BY JOHN S. MINARD.
RUSHFORD lies on the western border of the county and comprises township 5, range
2, of the Holland Land Company's survey. The subdivision into lots was made by William Rumsey in the summer of
1807, and immediately thereafter the land was offered for sale. The surface is mostly hilly upland divided into
ridges and valleys by streams tributary to Caneadea creek, the principal stream of the town, discharging into the
Genesee river. Rush creek is its most considerable branch. The soil is generally a gravelly loam, though on some
of the creek bottoms is a rich sandy loam. For upland the soil is better than the average, and though the town
is better adapted to grazing and dairying, good crops of grain are raised, and in some parts potatoes and other
vegetables find the elements just suited to their growth. The original forest, though pine in some localities predominated,
presented almost every variety of timber grown in this latitude, some being very valuable. The first iron bridge
in town was put up in 1879 when A. L. Litchard was highway commissioner. It was at Hardy's corners and built jointly
with the town of Farmersville. The town of Rushford is out of debt. Its assessed valuation in 1895 was $539,680,
tax collected $4,909.14. Eneas Garey, a Vermonter, was the first settler. When he moved on to his new purchase
with his family in 1808 it is said that he brought coals in a kettle from Centreville to start a fire on arriving
at his place. It is said that his daughter Nancy, who married Ely Woods, was the first white woman who ever slept
in Rushford. She and a brother came four days in advance of the teams. She was only 10 years old.
In 1809 five brothers, James, Tarbell, William, John and Wilson Gordon, from Vermont, settled in Rushford. They
were sons of James, a Scotchman, who came to this country during the Revolution, was in Burgoyne's army, deserted,
joined the Americans, and at 16 was a waiter for Gen. Washington. William, our pioneer, was a local M. E preacher,
and settled where R. W. Benjamin lives. Charles Swift, Abraham J. Lyon, Amos Rose, Abel Belknap, Joshua Wilson
and Joseph Young came in 1810. Young was 22 days coming from Wethersfield, Conn. Samuel Hardy from Vermont came
in 1811. Great hardship and privations were endured by these early settlers, some passing even months without bread.
In 1810 Bethiah Belknap and Samuel Gordon were born, the first births of white children. In 1811 occurred the first
marriage, that of William Rawson and Luamy Swift. Jedediah B. Gordon was born in September, 1812, and is now the
longest resident person in town.
Among other early settlers previous to 1816, were Daniel and David. Vaughan from Washington county, Ezra Lewis
from Massachusetts, Abraham Crabb, Roderick Bannister, John White, Luther L. Woodworth, the two latter coming from
Connecticut on foot. Levi Benjamin came in. 1815 and located on lot 30. In the winter of 1813 and 14 was taught
the first school in a log structure where now is the M. E. church, Pliny Bannister teacher. In 1813 was built by
a Mr. Warren the first gristmill This mill stood on land now owned by John B. Walker. "This was a very small
mill, the bolting cloths made of book muslin, the upper stone hung upon a spindle at the end of the shaft of a
tubwheel, with no intermediate gearing. The first miller was drowned in 1815, while repairing the dam." Mr.
Warren also built the first sawmill. Pomeroy Johnson, another Vermonter, came in 1814, settling north of present
Before 1816 so many people had settled in the township, as to call for a new town, and March 8, 1816, the town
of Rushford was created. It included present New Hudson until April 10, 1825. According to Mrs. Woods, mother of
W. F. Woods, now of Macedon, N. Y., "the few residents agreed upon the name of Windsor for the town, after
Windsor, Vt., the former home of most of them, and it was sent in to be inserted in the bill, but there was another
town in the state by that name," and Rushford was suggested by some one. The venerable J. B. Gordon however
says that the numerous patches of rushes along the streams, suggested the name as stated by early settlers Still
another statement is that it was named for Dr. Rush, of Philadelphia.
The first town meeting was held at the house of Levi Benjamin. The officers elected were: Supervisor, Dr. Dyer
Story; town clerk, Pliny Bannister; assessors, Abel Belknap, Matthew P. Cady, and Roderick Bannister; commissioners
of highways, Tarbell Gordon, J. White, and James Orcutt; collector, Daniel Wood; constables, Levi Benjamin and
Thomas L. Pratt; overseers of the poor, Ebenezer D. Perry and Levi Benjamin; school inspectors, Dyer Story and
Abel Belknap. (The first returns of an election on record are for the year 1825, when 75 votes were cast for Benedict
Brooks for state senator, and 22 for Ethan B. Allen.) The same year with the first town meeting the first store
was opened by Judge James McCall, in what is claimed as the first framed building in town. This stood near Levi
Benjamins, over a mile north of the village. Mr. Benjamin kept a public house. The first taverns were kept by Eneas
Gary, Charles Swift, Samson Hardy, Levi Benjamin, Joseph Young, and William Gary.
The town meetings to 1840 were held, 1817, at Samson Hardy's; 1818, '19, '20, '27, '28, at Joseph Young's; 1821,
'22, '32, '33, '34, at the Baptist church; 1823, '24, '25, '26, at Eneas Gary's; 1829, at Jonathan Dunham's; 1830,
at Samson Hardy's; 1831, at the Methodist Episcopal church; 1835, at J. Holmes; 1836; at Knickerbocker's; 1837,
at J. Merrifield's; 1838, '39, at Chapman Brooks'; 1840, at Winthrop G. Young's.
Early settlers on the road north from Elmer's cheese factory, were John Gordon, Tarbell Gordon, William Gordon,
Judge McCall, Levi Benjamin, Mr. Beckwith, Elijah Lyman, Elijah Freeman, and on the Centerville road, Samson Hardy,
Jonathan Dunham, Mr. Going, Mr. Swift, Enemas Gary, William Gary, John White, Jerry White, Leonard Farwell. Cephas
Young kept an early tavern where James G. Benjamin now lives, and William Gary had a log tavern on the Centerville
road. There were two rooms in it, a barroom and kitchen, with a bed in each till about 1835. This shows the conveniences
and simplicity of the primitive public houses.
James McCall, in 1818 with William B. Rochester, and in 1819 with John Dow, represented Allegany and Steuben in
the assembly. Judge McCall was a state senator from the 8th district in 1824, '25, '26. '27. At the town meeting
April 17, 1818, it was voted to raise $50 for school purposes, and, in 1821, "all that the law will allow."
Somewhere from 1820 to 1825, a carding mill was put up on Caneadea creek either by an Upham or J. B. Gordon's father.
In 1830 J. B. Gordon joined and a new building was put up at Gordonsville. In 1840 Wm. Gordon and sons, William
and Samuel, added to the first 50 foot building, 90 feet more and a woolen factory making 100 yards of flannel
and fullcloth per day was soon in operation employing 15 to 20 hands. An extensive business was done, people coming
30 miles to trade wool for cloth, and in 1844 Avery Washburn, a teacher from Connecticut, becoming a partner the
firm (Gordon & Washburn) engaged in the woolen mill business. The factory was run until 1873 when it was burned.
In 1844 Gordon & Sons built a gristmill, with 3 "run" of stones, and for years did a large custom
and some merchant grinding. It was first run by water, later by steam, and was burned in 1883.
Before 1830 William Wilson and John Gordon built the first sawmill at Kelloggville and ran it for 25 years. George
Colburn built a mill below the Gordon's at Kelloggville in 1851 or 52, and it ran till some 10 years since. Levi
Benjamin was the first postmaster and kept the office at his place. It was established in 1816. Stephen Parker
then a boy carried the first mail; the route being from Canandaigua to Olean and return. His father Ephraim Parker
was the contractor. The exact time cannot be stated, though probably it was soon after the postoffice was established.
Oramel Griffin conducted the second store in town in 1822, in a log building. Bates Hapgood was next. Orville Boardman
was an early merchant. Isaiah Lathrop was an early hardware dealer. Judge McCall built the second gristmill at
East Rushford in 1832.
In all these early years the people practiced putting bells on their cows. Sometimes in going after them they would
get lost in the woods; so it was arranged that if gone long, a gun should be fired, or a horn blown to guide them
home. At an early day C. G. Leavens and O. D. Benjamin built a sawmill on Thunder Shower creek. In 1863 it was
worn out. The pioneer blacksmith was David J. Board, who located on lot 22 as early as 1816. His descendants retain
In 1818 when Asa Benjamin; brother of Levi, moved in there were but four framed houses at the village. No store
nearer than Angelica on the south or Pike on the north. He has taken wheat to Angelica and exchanged it for window
lights at the rate of 4 small lights for a bushel He drove the first team through to Mills Mills on the new (present)
road. He was two days making the trip, and on his way out "shot a deer, dressed it and hung it in a tree,
thinking to get it next day on his return, but the Indians stole it." He was a shoemaker and would work at
his trade for his neighbors, while they cleared his land. He was one of the first justices. Tim Thomas must have
his "pumps" for a 4th of July dance. Work was crowding, and Mr. Benjamin made the pumps by working extra
time, two whole nights being devoted to the work. For recuperation he took an occasional cup of tea, and a little
sleep on a side of sole leather fitted him for renewed effort. The pumps were finished by noon of the 4th. He also
worked as a mason, and many of the early chimneys were laid by him
Before the Genesee Valley canal was opened to Mt. Morris lumber was hauled to Buffalo, the trip taking four. days.
At the public houses 50 cents would pay for supper, lodging, breakfast and "horses to hay." The lumber
was sold at ruinously low prices, but "loading back" with iron, tin, leather, whiskey, pork, salt, helped
them out, though 25 cents was the "regulation price" for hauling a barrel of salt pork or whiskey.
Though the experiences of Rushford's early settlers were rough and pleasant, their stalwart energy and native "grit"
and "gumption" triumphed, and before 1840 broad fields were basking in the sunlight, framed houses were
quite common and things bespoke the thrifty habits of her people. Before 1850 Rushford village was the liveliest
place (with possibly one exception) in the county, there being 8 drygoods stores and 3 or 4 groceries, and other
dealers and tradesmen in proportion.
Though the Weavers are not named as pioneers they came early. They were three brothers, William, Joseph, and Benjamin,
and they certainly were pioneers in cheese making. Theirs however was the old way of family dairying, each one
using a hoop in size proportioned to the number of cows he kept, reckoning on making one cheese a day, and storing
it till the whole season's make was cured and ready for market, turning and greasing them every day. Buffalo and
Rochester were markets, either place involved a long haul, over bad roads, with lumber wagons loaded as heavy as
their teams could draw, and sales at prices which would perceptibly elongate the faces of modern Allegany dairymen;
six cents being considered a good price, though it was sometimes sold at four cents, groceries taken in part payment.
When the canal was opened hauling to Rochester ceased.
Rushford was the pioneer town of the state in the manufacture of pineapple cheese. April 1, 1851, Robert Norton
began to manufacture pine apple cheese in a small building, a little south of the academy. Not long after Chas.
J. Elmer became associated with Mr. Norton, and the managing man in the enterprise. The manufacture of pine apple
cheese in Rushford continued for 32 years and most of the time by this firm. The products of this factory gained
great celebrity. The cheese has been sold as high as 40 cents per pound and as low as 12 or 14 cents. As a rule
it brought about double the price of dairy cheese. Mr. R. H. Heald of East Rushford about 1856 made the first cheese
boxes in Allegany county.
The two decades from 1820 witnessed the greatest progress in "clearing up" the land, though this work
was continued until 1850 when the town was practically all cleared. About 1852 the mowing machine was introduced
and many labor saving devices are used which materially lighten farm labor. The farmers of Rushford keep even with
the advancing spirit of the age. Several silos have been made by Geo. H. Kingsley, A. W. and A. L. Litchard, J.
S. VanDusen, E. T. James, Geo. W. Hall, etc.
The New Hudson, Caneadea and Rushford Plank Road was built in 1852, the main projectors being Southworth &
McGraw from Tompkins county, who owned 2,100 acres of timber land in New Hudson, and had 4 sawmills. The capital
stock was $20,000. Timothy Rice, Abel S. Nicholson, Luke R. Hitchcock and John Smith were its active promoters
in Caneadea, and J. B. Luther, Wilson Gordon and O. T. Higgins in Rushford. The road ran from McGrawville, following
closely Rush and Caneadea creeks to Caneadea, with a branch from Kellogg's to Rushford. The plank were cut 84 feet
long and 3 in. thick, and were furnished at $5 per M. For a while the road did a good business. It was later sold
by the sheriff and March 20, 1859, came into the hands of Columbus Balcom who continued it till the flood of 1864,
which tore up and carried off a good share of it, especially in the gorge.
CHEESE FACTORIES - Rushford was the first town of the county to embark in the factory system of making cheese.
the first factory being constructed by Robert Morrow, Charles Benjamin, and H. K. Stebbins, in 1863 and 1864, and
beginning operations in July or August, 1864. In November J. C. Elmer bought the plant and has since conducted
it. For 2 or 3 years the factory made up the milk from 2,200 cows, some of it being hauled 7 or 8 miles. Other
factories were soon erected, and the pioneer factory lost some of its patrons. Probably no town stands higher in
point of excellence of her dairy products, and shipments have been made direct to London and Liverpool. There are
now 7 factories, known respectively as the Elmer, Podunk, Kellogg, McGrawville, Hardy's, West Branch and Clear
Spring; the annual product from each averaging 100,000 pounds, made from the milk of 2,500 cows.
Rushford Academy and Union School. - The town, from its institution been liberal in the support of schools, and
so in 1851 was quick to catch the inspiration of the times, which led her citizens to make liberal subscriptions
to the fund for building the academy (chartered February 21, 1852), which went into operation in the autumn of
1852. The building cost nearly $5.000. The first board of trustees were: B. T. Hapgood, John Holmes, Israel Thompson,
Titus Bartlett, William Merryfield, Robert Norton, James Gordon, 2d, Isaac Stone, Washington White, Samson Hardy,
Charles Benjamin, John G. Osborne, O. D. Benjamin, William Gordon and H Damon, with B. T. Hapgood, president; Robert
Norton, secretary and treasurer; Dr. Wm. M. McCall, corresponding secretary, and Ira Sayles librarian. Prof. Ira
Sayles, a teacher of Alfred Academy, was secured as principal, who, with his assistants, opened the school with
flattering prospects. The first board of instruction was: Ira Sayles, A. M., principal; William W. Bean, Miss E.
Frances Post, assistants; Mrs. S. C. Sayles, assistant teacher of French; Miss Aurora Bailey, assistant teacher
of music; Miss M. B. B. Sayles, assistant primary teacher, though early in its history Miss Henrietta S. Claflin
was first female assistant; P. F. J. Wehrung, assistant in French and German; Anna M. Scott, assistant in music,
and Miss Jane Hammond had charge of the primary department. The school was a success and the attendance liberal.
In 1867, in order to better meet the demands for increased and freer educational facilities, it was organized into
a UNION SCHOOL, as which it has since been conducted, the veteran instructor Prof. Sayles being its first principal.
The principals have been: Academy, Ira Sayles, 1852-57; G. W. F. Buck, 1857-65; J. E. McIntyre, 1865-67. Union
School, Ira Sayles, 1867-70; A. J. Crandall, 1870-71; Dana Jennison, 1871-73; Wm. Goodell, 1873-74; W. W. Bean,
1874-76; Frank Diamond, 1876-77; M. L. Spooner, 1877-80; H. J. Van Norman, 1880-82; J. McKee, 1882-85; W. D. Moulton,
1885; W. H. Wilson, 1885-87; Edward Maguire, 1887-93; Wm. C. White, 1893-94; H. J. Walter, 1895. The people of
Rushford are deserving of great praise for the 'stand they early assumed in favor of liberal education, and even
a slight acquaintance with its inhabitants who received their education at this institution; is a convincing proof
of the wisdom of the fathers in founding Rushford Academy.
FIRES. - The village of Rushford has had its share of fires. The most extensive conflagration occurred Dec. 20,
1883, when five buildings on the south side of Main street were destroyed. These firms were the sufferers: Pratt
Colburn, Mrs. M. A. Stacy, F. E. White. N. Jewell, C. W. Woodworth, W. W. Merrill, I. M. Seaman, C. McDonald, A.
L. Green, Dr. Peters, dentist, Misses Butts & Weir, dressmakers, and the Spectator office. But little was saved.
This was the third set of buildings burned on the same ground in less than 20 years. Losses $30,000; insurance
$17,290. A fine brick block now covers the ground. A later fire starting in S. Root's furniture and undertaking
rooms, caused a loss of from $8,000 to $10,000. The night was still fortunately or the loss would have been much
greater. The insurance was small. The losers were: S. Root, Holden & Bond, A. Ray, R. R. Murray, M. Claus,
A. Peters and A. Edson. Only a portion of these burned buildings have been rebuilt.
FLOOD OF 1864. - The disastrous flood of Aug. 16th and 17th, 1864, is well remembered. Rain began falling at 6
o'clock P. M., and by 11 the flood was at its height. Much damage to property was done, some lives were lost, many
endangered; while others barely escaped with their lives. Orin T. Higgins' house was moved into the street, the
lower story carried entirely away, while a lighted lamp standing on the mantel piece was undisturbed. Dr. O. T.
Stacy's house was badly injured by a tree jamming into it. and his office was carried away. Israel Thompson's barn
was utterly demolished, of the 15 cows in it 14 escaped. Alonzo Davidson had a cow taken away and never found His
floating house lodged against a tree, where he and his wife remained until the subsidence of the water. Mr. Welch,
his wife and two children lived at East Rushford; the house was carried off. Welch swam ashore, leaving his wife
and children in the house which went over one dam safely, but in passing over the next one went to pieces and all
three were drowned. One Peterson, a peddler, put up at his sister's, Mrs. Harriet Dunn. The water twisted the house
around, Peterson got into a tree; the barn was washed away and the horse drowned. The flood carried a calf across
the Genesee river, and it was brought back sale and sound.
EAST RUSHFORD. - For some years previous to the flood of 1864 this place had attained considerable importance.
It boasted of a foundry and chair factory, an oil mill. shi ale mill, wagon shop. tannery, sash, door and blind
factory, and melodeons were here manufactured. It had a postoffice and public house, a grist and sawmill, and was
a lively enterprising little place. The flood nearly annihilated it, and since then the place has been but a little
hamlet, the postoffice even, having been abolished.
In the early days Rushford abounded in sawmills. In the "Podunk" neighborhood Benjamin Dake and Oliver
D. Benjamin built the first one. The territory covered by the Farwells' and Edwin Weaver's farms was then "wolf
meadows," and the little brooklet "wolf meadow creek." Aaron Rice, Randolph Heald, and Fly and Daniel
Woods built a mill on Ensworth McKinney's place, and Charles and Seth Colburn built a sawmill in 1840 on the Byron
Woods farm. On Caneadea creek (beginning with Judge McCall's mill) next was Pliny Bannister down in the gorge.
Leonard Walker had a mill in the gorge which was burned. Charles Colburn and his sons George and Caleb, in 1846,
built a sawmill at "Kelloggville," sold about 1864 to Calvin Kellogg. Bannister here made grindstones
and whetstones. The Walker mill and the grindstone business however was just in the edge of Caneadea, but the business
relations of the parties were entirely with Rushford. Almost every little stream which in spring and fall would
furnish water sufficient to run an overshot wheel was utilized.
If ever a town deserved a railroad it is Rushford. Her people have put forth efforts which richly deserve success,
and it is hoped that soon modern means of transit will reach the town. It did once enjoy railroad facilities, and
a brief history of the Tonawanda Valley and Cuba railroad will here be given. The road connected Cuba with Attica
and the route lay on through Rushford, Centreville, Freedom, Arcade to Attica In Rushford J. B. Gordon, C. J. Elmer,
C. W. Woodworth, O. T. Stacy, W. E. Kyes, W. W. Bush and others raised about $18,000 for bonds and $1,200 for right
of way, and built the round house. In 1881 work was began at Cuba and later at Hardy's. Then work was suspended
until February, 1882, when work was again commenced, and a little later was in prosecution all along the line,
and the road hurried to completion. In June the track laying gang reached Rushford, from Cuba, and the people turned
out in great numbers and celebrated the event. On the fourth of July an excursion was run to Cuba. September 4th
the whole road was opened for traffic, and Sept. 25, 1882, a time tabled' went into effect which gave Rushford
the best train service of any town on the road. In May, 1884, a night freight was put on which was the culmination
of the prosperity of the road. January 19, 1885, the mail train was taken off and the employees struck for four
months' back pay. Soon business was resumed, but the trains were irregular. In November, 1885, another strike for
pay occurred. An irregular service was however kept up until Oct. 16, 1886, when trains were discontinued, by order
of the receiver, south of Sandusky. Rust and weeds have since flourished unmolested along the line, and the rails
have been removed. Nearly all the bonds taken by Rushford parties were sold in December, 1885, for 24 1/2 cents
on the dollar. It is not a pleasant subject for Rushford people to discuss, but this railroad history proves conclusively
that they are entitled to great credit for the determined fight they made for a road, and that they richly deserve
better success than they then secured.
SEARCH FOR PETROLEUM. - In February, 1860, John T. and Elizabeth Moore contracted with certain oil operators to
put down a well on their farm which was sunk 600 feet and left. May 3, 1864, the Moores contracted to sell 10 acres
of land including the well for $1,000; the purchasers were to" develope" but did not sink the well much
deeper. A reservation of one twelfth of the product was made in this contract. Afterward J. B. Gordon and others
organized a stock company and bought this one twelfth interest. In 1880 another well was drilled 1,867.25 feet
and abandoned. In 1864 some "wildcatting" was done on the Metcalf farm without result. Yet some insist
that Rushford is oil territory.
CEMETERIES. - Probably the first place of interment was the "First Burying Ground of Rushford" in the
west part of the village where burials were made as early as 1816. The deed of this property from David and Judith
Searl to David Searl, Horatio Smith and Matthew P. Cady, trustees, bears date May 1, 1832. The grounds for some
years suffered to lapse into neglect have recently, largely through the efforts of A. M. Taylor, been improved
and renovated and now the cemetery has quite a tidy appearance. The trustees are A. M. Taylor, J. B. McFarland
and Samuel A. Hardy.
The White Burying Ground is on the eastern borders of the village. It is not under control of a legally organized
association, but an individual enterprise, the ground being owned by M. C. White and sold off as parties desire.
Many interments have been made here, and some beautiful monuments erected. It is situated on a gentle elevation
and is well adapted to its purpose.
Rushford Cemetery Association was organized Oct. 2, 1850, with seven trustees. Elihu Talcott, president; John G.
Osborne, vice president; Charles Benjamin, treasurer; Gideon L. Walker, secretary; Washington White, Luther Gordon
and Geo. W. Green. The grounds had long been used for burial purposes, some of the stones bear inscriptions of
an early date. Neglect and inattention resulted in a cemetery, which in the eighties some of the citizens deemed
a cause of reproach to the town, and about 1890 some of the leading citizens determined to restore the organization,
and improve the grounds. In 1892 a survey and maps of the grounds was made, new and permanent fences built, grading
done, and at present they are in an elegant condition. Ralph B. Laning devoted time and personal attention to the
improvements, and to him the public is much indebted. The present trustees are A. M. Taylor president, H. B. Gilbert
vice president, W. H. Thomas treasurer, R. B. Laming secretary, F. W. Higgins Olean, Miles M. Tarbell and W. H.
Benson. The grounds are pleasantly situated in the north part of the village on Lewellen street and are easy of
THE PRESS. - In 1846 Horace E. Purdy a practical printer and an editor of ability and experience established the
Republican Era. A. P. Laning, then a practicing lawyer here, raised $500 to help the enterprise, the material of
the suspended Seventh Day Baptist paper at DeRuyter, N. Y., was purchased for the outfit. The Era was Democratic
and it was a newsy, bright, spicy sheet, but two weeks before the election of 1848 it was removed to Angelica.
Rushford was then without a newspaper office untilin 1878 Frank B. Smith founded the Spectator. He continued its
publication till March 1, 1885, when he sold to W. F. Benjamin, the present proprietor. While its editor is a Republican,
the paper is conducted so as to commend it to people of all shades of political thought, and it excels any other
of the papers published in the county, in the diffusion of local and neighborhood news, and, with possibly one
exception, it has the largest circulation in the county.
EXCHANGE AND BANKING.- Before the Civil War for many years the nearest banking facilities were at Cuba. In the
early sixties, it is supposed that O. T. Higgins opened an account in New York for the convenience of his extensive
mercantile business of this and surrounding towns. In a village directory of 1869, O. T. Higgins and W. Griffin
are each put down as "broker and merchant." W. W. Bush says that he and Wolcott Griffin went into the
exchange business in 1865 as "Griffin & Bush," selling their first draft on New York Oct. 10th. In
1871 W. W. Bush & Co. (W. E. Kyes and O. T. Stacy) succeeded this firm and did business until 1872. Stacy &
Kendall (O. T. Stacy and Charles B. Kendall) have since conducted private banking, the business being mostly done
by L. E. Hardy as cashier. White & Elmer, cheese buyers, have had an account in New York for many years.
VICKERY'S MUSIC SCHOOL. BANDS. - About 1854 John A. Vickery, from Vermont, instituted a music school in the old
M. K church in Rushford village. His two daughters were assistant teachers. This school ran for five or six years,
and was quite popular, 75 pupils in the vocal department and from 25 to 30 in the instrumental, have been in attendance
at the same time. During the continuance of this school an excellent orchestra was organized, of which were members,
Barnes Blanchard, Dr. J. C. Pitts, I. B. Gordon, J. Lambertson, A. L. Adams, A. Kimball, J. G. Benjamin, Lyman
Beecher. Rushford has had several bands of music. In 1844 a band of 16 members, (quite likely this was one of the
"jaw bone" bands peculiar to that presidential campaign) went to Ellicottville to hear Millard Fillmore
speak The leader of the first brass band was Ransom Dennison, of the second Archibald Adams and W. F. Benjamin
is leader of the present band.
James McCall, Oramel Griffin, Orville Boardman and Bates T. Hapgood were early merchants. Isaiah Lathrop had the
first tinshop in the early thirties. John Gordon was the first brickmaker. Well along in the thirties a rude fence
of hemlock logs, stakes and poles, was exhibited along the north side of Main street, and in 1838 the present cemetery
grounds were mostly covered with old logs, brush heaps, etc. During the forties and down to 1856 or 57 Rushford
village was the liveliest place in the county. In 1847 9 dry goods stores were in operation, I. & Is Gordon
opening the 9th. H. Hyde was an early jeweller. The Republican Era of Oct. 20, 1847, says that W. A. Stewart, Albert
P. Laning and G. L. Walker were practicing law. L. B. Johnson, McCall & Smith and Wm. B. Alley were physicians.
The Washington House (temperance) was kept by Wm. McCall. A drug and book store by W. McCall & Co. Clark McCall,
Irwin & Remington, B. F. Lewellen, J. D. Boardman, H. George, were business men. Carriage factories, hardware
stores, cabinet shops, tailor shops, clocks and watches are advertised. From the 1869 directory is learned that
True Bradford kept the Washington House (now Tarbell House). O. T. Higgins and W. Griffin were brokers and merchants,
also W. W. Bush & Co. E. E. Mulliken grocer, H. Hyde jeweller, I. Lathrop hardware, J. B. Gordon & Son
woolen mills, W. T. Galpin furniture. White & Blanchard foundry and machine shop, D. B. Sill produce dealer.
In 1879 A. M. Taylor, William E. Kyes, W. W. Bush were with others engaged in merchandising, C J Elmer and Stacy
& Kendall in banking. The leading business men now are James & Benson and A. M. Taylor dry goods, Thomas
Bros. clothing, B C. Gilbert drugs, medicine and groceries, Hardy Bros. and Frank Jager markets; two jewelry shops,
a bakery, Homer Brooks boots and shoes, White and Elmer drugs and grocers, Stacy & Kendall private bankers,
W. W Merrill hardware and tin. Merchandise has to be hauled from Caneadea and Farmersville, but still the village
wears a tidy aspect and is really one of the pleasantest places in the county.
FIRE DEPARTMENT - "After the horse is stolen lock the stable door"; so after Rushford had been swept
by fire, a fire department was organized. This has two good Gleason and Bailey engines, 600 feet of hose, is supplied
with water by cisterns and wells, and is considered efficient and good protection against fire, and its effect
is felt in reducing the expenses of insurance in a marked degree. The present organization is R. B. Lanning, presiident;
C. J. Elmer, vice president; Wm. H. Thomas, secretary; L. E. Hardy, treasurer; W. H. Benson, F. Jagers and M. Claus,
executive committee. The active fire company is organized with W. W. Thomas, chief; W. H. Benson, assistant chief;
Will Ingleby, foreman of engines; D. L. White, assistant; F. Jagers, foreman of hose company; J. McMurray, assistant.
SEMI-CENTENNIAL - This was celebrated in Academy Hall Jan. 1, 1859. According to all accounts it was the most
interesting and enjoyable occasion ever experienced in town. The hall was early filled with people and Rev. T.
L. Pratt delivered the introductory address. It is a great pity that it was not preserved, for it was awarded high
praise by all who heard it. Dr. S. F. Dickinson read a history of the town from its first settlement. Anecdotes
of the pioneer period were related, interspersed with martial music. Old relics were exhibited, and a lady dressed
in the costume of 50 years before presented herself, much to the surprise and merriment of all present. A bounteous
repast was provided and eaten in the town hall. From an account of this celebration written probably by Samuel
White, Esq., and kindly loaned to us we give a few excerpts:
In 1816 there were only two frame buildings in town. Mr. Freeman, one of the first settlers, had a frame addition
to his log house, and on the farm where Mr. Morrow now lives there was a frame barn, built by Esq Gary in 1814.
The oldest man in town is Mr. Luther Woodworth, his age is 88. The oldest woman is Mary Williston at the advanced
age of 93. She is the only Revolutionary pensioner in this vicinity. * * * The number of men who have died in Rushford
within 4o years, to say nothing of women and children, is not far from 130, and the number of men now living who
settled in Rushford before the year 1817, is only 18. * * The first match made in Rushford was on the south side
of the creek; the parties were Wm. Rawson and Luany Swift; I cannot tell the precise time, but probably 181 t.
* * * Mr. Wm. Gordon's first wife, a daughter of Esq Gary, was the first person that died in town. A young man
by the name of Hubbard was the second, and Mr. Warren, who was drowned, was the third. Ir. 1816 the only grave
near the center of the town was Mr. Warren's. Elder Bannister, a Methodist minister from Vermont, came with his
family to Rushford. He was a very good sort of a man, rather eccentric, full of fun for a preacher, and always
ready to receive or crack a joke. Soon after the reformation (a revival of which he was probably the cause), he
happened to go to Burrow's tavern in Castile. There he found a brother Methodist, with whom he commenced a conversation
in relation to the revival in Rushford. He told his brother Methodist that the Lord had at last found the way to
Rushford. A wag who was present wanted to know how the Lord could find his way to Rushford through the woods without
a pilot ? "Why," said the Elder, "he followed the marked trees, I suppose." Some time after
this the old Elder was praying for the people of Rushford. There was in the place a very wicked sort of a chap,
Wm. Bums. Jr. The old Elder commenced a prayer in his behalf, and said, "Oh Lord, convert Wm. Bums; we don't
mean old Mr. Burns, but Wm. Burns, Jr." He meant to lay it down so the Lord could understand it. At another
time Elder Bannister was interceding and praying for others, and used this expression, "Oh, Lord, convert
the whole world; oh! and John Gordon too !" When I told you of the homespun dresses of the ladies, I should
have said something about the patches that ornamented the apparel of the men, Patches were in fashion, and it was
not considered a crime or a disgrace to wear them. They were probably as fashionable at the time we speak of as
the best of broadcloth garments are at this day. You young people will be surprised when I tell you that a patch
on a certain pair of pantaloons made Wm. L. Marcy governor of New York. January 1, 1817, the dwelling of Samson
Hardy was burned to ashes. It was in the morning. By 12 o'clock (noon), the neighbors had assembled with axes and
teams, and before night they hauled logs enough to rebuild the house. About this time Judge McCall came and advised
them not to build a log house, but to put up a plank house, and offered to saw the lumber gratis. The next day
a sufficient quanty of logs were at McCall's mill, and in a few days Mr. Hardy's family were comfortably quartered
in their new house. If ever there was a time when every man loved his neighbor as himself it was when the country
was new. They were all full of love and good will, and sometimes full of whiskey. If a man had a log house to raise,
every one would make the business his own, and attend to it faithfully, until it was made comfortable and convenient.
THE SOLDIER DEAD. - SOLDIERS OF THE REVOLUTION BURIED IN RUSHFORD. - Capt. Jonathan Gowing, died Aug. z6, 1848;
James Gordon, died Dec. 9, 1844; David Kinney, Daniel Kingsbury, Eneas Gary.
SOLDIERS OF THE WAR OF 1812 BURIED IN RUSHFORD. - John Lamberson died Jan. 20, 1874, Leonard Farwell died Sept.
24, 1846, Amos Peck, Samuel Hardy, David Babbitt, Ira Bishop, Alvin K. Morse.
SOLDIERS OF THE CIVIL WAR who died in service and in Rushford since the war. Albert Babbitt, killed July 21, 1861;
Martin White, sent to hospital July, 1862, never heard from; Enoch Hibbard, died hospital, Aug. 20, 1862; Charles
Hobart, died hospital. Nov. 29, 1862; Stanley Hobart, died Stafford C. H., Va., Dec. 3, 1862; Capt. Wm. W. Woodworth,
died Falmouth, Va., Dec. 28, 1862; Leonard Van Alst, killed Fair Oaks; Alonzo Brown, wounded Fair Oaks. died hospital;
Thomas Russell Wilmarth, killed May 3. 1863; John H. Farwell, wounded and died Chancellorsville; David R. James,
died Chancellorsville; Philander Kellogg, killed Chancellorsville; Ralph L. Benjamin, killed Chancellorsville,
May 3, 1863; Daniel T. Ely, killed Chancellorsville; Enoch W. Cheney. killed Fair Oaks; Charles J. Hurlben, died
Portsmouth, Va., February, 186a; Hiram L. Wickwire, died Feb. 10, 1864; Charles A. Van Duzen, killed Spottsylvania,
Va., May 12, 1864; Albert K. Damon, wounded, died July 25,1864; Clayton C. Jewell, killed July 30, 1864; James
Patterson, died Andersonville, 1864; William Starkweather, died prison, 1864; Thomas J. White, died prison, Aug.
9, 1864; Riley Pettit, died hospital, September, 1864; Ira Petty, died hospital, Jan. 6, 1865 Harrison T. Smith,
killed March 25, 1865; John W. Bishop, died in prison Richmond, Va.; Warren B. Persons, died Andersonville; Howard
Root, died at home on furlough; John Cole, died hospital; Lafayette Mead, died hospital; Dewitt C. Pelton, killed;
William Hutchins died hospital; Sylvester Hall, died Aug. 30, 1862; Charles McMullen, Abram Howell, Charles A.
Woodruff, Aaron Wright, John Peters, Lyman Beecher, Philip Ellithorpe, Edward W. Beecher, Henry Boardman, George
P. Walker, died June 3. 1864; Adelbert Hall, Titus B. Chapin, died Danville prison, Feb. 17, 1863; Lewis E. Tarbell,
Elijah Metcalf, died Oct. 10, 1876; Dr. Corodon Mason, died Jan. 21, 1891; Dr. Robert Y. Charles. Aaron C. Eaton,
died Jan. 28, 1893; Horace Bullock, died Nov. 26, 1893; Hosea B. Persons, died Jan. 4, 1894; James Kingsbury, died
May 9, 1894.
156 men enlisted from Rushford, filling her own quota and helping other towns to fill theirs. Jan. 30, 1865, at
a special town meeting a bounty of $600 was offered for enlisting, or furnishing a substitute, to be credited to
the town. Rushford's was record is one to which its people can "point with pride."
Joseph Enos Lodge, No. 818, F. A. M. - Meetings of the Western Union Lodge, then of Caneadea, now of Belfast, were
held in Rushford soon after 1823 at the house of Levi Benjamin, and members of the fraternity living in town up
to 1854 were of different lodges, and June 9, 1854, Joseph Enos Lodge was chartered, and Levi Benjamin appointed
Master U. D. The masters since have been: Hiram Johnson, 1854; H. K. White, 1855; David Babbitt, 1856; Samuel F.
Dickenson, 1857, '58; C. W. Woodworth, 1859, '64, '65; E. George, 1860, '61, '63; W. White, 1862; J. P. Bixby,
1866-69; William Eyes, 1870-74, '76, '77; E. F. McCall, 1875. Since 1877: Alexander Fraser, Myron Claus, E. C.
Gilbert, William Barber, W. F. Wells. Alex. Fraser, E. C. Gilbert and Marshall B. Nye. There are at present 31
K. O. T. M. - Rushford has a flourishing tent of this order organized Mar. 3, 1890, with 23 members. It now has
68, with these principal officers: Wm. Ingleby, Jr. Com.; D. W. Woods, Lt. Coin.; E. C. Gilbert, R. K. and F. K.
I. O. O. F. - A lodge of this fraternity with 20 members is still kept up. It was organized in August, 1879. L.
E. Hardy is N. G. and F. W. Beaumont Sec. A lodge was organized in the fifties and went down.
Various societies, Equitable Aid Union, Order of United Workmen, etc., have been organized at different times,
of which some have survived. The W. C. T. U. has a local union here, and there are historical and literary societies
BOARD of TRADE. This association of the business men of the town and village was organized Sept. 20, 1890. Its
object is to promote the interests of the place, and of its members, stimulate industries, and aid all legitimate
enterprises calculated to benefit the town. The officers are: A. M. Taylor, president; M. C. White, vice president;
E. C. Gilbert, secretary; K. E. Hardy, treasurer.
SUPERVISORS FROM 1816. - Cromwell Bennett, 1817-19; Matthew P. Cady, 1820-24;
William Hull, 1825; Samuel White, 1826-27, 1841-44; Tarbell Gordon, 1828-3o, 1832-44; Samson Hardy, 183x, 1837-38;
John Hammond, 1835-36; Abraham J. Lyon, 18399-40; Isaiah Lathrop, 1845-46; Orville Boardman, 1847-48; Samuel Gordon,
1849-50; James Gordon, 1851-52; Avery Washburn, 1853-54, 1863, '65; Ebenezer P. Lyon, 1855; John W. Hill, 1856;
Winthrop P. Young, 1857-58; Washington White, 1859-60; Bates T. Hapgood, 1861-62; Charles W. Woodworth, 1866-74,
1884-86; Jedediah B. Gordon, 1875-76; William E. Keyes, 1877 -78; Willard A. Stone, 1879-81; Charles B. Kindall,
1882; A. L. Litchard, 1883, 1894-95, Henry S. Holden, 1887-88, '93; Wm. A. Benson, 1889; Grover M. Pratt, 1890-92;
H. A. Holden, 1893.
The present town officers are, supervisor, A. L. Litchard; town clerk, W. W. Bush; collector, Wm. H. Thomas; assessors,
Harry Wheeler, John J. Thomas; overseers of the poor, Lorenzo D. Weaver, Lyman Barber; inspectors of election,
W. S. Mullikin, Frank W. Beaumont, James G. Benjamin, and Obed T. Wit-mot; constables, W. H. Thomas, Will D. Woods.
Will Ingleby, Abel M. Tarbell, Willis H Leavens; excise commissioners, Densmore Lyman, Marshall Herrick, Andrew
Kimball; justices, Eddy C Gilbert, S. E. Kilmer, C. H. Ives, H. C. Dresser.