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Orsamus Turner's

1851 History of Pioneer Settlement of
Phelps and Gorham's Purchase

-- Part Third --

Title Page  |  Preface  |  Contents  |  Part First  |  Part Second  |  Part Third
1849 Orsamus Turner book   |   1851 Orsamus Turner article

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(Pioneer settlements will be taken up in this connection, by counties, as they now exist. The arrangement will not allow of strict reference to the order of time in which events occurred; but it will be found more convenient for the reader than any other that could be adopted.)

After Mr. Phelps had concluded the treaty, -- before leaving the country he made arrangements for its survey into Ranges and Townships. This was done under contract, by Col.Hugh Maxwell, who completed most, of the northern portion of it previous to the close of the year 1788; and in the year 1789, with the assistance of Judge Porter, he completed the whole. The survey of townships into farm lots, in cases where whole townships were sold, was done at the expense of the purchasers. Judge Porter, Frederick Saxton, ______ Jenkins, were among the earliest surveyors of the subdivisions.

Mr. Phelps having selected the foot of Canandaigua Lake, as a central locality in the purchase, and as combining all the advantages which has since made it preeminent, even among the beautiful villages of western New York, erected a building for a store house on the bank of the Lake. The next movement was to make some primitive roads, to get to and from the site that had been selected. Men were employed at Geneva, who underbrushed and continued a sleigh road, from where it had been previously made on Flint creek, to the foot of Canandaigua Lake, following pretty much the old

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road for the white settlers -- "Capt. Pitts" and "Pitts Flats" had a wide notoriety in all primitive days. It was the stopping place of the Wadsworths and Jones, of Thomas Morris and in fact of all of the early prominent Pioneers of that region. Louis Phillipe, when from a wanderer in the backwoods of America, he had become the occupant of a throne, remembered that he had spent a night in the humble log house of Capt. Pitts. The Duke Liancourt, strolling every where through this region, in 1795, with his companions went from Canandaigua to make the patriarch of the backwoods a visit.*

The Indians upon their trail, camping and hunting upon their old grounds, the flats, and the up lands around the Honeoye Lake were the almost constant neighbors of Capt. Pitts, in the earliest years. Generally they were peaceable and well disposed; a party of them however, most of whom were intoxicated, on their way to the Pickering treaty at Canandaigua in 1794, attacked the women of the family who refused them liquor, and Capt. Pitts, his son's and hired men, coming to the rescue, a severe conflict ensued. The assailed attacking the assailants with clubs, shovels and tongs, soon vanquished them though peace was not restored, until Horatio Jones, fortunately arriving on his way to the treaty, interfered.  

The first training in the Genesee country was held at Captain Pitt's house; a militia company, commanded by Captain William Wadsworth; and Pitt's Flats was for many years a training ground.

Captain Peter Pitts died in 1812, aged 74 years. His eldest son Gideon, who was several times a member of the Legislature, and a delegate to the state convention in 1822, died in 1829 aged 63 years. The only survivors of the sons and daughters of Capt. Pitts, are, Peter Pitts, and Mrs. Blackmer. A son, Samuel Pitts.
* The Duke has made a record of it: -- "We set out with Blacons to visit an estate belonging to one Mr. Pitt, of which we had heard much talk through the country. On our arrival we found the house crowded with Presbyterians; its owner attending to a noisy, tedious harangue, delivered by a minister with such violence of elocution that he appeared all over in a perspiration." [It was the Rev. Zadock Hunn.] "We found it very difficult to obtain some oats for our horses and a few hasty morsels for our dinner." The Duke however admired the fine herd of cattle; and with characteristic gallantry, adds, that" a view of the handsome married and unmarried women" that he saw attending the meeting, "was even more delectable to our senses than the tine rural scenery" Rev. Zadock Hunn, who was not so fortunate as a part of his hearers in falling into the good graces of the Duke, Mrs. Blackman, a surviving daughter of Capt. Pitts, says: "was an old man then. He held meetings at my father's house as early as '93, coming at stated times. lie also held meetings in Canandaigua and Bristol" She differs with the Duke -- says they "used to have good meetings; much better ones than we do now."

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was an early and prominent citizen of Livonia. The descendants of Capt. Pitts are numerous. Levi Blackmer settled in Pittstown in '95, is still alive, aged 78 years, his wife, (the daughter of Capt. Pitts,) aged 72. In the summer of 1848, the boy who had driven an ox-team to the Genesee country, in 1795, was at work on the highway.

The Duke Liancourt, said that Capt. Pitts had to "go to mill with a sled, twelve miles"; this was to Norton's Mills. In '98, Thomas Morris built a grist and saw mill on the outlet of Hemlock Lake, and in 1802 Oliver Phelps built a grist mill on Mill Creek.

In '95, Drs. Lemuel and Cyrus Chipman, from Paulet, Vermont, and their brother-in-law, Philip Reed, came into Pittstown, with their families. They came all the way by sleighing, with horse and ox teams. The teams were driven by Levi Blackmer, Pierce Chamberlain, Asa Dennison, and Isaac Adams, all of whom became residents of the town. They were eighteen days on the road.  

Lemuel Chipman had been a surgeon in the army of the Revolution. He was one of a numerous family of that name in Vermont, a brother of the well known lawyer, and law professor in Middlebury College. In all early years he was a prominent, public spirited and useful helper in the new settlements; one of the best specimens of that strong minded, energetic race of men that were the founders of settlement and civil institutions in the Genesee country. He was an early member of the Legislature, and a judge of the courts of Ontario county; was twice elector of President and Vice President; and was a State Senator. Soon after 1800, he purchased, in connection with Oliver Phelps, the town of Sheldon, in Wyoming county, and the town was settled pretty much under his auspices. He removed to that town in 1828, where he died at an advanced age. His sons were Lemuel Chipman of Sheldon, deceased, father of Mrs. Guy H. Salisbury of Buffalo; Fitch Chipman of Sheldon; and Samuel Chipman of Rochester, the well known pioneer in the temperance movement -- now the editor of the Star of Temperance. A daughter became the wife of Dr. Cyrus Wells of Oakland county, Michigan, and another the wife of Dr. E. W. Cheney, of Canandaigua. Dr. Cyrus Chipman emigrated at an early period to Pontiac, Michigan, where he was a Pioneer, and where his descendants principally reside.

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In the year 1796, Roswell Turner came from Dorset, Vermont, took land on the outlet of Hemlock Lake, cleared a few acres, built a log house, and in the following winter moved on his family, and his father and mother. The family had previously emigrated from Connecticut to Vermont. After a long and tedious journey, with jaded horses, they arrived at Caynga Lake, where they were destined to encounter a climax of hardship and endurance. Crossing upon the ice on horseback, a part of the family, the Pioneer, his mother and two small children, broke through in a cold day, and were with difficulty saved from drowning by the help of those who came to their rescue from the shore. Arrived at their new home, sickness soon added to their afflictions, and two deaths occurred in the family the first year. The residence of the family was changed in a year or two to the neighborhood of Allen's Hill, where they remained until 1804, and then, as if they had not seen enough of the hardships of Pioneer life, pushed on to the Holland Purchase, into the dark hemlock woods of the west part of Wyoming, the Pioneer making his own road, west of Warsaw, thirteen miles; he and his family being the first that settled in all the region west of Warsaw, south of Attica and the old Buffalo road, and east of Hamburgh;  -- pages could be filled with the details of the hardships of the first lonely winter, its deep snows, the breaking of roads out to Wadsworth's Flats, and digging corn from under the snow to save a famishing stock of cattle too weak to subsist upon brouse and other incidents which would show the most rugged features of backwoods life; but it is out of the present beat. Roswell Turner died in 1809. His sons were, the late Judge Horace S. Turner of Sheldon; the author of this work; and a younger brother, Chipman Phelps Turner of Aurora, Erie county. Daughters -- Mrs. Farnum of Bennington; Mrs. Sanders of Aurora; and the first wife of Pliny Sexton, of Palmyra. 



I remernber very well, that when early deaths occurred in our family, no seasoned boards could be obtained for coffins, short of taking down a partition of our log-house. The second winter, myself a sister, and young brother, went to school two miles and a half through the woods, into what is now Livonia. We went upon the old Big Tree Road, and mostly had to

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beat our own path, for but a few sleighs passed during the winter. There was but one family -- that of Mr. Briggs -- on the way.

I think it was in the summer of 1802, that a little daughter of one of our neighbors, Sewal Boyd, three years old, was lost in the woods. A lively sympathy was created in the neighborhood, the woods were scoured, the outlet waded, and the flood wood removed; on the third day, she was found in the woods alive, having some berries in her hand, which the instincts of hunger had caused her to pick. The musquetoes had preyed upon her until they had caused running sores upon her face and arms, and the little wanderer had passed through a terrific thunder storm.

The Indians, if they were guilty of occasional outrage, had some of the finest impulses of the human heart. The wife of a son of Capt. Pitts, who had always been kind to them, was upon her death bed; hearing of it, the Squaws came and wailed around the house, with all the intense grief they exhibit when mourning the death of kindred. Upon "Phelps' Flats," as they were called, near the Old Indian Castle, at the foot of Honeoye Lake, in the first ploughing, many brass kettles, guns, beads, &c., were found. An old Squaw that had formerly resided upon the Flats, said that the approach of Sullivan's army was not discovered by them until they were seen coming over the hill near where Capt. Pitts built his house. They were quietly braiding their corn, and boiling their succotash. She said there was a sudden desertion of their village; all took to flight and left the invaders an uncontested field. One Indian admitted that he never looked back until he reached Buffalo Creek.

In the earliest years, deer would come in flocks, and feed upon our green wheat ; Elisha Pratt, who was a hunter, made his home at our house, and I have known him to kill six and seven in a day. Bears would come and take the hogs from directly before the doors of the new settlers -- sometimes in open day light. I saw one who had seized a valuable sow belonging to Peter Allen, and retreated to the woods, raising her with his paws clenched in her spine, and beating her against a tree to deprive her of life; persisting even after men had approached and were attacking him with clubs. 

I could relate many wolf stories, but one will perhaps be so incredible that it will sufilce. A Mr. Hurlburt, that lived in the west part of the town, was riding through our neighborhood, on a winter evening, and passing a strip of woods near our house, a pack of wolves surrounded him, but his dog diverted their attention until he escaped. While sitting upon his horse, telling us the story, the pack came within fifteen rods of the house, and stopping upon a knoll almost deafened us with their howl. Retreating into the woods a short distance, they seemed by the noise to have a fight among themselves, and in the morning, it was ascertained that they had actually killed and eat one of their own number! *

Capt. Harmon, built a barn in 1802 or '3; at the raising, an adopted son of his, by the name of Butts, was killed outright, and Isaac Bishop was stunned, supposed to be dead. He recovered, but with the entire loss of the faculty
* This is not incredible; other similar cases are given upon good authority. Famishing, ravenous; a fight occurs, and tasting blood, they know no distinction between their own and other species. -- Author.

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of memory. Although he had possessed a good education, he had lost it all, even the names of his children, his wife and farming utensils. His wife re-taught him the rudiments of education, beginning with the A B C, and the names of things.

Rattle snakes were too common a thing to speak of; but we had a few of another kind of snake, that I have never heard or read of, elsewhere. It had a horn with which it would make a noise like the rattle of a rattle snake. 

In 1796 and '7, Peter Allen and his family; his brother Nathaniel, and the father, Moses Allen, became residents of the town. The father and mother died in early years. Peter Allen was connected with early military organizations, and rose to the rank of a Brig. Gen. He was in command of a Regiment at the battle of Queenston, in which he was made a prisoner; afterwards a member of the Legislature from Ontario. ==> See Peter Allen and "Hen. Fellows," Hammond's Political History. In 1816 he emigrated to Indiana, becoming one of the pioneer settlers of Terra Haute; a portion of his original farm, being now embraced in the village. He died in 1837; many of his descendants are residents of Terra Haute. Nathaniel Allen was the primitive blacksmith of Pittstown; working first as a journeyman in Canandaigua, and then starting a shop, first in the neighborhood of Pitts Flats, and afterwards, on the Hill, that assumed his name. He was an early officer of militia, deputy sheriff, member of the legislature. In the war of 1812, he successively filled the post of commissioner and pay master, on the Niagara Frontier. After the war, he was sheriff of Ontario county, and in later years, for two terms, its representative in Congress. lie died at Louisville, Ky., in 1833, where he was a contractor for the construction of the canal around the Falls of the Ohio. Of five sons, but one survives. Dr. Orrin Allen, a resident of Virginia. An only daughter was the first wife of the Hon. R. L. Rose, who is the occupant of the homestead of the family on Allen's Hill. The family were from Dutchess county. The daughters of Moses Allen became the wrves of Elihu Gifford, of Easton, Washington county, Samuel Woodworth of Mayville, Mont. co., Samuel Robinson of Newark, Wayne co., Fairing Wilson, of Stockbridge, Mass., Roswell Turner of Pittstown, Ont., and Stephen Durfee of Palmyra, Wayne county.

Sylvester Curtis erected the first distillery in town; and James

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Henderson who was a pioneer at the head of Conesus Lake, was an early landlord upon the Hill.

David Akin, Wm. Baker, Thomas Wilson, James Hazen, Silas Whitney, Cyrus Wells, the Johnsons, David Winton, Nathaniel Harmon, William Warner, were settlers in earliest years.

Philip Reed, who came in with the Chipmans, died about twenty years ago. His surviving sons are Col. John F. Reed, Silas Reed, Wheeler Reed, Wm. F. Reed, and Philip Reed, all residing on and near the old homestead.

As early as 1796 or '7, Elijah and Stiles Parker, Elisha Belknap, Col. John Green, John Garlinghouse, became residents of the town. The four first named, emigrated many years since to Kentucky, and in late years some of them have pioneered still further on, over the Rocky Mountains to Oregon. Joseph Garlinghouse, a son of the early pioneer, John Garlinghouse, an ex-sheriff of Ontario county, a prominent enterprising farmer, still resides in Richmond. A son of his married a daughter of Erastus Spalding, the early pioneer at the mouth of Genesee River; another, the daughter of David Stout, a pioneer in Victor and Perinton. Daughters, are Mrs. Comstock, of Avon, and Mrs. Sheldon, of Le Roy. Mrs. Briggs and Mrs. Hopkins, of Richmond, are daughters of John Garlinghouse; and a son and daughter reside in Iowa.

Asa Dennison who is named in connection with the Chipmans, still survives, a resident of Chautauque county. 



In all of the old town of Gorham, at first Easton, (what was is now Gorham and Hopewell,) a few settlers began to drop in along on the main road from Canandaigua to Geneva, as early as 1790. In July of that year, there were the families of Daniel Gates, Daniel Warren, Sweets, _____ Platts, Samuel Day, and Israel Chapin jr. who had commenced the erection of the mills upon the outlet. Mr. Day was the father of David M. Day, the early apprentice to the printing business with John A. Stephens in Cananandaigua, and the founder of what is now one of the prominent and leading newspapers of western New York, the Buffalo Commercial

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Advertiser. Daniel Warren emigrated to Sheldon, now Wyoming co., in 1810 or '11, where he died within a few years; Pomeroy Warren, of Attica, Wyoming co., is a son of his, and Mrs. Harry Hamilton, near Little Fort, Illinois, is. a daughter.

Daniel Gates and his son Daniel Gates Jr. were from Stonington Conn., both were out with Mr. Phelps in his primitive advent. They purchased land in Gorharn, paying is 6 d. per acre. The old gentleman died in 1831, aged 87 years. He was the first collector of taxes of the town of Gorham. His descendants are numerous, a large family of sons and daughters becoming heads of families. His daughters became the wives of Asahel Burchard, the early pioneer of Lima; Asa Benton, Shubel Clark and James Wyckoff of Gorham. Daniel Gates, Jr. died in 1812; his wife was a sister of the wife of Major Miller the early pioneer near Buffalo, and of the wife of Capt. Follett; Daniel Gates of Palmyra is a son.

Those whose names will follow, were all residents of Gorham as early as 1796 or '7 -- James Wood, Perley Gates, -- Ingalls, Frederick Miller, Silas Reed, Capt. Frederick Follett, Lemuel, George, Isaiah and William Babcock; Joseph and James Birdseye; John Warren.

Major Frederick Miller left Gorham soon after 1800, and was a Pioneer at Black Rock, the early landlord and keeper of the ferry at that point. William Miller of Buffalo, is his son; and Mrs. Heman B. Potter is a daughter. Mrs. Miller, Mrs. Follett and Mrs. Daniel Gates, Jr., were daughters of George Babcock.

Silas Reed died in 1834, at the age of 76 years; an only surviving son, is Seneca Reed of Greece; a daughter became the wife of Levi Taylor, an early Pioneer of Lockport, now a resident of lonia, Michigan.

Frederick Follett, in 1778, was among the border settlers of Wyoming Valley. In company with Lieut. Buck, Messrs. Stephen Pettibone and Elisha Williams, on the Kingston side of the river, within sight of the Wilkesbarre Fort, the party were suddenly attacked by twenty Indians. Three of the four were murdered and scalped. Mr. Follett was pierced by two balls, one in either shoulder, and stabbed nine times with spears. Still having consciousness, he fell on his face -- being unable to escape -- held his breath as much as possible, and feigned death, in hopes he might escape further muti lation at the hands of his ruthless pursuers. But he was not thus

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to be spared. The Indians came up to him, and without any unnecessary delay or useless ceremony, scalped him as he lay in his gore and agony; and but for the approach of assistance from the fort, would no doubt have ended his days with the tomahawk. The spear wounds were severe and deep -- one of which penetrated his stomach, so that its contents came out at his side! His case was deemed hopeless, but kindness prompted all the aid that medical and surgical skill could afford. He was placed in charge of Dr. William Hooker Smith, who did all in his power to save him -- and his efforts were crowned with success, and he became a hearty and well man. He was then young and full of vigor, and never experienced any particular inconvenience from these severe wounds, except occasional pain from one of the bullets, which was never extracted from his body, and extreme sensitiveness to the slightest touch, or even the air, of that portion of the head from which the scalp was removed.

He afterwards entered the naval service -- was captured, and taken to Halifax, and confined in a dungeon six months; was released; entered the service again, and was twice captured by the British, and eventually returned to his native country, to Dalton, Berkshire county, Mass., from whence he removed at an early day to Gorham.

It is a somewhat singular coincidence that his eldest son -- now dead -- who entered the naval service as a midshipman, in 1812, was captured on board the Chesapeake in her engagement with the Shannon, and was also imprisoned in the same dungeon six months that his father had occupied during onr first conflict with the powers of England.

"Capt. Follett" is frequently mentioned in the manuscripts of Charles Williamson, and would seem to have been in his employ as early as 1794. His surviving sons are, -- Orrin Follett, an early printer and editor at Batavia, and a member of the legislature from Genesee county, now a resident of Sandusky, Ohio; his second wife, a niece of James D. Bemis, of Canandaigna; Nathan Follett of Batavia; and Frederick Follett, of Batavia, the successor of his brother, as a printer and editor -- for a long period honorable associated with the public press of the Genesee country -- and at present, one of the Board of Canal Commissioners of this State; having in immediate charge the western division of the Erie Canal,

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and the Genesee Valley Canal. A son of his, is Lieut. Frederick M. Follett, of the U. S. army, a graduate of West Point; a circumstance worthy of mention, as the patronage of that national school is not always as well bestowed, as in this instance, upon the descendant of one so eminently entitled to be remembered for services, sacrifices and sufferings, unparalleled in our Revolutionary annals. 



Gamaliel Wilder and Joseph Gilbert were the Pioneers of Bristol. About the period that Mr. Phelps was holding his treaty with the Indians, in 1788, they located at the Old Indian Orchard, and commenced improvements. In 1790, Mr. Wilder built the small Pioneer Mill that has been often named in other connections. He died many years since. Joseph Gilbert was living a few months since, at the age of 93 years; if living now, he is the oldest surviving resident of the Genesee country.

Deacon William Gooding and George Codding were among the few who wintered in the Genesee country in 1789, '90. Both families have been widely known, and few have been more useful in the work of subduing the wilderness, and promoting the healthful progress of religion, education and sound moral principles. The descendants of George Codding are numerous, and mostly reside in the early home of their Pioneer ancestor. William T. Codding is the only surviving son. Ebenezer Gooding, of Henrietta, is a son of the early Pioneer; another son, Stephen, resides in Illinois. Deacon John Gooding, another son, was one of the early founders of Lockport, Niagara county, where he died in 1838 or '9.

The earliest record of a town meeting in Bristol, is that of 1797. In that year, William Gooding was chosen Supervisor, and John Codding, Town Clerk. Other town officers: -- Fauner Codding, Nathan Allen, Nathaniel Fisher, James Gooding, Jabez Hicks, Moses Porter, Amos Barber, Alden Sears, jr., George Codding, Stephen Sisson, Amos Rice, Ephraim Wilder, Nathan Hatch, Peter Ganyard, Ehizur Hills, Theophilus Allen, Elnathan Gooding, John Simmons. Other citizens of the town in that year, were -- Daniel Burt, Moses Porter, Jonathan Wilder, Theophilus Allen,

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Elnathan Gooding, Chauncey Allen, Samuel Mallory, Ephraim Francis, Seth Hathaway, Constant Simmons, James Carl, Zebulon Mark.



Township 12, R. 2, originally a part of Farmington, now Manchester; settlement commenced as early as 1793. Stephen Jared, Joel Phelps, and Joab Gillett, were the first settlers. ==> For Stephen Phelps, see Palmyra. Gillett, in early years, moved to No. 9 Canandaigua.

Nathan Pierce, from Berkshire, was a settler in 1795. But small openings had then been made in the forest. Mr. Pierce erected a log house, had split bass wood floors, no gable ends, doors, or windows; neither boards or glass to be had; and "wolves and bears were his near neighbors." Coming from Parker's Mills through the woods at night, with his grist on his back, a pack of wolves followed him to his door. Brice Aldrich, a Pioneer of Farmington, was taking some fresh meat to Canandaigua on horseback, when a wolf stoutly contended with him for a share of it. There were many Indian hunters camped along on the outlet; some times the whites would carry loads of venison to Canandaigua for them, where it would be bought up, and the hams dried and sent to an eastern market. Trapping upon the outlet was profitable for both Indians and whites.

Mr. Pierce was supervisor of Farmington for fifteen years, and an early magistrate; he died in 1814; his widow is now living, at the age of 87 years. His surviving sons are: -- Nathan Pierce, of Marshall, Michigan, Darius Pierce, of Washtenaw, Ezra Pierce of Manchester. Daughters -- Mrs. Peter Mitchell, of Manchester, Mrs. David Arnold, of Farmington. John McLouth, from Berkshire, came in '95, was a brother-in-law of Nathan Pierce; died in 1820. Joshua Van Fleet, was one of the earliest; was an officer of the Revolution, a member of the legislature from Ontario; a judge and magistrate, and the first supervisor of Manchester. He is 90 years of age, a resident of Marion, Ohio. First merchant, Nathan Barlow, a son of Abner Barlow, of Canandaigua; resides now in Michigan. First physician, James Stewart. Nathan

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Jones came in 1799, died in 1839; Samuel and Nathan Jones are his sons; Mrs. Dr. Ashley, of Lyons, and Mrs. Simmons of Phelps, are his daughters. Jedediah Dewey, from Suffleld, Conn., came in '98, is still living. Hooker and Joseph Sawyer, were early. Gilbert Howland, a brother of Job Howland, of Farmington, settled in Manchester in 1800; purchasing a large tract of land. The Howlands were from Berkshire; Gilbert died in 1830. Nicholas Howland, of Farmington, and Jonathan Howland of Adrian, Michigan, are his sons. Mrs. Silas Brown of Hamburg, Erie county, is a daughter.

John Lamunion, came in early years; was from Rhode Island. He died ten or twelve years since. His wife, who was the widow of Capt. Follett, died two or three years since.

Peleg Redfield, was a townsman of Mr. Phelps in Suflield; was a musician in the Connecticut line during the Revolution. In 1799, he exchanged with Mr. Phelps, his small farm in Suffield, for 200 acres, wherever he should choose to locate, on any unsold lands of Mr. Phelps. He selected the land where he now resides on the Rail Road, a mile and a half west of Clifton Springs; (a judicious selection, as any one will allow, who sees the fine farm into which it has been converted;) clearing three acres and erecting the body of a log house, he removed his family in Feb. 1800, consisting of a wife and six children. "The journey," says a son of his, "was performed with a sleigh and a single span of horses. Besides the family, the sleigh was loaded with beds and bedding, and articles of household furniture. I shall never forget this, my first journey to the Genesee country, especially that portion of it west of Utica. The snow was three feet deep, and the horses tired and jaded by the cradle-holes, often refused to proceed farther with their load. I had the privilege of riding down hill, but mostly walked with my father, my mother driving the team."

Arriving at their new home, the Pioneer family found shelter with a new settler, "until the bark would peel in the spring," when a roof was put upon the body of the log house that Mr. Redfield had erected; openings made for a door and window, and bass-wood logs split for a floor. Here the family remained until autumn, when a double log house had been erected. Mr. Redfield is now in his 80th year; his memory of early events, retentive, and his physical constitution remarkable for one of his years. He is the father of

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the Hon. Heman J. Redfield, of Batavia; of Lewis H. Redfield, the well known editor, publisher, and bookseller at Syracuse; Hiram Redfield of Rochester, George Redfield, Cass co. Michigan, Alexander H. Redfield of Detroit, Cuyler Redfield, with whom he resides upon the old homestead. His son, Manning Redfield, of Manchester, was killed in a mill where he was marketing his grain in 1850. One of his daughters, was the wife of Leonard Short, of Shortsville, and the other, of Marvin Minor, a merchant at Bergen and Johnson's creek. "I could have made my location at Fort Hill, near Canandaigua," said the old gentleman to the author, "but a town was growing up there, and I feared its influence upon my boys." There are many Pioneer fathers who have lived to regret, that they had not been governed by the same prudent motive.

The Pioneer mother died in 1844, aged 80 years. It will appear incredible to the house keepers, and young mothers of the present day, when they are told, that Mrs. Redfield, in early years, when she had a family of six and seven children, performed all her ordinary house-work, milked her own cows; and carded, spun and wove, all the woolen and linen cloth that the family wore. But the old gentleman thinks it should be added, that he and the boys lightened her labor, by uniformily wearing buckskin breeches in the winter; though the mother had them to make. 



In 1800, a log house had been vacated; we fitted it up and hired Elam Crane* to teach a school. It was a mile from my house, and my boys used to go through the woods by marked trees.

In early years, wolves were a great nuisance; nothing short of a pen sixteen rails high, would protect our sheep. In winters, when hungry, they would collect together and prowl around the log, dwellings; and if disappointed in securing any prey, their howling would startle even backwoodsmen. The Indian wars upon the wolf with great hatred; it is in a spirit of revenge for their preying upon their game, the deer. In the side hill, along on my farm, they dug pits, covered them over with light brush and leaves, and bending down small trees, suspended the offals of deer directly over the pits. In springing for the bait the wolf would land in the bottom of the pits where they could easily be killed. The salmon used to ascend the Canandaigua outlet, as far up as Shortsville, before mill dams were erected. The speckled trout were plenty in the Sulphur Spring brook; and in all the small streams.
* Mr. Crane died recently in south Bristol aged 83 years; he came to the Genesee country in 1788.

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In 1805, I was erecting my frame house, and wanted glass and nails. I went with oxen and sled to Utica, carrying 50 bushels of wheat. I sold it for $1.68 per bushel, to Watts Sherman, a merchant of Utica, and paid 18 d. per pound for wrought nails; $7.50 for two boxes of glass.*

It was pretty easy for young men to secure farms, in the earliest years of settlement. I knew many who received a dollar a day for their labor, and bought lands for twenty five cents per acre.

A Baptist Church was organized in Manchester in 1804; the first Trustees were -- Ebenezer Pratt, Joseph Wells and Jeremiah Dewey. This was the first legal organization, a society had been formed previous to 1800. Judge Phelps gave the society a site for a meeting house, and in 1806 Deacon John McLouth erected a log building. In 1812 or 13, the stone meeting house was erected. Rev. Anson Shay organized the church, and remained its pastor for 25 years; he emigrated to Michigan, where he died in 1845. The Methodists had a society organization as early as 1800, holding their primitive meetings in school and private houses.

"St. John's Church, Farmington," (Episcopal, at Sulphur Springs,) was organized by the Rev. Devenport Phelps, in 1807. The officers were -- John Shekels, Samuel Shekels, wardens; Darius Seager, William Warner, George Wilson, Archibald A. Beal, Davis Williams, Thomas Edmonston, Alexander Howard, William Powell. †  



As we are now at the home of the Smith family -- in sight of "Mormon Hill" -- a brief pioneer history will be looked for, of the strange, and singularly successful religious sect -- the Mormons; and brief it must be, merely starting it in its career, and leaving to their especial historian to trace them to Kirtland, Nauvoo, Beaver Island, and Utah, or the Salt Lake.

Joseph Smith, the father of the prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., was from the Merrimack river, N. H. He first settled in or near Palmyra village, but as
* Mr. Redfield has preserved his store bilL It is made out and signed by Henry B. Gibson, the well known Canandaigua Banker, who was the book keeper in Sherman's store.

† A brother of the early Hotel keeper at Geneva. The two brothers had erected a public house at the Springs, and William was the landlord.

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early as 1819 was the occupant of some land on "Stafford street" in the town of Manchester, near the line of Palmyra* "Mormon Hill" is near the plank road about half way between the villages of Palmyra and Manchester. The elder Smith had been a Universalist, and subsequently a Methodist; was a good deal of a smatterer in Scriptural knowledge; but the seed of revelation was sown on weak ground; he was a great babbler, credulous, not especially industrious, a money digger, prone to the marvellous; and withal, a little given to difficulties with neighbors, and petty law-suits. Not a very propitious account of the father or a Prophet, -- the founder of a state; but there was a "woman in the case." However present, in matters of good or evil! -- In the garden of Eden, in the siege of Troy, on the field of Orleans, † in the dawning of the Reformation, in the Palace of St. Petersburgh, and Kremlin of Moscow, in England's history, and Spain's proudest era; and here upon this continent, in the persons of Ann Lee, Jemima Wilkinson, and as we are about to add, Mrs. Joseph Smith! A mother's influences; in the world's history, in the history of men, how distinct is the impress! -- In heroes, in statesmen, in poets, in all of good or bad aspirations, or distinctions, that single men come out from the mass, and give them notoriety; how often, almost invariably, are we led back to the influences of a mother, to find the germ that has sprouted in the offspring.

The reader will excuse this interruption of narrative, and be told that Mrs. Smith was a woman of strong uncultivated intellect; artful and cunning; imbued with an illy regulated religious enthusiasm. The incipient hints, the first givings out that a Prophet was to spring from her humble household, came from her; and when matters were maturing for denouement, she gave out that such and such ones -- always fixing upon those who had both money and credulity -- were to be instruments in some great work of new revelation. The old man was rather her faithful co-worker, or executive exponent. Their son, Alvah, was originally intended, or designated, by fireside consultations, and solemn and mysterious out door hints, as the forth coming Prophet, The mother and the father said he was the chosen one; but Alvah, however spiritual he may have been, had a carnal appetite; eat [sic, ate] too many green turnips, sickened and died. Thus the world lost a Prophet, and Mormonism a leader; the designs impiously and wickedly attributed to Providence, defeated; and all in consequence of a surfeit of raw turnips. Who will talk of the cackling geese of Rome, or any other small and innocent causes of mighty events, after this? The mantle of the Prophet which Mrs. and Mr. Joseph Smith and one Oliver Cowdery, had wove of themselves -- every thread of it -- fell upon their next eldest son, Joseph Smith, Jr.

And a most unpromising recipient of such a trust, was this same Joseph Smith, Jr., afterwards, "Jo. Smith." He was lounging, idle; (not to say vicious,) and possessed of less than ordinary intellect. The author's own recollections of him are distinct ones. He used to come into the village of Palmyra with little jags of wood, from his backwoods home; sometimes patronizing a village grocery too freely; sometimes find an odd job to do about
* Here the author remembers to have first seen the family, in the winter of '19, '20 in a rude log house, with but a small spot underbrushed around it.

† France.

214                 PHELPS  AND  GORHAM'S  PURCHASE.                 

the store of Semour Scovell; and once a week he would stroll into the office of the old Palmyra Register, for his father's paper, How impious, in us young "dareDevils"* to once and a while blacken the face of the then meddling inquisitive lounger -- but afterwards Prophet, with the old fashioned balls, when he used to put himself in the way of the working of the old fashioned Ramage press! The editor of the Cultivator at Albany -- esteemed as he may justly consider himself, for his subsequent enterprize and usefulness, may think of it, with contrition and repentance; that he once helped, thus to disfigure the face of a Prophet, and remotely, the founder of a State.

But Joseph had a little ambition; and some very laudable aspirations; the mother's intellect occasionally shone out in him feebly, especially when he used to help us solve some portentous questions of moral or political ethics, in our juvenile debating club, which we moved down to the old red school house on Durfee street, to get rid of the annoyance of critics that used to drop in upon us in the village; and subsequently, after catching a spark of Methodism in the camp meeting, away down in the woods, on the Vienna road, he was a very passable exhorter in evening meetings.

Legends of hidden treasure, had long designated Mormon Hill as the depository. Old Joseph had dug there, and young Joseph had not only heard his father and mother relate the marvelous tales of buried wealth, but had accompanied his father in the midnight delvings, and incantations of the spirits that guarded it.

If a buried revelation was to be exhumed, how natural was it that the Smith family, with their credulity, and their assumed presentiment that a Prophet was to come from their household, should be connected with it; and that Mormon Hill was the place where it would be found.

It is believed by those who were best acquainted with the Smith family and most conversant with all the Gold Bible movements, that there is no foundation for the statement that their original manuscript was written by a Mr. Spaulding of Ohio. A supplement to the Gold Bible, "The Book of Commandments" in all probability was written by Rigdon, and he may have been aided by Spaulding's manuscripts; but the book itself is without doubt a production of the Smith family, aided by Oliver Cowdery, who was a school teacher on Stafford street, an intimate of the Smith family, and identified with the whole matter. The production as all will conclude, who have read it, or even given it a cursory review, is not that of an educated man or woman. The bungling attempt to counterfeit the style of the Scriptures; the intermixture of modern phraseology; the ignorance of chronology and geography; its utter crudeness and baldness, as a whole, stamp its character, and clearly exhibits its vulgar origin. It is a strange medley of scriptures, romance, and bad composition.

The primitive designs of Mrs. Smith, her husband, Jo and Cowdery, was money-making; blended with which perhaps, was a desire for notoriety, to be obtained by a cheat and a fraud. The idea of being the founders of a new sect, was an after thought, in which they were aided by others.
* To soften the use of such an expression, the reader should be reminded that apprentices in printing offices have since the days of Faust and Gottenberg, been thus called, and sometimes it was not inappropriate.

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The projectors of the humbug, being destitute of means for carrying out their plans, a victim was selected to obviate that difficulty. Martin Harris was a farmer of Palmyra, the owner of a good farm, and an honest worthy citizen; but especially given to religious enthusiasm, new creeds, the more extravagant the better; a monomaniac in fact. Joseph Smith upon whom the mantle of prophecy had fallen after the sad fate of Alva, began to make demonstrations. He informed Harris of the great discovery, and that it had been revealed to him that he (Harris) was a chosen instrument to aid in the great work of surprising the world with a new revelation. They had hit upon the right man. He mortgaged his fine farm to pay for printing the book, assumed a grave, mysterious, and unearthly deportment, and made here and there among his acquaintances solemn annunciations of the great event that was transpiring. His version of the discovery, as communicated to him by the Prophet Joseph himself, is well remembered by several respectable citizens of Palmyra, to whom he made early disclosures. It was in substance, as follows: 

The Prophet Joseph, was directed by an angel where to find, by excavation, at the place afterwards called Mormon Hill, the gold plates; and was compelled by the angel, much against his will, to be the interpreter of the sacred record they contained, and publish it to the world. That the plates contained a record of the ancient inhabitants of this country, "engraved by Mormon, the son of Nephi." That on the top of the box containing the plates, "a pair of large spectacles were found, the stones or glass set in which were opaque to all but the Prophet" that "these belonged to Mormon, the engraver of the plates, and without them, the plates could not be read,"

Harris assumed that himself and Cowdery were the chosen amanuenses, and that the Prophet Joseph, curtained from the world and them, with his spectacle, read from the gold plates what they committed to paper. Harris exhibited to an informant of the author, the manuscript title page. On it were drawn, rudely and bunglingly, concentric circles, between above and below which were characters, with little resemblance to letters; apparently a miserable imitation of hieroglyphics, the writer may have somewhere seen. To guard against profane curiosity, the Prophet had given out that no one but himself, not even his chosen co-operators, must be permitted to see them, on pain of instant death. Harris had never seen the plates, but the glowing account of their massive richness excited other than spiritual hopes, and he upon one occasion, got a village silver-smith to help him estimate their value; taking as a basis the Prophet's account of their dimensions. It was a blending of the spiritual and utilitarian, that threw a shadow of doubt upon Martin's sincerity. This, and some anticipations he indulged in, as to the profits that would arise from the sale of the Gold Bible, made it then, as it is now, a meated question whether he was altogether a dupe.

The wife of Harris was a rank infidel and heretic, touching the whole thing and decidedly opposed to her husband's participation in it. With sacrilegious hands she seized over an hundred of the manuscript pages of the new revelation, and burned or secreted them. It was agreed by the Smith family, Cowdery and Harris, not to transcribe these again, but to let so much of the new revelation drop out, as the "evil spirit would get up a story that the second translation did not agree with the first." A very ingenious method, surely, of guarding against the possibility that Mrs. Harris had preserved the

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manuscript with which they might be confronted, should they attempt an imitation of their own miserable patchwork.

The Prophet did not get his lesson well upon the start, or the household of impostors were in the fault. After he had told his story, in his absence, the rest of the family made a new version of it to one of their neighbors. They shewed him such a pebble as may any day be picked up on the shore of Lake Ontario -- the common horn blend -- carefully wrapped in cotton, and kept in a mysterious box. They said it was by looking at this stone, in a hat, the light excluded, that Joseph discovered the plates. This it will be observed, differs materially from Joseph's story of the angel. It was the same stone the Smiths' had used in money digging, and in some pretended discoveries of stolen property.

Long before the Gold Bible demonstration, the Smith family had with same sinister object in view, whispered another fraud in the ears of the credulous. They pretended that in digging for money, at Mormon Hill, they came across "a chest, three by two feet in size, covered with a dark colored stone. In the center of the stone was a white spot about the size of a sixpence. Enlarging, the spot increased to the size of a twenty four pound shot and then exploded with a terrible noise. The chest vanished and all was utter darkness."

It may be safely presumed that in no other instance have Prophets and the chosen and designated of angels, been quite as calculating and worldly as were those of Stafford street, Mormon Hill, and Palmyra. The only business contract -- veritable instrument in writing, that was ever executed by spiritual agents, has been preserved, and should be among the archives of the new state of Utah. It is signed by the Prophet Joseph himself, and witnessed by Oliver Cowdery, and secures to Martin Harris, one half of the proceeds of the sale of the Gold Bible until he was fully reimbursed in the sum of $2,500, the cost of printing.

The after thought has been alluded to; the enlarging of original intentions; was at the suggestion of Sidney Rigdon, of Ohio, who made his appearance, and blended himself with the poorly devised scheme of impostures about the time the book was issued from the press. He unworthily bore the title of a Baptist elder, but had by some previous freak, if the author is rightly informed, forfeited his standing with that respectable religious denomination. Designing, ambitious, and dishonest, under the semblance of sanctity and assumed spirituality, he was just the man for the uses of the Smith household and their half dupe and half designing abettors; and they were just the fit instruments he desired. He became at once the Hamlet, or more appropriately perhaps, the Mawworm of the play. Like the veiled Prophet Mokanna, he may be supposed to have solilioquized: --

"Ye too, believers of incredible creeds,
Whose faith enshrines the monsters which it breeds;
Who bolder, even than Nimrod, think to rise
By nonsense heaped on nonsense to the skies;
Ye shall have miracles, aye, sound ones too,
Seen, heard, attested, every thing but true.
Your preaching zealots, too inspired to seek
One grace of meaning for the things they speak;
Your martyrs ready to shed out their blood


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For truths too heavenly to be understood;"
                   *       *       *       *    
"They shall have mysteries -- aye, precious stuff
For knaves to thrive by -- mysteries enough;
Dark tangled doctrines, dark as fraud can weave,
Which simple votaries shall on trust receive,
While craftier feign belief, 'till they believe." 

Under the auspices of Rigdon, a new sect, the Mormons, was projected, prophecies fell thick and fast from the lips of Joseph; old Mrs. Smith assumed all the airs of the mother of a Prophet; that particular family of Smiths were singled out and became exalted above all their legion of namesakes. The bald, clumsy cheat, found here and there an enthusiast, a monomaniac or a knave, in and around its primitive locality, to help it upon its start; and soon, like another scheme of imposture, (that had a little of dignity and plausibility in it,) it had its Hegira, or flight, to Kirtland; then to Nauvoo; then to a short resting place in Missouri -- and then on over the Rocky Mountains to Utah, or the Salt Lake. Banks, printing offices, temples, cities, and finally a State, have arisen under its auspices. Converts have multiplied to tens of thousands. In several of the countries of Europe there are preachers and organized sects of Mormons; believers in the divine mission of Joseph Smith & Co.

And here the subject must be dismissed. If it has been treated lightly -- with a seeming levity -- it is because it will admit of no other treatment. There is no dignity about the whole thing; nothing to entitle it to mild treatment. It deserves none of the charity extended to ordinary religious fanatacism, for knavery and fraud has been with it incipiently and progressively. It has not, even the poor merit of ingenuity. Its success is a slur upon the age. Fanaticism promoted it at first; then ill advised persecution; then the designs of demagogues who wished to command the suffrages of its followers; until finally an American Congress has abetted the fraud and imposition by its acts, and we are to have a state of our proud Union -- in this boasted era of light and knowledge -- the very name of which will sanction and dignify the fraud and falsehood of Mormon Hill, the gold plates, and the spurious revelation. This much, at least, might have been omitted out of decent respect to the moral and religious sense of the people of the old states. 



Township No. 11, R. 3, (now Farmington,) was the first sale of Phelps and Gorham. The purchasers were -- Nathan Comstock, Benjamin Russell, Abraham Lapham, Edmund Jenks, Jeremiah Brown, Ephraim Fish, Nathan Herendeen, Nathan Aldrich, Stephen Smith, Benjamin Rickenson, William Baker and Dr. Daniel Brown. The deed was given to Nathan Comstock,

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