Town of West Bloomfield History 

History of Ontario Co, NY       

Pub 1878  pg 216 - 219, 221

 

Transcribed by Dianne Thomas

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TOWN OF WEST BLOOMFIELD

 

History of Ontario County, NY and It's People

Pub. 1878, pg. 216 

The original proprietors of that portion of the old town of Bloomfield now know as West Bloomfield, and consisting of 16,183 acres, were Amos HALL, Robert TAFT, Nathan and Ezra MARVIN and Ebenezer CURTIS.  All of these, except Ezra MARVIN, became settlers by 1790 and with Jasper P. SEARS, Samuel MILLER, Peregrine GARDNER, John ALGUR and Sylvanus THAYER, were of the foremost pioneers of the town.  Among other prominent early settlers were Marvin GATES, Jacob SMITH, Samuel MILLER, Deacon Samuel HANDY, Bayze BAKER, Nathaniel EGGLESTON, and the PECKS, Palmer and Clark.  The purchasers and those how came with and after them, were from New England, and their character was a prevalent trait.  A voluntary removal to this region presupposes enterprise and courage.  It was a great work these men had undertaken, and bespoke high promise in coming years.  The prize of comfort, and perhaps affluence, was to be won by toil, danger, privation, and suffering.  As the Pilgrims boldly moored their bark on the wild New England shore, so their descendants embarked their all in the vast forests of the wild west.

To what region were their footsteps tending? What appearance did it present?  The soldiers of Sullivan told of lovely scenery, rich soil, and beautiful climate, and the appearance of the country today vindicates their assertion.  West Bloomfield lies upon the west boarder of the county, north of the centre. A long ridge varying in height from 200 to 300 feet, extends across the northern side, and from this southward the lands trend downward, with a gently undulating surface.  The soil, thickly covered with a forest of large green trees, is a deep, rich, gravelly, clay mixed loam.  The imagination pictures a forbidding scene of savage solitude, broken by the howl of the wolf and the half human scream of the lithe panther, but the reality was far otherwise.  "There were no dead trees or dry branches to disfigure the green luxuriance of the fresh foliage, but all presented an aspect of verdure and thriftiness, nearly allied in appearance to an exuberant growth of a bed of asparagus, and the forests were literally thronged with birds of all sizes, hues and voices, that served to render a ramble in the forests on a morning in June not only delightful but enchanting."  The deer ran in groups of three or four, bounding along with ease, graceful motion and an occasional bear betook himself to the tallest tree, and from his lofty perch looked down upon the strange intruders.

In the spring of 1789 the first white settlement was made in the town by Peregrine GARDNER, accompanied by his family.  Toward the close of the same year, another family, that of Ebenezer CURTIS, moved in.  In the early part of 1790, a number of intended settlers came on from Lyme and Guilford, in Connecticut, and from Granville, Massachusetts, and prepared homes for their families.  Then the removal took place; others joined them, and soon a settlement had its beginnings, whose existence well deserves the expression, "Where once frowned a forest, a garden is smiling;" for West Bloomfield is one of the finest neighborhoods to be found in western New York.  It is due to the pioneers of the town that their names be handed down to other generations as benefactors, and so claim the grateful remembrance of posterity.  We have noticed that Peregrine GARDNER is distinctly and fully recognized as the man who first ventured into the town, and awoke the slumbering echoes by the lusty axe-stroke.  With no slight hardship, the other families had traversed the great distance from the old home, and boldly entered upon the formidable task of subduing the forest, and by gradual changes bringing it to that condition from which it's present has been evolved by their descendants.  It is well known that, while a wonderful return rewarded the crude tillage of that distant day the influx of families and the distance form any supply caused several seasons of scarcity, and there was mutual suffering for the necessities of life.  Potatoes, wheat, fish, and venison were essential of food.  It was not common to leave work and go upon the hunt, but gladly the choppers heard the crack of the rifle in the woods and cheerfully paid the hunter his price for his game.  It cannot fail to interest those whose clothing is washed in patented machines to know that their grandmothers used to congregate on Mondays at the soft-water pond near Sheppard's, taking the clothing upon horseback or ox-sled, and returning at the close of the day form the "picnic".  The obviously needed improvements were attempted as soon as time and strength would permit.  The history of the settlement in districts upon lots shows a voluntary acceptance of distributed labor, and the simultaneous development from nature of productive fields.  So rich was the soil, so heavy the yield resulting from rough tillage, that he whose land was paid for had little to apprehend.  The village store, mill, shop, school, and church were not at hand, but among those strictly farmers were mingled mechanics and tradesmen, and primarily in the log house with the family, then in the adjacent building, and eventually in the village, the natural tendency to group the manufacturing and industrial interests was observed. 

With district No. 8 begins the record of occupation and improvement.  Here, upon the southwest part of No. 10, now owned by C. TAFT, came Colonel Peregrine GARDNER, in 1789, and made the first improvements in the town.  A lonely winter passed away, and with the spring came neighbors.  Years passed on, and the pioneer died and left the farm to his son John, who for many years turned and returned the soil of the old fields, till at the age of eighty, he too fell asleep.  Lucinda, daughter of Peregrine GARDNER, later known as Mrs. Augustus HOTCHKISS, born in 1791, was the first white child born in the town; her death occurred a few years since.  Amos HALL, a native of Guilford, Connecticut, remove to Bloomfield in 1790, and selected a farm on the northwest corner, where H. R. HOTCHKISS lives.  Patriotic and soldierly from his youth upwards General HALL entered the service at the age of sixteen as a fifer in his father's company, and remained in the army during the Revolution.  A man of energy and public spirit, various prominent civil and military positions were assigned him.  As a civilian, he served as State senator form 1809 to 1813, took part in the survey of several townships in Ontario, and in 1789 bought over three thousand acres of land in Bloomfield. As deputy marshal, he took the first census of western New York in 1790.  He was a member of Assembly in 1798, and member of council of appointment in 1809-10.   As a soldier, he stood connected with the earliest military organizations, and as an officer, he became the successor of William WADSWORTH, and having risen to the rank of major-general, was at one time the commander in chief of the Niagara frontier during the War of 1812.  General HALL died in west Bloomfield on December 28, 1827.  His engraved likeness appears in the fourth volume of the "Documentary History of New York."  Colonel Enoch HALL, a son, was born in this down on December 2, 1792; was engaged as a merchant for a long period; served as supervisor a number of terms; was post master four years, beginning with Harrison's administration; acted as secretary of the Ontario and Livingston Mutual Insurance Society till the close of his career, and following somewhat in the footsteps of his father, was colonel of militia, and rose to brigadier and finally major-general.  His death took place in 1850.  Other sons were David S, HALL, a merchant of Geneva; Thomas HALL, a superintendent of the Rochester and Syracuse railroad; Morris HALL, who emigrated to Michigan; and Heman HALL, of Pennsylvania.   An only daughter married Josiah WENDLE, of Bloomfield.  David PARSONS settled previous to 1796 upon the present home of E.S. WOODS.  He was a carpenter, and was well supplied with work.  His name appears upon the records as one of the first officers in the town.  Clark PECK came in during 1790, and took rank as a prominent and wealthy pioneer, the incumbent of offices when this town was included in Bloomfield.  His home was on the farm now the property of G.A. VARNEY, where Elton lives; there he died in January 1825.  Jasper PECK, a son, lives in the village; other sons removed to Michigan.  Josiah WENDLE and his brothers came in and kept a store during the days of settlement.  Josiah was afterwards known as the sheriff of Livingston county.  Another early settler and leading citizen was Reuben LEE, whose farm was on lot 10; near him lived a man named MINOR upon the place of W. BARLEY, and another neighbor was Deacon HANDY, who dwelt on a part of this lot as early as 1796, and took position as a prominent leader in religious affairs.  In 1802 Nathaniel SHEPARD, from Berkshire, Massachusetts, moved upon the south end of No. 4, and bought one hundred and fifty-two acres.  In his profession of surveyor, considerable work was desired by the settlers and performed by him.  A son, J.F. SHEPARD, now  (1878) in his seventy-first year, yet resides on the place.  A farm of six hundred acres was purchased by a man names STEWART, who located where, at this later date, A. and G. COLLINS own.  Nathaniel EGGLESTON was the pioneer on No. 25.  He came at the first settlement, and building on the farm now owned by C.W. HAWS, opened his doors for the wary traveler, and became one of the tavern keepers of the earliest period.   A son named Elisha owned on the south side of the road, and built there a habitation.  Josiah EGGLESTON, a shoemaker, lived upon the lot in question, and thereon had a shop in 1800.  Bayne BAKER settled in 1799 on the place now passed to the ownership of John HUSSEY; there he loved many years and realized the changes he had anticipated, and far more, and died at an advanced age.  In the hollow lived Martin MINOR and a man named DOWNS.   Philemon HALL became an occupant of the farm owned by H. HOPKINS, sometime in 1793 and was of the early town officials.   An early settler on No. 10 was Daniel CURTIS.  William LEE long ago cut the timber upon the fields where Isaac MARTIN lives; and where now J. H. HOTCHKISS has his home, his father Augustus, dwelt before him.  A want of mills was one of the most serious in the early day, and one of the first to be supplied.  The power gained by running water was everywhere utilized, and the creeks which then ran with full banks set in motion the rude corn-cracker and the vertical saw.  About 1816, Amos HALL built a grist-mill upon a creek tributary to the Honeoye.  It stood on lot 17, about a mile north of his residence, and was run by him for several years.  A grist-mill is in present operation by J.B. SNOOK upon the old site.  Ami FOLWER built a dwelling on lot 11, just north of the mill, and was a pioneer upon the place.  Down the creek a short distance form the mill, a distillery was built in about 1818, and run by Samuel NICHOLS.  Its operation was not continued for many years, and the changes of time have made these institutions noticeable, not as the baneful sources of intemperance, but rather as laudable efforts to utilize a surplus grain product.   

Farther down the steam one Jacob ERDLE built a saw mill about 1824.  It stood on the north side of the road, and has gone out of use.  A few years later there was an ashery built near the grist mill, and the old time newspapers have such advertisements as the following: "Save your ashes.  The subscribers will pay one shilling per bushel in goods for any quantity of good clean house ashes delivered at their ashery,:  and as a stimulus to manufacture, we read in the Ontario Messenger of May 27, 1817: "Pot and pearl ashes wanted; $140 a ton for pot, and $160 a tone for merchantable pearl ashes, will be paid on delivery to James BROOKS, at Olean Point,  in the village of Hamilton, Cattaraugus county."  For many years the trade in this article was no inconsiderable source of revenue to the farmers of all this region.  In the district considered there have existed from time beyond the memory of the oldest settler, three small soft water ponds where, in "ye olden time," the maids and matrons met on Mondays with their week's washing, built fires about the kettles filled with soft water from the pond, and with a will, set to work.  Dinner gave brief rest and time for the conversation, which was the soul of the occasion; and the work done, each tired, though pleased, returned to her own roof with recollections of a busy social time.

East of Shepard's pond, stood the pioneer school house of the locality.  The boys of that early day occupied the slab seat with the old log house, and recked little that they were without a support to their backs.  The seats were supported upon legs made from small saplings, and projected through the auger holes.  IT is recollected of a boy that, when his class was called, his zeal to be the first on the floor caused him to make undue haste.  His "tow linen" clothing caught upon a projecting end of a seat support, and pitched him headlong upon the floor, to the great delight of the scholars and the amusement of the teacher.  Dealing with the material and acknowledging the supremacy of physical force, the young men attending the winter's school admired and feared the school master who was able to whip their leader, and the prime idea of a successful school was the establishment of a reign of terror.   Tales of flogging excite horror when rehearsed of the sailor upon the man of war, but instances of a master's severity and of boyish heroism are not infrequently in the fireside reminiscences of western New York.  

District No. 6 contains the village of West Bloomfield, and borders on the Honeoye outlet.  Early of settlement, it is dense of population and the seat of the pioneer business enterprise.  The former home of Colonel Jasper P. SEARS was on the lands where now, H. C. BROWN resides.  Before the close of the last century, he had established and conducted the pioneer tavern of the town.  He is spoken of as a major by travels through the country in 1798, and afterwards became a colonel of militia.  He remained in the town till his death.  Ebenezer CURTIS was one of the original purchasers, and a settler of 1789 upon the farm where B. B. WOOD owns.  Mr. CURTIS was prominent in town affairs and gave his attention chiefly to his farm, whereon he finally died.  Julius CURTIS, a brother of Ebenezer, was one of the early surveyors and a good hand at the business.  He located near this place.  Joseph GILBERT, said to have been a fife major under WASHINGTON, is remembered as one of the first residents in the district.  His place was about half a mile north of the village.  Palmer PECK lived upon the land now the property of S. D. MILLINGTON.  MR. PECK was one of the original town's first officers at a period when nearly every capable persons was required to serve, and even then a double office was sometimes devolved upon the same party.  The residence of C. GRIFFITH in the village was the former dwelling  place of an early settler known as Japer MARVIN.  The PECKS, Reynold and Abner, formerly tilled the farm now controlled by W. J. DIXON.  A mill was built  across Honeoye outlet, in Lima, during 1822 by Clark PECK, and the conveniences of grinding  brought to the neighborhood.  Myron S. HALL lives upon the place which formerly knew the care and labor of Lorin WAIT.  No person was more welcome to the early settler prostrated by the fever and ague in the midst of his work than the doctor and the physicians of that day were entitled to the confidence bestowed by their patrons.  The former home of one of these physicians Dr. FAIRCHILDS, was the place now the property of Mrs.. HALL. Sylvanus THAYER dated his arrival in the new county some time in 1790.   A grist mill built by THAYER on lot 73, At Factory Hollow, was the pioneer manufactory of the town. Uriah WEBSTER was known as the operator f a saw mill built at a very early period near the grist mil.  Wherever the custom mill had its existence, there sooner or later was seen the distillery, but not till 1827 was the business fairly inaugurated at this point .  H. HUTCHINSON, the proprietor, built and ran a still which stood on the Lima road.  Having moved up to Factory Hollow in 1832, he erected another there, and ran it a few years.  Daniel ASHLEY and others formed a company about 1820, and erected buildings for the manufacture of cotton.  Later, it was changed to a woolen factory, and as such, ran for a number of years.  The company was large and did a fair business under the management of a man named LAMPHERE, who ran a store in connection with the factory.  The store is now in use as a barn, and the mill was torn down about 1860, and removed to Lima, where it was reconstructed to serve as a hotel.  The pioneer, Elisha EGGLESTON, of whom mention has been made, operated a grist mill in this well named vicinity from 1820 till a date some years later, and in this connection became generally known. 

 

WEST BLOOMFIELD VILLAGE

Prior to the completion of the Erie canal, the primitive villages had more of trade and prosperity.  The tendency of the railroad has been to centralize commerce in large cities, and rural hamlets are made strictly local in their influence.  We find the old tavern, with its upper verandas, changed to a dwelling,  and a like fair fortune not unfrequently befell  the store once crowded with customers and alive with barter.  One of those early merchants seeking to aid others and further his own interests, was Erastus HUNT, who sold a variety of goods from a building, then a store, now a dwelling, standing just east of the tavern.  This was in 1810.  Two years prior to this the firm of A. Hendee & Co. were engaged in the same business, occupying for their purpose the building now containing the post office.  In 1820, another store, next that of HUNT, was kept by Ludwick C. FITCH.  There was a store kept in a home in use as a shoe shop, by a man named BREWSTER, but what of him in personal character or business probity there, was unknown.  Augustus HALL had a store a mile west of the village.  John DICKSON an early resident of the village and a lawyer, has since been a member of Congress. Drs. HICKOX and FAIRCHILD opened a drug store in 1813, opposite the present tavern.  They sold to Dr. Lewis HODGE previous to 1818.  Soon after 1820 a tannery was started and operated by Captain ARNOLD, where business was carried forward some 15 years, and then permitted to lapse.  During its palmy days a shoe shop was run in connection with it, and was made profitable.  M. and D. PILLSBURY began an extensive business in blacksmithing about 1820, and employed 15 men.  Axes and edge tools were manufactured, and the interest flourished its day.  John C. COOPER after a time opened a shop, hired several hands, and did well. A wagon shop, carried on by Reuben PIERCE,  for many years, stood upon the place now occupied by Mr. LEWIS.  Opposite this shop was a chair factory, superintended by Mr. BAKER.  A flourishing business was originated, and the chairs were peddled throughout the country at $4.50, per set.  Another wagon shop was erected, and work done from about 1825 until 1865.  It was managed by Bailey AYERS and acquired a good reputation for honest , reliable work.  The establishment has later been run by John C. AYRES.  Just north of Dr. WOODS' stood a cooper shop, wherein, Ralph HUNT was employed with success some 15 years.  Bushnell ARNOLD carried forward a considerable business in shoe manufacture in the building of Mr. GRIFFITH.  A foundry ws put up about 1830 by W. D. PILLSBURY, who also carried on a wagon and blacksmith shop for quite a period.  A brass foundry was operated by Edward HERRICK and others.  Josiah WENDELL was a merchant of 1820, WILDER had a jewelry store, and early doctors were Lewis HODGES, ELLIS and W. H. SHELDON.  

The pioneer schoolhouse was erected about 1796, and was in use also for meetings of religious societies.  It was much the superior of buildings erected at that time, and creditable to the builders.  At a later period the growth of population required increased accommodations, and it was replaced by a brick structure, which was termed the "Academy."  This building was erected prior to the war of 1812.  The Rev. WOOLEDGE came to the village in 1821, and started an academical department in the house, and continued as the principal for several years.  A subsequent teacher in the same structure was D. T. HAMILTON, who at the age of seventy-seven, is still a resident of the place.  The present building in use for schools is a frame structure, having a single story and two rooms.   

West Bloomfield is pleasantly situated on ah hill crest commanding a fine view of the county surrounding.  Its population is over 300.  It has 2 churches, one hotel, 2 stores, and a number of fine residence.  The town house, formerly a church, is located here, and does duty on occasions of public interest.  The date of the establishment of a post office is not ascertained.  One of the earliest postmasters, if not the first, was Ezra WAITE.  Samuel NICHOLS was his successor.  Others were Thomas HALL, Hiland B. HALL, Elias D. WRIGHT, Otis THOMPSON, Enoch A. HALL, Daniel M. SMITH, Solon PECK, William PILLSBURY, John W. EARLE, James H. HALL, George W. SMITH, Charles M. HENDEE and Porter F. LEECH.  The first station agests in order of service were F. B. PECK, David F. GLOVER, Richard Pl MARBLE and W. M. WILLIAMS.

District No. 2 was occupied in February 1800, by Reuben PARMELE, of Connecticut; and his son Isaac, succeeding him, still lives upon the old farm, at the good old age of seventy-six years.  Isaac HALL came to the district as now constituted in 1802 and settling upon lot 76, remained there several years and then removed to Pennsylvania.  The pioneer upon lot 68 was Dan CANFIELD, whose early improvement could scarcely be recognized in the neat farm of S. HOAG.  Not unfrequently a settler located upon his farm for life, be the time long or short.  Such was the case with Jared EVERTTS, who moved in from Connecticut, and founded a home from the northeast corner of No. 75, and thereon passed his life.  Where David PRATT now has his residence lived a man named BUTLER, and were D. LYONS lives, Titus CANFIELD once located, and was of service as the manufacturer of wooden pumps, a business gone into decay since the establishment of such works as those of Rumsey, Cowing, Gould's and Silsby's at Seneca Falls, in the adjacent county.  W. MILLER was preceded upon his land by a setter named HAYS, and the place of D. STAFFORD was earlier tilled and cropped by Duty MADISON.  J. WARNER lived upon a farm occupied in 1800 by Beeby PARMELE, to whose energy he owes the cleared fields and the initial labor of carving a farm from the woods.   Reuben PARMELE Sr., was one of the oldest of the pioneers, and lived with Isaac HALL.  The olden time schoolhouse stood near where A.G. GATES resides, and although built of logs, and of little value, yet its existence is associated with some of the most pleasing events of life.  Among the teachers in the old structure but one is recalled, and of Dr. GRIFFIN we have only learned the name.  What matters, since he has passed away, and all who knew him?  Thousands of teachers are thus forgotten, and only remembrances of their pupils is the brief mention of their inheritance of the old farms reclaimed from the forest, and brought to bloom and blossom as a garden. 

Joint district No. 5 is small of area, and contains the hamlet of North Bloomfield, in the northwest part of the town.  Daniel GATES was the pioneer settler, in 1790, from the land of steady habits.   Two years later he had arranged for his family, which he brought out and located on the land now owned by Curtis GATES.  About 1794, Marvin, a brother of Daniel, arrived and some time after engaged in lumbering. It may here be said that Samuel MILLER and Ebenezer CRITES had erected a sawmill about 1795 in what is now North Bloomfield, on the Honeoye, and in the same connection were owners of some two hundred acres of land.  It was their interest that was purchased by Mr. GATES, and the old mill, which stood upon the present property of Edwin BOND was run for several years to good advantage and then sold to a Jersey man known as Squire SMITH, who erected a grist mill upon the present site of the buildings of Amos LOTES.  SMITH'S mill was ultimately demolished, and another erected upon the foundation by Dr. WHITE and Harrison HOPKINS, and this structure was burned down.  Daniel GATES died in 1833, aged sixty-five, and Marvin also died well advanced in years.  Their descendants are among the enterprising men of the town.  John BLAKE put up a distillery at quite an early day, and kept it in operation for quite a period.   Squire SMITH and his son Jacob, then became its proprietors, under whose management, it went down.  A fulling-mill was built by Squire SMITH for his son, Eldrick, at quite an early period, and after a few years it was torn down and another put up in a position farther up the race.  This was the work of Eldrick.  The building is now in use as a grist mill by Amos GATES.  In about 1825, Francis SMITH built the expected and necessary distillery, but within a few years the business was discontinued.  The SMITH'S were the builders of a sawmill, which after a few years service caught fire and burned.  James SMITH opened a store at an early date, and the locality assumed the name of Smithtown.  The old Smith store is now the dwelling of Amos GATES.  Within a year or so, a man named GOODRICH came to the place, and opened a grocery and started an ashery upon the Lima side of the creek.  He sold to Joseph CHAMBERS, who carried on a successful business for some years.  Horace CHAMBERS erected a stone building and opened out a stock of goods, but soon sold out to William BARNHART, the present occupant.  The first tavern in the place was built by Robert HUNTINGTON, and by him conducted for a long time.  A forge was started by Isaac HALL during the first year of the century, but the quality of his iron was inferior, so much so that it passed into a saying that any poor iron was "Hall's iron."  A post office was established at the place, and bears the name North Bloomfield.  Harrison FAIRCHILD was an early postmaster.  The hamlet is also a station of the Canandaigua and Batavia railroad. 

District No. 1, is chiefly occupied by persons dwelling upon the road from Miller's Corners to Smithtown.  Jonathan BALL was one of the earliest settlers, and located near where the house of M. MASON stands, upon a fine, large farm.  S. HIBBARD and A. DIXON were owners of parts of the land, and thereon passed their lives.  The farm owned by J.B. ARMITAGE was the early home of PARMELE.  His son Thomas succeeded him, and resided on the old place many years.  Mr. GOULD located on the farm where J. FISK now owns.  The season of 1816 was notable far and wide over the country.  Frosts came late in the season, the weather was cold and corn failed.  Mr. GOULD was the only man whose corn escaped the frost, and he had a good crop.  M. BUGLES bought out a Mr. BUSHNELL, and located on the farm where S. EDWARDS lives.  Mr. BUGLES was a Scotch clothier by trade, but it is now known the he found opportunity to follow his calling.  Luman KIBBOURN was a former owner on the SHERMAN place, and opposite him was HAYES, on the farm of William MILLER.  The BAKER family were prominent settlers, and their descendants are prominent men of the town. 

District No. 3 contains a nucleus of settlement designated as Miller's Corners.  Samuel MILLER with his wife and two sons came out from Hartford county, Connecticut in 1789, to Canandaigua.  The boys, Solomon aged eleven, and Samuel, aged thirteen, were sent out to lot 6, and erected for themselves a pole shanty upon the future farm, and cut some of the underbrush, and then returned to Canandaigua.  In 1790, Mr. MILLER moved upon his land and built a log house.  It is a familiar incident claimed by various localities, but true only of this, that Mr. MILLER, a blacksmith by trade, started a shop in the woods, using a stump for an anvil block.  This truly pioneer shop stood upon the present site of Miller's Corners.  This was the first blacksmithing done west of Canandaigua, a smith having been established at that place.  Silas MILLER, a grandson, has in his possession a pair of pincers used in this forest shop by his grandfather at he early period of 1790.  The farm, bought for twelve pounds, consisted of one hundred and twenty acres.  The deed was from Aaron TAFT, and was dated August 24, 1789, and the acknowledgement was taken by Oliver PHELPS, Esq., judge.  A man named Josephus FOX was the next to settle on No. 5, about 1794.  He became tired of the place and hoping to better the condition made a sale to Thomas LARKINS, from Massachusetts.  Mr. LARKINS was a resident of the farm for several years, and bore the reputation of a shrewd, sharp, educated man.  Benjamin BURLINGAME came about 1795, and located on the farm now owned by O. BAKER.  He was a resident near the suburbs of Boston.  He sold to one of the OWENS brothers, but continued a resident of the town until his death.  Charles SMITH settled where Marvin BAKER resides, and little is known of him, save that he passed his live on his farm.  Benjamin CROWELL moved here from Victor, and settled on the farm now owned by BOYD, and known as the RICHARDS place.  CROWELL came in 1802.  Upon No. 11, the pioneer setter was Robert SIMPSON, of Massachusetts.  He had been a plow-maker in the Bay State, and on his arrival here in 1796, continued in his old business, and bore the reputation of making the best work in all of the region.  The fever of emigration was fatal to his permanent sojourn here, and removing to Ohio, he died there. Previous to 1800, schools were held in MILLER's barn.  The FRENCH sisters, Clara, Sarah and Louisa were among the early teachers.  A hewn-log schoolhouse was erected in 1812 and Olive HAMLIN was the first school-mistress therein.  The post office at Miller's Corners was established in 1849; just after the election of General TAYLOR, and was named after him, Taylorsville.  It continued in that name till 1869, when the present name was given.  The postmasters were as follows: John D. FEAGLER, C.H. WOOD, H.N. CRANDALL, William A. EMMONS, George COFLIN, Warden BABCOCK and Frank A. JOHNSON, the present official.  The railroad station was established here in the year 1853, by the O. & N.F. Railroad Company.  In the year of 1858 the road was made narrow-gauge, and has been managed by the New York Central Railroad, since.  The names of agents are as follows: H.J. SPRING, H.N. CRANDALL and C.S. MILLER.  These were agents for companies under the broad-gauge lines, and when the present road assumed control, John CROSSMAN was the first appointment.  He was succeeded by William B. INGALLS, and he in turn by C.S. MULLER, the present agent. 

Parts of lot 47 and 48 constitute the West Bloomfield portion of joint district No. 7.  Lot REW, one of the colony who came in with Deacon ADAMS in the settlement of East Bloomfield in 1789, moved on the southeast part of No. 47.  Here his wife died during 1793, and her death is reputed to have been the first in the town. 

District No. 7 lies to the south.  Captain Robert TAFT, of Worcester county, Massachusetts, came here in 1791, and chose a farm upon lot 52, where he built a log hose to which he soon after brought his family   Possessed of means, and confident of the future prosperity of the country, he had an ownership of one half the town, part of his purchase being in the adjacent town of Lima.  Mr. TAFT was commissioned captain of militia by Governor CLINTON, the first military appointment made for the town.  He served as one of the early officers of the town of Bloomfield, having been elected at the first meeting held in 1796.  Like many another of the pioneers of Ontario, he has served his country during the Revolution, and closed his days upon his western farm in 1821, at the age of seventy years.  He is represented by a son, Chapin TAFT who was born on the farm in 1797, and yet survives.  Two years succeeding the advent of Captain TAFT, came Royal WHEELOCK from the same state.  He followed his trade of a blacksmith from the date of his arrival in the settlement for a period of several years, and attained the age of ninety years.  A daughter, Mrs. PECK, is a native resident of the town, in her eightieth year.  Another daughter, aged eighty-five, and born in Massachusetts, is also a citizen of the town.  R. WHEELOCK, a son, is also a survivor of the family.  John LUTE settled on the farm which, sold to Josiah TAFT, has passed to the ownership of Myron L. TAFT, the present owner.   Jewett HARVEY dwells upon the farm purchased and improved by his grandfather, James HARVEY, from Connecticut.  Thus rapidly do the generations come and go.  The early neighbor of HARVEY was Daniel RILEY, who sold his farm and moved to Ohio.  Noah CONE, father of Deacon CONE, of East Bloomfield, was a later settler and a neighbor to hose we have named.  The property now owned by Elisha F. LEACH was formerly the original purchase of Payne R. LEACH, who emigrated from Connecticut, and passed his life upon the property.  William CARRIGER earl settled upon a part of the A.S. ORCUTT place.  John ALGER located upon lot 49, where S.L. CASE now lives, upon Gates creek.  He put up a saw and grist-mill, and was well known in that connection to the residents of the neighborhood where he passed his life.  George NICHOLS built and operated a distillery for several years in the vicinity of the mills.  The ALGERS, Samuel and Josiah, were early setters in the place.  The primitive schoolhouse was of the un-hewn timber cast, and stood on the corner near the house of S.W. DIXON.  Among the names of former teachers are enumerate those of Mary HICKCOX, Clara FRENCH, Laura FRENCH, Otis THOMPSON and G. CLARK. The old structure became the prey of the devouring element in 1810, at which time Eleazer KNICKERBOCKER was the school-master in charge.  A brick house was then put up in its place.  Benjamin ALGER was an early settler near his brothers.

Upon district No. 4., came Aaron NORTON among the early pioneers of the town, and settled upon lot 87.  Upon the town records his name occurs as the incumbent of various offices, which, to some extent, indicate his prominence.  Upon lot 58 an early occupant was John MINOR, who sold to Elijah BOSTWICK, and went west.  William PAUL was an early resident where his grandson, Albert, resides.  William PAUL, Jr., was early on the lands of the district.  David MC MASTER was an early settler.

District No. 9 closes the record of the settlers in the ton.  A man named BENT, early located upon the southwest part of lot 58.  Selling out, he removed to the mineral region of Pennsylvania, and became a miner.  Jesse TAFT, son of the original purchase, settled on lot 55, where J. SEYMOUR lives.  His death too place in 1870, at the good old age of 87.  A son lives upon the former lands of Captain Otis THOMPSON, and where Aaron PLIMPTON now holds, formerly dwelt Job WILLIAMS.  Lot 60 was settled by Jeremiah SIMONS, of Lyme, Connecticut, about the year 1800.  His farm was but 100 acres, and after the brief western experience of 4 years, he died .  Mrs. CHAPIN, a daughter (of Jeremiah Simons)  now 72 years of age, is a resident of the town.  No. 57 was occupied by A. M. BEEBE at an early period; he was a mechanic in woodwork.  L. H. GILLETT is now the owner.  Arnold MANN was once a farmer where Mr. JOHNSON lives, on the southwest part of No. 58, - the property at one time of a Mr. THOMPSON.  The PLIMPTON place, occupied previously by Whitley MANN, had known as its early settler the blacksmith, Job WILLIAMS, whose shop was an old time feature of the place.  William DANIELS, commonly known as "Uncle Bill," years ago lived upon the north part of NO. 59, upon the present property of the heirs of A. H. WARD.  A man named CHAPMAN was the first settler near the creek.  C. ALLEN, living on the south end of No. 55, is the later owner of a farm once the property of Watrous PECK, a Lyme, Connecticut emigrant.  The days of cheap lands were not unfrequently let slip by unimproved, and when the labor of a day was an equivalent for a acre of ground, there were still those who were comparatively landless.  A broom maker, named Daniel DANIELS, became the owner in those times of a half dozen acres, obtained some employment at his trade and lived obscurely.  It is undeniable that while our record dwells upon the New Englander as a sober, industrious,  intelligent man, and the vast majority of early families have their descendents upon the old farms, maintaining an excellent character for sterling qualities, there also existed a loose, immoral and irreligious class who ranged the woods for game, did an occasional job of chopping, and were most at home in the excitement of a town meeting, muster, or raising.  Their presence was a mingled benefit and injury, and their axes in winter, and sickles in summer, contributed to assist the regular settler in his clearing and harvesting.  The bounty upon a wolf's head was a potent stimulus, and in the unrelenting warfare of man upon the beast, extermination was rapidly effected.  Characters there were handy at a raising, lively at a frolic, and ring leaders in many a fracas originating in a too liberal potation of strong drink.  While a review of the town directs the attention to agricultural advances, and interest in the intellect and heart, it is well to knot the existence of the scum which has ever been known to float upon the current, and be dashed upon the farthest frontiers.  Men then as now, hesitated at no obstacle to ill-got gain, and the purity and security of society in no slight guerdon (reward) of the pioneer and his successors to the present. 

A gas well in the southern part of West Bloomfield has presented such matters of interest as calls for a notice here in the language of Charles M. HENDEE, an occupant of the town: "Fifty yeas ago, some of the early settlers living near what is now called Beebe's brook, conceived that there was coal or some other valuable mineral in a locality near the brook, and accordingly, sunk a shaft to test the matter.  After getting down some 30 feet, they perceived indications of foul air, and fired a bundle of straw to test the matter, and threw it down the shaft.  It instantly ignited, and burned high above the surface, causing a retreat on the double-quick, with entire loss of material.  The blaze soon expired, but the experiment induced an abandonment of further investigation.  In later years, parties fishing in the brook  by torchlight, could, by touching the surface of still water, ignite it at pleasure, when it would burn a short time, and expire." 

These facts being well know when the "oil fever" was at its height, parties decided to bore for oil.  A company was formed, an engine and the necessary tools procured and boring commenced.  After boring about 100 feet, they struck a crevice which emitted a strong volume of gas.  This gave renewed courage, and they bored on for months until they reached a depth of 500 feet, when courage and capital alike, gave way, and the project was abandoned as a failure.  

The old well and the building remained as they had been left, until one summer day, a citizen, showing them to a visiting friend, concluded to try an experiment.  A lead pipe was attached to the curbing tube to conduct it outside the building, and a lighted match was applied.  The pipe melded, the flame followed up, the building was reached and soon lay a mass of ruins.  for a time the fires burned constantly.  The iron tubing rises 15 feet above the surface, and illuminated the vicinity as light as day.  The place has been a resort for pleasure parties, and the young fold have parodied an old song as follows:  "Oh, meet me by gaslight alone, And then I will tell thee a tale, In the grove neat the oil well, Whose flame does not flicker or fall."

Elsewhere will be learned of efforts to utilize this gas, a knowledge of whose origin would have saved the original company, their time and means.  

The first town meeting after the formation of West Bloomfield was held at the home of Elisha EGGLESTON, then a tavern stand.  

Assembled according to legend notice on the first Tuesday in April 1833, the following persons were chosen as officers: for supervisor, Reynold PECK; town clerk, H. B. HALL; assessors, Stephen BLAKE, David PAUL and Wheeler GRIFFIN; collector, Isaac W. PHILLIPS; overseers of the poor, Stephen HENDEE and Sylvester KELLOGG; justices of the peace, Sidney HUNTINGTON, Enoch A. HALL and Elias D. WRIGHT; commissioners of highways, Jasper C. PECK, John L. LOYD and William PAUL; commissioners of schools, B. C. TAFT, Melancton GATES and William ARNOLD Jr.; inspectors of common schools Baley AYER, Ebenezer B. SADDLER and H. B. HALL; constables, Isaac W. PHILLIPS and Griffin GOODRICH.  

 

The Rural Cemetery (pg 221)

The Rural Cemetery is an evidence of the Christian feeling which prompts a sacred regard for the remains of the loved and lost.  The association held its first meeting for organization on April 25, 1849; Dr. Joseph HALL, chairman, William PILLSBURY, secretary.  Twelve trustees were chosen, and the date of annual meetings fixed for the 2nd Monday in April.  A second meeting was held three days subsequent to the first, and the following first board of officers chosen: Joseph HALL, president; Frederick BRADLEY, vice president; William PILLSBURY, secretary, Daniel S. BAKER, treasurer.  A cemetery was located on the lands of Silas C. BROWN, and included an area of 2 acres and 11 rods of ground.  It was laid out in 120 plats, each twenty feet wide.  On July 4, 1849, the services of dedication were held and included addressed by Rev. Silas C. BROWN and Elder David MILLARD.  The first burials of persons who died after the organization of the association were (in 1849) May A. PILLSBURY, June 21; a son son of John ALLEN, August 8th; Charles EVENDEN, August 18th; Amos HAYNES, January 31, 1850; and Mrs. Lucy BAKER, wife of Bayse BAKER, aged 71 years.  

 

Soldier's Monument   (pg 221)

A Soldiers' Monument was erected the 29th and 30th days of September 1865, at a cost of $1,000.  It is of Connecticut brown freestone, place on a substantial foundation.  Lower base is 4 1/2 feet square,  1 1/2 feet thick; upper base 3 1/2 feet square, same dimensions as lower in thickness.  The shaft is 8 feet high, 2 1/2 feet square at the top.  Above it is a capital 2 10/12 feet square, 1 1/2 feet thick.  The whole is surmounted by a ball and eagle 3 1/2 feet high, making the entire height from foundation, 16 feet.  The names and suitable record of 31 deceased soldiers are inscribed on the shaft of the monument; the funds for the monument were raised by subscriptions from 175 individuals.  

 

 

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