BY JOHN S. MINARD.
THE TOWN OF AMITY was organized by and under an act of legislature passed Feb.
22, 1830. It was formed out of territory three miles wide by nine miles long running east and west, taken from
the south part of the town of Angelica, and the same quantity of land taken from the town of Scio. It originally
included all of township three in range two of the Morris Reserve, but when the town of Ward was organized in 1857
the east part of township 3 was incorporated into that town. Until that time it had been a part and parcel of the
town of Angelica, and cannot be said to have had any history as an independent territory. Amity is an interior
and central town. Its surface is hilly, and broken by tributaries of the Genesee river, the most notable being
VanCampen's creek from the west and Philip's and Plum Bottom creeks from the east. The river enters the town about
two miles west of the southeast corner, and leaves it about the same distance east of the northwest corner, its
general course through the town being quite direct for the Genesee. Along the river are some very fine flats, but
the valley of the creeks are for the most part narrow. The hills back from the river attain attitudes, in some
cases, of 800 or 900 feet above the river. The soil along the river is mostly a vegetable loam, and clay and sandy
loans appear in in different parts. The route of the Erie railway follows the Genesee valley from the south on
the east side of the river to Belmont where it crosses it, and reaching VanCampen's creek crosses that stream and
follows it toward Friendship. The drive afforded by the public highway from Belmont to Scio is one of the finest
to be found along the Genesee river. The subdivision of the town was originally made by Moses VanCampen and prior
to 1810, though the date is not positively so asserted. The town contains 21,960 acres and the population has been:
1860, 2,268; 1870, 2,087; 1880, 1,972; 1890, 1,996; 1892, 2,051. The first birth in town was that of Hannah Hyde,
Nov. 4, 1804, and the first death was that of Harvey Manning in 1806. The first marriage was of Laomi Ashley and
Rachael Baker in 1807.
In 1803 John T. Hyde came into the town, from Andover, and took up land on what is now known as the farm of Nehemiah
Bosworth on the river road about half a mile south of "Belvidere Corners." He was a native of Vermont,
and spent the remainder of his life until 1848 with the earliest settlers of the valley of the Genesee. His youngest
son, Thatcher Hyde, married Polly Gorton, a resident of Belmont, who yet survives him. In 1804 Dr. Ebenezer E.
Hyde built a home on the place now occupied by S. Hale Whitcome at Belvidere Corners, and practiced medicine and
kept a hotel for many years, until a railroad and other forerunners of civilization and improvement did away with
the necessity of the public house. Here was held the first masonic lodge in the county, which met as early as 1812.
He died in 1848 in Amity.
Stephen Rogers became a resident of the town in 1804, and purchased land on lots 54 and 55. He afterwards sold
and removed to the farm on the east side of the river about midway between Scio and Belmont, where he died. He
lived to the remarkable age of 102 years and 2 days, and died May 14, 1895. His son, Col. D. Rogers, now occupies
the farm, one of the finest in the valley.
Amos Goodspeed, Stephen Cole, Nathaniel Goodspeed, Harry Davis, Arnold Will, Jacob Manning, became settlers along
from 1805 and 1806, and, from that time to 1812, Nathan Wright, John Galt, David Downing, Jeffrey Horne, Abram
Aldrich and Levi Simons became permanent residents. Between 1812 and 1820, Elisha Sortore, Elijah Sortore, Jonathan
Sortore, Moses Hood, John Hood and Richard Longcore joined the ranks of the pioneers, and were followed by Hiram
Abbott, Isaac Newton, Geo. W. Horner, Elizur Ingraham, John and Jedediah Holmes, Luke Crandall, and others whose
names are closely connected with the history of the settlement of the town. Simeon Brown came here in 1824 from
Yates county. He settled on the stream bearing his name, and when he made his first clearing his nearest neighbor
was three miles away. Robert Reed, the first town clerk, came from Massachusetts in 1826, and made his home here
until his death, and this brings us down to 1830 when a government was organized with a population of 872 persons.
The first town meeting was held at one of the first schoolhouses on the 6th day of April, 1830. John Simons and
William D. Easton were the election inspectors and justices of the peace who had charge of the polls. The officers
elected were: Supervisor, John Simons; town clerk, Robert Reed; assessors, Chas. P. Perry, Jesse Rogers, Abram
Aldrich; commissioners of highways, David Walworth, David Downing. Jr., John Hood; justices of the peace, Hiram
Abbott, Elijah Sortore; school commissioners, Samuel Wadsworth, Wm. Van Campen, Hiram Abbott; school inspectors,
Azel French, Francis Norwood, Batman Fitz Simmons; overseers of the poor, Jacob Gillett, Arnold Hill; collector,
George Waldorf; constables, Aaron D. Brown, George Waldorff, William Sortore. $250 was voted to be raised for highways,
to be distributed among the thirty one road districts of the town.
One of the most conspicuous landmarks of the town is the old stone gristmill, built in 1823 on the east side of
the river. It was erected in 1823 by Jeffrey Horne and Philip Church, Mr. Horne being the general manager of the
work. The millwright was Capt. Higgins, who resided a short distance below Belvidere on the river road. Richard
Longcore was the boss mason, and the stone with which it was built was taken from the bed of the river near the
site of the mill. Col. Jas. Mapes and Henry. Sortore were two of the workmen on the mill, both of whom were well
known in after years as prominent and esteemed citizens of the town. Some changes have been made in the mill by
way of additions, etc., but the same stone work stands today a monument of the enterprise of its founders, and
it was patronized for many years by the farmers and woodsmen who came from a cir cuit of twenty five miles to get
their corn and other grain ground for their families. It was a common thing to have men with ox teams drive from
twenty to thirty miles through a dense wilderness to get to this mill, and from two to three days was often taken
for the journey.
The first schoolhouse was erected on what was then the Jonathan Sortore farm, afterwards owned by Henry Sortore,
and now by Mrs. Emily Wilcox. The town records say that the first town meeting and election was held at the schoolhouse
near Arnold Frill's, which was built on land just south of the so called Norton cemetery.
In 1830 Alvan. E. Parker opened the first store in the town on the bank of the river at the east end of what is
now the Schuyler street bridge in Belmont. He put in a general stock of such plain and staple goods as were suited
to the time and place, and continued the business until about 1858, when he was succeeded by his son-in-law, Charles
S. Whitney. Mr. Parker was one of the most careful, methodical business men that ever lived in the town, and in
his business career he accumulated a fortune estimated at from $200,000 to $250,000. He was intimately acquainted
with the wants and responsibility of his customers, and although he drove close bargains, yet in all business matters
he was what the world would call rigidly just in all his dealings. Ebenezer Norton came to Amity in 1831, was a
farmer and practitioner of law in justices' courts.
Amity, like some other towns of the county, had a mine of wealth in pine timber, which was not appreciated, however,
until after the cream of it had been used up, destroyed or manufactured. Many of the early settlers avoided land
that was covered with pine because it required so much hard work to get rid of it. The timber was large, making
it difficult to handle, and land covered with smaller hard wood was usually first taken up. After sawmills were
put in operation, lumber was drawn from forty to eighty miles to Dansville, Canandaigua, and even Buffalo, and
exchanged for salt, flour, and other necessaries of life. "Salts" or pearlash was made from hardwood
ashes, and drawn "north" to exchange for commodities. On one occasion a resident of the town went with
a load of lumber on the top of which were piled packages of salts. His faithful dog followed the team and at night
slept with the load, and happened to make a bed of the salt packages. When the teamster returned home the dog had
no hair, the potash having completely tanned the animal.
But the fact is patent that the first settlers of this town and the county incurred all of the hardships and braved
all of the dangers of frontier life for a compensation that would seem now a mere pittance. About 1850 outside
parties began to realize the worth of the pine forests that were yet standing in the town and surrounding country,
and erected two large mills at the center of the town, one for sawing boards, plank and lath, and the other for
shingle. The Shongo mill as it was called, was erected about half a mile above the present site of the old stone
mill, where an immense pond was formed, furnishing a valuable water power. The timber that was sawn there came
principally from the towns of Wellsville and Alma, and was trucked on a tramroad.
Belmont is a beautiful name and no doubt was suggested for the village by the grand old hills in the neighborhood;
not rugged, precipitous or abrupt, not cragged and repulsive to the sight, but gracefully receding from the widened
river bottom, they ascend by easy gradations to heights majestic in their lofty altitudes. They are as beautiful
in their appearance as the name is beautiful in significance, the word Belmont is derived from belle, beautiful,
and mont, mountain, Belmont, the beautiful mountain.
Belmont was incorporated as a village under the name of Philipsville, Feb. 21, 1853, and the railroad station also
bore the name. The postoffice was later changed to Belmont, and village and station soon were under the same name.
In 1870 the population was 795; in 1880, 804; in 1890, 950. The village owes its location to the fine water power
which the fall of several feet in the river with rock bottom affords. Its facilities were to some extent utilized
as early as 1806-8, and the water power has from that time been such an element of promise as to attract capital
and enterprise. and its recent manufactures have made its name known all over the world.
Although the saw and gristmills of Philip Church were erected in 1806-8, there were no attempts, excepting the
"Mansion House" begun by Church in 1808, and the old Mill House," at anything like building up a
permanent settlement, a few log houses and board shanties, scattered here and there, being sufficient for the mill
hands, teamsters, etc.
In 1828 Francis Parker from Vermont built a small house near the river on the lot which was owned by Mr. John Russell
in 1879, a small space in the woods being "cleared off." Close by a clearing of four or five acres had
been made, and these. with the small opening around the mills, were all the improvements within the limits of the
village as we know it today. All else was covered by the native forest in which lofty pines largely predominated.
Francis Parker had already started a carding mill, dignified by some by the name of woolen mill, and in the upper
story of this building Alvan E Parker exhibited a few hundred dollars worth of the goods most in demand by the
settlers. This was an event of great importance, as, before this, "going to the store" involved a trip
through the woods and deep mud of the primitive roads to Angelica or Friendship. Mr. Parker was the first postmaster
of the village, and the name of the office was Philipsville.
The lumber manufactured in those early days was drawn over to Cuba, there made into small sized rafts, and when
the swollen waters of spring came were floated down to the Allegany at Olean. then doubled up, then on to Warren,
where they were again doubled and sent on down to the Ohio. Some lumber was drawn to Buffalo and exchanges made
for goods, and thus hauling was afforded each way. The stone mill now owned by Mr. Frank Van Cam pen was completed
in 1827, superseding the old pioneer mill of 1808. It is said however that some portions of it were in operation
About 1832 the possibilities of the water power became so apparent as to attract attention, and the "Washington
Company" was formed, so named because ally its members. except Judge Church. were Washington county men. Their
names were Philip Church, John Norton, Benjamin Norton, Ellis May, and Timothy H. Burbanks. (Mr. Burbanks soon
sold his interest to Ebenezer Norton). The later prosperity of the place is thought to be directly traceable to
the directing enterprise of this company. A survey of a part of the tract, called the "Phillipsburg Mill Reserve."
into village lots, streets, public square and sites for public buildings, churches and schoolhouses, was made,
and the public spirit and enterprise thus manifested attracted settlers, so that in a few years a thriving village
grew up, many branches of trade and industry being well represented. At one time the Philipsburgh Mill Reserve
was in the possession of Walter S. Church, who made a contract with Daniel Crabtree to erect a sawmill at the mouth
of Philips Creek, with the privilege of taking water from the river by means of a canal from the Genesee, just
above the dam to the creek. Mr. Church was to furnish the power and Mr. Crabtree was to build the mill, and the
two be joint and equal in ownership. The property soon passed to J. Langdon & Co., and pine timber being considerably
enhanced in value, the company purchased large tracts of pine lands in Amity, Scio, Wellsville. Alma and Bolivar,
tram roads to the river were constructed, and the logs floated to the mill. Another mill was constructed by the
same firm near where the Carter Package mills now stand, which ran a large gang. This was operated for a long series
of years. It was known as the Shongo mill and its capacity was from 50,000 to 75,000 feet of lumber per day.
The Crabtree mill was purchased in 1876 by Messrs. Hall, and Wier, who greatly increased its capacity by the introduction
of improved machinery and labor saving devices. About 1887 or '88, Mr. Hall sold his interest to Mr. Wier, and
soon after Mr. J. H. Bissell bought in with Mr Wier. and they continued in partnership till Jan. 1 1893, when E.
I. Davis bought Wier out. The business, which includes a shingle and planing mill, is conducted by Davis and Bissell.
It cuts about 20,000 ft. per day. The firm sells about 1,000,000 ft. of lumber per year, to home customers and
neighboring towns. When running, the business employs about 20 men, and during good sleighing 100 teams are sometimes
About 1840 John Milton, a son of Ellis May, bought that part of the Mill Reserve lying east of the river, and north
of Philip creek, and shortly after laid it out and offered village lots for sale. Quite a number were purchased
and houses and barns erected, forming a settlement which came soon to be called Miltonville. Some of the older
people still persist in calling it by that name. In 1852 a tannery was established by Samuel S. Watson. Three years
later he died, and his son R. M. Watson conducted the business for some time. At the present no business of the
kind is done.
A steady conservative growth of the village continued up to 1850, when work, which had a short time before been
resumed on the Erie railway, was being prosecuted with great vigor, causing an influx of transient population,
which made itself felt in increased trade at the stores, shops and public houses, and upon the completion of the
railroad a year later, gave a very perceptible impulse to business, and opened new enterprises and avenues of industry.
In 1860 or 1861 a large flourishing mill was erected on the west side of the river on the water power of Messrs.
W. W. Ballard & Co. The mill has passed through several hands, been added to, repaired and improved to keep
pace with modern methods of manufacture. It has been for some years owned by Hood and Bradley, who have put in
an engine of 65 H. P. and 10 pairs of rollers for wheat, 4 for buckwheat, and 2 "runs" of stone for grinding
feed, and are doing a large custom and flouring business.
In 1866 the Belmont Manufacturing Company was organized. It was a stock company and David Rawson, the inventor
of a popular mowing machine, was the inspiring genius. F. N. Whitcomb was also interested. The business was conducted
by the company for two or three years, when it passed into the hands of D. Rawson & Co., and was in charge
of David Rawson until his death. In 1874 Mr. A. W. Miner, of Friendship, became the owner, and in 1875 the firm
of A. W. Miner & Co. was organized and the business established on a solid foundation. In 1879 the shops were
partially burned. William P. and Charles E. Clark, from Brookfield, Madison Co., N. Y., bought the plant, rebuilt
the shops and devoted them to the manufacture of agricultural implements and sawmill machinery. In 1889, when 60
men were employed, the plant was again burned. Upon hearing of the fire, Mr. J. Adsit of Hornellsville, wired them,
placing his shops in that place at their disposal, and four days later the men were at work in Hornellsville. They
were then manufacturing sawmills and electric light plants. Fears were entertained that the shops might not be
rebuilt at Belmont, and the people and business men of Belmont determined to secure the re-establishment of the
business here, and in a short time raised from $10,000 to $11,000 to insure it. Work was resumed on new buildings
in 45 days after the fire, and in four months' time the present buildings were completed, over the heads of the
shop workmen, and with the machinery running. Clark Bros. employ about 100 men. Sawmills, mill machinery, electric
light plants, and engines for street railways are here manufactured at these shops. Practically, all the different
parts which enter into the construction of a sawmill are made by Clark Bros., and they claim to come the nearest
to furnishing the entire outfit for such a mill of any manufactory in the United States. Their mills have been
sent into nearly every state in the Union, and Mexico and Canada. One of their specialties is the Pelton set works.
The business now amounts to $150,000 yearly.
In 1870 Charles T. Silsby and a Mr. Cady removed a business of manufacturing butter pails, firkins and tubs from
Seneca Falls to Belmont, in order to be near to the raw material. This employed from 20 to 25 men. Early in the
eighties the plant was devoted to the manufacture of tooth picks. Finally that business ceased and the plant was
idle for a few years, when John Dean bought the property, and in 1894 sold it to the citizens of Belmont, Chas.
S. Whitney, Wm. P. Clark and W. J. Richardson holding the title as trustees. It is now contracted to the Carter
Package Company, which employs from 30 to 40 men. All kinds of wooden packages are manufactured. Its capacity is
1,000 or more packages per day. E. M. Harrison is president, Harold Harrison treasurer, F. C. Carter secretary,
and H. C. Carter manager of the Carter Package Co.
About 1887 F. M. Babcock and Isaac Averill started a stock farm in the northern outskirts of the village for the
raising of blooded horses, which were then so much in demand. The business was conducted a few years, the partnership
dissolved, and Mr. Babcock started another farm just south of the village. The business ceased to be profitable
in a few years.
In February, 1888, the American Hotel an old landmark was burned. For two years there was no hotel accommodation
in the village. In the spring of 1890 a company was organized to build a hotel which should cost $15,000. Charles
S. Whitney, L. F. Willetts, Isaac Willetts, Henry Wier, Wm. P. Clark, E. I. Davis and W. J. Richardson were the
corporators. More land in addition to the old site was bought, and the capital increased to $30,000. Work was commenced,
and as it progressed capital to the amount of $45,000 was found to be required; and The Belmont was finally finished
and furnished at an expense of $57,000 or $58,000. Before completion however a mortgage was placed upon it to secure
the necessary money. Isaac Willets furnished the funds, took the security, and his estate now owns the property.
The Belmont is the best hotel building of the county, is lighted by electricity and has all the modern hotel conveniences
and appliances. Besides the hotel, the building includes the State Bank of Belmont, the postoffice, the drug store
of Mills & Green and other business rooms and offices.
The County Seat and buildings. - Between 1855 and 1858 the removal of the county seat from Angelica to some
point on the line of the Erie railroad was seriously discussed, and some political infelicities occurring about
the same time the times were considered ripe for such a movement. The legislature was invoked, and a bill was passed
appointing a commission to make selection of a site for the new county seat and the necessary buildings. Belvidere
laid claim to its location, but Belmont was adjudged by the commission to be the new county seat. No time was lost
in appointing building commissioners and putting the work under contract. The work was prosecuted during 1859,
and completed in 1860. A half shire enterprise soon took form and resulted in the passage of an act providing that
the courts be held alternately at Belmont and Angelica, which continued in operation until the fall of 1892, since
which time Belmont has been, and is now adjudged by the courts to be, the sole county seat of Allegany county.
The erection of the county buildings at Belmont, though somewhat shorn of its importance by the half shire act,
still afforded an added impetus to building up and beautifying the town, and the village took on new life. The
buildings comprised a court house, clerk's office and jail. The jail had been used but little, however, before
the half shire act went into operation, whereby the old jail at Angelica became the only place for the incarceration
of county criminals. The new jail was therefore unused till about ten years ago when the structure was made the
office of the county clerk, and the old clerk's office became the office of the surrogate. In 1894 a new jail building
was constructed northwest of the court house, and now that there is no half shire all the county buildings are
located on "Table knoll" in Belmont. a most beautiful location.
The Town Cemetery. - Interments were early made in various localities. Many of the older citizens believe that
the first burials were in the old burying ground on the Dea. Harry Davis farm south of Belmont, and it is the opinion
of the venerable Jesse Sortore, that Deacon Davis' father was one of the first there buried. Another burying ground
was on the road on the east side of the river, on the Thibou farm, another on the same road on the Ethan Rogers
farm, and still another near Belvidere. Early in 1866 initial measures were taken toward the opening of the beautiful
cemetery which now reflects so much credit upon the town. It was determined to make it a town affair, and the first
meeting of town officers to take action concerning it met April 20, 1866; when there were present, E. F. Willetts
supervisor, Leander Gorton and V. A. Willard justices of the peace, and J. H. Browning town clerk. The offer of
Mark W. Pike to sell 8.37 acres of land for $650 was accepted. May 29, 1866, the town board voted to pay J. C.
Averill $400 for clearing the ground of stumps and building a certain amount of fence. This work was completed
July 28, 1866, and the ground plowed and sown to wheat, which matured and was sold to E. F. Willetts for $2.25
per busheL Leander Gorton and E. F. Willetts were appointed to lay the grounds out as a cemetery, and the tract
was divided into five sections and 250 lots, with convenient walks and driveways. The ground being elevated, and
considerably broken by knolls and depressions, it afforded favorable conditions for the exercise of skill and taste
in the arrangement of roadways and other features, which have made it one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the
county. In 1873 a vault was constructed at an expense of $500, and by 1879 nearly $2,000 had been expended in the
purchase and fitting up of the grounds, which still continue to receive proper attention, and show the tasteful
skill of Mr. M. W. Sortore who has for many years been a very efficient superintendent. The first one buried here
was Peter Reynolds, Jan. 13, 1868. The town is legally authorized to purchase additional grounds to the extent
of 30 acres.
Banks. - Prior to 1861 the nearest banking facilities were at Hornellsville and Cuba; Olean and Bath were sometimes
visited on such business. About that time, possibly not until 1862, Andrew Langdon, now president of the Empire
State Savings Bank of Buffalo, opened a banking office in Belmont. With his father, J. LeDroit Langdon, he had
in 1856 opened the first hardware store in the village, on the south side of Main street. The store was burned
in 1861. the father dying a few weeks later. The banking office was opened in the new brick block, part of which
Mr. Langdon built, which stood on the opposite side of the street from the hardware store. Mr. Langdon writes:
"The volume of business I cannot state from memory, but it was not very large. It was during the period of
wild cat' banks, numerous counterfeits and high premium on gold." During the time of Mr. Langdon's banking
business, John Thompson & Co. conducted an exchange and banking office about a year, when it was succeeded
by C. S. Whitney & Co. Mr. Langdon discontinued the business probably prior to 1865, for in September of that
year E. W. Chamberlain & Co. suceeded Whitney & Co. and, until they went out of business in June, 1875,
this was the only institution of the kind in the town. Then C. M. Marvin conducted banking for a year or so when
M. E. Davis succeeded to the business and conducted a private bank and exchange office for about ten years. The
necessity for an institution capable of doing a more extended business becoming more and more apparent a state
bank was organized and a charter secured bearing date June 25, 1888. The bank was soon in operation. The first
officers were Elmore A. Willetts president, and W. J. Richardson cashier. The present officers are E. A. Willetts
president, W. K. Paul vice president, W. J. Richardson cashier. The directors are E. A. Willetts, M. W. Pike, W.
J. Richardson and M. E. Davis. The State Bank of Belmont has a capital of $25,000 (authorized capital $100,000),
affords all the banking facilities needed by the town, does a conservative, safe business, is located in The Belmont
hotel building, and is an institution which the people fully appreciate. The condition of the bank Dec. 18, 1895,
was: Resources. Bills discounted $90,452.80, national bank $2,924.56, Buffalo bank $2,212.51, United States bonds
$1,000. furniture $3,100, expenses $2,467.87, cash $7,941.94, total $110,099.68. Liabilities. - Capital $25,000,
surplus $5,000, profit $5.656.33, deposit account $74,443.35, total $110,099.68.
Business Houses. - The principal enterprises are a cheese factory; Clark Bros. foundry and machine shop; Davis
& Bissell's saw, shingle and planing mills; Amity Mills, Hood & Bradley, full roller process; Belmont Mills,
W. H. Van Campen & Son, patent "straight grade" flour and feed; Carter Package Co., buttertubs, etc.;
Davie & Green and M. E. Davis dry goods; John Nicholson, hardware, carriages, sleighs, etc.; Geo. Peck &
Son and H. W. Farwell, watches, jewelry, etc.; J. W. Bartlett, merchant tailor and undertaker, J. H. Bissell, furniture;
Mills & Green and C. G. Anderson & Son, drugs, medicines, etc.; M. N. Sammet & Bro., clothing; J. Sortore
& Sons, grocers; Adams & Newcomb, bakers and grocers; Ostrander & Co., boots and shoes; Allen &
Pease, Wier & Co., M. D. Leilous, T. & D Margeson, meat markets; George L. Tucker, laundry; H. E. Davis
and C. L. Slafter, livery.
Hotels. - The Belmont, E. D. Clark; Cottage Hotel, E. N. Black; Allegany House. F. Broadbent.
Insurance. - E. W. Chamberlain, Reynolds, Ackerman & Tefft, R. A: Whitcomb.
Dentists. - C. B Newton, P. D. Greene.
Attorneys. - Reynolds, Brown & Reynolds, V. A. Willard, S. H. Tracy, E. W. Chamberlain.
Physicians. - C. G. Anderson, H. A. Barney, W. J. Hardy.
Dispatch Printing Co. - C. L. Stillman & Co.
Photographer. - E. L. Lewis.
Belmont is supplied with lights and fuel by the Allegany Gas Company. Electricity is also used for lighting to
some extent. Mr. Frank Van Campen has a dynamo in his mill, which lights his residence and two or three street
lamps. The Belmont, and Clark Bros. also use electricity for lighting.
The Samuel VanCampen Family. - One of the best remembered of the very early settlers of Amity was Samuel VanCampen,
who settled on the east side of the river on the farm now owned by Thomas Emerson as early as 1806. He was a younger
brother of Major Moses VanCampen, and in moral character, physical courage, strict integrity and religious inclinations,
he strongly resembled him, but little can be learned of his early life. To show the material out of which was made
those invincible spirits and domestic heroes who made the first openings in our forests, cut the first roads and
built the first rude habitations, the following, a copy of Samuel VanCampen's indenture as apprentice, is given
as it gives an idea of the typical better class pioneer of Allegany. The copy is literally verbatim. Where the
stars occur the paper is so worn as to be illegible.
This Indenture, made this Twenty Fifth Day of February, and in the year of our Lord one Thousand Seven Hundred
and Eighty Two, Witnesseth that Samuel Van Campen. Son of Cornelius Van Campen Deceased hath of his own Free and
Voluntary Will, or by and With the Consent of his Mother Winnifred Van Campen, Placed and Bound himself Apprentice
unto Joseph Heaton of Lower Smithfield township, Northumberland County and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Blacksmith,
to Learn the Art and Mistery of the Black Smith's Trade after The manner of an Apprentice, to serve him and his
Heirs from the Day of the Date Hereof, For and During the Full Term of Eight Years & two months, During all
Which Term, Said Apprentice, his said Master Faithfully Shall Serve, His Secrets Keep, his Lawful Demands Gladly
Every Where Obey, he shall Doo no Damage to his Said Master. Nor See it to be Done by Others Without Leting or
Givin Notice to his Said master, or his; he Shall not Waiste his Said masters Goods, Nor Lend Them Unlawfully to
Others; he Shall not commit Fornication, Nor contract Matrimony Within the Said Term; at cards Dice or any Other
unlawful game he Shall not play, whereby his Said master may have Damage With his own Goods, or the Goods of others,
he Shall not Absent himself Day or Night From his Said master's Service Without his Leave, Nor haunt Taverns or
play houses, but in all things Behave himself as a faithful apprentice ought to doo During Said Term and the Said
master and his Shall Use the utmost of their Indeavours to teach him his Said Apprentice the Said Trade Science
or Ocupation of Black Smith With all things thereunto Belonging, and Shall and Will Teach and Instruct or cause
to be Well and sufficiently Taught and Instructed after the Best way and manner that he can and Shall and Will
also Find and Allow unto the Said apprentice Meat Drink Washing and Lodging And Apparial both Linen and Wollen
and all other Necessarys fit and convenient for Such an apprentice During the Term Aforesaid, and the Said master
Shall also give the Said apprentice his Every Day Wearing Apparil as Also One Intire New Suite of Decent Clothing
fiting For A freedom Sute For Said Apprentice in Witness Whereof I have Hereunto Set my hand and Seal the Day and
Year Above Written
Signed Sealed &
Delivered in the presence of us
Samuel Van Campen
Winifred Van Campen
Northumberland County february the 28th 1782.
This day the * * * before me and acknowledged This Indenture to be thier Voluntary Act and Deed
given under my hand the day and year above written. Nicholas Depew
This indenture is endorsed.
" A Cancelled Indenture 28 May 89, of
Samuel Van Campen from
The indenture was cancelled about a year ahead of time, and so the conclusion is warranted that he was a faithful
apprentice and became thoroughly learned in "the Art and Mistery of the Black Smith Trade." The original
document is owned by Mr. Frank VanCampen, of Belmont, by whom the writer was greatly favored in the preparation
of this sketch. As early as 1816 Mr. VanCampen was a justice of the peace, and a member of the court of common
pleas, and the court of general sessions of the peace. Samuel VanCampen was the first postmaster keeping the office
in his house on the farm. Its name was Genesee Valley, and it was instituted soon after the town was organized.
From the marble slab in the cemetery, which marks the place of his burial, we learn that this worthy pioneer died
June 30, 1849, at the age of 80 years.
Samuel VanCampen's children were William, born in 1790, married Harriet Ingraham who died in 1843. He married second,
Nancy Byrns of Belfast; Sarah married John Rathbun of Almond, whose family consisted of or 3 children, one of whom
married Mrs. B. B. Clark, one of the early merchants of Belmont, and who some say built the first brick store in
town; Moses, born in 1800, married Caroline Wilkins. Their children were William, Ambrose, Addison and Lovinia,
who married Elias Rogers; William has been in the employ of the Standard Oil Company at Corry, Pa., for a number
of years; Ambrose went to Bay City, as long ago as 1860, where he died some ten years since; Addison is living
in Belmont occupying a responsible position in the Clark Bro's foundry and machine shops.
William VanCampen whose entire mature years were spent in the town of Amity, died on the 3d of May, 1875, at 85
years of age. Many are still left who were personally acquainted with him. Those who knew him best say his was
a noble life, and he a domestic hero, meeting manfully every duty, and though his career was not marked by exceptional
incidents, nor made brilliant by wonderful exploits, his life was one of untiring industry and painstaking toil,
which was so characteristic of his Dutch ancestry, industry and toil, that were as essential to the development
of our national resources as were the soldierly characteristics and deeds of his uncle Moses, and those who fought
by his side, were to the achievement of our national independence." Though frequently importuned to become
a candidate for official honors and emoluments, his only public services were those rendered as United States marshal,
as town clerk and occasionally as assessor for his town. He was a consistent member of the Baptist church for many
years, and for a good share of the time a deacon. He was twice married and lived happily with the partners of his
choice. He had three sons and four daughters. Julia Ann the eldest married Jesse Sortore a respected citizen and
lifelong resident of Amity. Hiram became a worthy preacher of the Universalist faith, and is now an insurance agent
at New Bedford, Mass.; William Hanford, passed his life in Amity, principally on the farm, though for the last
twenty years he was in the milling business, with his son Frank, who. still conducts the business in the stone
mill, the oldest in town; Mary married William Pettibone; Caroline became the wife of Dr. John Norton; Samuel It
married a daughter of T. J. Rathbone, of Elmira, and died some two years since in London, Eng., whither he had
gone to prosecute historical researches in the British museum. Samuel R. was an enthusiastic student of Holland
history and in many matters connected therewith was an acknowledged authority with the scholars. He had published
a work on some historical subject and was engaged in the preparation of another when he died very suddenly. Two
sons of his are now living in Elmira, Samuel R., a lawyer, and John R., engaged in business; Harriet (dec.) married
Dr. Hulbert, who now lives in Bay City, Mich. William Hanford VanCampen had two children; Carrie who married Dr.
F. O. Gilbert of Bay City, Mich., and died there some ten years since, and Frank, the well known and highly esteemed
business man of Belmont.
Belvidere village, in the northwest part of the town, was named from Judge Church's residence about a mile distant
in Angelica. It is situated near the mouth of Van Campen creek and is the northernmost point in the county reached
by the original New York and Erie railroad. From this fact, and also from its being centrally located in the county,
it was at one time favored by many as the site for the county buildings. When the postoffice at Belvidere was established
about 1835, it was named Hobbyville, from the postmaster general, whose name was Hobbie. The little hamlet around
the corners was also called by the same name until about the time the railroad was completed, when it was changed
to Belvidere. Belvidere is now a station on the Erie railroad, has two hotels E. P. Sanborn and L. C. Scott are
dealers in general merchandise. James Moran is postmaster. A cheese factory here is well patronized.
Withey is a little hamlet and postoffice on Philips creek, in the eastern part of the town. A schoolhouse and the
Wesleyan Methodist church are all the public buildings. Two stores, one kept by Simeon Brown, the other by W. H.
Button, afford all the facilities for trade the place demands. Alvin E. Hall conducts a cheese factory at this
place. The postoffice was established in 1887 and the present postmaster is W. H. Button.
About 1835 or 6, John B. and Philip Church, Jr., determined to utilize the water power a half mile east of Belvidere
(about that time named Hobbyville) and erected a dam and a large mill which they called the Triana mill, and for
a while prosecuted an extensive lumber business. The buildings they used have tumbled down and scarce a vestige
is left of its former importance.
The present town officials are: Supervisor, Melvin E. Horner; town clerk, P. K. Holden; justices, O. F. Morehouse,
Eldyn E. Reynolds. C. E. Whitcomb, B. P. Mapes; highway commissioner, Henry Weir; overseers of the poor, George
Benjamin, Peter Reynolds; collector, Delos A. Van Campen; inspectors of elections, 1st district, Bernard B. Ackerman,
Geo. Peck, L. W. Ely, I. J. Elliott; 2d district, Charles Wallace, Wallace H. Windus, Paul Cussack, John Henry;
constables, James Johnson, James D. Crawford, G. N. Cline, S. P. Weaver. D. A. Van Jampen; excise commissioners,
Alexis R. Halbert, Charles H. Norton and Luman Lewis.
Sufiervisors. (Furnished by Charles Stillman) - John Simons, 1830-32; Alvan E. Parker, 1833-34; Benjamin Aldridge,
1835-36; Walter S. Church, 1837; Moses Van Campen, 1838; Benjamin Aldridge, 1839-40; Batman Fitz Simmons. 1841-42;
Francis Norton, 1843; Benjamin Aldridge, 1844; Noah C. Pratt, 1845; Randall Reed, 1846; Batman Fitz Simmons, 1847-48;
Geo. W. Horner, 1849-51; Frank Leach. 1852; G. M. Cooley, 1853-54; Consider Ellis, 1855; J. Rathbun, 1856-57; Benjamin
Norton, 1858; Lucius C. May, 1859-60; Silas Richardson, 1861-65; E. F. Willetts, 1866-67; Benjamin Norton, 1868-69;
E. F. Willetts, 1870: Wilkes Angel, 1871; D. S. Lanphear, 1872-73; V. A. Willard, 1874-75; Rufus Scott, 1876-78;
A. C. Hall, 1879-81; Geo. H. Blackman, 1882; Elba Reynolds, 1883-4; Win. P. Clark, 1885-6; Elba Reynolds, 1887;
T. S. Tefft, 1888-9; C. S. Whitney, 1890-92; M. E. Horner, 1893-95.
List of soldiers buried in Amity. - In the Belmont cemetery: Bela Bartlett, Peter Reynolds and James Sackett, of
the war of 1812-14. A. G. Cartwright, Orson Andrews, Robert H. Tucker, Elisha Sortore, Bradley Bowers, William
Pettibone, Riley Utter, Anson T. Lawton, Byron D. Southworth, Timothy Eddy, Lucius Ward, David Crocker, Frank Van
Orsdale, Charles Barnes, Samuel McGibeny, Wilbur F. McGibeny. Frederick Scribner, Jefferson Gorton, George Weaver,
Henry Davis, Col. A. J. McNett, of the war of 1861-5. In the Norton cemetery: Col. Jedadiah Nobles, Zebulon Nobles,
of the war of 1812-14, and John Rathbun, Henry Hungerford, of the war of 1861-5. At Belvidere: Jerry White and
William Higgins of war of 1812-14, and William Comstock, Charles Ouesterhout, George Barnard and James White of
war of 1861-5. Ira Weaver buried on the battlefield.