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«History of Centerville New York By Marvin Blanchard Centerville, NY, June 25, 1908 th On the 11 day of June I received at Chicago a letter from the ...»

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History of Centerville

New York


Marvin Blanchard

Centerville, NY, June 25, 1908


On the 11 day of June I received at Chicago a

letter from the Reverend T. F. Parker (Centerville,

NY). A letter requesting me to prepare something

relating to the history of Centerville to be

deposited in the cornerstone of the Methodist


Church, of that place to be laid June 25, 1908.

What time I could spare has since that time been

devoted to that purpose but being advanced in

years and in feeble health I have unable to do more than to prepare the foregoing synopsis of my history of Centerville now in process of preparation down to the year of 1852. It is regretted that this synopsis cannot for want of time be continued to the present day.

Marvin Blanchard

-1Copied from a History of Centerville by Marvin Blanchard of Chicago and taken from the cornerstone of the Centerville United Methodist Church when the basement of the church was built in ________.

Lois Fiegl, Town Historian A Brief Sketch of the History of Centerville From it settlement in 1807 as prepared by Marvin Blanchard, a resident lawyer of Chicago, Illinois, who was born in Centerville December 3, 1827.

This sketch is for the purpose of deposition in the cornerstone of the M. E.

Church to be laid June 25, 1908 on the occasion of the celebration of Centerville’s one-hundredth anniversary and consist of brief extracts from the work in preparation.

Centerville, now the northwestern township of Allegany County, New York, six miles square, was until the white man invaded this wilderness, a region thickly covered with timber comprising several useful varieties; and was a part of that vast territory comprising the counties of Niagara, Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and the western portions of Allegany, Wyoming, Genesee and Orleans which Robert Morris of Philadelphia who had bought the tract, together with other lands bordering them on the east of Mass. (-------) in 1891,(1791) conveyed in 1792 and 1793 to some capitalists of Holland who bought the land on speculation and took the title to trustees residing in New York City; aliens at that period not being permitted to own lands in their own names in this state.

The Hollanders employed Joseph Elliott of Philadelphia, an experienced surveyor, to fix the boundaries and plot the land impartially for settlement. This work occupied him and a large corps of assistants over two years. The lands were laid out into townships six miles square, and then subdivided into lots.

Prior to 1784 all Western New York was known as Montgomery County. Then all the territory west of the preemption line (the eastern boundary of the Phelps and Gorham’s purchase, passing through the middle of Seneca Lake, was not set

-2off as Ontario County 1796. All the territory west of the Genesee River and a line running due south from the mouth of the Canaseraga Creek to the PA line was set off from Ontario as Genesee County in 1802. Prior to that time the tract comprised but one town called Southampton established in 1796 but Genesee County was divided into four towns, three of which were from Morris’ Reserve (the territory between the Holland Purchase, the Phelps & Gorham purchase, or the Genesee country), the most northerly one being Northampton, the central one Southampton, and the most southerly one was called Leicester. While all the Holland Purchase was comprised into the town of Batavia, with Batavia as its capital. Then in 1804 came the division of Batavia into towns of Batavia, Willink, Erie and Chautauqua. Allegany County as was originally constituted in 1801 was forty-two miles north and south and thirty-eight miles wide. Its eastern boundary being the east line of Morris Reserve; but in 1808 another alteration was and Allegany was left five townships (30 -----) wide and 42 long and was subdivided into three towns, Nunda, Caneadea and Angelica. Later the north tier of townships was cut off and added to Wyoming.

In 1794 commissioners were appointed to lay out a state road six rods wide from Utica to Avon; and in 1799 a stage was run from Utica to the Genesee River in less than three days; and in that year a road was projected from the Genesee River to Avon, to “goudeis” (?) settled road from “gousous” (Geneseo) was begun.

The land being surveyed and offered for sale it was rapidly settled. The first white man who made a permanent home west of the Genesee River was Peter Shaffer, who located at Scottsville in 1788. Geneseo was first settled by James and William Wadsworth in 1797. Caledonia was settled by some Scotch Presbyterians “of the old Kirk” in 1798. Angelica by Benjamin Chamberlain, a Revolutionary Patriot and William Hidding in 1802. In 1790 the territory west of the Genesee contained but eleven families and fifty-nine souls;

in 1802 about fifty families nearly all of whom were located at __________Falls, Caledonia and Leroy. At that time the mail was carried from Canandaigua through Caledonia and Leroy to Ft. Schlosser on the Niagara River once a week on horseback.

The completion of the survey and the projection of a state road through the heart of the Holland Purchase opened the door for its settle. The first white people who were ever invaded town 6 of the 2nd range with a view to settle it were James Ward, his wife and five children from Connecticut who with an ox team, came in the Wiscoy (Pike) in the summer or fall of 1807 and camped (?), but some distance (?), the forks of Six Town Creek and on the “Allegany” Road, where they erected a log cabin. He selected 200 acres from the north side of lot 28, the NW corner of which was the center of the town.

A few months later and in April 1808, Joseph Maxson (?) Jr. a native of Providence, RI, when barely eighteen came on foot and alone from Hartwick, Otsego Co. and begun at the very center of the township on lot 29. There he erected a log hut, worked alone for over a year and lived to be town keeper and the owner of a considerable tract of land and several frame buildings. Having cut down some trees and burned the brush, planted potatoes and corn. He bravely reported to the land office in Batavia that he “had five acres cleared” and on the 22nd of July 1808 succeeded in having a tract of 260 acres of land “booked to him”. Both Ward and Maxson sowed wheat the following fall.

-3The next known settlers were William Nathan and ________Anderson (1809), who settled on the East Hill (Pike Road) what was later the John Butterfield farm.

They were single men and sound (?), it________, later took up a farm a mile on east. David and Abram Gelatt, brothers, came in and acquired what was afterward, Peltere place. David was married and his wife was the second family.

Abram married soon after coming here. Another settler, C.D. Perry came in the same year but made no permanent ________ (?).

In 1810 Elijah Thatcher, from Connecticut, came in with two loads of goods, one of which he had hired his neighbor, Perkins B. Woodward to haul with his own team. Thatcher had visited the Genesee County the year before and intended to settle there; but when the party reached Canandaigua they fell in with a man named Hamilton who had returned from the Holland Purchase so favorably impressed with that country that he easily_____ (?) Thatcher and Woodworth (?) to locate in Allegany. At Canandaigua, Thatcher’s cow _______.

Arrived here Thatcher bought the east 100 acres of Maxson’s claim. The subsequent Lamberson family_____ (?) on the right bank of the creek built a log house. Woodworth secured a considerable tract on the hill above the center – Lot 37. He spent the summer there clearing land and erecting a log house. In the fall he returned to Connecticut. But Hamilton, finding that one Nathan Holmes, a boy under age, had pre-empted 100 acres on the hill south of the center, cleared a small spot and built a small cabin and gone back to visit his family, jumped the claim. Returning, Holmes claimed his property, but Hamilton refused to give it up, consequently he was obliged to leave, for he had no money with which to assert his rights while the hill took its name form the perpetrator of this outrage.

Then came Sargent Morrill who settled the subsequent Essie (?) Randall farm on the South Hill, with his wife and five children (Morston, John, Ruth, Phobe and Rhoda). Morrill was half preacher, half farmer – but whole pioneer and he loved the frontier. He hailed from Vermont, treasured a bundle of printed Presbyterian sermons, which he insisted on reading to his neighbors on Sunday. When the neighbors tired of his readings and asked for a preacher he concluded that his “neighbors were becoming thick” and he would move further to the frontier. He had repeated this several times.

One of the most, if not the most prominent settlers of this earliest period was Daniel Ward, a Revolutionary soldier originally of Plymouth, NH but he came her from Stanstrail (?) near Lake Mempbeanagog, lower Canada in 1810.

He brought his wife Bridget French Ward and seven or eight children with a team of ox and a cart. He purchased Thatcher’s claim and Thatcher bought James Wards claim. James Ward had built a frame barn the first frame structure erected and planted the first orchard. The following season James Ward and family moved onto the shores of Lake Erie. Before James Ward left the Thatcher’s had built a new log house at the bend of the Allegany road and there he sometimes entertained travelers.

Daniel Ward, was a Presbyterian; a son of Nathaniel Ward who filled the pulpit at Plymouth forty years and was succeeded by a son. The Wards made a great addition to the settlement.

Next Benjamin and Mark Blanchard came in the fall from Vermont and located farms near Morrill’s. They were single men seeking “good land” and their father,

-4Abel Blanchard had advised them to find Sergeant Morrill for he knew a good country and good land.

Luther Houghton, also from Vermont brought her his wife, three sons and a daughter (Warren, Loren, Leonard and Eunice) and located by the side of the Blanchard’s.

George Patterson, a single man hailing from Vermont began on a farm a mile north of Woodward’s on lot 38.

Then came Reuben Ellis also from Vermont. He took a small farm on lot 37, south of Woodward’s, the southeast corner of which was the center of town, and his log house and subsequent frame, formed part of the village.

Perkins B. Woodward brought his family in this year from Windham County, Connecticut It consisted of his wife, Polly nee Smith and five children (Anna, Eunice, Polly, Perkin B. Jr, and Ezra) the last being a deaf mute. Christina Woodward was born here. Woodward was a Presbyterian, a good farmer and in the early days the Woodward’s stood for high.

In 1811 Russell Trall, of Vernon Tolland Company, Connecticut, sold his forty acre farm there and with a horse and wagon and a load of Yankee notions which he peddled to pay his expenses came to the Holland Purchase seeking a location. He bought Thatcher, his brother-in-law out knowing that two teams would be required to transport his family and goods. Trall hired Reuben Ellis to return with him to Connecticut and drive one of the teams. Trall was considered well off and his family was much respected in Connecticut. When they left his neighbor thought that “the Tralls were going into the wilderness to be massacred by the Indians”. The children were Harriet, Orrin, Laura, Elmira (?), Russell, Thatcher, and Mosice (?). Selden and Sophronia Trall were born here. They at first occupied the log house vacated by James Ward but soon built another near the center where Trall at once began keeping tavern.

The remainder of the Maxson family now came in. It consisted of Joseph Maxson, his wife and seven children, Elracid, Jessie, Polly Hannah, Phelina, Catherine(?) Harry, but Joseph Jr was the most energetic and thrifty of the lot.

Jessie was a mason by trade and he played the flute.

The Spencer’s reached here in 1812. Zacheus Spencer, a crude shoemaker, i.e., he could mend shoes, had been twice married. By his first wife he had her children, (Allen, Sylvester, Jerusha) and his second wife, Mrs. Preston had two children by her former husband, (Porter Preston and a daughter). Zacheus Spencer was then about fifty and the children were all grown up. He was a little inclined to side with the English in political matters and some called him a Tory but his influence was not extensive.

The Cold Creek valley was settled by Samuel Webster and Thomas Clute received the sixth contract for land in this town, but where he located is not known. He did not stay.

A young and single man Charles Carpenter, from the eastern part of the state came at this period and bought the rights of Thatcher or his assignee Trall, to the south 90-100 acres of the James Ward tract (afterwards know as the Forbes Veasey farm). Carpenter bought the first frame house erected in town.

But he was crooked, for he represented that his father was rich and would help him pay for his land, hence he inveigled Thatcher or Trall into giving him a bond for the conveyance of that land on his simple note which bond he sold to Alfred Forbes which came in and took possession. Trall then discovered that Carpenter

-5had left and his note was worthless, and that he had been cheated. Out of this transaction a litigation arose.

Thatcher moved out to Great Valley where his wife died and as Abram Gelett had in the mean time married, died and left a widow. She went out to Great Valley to keep house for Thatcher and they subsequently married.

The Bullock family from Massachusetts at this period and located on the south hill, 120 acres in lot 33. Jesse Bullock and wife had four sons and two daughters (Jesse Jr., Harry, Charles, George, Hannah and Susan) all strong character.

Noah Yeney (?) settled a farm on the Pike road about a mile from the center where he kept a tavern.

Eber & Peter Hotchkiss, brothers, Connecticut people came here from Bloomfield. Eber had married Deborah Wheeler and her brother George Wheeler came with them. They were machinists and settled on South Hill.

From Massachusetts also came another Revolutionary soldier, John Leach who acquired a small farm on the east side of lot 28.

Strong Warner from Vermont took up a farm on the Pike road, lot 22 by the side of the Anderson’s and his brother Thom (?) located over the line in Hume.

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