Town Farmington of History
History of Ontario Co, NY Pub 1878 pg 189 - 194
Kindly transcribed by Donna Walker Judge
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TOWN OF FARMINGTON
The desire to better their condition is universal with the human race. Where courage, endurance, and ability are combined, the result is, in the main, success. Prayerfully, yet hopefully, the colonists had crossed the broad ocean in a small vessel, and won themselves a footing, not without persecution, from those who had fled religious tyranny themselves in the province of Massachusetts. From necessity and inclination, the Friends constituted themselves a distinct people, simple in dress, plain of apparel, and bound to the observance of certain societary laws, among which were temperance, peace, and superintendence. The latter feature included a report to the society by any portion of its members of all important plans contemplated, especially that of a distant removal, in order that the subject should be fairly considered. When the fame of the far-away Indian country came to be noised among the Friends of Berkshire county, Massachusetts, twelve men associated to purchase a body of the native land as soon as it should be put in the market. The subject was canvassed in council, and the decision was adverse to emigration. The distance was too great, and the dangers too formidable, and when the movement was resolutely advanced, the projectors were formally disowned. Turn we now to the task voluntarily assumed by the pioneer Friends. The Phelps and Gorham purchase had been surveyed into townships by range and number, and the first sale was made of township No. 11, range 3, to the following-named purchasers: Nathan COMSTOCK, Benjamin RUSSELL, Abraham LAPHAM, Edmund JENKS, Jeremiah BROWN, Ephraim FISH, Nathan HERENDEEN, Nathan ALDRICH, Stephen SMITH, Benjamin RICKENSON, William BAKER, and Dr. Daniel BROWN. As representatives of the company, the deed was given to Messrs. COMSTOCK and RUSSELL. The former became the pioneer, and set out with two sons, Otis and Darius, accompanied by Robert HATHAWAY, in the year 1789, for the Genesee country. The land and water routes were both employed, and the journey accomplished. Industry was now applied to the work of settlement. Trees were felled and a cabin erected. A small field of wheat was sown, and, while part labored in the clearing, Darius, as the subsistence commissary, made weekly journeys to Geneva, a score of miles away, and brought back provisions upon his back. A horse, their only one, had died shortly after their arrival, throwing the party wholly upon their own resources. A proprietor, named ALDRICH, came by water to Geneva, bringing with him provisions and seed-wheat, which he packed to his purchase, and then set to work and put in a few acres to wheat. Winter drew nigh, and all but Otis COMSTOCK returned to Massachusetts to recount their experience, consummate their plans, and prepare for a permanent removal. The winter fireside was the place of many a discussion of the coming season: the long route of travel through the old forests; the Indians hovering about their former villages and camping-grounds; the wild beasts howling in the timber, and fierce for attacks upon the flock or herd; and the long, weary journeys to distant mills and markets. Nor was Otis forgotten. Not as now could letters borne with lightning speed convey him tidings of good cheer, and return letters, freighted with pioneer experience, assure them of his welfare. They could only wait, while he, with no neighbors nearer than Canandaigua and Boughton Hill, tenanted the lone cabin, cared for the stock, and waited the coming of spring and the family. Early in the year 1790 preparations had been made, and on February 14 the journey for permanent settlement began; the old and well-remembered home was seen for the last time, and the party set out on their long and memorable journey. Nathan COMSTOCK was the leader, and his family formed no inconsiderable portion of the proposed settlers. With him were Nathan ALDRICH and Isaac HATHAWAY. Days and weeks went by, and the distance lengthened till the old home was far away. Each day saw the party plodding on through mud and snow; each night the snow was cleared from a small plat by the camp-fire, and the children awoke terrified at times at the dismal howls of the prowling wolf.
On February 15, one day later than COMSTOCK’s party, Nathan HERENDEEN, having traded his small farm in Adams for a thousand acres in the “purchase,” started upon his track. With him were his son Welcome HERENDEEN, sons-in-law Joshua HERRINGTON and John MCCUMBER, their wives and children. Each night’s camp was made where those preceding had slept the night before, and, finally, gaining upon, overtook them at Geneva, whence the whole party moved on together to Canandaigua, and thence to the clearings and cabins of the previous fall. The township was given the name Farmington, from Farmington, Connecticut, and, prior to purchase, had been surveyed and mapped. It was divided into one hundred and forty-four lots, each containing a quarter-section. The lots were numbered, and each drew in turn from the list of numbers until all had drawn their share of the purchase. Few knew aught of the quality of their land, and by the drawing the different parties were considerably scattered. One of the lots drawn by Nathan COMSTOCK was No. 137, the first settled portion of the town. Much of interest is derived from a manuscript written by Edward HERENDEEN concerning this early settlement. The pioneers were conscious of their victorious struggle with the forces of nature, and not more fondly does the soldier delight to fight his battles over again, than the old settler recount his early life and draw his contrast of past and present. It is his well-won right, and it were well if his experience were jotted down.
“What would we now think,: says HERENDEEN, “to take eight children in the dead of winter, with an ox-team, where they could not have or see a fire from morning until night? It looks marvelous to me that they lived through that journey! Often have I thought of it, and it almost looks impossible that it could be done.”
The new-comers were soon installed in cabins
and engaged in clearing, and the close of fall saw a number of fields sown in
wheat. The plow was not used in the preparation of the soil; the trees were
cleared away, the wheat scattered and raked in, and with this slight culture
heavy crops resulted. It was not with impunity that the settlers dwelt upon the
site of former forest-trees; the miasma of decaying vegetation, now exposed to
the torrid heat of summer, floated in clouds about the cabin, and thirteen out
of fourteen had the fever and ague during the first season. Welcome HERENDEEN
escaped only to be a six-months’ victim of the disorder during the next
season. HERENDEEN, desiring wheat for seed, worked a period of thirteen days for
two bushels and a half. This was his last purchase of wheat; his fields, years
later, furnished to his labor the most ample returns. ALDRICH had sown wheat in
the fall of 1789, on lot 23, and it was harvested in the summer of 1790. Summer
crops were put in during the season, and considerable land prepared for tillage.
The stump-mortar was employed in preparing the grain for food, and the prospect
of bread from ground wheat was regarded with anticipated satisfaction. It may be
said of ALDRICH that his was the second cabin built in the town. In it was held
the first town meeting during 1797, and here he died in 1818. Nathan HERENDEEN
and others built their cabins and settled on lot 21 of what is now District No.
1. To him is ascribed the raising of the first barn in the town. The period is
placed at 1794. Seventeen years passed away, and in 1807 HERENDEEN died, and was
buried upon the land his labor had cleared and rendered of service to his
family. Joshua HERINGTON, a son-in-law, was desirous of bread for his family,
and made a journey to WILDER’s mill to get some wheat ground. The
conscientious scruples of Mrs. WILDER against running a mill on the Sabbath-day
made the trip fruitless, and he returned home to find that an increase had taken
place in his family. On September 17, 1790, was born this the first white child
native to the district of Farmington. His name was Welcome HERRINGTON, later
known as HERENDEEN. It is known of him that he married while young, and moved to
Michigan. He attended a weight of three hundred and fifty pounds—a notable
sample of the early productions of this prosperous and friendly neighborhood.
Joshua HERRINGTON was a dweller upon the farm on lot 27, now owned by N.
REDFIELD. Here he lived sixty years, and in 1851, like a shock of corn fully
ripe, was cut down at the age of ninety years. Leaving behind a name for
sobriety and honesty. Welcome HERENDEEN and his father, Nathan, occupied the
homestead on lot 21 until the death of the latter, on September 17, 1807. The
mother continued to reside with Welcome till her decease, in 1822. Welcome
married Elizabeth DURFEE, of Palmyra, in 1794. Of five children, Edward, the
oldest, was born on February 10, 1795; grew up; married Harriet CUDWORTH, of
Bristol, and raised a family of eleven children.
Abraham LAPHAM was an occupant of land in
district No. 1 as early as 1790; his descendants are still found residents of
the town. In the spring of 1790, John PAYNE transferred himself from
Massachusetts to Farmington, and located on lot 46. A large family was raised,
one of whom, at the age of seventy-two, is a present citizen of Manchester. The
death of Mr. PAYNE occurred at the farm, in February 1821. It is worthy of
present remark that a comparison of the families of pioneers with those of their
descendants is very much in favor of the former. Schools, once large, have
become reduced to a small group; lands once tilled by the children of the
settler, and trades once practiced by them, are gradually passing to alien
hands, who, growing up, infuse new elements into our heterogeneous society. The
subject is one of more than ordinary interest, and presents a new phase of our
still primitive and growing condition. It suggests the gradual extinction, not
by war nor pestilence, of families whose influence in the past has been
productive of great benefit to the community wherever they were found. Local
attraction gave way at times to necessity, and we find the pioneers, having
dwelt a few years in one place, shifting to another, or, merging with the stream
of western migration, sweeping out to the Holland purchase and beyond. John
MCCUMBER moved, in 1791, from lot 21 to near the present residence of W.W.
HERENDEEN, and, later, removed to Ohio, where he died. Jonathan REED, son-in-law
of Nathan HERENDEEN, moved upon the farm owned at present by P. TRENFIELD soon
after the commencement of settlement, and was the pioneer blacksmith. Many the
needed repair; many the tool set right; many the gathered group at his shop
during stormy days; and much the work done during that period when the hammer
and anvil were the chief agencies in a manufacture of sickle and pruning-hook,
hoe and plow. He ceased to be known as a resident after 1816. Another
son-in-law, Samuel MASON, settled upon and cleared up land where Charles JEFFREY
now lives. His trade was that of a cabinet-maker; for several years he engaged
in the construction of the ample and durable furniture in vogue at that time.
John DILLON, making a choice of location in this neighborhood, obtained No. 1 for his home. He had previously been engaged in farming in Dutchess county, and, with the experience there gained, applied himself to his occupation, and successfully. To the west of him, on No. 2, was his neighbor, Adam NICHOLS. Here, in a period not remote when compared with European civilization, but old when traced back in changes of customs and society gone forevermore, these farmers carried on their farm-work, and, knowing no better way, dropped their corn by hand and covered with the hoe; sowed their wheat and harrowed it in; mowed the regular swath and hand-raked the windrow; gathered the brown grain with the sickle, and kept time to the rapid flail-stroke on the threshing-floor. As the Indian was distinctive in his life and pursuits, so was the early farmer. Time and patience accomplished in those days what the improved machinery of the present has made a pastime. On No. 30 the primitive settler was Joseph WELLS, who prior to 1795 had marked the locality for his own, and where the toil of years and the enjoyments of rest and observation made up the round of life. Here for a long period lived his son Joseph, and just east of the tract dwells his grandson Joseph WELLS.
The history of the district would be incomplete without a reference to its early school. Who were the teachers has passed to oblivion,--none living know. Little they recked then of the future, and as little the present has cared for them. The house is known to have stood on lot 21, on the southwest corner of the roads. The instructions of the well-known Elam CRANE were made available to the residents of this neighborhood during 1806, a year made remarkable in many localities from the occurrence of the “dark day” or great eclipse,--an event fraught with terror, wonder, superstition, and gloom. Fortunately, the children of this district had in the person of their instructor a practical, educated man, as is evidenced—aside from other sources of knowledge—by his taking the entire school out to the road, and, as the singular and deepening gloom spread, and the forest in utter quiet put on a weird, unearthly aspect, directed their attention to the dark body stealing slowly across the disk of the sun, and taught a lesson so impressive that it never became effaced. Of all that school, master and pupils have passed away except Daniel ARNOLD, who—then a lad of five years, now an aged resident of district No. 9—has lived to this day, to recall an event of early childhood. Joseph SMITH and James D. FISH soon after 1790 started an ashery, near the Friends’ south meeting-house, and therein manufactured pearlash, an article prominent at the time as finding ready sale and returning somewhat of profit to those engaged. The building was a frame structure, and as such was known as the first if its class in the town. It was taken in charge by Ahab HARRINGTON in 1800, and was carried on by him for a number of years. A tannery was built in 1800 by Thomas HERENDEEN, a son of Nathan HERENDEEN. He conducted the business about fifteen years, was succeeded by Peter C. BROWN, and by him the interest was continued until about 1826. Its site was near the late residence of Allen PAYNE.
District No. 13 had for one of its first settlers Jacob SMITH, who located in 1791 upon Lot 41. He came from Adams, Massachusetts with his family to Farmington, and experienced difficulties well calculated to daunt the courage. At Schenectady the family and furniture were placed on board a boat, and the stock driven through the woods along the water-courses till Swift’s landing was reached; thence he had his own road to make to his purchase, which he reached in thirty-one days from the time of departure. What mattered the log cabin and the dark woods now? The journey was accomplished, and a life-time before him to improve his condition,--and well had his persistence been rewarded. In the log cabin a daughter, Zimroda LAPHAM, was born in 1793, and is yet living at the age of eighty-three. Here, too, was born Jared SMITH, a present resident of lot 36, district No. 4. To him we are indebted for much of the information herein given, and in the history of that district will be found their history.
Jonathan SMITH was one of those who came on in 1790, and his location was upon No. 31, where J.T. WISNER lives. SMITH afterwards erected a frame house, in which town meetings were held on several occasions. As incidental to the meeting of 1814, a wrestling-match was in progress between William BROWN and another settler, when the former was heavily thrown, and so injured that he died in a short time. The house was burned in 1823, and in the flames died a son of SMITH’s, a youth of about twelve years. Mr. SMITH was killed while assisting to raise the frame of the house now the property of Peter TRENFIELD. The falling of one of the timbers caused the accident. Ichabod BROWN was known as an early settler where now his grandson L.A. BROWN lives. The settlers were accustomed to call on BROWN to aid in butchering, and he was an expert in the business. Ebenezer WELLS was an early resident of the district. Abiather POWER settled on the lot owned by Charles W. GOODRICH, on lot 57. He afterwards removed to No. 6, south of HATHAWAY’s Corners. Among other of the olden-time settlers in the neighborhood were George JENKS, prior to 1800, on lot 56, SHOTWELL on 65, and John YOUNG, a member of the old family of that name in Phelps. Although not in the center of the town on account of the land there being a swamp, yet the location of the town-houses in the northern part of the district is as convenient a site as could be obtained.
District No. 6 lies west of No. 13, and contains the hamlet of West Farmington. Hither came Isaac HATHAWAY, from Adams, Massachusetts, and located at what has since been known as Hathaway’s Corners. He was a companion to COMSTOCK on the journey west in 1790, and conveyed his family, consisting of a wife and two children, through the wilderness upon an ox-sled. Think of this, you who ride in the palace-car luxuriously and swiftly over the New York Central, and bestow a grateful thought upon the memories of those whose labors laid the foundation for present conveniences. It is said that the framed barn built by Ananias MCMILLEN for Mr. HATHAWAY, in 1793, was the first structure of the kind in Farmington. Otis COMSTOCK and Huldah FREEMAN were joined in the holy bands of wedlock in 1792, by Dr. ATWATER, of Canandaigua, at the dwelling of Isaac HATHAWAY. This wedding was the first in the town. As evidence of the dernier resorts of the pioneer, it is stated that Mr. HATHAWAY carried potatoes on his back from Whitestown, and planted them. Impelled by hunger, he dug them up, cut out and planted the eyes, and ate the remainder. Asa WILMARTH lived near the “Corners,” and was one of the early justices. He built an ashery and ran it for several years, and so utilized the ashes from the log heaps burned by the settlers in their work of clearing up their lands. Levi SMITH, one of the pioneers of the town, purchased a farm of about two hundred acres from Nathan ALDRICH, and made payment by giving the labor of a day for an acre of land, as had been mutually agreed. The farm thus won by days’ labor is the present heritage of his son, P.A. SMITH. The farm now owned by John BERRY, and formerly designated as the “Melvin POWER farm,” and located near Farmington station, was originally the location of Arthur POWER, by whom its fields were cleared and fitted for cultivation. Moses POWER, Sr., settled in 1798 upon a farm of two hundred and fifty acres now owned by E.RUSHMORE. Abiather POWER made a temporary settlement upon the farm of Charles GOODRICH, but later located at Hathaway’s Corners, on the farm later the property of his son, Waterman POWER. Robert POWER settled near the Corners; he was reputed to have been an excellent carpenter and joiner, and the workman employed upon the woodwork of Yale College buildings, Essick, Jesse, and Willis ALDRICH were former farmers in this district, being located near the school-house. Uriah, son of Willis, is on the old homestead, and Clarkson, a son of Essick, is yet a resident of the town. Far back, and close upon the primitive settlement of the town, a log school-house had an existence in this district, and Lydia SMITH was of those who taught in it. The fields upon the present farm of Frederick WOODWORTH were cleared, as early as 1804, by Samuel COOPER, and the large framed house where N.C. HERENDEEN lives was built and for many years occupied by Gideon PAYNE.
South of No. 6 is joint district No. 8, whose former residents are numbered in the names of Levi SMITH, Arthur POWER, and William DAILY. An early marriage in the town was that of Mr. SMITH to a daughter of Stephen HAYWARD, who was District No. 4 is a long strip of land bordering upon Victor and traversed along its lower west boundary by Mud creek. Upon this stream, in this locality, Ananias MCMILLAN erected the first mill in the town. It was built for Jacob SMITH in 1793, and was a small framed concern used for custom grinding. It stood just below the road, east of Jared SMITH’s present residence. The settlers came hither from considerable distances to obtain a pulverization of their grain better than their home mills could accomplish. Two years after the mill was in operation, a saw-mill was put up on the opposite side of the creek. The grist-mill was run till 1839, and the saw-mill till 1841. It is said by the oldest inhabitants that the neighborhood of these mills was an accustomed hunting- and fishing-ground of the Indians. Their fish and game were offered the settlers in exchange for meal and flour. The Indians would come into the grist-mill bringing their fish or game, and lay them down before Mr. SMITH, with the expression, “The skano trout,” or The skano game,” and then be off before any answer could be returned. In a few days they would be back for their “gifts,” and say, “Skano ingun meal.” The miller humored their caprice, and gave as they desired. It was often seen that the location of a mill was the origin of a village. A well-chosen mill site was a promising place for settlement. The mills ground slowly, and time hung upon the farmers’ hands. Could repairs be made or a social glass be enjoyed it was found less irksome, and hence the blacksmith-shop and the distillery were not infrequently found in close proximity to the mills. It sometimes transpired that the miller, having set the grist to running, could adjourn to the blacksmith-shop and shoe the customers’ horses. This was done by Mr. SMITH, who was thus enabled to do two things of profit at one and the same time. Jared SMITH affirms that the boards of the house of which he is a resident, and which was built in 1799, were nailed on with wrought nails of his father’s manufacture. Upon the lot Mr. and Mrs. SMITH lived many years, he dying in 1836, aged eighty-four years, and she some years later, having reached the same age. Joseph SMITH, brother of Jacob, and partner in ownership of the mill, came in from Massachusetts about 1791, and located on the east side of the creek, where now lives R.P. SMITH. He was an early surveyor, and found much to do in the exercise of his calling. New roads were being laid out, and lines had to be run between the lands of settlers, older lines found, and later ones established. Jephtha DILLINGHAM was the predecessor of G. ADAMS upon lot 12. He raised a large family, and died upon the farm he had won by labor from the forest. Richard THOMAS came in on the day of the “great eclipse,” in 1806, and settled upon No. 12. Descendants of his family are present residents of this county. David SMITH, who is remembered as Farmington’s first constable, lived for several years upon lot 60. He became a militia captain during the last war with Great Britain, and later held office as justice of the peace for several terms. On August 1, 1842, while engaged in showing a hired hand how to mow, he stepped unguardedly within reach of the swing of the scythe. The arteries of his leg were severed, and within a short time he bled to death.
North of districts Nos. 4 and 6, upon lot 62, lived Jeremiah BROWN, son of one of the original proprietors of the town. His father was located on the ridge in Wayne county, and was remembered as one of the prominent members of the Masonic order of that day. Gideon GRINNELL was a pioneer on lot 84, where he reared a family and passed his days. Peter, son of Stephen SMITH, an original purchaser, lived on No. 86, where Germond KETCHAM now owns. Mr. SMITH finally moved to Michigan, where he died. A man named PRATT seems to have come in early, built himself a cabin upon the lot now held by G. LOOMIS, and afterward gone west. On the farm west of the school-house lived one HARRIS, of whom nothing is known. It is constantly brought to mind, in locating and naming these the original settlers of Farmington, what little there is of variety attached to their existence. Were we back to the days when DE LIANCOURT traversed these then wilds and noted the surroundings and life-labors, we could see the arrival of the pioneer parties, and observe the crashing down of the old trees under the vigorous axe-strokes and the logs rolled up in position to form the cabins; then the underbrush being cut out, the trees girdled, and the wheat scattered in the rich soil, we follow them on their return to their homes. Entered upon their routine of farm-work, we see new fields added to the older, additions made to house and barn, families increasing in numbers, and gradually a look of old and established occupation taking the place of former newness. The minuate, the society, the customs of the time, were changed as wealth and improvements advanced. The children were rude of dress and robust in health; the fare was simple, and, as a result, we find the lives of those pioneer children prolonged beyond the average of the race. Uneventful, but not less valuable, has been the life of the working class of early settlers.
Brownville district owes its name to Dr. David BROWN, an original purchaser and pioneer settler upon lot No. 9. David BROWN and his son Stephen built a log distillery at an early day, and connected with it an ashery. These were continued for quite a number of years. Stephen BROWN and Elias DENNIS erected a building, put into it a carding-machine, and after a time became proprietors of a woolen-mill, which was continued by them till 1835. New woolen-mills were constructed, using stone material, during 1837, by James VAN VLECK, Amos and James HASKINS. The wood work was done by John HASKINS, John RIDDLE, and his son Robert. The property was bought in 1845 by Myron H. NORTON, who carried on both the factory and a store for several years, and engaged extensively in business. From causes to us unknown he was compelled to suspend about the year 1850; effected a sale and removed to Michigan. The pioneer tradesman in the place was Reuben SMITH, who was engaged in the sale of merchandise as early as 1815 or 1816, leasing the business. SMITH was succeeded by Paul S. RICHARDSON, who in time was followed by Albert NYE, during whose career as a storekeeper the building was destroyed by fire. Abner and Stephen BROWN were early storekeepers, and the latter was also connected with the erection and conduct of a saw-mill. The history of tanning, as known to the pioneers, was full of novelty, and the skins of deer, bear, and wolf were found with those of sheep and cattle. A tannery was built about 1820 by Peter CLYNE, and for thirty years he was known as its manager, and did a good and paying business. Otis BROWN was the pioneer blacksmith. Beginning in 1814, he continued his labors at the forge for twenty-two years, and truly he may have been noted as the village blacksmith, if time of service was the gauge of merit. The manufacture of hats in various parts of Ontario seems, from the earliest date, to have been a feature of the situation, and in Brownsville this industry was inaugurated by Joseph JONES, who in time was succeeded by Nathaniel LAMPSON. This hatter, entering upon the business of making and selling these goods in 1824, continued at it for ten to twelve years. No business of note, aside from the saw-mill and cider-mill of John GRINNELL, is now carried on in the place. Trade centers at common points, and the once promising hamlet becomes the temporary resort, while facilities of travel and the demands of business call all classes to the villages. The perusal of town history exhibits the mill, the shop, the still, and the tannery, erected a t convenient and scattered points, and tradesmen practicing their calling within their homes, but these rude structures fall into disuse and decay. The streams fall from evaporation of their sources, and the various trades, moving to the villages, erect their shops and stores, their mills and manufactories, and dividing labor, approach perfection in their several callings.
Otis COMSTOCK was a pioneer on the farm now owned by John A. GILLIS. He was the son of Nathan, of whom we have spoken, and accompanied his father from the east in 1789, and, remaining during the winter, was the first actual resident of the town. There is no mention of the greeting with the relatives as they arrived in the spring; but we may imagine the pleasure with which this temporary hermit saw their approach. He was long a resident of the town; its first road commissioner, held various offices, and had a family of seven children, of whom Augustus was the oldest, born March 25, 1793, and Zeno, the next oldest, born in 1794. William SMITH, son of Stephen SMITH, an original purchaser, was the builder and occupant of the stone house now the property of J.G. ROBBINS. David GILLIS was a pioneer in the Brownsville neighborhood. Zurial BROWN, a carpenter by trade, and a son of Jeremiah BROWN, one of the town proprietors, owned a farm in this district. On the occasion of building the house of Peter SMITH, now owned by Germond KETCHAM, Mr. BROWN was enjoined to be very particular in the performance of his work, and as an inducement was offered a bonus of five dollars if, in driving his nails, he would not split any clapboards. He was justice of the peace of many years and died upon his farm.
The history of the pioneers constantly shows the basis of settlement to have been the farm. Mechanics, not able to find sufficient employment in the east, emigrated to Ontario in hopes of bettering their condition, and united with their trade employment on a farm. Not unfrequently the carpenter, the mason, the tailor, and others, entirely ignored their trade, excepting so far as related to their own farm and household, and gave their attention during life to agriculture. Such was the case with many in Farmington, and among them was Nicholas BROWN, a carpenter, who located on the north part of lot 131. Hezekiah LIPPETT, an early teacher, was a settler on the same lot. Mr. LIPPETT opened a school in the house of David BROWN, carried it on for several years during the winter seasons, and is remembered as a good teacher. Of his former pupils few survive; among them is Lorenzo HATHAWAY, a resident in Farmington, and now sixty-eight years of age. The rude building, the plain teacher, the elementary studies are descried in later years, but the scholarship of that period had many excellencies. Surveys were accurate, handwriting was often superior in legibility to that of the present, and it is questionable whether the instruction in many districts of Ontario to-day is even equal to that of the early time.
District No. 7 had for its pioneer settler one of the best men known to the early settlement of this region,--Dr. Stephen ALDRICH. He was the first physician in town, and settled on the farm at present the property of W.P. MARKHAM. As the missionaries in the cause of religion, so the doctor, as a good Samaritan, made many a long and tedious journey to bring hope and comfort to the sick settler or the fever-stricken family. No night so cold, dark, and stormy but that Dr. ALDRICH would respond to the call of distress, and travel miles through the woods in snow or mud to the log cabin. He knew no difference in circumstances, and was alike the friend of both rich and poor. At the bedside his duties did not end with the prescription, but his welcome presence was given till danger was past or all was over, and kindly cheering word gave needed encouragement. Generous and active, he made but little money in his practice, yet acquired considerable property, and at his death was missed and mourned by many. His farm was subsequently owned by Joseph SHELDON. The name of Gideon HERENDEEN is associated with large land ownership and former residence in this district, where he passed his life. His son G.F. HERENDEEN now owns and resides on the old place. Elisha GARDNER was early on the farm now owned by his son S.P. GARDNER, who is now far advanced in years. Turner ALDRICH was a pioneer on lot 114, and as early as 1797 was elected to hold one of the town offices. In 1795, Ebenezer HORTON settled on lot 89, and attracted attention by claiming control of the weather. He was accustomed to dress in costume, part of which consisted of a scarlet coat, and by his incantations “make weather” of any kind desired. The older settlers tell of his driving furiously to get ahead of some passing storm. This district was not without its manufactures in the early day. TALCOTT & BATTY built an ashery near the site of the present school-house in the year 1817, but the supply of ashes failed after a few years and the business was discontinued. In 1815, Reuben HAYT put up a small tannery, worked at the business of tanning about four years, and did not make it a success. A tavern was kept at the Corners on lot 113 in the early days by John SHEFFIELD. Isaac and Aldrich CALVIN were engaged in the manufacture of hats in this locality. Save a cobbler’s shop, the place has known very little in the way of business for many years. Not far from school-house No. 7 a blacksmith named Augustus BINGHAM had a shop many years since, but finally removed to New Salem. The district is now strictly agricultural, and from the convenience of roads is favorable to attendance at the school.
District No. 12, likewise known as New Salem, is notable as the place of Farmington’s primary settlement, by Nathan COMSTOCK and his sons Otis and Darius, in 1789. His was the first white man’s cabin in the town. Besides those mentioned, four other sons came west with Mr. COMSTOCK; namely, Nathan, Jr., Jared, Joseph, and John. Jared settled back in the field, and built the house owned by A. BARNES on lot 28. He moved to Lockport about 1825, and afterwards to Michigan, where he died, in 1844. Joseph lived at the homestead till the death of his father, in 1816, and likewise moved to Lockport, where he died, in 1821. Nathan Comstock drew the timber to SMITH’s mill for the construction of the Friends’ meeting-house which burned in 1875. His son Nathan was a pioneer at Lockport, where, after a residence of many years, he died, in 1830. Darius went first to Lockport, and then to Michigan, where he became the owner of land upon which a part of Adrian City was laid off. His death occurred there in 1845. Otis, spoken of in the history of Brownsville, died in this town. Isaac HATHAWAY, Jr., son of the pioneer Isaac, located on lot 135, where his son Lorenzo now resides, at the age of sixty-eight, in good health, sound memory, and well versed in the events of former days. It was remembered that his father was engaged in cutting and piling brush upon this lot 135 at the date of the great eclipse, which supplies us with the year 1806. Work was begun upon lot 136 in 1808 by Otis HATHAWAY, brother of Isaac, Jr. Otis HATHAWAY was the founder of New Salem village, and erected therein the first store-buildings. Hugh POUND was a former owner of lots 129 and 130, and settled where Henry GREEN is living. S. PATTISON was the first proprietor No. 134. He built a saw-and a grist-mill upon the creek in 1813. Both are still in existence. Lot 138 was first settled in its northern portion by a surveyor from Adams, Massachusetts, by the name of Isaac LAPHAM. A Marylander named James BROOKS came to Farmington, and settled on No. 127, where now William WOOD lives. Slavery was then in force in this State, and Mr. BROOKS brought two chattels west with him. One of these slaves was a girl, called Cassie WATERS, who was arrested and tried for the murder of her infant child in the year 1809. The trial was had at Canandaigua, and she was sentenced to be hanged. Respites were given by the governor, and her death took place before the final time set for the execution. A successor to Mr. BROOKS was William P. SMITH, who purchased the farm and became a large land proprietor and farmer. Benjamin RICKERSON, one of the original proprietors of the town, donated a lot in this district to the Friends, but did not himself become a settler. Upon lot 136 has grown up a flourishing little village known as New Salem. It was founded and named by Otis HATHAWAY. This was quite a business place prior to the construction of the Erie canal, and in those days rejoiced in the appellation of Pumpkin Hook. The name originated with a man whose delight was to give names of this character, and was suggested by the circumstance that several families had made it a pastime to steal, or “hook,” pumpkins. A store was opened about 1810 in one of the buildings put up by HATHAWAY, and Jonathan BATTY was the keeper for about ten years. Daniel TALCOTT engaged in the same business during a like period. Dr. SMITH and Lucius DEAN carried on a drug and grocery store here till 1820, when they discontinued. Berrick BECKWITH engaged in keeping a store for the sale of drugs in 1819, but closed up soon after. Lewis LUMBARD established an axe-factory in 1825, and continued his manufacture until 1859. His business was extensive, and the LUMBARD axes were widely known through this part of the country. The long stone building, yet in use as a blacksmith-shop, was the site of the business. About 1850, Mr. LUMBARD associated with him Josiah HOLDRIDGE, and the firm continued till the date above given. George HOAG established a wagon-shop here about 1823, and continued the business nearly twenty years, and was the pioneer wagon-maker. At an early day John GILLEM came in, and built a log house and shop. This primitive shop stood but a few years, and fell a prey to the flames. It seems that the blacksmith had company, and for lack of other accommodations put the horses in the shop, and placed hay for them to eat upon the forge. The hay caught fire from the unextinguished cinders, and shop, it contents, and the horses were all consumed together. GILLEM, soon after this misfortune, removed to Canada, and was succeeded by Augustus BINGHAM. Walter WHIPPLE established an iron-foundry in 1834 or 1835, and, after two years’ experience, sold out to Randall PHETTEPLACE and Charles JENNINGS, who continued it for three years, and then closed up. Matthew WINDSOR was the pioneer shoemaker, and dates his arrival at 1817. He remained about five years. Prior to his coming itinerant shoemakers went around among the families, boarding with them, and making up their shoes. This custom was in vogue with tailors as well. WINDSOR was succeeded, in 1822, by Randall PHETTEPLACE, who carried on shoemaking until 1838. He is a present resident of the place, and has been since 1819. WATERS & COOK were the pioneer hatters, and did a good business for many years. To judge of profitable business by the number engaged in it, there was no more lucrative occupation than keeping a tavern.
The first inn-keeper of the place was Daniel ALLEN, who, in 1816, opened a house of entertainment in a building now the property of Margaret CLINTON. A man named BROWN kept about the same time where Elwood SMITH lives. A tavern stand was opened by Noah SMITH, in 1818 or ’19. The old building is yet standing, on the place where Mr. CRANDALL now lives. The residence of Thomas E. SMITH was used as a tavern by William VAN DUZEN, about the year 1821, and a number of years thereafter. Aden ARMSTRONG was one of others who were engaged in the business. At this date there is no tavern in the town, and it is a gratifying fact that there is no place in Farmington where intoxicating liquors can be had. The last hotel was purchased and closed by the society of Friends.
At an early day some enterprising person, to us unknown, built and ran a tannery, which stood south from the corners, at the forks of the road. When the road was laid through there the pits where the vats were situated were covered, and the middle of the road passed directly over the site of the old tannery.
The settlement of district No. 8 was deferred until a comparatively recent date, the lands being to a great extent low and swampy. Roads from the east intersect a single road running from New Salem mainly southward, and, branching on No. 78, eastward and to the south. Upon this road is located the school-house, and at the forks is a blacksmith-shop. John POUND and Elijah, his brother, from New Jersey, were the first farmers upon the land now owned by G.L. SHELDON. The widow EADS was an inhabitant upon the land of A. ALDRICH. Upon the same lot lived Stephen ACKLEY, who had a wagon-shop afterwards upon No. 102. The enterprise of James HOAG, a settler from New Jersey, in about 1802, near the forks of the road, on No. 78, deserves mention. At the east his business had been that of shoe-and harness-making, and arriving here, a small shop was built, and the trade continued with success. The brief chain of occupation upon No. 69 gives Calvin WHIPPLE as the pioneer. He died, and his son became the owner, and A.G. MARKHAM is the present resident.
District No. 9 is traversed by Black brook and its tributaries, suggesting pioneer efforts in the line of saw-and grist-mills. Nor are we mistaken, for Job HOWLAND, locating in 1790 on lot 50, built upon the stream a saw-mill at a very early period. HOWLAND lived upon this place, which he partially cleared up, for twenty-two years, and, dying, the land was divided so that one son, Benjamin, took the homestead, and another son, George, received the east half, which is now occupied by his widow.
The presence of apple-trees of large size, in numbers, and bearing abundantly, was a stimulus to the setting out of trees. The providence of some pioneers was manifest in their bringing with them from their distant homes apple-seeds, and planting them as their first investment in the soil. The labor was well rewarded, and later settlers, and those not so enterprising, were glad to obtain fruit, and in time became the owners of orchards themselves. Where Joseph M. BROWNING lives the first white settler was Major SMITH who had a good orchard in 1800, and furnished trees to new-comers. In 1803 he sold to Benjamin HANCE, from Maryland. HANCE brought with him four Negro slaves, and afterwards purchased another. The laws of the State allowed slavery, and the slaves were held as such for a number of years. A.C. BROWN is now living upon a farm whose original proprietor was William DILLON, of Dutchess county. DILLON made a sale, in 1808, to Marcy ALDRICH, and moved to Chapinville. Pardon ARNOLD came out from Massachusetts in 1800, during the winter, and took up his abode in a log house in the same place where now lives Martin ALDRICH. Daniel, son of Pardon ARNOLD, is a resident of the district, at the age of seventy-five. In connection with Pardon ARNOLD is told the story of the last wolf-hunt in the town. It is well known that these animals were very troublesome to the settlers, and a fierce war was waged upon them by Indian and white, and their numbers reduced to occasional stragglers. About the year 1813 one of these committed many depredations among the sheep in the eastern part of the town. A party set out during a winter’s day, and tracked the wolf to a swamp where he was surrounded. Pardon ARNOLD fired the shot which killed him, and the head being taken to Nathan PIERCE, Sr., the town supervisor, a bounty of ten dollars was received,--that being the sum then offered by the town as an inducement to hunt the “varmints.” In the year 1801, Jonathan ARCHER bought fifty acres of lot No. 69, and moved upon it. Eight years later he sold to a Jerseyman, named John WEBSTER. The land now occupied by Stephen J. SMITH was settled by his grandfather, George SMITH, in 1802; and where now W.H. GATCHEL lives, Ahez ALDRICH was an inhabitant about 1801.
District No. 11 was settled by Moses POWER, in 1798. He lived on lot No. 100, and died at the advanced age of ninety-five years. About 1805, Isaac PRICE lived upon No. 117. Simpson HARVEY and his brother Benjamin settled on No. 122 at an early day. This district, in comparison with others of the town, was late of settlement.
The record of early settlers in district No. 10 is brief as its area is limited. Peter PRATT was on lot 95, now the property of John COVER. In the north part of the same lot was Lawrence MC LOUTH, who was known as a pedagogue of the olden time for many years; nor was his information confined to a pouring in and drawing out of mental pabulum, but the physical was duly considered, and order was his first law. He had served in the war of the Revolution and held the rank of sergeant. The old soldier and school-master passed away upon the farm which had received the labor of many a day, and the place has descended to his grandson, A. MC LOUTH. Perez ANTISDALE was also a soldier of the war for Independence, and came west with those feelings of patriotism and courage which have been handed down to the citizens of this day, and won undying fame on the battle-field, and preserved what he labored to win. ANTISDALE lived on lot 74, now the possession of D. RUSH, and died there. On No. 97 an early resident was Samuel RUSH. Benjamin PETERS lived upon No. 72, where T.J. MC LOUTH resides, as early as 1790 or 1791, and, as road-master, was one of the first officers in Farmington. Peter Mc LOUTH located in 1800 on No. 49, where Mrs. OSTRANDER occupies. His sons, Lonson and Marshall, are yet residents of the town; the age of the older is now seventy-five years.
No town history is more interesting than that which treats of the formation of the machinery of local government. It is the pride of the citizen, a system of pure democracy, and lies at the threshold of republican power and permanence.
“At a town meeting held at the house of Nathan ALDRICH, in and for the town of Farmington, on the 4th of April 1797, agreeable to an act of the Court of Sessions for the county of Ontario, a meeting was opened and superintended by Phineas BATES, Esq., when the following officers were chosen: Jared COMSTOCK, supervisor; Isaac HATHAWAY, town clerk; Jonathan SMITH, Nathan PIERCE, and Otis COMSTOCK, commissioners of roads; Asa WILMARTH, John MCLOUTH, and Isaac HATHAWAY, assessors; Nathan HERENDEEN and Joseph SMITH, poor-masters; Abiatha POWERS and Sharon BOOTH, collectors; David SMITH, constable; Gilbert BUSH, Benjamin PETERS, Job HOWLAND, Welcome HERENDEEN, Turner ALDRICH, and Gideon PAYNE, path-masters, and the same as fence-viewers; Nathan HERENDEEN and Joab GILLETT, pound-masters; Joseph SMITH, sealer of weights and measures; Jacob SMITH, Jared COMSTOCK, and Joshua VAN FLEET, committee on schools.
“Voted, ten dollars for every wolf’s head that is catched and killed within the bounds of said district.
“Whereas David SMITH was voted in constable, the town has reconsidered his standing as constable for the present year. Sharon BOOTH is made constable.
“Voted, one hundred and fifty dollars to be raised to defray town charges.
“It was agreed that the town meeting should for the future be held at the house of Nathan HERENDEEN in said town.”
On April 25, 1797, the town called a special meeting and elected John MC LOUTH assessor, and Joseph SMITH poor-master and sealer of weights and measures, to fill vacancy, the others not serving.
On May 15 another meeting was held, and the people finding their self-imposed tribute too high, concluded to take off one hundred dollars from the amount voted to defray expenses.
“David GOLD produced me a wolf-scalp, which he caught in this town, with the ears thereon, which were cropped agreeable to law, January 25, 1798, which I gave him certificate for. ISAAC HATHAWAY, Town Clerk.”
The following is the verbatim report of a committee on roads: “We the commissioners of Farmington, having by public request been called upon to lay out a road, have attended to the business as follows: First, beginning at a canting oak-tree at the corner of the roads running from Joab HOWLAND’s (corner and distance here given) to Abiather POWERS’ and Gideon PAINE’s improvements; thence on the line between POWERS and said PAINE west six hundred and forty rods to the town line near Mud creek..five miles and on hundred and forty-eight rods or nearly.
“JONATHAN SMITH, “OTIS COMSTOCK, “NATHAN PIERCE, “Commissioners.”
In 1830 a committee of three persons—John LAPHAM, Welcome SMITH, and Simpson HARVEY—were appointed to locate a site for a town house. Considerable difficulty was met with in an endeavor to accomplish the object. The members of the committee being from different parts of the town, each desired to locate it nearest his section. The geographical center was in the midst of a swamp, where it could not be built. While the matter was still in dispute Mr. HARVEY died, and R. M. RUSH was appointed in his place. It was finally agreed that it should be built upon the present site, No. 65 in district No 13. A town house was erected upon this site by Theodore HAYWARD. This building, since repaired, now presents a neat and attractive appearance. It has three rooms; the front room is a place of assembly, and connects by doors to the judges’ room and the office of the town clerk.
The district of Farmington, as it was termed, originally included both Farmington and Manchester within its boundaries. The latter was taken off March 31, 1821, and was named Burt, in honor of a member of Assembly by that name. The name gave much dissatisfaction, and on April 16, 1822, the present name was given. After the town of Manchester was formed, the town meetings, with the exception of a year, were held at the barn of Wilmarth SMITH, until the town house was built in 1830. The town of Farmington was the scene of considerable excitement about 1824, in connection with the issue of a large quantity of counterfeit coin which flooded this section of country. A counterfeiter was taken at Genesee, and informed upon the others. Acting on the information that the bogus coin was made in the cellar of a house occupied by a man named BUTLER near the west line of Farmington, the county sheriff and posse came first to Victor and were guided by Thomas EMBRY, a clerk for BUSHNELL and JENKS, of Victor, to the suspected house. Leaving their team at the corner by the orchard of David SMITH, the party proceeded on foot. Arrived at the house and demanding entrance, Mrs. BUTLER, who was alone, refused to permit them to come in. They took a plow standing near, and with it, as a battering-ram, broke open the door, but the visit was fruitless. A party was left to watch the house, and in a short time it was announced that BUTLER was about, yet he eluded them. A search was now made of the house from garret to cellar, and in the latter place were found all the necessary material and implements for coining money. These were seized and taken away. BUTLER was never caught, and shortly after the descent Mrs. BUTLER was missing, and never afterwards seen. The counterfeiters’ den was formerly the residence of Calvin PAYNE, who found moulds and other tools used in the nefarious business in the bottom of a well. It is now owned by George LOOMIS, and was occupied by him prior to building his new house.
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