Hopewell History 

History of Ontario Co, NY & its People

 Pub 1911, Vol 1   Pgs. 395 - 396

Transcribed by Dianne Thomas



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History of Ontario County & Its People

Pub. 1911, Vol. 1, pg 395-396 

On the 27th day of January 1789, after the advent of some of the earliest settlers in Ontario county, and nearly ten years since the Old Continentals under General SULLIVAN made their victorious raid against the Senecas, a district or town, according to the best information we can get, was formed and included within its boundaries all the territory now known as the towns of Gorham and Hopewell.  The district thus set off was called "Easton" but on April 19, 1806, the name, not giving very good satisfaction to many citizens of the district, was changed to Lincoln, and still later, April 6,1807, to Gorham, in honor of Nathaniel GORHAM, one of the proprietors under the Massachusetts Preemption purchase. 

The town of Hopewell, as it is now known, was set off from the old town of Gorham, on March 29, 1822 and according to the system of Phelps & Gorham surveys, as adopted at the time of their large purchase, it is known as township 10, range 2, and contains about thirty-six square miles of land.  As to the origin of the name given it on its separation from the town of Gorham, the true reason has not been satisfactorily explained.  By some it is claimed that it was in allusion to Hopewell in New Jersey, where General WASHINGTON and his officers held the famous "council of war" on the evening preceding the battle of Monmouth, while he and his army were in pursuit of Sir Henry CLINTON after his evacuation of Philadelphia, during the Revolution, but of the truth of this the writer knows not.  Others have suggested that the name adopted in 1822, for the bantling township thus set adrift upon the uncertain tide of corporation existence, embodied the good wishes of those former fellow citizens of the older town - old Gorham, and that they truly "hoped well" for the child mothered on their soil, who thus had assumed the dignity and responsibility of a separate jurisdiction among the towns of Ontario county.  But be this as it may, Hopewell is a good name, a name of which she may well fee proud, and whose history, although she boasts of no large populous villages, or long city avenues, noisy with the din of traffic, can point with pride to many a happy country home, whose doors are ever open to the demands of charity, where peace and plenty dwell, and where kind nature rewards the labors of the husbandman. 

The earliest settlers in the town of Hopewell, according to the most authentic information we have, were Daniel GATES, Daniel WARNER, Ezra PLATT, Samuel DAY, George CHAPIN, Israel CHAPIN Jr., Frederick FOLLET, Thomas SAWYER, Benjamin WELLS, and a Mr. SWEET, who came from Massachusetts, and William WYCKOFF, from Pennsylvania.  These were actually the original pioneers of the town, and as such are deserving of notice before other early settlers who came in subsequently. 

A son was born to Benjamin WELLS, and wife on February 4, 1791, who was named Benjamin WELLS Junior, who was the first white child born in this town.  William WYCKOFF was said to have been an Indian captive, captured in the Susquehanna valley by the Senecas, and brought from his home by them on their retreat before Sullivan's  army in 1779, and who on his release, after the war, settled on the site of Old Onnaghee. 

Captain Frederic FOLLET, another early pioneer, led a romantic and adventurous life during the closing years of the Revolutionary war, and by a miracle almost, after intense pain and suffering, escaped death at the hands of the Indians.  Captain Thomas SAWYER, another pioneer whom we have named, was a bold and brave officer, among the "Green Mountain boys," and rendered loyal services in the wild scenes of the Revolutionary period.  His was the first death in the present town of Manchester, which occurred on March 12, 1796, and his remains were buried in the old rural cemetery in Hopewell, on the main road leading from Canandaigua to Manchester.  Quite recently, however, at a meeting of his descendants in Ontario county and elsewhere, his remains were removed from their first resting place in Hopewell and re-interred with appropriate services in the new Pioneer cemetery in the town of Manchester, which has lately been incorporated and improved, and where sleep many of his old friends and associates of pioneer days. 

Although the pioneers, whose names I have mentioned, were undoubtedly the first settlers in the town, there came in quite early many enterprising, thrifty men of families from New England, Maryland, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, who by their advent as permanent settlers, and by their labors in subduing the wildness, helped much to improve the newly-formed township.  There is no doubt but that these also are justly entitled to the name of pioneers and to all the honor, which that name implies.  Among the names recorded at that early date, occur those of Richard JONES, Nathaniel LEWIS, Elam SMITH, Vimri DENSMORE, George LE VERE, Robert BUCHAN, John PRICE, Daniel LE VERE, John FRESHOIR, Israel, John, and Stephen THACHER, Major Elijah MURRAY, Elijah ELLIS, John BODMAN, Erastus LEONARD, Luther PORTER, Robert PENN, Samuel BUSH, Joshua CASE, John RICKER, Amos KNAPP, Silas BENHAM,  C.P. BUSH, Daniel WARREN, Shuball CLARK, John HART, John FAUROT, George CHAPIN, Russel WARREN, Dedrick COURSEN, Robert DAVIDSON, Moses DE PEW, John GREGG, James MOORE, James BIRDSEYE, Edward ROOT, Ezekiel CRANE, John MC CAULEY, David ALDRICH, Amos, Amasa, and James GILLETT, Joseph LEE, Oliver WARREN, Elam CRANE, Ezran and Leonard KNAPP, Thaddeus BENHAM,  Elisha HIGBY, William CANFIELD, Andrew BUSH, Elder Anson SHAY, John KELLOGG, Thomas EDMUNDSON, Daniel MACUMBER, Captain John DAVIS, Rufus WARNER, Apollas BAKER, John CHURCH, Jonas WHITNEY, Asel and Constant BALCOM, Eben and Eli BENHAM, Ezra NEWTON and others. 

They were men of great enterprise and thrift, upright and honorable in their dealings, with a profound respect for law and order; and by their labors soon rendered to the town a name and character that gave it an enviable reputation among its neighbors in the civil divisions of the county.  The officers chosen at its first annual town meeting, held on the 17th day of April, 1822, were men of much native ability and the names of Nathan LEWIS, it's first supervisor, Judge Amos JONES, Judge John PRICE, and many others, who occupied prominent positions in succeeding town administrations, reflected much honor upon the town and are to this day most lovingly remembered for their zeal, their sound judgment, and unselfish efforts in an official capacity, for all the people of the town during many long years of service. 

As it has been before remarked in the course of this humble sketch, Hopewell was typically an agricultural town, and most of its citizens were tillers of the soil, hence its manufacturing interests were of no great extent, nor was much capital invested therein.  In an early day, Jonas WHITNEY, who was the owner of a large tract of fine farming and timbered land, built a saw mill on Fall brook, Dennie CHAPMAN being the millwright, and a little lower down on the same stream, Henry JONES erected a saw mill that was run for several years, while yet another saw mill, higher up the stream, nearly east of Hopewell Center, was owned and operated for many years by George DERR.  


  HTML by Dianne Thomas

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