TOWN OF CATO.
CATO lies upon the east border, north of the center of the County, and is bounded
on the north by Ira, on the east by Onondaga county, on the west by Conquest, and on the south by Seneca River.
It is the south-east quarter of the military township of Cato, (which comprised 143 lots of 600 acres each,) and
was formed from Aurelius March 30th, 1802. At that time it comprised all that part of the County lying north of
the river. Sterling was taken off June 19th 1812; and Conquest, Ira and Victory, March 16th 1821. The south-east
corner lot of Ira was annexed in 1824, to compensate for the waste lands in Cato.
The surface is level in the south and gently rolling in the north, where the ridges, which extend north and south,
rise about fifty feet above the valleys, and 150 to 200 feet above Lake Ontario. Cross Lake, upon the east border,
is a shallow body of water, with low shores, about five miles long, through which Seneca River runs. Otter Lake
is a shallow basin, with low, marshy shores, situated north of the center of the town. It is one and one-half miles
long and three-fourths of a mile at its widest point. Parker's Pond, in the north-west part, is a rounded, shallow
basin, about half a mile in diameter. It is gradually filling up each year. Its waters were lowered several feet
when the improvements at Jack's Reefs were made in 1854-7. It is connected with Otter Lake, which empties into
it, by Drew Creek, which is about half a mile long, and named from Darwin Drew, through whose farm it runs. The
Pond is named from Daniel Parker, an early settler in the town of Ira, and was locally known at an early day as
"Parker's pork barrel," because of the abundance of its fish. It empties into Muskrat Creek, a sluggish
stream, having a fall of only seven and a half feet in its course south through the central part of the town to
Seneca River. All its waters are well stocked with fish.
In 1872, Hon. Ira D. Brown, then a Member of Assembly, secured an appropriation of $5,000 to prosecute a boring
for salt. A spot in the south edge of this town was selected, and a boring over 6oo feet deep made the following
year. A brine was obtained, which, according to an analysis made by Prof. J. J. Brown, of Syracuse University,
exceeded in strength any obtained at Syracuse, but containing a greater percentage of impurities. Further work
was prevented by the exhaustion of the appropriation.
The soil is a very productive alluvion, exceedingly fertile, and admirably adapted to all kinds of crops. This
is one of the best agricultural towns in the County; but those who subdued its dense forests and drained its extensive
marshes, filled with the decayed product of successive growths of vegetation, made terrible sacrifices in health
to the noxious miasm arising therefrom. The malarial diseases then so prevalent in this locality caused many to
abandon their improvements after a few years' settlement, and seek restoration to health in more favored localities,
thus tending to retard somewhat the settlement of the town. These difficulties have, however, gradually disappeared,
and, until the last two summers, have not been experienced for many years.
The Southern Central Railroad enters the town near the center of the south border and leaves it in the north-west
part; and by its connection with the New York Central Railroad and Erie Canal at Weedsport and the Lake Ontario
Shore Railroad at Sterling, opens up very accessible markets for its valuable pomonic and varied agricultural products.
The river is spanned within the limits of the town by three bridges, two of wood and one of iron. The latter, in
the south-east corner, connects Cato and Elbridge, and was built in 1868, at a cost of about $25,000, toward which
Cayuga and Onondaga counties each contributed $5,000, the remainder being paid in equal shares by the towns of
Cato and Elbridge. It replaced a wooden bridge owned by the Cato and Jordan Plank Road Company, and abandoned by
them in 1866. The wooden bridge in the south-west part was supported by the Plank Road Company, incorporated in
1848. Their charter having expired, the bridge became the property of the town.
The first settlement was made in 1800, by Samson Lawrence, who located on lot 32, on the farm latterly owned by
Asa Crossman. Andrew Stockwell, from Whitehall, N. Y., also settled in 1800, about a mile and a half south-east
of Meridian, on the farm now owned by Charles Bloomfield. His marriage with Sybil Root, June 4th, 1804, was the
first in the town ; and their daughter Alvira, (who, in company with her mother, met with a tragic death about
1840, both being burned in the house of Chauncey Stockwell, a brother and son,) who was born May 4th, 1805, was
the first white child born in that portion of Cayuga County lying north of Seneca River. His daughter Rebecca,
who is living at Meridian, is the only survivor of the family.
In 1802, Joshua Chappell came with his wife, in company with John Watson, from Marcellus, and settled a half mile
west of Cato village.
In May, 1803, settlements were made by Solomon Knapp, who located on lot 100, at Meacham's Corners, on the farm
now occupied by William Cook, and by Alanson Sheldon on the same farm.
George Loveless and Abel Pasko settled in the south part of Meridian, in 1804. Solomon, a son of the former, is
living about two miles south of that village, and Deacon Milton Pasko, a son of the latter, is living between Meridian
Elihu Peck came from Pompey, in 1804, and settled on the farm now owned by Edgar Drew. His father, Captain Enoch
Peck and his brother, Peter, also from Pompey, came in soon after. Enoch settled where Wm. Cook's house now stands,
at Meacham's Corners. Peter, who was a bachelor and lived with his parents, took up a tract now owned by Isaac
R. Merritt, in Ira. The Pecks sold to Joel Northrup, from Conn., and removed to Camillus, where their descendants
are living. Northrup was wealthy and bought a large tract of land, covering a mile or more in extent. He brought
in the first wagon in the town. He was a bachelor when he came, but married soon after to Clarissa Dudley, sister
of Elder Ira Dudley, by whom he had three children. Northrup remained here till his death, about 1814.
Settlements were made in 1805, by Platt Titus, from Onondaga county, at Cato, where he was the first settler and
felled the first tree; by Jesse Elwell and Abner Hollister, at Meridian; and by families named Cerow and Abrams,
the former four and a half miles south of Meridian, and the latter, on the river, at the middle bridge, where,
that year and for a good many years thereafter, he kept a ferry. Titus remained only two or three years, when he
removed to the Taber farm one-half mile north of Meridian, in Ira, where he remained till 1833, when he removed
to Hannibal, where he died in April, 1862. Elwell settled where the Meridian House now stands, and where he built,
and kept till his death during the epidemic of 1811, the first tavern, which was built of logs and covered with
bark. He had a large family, all of whom are gone. His daughter Polly was the wife of Abner Hollister, who settled
in the south part of Meridian, where Marcus Drew now lives. Hollister bought of A. C. Rice, of Onondaga county,
for a nominal sum, a tract of about three hundred acres, known as "possession land," to which the title
was for a long time in doubt. Hollister soon after went south, where he spent several years as overseer on a plantation
and acquired considerable wealth. On his return he removed to Cato, where he built the first frame house about
1810, which now forms a part of the Railroad House in that village. Stephen Olcott settled on the farm now owned
by Carter Hickok, as early as 1805, in which year he died, his death being the first in the town.
In 1807, Stephen Dudley, from Vermont, came with his family, consisting of seven sons and five daughters, and settled
in the north-east part, on the farm now owned by his grandson J. Y. Dudley, son of Sardis Dudley, the latter of
whom died on the old homestead in January, 1876. Stephen took up a State's hundred, of which he let his son Sardis
have fifty, and to which both subsequently added. He died in 1827, at Hannibal, to which town he removed in 1824
or '25. Three sons and one daughter survive him, viz: Lyman; James ; Ira, living at Meridian, who at present and
for the past year has supplied the pulpit of the Baptist Church at Port Byron; and Rebecca, widow of Abner Loomis.
Solomon Woodworth settled in this or some previous year, on the river, and kept for several years the ferry where
the iron bridge now is. He was a captain and did service in the war of 1812. A man named Follett kept the ferry
at the upper bridge at an early day. His descendants live on the farm on which he settled.,
Dr. John Jakway came in- about 1809, from Vermont, where he was a confrere of Ethan Allen, of whose singularly
rugged energy he largely partook. About 1812 he bought the improvements of Abner Hollistér, at Cato,.to
which place he gave the name of Jakway's Corners, by which it was known for many years. He was the first permanent
settler at that village. He was preceded by some squatters, among whom were John West and Barber Allen, whose improvements
he also bought.
Jakway was a bachelor and a confirmed infidel, and a man of generous impulses and marked idiosyncrasies.
Johnson Hall came in from Conway, N. H., about 1810, and settled at Meridian, where he died about 1840.
After the war, in 1815, the settlements were more rapid and important. Among those who came in that year were Wm.
Ingham, Parsons P. Meacham and Michael Ogilsbie. Ingham was originally from Massachusetts, (but immediately from
Skaneateles,) whence he came as land agent for Elisha Williams of Hudson, Columbia county, who owned large tracts
of military lands in this and Onondaga counties. This connection with Williams, which continued till the latter's
death, and his subsidiary mercantile business, brought him into intimate relations with the early settlers, and
his sterling integrity left its indelible impress on the character of the persons who settled here. On coming here
he opened a store at Meridian, on the site of Webster's store, on the corner of Main and Oswego streets, now belonging
to the Morley estate. His son, Wrn. Smith Ingham, succeeded him in the mercantile business in 1831. Two grandchildren,
sons of the latter, are living, viz.: Edgar I., who is connected with a mercantile agency in Indiana, and Albert
C., who was for several years connected with the State Department of Agriculture of Wisconsin and prepared several
volumes emanating therefrom, and who is now living in Meridian, of which village he is the president. Meacham was
also from Mass., and came in July, 1815. He is now living, aged eighty-three years, about a mile east of Meridian
at what is known as Meacham's Corners. He joined the Baptist Church in Meridian in 1831, since which time he has
acted as its clerk. Ogilsbie came in from New Jersey and settled where he now lives, about four and a half miles
south-east of Meridian, opposite to where Samson Lawrence, the first settler, located. Eleazer Squires and a family
named Spinning, both from New Jersey, settled about this year, (1815,) about a mile north of the iron bridge.
OFFICERS. -- The first town officers were elected at a meeting held at the house of Israel Wolverton, March 1st,
1803, as follows: John C. Barnes, Supervisor; Alanson Sheldon, Clerk; Israel Wolverton, Archibald Green and Gilbert
Jefferies, Assessors; Samuel Martin and Jacob Wiltsie, Overseers of the Poor; Ephraim Wetherell, Daniel Parker
and Moses Farrand, Commissioners of Highways; James Perkins, Zadock Barnes and Gilbert Perkins, Pound Keepers;
William Patterson and Samson Lawrence, Fence Viewers; Theophilus Emerson, Constable; Edward Wood, Constable and
The town officers elected in 1879 are: -David E. Hunter, Supervisor; Chauncey Olmsted, Town Clerk; Charles Cowell,
Justice of the Peace; Daniel Sleight, Assessor; Jas. L. Roades, commissioner of Highways; Chauncey Olmsted and
Leonard Mills, Overseers of the Poor; Eugene Deforest and I. W. Dudley, Inspectors of Election; David M. Mills,
Collector; William S. Pearson, Theron C. Dudley, William H. Lockwood, George W. Woolford and George Cool, Constables;
Charles Robinson, Game Constable.
The population of the town in 1875 was 2,095; of whom 1,900 were native; 195, foreign ; 2,090, white; and 5, colored.
The area is 20,488 acres; of which 15,854, were improved; 3,797, woodland; and 837, unimproved.
Meridian is situated near the north line and is two miles east of Cato on the
S. C. R. R., and eight miles north of Weedsport. It is a quiet, attractive and thrifty village of some 700 inhabitants,
with nicely shaded streets and good walks. It was originally known as Cato Four corners. The name was changed in
1849. It was incorporated October 17th, 1854, and the first election was held November gth of that year, at the
Eagle House, when William Smith Ingham, Jonathan Hoyt, Edwin E. Dudley, Chauncey Olmsted and William H. Coppernoll,
were elected Trustees; James Hickok, M. D. Drew and Israel Phelps, Assessors; Victor M. Wheeler, Clerk; Charles
Rockwell, Treasurer; and Elms Tator, Collector. A new charter was obtained March 11th 1876, under which M. D. Drew
was elected President; Abel West and John Seymour, Trustees for two years ; Daniel M. Wilson, Trustee for one year;
Cornelius Van Liew, Treasurer; and Albert G. Wheeler, Collector. Albert C. Ingham, the present president, was elected
in 1877, and reelected in 1878. The others officers are, (1878): J. Sprague Morley, Oakley S. Dudley and Daniel
M. Wilson, Trustees and Assessors ; Isaac R. Merritt, Treasurer; and James Hickok, Collector.
Meridian contains two churches, (Baptist and Presbyterian,) a district school, two hotels, two general stores,
two groceries, a hardware store and tin shop, two furniture and undertaking establishments, in one of which drugs
and books are kept, one millinery store, (Mrs. Vinal,) two shoe stores, one shoe shop, kept by James Wyatt, a foundry
and machine shop,a tannery and saw, shingle and stave mill combined, a job printing office, of which J. Sprague
Morley, the village lawyer, is proprietor, three blacksmith shops, kept by P. H. Smith. Jacob Cramer and Putvin
& March, the latter of whom have also a carriage shop, kept by S. M. Chittenden, two harness shops, kept by
Horace Wilson and G. D. Gillett, and a store in which groceries and notions are kept by C. M. Hungerford.
The first settlement at Meridian was made about 1804, in which year George Loveless and Abel Pasko located in the
south part. The following year Jesse Elwell and Abner Hollister settled - in the village. Settlement progressed
slowly till 1815, in which year William Ingham opened his store. After this and the removal of the obstacles to
migration incident to the war of 1812, an industrious and thrifty class of people from the New England States and
the eastern counties of this State were attracted here in considerable numbers by the great fertility of the soil
in this locality. This influx created a demand for merchants and mechanics, and soon the nucleus of a village was
established. In 1831, William Smith Ingham succeeded his father in the mercantile business and projected the establishment
on a much larger scale. This store of Ingham's gave the first great impetus to the growth of Meridian. It was followed
by the establishment of a saw-mill and the greatest activity in building enterprises it has ever experienced was
then manifest. Its subsequent growth is largely attributable to the character of the men who have been engaged
in business here, and the additions it has received from among the successful farmers of the locality, who in advanced
life have exchanged the active duties of the farm for the social and other advantages of a quiet, orderly village.
Its growth in the last ten years has been somewhat remarkable.
MERCHANTS.- Daniel M. Bristol, from Manlius, was the first merchant, not only in Meridian, but in the town of Cato.
He opened a store in 1806 and kept it till 1808, when he failed and removed to the western part of the State. His
store, which was a log structure, stood about where Abel West's store now stands. Samuel Woodford, from Manlius,
was the second merchant. He opened a store about 1808, first occupying Bristol's store, and afterwards removing
to the locality of Webster's store. In 1811, Woodford built the first grist-mill in the town, on the outlet of
Otter Lake. William Ingham, as previously stated, opened a store in 1815, and kept it till 1831, when he was succeeded
by his son, William Smith Ingham, who was the first prominent merchant in Meridian. The latter continued business
till his failure, in 1857. He was associated during this time with James Hickok from 1836-'41, with D. E. Havens
from 1839-'45, with David Emerick, his son-in-law, from 1845-'52, in which latter year the two admitted Chester
Morley to partnership, and the business was conducted by them till their failure in 1857, under the firm name of
Ingham, Emerick & Morley. In 1841, James Hickok, after dissolving his partnership with Mr. Ingham, formed a
partnership with his brother, C. B. Hickok, under the firm name of J. & C. B. Hickok, and opened a general
stock of goods. In 1848 he bought his brother's interest, and in 1865 changed his business to that of undertaker
and dealer in furniture, books and drugs, which he still continues. James Hickok came into the town from Sterling
in 1832, and was a clerk with Mr. Ingham till he entered into partnership with him. Madison E. Hollister did a
mercantile business here from 1831-'33. The next merchant was a Mr. Huggins, from Madison county, who brought his
goods in with him in 1836, and in 1837 sold to Abel West, who has since done business here. Mr. West was associated
three years with William A. VanDorn. In April, 1876, Mr. West admitted his son, Adelbert M. West, to partnership,
and the business is now conducted by Abel West & Son.
The other merchants now doing business in Meridian are C. Van Liew, dealer in groceries and hardware, who came
in from Lysander in 1862; A. G. Wheeler, dealer in boots and shoes, a native of Washington county, who came from
Utica in the spring of 1845, and commenced his present business in April, 1864; Jas. Tackney, dealer in boots and
shoes, who came in 1865, on being discharged from the army, having previous to his enlistment lived in Syracuse,
and who was associated as partner from 1868 to 1877 with John Seymour; Delevan L. Spoor, hardware dealer, who came
in from Earlville in the spring of 1874; and J. E. Phippens, grocer, from Jordan, and T. J. Webster, general merchant,
from Auburn, both of whom came in 1877.
POSTMASTERS.- The first postmaster at Meridian was Wm. Ingbam, who was appointed in 1819, and held the office continuously
till 1831, in which year he resigned. He was succeeded by his- son, Wni. Smith Ingham, who held the office till
the spring of 1849, when Abel West was appointed. In 1852, Wm. Smith Ingham again became postmaster and continued
such till his resignation in 1856, in which year Edward H. Shoff received the appointment. In 1860 Abel West received
a second appointment, and in 1868 he was succeeded by James Hickok, who filled the office till 1874, when Chester
Morley, Jr., the present incumbent, was appointed.
PHYSICIANS. -The first physician at Meridian was John W. Squyers, who practiced
till about 1830, when he removed to Plainville, where he died. The next was Jonathan Boyd, who came in from Massachusetts
in 1831, and died in 1833. He was succeeded in 1833 by A. M. Parsons, who practiced till 1835, when he removed
to Michigan. Jacob K. Drew was contemporary with Drs. Squyers and Boyd. He came in from Vermont and practiced here
till his death. John Plant came in from Maine in 1833, and bought out Dr. Skinner. He removed after about four
years to Pennsylvania. H. B. Wright came in 1841 or '42, and died here in 1844. James T. Hough, Davis Conger and
S. M. Brown, were contemporary with Dr. Wright. Hough practiced here till 1850, and Conger some six years. Brown,
who was from the town of Ontario,Wayne Co., practiced herQseveral years and is now living in Ira. Wm. 0. Luce,
from Auburn, but immediately from Ira, came about 1850, and removed to Elbridge about 1863, and subsequently to
Auburn, where he now lives. E. L. Evarts came in from Ira about 1858, and moved to Buffalo about the year 1868.
He is now practicing at Cato. E. P. Baker bought out Dr. Luce, and removed about five years ago to Aurora, where
he now lives. Dr. Bartlett came in from the army in 1869, having previously resided in Wisconsin, and is still
practicing here. He belongs to the homeopathic school. Lewis Tice, from Brockport, practiced here from 1858-'62.
He removed to New York city and died there. E. S. Forman, allopath, came in from Sterling about five years ago
and is still practicing there.
MEMBERS OF THE BAR.-The first lawyer at Meridian was Madison Young, who came from N. H., in 1843, and practiced
here about ten years. James W. Bonta, a native of this town, practiced here about a year, about 1856, in Justices'
court, but was never admitted to the bar. J. Sprague Morley, the present lawyer, came in with his father from Pompey,
in March, 1832. He graduated from Hobart college in 1846, and practiced law at Jamesville, Onondaga county, in
company with Isaac W. Brewster, from 1849 till November, 1853, when he commenced practice here.
MANUFACTURERS.- There are but three manufacturing establishments in Meridian.
Daniel W. Wilson, founder and machinist, is a native of Cato, and commenced business in 1866. In 1870, Chauncy
L. Hickok became his partner, but remained only four years. The works were erected in 1833, by David Rockwell,
and enlarged to their present size, with the exception of the upper story, about thirty-five years ago. The chief
articles of manufacture are agricultural implements. The motive power is supplied by a twenty horse-power engine.
Titus & Alward, (Wm. Titus of Moravia and Chas. G. Alward, of Venice,) proprietors of the tannery and saw,
feed, stave and shingle mill; all combined, bought the property of John Seymour, and commenced business January
1st, 1877. The works were originally built for a grist-mill, in 1853, by a stock company, at a cost of $10,000.
In 1858, John Seymour bought it, and in 1860 he converted the grist-mill into a tannery. The saw-mill was built
at the same time as the gristmill. The motive power is furnished by a twenty-five horse-power engine. The capital
invested is $15,000. The works give employment to six men, and turn out 3,000 sides of leather and 500,000 feet
of lumber per annum.
S. M. Chittenden came in from Plainville and opened his carriage works in 1876.
H0TELS.- The first hotel at Meridian was kept by Jesse Elwell, on the site of the Meridian House. About 1818 he
sold to Abner Hollister, who that year built the lower portion of the front part of the present house. He closed
it in 1830 and occupied it as a dwelling till his death March 14th, 1852, when it was sold to Wm. Smith Ingham,
who rented it in 1853, to Lucius M. Hollister, son of Abner, who kept it as a temperance house one year. Chas.
Austin kept it as a temperance house one year, and was succeeded by Isaac Upham and Benjamin Daratt, who bought
the hotel of Ingham, and enlarged itto its present size. It subsequently became the property of Timby and Daratt,
who, in 1860, sold it to the present occupant, Isaac R. Merritt, who had previously kept a hotel ten years in Victory.
A second hotel, the Hunt House, was started by Solomon Loveless, who also kept a blacksmith shop. Gideon Acker
bought it in 1840 and sold it after four or five years to his cousin, Cyrus Acker, who subsequently sold to another
cousin, Abram Acker, by whom it was repaired and kept till about 1850, when it was again bought by Cyrus Acker,
who sold it to Julius Whiting. Whiting sold it about 1858 to Lewis Van Auken, who rented it to Isaac Curtis, by
whom it was kept five years, when D. D. Burchard bought it and kept it till about five years ago, when it was sold
to satisfy a mortgage to Garrett Mow], by whom it was sold in 1874 to the present proprietor, John A. Hunt, who
came in the preceding year from Ira. This hotel was formerly known as the Eagle Hotel.
THE FARMERS' JOINT STOCK INSURANCE COMPANY, at Meridian, was organized in April, 1861, with a capital of $50,000.
The first officers were Robert Bloomfield, of Cato, president; Chauncey B. Laird of Elbridge, Daniel G. Smith of
Lysander, and Homer Lockwood of Victory, vicepresidents; Abel West of Meridian, secretary; and Cyrus Dudley of
Meridian, treasurer. Thecompany did a good business in the early part of its existence, but latterly much difficulty
was experienced in collecting premiums. A sharp competition -existed in the class of risks to which, by the terms
of their charter, they were restricted, (viz: farm property,) and these, together with their cumbrous organization,
rendered it impossible to continue business without suffering impairment of their capital. They therefore dissolved
February 6th, 1877, at which time the officers were Henry Daboll of Memphis, president; Homer N. Lockwood of Auburn,
David Sutfin and Jabez H. Norton of Lysander, vice-presidents ; G. H. Lawrence of Meridian, secretary-; and Marcus
D. Drew of Meridian, treasurer. Following is an abstract of their report to the Insurance Department May 1st, 1878:
Total premiums received to date, p923,734; dividends declared since business was commenced, $100,625; losses paid
from date of organization, $577,481.
SCHOOLS.- Although the school at Meridian is a district school, it is graded and furnishes excellent instruction.
The principal is A. E. Ringee, who is assisted by Misses Franc Foote and S E. Meacham, the latter of whom has taught
in this school some twenty-five years, all the time in the primary department.
THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH AND SociETy O.F MERIDIAN was organized October 26th, i8ro, with twenty-two members, but,
owing to the loss of their early records, the names of the following only can be ascertained: D. Parker and wife,
C. Green and wife, A. Pasko and wife, J. Root and wife, H. Ferris and wife, Nancy Carr and Seviah Flemman. Their
first pastor was Rev. Daniel Palmer, who commenced his labors as a licentiate, but was afterwards ordained pastor,
and remained wtih them four years. Their first revival occurred in 1812, in which year sixteen were added to their
number, but it continued and increased in interest till ninety-two converts were added. B. Seamans, alicentiate,
succeeded Palmer in 1815, and remained one year. -
The Church was without a pastor from this time till the spring of 1820, when Orlando Mack settled with them. A
revival immediately followed, but he was smitten with death in its midst, August 12th, 1820. Jeremy F. Tailman
became the pastor in March, 1821, and remained thirteen years. In 1821 and 1822 revivals were enjoyed, sixteen
being added in the former and eleven in the latter year.
From 1822 to 1829 darkness and gloom rested upon the church. During those seven years only one baptism occurred.
In 1829 they awoke from their lethargy, and a revival was commenced which culminated in 1831, in which year one
hundred and seven were added to the membership. Elder Tailman closed his labors in May, 1834, and was immediately
succeeded by S. Knapp. In this and the preceding year the doctrines of the Campbellites made sad inroads in their
membership, thirty-four having been excluded for espousing them.
Though the early part of Elder Knapp's pastorate was full of discouragements, the latter portion was not without
compensating encouragements. In 1835. a season of revival was begun which continued with increased fervor during
that and the two succeding years, and resulted in the addition of one hundred and sixty-six to their membership.
Elder Knapp closed his labors with them in March, 1838, and was succeeded the next month by J. W. Spoor, who remained
till July, 1840. During his pastorate fifty-five were added to the church by baptism.
S. Wilkins became their pastor in July, 1840, remaining till October, 1842. In the second year of his pastorate
thirty-five members were added. C. VanLoon succeeded Elder Wilkins and remained one year. J. Woodward assumed the
pastoral care in October, 1843, and during the second year of his pastorate a revival was experienced and forty-five
added to their number. He was succeeded in January, 1846, by George W. Mead, the first three years of whose pastorate
"were seasons of declension," resulting from agitation of questions connected with the antislavery cause.
A large number were dismissed and a new church formed. In the fall of 1849 a reconciliation was effected and was
followed by a revival, which resulted in adding sixty-one by baptism. Elder Mead closed his labors in January,
1850, and was succeeded by A. Angier, who commenced his labors the first Sabbath in April of that year. His resignation
was accepted March 12th, 1853.
W. D. Hedden, of Rochester University, cornmenced his labors with them May 9th, 1853. He received a call June 5th,
1853, which he accepted June 12th, 1853. He was ordained October 13th, 1853, and remained till early in 1855, in
June of which year he was succeeded by Stephen Wilkins. B. F. Garfield became pastor January 13th, 1856, and was
dismissed December 4th, 1858. During the first year of his pastorate sixteen were added by baptism. December 18th
1858, D. E. Holmes was invited to preach, at $8.00 per Sabbath, till a minister could be got. January 19th, 1859,
and some weeks thereafter, Elder A. Wilkins preached. In this year thirtytwo were added by baptism. J. S. Webber
was the pastor April 9th, 1859. July 29th, 1860, he preached his farewell sermon and became an agent of the Bible
Union. A call was extended to Elder I. Wilkinson, of Port Byron, March gth, 1861. He remained till April gth, 1864.
Andrew Lindsay commenced his labors April 24th, 1864, and after preaching a few Sabbaths he accepted an invitation
to serve as pastor. The second year of his pastorate fifteen were added by baptism. His resignation, to take effect
April 1st, 1869, was accepted February 7th, 1869. W. L. Goodspeed was the pastor April 9th, 1870; and Rev. J. D.
Smith, February 11th, 1871, the latter of whom is the present pastor. A Mr. Townsend preached for them the December
and January previous to Elder Smith's coming. In the second year of Elder Smith's pastorate a revival was experienced
and thirty added to the membership by baptism.
March 10th, 1877, the church was reorganized under the new State law of May 13th, 1876, and the present name was
adopted. The present membership is 144; and the attendance at Sabbath school, about 125. Their church edifice was
erected in 1829, and was enlarged, moved and the galleries taken out in 1857. A session room has since been added
and other repairs made. Four churches have been formed by members dismissed from this, viz: Hannibal, First Lysander,
Victory and Ira.
THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH AND SOCIETY OF MERIDIAN was organized February 2d, 1836, as the First Presbyterian Church
and Society of Cato, (the name having been changed April 22d, 1867,) with the following named members: Abner Hollister
and wife, Chas. Hoyt and wife, Nehemiah Hoyt and wife, Lewis Hoyt and wife, Clark Hoyt and wife, Madison E. Hollister
and wife, Alonzo Taylor and wife, Barber Allen and wife, Lucius M. Hollister, Abraham Kells, Nancy A. Bradt, Eliza
Jenkins, Sophronia Furman, Miranda Palmeter and Daniel C. Mc Clenten and wife. It is an emanation from the Church
at Ira, (which was organized July 8th, 1807, by Rev. Francis Porn eroy,) and Rev. Wm. U. Benedict, who was then
the pastor of that Church, acted as a supply for this for three years. January 5th, 1839, Henry Boyington became
a permanent supply, with a salary of $400, and remained three years. January 1st, 1842, James T. Hough, M. D.,
became the permanent supply and remained four and a half years. In August, 1847, Wm. G. Hubbard, a licentiate,
became a supply, under the patronage of the Presbytery, and remained one and a half years.
He was succeeded in, March, 1849, by Simon S. Goss, the first pastor, who was ordained and installed February 19th,
1850, with a salary of $500, which was increased two years after by the use ofa parsonage. He was dismissed May
7th, 1862, on account of ill health.
The second pastor was Samuel B. Sherrill, who commenced his labors in the summer of 1862, and was ordained and
installed pastor February, 14th, 1863, with a salary of $600 and parsonage. He was dismissed February 3d, 1868.
He was succeeded by Wallace B. Lucas, the present pastor, who commenced. his labors in the spring of 1869, and
was ordained and installed pastor September 26th, 1869, with a salary of $900 and parsonage.
For the first four years they worshiped in the village school-house. In the summer of 1839, the present fine, substantial
brick structure was erected at a cost of $3,685.60, the site having been given by Judge Hollister. It was dedicated
in December of that year. In the summer of 1854, it was enlarged and a tower erected at a cost of $2,000. In 1872-'3,
it was repaired, enlarged, a session room built over the vestibule, a new tower erected on the corner, and the
inside entirely remodeled, at a cost of $6,690.32. Since then the pastor's study, a dining room and library have
been fitted up at various times. In June, 1876, a $ $1,000 pipe organ was put in.
The Church has enjoyed several interesting revivals. In 1840, 26 were added; 24 in 1844; 38,in 1857; 29, in 1859;
12, in 1866; 26, in 1872; 14, in 1874; and 23, in 1878. The present membership is 188; the attendance at Sabbath
school, about 150.
SOCIETIES.- Meridian Lodge No. 142 of the Ancient Order of the United Workingrnen was organized with twenty members,
the present number, March 26th, 1878. The first and present officers are D. L. Spoor, P. M. W.; G. O. Burk, M.
W.; O. S. Dudley, G. F.; James Tackney, O.; C. L. Hickok, Rdr.; F. M. Hunting, F.; C. A. Bloomfield, R.; Jno. Bell,
G.; W. S. Cornell, I. W.; Jacob Strickland, O. W. Meetings are held the first and third Tuesdays of each month
at their rooms in the Lawrence Block. It is the second lodge of the kind in the County, the first being at Union
Springs. The chief object of the society is to secure to its membership the benefits of life insurance at the minimum
cost. It has also charitable and social aims.
Cato is an enterprising village of five hundred inhabitants, situated in the north-west
part, lying partly in this town and partly in Ira. It is on the S. C. R. R., eight miles north of Weedsport, and
is the natural center for shipments on that road of a large section of fertile country, abounding in fruit, grain
and other products. The business at this station is said to exceed that at Weedsport on the same road. There is
a sharp competition among its merchants for a village of its size, and it exhibits corresponding activity. It has
many of the elements of an attractive village. It contains three churches, (Reformed, Campbellite and R. C.,) a
union school, four stores, three cigar shops, a steam saw and grist-mill combined, a foundry and machine shop,
two cabinet shops, of which D. J. Acker & Son and Joseph Girard are proprietors, two shoe shops, of which J
R. Allen and Wm. C. Rose are proprietors, two carriage shops, kept by Frank Brown and Wm. Devoe, three blacksmith
shops, kept by Harvey Root, P. P. Brown and Frederick Kitner, two milliner shops, kept by Mrs. Margaret Dutton
and Mrs. Nettie Morey, two hotels, and two barber shops, kept by A. J. Munroe and David Vine.
Settlement at Cato was commenced in 1805, by Platt Titus, who remained only two or three years. The first permanent
settler was Dr. John Jakway, who came from Vermont, in cormpany with John Hooker, the latter of whom settled in
the Ira side of the village. They came about 1809, and were preceded by some squatters, whose improvements Jakway
bought. The village was long known as Jakway's Corners, a name it derived from the fact of Jakway's settlement
MERCHANTS.- The first merchants at Cato are supposed to have been Andrus P. Preston and Augustus Ferris, who kept
a store about 1820, which they continued till about 1842, when they closed out, Preston removing to Red Creek,
and Ferris remaining in Ira till his death about 1848. Benj. B. Conger opened a store about 1830. About 1834 Samuel
Hale became a partner with him and continued about three years, when David R. Conger, a son of Benjamin, was admitted
to partnership, and the business was conducted by them about five years, when they sold to Moore and Reuben P.
Conger, who did business about three years. Benj. B. and Reuben P. Conger then formed a partnership, which continued
about four years. Dr. John Jakway opened a store about 1838, which he kept some seven or eight years, when he sold
his stock to Wm. H. Nobles, who kept a store four or five years. Theophilus Daniels opened a store about 1840,
and kept it about three years. David Cook and David R. Conger kept a store about two years, and sold to Gilbert
& Green, who kept it about a year. Wm. Fields bought their stock and kept store about a year. A union store
was started about 1855, which was run abouta year. Evarts & Daratt bought their stock and continued about two
years. Knapp, Barrett & Co., opened a large store in 1856 and failed in 1860. H. M. Wright bought their stock
and continued till 1868. Hunter Bros. opened a store in 1870, and were burned out in 1876. David Mack opened a
store about 1845 and kept it about ten years, when he sold his stock to G. A. Benedict, who did business till about
1866. J. M. Dutton & Co. opened a store in 1865. After some three or four years Mark Wright bought Dutton's
interest, and the business was conducted by Turner & Wright till about 1875, when J. W. Hapeman bought Wright's
interest. Hapeman sold in February, 1877, to M. M. Hunter, and the business is still conducted by Turner &
Hunter. In 1866, Geo. R. Rich built a store, which was occupied by his son Jno. E. Rich till January 9th, 1869,
when he was burned out. A. C. Bartlett kept a store from 1860-'5. Hapeman & Hunt opened a hardware store about
1865, and in 1868 they sold to S. J. Chase, who, in 1870, admitted Henry S. Hunt to partnership. In April, 1878,
R. W. Cole bought the interest of Mr. Hunt, who opened, the same month, the store he now keeps. S. J. Chase and
R. W. Cole still carry on the busi-' ness, under the firm name of Chase & Cole. T. Jorolemon, general merchant,
commenced in the spring of 1874, the business in which he is now engaged.
POSTMASTERS.- The first postmaster at Cato was Augustus F. Ferris, who was followed by Andrus P. Preston, William
H. Noble, Judge Humphreys, Reuben P. Conger, George H. Carr, E. G. Allen, Amos Bartlett, George P. Knapp, Elias
Richards, R. W. Cole, John E. Rich, Lewis Donius, J. W. Hapeman and S. J. Chase, the latter of whom, the present
incumbent, received the appointment in 1870.
PHYSICIANS.- The first physician at Cato was John Jakway, who practiced till his death in 1844. The next was John
Hoxie, who practiced with Jakway till 1833. Ezra Parker came in from Fort Ann, Washington county, about 1833, and
practiced with Jakway some ten years, when he removed to Wisconsin. Robert T. Paine came in from Washington county
about 1835 and practiced about fourteen years, when he removed to Jordan, where he died. J. B. R. Martin, from
Victory, studied with Paine, and practiced from about 1842 till his death, about 1852. Dr. Hedger, from Cato, practiced
with Martin about two years and then moved west. A. J. Brewster, from Jefferson county, came' about 1850 and practiced
till 1875, when he removed to Syracuse, where he is now practicing. Dr. Ogden succeeded Martin and remained one
year, when he went west. Lucius Hooker, allopath, came in from Victory about 1855, and is still practicing here.
James D. Benton came in from Ira Corners in 1865 and practiced till 1874, when he removed to Syracuse, where he
is now practicing. Frank Murphy, from Wayne county, came in 1876 and practiced about six months, when he removed
to Yates county. C. A. Groat, from Wayne county, came in 1875, and is still practicing here. He belongs to the
allopathic school of medicine. E. S. Everts, homeopath, came from Auburn in the spring of 1878, and is still practicing
BENCH AND BAR.- The first lawyer in Cato was George R. Rich, who came in from Fort Ann, Washington county, in 1832,
and commenced the practice of law in 1840. He was admitted to practice in the County Court in 1845, and in the
Supreme Court in 1848. Geo. Humphreys, from Auburn, commenced practicing here in 1844, and with him Rich finished
his studies. Humphreys was elected County Judge in November, 1851, when he removed to Auburn. Rich is still practicing
here. Frank Rich, son of George R. Rich, commenced practice in 1855, in which year he was admitted to the bar.
Stephen Olmsted, son-in-law of George R. Rich, commenced practice in 1863, at which time he was admitted to the
bar. Both the latter are practicing here.
MANUFACTURES.- The Cato Milling Company, (D. J. Lamson, R. L. Whiting and E. D. Crowninshield,) commenced business
in 1876. Slate Crowninshield erected the buildings in 1874, and carried on the business until the present proprietors
took possession. The works consist of a grist-mill and saw-mill, connected, both being operated by the same motive
power, which is supplied by a sixty-five horse-power engine. The grist-mill is a custom mill and contains three
run of stones. The saw-mill contains one large and three small circular saws, for the manufacture of lumber, staves
and heading. Its capacity is 5,000 feet of lumber per day, and 50,000 staves per annum. The capital invested is
$20,000, and the number of men employed, six.
The furnace and machine shop, of which E. Q. Dutton is proprietor, was built in 1850, by Bradford Cook, on the
site of one erected in 1832, by John Rich. In 1875 Mr. Dutton built an addition for the purpose of adding to his
business the manufacture of stoves, but that branch was discontinued after about a year. He is now engaged in the
manufacture of agricultural implements, the chief article of manufacture being the "Easy Draft" Plow.
Three men and a capital of about '$10,000, are employed. It is operated by steam. Curtis & Harris, (Chas. H.
Curtis and Walter N. Harris,) commenced the manufacture of cigars in January, 1867. They give employment to seven
persons and make about 15,000 cigars per month.
James B. Hunter commenced the manufacture of cigars February 2 1st, 1877, in company with D. S. Coates, whose interest
he bought April 1st, 1878. He gives employment to ten persons and makes 35,000 cigars per month.
Adelbert P. Rich commenced the manufacture of cigars July 18th, 1878. He employs at present only two persons.
HOTELS.- The Central Hotel was built by Cornelius Acker, the present proprietor, in 1866, on the site of one built
by David Chittenden in 1861 and burned in the spring of 1865.
The Railroad House is kept by Elias Quackenbush, who bought it of Willard Sturge, proprietor of the Willard House,
Weedsport. in 1867. The main part of the building was erected in in 1810, by Abner Hollister. The addition was
built by John Jakway fifty or more years ago.
SCHOOLS.- The school in Cato is a graded union school, with three departments. The teachers are Wm. Hopkins, principal,
Miss Ella Saunders and Mrs. Kate Vanaernum. The school building, which is an unusually fine brick structure for
a village of its size, was erected in 1876.
THE REFORMED CHURCH, at Cato, was organized about 1831. Wm. DeForest, Isaac VanDorn, DeLamater, John Wood and Jacob
and Martin DeForest were among the first members. Rev.- DeForest was their first pastor. He remained with them
about two years. Rev. - Hoffman was the second pastor. His pastoral labors covered a period of twenty years. The
third pastor was Rev. ____ Knight, who remained about three years. Thomas Watson became the pastor about 1859,
and remained till about 1866. He was followed by Revs. Swick, Wilson and VanDorn, each of whom remained a year.
Their present pastor, Dr. Wells, came in 1876. Their first house of worship was erected about 1833. It is now used
asa tenement house. The present house was bought about 1859, of the Methodist Society, by whom it was built about
1849. The present membership is about thirty-five; the attendance at Sabbath school, about fifty.
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, (or Campbellite,) at Cato, was organized about 1848, by Rev. John Bartlett, who was formerly
a Baptist minister, and was their first pastor. His pastorate covered a period of about eight years. O. C. Petty,
the second pastor, remained about two years. The third pastor was Milton Shepard, who preached about four years
and died in Ira. He was succeeded by - Robinson, who remained one year, when John Bartlett served them a second
term of two years. The next pastor was Webster O/ Moon, who remained two years. Dr. Allen Benton, though not ordained,
supplied the pulpit about four years: G. S. Bartlett, son of John Bartlett, succeeded Benton and remained one year.
A. B. Chamberlain, the present pastor, entered upon his duties in 1876. Their church was built at the time of their
organization. A session room and baptistry were added in 1874, and the church was frescoed, newly cushioned and
painted. The present membership is about one hundred; the attendance at Sabbath school, about fifty. Among the
first members were Bradford Cook, Allen Benton, Silas Kellogg, Joseph Spoor, Amos Bartlett, Jno. Barnes, Allen
Green, Kingsley Stevens, Caleb Everts, Zaccheus Barnes, Othniel Clapp and Abijah Daratt.
ST. PATRICK'S CHURCH, (R. C.,) at Cato, was organized about 1863. Martin Cusick, Cornelius and Patrick Mehan, James
Murphy, John Mengan, Michael Clune and Thomas Fitzgerald were among the first members. Father Donahue is the present
pastor. Their house of worship was built in 1874. The number of members is about sixty.
THE M. E. CHURCH, four miles south of Cato, was organized about 1820. Amos Cowell, John Mills, Frank Hunting, and
James Rhodes were among the first members. Their church edifice, which is a brick structure, was erected about
1828. Some six or seven years ago it underwent extensive repairs. A steeple was added and the whole exterior remodeled.
It is a neat, substantial building. Rev. Mr. Kinney is the pastor. The membership is about fifty. Its prosperity
is mainly due to the interest taken in it by Mr. Cowell.
CATO LODGE No. 141, F. AND A. M., at Cato, was organized June 11th, 1849. The
charter officers were George H. Carr, Master; Pier Teller, Sr. Warden; Ansel Kimball, Jr. Warden. The present officers
are Frank Rich, M.; Wm. S. Pearson, S. W.; Shepard Knowlton, J. W. ; J. W. Hapeman, Secretary ; A. W. Palmer, S.
D.; I. L. Van Dorn, J. D.; Nelson B. Knowlton, Tiler; Wm. Sidney, S. M. C.; W. B. Priddy, J. M. C.; S. J. Chase,
Treasurer. Meetings are held the first and third Thursdays of each month, in their own hall, over the Central Hotel.
The number of members is 112.
MANUFACTURES.- In the south-east corner of the town, at the iron bridge, is a saw-mill owned by John Busby and
built by him in 1868. Connected with it is a cider-mill and jelly factory.