History of Busti, NY
FROM: History of Chautauqua County, New York and its people
John P. Downs - Editor-in-Charge.
Fenwick Y. Hedley Editor-in-Chief.
Published By American Historical Society, Inc. 1921



Busti -Extending from Chautauqua Lake south to the Pennsylvania line and from the town of Kiantone on the east to the town of Harmony on the west, Busti contains an area of 29,152 acres, or about forty-five and onehalf square miles.

The town was organized from Ellicott and Harmony, April 16, 1823, and named for Paul Busti, general agent of the Holland Land Company.

Original Purchases:
1810-April, Saml. Griffith, 4; May, Theo. Bemus, 12; December, Jonas Larnphear, 48.
1811-March, Wm. Matteson, Jr., 40 (Ellicott); May, Jedediah Chapin, 4; Palmer Phillips, 11; October, Nath. Fenner, 15.
1812-February, Jos. Phillips, 11; March, Anthony Fenner, 6; Thos. Fenner, Jr., 15; April, Theron Plumb, 7; August, Barnabas Wellman, Jr., 38; Reuben Landon, 7.
1814-May, Arba Blodgett, 25; Elisha Devereaux, 1; July, Am Smith, 2; October, Wm. Bullock, 17.
1815-April, Peter Frank, 5, 6; June, Josiah Thompson, 28; Cyrenus Blodgett, 33; Ford Weliman, 47; No. vember, Josiah Palmeter, 15.
1816-April, Harris Terry, 63; October, Harris Terry, 47.
1817-September, Nicholas Sherman, 16; Lyman Crane, 8.
1818-Septernber, Wm. Gifford; October, Samuel Hart, 8.
1822-September, Ransom Curtis, 39; November, Peleg Trask, 17; Jared Farnam, Jr., 34.
1823-June, Jos. Taylor, 39; October, Ethan Allen, 45; Silas C. Carpenter, Isaac Foster, 54.
1824-February, John Badgley, 43; March, - Ford Wellman. 54 (Harmony); July, Elijah B. Burt, 37; October, Barnabas Wellman, 31; November, John Kent, 30; December, Saml. Darling, 35.
1825-January, John Buck, Jr., 20; February, Xavier Abbott, 10; March, Janus Buck, 19; June, David Hatch, 7; August, Wm. Nichols, 38; Geo. Martin, 13.
1826-November, Benj. A. Slayton, 43.
1827-September, Alex. Young, 23.

A tannery was built by John Frank in 1812. The first vats were made of logs. It was burned, and rebuilt, and continued until about 1865. No other tannery, it is believed, was ever in this town. The last factory established by Mr. Frank, was destroyed by fire and not rebuilt. A trip hammer built by Giles Chipman and Lyman Fargo continued for several years. Uriah Hawks later built a chair and spinning wheel factory, which was discontinued on account of the difficulty of maintaining dams on the streams.

The first blacksmith shop is said to have been Patrick Camel's, at the tannery. Next, Chipman and Fargo commenced business near Camel's, and removed sixty rods south and added the manufacture of edged tools with a trip hammer. The first store was kept by Van Velzer, about 1830. Stephen J. Brown was probably the first physician. He came about 1837, and practiced about twenty years. Before his death, Dr. Bennett came and practiced a few years.

The first saw mill at Busti Corners was built by Heman Bush. A clock factory was built in 1830, by Samuel Chappel and James Sartwell, and continued several years. After its discontinuance, a grist mill was built on the same site by Heman Bush and another afterwards by Francis Soule.

Busti's lake front is now almost a continuous village of summer resorts from one end to the other, beginning with Lakewood, with its large hotels, parks, drives, promenades, golf links, and many attractive homes. Lakewood is connected with Jamestown by a modern electric railway, and has an excellent steamboat service. Above Lakewood are Clifford, Lowe and Sherman parks, which are each year presenting added attractions for summer visitors. Below Lakewood's Shady Side, a most beautiful spot, and still farther east at Clement Park and Squier's Park, are many costly summer homes. In the western part of the town is the village of Boomertown, on the Erie railroad; and in the southern central part is the village of Busti, a quiet rural community made up largely of descendants of the early families of the town; Stoddard, Broadhead, Gallup, Hazeltine, Jones, Martin, Curtis, Northrop, Matteson, Frank, Andrews and Babcock are all familiar names in Busti's past and present.

Busti is without railroad connection, but is a thriving and prosperous village, with three churches, a union school, grist and saw mills, and modern stores.

According to the State census of 1915 the town of Busti had a population of 2,279 citizens and 52 aliens. The assessed value of real estate in the town in 1918 was $1,894,651; full value, $2,460,585. The town is strictly a farming, grazing and residence district, there being no factories of importance.

Palmer Phillips came to Busti in 1811. He became well known as a maker of the best grain cradles and hand rakes. Rev. John Broadhead, another well-known pioneer, was a Methodist minister, and in 1835 came to Busti from Green county, New York, the first Broadhead to settle in Chautauqua county. The Blodgett family left a deep impress upon the history of Busti. The founder, Arba Blodgett, a soldier of the War of 1812, settled in the town near the State line in the south-. western part soon after his military service ended. In that day town meetings were held in private houses and the owner of the house was expected to and did furnish liquor for the voters. This rule was first broken in Busti by Arba Blodgett, who in the face of ridicule and criticism refused to furnish the customary bottle of whiskey. He was a strong Abolitionist, and tradition says his home was a station on the Underground Railroad. Loren Blodgett, son of Arba, "was known throughout the United States as a statistician, economist and journalist; and his works connected with the Smithsonian Institution and Treasury Department won for him a reputation as one of the world's greatest statistical compilers." He was in charge of the Department of Physical Research at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington City, and assisted in supervising the survey for the Union Pacific railroad. He was later placed in charge of the financial and statistical reports of the United States Treasury Department; was general appraiser of customs, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; chief of the customs division of the United States Treasury Department, and appraiser of customs, New York City. He died in Busti in 1837, meeting an accidental death.

Near the Blodgetts lived the family of William Storum, colored, whose daughter married Lewis Clark, a fugitive slave from whose life Harriet Beecher Stowe drew the character of George Harris for "Uncle Tom's Cabin." A granddaughter of William Storum married a son of Frederick Douglass. This Storum home was the scene of a cruel incident in 1851, when a runaway slave from the South was taken from there and returned to his old masters.

The Gallup family came in 1828 from Otsego county, bringing their effects drawn by an oxteam. The Gallup farm, on the mail route between Busti and Sugargrove, which long held the reputation of being tilled and most productive in the town, was converted into a poultry farm, and under its owner, Miss Flora Gallup, a former high school teacher of Jamestown, gained enviable reputation.

The first hotel in Busti was built by Heman Bush, and the first town meeting was held in "the long room" of this hotel, March 2, 1824. Daniel Sherman, father of Daniel Sherman, of Forestville, was the first supervisor.

Rev. Ira Stoddard came to Busti in 1825, and was pastor of the Baptist church many years. His descendants ranked among the influential and respected citizens of the town. Oren Stoddard (a relative), a well-known citizen from 1840 until his death, was a man of considerable inventive genius. He erected a steam saw mill and a basket factory and much of the machinery was his own invention. In 1878 he built a large brick house, the second brick house in the town.

George Stoneman, of Chenango county, was a neighbor of Daniel Sherman, the first supervisor. He was somewhat eccentric. He built a saw mill west of the residence of the late Abram Sherman, on a little bank within a few rods of the lake shore, with no visible water power. The question was often asked, where is the water to come from to run the thing when he gets it built? An old farmer asked Mr. Stoneman where he was going to get water, to which he replied, "You see, don't you, that I have built close to the lake, where is always plenty of water." "Yes, I see; but how are you going to get the water above the mill ?" "Bring it in corn baskets," was the prompt reply. But soon a force of men and teams was constructing a race and for many years the "corn basket, or dry saw mill" was operated with more or less profit to the owner and as a great convenience to farmers and lumbermen.

Later, when there were no steamers on Chautauqua Lake, Mr. Stoneman constructed a horse-boat, built upon two huge dug-out canoes. These canoes were placed several feet apart and decked over from one to the other, catamaran style. An immense horizontal wheel extended across the deck, upon which the horses traveled. The under surface of this wheel was geared to the shaft of a paddle wheel in the center of the boat-the motive power, a horse on each side of the boat. Upon assuming command of this quaint craft, his friends dubbed him Commodore Stoneman. The commodore's boat could make the round trip in from three to four days, and in those easy-going times this means of transportation was quite liberally patronized. George Stoneman was father of Gen. George Stoneman, of the United States army, who was elected Governor of California after the close of the war. John Stoneman, another son, became a lawyer, went West, and became a State Senator. One of the four daughters, Kate Stoneman, of Albany Normal School, was the first woman lawyer in the State of New York.

Uriah Bentley settled in what is now the town of Busti in 1810. He was a brave and sturdy pioneer, a practical cooper and blacksmith. He built in 1837 a large brick house, the first of its kind in Southern Chautauqua county. This house was the later summer residence of Fred A. Bentley, then president of the Bank of Jamestown.

Daniel Sherman, the first supervisor, and his two brothers, Isaac and Nicholas, were among the early settlers. They took up large tracts of land, and were men of thrift and influence. The Wellmans settled in the southwestern part of the town, and in 1812 Mr. Wellman was called to the defense of Buffalo. The Garfields settled in the southeastern part of the town, and for many years were famous as farmers and county fair exhibitors.

Elias H. Jenner was a well-known school teacher, and for more than twenty years was clerk of the board of county supervisors.

Gideon Gifford came from Cambridge, Washington county, in the spring of 1828, moving his family and household goods with a young span of horses and a covered wagon. He purchased over three hundred acres of land bordering on Chautauqua Lake, the southern portion of which he selected for the site of his future home, known as the Gifford homestead and later owned and occupied by one of the sons, Walter C. Gifford. The first house was a post and beam house, shingled outside with pine shaved shingles, some ten to twelve inches in width. The nails were cut by hand, even the shingle nails. The door trimmings and nails were brought with the family from Washington county. In the early years he traveled on foot over a large section of the county in the employ of Mr. Peacock, agent of the Holland Land Company. For a long period and until his eyesight failed, he spent much time in surveying, especially in laying out roads and establishing disputed boundaries. The original farm is nearly all owned by his descendants.

The Baptist church of Busti was organized August 30, 1819, by a council consisting of Elders Ebenezer Smith, Paul Davis and Jonathan Wilson. Members uniting at that time were: Daniel Startwell, Enoch Alden, Ebenezer Davis, Benjamin Covel, and, it is believed, Henry L., John L. and John Frank, Jr., and Elijah Devereux were also first members. A few days later William Frank and Anna Sheppard were admitted. The first church edifice was erected in 1836, the present one in 1853. Rev. Paul Jones was the first pastor. The Methodist Episcopal church of Busti Corners was organized in 1819, by Rev. Alvin Burgess, with sixty members, and a church edifice was erected the same year.

The value of real estate in the town of Busti in 1918 was $2,460,585; equalized assessed value, $1,930,504.

Daniel Sherman, the first supervisor of the town, served in 1824-28, 1833; Emri Davis, Sr., 1829-32-34-35-40-47-61-62; Pardon Hazeltine, 1836-39; Henry C. Sherman, 1841-45; Stephen J. Brown, 1843; Lorenzo Matthews, 1843-4850-53; Theron Palmeter, 1851-52-54; John B. Babcock, 1855; Emri Davis, Jr., 1856-58; John A. Hall, 1859-60-71; William B. Martin, 1866-67; Harmon G. Mitchell, 1869-70; Alonzo C. Pickard, 1873-75; Jerome Babcock, 1876-78-88-89; Barber Babcock, 1879-80; Jacob B. Foster, 1881-82; Fred A. Bentley, 1883-85; Warren Frank, 1867-68; William Northrop, 1890-97; Dr. A. J. Bennett, 1898-1901; Fred A. Bentley, 1902-03; Ellsworth J. Dougherty, 1904-07; J. William Sandbury, 1908-10; John I. Veness, 1911; Jesse A. Foster, 1912-13; Fred A. Simmons, 1914-17; Axel Levin, 1918-20.

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