By Richard F. Palmer
Cobblestone houses and other structures have long been a source of curiosity in central and western New York.There are nine cobblestone farmhouses that currently still exist in Yates County. These were built between 1831 and 1850. They are in the towns of Benton, Middlesex, Starkey and Torrey, and one in the village of Penn Yan. At one time, each house was the center of a working farm.
Many are on the National Register of Historic Places. Some architectural changes have been made over many years. Dormers and porches were later 19th and early 20th century additions.
Archeologists claim the use of cobblestones as a building material dates to the third century when the Romans used them to construct coastal fortifications. Waterborne flint cobblestones were found in abundance in the English countryside. Natural lime mortar was perfected. Stones laid in defined courses eventually became common.
During the 11th century the Normans and Saxons built walls of flint cobbles, or "flint heads”, in rough courses. During the Middle Ages came cobblestone streets, houses and outbuildings. Some examples of this stone vernacular construction still exist in England. Centuries later American craftsmen, using the European precedent, refined and improved cobblestone building techniques that incorporated coursed, un-coursed, dual courses and herring-bone stone patterns.
Cobblestone architecture is unique to this region.There are more than 700 cobblestone structures in upstate New York between Albany and Niagara counties. Ninety percent of all cobblestone buildings are found within a 100-mile radius of Rochester. The late Carl Schmidt of Scottsville was the foremost authority on cobblestone construction, authoring many books and articles dating back to the 1930s.
In his most definitive book, Cobblestone Masonry, Schmidt noted that because of innovative methods used by masons in this region, there developed a cobblestone masonry technique that distinguishes it from "all previous small-stone masonry." This includes European methods, as well as those used locally."
A frequent question asked by the initiated is, ”Why are these old buildings confined to this region, who built them, how and when?" Generally, the golden years of the cobblestone era date from about 1825, when the Erie Canal was opened, into the 1860s. There are examples from a later period scattered here and there including in Massachuestts, Vermont, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Paris, Ontario, Canada. It is not known where or when the first cobblestone houses were built. The earliest “date stone” found is 1832 in Farmington, Ontario county. The statement masons who built cobblestone houses originally came here to work on the Erie Canal is apocryphal. There is no plausible connection.
The material for cobblestone buildings was plentiful - wood for the framework and stones for the walls. The stones had been rolled, rounded and left by the glacier that had passed over the region. As settlers came and cleared land for homes and fields, the glacier-tumbled stones had to be reckoned with. In addition to using them to build miles of dry stone-wall fences, some were incorporated into building foundations. They became a main source of building material.
The rough field stones were used primarily as structural support while the finer stones were meant to be decorative and usually were only on the front. The finer matching stones generally came from the shoreline of Lake Ontario where nearly 100 miles of washed stones of every form had collected for eons. Choosing of lake-washed stones was done by the children of the homeowner. Those who chose to build houses from more local sources such as gravel pits held “bees” where neighbors came and helped sort the stones according to size, shape and color. This was done by dropping the stones through a board with holes in it or an iron ring called a “beetle." Finding exactly matching stones today from the Lake Ontario shoreline would be a nearly impossible task as most of them appear to have been gathered up. Most building stones came from the vicinity of Sodus Point. But the exact location where stones were found the exact size and shape remains a mystery.
Each mason developed his own style and technique, preparing mortar. The real secret of a good cobblestone wall depended on the high quality of mortar used. Whether fact or fancy, it has been said that often if a visitor came around, a mason would turn to other occupations so his special skills would not be observed. The average mason was paid between $1 and $1.25 per day, plus board, for a 10-to-12-hour day. The work was tedious and exacting, and became more so as cobblestone structures became more elaborate. As many as 17,000 stones have been counted on the front walls alone.
Mortar was the key to a fine building. Each mason had his own formula for this mixture of limestone, sand and water. Some masons dug a six-foot hole where the house was to be built. The pit would be filled with manure. The mortar was ready when a trowel, inserted into this mixture, came out clean. Mortar was an equal mixture of sand with the limestone. Some masons mixed a bushel of fresh limestone to eight or nine bushels of sand. A clean trowel indicated the mortar was ready for use.
Architecture of the house was the choice of the farmer-owner. There were numerous architectural books of the day to choose from. Frequently, an architect was employed to design the house. Masons often built two or three houses at a time, putting down a course of stone. While this was setting up they would work on another house.
The topic of cobblestone houses can become very absorbing. Driving around the countryside where they are prevalent one notices the varied styles and architectural features that can develop into an passionate pastime. Past and current owners generally have always taken great pride in their vintage cobblestone homes.
Jephthah Earl House at 100 Old State Road (just off Route 14) was built in 1844 of washed cobblestones hauled 45 miles from near Sodus Point on a stone boat. Some alterations have been made over the years.
This farm house at 612 Route 14, Town of Benton, was built between 1831 and 1834 by Charles Angus, a prosperous farmer and entrepreneur. The front part of the house was built in 1846. It remained in the Angus family for five generations. It is constructed of variously shaped colored field cobbles laid four rows to a quoin in a rough herringbone pattern. The house and barn complex were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. The front of the house facing east is dominated by a very rare and unique Regency style porch.
The front doorway is recessed. It has paneled pieces supporting a plain lintel over which there is a small pediment with tendril ornaments in lead. The capitals have deep undercutting.
The front doorway is recessed. It has paneled pieces supporting a plain lintel over which there is a small pediment with tendril ornaments in lead. The capitals have deep undercutting.
Tradition has it that the cobblestones were gathered from the surrounding fields and the mortar was made from limestone gathered on the farm and burned in a kiln on the hill in back of the house. The lumber also came from the farm. Seven wagon loads of stones were hauled from the Lake Ontario shoreline. Of typical of cobblestone construction, the walls of this house are 18 to 20 inches thick. The stone for the quoins and lintels came from a quarry near Waterloo. The rear was built first. The Angus family had a coal yard at the nearby Fall Brook Railroad station called "Angus.” Notice the ancient hickory tree at right.
Penn Yan Chronicle-Express
January 28, 1954
Angus Cobblestone House
On Century Lands List
One of the most interesting cobblestone houses of the region is now numbered among the century owned farmsteads of Yates county. Located on the west side of Route 14, about three miles north of Dresden, it has been in the Angus family for well over 100 years and was built by Charles Angus, grandfather of the present owner, George Angus, sometime between 1832 and 1846.
What is more, the cobblestones that went into the home were picked up from the fields surrounding it, the mortar that binds them together was made from limestone gathered on the farmed and burned on the hill just above the house, and the lumber was grown on the place.
The reddish cobblestones are noticeably rougher and more colorful than the water worn cobblestones from Lake Ontario’s shore that were used in the building of the former George Earl home that stands on old Route 14, less than two miles north of the Angus home, and is now owned by E.S. Boerner. Mr.Angus was told that seven carloads of Ontario stones were drawn over to build this other fine cobblestone house.
From Scotland to Seneca Lake
The Anguses have lived in the Seneca Lake section for 153 years and of course have made their mark upon the land, with one of Seneca’s prominent points south of the Angus home bearing their name. Walter Angus, great-grandfather of the present owner, came from Scotland to America in 1798, moving to the Seneca location in 1800, when according to family history, there was no one living on the road between Geneva and Dresden except a French family residing in what is now the Fred Powers place a few place a few miles north.
Charles Angus extended his father’s holdings, acquiring an additional 100 acres in 1831 from a man named Carpenter. Here in a log house George Angus’ uncle, George W. Angus was born in 1832, and in 1846 William David Angus, father of the present owner, was born in the cobblestone house. An aunt, Maria Angus, was also born there.
On March 7, 1832, George Angus, who now lives alone in the same home, was born there. He has lived there ever since except for a decade when he lived on his uncle George’s place and worked it. The three farms that originally formed the holdings of members of the Angus family have since been divided into separate sections of about 60 acres each. George Angus owns the homestead, Terry Dalton now owns the part that belonged to Charles Angus, and Seward Bartholomew owns the portion that once belonged to George Angus.
Stone Upon Stone
A surprising feature of the Angus homestead is that the walls are 18 to 20 inches thick and made up of field stone also gathered from the surrounding land. Upon these rugged walls was arranged the veneer of cobblestones, the “goose eggs” that form the outside walls, the stones selected and so turned as to appear of almost exactly the same size, with a faint herring-bone pattern formed by slanting successive rows in opposite directions.
The corner stones, cornice blocks and window ledges were brought in from Waterloo. There are 11 rooms in the house, with the wallpaper in the front hall, a classic bird pattern, over 100 years old and still well preserved. The back part of the house was built first and consisted of two large rooms, containing “bed sinks” or alcoves where the family slept. The distinctive and delicate lattice woodwork of the front porch is still in good repair for century-old wood.
Mr. Angus has always understood that the building of the Erie Canal that brought prosperity to many persons throughout the region fostered the construction of these rather elaborate cobblestone homes. The majority of them were built between 1830 and 1855. Mr. Angus’ father owned and operated a tugboat on Seneca Lake, carrying grain in the good ship “Little Broadhorn” to Watkins.
Mother from May’s Mills
Mr. Angus’ mother was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Frey of May’s Mills and married William Angus in 1880, and used to recall that Seneca Lake froze over in its entirety during one of her first winters on the Angus place. Mr. Angus himself recalls when it froze all the way to Watkins Glen and in support of his statement quoted from the Yates County Chronicle of Feb. 18, 1914, where it was recorded that Seneca Lake had frozen entirely over in 1855, 1885 and Feb. 11, 1912.
The Fall Brook Railroad was put through below the Angus home in 1876. There in the late 1890’s, Mr. Angus’ father and uncle sold coal at Angus station, where three passenger trains each way stopped daily.
The present owner of the Angus house was educated in rural schools and Geneva High School. Widely read, his interests are many and broad, and at 71 years of age he still keeps four cows and faithfully works as much of his land as he is able.
September 26, 1960
Historic Angus Estate Bought by K.E. Jensen
PENN YAN - Mr. and Mrs. Kendall E. Jensen, RD 1, have purchased the historic Angus estate on Route 14, dour miles north of Dresden. The property consists of 66 acres of land, some 600 feet of lake frontage and a cobblestone house over 115 years old.
Mr. Jensen is engaged in contracting work, bulldozing, trenching and farm tile drainage, and his business is located one more above the property on the Angus Road. He was married last June to the former Marion Nelson and they make their home in a trailer near his business.
Walter Angus, great-great grandfather of the late owner, George Angus, settled in Yates County in 1800 and lived on the original 114 acres until 1855. After the death of his wife, the farm was sold to his son, David.
David’s brother, Charles, purchased another 129 acres in 1831 and 66 acres more in 1837. It was on the latter property that the cobblestone house was built sometime between 1832 and 1845 to replace their log cabin. His fifth child, William D. Angus, the late owner’s father, was born in the cobblestone house in 2846, as was his son George in 1882. George died in 1959.
The land once owned by the Angus’ has been divided into several farms. Among them are those owned by Terry Dalton and Seward Bartholomew on Route 14 and Maurice Jensen on the Angus Road.
The cobblestones used in the house were picked from the fields, and the mortar that binds them together was made from limestone gathered on the farm. The lumber used was also grown on the farm. The walls of the house are 18-20 inches thick and are made of sandstone gathered on the property. On the walls are arranged the cobblestones which appear to be almost the same size, and slant in opposite directions in successive rows giving a herringbone effect.
Before Route 14 was paved, the property had a cobblestone fence from the barn on the south to the gulley on the north side of the house. There are 11 rooms in the house with two sets of rooms upstairs, each having its own set of stairs and not connected. With the stairs that lead to the attic, there are three stairways leading to the upper section.
The wallpaper in the front hall is well over 100 years old and is still in good condition. Each downstairs window is a bay-type formed from the thick walls. The Syracuse, Geneva and Corning Railway, which in 1929 became the New York Central, was put through the Angus farm near the lake in 1876.
Considering its long history, the old cobblestone house needs few repairs to restore it as it was in the early days. The roof is in good condition and each stone is in its place. Some lattice work on the front porch needs minor repair, a few windows need replacing and paint is needed inside and out.
Mr. and Mrs. Jensen plan to make it their home after adding a few modern conveniences.
House as it appeared in 1917
House as it appeared in 1917
Same scene in the 1950s. Who moved the tree?_____
This large cobblestone house at 4306 Lakemont-Himrod
Road, Dundee, was built in 1848 by a mason named
Lemoreaux. Veneer cobblestones came from near Sodus
Lemoreaux. Veneer cobblestones came from near Sodus
of main part of the house.
Spence Home at Lakemont Has Absorbing History
(By A.H. Richards)
Watkins Express, Watkins Glen, January 3, 1940
One of the outstanding farm homes in the Lake Country is that of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Spence of Lakemont. The cobblestone house with its 21 rooms is nearly a century old and affords a commanding view of Seneca Lake and the purple chain of hills to the east.
Around the Spence home, there is a spirit of friendliness, a spirit that has been handed down through four generations of the same family. The house is rich in heritage, history, romance and is a paradise to the person who loves through spacious halls and large rooms and browse in a huge attic under the eaves ion a rainy afternoon.
The picturesque house on the Lakemont-Himrod road, was constructed to last for years. Its walls are 30 inches thick and its cellar foundation to this day is a perfect piece of expert masonry.
The history of the Spence family is one of great interest. The great grandfather of the present owner, Robert Spence Sr., was John Spence who left his native Ireland to settle in Seneca County. His son, Mr. Spence's grandfather, Dr. Henry Spence settled in Lakemont on the farm in 1818. It was Dr. Henry Spence that constructed the large dwelling. Work began in 1848 and was completed in 1851 at a cost of $30,000. Last summer, Mr. William Shaw, Construction Superintendent on the Dundee Central School, visited the Spence home and was thrilled by its architecture and made an estimate of the present day cost of construction. Mr. Shaw's estimate was $150,000.
To construct the building, field stones gathered from all parts of the farm were saved for 12 years. These were used in the foundation. The cobblestones were shipped in from Sodus Point by boat to Starkey Point, where the material was hauled to the site by a team of oxen, a distance of 13 miles. The dwelling is unchanged with the exception f the slate roof which was removed about 10 years ago by the present owner.
The next generation to live under its friendly roof was Dr. Byron Spence, a prominent horticulturist, who attended meetings all over the country. Dr. Spence was a Lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps during the Civil War. Dr. Spence used the dwelling somewhat as a hospital. He died in 1884. His son, Robert Spence Sr., is carrying the traditions of his ancestors and Robert Spence, Jr., apparently is falling in his father's footsteps. Both are justly proud of the place they call home and whose "latch string is always loosened."
The elder Mr. Spence, one of Yates County's popular and prominent residents, was born on the spacious farm. He lived on the place until he was 20 years old and then began an interesting career of adventure and business. He took a position with the Barker, Rose & Clinton Hardware firm in Elmira. He worked for the Elmira firm for four or five years, selling to contractors, builders and mill owners.
While in Elmira he went into partnership with the old E.S. Brown & Company Shoe firm at 109 Water St. Mr. E.S. Brown now resides in Horseheads. After five years in the shoe business, Mr. Spence purchased his interest and the next two years he spent in Northern Canada in a silver camp at Elk Lake, 60 miles north of Cobalt. This was from 1908 to 1910. He loves to recall those days of prospecting with its winter hardships and its pioneer life. The two year stay in Canada resulted in a slight financial return for Mr. Spence.
In Canada he did contracting work, sinking shafts for silver, surface work, etc. His brother, Theodore Spence, died and Mr. Spence returned to the farm home for the winter. He managed the farm for about a year and then left for Texas, where he planned to invest in some irrigated fruit lands in the Rio Grande Valley. He spent two months in the southwest and changed his mind. While in Texas, he visited Mexico and of course went to the bull fights which were not to his liking. He still has a souvenir of the bullfight, one of the sharp pointed instruments the matadors use to dispatch the bull.
Leaving the southwest, he became a salesman, traveling through Ohio and Kentucky. Later he was a salesman working out of Syracuse, where he met the future Mrs. Spence. Mr. and Mrs. Spence will observe their 25th wedding anniversary this coming January. Mr. and Mrs. Spence began their married life on the place of his birth. The property was then owned by his nephew, Byron Spence and Mr. Spence purchased the property in 1929. He has operated the farm for the past 25 years.
A decade ago, Mr. Spence began to raise turkeys and today is considered an authority on them. More than 1,000 birds on his ranch were ready for the Turkey Day and Christmas. Mr. Spence raises his birds on wire from the time of birth until ready for the table. The birds are fed under a scientific plan and a turkey's diet contains a regular ground mash, consisting of proteins, fat, fibre, carbohydrates, dried skim milk, liver, meat, fish, dehydrated alfalfa leaf meal, wheat bran, corn gluten, soy bean oil, pulverized heavy barley, ground yellow corn, pulverized heavy oats, fortified cod liver oil, salt and manganese sulphate. The manganese sulphate, Mr. Spence regards as very important in raising a perfect bird. Only a quarter of a pound is used in a ton of feed. It is a preventative of a malformation similar to rickets. Gravel of course is placed in the feet troughs to grind the feed up in the gizzard.
Raising turkeys on wire, instead of allowing freedom of the range, results in a better flavored bird, as the animal easts no grubs or worms. Mr. Spence through the years has been cross breeding, making a better bird, better flavored meat and one that will fit a roasting pan perfectly. His stock is composed of White Hollands, Bourbon Reds, Black Spanish breeds. He has crossed White Hollands and Bourbon Reds, which has resulted in a very good turkey.
The best selling turkey, Mr. Spence said, is one that weighs 12 to 15 pounds. This year there was a fine crop of turkeys and Mr. Spence believes that a good season for the grower was due to the war in Europe. "Most people in this country were so thankful this year that this country is not at war, that they wrapped themselves around a a pretty good turkey," he said.
The price was about the same as last year, a home dressed, number one turkey sold a little higher than the western turkey. Strange as it seems, Mr. Spence says that although Thanksgiving is known as "Turkey Day," there is a bigger demand at Christmas.
In addition to 1,000 turkeys, on his 260 acre farm, Mr. Spence has 40 to 50 sheep, 25 head of cattle, one to two hundred capons,s a few dozen pigeons and three dogs. Despite the large number of animals around the farm, Mr. Spence has a wish for a couple of beautiful peacocks and he says he is going to have two another year.
Mr. Spence holds a deep interest in persons and books. He is an ardent reader of newspapers and periodicals and boasts of a well stocked library.
The property passed out of the Spence family in 1972 when it was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Kim Kuhnle of Fairport, Ohio.
The property passed out of the Spence family in 1972 when it was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Kim Kuhnle of Fairport, Ohio.
The Barden farm on Ferguson Corners Road in 1876.
Barden family portrait
Dolly and George Barden in 1876
Early Cobblestone House in Penn Yan
Daniel Supplee residence and farm in 1876.
The Barden Home at 2492 Ferguson Corners Road was built in 1843, according to date stone over the doorway. Presumably the structure at the rear was built at the same time. It was built by George Barden of field cobblestones.
The Barden farm on Ferguson Corners Road in 1876.
Friday, June 22, 1883
At the reunion of the Barden and Witter families last week Thursday, there were nearly 150 present. They assembles eat the house of Mr. George Barden in the town of Benton. This was the first reunion of the families, and they responded to the call from nearly every section of the State.
Grandma Dolly Barden, now 95 years of age, was the oldest representative of the families present. The reunion was held in a piece of woods that was purchased by the old lady 75 years ago.
The following officers were elected for the ensuing year: George R. Barden, President; E.W. Prentiss, of Altay, Vice-President; George B. Barden, of Benton, and Warren B. Witter, Secretaries.
It was resolved that these reunions should be hereafter held annually, and in addition to the officers named above a committee of five was appointed to attend to the business of making the next meeting of the family a larger one than it was this year. It will be held on Thursday, the 14th of June, 1884, at the same place.
Barden family portrait
Dolly and George Barden in 1876
Tuesday, June 30, 1885
A Day with the Bardens and Witters
Fun In The Woods
The third annual run-on of the Barden-Witter families was held in the pleasant grove on the L.J. Barden farm (former residence of George Barden,) in the town of Benton last Wednesday, June 24th.
There were assembled fully 250 persons, presumably all connected with these two families, either near or remote. The oldest one on the grounds was aged 92 years, the youngest about eight months.
The reunion of last year was said to have been more largely attended than this; but the funeral of an estimable gentleman from Stanley, and some sickness accounted for many absences. The men and women began to arrive at 11 o’clock in the morning, and they continued to come until 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Several counties were represented, Ontario and Yates being the strongest.
Dinner was served at about 2 o’clock after the hand shaking was about over - for wherever one mets a Barden or a Witter, an open palm is always extended, and when that hand is clasped over yours, there’s something substantial in it, and back of it, that seems to make one feel as if he wanted another shake. They are not soft, kid-gloved hands either, but hands at once hard and muscular, made by honest work.
And such a dinner! On Thursday of the week before we were of a large party feted and toasted by the rich banker Drexel, at a dinner of French dishes, and wines, and cigars, with a colored waiter at our backs to answer every conventional beck, and refill the surrounding empty glasses.
But this spread of cold meats, hot tea and coffee, and such dainties at the farmers’ wives only know how to make palatable, and with makes a fellow feel as though he would like to be hungry all the time, was worth going a hundred miles for.
Will A. Barden, his wife and sister, and two other men rendered several nice pieces of music, and rendered them creditably. The music seemed to unlimber the throats of others, and five minute speeches were made by Warren B. Witter of Reeds Corners, E.W. Prentiss of Altay, John Smith, the man whose life was saved by Pocahontas on the banks of the Barden River, in Witter County, Virginia.
Mr. Witter congratulated the families, that of their large numbers only four had been gathered home since the last meeting, Aunt Dolly Barden,* Otis B. Barden, and to others whose names we did not catch. We had enjoyed a pleasant reunion, and he trusted they would be kept up as the years rolled along.
(*Note: She died October 6, 1884).
Mr. Prentiss said he was charged with being the originator of these annual gatherings: if it were true he was not ashamed of it. He might not be able to meet with us another year, for age is creeping on to us; but if alive and in health, his presence might be looked for. He was gratified to see so many young people present, for that gave promise of a continuance of these meetings for all times.
They could not let the editor of this paper off without saying a word. He said that it was his fortune to be present at the first reunion two years ago, and listening closely to the address of Mr.Cleveland at that time, he was surprised and gratified to learn that a century or two go one of the Parker family had the good sense to take a Barden or a Witter under his or her wing. That learning this, he thereupon did adopt the whole of the Barden-Witter tribes.
The family name dated back to the creation of the world; for subsequent events have shown that the first name only was given and that his family name was Barden, for Witter, or —
Here he was interrupted and his line of poetry broken upon by a man, who raised his finger and shouted “Smith!” It was our Pocahontas friend, who said that the first family was named Smith, and there were hundreds of their descendants who were called Smith until they cut up some caper that the family did not approve of, when they were driven out and other names given them, some of which have been mentioned here today.
This “knocked the stuffing out” of the other orators, but Smith was not lynched.
The organization was effected for another year. David C. Crozier was elected President; Sylvanus Barden, Vice President; William H. Witter, Secretary. The executive committee was named by President Witter - William H. Witter, Edgar Parker, J. Jay Barden, Millard F. Prentiss and Will A. Barden. The same place and the same time of year, the fourth Wednesday in June, were named for the meeting in 1886.
The last appointment was that of the venerable E.W. Prentiss, on obituaries. May his duties be the lightest of all; and may not one of those present last last meeting be reported as missing at the next gathering!
The following well-written poem was recited by Mrs. —- Prentiss of Altay, Schuyler County, and we have reserved it as quite appropriate to close are mention of this gathering:
Time on his ceaseless journey another stride has
And how, with heavy pleasure, we gather her
The bright June sun is shining, the day is calm
We meet with joyous feelings; the merry laugh
The maiden’s silvery music with childhoods
Yes e’en tho’ saddening memories arise within
We meet with thoughts of pleasure, e’en tho’ the
Saturday, September 26, 1959
Constructed of Cobblestones -
House Built in 1843 Dominates Farm
By Bill deLancey
BENTON CENTER - The most interesting feature on the George L. Barden farm, Ferguson’s Corners Road and Route 14-A, is the cobblestone house built in 1843 by an ancestor, another George Barden. The house stirs some research into this prominent Yates family who walked in from Massachusetts in 1789.
“None of my family have lived on the farm since I was a boy and we moved away from there in 1892,” says the present owner, who lives at 218 Main St., Penn Yan. “Some of the stones for the house were picked up right there on the place, but most of them were drawn from Sodus, on Lake Ontario,” he added.
“It was built by my great-grandfather, George, and his wife. Dolly Witter, who bought the farm in 1809. I can just remember great-grandmother Dolly. She had lived-in the brick house on Pre-Emption Road near Billsboro, opposite Dr. George C. Moore’s house.”(This house belongs to the Moore farm and is said to have served as a store in the early days. Dolly Witter had moved here with her parents, from Lackawaxen, Pa., where she was born, according to Cleveland’s “History of Yates County.”
The present occupant of the Barden cobblestone farm house is Harvey Warren, the farm manager, who has lived there for 22 years and operates the 22-cow day and 208 acres with the help of his bachelor brother, Ralph.
Have is also interested in the 116-year-old house and insisted that a reporter find out more about the history from the owner, “who likes the old place and has been fixing it up with a lot of recent improvements inside.” It measures about 38 x 68 feet, with two stories along the front, or 38-foot length.
The manager finds it has “plenty of room” for himself, his wife, the former Waive Dillon of Penn Yan and son, Joel, 18, and daughter, Caroline, 15. The young people attend Gorham School.
Ralph Warren lives in a small stone house with a pre-fabricated addition, close behind and at one side of the main building. The two men have been building three long for cribs, and for the last, uncompleted one, are using “cucumber and maple wood: from the 63 acres of woods. The wire-screened corn cribs are 40 x 4 1/2 feet, and are needed for the 54 acres of field corn. The farm also has 15 acres of wheat, 15 of oats, 30 in hay and 30 pasture.
The reporter’s comment to Harvey about driving in to inquire about the unusual field of tall sorghum at the corner of Route 14-A and the Ferguson’s Corners Road, forced Harvey to “tell one” on himself.
“It was my first try at seeing sorghum with the field corn, and I had 25 pounds of its spread on top, as I was instructed. It was supposed to work down through and seed evenly. But down in that cornfield I gave the seed a little stir with my hand and that’s what happened. Half the sorghum came out right there!”
There is a good 110-foot water well on the place, and a 40 x 80-foot barn, built after the first one burned in 1870.
Historian Cleveland describes the primitive wilderness forests of Yates Co. when Thomas Barden, 25, and his brother, Otis, 19, hiked over from Attleborough, Mass., in 1789. Thomas had served in the Revolution, on the side of liberty.
Te two men went directly to Caleb Benton’s sawmill on Kashong Creek and helped Dr. Benton get out the lumber for the Geneva Hotel on Pulteney Park, was completed by Charles Williamson, in 1794.
We read: “Having first choice, they bought places to suit themselves in North Benton.” There “the surface of the land was rolling, and waited with brooks and springs, the ridges of gravel or loam soil, interspersed with intervals of flat lands of muck soil; a heavy tall growth of timber, consisting largely of sugar maple, oak, elm, ash, basswood, beach, hickory, etc., with thick undergrowth, some swamp white oak that would hew from 60 to 65 feet, with scarcely a limb; hard maple from two to three feet, and basswood from three to four feet through, were specimens of the vast woodlands that determined their choice in selecting farms.
“In 1789 they struck the first blow and made the first clearing for their future home, changed works with each other in chopping down the heavy woods and clearing the lands, kept bachelor’s hall, and ground and pounded their corn to samp on the top of a stump.
“‘Samp and milk,’ and ‘milk and samp,” were principal articles in their bill of fare, and “they used to take a dish of samp and ilk very often out every log, when they got on a large tree,’ as they said when recounting their early toils.
“It was a valuable discovery in those days that blazed trees did not only show the landmarks, but also showed the way from one neighbor to another.”
Thomas Barden must have followed the right blazes, until they became a flame, for on Feb. 2, 1792, he married “Olive Benton, a worthy daughter of Levi Benton.”
“The parents of Thomas and Otis later emigrated here from Massachusetts, with the remainder of t their children, including George, named after an earlier George, who died in the Revolution.” This George, born in 1788, became the great-grandfather of the present George Llewellyn Barden of Penn Yan.
The elders, according to Cleveland, set out on their long journey by preparing “two ox-sleds of capacious dimensions in which they packed their household goods.They put before each sled a yoke of large oxen, and one horse before each yoke as a leader.
“They arrived with much joy and cordial welcome at the home of their son Otis, in March, 1799. A new log house was soon built on a lot of 50 acres, appropriated by their son Thomas as their homestead, on the north side of his lot, and they all moved there.”
In August, 1808, George married Dolly Witter, daughter of Elijah Witter, of Seneca. In 1810, George and Dolly Barden moved “on the farm where they now reside in the Town of Benton, it being the south half of Lot 49. Here they raised 13 children to adulthood,” says Cleveland’s history, written in the last century.
Geneva Daily Times
November 14, 1936
Four Barden Farms Remain in Families of Early Pioneers
The following history of the four Barden farms has been collected and prepared for the Geneva Daily Times by Miss Elsie Mead, the paper’s correspondent in Hall.
Hall, Nov. 14 - One hundred years ago, a resume of the Barden family hereabouts would have covered a territory, says tradition, equaling, in length at leas, one of the famous Phelps and Gotham townships. For from the Garden frontier on the north, they tell us, one could walk to Benton Center, about six miles, without stepping off Barden land.
Even in case there should be exaggeration here, such as a few long steps, still the extent of this pervasive family would be brought up to par by those Bardens who had settled on beyond, that is, west of the Benton Center parallel. They circled round the Hall area, on the east, south and southwest, and to this day, on each end of the arc lies “Barden land.”
But although the Barden reunion, organized more than a half-century ago, draws 75 to 100 of the family annually, those who bear the original surname are not now the largest part of the gathering. Likewise, many of the old “Barden farms” have passed into other hands, but four, each more than a century in the family, still remain in their possession, and on two of them Barden descendants have made their homes continuously to the present time.
The year 1789 - being the same year in which George Washington was elected the first president of the United States, and the next year after Phelps and Hotham made their purchase - that year witnessed the appearance here of the family destined to become so widespread and enduring. Strong and virile were the brothers, Thomas and Otis Barden, aged twenty-five and nineteen years, who tramped westward from their home in Attleboro, Massachusetts. They came from healthy, fighting stock, whether it was to fight nature in the rough, a mother country seemed despotic, savages or what-not.
Thomas Barden, the elder brother, was at least the third in line to bear his name, his grandfather, Thomas Barden I, having come to Massachusetts from Plymouth, England, about 1720. The grandmother had been Elizabeth Tobet, and of their five children, Thomas 2nd, was the oldest. This Thomas 2nd won the hand of Susannah Riggs, niece of Gov. William Phipps, of Massachusetts, and already, when the Revolutionary War came on, they had several children.
Did Thomas the Second get an “exemption”, because of being a farmer, with a dependent family? Not at all. Off to war went Thomas, also his father, and his two oldest sons, Thomas 3rd, and George. Otis, the next boy, stayed at home to help mother Susannah with the farm and the younger children. The war claimed two of the soldiers, Thomas the First, who died fighting in the ranks, and George, his grandson.
The Thomases, 2nd and 3rd, came back to the farm, 30 miles from Boston, in Bristol County. But the younger Thomas had tasted adventure, and Otis was itching for it - thus they started out for the promised land, as sighted by General Sullivan. The journey was made in late summer, a propitious season, as they left civilization behind, for it avoided the heavy snows that clogged new trails in winter, and to some extent mitigated the mosquitoes and similar pests that infested the well-wooded country of their desire.
Made Trip in Record Time
What enthusiasm filled young Otis, as he challenged the world! In the city of Hudson, gateway to the unknown, he prepared to make his memory immortal by an inscription. Discerningly, he purchased a New Testament in which to preserve his memoranda: “Otis Barden is my name,” he wrote, “English is my nation, Attleborough was I born, and Christ is my salvation. Otis Barden, his book bought at Hudson, September 17, 1789.”
What a record the intervening twelve days would show! But the wayfarers wasted no time in their 200 mile trek from Hudson. There were long stretches of solitary forest, marshes, streams to ford, perhaps a log house or two in a clearing, and a few little settlements, as at the infant Geneva, but extremely limited chances for hitch-hiking. However, they did make what seems incredible speed to the place known as Slab Hollow (Pinckneyville, Woods Hole, Bellona), where the enterprising Dr. Caleb Benton, then of Hillsdale, N.Y., had set humming his sawmill.
By astute dealings with Indians and whites alike, Dr. Benton now had interests in a large tract of land, including half-ownership of Township Number Nine, Range One, and, it seems, 400 acres outright where his sawmill was located, in Township Eight, on the banks of the “Kashong” creek.
The young Bardens were well pleased to get work at once in a sawmill. In their leisure, they did some exploring round the country, and thought they scarcely could have picked a more favorable locality for settlement, especially since they had first choice in an area of rolling, well-watered land, showing a variety of soil and timber almost beyond description. Sugar maple, ash, oak, hickory, basswood there or four feet through, and other deciduous trees with white pine, grew in abundance.
Soon the brothers made purchases, Thomas selecting a site in the Number Nine Township of Range 1, (now in the town of Seneca) and Otis choosing a lot to the south and west of Thomas. Lot 50 of Township Eight, also of Range 1. This now is a part of the Town of Benton, Yates County. The farms were corner-wise to each other, with one lot between, near enough to “change works,” as they cleared the land for their future homes.
They simply threw together a shelter, and lived mostly on “samp and milk,” varied with “milk and samp.” About this time, a mill for grinding, probably the first in western New York, was put in operation by the “Friends,” Jemimah Wilkinson’s followers, who had arrived at Seneca Lake a couple of years before: but Thomas and Otis Barden were independent of such devices.
With a large round stone, in a hole in the top of a stump, they pounded and broke their corn into samp - and plenty of it. When working on the big trees, there was a halt after nearly log was felled and trimmed, for refreshments.
One of Early Weddings
The clearing, the log house, a crop in, then - the housewife! Even in this venture, the new land proved kind. Thomas’ marriage was to Miss Olive Benton, daughter of Levi, or “Squire” Benton, called the “pioneer of the pioneers” in the township now bearing his name. Yet he had arrived less than a year earlier than this son-in-law. Olive’s marriage, Feb. 2, 1792, followed that of her sister Polly, “the first bride in the town of Benton,” when “everybody in town came to the wedding.”
Meantime, Otis Barden had journeyed back home, returning with his brother James. But his heart had remained in the wilderness, for Elizabeth Parker, daughter of James Parker, of the “Friends Settlement,” became Mrs. Otis Barden, in January, 1793. From Benton to “Hopeton,” near Dresden, was a long way in those days to go courting, but Otis was equal to it. He had the house ready, of logs, twelve feet square, and in Geneva, for a total of 35 shillings, they purchased adequate cooking equipment, consisting of a pot, teakettle, skillet, bowl, and a broken kettle (a bargain at four shillings).
Good-bye to samp and milk! Otis Barden, later, after building and rebuilding several times with logs, built a large frame house still standing. It is solidly rectangular, with big high rooms, an attic with half-moon windows. The location is on the road just east of and parallel to the Hall-Penn Yan highway, the farm now known as the Thomas Murphy place.
Here the eleven children of Otis and Elizabeth Barden grew up, all reaching adult life. Hence descendants were, and are, numerous, some not so far from the old neighborhood. Thus, through the youngest daughter, Lois Emeline, who married Henry Harrison Gage, Mrs. Charles Robinson of Hall, her sister, Miss Mary Gage of Bellona, and their brothers in Rochester, also Amsden Gage of Corning, who owns property and often summers in Bellona, may claim descent.
As to the older of the pioneer brothers, Thomas Barden 3rd, a brief review of the Barden farms still in the family possession will contain his history insofar as it can now be obtained.
The Perry and William Barden Farms
The “Perry Barden farm” of 100 acres, half way between Hall and Bellona, now the home of Mr. and Mrs. Seward N. Transue, retains its local name from the long ownership of Perry Barden, Mrs. Transue’s father. It contains a part of the tract, on the southern border of Township Nine, elected by the pioneer Thomas for his farm, and here he chose magnificently.
The present house and farm buildings, placed on the ridge well back from the highway, make a noteworthy picture from the road, but the attractiveness of the location is not to be fully appreciated until one has ascended the grade up the long drive, and turned to get the view over miles of countryside, with a glimpse of Seneca Lake, and the blue hills beyond that, and Cayuga Lake.
Down by the roadside is the “big elm,” well over 100 feet tall in its prime, with a girth of 22 feet, four feet above the ground. Just across the road is the”David Beattie farm,” on which the late Herbert Beattie lived and met his tragic death.
The part of Thomas Barden’s holdings which has descended to Mr. and Ms. Transue was on what was described as “the north part of lot 46,” (Township 9, Range 1); it was also at the northern end of Thomas’ property, of which the southern edge joined Range 8.
As has been mentioned, Caleb Benton, with his fellow-schemer, John Livingston, had managed to get possession of all this No. 9 Township, and Thomas bought from them. It was because of an act of filial generosity that this portion at the north finally went to his younger brother, Sylvanus, Mrs. Transue’s grandfather.
The story runs thus: ten years after the migration of the two young men from Attleborough the mother and father, now with three sons in “the west,” were moved to transfer their hearth, home, and five unmarried progeny to the same place.
Thomas, their eldest, accordingly donated land for a house and an adequate farm. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas the second, and family, made the trip in the winter, and, not like their sons, on foot or with knapsacks. Two huge ox-carts carried their household goods, each drawn by a pair of large New England oxen, with a lead-horse ahead of each team.
Slowly they proceeded through the snow-filled wilderness over the meanest of roads, but in safety, and at last, in March, 1799, they were welcomed by the sons, the unknown daughters-in-law, the wide-eyed grandchildren. While their log house at Thomas’ was being built, they stayed with Otis, whose family had long since outgrown the original twelve-foot cabin.
Of Thomas Barden 2nd’s five children who came at this time, two were sons - Sylvanus, 20 years old; George, the youngest of the family. The latter who became owner of the “George Barden place,” will have his own story, shortly. Sylvanus stayed on with the old people, an in 1805, there is a deed from his father, giving him title to “the south half of the one hundred acres of land conveyed to the party of the first part by Thomas Barden, Jr., known as north part of Lot 46, in Township 9.”
In 1806 Sylvanus bought more land, from William Smith, and from Seth Mapes, on the north. About 1829, in two lots, he added 71 acres across the road, to the east.
Sylvanis Barden of Great Size
Sylvanis Barden, in common with the run of “Barde men,” was of great size, and “strong as an ox.” It is said he could lift up a barrel of cider and drink from the bung-hole, much as others would handle a jug, and that an interloper to his fields was tossed over the fence, with no more ado.
The wife of this man of prowess was Martha, known as “Polly,” Ferguson, and by her he had one son, Sylvanus Perry, born in 1820. When the boy was six years old, Sylvanus Sr., died. His widow, in course of time, married a Mr. Atwater, their children living with them on the farm during the youth of Sylvanus Perry (always called by his second name).
The mother, Mrs. Atwater, made her home there until her death, surviving her second husband. She had the privileges of age, in later years, including her special cow, kept on the seventy acres across the road. In 1842, Perry Barden married Dorothy McFarland of Portage, N.Y., and they spent a long life together, affectionately known, far and wide, as “Perry and Dolly Barden.” They celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary, and almost reached the 60th recurrence of the date, at the old home. Of their children, Agnes, William, and Addie, the youngest, Addie, or Mrs. Transue, survives. The older daughter married Isaac Ansley.
Excellent Dairy Farm
William, Perry Barden’s only son, was settled on the “east seventy-one.” His wife was Miss Agnes Rippey, of Seneca. The “William Barden farm” proved excellent for dairying, and a creamery was operated in connection with it for a number of years. It also produced crops of fine apples.
“Will” Barden is listed as trustee of his school district, in 1882, and both Mr. and Mrs. Barden were always “in” everything around the community, especially musical events; for from the days of the “singing-school,” in Bellona, and on, the voices of the Perry Barden family added much to every occasion. Big-hearted as he was large in stature, Will Barden had a cheerful word for everyone he met.
The house on the William Barden farm has rather an interesting history, especially for any who attended school in the “little red schoolhouse,” just north, for the east end of it consists of that very building, which was sold to the highest bidder, Perry Barden, when the present school was built.
The red schoolhouse was the second one in use in the district (now Number Five), but had become, by 1886, in considerable need of repair. So the following year it was moved the half mile down the road, and transformed into a dining room and kitchen for the farm-house. In the woodwork may still be seen scars from the battle for education which was waged by so many intrepid youth within its walls.
The heirs of William Barden, whose death in 1930 was followed by that of his wife within the past year, are Newton and George Barden, and a daughter, Jennie, Mrs. Wilbur Severinghaus. George Barden, in business in Geneva, married Miss Catherine Scott, of Bellona. Newton, whose wife was Miss Jennie Oughterson, of Billsboro, lives just north of Geneva, and has six children, Willard, Dorothy, Albert, James, Agnes and Robert. Mrs. Severinghaus has three children, William, Jordan and Mary Ellen. She is a teacher of music in Ithaca.
Although younger than the parent farm, up on the hill, nevertheless the William Barden farm has a family history of 107 years, which is not insignificant in our youthful and fast-moving civilization.
Built Large Square House
To return to the Transue farm - so far as is known, the log house built for the old people from Massachusetts sheltered the family until after Perry Barden’s marriage, although, if it did, it must have been an unusually well-built one, or else fixed up from time to time, as it would have had to serve over fifty years. Enough to say that Mr. and Mrs. Perry Barden went to house-keeping in a log house, on or near the same site.
But after a few years of married life, Perry put his hand and his mind to it, and erected a large house, square with a “wing,” well fitted to its commanding position on the crest of the ridge. All the timber, largely hard pine, was taken from his own woods, then sent to Prattsburg, 25 miles, to be sawed and planed. His step-brother, one of the Atwater boys, was the carpenter, and took plenty of time, 18 months, to build the house strong, true and well-finished.
This is the present home of Mr. and Mrs. Transue.
The keynote of the interior, as well as the exterior of the house, is a dignified simplicity. Boards of a width and thickness only to be procured from the virgin forest provide handsomely paneled doors, with window-casings and curtain cornices of richly plain design. Eighty years have passed since the family moved into the new home, in 1856.
The large maple tree not far from the house, owes its existence to “Dolly Barden,” Perry’s bride. Soon after she came here to live, the little maple seedling in the garden was doomed to be pulled up and thrown away, but Dolly wanted to know why it couldn’t be left a while longer, and her request was cheerfully granted. So now the tree, nearly 100 years old, is still offering its welcome shade.
In 1861, Perry Barden was elected trustee of the district school. Cash on hand when he took office was 27 cents. However, expenses of the year, duly met, included $30 for repairing the schoolhouse and buying a new stove. Wood that year, cost $1.25 a cord, going up the next year to $3.20 a cord. During his term, Mr. Barden hired a new teacher, Miss Jane Simpson (afterward Mrs. Bristol, mother of E.L. Bristol of Hall).
Miss Simpson taught the school, with marked success, for a number of years, having as many as 62 pupils. Her coming raised expenses slightly, however, as she requested an innovation, namely a wash basin and towel, for she averred that these articles had become an indispensable part of education.
In 1886, Mr. Barden was one of the committee of five to examine the fitness of the red schoolhouse, with its stove in the middle and benches round the side. Much repairing was needed. After a bit of stalling over the $1,200 needed for a new building, it was voted favorably, and the change made.
Presbyterian Church Members
Mr. and Mrs. Perry Barden were faithful supporters of the Presbyterian Church in Bellona. A silent testimony is the deed of a church pew, in the “First Presbyterian Congregation of Benton,” in 1863. This was in the “old” church, preceding the Memorial Presbyterian Church, where the family had worshipped since it was built. It was during Perry Barden’s lifetime that the graves of the two preceding generations were transferred from the family plot in the corner of what is now the dooryard, to the Bellona Cemetery.
The years that had intervened since the oldest was laid to rest, softening the rudeness of each, lent a passive interest, rather than shock, to the discovery of the old grandfather’s neatly braided hair and shell comb.
Mr. and Mrs. Perry Barden were themselves separated five years by death. Mrs. Barden survived her husband, living until 1909, her 92nd year. She never lost her vivacity, and one of the “thrills” of her last years was the daring experience of an automobile ride with Dr. George Means, then practicing medicine in Bellona.
Mr. and Mrs. Transue, whose names have been the ones connected with the farm during this generation, have no children of their own, but see the Barden name perpetuated in their line, through Newton Barton’s sons, in Geneva. They have always been active in the church, the Grange at Hall, and in all civic and neighborhood matters. Mrs. Transue is a member of Seneca Chapter, D.A.R., at Geneva.
The Vincent Barden Farm
Driving, in imagination, south through the so-called “Beattie road,” that is, the road parallel and next west of Pre-emption, as it approaches Bellona, we have passed, let us say, the neat schoolhouse on the left, of District Number 5, long the “Brown District”; we have passed the “William Barden farm,” also on the left, a half mile south; the “Perry Barden farm” on the hill to the right, and go on past the “bigger,” coming shortly to an attractive cobblestone house near the road, on the right.
This is the “Vincent Barden,” or as formerly known, the “Levi Barden” farm, and is owned and occupied by direct descendants of the first Thomas Barden to come to New York State, in 1789. We find him listed in the first census of the “town of Canandaigua,” in 1790.
His first acquisition of land was from Caleb Benton, Lot 48, Township 9, Range 1, a matter of more than 200 acres. By adding to this from time to time, Thomas became quite a land-owner. Records show his possession of Lots 48, 46, and part o23, in Range 1 - also 2 1-2 lots in Township 8, Range 1, and one Lot in Township 7, Range 2.
This is a total of at least 1,200 acres. Some of the land was evidently for investment purposes, and the farm given to his parents accounts for some, but over 400 acres was located in an irregular block as a personal estate.
The site of the first house on this property is at present shrouded in oblivion. It may have been that Thomas and his brother Otis had their “rude shelter,” used while clearing their land, on the south side of Thomas’ lot, for in Otis’ journal he speaks of returning home “to Number Nine, in the first range,” after his trip to Massachusetts in 1792. However, Cleveland, in his Yates County History, said that Thomas the fourth, eldest son of the landowner, was born in the first frame house at Bellona, built by Caleb Benton - this would be in 1793.
The house in question, standing until about 1870, was near Benton’s sawmill, and back of where the present Presbyterian manse stands. Cleveland states he received many particulars of early Bellona history from Thomas fourth, then an old man (but not too old, presumably, to know where he was born).
The baby’s mother was the daughter of Caleb’s favored cousin, Levi Benton, and his father worked he sawmill. Moreover, the next year, it appears that Thomas third and his brother James leased the mill for four years, for “200 Spanish milled dollars, or the equivalent in gold or silver.”
They were permitted to cut the whitewood and oak on Lot 4, Township 8, as well as 200,000 feet of pine. If necessary, the sale of pine could be made up from the land “on the north side of the creek on which the sawmill stands and on the west side of the road leading from the sawmill to Geneva.”
The lease includes some logging equipment and a “tenement.” The Bardens furnished lumber, during their lease, to Charles Williamson for the building of the old Geneva Hotel, (where the Pulteney Apartments now stand,) and the Mile Point House, floating it down “the Cushong,” to Seneca Lake. “Lute Meeker,” who was an old man in Bellona fifty years ago, used to tell about this, too.
Williamson’s records show over $1,400 paid to James Barden for lumber for the hotel, in July, 1796. James finally settled in the Town of Seneca, marrying Miss Wolcott.
In a document dated 1806, Thomas Barden, it is stated, was living on the Lot, “lying in the north-east corner of the crotch of the roads leading north and south and east and west.” This describes Lot 23, Township 9, of which Thomas bought half in 1804, and which is located across the road, east, from the present Willis Austin farm (also part of the Barden estate). It looks as if Thomas had reverted to the soil!
He and his wife had, in all, six sons and three daughters. The eldest, Thomas the fourth, grew up in time to see another war with England, and to enlist, serving in a cavalry regiment, in the War of 1812. He completed four generations of Thomas Bardens who withstood British domination before the young republic got on its feet. The father, Thomas the third, also took up arms again in the “unpleasantness” of 1812, becoming Captain in one of the militia companies.
Before leaving home, he made his will, dated 1812, which is still preserved. The Captain’s death, though it occurred in his own county, rather than on the field of battle, was the result of his last military service. While marching with his company, under regimental command, at Old Castle, on June 11, 1813, his horse, in the confusion, crowded a blacksmith from Potter Center, by name, John Decker. Perhaps Decker had a name for touchiness, for the Captain took the first opportunity to ride back and make it right.
Coming up to Decker, he dismounted to assure him the jostling had been entirely accidental. As he held out is hand, Decker suddenly dealt him a violent blow under the left ear, which was instantly fatal. The body was taken to the home of Mr. Crittenden, near by, and thence removed to the family burial plot.
Decker stood trial at Canandaigua and was convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to State’s prison for 14 years. Thus ended the earthly life of one of the earliest white men to undertake the conquest of this land, now so civilized, as we think, but at that time no place for the weak or timid. He came five years before the Pickering treaty with the Indians was signed at Canandaigua, and all through this region the red man, dispossessed but not conquered, was a constant menace.
Wild animals, poisonous snakes, “fever and ague” and all the hardships of primitive living must be faced- but it was from accident, not exhaustion, that the gallant Captain’s life was cut of at the age of forty-nine.
Widow Left With 7 Children
Olive, the widow, was left with seven children under 21 years of age, four under 14. With the older ones helping, she “raised” all, and the Captain’s land furnished farms, finally, for three sons. The soldier’s son, Thomas, to be known later as “Old Thomas,” had his homestead on the present Russell Swarthout place, (south, then west, from the cobblestone house).
In time, his sons, Ezekiel and “young Thomas,: occupied the present Walter Enos and Francis Goundry farms, respectively. “Old Thomas” lived to a ripe old age. His grandson is Willard Kelsey, of Bellona. Otis B., fourth son of the Captain, had the farm on the corner, now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Willis Austin.
Isaac and Richard, younger sons, moved to other localities, Isaac to the southern part of the state and Richard, who had married Betsy Kinne, to South Haven, Mich. They had two sons, Henry and James.
Levi, the Captain’s second son, retained the site of the cobblestone house, and was the builder of it. This fine example of its type was several years in building, the round, smooth cobblestones being hauled from Lake Ontario. It was occupied in 1836, although not completely finished. Built in a classically reminiscent, Colonial style, it shows but slightly the ravages of a century of northern winters, having been always well kept up. Protected by the spacious white-pillared porch is the hospitable doorway, also with narrow windows at the top and sides, and ornamented with carved spool work and beading.
The door opens into a wide hall, quaintly papered, from which a really graceful winding stairway ascends. Living rooms are on each side of the hall, the one at the south being unmistakably designed as the “parlor,” in its appointments.
Against a background of delightful sky-blue, the white woodwork is rather elegantly carved - fluted window and door frames, with a conventional lily design at the upper corners, and supporting the fireplace mantel, Doric columns. A fire screen, depicting a painted scene of long ago, and a number of oil paintings add interest.
The back part of the house “rambles,” after the style of our fathers, but is staunch and neat as is the ornamental iron fence edging the lawn.
Levi Barden with his wife, Maria Bush, had two sons, Luther and Henry Vincent, and one daughter, Ruby Ann (McConnell). Early in the Civil War, Luther, the older son, was sent to New Orleans, with the 26th N.Y. regiment. His letters tell of common things - inspection, mosquitoes, sickness among the boys. He sounds a little homesick, although a sergeant.
Then in May, 1863, comes another letter, this time from an old neighbor, First Lieut. Adam Beattie. There is sad news. Luther was then suddenly ill - a slight fever, the hospital, an relapse - he discusses certain difficulties about sending home the remains- he is sympathetic, regretful. War is war.
At last, in July, the earthly part of Luther comes home. How plainly can imagination picture the flag-draped casket, borne out of the wide front door and down the walk, between rows of box now replaced by phlox and peonies), to start the winding way to a rest in Bellona Cemetery.
Becomes Owner in 1876
Henry Vincent Barden, born in 1837, became owner of the farm at his father’s death in 1876. He continued to spend the more than 35 remaining years of his life in the management of his 200 acres, devoted to general farming and dairying. In 1883, he had the misfortune to lose an arm in a mowing machine accident.
In church and civic affairs, “Vince” Barden was known as ready and dependable. His wife was Miss Mary Hoffman, a native of Ontario County, and their only child was a daughter, Katherine M. Barden. Miss Barden, in 1902, married Frederick Bird Jones, going to New York to live. Four children, a son and three daughters, survived Mrs. Jones at her death in 1923.
One daughter, Vesta Perdita, had died as a child. The three remaining girls, Anna Weeks, Vesta Katherine, and Mary Perdita, live in New York, spending vacations at the farm, which is operated by their brother, Vincent Barden Jones.
Although born and “brought up” in the city, Mr. Jones seems to take naturally to country life and is keeping the homestead up to its usual high standard.
Mr. and Mrs. T.W. Johnson are assistants of long standing, living at the cobblestone house, where Mrs. Johnson acts as housekeeper. Among the numerous other buildings on the farm, the main barn, bearing the inscription, “L. Barden - 1848,” is of the most historical interest.
If Thomas Barden, the founder, could come back and look at the land of his choosing, no doubt he would be pleased at the sight of the orderly, productive farms spread over the landscape; still he might feel a bit lonely, too, for the big oaks and maples, the giant basswoods, the abundant “tulip trees,” and the whispering pines -gone now, with the sturdy men who contended with them so heartily for this corner of the earth.
The George Barden Farm
The final one of the four “Barden Farms” is located south of Hall village, about three miles, in the most westerly direction of the old Bardem holdings. This was the property acquired by George, youngest of the eleven children of Thomas the second and Susannah Riggs Barden.
George was named in remembrance of his brother George, killed in the Revolutionary War, and came as a lad of eleven with his parents, in the final migration from Attleborough. In August, 1806, at the age of twenty and a half, he married “Dolly”Witter of Seneca and bought a farm in what was first called the town of Vernon, then Snell, County of Ontario.
In 1810, the name of the township was changed to Benton and, in 1823, the farm was included in the newly set off Yates County. It is situated to the west of the Hall-Penn Yan state road, on the north side of the second four corners out of Hall (Note: Ferguson Corners Road today).
But in 1808 there was no road here in any direction- just an unbroken forest, we are told. Again a Barden, the youngest of his generation, had penetrated through the density of trees and fallen logs, bogs, etc., still moving westward, if only a few miles.
But George and his wife Dolly were quite adequate to the task of opening the wilderness and raising a pioneer brood. Their faces, revealed in excellent likenesses that have come down the years, show characters well balanced between kindliness and strength.
Mr. Barden’s twinkling eyes and firm but humorous mouth are set off by “Dolly’s” somewhat determined chin, and is sure that nothing of importune escaped the bright eyes behind her square spectacles.
George Barden built a double log house, whose consciousness was to be tested by the thirteen children who came to be worthy people.
This house was located near the present state road. After 35 years, a period that saw the change from forest to farm, from trails to roads, and from isolation to the cheery flight of a neighbor’s chimney-smoke, a substantial stone house was built on higher ground to the west.
The stones are of the “cobblestone” variety and, in this case, were of local origin, largely gathered from Mr. Barden’s own farm. In order to secure the regularity of size of which gives the distinctive appearance of this type of stone buildings, the round stones were graded by dropping them through a hole in a board. Above the windows and doors are set in two wide slabs of flat stones, with similar ones used as door-sills.
Flat stones, as was usual are used in a pattern to form the corners of the house. The contrasting stone work forms the only, and sufficient, decoration of this house, which is restful by reason of its plainness and excellent proportions.
The main entrance, bearing the date 1843 over the deep doorway, is toward the south. A side entrance and porch face the east, where there is a pleasing view over rolling farm land and distant blue hills. The whole grouping of buildings, in their prime, as shown by an illustration of about sixty years ago, was in quite the elegant manner.
In this view, a lower wing running south from the main part of the house, and other buildings, joined to this and adjacent, on the west, are all of stone matching the house. The substantial barn is a frame building with gambrel roof. Neat picket fences enclose the lawns.
In a family of the size of Mr. and Mrs. George Barden’s, the years bring increasingly large gatherings of the children and children’s children, and it was among this branch that the Barden family picnic was instituted in 1884. Since that time the date has been annually reserved by all good Bardens.
Remain in Home Locality
Several of the Barden-Witter off-spring remained in the home locally. The oldest son, George R. Barden, was established on a farm on the same road with his uncle Otis Barden’s mansion, but farther south. The house built for him stands on the corner diagonally across from Warren Pulver’s more recent home.
“George R.,” as a young man, became very favorably disposed toward Miss Elmira Southerland of Potter, but determined not to marry until he possessed the deed to his farm. As the old gentleman, his father, also had a mind of his own and did not hand over the deed during his lifetime, it was not util after his death that the marriage could be consummated.
Up to that time, two of his sisters obligingly kept house for the bachelor farmer. George R. Barden served in the New York State Legislature during the year 1860. At one time, he and is son Ashley owned the stone gristmill in Bellona, at the location of Caleb Benton’s old mill: - also a sawmill further up the creek, around the bend.
Of George R. Barden’s four children, two daughters. Mrs. L.J. Barden of Arizona and Mrs. Theda Pangbourn of Penn Yan, are living. Elizabeth Barden, daughter of the first George, married William Nichols of Seneca and of their descendants, William Nichols of Newark, N.Y., George Nichols of Stanley, Lloyd Phillips of Hall (and Camden, N.J.,) and descendants of Mrs. Margaret Nichols of Rochester live relatively near. Others of this branch have settled at more distant points.
Sylvanus, second son of George, lived for a time on the old farm, after his father’s death. One of his sons, the late John J. Barden, was well-known resident of Stanley. His widow now lives in Geneva.
Two other daughters of George and Dolly Barden left descendants in this locality - Minerva, wife of John W. Mapes of Gotham, whose children were Ella and Arlington Mapes, and Mary J., or Mrs. William Barnes, of whose four children, two, Mrs. Grace Black of Bellona and Arthur L. Barnes of Dresden, are living.
The son through whose line the farm still remains in the family was Martin W., next to the youngest of the family. With his wife, Margaret Brice of Gorham, he lived many years on the old place, having seven children. Of these, Llewellyn J., who married his cousin, Jennie Barden, became the owner the George Barden farm, living there until 1890.
Mr. and Mrs. Barden and their daughter, Elmira, have now lived for a number of years in Arizona, and the farm is managed by their elder son, George L. Barden of Penn Yan. Mr. and Mrs. G. L. Barden’s family consists of three sons, John, Richard and Brice, and one daughter, Miss Helen Barden.
Three other grandsons of Mr. and Mrs. L.J. Barden are Llewellyn, Monroe and Keith Barden, sons of Harold Barden.
Some descendants of the Barden family, not mentioned in these sketches, may chance to peruse them and may think, with some new interest, of the qualities that have distinguished their kin. Adventurous , but not adventurers, they established homes that have endured.
That they were quick in defense of these, and of their country, the recurrence of soldiers’ names in each generation shows - as do also the nine graves of Barden soldiers in the Bellona Cemetery alone. Yet there appears too, an inbred love of the land, and of the wholesome ties of American family life.
The Nichols House at 1980 Alexander Road, Town of Benton. This Greek Revival house was built by mason Purton Grow (sometimes listed as "Elmer") between 1838 and 1844 for William Nichols. Grow reportedly had worked on the Erie Canal and then turned to house building. The cobbles were hauled from Lake Ontario by ox team. It took three years to collect enough stones. Small red sandstones dominate the front facade. This is a one and a half story Greek Revival structure built of red sandstone, lake washed cobbles. It was placed on the National Register in 1992.
Dominating the hillside at 105 Highland Drive overlooking Penn Yan, this two-story, four-bay house. Having been built about 1825 it is and is one of the earliest examples of cobblestone construction. The original owner was Roderick Morrison, an attorney who came to Penn Yan from Virginia. He moved to California in the 1830s. It was sold to Abraham Wagener in 1843 who resided there until his death in 1853. It was then inherited by his son, George.
The house retains a high degree of architectural integrity and and has changed little since it was built. Some architectural historians say it resembles similar structures found in southern states as well as in the Hudson Valley. Field stones of greatly varying size from 2 to 10 inches in diameter, are laid in random pattern. Some of them are split to present a smooth face to the weather. Corner quoins are of brick instead of the more common limestone block construction.The woodwork was originally painted white. The house was placed on the National Register in 1994. The house also contains a mantel removed from the Jemima Wilkinson house several miles away.
Daniel Supplee House
The Daniel Supplee farmhouse is located at 4420 Lakemont-Himrod Road near Dundee. The farmhouse was built about 1843 and remodeled prior to 1876. It began as a vernacular, "L"-shaped structure. It is of the late Federal or early Greek Revival style architecture and built of a variety of colored and irregularly shaped field cobbles. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.
Daniel Supplee residence and farm in 1876.
Close-up view of Daniel Supplee house in 1876.
Supplee house stands out as historic landmark
By Richard Palmer
The picturesque Daniel Supplee farmhouse at 4306 Lakemont-Himrod Road in the town of Starkey near Dundee is one of the finest reminders of elegant 19th century rural life. This house was built about 1843 by Daniel Supplee, a prosperous farmer.
It was originally of Greek Revival style but sometime prior to 1876 was remodeled to reflect the more stylish Victorian look. It was constructed from a variety of colored and irregularly shaped cobblestones hauled to the site from the shore of Lake Ontario. near Sodus Point.
Supplee knew how to make crops grow. It was not uncommon for him to get a yield of 40 bushels of wheat to the acre. He helped organize and was treasurer of the Dundee Union Agricultural Society that was organized in 1856. For many years they held a fair in October in the days when farming was the life of the community. He was also involved in Democratic politics.
Supplee was born at Himrod on March 14, 1815 and died Oct. 26, 1888. In 1837 he married the former Mary Spink. She was the daughter of Silas and Mabra Spink and was born in 1819 on the family farm near Himrod. Her father was one of the earliest settlers in the town of Milo, having migrated there from Rhode Island in 1790. The Spinks were Quakers.
The Supplees had two daughters, Frances and Sabelin. So that they might have a musical education Mr. Supplee purchased from New York one of the first pianos to be owned in this area. As there was no music teacher to be had here he hired one from a nearby city and had her live with them at the farm to instruct his daughters.
Supplee was also a partner in the drygoods firm of C.P. McLean & Co. in the village of Dundee. He was a member of the local Methodist Episcopal Church.
After his death, Mrs. Supplee continued in the dry goods business with one of her daughters who had married C.P. McLean, for several years. That business failed in 1888.
Subsequent owners of the Supplee farm were George P. Lord, Hugh Hess and N.K. Doan. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.
Side view of Bates House
Potter School House
Bates House is located at 5521 Route 364 Town Line Road in the Town of Middlesex. It is a one and one-half story house reputed to have been built as a tenant house in 1836. It is an intact example of a cobblestone farm house of that period. It was placed on the National Register in 1992.
Potter School House
Potter Rural School District No. 5 was located on West Swamp Road in the town of Potter and was built in 1838. Very few round school houses are known to exist. It replaced an earlier school on the site housed in a log cabin. It was 30 feet in diameter and 11 feet high. Seats were circular. It was heavily damaged beyond repair in a fire on January 20, 1920. At the time there were 10 students and Miss Gertrude Wheeler was the teacher. After being deemed impractical to restore, it was replaced by a wooden structure that was later moved to Castle Street in Rushville after Middlesex Valley Central School was formed. The property reverted to the Underwood family.
At one time there was a another round or "jug" school house at the small settlement of Pine Corners at the intersection of what is now Route 245 and Lindsley Road. It was known as School District No. 1. It appears on the 1852 map of Yates county. Rushville Historian Robert E. Moody saidIt was built in the 1840s or 1850s but had a poor foundation, resulting in cracks in the walls. The building was considered dangerous and was torn down. A frame structure replaced it.
The following letter to the editor regarding this school house was written by Mrs. Franc Adams and was published in the Yates County Chronicle of Penn Yan on January 30, 1924.
Round Stone School House
Mrs. Franc Adams Tells of School at
Pine Corners, Between Rushville and Middlesex
Dear Editor: The article on “The Little Red School House,” by H.E. Matthews, which appeared in your columns recently, could not have been other than very interesting to your readers. If I may be allowed to judge them by myself, and I an sure they would be glad to see more articles from the same pen.
As I look over my shoulder down the road which leads to long ago, the first mile stone at the beginning of that long journey, is a very remarkable school house, though not of the type Mr. Matthews mentioned. It was the Round Stone school house at the foot of Sand Hill, near Pine Corners, on the road between Middlesex and Rushville. As far as I can learn there were never but two of those peculiar shaped school houses in the world.* Sometime during the
latter part of the 1830’s, it was voted to replace the school house at that point with a new building, and it is said that men with teams were sent to the shores of Lake Ontario to procure cobble stones to use in the construction of it. I think we of today can hardly realize what that meant, a journey of 120 miles for each loa, and over roads that bore n semblance to those we have now.
Many can remember this perfectly round building, which gave it its name, its interior conforming to the shape of the outside. The teacher’s desk stood on a segment of the circle raised some inches above the rest of the floor, with the hats and bonnets of the pupils hung on the wall nearby. A huge stove utterly devoid of blacking, occupied the middle or the room. There were three rows of desks with seats holding two pupils each, the other benches made to fit the shape of the wall, making seats of various sizes.
There were three small blackboards, and in one side was a small cupboard where was kept a small globe from which every line had been obliterated, and a set of geometrical blocks, which ere a great source of wonderment to me at the time I began school. The room could comfortably seat about forty pupils, but in the winter from sixty to sixty-five scholars ranging in age from five to twenty years, were crowded into it. There were windows in one-half of the room, and the embrasures in the thick wall were so deep, that the room was only well lighted when the sun was at the right height to shine directly through them.
My first recollection of tis remarkable school house was on the 19th of June, 185—. That morning my mother dressed me in my Sunday best, for the first day at school was a notable event; I wore a Spencer waist of yellow dotted with black, a blue skirt, long pantalettes of embroidery, and red morocco shoes. Instead of a hat I wore a pink calico sunbonnet. I was placed in care of my cousin, Theodore Christie, as I was only “half -past four” and he was twelve. I felt very proud to have such a big boy as my escort.
My home was at the edge of the mill pond about a mile out of Rushville, my father owning the saw mill there at that time. David Christie, my uncle, owned the place across the road. “Flete” Miles lived next door to us and had a wagon shop in the back part of the house, while Philo Ayres lived at the foot of the knoll. We crossed West River near the schoolhouse and went on to the building where we were greeted by Miss Caroline Bennett, who was teaching the school. According to the custom of that day, she called the little folks to her side as soon as school began, where she pointed to the letters in the primer with oh, such a beautiful pen-knife, as we leaned against her knee and droned out the letters as she told them to us.
When we went out to play, we naturally gravitated to the river, or creek, where the warm weather had diminished the water until there were only nice warm pools where we could splash and splatter. Off came our shoes and stockings, as we began to catch the innumerable pollywogs found there.
I had been told that tadpoles dropped their tails when they turned into frogs, so suggested to my playmates that we assist nature. When the bell rang I still had several I had not abbreviated, so dropped them into the pocket of my dress, thinking to finish the job some other time. This proved my undoing, for as we were again called to read, the teacher noticed my wet dress, and thrust her hand into my pocket to determine its contents. She gave a wild scream and sent me back to the creek to dispose of my catch, and when I returned to the school room she laid me across her lap and spanked me before the entire school, and the humiliation of that moment has remained in my memory all my life. Before I had stopped sobbing, there was a knock at the door, and I was told that my father had come after me, and when I reached home, to my great joy, I found that a baby sister had taken up her abode with us during my absence.
Other teachers under whom I studied there were Miss Huldah Ann Van Osdol, Miss Andrews, and Jay Green, afterwards a well known physician. His school was a crowded one, with five Loomis children, Blairs, Ellicks, Miles, Ayres, Wrights, Hogans, Bucklins, Lindsleys, Fosters, Christies, Fergusons, and perhaps others that have slipped my mind. His term was a rather tempestuous one, with his Czar-like methods which the older pupils resented.
Fourteen years later I taught one summer in this same school house, and among my pupils were children of some of my former schoolmates. Some of my plans were not entirely approved by my patrons, but the county school commissioner to me to go ahead. I was only a little ahead of the times, for those things were coming. I had a little four octave melodeon which I took to school with me, and my pupils sang and marched during resting spells, and they did in no other school in the county, and my “mouse-trap” was severely scored by some of of the more old-fogyish ones.
There were five wee ones in school who had to come and go when the older children did, and with six full hours in school and walk of some miles each day, I thought they needed a rest, so every afternoon one part of the room was turned into a nursery, and these little folks all had a nice long nap.
But the most unpardonable thing of all, was the fact that on rainy days when these children could not go out to play, I furnished cord with which they drove chairs for horses, while some with tack hammers and tacks, made all sorts of designs with them in pieces of board, and the little girls brought their dollies to school. “O, me, O, my, think of paying a teacher for such folderol as that!” Yes, and they were allowed to draw pictures on their slates and on the blackboards, and even the little ones learned to draw geometrical figures and describe them.
I often wondered I came to get another school after all that hue and cry, but I did, and taught nine of those long, old-fashioned terms in Yates and Ontario counties.
After living in Michigan twenty-five years, I returned to my native haunts, and one of the greatest disappointments of my life was to see one of the conventional one-story uprights standing in the place of the stone school house. The second school house of that form and build was in the township of Potter, and was in use long after the one at Pine Corners had been razed. Both were historic buildings, and it would have added to the value of the county history had they been preserved.
When visiting with Miss Caroline Bennett after she had passed her ninetieth milestone, she spoke of that event which was such a tragedy to me, and mourned the fact of that lost opportunity to teach the pupils a lesson in natural history. “But, alas,” she said, “we knew nothing of object lessons in those days, and any teacher who spent her time in those far-away days, talking about things not found in the school books, would have been severely censured. “Thank the Lord,” she continued, “those days of such limited vision are past.”
My, what a long-drawn-out story. Are you tired?
I have worlds of clippings from the Chronicle, which form a regular Yates county history for me, and in looking them over yesterday, I was that the first man to settle in Yates county was Jacob Fredenburg. I had his Revolutionary record, from his great-grandson, the late George Haviland, of Rushville, but the above was something new.
He was born in 1759 at Livingston Manor, Columbia county, N.Y., and fought at Fort Edward, Fort Stanwix, and was at Stillwater age the capture of Burgoyne. He was a pensioner in Yates county. He is buried just over the Ontario county line, in the Baldwin Cemetery near Rushville. His grave is unmarked and is one of those of whom I sent a record to the Penn Yan D.A.R. Chapter. The name was spelled both Fredenburg and Vradenburg.
FRANC L. ADAMS.
The five-bay, 10-room Leach House at 2601 Route 14,Town of Torrey, was built in 1836. It is on a 100-acre farm. The entire second floor was originally aa ballroom built for the owner’s seven daughters in which to entertain their beaus. Three side walls are rough field cobblestones laid in herringbone pattern. George R. Young was the mason. The house was in the Leach family for six generations. It was placed on the National Register in 1992.
The Olney-Ryal House, 1250 Route 14, Town of Torrey, is said to have been built in 1835. The owner in 1855 was Daniel Ryal. It features unusual triangular windows that solved the problem of limited space caused by the sloping roof. Also unusual is the large ground floor wing on the north side.
Photos courtesy of Philip Correll
Photos courtesy of Philip Correll
The Ryal Family
The Old Smoke House
The Olney-Ryal House at 1250 Route 14, Town of Torrey, is said to have been built in 1835. The owner in 1855 was Daniel Ryal. It features unusual triangular windows that solved the problem of limited space caused by the sloping roof. Also unusual is the large ground floor wing on the north side.The walls are built of water-rounded and squarish fieldstones of various shapes, sizes and colors. The original farm consisted of about 78 acres.
In the front wall the mason used rounded and oval cobblestones. The front wall of the wing is built of larger fieldstone. Corner quoins are roughly squared gray limestone. It has a fine view overlooking Seneca Lake. It has been meticulously restored by Mr. and Mrs. Philip Correll.
The Penn Yan Express on November 5, 1884 states: "It is said that Daniel Ryal, of Torrey, has paper on the wall of his house which has been there for fifty years, and is as bright as when it was new. It cost $1.25 per single roll."
Daniel B. Ryal was born in Tioga County, Pa., August 25, 1815, son of Hugh and Nancy Ryal. He came to this area in the late 1830s and married Caroline, daughter of Otis Barden, on April 29, 1838. They had two sons. One died in infancy. She died on June 21, 1840 shortly after the birth of a second son, Otis Barden Ryal, on June 15, 1840. He died at Yorktown, Va., November 30, 1863 while serving with Company I, 148th Regiment, New York Volunteers.
In 1841 Daniel married Susan W. Rugg and they had a son and four daughters. He died March 15, 1889 and was buried in the family plot in Hopeton Corners Cemetery in Dresden.
Daniel and Susan joined the Methodist Church at Milo Center in 1843. For 32 years religious meetings were held at their home. He was a farmer. In 1875 he was was one of four trustees of Torrey School District 5.
One of his daughters, Mattie, who married Jerome B. House, recalled as a child watching boats sail from Seneca Lake at Dresden through the many locks of the six-mile Crooked Lake Canal which raised them to the level of Keuka Lake. This canal was opened in 1833 and had 28 locks. It was abandoned in 1877 when it was replaced by the so-called "Corkscrew Railroad." This later became the Penn Yan branch of the New York Central Railroad. Mattie and a party friends rode the first train.
Mattie was educated in district schools and was granted a teacher's certificate when she was only 16. She taught for several years in rural schools in Yates and Steuben counties.
Deeds were found containing the names of Frank and Bettie Olney plus Dudley and Jane Olney who were forced to sell at auction their interest in the property due to a judgement against them on February 19, 1875. It was purchased on that date by Oscar F. Nutt for the sum of $3,354.48. Nutt Road is the next intersection to the south on Route 14.
Scattered throughout the countryside are numerous smoke houses where meat and fish were cured. This one is at 1080 Italy Valley Road near Naples. They were the only means of preservation before the advent of refrigeration. A smoke house is a small enclosed out building, often with a vent, and a single entrance with no windows. Smoking meat was a European tradition carried over into this country. The meat, such as pork, was heavily salted and then smoked over a slow burning wood fire. The upper areas of smokehouses are blackened with smoke. A meat house has a solid wood floor, a smokehouse will have a brick pit in the center of the dirt floor, or sometimes a broken/cast-off cast iron pot, for the fire.