Gorham Village History
History of Ontario Co, NY, Pub 1878
Transcribed by Dianne Thomas
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GORHAM VILLAGE formerly known as Bethel, is situated near the eastern limits of the town, upon Flint creek, which, from its fine water privileges, afford considerable manufacturing facilities. About 1856, the name of the village was changed to its present cognomen.
Lot No. 5, upon which the village now stands, was taken up by Thomas HALSTEAD, in the year 1800. About that date he erected the first tavern of the town, a rude log structure, on the site now occupied as the Baptist parsonage lot.
The first effort made to utilize the water-power was by Levi BENTON, a millwright, who erected, at a very early day, the first grist-mill within the present limits of the village. It was in operation until destroyed by fire in 1868. Soon after 1808, the first saw-mill was built by a Mr. CRAFT, and called the "Craft Mill".
The first store was kept by Joseph PALMER, who commenced business as early as 1808, and was followed in 1816 by Perry G. HOLLETT. The latter was succeeded by George D. and Samuel STEWART, who erected the first business block, in 1822. Joseph PALMER, named above, was also the pioneer preacher. Armstrong TOMPKINS was one of the first, if not the first, to use hammer and forge, - dating from the year 1814. Doctor COFFIN was the first physician, followed by Doctor DEAN in 1819. The first frame school-house, erected in 1815, is still standing, and used as a cooper-shop. The same year land was purchased for a cemetery, which was subsequently organized. The first church (Methodist) was built in 1828; the Presbyterian and Baptist churches erected in 1842-43. The first brick building was a block of stores commenced in 1868 and finished in 1870, by Cook & Thompson.
The business interests of today are represented by the following: general merchant, William PULVER; druggists, G.B. COOK (present postmaster), Phillips & Montgomery; hardware, E.C. PAYNE & Co.; boots and shoes, F.D. DICKERSON; hotel, J. E. MC LOUD; harness-shop two carriage-manufactories millenary establishments, meat-market, etc. A large grist-mill, the property of the "Gorham Mill Co."; a stave and barrel factory, Stokoe & Koehler; saw and turning mill, Stokoe & Wilson, which are quite extensive. Considerable progress has been made in manufacturing.
The present school-building was erected in 1874, at a cost of two thousand four hundred dollars; the two departments accommodate eighty pupils.
In 1868, a fire, which consumed nineteen buildings, destroyed the business part of the place, the effects of which were felt for years, but the village has again become prosperous. Population above three hundred.
In the north part of Gorham the land is comparatively level, and produce a fair yield of winter nad spring wheat, potatoes, hay and apples. The southern section is more hilly. The southwestern portion, known as Vine Valley, is especially adapted to the cultivation of the grape. The hills in this section have a southern exposure, with favorable soil, and many vineyards are already planted upon them. The orchards upon the various farms are of fine character and the production of fruit tends toward becoming a leading interest. A railroad is in process of constriction across the southern portion of the town. When it is completed the prosperity of the region will be greatly enhanced. The scenery of Gorham, especially in the southern portion is very attractive. A road along the lakeshore offers one of the most delightful drives in this section of the State. In morals, enterprise, and intelligence, the population compare favorably with other towns. Her patriotism is attested by the record in the Civil War; and a hospitality is manifested towards the stranger which speaks well for liberality. It is notable, and shown by history, that the stability of a state, and especially of a republic, depends upon the character of her yeomanry. The people are quiet and industrious, while energetic and prosperous. The same elements contribute to preserve what the pioneer nad soldier labored and fought to subdue and retain. The patience and perseverance which cleared the lands, formed societies and erected churches, which established schools and conducted town meetings, which bridged streams and constructed roads, is still at work in a less obvious but full as powerful a direction. The area of the town is 29,916 acres, of which three fourths is improved. The population of Gorham in 1800, then large of area, was 476. The census of 1875 gives a total of 2,428.
Gorham is constituted in 16 districts, with 14 schools. The number of children between 5 and 21 in 1875, was 755. Twenty six teachers were licensed, of whom 8 were male. The schools were attended by 488 children. There are 13 schoolhouses, 9 frame, 3 brick and 1 stone. Value of schoolhouses and sites, $3,880. Valuation of property, $663,750. The receipts and disbursements are thus shown: On hand, October 1, 1874, $4,399; amount apportioned, $1,539.01; raised by tax, $1,976.65; payments to teachers board, $376; other sources, $171.87; teachers wages, $3,406.60; for school apparatus, $12.65; school houses and sundries, $225.25; incidental, $358.56; total, $4107.52; on hand, October 1, 1875, $107.36. The educational system is well established and in full operation; with the interest of the people, rests its success.
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