History of Carroll, 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


Carroll-The town of Carroll, in the extreme southeastern part of the county, was erected in 1825 from the town of Ellicott, and named in honor of Charles Carroll, of Carrollton, the immortal Signer, who in affixing his name to the Declaration of Independence added his residence, that there might be no doubt of his identity if misfortune overtook the cause for which he was risking his life and fortune.

The town, broken and hilly in the northeast and east parts and rolling in the south and southwest, originally included the present town of Kiantone, which was set off from Carroll in 1853. Conewango creek forms the greater part of the boundary line between the two towns, entering Carroll from the north and continuing to the Pennsylvania line. The town contains 20,658 acres, the highest summits, being 1,400 feet above tidewater. Frewsburg, on the Dunkirk, Allegheny Valley & Pittsburgh railroad, is a thriving village with important industrial establishments-The Carroll Furniture Company, the Frewsburg Canning Company, and the Merrell-Soule Company, dairy products. There are in Frewsburg four small factories.

Other villages of the town are Fentonville in the south, Dodge in the east, and Ivory in the north. The population of Carroll, according to the State census of that year, was 1,714, of whom seven only were aliens.

Original Purchases:
1808-July, Joel Tyler, 51; Geo. Sloan, 59 (now Kiantone).
1809-March, Samuel Anderson, 57 (now Kiantone); June, Charles Boyles, 42; Isaac Walton, 41.
1810-March, Geo. W. Fenton, 52.
1811-October, Matt. Turner, 53; November, Ebenezer Cheney, Matt. Turner,
1812-January, John Frew, 61.
1813-September, Robt. Russell, 57 (lot now in Kiantone); December, Amasa Littlefield, 36.
1814-March, Ebenezer Cheney, 36; May, Ebenezer Cheney, 46, 47, 54, 55; Ebenezer Davis, 37; Benj. Jones, 23, 28; Levi Jones, 24, 28; Elijah Braley, 43; Horatio Dix, 28; July, James Hall, 54; September, Aaron Forbes, 64; November, Robt. Russell, 57 (now in Kiantone).
1815-March, Josiah H. Wheeler, 46; Wheeler and Hall, 32, 40; Wm. Sears, 31.
1816-May, Jona. Covell, 43; Eli Eames, 38.
1817-May, Benj. Russell, 30.
1818-May, Aaron Forbes, 64; November, Levi Jones, 23.
1819-January, Josiah H. Wheeler, 39.
1820-June, John Frew, 62.
1821-November, John Myers (lot not given).
1822-September, Isaac Eames, 39.
1823-October, James Hall, 15.
1824-January, John and James Frew, 20; February, John Myers, 20; April, John Frew, 27; September, Daniel Wheeler, 27; October, Truman Comstock, 31.
1826-May, Hiram Covey, 14; James Covey, 14; Jonah R. Covey, 14; June, Taylor Aldrich, 28.
1827-June, Wm. Haines, 26; John F. Bragg, 48; October, Robt. Russell, 49.

The first settlers were John Frew on lot 61, and Thomas Russell on west half of lot 53 at the mouth of Frew Run. In the spring of 1809 John Frew paid $2.25 an acre, built a log cabin, and put in crops in 1810. A few months later, George W. Fenton sold his farm on Chadakoin river and located on lot 52, south of and adjoining the lands of Frew and Russell. Frew and Russell built a saw mill in 1810, and commenced sawing the next spring. They ran the sawed boards to Pittsburgh. James Frew was connected with them in building the mill, and purchased Russell's interest in 1814. In 1817, with their father, Hugh Frew, they built an "overshot" gristmill, using the gearing and stones of their father's old mill in Pennsylvania. George W. Fenton developed a large farm, and opened the first store in Frewsburg. John Tyler was on lot 51 by June, 1808; his son Hamilton, born 1810, was the first white child born in the present town. Isaac Walton was on lot 41 and Charles Boyles on lot in the summer of 1809.

The first marriage of the town was William Boyles to Jerusha Walton in 1811. Young says that Benjamin Covell, born in Harwich, Mass., in 1761, was at the taking of Burgoyne, at Sullivan's defeat, and the battle of Monmouth. He married Sybil Durkee, and removed in 1810 to Carroll, where he died, November 27, 1822. At that time all of his sons and daughters, his brother Seth and nephew Simeon, were living near him, and the settlement was called "Covelltown." They "were active in getting the first bridge built across the Conewango at Covelltown." Benjamin Covell took up in December, 1810, lot 2, town 1, range 11, in Kiantone. They went in canoes to Warren to trade and to Work's mill with "grists." Lumbering commenced early, and a transient population came to work in the woods, in the mills and in rafting, sometimes bringing a family. John Myers opened a tavern in 1814 on the Conewango about a mile from Frewsburg, and the same year William Sears established one on lot 11 (Kiantone). In 1818 John Owen began a tavern at Fentonville, also a ferry. In the rafting season these taverns were centers of great mirth and enjoyment; the raftsmen more than filled the houses and would quarrel for the privilege of lying on the bar-room floor in order to hear Owen tell his stories.

Perhaps no other township in the county has had so many saw mills at the same time as Carroll. John Frew assisted Edward Work to build his saw mill at Work's Mills in 1808, and the first lumber cut by Frew was plank for eight flatboats which he built and took to Mayville for salt which he ran to Pittsburgh. "The same John Frew brought on his back from Dunkirk a bushel-and-a-half bag of salt for the settlers, who were in perishing need of it. It was also John Frew who in 1813 killed the last deer killed at the great deer lick in the four corners of Main and Third streets of Jamestown." He was supervisor, 1816-22, and was selected for higher offices, but would not except. He had sound judgment, strict integrity, and was the active man of the community. He died in 1865, aged 76. His brother James was a quiet, unostentatious man of great worth, a good marksman, hunter and mechanic. In 1812 he served on Harrison's Indian campaign. He married Rebecca, daughter of Josiah H. Wheeler, and was accidentally killed August 24, 1834, at the age of fortythree, at a "raising." His sons were: John H., Miles, Josiah, Jefferson; and David, who lived to a good old age and had the respect of all. John and James Frew were sons of Hugh and Mary (Russell) Frew, of County Down, Ireland. Hugh was a miller and came to Frewsburg in 1817 to operate the new gristmill. He died in 1831, aged 73.

George W. Fenton, son of Roswell Fenton, was born in Hanover, N. H., December 20, 1783. In 1804 he went to Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Louisville. Returning to Pittsburgh, Mr. Fenton made canoe trips for several years with goods and provisions up the Allegheny river and to French creek. In the winter of 1805-06 he taught the first school at Warren, became acquainted with John Owen and family, and married Elsie Owen. The next spring they settled near Levant, one of the first three families of Ellicott. Joseph Ellicott, who came in 1807 to survey the township into lots, engaged Mr. Fenton to help him survey Carroll. While earning good wages he gained thorough knowledge of the town. Selling his Levant home to John Arthur, he purchased 627 acres, made a permanent residence in 1809, and died March 3, 1860. His children were: Roswell O., born September 6, 1807, the first white child born in Chautauqua south of the ridge; George W., William H. H., John F., Reuben E., Governor of New York and United States Senator.

John Owen was a native of Windsor, Conn., and a soldier of the old French War and the Revolution. He came from the Susquehanna Valley to Warren in 1806, and, in 1808 located on lot 57, town 2, range 10, in Poland. In 1816 he sold his farm and located in Carroll on lot 41, where he resided twenty-seven years. He kept a tavern on the road that crossed the Conewango at the State line, also a ferry. Many a man has laughed at the old man's stories and jokes till his sides were sore. He claimed that in his early days he never found but one man that got the better of him in a fair "stand-up" fight. Owen served with the English in the attack on Quebec in the old French War, and was under Ethan Allen, May 10, 1775, at Ticonderoga. He died in Carroll, February 6, 1843, aged 107 years, ten months, eight days. Ira Owen came with his father John to the Conewango and settled east of him. He was with the Chautauqua militia at the battle of Buffalo, and was a brave soldier and excellent marksman. While in line, several of his company had been shot by some foe in their rear; presently the third man to his right was shot. Owen discovered an Indian lowering his rifle from the head of a flour barrel eighty yards distant. Drawing his rifle to his face, when the Indian's head appeared in view the dusky intruder fell back to trouble them no more. On the retreat from Black Rock he killed a pursuing Indian. Seeing him fall, Owen ran to rescue his rifle, belt and powder horn, but the bullets whistled so close that he only succeeded in getting the rifle. Reuben Owen, second son of John, lived on the old homestead until his death; he married Hannah Clark. Alvin, youngest son of John, lived at Fentonville, married Miss Haley, had three children, and was drowned in the Conewango by the upsetting of his skiff.

John Myers and his thirteen children became closely connected with Carroll. Six of his sons, John, Jacob, Robert, Lyman, William and James, and two of his daughters, became permanent citizens. He enjoyed life, while having a shrewd eye to business, and transmitted his cheery temperament to his children. Hiram Dickinson, son of Gideon Dickinson, a soldier of the Revolution, was born in 1800, in Williamstown, Vermont. In 1818 he married Sally Pierce, of Hoosick, Rensselaer county. In February, 1819, they started for Chautauqua county, arriving here after traveling just one month with an ox-team over almost impassable roads, there being only a sled track most of the way. They came with a wagon as far as Nunda, where they found the snow so deep they were forced to load their goods on a sled. Their load of three thousand pounds consisted mostly of household goods and farming utensils, also a box containing two very fine pigs, of a superior kind, and at that time sought after far and near; they were known as the "Dickinson breed" for many years. When the family arrived at Jamestown, they stayed all night in one of the first hotels of the place- a shell of rough boards, with loose partitions and floors. From there they started for their new home. There were but few families for miles around, and no store nearer than the "Prendergast store" at Jamestown. On arriving at their destination, the place later owned and occupied by A. Hiller, in Carroll, they commenced housekeeping in the usual manner of those days.

"About 1825 James Cowan settled on Case Run. He was a noted hunter and while in search of game he penetrated the dense wilderness of South Valley, in Cattaraugus county." There was then a well-worn Indian trail leading from the Conewango along Case Run, through Covey Gap and down Bone Run to the Allegheny river near Onoville. On the north side of this trail, near the boundary line of Carroll and South Valley, a fence had been made by the Indians, woven of brush and small poles, which ran northerly for a mile and a half over a high ridge to the north branch of Bone Run. It was sufficiently high to intercept the passage of deer and elk. This fence was to be seen as late as 1840.

Rev. Paul Davis, a Baptist, came from Vermont in 1816; his labors bore good fruit until his death ten years later. His son, Simeon C., locally prominent for years, came in 1814; he has many descendants. Consider Benson, a soldier of 1812, came from Vermont in 1816, and died in Falconer in 1855, aged 89, Hiram Thayer, from Massachusetts, came in 1816 and to Carroll in 1820. He bought part of lot 39, and lived here sixty years until his death; he was an esteemed citizen, acquired wealth, and left numerous descendants. In 1816 Joseph Waite, father of Hon. Davis H. Waite, at one time Governor of Colorado, came from Vermont and engaged in lumbering until 1821, when he removed to Jamestown. Josiah H. Wheeler, from Vermont, brought a large family and purchased the Matthew Turner saw mill on Frew Run, lot 53; his sons worked harmoniously with him and they acquired wealth. Otis Moore settled early on lot 45, and owned and operated the saw mill one mile east of Frewsburg. Luther Howard, a native of Wardsborough, Vermont, came about 1830 and settled on the farm he bought of Charles Wolcott, who had made a small clearing, and where his son Jediah lived after his father's death.

Case Run took its name from the first settler, James Case, who did not remain long. Moses Taft, from Vermont, was an early settler and part owner of a saw mill on Case Run. Dutee Harrington settled on lot 32, and was a mill owner for years. Orsino Comstock lived on lot 31; Richard Hiller on lot 30; Goodwin Staples on lot 8. John Townsend bought the Thayer mill, which he and his sons owned and operated many years. Christopher Eaton came about 1823 from Vermont, and lived a long life in Carroll. Edmund White was early on lot 27. Pliny Cass was a resident here from about 1820. Luther Forbush came from Newton, Mass., in 1829 and resided many years on lot 34; he had a large family. His brother-inlaw, Jacob Adams, and Leonard Adams, came from Newton about 1847. Cyrus Adams, son of Jacob, died a soldier in the Civil War. In 1827 Rufus Green, from Vermont, came, settling first in Kiantone and in 1830 on lot 51; he was a justice for many years. H. N. Thornton came from Ripley in 1828, and subsequently lived in Kiantone and Carroll. Otis Alvord was an early settler at Fentonville. Dorastus Johnson, about 1845, settled on lot 45; Ira and Calvin, two of his six sons, lost their lives in the Civil War. George W. Brown came in 1828; he was a farmer and mill owner. His sons, George W., Amos and Lewis, were Union soldiers in the Civil War. Adam Vandewark in 1834, Albert Fox in 1835, J. D. Bain in 1838, Reuben Niles in 1839, were other settlers.

The first town meeting was held at the house of William Sears, March 6, 1826, and these officers were elected: Supervisor, James Hall; town clerk, John Frew; assessors, James Parker, Levi Davis, James Frew; commissioners of highways, E. Kidder, George W. Fenton, Simeon C. Davis; overseers of poor, E. Kidder, George W. Jones; collector, Asa Moore; constables, Asa Moore, Hiram Dickinson; commissioners of schools, William Sears, Simeon Covell, Levi Davis; poundkeepers, George W. Fenton, William Sears.

For a small town, Carroll has done much manufacturing. Its saw mills have been numerous and active, steam supplanting water as a motive power as water failed. Jefferson Frew's mill cut from half to three-quarters of a million feet annually during many years. Edward Hayward, Edwin Moore, the Myerses, Edwin Eaton, E. W. Scowden, Wood & White, Moore, Spink & Company, and others, produced millions of staves; butter tubs, paint kegs, etc., laths, hand-sleds, baskets, soap and seed boxes, have been some of the products. The town received a valuable accession in the immigration of a large number of Swedes, who are industrious, frugal and law-abiding people.

The Frewsburg Baptist church was formed January 1, 1838, of sixty members of the First Baptist Church, of Carroll, now extinct; it took its present name Sept. 20, 1842. March 10, 1838, John G. Curtis and Phineas Annis were chosen deacons. Until 1842 the church had no regular pastor. It was received into the Harmony Baptist Association in 1838; and in 1842 Rev. M. Colby was its first pastor. The first church clerk was Abida Dean. The Baptist Society was formed January 14, 1850. The first trustees were Phineas Annis, Elias Howard, George W. Fenton, John Myers, Jr., and Jacob Persell. George W. Fenton and John Myers, Jr., defrayed the most of the expense of building the present church edifice. The Congregational church was organized with seventeen members. Rev. R. Rouse was the first pastor. In 1863 they erected their house of worship. The Methodist Episcopal church was organized January 21, 1843, with Rev. Moses Hill, pastor. Alexander Ross, George Bartlit and A. J. Fuller were chosen trustees. The original members were Edmund White, Alexander Ross, A. J. Fuller and wives, George Bartlit, Mrs. Sibil French and Mrs. Elsie (Owen) Fenton, who retained membership until her death. George Bartlit was class leader many years. In 1844 a church was erected on a lot presented by James Hall. A Swedish mission church was organized at Oak Hill about 1889. The Lutheran church of Frewsburg was organized in 1878. The Swedish mission church was established at Frewsburg in 1878 with A. G. Nelson, pastor.

Lumber is such an important factor in Carroll's progress and development that the following article on "Carroll-Early Lumbering," from the pen of Mrs. Effie W. Parker, in "The Centennial History of Chautauqua County," published in 1904, is largely drawn upon:

It has been stated by historians that "no more magnificent forest existed in the United States than that which cast its mighty shadows over primitive Carroll" -a forest not only vast in extent, but the trees were larger than ever before known. Conewango pineries were the wonders of their day, and their fame had extended to other countries. Nature was provident in the streams that were to furnish power for the reduction of this forest, which in time gave place to the now productive farms.

In 1810 John Frew built a saw mill on lot 53. At a later date he with his brother James and Thomas Russell built a mill at the mouth of Frew Run on the east side of the Conewango, on lot 61. Thomas Russell sold his interests in 1815. In 1817 the Frew brothers, with their father, Hugh Frew, built a gristmill, using the same power and flume for both mills. The saw mill passed into the hands of Jefferson Frew, who in 1872 put in steam and operated it for a nuniber of years.

Matthew Turner is supposed to have built on lot the second mill in town; it was bought by Josiah H. Wheeler in 1816. James Wheeler, his son, built a mill on the same lot farther east, using one power and flume for both mills. On lot 45 Mr. Taylor built a mill; this was later owned by G. W. Fenton: the property passed into the hands of Otis Moore and on to his son, O. H. Moore. The plant was unusual in operating ability, the streams at this point being fed by numerous springs so that sawing could be done almost any day in the year. On the same lot east, Job Toby built a mill between 1816 and 1820. On lot 36 Amasa Littlefield built a mill that was purchased and rebuilt by John Myers. Reuben and John Thayer built a mill on the same lot east, that was purchased by John Townsend in 1841 and operated by himself to the time of his death in 1860, and by his son Samuel to 1888. Cyrus Clough was another saw mill builder on lot 28. This mill was conducted later by Jacob Persell. John Bain, Sherman Jones, John Townsend, Jr., Henry Bennett and Stephen Bennett, successively. By this time John Frew built a third mill on lot 27. His son, James R. Frew, carried on the business in later years; was later a resident of Cleveland, Ohio, and in 1902 was the oldest person living who was born in the town of Carroll.

Jediah Budlong as early as 1832 built a mill on lot 19 with an overshot wheel, and had a usual annual product of 500,000 feet of lumber. In 1848 Emrich Evans. with Mr. Budlong, rebuilt the mill, and it passed into the hands of L. L. Rawson, purchased later by John Hiller and burned in 1872. At the head of Frew Run, John Myers put in a mill that Samuel Cowen purchased later.

All these mills were on Frew Run, a stream not exceeding live miles in length, and all were operated three or four months in the year. In early times, water was held back by the density of forest, so that even in a dry time, after a thunder shower, quite a stroke of business could be accomplished. None of these mills but sawed one hundred thousand feet of lumber a year-more sawed three or four times that. With two exceptions, all these mills were running up to 1860. Steam superseded the water power on this stream, and one mill is in operation at the present time (1902), that of Lewis Brothers on lot 45.

In the southwest portion of the town were five mills on the same stream for a distance not exceeding a mile, the first of which was built in 1833. The mills were built by Daniel Wheeler, Luther Forbush, Joseph Hook, Benjamin Price. The Wheeler mill passed into the hands of H. H. Fenton and son, Hook mill sold to J. Brokaw, and at a later date, Mr. Brokaw built farther up the stream. George Wiltsie purchased the Price mill, introduced steam, and operated as late as 1885 with an annual product of 100,000 feet. In 1883 Mr. Wiltsie cut fourteen thousand pine shingles from a single tree. On lot 32, on Case Run, the three Pope brothers, Jediah, Gersham, and Chester, who were known as the old company, built and operated a mill; they afterwards sold to Asa Comstock. These brothers later built two mills on lot 14 The Covey mill was bought by G. W. Fenton, Jr., on lot 23, in 1834. James Cowen between 1838 and 1840 built a mill on the same lot. Mr. Comstoclc sold his mill to D. Harrington and built another on lot 24, and which was operated later by Holiday & Ames. Another mill owned by Pliny Cass was the lowest on Case Run, and passed into the hands of his son, J. Smith Cass.

In 1848 G. W. Fenton, Jr., built a mill just below the one he purchased in 1834, and in 1851 still another, using the same power and flume for both. These mills had unusual capacity, the usual annual product being 500,000 feet of lumber. In 1859 the product reached 1,100,000 feet. Both these mills were operated for twenty years, when the lower mill was arranged for shingle sawing. The other mill is still (1902) in operation by the Fenton brothers, who are using the original water power with a turbine wheel. The Harrington mill is also in operation with the original water power. Amasa Burt purchased one of the Pope mills on lot 14.

In early times shingles were rived and shaved from the best pine timber, but as first-class pine diminished, shingle machines were introduced and timber that would not admit splitting and shaving was sawed into shingles. Twenty-five thousand pine shingles cut from a single tree was not an uncommon product in those times. The product of these several mills was hauled to the nearest point on the banks of the Conewango, usually during the winter season, as wagons were unknown in the earlier days. The boards were raited and loaded with shingles ready to float out on the first spring freshet. Vast fleets of lumber were sent yearly down the Conewango to the Allegheny river to Pittsburgh and farther south. For several years the best pine was worth only $2.50 per thousand feet. This was traded for supplies, as flour, pork, tea, coffee, sugar, cotton cloth, etc., flour at times being twenty dollars and pork forty dollars a barrel. A canoe was taken on the raft, and into this were loaded the supplies, then pushed back at the end of a setting pole against a strong current to the starting point.

When the first bridge was built across the Allegheny river at Pittsburgh, the contractor came to the Conewango country. He found the timber wanted near the Pennsylvania line. Upon inquiring the price, the owner told him he could have all he wanted for nothing as the ground upon which the timber stood was worth more for agricultural purposes than the timber itself. Thousands of pine logs cut from the timber from this valley measured more than five feet at the stump and made from three to five thousand feet of lumber, while there were occasional logs that measured seven feet across. None of these majestic sentinels now remain. In 1878 A. M. Woodcock cut from lot 45 two trees measuring four and a half feet at the stump that netted him $185. While these did not compare with many of their predecessors in size, their commercial value was considerably greater.

The last tract of land of any considerable size with a growth of primeval pine upon it was the Prendergast estate in Kiantone, formerly a part of Carroll. It was purchased in 1887 by William Townsend and Daniel Griswold, who erected a mill and manufactured it into lumber. The estate comprised more than eight hundred acres, of which six hundred were timbered. Many of them were magnificent trees fit for the mast of a stately ship. There were several millions of lumber cut from this tract.

Supervisors-James Hall, 1826-33-39; James Parker, 1834-37-56-57; Esbai Kidder, 1838; Phineas Spencer, 1840; Jediah E. Budlong, 1841; Gordon Swift, 1842-44; John Frew, 1845; Reuben E. Fenton, 1846-52; Edwin Eaton, 1853-73; William H. H. Fenton, 1854-65-71; Charles L. Norton, 1855-58-64; Lucius M. Robertson, 1872; William Sheldon, 1874; Albert Fox, 1875; Temple A. Parker, 1876-77; Edward L. Hall, 1878; Lucius M. Robertson, 1879; George G. Davis, 1880; Silas W. Parker, 1881-87; Marcus T. Howard, 1888-90; John Venman, 1891-93-98-1903; Charles E. Dodge, 1894-97; Dana J. Hunt, 1904-07; Herbert R. Bennett, 1908-19; Loye T. Durrand, 1920.

The full value of Busti* real estate in 1918 was $1,022,784; equalized, $802,446.

* Book said Busti, should be Carroll, differant figures used in the Busti History.

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