History of Pomfret, 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


Pomfret - The survey of the Holland Land Purchase, begun in 1798, was so far completed that when in 1803 the first settler within the present limits of the town - Thomas McClintock, arrived, he was able to locate the land which he purchased in December, 1803 - lots 8, 4 and 20 in township 6, now in Pomfret. Low Miniger was the next purchaser, in 1804, and in October, Zattu Cushing, the third purchaser in township 6, bought lots 28, 29 and 33. Sales dropped off entirely for six years, but in the meantime township 5, range 12, was being taken up, Eliphalet Burnham buying lot 6 in March, 1805, and the same year Zattu Cushing bought lot 16. In 1800 the first wheat was raised in Clarence Hollow, and it was then estimated that but twelve persons were living upon the Holland Purchase. In 1801 the first white child was born in Pomfret, Catherine Putnam Cushing, who married Philo Hull Stevens, all this antedating the coming of Thomas McClintock, the first settler within the limits of the present town, and the first purchaser of land in township 6. David Eason settled on the west side of Canadaway in 1804, and in 1805 Zattu Cushing came to now Fredonia, moving with his wife and five children into a partly finished log house built by Low Miniger, the second purchaser of land in township 6, now in Pomfret. At that time excepting McClintock, the first settler, and David Eason, the Cushings' nearest neighbor was John Dunn on the west, and on the east the Stedmans, eight miles away. Seth Cole, the first actual settler in the town of Dunkirk, came from Paris, Oneida county, with Zattu Cushing, who sold Cole land at the mouth of the Canadaway, upon which he settled in February, 1805, the Cushings going on to now Fredonia. Later in 1805, Benjamin Barnes, Samuel Gear, Benjamin Barrett, and Orsamus Holmes, settled near enough to be considered neighbors to the first corners, and in 1806 came Hezekiah Barker, whose name is perpetuated in the beautiful park in Fredonia. The Risleys came in 1806, and in 1808 Elijah Risley opened at Fredonia the first store in the county. In 1807 Thomas McClintock sold his land to Zattu Cushing, and in 1808 came Dr. Squire White, the first educated physician in the county. He taught the first school in 1808 in a log house in the present town of Sherman, reserving the right to dismiss school should a call be made for his professional services. Until 1807 all the county was the town of Chautauqua, with town meetings at the Cross Roads. Zattu Cushing rallied all the voters of his section of the county, and when town meeting day came around again it was voted to hold the next meeting at Fredonia. This act led to the erection of the town of Pomfret.

In 1807 the Connecticut Baptist Missionary Society sent a missionary, Rev. Joy Handy, to preach the gospel. About the same time Rev. John Spencer, a Connecticut Congregational missionary, was sent to the Purchase. In the log cabins and beneath the trees they preached and performed the functions of their calling, their first burial service being held in 1807 over the body of a little girl killed by a falling tree. As late as 1820 the Cushing barn was the most commodious place for a religious assembly in all northern Chautauqua.

The town of Pomfret was formed from Chautauqua, March 11, 1808, and was the first division of the county after its organization. The town originally comprised the tenth and eleventh ranges of townships and all the area now included in the towns of .Pomfret and Dunkirk. The town is drained chiefly by Canadaway creek, entering from the east near the southeastern corner of the town, and pursuing a northerly and northwesterly course enters Lake Erie about two miles above Dunkirk. From 1830 until 1859 Pomfret comprised townships and 6 in the 12th range. In 1859 Dunkirk (town) was formed, leaving two tiers of lots from township 6 attached to Pomfret. The village of Fredonia was principally in township 6, and extended north into the second tier of lots. In order to keep the entire village in the town of Pomfret, an unequal division of territory was necessary and unavoidable. Pomfret has an area of 28,899 acres, Dunkirk, 6,632.

The first three settlers in Pomfret-Thomas McClintock, David Eason, and Low Miniger - in 1806-07 sold their lands to Zattu Cushing, who thus became the first settler to remain in the town, although the three settlers only moved to Westfield. Another buyer of their land was Hezekiah Barker. The early settlement of the town of Pomfret was chiefly on the north line of township 5, range 12. The greater part of the village of Fredonia is north of that line in township 6. The first town meeting in Pomfret was held at Elisha Manus' in 1808. Rev. John Spencer opened the meeting with prayer, and Ozias Hart was chosen moderator. The officers elected were: Supervisor, Philo Orton; town clerk, John S. Bellows; assessors, Richard Williams, Justin Hinman, John E. Howard; highway commissioners, Samuel Berry, Abiram Orton, John Mack; overseers of the poor, Zattu Cushing, Orsamus Holmes; constable and collector, George W. Pierce.

In the northeastern part of Pomfret in township 5, range 12, the early settlers were Joel Harrington, Jonathan Hempstead, Thomas Kepple; in the east part, Luther Frank, Ezekiel Johnson, Ephraim Wilson, Haway Durkee, Orrin Ford, Joseph Rood; in the southeastern part, Abel Beebe and Otis Goulding; in the southern part Varnum Bacheller, Levi Risley, Eli Webster, Willard Blodgett; in the western part several Websters settled, Jonathan Sprague, George Steele, Jonas Litch, Rowland Porter. Near the center of the town the early settlers were Benjamin Randall and Isaac Norton. Early settlers in part of township 6, now a part of the town of Pomfret, were Daniel G. Gould, Oliver Barnes, J. Baldwin, D. G. Goulding, Justus Adams, Martin Eastwood, John Sawin, Pearson Crosby, David Elliot, Nathaniel Pearson, Calvin Hutchinson, Henry Lassell, Todd Osborne, Irwin Osborne.

The early settlers found the plats of Canadaway creek well timbered, the Canadaway furnished abundant water power, and soon saw and grist mills were in operation, although for a number of years the only articles sent to market were pot and pearl ashes. At Laona, named by Henry Wilson about 1820, the fine water power was utilized by Thomas and Hezekiah Bull to operate a flouring mill, either in 1810 or 1811. A carding mill was built by Ebenezer Eaton in 1812; a cotton mill by Thomas Bull about 1817, which soon burned down; another cotton mill built by Thomas Bull and Orrin Ford in 1823, which was changed in 1854 to a paper mill. At different times about thirty factories have drawn their motive power from Canadaway creek, but now the little manufacturing done uses steam, electricity, or gasoline. The three Risley brothers, about 1830, established the Risley Seed Gardens in Fredonia. For a long time they were the most extensive in the United States, sending their products to every State and territory. In 1849 they sold onion seeds in California for the same weight in gold.

Pornfret has the distinction of having first used natural gas as an illuminant; first in 1821, and the gas works established in Fredonia were the first in this country. Grapes are raised in great abundance, and the production of grape roots has grown into an immense business, a market being found in every State and Territory, and almost every nationality upon the globe. Manufacturing of fruit products, general farming, dairying, and fruit growing constitute other activities of the town.

An important event in the history of Pornfret was the founding of the Fredonia Academy, in 1823. It was a plain, unpretending structure, but ample for its purposes, and imposing, when nine-tenths of the people lived in rude log cabins. The original subscription is still preserved. Mortgages to the land company, with unpaid interest, hung like a funeral pall over the the whole Western New York. Many mechanics did not receive for work five dollars in cash during the entire year. The subscription was drawn in such a form that every man might aid as he could, in labor, from his mill, his field, or his workshop. The whole cash subscription was $75, barely sufficient to procure glass and nails. To this General Barker contributed $25, Dr. White $10, and others smaller sums. General Barker and Colonel Abell each contributed in some form $100, and Dr. White the next amount, $60. Every form of material for building is upon the subscription, besides cattle, rye, corn, chairs, cabinet work, shoes and hay. Solomon Hinchley gave $30 in pork, ten bushels of corn and ten bushels of rye, and three hundred pounds of beef. Lyman Ross subscribed twenty gallons of whiskey. When this Academy was established, it was the "lone star" of the west, and soon exerted an influence beyond the hopes of its founders. It not only drew scholars from all of Western New York, but in 1839 from the Canadas and the thirteen States and Territories. The second story was reserved perpetually for the Presbyterian church for a place of worship. For a community which so early established churches and schools it comes as a shock to learn that at an early period there were eighteen distilleries in the town, and the use of whiskey almost universal. In the Washingtonian movement in 1840, men awakened to the ravages of intemperance. In every community some were snatched as brands from the burning.

Churches were organized in Pomfret through the efforts of Rev. Joy Handy and Rev. John Spencer, and that other pioneer in Christian work, the Methodist circuit rider. The first church in the town, the Baptist, was also the second church in the county, its birth date, October 20, 1808. The Presbyterian church followed on September 29, 1810, the Methodist Episcopal church in 1811, and Trinity Protestant Episcopal Church on August 1, 1822. The First Baptist Church, which became the Fredonia Baptist Church, May 25, 1859, really dates from a meeting held by nine people in November, 1805. The next recorded meeting is March 1, 1807, but on September 8, 1808, articles of faith and a covenant were adopted, and on October 20, 1808, sixteen persons were examined and a church organized. Rev. Joy Handy was pastor until 1822, and was succeeded by Rev. Elisha Tucker. A brick church valued at $20,000 was dedicated July 7, 1853. Among the noted pastors of this church are Rev. Arnold Kingsbury, Rev. Charles E. Smith, and Rev. M. J. Winchester. The present pastor (1920) is Rev. C. L. Rhodes.

The First Presbyterian Church of Pomfret was organized September 29, 1810, as a Congregational, Rev. John Spencer, its founder, being a missionary of that faith from Connecticut. Eight men and six women comprised the first membership, thirteen members being added during the next four years. On January 30, 1817, the congregation adopted a Presbyterian form of government. The Presbyterian Society was incorporated in 1819, and in 1836 a church, sixty-five by fifty feet, was erected on the site of the present church. About 1875 that church was replaced by the present commodious structure. The first pastor was Rev. Samuel Sweezy, installed March 13, 1817; the present pastor is Rev. George H. Allen, Jr.

While the Methodist circuit rider followed closely upon the advent of the pioneer settlers in Chautauqua county, coming first in 1805, it was not until 1811 that Rev. Elijah Metcalf, preacher in charge of the Chautauqua circuit, organized a class. The members of that historic class were: Justin Henman and wife; Daniel Gould and wife; William Ensign and wife; Jeremiah Baldwin and wife. A plain church edifice, forty by fifty feet, was erected in 1822. The eccentric but sincere minister, Lorenzo Dow, preached in that old church, which was replaced by a larger church at the corner of Center and Barker streets in 1839. In 1843 the annual conference, presided over by Bishop Joshua Soule, D. D., was held in that church, this his last to preside over as a bishop of the Methodist Episcopal church, he with others in 1844 seceding to form the Methodist Episcopal Church South. In 1867 a site was secured fronting on Barker Common (now Lafayette Square), and the present church structure, begun in 1868, finished in 1869, was dedicated by Bishop Matthew Simpson, assisted by Rev. Benoni I. Ives. John P. Hall Memorial Parsonage adjoining the church was erected in 1881-82, during the pastorate of Rev. J. A. Kummer. Among the noted pastors were: Rev. R. W. Crane, Rev. J. M. Bray, Rev. A. J. Merchant, Rev. J. A. Kummer, Rev. W. P. Bignell, Rev. Robert E. Brown, and Bruce S. Wright. The present pastor is Rev. S. L. Maxwell.

Trinity Protestant Episcopal Church was organized August 1, 1822, and a church edifice dedicated in 1835. The first rector was Rev. David Brown, the first wardens, Michael Hinman and Watts Wilson, Jonathan Sprague, Abiram Orton, Joseph Rood, Abraham Van Santvoord, Benjamin Douglas, Nathan Hempstead and Joseph G. Henman composing the first vestry. Noted rectors of the past have been Rev. W. O. Jarvis and Rev. John J. Landers. The present rector is Rev. Henry Missler. Other churches in Pomfret are an Evangelical church at Laona, a Free Methodist, a Lutheran, a Church of Christ (Scientist) Society, St. Joseph's Roman Catholic, St. Anthony's Italian Roman Catholic, and Penticostal Mission.

Original Purchases in Township 5, Range 12.
1805-March, Eliphalet Burnham, 6; Zattu Cushing,16; Samuel Perry, 8; April, Augustus Burnham, 7.

1806-June, Philo Orton, 48; August, Philo Orton, 40; September, Elijah Risley, 32, 33.

1804-June, Benjamin and Isaac Barnes, 40.

1808-April, Samuel Berry, 24; October, Thomas Bull 17.

1809-January, Thomas Bull, 18, April, Thomas Warren, 55; June, Philo Orton, 39; August, Augustus Buruham, 1; September, James Morgan, 31; Jeremiah Rood, 31; Joseph Coates, 3; November, Cushing and Holmes, 63.

1810-January, Daniel Barnes and Oliver Woodcock, 47; Philo Orton, Sinieon Fox, 47; September, Philo Orton, 56.

1811-March, Stephen Porter, 41; Ammi Williams, 49; Israel Lewis, 13; April, William Hinds, 62; August, Joseph Webster, 6r; November, Zattu Cushing, 25.

1812-December, Stephen Barrett, 3.

1813-February, Amos Sage, 54; May, Philo Orton, 64; December, Erastus H. Clarke, 64.

1814-June, Richard Kelly, 42; November, James Hale, 42.

1815-January, Elisha Webster, 41; September, Benjamin Barrett, 16.

1816-June, Abiram Orton, 5; July, Zattu Cushing, 62; October, Benjamin Perry, 5.

1817-February, Thomas Bull, 15, 6; March, Thomas Clark, 13; April, Eli Webster, 34; May, James Norton, 61, 64; Jonathan Sprague, 49; Ira Seely, 34; Josiah Munger, 34; June, Standish Rood, 38; August, Luther Harmon, 53; October, Jonas Litch, 53; Matthew W. Cossity, 54; November, Rensselaer Crosby, 52; Jonathan Sprague, 57. -

1818-January, Benjamin White, 60; July, Seth Risley, 28; August, Allen Bills, 28; September, Robert Gardner, 52; October, Leverett Todd, 45; Reuben Bartholomew, 45.

1819-April, Asa Rood, 37; July, Parley Munger, September, John Hilton, 38; November, Edmund W. Barlow, 37.

1821-October, Benjamin Perry, 13; Robert Mellen,

1822-February, Thomas A. Osborne, 29; July, Ezekiel Johnson, 21; October, Isaac Bussing, 35.

1825-December, Joel H. Johnson, 5.

1826-October, Marcus Miller, 35.

1827-February, Lemuel and Rowland Porter, 51; March, Calvin Hutchinson, 57; May, Jacob Turk, 43; July, Samuel Barlow, 34.

1828-March, Watts Wilson, 37.

1829-January, Porter S. Benjamin, 46; June, Orris Crosby, 43, 44.

1831-January, Leverett Todd, 45.

Original Purchases in Township 6, now in Pomfret.
1803-December, Thomas McClintock, 8, 14, 20.

1804-August, Low Miniger, 26. October, Zattu Cushing, 28, 29, 33.

1810-May, Benjamin Barnes, Jr, 15.

1814-March, James Mark, 25.

1815-May, Justus Adams, 38.

1816-December, Sylvanus Marsh, 38.

1821-December, William Gates, 35; George D. Gates, 35.

1822-June, Pearson Crosby, 26; August, Thomas A. Osborne, 35; October, David Elliott, 30; Nathan Hempstead, 37; Alva Elliott, 34; Anson and Calvin Hutchinson, 34.

1823-September, Nathaniel Crosby, 31.

1824-October, Pearson Crosby, 26.

1825-August, Isaac A. Lovejoy, and others, 30; Zattu Cushing and others, 30; Stephen Wilson and others, 30.

Supervisors-1808-18, Philo Orton; 1819-22, Leverett Barker; 1823-25, Abiram Orton; 1826-28, Benjamin Douglass; 1829, Leverett Barker; 1830-33, George A. French; 1834, Orrin McClure; 1835, Elijah Risley, Jr.; 1836, Elisha Norton; 1837, Pearson Crosby; 1838-39, Squire White; 1840-44, Elisha Norton; 1845-46, Leverett Barker; 1847, Daniel W. Douglass; 1848-49, Rosell Greene; 1850, William Risley; 1851-53, Alva H. Walker; 1854, Hiram P. Smith; 1855, Abner W. Camp; 1856, Elisha Norton; 185 7-58, Edmund Day; 1859-60, Elisha Norton; 1861-62, Orson Stiles; 1863-64, Henry B. Benjamin; 1865, Orson Stiles; 1866, Horace White; 1867-68, George D. Hinckley; 1869, John P. Hall; 1870-72, Franklin Burritt; 1873, Harmanus C. Clark; 1874, Franklin Burritt; 1875, James D. Wells; 1876-77, John S. Russell; 1878-79, M. M. Fenner; 1880, George S. Joslyn; 1881-82, John S. Lambert; 1883-85, B. F. Skinner; 1886, Arthur R. Moore; 1887-88, Otis M. Hall; 1889-90, Warren B. Hooker; 1891, D. G. Pickett; 1892, James R. Adams; 1893-99, Willis D. Leet; 1900-05, Gaius M. Tremaine, Jr.; 1906-13, William S. Stearns (chairman, 1908-13); 1914-20, Edward N. Button.

Although never an elected supervisor, Louis McKinstry, born in Fredonia, December 9, 1844, died there March 5, 1919, was for fifty years in the clerical service of the county (not continuous), and year after year was unanimously elected assistant clerk of the board of supervisors. He was the son of Willard McKinstry, who in 1842 bought the "Fredonia Censor," which he published until his death, then was succeeded by his son Louis, who continued editor and owner of "The Censor" until his death seventy-seven years after the paper came under the McKinstry ownership. Louis McKinstry attended the meeting of the supervisors at Mayville late in December, 1918, but owing to infirmities could not ascend the stairs leading to the board room. He did, however, attend the annual banquet of the board, and made a characteristic speech, which he regarded as his farewell to official county life, although he was continued assistant clerk as long as he lived.

The village of Fredonia lies in the heart of the grape belt. The first settlement in Fredonia by a white man was made in 1804, near the Beebe place, on Risley street. The Indians had named the stream which flowed by his cabin Gon-no-do-wao, meaning in the Seneca tongue, "flowing through the hemlocks ;" he pronounced it Can-a-da-wa, and this was the name of the little settlement beside the stream which flowed beneath the hemlocks, until the first newspaper, "The Chautauqua Gazette," appeared in 1817, dated at Fredonia. In 1829 the village was legally incorporated, Fredonia. It then contained from 6oo to 700 inhabitants and was the largest village in Chautauqua county. Concerning the name Fredonia, the following is taken from Morse's "Universal Geography," published in Boston in 1812. The name Fredonia is not mentioned in the first edition published in 1789, nor in an edition published in 1804. This extract is from the sixth edition:

Fredonia, a generic name proposed to be given to the territory now called by the descriptive name of the United States of America, including the annexed territory of Louisiana. Its extreme length is upwards of 2,000 miles. Extreme breadth 1,500 miles. It is estimated to contain two million square miles or about four-fifths as many as all contained in all Europe. It is twice the size of the Chinese Empire, which supports upwards of 300 millions of inhabitants, and Russia excepted, is by far the largest territory on earth whose inhabitants live under the same government.

The Mississippi river divides Fredonia nearly in the center from north to south. She has a sea coast of many thousand miles in extent, full of convenient harbors. With the exception of New England, it is very sparsely settled. It contains upward of 7 millions of inhabitants, exclusive of Indians, more than a seventh of whom are in Slavery.

In 1826 the Fredonia Academy was opened for students. The outside world heard of Fredonia because of the use of natural gas for lighting public places in 1821. In 1839 Fredonia was still the largest village in the county, and three hundred miles from a railroad. With the completion of the Erie railroad to Dunkirk in 1851, her supremacy ended.

Fredonians are proud to enumerate the ideas which first developing in their village have been appropriated by the world at large until they have grown to be a mighty power in political and social life. Here was organized in 1868 the first subordinate grange, Fredonia No. i, Patrons of Husbandry, an order which has been of inestimable advantage to the farmer and his family and has revolutionized the politics of several States.

The first Woman's Crusade was inaugurated in Fredonia, and at the same time the organization of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union was effected, an organization which has proved to an important factor in the sociological problems of the whole county.

The Lake Shore railroad, now a part of the great New York Central system, was organized at a meeting held in Fredonia, and the stock was subscribed for them. It has been said that Fredonia was the first village in the State to own a public building. The first academy in Western New York was located here, and when Lafayette visited Fredonia in 1825, the village was illuminated as part of the celebration and natural gas was used for the purpose.

Reference has been made to the Risley brothers being the first seedsmen in Fredonia. From a paper prepared and read by Louis McKinstry, of grateful memory, the following extracts are taken:

The Risleys were our first seedsmen, starting the business in 1833. The seeds went in wagons painted in bright colors and labeled in large letters upon each side, Risley Brothers, Garden Seeds, Fredonia, N. Y. At every considerable town they would leave a box containing an assortment and the next year the storekeeper would pay for what he had sold and receive a fresh supply. Great fields of onions were in the rear of the Risley homes on the Risley flats and it used to be said that there was "a sixpence in every onion top." The business proved very profitable and when they sold out to U. E. Dodge in 1853, the three Risleys were the wealthiest men in Fredonia. Elijah Risley, father of the three seedsmen, came here with his family in 1807, arriving by ox-teams from Cazenovia, Madison county, N. Y., in April. He settled on West Hill, where Berry street has since been opened, built the first sawmill and gristmill at the foot of Main street, arid died in 1841, aged 84. A description of the Risley cabin was written by William Risley, son of Elijah in 1873. He said the cabin was floored with large flat stones from the creek, to save splitting and smoothing logs. There was a hole in the roof to let out smoke, and when the fire was built upon the stones under it, the stones began to crack and pieces to fly, driving everybody out of the cabin.

Elijah Risley, Jr., was our first storekeeper, opening a small grocery in 1808, west of the creek, on the east side of Main street, where the hill begins to rise. Yet when he was married to Nabby Brigham, a few years afterward, his wedding journey consisted of a trip with some young people walking through the woods down to the shore of Lake Erie, where they skipped stones on the water and had a picnic. His bride at that simple wedding lived to see her husband sheriff of the county, major-general of the militia of the region, and in 1848 elected to Congress. If you should see a large engraving of the scene in the United States Senate, when Daniel Webster delivered his famous reply to Hayne, of South Carolina, you will see the portrait of Elijah Risley in the foreground. All the Risley brothers were fine looking and men of high character.

Said a banker: "I would as soon hand money to Levi Risley in the dark without counting as to give it to other men in daylight and take a receipt."

John Jones, an architect and builder, came from England to New York, thence to Westfield about 1837. He built the Episcopal and Baptist churches, the Johnson House and three stately homes with tall pillars in front for Elijah, William and Levi Risley, all on Risley street. Two of those homes remain, but Levi Risley's home was destroyed by fire.

The Risley brothers beautified their own home with shrubbery and flowers and also set out many of the trees which now adorn our village parks. When William Risley was village trustee, he aided in securing an ordinance allowing a tax rebate for those who planted maple trees on the line of the streets. But the climax of style and elegance was reached when the three brothers had each a fine standing top carriage built and Mr. McKinstry says: "When the carriage, drawn by well groomed horses with silver-plated harness, drove in procession to church every Sunday morning, the sight filled my boyhood's eye with feeling akin to awe."

Not a Risley descendant now remains in Fredonia.

The Fredonia of 1920 is a beautiful village of over 6,000 inhabitants, abundantly supplied with all the necessities, comforts and many of the luxuries of modern life. It is a village of churches and schools, of clean-living rightminded people proud of their village and its good name. Two banks serve as financial agents for the community. The Barker Library affords book-lovers a pleasant retreat, while Barker Common, now Lafayette Park, faced by the City Hall, the Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian churches on the west, Trinity Episcopal Church and Barker Library on the north, offers shade and rest to the passersby. A fountain, erected by the Woman's Christian Temperance Union in 1912 to the memory of Esther McNeill Crusader, adorns the southeast corner of the Common. Electric lines leave the village at frequent intervals and all points are covered by their connections.

Fruit products and fruit juices are the towns only manufactures, although grape and fruit baskets are made.

Much might be written of the literary side of Fredonia life, the village being noted as the one-time abode of many celebrities and for its cultured and refined society.

The leading fraternal orders are well represented, an active Young Woman's Christian Association pursues a course of work peculiar to that organization, Benjamin Prescott Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, offers patriotic inspiration and example, while nine well attended churches offer religious consolation. As the home of a State Normal School and high grade public schools, Fredonia offers a full and free education to her sons and daughters, through courses of study which fits them for many avenues of occupation or to enter higher institutions of learning. Truly the lot of Fredonians are "cast in pleasant places." The Shakespeare Club is a woman's organization of high merit, and is the leading literary club of the village. Since the World War the Citizens' Club has not resumed its former activities. Pomfret bore her part nobly in that great struggle, about 325 men going into the different branches of the service from the town. Two of her men were killed in action, Louis Goth and Jay Zender; one, John H. Wilder, was killed in an airplane accident; and a nurse, Miss Annie Williams, died of disease at the front.

Fredonia has the distinction of having been the first place in the United States whose buildings were illuminated with natural gas. The utilization of natural gas was begun in 1821, when the fluid was introduced into a few of the public places, among them the hotel which then occupied the site of what was afterwards the Taylor House, and which was thus illuminated when Lafayette passed through. the village. The gas works in Fredonia were the first in this country. The gas on Canadaway creek was first discovered by the burning of driftwood lying over the water. Child's "Gazetteer and Directory" says that the first spring discovered, and from which gas was first used, was on the north bank of the creek, at the Main street bridge. The gas from this well, enough for thirty burners, was used alone until 1858, when Preston Barmore sunk another well on the creek, in the northwest part of the village. In the year mentioned, Elias Forbes became interested in the well and formed a company. Three miles of mains were laid through which gas was conducted to the village, where it was used in stores. In 1859 the company put in a gas holder and supplied private houses. In 1871 Alvah Colburn drilled a well, bought the Barmore interest in the Gas Company and connected his well, since which time the supply of natural gas available has partially met the demand.

Wells have been sunk and gas found in the towns of Pomfret, Sheridan, Hanover, Portland, Westfield, and Dunkirk, wells in Hanover, Sheridan, Dunkirk and Pomfret being yet good producers.

About the year 1900, William H. Frost came to Pomfret and later became interested in the production of gas and in its sale as a commercial enterprise. He sank his first well in 1906 on Professor Freeman's farm at Fredonia, that well supplying several families of the neighborhood. Later in the face of much competition, Mr. Frost received a franchise from the village, stipulating a price to consumers not to exceed thirty-two cents per M. feet and agreeing to furnish not less than sixty families the first year.

Mr. Frost organized the Frost Gas Company, Inc., and continued drilling for gas until he had sunk fifty-three wells, and was supplying consumers (house and factory) in Brocton, Portland, Cassadaga, Lily Dale and Stockton. He also sold gas to the amount of $2,000 monthly to the Brooks Locomotive Works in Dunkirk although the South Shore Gas Company supplied Dunkirk and the northern lake towns and villages. Mr. Frost continued the active executive head of the Frost Gas Company, Inc., until January, 1917, when he transferred his interest to Henry L. Doherty & Company, who continue business under the original charter and corporate name, The Frost Gas Company, Inc. In 1892 Mr. Frost drilled a well on the estate which is yet his home in Fredonia, that well yet supplying the house with gas for both light and heat, although it has never been uncapped since beginning to flow.


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