From Clifton Springs Press 4 July 1889


Clifton Springs in 1850, or Sulphur Spring as it was then called, consisted of a 7 x 9 brick church, owned and occupied by the Methodists, its seating capacity was about 150, having no bell; a small stone schoolhouse about four rods to the west; a log house on the Harris place, owned by Dr. Crawford; a wagon shop west of the Crosby place, in which a room was fitted to accommodate the district school of Phelps and Manchester, in which Mrs. C. W. Ladu taught the first school that was taught in the district, which was prior to the building of the stone schoolhouse near the church. The following certificates will show the time when and the men who examined her:

CERTIFICATE - We the subscribers, Inspectors of Common Schools for the Town of Phelps, in the County of Ontario, do certify that a meeting called for that purpose we have examined Miss Sarah E. Ferguson and do believe that she is well qualified in respect to moral character, learning and ability to instruct a common school in this town from one year from the date hereof.

Given under our hands this 25th of May, 1837
W. Prescott
Jno, C. Price
Jno. F. Cooper
Inspectors Com. Schls.

On the Crosby corner was a dilapidated frame house which to all appearance had never been painted. North about 8 rods from the Crosby corner Oliver Yager occupied a blacksmith shop. He informed me that he booked about $5 a day. An old log house occupied by Wm. Hanna stood where Wm. L. Parkhurst now resides. A barn owned by Lyman Crane was on the opposite side of Kendall street, where the New York home now stands, which has lately been purchased by Andrew Peirce. Crane street, Hibbard avenue, Stephens, Spring, Wells, and Church streets were farm property. At that time the New York Central railroad had a station near the Sulphur brook on the east side. Their way out was by the hotel owned by Lyman Crane and occupied by Moses Park, situate  on the ground occupied by the Air Cure and Hotchkiss Hotel; the hotel was small and nearly worn out. At the west of the grove was a small bath house, much out of repair with poor accommodations for cold and hot water baths. On the corner of what is now Crane street, where the Annex now stands, there was a house, quite small but in good repair and well painted, owned and occupied by Lyman Crane. About 10 rods further west, where the Parsons brick block stands there was a stone blacksmith shop occupied by Joseph Adams, with a small old house near by for the accommodation of his family, and it afforded very poor accommodations indeed.

From Phelps Citizen 22 April 1880

About the year 1804, my father, Elijah Edmondston, moved from the state of Maryland to the town of Phelps. He came in company with others, who were seeking new homes in the wilderness of the Genesee country, as nearly all of western New York was then called. Their trials and adventures were such as fall to the lot of pioneers, who cut asunder the ties that bind them to friends and homes, and turn their sad faces toward the wilderness of a strange land. These pioneers experienced hard and trying times in coming through Pennsylvania and over the mountains of that rough country, crossing swollen streams, at which they sometimes had to camp many weary days, awaiting the falling of the waters. Bridges and ferries there were none. They crossed one stream, called the Lycoming, twenty-two times, on account of the crookedness and high water. Many incidents are related concerning this journey. Some of the train would place a black boy upon a horse, in passing over a swollen river -- as many were bringing their slaves with them -- and send him into the current to ascertain the depth of the water and the danger in the passage of the wagons. It was customary to drive two wagons abreast, three horses to each wagon, where danger was apprehended. In company with the rest were two brothers with a large covered wagon, and containing boxes of silver coin, attended by two other men who, well-armed with the old war muskets and bayonets, kept guard over the treasure night and day.

They intended to buy a section of land in the Genesee country, but upon their arrival, they saw the mighty oak and other ponderous trees without limit. Their hearts failed them, and like the disheartened Californian, said one to the other, let's go home, and no amount of persuasion could prevail on them to stay.

While passing over the mountains of Pennsylvania an incident occurred, which permit me to relate. The two brothers, above referred to, called for dinner at a log tavern, and as my mother, chanced to pass through the eating room, she saw what was new to her, a dish of pork and beans, being ill she declined dinner but took a fork and ate two or three beans. The landlord saw her and charged the brothers for her dinner. They then hired a room of the landlord, for one hour, and made it so hot for him that a compromise was entered into, and he learned a lesson long to be remembered. Large snakes lay in the road, they having come out of the mountains to bask in the sun, and the black boys clubs flew lively in killing them as the train drew it slow length along.

On arriving at what is now called the village of Geneva, on the present site of the water cure, was an old log tavern, of which the following incident was often related to me by my parents and others who knew the boys. A couple of young men, of the stripe called fast young men, had the year previous come from the state of Maryland on horseback to see the Genesee country, and stopping at the log tavern before mentioned, called for a dish of fried watches, supposing of course they could not be had, when they were produced by the landlord, there was a back down and an apology.

Archie Hall come to this town in 1802, bringing twenty-two slaves with him, of whom John Countels is, I believe, the only survivor, he being, I think, about ninety years old. My father moved into a deserted log cabin, on the north bank of Canandaigua outlet, about half way between Snyder's mills and the present location of the Sodus railroad station. A mason by trade, he worked on the old capitol at Washington, and when here walked through the woods to Canandaigua to get work, that place then rising out of an Indian village. On the fourth of July, he planted the first potatoes, then new to him, among the logs I think, with some little corn. The bears eat the corn. My father, being away, when some bears appeared and mother not having the courage, David Crockett's wife is reported to have had an immediate rally of neighbors and a long chase to the hills of V. B. Wheat's farm or near there. The bear with others was captured, and yet with a laugh they said their appetites did not crave bear meat. Those potatoes were relished by none better than those who had never eaten the like before.

The old Edmondston farm was purchased in 1807, and the family moved into an old plank house near the present place on the corner. A storm accompanied with heavy rain one night blew off the roof and stick chimney, and the soot from the chimney would have convinced a stranger that the occupants were recently imported slaves; and to make matters worse, father was obliged to go to the field on military duty, leaving the house as it then was. Anticipating war, the discipline was very rigid and severe. When it did come, drafting was resorted to, which my father drew clear of, yet many times he was in the army at Sodus and other points. Many incidents are related, one of which I wish to relate. News came of the British being at Sodus. Archie Bell came in the night, riding one horse, and leading another, for father to have. He aroused the family from their slumbers, with the sad news. Those were scenes that try the nerves of the brave. The homespun tow cloth was brought out, and amid tears and heartaches, the knapsack was out and made in a hurry. The farewell was said, and mounting, away they went on a hard gallop, carrying their guns with them. When one or two miles north of what is now called Lyons, they were halted by an old dutch woman, in great excitement, saying to them, "Do, for Got's sake, gentlemen, do hurry, for Got's sake; the British are coming and Swift's men won't fight; do hurry." This caused a little more urging of their already tired horses.

There were many Indians wandering about in those early times, which reminds me of an incident, as related to me by my parents, who were eye witnesses to the scene. A small boy was driving cows from the pasture, opposite the Griffith home. The boy came along kicking up the dust in the road, and when a few rods west of my barn up rose ten or fifteen stalwart Indians, with a mighty whoop, which brought the boy to the right-a-bout. We will not suppose that he stopped to inquire of them how much peppermint oil they had, or say, what he would give for the oil in exchange. He now changed that, and with a vim equaled only by trained runners, he made good time to Beardsley's corner and then to the west village and home. That boy is now L. H. Hotchkiss. I suppose that was no time kept of the speed he made at that time. He told me, when asked about it, he recollected the circumstance. My father went and cautioned the Indians against doing anything of the like again.

At that time not only was there a large emigration from the south, but from the east, which carries weight with the anecdote. I recollect reading many years ago of a Dutchman who was lying beside the road in the Mohawk valley, and seeing wagon after wagon filing along he became excited. He jumped up, knocking the ashes out of his pipe with a blow sufficient to break it, and rushed up to the man driving. He says, "Who be your governor in your down country?" "Oh, Governor so and so." "Well den, he be one blamed fool, for staying there all alone, his people all gone by long ago," and then he walked off much relieved. The hardy emigrants soon changed the wilderness to fruitful fields, and with them came some the old customs, one of which was to greet a neighbor on Christmas morning with a discharge of musketry, near the sleeping apartment as a surprise. The old shovel plow, I believe, was a Virginian invention. Rye was quite extensively raised. High water in the spring caused heavy losses to mill owners by the large quantity of floating timber and trees, destroying dams, bridges and buildings. Old Judge Root, father of Francis), lost a wooden will then standing near the stone bridge, with all the machinery. There was a log bridge spanning the stream where not stands the new stone bridge. The digging of the Dean race, so called at that time, conveying the water to the mill near Mr. Hobby's barn, was a severe task, as help was scarce. Samuel Howe came at early day, bringing with him Norman Goo, then a boy. Howe was engaged with others in building some canal boats near the Norton mill. The were floated down the outlet at high water, to the Clyde river, and I think Goo should first premium as driver on said boats, as he was one of them on the down trip to Albany.   MILTON EDMONSTON, Phelps, April 17th 1880

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