History of French Creek, 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


French Creek—French Creek was formed from Clymer, April 23, 1829. It takes its name from the stream watering the town, which was early used by the French in their military expeditions, and contains 21,832 acres. Its surface is hilly, broken by the valleys of French creek and its tributaries. The main stream enters the town on the north line, on lot 24, about two miles from the northeast corner and running in a southwesterly direction, leaving the town and State on lot 58, about one and one-half miles north of the southwest corner. This stream, in its zigzag course, is a great annoyance to the inhabitants on account of the height to which the water rises in times of freshets. The town is cut by its valleys into three ridges; two running nearly east and west, separated by the Beaver Meadow Valley; the other running north and south, and separated from the former by the valley of French Creek. These ridges rise in some places two hundred fifty feet. Most of their sides are tillable and well adapted to grazing, but some places are steep. The soil varies from heavy clay to a gravelly loam ; there are small deposits of muck along the creek. The hill tops are generally wet, being underlaid by stiff, hard clay, impregnated with oxide of iron.

The French Creek flat varies in width from a pass but little wider than the bed of the stream to about three-fourths of a mile, and is about three miles long. The Beaver Meadow flat is so called from the appearance of its having been occupied by beavers. The meadow was covered by alders. At one time there were many pine and balsam or fir trees along the edges, and on what were islands at the time it was occupied by the beavers. In the south part of the town is another beaver meadow, a small one, on lot 9, the dam of which is quite perfect. The water from this meadow flows into Hare Creek, which takes a southerly course. There was a third beaver meadow on the west branch of the creek, on lot 47. This town is adapted to dairying. Its cool nights and heavy dews keep the grass in better condition than the drier climate of the lake shore, though many fruits can not be raised on account of frost. Near the southwest corner is a circular cranberry bog, which was given the name of “Possum.” Indications of petroleum occur on lot 21.

The first town meeting was held in March, 1830, at the house of William Hooper. These officers were elected: Supervisor, Alexander Wilson; town clerk, Isaiah Golding; assessors, John Gotham, Nathaniel Thompson, Silas W. Hatfield; collector, William Thompson; overseers of poor, Paul Colburn, Augustus Bolles; commissioners of highways, Parley Bloss, John Gotham, Royal Herrick; commissioners of schools, William Hooker, S. O. Colburn, Eli Belknap; inspectors of schools, D. H. Peck, A. Noble, Ephraim Dean; constables, William Thompson, George Adams; justice, Ephraim Dean.

The first settlers came from Oswego, Essex and Oneida counties during the War of 1812. Andy Nobles is said by some to have been here in 1811. He located on lot 44. John Cleveland was on lot 31 in 1812, Roswell Coe on lot 39, Nathaniel Thompson on lot 9 in 1813; Amon Beebe and Gardner Cleveland probably settled the same year. Young says that the first school was taught by Polly Forbes in 1817. Child says it was taught by a Chitsey in 1818. Child says “the first death was that of a son of Nathaniel Thompson, drowned in French Creek.” Young gives the first death as that of a child of J. Inglesby in 1818. “The first tavern was kept by William Graves, who built the first grist mill, both in 1822, and the first store was kept in one end of the grist mill by John Dodge.” Parkley Bloss located on lot 46 in 1815. He was the first highway commissioner, and did surveying with a pocket compass and used a rope as a surveyor’s chain. He had ten children; his sons were Adeñ, Parley, William, Reuben, Calvin, Richard, Benjamin. He died in 1852, aged 75 years. His son William was a noted hunter; one winter before January 1st he had shot forty-nine deer with his father’s open-sight flint-lock rifle. Many authenticated tales are told of his adventures and exploits in cutting wood and other labors. In 1870, when sixty years old, in one day he walked a mile and cut down the trees for, and cut into twenty-two inch lengths, three and one-half cords of wood. This whole family were energetic workers and did much to clear up the lands of the town. Gardiner Case, a soldier of 1812, some years after that war, came to French Creek and was a permanent settler. Henry R. Case is his son. Silas Terry settled, probably in 1820, on lot 2, where he bought land in 1821, coming from Harmony, where he settled in 1816 and later married Polly Powers. He resided in French Creek until 1855. He was one of the most important men of the new town, was justice for sixteen years and was collector of Clymer in 1821, which then in— cluded Sherman, French Creek and Mina. The tax collected that year in this town was about $800. He was also collector four years later. He was supervisor of French Creek in 1844-45-48, and in 1849 member of Assembly. Of his nine children, Seward W. was captain of Company G, 49th New York Volunteers, in the Civil War, and was killed at Spottsylvania; Cassius M. became a Congregational clergyman; Mary R. married Hon. Walter L. Sessions; Lawyer S., made his home in French Creek. Nehemiah Royce settled on lot 19 in 1825. He was supervisor seven years. Almond Stephen Park, son of Elijah Park, was born December 22, 1814, in Granville, Washington county. In 1828 he came to this county. April 27, 1834, he married Rhoda Ann Baker and settled in French Creek in 1836. Mr. Park represented his town on the board of supervisors in the year 1863. Lewis H. Park was born March 2, 1843. He married Mary M. Myers, November 14, 1869.

French Creek was included in 1816 in the parochial charge of Rev. Karl Wilhelm (Charles Williams) Colson, an early Lutheran missionary to the scattered Germans in Ohio, Northwestern Pennsylvania and adjacent localities. The first services to form a church were held in 1818, on lot 46, at the house of Alanson Root by Elder Ashford, who in 1821 organized a Baptist church in a log school house on lot 56. Among the first members were: Nathaniel and William Thompson, William Adams, A. M. Higgins, the wives of all of these; Roswell Coe, Amon Beebe. This church had a brief existence, most of the members removing from the town. Several subsequent abortive attempts to keep up a Baptist church were made. A Methodist Episcopal church was organized in the northwest part in 1830 by Rev. J. K. Hallock and Rev. J. Chandler. The members were Isaiah and Betsey Golding, and William and Amy Adams. Moses Olds and wife and Mrs. Bowles were early members, The society built a fine church costing $2,000 on lot 46, in 1858, which was completed, painted and carpeted in 1867. This society received fifty acres of “gospel land” from the Holland Land Company. It was on lot 30, and was sold by order of the county court and the money used in building the church. A Christian church, in which the ceremony of washing feet was literally carried out, was formed in 1834, with a membership of twenty—four, among them Benjamin and Calvin Bloss.

Supervisors—1830-31-32, Alexander Wilson, Jr.; 1833, Nathaniel Thompson; 1834-35-36-37, Ira F. Gleason; 1838, Daniel Hooker; 1839-40-41-42, Philo S. Hawley; 1843, David L. Gleason; 1844-45, Silas Terry; 1846-47, Nehemiah Royce ; 1848, Silas Terry; 1849, Nehemiah Royce; 1850, Thomas D. Jones; 1851, Nehemiah Royce; 1852, Philo S. Hawley; 1853-5455, Nehemiab Royce; 1856, John Sliter; 1857, Marvin Hooker; 1858, Stephen W. Steward; 1859-60, Hibbard W. Fenton; 1861-62, Reuben J. Beach; 1863, Almond S. Park; 1864-65, Lawyer S. Terry; 1866-67, Dana P. Horton; 1868-69, James A. Merry; 1870, Dexter M. Hapgood; 1871-72, Henry R. Case; 1873, John Jones; 1874, H. R. Parsons; 1875, John Jones; 1876-77, Reuben J. Beach; 1878, Orson Allis; 1879, Nehemiah Royce; 1880-81-82, Henry R. Case; 1883, Orson Allis; 1884-85, Edward Jaquins; 1886-87-88, Henry R. Case; 1889, James Rhoades; 1890-91, George I. Hapgood; 1892-93, Henry R. Jones; 1894-95-96-97-98-99-1900-01-02-03-04-05-06, Henry R. Case; 1907-08-09-10-11, Edward A. Austin; 1912-13, Samuel A. Webber; 1914-15, Lucas C. Gleason; 1916-17, Frank A. Jones; 1918-19, Lucas C. Gleason; 1920, Amos White.

According to the State census, 1915, French Creek has a population of 922 citizens, 19 aliens, and in 1918 the real estate of the town was valued at $472,810, which was assessed at $370,952. There are three small villages in the town: French Creek, Marvin and Cutting.

The town has good schools.

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