Yates Co. News Articles

for the town of Benton



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Geneva Gazette, Geneva, NY  Aug 21, 1812      by Cheri  Branca

BETHANY SISSON  -  Died August 8, 1812 (11)
In Benton, the 8th inst., Mrs. SISSON, consort of Mr. George Sisson, in the 53rd year of her age, after a long illness, which she bore with Christian fortitude.

Rochester Observer, Rochester, Monroe Co., NY   Friday     February 1, 1828      by: Pat Mims

DIED:  In Benton, Yates Co., on the 15th ult. Mrs. Ann WOODWORTH, age 75 years.

Rochester Republican, Rochester,  NY  Sept 28, 1848                  by G. Subyak

In Geneva, on the 13th inst., Mr. Lewis SMITH to Amanda BEARD, both of Benton.

Yates County Whig – July 27, 1854          contributed by Cathy Coon

In Benton, July 11, Mr. Ebenezer HOLCOMB, aged 89 years. 

In Savona, on the 14th inst., Daniel RAPLEE, in the 25th year of his age.

Yates County Chronicle – Wednesday, May 16, 1888                      contributed by Cathy Coon

Mrs. Andrew WHEELER, of Benton, died very suddenly last Thursday. She was stricken with paralysis the day before, and died within twenty-four hours. She leaves a husband and three children to mourn her loss.


 Ontario Messenger, Canandaigua, NY        Aug 20, 1885    Pg. 3    contributed by Dianne Thomas

Rev. Dr. B. M. GOLDSMITH, of Bellona, died Aug 9th, aged 66 years.  He was pastor there for 36 years.


Elmira Telegram             Sunday        Feb 10, 1895            contributed by Dianne Thomas   

A PIONEER TRAGEDY - One That Was of Real Moment In Yates County -   

In the town of Benton, Yates county, about five miles north of Penn Yan, stands now untenanted, an old-fashioned frame dwelling house. This domicile was erected something over a hundred years ago by Dr. Caleb Benton, a cousin of Levi Benton, from whom, the town of Benton was named. Some years after its erection, the house was purchased by John Pembroke, another early settler, who enlarged it to some extent, and it has long been known as "the old Pembroke house." 

This grim-looking old building has a melancholy interest from its having been, in the pioneer times, the scene of a terrible tragedy, the facts of which are as follows: Pembroke, when he settled in this, section of the country, was a widower, with four children. He  engaged as a housekeeper a young woman named Sally Kress, whose parents resided in the town of Reading, (now Starkey). then in Steuben county.

Pembroke and his housekeeper became too intimate in their relations, and the consequences of their acts soon became apparent to the minds of both.  Pembroke promised to marry the girl, but under various pretexts delayed the carrying out of what he had promised.  Sally Kress, at length, fearing probably for her reputation, went one night to Pernbroke when he was asleep in bed,  and placing her hands on his head, awoke him.  She then asked him if he meant to do what he promised. 

According to the dying confession  made by this wretched young woman, to which confession Pembroke, himself admitted, he replied angrily that he never at any time intended to marry her and that he would soon clear her out from his house. To these brutal words the hired girl replied that she would not leave his house until she was carried out feet foremost; and that his heart would yet, like hers, ache with grief. 

The next morning Pembroke, evidently attaching no importance to what she had said, the night before, went  his oldest boy into the woods nearby to work at making maple sugar. No sooner had he gone, than Sally Kress deliberately cut the throats of the two younger children with a razor, the next to the eldest, a girl, escaping from the house to the woods and giving the alarm.  The housekeeper then finished her direful work, by cutting her own throat. This sad event happened on the morning of March 14, 1812.  The settlement was then aroused and a messenger was sent for Dr. Joshua Lee, an eminent surgeon of that day, who resided near Penn Yan, but when he arrived, the two children were already dead and their murderess was in a dying condition.  She lived however, until after the funeral of the murdered children.  Such was the sentiment at that early period that her remains were refused burial in every regular burial ground, in that vicinity.  She was accordingly buried in a field on her father's farm and a large oak tree was felled over her grave. It was for a long time asserted that the field where she was buried, was haunted and a story was reported of a traveler, a stranger to this part of the country, who arrived on horseback late one stormy night at the tavern at Harpendings' Corners (now Dundee), and who on his arrival, asked if there was a crazy woman in the neighborhood, as he had seen, so he claimed, as he rode by a field, a woman walking around a fallen tree, moaning and wringing her hands, and as he came opposite to where she was, she pointed to her throat, on which he saw plainly a red mark.

The story told by the traveler, on being circulated through the neighborhood of Reading, caused some sensation, as he declared he had heard nothing of the tragedy that had occurred a few weeks previous some miles to the northward.  Other persons afterwards as they said, saw the same spectre. John Pembroke, on first occupying the house had painted it red, an ominous color, which through the lapse of  years has changed to a rusty brown.  He continued to reside in this house (in which his two children were murdered) until the time of his death, which occurred about 40 years ago. Some of his descendants still reside in Benton.  Strange to say, nearly all the tragedies, shooting affrays, etc., recorded in the annals of Yates county, have happened within the boarders of this town, it is now said.

The only murder for which the perpetrator was convicted in Yates county occurred in Benton.  George A. Crozier in this town, murdered his wife, by poison in 1875, but his sentence was subsequently commuted to imprisonment for life.  He is still serving out his life term at Auburn, and the jury that convicted him are all living, but one, who's name was Clayton Seamans. 

Probably an Ann Arbor, MI newspaper                date,   unsure                        

Reuben P. Gage, one of Washtenaw’s pioneers, was born in the town of Benton, Yates County, N. Y., August 2, 1819, and died in the town of Sylvan, Mich,  May 29, 1892. Mr. Gage came to Michigan in 1836, was married three years later to Miss Fannie Parker, and settled on his farm south of Sylvan, where he resided until the day of his death. His wife, three sons and three daughters survive him. 


Please note: Washtenaw is the county in Michigan which includes Chelsea, Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.  The above obituary is transcribed word for word with the original punctuation from the original obituary pasted on the inside cover of a family Bible which was originally the property of Reuben and Fanny’s daughter Ella (b. 1858) who was my great-grand mother. It would have obviously been published at the time of Reuben’s death. My best guess is that it was from the local Chelsea paper although it could possibly have been from the Ann Arbor Paper as well.

Sylvan never became much of a town and is thought of today more as a township.

I also have Fanny Parker Gage’s obituary but it is much longer and more eloquent. She was born in Decatur, Otsego County, New York on February 26, 1819.    

[I stumbled on this web site and particularly the information about the Gage family. It is noted there that Moses Gage had a son Reuben who in turn, had a son Reuben P. Gage who married Fanny Parker and settled in Marshall, Michigan. Being the great-great grandson of Reuben P and Fanny Gage.   I have both of their original obituaries from a newspaper, probably an Ann Arbor, Michigan newspaper. According to the obituaries they were both born in 1819 in different counties of New York State  (Reuben in Yates County as mentioned) and moved to Sylvan Township in Washtenaw County, Michigan with their parents in 1836. They are buried in a cemetery known as the Vermont Cemetery in Sylvan Township, Michigan (just south of Chelsea). I have visited their graves].      John  R.  White

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