TOWN OF ALABAMA.
The town of Alabama is the most northeasterly of Genesee county. It is bounded
on the north by the town of Shelby, Orleans county; on the east by Oakfield and Batavia; on the south by Pembroke;
and on the west by Newstead, Erie county, and Royalton, Niagara county. It contains 27,904 acres. The surface of
the town is mostly level. Tonawanda creek flows sluggishly through the southwestern part of the town from southeast
to northwest. A feeder. for the Erie canal extends in a northerly direction in the northwestern section, from the
Tonawanda creek. The northwestern section is largely covered by the Tonawanda swamp. Oak Orchard creek runs through
the northeastern portion of the town. In the western section is a part of the Tonawanda Indian Reservation. In
the southern section is a vein of limestone of the same character as that which runs through the adjoining town
of Oakfleld forming a terrace extending in an easterly and westerly direction.
The Oak Orchard Acid Springs, also known as “Alabama Sour Springs,” are situated near the centre of the northern
part of the town, a few rods from the banks of Oak Orchard creek. They are nine in number, and all lie within a
circle of fifty rods. They issue from mounds, evidently formed by the action of the water, two and a half to four
feet above the surrounding surface. No two of these springs are alike, and in one instance three springs issue
from a single mound within ten feet of one another, and the waters are essentially dissimilar. Analysis of the
waters of the three principal springs is as follows:
Spring No. 1, analyzed by Profs. Silliman and Norton—
Spring No. 2, analyized by Prof. E. Emmons—
in a pint.......24.801
Spring No. 3, Analyzed by Prof. B. Emmons—
in a pint.......18.406
A writer in the New York Journal of Commerce in July, 1849, gives the following “description of the Alabama Sour
During my stay in Batavia I have visited the Oak Orchard Acid Spring, situated in the town of Alabama, about 14
miles from the village, 18 from Lockport, and 8 miles from Medina. The spring is in Tonawanda Swamp, on a little
elevation, on which and in the immediate vicinity eight springs have been discovered, three of which are acid,
one sulphur, one magnesia, one iron, and one gas spring sufficient to light 50 gas burners. The principal one is
called “sour spring,” from which the celebrated Acid Water is taken, which is carried in great quantities to the
Eastern cites, and many boxes sent to the Westenr States. About 25,000 bottles have been sold this past year at
25 cents per bottle. These springs are very highly recommended by Professor Emmons of Albany, Dr. Chilton of New
York, and Professor R. Silliman, jr., of Yale College. Dr. Chilton says they contain of:
Prof. Emmons remarks that “the peculiar character of these waters renders them useful in many chronic diseases
especially those of the digestive organs and those of weakness and debility.” Dr. James McNaughton of Albany says:
“The internal arid external use of these waters I have no doubt will prove valuable in the treatment of several
chronic cutaneous diseases.” Dr. Robert Campbell of Pittsfield, Mass.. says: “As medical agents they must be highly
beneficial for all chronic diseases of the stomach and bowels.” There are numerous other testimonials from eminent
physicians. A good hotel has been erected by Messrs. J. C. Colton of Lockport and Thomas W. Olcott of Albany, which
is kept in a very handsome manner by Messrs. Everett & Harrington, two industrious young men, who deserve and
have received a very liberal patronage.
The hotel is distant from the springs about half a mile, to which there is a good plank road. Oak Orchard creek
runs within a short distance of the house, affording good fishing, as an instance of which pickerel have been taken
weighing from 4 to 8 lbs. There is also good field sporting in the vicinity. I am confident if these springs possess
all the virtue represented by intelligent and scientific men, they will be resorted to, not only by the invalid,
but as a relief from the toils of business. At present about 200 visit the springs daily.
The first permanent settlement made on the territory now comprised within the limits of Alabama was made in 1806,
by James Walsworth, who conducted the first tavern in the town. Among the other early inhabitants were John Richardson,
James Richardson, jr., Hannah Carr and Samuel Sheldon, who came in 1814; William Daniels, 1815; Jonas Kinne, Benjamin
Gumaer and Henry Howard, 1817. The latter opened the first school-house in the town. The first sawmill was erected
in 1824 by Elder Samuel Whitcomb, and the first store of which there is any record was opened in 1828 by Nahum
Loring. The first church was organized in 1824 by the Freewill Baptists.
Alabama was formed from Shelby, Orleans county, April 17, 1826, and was originally called Gerrysville, after Elbridge
Gerry, vice-president of the United States. April 21, 1828, the name was changed to Alabama, meaning “Here we rest.”
In 1832 a portion of the town of Wales, Erie county, was annexed. The first town meeting was held April 17, 1826,
when the following officers were elected:
Supervisor, Benjamin Gumaer; town clerk, Chester Wolcott; assessors, David Goodrich,
Charles P. Brown, Elijah Craig. At this meeting the inhabitants appropriated twenty-five dollars for road improvement
and fifty dollars for the maintenance of schools. Seven read districts were established, and John S. Wolcott, Joseph
Holmes and Ephraim Divinny were chosen commissioners of highways. Seventy-three perSons were assessed at this meeting.
The supervisors of the town since its organization have been as follows:
1826—1828, Benjamin Gumaer; 1829—1830, Charles P. Brown; 1831—1832, George F. Dinsmoor; 1838—1835, Guy B. Shepard;
1836—1837, Thomas B. Wolcott; 1838—1839, Abraham Bolton; 1840—1841, Orrin Densmore; 1842, Charles P. Brown; 1843—1844,
John Crombie; 1845—1846, William Macomber; 1847, Charles P. Brown; 1848, Jacob Winslow; 1849—1850. Chester Cabot;
1851—1852, Jacob Winslow; 1853, Charles P. Brown; 1854, Reuben B. Warren; 1855—1856, Jacob Winslow; 1857—1859,
Chauncey Williams; 1860, Edward Halsey: 186l—1864, Chauncey Williams; 1865—1867, Aden G. Gage; 1868—1870, Volney
G. Knapp; 1871—1874, Joseph W. Holmes; 1875—1876. Volney G Knapp; 1877, Sabert H. Basom; 1878, Robert W. Nichol;
1879—1881, Sabert H. Basom: 1882—1883, Charles W. Roberts; 1884—1888, Sabert H. Basom; 1889—1890, A. F. G. Zurhorst;
1891—1897. Medad S. Morton; 1898, Harmon C. Ingaisbe.
Following is a complete list of the town clerks from the date of the organization of the town to the present time:
1826—1827, Chester Wolcott; 1828, Matthew Bernent; 1829, Levi Eggleston; 1830, Thomas R. Wolcott; 1831, G S. Knowlton;
1832, Levi Lee; 1838—1834, Elisha Russell; 1835, George P. Densmore; 1836, Lee Parish; 1837—1839, Ass Cutler; 1840—1841,
Charles P. Brown; 1842-1843, John R. Geer, jr.; 1844—1847, James Ingalsbe; 1848, Reuben B. Warren; 1849, James
Ingalsbe; 1850—1853, Reuben B. Warren; 1S54, Hiram Frary; 1855. S. Clark Bateman; 1856. George H. Potter; 1857—1858,
R. B. Warren; 1859, Hiram Frary; 1860—1862, Alfred Losee; 1863—1864, Jonah Vail; 1865— 1868, Augde P. Gilbert;
1869, Warren Burlingame; 1870—1S74, Harry E. Seeley; 1875—1876, J. M. Bickford; 1877, Charles A. Young; 1878—1879,
F. A. Pixley; 1880— 1881, Dexter Pratt; 1882—1885, Gilmore Royce; 1886, Jay Pixley; 1887—1889, Gilmore Royce; 1890,
Frank Vail; 1891, Gilmore Royce; 1892—1893, John Tumalty; 1894— 1897, George Ingalsbe; 1898, Frank Gregory.
The justices of the peace elected in 1827 were Benjamin Gumaer, Sylvester Sweet, Charles P. Brown and Matthew Bement.
Since then the following have been elected to the office:
1828, Charles P. Brown; 1829, Nathan Baker, jr.: 1830, George F. Dinsmore; 1831, Charles Macumber; 1832, C. P.
Brown; 1833, Amasa Johnson; 1834, N. Baker, jr.; 1835, Henry Thomas; 1836, C. P. Brown; 1837, John Crombry; 1838,
Anson Dewoif; 1839. Thomas R. Wolcott; 1840, Guy B. Shephard; 1841, Parley V. Ingalsbe; 1842, Anson Dewolf; 1843,
Orin Deusmore (l.t.), Charles Macumber (s.t.); 1844, Guy B. Shephard (l.t.), Lancaster Gorton (s.t.); 1845, Parley
V. Ingalsbe (l.t.), Stanton Kenyon (s.t.); 1846, Thomas Wolcott; 1847, Lancaster Gorton; 1848, Moses Hoskins; 1849,
Isaac P. Deuel; 1850, L. A. Olcott; 1851, Lancaster Gorton; 1852, Moses Hoskins (l.t.). Jesse E. Combs (s.t.);
1853. Isaac P. Deuel; 1854, John E. Combs; 1855, B. Ward Godey; 1856, Edward Diver; 1857, Isaac P. Deuel; 1858,
James F. Beckwith; 1859, Charles Brown; 1860, Sabert Basom (l.t.), William G. Sherwood (s.t.); 1861, Isaac P. Denel
(I. t.), Anson Dewoif (s.t.); 1862, Anson Dewolf; 1863, William G. Sherwood; 1864. Sabert Basom (l.t.), William
Halley (s.t.); 1865, Isaac P. Deuel (l.t.), Joseph Holmes (s.t.); 1866, James Chamberlain; 1867. Joseph Holmes
(l.t.), Lorenzo Olcott (s.t.); 1868, Daniel Norton (l.t.), S. Dow Dewey (s.t.); 1869, S. Dow Dewey; 1870, Loronzo
Olcott; 1871, Joseph Holmes (l.t.), Isaac P. Deuel (s.t.); 1872. Daniel Norton; 1873, Isaac P. Denel; 1874, Daniel
R. Taylor; 1875, Joseph Holmes; 1876, Daniel Norton; 1877, Isaac P. Deuel; 1878, Joseph Holmes; 1879, George Aberdeen;
1880, Daniel Norton (L t.), William Daniels (s.t.): 1881, Daniel Norton: 1882, Abbott Wight (l.t.). William Amsden
(s. t,); 1883, Harmon Norton; 1884, Daniel Norton (l.t.), C. W. Roberts (s.t.); 1SS5, Frank Vosburg; 1886, Abbott
Wight: 1SS7, C. W. Roberts: 1888, A. F. G. Zurhrst; 1889. Alpha Bement; 1S90, Frank Vosburg; 1891, Alvin A. Barrett;
1892, Harmon Norton; 1893, Alpha Bernent (l.t.), Charles Dye (s.t.). Marion Filkins (s.t.); 1894, Marion Filkins
(l.t.), Moses Hitchcock (s.t.); 1895, Edwin Goodwin; 1896, C. D. Roberts; 1897, George Hotchkiss; 1898, Marion
The villages and hamlets in Alabama are Alabama Centre, Wheatyule, Smithville and Basom.
Alabama Centre is situated a short distance north of the centre of the town, on the road from Batavia to Lewiston.
It contains two churches, Methodist Episcopal and Baptist, a school, a saw mill, a cheese factory, blacksmith shop,
wagn shop and one or two other small industries. Excelsior Lodge No. 638, I. O. G. T., was organized in March,
1887, and the W. C. T. U. was organized in 1886.
Wheatville is a hamlet about two and a half miles east of Alabama Centre. Here the first saw mill in town was erected
by Samuel Whitcomb, prior to 1820. Levi Lee and Mr. Parrish were pioneer merchants. Dr. Shepard was the first physician.
John Wolcott conducted the first tavern. There are two churches at this point—the Freewill Baptist, the oldest
in the town, and the Roman Catholic.
Smithville, or South Alabama, is on the West Shore railroad. The Baptist church of Oakfield and Alabama, founded
in 1839, is located here. A hotel was built here in 1884 by Henry Ceder. Odd Fellows Lodge No. 496 was founded
here several years ago.
Basom post-office was opened October 25, 1889, with Julius Ingaisbe as the first postmaster. It is located on the
West Shore railroad, and has a lumber yard, blacksmith shop, two stores and a hotel.
The Tonawanda Indian Reservation is located partly in Alabama, partly in Pembroke and partly in Erie county. It
originally had an area of forty-five thousand acres; but from time to time its territory has been reduced until
it now embraces but a little more than seven thousand five hundred acres. This land has been occupied by the Indians,
originally by a remnant of the Seneca nation, for more than a century.’ The Indians receive an annuity of several
thousand dollars from the general government. While there are many Christians among the inhabitants of the Reservation
the pagans are in the majority. The law provides for the election of a president for the tribe, who must also be
the chief, and a clerk, marshal and peacemakers. William Parker, for many years a chief, who served in the war
of 1812, died in 1864. His wife was a niece of the famous Red Jacket, and his son, Gen. Ely S. Parker, for many
years chief of the nation, was an aid on the staff of Gen. U. S. Grant. He was a native of the Reservation.
A mission church was organized on the Reservation in 1825 by the Baptists, who built a log chapel. The Rev. Mr.
Brigham was first in charge of the mission. In recent years a brick church has been erected. The Presbyterians,
under Asher Wright, organized a mission in 1870.