Yates County, New York

Early Settlers for the Town of Benton

From the History of Yates County, NY
published 1892, by L.C. Aldrich

pg 353 - 363


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A history of Yates County published nearly a score of years ago devoted to Benton more than 200 of its pages, the greater part of which has particular reference to the old families of the town.  In view of this fact and in deference to a general request made upon the publishers of the present volume by a large and influential majority of men of the county, many of them descendants of pioneers, the local chapters of this will contain less of biographical and genealogical record than did its predecessor work. But at the same time an effort will be made to mention briefly as many of the pioneer families as can be recalled.  It is not that the pioneers of Benton are not worthy of extended mention, but the fact that they have been so fully written in the history referred to would seem to preclude the necessity of again treating at length concerning them, and would appear to make this volume but a repetition of the former, and therefore lose much of its value and importance. 

Common consent accords to Levi BENTON the honor of having been the pioneer of Benton. In his honor the town received its permanent name. He was the cousin of Caleb BENTON, who was one of New York Genesee Land Company, the latter being the chief disturbing factor that had much to do with retarding the settlement and development of the Genesee Country, on account of the nefarious scheme of leasing all the Iroquois lands against the expressed will of the State of New York.  Levi BENTON, with his family, came and made a settlement on lot 37, during the year1789.   Mr. BENTON was prominently connected with nearly every leading enterprise in the town; was frequently a public officer and one in whom the people had every confidence.  His wife, whom he married in Canaan, Conn., was Molly or Mary WOODWORTH, and by whom he had nine children: Polly, Olive, Levi, Luther, Calvin, Joseph, Nancy, Hannah and Ruby.  In1816 Levi BENTON and his wife moved from the town and took up their final abode in Indiana, where both died at an advanced age.  The name BENTON has no representatives in the town at the present time.   

Major Benjamin BARTON was the pioneer in the northeastern section of the town. He bought the 700 acre tract of  Dominick DE BARTZCH and made his settlement there, on Cashong Creek, soon after Levi BENTON’s coming, probably during the same year.  He was a surveyor, and had much to do with laying out early roads and running lot lines.  He built, about 1796 or ’97, a large frame house at Cashong, with the evident intention of maintaining it as a hotel, for it had that important adjunct of all taverns of the period  - a spacious dancing hall.  Also Major BARTON was a public, man, filling the office of sheriff of Ontario county form 1802 to1806.  In 1809 Major BARTON moved from the town.  

John DYE succeeded Major BARTON in the ownership of the Cashong farm, so called, and is said to have built a grist mill on the creek as early as 1805. The saw mill near the same site is believed to have been built by Thomas GRAY, also a pioneer.  Mr. DYE died in 1820, and was succeeded by Andrew BRUM, who won fame, if not fortune, in having exhibited the first elephant in the region. 

The most numerous and perhaps the most prominent family now in the locality of Cashong, are the descendants of Jeptha EARL Sr.  Mr. EARL in 1821, became owner of the mill property at Bellona, placing it in charge of his son Jesse.  It afterward became the property of another son, Jeptha EARL Jr.  The latter, born in 1806, still lives in the town, in an elegant house near Earl’s Landing on Seneca Lake. He moved here form Bellona in 1830. Of the EARL family, only Jesse, Jeptha Jr. and Arthur, sons of Jeptha Sr., became residents in Benton.  In 1829 Jeptha married Eliza HUTCHINSON, who bore him seven children. Arthur EARL was born in 1810; married Sybil CONKLIN and had nine children.   

Otis BARDEN was at the head of one of the most respected pioneer families of Benton. He was a native of Massachusetts and descended from revolutionary stock. He made his “pitch” of land, as all New Englanders say, on lot 50,while his brother, Thomas located in the township north of Benton. This was in 1789.   Otis married Elizabeth PARKER, the daughter of James PARKER of the Friend’s settlement.  Their children were Betsey; Sally; Charlotte, who married Aaron DEXTER; Susan, who married George CARPENTER; Otis, who married Cata BUTLER; James P., who married Charlotte GAGE; Henry, a prominent physician who married Caroline PURDY; Ira R., who married Susan HANLEY; William M., who married Olive HANLEY; Eleanor C., who became the wife of Daniel RYAL and Lois E., who married Henry H. GAGE. 

Thomas BARDEN, brother of Otis, married Olive, daughter of Caleb BENTON, and had eight children: Thomas, Ezekiel C., Levi, Otis B., Olive, Isaac, Richard, and Polly or Mary. 

Thomas BARDEN, father of Otis and Thomas above mentioned, with his wife and five of their children, Sylvanus, Milly, Eunice, Lois and George, moved to Benton in 1799.  George BARDEN, the last named of these children, married Dolly WITTER, and raised thirteen children, viz.: Dolly, Hannah, George R., Elizabeth, Sylvanus, James, Levi, Philo, Lucy A., Minerva, Mary J., Martin W., Tilson C. 

In 1792, Ezra COLE and his family, formerly of Litchfield, Conn., but directly form Unadilla, NY came to Benton and settled on lot 113, where the hamlet Benton Center now in part stands.  Ezra COLE built a log house first, but afterward, in 1804, a large frame building, which he opened as a tavern.  Here he lived until his death in 1821.  The children of Ezra COLE were Matthew, Delilah, Lois, Nathan P., Daniel A., Asa, Smith M., Sabra and Ezra. 

Asa COLE and Smith M. COLE, sons of Ezra, afterward became residents of the little village of Penn Yan, and each followed his father’s example in that he became tavern keeper.  Their location was at the corner of Main and Head streets, as now known. Both were active men in the affairs of the village and town, but Smith M., afterward moved to flat street in Benton, and maintained a tavern stand where Charles B. SHAW now lives.  Asa married first, Sally SPRAGUE, by whom he had two children; and second to Lydia FRANCIS, by whom he had one child, Frank R. COLE, whose pleasant residence and large farm are located just north of the village limits.  Of Asa COLE it may be said that he served during the War of 1812 as lieutenant in Captain BOGART’s Geneva company.  During his after life he was ever known to friends and neighbors as Major COLE. 

Samuel BUEL was the head of one of the pioneer families of Benton, and one of the contingent of former residents of Unadilla that came and settled near the Center in 1792.  Samuel BUEL was a native of Connecticut.  He was a soldier during the last French and Indian War, and held a captain’s commission during the Revolution, and served at Fort Edward in this State. At this place Cyrus BUEL, son of Samuel, was captured by the British and held three years in captivity, in Canada.  Being released he returned to his family.  Samuel BUEL married first, Sarah HOLMES, who bore him six children: Sarah, Samuel, Cyrus, Paulina, Betsey and Ichabod. His second wife,  was Susan MORSE, by whom he had eight children: Henry, Catharine, Anna, Hannah, Esther, Artemas, Mary and Matilda. Samuel BUEL, the pioneer, died in 1809. 

Eliphalet HULL was another pioneer of 1792 in Benton, and likewise one of the Unadilla colony that during that years of settled near Benton Center.  Mr. HULL is remembered as having been prominently connected with early events; was the first school teacher in the town; the first Methodist class-leader in the region, and a teacher in singing of remarkable ability. His wife was Huldah PATCHEN, by whom he had eight children: Salmon, Hannah, Daniel Sarah, Martha, Anna, Eliphaplet and Seth. Seth HULL brother of Eliphaplet, came to Benton in 1800. The surname HULL, descendants of these families is not now known in the town. 

George WHEELER was a settler in Benton in 1791.  He was an extensive landowner, and as such possessed all now of Penn Yan village lying north of the outlet and west of Benham street with its continuation, Sheppard street.  The wife of George WHEELER was Catherine Lyon, by whom he had eight children: Ephraim, and Samuel, both of whom died in childhood and were buried where the cemetery now is, east of the Center; Eleanor, George Jr., Nathan, Susan, Margaret and Zachariah. George WHEELER, the pioneer, died in 1824 and his wife in 1827. 

Philip RIGGS, widower, with a family of children settled near the center, on lot 116,in 1795.  The children were David, Benjamin, Reuben, John, Mary, Hannah, Anna, Betsey and Susan.  It is understood that the surname RIGGS has no representative in Benton at this time. 

In the south part of Benton, and in the extreme northern part of the present village of Penn Yan, Robert CHISSOM was the pioneer settler. The lands on which he located were a part of the purchase of George WHEELER, whose daughter, Mr. CHISSOM had married.  His log house stood about where is now the AYERS residence and was opened by him as a hotel.  Mr. CHISSOM died in 1806.  His children were: Catharine, Peter, Ephraim, Hannah and George.  

Moses CHISSOM, brother of Robert, located in Benton in 1794. He married Mary, daughter of Philemon BALDWIN, by whom he had eleven children.   

Philemon BALDWIN was one of the odd, yet valuable characters of the town during the days of its infancy.  His occupation was that of a farmer and miller.   It is said that Philemon BALDWIN suggested the name by which the county seat should be called and known, Pang Yang, changed by the common consent to Penn Yan. Mr. BALDWIN’s immediate descendants were Asa, Philemon H., Amos, Caleb, Rune, George, Mary, Sally Ann, Elizabeth and Esther. 

Elisha WOODWORTH became a settler in Benton in 1798, on lot 41, the premises now in part owned by John MERRIFIELD.  In Mr. WOODWORTH’s family were these children: Erastus B., Elisha, Polly, Sally, Abner, Amy, Ariel, Anna and Amelia.  Polly WOODWORTH married dr. Calvin FARGO, an early physician to Benton, to whom there were born these children: Hiram S., Russell R., Julia, Elizabeth, Abigail R., John C., and Elisha W.  Abigail Reed FARGO, one of these children, married William Hoyt GAGE, son of Reuben GAGE

Moses GAGE, his wife, Sarah and his children, Mariam, Buckbee, Reuben, Aaron and Isaac D., came from Dutchess County and settled in this town in the year 1801. Here Moses died in 1812, and his wife in 1813. William Hoyt GAGE, now residing on Flat street, is the son of Reuben GAGE, by his marriage with Azuba HOYT.  The other children of that union were: Jesse, Horace, Martha, Aaron and Reuben P.   William H. was the youngest child, but one. The surname GAGE, representatives and descendants of pioneer Moses GAGE, are numerous in Benton at this time, and are among the most enterprising and public-spirited residents thereof. 

In 1792 Samuel JANYE came to the Genesee Country, and in 1797 became owner of a farm on lot 8, where his son Samuel now resides in 1891. His wife was Eleanor VanZile, by whom he had three children: Samuel, Henry and William. 

John COLEMAN was born August 30, 1770.  His wife, Christiana RHINE, whom he married May 24, 1795, was born August 18, 1771. In 1798 John COLEMAN bought fifty acres of land at Bellona, and brought his family to the place the next year.  The wife and children journeyed down Seneca Lake on a raft, landing at Earls, while the husband came overland with his cattle and other stock. The children of John and Christina COLEMAN were John, born March 4, 1796; Margaret, born May 24, 1797, married William TAYLOR and died in Benton; Henry R., born October 15, 1800, died May 3, 1880 (sic); Elizabeth, born November 4, 1803, married William BAMBOROUGH; Daniel, born May 27, 1806, killed by accident while on wedding tour; Sally, born October 14, 1808; Charles, born April 30, 1811 and lived and died in Benton, December 23, 1883. Charles COLEMAN, the youngest son of John, married Mary Ann SEELY. Their children were: George C., who died from wounds received in the Army; Charles Edward, now in Nebraska; and William Henry, who owns and occupies the old home farm of his father, about a mile west from Bellona. Charles COLEMAN was six times elected justice of the peace in Benton. 

Truman SPENCER was the third pioneer settler in Benton. He came during the year 1788, and made a purchase of Levi BENTON of land on lot 8, in the locality afterward known as Spencer’s Corners.  In 1789 James PATTISON and his wife, and their daughter Lois (PATTISON) SPENCER, wife of our pioneer, came to the location and occupied the cabin which Truman SPENCER had previously built.  James PATTISON died in 1792 and his wife in 1821. David SPENCER was the first child born to Truman and Lois SPENCER, and his birth, September 8, 1790, was the first event of the kind in the town. The other children born to them were Nancy, David P., Laura, Olive and James.   By reason of his services in the militia organizations, Mr. SPENCER became known as 'captain'.  As the civil list will show, Capt. SPENCER was one of the presidential electors in 1832.  His wife died in 1830, after which he married Martha, widow of George WHEELER. Truman SPENCER died in April 1840.  From this old pioneer has descended a good number of active, energetic citizens of Yates County. 

Captain Lawrence TOWNSEND, a soldier of the Revolution, made a purchase of land in Benton in 1790, and moved to the locality during winter following. His place, which was a tavern, and he its landlord, was on the continuation of Head street east of and not far from the residence of Thomas GRISTOCK.  The children of Lawrence TOWNSEND were John, Anna, Henry, Phebe, Jarius and Abraham. 

Aaron EMER was the son of John REMER, a pioneer of what is now Torrey, having settled there in 1800.  Aaron was born in New Jersey, and on coming to Torrey located at or near Lawrence’s Mills on the outlet, in which he became interested.  Leaving there, he settled where Thomas GRISTOCK now lives. His wife, to whom he was married in 1804, was Phebe TOWNSEND. He died in 1841 and his wife died in 1867. The children were Lawrence T., Ann, Phebe, Mary, Jane, William T. and Sarah.  Aaron R. EMBER was known as captain, from the fact that he organized a cavalry company in Benton during the War of 1812-’15.  The company was in active service for about three months. Captain REMER was in all respects the representative and worthy citizen. He was one of the members of Assembly from Ontario at the time of the erection of Yates county, and was an active agent in bringing about its separation from the mother country.  He was the first member of assembly form Yates in 1823. In 1832 and 1832 he again represented this county.  

Stephen WHITAKER was the first settler in the locality of lot No. 20 in Torrey, he having come to the town in 1799, and there he resided until his death in 1827. He came to the Genesee Country from New Jersey. Stephen WHITAKER was a man highly respected in Benton; he was one of the founders, and the chief one too, of the first Presbyterian church and society in the town, and was one of its most devoted, conscientious and worthy members.  In town affairs he was frequently called upon to fill offices of trust.  Mr. WHITAKER was married four times; first in 1772 to Susannah WHITE, by whom he had one child; second, in 1779, to Ruth CONKLIN, who bore him eight children; third to Mary CROSS in1793; and fourth to Agnes, the widow of Daniel POTTER.  The children of Stephen WHITAKER by his second marriage were: Jonathan, Mary, Deborah, Stephen, Ruth, Isaac, Phebe, and Ann. Jonathan, eldest child of Stephen, was born in 1780; married in 1806 to Mary BAILEY.  Their children were Squier B., Stephen M., Alexander F., William H., Ephraim M., Ruth Ann, Marietta and George W.  

Squier B. WHITAKER was thrice marred: first to Mercy AMSBURY, second to Lydia C. AMSBURY and third to Mary I. OLMSTED.  James S. WHITAKER, of Penn Yan, is the son of Squier B. WHITAKER by his marriage with Lydia C. AMSBURY.  William Harlow WHITAKER was born August 16, 1813, and died July 29, 1881; married Ann Eliza MCDOWELL, November 30, 1837.  Their children were William  H., Jonathan, Augustus, Marietta, Frank, Aurelia, Kate L. and Charles F. 

Enos TUBBS, an old revolutionary soldier, settled on lot 31 in 1788 or 1789. He was twice married, having no children by his first wife, and eight by his second. 

The name HAVENS stands for pioneer ship in Benton, the representatives coming to the town in 1810 and the years following.  The family is numerous in the town today. 

Benjamin DEAN came to the country in 1798, locating first near Seneca Lake, but in 1804 settling in Benton, on lot 74.  He had several sons who preceded him to this region. 

Perle DEAN was a pioneer on what became known as Flat street, on lot 39. He came here in 1793.  

Elisha, Daniel and Martin BROWN, natives of Connecticut, but directly from Vermont, located on lot 31 during the year 1793.  later on lot 78, just west of Benton Center. 

David and Experience (PIERCE) PECKINS were natives of Massachusetts and came to Jerusalem in 1810.  Their children were Hannah, Elipha, David, Lydia, James, Alexander, Sabra, Elisha, Martha, George and Samuel.  Elisha PECKINS remained in this county and lived for many years in Benton. His wife was Martha RAYMOND, by whom he had four children: Myron, Arabella, Charles R., and Jane.  Myron PECKINS married Sarah J. TAYLOR, daughter of Alva TAYLOR of Benton, and now resides in Penn Yan.  Charles R. PECKINS married Eleanor BRIGGS, daughter of Seth B. BRIGGS, an old and respected resident of Benton.  Further mention of Myron and Charles PECKINS will be found elsewhere in this volume.  

One of the most prominent families in the southwest part of Benton was that of which James TAYLOR was the highly respected head. Their settlement was made in 1821 on lot 112.  They were not pioneers, but were a family worthy of at least passing mention in this chapter. On the same lot Briggs BELKNAP settled in 1819. In the same general locality, on lot 87, Noah DAVIS settled in 1813, and his brother, Thomas DAVIS, in 1814.  They were pioneers in that locality.  

James SMITH and family from Orange County, settled south of Benton Center in 1812. Their children were Job, Julia Ann, Mary, Sophia H., Emily T., and Susan T.  Sophia H., SMITH became the wife of Eli SHELDON. 

The GUTHRIE family, many representatives of which still reside in the county, settled in Benton in 1819. 

The CROZIER family, of which Adam CROZIER was the head, settled in the town in 1821. 

But the families whose names and lives have been recorded on the preceding pages did not constitute the entire contingent of persons entitle to mention in connection to the early history of Benton.  The families named were perhaps the leading ones, possible the most prolific, and more closely identified with the history of the town, past and present, than were others of whom briefer mention was made. In a town like Benton, where settlement commenced in 1788 and concluded only when all its lands were taken up and improved, it is difficult to determine just where pioneership actually ceases.  But that the record may be made as complete and reliable as possible, it is proposed to devote some further space to a mention of the manes of some others of early settlers in the town, but of whom there cannot be made any extended record. 

The ANGUS family, of whom Walter ANGUS was the pioneer head, settled in the town in1800.  A large number of his descendants are still residents in Benton, living mainly on the shore of Seneca Lake.   

In the north part of town, there were resident prior to 1804, either as individuals or heads of families, Joseph COREY, Joseph RITCHIE, Dyer, Rilish and Artemas WOODWORTH, Lyman and Enos TUBBS, Timothy GOFF, Elisha SMITH, Elihu WHITE, Silas H. MAPES, James SPRINGSTED, Jesse LAMOREAUX, Abraham FLORENCE, Stephen WILCOX, Joseph SMITH, Richard WOOD, Isaac HORTON, James DAVISON, and others, perhaps, whose names at this time cannot be recalled. 

Dr. John L. CLEVELAND, a former resident of the county, and a medical practitioner of some importance, became a citizen of Benton, living at the Center in 1818. 

Russell YOUNGS, and his wife Anna (BUELL) YOUNGS, settled in Benton in 1801. Their children were Alma, Polly, Maria, Milan, Oliver and Fanny. The youngest child, Fanny, became the wife of Samuel H. CHAPMAN.   He is remembered at having been a school teacher of long experience, and court crier for more than thirty years. In politics, Mr. CHAPMAN was a Whig, then a Republican, but during his later life he was interested in the cause of prohibition. The children of Samuel H. and Fanny CHAPMAN were: Charles E., who died in hospital during the war; Mary Jane, now at home; Henry O., who died in 1849; Alson who died in 1889; Russel, who is a prominent wagon maker at the Center; Eugene, who lives in Torrey, and Fred, who manages the home farm.  Samuel  H. CHAPMAN died April 16, 1885. 

William HILTON settled on lot 56 in 1794.  His wife Ruth, died in 1826 and he in 1828; Robert PATTERSON settled on lot 43 in1798 or 1799; the WEED family, who are still numerous in the county, settled on Flat street in 1808; Ephraim KIDDER located in the town in 1800; the wife of John MC MASTER, the progenitor of a large family, many of whose descendants still live in the town, located at Benton in 1810; the MC FARRENS came to the county in 1806; Jared PATCHEN settled on lot 70 in 1807; John POWELL, a former blacksmith in Penn Yan, made his settlement in 1816; the LAMPORT family came to Benton in 1812; Abel PEEK’s family settled in 1813; the RANDALL family came in1812; the KETCHUM family were early settlers in Flat street; the children of Ebenezer BOYD, Robert, Lewis and Phebe, settled in Benton in 1814; Jacob WINANTS, was a settler in Benton in 1800, and left a large family, five of them being residents of the town at an early day. 

The western part of Benton was originally heavily timbered, and was known as the West Woods.  In this locality settlement did not commence as early as in the eastern sections, and it was not until 1816 or thereabouts that improvements were made here. Among the more prominent of the first families in this region of the town were the RECTORS, CRANKS, WHEELERS, SIMMONSES, FINGERS, HOOSES, CARROLLS, MOONS, MILLERS, and others, perhaps, whose names are lost by time.  

Many of the families whose names have been mentioned on preceding pages have descendants still numbered among the families of the town today, while there were others, pioneers perhaps, who lived here for a time and then moved to some other locality.  Looking over the lists of residents of Benton at the present time the fact will appear that many families who were not pioneers have substantial descendants now in the town, and they too, among the most thrifty and forehanded of its people. Elsewhere in this work will be found some brief mention of persons and families who have been identified with the development and prosperity of Benton during the last fifty and less of years.

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