History of Bristol, New York

FROM: HISTORY OF ONTARIO COUNTY
NEW YORK
EDITD BY: GEORGE S. CONOVER
COMPILED BY LEWIS CASS ALDRIDGE
PUBLISHED BY D. MASON & CO., PUBLISHERS
SARACUSE, N. Y., 1893


CHAPTER XXVI.
HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF BRISTOL.

THIS town was formed in January, 1789, and originally included all which is now Bristol and South Bristol, or townships 8 and 9 in the 4th range, as described according to the Phelps and Gorham surveys. In March, 1838, number 8, or South Bristol, was set off and separately organized. On March 23, 1848, a part of Bristol was annexed to Richmond, but on February 25, 1852, the strip was restored. The town derives its name from Bristol in Connecticut, from whence came many of its pioneer settlers.

The settlement of this town began in 1788, at which time several brothers named Gooding came to the region, made an improvement on lot No. 1, in the northeast corner of the town, sowed wheat and planted turnips, and then, with the exception of Elnathan Gooding, all returned east to spend the winter and prepare for an early return in the next spring. Wherefore, the honor of being the pioneer of this town naturally falls to Elnathan Gooding, whose long watch and wait appear to have been somewhat relieved by the presence and company of an Indian lad known as Jack Beary. In 1789 he returned to the town, accompanied with his family and brothers, and made a location in the vicinity of the improvement of the year before. Mr. Gooding was a veteran of the Revolution and a man of much influence in the new formed settlement. He was by trade a blacksmith, and his knowledge of that work made him especially serviceable to the pioneers. He was the first supervisor of the town.

In 1788 George Codding and his family came to the town, also locating in the northeast portion. Pioneer Codding had five Sons in his party, and their coming greatly added to the little community. The boys were John, George, Farmer, Burt and William. Other settlers of the same vicinity, and about the same time or soon afterward, were Capt. Peter Pitts, William Pitts, Calvin Jacobs, John Smith, James Gooding. all of whom are believed to have been permanently located in the town as early as 1792, and some of them in 1789. Seth Simmons was a settler in the town in 1798. Alden Sears settled in 1792. Thomas Hunn opened a school in 1790, and in the same year pioneer Gameliel Wilder had a grist-mill in operation. Three years later, 1793, Stephen Sisson opened a store and kept a public house in the town. Cornelius McCrum is said to have been the first white child born in the town.

In the preceding paragraphs we have named the first pioneers of the town, but great difficulties are encountered in learning the date of each settlement, while an attempt to preserve succession of settlement is wholly useless; wherefore we may only recall the names of pioneers with date and general locality of settlement when ascertainable. Daniel Taylor settled in 1804, on lot 4, and an early dealer of cattle, Faunce Codding, located on lot 5. Marcius Marsh settled on lot 5 in 1796 or '97. Abijah Spencer settled in 1789 on lot 6, and the place was occupied in 1797 by Dr. Thomas Vincent, who formerly lived in Geneva. On the same lot Hezekiah Hills settled in 1797. Burt Codding and John Whitmarsh were settlers on lot 7 in 1791. Ephraim Wilder located in 1793 on lot 14, and remained only one season and then moved to lot 10. He built a mill in the town in 1810, and died in 1826. Theopholis Short settled on lot 11 in 1796, and was the first brickmaker in the town. Eleazer Hill settled on lot 13 in 1794. He organized a militia company in the town in 1812. John Taylor, settled in the town in 1797 on lot 13. Samuel Mallory settled on lot 14 in 1797. In 1794 John Crow located on lot 15. John Trafton settled on the same lot in 1797. Oliver Mitchell settled early on lot 16. Alden Sears's settlement in 1792 was on lot 36. Aaron Wheeler came to the same locality in 1798, and Samuel Torrence in 1800. Aaron Hicks located on lot 37 in 1795. John Simmons settled on lot 38 in 1792. John Kent settled on lot 37 in 1795, and Seth Jones on lot 38 in 1802. The latter is remembered as a tavern-keeper at Baptist Hill as early as 1816 William Francis came to the town in 1800. Solomon Goodale came to the town in 1802, and was a Baptist minister. Luther Phillips settled in Bristol in 1803, and was an early shoemaker. Job Gooding located on lot 39 in 1794, and four years afterward Joshua Reed and Nathaniel Codworth settled on the same lot. Samuel Andrews settled on lot 40 in 1791, and five years later Benjamin Andrews occupied a part of the same lot. Zephaniah Gooding came to Bristol in 1798 and located on lot 41, and in 1800 John Phillips settled on the same lot. Thomas Gooding came in 1802. David Simmons settled on lot 42 in 1797, and in the same year also came Ephraim, Simeon, Benjamin, Raymond and Constance Simmons, all of the same family. Jeremiah Brown located on lot 45 in 1800. Asa James came to lot 47 about 1801. In 1805 Philip Simmons located on lot 50, and Capt. Amos Barber on lot 51 in 1796 or '97.

In the same manner there may be recalled the names of other early settlers in Bristol, among them Nathan Fisher, who located near Baptist Hill about 1795. Abijah Warren settled in 1805. Rufus Whitmarsh came in i8o6. Jonas and Joseph Wilder came a little earlier. James Case came in 1800 and John Case in 1802. James Austin and Eliakim Walker were also early settlers. Daniel Smith was on lot 43 in 1800, and Tisdell Walker on lot 42 in 1802. John Mason located on lot in 1801. Sylvanus Jones and John Crandall were settlers in 1802, and Azer Jackson and Elias Jackson in 1803. George Reed located on lot 52, and Ephraim Jones on lot 53 in 1805.

Such was the pioneer settlement of township No. 9 in the 4th range, which is now and for more than a century has been known as Bristol. Glancing over the names of pioneers there appear very many which are still familiar, and are represented by persons still resident in the county; and cases are not wanting in which some of the descendants of these pioneer heads of families have attained high standing in professional and public life. It is a conceded fact, too, that Bristol has furnished some of the best and strongest men of Ontario county; men who have adorned the medical and legal professions, and others have reached an enviable position in political affairs.

The early settlement of Bristol was indeed rapid, and in fact the town reached its maximum population in 1830. The census of that year gave it 2,952, but in 1838 South Bristol was taken off, hence, in 1840, the number was reduced to 1,953. Since the last mentioned year the number of inhabitants has been steadily reduced, the result of the same causes that have operated to decrease the population in the majority of interior towns in this State, and as well all the Eastern States. In 1850 the population was 1,773; in 1860 was 1,657; in 1870 was 1,551 ; in 1880 was 1,550; and in 1890 was 1,510. From this we discover that half a century witnessed a diminution of Bristol's population by more than 500.

Organization.- The town of Bristol, as has been stated, was formed in 1789, but it seems not to have been fully organized until 1797, the first meeting for that purpose being held on April 4. The justices of the peace- Gameliel Wilder and George Codding presided, and officers were elected as follows: Supervisor, William Gooding; town clerk, John Codding; assessors, Faunce Codding, Nathan Allen and Nathaniel Fisher; commissioners of highways, James Gooding, Jabez Hicks and Moses Porter; constables, Amos Barber, Nathan Allen and Alden Sears, jr.; overseers of the poor, George Codding, jr., and Stephen Sisson; overseers of highways, Eleazer Hills, Peter Ganyard, Theophilus Allen, Elnathan Gooding, John Simmons and Amos Barber; school commissioneis, Aaron Rice, Ephraim Wilder and Nathaniel Fisher; collectors, Amos Barber and Nathan Hatch.

Although Bristol was early populated, its location in the county is such that the building up of large villages or trading centers has been an impossibility, and such as have been and are in existence, are for the accommodation of trade within the town. Mud Creek is the principal water course of the town, having its source in South Bristol, whence it flows north into and across Bristol. Along this stream from the earliest settlement there has been both saw and grist mills in operation, but the latter have outstripped the former in length of standing and usefulness. Mill Creek is a smaller stream, having its headwaters and course in the southwest part of the town, whence its flows into Richmond and discharges into the outlet of Honeoye Lake.

Of the hamlets or centers of trade in Bristol, that commonly called Bristol Center is perhaps the largest and most important, although Baptist Hill; or Bristol, may hold a supremacy in historical recollections. Ephraim Wilder was the pioneer in the Center neighborhood, he having located on lot 14 in 1793, where he built a log house, and afterward a frame dwelling, and kept public house, or tavern; also he started a distillery and otherwise laid the foundation for a village. Abijah Spencer and Major Jones were also early residents of this locality. In Landlord Wilder's hostelry Horace and Allen Hooker opened the first store of the Center, and were followed in the same line by one Bradbury, also George Gooding, the latter likewise keeping a hotel. The pioneer blacksmith was Learned Johnson, while the tanner of the village was Isaac Mason. Abijah Warren also had an early tannery. Other former residents of the Center, all of whom were more or less associated with the early history of the town, were Zenas Briggs, Mr. Pool, Antony Low and one Warrells, the, last mentioned being a cabinetmaker. The public buildings of the Center are the Methodist church and the school-house, while the Congregational church is located outside the village proper and about three-quarters of a mile to the northward.

In the month of August, 1669, La Salle, accompanied by De Casson and Galinee, visited the Senecas. While the negotiations with the Indians were pending the following event is recorded by Galinee. "In order to pass away the time, I went with M. de la Salle, under the escort of two Indians, about four leagues (ten miles) south of the village where we were staying, to see a very extraordinary spring. Issuing from a moderately high rock, it forms a small brook. The water is very clear but it has a bad odor, like that of the mineral marshes of Paris, when the mud on the bottom is stirred with the foot. I applied a torch and the water immediately took fire and burned like brandy, and was not extinguished until it rained. This flame is among the Indians a sign of abundance or fertility according as it exhibits the contrary qualities. There is no appearance of sulphur, saltpetre, or any other combustible material. The water has not even any taste, and I can neither offer nor imagine any better explanation than that it acquires this combustible property by passing over some aluminous land." In 1700 Col. Romer was sent by the Earl of Bellomont, governor of the province of New York, on a journey through the country of the Iroquois. In the instructions given him is the following: "You are to go and view a well or spring which is eight miles beyond the Sinek's furthest Castle, which they have told me blazes up in a flame when a light coale or fire-brand is put into it; you will do well to taste the said water, and give me your opinion thereof, and bring with you some of it." This BURNING SPRING is located at Bristol Center, about eight miles from the foot of Canandaigua Lake, in a direct line south of Boughton Hill. The late N. W. Randall, in giving the writer a description of this spring, said: "The spring is on the south side of a small brook which empties through a ravine into the west side of the Ganargua or Mud Creek. The banks opposite the spring are from eight to twenty feet high, the spring being on a level with the bed of the brook. By applying a match the water appears to burn, and is not easily extinguished, except by a heavy rain or a high wind."

The present business interests of Bristol Center are few, being the stores of Mrs. A. H. Case, who also is postmistress, Frank Simmons and Whitfield Burge; also the grist-mill of Henry Codding. The hamlet contains about thirty dwellings, and has a population of about one hundred and fifty persons.

The hamlet called Baptist Hill, the correct name of which, however, is Bristol, is located in the north part of the township in school district No. 1. This place took the character of a village about 1810, when Mr. Hunt opened a store. Later on he was followed in business by Joel Park, Dr. Jacob Gillett and others. Aaron Van Orman was the first blacksmith, and Luther Phillips the first tavern-keeper. Stephen Sisson built the first frame building here, which was used both for store and tavern. The present hotel-keeper is John Baker, and the merchants are Messrs. Wm. Doyle and Mr. Shelters, both of whom have general stores. Frank Hicks has a harness shop. The public properties of Bristol are the Baptist and Universalist churches, the school of district No. 1, and the cemetery, the latter a burial place of much note.

Muttonville, as originally called, but Vincent of later designation, is, or at least was, a hamlet of some importance half a century ago. The name first mentioned was given the locality about 1845, when a tallowchandlery was built there by Asahel Gooding. It is said that 30,000 sheep were annually slaughtered here, the tallow from which was made into candles; the hind quarters were sold at less than three cents per pound; the skins were tanned by Abijah Warren and Isaac Mason; and the remainder of the slain animals was fed to swine. However, the good old days of Muttonville have passed, Its industries are all gone, and during the spring of 1892 the remnant of the hamlet was nearly all destroyed by fire.

Bristol has been called the town of many churches, there having been no less then seven society organizations in the town since its first settlement. The oldest of these, and in fact one of the oldest in the county, is that known as the First Congregational Church of Bristol, which was organized in January, 1779, although Congregational services were held in the town as early as 1793, conducted by that earnest Christian worker, Rev. Zadoc Hunn; and who was followed by Rev. John Smith. The first members were Isaac Hunn, George and Sarah Codding, Ephraim and Lydia Wilder, Nathaniel and Hannah Fisher, Chauncey and Polly Allen, Marcius and Amerilus Marsh, Wm. and Lydia Gooding, Samuel and Phebe Mallory, Selah Pitts, Mr. Foster, James Gooding, Alden Sears and Thomas Vincent. Rev. Joseph Grover was called to the pastorate, accepting and moving to the town in February, 1800, being the first of a long succession of pastors who have ministered to the spiritual wants of the people of Bristol. Other early pastors and supplies were Revs. Ezekiel Chapman, Aaron C. Collins, A. B. Lawrence, Edwin Bronson, Warren Day, S. C. Brown, Ebenezer Raymond, W. P. Jackson, Mr. Bryson, Mr. Jackson, E. A. Platt, Hiram Harris, E. C. Winchester, Timothy Stowe, H. B. Pierpont and others in succession. In 1823 this church was under the charge of the Ontario presbytery, but in 1844 it withdrew and became Congregational. The first primitive meeting-house of this society is said to have been "the first edifice exclusively for the worship of God in the Genesee country" (Hotchkin.) It was built of logs and stood on lot five. The second edifice was erected in 1813-14, to which subsequent enlargements and repairs have resulted in a substantially new structure. It stands north of Bristol Center, about three-fourths of a mile.

The Baptists, who have for nearly a century been numerically and influentially strong in this town, and also in East Bloomfield, perfected their first church organization as early as 1799, and in 1803 built a meeting-house about one mile north of the hamlet of Bristol, more commonly called Bristol Hill. However, in 1805 the Bristol members of this society, which was known as the "First Baptist Church in Bloomfield," withdrew, and on February 7 organized the "First Baptist Church in Bristol," the latter numbering among its original members forty-two of the leading families of the town. This society built its first church home in 1807, and the second in 1814, both at the hamlet called Baptist Hill. A second Baptist church in Bristol was organized in 1821.

Methodist preaching began in Bristol as early as the year 1800, when Indian missionaries of the church came here and conducted public services for the inhabitants. This kind of service was continued throughout many subsequent years,. and in 1806 there were enough Methodists in the town to form a class, which was reorganized and strengthened in 1815. In 1846 a complete church and society organization was effected, Ephraim and George Gooding, Abner and Alanson Reed, and Ward Tolman being the first trustees. The church property of this society is located at Bristol Center.

The First Universalist Church of Bristol, having its edifice and seat of operations at Bristol Post-office, dates its actual organization back to the year 1837, though its teaching and preaching in the town antedated that time by nearly twenty years. The early ministers of this denomination to labor in this locality were Oliver Ackley, Rev. Morton, W. J. Reese, G. W. Montgomery, and William Queil, the latter being one of the earliest resident ministers. The first church edifice was built in 1836 of cobble stones, and in the year following a society organization was effected, and the complete church organization was delayed until February 2, 1872, the name "First Universalist Church of Bristol" being then adopted. The church edifice was built in 1861.

In this connection mention may also be made of the Christian Church, the organization of which was completed, though meetings were held as early as 1824 The society passed out Of existence about 1850.

Little is known of the early history of the schools of this town, the records extant throwing no valuable light on the subject, and the memory of the oldest inhabitants not running to the time of their establishment. However, it is a well authenticated fact that Thomas- Hunn taught the first school in the town in 1790, and at that time the school history began, and from Hunn's primitive school the present excellent system is grown and developed. Generally referring to the schools of Bristol, it may be said that the town now comprises twelve school districts, each of which has a frame school-house. The total value of schools and sites is $7,275. In the town in 1892 were 354 children of school age, to whom instruction is offered at an annual expense of about $2,271 paid to teachers. The amount of school moneys received in 1892 from all sources was $3,065.

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