History of Ontario Co, NY & its People
Pub 1911, Vol 1
Pgs. 425 - 440
Transcribed by Dianne Thomas
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The Town of Naples
Beautifully Located Amid the Hills of Southern Ontario - Original Purchase of the Township Disappointed through an Error of the Conveyancing Clerk - The Indian Village of Nundawao- First White Settlers - The Building of Churches and Schools - Grape Growing a Leading Industry. By William R. Marks
The township and village of Naples, the subject of this sketch, is situated on the Middlesex branch of the Lehigh Valley railroad, 24 miles south of the county seat and 4 miles from the head of Canandaigua lake. A State road leads to the lake. The township embraces the extreme south portion of the county and the counties of Livingston, Steuben and Yates, forms a portion of the boundary. In early days it was know as Watkinstown, later on as Middletown, because of the fact that it was about half way between Bath and Canandaigua, at that time the two most important settlements in Western New York.
The incorporated village of Naples is beautifully located in a valley surrounded by picturesque hills. Travelers say that the scenery about here rivals some of that to be found in the old world. The population according to the 1910 census is as follows: "The village, 1,093; the township, including the village, 2,340. This shows a small loss as compared with a previous census. There has however been a increase of business and a number of houses and places of business have been erected. There is little manufacturing, the people being engaged in agricultural and horticultural pursuits. The outside lands are largely hills and valleys, very rough in places. The soil in most places is productive, and the tillers of the soil thoroughly understand their business. For this reason a majority of the inhabitants are prosperous. Most of them are owners of real estate. The village has always been a trade center and has always enjoyed a large patronage from the adjoining towns. This has been largely increased since 1892 when the railroad was built.
The township in politics is strongly Republican. The village, which was incorporated in 1894, has always been conducted on non-partisan lines and the broad and liberal spirit manifested has been for the best interests of the entire community. Especially is this noticeable in the general condition of the streets and side walks. It is estimated that there are fully 12 miles of cement walks within the village limits, one half of the cost having been borne by the village government. To the enterprise of the town is due the fact that ht has a beautiful town hall, built of brick, which was erected in 1872. Included and adjoining this is a beautifully part. A gravity water system owned by the village was built in 1895. This at all times affords an abundant supply of pure and wholesome water. There is also a village hall, in which are located the village officers, the fire and police departments. The Morgan Hook and Ladder Co. was organized in 1884 and is well equipped. A State road has been ordered which will traverse the whole of Main street. Natural gas has been located in the village and is largely used in lighting the stores, hotels, churches, etc. A fine school system has been maintained for many years, making this a desirable locality in which to locate homes.
The village has in its midst several secret or fraternal societies, among which may be found Masons, Odd Fellows, Maccabees, Woodmen, Grange and D.O.H., the German Society. There is also a Grand Army post and Sons of Veterans, the former named after the late Capt. A. a. BINGHAM, and the latter aft Col. Will W. CLARK.
The wine business has become a large factor. D. H. MAXFIELD and Jacob WIDMER have very fine establishments of this kind and have a large demand for their products. The Graf wine cellars, outside of the village, have a fine reputation for the excellence of their vintage. It can be truly said that the native wines manufactured here cannot be excel'ed in this country.
Naples has perhaps as fine a post office of the third class as can be found in the State. Its popular postmaster, F. W. JAMES, Esq., has been at the head of this department for many years and the services rendered are first class in every respect. This office is a distributing point and the R.F.D system leads in all directions. Mr. JAMES has recently entered on his 5th term as postmaster.
The two banking houses, D.H. MAXFIELD, know as the Hiram Maxfield Bank, and that of G.R. Grandby & Son, would be a credit to any town. They have abundant capital and each does a large business. No better banking facilities can be found in much larger towns.
Two well equipped printing offices are to be found: the Naples Record (founded by the late Simeon Lyon DEYO in 1870), J. S. TELLIER, proprietor, and the Naples News, George T. Morey & Co., proprietors, established in 1898 by J. D. CAMPBELL.
There are four village churches, all well sustained. Three of them have resident pastors and parsonages which would be a credit in any community. They are the Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist and Roman Catholic. Two of the churches have beautiful pipe organs that are operated by water motors.
The population prior to 1864 was largely native. The grape industry added a large German population and their coming has been of great advantage to the town in population and wealth. It is not the size of the population so much as it is the general character of the citizens which has made this town and village what they are.
It is said that the cemeteries of a community are a good indication of the population. If this be true, a visit to either of the village cemeteries would prove the truth of the assertion and also add much to the town's credit. Fair View, (the old cemetery), is situated in the lower part of the village and was first established by the Indians and later was used as a burial place by our first settlers. It has ceased to be a general place of burial, but is well cared for. Here is located the monument for the first settlers. Rose Ridge cemetery, located on the hill west of the village, was first opened by the late B. K. LYON in the year 1854. The first burial was that of the wide of Willard PORTER. It now contains the bodies of more persons than reside in the village. It is beautifully kept under the care of a corporation founded in 1883. It contains the bodies of 45 veterans of the Civil war. Additions to the grounds are being made from time to time. A public vault has been recently added. The late William MARKS did much in his lifetime to beautify these grounds.
Early History of the Town
Much of the early history of the town has been preserved in the annals of S. h. SUTTON, Esq., who was one of its most valuable and useful citizens. The late Jane MILLS left a valuable history which has never been published. Former citizens, like E. B. POTTLE, M. H. CLARK, Noah T. CLARKE, and Rev. J. C. MORGAN, were contributors in their time. D. D. LUTHER, Esq., now living, has recently written a valuable Indian history which has been copied to some extent, by the writer.
The early history of the town reads very much like a romance. Soon after the close of the Revolutionary War, a company of men, several of whom had seen service in that conflict, and who then resided in the State of Massachusetts, decided to seek homes in Western New York, then a wilderness. In the year 1789, a public meeting was held in Partridgeville, Massachusetts, and a company of 60 was formed from the towns of Dalton, Pittsfield and Partridgeville, for the purpose of purchasing a township of land from Phelps and Gorham to be located somewhere in the Genesee country.
Subsequently a meeting was held with William CLARK as chairman and a committee of 11 was chosen consisting of William CLARK, Nathan, WATKINS, William WATKINS, Edward KIBBE, Nathan HIBBARD, E. BURNHAM, Dennison ROBINSON, Thomas ROBINSON, William CADY, James HARRIS and Ephraim CLEVELAND. This committee selected from their number, Edward KIBBE, Nathan WATKINS and William CADY, who were to proceed to the Genesee valley for the purpose of selecting and making such a purchase. This committee proceeded via the Mohawk and after a 3 weeks journey following the Indian trail, they arrived at Canandaigua, where they found an Indian village situated at the food of the lake. Taking an Indian trail they explored and examined township No. 9, the present town of Gorham. This they decided to purchase. They however, were too free with their talk to a stranger and much to their surprise found he had purchased the same while they were at breakfast. They were finally persuaded to purchase township No. 7, now Richmond and returned to their homes. Through an error of the conveyancing clerk, or through fraud on the part of the land office, they were given instead a deed for the present town of Naples, then considered a barren, mountainous region.
The deed conveys township No. 7, being 6 miles north and south, five and one half miles east and west, containing 21, 120 acres. The price paid, 1,056 pounds, or twelve cents per acre. In the transaction the committee had lost 2 of the best townships of land in Ontario county.
The following summer surveyors were set to work. They decided to survey the town into 16 ranges, north and south, numbering from the east to the west line, each range to contain 13 lots, and each lot to contain 108 acres. Through an error on the part of the surveyor, a strip of land was left 8 rods wide running through the whole length of the town, and this is known as "the 8th rod way". The surveyors found the same in running the west line and this is known as the "16th rod way". This in time caused much discussion and some lawsuits. After finishing the survey 15 of the best lots were selected and then subdivided into setting lots of 27 acres, making sixty lots, one to each member of the company. It may be of interest to note the fact that the plain where the larger part of the village is located was at that time considered nearly worthless as a settling lot.
After these surveys were made, a division was made by lot and titles perfected by quit claim deed. Imperfect titles grew out of these transactions which caused more or less litigation.
The Indian Village
Here it might be of interest to note the condition of things in the valley as they existed at the time of the arrival of the settlers. It was and now doubt had been an ideal locality for the Indians. Mr. LUTHER quotes Miss MILLS as saying that the Indian name was Nundawan. There resided here in the valley at that time from 30 to 40 families, embracing about 100 souls, and from the contiguity of ancient fortifications it may be presumed that these natives had been lords of the soil for generations. The chief HIOTONTA was of gigantic stature and graceful manners and there was another chief of great age, tall and venerable, named CANESQUE. PARRISH says the lofty hills on either side were destitute of timber. I am inclined to doubt this statement, for the reason that so much and such large timber as has since been gathered and is still be to found, could not have grown in so short a period of time. The Indians cultivated a large portion of the land along the creek. The flats were interspersed with patches of wild plums and the dry land spar4sely covered with back walnut and sugar maple trees.
This must have been a ideal home for Indians because of the fact that the streams were filled with fish and the adjoining hills contained a plentiful supply of game. The land was very productive and easily cultivated. The lake was not far away and they were remote from unfriendly tribes. Although they had surrendered all claim to the land, they had reserved the right to hunt and fish for 20 years and many of them remained for years thereafter. So late as 1826, some were still lingering in this locality. The first person to die after the coming of the setters was the old Indian chief of Canesque, who was brought back from Squakis hill near the Genesee river on a sled by two Indians. He was ding of old and and wished to die and be buried in this valley.
The First White Settlers
Samuel, Reuben, and Levi PARRISH were the first settlers to come with their families. They came in the dead of winter with ox teams up the lake and inlet. The lake and streams were frozen at that time. They were entertained upon their arrival at a wigwam and their teams were turned out to feed in the tall dry grass then growing in the valley. The first house was erected by Samuel PARRISH. It was a log cabin, 16 by 18, covered with oak stakes confined under the weight of long poles, and the sled box was its door. This building seems to have been located on the WATKINS lot, not far from where the railroad crosses Main street. Levi PARRISH built the next house and this was located north of the present Lorenzo CLARK house.
March or April following, John JOHNSON, Nathan WATKINS, William
WATKINS, Jonathan LEE and William CLARK came, and with
them brought a portion of their families, thirty in all.
Their arrival brought great joy to those who had preceded
them. The third house
was erected by Nathan WATKINS.
It was built of logs, 24 by 24, and was located on ground
where the Ephraim CLEVELAND barn now stands.
It served as a temporary abode for many of the first
settlers. Here Miss
Susanna PARRISH taught the first school in the summer of 1792.
Here Rev. Zadoc HUNN, of Bristol, preached the first
William CLARK, and his daughters, with Isaac and Stephen
WATKINS, seem to have been the first choir.
About this time Captain Nathan WATKINS built a house
a little north of the old Cleveland house.
This house was the first tavern in Naples.
the first summer the settlers suffered from the want of bread
stuff. No mill was
nearer than thirty miles. For
the purpose of grinding they erected a mortar made by burning out
the hollow of an oak stump. In
this they patterned after the Indians.
Benjamin CLARK built the first saw mill and at this
time dug the race which leads from the Grimes gully to where the
Napes and Ontario mills now stand.
Jabez METCALF was a partner in this undertaking.
This was a great event, for it was the first sawmill to be
erected in the Genesee country.
built the first frame barn on the C. S. WILLIAMS lot.
The nails used in this structure were brought from
Massachusetts and cost fifty cents per pound.
In the autumn of 1793, Doctor WILLIAMS, a missionary
from Newton, now Elmira, preached the second sermon in this new
barn. The second
school was taught in the winter of 1793.
The teacher was Doctor Thompson MAXWELL and he was
the first practicing physician in the settlement.
with some of his family and others arrived about this time.
Many comprising the company of sixty came, but were so
disappointed in the general appearance of the township that they
left in disgust and never returned, selling their rights for
little or nothing. Sometimes
who lots were sold for a dollar apiece, other lots were never
claimed, hence the origin of unknown lands and disputed titles.
first death was that of the old Indian chief of whom I have spoken
This season seems to have been a hard one on the settles
and they were in sore stress for provisions and were obligated to
subsist on boiled greens and wild game that the Indians supplied.
Elder GOODSELL, of Baptist Hill, preached one sermon
each Sunday. Rushville
at this time was known as Augusta, there being a small settlement
at that point, also one at Honeoye and another at Cohocton.
first wedding was that of Benjamin CLARK to Thankful
WATKINS and the first white child to be born was Phineas T.
LEE. The writer visited him in Athens, Michigan, in the fall of
1864. Some of his
descendants still reside at that place.
The second marriage was that of Elisha PARRISH to Louise
WILDER, of Bristol, Colonel CLARK officiated at this
PHILIPPE, afterwards King of France, visited the valley the
same years and stayed at the house of Jabez METCALF.
first town meeting was held on April 5, 1796, and resulted in the
election of William CLARK, supervisor; Joel WATKINS,
town clerk; Jabez METCALF, Edward KIBBE, and Edward LANE,
assessors; Nathan WATKINS, William DUNTON, Elijah CLARK,
commissioners of highways; Captain William WATKINS, Captain E.
CLEVELAND and Robert WILEY, poor-masters; Elisha
PARRISH, constable; Louis PARRISH, Reuben PARRISH,
John WEAVER, Isaac POST, path masters; John JOHNSON, Benjamin
HARDIN, Isaac WHITNEY, fence viewers; Jabez METCALF,
pound master. The town
at this time seems to have stood in need of poor masters more than
1796, Benjamin CLARK built a grist mill a little below
where the Ontario mill now stands.
The mill was 30 by 40 and the raising day was a great
event. The people
gathered from far and near, even the women assisting in raising
the ponderous frame. The
mill stones were brought from Wyoming, Pennsylvania, with great
yokes of oxen were employed and it was necessary to cut a road
nearly all the way through the forest.
This mill cost about $1,000 and would grind sixty bushels
of grain in twenty-four hours.
There was great rejoicing among the people when it was
completed, for prior to this time, they had been obliged to go
long distances for their grinding.
For seven years there were no roads for teams leading out
of the settlement.
1797 the first schoolhouse was built on the square and this was
afterwards known as the town house.
I think this building was the one destroyed by fire in
recent years. It was
two stories in height. The
first store was run by a Hollander named HESELGUESSER and
was located on the flats near the brick house or SIMONS
farm. Land on the
flats was worth one dollar per acre and the hills were practically
worthless. The hill
lands were traded for pork, rum and tavern bills.
winter of 1797-98 was noted for depth of snow.
The Indians could not hunt even with snowshoes and were in
great distress. Had
they not been supplied by the settlers, they must have starved.
In 1798, the Indians held a great festival. They assembled from a great distance, all dressed in their
neatest attire. A
large fire was built near the Erastus HAMLIN house.
The Indians stood in small groups. The squaws sitting on
the ground, the papooses lashed to boards set up against the
trees. At a given signal they danced about he fire, beating small
drums and singing in a loud monotonous tone.
This gathering must have been about the last general
gathering of the Indians in this valley.
It was a large gathering and attracted the attention of the
In 1808 the name of the town was changed to Naples. There can be no doubt that he settlement had grown in point of numbers and influence. In 1815 and 1816 portions of the town were set off into Italy and Springwater.
The people who had gathered here at that time were necessarily confined to their own home associates. Communication with the outside world was difficult. There were few roads and these were difficult to travel. The people were primitive in their ways and their wants were few. Most of them lived in log houses without glass windows, ill fitted to exclude the cold. Had it not been for the roaring log fires kept up during the winter the inmates must have suffered. Wood and timber was very abundant then and for many years thereafter. The family utensils were clumsy; homespun clothing, course but durable. A special suit was provided for the Sabbath. In winter they wore shoes and leggins. Boots were rare and would last many years. In summer the men generally went barefooted and so did the women and children. Carpets, sofas, and pianos were unknown. Teas and coffee were scarcely obtainable. Oysters, ice cream and cigars were unknown. They spun the cloth and made their own garments.
The people seem to have been without a church building prior to the year 1825. Then the new Congregational church was dedicated. It was located on the old square and in front of the cemetery. It was a fine building nad a source of pride to all. It was used as a church for many years, first by the Congregationalists and afterwards by the Wesleyans. It stood idle for a number of years and was torn down in 1870 or 1871. The village grew to the south. Land was cheaper and mills and hotels had been built in that locality. The Presbyterian church an outgrowth of this old Congregational society, built its first house of worship in 1850. This was burned in March 1874, but soon afterwards was replaced by the building now in use. The Baptist people had organized in 1842. A church building was erected soon after. That building now forms a portion of the Alfred Griswold shop. The present edifice was erected in 1855. The Methodist society was formed and a church built on the present site about 1830. In 1851 a new church was built and in 1880 a new brick church was built on the site of the old one, which was torn down. The first church now forms a part of old Independence Hall, the Loveland Mill and this is about to become the new Grange Hall.
The Roman Catholics have a nice church located on Tobey street and it was erected in 1882. All of these churches are in a flourishing condition. Rev. J. MOSS is the pastor of the Methodist church, Rev. H. H. FRANCE that of the Presbyterian and Rev. S. T. HARDING , that of the Baptist. The Catholic church has no resident priest. For many years there was a church known as the Christian church, with a resident pastor, but it has cesed to exist and the church property has been converted to other uses.
Prior to the building of the Christian Church there was no public hall. When this church was built the basement was known as the Hall of Science, and here nearly all entertainments of all kinds were held. It was here the SABINS land suit was tried with Hon. William H. SEWARD as one of the counsel. This created great excitement at the time. This hall gave way in 1861 to the Marks or Independence Hall and that in turn gave place to the new Memorial hall.
During all this time the village steadily grew to the southward. Alanson WATKINS had erected a grist mill building below Myron CLEVELAND's house, but it was never used as such and was destroyed by fire in 1862 or '63., while in use by the first wine company. Grist mills, carding mills, saw mills, chain factory, tanneries were built, and additional hotels and places of business were completed and occupied.
Simeon LYON seems to have been the leading spirit in these enterprises. He raised a large family, some of whose descendants still reside here. The town had spread out in each direction and school districts had been formed, farms cleared and settled. Large families were the rule and not the exception. I have before given the names of some of the settlers.
There were many others and I note those as furnished by Mr. SUTTON. These were known as pioneers: James LEE, Richard HOOKER, John SIBHART, William JAMES, Asa PERRY, Paul GRIMES, Guy HINCKLEY, E. STILES, Rev. Thomas PECK, John POWERS, Seymour GILLETT, Peter WHITNEY, William OAKLEY, Amaziah CORNELL, Nathan TYLER, Abijah SHAW, Israel MEADS, Zaccheus BARBER, Oliver TENNEY, Lemuel BARBER, John BARBER, Abraham and John SUTTON, Samuel SHAW, Jacob DAGGET, Nathan CLARK, Russell PARRISH, Aaron HUNT, Jacob HOLDREN, Jonas BELKNAP, Gail WASHBURN, William SULLIVAN, Stephen GARLINGHOUSE, Jesse PECK, Mr. TALLMAN, William WEST Sr., Joseph GRANT, Isaac WHITNEY, Benjamin CLARK, Simeon LYON, Stephen STOREY, Doctor NEWCOMB, Isaac SUTTON, Thomas BLODGETT, John BLODGETT, Thomas BENTLEY, William BUSH, David FLETCHER, Alanson LYON, Elisha SUTTON, Charles WILCOX; Bushnell CLEVELAND, Uriah DAVIDS, David CARRIET, Pitts PARKER, Ichabod GREEN, Samuel STANCLIFF, John CRONK, Ithamer CARRIER, Michael KEITH, Reuben PARRISH, Peabody KINNE, Robert WILEY, Nathan WATKINS, William WATKINS, John HINCKLEY, Nathan GOODELL, Ami BAKER, Joshua LYON, Joseph BATTLES, Hiram and Stephen SAYLES. These men settled up the town in every direction and laid the foundation for the prosperity which has followed their efforts.
The War History
Many of the first settlers had, as I have before stated, seen service in the War of the Revolution. it is worthy of note that this town furnished a company to help guard the frontier in 1812-14. The military spirit was never suffered to become dormant. They had the custody for many years of the only cannon in the county. Military titles were quite common. General trainings were here observed with great pomp. In 1855, Captain A. A. BINGHAM formed what was known as the Ontario Light Guards. The company was beautifully equipped and had one of the best martial bands to be found in Western New York. Their beautiful silk flag is still preserved by the G.A.R. post. This company was the pride of the town and was disbanded at the commencement of the Civil war. Many of its members took part in that war and several gained distinction in the service of their country. A few members still survive. Nearly all lie buried in Rose Ridge Cemetery, Captain (M.W.) BINGHAM with the others.
More than 200 soldiers from this town saw service in in the War of the Rebellion. No town in the country can show a better record. There still remains a flourishing Grand Army post and also a Sons of Veterans organization. Decoration day (later called Memorial Day, in May) is always properly observed here. A Memorial town hall was erected in 1872 in honor of these gallant men. This building and its well kept ground are a credit to the place. Some of our citizens participated in the drafts that were made in 1863 and 1865.
One of the first duties performed by the early settlers was the building of a schoolhouse, as before stated. Prior to the erection of the Academy in 1860, the general education of the masses was obtained in the district schools. Three of these were located in the village proper. The others were in the various districts about the town. There were select schools in and about the village and they were presided over by such teachers as L. G. THRALL, Wells HURLBURT, John M. NICHOLS, Seth BAKER, Susan KILPATRICK, Jane MILLS, Sarah PARKINSON and others who were noted in their time. The district schools were maintained by a rate bill.
A movement was started in 1857 or 1859 to build a Union school. This movement was met with much opposition and was soon abandoned, being in advance of the time. A number of public spirited men soon after banded together and built the Academy in 1860 and its doors were first opened to students in the fall of 1861. The laying of the corner stone of this institution was one of the greatest events in the history of the town. It was the first brick building ever erected in the town. Its first principal was M. M. MERRILL, who served in this capacity for 5 years and was followed by Prof. Charles JACOBUS, P.V.N. MYERS, Prof. FARMER, David THRALL, BUGBEE, SPRAGUE and others who became prominent in the educational world. A few years ago, in 1897, the Academy was merged into a Union school and this with the 3 district schools embrace the school system of the village. The school in question has at all times been a success and many of its former students have become noted in the outside world as teachers, preachers and men and women engaged in the various professions. The annual Naples gathering in New York city is a witness of this fact. Already 8 of these have been held.
Literary Attainments and Music
The town has always been more or less interested in literature and music. As early as 1831, there was a public lyceum and some of the early history was obtained from its records. This must have been maintained for years. It was in existence during all the Civil War and for years thereafter. In 1872 it was still in existence. This gave place to the Webster Club which was maintained for a few years. The Academy has two literary societies, one for each of the sexes. The Union school enjoys a fine library, the gift of the family of the late Hiram MAXFIELD. This place was the home of much musical talent. The people have excelled in this direction. Naples was the home of the DEYO, PIERCE and SUTTON families, who were wonders in their days as singers and musicians. All of the principal homes have musical instruments of some kind nad there is no lack of talent in this direction.
In the halls of legislation, both at Washington and at Albany, has this town been honored. Lorenzo CLARK, E. W. CLEVELAND, E. P. POTTLE, S. H. TORREY, Cyrillo S. LINCOLN, Hiram MAXFIELD, E. P. BABCOCK, and George B. HEMENWAY, all of Naples, have served the county in this direction. Others of her citizens have been honored in county offices. Noah T. CLARKE was born here and became prominent as an educator. Hon. Myron H. CLARK, the only Governor of the State furnished by Ontario county, was born and grew to manhood in this village. His brother, Stephen W. CARK, the author of Clark's grammar, resided here in his childhood and early manhood, and their parents (Maj. Joseph & Mary CLARK) are buried here in the old cemetery. Rev. Henry Webb JOHNSON, a noted Presbyterian divine, was a native of the village. Many of her citizens have held public office and some of them have gained distinction in their chosen professions.
I have before spoken of the Record and the News. A little more of the history of the Naples Record might be of interest. It was started in the basement of the Griswold mill on a job press by the late S. L. DEYO and Doctor C. h. JOHNSON. Doctor JOHNSON soon retired and Mr. DEYO became sole proprietor. He enlarged the the paper, erected a building for its use, and continued its publication until February 1, 1873, when he sold a half interest to R. M. MC JANNETT and continued that relation until July 1877, when Mr. MC JANNETT sold his interest to Mr. DEYO. Miles A. DAVIS was its editor for a time under a lease. It afterwards became the property of R. M. MC JANNETT, who continued its publication until 1884. Mr. DEYO also established the Neapolitan in 1880. These two publications were merged in February 1884, under the name of the Neapolitan Record. October 1st, 1887, J. S. TELLIER purchased the paper and has since continued its publication as the Naples Record.
Prior to these publications there had been other papers established. These were in advance of the times and for lack of support, soon ceased to exist. The Free Press was established by Charles P. WATERMAN in 1833. Another known as the Neapolitan was established by David FAIRCHILD in 1840. This was afterwards changed to the Naples Visitor. R. DENTON published the Naples Journal in 1853 and I think there was still another paper published for a short time in 1858 or 1859.
The Anti-Slavery Movement
There was quite a strong anti-slavery movement in the town and village for some years preceding the war. Many meetings along this line were held here and what is known as an underground station existed. The late William MARKS was prominent as a leader here and many fugitive slaves were entertained at his home. The old hearse, now the property of Supervisor J. H. TOZER, had a part in these missions. The town was strongly Republican in sentiment, but few there were who were willing to be known as abolitionists.
The Grape Industry
The culture of grapes has long been one of the leading industries and it has become a large one. Early in the 1850's, Edward A. MCKAY, a lawyer of the village, set 160 vines of the Isabella variety. He had trouble in marketing them in New York and Boston, but in Montreal, Canada, he was enabled to obtain a large price. His success was soon followed by others and lands that were held at low value advanced very rapidly in price. This industry was the means of bringing to the place our German population and today they and their descendants are among our best citizens. The railroad, completed in 1892, has added much to the prosperity and today the town ranks among the best as a market center.
Naples Union Agricultural Society
For many ears an annual fair was maintained. The present society was organized in 1886 and from its inception has been a grand success. The annual attendance is very large and the liberal spirit displayed towards exhibitors insures at all times a large display in every department. The by-laws provide that a new president shall be selected from its stockholders each year. The grounds are large and well kept and the buildings are amply suited for the purpose intended. This institution prides itself in the fact that it has at all times paid its premiums in full, regardless of weather conditions.
Town and Village Officials
The present town officials are as follows: Supervisor, J. H. TOZER; clerk, Ernest GOODRICH; justices, J. T. KENFIELD, J. H. HUNTINGTON, George A. BOLLES, D. J. DOUGHTY; superintendent of highways, A. J. WALKER; collector, Frank POTTER; assessors, John GOUNDRY, J. C. BOLLES, F. D. YAW; overseer of poor, Levi G. STRONG; constables. Nelson HUNT, C. E. CORNISH, F. G. PIERCE, Frank CORNISH, Charles BRIGGS.
Former representatives of the town in the Board of Supervisors that are living, as follows: E. A. HAMLIN, George R. GRANBY, E. A. GRISWOLD, D. J. DOUGHTY, J. E. LYON, G. B. HEMENWAY, C. L. LEWIS
The present village officers are as follows: President, A. M. BLAKE; clerk, C. E. KOBY, trustees, M. M. WHEELER and D. J. DOUGHTY; treasurer, J. Gordon LEWIS; collector, A. J. FRIES; street commissioner, J. E. LYON
Past and Present Conditions
For many years the town was without a railroad or telegraph. Telephones were unknown. All the products raised were carted in and out of the town by teams. Stage lines carried the passengers. The merchants kept general stores and several of them maintained lumber yards as well. There were many shoemakers residing in the place, for nearly all the footwear for men, women and children was manufactured here. There were tailors in plenty. The milling interests were large, there being at the time no less than 4 well conducted flouring mills. Several saw mills had been erected in and about the country districts. A carding mill was in full blast, because of the fact that many of the ladies understood the art of spinning and nearly all, old and young, could knit their own stockings The fuel was wood and the light for many years was that of whale oil and candles. Even bed springs were unknown. The people were highly intelligent and quick to grasp new ideas and new methods. They did at all times the best they could with the means at their disposal. This was manifested in their churches and homes and in the disposition of the people to obtain for their children better educational advantages. Money was scarce prior to the Civil war and prior to 1875 the community was without banks, meat markets, barber shops, and other conveniences. The undertaker kept no supplies on hand and the town was without a hearse until 1840 or thereabouts.
Very few of the business men of those times are left to tell the story. the venerable Deacon E. A. HAMLIN, who was the supervisor for many years, both during the war and later on, still survives, hale and hearty and actively engaged in the duties of his farm. He has passed his 90th birthday. Mrs. Samantha NELLIS is perhaps the oldest person in the county, being at the present writing, more than 100 years of age, well and active. There are several residents who have reached advanced age. Myron CLEVELAND and his wife are the only married couple still living who have resided in the village continuously since 1861.
The present population constitutes an up to date community, enterprising in all respects. The village has every facility for making home life desirable. Her schools and churches are first class. Very few places can equal or excel her in this respect. There is much of interest that could be said to the credit of this community did space permit. The writer, who was born and grew to manhood in that lovely valley, still cherishes a love for those hills, that valley, and these people which will exist so long as life shall last.
HTML by Dianne Thomas
Copyright 2005 - 2014
[NY History and Genealogy]