BY LEWIS H. THORNTON.
This history proposes to interpret, so far as possible, present Wellsville. The
past is a true fountain of knowledge by whose light alone today and tomorrow can be understood. A discussion of
some of the causes which have created the Wellsville of today, the presentation of a collection of statistics,
and a simple narrative of local history is its purpose. Historical events, otherwise uninteresting, gain a charm
from having occurred on familiar ground. The Genesee river is more than a stream of water notorious for its spring
floods, when one knows how it has historically affected the territory through which it flows. The Main street of
Wellsville is Invested with a new interest when one learns that it follows very nearly the old Indian trail along
which Red Jacket and Cornplanter journeyed. Local history is remarkably difficult to investigate and set forth.
Mistakes are inevitable. When it is appreciated, however, by what laborious research among records, diaries, old
account books and histories; and by how many patient interviews, facts have been rescued from the failing memories
of the oldest residents, shortcomings may be forgiven. There is an old story to the effect that when Sir Walter
Raleigh was a prisoner he saw from his window a street tumult and gave different testimony regarding it than two
other witnesses who themselves disagreed as to the circumstances. When it is impossible for us to be of one mind
relative to things that have occurred within our sight and hearing, how difficult to search out the truth about
events in the long ago. So hard, in fact, as to be impossible were not some of them contemporaneously recorded.
Had it not been for the remarkable assiduity of Dr. H. M. Sheerer as a local annalist and chronicler of events
in the history of Wellsville, many of the facts and details herein contained would long ago have been taken to
the grave in the memory of those gone before. The reminiscences and scrap books which he kindly placed at the disposal
of the writer have been a source of authentic information. To the personal recollections also of Mr. and Mrs. John
Cline, Mr. and Mrs. John B. Clark, Mr. G. B. Gordon and the diary of Mr. Carlton Farnum is due the publication
of much that throws a new light on the history of Wellsville.
ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO Allegany county was an unexplored wilderness, inhabited only by wild beasts and savages.
By the former alone in Southern Allegany, for the red man never really lived in Wellsville or the other south towns.
He came only periodically to hunt or fish, and in the spring to make black maple sugar. In the Pigeon Woods, eight
miles up the river from Wellsville, there was an established camp of rude wigwams for use in the pigeon season.
Both north and south of us along the river signs of a (so called) prehistoric race have been unearthed. Within
the boundaries of Wellsville, however, no such remains have been discovered, and even of the Seneca-Iroquois possession
of Wellsville we know little but the fact.
Southern Allegany lies in the northern limits of the Alleghany range of the Appalachian Mountain system. The Alleghanies
reach their highest altitude less than 50 miles south at the headwaters of the West Branch of the Susquehanna river.
Our location prevents northeastern storms from reaching us. For rain we depend on the west, which gathers the residue
of vapers brought up the Mississippi valley from the Gulf of Mexico. and precipitates it in a rainfall which averages,
perhaps 22 inches annually. As a result of the wholesale destruction of the forests along the Genesee and its tributaries
disastrous spring floods are of common occurrence.
"Wellsville; 42 deg., 7 min. north latitude, 6 deg., 5 min. 25 sec. west longitude;" is situated on the
Genesee river, 91 miles from its mouth, and 11 miles from the point in Pennsylvania where the headwaters fork to
produce the stream.* The river valley here averages a half mile in width. Dike's Creek enters the river from the
northeast through a valley, which, for some distance, is as broad as that of the river. Cold Brook, Crowner Creek,
Chenunda Creek and several other very small streams, and that nameless tempest of angry waters which, every flood
time, tears down across Madison, Pearl and Briggs streets and the Erie railroad, thence south across Main street,
and through the Bradley property to the river, join the Genesee within our township limits. This last is a typical
mountain stream, dry in summer, but full and raging in the rainy season. In less than 2 miles it falls 300 feet.
* ( In 1872 Captain Eldridge, of Boston, made scientific observations here in Wellsville. He found that the Erie
railway station is geographically situated: Latitude 42 degrees 7 min. north from Washington, longitude 6 degrees
5 min. 25 sec. west from Washington, height above the sea 1,480 feet; on the Genesee river, 91 miles from its mouth,
by the river road, air line distance south from Rochester 76 miles; on the Erie railway 358 54/100 miles from New
York City, from Dunkirk ion miles; air line distance from Pennsylvania state line to miles, 15 miles to headwaters
of the Genesee river. Location of the Baptist church spire is: air line distance from spire to the City Hall, New
York City, 228% miles, bearing south of the spire 64 deg., 22 min. E. To the State House, Philadelphia, Pa., 211
1/4 miles, bearing south 44 deg., 15 min., east. To Capitol building, Washington, 230 3/5 miles, bearing S. 12
deg., 42 min. E. Difference of time City Hall, New York, and spire of Baptist church 15 min., 52 seconds. Capitol
at Washington and spire, 3 min., 52 sec. Old State House, Philadelphia, and spire, 11 min., 16 sec.)
The country surrounding Wellsville rises abruptly on each side of the river valley, which averages 1,525 feet above
sea level. Less than a mile northeast of West Main street river bridge the hills rise 1,900 feet above the sea.
Niles Hill, three miles distant in the southwest, attains an altitude of 500 feet above the river. This is the
highest land in the township. A point on the river bank at the Scio boundary, 1,460 feet above tidewater, is the
lowest. The highest point in the corporate limits of the village lies 1,850 feet above sea leveL It is on the hill
above Briggs street, 1/5 of a mile northwest of the junction of Pearl with Main street. The lowest land, 1,485
feet in altitude, is where the old B. E. & C. railroad bridge crosses the river. There are points in Lewis'
Grove and Applebee's flat which have about the same altitude. The highest residences in the village are those of
W. C. Ross and R. H. Lee, 1,700 and 1;850 feet respectively above tidewater. Main street averages 1,514 feet in
height, being 1,496 at its lowest or northwestern end, 1,520 at Madison street, 1,500 at Dike's Creek, and 1,540
at the corporation boundary above the Catholic Cemetery. Wellsville lies in the Chemung Shales with a bit of conglomerate,
old red sandstone and the Catskill formation cropping out on some of its hilltops. There is also a quantity of
northern drift. The Chemung does not give a generous soil, lacking lime and other valuable ingredients, and containing
not a great quantity of potash. Silicate of alumina is its principal constituent. Compact enough in its nature,
however, to hold water and containing sufficient potash, it is well adapted for grass raising and grazing purposes.
Hemlock, maple, beech and the like, characteristic of potash lands, grow in abundance, while those trees that require
a quantity of lime are conspicuous for their absence. There is noticeable, however, a somewhat remarkable contrast
in the nat ural productions of the neighborhood. This is due to the presence in our supersoil of compact clayey
loam, and subsoil of tenacious gravelly clay, of a large admixture of northern drift materials, among which may
be recognized the pebbles of different limestones, of Medina sandstone, and granites. Much of this has been finely
comminuted and thoroughly mixed with the Chemung formation. The lime in our soil. which gives us hard water, comes
entirely from this drift. Up the Dike's Creek valley, where there is very little if any drift, no hard water is
to be found, nor are the natural productions such as demand the presence of lime. Along the river flats we find
an alluvial soil, the richest and most fertile in the township. Mr. E. B. Hall has a valuable and interesting collection
of local geological specimens, his efforts in search of fossil sponges having been especially favored with great
success. A new species bears his name, and he has in his possession the largest fossil sponge ever found.
Advent of the White Man. - In 1793 Capt. Charles Williamson, acting for the Pulteney estate, settled at Bath. The
lower Genesee was becoming celebrated as a land of promise. The upper "Genesee Country was entirely unknown
except as containing the Seneca-Indian village at Caneadea and the famous oil spring near Cuba. The territory now
the township of Wellsville was useful but to the Indians, and to them only as the haunt of deer and other game.
and the location of a part of their trail along the river from Caneadea to the headwaters of the Susquehanna. It
is doubtful if the foot of any white man ever voluntarily pressed the soil of our town previous to the coming of
the pioneer Nathanael Dike; as a prisoner of the Indians, however, the celebrated Iroquois' interpreter, Capt.
Horatio Jones, passed through Wellsville in 1781, and, though it may not be possible to verify the inference, there
can be no question but that many captives from the awful massacres in Northwestern Pennsylvania were taken by the
Seneca trail down the Genesee and to Niagara. The life of Moses Van Campen relates how he and others were taken
prisoners by the Indians on the headwaters of the Susquehanna and conducted along the trial down the Genesee to
Not till 1795, twelve years after the United States had achieved their independence from Great Britain, did the
first white settler place his foot upon the territory of Wellsville. For many years after the treaty of peace had
nominally put an end to the American Revolution. Indian border warfare continued. Urged on by their British allies
the savages had tasted blood and it was impossible to restrain them. The dread of Indian butchery, added to other
pioneer hardships and perils, delayed for years the settlement of Western New York Thus it was not till 1795 that
Nathanael Dike, the first white settler, came to Allegany. He erected a cabin, a saw and grist mill and a tannery
at Wellsville. French says that the mills. which were erected in 1802, were the first in the county. The tannery
undoubtedly was the first one in Allegany. Thus the "Tanbark City" at the very earliest day was the most
important manufacturing town in the county, though it did not long remain so, as after the first few years of the
century, and until nearly 1850, there were several larger and livelier towns. But, as she once was the cradle which
fostered the first manufacturing, she, at length, again became the nucleus of Allegany's wealth and commerce, and
today is the county metropolis in population as well as in manufacturing.
What led Nathanael Dike, once a student at Yale College, and afterward an aide on the staffs of Generals Warren
and Washington, to settle in the heart of a wilderness can only be conjectured. Originally from Connecticut, he
had been in the Mohawk Valley and at Tioga Point, Pa., before striking off into the unknown country of the Upper
Genesee. Crossing the lands of the Pulteney estate on the Canisteo River Dike must have passed through Almond by
way of McHenry Valley, across the hills to Elm Creek, and thence down the valley to the broad level where it unites
with Dike's Creek. Here Allegany's first white settler prepared to build his rude hut. The valley at the point
chosen was particularly attractive. It was timbered with hardwood, which was so much easier cieared than the dense
pine forests that covered most of Southern Allegany. The land was promising for farm purposes, for the soil consisted
of rich alluvial deposits, and the full and rapid stream afforded a good waterpower. And so it happened that the
first bit of Allegany's virgin forest was cleared at Elm Valley, five miles from the site of the county's metropolis,
and four from the thriving village of Andover. All but one of these inviting features of landscape, soil and waterpower,
which led Dike to settle where he did, existed in greater degree where Wellsville now stands. The land at Film
Valley, however, was covered with hardwood, at Wellsville the growth was mostly pine and hemlock. How conditions
change. Half a century after Dike's coming the great forests of pine were a gold mine of value.
The first settler, however, who had no opportunity to market either logs or lumber, must select a hardwood district.
He had to clear the land immediately, for it was necessary to subsist on the soil. A hardwood stump is as easily
pulled as a first tooth. It is a perfect nightmare to attempt the extraction of a great pine root with the rude
appliances of the early settler. It is necessary for the pioneer to turn some products into cash. One can imagine
how Dike, during the first year in Allegany, "cleared up" the beech, elm and hickory, and rolled the
trees (branches, logs and all) into one great pile which he burned; more hardwood was piled in. the same place
and the ashes were carefully gathered and converted into lye. "Black-salts" were made by "boiling
down" the lye. These found a ready sale, for, after a through baking, the pearlash, from which was manufactured
soda or saleratus, was produced. Thus the clearing of hardwood land wellnigh paid for itself. Dike's cabin became
the nucleus of a small settlement situated at Elm Valley which had no influence whatever on the location and growth
of the present village of Wellsville It is interesting because it affords a brief chapter of first things in the
township. French's Gazetteer of 1860 is authority for the statements that the first white person born in Wellsville
was Rachel Dike in 1805, that the first death was that of Thomas Brink in 1807, and that the first school was kept
by Ithamar Brookings in 1814. It was 20 years after these events, however, before the river valley within the village
of Wellsville received a settler. There were several families living in Scio, who, along about 1810, came through
Wellsville to Elm Valley for supplies. There was then not a settler in what is now our village. In 1816 William
and Asa Foster settled about a mile and a half up the river towards Stannard's Corners.
The Village Pioneer. - It would seem from tradition and the meager record of the early days of the century that
the corporation wherein now 4,000 people reside was one of the last locations in the town to be selected by the
pioneers. At Riverside, Stanards, Brimmer Brook, Elm Valley and other points, lonely settlers had built cabins,
but in that part of the Genesee Valley which was destined to become the most thickly settled spot in all Allegany
there is not even vague tradition of any settler previous to the coming of the squatter Job Straite in 1822. "Uncle
Billy" Weed, a most original character, "squatted" on the hill west of Samuel Hanks' residence in
"Billy" always maintained that Job Straite, Sr., was the first settler, and that his log cabin was the
first white man's habitation in corporate Wellsville. The house was situated within the present Farnum Cemetery,
east of the Fair Association grand stand. Mrs. Job Straite, Jr., who for years lived in the old log house, was
interviewed a few years before her death. She stated that her father in law, her husband and herself came to Wellsville
in 1822. There is no tradition of any previous settlement and we must conclude that Job Straite, Sr., the "Lost
man" of our early history, was the village pioneer. These very early settlers were squatters not particularly
celebrated for virtue, sobriety, or religious zeal. However, the Dikes at Shoemaker's Corners (Elm Valley), the
Knights and Palmers at Scio, and other men of energy and good judgment, purchased their lands and never ciaimed
title by virtue of possession.
Rogers' Survey of 1826, etc. - A map of Wellsville (then a part of Scio) and the original notes of Jesse Rogers'
survey of 1826, in the possession of Mr. R. H. Lee, furnish the earliest absolutely authentic information relative
to the early settlement of corporate Wellsville. The map and notes were sworn to and subscribed before Alvan Burr,
commissioner in Allegany county, Nov. 22. 1826. The notes state that the object of the survey was the subdivision
into small lots of the Willing-Francis tract of the Morris Reserve by John M. Wilson and Jesse Rogers. It is very
unfortunate, from an historical standpoint, that the names of settlers who came later than 1826 have evidently
been placed upon the map. The original notes, however, are preserved. Lot 4, of 131 acres, marked "occupied
by Job Straite." is described as beech, maple, and pine, first quality upland and pine fiats." Lot 5,
of 110 acres, consisting of beech, maple, butternut and pine upland and fiat, was occupied by Job Straite, Jr.
Other occupants of land up the river were Samuel Warner, Amos Lane, Enda and Johnson. The notes mention no settlers
in the village other than the Strait family. The map has the names of many of the township's pioneers. Some of
them were in Wellsville in 1826. Others must have come later, but it is likely that all settled here previous to
1832, for several who came in that year are not mentioned. Starting from the south line of the town we find by
the map that J. Mallory occupied the Cobb farm on the east side of the Genesee; that Wm. and Asa Foster owned what
is now the valuable Ackerman farm; that Valentine Bowen lived across, on the west side of the river. A. A. Adams,
H. and R. Hall and H. Rogers had settled on the east side of the Genesee and S. Hills near Duke's Mill on the west.
A. Dunham, R. Wells, Gardiner Wells, W. D. Spicer, G. B. Jones, the Rowleys and M. Johnson'were recorded as occupants
of the soil. The highway on the east side of the river was marked "Pennsylvania Road." This main line
of travel along the Genesee was located farther away from the river than the business portion of our present Main
St. Both the east and west ends of Main St., however, follow closely the old Indian trail that in 1826 had become
the Pennsylvania Road. From the making of the Rogers' survey until 1829 there is no evidence of the advent of settlers.
The first few years of the century had been prosperous ones, but the war of 1812, the cold and backward season
of 1816 with the financial panic of 1818 and 1819, the failure of corps and the European wars retarded immigration
and rendered the condition of the settlers one of extreme hardship. From 1825 to 1830 the Erie canal, so diffusive
in its benefits and so stimulating to life and activity in Northwestern New York, served only to prevent the coming
of new settlers and to crush the hopes and depress the energies of the pioneers in Southern Allegany. Gradually
and remotely, however, even before the construction of the Genesee Valley Canal to Dansville in 1840, the benefits
of this mighty enterprise began to reach Allegany. "No new country" says Turner, "has probably ever
been opened for settlement," that had as rugged features, as much of difficulty to overcome, as the territory
which comprises Allegany county. If the entire county can be so characterised. how about Wellsville and the other
south towns? Situated in the precipitous ridges of the northern spurs of the Alleghanies and heavily timbered with
pine, the lands bad little attraction. New settlements were extremely isolated, and, when the settlers began to
have anything to dispose of, there was no market. The pioneers who came previous to 1830 subsisted largely on fish
and game. Asa Foster used to say that he paid for his farm by hunting, trapping and fishing. As late as 1835 he
killed a female panther near Duke's Mill, captured her two cubs and sold them in Rochester for $300. In 1842, only
53 years ago, a partridge, than which thereis no wilder game, was shot opposite the VanBuren tavern on Main street.
In 1827 Billy Weed killed 24 deer, a bear and a wolf with his old flint lock gun and one pound of powder. He bought
the rifle in the spring of that year of Miami York and gave 200 pounds of maple sugar for it. In the early days,
next to black salts and pot and pearl ashes, maple sugar could be used best in trade. In 1840, John Cline, then
of Hallsport, traded a Cortland manufacturer 500 pounds of maple sugar for a two horse wagon to be delivered in
Dansville in 1841.
Butter, cheese and lumber were the products which the early settler next sought to market. Ruinous cost of transportation
over long woods roads, and up and down steep hills, rendered it impossible to realize a profit. At one time Baltimore,
now so far away, seemed destined always to remain the great market for this section. Reached easily by water communication
from Arkport down the Canisteo, Chemung and Susquehanna rivers, it received the grain. the lumber and other products
of a great country which now never communicates directly with that city. The Allegany waters, reached from Cuba
and Olean, furnished a means of communication. with Pittsburgh. A map of the "Church Tract" made in 1804
says that "Produce can be transported from within 16 miles of the Tract, down the Susquehanna in Arks to Baltimore
at two shillings per bushel." It was not till 1840, when Dansville became the lumber market for this region
and there was a prospect of the construction of the Erie railroad, that immigrants were especially attracted to
Wellsville. Settlement on the Morris Reserve, except on the Church Tract, was never pushed as the Holland Company
and Pulteney estate "hustled" matters west and east of middle Allegany. No land owners ever systematically
"boomed" Wellsville. Its natural situation as the outlet for the rich lumber and farming country to the
south and the topography of its surroundings rendered its growth steady and sure despite the slow progress of its
settlement. In 1830 a dozen Allegany towns surpassed Wellsville in population. Since the completion of the Erie
railroad however it has always remained the shipping point for great quantities of produce, and therein lies the
secret of its business life. As late as 1830 Wellsville village, was so isolated that primitive corn mills were
still in use. A great contrast to its present easy means of communication! Job Straite had a corn cracker at his
cabin, made by cutting down a large maple and using the stump for a bowl. Corn was ground in this novel mill by
raising and dropping in the bowl the heavy pestle which had been constructed from a section of the tree.
The life of the pioneer was invariably one of privation. In 1829 Bartholomew Coats, the father of our townsman
Ambrose G. Coats, came from Independence to Wellsville and located at Riverside on the Church Tract. He reached
here guided only by a blazed track through the forest. An ox team hitched to a wood sled (constructed like a stone
boat) brought along a few necessities. His experience was similar to that of the other hardy pioneers. Those who
came from '29 to '40, perhaps one might say to '50. laid the foundation on which present Wellsville so firmly stands.
They had not come for rest or leisure;
They had not come for ease and pleasure,
They came to struggle and to toil,
To battle with the giant trees that occupied the soil.
They came to build a town. Gardiner and Robert Wells, Reuben Kent, Daniel Tuttle, Harmon VanBuren, Silas Hills,
Nelson and Cornelius Seeley, Dr. George B. Jones. James Fosbury, Chas. Rowley, Justus Brimmer, and Joseph Crowner
settled here between 1827 and 1832. The year Gardiner Wells came is not known. It was sometime previous to 1830,
and certainly not before 1826. It was for him that the village was named. In June, 1829, John Cline walked with
his father from Bath by way of Towlesville, Hornellsville, Almond and Andover to Hallsport, in Independence. He
still retains (1895) a remarkable recollection of the journey. A promising section of land was selected, and in
the fall, with oxen and cart, tools were brought from Bath, a small place cieared and a cabin built. Mother and
sister came in the next March "There was not much at Wellsville then," said Mr. Cline. In fact it really
had no existence as a village. The Straite's clearing on the fiat was the largest anywhere about. A spot opposite
the Roman Catholic Cemetery looked to have been cleared for years. There were ruins of a mill on the Adams property
(now Rixford place) that had long ago been run out. There may have been two, perhaps three houses on Main street,
but my recollection is dim. One was Gardiner Wells' I am sure. W. D. Spicer was Wellsville's first fiddler, wire
walker and play actor."
Prices in '32, the First Store, etc. - 1832 was the year of village beginnings. The first tavern, the first school
house, the first saw and grist mill and the first store were opened in that year. In the early spring Silas Hills
came from Swanzey, N. H., where he had been a storekeeper and carpenter. He drove across country and brought, in
a two horse wagon, a small stock of merchandise and groceries. The goods were exposed for sale in the Van Buren
tavern. The old account book, well preserved and in a legible and careful handwriting. is the property of Chauncey
Hills, youngest son of the pioneer. It is the oldest written record of the village and verifies many disputed dates
and facts. The first item, dated May 12, 1832, is: "Thomas Straight Dr. to 1/2 lb. Tobacco .13; 1 qr. Tea,
Y. H. .31. Cr. by Potatoes, 1 1/2 bu., .38." May 14th Anthony Seeley is credited 20 cents for 2 pounds of
butter. May 16th Stephen Palmer is credited "by mill irons $5 00 No other mention of either grist or sawmill
is made until November, 1832. when Silas Hills is credited, "to cash paid for whiskey to raise grist mill
$0.75." Nothing is said of the construction of the sawmill, but Feb. 8, 1833, appears "John Foster Dr.
to 211 ft. boards," and Feb. 10, "Shubel Spicer Dr. to sawing 7,931 ft. boards at 150 cents a thousand."
The first mention of the work of the grist mill is a charge, Feb. 18, 1832, "Gardiner Wells Dr. to 68 1/2
lbs. Flower $2.06." The same day Harmon VanBuren bought 331 pounds flour for $1.00 and Stephen Palmer is charged
with "Corn Tool." Judging from the accounts the mill did considerable toll grinding. The sawmill charges
were $1.50 a thousand feet for sawing pine and $2.00 for cherry. These are the only lumbers mentioned in the account
book. Clear stuff soft pine was sold for $3.00 a thousand at the mill. Lumber as good is now worth $50. Common
labor brought 50 cents a day and skilled carpenter work $1. Calico was worth from 20 to 30 cents a yard. Tea sold
for more than a dollar a pound, sheeting 14 cents a yard, and other articles at proportionate prices. Butter was
cheap, so was whiskey. Judged from a modern economical standpoint, however, the times were "mighty hard."
One of the few wagons in the community was that of Silas Hills, who had brought it from New Hampshire. It was rented
for 25 cents a day. Meals were charged at 19 cents each. In 1839 Bartholomew Coats boarded railroad graders at
14 shillings a week and paid $16 a barrel for flour. There is an item against Alfred Johnson for 2 glasses of whiskey
at 3 cents a glass. A cotton handkerchief was purchased, June 28, 1832, by Peter Wells for 25 cents. Such a rag
can he purchased now "six for a quarter." Such were the "good old days." Good for hardship,
incessant labor and disappointment. It is always so with early settlers. They build for the next generation. Do
we citizens of today sufficiently appreciate their work and honor their memories? Read between the lines of the
following items. They tell much of the social and business customs of early Wellsville.
"Seeley Paid for work on mill In cash 25 cents. In whiskey 56 cents. Sept, 1832, Josiah Hackett Cr. by 1 deer
skin 22 cents. Oct. 16, Newman Morse Dr. to 3 oz. Indigo $.56. Oct. 13, Huldah Hall Dr. to 4 yds. calico $1.13.
Oct. 13, Chester Bristoll Dr. to 1 par Nitten Needles 6 cents. Nov. 1, Stephen Palmer Dr. to x qt. molases drank
raising .75. Nov. 9, Josiah Hackett Cr. 1 deer skin .38. Nov. 9, Stephen Palmer Dr. to 1 paper of pins .13. Nov.
15, Hiram Rogers Dr. to 2 3/4 yds. sattennett $2.75, 1 Bac comb .38 1 par side combs .10. Nov. 19, John McFarlen
Dr. to 1 Hat $4.00, Cr. by 1 par shoes $1.75. Nov. 19, Joseph Crowner Dr. to x Tea Pot Block Tin $1.50. Nov. 21,
William Foster Dr. to x spelling book .19. Nov. 21, George W. Littlefield Cr. to 3 fowls .38. Jan. 3, i833, Joseph
Crowner Dr. to x Spool Thread .13. Sept 18, 1833, Ansel Forbes Dr. to 1 bu. of wheat $1.00, 7 lbs. mutton .28.
Nov., 1833, Asa Foster Cr. by Venison 33 lbs. at 3 cents a pound $1.14. March 7, 1835, Dr. Geo. B. Jones Dr. to
making cupboard for post office $2.00.
After September, 1835, no charges for groceries or dry goods appear. Sept. 17, 1835, Dan'l Tuttle is charged with
lumber for Perry's store, 270 feet, $1.20." Probably when Norman Perry opened a store, erected for him on
Main St. near the site of the Simmons Opera House Pills rave up his store. We find that he conducted the mills
until Ephraim Smith's arrival in 1837. Then he did the work of a carpenter. his natural occupation. The first frame
house in the village was built by Gardiner Wells in the fall of 1833. Sept. 15th, Hills charged Wells with carpenter
work on the new house. Oct. 28, 1833, VanBuren is charged $6 for making doors and casings In 1835 several items
appear against Stephen Taylor for carpenter work. Oct. 6, 1835, Silas Hills moved into the Taylor house, (still
standing, the oldest structure in Wellsville). Dec. 1, 1835, a day's carpenter work on the "school house"
is charged, a few days later this item is entered, Dr. Geo. B. Jones Dr. to 1 day's work on old school house $1.00."
Tradition has it that the second school house (frame), on the corner of Mill and Broad streets, was not erected
till 1837. It would seem however that a new house must have been commenced in 1835. Two acres of the most valuable
land in the village, and a interest in the Kent and Wells mills, were sold in 1833 for $282. The deed is now in
the possession of Rev. Henry L. Jones. It conveys from R. C. Kent to Dan'l Tuttle all that rectangle of land fronting
along Main street from Mill to the Baldwin block and extending to the river. The mill privilege was then doubtless
more valuable than the real estate. The VanBuren lot, corner of Mill and Main, was sold by Gardiner Wells to Harmon
VanBuren in 1830 for $12. An acre of land, the site of the Howell House, was offered to Samuel Hills by Wells,
if Hills would clear and fence it. The offer was not accepted.
Relative to the naming of Wellsville tradition is disappointing. It was only after much enquiry and careful research
that the least bit of definite information has been discovered. Mrs. Harriet Hills, widow of Samuel Hills, who
came here in Atoril, 1832, gave the writer these facts: After building the mills at the foot of present Mill street,
Wells, Kent, Hills, VanBuren and others agreed that the settlement should be named. So in the fall of 1832, on
a rainy, dismal night, Silas Hills, Samuel Hills, Robert Wells, Reuben Kent, Daniel Tuttle, Asa Foster, Harmon
VanBuren, Anthony Seeley, and perhaps others, met informally at the log schoolhouse. Gardiner Wells, the largest
landowner, was not present. Quite naturally it was decided to call the place "Wells" or "Wellsville"
after him. How interesting to know now the pros and cons of that night's discussion in which some doubtless maintained
that the backward village needed no name for it would never amount to anything. Croakers are always present. One
man, it may have been Kent, or Hills, affirmed that the location was a fine one and the settlement would thrive
despite every disadvantage. In 1835, when the postoffice was established, the name became formally and officially
Wellsville. Notwithstanding the strenous efforts made in the early seventies to change the name to "Genesee,"
the town, village, railroad station and postoffice came to be each and all WELLSVILLE. Our community could bear
no better name. Gardiner Wells was one of the first settlers, the very earliest of those representative pioneers
who really founded Wellsville. He owned all of lot 3, on which the business portion of our village is situated,
and in every way was interested in all the business beginnings. His log house, built previous to 1830, was the
first structure on Main street. It stood on the south side of the road, about 20 rods east of State street. James
Fosbury's, on the opposite side, was also built at an early date. The title to the greater portion of lot 3, later
the most valuable real estate in the county, passed from Gardiner Wells to E. A. and Ithamer Smith. Wells sold
the land "for a song," moved away, and died, it is said, a poor man.
The First Tavern and First Schoolhouse. - In 1830, Harmon VanBuren, a relative of President VanBuren, came "in
great style." "Uncle Bart" Coats used to say: "Come with a coach, leave with a wheelbarrow."
The VanBurens however came to stay and to prosper. The fact that their advent was by horse and wagon, and not on
foot or by oxteam, was then a proof of luxury.
Harmon VanBuren kept our first tavern in a log cabin on the site of the kitchen of the present Fassett House. Situated
on the Pennsylvania road, so many travelers asked for lodging, that, in 1832, the house was opened to the public.
It was constructed from trees, trimmed and cut into lengths. These were rolled up and notched together at the corners.
Openings were left for front and rear doors and windows. Poles were laid across the top of the walls to support
the chamber floor, a ridgepole and rafters were put up, and the roof was made of broad bark strips, held in place
by poles fastened at the ends with slender strips of green bark. An opening left in the chamber floor for a rude
ladder afforded communication with the loft. A door was constructed, and, for a time, old newspapers, saturated
with grease, served for window glass. The openings between the logs were chinked" with wood, held in place
by a thick mortar of mud. The house furnishings were economical and simple. For chairs blocks were sawed from a
log. For bedsteads poles were fastened in the logs at one end of the loft, about 18 inches from the floor. The
other ends were supported by blocks. The fireplace was a huge affair built of stone. The chimney was very large,
constructed below of stone and above of sticks plastered with mud. When this small house, about 25 by 20 feet in
size, was crowded with guests, the ladies of the family slept on the ground floor in front of the fire. They could
see through the chimney the tops of the tall pines outlined against the sky and moving to and fro in the breeze.
A "leant" was attached to the house and used as a barroom, courthouse, town hall and general loafing
place. Attorneys pleaded causes there before a promiscuous audience seated on blocks. stools and whiskey barrels.
The annual town meeting of old Scio was first held at Wellsville in 1832 at the VanBuren tavern. Settlers from
near and far, up and down the river, were present.
During the day a "raising bee" erected a log schoolhouse on the northwest corner of State and Main streets,
the present site of the McEwen manufactory. This house was used only five years and its very existence is dim in
the memory of the old residents. A striking feature of its architecture was the immense fireplace. There was a
stone wall at the back, in which was inserted one end of a large curved stick, at each side of the fireplace, five
or six feet from the floor. The other ends of the sticks rested against a beam that supported the chamber floor,
where another timber was placed crosswise for the front of the chimney, which was built on the wall and these three
timbers. The hearth was of clay. In this primitive schoolhouse, with its rough furnishings of hewn timber, Miss
Hulda Hall was the first teacher. Miss Hall it is said "showed neither fear or favor in teaching and in enforcing
good manners and instructing her pupils in the "three R's." The schoolhouse was the first public place
of worship. Previous to its erection, religious exercises were held in the houses of the settlers. The Methodist
society was organized in 1830 with 13 constituent members. Rev. Azel N. Fillmore, the first pastor, preached in
the old log schoolhouse. In 1834 the Baptist church was organized. Regular meetings were held in the old schoolhouse.
Rev. H. H. Whipple was the first pastor. In 1837 a frame schoolhouse was built where Broad street now joins Mill
street. It was destroyed by fire in 1842. In 1844 a schoolhouse was built on the site of the present commodious
brick structure on Main street. E. A. Smith deeded the lot to the school trustees with the provision that it should
always be used for school purposes. These houses were used for religious services until churches were built.