From Geneva Gazette 9 October 1874

Ontario County Correspondence

West Bloomfield - Its Fine Scenery - Ainsworth's Fish Ponds
East Bloomfield - Its Refined Population - Its Academy, with an Old Genevan as Principal - &c.

East Bloomfield, N. Y., Oct. 5, 1874

Dear Gazette:  We hardly thought when leaving Geneva to accept so soon your invitation to "write to us," but as the kind fates willed it our lot has fallen in the pleasant little village from whence our letter is dated, and we cannot resist the temptation to let others share with us in the pleasure we find in the many beautiful nooks in this part of "Old Ontario."

Tourists often go to distant lands to find poorer scenery and less enjoyment than lies almost immediately at home.  Within Ontario County may be found many picturesque and beautiful views.  They are especially numerous for a country famous for agriculture, and it is not generally known even at home that in this vicinity there are some of the finest farms, the largest apple orchards in the world, grand old hills 500 feet in height, cascades sixty feet, glens almost to be compared to the famous Watkins, beautiful valleys and charming nooks and corners, not to mention the less conspicuous burning gas and sulphur springs, &c.

For fine farms and handsome country residences, let us take a drive on the old state road from Geneva west to Lima; for rolling hills with delightful valleys between, let us ride from Victor southward to Naples, and then "down in Egypt" and emerge at the cosy little town of Honeoye Flats at the foot of Honeoye Lake.  From here homeward let us not forget to call at West Bloomfield, six or eight miles north down the outlet, where we find a pleasant collection of some seventy or eighty houses, stores, shops, &c., and the beautiful residence of Hon. S. H. Ainsworth, with its large, handsome hothouse full of rare varieties of clustering grapes, and the first fish pond built in America.  Here we enjoyed one of the most agreeable days of our life with its intelligent and hospitable proprietor and lady, eating rare fruit, "throwing the fly" for the "speckled beauties," and listening to the origin and history of fish culture in the United States.  Mr. A. has two ponds, one for bass and the other for trout; and with but an inch volume of water gathered by branching layers of piles, has succeeded in perfecting the art of raising thousands of spawn and young fish, and giving to the people through the wider efforts of Seth Green and others the benefits of this paying enterprise.  He has never made this a business save for his own gratification and love of the art.  Mr. A. has been honored with several beautiful gold and silver medals from societies in France and Germany for his success in perfecting the method of raising spawn now in use.

And now journeying east, our faces toward home, we come upon the village of East Bloomfield, clustered on the hilltop and almost hid by grand old oaks and elms, and its handsome park in the center.  The situation is five miles east of the county line and eight miles west from Canandaigua on the old State road, with the Batavia branch of the N. Y. Central half a mile to the east.  Dwellings however extend to the depot and end in quite a little cluster at that point.  Here we resolved to sojourn a season, pleased with the pleasant surroundings, fine farms, extensive views and cultured inhabitants.  For a place so small we have never found so much culture and refinement -- which, however, as we learn from an acquaintance, is but a remnant of what once was in days gone by, when fashionable evening receptions, dinners, &c., were as much in vogue as in more pretentious places.  It is doubtless better as it is now, for we find the intelligence and air of the town with the reality and open hospitality of the country.

We find one of Geneva's former citizens in charge of the flourishing Academy here - Dr. Chas. C. Eastman.  The Dr. seems to be doing well, engaged in earnest efforts for that best of causes, education.  The institution consists of a primary and academic departments for both sexes, and has a liberal patronage.  Dr. E. is assisted by Miss Cornelia and Prof. George Eastman. What better place, free from the temptations of a town, and still with the advantages of a home, can parents desire for their boys and girls.

But we fear your space will not allow a longer chat, so we close, regretting that we cannot tell you of Bristol and Honeoye, those delightful valleys stretching so charmingly to the south, encircled by green hills and lofty ridges.  Inviting you and the good people of Geneva to "come and see" and enjoy with us, we are

Yours rustically,          M.

From Ontario County Journal 5 February 1892

The Descendants of Some of East Bloomfield's Pioneers -
Editor Journal: Two or three years ago there was an article published in the Journal, giving a brief sketch in relation to various matters in this town, some of which suggested to the writer a few items not mentioned therein. For instance, the first descendants of the pioneers of the town are very few among us; and as we laid to rest a few days ago our esteemed and very useful fellow citizen, H. W. Hamlin, whose parents were among the first who came into this town (about 1798), we could but think of the fact that only a few of his contemporaries were left to us: Hiram Steele and Gary Collins, both 85 years old; the former as active as many of our young men; the latter more infirm and the last of his father's family. Gaius Adams, grandson of Deacon John Adams (who came to this town in 1798, with a family of six sons and four daughters, and first settled on the east side of Mud creek, near what is known as the Daniel Johnson place), is nearly four score years old, and though just having a hard time with the grippe, bids fair to stop with us a while longer. Again, Darius Carter came here in 1811, built a large brick house near the depot, in which he kept a hotel for many years; he died in 1832. His family of nine children have all passed away, Mrs. Weda Munson, widow of Harlow Munson, (who was our sheriff in '62-5, ) a most estimable lady and neighbor, whom we remember from our very childhood as one whom old and young, alike, most highly esteemed in all the relations of life. And, also, as we call to mind such men as Moses Fairchild, Martin Haywood, Josiah Porter, (who for the last thirty years of his life was justice of the peace in our midst); Timothy Bell, Anson Munson, Israel North, Daniel Rice, senior, and others too numerous to mention, all of them men of the most strict integrity and perseverence in the right.

A sense of loneliness comes over us at times, and we cast about us in vain for some one to fill the place of each of the departed, but no one has as yet put in his appearance, and probably never will. These first descendants of the fathers left an indelible impression of character and works which remain with us to the present time, but, of course, shows less and less each succeeding generation. Although these changes are going on everywhere, they are not always so marked and suggestive in matters of general interest as in our churches. One thing more, which is pleasant to think of, is our abundant supply of the necessities of life, and the disposition of most of our people to secure them by habits of industry and temperance; only a few among us do otherwise. We have in town today about ninety-five persons whose ages range from 70 to 93 years. We buried in '91 but three octogenarians and one non-octogenarian.

From Ontario County Journal 3 January 1890


Mr. Editor:

In this year of celebrations connected with interesting periods of our history as a nation, state, county, as well as town, one is much inclined to look at the past as he sees it, in the main, most clearly from his own stand point in life. And in so doing finds much of recent date in the social as well as political events of his own town of interest and pleasure to look at. Take for instance our little town of East Bloomfield, settled in 1789, and now has a population of about 2700, about one-fourth of which are foreigners and their descendants who began to settle here about 1840, and now owning some of our best farms. Many of them make good citizens, but it is not a pleasant thought to an old resident born here in 1817, that so many of our old families are giving way to strangers. But few farms or homes are now occupied by the posterity of those who felled the first trees, plowed the first furrows and rocked the first cradle in Western Ontario. But one farm in town is now owned and occupied by a son of the first settler. Elisha Steele still lives where his father purchased nearly one hundred years ago; is about 78 years of age, as active and hearty as many men at 50, and whose golden wedding we celebrated Feb. 19, 1889. Another item of interest is our fertile soil and salubrious climate. No stagnant pools of water nor swamp holes to breed disease or invite epidemics. The only serious epidemic ever in town was that of 1813. A young M. D. who settled here a few years since said to the writer, "This is the healthiest place in the world, not much for me to do here." We stand high and dry, from 600 to 1000 feet above water level. It is said that the highest point of land on the road between Albany and Buffalo is about one mile west of this village. With a glass, I have seen from my own door Reed's Corners, thirteen miles away, plain enough to recognize buildings with which I am acquainted. Again it has been said of late that the longevity of the people of this country was on the increase, and judging from our town, I should think it was so. For instance only 13 have died this year whose aggregate ages is 910, an average of 70 years, not including infants. About fifty years ago a new cemetery was opened in this village in which we count about 700 graves and less than fifty of them those of octogenarians, until the present year during which five over 80 years old have been buried. Referring to a statement published five years ago, there were then twenty in town over 80 years old, now, 1889, there were 31. Then, 1884, there were thirty septuagenarians, now they number more than fifty. The oldest person living, born here, is Myron Adams, Sr., now for twenty years a resident of Rochester, 90 years of age.

The oldest living in town and born here is Mrs. Betsey C. Hamlin, aged 88 years. Two ladies over 90 years old are now living in town thought not born here. Also in 1875, we are credited with six nonagenarians the same as Canandaigua. Phelps, the only town in the county ahead of us, having nine, with a population much larger. Stephen Salmon, the last of our 1812 veterans, died Nov. 26, 1889, aged 94. And the only living memorial of that war, now with us, is Mrs. Laura Butler, aged 84 years.

Now, as to the late civil war, we enlisted 160 of our young men, many of them the best; forty of whose names are engraved on a monument erected to their memory in our village park by a grateful people at a cost of $6000. About twenty-five are still with us, as it were, to remind us of the last bloody strife for the legacy left us by our forefathers, a free government and liberal institutions -- doubly secured, we believe, to us and our posterity by the valor and heroism of "our boys in blue."          E. B. W.

From Geneva Advertiser 1 April 1902

Mr. Edgar Parker,

In your last issue, speaking of a fence post in the town of Phelps set out by John Foster 75 years ago as believed to be the oldest post in the United States, while I admit it has done good service, it is not the oldest post.  On the Kingsbury farm in the town of East Bloomfield, about three miles east of the village, there now stands a red cedar post about eight feet high that used to carry the sign reading "Joel Steele Inn," that had stood there many years before my father was born, which was in Sept. 1806, and Joel Steele was an uncle of my father's and it is less than a year since my father showed me the post. While the post does not stand quite straight, it is in apparent good condition.  The old sign of the Inn is in good order and quite a curiosity, and is in the possession of Charles Buell who lives across the road.

In connection with this my father was telling me that when he was about twelve years old, the soldiers were camped a few days on this old farm , and that while there stole a cheese out of his grandfather's kitchen.  It was discovered who stole the cheese, and the parties were publicly whipped in the yard by the house.  When the army got ready to move, they were short of teams, and forcibly took them from the farmers, some of whom clung to the lines and they were slapped by the officers with the flat side of their swords.  The teams were all returned in good order and the farmers well paid for their service.

There is now standing in the yard of Dr. Wheeler an old oak tree in good order in which a bear was killed before 1800.  I have in my house an old wooden clock in a tall case that belonged to my father's mother and came from Massachusetts over one hundred and fifty years ago on an ox cart, and it keeps good time yet.  I have also a hall clock with brass works which my father saw made in East Bloomfield when he was about thirteen years old, and his is now ninety-six, with fine memory and good eye sight, but quite deaf.  He did all of his own ploughing when he was eighty-five.  There may be older posts, older clocks, but very few older fathers, and I am sure no better ones than Hiram Steele of East Bloomfield.

C. A. Steele

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