Transcibed by Kristy Lawrie Gravlin - hannah@teleport.com


The Town of Batavia, Genesee County, New York as taken from The Gazetteer and Business Directory of Genesee County, N.Y. for 1869-70; Compiled and published by Hamilton Child, Syracuse, NY, 1869. Batavia, was formed March 30, 1802. Alexander, Bergen, Bethany and Pembroke were taken off in 1812, and Elba and a part of Stafford in 1820. It is the central town of the County. Its surface is level or gently undulating. A limestone ridge, forming a terrace from 20 to 50 feet high, extends east and west through the north part of the town. Tonawanda Creek flows northward from the line of Alexander to Batavia village, where it turns westward and flows through the town near the center to the west border. Bowenıs Creek is the other principal stream. The soil is a deep, fertile, sandy and gravelly loam, with a clay sub-soil. Batavia, (p.v.) situated in the east part, on Tonawanda Creek, was incorporated April 23, 1823. It contains the County buildings, New York State Institute for the Blind, six churches, viz., Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal, Reformed and Roman Catholic; a female seminary, union school, three newspaper offices, three banks, a large number of hotels, stores and manufactories, and between 5,000 and 6,000 inhabitants. It is the most important village between Rochester and Buffalo, and from it seven railroads radiate to different parts. The streets are broad, bordered by beautiful rows of shade trees and lighted with gas. Main street is one of the most beautiful and best shaded streets in the country. The village has more miles of good flag-stone sidewalks than any other village of the size in the state. The State Institution for the Blind occupies a beautiful site, about half a mile north of the Court House. Dr. A. E. LORD, the Superintendent of the Institution, kindly furnished most of the following facts respecting its history: The law for its establishment was passed April 27, 1865. This act provided for the appointment of five commissioners to select a site for the Institution and three to superintend the erection of the buildings, and a Board of Trustees to take charge of the Institution after the buildings were completed. The Commissioners first named were E. W. LEAVENWORTH, B. F. MANIERRE, James FURGUSON, O. K. WOODS and M. M. SOUTHWORTH. After examining several sites offered, the Commissioners selected that upon which the Institution now stands. The village of Batavia presented to the State this site, comprising fifty acres of land, which was purchased at a cost of over $10,000 and is now valued at $13,000. The grading and excavating were commenced May 4th, 1866. The first contract was let to the builder, Mr. Henry T. ROGERS, of Rochester, July 18th, and the corner stone was laid with appropriate ceremonies, September 6th of the same year. On this occasion Dr. S. G. HOWE, of Boston, delivered an address. The following documents were deposited in the corner stone: Copies of city and country newspapers; the programme of exercises; copy of act establishing the Institution; a Continental bank note of $35, and a Provincial note of the Province of New York, for two shillings; a $5 bank note of the Bank of Attica, with an historical sketch on the Bank, and a specimen of postal currency; pamphlet containing a sketch of Batavia, by William SEAVER; a list of subscribers for the grounds upon which the buildings were erected; copy of the proceedings of the first Court held in Batavia, in 1803; photographs of village Trustees, &c., and a large sheet of parchment upon which were engraved the names of the Building Commissioners, Trustees of the Institution and State and Federal officers. The contracts of the builder on the main edifice were completed May 31st, 1868, and it was formally delivered to the Trustees, July 15th. The buildings are of brick, three stories high above the basement, which is of blue limestone, quarried on the site, upon which rests a broad belt of Lockport stone. The quoins and window dressings are of the same kind of stone. The buildings front the south and consist of four structures, a front and rear center building and two wings connected by corridors, 14 by 32 feet, containing the halls and staircases. The center buildings are 50 by 62 and 50 by 75 feet, and the wings 46 by 106 feet. The length of the entire front is 206 feet, and the distance from front to rear, including portico, is 185 feet. The wings present a front of 106 feet. The basement contains the laundry, bathing rooms, water closets, heating apparatus, &c. The other stories are conveniently arranged for the officers of the Institution and assistants, and school and sleeping rooms for 150 pupils. The steam heating apparatus was furnished by Baker & Smith, of New York. Rain water from the roof is conducted to a cistern holding 5,000 barrels, from which it is pumped by steam into tanks located in the attic of the rear building, thence distributed to all parts of the building where needed. A well about sixty feet deep, six feet in diameter inside the walls and capable of furnishing 4,500 gallons per hour of excellent water, is upon the premises. The amount paid to Mr. Rogers, the builder, for the principal structure, was . . . . . . . . . . . . $194,183.35 Carriage House and Stable . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.995.00 Cellar, Cistern and Drains . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,750.00 Well . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,064.50 Cooking Ranges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,467.72 Steam Engine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,013.50 Grading, Laying out Streets, &c. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22,957.06 Commission of Architect . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.500.00 Traveling Expenses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120.35 Per Diem and Mileage of Commissioners . . . . . 5,535.76 ~~~~~~~~ Making the entire cost . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $244,587.24 To the Commissioners for the erection of the building, Messrs. John FISHER, of Batavia; John VAN HORN, of Lockport, and L. A. HAYWOOD, of Warsaw, the people of the State are under lasting obligations for their fidelity in executing the important trust committed to them; and especially to Mr. FISHER for his almost constant oversight of the work from the beginning. Great credit is also due to the contractor, Mr. ROGERS, for the excellence of the materials employed in every part of the building, and for the thorough manner in which all was executed, and especially for the promptness with which it was completed according to his contract. On the 20th of July last, Dr. A. E. LORD, for the past twelve years Superintendent of the Ohio Institute for the Blind, accepted the office of Superintendent. He took charge of the building on the 18th of August. The school was opened the 2d of September and has been in successful operation since, with about 70 pupils enrolled. The system of instruction pursued is similar to that generally adopted by the best institutions for the blind in this country, including a thorough course of training in the common branches of an English education and most of the higher branches. Instruction is also given in vocal and instrumental music. No provision has yet been made for teaching trades to young men, but the girls and younger boys are taught several kinds of useful and fancy work. Six teachers are employed in the Institution. Everything throughout the building is kept in the most perfect order, and the grounds, when graded and ornamented according to the plan proposed by Dr. Lord, will present one of the most attractive spots in the State. Mrs. Bryanıs Female Seminary is a boarding school for young ladies, situated in a pleasant locality and is in a flourishing condition. There is also a flourishing school in connection with the Roman Catholic Church. Bushville is a hamlet. Croftıs Station (West Batavia p. o.) is a station on the N.Y.C.R.R. East Pembroke (p.v.) is partly in this town. The village of Batavia was surveyed in 1800, and laid out in lots and in 1801 Abel ROWE, Stephen RUSSELL and David McCRACKEN took contracts for lots. Mr. ELLICOTT fixed upon this site as the place for the Land Office, and it was removed here in 1802. The formation of Genesee County and the selection of this place as the County Seat made the village the most important place upon the Holland Purchase for several years. Previous to 1802 the place was known as ³The Bend². Mr. ROWE became the first inn keeper in 1801, and Mr. RUSSELL the second one at the same place. McCRACKEN was the first physician upon the Purchase. In February, 1802, Mr. ELLICOTT employed John LAMBERTON and _______ MAYO to cut a road through the village. The contract was made at Ransomıs, Feb 20th. They came to Batavia on foot, one of them bringing on his back a tent, the other a keg of whisky. The road was one hundred feet wide and two miles long. The price received for this work was twelve dollars per acre. It was cleared off during the summer by the owners of the lots along the road. The Buffalo road was the only one except Indian trails on the Purchase. A post office was established in 1802 and James BRISBANE appointed the first postmaster. The mail was carried once in two weeks, sometimes on foot and sometimes on horseback. Mr. William SEAVER, now a resident of Batavia, performed the duties of postmaster from Jan 13, 1823, to August 6th, 1842. The first newspaper in Batavia, The Genesee Intelligencer, was printed in 1807. It was a half sheet, of medium size, and contained two or three columns of advertisements for the Holland Land Company, a notice of an elopement and of a runaway apprentice boy, for whose apprehension a bag of bran was offered as a reward. The subscription list numbered about one hundred. An Arsenal was erected in 1810 or 1811, for protection against incursions of British and Indians. It was constructed of logs, and about the close of the war the present stone structure was erected near the site. It is now in a dilapidated condition. The first Trustees of the village, elected in 1823, were David H. CHANDLER, David E. EVANS, Nathan FOLLETT, Simeon CUMMINGS and Silas FINCH. Trumbull CARY was Treasurer, and Parley PAINE, Collector. Among the early settlers whose names have not been mentioned were Isaac SUTHERLAND, Gen. Worthy L. CHURCHILL, Col. William RUMSEY, John THOMSON, John LAMBERTON, David E. EVANS, James W. STEVENS, Richard ABBEY, Jedediah CROSBY, Gideon ELLIOTT, Cotton LEACH, Samıl F. GEER, Benajah WORDEN and Wm. MUNGER. In a letter to Mr. BUSTI, the general agent of the Company at Philadelphia, Mr. ELLICOTT, in speaking of the selection he had made for the location of the Land Office, at the ³Bend of the Tonewanta² says, May 30, 1801, that one lot was sold and one house built, and he had decided to call the place ³Bustia² or ³Bustiville². Mr. Busti objected to the name and it was called Batavia, the name of the Republic to which the Dutch proprietors belonged. Mr. Ellicott informs him that the land sales are going on encouragingly and that in one place on the ³Great Road,² within the space of ten miles, thirteen improvements have been made. The first marriage was that of Wm LESTON and Lavinia HOW, and the first death that of _______ HARRIS, in 1807. Hannah AUSTIN taught the first school, in 1806; James BRISBANE kept the first store, in 1802. Mr. ELLICOTT erected the first saw mill, in 1801, and the first grist mill, in 1804, for the Holland Company, on Tonawanda Creek. The first town meeting of Batavia was held in March, 1803, at the house of Peter VANDEVENTER. David CULLEY was chosen Town Clerk; Peter VANDEVENTER, Supervisor; Enos KELLOGG, Asa RANSOM and Alexander REA, Assessors; Alexander REA,, Isaac SUTHERLAND and Suffrenus MAYBEE, Commissioners of Highways; David CULLEY and Benjamin PORTER, Overseers of the Poor; Abel ROWE, Collector; John MUDGE, Levi FELTON, Rufus HART, Abel ROWE, Seymour KELLOGG and Hugh HOWELL, Constables. The Pathmasters were Martin MIDDAUGH, Timothy HOPKINS, Orlando HOPKINS, Benjamin MORGAN, Rufus HART, Lovell CHURCHILL, Jabez WARREN, William BLACKMAN, Samuel CLARK, Gideon DUNHAM, Jonathan WILLARD, Thomas LAYTON, Hugh HOWELL, Benjamin PORTER and William WALSWORTH. At this meeting there was some legislation of which the following is a specimen: A bounty of five dollars on wolves, half price for whelps, and fifty cents for foxes and wildcats. At the second town meeting, held in 1804, a law was passed imposing a fine of $5.00 on any person living in any other county or town, who should drive cattle into the town of Batavia to be kept. This was to preserve the fine feed in the openings, on the Lockport and Batavia road, for the use of the settlers. Settlers further east had been in the habit of driving cattle there to pasture. No person was licensed to keep a tavern who had not a securely inclosed [sic] yard of sufficient size to contain all the ³sleds, sleighs, wagons, carts, and other carriages that he or she may have at his or her tavern at any one time, for entertainment or refreshment.² The first general election after the organization of the town was held in April, 1803. The vote for Senator is reported as follows: Caleb HYDE, 146; Vincent MATTHEWS, 5; The next year the vote for Governor was, 111 for Morgan LEWIS and 11 for Aaron BURR; for Lieutenant Governor, John BROOME received 115 and Oliver PHELPS 7 votes. From some reminiscences of Wm. H. BUSH, one of the pioneers of Batavia, we learn that in May, 1806, there were less than 100 acres of land cleared on the Buffalo road within a distance of six miles of Batavia. On his arrival here Mr. Bush built a log house, covered it with elm bark and laid a floor of slabs and hemlock boards. As the cabin had no chimney the cooking for the family was done in the open air by a fire built against a stump. This was continued during the entire summer. Mr. B. immediately commenced the erection of a saw mill which was completed about the middle of October. This was kept running from daylight till dark during the winter, and proved to be a good investment. The settlers were ready to stock the mill with logs to be sawed on shares, and there was a ready market for all the lumber the mill could cut. Before cold weather came on Mr. Bush built a stick chimney, laid a better floor, plastered the cracks between the logs and cleared one acre of land around his house. To pay for his mill he had sold everything except his scanty household furniture. In 1808 he built a machine shop, and a carding and cloth dressing establishment, the first upon the Holland Purchase. The first wool was carded at this establishment on the 6th day of June, 1808; it belonged to George LATHROP, of Bethany. In February, 1809, the first piece of cloth dressed upon the Purchase was dressed at this mill, for Theophilus CROCKER. Customers came from a great distance in all directions extending west as far as Niagara River. The largest quantity of wool carded for one man was seventy pounds, and the smallest, four pounds. The whole amount carded during the first season was 3,029 pounds. It was no small task to get together the machinery for this pioneer establishment. Hand shears were procured from the Shakers at New Lebanon, a press plate from a furnace in Onondaga County, a screw and box from Canaan, Connecticut, and a dye kettle, press papers, &c., at Albany. The cost of transporting these things was more than two hundred dollars. In 1809 Mr. Bush erected a grist mill, and in 1817 a paper mill and a distillery. He made the first ream of paper that was manufactured west of the Genesee River. This early pioneer was successful in his enterprises, accumulated a competence and enjoyed a serene old age. Previous to the erection of the grist mill at Batavia in 1804, the people were sometimes without bread or anything to make it of. Flour was brought on pack horses before the roads were of such a character as to allow a better means of conveyance. Ebenezer MIX became a resident of Batavia in 1809. He was a native of New Haven, Connecticut, and worked at his trade, that of a mason, for a while, then became a school teacher, and subsequently a student at law, and in 1811 entered into the service of the Holland Company as clerk in their Land Office, where he remained for twenty-seven years. He possessed extraordinary talents as a practical mathematician, and a memory of localities, boundaries and topography, which mapped the Holland Purchase upon his mind. He was eminently useful not only to his principals but to the settlers upon the Purchase. Ebenezer CARY was an early merchant, of Batavia. He was one of the surveyors of the Purchase and clerk at the Transit Store House previous to his removal to Batavia. He died in 1825. Trumbull CARY came in and settled in 1805. He occupied many positions of honor and trust, and after a long and successful life, died June 20, 1869, at the age of 82. In 1822 a Mr. FARNSWORTH was convicted of forging United States Land Warrants and sentenced to be hanged on the 20th of September. A large crowd assembled to witness the execution, when to their great disgust the President granted a reprieve for six months. The murmurings of the disappointed multitude were loud and deep, and before the expiration of the six months respite, he was pardoned, as it appeared that he had committed no crime against the Government. In the fall of 1820, Mr. BUSTI, the agent of the Holland Company, was visiting Batavia, when a Presbyterian clergyman called on him and insisted on a donation of land to each society of his persuasion, then formed on the Purchase. Mr. Busti treated the gentleman with due courtesy but manifested no disposition to accede to his request. The minister persevered in his solicitations until Mr. B. left the office to go to tea, and followed him to the piazza of Mr. ELLIOTTıs residence and renewed his application. Mr. Bustiıs patience was nearly exhausted and he at length replied: ³Yes, Mr. R., I will give a tract of one hundred acres to a religious society in every town on the Purchase, and this is finis.² This was not satisfactory, he wanted the pledge for the benefit of the Presbyterians. But ³to save contention² it was given to ³the first religious society in every town.² The zealous clergyman hastened home and sent out runners to rally the Presbyterians in the various towns in the vicinity, to organize and thus secure the land. The Land Office was soon flooded with petitions from the various societies, some of which were extremely ludicrous. One of these was directed to ³General Poll Busti,² upon seeing which he insisted that it could not be from a religious society, for all religious societies read their Bibles and knew that P-o-double-l did not spell Paul.² Notwithstanding the urgent demands made by the various societies, Mr. Ellicott, upon whom devolved the duty of carrying out the promise of Mr. Busti, delayed for some time to convey the lands demanded. In some instances the whole one hundred acres was given to a single society and in others to two, three, and sometimes four different denominations. The first church organized in Batavia was Congregational, in 1809, though it soon after adopted the Presbyterian form of government. It was organized by Rev. Royal PHELPS, with twelve members. The following are their names: Silas CHAPIN, David ANDERSON, Ezekiel FOX, Solomon KINGSLEY, Eleanor SMITH, Elizabeth MATHERS, Elizabeth PECK, Esther KELLOGG, Hulda WRIGHT, Patience KINGSLEY, Esther KINGSLEY, and Polly BARNARD. On the 24th of September, 1809, Rev. Mr. Phelps preached in Jesse RUMSEYıs barn and administered the Sacrament of the Lordıs Supper for the first time in this place. The first Trustees of the Society were Ebenezer CARY, Ebenezer SEYMOUR and Benjamin PORTER. Their church edifice was erected in 1824, and a bell weighing 1,000 pounds, cast in Batavia by James COCHRAN, was placed upon it. St. James Church (Protestant Episcopal) was organized June 6th 1815. John HICKCOX and Samuel BENEDICT were the Church Wardens. Measures were immediately taken to erect a church but it was not completed until 1822. The present church edifice was erected in 1835. The First M. E. Church of Batavia was organized Dec. 15, 1819, with Thomas McCULLEY, Samuel F. GEER, Jeremiah BENNETT, Seymour ENSIGN and Silas HOLLISTER, Trustees. The first class was formed in 1817, consisting of fourteen members, only one of whom is now living. The society worshiped for several years in the West School House of Batavia. In 1823 a stone church was erected in the west part of the village and is now used for a malt house. In 1841 a new church was erected on Jackson street, now known as Terry Hall. A very fine brick church is now nearly completed, and when finished will be the finest church building in the County. It is of the Norman style of architecture, 50 by 90 feet, with a lecture room in the rear 38 by 50 feet. The spire is 160 feet in hight [sic]. The structure is an ornament to the village and highly creditable to the enterprise and good taste of the society erecting it. Rev. S. HUNT is the present pastor. The Baptist Church was organized in 1835, with Richard COVELL, Jr., John DORMAN, Wm. BLOSSOM, Wm. D. POPPLE and Calvin FOSTER, Trustees. Rev. J. CLARK was the first pastor. Their house of worship was erected in 1835. The population of the town in 1865 was 6,004, and its area 34,437 acres. The number of school districts is 14, employing 20 teachers. The number of children of school age is 2,066; the number attending school, 1,449; the average attendance, 502, and the amount expended for school purposes during the year ending September 30, 1868, was $9,703.41

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