Yates County, New York
History - Town of Benton
From the History of Yates County, NY
published 1892, by L.C. Aldrich
pg 350- 353 & pg 364-366
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History of Benton
The early history of settlement, development, and improvement in this town was not dissimilar to that of other towns in the same region, the localities bordering on Seneca Lake. The lands here were part of the Phelps and Gorham purchase, and being surveyed, the greater portion of the town, as at present constituted, comprised township No. 8 of the first range. This implies that its eastern boundary butted the old pre-emption line, which was the fact; but in making disposition of the lands east of the line and west of the lake, the district of territory between these boundaries was included within Benton.
Originally ,before Benton as a town was set off, township No. 8, first range, together with the land east of it, and Milo as well, were all a part of the district of Jerusalem, a provisional township of old Ontario County, organized as such for jurisdictional purposes upon and soon after the erection of the mother county. The district of Jerusalem was organized in 1789, but the town itself, within substantially its present limits, was not organized until 1803.
The district of Jerusalem was settled mainly by the follows of the Universal Friend, whose principal habitations were on the shores of Seneca Lake and the vicinity of the mouth of the outlet, and in the town of Jerusalem, as now designated, while scattering settlements of this peculiar people extended northward into the town of Benton proper, or, more strictly speaking, into township No. 8, of the first range. This settlement by the Friends commenced about 1788, and continued until the closing years of that century. In the meantime settlement was being rapidly made by other pioneers than the Friends, and who had nothing in common with them either in religious belief or sympathy with the Friend’s teachings. In fact they were believers in the Christian religion as taught by established denominational churches and the peculiar manner and method of worship indulged in by the Friends found no favor in their eyes. Therefore they sought to be set off into a separate township, using as a means of accomplishing that end a petition to the Court of Sessions about to be held at Canandaigua; which petition was as follows:
“The petition of many of the inhabitants of Jerusalem humbly sheweth: That whereas many of the reputable inhabitants of No. 8, in the first range of this town do wish to be incorporated into a town by themselves; and to prevent disputes and preserve friendship among us, we pray the honorable court to ser off said No. 8into a town by the name of Wilton, with all the liberty and privileges which other towns in the State of New York have and enjoy. And your petitioners in duty bound will ever pray. February 1, 1799 (Signed) Griffin B. HAZARD, Enoch SHEAR MAN, Benjamin DURHAM, Silas HUNT, James PARKER, John PLYMPTON, Benjamin BRIGGS, William ARDERY, James SCOFIELD, George WHEELER, Nathan WHEELER, Elisha WOLCOTT, Elisha WOODWORTH, Ezra RICE, Samuel BUELL Jr., Eliphalet HALL, Joel P. SAWYER, Daniel STULL, Daniel BROWN, Perley DEAN, Francis DAINS, Jesse DAINS, Joshua ANDREWS, Levi BENTON, Enos FULLER, Silas H. MAPES, Smith MAPES, Dyer WOODWORTH, Otis BARDEN , Jeremiah JILLETTE, John KNAPP, James SPRINGSTED, William GILBERT, William HILTON Jr., William HILTON, David RIGGS Elisha BROWN, Icabod BUELL, Samuel BUELL, George BENNETT, Cyrus BUELL, David RIGGS, Philip RIGGS, George WHEELER Jr., M. LAWRENCE, Thomas LEE Jr., James MC CUST, Thomas HATHAWAY, Daniel S. JUDD, Daniel LAZELERE, Dennis SHAW, James ALLEN, Thomas CLARK, James BEAUMONT, John NEIL, James BROWN, Ellis PEARCE, Henry MAPES, Hezekiah TOWNSEND, Matthew COLE, Reuben RIGGS, Ezra COLE.”
Referring to the names included in the forgoing list the reader will observe many of who were among the pioneers of Benton, as now constituted, while not a few were dwellers in the district of Jerusalem outside the town proper, but who, for some cause, probably as heretofore stated, were desirous of having the separation made as the petition asked. But, notwithstanding the evident strength of the petition, its prayer was not granted by court. However, four years later in 1803 Jerusalem was made a separate town and on the 12the of February, of the same year, under the name of Vernon, another township was created, including all that is now Benton, Milo and Torrey. The name Vernon was continued until 1808, when an act of the legislature changed the name to Snell, there having been erected previous to 1803 a town in Oneida County also named Vernon. For some reason the people of the town of Snell became dissatisfied with the name, and had recourse to the legislature with result in another change, this time to Benton; and so named in honor of Levi BENTON, the first settler within the limits of town as it now stands.
The first reduction in the extent of territory of Benton was made in 1818, when Milo was erected, and took from the mother township No. 7 of range first and all the land east thereof and west of Seneca Lake. The second and last curtailment of Benton’s territory was made in 1851,by the erection of Torrey, for which both this town and Milo surrendered their lands and the most desirable agricultural sections of them.
Township No. 8 of the first range, which includes the greater part of what is now Benton, is bounded north by Ontario County; west by Potter, No. 8, second range; south by Milo, No. 7, range one, and a part set off to Jerusalem; and east originally by the old pre-emption line. The land east of the lien was included in Jerusalem first, and afterward followed the various town organizations that eventually became Benton. To correct an erroneous impression that exists in some minds, it may here be stated that the main road leading from the residence of Hon. Guy SHAW, north to Bellona is nowhere between those points touched by the old or the new pre-emption line. The old line lies east of this road and as near as can be determined form maps in existence, passes along the short stretch of north and south road lying west of the residence of James MC MASTER. The new pre-emption line runs into the lake just north of Dresden, in Torrey.
The subject of this chapter is the town of Benton as at present constituted. Among the sub-divisions that form Yates County, Benton occupies a position of prominence, for, in point of agricultural productiveness it ranks first and foremost. This enviable condition is of course largely due to the exceedingly rich quality of soil that extends over nearly its entire surface. Topographically, the lands of the town may be classed as level generally, with a gradually rolling surface affording an excellent natural drainage system. The lands of the town are considerably higher than in the vicinity Penn Yan, and travel between the county seat and Benton Center is necessarily up along hill. Bellona, on Cashong Creek, is in one of the most depressed localities of the town, but not so low, perhaps, as in the vicinity of Flat street. But nowhere in the entire township do there exist hills or vales of such height or depth as to embarrass or prevent cultivation in any form or character.
If any of the towns of the county can lay claim to possessing Indian history in connection with its early history, in that respect Benton’s claim is of first importance. In the extreme northeast corner of the town, on the farm now owned by William W. COE, the Senecas' had built up a little village which had been commonly called “Cashong,” but which General SULLIVAN, in his official report of his famous expedition in September 1779, designated as “Go these unguean.” FOWLER, in his diary of early history, calls the name, “Kashanquash.” However, convenience and euphony have changed the name to Cashong, by which the stream in the locality is still designated. Here was a little village of a few cabins, but in the vicinity the Indians had growing crops and bearing orchards. At a later date than 1779, two traders, Dominick DE BARTZCH and Pierre PONDRE, maintained a post for traffic with the natives. They too claimed the lands in the vicinity. But in this narrative these persons will not be considered or treaded a shaving been the pioneer settlers of the town. In the “draught” of town lots in Benton, DE BARTZCH fell owner to No.22.
It has been the custom of all past historical writers to furnish at least a partial list of town officer in connection with town chapter, and it appears to be conceded generally that the office of supervisor is as representative a position as can be selected from among township offices of which to furnish a succession. Benton was brought into existence in 1803, but the records of the town during the first seven years of its history, whether under the names of Vernon, Snell or Benton do not appear to be in existence. From all that can be learned Samuel LAWRENCE was supervisor during 1808and 1809, and was succeeded by Elijah SPENCER in 1810. Of course the reader will understand that names of persons may be found in the following succession of supervisors of Benton who were residents of township 7, or Milo; but none such will appear after 1818. The same also be said of Torrey, which was not made a separate town until 1851.
Supervisors of Benton - Samuel LAWRENCE, 1808-09; Elijah SPENCER, 1810-14, 1817-19; Joshua LEE,1815-16; Meredith MALLORY, 1820; Abner WOODWORTH, 1820-21, 1831-32; Jonathan WHITAKER, 1823, 1825, 1829; John L. CLEVELAND, 1824; Elijah SPENCER 1826-28; Aaron REMER, 1830; Anthony GAGE, 1833; Samuel G. GAGE, 1834-35, 1838-42; Heman CHAPMAN, 1836-37; Abner WOODWORTH, 1843; Aaron EDMONDS, 1844; Hatley N. DOX,1845-47; James SIMMONS, 1848; Alfred BALDWIN, 1849; William S. HUDSON, 1850; Edward R. BRIGGS, 1851; Henry HICKS, 1852; William TAYLOR, 1853; Isaac N. GAGE,1854; George W. SPENCER, 1855 William T REMER, 1856; George A. SHEPPARD, 1857; John MERRIFIELD, 1858-59, 1865-67; Samuel ALLEN, 1860; Homer MARINER, 1861-62; Caleb HAZEN, 1863-64; Samuel JAYNE, 1868; Henry C. COLLIN, 1869-70; Wemple H. CRANE, 1871; Samuel B. GAGE, 1872-73; Mason L. BALDWIN, 1874-75; George W. TAYLOR, 1876-77; Mryon PECKINS, 1878-79; Ebenezer SCHOFIELD, 1880-81; Bradley T. MALLORY, 1882-83; Horace UNDERWOOD, 1884-85; James M. LOWN, 1886-87; Frank COE,1888-89; James B. MC ALPINE, 1890-91.
Justices of the Peace – Under an amendment to the constitution of 1821, passed in 1826, justices became elective and not appointive offices; but in Benton there appears no record showing the election of any justice prior to 1830. From that time the justices, with date of election of each has been as follows: Abner WOODWORTH, 1830-34; Samuel C. LYON, 1831,1835; John A. MC LEAN, 1832,1836,1847; Jesse T. GAGE, 1833,1837,1841, 1853; Edward YOUNG, 1838; Samuel G. GAGE, 1839, 1847, 1851; Robert P. BUELL, 1842, 1846, 1850; Levi PATCHEN, 1843; James YOUNG, 1843; Alpheus VEASIE,1844; Josiah S. CARR, 1848; Charles COLEMAN, 1849, 1857, 1865, 1869, 1873; George B. STANTON, 1852; William COMSTOCK, 1854, 1858, 1862; William S. HUDSON,1855; James DURHAM, 1856,1860; Martin BROWN Jr., 1859, 1863; Edwin LAMPORT,1862, 1864; Thomas H. LOCKE, 1866, 1870, 1874, 1878; Henry R. TAYLOR, 1867, 1871; Daniel MILLSPAUGH, 1872, 1876; Myron PECKINS,1876; William BEST, 1879; Walter W. BECKER, 1880, 1884; Rowland S. MANLEY, 1881; Charles R. PECKINS, 1882, 1886, 1890; George B. BARDEN, 1883, 1887; William H. COLEMAN, 1885; Emmet C. PAYNE, 1888; Ashley W. BARDEN 1889.
Outside of Penn Yan the principal central point for trade and business in Benton is the little hamlet called Bellona, situated on Cashong Creek in the northeast part of town. From the time of the founding of the village about 1810, until the present time, the population has at no time exceeded 300 souls; but, in a way, Bellona has been and is an important pint. Its business interests have been comprised in the saw and grist mills, the indispensable tavern and two or three stores. Bellona was made a mail station in 1813, with Martin GAGE as postmaster. He held office until 1839, and was then succeeded by Dr. Anthony GAGE. The stone mill at Bellona was built about or soon after 1835.
Benton Center is the name of a little village having no corporate organization, situate very near the middle of township No. 8 as originally laid out and surveyed. It is distant from the county seat about three and one half miles, on the main thoroughfare of travel north form Penn Yan, and at the intersection of the road just mentioned with the only east and west road that leads directly and entirely across town. The first settlement in Benton was made east of and near the Center by Levi BENTON, while the lots Nos. 113, 114, 115 and 116 that contribute lands to the hamlet proper, were themselves occupied at an early day. Still the village had no post office until 1825, when Joel ROSS was appointed postmaster. David BUELL succeeded him, since whose time John A. HAIGHT, Isaac N. GAGE, Asahel SAVAGE, Myron COLE, Edwin LAMPORT, and Oliver C. GUTHRIE have held the same office. Benton Center has two churches and church societies, each of which is mentioned on succeeding pages of this chapter.Furguson’s Corners is the lesser in importance of the three hamlets of the town. Its situation is in the extreme northwestern section of Benton, and its size is scarcely greater than the average of corners or crossroads. A post office was established here in 1842, but discontinued in 1865.
History& Directory of Yates County, Volume I
by Stafford C. Cleveland, published 1873
As originally constituted, the town of Benton embrace, in addition to its present territory, all that is included in Milo and Torrey. It was taken from Jerusalem, February 12, 1803, and named Vernon. A town was formed with the name of Vernon the previous year in Oneida county, and the inconvenience of having two towns of the same name was remedied in 1808, by an act of Legislature passed April 6, changing the name of the Ontario County Vernon, to Snell, in honor of Jacob SNELL, at that time a State Senator from Montgomery county. The people were dissatisfied with the new name and early in 1810, a meeting was held at the Inn of Luman PHELPS, on the corner of Main and Head streets, in Penn Yan, at which it was resolve to petition the Legislature to change the name of the town to Benton, in honor of Levi BENTON, the first settlers in township number eight, first range, and a justly popular and prominent citizen. Nathan P. COLE was one of the committee to draw the petition to which the Legislature responded by the act of April 2, 1810, giving the town the name it very properly retains. Milo was taken off in 1818, leaving Benton all of township number eight, and all that lay eastward thereof to Seneca Lake. Its fine proportions were marred in 1851, by the creation of Torrey, which took from Benton, six entire lots of number eight and a corner from the seventy by a northeastward line to the lake, then including what was east of the old Pre-emption line within these boundaries.
The land between the Old Pre-emption line and Seneca Lake was on Reed and Ryckman’s location, and township number eight was one of those ceded to the Lessee Company by Phelps and Gorham. Of course, the territory between the two Pre-emption lines fell under the control of Charles WILLIAMSON, as part of the PULTNEY estate, and titles thereon are all derived from him, or from the State in his stead, to indemnify him. The disposition made of number eight by the Lessees, is explained by an old document in the hands of the writer, which gives the “draught,” as it was called, of the lots. The numbers in the schedule following are arranged consecutively and not according to the original order. The change is made for the convenience of the reader.
NAMES OF THE PERSONS WITH THE NUMBER OF THE LOTS, ANNEXED TO THEM IN TOWNSHIP NO. 8, AS DRAWN AT KANADESAGA.
2. James PARKER
3. James DEAN
4. Annanins COOPER
6. Henry TREMPER
7. Henry G. LIVINGSTON
8. Colton M. SMITH
10. Hugh WALSH
11. Henry B. LIVINGSTON
13. Charles MC KINSTRY
14. Ezra REED
16. Bazalean SEELEY
17. Abraham CUYLER
18. Hezekiah OLCOTT
49. James BRYANT
22. Dominick DE BARTZCH
25. Morris GRAHAM
27. Peter BARTLE
28. Jeremiah JABIN
29. Abraham SCHUYLER
30. John MC KINSTRY and Garret RYCKMAN
32. Sarah REED
33. John COLLINS
34. Robert TROIP
35. Henry PLATNER
36. Obadiah GORE
38. Matthias VISSCHER
40. John MC KINSTRY
42. SHEPHERD and SHAW
47. Andrew LATTING
48. Lawrence TREMPER
49. John BARTLE
53. Benjamin CHASE and Jared COFFIN
54. William RADCLIFF
55. Ezekiel GILBERT
56. Simeon SPALDING
58. Peter LOOP
59. William H. and Peter LUDLOW
60. Peter RYCKMAN
61. John BAY
63. Clark JENNINGS
64. Nathaniel JERIBU
65. Daniel NIVEN
66. Benjamin ALLEN
70. John D. P. DOUW
71. Jacob J. SHAVER
72. William HOPKINS
73. William WHITING
75. John and Andrew WHITE
76. Seth JENKINS and Paul HUSSEY
77. Peter BISHOP
78. Henry LIVINGSTON
79. David COLLIN
81. Caleb BENTON
82. John GRAHAM
83. John LIVINGSTON
84. William WALL
85. Benjamin BIRDSALL
86. Richard D. CANTLING
87. Stephen HOGEBOOM and Henry TREMPER
88. Joseph BARNARD
89. William PEARCE
90. Benjamin BROWN
92. William POTTER
96. Jacob H. WENDLE
97. Peter SCHUYLER and Henry TREMPER
98. Prince BRYANT
99. Joseph HAMILTON
100. Eleazer LINDLEY
101. Walter WEMPLE
104. Henry J. VAN RENSSALAER
105. Isaiah PARIS
106. Peter R. LIVINGSTON
110. Ebenezer HUSTED
112. John MALLEY
“Blank lots, left in township No. 8 for surveying, viz: Nos. 95, 5 and 9.”
“Lots said to be sold to Joseph SMITH, to discount his bond given by the agents for the sum of 1,000pounds, or an equivalent in lands, and taken up by John LIVINGSTON for the five lots of land in township No. 8, viz: Nos. 39,41,43,45 and 62.”
“A disposition of five lots of land in said township No. 8, give to Nicholas ROSECRANTS to discharge his bond for 1,00 pounds, dues given to him by the said agents, viz: Nos.67,69,94,91 and 93.”
“Lots No. 1 and 26 in said Township No. 8, sold to Caleb BENTON, for which the company have credit in his private account.”
“Lot 37 sold to Levi BENTON, for which the company have credit in the agent’s account.”
“Lots 44 and 50 said to be dispose of to surveyors”
“The remaining 24 lots in township No. 8, viz: 12,15,20,21,23,24,31,46,51,52,57,68,74,80,102,103,107,108,109,109,113,114,115,116, are balloted for this November 1789, in township No. 9, to make the division equal as reference being thereunto had, will more fully appear. Done by us.
WILLIAM H. LUDLOW
It is probable that the disposition of the several lots in township number eight, mentioned by Mr. TURNER as occurring in 1788, was not carried out, as it varies widely from the foregoing schedule.
To whom the balloted lots fell, does not appear. The lots are somewhat singularly numbed in pairs, and two lines of lots are taken together across the township, form north to south beginning on the east side. No. 1 falls in the second tier of lots, and No. 2 is the northeast corner lot of the township. The lots were designed to include 200 acres each, except four in the center of the township which were to contain 160 acres each, embracing together just a square mile. These were intended to be set apart for school purposes, but he design was abandoned. The lots are said to have mostly overrun the original survey in the quantity of land.
The earliest white occupation was at Kashong, by the French traders DE BARTZCH and POUDRE, but they could not be called in any just sense, settlers. Levi BENTON and his family were the first who came to stay and stand by civilized ideas of life. His cabin was erected on lot 37, the neat year after the beginning made by the Friends near City Hill. Dr. Caleb BENTON ,the cousin of Levi BENTON, and the indefatigable operator of the Lessee Company, had his saw mill in operation on Kashong Creek, where the Tully limestone forms a cascade, in the present village of Bellona, nearly or quite as soon as the Friends had theirs, where the same rock forms a similar cascade on the Kueka outlet. Dr. BENTON, it would seem, either by purchase or agency, became the vendor of much of the land as many of the present titles rest on his deeds. More, however, are derived from John LIVINGSTON, who succeeded Dr. BENTON in the direct capacity of agent for the company.
Kashong was the gateway by which settlers entered that part of the country. It was known for many years as “Ben. Barton’s Landing.” It was a beautiful point where a fine Indian village had been destroyed by SULLIVAN’S men. Some of the Indian apple trees it is said, remained over 50 years after the first settlement of the country. Major BARTON was interested in the Niagara Lessee Company, and agent for it. In 1787, he aided in driving a drove of cattle and sheep from New Jersey to Niagara, to supply the British garrison and Indian department. He bought of Dominick DE BARTZCH a farm of 700 acres at Kashong. It has been stated by Major BARTON’S son, that the purchase was made of POUDRE; but John H. JONES, an early surveyor and Indian interpreter, who witnessed the confirmation of the bargain does not so relate. He states that POUDRE was the servant of DE BARTZCH made the sale and Major BARTON afterwards had some difficulty to get it ratified by the State, as it was strenuously opposed, probably by REED and RYCKMAN. He succeeded by the kind assistance of Gov. George CLINTON.
It has been said, and it is not improbable, that a Catholic priest from Oswego visited Kashong while DEBARTZCH and POUDRE were there, and held religions service, the red men and women of the vicinity forming the principal audience. Such a visitation, if it occurred, was in the footsteps of the Jesuit fathers who had done so much more than a century before to convert the Iroquois to Catholicism.
Major BARTON resided at Kashong about 20 years. He married the daughter of James LATTA, an early setter in the town of Seneca. From 1802 to 1806 he was Sheriff of Ontario County, by appointment of Gov. George CLINTON, and was a man of high consideration in the country. He was a surveyor, and was long employed by the Surveyor General in the survey of the Military Tract. As his son, James L. BARTON related, in an address at Buffalo in 1848, he became “forehanded” and determined to build a better house than the log cabin he at first inhabited. He proceeds with the narrative as follows”:
“He commenced in 1796 or1797 the erection of a large square two story frame house, and from its peculiar and favorable locality and beautiful site, on the traveled road from Geneva to Bath, in Steuben county, supposed it might be wanted in time for a tavern, and had a large ballroom made in it. Owing to adverse circumstances, one of which was the failure of the contractor, he lost $300, a large sum at that time. Another was, that his lumber after being well dried and fit for use, caught fire in the kiln and was destroyed. These retarded its completion for several years. At length it was finished and being the only house for several miles around of a suitable size for the purpose, the master workmen and his joiners, together with some other young men, were desirous of having a house warming and spinning bee. That hear he had grown an extraordinary crop of flax, and the young men said if he would let them have frolic, they would hackle and dress the flax, get the fiddlers, collect the girls, and do all they could to lighten the burden on him. He gave his permission- they turned in, dressed the flax, and then making up 72 half pound bunches, put them in bags and scattered them round the country for several miles, amongst the girls as cards of invitation.
“In those days there were no pianos nor guitars in the country, and the girls made music on spinning wheels, and the notes they practiced upon were flax and wool. The flax was to be spun into threads of a certain number, and on the evening of the party, each girl was to bring her skein of thread. Those who lived on roads leading direct, came in wagons. Others, who lived in the woods, where some of the prettiest girls were found, mounted a horse behind a young man, with a blanket to set upon, dressed in their every day apparel, with woolen stockings and strong shoes on. They would dash through the woods on some trail, through brooks and over every obstacle in their way, carrying their ball dress and skein of thread in their hand. A few minutes at the toilet put them in a condition for the ballroom. Others living only a mile or two away, thought it no great task to come on foot. In the gall room, their rosy cheeks, their sparkling eyes and blooming health, gave pleasure to all who beheld them; and their vigorous systems, strengthened by hard daily labor, enabled them to dance and enjoy it, and with life and spirit would they skip through the dance, like the young fawns of their own woods. The supper was prepared by my mother, and well, too, from the products of the farm, and with the addition of coffee, tea, sugar and some light wine, was all that was necessary or desired. Information reaching Geneva of the party, about 30 of the elite of that place came down and joined heartily in the pleasures going on. As no barn could hold the horses, they were picketed around the wagons and fences, and plenty of hay spread before them. As daylight began to appear, the girls would doff their ball dresses, and having again donned the homespun, disappeared for their homes in the woods.”
In 1809 Major BARTON removed to Lewiston. The roads during the first few years were quite provisional and run in any convenient direction through the woods. When farms were somewhat cleared, regular roads became necessary. The earliest record that exists of any in Benton, is that from Benton Centre to Penn Yan, surveyed by Joseph JONES and Joshua ANDREWS, Commissioners in 1799, “beginning at the center of No. 8, first range, running shout through the middle of said town 940 rods, thence south 40 degrees east, 150 rods to then northeast corner of Robert CHISSOM’S lot.” The same day they record a road running from the southwest corner of lot58, eastward to Perley DEAN’S, or near there, intersecting a road said to run from Levi BENTON’S to township No. 7. So it would appear that the Flat Street road was then a recognized highway.
Blazed trees marked the corners and lines of lots, and finally roads were made to follow these lines, except where other routes had become so much established that they could not be conveniently changed. December 3,1799, Joseph JONES and Daniel BROWN Jr., as Commissioners, surveyed a road “beginning at the east line of Township No. 8, in the 2nd range, being about two miles. This road passes through Ferguson’s Corners, and was formerly called the “Potter road.” The Pre-emption road was surveyed in 1802, Nov. 18th. Levi BENTON was Commissioner of Highways most of the time till 1812, and by him nearly all the more important roads in Benton and Milo were laid out. His son, Joseph BENTON, is frequently mentioned in the record, as the surveyor by whom the roads were run out. Levi BENTON had as associate Commissioners during the time he served, Joseph JONES, Daniel BROWN, John LAWRENCE, Robert DOWNEY, Thomas HOWARD, Griffin B. HAZZARD, Morris F. SHEPPARD, Charles ROBERTS and Stephen WHITAKER. After them came Isaac HEDGES?, Abner WOODWORTH, Joshua WAY, Jonathan WHITAKER, Robert BUCKLEY, John REMER, Meredith MALLORY, Avery SMITH, David BRIGGS, Robert PATTERSON, Jared PATCHEN, Stephen PURDY, and Abel PECK. These were all previous to 1819. Of surveyors mentioned in connection with the laying out of these roads, there were Benedict ROBINSON, Joseph JONES, Joseph BENTON, Robert PATTERSON, Ephraim S. KIDDER and Seth CLARK.
The earliest roads or pathways through the forest, were those which led to Kashong as one important point, to Smith’s mills and the Friend’s settlement , to Dr. BENTON’S sawmill and to Geneva. Dr. BENTON, when he built his mill, must have owned ones one and two entire. The mill was on the spot where the grist mill owned by George R. BARDEN and his son Ashley now stands, in Bellona. He reserved the timber on 400 acres for the use of the mill, and rented the whole tract and mill to Thomas and James BARDEN, for 4 years, at $90 a year. The BARDENS' during their lease, furnished the lumber for Mr. WILLIAMSON to build the Geneva Hotel and Mile Point house. It was shipped from the mouth of Kashong Creek and was a profitable contract. They received one center foot, running measure, for all sizes and widths of lumber, the whole amounting to $4,000, a large sum in those days, which was promptly paid by Mr. WILLIAMSON in silver coin.
After the expiration of the BARDEN lease, the entire tract and mill were sold to Joseph LONGHEAD from Pennsylvania, for $4,000 and he built a grist mill on the north side of the creek opposite the saw mill of that day. The mill was provided with two run of stone. The first pair was wrought from boulders of granite found in the vicinity, and were fashioned by Dyer WOODWORTH, and by him ironed and hung, he being both a blacksmith and stone cutter. One of the rocks from which an upper stone was split, is now to be seen on the Buel MARINER farm. The bed stone was taken from a boulder found by the roadside, on Thomas BARDEN’S premises. These rude fixtures were used for many years and made flour that was thought good enough in those days. To bolt the flour was a separate operation, for which it was carried by the miller from the lower to the upper story. The old millstones may now be seen one covering a well in Mrs. SLATER’S and the other at the north end of the bridge in Bellona.
LONGHEAD owned the property about 15 years, in which time but little more that the mill and blacksmith shop were added to the place. He lived in a framed house built by Dr. Caleb BENTON, which was only removed from its location a few months ago. In this house, Thomas BARDEN was born March 11, 1793. He was a grandson of Levi BENTON and the second birth in town. John PEMBROKE, an early settler, died in the same house a few years ago. About 1815, Thomas WOOD, from Ulster county bought the mill and 200 acres of the land. Jacob WHITNEY and Robert and Henry OXTOBY bought the remaining 200 acres and occupied it long after. From this period the village began to grow, and it was variously called Slab Hollow, Pinkneyville, Wood’s Hollow and finally, Benton, which name it retained as a Post Office designation till 1868, when it was changed to Bellona, the name given to the village by Samuel G. GAGE in 1818. Tradition says the name was suggested by a fierce fight which occurred in the place, under alcoholic inspiration, between John MC DERMOTT and his wife, in which the lady was triumphant.
The village is located where the valley widens, at a point where another and smaller stream comes in form the north west, and the banks have a moderate inclination and where the Tully limestone forms a cascade of 27 feet. There is a descent of 160 feet to the lake from this point, through a deep ravine, with some smaller cascades. The elevation from Bellona south to the point where the water flow turns to the Keuka Lake outlet, is thought to be not less than 100 feet. The waters are found to divide on the premises of Lewis R. PECK, on lot No. 40.
It is related that in 1791, Caleb BENTON built a barn 30 by 40 feet, beginning on Monday morning with the trees standing in the woods. The trees were felled, hewed and framed, and the barn enclosed so that wheat was drawn into it on Saturday of the same week. This barn is suppose to have been the first erected west of Seneca Lake.
About half a mile east of Bellona, by the creek, there was a deer lick. Here, Archibald COLE, in one of early years shot John TAYLOR, supposing by the motion through the bushes that he was taking aim at a deer. He carried the wounded man to his home, where the stone house of David BARNES now stands in Seneca. Here he was kindly cared for till he was able to leave, and Dr. HENRY’S bill of $50 was also cheerfully paid by the man whose hazardous shot had proved so near a homicide.
The first blacksmith at Bellona, was Robert LONGHEAD, who manufactured sickles and whose shop stood in1805 where the hotel shed now stands. Joseph REYNOLDS was the first cooper, and his shop in 1805 stood near the location of the present stone building of George G. Gage & Co. William BRIDGES was a tanner whose shop in 1808 was the building which Dr. A. B. SLOAN now lived in and owns.
John DYE, the father of a noted family, bought the Kashong farm of Benjamin BARTON, and maid it his homestead for many years. He built a grist mill, it is said, as early as 1805 or sooner, on the Kashong, about midway between Bellona and the lake. A saw mill had been built at the same place some years before, it is thought, by Thomas GRAY, a bachelor, who owned the north part of the PEACOCK farm, the next south of Jephthah EARL, on the lake road. This saw mill was owned by the DYES. The grist mill was constructed by John LA FEVER, millwright, and was afterwards known as the Barnes Mill. The decease of John DYE occurred about 1820, and both he and Thomas GRAY were buried in the Indian cemetery on the Kashong bluff. After this the DYE farm was sold to Andrew BRUM, a showman who exhibited the first elephant in this region, previous to his purchase of the farm. His two sons, Alexander and John, and his son in law, Augustus J. BATTEN, came from New York city and lived with him on the farm. He and both sons died there and were buried in the Indian burial ground. BATTEN them emigrated West. The DYE family removed to Geneva, or near there. One of the daughters married William LILLY, of the firm of Lathrop & Lilly, merchants of Geneva. Benjamin, one of the sons, died in Geneva, unmarried, a lawyer. Peter married Maria SHEPHERD of Benton, lived for a time at the mills owned by the family, then moved to Geneva where he died. Sears, another son, is now a tanner at Seneca Falls. William is supposed to have died at sea. Eleanor married a relative by the name of DYE and lives in Seneca county. There were others of whom no information has been obtained for these chronicles.
The Kashong farm, originally purchased by BARTON is now owned as follows: 200 acres by Egbert HURD; 325 by Jephthah EARL; 100 by Arthur EARL; and 44 by Ebenezer HOLCOMB. The creek runs through Mr. HOLCOMB’S land, which also includes the sacred burial place of the Senecas, but little of which remains undisturbed by cultivation.Egbert HURD has been a resident here since 1847. He was born in Dutchess county in 1804, married in 1839, Eliza LACEY, who was born in Saratoga county in 1815. After living a few years in Chemung county, he purchased 244 acres of the Kashong farm, of James SIMONS at $30 per acre. He has been a successful farmer, and has made a specialty of rearing stock and fattening for market. He has commenced the grape culture and has a vineyard of 8 acres in bearing. His house is the one built by Benjamin BARTON before 1800, in the erection of which only wrought nails were used. It was inhabited by the DYE family and has since been remodeled, but the frame and siding are still well preserved. The yard about the house is fenced with red cedar posts from the banks of the Kashong, which have stood more than 60 year without apparent decay. Several yellow locust trees in the yard will measure two and two and one half feet in diameter. They have but one surviving child, Albert R., who married Hannah, the daughter of Owen R. SWARTHOUT of Torrey, and they have one child, Egbert S. Both parents of both Mr. and Mrs. HURD have deceased at their house since they have lived on this place. Ebenezer HURD, aged 94; Rebecca HURD, 91; Edward LACEY, nearly 90; Huldah LACEY, 91.
In one of a series of articles contributed in 1869, to the Yates County Chronicle, concerning the “Yates County Gazetteer,” Edward J. FOWLE, wrote as follows:
“After the earlier settlers of Benton, about 1816, there came a colony from Livingston’s Manor, Columbia county who located in the west part of the town which for many ears was designated as the West or Dutch Woods. They were an honest, frugal and industrious people. The “Old Folks” are nearly all departed, as are most of the log houses they built. Many of the descendants reside there, possessing the virtues of the parents. They are well to do farmers, and good livers. Among them will be found the family names of CRANK, RECTOR, FINGER, WHEELER, SIMMONS, CARROL, HOOS, MOON, MILLER and NIVER. In the young days of the old people, the winters afforded good times for visiting and social enjoyment. Every week, if not oftener, at the log residence of some one of them, the families would all congregate, coming in sleighs or sleds, when there would be music and dancing, story telling, refreshments and smoking, while the huge logs blazed away in the good large fireplaces; and so the evening or night passed away. There was usually one double log house, with only one room below, which had two fireplaces, two looms, two beds and other furniture and occupied by two families. And those primitive times were happy times with them, with few artificial wants, with no heed to fashions, no class distinctions, no envying nor jealousies, there lives glided along smoothly and pleasantly. Their spiritual wants were supplied occasionally, by an itinerant Dutch or Methodist minister. They were always kind to one another, at house raisings and logging bees, at marriages, in sickness and at death and burial. The large and small wheel, the reel and the loom, have nearly disappeared form among them, but agriculture, the dairy, poultry flocks and herds and general household duties, now claim the attention of both men and women, old and young, conducing to health and competence. They have rarely if ever been engaged in law suits, and never has one of them been before he courts for wrong doing. It would be hard for our friends in high life to frame for themselves a more exalted eulogy. “
History& Directory of Yates County, Volume I
by Stafford C. Cleveland, published 1873 pg 363 - 372
pg 363 - 372
By an act of the Legislature in 1789, The Courts of General Sessions in the several counties, where authorized to organize towns, and under this act, Jerusalem and Augusta were organized; Jerusalem in 1792. Thomas LEE was the first supervisor, and the town embraced townships 7 of both the first and second range; No.8 of the first range and all eastward of both 7 and 8 to Seneca Lake. There is reason for stating that James SPENCER, a brother of Truman and Elijah, was supervisor in 1797. In 1799 Eliphalet NORRIS was supervisor, and Levi BENTON in 1800, Benjamin BARTON in 1801, Daniel BROWN Sr., an early settlers in Jerusalem in 1802. In 1803, Jerusalem was restricted to its present limits, not including Bluff Point, and the name of Vernon given to the rest of the old town. An effort was made at an early day to have a town erected to include No. 8, alone, as the following petition to the court will show:
To the Honourable, The Special Court of Sessions to be held at Canandaigua, the 3rdTuesday in February, instant:
The petition of many of the inhabitants of Jerusalem humbly showeth that where as many of the reputable inhabitants of No. eight in the first Range in this town, do wish to be incorporated into a town by themselves - and to prevent disputes and preserve friendship among us, we pray this Honourable Court to set of said No. eight into a separate town by the name of WILTO, with all the liberty and privileges which other towns in the State of New York have and enjoy - and your petitioners in duty bound will ever pray.
Griffin B. HAZARD, Joshua ANDREWS, M. LAWRENCE, Enoch SHEARMAN, Levi BENTON, Thomas LEE Jr., Benjamin DURHAM, Enos FULLER, James MC CURT, Silas HUNT, Silas H. MAPES, Thomas HATHAWAY, James PARKER, Smith MAPES, Daniel S. JUDD, John PLYMPTON, Dyer WOODWORTH, Daniel LAREZELERE, Benjamin BRIGGS, Otis BARDEN, Dennis SHAW, William ARDERY, Jeremiah JILLETT, James ALLEN, James SCHOFIELD, John KNAPP, Thomas CLARK
George WHEELER, James SPRINGSTED, James BEAUMONT, Nathan WHEELER, William GILBERT, John NEIL, Elisha WOLCOTT, William HILTON Jr., James BROWN, Elisha WOODWORTH, William HILTON, Ellis PEARCE, Ezra RICE, David RIGGS 1st, Henry MAPES, Samuel BUELL Jr., Elisha BROWN, Simeon LEE, Eliphalet HULL, Ichabod BUELL, William CUNNINGHAM, Joel P. SAWYER, Samuel BUELL, John MUCKELNANE, Daniel STULL, George BENNETT, John BRUCE, Daniel BROWN, Cyrus BUELL, Hezekiah TOWNSEND, Perley DEAN, David RIGGS, Mathew COLE, Francis DAINS, Philip RIGGS, Reuben RIGGS, Jesse DAINS, George WHEELER Jr., Ezra COLE.
This petition drawn by James PARKER, and so respectably signed, it appear was not granted by the court. Whether it was opposed by any portion of the people, is to the writer, unknown. Aside from the erection of Jerusalem in 1803,the town was preserved in its large proportions as Vernon, Snell and Benton, till 1818, when Milo was erected. And during that time there is no record of existence, in either Benton or Milo, so far as has become known in there searches of this work, to show who were town officers. From records of the proceeding of the Board of Supervisors of Ontario county, it is ascertained that Samuel LAWRENCE was supervisor of Vernon in 1808, and beginning with 1810, the supervisors of Benton were as follows: 1810- 1814, Elijah SPENCER; 1815-16, Joshua LEE; 1817 - 1818, Elijah SPENCER.
In 1819, after the separation from Milo, the first town meeting was held at Truman SPENCER'S. They had previous been held at the house of Lawrence TOWNSEND. The following ticket was elected:
Supervisor, Elijah SPENCER; Town Clerk, Jonathan WHITAKER; Assessors, Jared PATCHEN, Meredith MALLORY; Overseers of the Poor, John CRAWFORD, William ROY; Collector, Anthony TRIMMER Jr.; Commissioners of Highways, Stephen PURDY, Reuben GAGE, Joseph HAVENS; Constables, Anthony TRIMMER Jr., John POWELL, Joseph WHITNEY; Commissioners of Common Schools: John L. CLEVELAND, Nathan P. COLE, Martin GAGE; Inspectors of Common Schools, William SHATTUCK, Thomas J. NEVENS, Abner WOODWORTH, Samuel G. GAGE, Gurdon BADGER, Anthony GAGE; Fence Viewers, Joseph SMITH, Abraham TOWNSEND, Samuel RANDALL, Walter ANGUS, Otis BARDEN, Thomas HOWARD; Pound Master - Ezra Cole.
The subsequent Supervisors have been:
1820, Meredith MALLORY
1821,1822, 1831, 1832, 1843 Abner WOODWORTH
1823,1825, 1829 Jonathan WHITAKER
1824 John L. CLEVELAND
1826-1828, Elijah SPENCER
1830 Aaron REMER
1833 Anthony GAGE
1834-1835, 1838 - 1842, Samuel G. GAGE
1836,1837 Heman CHAPMAN
1844 Aaron EDMONDS
1845- 1847 Hatley N. DOX
1848 James SIMONS
1849 Alfred BALDWIN
1850 William S. HUDSON
1851 Edward R. BRIGGS
1852 Henry HICKS
1853 William TAYLOR
1854 Isaac N. GAGE
1855 George W. SPENCER
1856 William T. REMER
1857 George A. SHEPPARD
1858- 1859, 1865 - 1867 John MERRIFIELD
1860 Samuel ALLEN
1861-1862 Homer MARINER
1863- 1864 Caleb HAZEN
1868 Samuel JAYNE
1869- 1870 Henry C. COLLIN
Jonathan WHITAKER was town clerk four years before being supervisor, and after him, Coe B. SAYRE and Heman CHAPMAN, each one year; Jesse T. GAGE, 7 years; Heman CHAPMAN, 4 years, beginning in 1832; John A. HAIGHT 4 years; Ezra B. POTTER, 2 years; Daniel FOSTER in 1842, followed two years by Ezra B. POTTER; Jesse T. GAGE, 1year; Nathan P. COLE, 1 year; Isaac N. GAGE, 1 year; Henry HICKS, 2 years; Garret V. SCOTT in 1850; Oliver P. GUTHRIE in 1851, followed 3 years by Mason L. BALDWIN; one year by Robert S. EDMONDS; Oliver P. GUTHERIE, 10 years, in 1851, followed 3 years by Mason L. BALDWIN; one year by Robert S. EDMONDS; Oliver P. GUTHRIE in 1855; Isaac N. GAGE, 1 year; Joseph J. HOLLETT, 2 years; Daniel MILLSPAUGH; 2 year, then Oliver P. GUTHRIE 10 years, including 1870.
There is no record of the election of Justices of the Peace before 1830, in which year, Abner WOODWORTH was elected and again in 1834. Samuel C. LYON was elected in 1831 & 1835. John A. MC LEAN in 1831, 1836 and 1847; Jesse T. GAGE in 1833, 1837, 1841 & 1853; Edward YOUNG in 1838; Samuel G. GAGE in 1839, 1847, 1848 and 1851; Robert P. BUELL in 1842, 1846 and 1850; Levi PATCHEN and James YOUNG in 1843; Alpheus VEAZIE in 1844; Josiah S. CARR in 1848; Charles Coleman in 1849, 1857, 1861, 1865 and 1869; George B. STANTON in 1852; William COMSTOCK in 1854, 1858 and 1862; William S. HUDSON in 1855; James DURHAM in 1856 and 1860; Martin BROWN Jr. in 1859 and 1863; Edwin LAMPORT in 1862 and 1864; Thomas H. LOCKE in 1866 and 1870; Henry R. TAYLOR in 1867; James S. WILLIAMS in1868.
Previous to 1818, town meetings were held at the house of Lawrence TOWNSEND, and after that for three years at Truman SPENCER'S; in 1825 at Z. P. WIER'S ; in 1827 at Alfred GULLY'S; in 1829 at Truman SPENCER'S. They have for many years been held at Benton Center, and with little or no opposition since a part of the town was taken off to form Torrey.
MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS pg 367 - 372
A post office was established at Benton Centre in 1825. Joel H. ROSS was the first postmaster. David H. BUELL was appointed in 1828 and served through both terms of General JACKSON'S Presidency. John A. HAIGHT, Isaac N. GAGE, Asahel SAVAGE, Myron COLE, Edwin LAMPORT, and Oliver P. GUTHRIE have since held the office.
A post office was established at Ferguson's Corners in 1842. This was the old stage route between Canandaigua and Penn Yan. Edward L. JACOBUS, now of Penn Yan, then a tailor of that place, was the first postmaster. He was succeeded by Walter S. FERGUSON and he by Col. Samuel ALLEN. George PARTIS was the next and last, the office having been discontinued in 1865.
At Bellona, a post office was established in 1813. Martin GAGE was the first postmaster, and held the office till 1839. Dr. Anthony GAGE was his successor in 1839 and died the same year. Frederick T. BACKENSTOSE was appointed December 31, 1839 and he was succeeded by Dr. Henry BARDEN in1841; DeWitt C. GAGE in 1844; Stephen GARRISON in 1845; Reuben M. GAGE in 1849. Benjamin CODDINGTON was the postmaster for some years, and after him, John L. LEWIS Sr., and Amasa SMITH. George H. BROOKS was appointed in1861 and held the office a few years. He was succeeded by Charles W. COFFIN, and he by George G. GAGE, the present postmaster.
Among the merchants at Bellona, besides Martin GAGE, are Robert JOHNSON, William HUSON, A. J. BATTEN Stephen M. and Ephraim M. WHITAKER, George H. BROOKS, Amasa SMITH, Charles W. COFFIN, George G. and Hazard GAGE. The stone mill was erected by David HUDSON and David ANGUS, about 30 years ago. The population of Bellona in 1855 was 205, and in 1865 it was 270.
The first store in Benton was that of Luther BENTON and James STODDARD, opened in1791, on the first corner east of Benton Centre. They were succeeded a few years later by Joshua ANDREWS, at the same place.
John A. HAIGHT, who was for a time a partner with Martin GAGE in trade at Bellona, was for some years a merchant at Benton Centre, and he has been followed by Isaac N. GAGE, Asahel SAVAGE, Myron COLE, Edwin LAMPORT and Oliver P. GUTHRIE. Joseph J. HOLLETT, who was prosperously engaged in the place as a wagon maker, was burned out with heavy loss in 1864.
The stream known as Sucker Brook in Penn Yan, running from Sheppard's Gully, was once a mill stream. Morris F. SHEPPARD built a grist mill a short distance up the ravine, about 1818. The mill did very well for a few years; but as the back country was cleared of its forests, the water failed and the mill had to be abandoned. Stone have bee quarried to some extent in this gully and some flagging has been obtained, but is not of the best quality. Morris F. SHEPPARD built his residence now owned by Jephthah A. POTTER, on Main near Head street, of stone from these quarries.
A fulling mill was erected about 1818, on Jacob's Brook, east of the residence of Major Asa COLE, by Caleb and Samuel CLARK, who continued the business of wool carding and cloth dressing several years. "The building", says Mr. FOWLE, "has long since passed away and the tuneful notes of the whippoorwill that used to animate that neighborhood with his song, are heard no more."
Vineyards are cultivated in Benton with success, by Henry M. STEWART, William H. SHERLAND, Thomas H. LOCKE, and Alfred ROSE, near Penn Yan, and J. J. MEAD near Bellona.
By the census of 1820, Benton had 10 school houses and 13 school districts, and public monies for schools in 1821, to the amount of $238.43. The town had1050 children between 5 and 15 years; 957 of whom were taught in the schools of1821. the number of arms in the town was 687; mechanics, 151; traders, 5; taxable property, $304,737; electors, 633 (the property qualification existed then); improved land 14,741; cattle, 3,565; horses, 819; sheep, 8,602; yards of cloth made in families in 1821, 22,292. There were 3 grist mills, 5 sawmills, 2 fulling mills, 2 carding machines, 9 distilleries, which made 54,000gallons of whiskey in 1821, and three asheries. Bellona is spoken of by Spafford's Gazetter in 1824, as having a meeting house, a school house, two mills, a store, two ins, a small library, a number of mechanic's shops, an ashery and a distillery.
In 1800, the town of Jerusalem, which then included the entire original district of that name, numbered but 1219 inhabitants. Restricted to its present limits, less Bluff Point, it numbered but 450 residents in 1810, while Benton had 3,339. Hence the gain in the two towns had been 2,570 in 10 years. Benton reported three slaves in 1810, and the manufacture the preceding years of 35, 352 yards of cloth. By the State census of 1814, Benton had a population of 3,403. Milo was taken off in 1818, and by the census of1820, there was still left to Benton a population of 3,357, while Milo had 2,602. The gain for the two towns in six years had been 2,564. In 1825, Benton had gone forward to a population of 3,730. In 1830 it reached 3,957; in 1835 it was 3,851; in 1840, 3,911; in 1845, 3,681; in 1850, 3,456. Torrey took off a portion of the town in 1851, and in 1855, Benton had a population of 2,500; in 1860, 2,462; and in 1865, 2,400. On the 2,500 inhabitants of Benton in 1855, those who were natives of the town numbered 1,199 and 2,011 of the State, 2,224 of the United States, 127 of England, 98 of Ireland, 12 of Scotland and 13 of Canada.
In 1865, Benton had 466 male citizens between the ages of 18 and 45. She furnished 13 soldiers to the war of the Rebellion, of whom 38 sacrificed their lives in the service.
By the census of 1865, Benton had 20,371 acres of improved land. The cash value of farms reported was $1,753,535; of stock $199,028; of tools and implements, $55,681. Acres plowed in 1864, 5,001; acres of pasture in1865, 4,672; of meadow, 3,759. Tones of hay harvested in 1864, 4,319;acres wheat sowed in 1864, 2,814; bushels of wheat gathered the same year,36,400 on 2,779 acres of land. In 1854 Benton harvested 22,911 bushels of wheat on 1,765 acres of land. In 1864, 13,292 bushels of oats were harvested from 1,475 acres of land; 22,045 bushels of barley form 1,179 acres; 56,006 bushels of corn from 1,607 acres; 1,787 barrels of apples were gathered from 17, 809 trees and 499 barrels of apple cider made. For 1865, only3,535 pounds of maple sugar were reported, which much have been but a trifle compared with the amount made 40 years before; 2,498 pounds of hone were reported; 221 milk cows; 103,245 pounds of butter and 4,439 pounds of cheese; 848 horses; 1,101 pigs; 205,611 pounds of pork, 10,966 sheep, 66,805 pounds of wool; 36 yards of pulled cloth and 45 yards of flannel.
By the tax roll of Vernon in 1808, there appears to have been 12 distilleries in the town, owned respectively by John NICHOLAS, Joseph BENTON, Gilbert DORMAN, Thomas LEE Jr., John LAWRENCE, John MIDTORN, Charles ROBERTS, David ROY, John SUPPLEE, Henry TOWNSEND, David VOSBINDER and Melchoir WAGENER. But one ashery is mentioned, and that was owned by Armstrong HART. One fulling mill is reported, owned by Samuel LAWRENCE. The assessors were Truman SPENCER, Benedict ROBINSON and Ezra RICE.
Distilleries in the earlier years were not generally large affairs, but the seem to have been rather numerous. Whiskey was one of the great forces of the age, and although its ravages were quite as appalling then as now, it was felt to be an indispensable level in promoting the rugged industries by which the early improvements were made. "Chopping bees,", "logging bees," and other "bees" were devices by which the early settlers aided each other largely in getting forward work, which single handed it would have been hard to accomplish, and often, impossible. Whiskey added nerve and social spirit to these co-operative labors, and without it, no such combined efforts could then have been possible.
John COLEMAN built a distillery in 1805 at Bellona, and ran it about two years. Another was erected about 1812, where Charles COE'S blacksmith shop now stands. About 1818, another was located just below the grist mill, by Jephthat EARL and S. TURNER. Mr. EARL sold out afterwards, and in 1823built another on the lakeshore. Joseph BENTON'S distillery was a short distance eastward of the present residence of Alfred CROSBY on Flat street. There were many of these little factories of liquor at various times, indifferent parts of the town.
Martin GAGE was largely interested in the manufacture of potash at Bellona, and used the old distillery building for that purpose, about 1814. He also built an ashery below the grist mill, which was destroyed by fire. About 1815,George Benton & Co., built an ashery half a mile south of Bellona, on land now owned by John H. PLATTMAN. There were several of these establishments near Benton Centre, and other parts of the town, at various times. Potash was a large product for a considerable period. It was exported to England in large quantities, and before the period of canal transportation, was marketed to a large extent at Sodus.
The town book of Benton contains the following record of the birth of a slave: "This will certify that Harriet, an infant slave, belonging to me at this time, was born the 20th of Sept., 1822. Certified by Matthew COLE. Benton, 18th March, 1823."
People now living, speak of a time when there were 9 taverns between Penn Yan and the north line of Benton, by way of the Pre-emption road, and all doing well. This was a period when this was a great thoroughfare, not only for stages from Geneva to Bath, and father on., but when merchandise and produce were chiefly transported by wagons, and a great outlet for emigration westward by way of Olean, down the Allegany and Ohio rivers.
Among the early settlers of Benton, of whom no history has been traced, are appended a few names. David CLARK was the first settler where John P. SCOFIELD resides on lot 88; James SHERRATT, where Daniel SPRAGUE resides on lot 87; John JAQUA where William TAYLOR resides on lot 85; Allen WILKINSON, where Samuel FULLAGER occupies on lot 110; Gilbert IRELAND on the place of Daniel SUTTON, lot111; Jabez LAMB, Jasper HOOSE, William WHEELER, Clark WINANS, Daniel LOVEJOY, Jehiel GRISWOLD, in West Benton; Nathan LACEY, Elisha PIERCE, Frederic SPOONER, John GILBERT, John KNAPP, John WEST and Robert LENNOX, on the south centre road. On Flat street, Caleb CLARK, Ezekiel NEWMAN and Mr. TINKHAM. On the east and west center road, William NORTON, Archibald MEEKER, Andrew and Hugh RIPPEY, William HEDGES and William ERWIN. Haines and Smith MAPES were George R. BARDEN and William WALDRON reside. On the north centre road, David MAPES, Timothy GREEN and Michael COFFIN. On the road north of Haven's Corners, Gideon SCOTT, Russell YOUNGS, Solomon MILLARD, John CRAWFORD, Isaac SLAUGHTER, David SMITH, Mr. WAITE, and Isaac THOMPSON. North of Ferguson's Corners, Oliver HOXTER, Nehemiah COLE, John HALSTED, John SLAUGHTER, Joseph COREY, Timothy GOFF, Cato HOUNSON and James REYNOLDS. Where William T. REMER resides, Levi MACOMBER was the first settlers and William OLDFIELD on the premises of Lewis R. PECK.
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