East Bloomfield History 

History of Ontario Co, NY & its People 

Pub 1911, Vol 1   Pgs. 310 - 319

Transcribed by Dianne Thomas

 

 

Return to Home Page                     Return to Town Histories

Town of East Bloomfield 

 

Throughout all the years since the region now known as East Bloomfield was a wilderness, inhabited only by a tribe of the primeval Indian race, down to the present time of organized living, of prosperity and peace, much has been written, recorded and preserved of its history.  From time to time as the years have gone by, papers have been prepared and written, societies have been formed, and histories compiled, in order that the things accomplished here, and the glorious lives of the men and women who faithfully lived and toiled here for its advancement, might not be forgotten by the generations coming after.  

 

For those who have spent their lives or a part of their lives in East Bloomfield and who have followed with interest and appreciation its beginning, growth, and development, as recorded in written history, and who are still following with the same interest and appreciations its growth and development now, this little review is made.

 

The first that was recorded about this region is that it was inhabited bye the Seneca Indians.  They built their wigwams on the banks of Mud creek and of the smaller streams 'round about.  

 

Among the tall, strong forest trees which completely enveloped these picturesque homes of our predecessors, were found the oak, walnut and wild chestnut. Some of these were cut down and large tracts of land cleared to make room for fields of maize and apple orchards; narrow, Indian trails, blazed countless years before, let the way beside dense jungles; domestic animals roamed about at will, the whole presenting a landscape charming and beautiful.  

 

To the little village on Mud creek, called "Gannogarae", situated about 3 miles northeast of what is now East Bloomfield village, came the Frenchman, known as the Marquis DENONVILLE one day in July 1687, with his army of thousands, all bent on destruction.  They had just come from Boughton hill near Victor, where they had been successful in laying the ashes of another Indian village, and with this inspiration to put new vigor into them, they fell upon the little Gannogarae.  We read with some pleasure that they barely escaped ignoble defeat at the hands of those few hundred warriors, but in the end the survival of the fittest was evidenced.  We pass quickly by what followed, of homes destroyed, maize fields tramples into the ground and animals put to death, a runt swift as it was complete.  Thus was the curtain drawn over the first chapter of our history. 

 

Next we read that in December 1786, what is now Ontario county, together with the present counties of Steuben, Genesee, Allegany, Niagara, Chautauqua, Monroe, Livingston, Erie, Yates and the western half of Orleans and Wayne, was included in the tract of land ceded by New York to the commonwealth of Massachusetts, subject tot he claims of the Seneca Indians.  In July, 1788, Oliver PHELPS purchased the Indian title to the territory, and in November of the same year, Mr. PHELPS and Nathaniel GORHAM, as agents for an association for the purpose, purchased of Massachusetts its claim upon the same lands.

The township of what is now East Bloomfield was purchased from Phelps and Gorham in 1789 by Captain William BACON, General John FELLOWS, General John ASHLEY, Elisha LEE and Dr. Joshua PORTER, from Sheffield, Massachusetts and Deacon John ADAMS from Alford, a village near Sheffield, and by them parceled out to the early settlers.  The town of Bloomfield, so named because of the beauty of its landscape and foliage, was formed January 27, 1789, and included what is now Victor, Mendon, East and West Bloomfield.  Victor and Mendon were taken from it in 1812 and in 1833 it was again divided into East and West Bloomfield. 

To many of us the names of the first settlers and the incidents connected with their advent and of their establishment here are familiar.  Especially prominent is the name of Deacon John ADAMS, owing to the fact that he was the pioneer settler.  He came to know the country around here when driving cattle from Massachusetts to Fort Niagara to supply the troops stationed there.  He came in the spring of 1789, bringing with him his sons, Jonathan, John, William, Abner and Joseph, his sons in law, Lorin HULL, Mr. WILCOX, and Ephraim REW, with their wives; three unmarried daughters, and Elijah ROSE, a brother in law, his wife and a son.  Some came by water, bringing their farming implements and household utensils up the Mohawk river, Wood creek, Oneida lake, Seneca river and through the outlet of Canandaigua lake to Canandaigua.  Others came on horseback, following as far as possible the old Indian trails. 

At the same time came Nathaniel and Eber NORTON, Benjamin GAUSS, Moses GUNN, John BARNES, Asa HICKOX, Lot REW, Roger SPRAGUE, John and Thaddeus KEYES and Joel STEELE

The first thing of importance which was done, was the erection of a log cabin, thirty by forty feet, by Deacon ADAMS.  His family being somewhat numerous for such restricted quarters, sleeping places were provided by means of births fastened one above the other to wooden pins driven into the wall, a highly ingenious if not exactly hygienic method.  This abode stood upon the east side of Mud creek, a little south of the old Indian village before mentioned, and it bore the distinction of being the first dwelling west of Canandaigua put up by white settlers.  Near by were soon built two smaller log structures of the use of the others of these early settlers not belonging to Deacon ADAM's family. 

The kindly hospitality which has always been a characteristic of the people of East Bloomfield showed itself even in those trying days of primitive living, for we read when Judge Augustus PORTER, a youth of twenty years, came on to survey the town into lots of suitable size for farms, he was entertained at the home of Deacon ADAMS.  We cannot help wondering if an opening had to be made in the roof in order to find a place for his sleeping berth.  It was his first experience of backwoods life, but he liked it, for it is said that in later years he used often to speak with animation of the hours spent in the little log house, of the charm and warmth and fascination of the crackling, blazing logs in its enormous fireplace, and especially of the excellent bread which Mrs. Elijah ROSE baked in the ashes of this fire. 

This Mrs. ROSE was a sister of Deacon ADAMS and the first white woman to enter this town as a resident, receiving as a mark of honor, fifty acres of land.  Thus has her name been handed down through the generations following, because she made good bread and was courageous.  As these virtues are appreciated by the strong sex rather than the fair, we may conclude that chivalry can be added to hospitality as life-long virtues of our people. 

In 1790 a census was taken registering ten families in what is now East Bloomfield, containing sixty five people.  No town of the county had more females and no town excepting Canandaigua, more inhabitants.  The first children born in the town were Mary and Olive HAMLIN.  They were born in 1791 and 1792 respectively, and were daughters of Elijah HAMLIN, Mr. John S. HAMLIN's grandfather.

In 1818 it was voted "that William ROOT be struck off to the lowest bidder to support him comfortably the coming year."  Thus the poor were provided for.  In 1830 a penalty of fifty cents was imposed for every hog allowed to run at large, twelve and one-half cents for every sheep, and two dollars for every horse.  Twelve dollars was the amount which was imposed on the unlucky man who permitted Canada thistles to go to seed on any portion of his domain. 

The inhabitants of the three original log cabins soon left them and bought farms for themselves and built suitable homes.  Order was made out of the chaos.  Other settlers were coming in all the time, and life became to take on a different aspect.  We hope that the merry quilting, husking and apple paring bees, the jolly singing schools from which happy lovers walked home hand in hand, starry nights bearing loads of care-free youngsters, were a part of the lives of these first home makers as well as those of later years. 

To General John FELLOWS, one of the original purchases of the town, is accorded the honor of having erected the first frame barn west of Canandaigua.  The first frame house which was built in the village is still in existence, although many changes have been made in it.  It is the one now occupied by the Misses STILES and was built in 1794. 

The need of some manufacturing facilities was soon felt and not long after the first settlement tow ox cart and wagon shops were in operation in the town.  The superior work done in these shops and in those of a later date drew orders from New York city and from States outside of New York.  The names of TAFT, HAYES, MEAD and SWIFT are among those who were connected with this work.  As early as 1804 the manufacture of brick was begun.  It was said to be of a superior quality, which for twenty years was used in the construction of stores, halls and dwellings.  About twenty buildings were put up in this time. 

In 1811 there were five flourmills in town, the first being built by Joel STEELE on Mud creek.  This did away with the long trips with ox team and sled, which were necessary before in order to obtain flour.  No better flour could be had in eastern markets than that sent out form these mills.  It was marked "Genesee Flour, Bloomfield."  In 1805, there were three wool carding and cloth dressing machines in the town, all having extensive patronage in Western New York.   

Three clock factories were doing business in 1811.  Wooden one day clocks were made by one James BLAKE in the northern part of the town.  Eight day brass clocks were manufactured, some of them giving the changes of the moon and the day of the month, selling for $90.  Andirons and candle sticks of brass were made, also sleigh bells from two to five inches in diameter, the ringing of which, it was said, could be heard at lest 2 miles away.  Hats of fur and wool were made here.  gun shops, cooper nad blacksmith shops and tanneries, abound. 

To give a little idea of the conditions of things in 1813, we quote from an article published in the "Gazetter of the State of New York: of that time: "This is the most populous town in the county and one of the best farming towns in the State.  The inhabitants are wealthy, enjoying all the ease of independence, derived from agricultural industry and economy.  The soil is of the best quality of loam, good for grain and grass, and the surface but gently undulated."

The demand of some educational facilities was met in 1792 by the building of a school house at the place of  the first settlement.  Laura ADAMS was the first teacher to give instruction here.  To her came the children through the forest pates from every direction within a radius of 3 miles.  Three years later, the second one was built.  IT was composed of logs having a fire place almost the entire width of the interior.  The window was formed by means of a hole cut in the logs and covered over with greased paper.   The roof was of clapboards held in place by means of heavy poles and the low door was hung on wooden hinges.  In the fall of 1797,, a young man carrying his worldly possessions upon his back arrived in town, and introducing himself as a teacher form Connecticut suggested that a new school district be formed with his services as teacher.  The proposition was accepted and another long school house went up.  

In an article written by one of our townsmen about the district schools of 1825 and 1830, he states that men were usually employed to teach the winter terms and women the summer terms.  This arrangement was probably deemed expedient because it was during the winter months that the large boys flocked in.  It seems to have been the custom of these young men to test the ability of their instructor, the first day, by an attempt to put him out.  If they failed in accomplishing this feat, as we are told they frequently did, they retired gracefully and gave no more trouble during that winter, at least.  Men teachers were paid from 12 to 18 dollars a month, with board, and women from one to two dollars a week and board.  These last were expected to teach the art of needlework and of embroidery in addition to their other work.  The boys of these schools were taught to acknowledge their teacher upon entering the school room by making a low bow, hat in hand, the girls by making a low courtesy.   The were also instructed to acknowledge everyone whom they chanced to meet on their way to and from school, and most people were polite enough to recognize and to return this salutation.  It was also the duty of the long suffering teacher to make and to keep in repair the goose quill pens, metal pens being of course, an unheard of thing in those days.  The paper in the writing boos was of unruled foolscap and those learning to write were obliged to rule their own paper with a plummet made of lead.  When this was done the copy was written by the teacher.  In many of the schools it was the custom, at stated times every week, to repeat in unison the multiplication table, the ten commandments, the Lord's prayer, or passages from the New England primer.

On the 9th of April 1838, an act passed the Legislature, incorporating the East Bloomfield Academy.  Accordingly, a three story brick building was erected, capable of seating 200 pupils.  School was opened in May 1839, having three departments: a primary, a higher English and a classical.  In 1840, the school became subject to the Board of Regents and the Academy was converted into a union school.  June of 1909, marked the close of the career of the old brick building as as school house, which it had held for 70 years.  $1,300 was voted to buy the lot for the fine new building of pressed brick on Main street, $25,000 to put it up and $2,500 to furnish it.  This building was completed and made ready for occupancy in the fall of 1909.  It is fitted with modern, scientific appliances for heating, lighting and ventilating, and apparently is considered in every way, thoroughly satisfactory. 

At one time Miss Sophia ADAMS, sister of Myron ADAMS, kept a select school in the house now occupied by the Rev. MR. HOWARD.   This was the first of its kind in East Bloomfield to take up more than the common branches   This school must have been famous for its beauty as well as its learning, for we read that when Miss ADAMS appeared in Canandaigua with her young charges at a reception given at the home of Judge TAYLOR, in honor of General LAFAYETTE, the latter, after meeting one of them, Miss Julia PARRISH, kissed her and remarked that she was the handsomest lady he had met in America!   

In the midst of this period of creation and of toil, came the desire and the need for a way to express the religion that was in these people, and on September 8, 1795, six years after the first settlement, the first religious society in the town was formed. It was called the Independent Congregational society.  The first step taken after organizing the society was to purchase a "burying ground and a meeting house green."  With this end in view, 6 acres of land were purchase of Benjamin KEYES on October first, 1798.  Upon the west half of this lot, in 1801, was erected the first church this side of Clinton, Oneida county.  It was completed 6 years later, 1807 and was regularly incorporated in 1811.  This building was fitted with galleries on 3 sides, with square pews both above and below, in which not more than one third of the audience could face the minister.  It faced the south, having a high pulpit at the opposite end, and it stood just a little north of the present building.  Twenty nine years later, in January 1836, it was decided, rather than to remodel the old edifice, to raise $4,000 to build a new one.  Thus the present Congregational church was built.  

The Methodist church was first established on Mud creek, in the  northeast part of the town and the first church was built there.  The society was organized May 12, 1834, as the "First Methodist Church of East Bloomfield."  In 1840 the church was reorganized and the first church edifice built.  This building was afterwards moved and used as a dwelling house.  In 1859 the church was reorganized a second time, when the building put up by the Universalists, was bought from the Episcopalians for $2,000 together with the parsonage.  This church is in use at the present time. 

An Episcopal church society was organized in 1830, taking the name of St. Peter's.  The services were held at first in private houses and in the Universalist church previously mentioned.  As far as can be learned, the present edifice was built in 1859, after the society sold the Universalist building to the Methodist society.  The church now has an endowment of $8,000, bequeathed by Mrs. Hiram HOLCOMB.  

The first Catholic church was erected in 1851, the parish at this time numbering 16 families and about 70 persons.  On the 21st of August 1874, the corner stone of the present church was laid.  It stands in the north part of the village and is a substantial brick building, containing a fine organ in the gallery and a number of rich memorial windows.  

The history of East Bloomfield would not be complete without some mention of the pretty little parks which lies between the Met6hodist and Congregational churches.  It was originally called the "square" and was a part of 6 acres of land deeded by Benjamin KEYES to the Congregational church in 1798 for one plot of ground, full of old stumps and fallen trees.  Cattle, sheep, and swine wandered about, and ducks and geese of the neighborhood found amusement in the small pond contained in it.  Finally, in 1848, the ground was graded, seeded and fenced, and a few years later, planted to trees.  Dr. MURPHY planted the elms, Luther BARBER the chestnuts, S. EMMONS the locusts and the Rev. Luther CONKLIN, the wild cherry trees. 

In 1868, a fund of $6,000 was raised by subscription, entertainments and bazaars, to erect a monument in this part to commemorate the lives of those who went from East Bloomfield to fight for the Union cause in the Civil war. Of the 158 young men who enlisted at this time, 31 never returned.  Of the five men named as a finance committee to whom the subscriptions were to be paid, Mr. Charles BUELL of Canandaigua, alone is living.  This monument is of brown granite and stands in the center of the park.  It is surmounted by the figure of a soldier in fatigue uniform, looking toward the south.  Upon the four sides of the shaft, is carved the war record of the town.  On the front is a roll of honor of the 85th regiment, New York Volunteers, and above the names of battles.  On the base is the inscription: "East Bloomfield.  To the memory of her sons who died in the defense of the Union, 1861 - 65".  The column is 45 feet in height, and stands on a stone foundation which is 10 or 12 feet below the base.  Its weight is estimated at 150 tons.   The heaviest stone, weighing 9 tones, was drawn form the depot by twelve horses.  The work of erection was begun in December 1866 and was completed in January of the year following.  The dedication took place on the 14th of October 1868, at which a famous dinner was served beneath a large tent in the park.  Three thousand were served at this dinner and it was said that at its close enough of provision was left to feed a small army.  This was followed by music, prayer, an oration by an Auburn resident, the reading of an original poem by one of our townsmen, nad an address by the Rev. Luther CONKLIN, pastor of the Congregational church.   In the evening a large audience assembled in the Congregational church to listed to an oration given by Col. W. H. C. HOSMER, of Avon.  The cannon at the base of the monument were presented by the Government in 1884.

A few years ago, Mr. James ELTON of Waterbury, Connecticut, erected an arch in front of the park and gave the sum of $1,000, the interest of which is to be used toward keeping the park in order.  This was done in memory of his wife, who died some years previous.  At the same time, it was named Elton Park.  

In 1898 the work of laying crushed stone roads was begun.  At present there are about 15 miles of stone road in East Bloomfield.  Natural gas obtained from nearby wells was piped into the village in 1904.  There are about 5 miles of cement walks in the village at present, the first being laid in 1905.  

The first county tuberculosis hospital in New York State had just been erected on a high rise of ground, in the south part of the town, a location admirably adapted in every way for such an institution.  $15,000 was appropriated for this building and for its equipment.  At its completion the buidling committee turned it over to the board of managers, which consists of Father DOUGHERTY of Canandaigua; Dr. C. C. LYTLE, of Geneva; Dr. W. B. CLAPPER, of Victor; Mr. Levi A. PAGE, of Seneca and Mr. Heber E. WHEELER of East Bloomfield.  Dr. S. R. WHEELER of East Bloomfield is the superintendent.  

The population of the town according to the census of 1910, is 1,892.

At the first town meeting in April, 1796, officials were chosen as follows: Supervisor, Amos HALL, town clerk, Jared BOUGHTON; assessors and commissioners of Schools, Asa HICKOX, John ADAMS, David PARSONS, Samuel STARLING, Roger SPRAGUE; commissioners of highways, Jonathan ADAMS, David PARSONS, Joseph BRACE; overseers of poor, Jasper Peck SEARS, Asher SAXTON; constables, Daniel BRONSON, Clark PECK, Seymour BOUGHTON; collectors, Nicholas SMITH, Philander SAXTON and Julius CURTIS.

The town has been of its present proportions since 1833, when it was established as East Bloomfield and West Bloomfield was set off as a separate town.  The succession of supervisors since 1838 has been as follows: Timothy BUELL Jr., 1838-41; Philo HAMLIN, 1842-45; Josiah PORTER, 1846; Edwin W. FAIRCHILD, 1847; Moses SHEPARD, 1848-49; Guy COLLINS, 1850-52; Henry W. HAMLINS, 1853-55; Elisha STEEL, 1856-58; Edward BRUNSON, 1859-61; Frederick MUNSON, 1862-66; Edward BRUNSON, 1867-69; Reuben E. FRENCH, 1870-71; Henry W. HAMLIN, 1872; Reuben E. FRENCH, 1873; Cholett COLLINS, 1874-76; Harley HAMLIN, 1877-80; George W. HAMLIN, 1881-82; Daniel R. BOSTWICK, 1883; John S. HAMLIN, 1884-86; Myron MARIMER, 1887; Frank W. PAGE, 1888-89; John M. NORTON 1890-91; Harry G. CHAPIN, 1892; Peter NEENAN, 1893-95; Roswell M. LEE, 1896-1903; Edward F. BURT, 1904-05; James FLYNN, 1906-07; Edward E. RIGNEY, 1908-11.  

 

HTML by Dianne Thomas

 

These electronic pages may be printed as a link or for personal use, but is NOT to be reproduced in any format for profit or presentation by ANY other organization or persons.

 

Copyright 2002 - 2014

 

[NY History and Genealogy]                                                                  [ALHN]