allens hill

Looking South from Allen's Hill, Town of Richmond
Honeoye Lake in Distance

Alva Reed was a great-grandson of Philip Reed and Margaret Fitch of Richmond (Honeoye), NY. It appeared as a group of columns in the June 1925 issues of “The Livonia Gazette”. The document puts them together as a whole. For information on Alva Reed here is a link to him in my RootsWeb tree:

With deep appreciation to James Reed for sharing this interesting item of history.

Out of the Past


In closing my last weeks "Historical Happenings" I stated that the soldiers of Massachusetts and Vermont and New Hampshire, accustomed to the rocky farms of their native towns, were amazed at the fertility of the soil, which could produce such crops as they saw at Honeoye, Canandaigua, and Little Beard's Town on the Genesee river. When the war was over and they had returned to their homes, they gave glowing reports of the land they had seen, and inspired the purpose which gave to western New York the sturdy New England stock.

However, the title of the region was in dispute, being claimed by the commonwealth of Massachusetts and the state of New York. The dispute was settled by a commission in 1786. By this disposition Massachusetts surrendered the sovereignty of the disputed territory and obtained in turn the right to pre-empt and purchase of the Indians the land lying west of the parallel running through the eighty-second mile-stone on the Pennsylvania line, except a few reservations, an area of about 6,000,000 acres. A part of these comprising about 2,500,000 acres was soon purchased by Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham. Surveys were soon made, a land office established in Canandaigua in 1789 and the region opened for settlement. This now comprises the counties of Monroe, Wayne, Livingston, Ontario, Steuben and a part of Yates.

The migration was meager until about 1795 to 1800, the completion of the state road from Utica to the Genesee affording a fairly passable route. Among the parties which came here in 1795 was that of which Philip Reed (my great grand father) was a member. The other men of the party were Dr. Cyrus Chipman, who settled on the farm a mile east of Allen's Hill on which the brick house now stands; Judge Lemuel Chipman, who settled on the farm now owned by Pierpont Green (Judge Chipman was also a physician but did not follow his profession); he was a member of the state senate from 1802 to 1805); Asa Dennison, who came as a hired man of Cyrus Chipman; Levi Blackmer, who came as a hired man of Lemuel Chipman; and Isaac Adams and a man named Chamberlin, who came as hired men of Philip Reed.

With Philip also came three of his sons, born in Vermont, John, Silas and Wheeler (who was my grandfather.) That Philip Reed visited the articles of agreement made in this section in 1794 is evidenced by that year by him as one party and Gen. Israel Chapin as agent for Phelps and Gorham. By this agreement he made the purchase of a tract of land, to be described later, providing he made the payment of a certain sum before September 1798, it is quite possible that he came from Canandaigua, remaining with Capt, Peter Pitts, Gideon and William, who had been here five years, and located his contemplated purchase.     Philip Reed and the two Chipmans had married sisters, daughters of Colonel William Fitch, who died in 1785. These three sisters, together with their mother and Jen, a negress, probably made up the feminine side of the party. Philip's wife was Margaret Fitch, Cyrus Chipman's was Annie and Judge Chipman's was Sinai.

In 1794 Philip Reed had entered in to an agreement, above referred to, with Israel Chapin, as agent for Oliver Phelps, for the purchase of lots Nos. 48 and 49, township No.9, county of Ontario of the Phelps and Gorham purchase. The sum to be paid for these lots, which comprised about 740 acres, was 550 pounds money of New York, or about $4 per acre. The conveyance of this property was to be made prior to Sept. 24th, 1798, and the deed was given by Oliver Phelps of Suffield, Hartford County, Connecticut, August 14, 1797. The northwest corner of this plot of land, which was deeded to my great grandfather, Philip Reed, on Aug, 14, 1797, is now the dividing line between Farmer Townsend and my 65 acres on the north side of the Richmond Mills road, which is about to be completed as a state, county and town highway. This road used to be the stage road between Geneseo and Canandaigua; the stage coach with four horses going east one day with the mail and returning the next day.

I think it only fitting and appropriate to place a historical marker in the form of a large boulder on the intersection of the Livingston and Ontario county line to bear out the records and mark the spot where the corner stone should rest, and perhaps kindle a little flame of interest for the future generations who follow us. "lest we forget" What say you?

One of the reasons that I am so much interested in the placing of this historical marker on this hill is that it is a suitable place for such a stone. situated where there is a commanding view of the Honeoye valley and Allen's Hill (the home of Mary Jane Holmes),and another reason is that I am one of the fourth generation of the descendants of Philip Reed, my children are the fifth, and my little grandchild is the sixth generation which has lived on this same farm.

I would be glad to receive any suggestion as to the best way to inscribe the dates on such a marker.

The next year, in September, 1798, another purchase was made of the north half of the west half of lot No, 46, being about 187 acres of what was known as the George Rowley farm, now owned by Rodney Gibbs and myself, which we bought in 1915. In 1798, when Philip Reed bought it from Daniel Burt Jr., of Taunton, Bristol County, Massachusetts, he paid $370 in New York money, or about $2 an acre.

In 1803 he purchased 100 acres in lot No. 50 for $514. In March, 1804, he purchased of Daniel Burt of Bristol, Ontario County, the remaining part of the west half of lot No. 46, about ninety-two acres of land, for $400. Another purchase of 100 acres in lot No.43 was made in 1796 from Oliver Phelps. These make an aggregate of 1219 acres, a pretty good-sized farm. I think I forgot to mention that he came to Richmond from Pawlet, Vermont and that his father's name was Jacob. They had moved to Vermont from Connecticut.

There is a little romance in connection with the marriage of Philip Reed and Margaret Fitch. The tradition is that Captain Fitch engaged Philip Reed, who had learned the weaver's trade, to teach his daughters to weave. While doing this he fell in love with Margaret; and the result of her learning to weave was her marriage to Philip Reed.

I have a little book, Washington's Farewell Address, also the silk badge with Washington's portrait woven into it, dated April. 1811. In the book is the record where Philip Reed of "Honeoy" (spelled without the final "e") joined the Washington Benevolent Society of Ontario County. He died in 1828 and is buried in the Richmond Center cemetery. In his later years he was not able to get about much, having suffered some from paralysis, and used to sit by the north window in his house.

Squire Reed was a man of prominence and was the first assessor of the town of Richmond and supervisor for a number of years. In his early years; if we may judge by his achievements, he must have led a strenuous life. Besides the task of clearing the land he built a grist mill, bringing the mill stones from New Hampshire with oxen; some task I'll say; a saw mill, a woolen mill, and in 1803 commenced the brick house on the homestead, where it stands today. The mill was built prior to 1812, for during the war from 1812-14 David K. Crooks drew fifteen barrels of flour to the American troops in Buffalo, and on his return trip brought back a load of munitions of war to the arsenal in Batavia.

The account book kept by Philip Reed from 1811 to 1813 records the wages of a man by the year as from $132 to $140. The item of whiskey sold or given for work is, perhaps, the most numerous. It must be recalled that up to the time of the Erie Canal in 1826 the only way for a farmer to market his grain was first to convert it into liquor. The product of a number of acres converted into small space could then be drawn to market at Utica or, perhaps, Albany.

Ninety-nine years ago, in 1826, the Erie canal was built, and on October 26, 1826, the first daily newspaper ever published in the village of Rochester; to which I referred a few weeks ago, Vol. 1, No.1, which I have and which I find much enjoyment in reading. In June, 1813, potatoes brought 75 cents a bushel hay was $10 a ton, corn in March, 1813, $1 a bushel and wheat $1.50.

Hugh Gregg was Squire Reed's miller, to whom we find charged whiskey at the rate of about a quart every other day. "Happy is the miller that lives by the mill."

The undertaking of building the house on the homestead was a large one. The bricks were made by Asa Gorkins. The clay for them was dug from the fields across the road from the house. Philip made the lime from limestone picked up about the farm, a considerable quantity of which was found on the farm now owned by Edward Somerville. The nails in the house may have been made in Auburn; as they were all hand forged. There is a most striking evidence of the advancement made by machinery, when we think of the slow and tedious task of making nails by hand one by one sufficient for a house as large as is this one. The carving about the cornice was done by hand, all the finishing lumber taken in the rough, planed, matched and jointed by hand. Probably over two years passed before the mansion was completed, yet when it was done Squire Reed had a house which must have evoked the admiration of his fellow-townsmen.

Six children were born to Philip and Margaret Reed: John F., known as the Major, who was born in 1781; Silas, born in 1783; Wheeler (my grand father), born in 1787, he being 10 years old when he came with his parents and two brothers from Vermont; William Fitch, born in 1800; Philip, born in 1806; and Altae, a daughter, who died when 17 years of age.

Major Reed, Robert Reed's grandfather, married Antha Steele and lived on the homestead where Robert lives now. Silas, who lived on Rowley's corner, now Rodney Gibb's place, married Alta Chipman, daughter of Cyrus Chipman, and they kept the West Richmond Hotel or tavern which was noted for the excellence of its table. It was there that the general trainings were held at times, likewise elections.

In early days election was held for three days. one day at West Richmond, one day at Allen's Hill and one at Pittstown (later Honeoye). Town meetings were held alternately in Richmond and Canadice. At one of these, I have heard, a man known as Uncle Bill Short, proposed a motion rather late in the day, to the effect that all who were in favor of holding the next meeting in Canadice should take their places on the farther side of a nearby fence. When questioned as to the reason for this rather peculiar motion, he answered he was sure that at the time specified the greater part of those in favor of Canadice would be so drunk they would be unable to climb the fence. He could thus secure a majority in favor of holding the next meeting in Richmond.

To return to our consideration of Philip Reed's family; Wheeler, his third son, married Olive Risden, and after her death he married Hannah Risden, sister of his first wife, and lived for many years in a log house located about 100 rods south of the large house in which I now live. That house was built by Wheeler Reed in 1845, and the road from Frost Hollow west to the Livingston county line was built in 1843.

William, Wells and George Reed's grandfather married Amelia Palmes and lived where George Reed now lives, on the "Old Fort" farm. Philip married Betsy Blackmer and occupied the brick house on the old homestead. Squire Reed and Margaret Reed had forty-seven grandchildren, twenty of whom were children of Wheeler Reed. This explains why my grandfather built such a big house, where I now live; Eight boys and seven girls who lived to be men and women in one family. I have heard my father say that each of the eight boys had a fiddle and a rifle. Just imagine the racket of eight fiddles. Perhaps it was a good thing that at that time they didn't have a radio.

I have before me Philip Reed's account book, dated at Pittstown, 1805. This was the year that the old brick house was built; and I see that his men were paid largely in wheat, tallow, cider, apples, hay, corn, bran, cheese, honey, butter, wine, beef and whiskey, which last-named item was 25 cents a quart.

Here are the prevailing prices at that time:
Butter 12½ cents lb.
Cheese 10 cents
Pork 12½ cents
Lard 10 cents
Tobacco 25 cents
Honey 13 cents
Corn $1 a bushel
Wheat $ 1.50
Rye $ 1
Tallow 12½ cents lb.
Cloth 50 cents a yard
One cow $18
One fowl 19 cents
Potatoes 50 cents
Onions $1.25
One file 25 cents
One gun $5
Salt $ 1.25 bu.
Vinegar 25 cents gal.
Flannel cloth 60 cents yd.
Flour 2½ cents lb.
Hay $10 ton
Beef 4 cents lb.
Horseshoes 12cents each
One man and two yoke of oxen one day $1.50
Dressing flax 75cents per day
Shearing sheep 75cents per day
Hewing timber 75cents per day,
One fat sheep $3.50,
Wool 50cents lb.
Bran 12½ cents bu.
Pork barrels 75cents each
Pine trees $1 each
Mustard seed 19cents qt.
Cider $1 bbl.
Cow and calf $10
Grey cloth 62½ cents yd.
Red flannel 50 cents yd.
Making shirts 37½ cents each
Making frocks 25cents each
Straw 2cents bundle
Shoes $1.50 pr.

This was 120 years ago.

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