TOWN OF BRANT.
Brant is the extreme southwest town in Erie county and is bounded on the north
by Evans, on the east ty North Collins, on the south by Chautauqua county, and on the west by Lake Erie. The total
area of the town is about thirty-two square miles; but from this should be deducted a tract in the southern part
containing about nine square miles which is a part of the Cattaraugus Reservation, and over which town jurisdiction
is nominal. The territory of the town north of the reservation tract is the south part of township 8, range 9 of
the Holland Company’s survey. The surface is generally level, except in the eastern part, where it is somewhat
broken. Big Sister Creek flows northward through the eastern part; Delaware Creek flows northwesterly through the
central part; Muddy Creek follows a similar course in the western part. Cattaraugus Creek forms the southern boundary
for three miles.
The first settler in the territory of Brant was Moses Tucker, who, in 1816, located on the farm now occupied by
Amos Stickney; he was a Quaker. In 1818 John Roberts, John West and Major Campbell settled in the town, and Ansel
Smith and Robert and William Grannis came soon after. In 1819 Reuben Hussey settled near Mr. Tucker. Samuel Butts
moved from Hamburg into this town in 1820 and in 1822 built the first saw mill. This mill was almost the only one
in town, as the streams are sluggish, supplying little power; S. M. Butts now occupies the old homestead. In 1825
Joseph Hubbard opened the first tavern, east of the Center. Milton Morse built the first store at the Center in
1835, and the place was known for quite a period as Morse’s Corners; he was also the first postmaster, the office
being opened after the formation of the town. Jonathan Hascall, jr., who was supervisor of Evans before Brant was
set off, and supervisor of Brant fourteen years, was a prominent citizen many years. Nathaniel K. Smith settled
in the town in 1835, and was father of seven sons. By 1850 the town was quite well occupied by a prosperous class
of farmers. The principal products of the town are produce for canning factories and the Buffalo market, and considerable
cheese is made.
In February, 1852, the Buffalo and State Line Railroad (now part of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern) was completed
across the town. It was of great benefit to the community and led to the founding of Farnham village. A second
railroad was completed through the town in 1882, but it had no marked influence.
Brant Center— This is a pleasant
village situated near the center of the town, but the active business of past years has much of it been transferred
to Farnham, through the influence of the railroad. John Winters was a former merchant and was succeeded by Abram
Diamond and he by George W. Koehier. Richard Sherman and Horatio P. Muffitt were still earlier merchants. J. H.
McIntyre carried on business in a store which was burned. Alson S. Tracy was another former merchant. George Lehley
started a wagonmaking business in 1877, and later went into hardware business. John Trapp was an early blacksmith.
A hotel was formerly kept by John L. Flint, who was succeeded by Julius Lehley, and he by Sylvester Haberer, who
was burned out and-on the site a store was built by A. S. Tracy, who was succeeded by Peter Krebs; he converted
the building into a hotel, and was succeeded by Horace Swetland. Another hotel was built by Julius Lehley. The
Erie Preserving Company has a canning factory near the village, where a large business has been done for many years.
A former vinegar factory and fruit dryer, conducted by Darius Odell, was discontinued. Lewis Flint established
a cider mill and wine press in 1896, and Abram Diamond has a cider mill. In the village at the present time are
3 general stores; the canning factory, a hardware store, 2 saw and feed mills, 2 hotels, 2 cider mills, a cheese
factory and several shops.
Farnham.— This village is situated
in the western part of the town on the Lake Shore Railroad. Leroy Farnham was the first merchant there and was
followed by Charles F. Goodman, W. W. Hammond (later county judge of Erie county), and Henry Slender. The second
store was built in 1880 by George H. Walker. The first hotel was built in 1869 by Pius Schwert, and later passed
to Frederick Paul. The second hotel was built in 1880 and has had different proprietors. The Erie Preserving Company
has a large and very successful canning factory there, which was built in 1876. Henry C. Kuenze has been in the
shoemaking business since 1883. The village now has 2 general stores, 1 hardware store, 1 shoe store, 3 hotels,
and the canning factory.
The Sprague corn sheller manufactory was of considerable importance, and was established to manufacture a machine
under patents of Welcome Sprague, for taking green corn from the cob. Mr. Sprague began the business which afterwards
passed to C. Clements and Daniel G. French. The buildings were burned in the spring of 1896 and not rebuilt, the
machine being made elsewhere.
There is a prosperous graded school in the village, the building for which was erected in 1892. The school has
two departments and two teachers. The old school building is now a dwelling.
Farnham village was incorporated January 11, the first officers being: A. H. Lytle, president; Henry C. Kuenze,
Daniel Greaney and George Blend, trustees; John C. McIntyre succeeded Mr. Lytle as president. The boundaries of
the village include one square mile.
During the past few years many Italians settled in this town, primarily as laborers for the Erie Preserving Company.
Of these a good many have bought small farms and are making fair progress. Their number is constantly increasing.
This is the only town in the county where a similar rural condition exists.
A Methodist class was formed at Brant Center about 1841, and not long after aided in completing a house of worship
which had been commenced by the Baptists. The Methodists have no settled pastor. The Baptist society was organized
a little earlier and began the church alluded to in 1838; after its completion it was used alternately for a time
by the two congregations, after which the Methodists built their. own church.
St. Cross church (Evangelical Lutheran) at Farnham was organized in 1864. In 1870 a number of the members became
dissatisfied and withdrew to organize a second congregation. The old one continued and in 1882 built a house of
worship. The new organization was called the Second Evangelical Lutheran church and a small edifice was soon erected.
Both are still in existence.
The town of Brant was formed from Evans and Collins on the 25th of March, 1839. The first town meeting was held
at the house of Ansel Smith April 16, 1839, and the following officers elected:
Jonathan Hascall, jr., supervisor; Moses White, town clerk; Asa Wetherbee and John B. Steadwell, assessors; Patterson
Kerr, collector; Reuben Fisk and Francis Pierce, commissioners of schools; Webster Balcom, overseer of the poor;
A. D. Winslow and Lewis Varney, inspectors of schools; Patterson Kerr, William Stetson, Stubel Cross and B. Carpenter,
constables; Kester Tracy, Salmon Hawley and Harrison Maybee, justices of the peace.
The supervisors of Brant, with their years of service have been as follows:
Jonathan Hascall, jr., 1839—44; Job Southwick, 1845; Jonathan Hascall, jr., 1846—47; Horace Goodrich, 1848; Jonathan
Hascall, jr.. 1849—52; Kester Tracey, 1853; Nathaniel Smith, 1854; Jonathan Hascall, jr., 1855—56; David Gail,
1857; Nathaniel Smith, 1858—59; Thomas Judson, 1860—62; Nathaniel Smith, 1863—65; William W. Hammond, 1866-67;
D. H. Odell, 1868—69; William W. Hammond, 1870—73; Horatio P. Muffitt, 1874; William W. Hammond, 1875—77; W. H.
Estes, 1878; John Wetherbee, 1879—83; Harrison B. Christy, 1884—85; James H. McIntyre, 1886—87; Benjamin Judson,
1888—89; George Lehley, 1890—97.