing the mighty cause whence their existence sprung, Love had breathed forth her strains of mutual sympathy and confiding tenderness.  Ere light had shone to brighten the pathway of faltering footsteps seeking right, Truth all around had shone effulgent, pure, unsullied as the ways that emanate from the throne of God."  Members associate as brothers, and labor for philanthropic objects.  As indicated, the order is strong in numbers in Canandaigua, Geneva, and other localities, and growing rapidly.


THE FRATERNITY OF FREE AND ACCEPTED MASONS established their first lodge within the State of New York in 1757, and to it was given the title of St. John's, No. 1.  The Grand Lodge of the State dates from 1785, when Robert R. LIVINGSTON was elected Grand Master.  The order in 1826 numbered in the State 360 lodges and 22,000 members.  Ten years later, and the lodges were but 75, and the members but 4000; yet again has the order entered upon a new growth, and its progress has been uninterrupted.


ONTARIO LODGE, No. 23, the pioneer lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in Ontario County, had its origin in a petition made for a charter by nine brethren of Canandaigua to the Grand Lodge of the State of New York.  Application was made October 31, 1791, by Timothy HOSMER, Samuel MELLISH, Judah COLT, Otho J. TAYLOR, John CHAPIN, Jr., Benjamin WELLS, Seth MEED, William ADAMS, and Thomas MORRIS.  The petition was recommended by Wooster Lodge, No. 15, Colchester, New London county, Connecticut.  The prayer of the petition was granted, and Timothy HOSMER was made Master of Ontario Lodge, No. 23, whose warrant was received October 12, 1792.  In June, 1800, the Grand Lodge, desiring to amend the constitution, sent copies of the changes proposed to every lodge, desiring its assent by resolution of the lodge.  If ratified by two-thirds of the several lodges, the rules and regulations "should be considered as the constitution of the Grand Lodge." 

Ontario Lodge, No. 23, under date of November 15, 1800, returned reply "that the adoption of the proposed new constitution would be inexpedient and unadvisable."  The lodge recommended Albany as an eligible place for session of the Grand Lodge, and opposed the formation of two Grand Lodges within the State.  The response was signed by John CLARK, Master; Wm. SHEPARD, Senior WARDEN; Ezra PLATT, Junior WARDEN; and by Dudley SALTONSTALL and Peter B. PORTER, brethren.  The new constitution was rejected.  On November 5, 1804, the Grand Lodge was informed that Ontario Lodge had been frequently called upon, especially by travelers, for aid, and during a period of twelve years had bestowed in charitable donations two hundred and fifty dollars.  The members of the lodge were often transient residents, and the moneys loaned, from their places of removal being unknown, were often lost, so that the losses were set down as two hundred dollars.  The lodge procured its furniture at heavy expense on account of its distance from the supply, and its place of meeting proved expensive, so that it had become poor, and its treasury account reduced to two hundred dollars.  In consideration of the circumstances, it was asked that the customary fees be remitted, and thirty dollars sent be received in lieu thereof.  Financial troubles of the present in the erection of new Masonic halls were the same fifty years ago.

In the spring of 1819 the lodge found it unpleasant and inconvenient to continue in former rooms, and, having accumulated somewhat of means, thought best to build a Masonic hall.  The work was commenced and progressed considerably.  A loan of one thousand dollars was secured on the property, and five hundred dollars was asked of the Grand Lodge to enable the lodge to finish the structure.  The request was denied, from inability, and the lodge, struggling on, accomplished its purpose.  The first return, from November 19, 1804, to January 2, 1809, gives the names of twenty-seven members.  From 1809 to 1811 no return was made.  In the return from December 26, 1811, to December, 1815, there were thirty new members and twenty-one old, a total of fifty-one.  The return of 1817-18 gives twenty-two old and twelve new members; total, thirty-four.  In 1819 there were six new members, and Millard FLINT died.  In this year H. SEYMOUR was Master; Wm. GOODWIN, S.W.; P.B. UNDERHILL, J.W.; Manning GOODWIN, Secretary; and Jasper PARRISH, Treasurer.  In 1820 Richard WELLS was Master; in 1823 John GREIG, and in 1824-25 Nicholas G. CHESEBRO, were Masters.

The last return was made in 1825, and the warrant of the lodge was declared forfeited in 1832, and, not having been surrendered previous to June, 1840, could not be revived.  The papers from which the above has been gathered were copied by the Secretary of the Grand Lodge, and are on file at the Canandaigua Lodge.  The petition for remission of dues-and for loan to complete building, present the lodge in the light of a self-sacrificing and benevolent association,---a fit example for the present searches after wisdom and instruction.

A statement made by the lodges of Ontario County, which forms part of the Twenty-first Masonic District, to Thomas H. BENNETT, D. D. G. M., presents the following summary:




Time of Meeting
















1st and 3rd Wednesdays



Wm. P. Durrant

S. N. Anthony




1st and 3rd Fridays



Simeon C. Lyon

George Peck




2nd and 4th Thursdays



Bolivar Ellis

S. P. Crocker




1st and 3rd Tuesdays



F. D. Vanderhoof

Edw. C. Corbin




1st and 3rd Mondays



H. B. Ferguson

J. J. Stebbins




1st and 3rd Mondays



L. F. Wilbur

M. P. Worthy


LIBRARY ASSOCIATIONS have from time to time had existence in Geneva and Canandaigua, and such still exist and are of public benefit.  In 1798 a public library was instituted at Geneva, by a meeting held at the hotel kept by POWELL.  The trustees appointed to look after its interests were P.B. WIZNER, Ezra PATTERSON, David COOK, and Samuel COLT.  The Canandaigua Library was established at the academy in 1812, and was in charge of H.U. ONDERDONK, Nathaniel JACOB, Asa STANLEY, and John C. SPENCER, as trustees.

Its interests began to decline during the summer of 1819, and the board was authorized by stockholders to sell the books and other property at auction; which was done September 14, 1819.  On July 10, 1820, J.D. Bemis & Co. established a circulating library at their book-store in Canandaigua.  An apprentices' library was established February 27, 1821, for young men, and James L. COLE, S.C. WARD, and J.H. MOWER were committee of the same. 

THE "WOOD LIBRARY ASSOCIATION"  had its inception in an advertisement during the winter of 1858 by Dr. JEWETT and E. M. MORSE, Esq., in the village press, of a call to the citizens for a meeting to organize a town library.  The first meeting was attended by E. M. MORSE, Dr. JEWETT, George GORHAM, and Moses ATWATER.  So little interest was manifest that it was deemed advisable to address a note to leading citizens to meet at the office of Thomas M. HOWELL, Esq., without stating the object of meeting.  A large assembly convened.  Discussion ensued and opposition proved formidable, yet organization was effected, and citizens were invited to contribute from their private libraries.  A room was secured, and the present Wood Library fairly inaugurated.  A meeting was held on April 12, 1859, at the office of Messrs. MORSE and MASON.  H. C. SWIFT was called to the chair, and E. M. MORSE was made secretary.  It was determined to raise four hundred dollars by subscription, and a committee of J .J. LYON, O. H. SMITH, Dr. H. JEWETT, G. GORHAM, and E. M. MORSE was appointed to solicit subscriptions.

On May 5, a public meeting was called at the old court-house to organize an association and secure rooms.  L. WILCOX was chairman, and J. J. GREGORY, secretary of the meeting.  A favorable report was received from the committee on subscription, and among the by-laws adopted is found article first, which designates the society as the "Wood Library Association," in honor of William WOOD, and old and honored citizen, a man whose life was made up of benevolent and charitable acts.  On the evening of May 6 an election was held, and the following-named first officers chosen.  Dr. H. BENNETT, president; F. C. BENNETT, vice-president; J. G. GREGORY, secretary, and H.J. MESSENGER, treasurer.  Five trustees were elected, namely: Francis GRANGER, H. O. CHESEBRO, Lucius WILCOX, Chester COLEMAN, and O. H. SMITH.  The old grand-jury room was secured for meetings, fitted up, and first opened for use June 28, 1859.  On June 9, 1875, amendments to the constitution were made, at which time Dr. H. JEWETT was president, and John S. COE, secretary.  Many valuable books are upon shelves in this reading-room, papers are at hand for the reader, and a museum of curiosities has been gathered.  The institution is worthy; its originators did a good work.


History of Ontario Co., NY   pub 1893   pg 238 - 240

The Wood Library Association.--During the latter part of 1858 a few public-spirited citizens of the village made an attempt to arouse a popular enthusiasm, having for its object the founding of a permanent library for public use.  The first movement in this matter, however, proved fruitless of good results, and it was not until May 6th of the next year that the organization was in part effected.  The first officers were H. BENNETT, president; F. C. BENNETT, vice-president; J. G. GREGORY, secretary; H. J. MESSENGER, treasurer; trustees, Francis GRANGER, H. O. CHESEBRO, Lucius WILCOX, Chester COLEMAN, O. H. SMITH.  The association adopted the name "Wood Library Association," in memory of the honorable career of William WOOD, an old resident of the village, and a man worthily noted for purity of character and generous bestowal of charities.  The association has rooms in the Town Hall, and there the library of miscellaneous books is kept. 

The Agricultural Society.--Although an institution of the county, rather than of the village or town, we may nevertheless in the present connection refer briefly to this organization, which has its permanent place of annual meeting in the county town.  As early as 1819 measures were taken for the formation of a county agricultural society, at which time the first proceedings were had under the patronage of the Board of Supervisors, and a meeting was held at the court-house.  The result was that on February 18, the Ontario Agricultural Society was brought into existence with these officers: President, John NICHOLS; vice-presidents, William WADSWORTH, Darius COMSTOCK, Philetus SWIFT, Gideon GRANGER, Moses ATWATER; secretary, John GREIG; treasurer, Thos. BEALS.  In addition to these officers, a board of managers was chosen, each town in the county (there then were 34 towns) having one representative.  The first annual fair was held on October 18, 1819, and the society, fairly established, became one of the institutions of the county which has since enjoyed a permanent existence, though not without some vicissitudes.  It paved the way for a later organization, formed during the fall of 1838, and known as the Ontario Agricultural Society, the first public meeting of which was held October 20, 1840, at which time John GREIG was its president, and Oliver PHELPS and William W. GORHAM secretaries. 

For a period of about sixteen years following this reorganization the annual fair was held in such town as a majority of the managers should designate, but in 1854 a resolution was adopted which designated Canandaigua as the permanent place of meeting.  During this year land was purchased, and as soon as possible thereafter the necessary improvements were made and buildings erected.  Thus, from the small beginning above noted, there has grown and developed a society which affords to the people of the county generally, and to the farmers in particular, a season of interest, amusement and instruction.  And while the county fair of to-day has little resemblance to that of half a century ago, it is nevertheless an indispensable requisite of county progress.  The founders of the original society offered special inducements to farmers to compete in enriching and making profitable their lands, and while the societies of the present day are not altogether deficient in this respect, they, as a rule, are inclined to award the greatest premiums as a result of contests in other directions, and to encourage sports and pleasures fully as much as large farm productions.  However, be it said to the credit of the Ontario county society that it shows greater zeal in promoting the agricultural interests than many other of the societies of Central and Western New York. 

The Red Jacket Club.--"This association shall be known as the Red Jacket Club;" and "Its object shall be to promote social intercourse among its members and to provide for them the comforts and conveniences of a club house."  Such are the first and second articles of the constitution of the club the name of which is given above.  On the 22d of December, 1888, the association was formed, and three days later its incorporation was effected and approved.  Its first officers were James C. SMITH, president; Frank RICE, vice-president; James A. ROBSON, secretary; and William G. ANTIS, treasurer.

Soon after its organization the club purchased the north portion of the old GORHAM residence on the corner of Main and Gorham streets, which was remodeled and furnished for the use of the members, and convenience and pleasure were especially considered in accomplishing whatever was done in arranging the interior of the house.  The officers above mentioned have been continued in their respective positions until the present time, except that David G. LAPHAM succeeded Mr. ANTIS as treasurer and was in turn succeeded by George N. WILLIAMS. 

The Canandaigua Lake Steamboat Company was organized in March, 1890, with $35,000 capital stock.  The boats of this company are the Onnalinda, built in 1887; the Ogarita, built in 1889; and the Seneca Chief, a small and old boat which was put on the lake about the year 1886.  The officers of the company are L. B. GUNN, president; J. H. MASON, vice-president; H. S. HUBBELL, treasurer; and Fred. A. McKECHNIE, secretary. 

The People's Line is the name of a still younger navigation company and own the new steamer Ganundawa.  The active man in the management of the company is John M. MILLER. 

The above remarks lead to mention of the older boats on the lake.  The first steamer was named Lady of the Lake, built and owned by Canandaigua capital, and put on the lake in 1823 under command of Captain Isaac PARRISH.  The second steamboat was built, or at least begun, at Naples in 1845, and floated down to this village and there finished in 1846.  The third boat was the Joseph Wood; the fourth the Ontario, and the fifth the Canandaigua.  


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