Town of Hopewell History 

History of Ontario Co, NY  

Pub 1878    pg 159 - 160


Kindly transcribed by Deborah Spencer

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In recording “passing incidents” in this town, the writer finds nothing of a startling nature.  Her people have been quiet, industrious, and progressive, whose forward movements were steady and firm as: 

“The eternal step of progress beats

To the great anthem, calm and slow,

Which God repeats.” 

They have transformed the wilderness to one of the finest and most productive tracts found within the boundaries of the Phelps and Gorham purchase. 

Hopewell originally comprised a portion of the old town of Gorham, which was organized when Ontario was set off from Montgomery, January 27, 1789.  March 29, 1822, it was erected from Gorham, and is bounded as follows:--north by Manchester, east by Phelps and Seneca, south by Gorham, and west by Canandaigua.



The fertility of the soil and the fine water-power afforded by this section attracted the attention of explorers, and as early as 1789 we find that the tide of civilization had set in, and but a few years elapsed ere the territory embraced within the present town of Hopewell was dotted here and there by the homes of sturdy pioneers, who have left an honored memory and a respected posterity.  Many of the pioneers of this town came from the State of Maryland, and prominent among them was Richard JONES, father of Hon. Amos JONES.  The latter was born in Montgomery county, Maryland, in the year 1793, and emigrated to this place with his father in 1805.  January 1, 1816, he settled on the east part of lot 26, where he now resides, at the advanced age of 83, though smart and active, and in full possession of his faculties.  He has seven children living,--Andrew J. and Amos, Jr., residing in the town; Senator John H. JONES, residing in Branch county, Michigan; Elizabeth, the wife of John COST, living in Phelps; Rebecca, widow of Lewis CHAPMAN; Susan, wife of J. J. WHITNEY; and Eva, wife of Joel A. HILL.  Mr. JONES has been one of the most eminent men in the town, and has served in many official capacities.  He was an early justice of the peace, and served for a period of 30 years.  He was judge of the Court of Common Pleas, supervisor of the town 20 years, and represented Ontario County in the Legislature for two terms.  His father was a soldier in the Revolutionary struggle, and a commissioned officer in the war of 1812. 

Nathaniel LEWIS, a prominent citizen, pioneer justice of the peace and postmaster, was an early settler on lot 72, on premises now owned by a son, John LEWIS.  Elam SMITH early settled on lot 70, and lot 68 was settled by Vimri DENSMORE and a Mr. THOMAS.  A Maryland family, named DERR, were pioneers in the eastern part of the town, on lands now owned by Mr. ESTY.  George LEVERE, also from Maryland, was the proprietor of lot 62, and lived thereon until his death, which occurred in about the year 1850.  W. BUCHAN occupies a portion of the premises originally settled by his father, Robert BUCHAN. 

Conspicuous among the pioneers in this locality was John PRICE, who located on lot 59, and cleared that portion of the lot now owned by W. A. REED.  Mr. PRICE was a prominent magistrate, and many years officiated an associate justice of the Court of Common Pleas of this county, and was on the bench with Hon. Nathaniel W. HOWELL.  A grandson of Mr. PRICE, Chauncey SPEARS, Esq., is the present keeper of the county poor-house.  A Marylander, named Daniel LEVERE, was the original proprietor of lot 61, a portion of which is now occupied by S. J. CARLOUGH.  Mr. SPANGLE came from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1811, and located on lot 63, subsequently owned by his son-in-law, Mr. WILTS, and Zachariah SPANGLE.  We record the name of another native of “Maryland, my Maryland,” John FRESHORN, who was an esteemed pioneer, locating in the eastern portion of the town, and a son, W. J. FRESHORN, resides on lot 65.  Israel THATCHER, a sturdy son of New England, a native of the “Bay State,” was a pioneer of Hopewell, locating a house on lot 67, on the premises now owned by a son, Elisha THATCHER.  John THATCHER was also an early settler on this lot.  Elam SMITH early located on lot 69, and one SKINNER on lot 71. 

Prominent among those who bade adieu to the conveniences and civilization of Massachusetts, for a home in the then western wilderness, was Major Elijah MURRAY, (a soldier of the Revolution), who emigrated from Pittsfield to this town, and located on lot 48, in the year 1798.  Two children of his are still living; a son, in Iowa, and a daughter, the wife of David W. BEACH, who resides on lot 40, a short distance south of Hopewell Centre.  Elijah ELLIS, also from Massachusetts, was a pioneer on lot 44, and owned the premises now occupied by a grandson, A. S. CHILDS.  John RUSSELL, from Massachusetts, purchased and settled on lot 44, in the year 1800; on this lot is located  Hopewell Station, on the Northern Central Railroad.  Stephen THATCHER, brother of Israel, also early located on this lot, and has two daughters residing in the town, and one in Chicago.  Lot 42 was owned by William, son of Major MURRAY. 

Connecticut, as well as Massachusetts, was also represented here by those who had turned their backs upon the “land of steady habits,” determined to carve out for themselves a home in the fertile land of the Senecas.  David W. BEACH was born in Connecticut, in 1796, and settled on lot 42, Hopewell, in 1819.  He now resides on lot 40, at the advanced age of 80 years.  He has three daughters residing in the town, viz:  Lucy Ann, wife of Hiram DEPEW; Lavina, wife of James W. CASE, and Edna, wife of James L. CONE.  Lot 40 was settled by William BODMAN, in about 1798.  Lot 38 was settled by Erastus LEONARD, Mr. CLEVELAND, Luther PORTER, and Robie PENN.  Premises now owned by H. FOSKET on lot 36, was originally settled by Samuel S. BUSH; and one KNAPP located on lands now owned by D. MANIX.  David KNAPP was an estimable pioneer of the town, and located on premises now occupied by a son, Jared KNAPP.  A Mr. MARKS early settled in this town, and a son, Walter MARKS, a prominent citizen and ex-county clerk, now resides on lot 29.  Lot 39 was settled by Joshua CASE, and Messrs. PURDY and KETCHUM.  A brother of Joshua CASE was the pioneer on lot 41, on premises now owned by David F. CASE.  Oliver BABCOCK located on lot 43, in about the year 1811, and is still living, at the advanced age of 84 years.  Wm. BABCOCK was also a pioneer on this lot.  Pioneers on lot 10 were Mr. SLY and John RICKER, the former occupying the premises now owned by W. STODDARD, and the latter by the WILSON family.  Amos KNAPP early located on lot 12, and Silas BENHAM and C. P. BUSH on lot 14.  Mr. BRUNDAGE, from Pennsylvania, was the proprietor of lots 16 and 18, and a Mr. MILES of lot 20. 

A worthy pioneer from the “Green Mountain State” was Daniel GATES, who, with a family of four children, emigrated from Vermont in 1798, and located on lot 22.  A venerable son, Mr. Joseph B. GATES, resides on the old homestead, where he was born April 28, 1802.  He has five children living, viz: Elisha L. and Mary M., residing in the town; Daniel N., in Minnesota; J. SPENCER, in Illinois, and John C., in Iowa.  Daniel WARREN, Shubeal CLARK, and Daniel GATES, Jr., were early settlers on this lot.  Pioneers on lot 47 were Frederick FOLLETT, Benj. WELLS, and John HART; a Mr. FAUROT and George CHAPIN on lot 23, and John FAUROT and Russell WARREN on lot 17.  Lot 15 was settled by Derrick COURSEN, on premises now owned by Mr. CASSORT.  Robert DAVIDSON was also an early settler on this lot, where Reuben SUTHERLAND now resides.  J. DEPUE now occupies lands originally settled by his father, Moses DEPUE.  Lot 11 was early settled by John GREGG and James MOORE; the latter was the keeper of an inn.  James BIRDSEYE was an early settler on lot 48, on premises now owned by his heirs. 

Another worthy pioneer was Edward ROOT, who settled on lot 49 in about the year 1800.  He long since passed away, leaving two estimable sons now residents of the west,--Rowland, residing in Cold Water, Michigan, and Hon. John M. ROOT, in Sandusky, Ohio.  The latter has represented his district in Congress, and is a leading attorney of the city.  The premises occupied by Mr. ROOT in this town are now owned by Thomas C. JONES, who is over 80 years of age.   In 1804 died one of the pioneers of this town, Ezekiel CRANE, who settled on lot 5.  The northern portion of lot 26, where now are located many fine farms, was purchased in about the year 1800, by a Mr. BISHOP, for the insignificant sum of 75 cents per acre.  David ALDRICH and John McCAULEY also early located on this lot, on lands now owned by Andrew J. JONES, Esq., and John CURRAN.  Amos JAMES and Amasa GILLETT were the original proprietors and settlers of lot 28.  A New Englander, named Joseph LEE, settled on lot 30 prior to 1805; one PEMBROKE and a Mr. YORK were also early settlers on this lot.  Prominent among the sons of Massachusetts that secured a home in this region was that honored pioneer, Oliver WARNER, who was the first settler in the wilds of No. 32.  Mr. WARNER was a prominent citizen, and every way well adapted to encounter the trials incident to the settlement of a new country.  He met a melancholy fate, being struck by lightning and instantly killed.  Two sons reside in the town,--Daniel D. TOMPKINS and Milton.  Industries in those early days were forwarded as far as the limited means of the pioneers would permit.  John P. HENRY, an active citizen, erected the first tannery in the town, now operated by his son, Nelson P. HENRY.  Pioneers on lot 25 were Elam CRANE, Ezra and Leonard KNAPP.  Leonard H. and Franklin, sons of Leonard, and grandsons of Ezra, reside in the town.  Early settlers on lot 27 were Mr. WOODIN and Thaddeus BENHAM.  Dennis CHAPMAN was an early and prominent settler on lot 29, on premises now owned by the widow of Lewis CHAPMAN, a son, who met a sad death, being killed by a kick from a horse in the spring of 1876.  His death fell heavily upon a large circle of relative and friends, who deeply mourned the loss of this estimable citizen. 

“There’s a divinity that shapes our ends,

Rough-hew them as we will.” 

The first fulling-mill in this town, and perhaps in the county, was erected by Elisha HIGBY, the pioneer on lot 6.  He was a highly-esteemed citizen, and an early magistrate; a daughter, wife of Evander SLY, resides in Canandaigua.  William CANFIELD was an early settler on lot 6, on lands now occupied by H. P. DARLING.  Andrew M. BUSH also early located on premises now owned by Michael FRANCISCO.  Many will remember that earnest gospel teacher of the Baptist faith, Elder Anson SHAY, who was a pioneer on lot 3.  John KELLOGG early located on lot 1.  One KNICKABACKER was the pioneer on lot 8, and lot 6 was owned by Captain CHAPIN.  Mr. BRUNDAGE, a prominent pioneer, was the proprietor of lots 16 and 18; a grandson, George BRUNDAGE, now resides on the latter.  On this lot is located the county poor-house.  Lot 50, in the northeast corner of the town, was first settled by Thomas EDMANSON and Daniel MACUBER. 

Captain Thomas DAVIS, an officer in the militia, early selected a home in this town, locating on lot 52.  Lot 54 was purchased by Rufus WARNER, who was the pioneer on lot 56, on premises now owned by Henry SHECKELL, son of Richard H. SHECKELL, Esq.  One of the first settlers in the town, a native of New England, was Apollos BAKER, a worthy pioneer, who located on lot 55 in about the year 1800.  A son, Miles, a venerable and highly-esteemed citizen, resides on the lot settled by his father, and celebrated his “golden wedding” in 1875.  This anniversary was a pleasant episode in the lives of this honored couple, and will long be remembered by those who participated in its festivities.  It is related of Mrs. BAKER, mother of Miles, that, in an early day, she was attending to her washing down by the brook, some distance from the log dwelling, and Miles, then a babe, was placed in a sap-trough, which served as a cradle.  His mother having occasion to return to the house, thought to leave the little one, as she would be absent but a moment; but something seemed to warn her against this course, and she carried the little one to the dwelling; and what was her consternation, upon returning to the place a few minutes after, at finding a huge bear prowling about the place where so short a time before the little youngster lay prattling in his sap-trough cradle!  Mr. BAKER has five sons and three daughters living.  John CHURCH was a pioneer on premises where now is located the pleasant home of R. H. SHECKELL, Esq.  Mr. SHECKELL is a prominent citizen, whose parents were pioneers in another portion of the county.  He has four children living, viz:  Cornelia, wife of Edward OSGOOD, Esq., residing in the village of Canandaigua; Hattie, wife of John HUKE; Henry and Clara, who reside in this town.  The lot now occupied by D. D. T. WARNER was first settled by Jonas WHITNEY, and lot 55 by a Mr. SPEAR, who died in 1804.  Constant BALCOM was also an early settler on this lot, on premises now owned by a son, Espenetas.  Asel BALCOM, a brother of Constant, was a pioneer on lands now owned by J. W. ARCHER.  Eben BENHAM was an early settler on lot 35, on premises now owned and occupied by John H. BENHAM, Esq., the present superintendent of the poor of this county.  Eben BENHAM, a preacher of the Methodist faith, settled on this lot, on lands now owned by A. J. HANNA; Eli BENHAM, a brother, was also a pioneer on this lot.  A New Englander, named Ezra NEWTON, early located on lot 37, where John NEWTON now resides.



Among the early educational instructors were Abel TRACY, Electa MURRY, and Nathaniel LEWIS.  The latter taught in a rude structure that stood on the turnpike near the site now occupied by the residence of E. A. CHILDS.  The pioneer school-house in the north part of the town was erected on the northeast corner of lot 26, and the first teacher in this building was Walter FITZGERALD.  Abel HOUSE and Mr. THURBER are also mentioned as early teachers.



There are four small hamlets in this town: Chapinville, Hopewell Centre, Littleville, and Hall’s Corners.  Chapinville is a station on the Auburn branch of the New York Central Railroad.  Captain Israel CHAPIN was a large landholder in this part of the town, and erected the first grist-mill at Chapinville, and from him the town derived its name.  A daughter of Captain CHAPIN, Mrs. John GREIG, resides in Canandaigua.  Hopewell Centre, in 1819, contained two hotels, one blacksmith shop, a tailor shop, and about half a dozen dwellings.  Early innkeepers were Silas ANSON and a Mr. FREDERICK.  One WOODRUFF was the pioneer blacksmith.  This village is a pleasant little hamlet of about 90 inhabitants, and contains two churches, one store, and a blacksmith and cooper shop.  The first grist-mill and saw-mill at Littleville was built by Oliver PHELPS, and in about the year 1800 was owned and operated by Edward PARKER.  Littleville and Hall’s Corners are small hamlets.



By an act of the Legislature, passed March 22, 1822, all that portion of the town of Gorham, comprising No.10 in the second range of towns in the county of Ontario, was erected into a separate town, by the name of Hopewell, and on the 9th of April following, a certified copy of the said act was presented to the town clerk of Gorham, who thereupon gave notice for a special town meeting, to be held in and for said town of Hopewell, at Murray’s inn, on the 17th day of April, 1822.  In pursuance of the above notice, the freeholders and inhabitants assembled at Murray’s inn on the said day, April 17, 1822, and made choice of the following town officials: Nathaniel LEWIS, supervisor; John PRICE, town clerk; Elisha HIGBY, George BRUNDAGE, James BIRSEYE, assessors; Joel S. HART, Erastus LARNARD, William CANFIELD, commissioners of highways; Rufus WARNER, Lemuel BABCOCK, overseers of the poor; William BUCHAN, Jason ANGEL, Joshua CASE, commissioners of common schools; Joseph MERRILL, William BODMAN, Joel AMSDEN, inspectors of common schools; Timothy DUNHAM, Hiram DILLON, William LARNARD, Joseph PARKER, constables; Walter WELLS, collector; Derrick CORSON, Joel S. HART, Henry SPANGLE, Andrew DIXON, Samuel WILBUR, Samuel S. BUSH, Asa SHAY, Leonard KNAPP, P. HUBBARD, Ezekiel ELDRIDGE, William ALLISON, Henry FAUROT, William NEFUS, James BIRDSEYE, Amasa GILLETT, Morris SUTHERLAND, overseers of the poor.  The first justices of the peace were John PRICE, Nathaniel LEWIS, Amos JONES, Elisha HIGBY. 

The present town officers are as follows: Clinton WATKINS, supervisor; Charles H. EDWARDS, town clerk; Barzel BENHAM, justice of the peace; Austin S. CHILDS, assessor; Selah PEABODY, Thomas L. BUSHFIELD, commissioners of highways; Edwin PALMER, collector; James WADSWORTH, James ACKLES, William WOOD, Spencer BENHAM, constables; H. E. WOODRUFF, Darwin McCLURE, inspectors of elections; Charles ARNOLD, game constable; G. L. ARCHER, excise commissioner; E. A. CHILDS, G. R. HENRY, town auditors.


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