Gorham History 

Pub. 1911  - History

History of Ontario Co, NY & its People, Pub 1911, 

Vol 1     Pgs. 383 - 387 (incomplete)

Transcribed by Dianne Thomas



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Town of Gorham


(still to type up: pg 380 - 382,  387 - 393)


James WOOD, who was the first settler of the town of Gorham, has many descendants still living near Reed Corners, the locality where he made his home in 1789, among whom might be mentioned Clark WOOD, Mrs. Silva HARRIS, who lives on the original place, Emma WOOD and Gilbert ELWELL.

Many descendants of Silas REED, whose name is connected with the early organization of the town, are among its citizens at present. Mason REED, Mrs. M. DEAR, and Mrs. Clara SALISBURY are his great-grandchildren. John MC PHERSON came in 1798. He was an Irishman, but of Protestant faith; he was a weaver by trade and worked at his trade in this new land, being known as the Irish weaver. His son, Samuel MC PHERSON, was postmaster at Reed Corners for a number of years, and his grandson, John MC PHERSON, still lives on the original lot. Jeremiah SWART came in about the year 1800. The names of SWART and GUERNSEY are associated in the old records as town officers. In 1809, Harvey STONE came from Green county, and located a little south of Reed Corners, on lot 52. Among his descendants who are still living in this locality, are his granddaughters, Mrs. S.B. DOUGLASS and Mrs. N.B. COOK. His son, Harvey STONE, Jr., was town supervisor, 1857-59, and too a prominent part in local politics. Joseph, Levi, William, and James WILSON came from Pennsylvania and located at Wilson's corners in 1812. They bought large tracts of land, much of which is still in the possession of their descendants, among whom may be mentioned M.J. WILSON, of Rushville, and John R. WILSON, of Gorham. George W. POWELL, who is now county superintendent of highways, and Adelbert POWELL are great-grandchildren.

The pioneer on lot 59 was Thomas RUFFS, who moved into the town in 1811 and bought his farm of one Nicholas LAW for about four dollars per acre, the usual price for land at that time.

The first school-house in this district was erected in 1811, the first teachers being Mrs. Laura CLARK and Oliver BABCOCK.

In school district No. 16, known as the Russell district, there settled at an early date Nathan PRATT, who came form Halifax with his brother Elisha, in about the year 1801. The Pratt property remained in the family until a very recent date. Mary and Julia PRATT, two sisters, held a life interest in this property. They never married and lived to a good old age. The land was deeded to the PRATTS  by Nicholas LAW, a New York lawyer, who owned considerable property in this locality, but who never settled here. Charles RUSSELL is one of the early names connected with this district. Benjamin WASHBURN came from Herkimer county and took up land in lots 61 and 67, and some of his descendants are still living in this locality. Richard WASHBURN came here in 1801, and reared a family of four sons, John, Richard, Michael and Lyman, and four daughters, the most of whose lives were lived in Gorham. Mrs. James KETCHUM, a daughter, is still living at an advanced age at Rushville, and great-grandchildren are found in the families of DeForest REED and James WINNE.

Near Rushville, on the south line of town, Henry GREEN located at the early date of 1799. He came from Windsor, Massachusetts. He was the father of a larger family, members of which took a prominent part in Gorham affairs. Some of the children are now living in the town. Nathan LOOMIS came to the village of Rushville in 1815, from Connecticut. He passed through the town of Geneva during the cold season, and stopping at a house, his son, Chester, saw what he took to be a curious black box standing near the middle of the room. Never having seen anything of the kind in his section of the country, the child naturally attempted to examine its character, but upon putting fingers upon the "black box", (a stove), he speedily discovered one of its qualities and learned a useful and enduring lesson.

About the year 1805, Samuel TORREY built a blacksmith shop just north of West river, near the Presbyterian church. Several other blacksmith shops were built about this time at Reed Corners, Gorham, and in the county districts. In those early days the shop of the blacksmith was about the only manufacturing establishment in this locality. The blacksmith had to work his own iron and to make his coal or charcoal. The name of Captain HARWOOD was linked with this district as being a man of character and conviction, and when the tidings of war against Great Britain reached the neighborhood, he responded. He settled in Rushville in the year 1799. The first school was kept in the Presbyterian meeting-house. The names of Elisha PRATT and Samuel POWERS are remembered as those of early teachers.

The first prominent inhabitant of the southwest portion of the town was Christian FISHER, who located upon lot 33 in the year 1805. He lived to the extreme old age of nearly a hundred years. His daughter, Mrs. Charles FERGUSON, and his grandson, Allie FISHER, are now living on the old place. John FERGUSON came in 1813 from near Albany. The FRANCISCOS came in about 1807, and a BRIGGS family were identified with the early settlement of this section. In the year 1810, a man by the name of Aleck SHEEP lived in this neighborhood. The first school building in this district, which was built of unhewn logs, was located on what is now called the RAPPALEE farm. Abner DE VALLE and a Mr. BASCOM were two of the first teachers. The fire place was huge in size as compared with the room, and when a stove was used in its stead, it became a topic of general interest.

The recollections of each log house are interesting. The associations and games of childhood, and the peculiarities of the teacher, were indelibly impressed upon the minds of the pupils. These were the only schools available to most of the children. In the central western portion of the town, bordering on Canandaigua lake, is located the Gage school district. The first settler was Otis LINCOLN, who came from Otsego county in 1806 and located on lot 2. LINCOLN had served as a soldier in the Revolution, and when one of his sons was drafted in 1812, the old man served as his substitute. Henry LINCOLN, his son, who lived on the original property until he died in 1885, as a small boy helped to sharpen the old sword by turning the grindstone. The sword had seen service in the Revolution and was again taken to the front in defense of the country. The LINCOLN homestead is now occupied by a great-grandson of the pioneer.

In this neighborhood, lot 5, settled Southwick COLE in 1805, which made him a neighboring pioneer with the LINCOLN family. Amasa GAGE was the name of the man after whom the school district has been named. He came to the locality when it was a wilderness, with only two inhabitants between his place and Canandaigua, a distance of seven miles. He brought three children with him, and ten were born to him after settling in Gorham. Two died in infancy and eleven grew to maturity. The land which he took up is still in the possession of his descendants, and there are many of them now living in the town and are among its prosperous and successful men.

Joshua WASHBURN in 1827 bought the Cole farm, where he resided until his death in 1879. By a first wife, Christine WAGER, there were three children and by a second wife, Phoebe KETCHUM, there were seven children, all of whom grew up and were residents of Gorham. The farm is still in the possession of the family.

The streams in this locality running into the lake were used in an early day for water power. A grist-mill was built on the creek running through the COLE farm in 1815 by Henry ELLIOTT. In 1808 a tannery was build and operated for a number of years near the present school-house. This building was afterwards used for school purpose, but was soon abandoned for another building, which was later burned, following which the present school-house was erected.

Further north on the lakeshore is the DAVIS tract of about seven hundred acres, which was purchased at a very early date by William DAVIS of Philadelphia. Part of the agreement of the purchase was that the Indians should be paid a barrel of flour per acre. William DAVIS's son-in-law, Dr. HAHN, came upon the property, built the present dwelling house, and set up the practice of medicine. John and Christian FISHER, C. CARSON and John GULICK were early settlers, who rented the land of Mr. DAVIS, agreeing to pay a yearly rent of from five to seven bushels per acre for the use of the land as fast as it could be cleared. Edward DAVIS, a grandson of the original purchaser, is now owner of much of the tract.

East of this section, on what is now called the middle road, James WOOD, a son of the first pioneer at Reed Corners, built a frame house upon lot 57, in the year 1806. A man by the name of Aleck SAMPSON lived on what is now known as the James TURNER farm. On lot 58 was a man by the name of KOOMER, who was succeeded by a Mr. SACKETT, who in turn gave way for Isaac SHAW, and this property still remains in the SHAW family. Jonathan STEARNS, in 1803, settled on lot 54, and Addison, his son, and Emmit, his grandson, have been his successors up to the present time.

In about the center of the town, on lot 28,, located David PICKETT, from Oneida county, in 1820. He held office of supervisor and was a member of the Assembly. Francis HARRIS occupied lot 33 and his son and grandsons in succession have remained in possession of the old farm. The first framed house in this locality was built by Elias NEWMAN, on lot 27. The farm of A. NEWMAN on the same lot was known as the halfway place between Bethel and Reed Corners. Lot 20 was the former home of Jonathan ARNOLD. South of his home stood the first school-house to be constructed of boards and logs, making it a notable improvement over most of the early buildings. James HOGEBOOM lived in this section and was one of the early school teachers. He enjoyed the distinction of having as a pupil Martin VAN BUREN, later President of the United States.

East of Reed Corners, on lot 26, there settled at an early date a Dutch colony from Hoosic-on-the-Hudson. They moved away or have died out and few of their names can be given. Darius MINER came to this section from Seneca, in 1812. Ebenezer LEWIS came from the east prior to 1800 and settled on lot 38. Levi SORTELL too up land on lot 21, in 1810. Frederic SPAULDING was upon lot 22 at the early date of 1812. A farm on lot 23, was taken up by Nathaniel SMITH, who lived upon it until he reached the advanced aged of eighty-eight years. The first school-house was built in 1820 and Darius MINER was the first teacher. This school-house was located upon the corner opposite the De GRAFF place. William DEWITT was the local blacksmith and had a good reputation for skill and excellence as a mechanic.

James ROBSON, a native of England, took up a large tract of land in the center of Gorham in the year 1820. He had three sons, James, William and John, each of whom owned in their time large farms and were successful business men. James ROBSON, son of the pioneer, owned a farm on lot 19 containing 350 acres. William ROBSON lived on the old homestead which originally contained 800 acres. John ROBSON's farm was located on lot 27 and contained 270 acres. The family of John ROBSON consisted of seven children, James A., Jane T., Ann, Mary, Nellie (deceased), Phoebe E., and Fannie. James A. ROBSON studied law and is now a Justice of the Supreme Court in the Seventh Judicial District.

In school district No. 15, on the line of Yates county, was the BLODGETT family. Ludin was the first to come from Oneida county in 1800 and settled upon lot 17. Ephraim BLODGETT came to the same place soon afterwards. He finally moved to Canandaigua and lived to be a very old man. The GATES tavern was located in the district and had a reputation for comfort and hospitality beyond the most of such taverns at this date. The first school-house was built in 1807. Chester LOOMIS was among those who taught school in this district. Lemuel MORSE, later a justice of the peace, and a member of Assembly, was also one of the early teachers. In 1800, Richard WESTBROOK form Pennsylvania took up his residence on lot 33. James LEWIS and William BASSETT located in this district about the same time. Solomon BLODGETT in 1808 bought lot 30, which was sold in pieces to Lewis GEORGE, Samuel REED, a son of Silas, and Horatio GATES, son of Daniel. The log house put up by Lewis GEORGE was, for a time, used for a school-house. Lucy CATLIN was one of the first teachers. In 1806, the first road in this district, and one of the first in the town, was surveyed and laid out.

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