Editor of the Geneva Gazette:
The last two issues of the Gazette contained an interesting column of names of citizens of forty and fifty years ago; but if any interested in these records of the past will glance through the relics in the town clerk's office, they will find the names of the officers of the town of Seneca in almost unbroken succession since 1793. The first record reads thus:
"At an annual town meeting of the freeholders and inhabitants of the town of Seneca held at the house of Joshua Fairbanks, Innkeeper in said Town, on the first Tuesday in April, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three, the several officers for said Town were legally chosen at said meeting by a majority of lawful voters of the inhabitants of said meeting:Then follows directions for building fences 4 1/2 feet high, the lowest rail not to be more than six inches from the ground; the laying out of roads, the first one beginning at Capt. Timothy Allen's house on the bank of Seneca Lake, thence running west in a most tortuous manner to the town line. Solomon Goodale was the surveyor. The south part of Main street was equally as tortuous, possibly to avoid hillocks and streams, remained so till 1814, when at the request of Samuel Colt, David W. Lewis, David Naglee, David Cook, Jabez Pease, George Goundry, Thomas Lowthorp, Wm. Hortsen, David Hudson, James Bogert, Ralph T. Wood, and Joseph Fellows, the Highway Commissioners (Seba Squires and Simeon Amsden) changed it to the present beautiful avenue, to be still more beautified in these later years by the "Improvement Association."
Supervisor - Ezra Patterson
Town Clerk - Thomas Sisson
Commissioners of Highways - Oliver Whitmore, James Rice, Phineas Pierce
Collector - Sanford Williams
Overseers of the Poor - Jonathan Oaks, David Smith
Constables - Oliver Johnson, Jr., Charles Harris, Stephen Sisson, Whilds Whitmore
Overseers of Highways - Nathan Whitney, Oliver Humphrey, David Woodward, Jerome Loomis, Jeremiah Butler, Benj. Tuttle, Wm. Smith, Jr., David Benton, Benj. Dixon
Fence Viewers - John Reed, Joseph Kilborn, Seba Squiers, Caleb Culver
Pound Masters - Peter Bartle, Jr., David Smith
Sealer of Weights and Measures - Peter Bartle, Sr.
Surveyor of Lumber - Jeremiah Butler
As late as 1802 the sum of fifty dollars was raised for the purpose of paying the bounty on wolves, five dollars being allowed for every wolf killed within the district by any resident therein.
But what reads strange to us in these days is the manumission of slaves. Timothy Allen in 1801 certifies that "in consideration of the good and faithful services of Ginna, his negro girl servant, and sundry other valuable causes and considerations moving him thereto, does by these presents give the said Ginna her freedom, and set her at liberty to act and transact in all matters of her own concern, and to enjoy the benefit of her own labor and industry entirely free from my control or the control of any person or persons by or under me; consequently does not consider himself accountable for any debt of her contracting, or any expense that may arise in case of sickness, debility or any other matter of her concern whatsoever."
John Nicholas seems disposed to manumit his slave John, who appears to be between the ages of twenty and thirty years, and of sufficient ability to maintain himself.
Valentine Brother also signifies his intention of manumitting his slave William, on condition that the proper authorities exonerate him from the future support of William.
Our seniors had a great knack of getting into difficulty and appealing to the legal mandates to extricate them, judging by the large number of Justice's dockets preserved in the clerk's office. Most of the records have been written very plainly and are quite legible, except the dockets, and if any would like to examine them they are at liberty to do so.
Yours Respt'fully, CHARLES KIPP
Mr. P. F. Bill, of Seneca, sends us the following list of persons who formed what was known as the
English Settlement, in the town of Seneca, (Number Nine, first range,) about the first year of this
century. They were given him by Mr. Foster S. Watson, from memory. Mr. Watson is now in his
80th year, having been born in January, 1800. The list is as follows.
Edward Hall, jr.
John Robson, called Jack
Thomas Robson, and six sons,Thomas Robson, jr.
|James Beattie (scotch)
John Renwick, (1818)
The following were out of the Settlement, but near by:
|Thomas Charlton |
Extracts From its Ancient Records
Mr. Paul F. Bill has left at our office a number of books and papers relating to the history of the Seneca Library Association. They contain much matter of interest in the present day, and we make extracts which will be read with pleasure by many whose ancestors were among the first members of the society and by others, desirous to know something about out forefathers' doings in the last century. The Seneca Library Association had a remarkable history. It was started in the last days of the eighteenth century by the early settlers in the town of Seneca, then including the town of Geneva. For over fifty years it had a useful and honorable existence as the source of knowledge for the good people of the town, and as an object of public pride and regard. Its volumes were read and re-read, and few libraries have done so much of real good as this. The largest number of books over on the shelves was 896. In 1854 the library was disbanded, and the books divided among the stock-holders. It is with a desire to perpetuate the names and good deeds of those who founded and sustained this institution, that we quote from the books and papers of the association.
The original articles of agreement were signed on March 3, 1798, by the following persons:
Olney T. Rice
Thomas K. Baxter
Silas Chapin, 2d
Benj. B. Fowle
Berman B. Brockway
Samuel Whedon, Jr.
Elisha Avery Jr.
N. H. Frisbie
Many of these names will be recognized as familiar in the history of this and adjoining towns. Those of Stanley, Lewis and Benton are commemorated in local nomenclature. Those of Rice, Squier, Chapin, and others, are well known through their descendants, to the present day.
The articles of agreement begin by stating the purpose of the founders. "A Social Circulating Library" was what they established and the name was the "Union Library Society." The preamble stated that the library was founded because "the greater part of the knowledge we possess is handed down to us by the writings of our ancestors," and because of the expense of purchasing books. The library was to be "kept as near the centre of township number nine in the first range of Phelps and Gorham's purchase as can be convenient." The constitution provided for the meeting of the stock-holders once a year, when a librarian and trustees should be elected. The librarian was to receive "twelve cents and a half cent for the faithful discharge of his office as servant of said society." Provision was made for the transfer of shares, the purchase of books, etc. With the signing of the constitution the society was put in operation, March 3, 1798.
The first annual meeting was held February 2, 1799. Thomas R. Baxter was elected librarian, and Seth Stanley, Burban Brockway, James Rice, John Lewis, and Samuel Whedon chosen trustees. Seba Squier was elected treasurer. The books in our possession give reports of the meeting of the society up to the year 1815. The business done was generally routine. On Jan 4, 1800, "Olney F. Rice was chosen a trustee for the remainder of the year in the room of Mr. James Rice, diseased." At the same meeting a series of by-laws were, "after mature deliberation, unanimously voted, adopted, established, ratified and confirmed to be the bye-laws of the Union Library Society." they did things thoroughly in those days. On Feb. 1, 1800 it was voted that a chest be bought to keep the library in, provided the merchant "will take a share in the library therefor." On Feb. 6, 1802, the price of shares were fixed at $2.62 1-2, and new members were given permission to pay in "good merchantable wheat." On Feb. 2, 1804, the by-laws so elaborately adopted were repealed, and others were "adopted, ratified and ordained." In 1807 the librarian's salary was raised to $3.
The meeting of the trustees appointed for August 11, 1807, was not held, in "consequence of a general training of the militia," which prevented the presence of a quorum. For some years after the records of the meetings are brief. In 1810 the books were removed to Capt. Selah Wheadon's. The last entry in the book states that adjournment was had to Friday, 10, 1815. From that date to the times of its disbandment, in 1854, the library was one of the institutions of Seneca, and fulfilled the purpose of its founders in diffusing knowledge and instruction among the people. Now that it is no more, it is remembered for what it did, and the names of its founders and supporters will always be kept green by the community which they did so much to benefit.
Seneca Castle, N. Y. - This week marked an epoch in the history of Seneca Castle, as the Rochester & Eastern Electric railroad train ran its first excursion trains from Canandaigua to Seneca Castle.
The town of Seneca was formed in 1793. Among the early pioneers were Jonathan Whitney and his sons, Joel and Nathan. Jonathan located at the old Indian Castle, where the Indian burial ground may still be seen, and became the proprietor of 1800 acres. When a little hamlet sprung up on this site it was called Castleton, afterward changed to Seneca Castle. The first bridge over Flint creek at Seneca Castle, was erected in 1796 by subscription, the following contributing to the project: Sandford Williams, Oliver Whitmore, Nathan Whitney, Solomon Gates, Hugh Maxwell, Samuel Warner, Warner Crittenden, Ebenezer Burt, Solomon Warner, Joel Whitney, O. Whitmore Sr., Luke H. Whitmore and Elijah Wilder.
A directory of 1862 gives the following list of business men living here at that time: G. D. Armington, physician; David Coburn, blacksmith; John Coburn, blacksmith; Arthur Dougan, shoemaker; Joseph H. Esty, hotel proprietor; Hosea Hamilton, physician; George H. Howlett, merchant and postmaster; Abram E. Post, shoemaker; F. S. Rhoades, physician; Isaac W. Runyan, merchant; William Spenton, blacksmith; J. Z. Terry, wagonmaker; John P. Wykoff, foundry; Henry E. Youngs, Carlton mills. Of these only David Coburn now resides in Seneca Castle.
In 1867 Seneca Castle contained thirty-five houses, two churches and had a tri-weekly mail. Today the postoffice receives mail from the Sodus branch of the Pennsylvania railroad, and one of the routes of the Stanley rural delivery runs directly through the village, while those of Geneva and Clifton come within half a mile of the postoffice. Instead of the stages that some of the older inhabitants remember, we see the trolley and telephone wires, stretching from house to house, connecting this community with the outer world.
Perhaps as the hamlet grows the residents will see the advantages to be derived from having it incorporated into a village.
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