History of Ellery, 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



Ellery- For about twelve miles of its length, the eastern shore of Chautauqua Lake forms the southwestern boundary of the town of Ellery, that town extending from the towns of Ellington and Gerry on the east to the town of Chautauqua on the west, and from the town of Stockton on the north to the lake. Within these borders are comprised 30,098 acres of principally hilly land, well watered, and lying at about the geographical center of the county. The twelve miles of lake front comprise the most valuable lands in the town, the entire distance being well improved and largely devoted to residence and recreation purposes. Bemus Point, Griffith's Point, Greenhurst, Long Point, Maple Springs, and Midway are popular summer resorts, and Long and Bemus Points, capes, extending into the lake, enclose a beautiful bay sometimes caller Middle Lake. In other parts of the town are the small villages - Ellery Center, West Ellery, Towerville and Midway. The lake shore of Ellery is traversed by the Jamestown, Westfield & North Western railway, a modern electric line, connecting Jamestown, the villages and resorts of the eastern shore of the lake with Westfield and Dunkirk.

The population of Ellery in 1915, according' to the State census was 1,876, of whom 88 were aliens. There is no manufacturing in the town.

Ellery was set off from the "mother town," Chautauqua, February 29, 1821, but the first settlement was made by William Bemus in the spring of 1806, at Bemus Point; Jeremiah Griffith about two weeks after settled at Griffith's Point. His children were John, Seth, Samuel, Polly, Jeremiah and Alexander. A little later the same spring, Alanson Weed came with his family and settled in Ellery, about two miles south of Dewittville. Abijah Bennett came with him, stayed during the summer, and the next winter brought his family.

William Bemus, son of Jotham, Sr., and Tryphena (Moore) Bemus, was born at Bemus Heights, Saratoga county, New York, February 25, 1762. About the beginning of the Revolutionary War he removed with his father to Pittstown, Rensselaer county. He married, January 27, 1782, Mary, daughter of William Prendergast, Sr. Mr. Bemus and his family were a part of the company of emigrants, composed chiefly of Prendergasts, who journeyed to Tennessee and returned and settled in Chautauqua. He came to Ripley in the fall of 1805, and spent the winter in Westfield, near Arthur Bell's. The next spring he settled on the east side of Chautauqua Lake, on land bought in January, 1806, at what has since been known as Bemus Point, in Ellery, where he resided until his death, January 2, 1830, aged nearly sixty-eight years. The wife of Mr. Bemus, born March 13, 1760, died July 11, 1845, aged eighty-five years. They had a large family, all of whom removed to this county. Their children were: Daniel, a physician, removed to Meadville, Pa., where he died; Elizabeth, wife of Capt. John Silsby, they removed to Iowa, where they died; Tryphena, who married John Griffith, son of Jeremiah Griffith; Thomas; Charles; Mehitabel, wife of Daniel Hazeltine, of Jamestown, she died September 22, 1887, aged nearly ninety-five years; James, married Tryphena Boyd and resided at Bemus Point, where he died. Charles Bemus, fifth child of William and Mary (Prendergast) Bemus, was born in Pittstown, August 31, 1791. He came to Chautauqua with his parents in 1805. He married, February 28, 1811, Relepha Boyd, who was born July 20, 1790, and lived at Bemus Point on land originally bought by his father, until his death, October 10, 1861. His wife died January 2, 1843.

In October, 1809, the northeastern part of the town was first settled by William Barrows, a native of New Bedford, and a son-in-law of Maj. Samuel Sinclear, of Sinclairville. He settled on the bank of the Cassadaga creek, at Red Bird. After clearing a tract of land he removed to Ohio. The same year John Demott settled about one-half mile south of Barrows.

In 1809 John and Joseph Silsby settled on the lake, one or two miles southeast of Bemus Point. John Silsby was captain of a Chautauqua county company in the War of 1812, and was wounded at the battle of Buffalo. Enos Warner was an early settler in Ellery.. He bought land on lots 26 and 27. John R. Russell settled on lot 30. Clark Parker in 1810 settled on lot 27. He was an ensign in Captain Silsby's company. William Smiley in 1810 removed to Ellery, and died in 1825. His sons, Joseph and William, served in the War of 1812 and participated in the battle of Buffalo, in Captain Silsby's company, in which William was killed. William, a grandson of William, was killed in the battle of the wilderness. Josiah Hovey built a cabin on lot 13, in the northeast part, and in 1811 sold to John Love, who settled there. He died in Illinois in 1859, at the residence of his son Frederick. In 1815 Joseph Loucks, from Madison county, settled in the southeastern part. His sons, John, Daniel and Hiram, came with him. The sons, Joseph, Henry, Peter and David, came later.

William Atherly, William G. Younker, Henry Strunk, Henry Martin and Thomas Arnold also early settled in that part of the town. In 1816 Adam S. and James Pickard settled on lot 3. In a short time they removed to lot 22, in the northern part. Joseph W. came later. Their descendants still reside upon the highway, which is called Pickard street. About this year Samuel Young settled in this northern part upon lot 54. Ezra Young early settled on lot 46, Harry Hale on lot 38, Festus Jones, an early blacksmith, on lot 37. His brother, Luther C., was a surveyor.

John Wicks, from Saratoga county, settled in Ellery in 1818. His son, James H., born in Saratoga county, August 2, 1817, came to Ellery, subsequently removed to Gerry, where he died March, 1891. He was justice of the peace for sixteen years, and an active Methodist. He married Sophia, daughter of Andrew Ward, an early settler and lifelong resident of Ellicott.

In 1824 Peter Pickard settled on lot 9, in the eastern part. The same year James Heath settied in the same part on lot 2. Seth Clark, Clark Parker, James Hale, John Miller and Jacob Johnson were all early settlers here. In 1824 John Thompkins settled in the northeastern part.

The Hale family of Ellery dates back to the early days of the Massachusetts colony. Harvey Hale, born November 11, 1797, in Otsego county,. New York, married Jerusha Babcock, December 15, 1822; he died December 27, 1876; she died April 5, 1876. They settled in Ellery in the spring of 1827 about two miles north of Ellery Center.

Nathaniel C. Barger was born at Peekskill, New York, June 24, 1808. In 1828 he married Catherine Tompkins, and started for the West over the Erie canal and settled in 1828 in the eastern part of the town of Ellery, where he made his home until his decease. Mrs. Barger died in 1837. Their children were John D., Nathaniel T. and Lowry D. Mr. Barger married Tamor Tompkins, July 16, 1837.

In 1839 Orrin Hale settled in the central part. Eihanan Winchester settled early near the center. His brothers, Marcus, Jonadab, Jotham, Francis, Ebenezer, Herman and Hartford, all settled in the town. Ebenezer was early associated with Horace Greeley in publishing the "New Yorker." The father of the Winchesters came later and was twice married. He had twenty-three children, it is said. Lewis Warner early settled on lot 34, Morrison Weaver on lot 42, James Newbury on lot 18, and Amos Wood on lot 36. In the western part the early settlers were Luther Barney, James and Joseph Furlow, Ezra Horton and Joseph Brownell. Barnabus C. Brownell settled in the northwestern part.

Benjamin Parker, son of Thomas Parker, was born in Rhode Island, in March, 1765. In the Revolution he was for three years employed by the colonial government with an ox-team and a cart as a transport. He married Mary, daughter of Ebenezer Davis, of Hartford, Connecticut; she was born June 2, 1761. Mr. Parker, after residing in Washington county, came with his family to Ellery about 1816 and purchased one hundred twenty acres of land near Bemus Point, where he resided until his death, November 7, 1842. His wife died January 26, 1847. Since Benjamin Parker's death the old homestead has been sold in proceedings in the Supreme Court in which there were ninety-two parties, his direct descendants.

Elisha Tower, son of Isaiah and Sylvia (Toby) Tower, was born in New Bedford, Mass., May TO, 1788. He early removed with his parents to Duanesburg. In the summer of 1810 he came to Chautauqua and after a while took up 176 acres of land on lots 43 and 12 in the northeastern part of Ellery and commenced improvements. In 1813 he was drafted into the United States service and participated in the battle of Buffalo. He assisted his comrade, Cornelius De Long, who had been wounded in the head by a spent grapeshot, to escape from the enemy. June 1, 1815, he married Philenah, daughter of Simeon and Rhobe Morgan. Mrs. Tower died December, 1860, and Mr. Tower January 17, 1866.

James Heath, born in Brattleboro, Vermont, about 1785, married Zubia Austin, in Canibridge, Washington county, and moved to Wayne county, where he resided for several years. March 2, 1824, he moved to Ellery, took up land on lot 2, on the town line road between Sinclairville and Fluvanna and resided there until his death, January 17, 1845:
Morgan L. Heath was born in Lyons, Wayne county, April 20, 1812, moved with his father's family to Ellery in 1824. December 25, 1843, he married Electa Purdy.

Odin Benedict, son of Dr. Isaac Benedict, of Connecticut, was born in Skaneateles, Onoridaga county, August 20, 1805. Dr. Isaac Benedict moved to Marcellus about 1803. He was a surgeon in the United States service in the War of 1812, and died in 1814. Dr. Odin Benedict read medicine in his native town and graduated at Fairfield Medical College. He was licensed by the Herkimer County Medical College in January, 1826, and the same year came to Ellery Center and commenced practice. He was the first resident physician, and for years was one of the best known in the county. He had an extensive practice which continued until the year 1850, when he removed to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and started a government stock bank. In September, 1851, he went to Dunkirk and engaged in banking for a few years, after which he had a broker's office there for some years. He then resumed the practice of medicine, which he continued until his death in 1874. He was elected supervisor of Ellery in 1833 and was supervisor of that town fourteen years. He was member of Assembly in 1840 and 1843, and was postmaster in Ellery for about twenty years. In 1826 he married Sally Ann Capp. He died in 1874.

Samuel Weaver, son of Morrison Weaver, was born in Pittstown, January 16, 1833, came to Ellery from Washington county with his parents in 1834, and was school teacher for several years. He was elected supervisor for Ellery in 1888, serving one term with marked ability. He married Evaline M. Lazell, january 13, 1859. He died in 1893. He had one brother, Simeon B.

Alfred Harvey came to Ellery and settled on lot 30, March 2, 1847. He was born in Ononclaga county, in 1819. He married Alsina, daughter of Volney Patterson. (Mr. Patterson came to Gerry about 1855, and died in 1873). She was born in Onondaga county, August 31, 1826.

Jacob R. Brownell, born in Dutchess county January 10, 1802; after death of his first wife Mary in 1830, married, March 18, 1832, Hannah Harrington, of Hoosic, and moved to Ellery the same year and settled on lot 43. He died January 20, 1871; his wife died July 25, 1862. Their son, William O. Brownell, was born May 18, 1834, married Armenia M., daughter of Thomas D. and Ann M. (Shears) Wallis, who came to Ellery in 1836. Mr. Wallis died January 25, 1871, and his wife April 20, 1873.

Charles G. Maples, who settled on a farm in 1838, was many years justice of the peace, United States Assistant Assessor of Internal Revenue several years, and surrogate of the County.

The first sawmill was built in 1808 and the first gristmill was built in 1811, both by William Bemus. Joseph and David Loucks built a sawmill in the southeastern part of the town in 1830, and in 1832 Thomas Wing built a gristmill, but the most valuable grist and flour mill was built the same year by Seth and Samuel Griffith. A carding and cloth dressing establishment was early erected by Tubal C. Owens, on Bemus creek. William Bemus deeded one acre of land at Bemus Point for burial purposes. Matthew P. Bemus afterwards conveyed seven and one-half acres to the Bemus Point Cemetery Association. A fence, at an expense of $3,000, was erected around it, and the cemetery was made one of the most tasteful in the county. A large number of the dead from Ellery and many from Harmony are buried there.

A Baptist church at West Ellery was formed in 1808 by Elder Jones, then a resident of Ellery, at the house of John Putnam, for many years a deacon. The Baptist church, Ellery Center, was organized with nine members in 1814, by Elder Asa Turner, the first pastor. The first house of worship was built in 1830; in 1862 another one was built.

The First Universalist Church Of Ellery was organized with twenty-three members by Rev. Isaac George, the first pastor, June 12, 1822. A house was built in 1858 at Bemus Point.

The Methodist Episcopal church, West Ellery, was organized with twelve members by Messrs. Chandler and Barnes in 1831. Their first church edifice was erected in 1836; a second one in 1861. The first pastor was Rev. William Chandler.

The Methodist Episcopal church, Pickard Hill, was formed in 1830, Rev. J. C. Ayers, pastor. In 1871 they united with the United Brethren, and built a union church.

The United Brethren church, Pickard Hill, was organized in 1869 with eight members by Rev. Lansing McIntyre, first pastor.

Supervisors-Almon Ives, 1821-24-27-32; Peter Loucks, 1822; Abijah Clark, 1823; Jonadab Winchester, 1828-31 ; Robertson Whiteside, 1829; John Hammond, 1830; Odin Benedict, 1833-48; Minot Hoyt, 1840; George P. Vandervort, 1843-48-50; William S. Aldrich, 1851-53; Ira Haskins, 1854; Elias Clark, 1855; Leman Pickett, 1856-57; William C. Benedict, 1858-63-65-66-72-84-85; James Hale, 1864; John R. Russell, 1867; John S. Bemus, 1868-69; Oscar Hale, 1870-71-75-76-86-87; George W. Belden, 1873-74; Asa Cheney, 1877-83; Samuel Weaver, i888; Benjamin A. Pickard, 188990; S. Dwight Thum, 1891-97; Frank F. Pickard, 1898-1905; A. Morelle Cheney, 1906-13 (chairman pro tern., 1910-13 inclusive), 14-17 (chairman, 1916-17); 0. C. Casselman, 1918-20.

The full value of real estate in the town of Ellery in 1918 was $1,763,987; the equalized assessed value, $1,383,973.

Bemus Point, the principal lake resort, is widely known, and its summer colony is drawn from widely separated points. Its permanent population, according to the State census of 1915 was 270. In government it is an incorporated village.

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