History of Clarksville, New York
A Centennial Memorial
History of Allegany County, New York
John S. Minard, Esq. Historian
Mrs. Georgia Drew Andrews, Editor.
W. A. Fergusson & Co., Alfred, N. Y. 1896


CLARKSVILLE is in the western tier of towns and next to Genesee, which is located in the southwestern corner of the county. The surface is very irregular, the hills being abrupt and forming a portion of the foothills of the Appalachian system. This district, in the summer time when the tree-covered hills are green with foliage and in the autumn when this foliage is turned by the frosts to varying shades of red and yellow, presents a beautiful and picturesque aspect. Everywhere along the sides of the hills are springs, of the purest water.

The valley of Dodge's creek, the principal watercourse of the town, was once a paradise for hunters. The numerous sheltered valleys furnished protection for deer, bears, wolves and other wild animals. Wolves were once such a pest that a bounty was put on wolf scalps. An occasional deer was seen in the creek basins as late as 1880. And there are still many of the smaller species of game such as rabbits, pheasants, etc. This valley used to be a favorite locality of the Indians. It is no uncommon thing to find arrowheads and other relics. On the farm of J. R. Peckham south of the village was an Indian camping-ground called the "Half-way House." But the forests of the primitive race are being fast cleared away save a few maple groves, and his hunting grounds have been transformed to farms dotted with pleasant cottages and herds of feeding cattle.

Most of the land which is cleared is either pasture or meadow land, and with the herds of cattle on the green hifisides, the crystal clear brooks and the leafy forests one is reminded of a Switzerland in miniature. But in the winter when these hills, stripped of their verdure and the trees of their leaves, form the parade ground of the remnants of a western blizzard which tumbles down the steep slopes, roars in the valleys and skips up the opposite sides, whirling snow and sleet, then the situation is not so pleasing. But the people who live for a time in this place find in its solitude and seclusion a charm which firmly binds them to the location. For the town is in a measure cut off from the rushing business atmosphere of the nineteenth century. The larger villages are several miles away, there are no railways leading to them, and as a result the town has an individuality of its own. Many a person after living his boyhood and his early manhood here has decided to try the outside world. After an experience with other locations lasting sometimes a few years, sometimes a few days, he drifts back with the usual remark, "Clarksville against the world." This peculiarity has been remarked upon by several. Of course the love of home which all creatures have has much to do with explaining it, but there is no mistaking the fact that the atmosphere and make up of the place have a magnetism which affects those who come within its influence. The inhabitants as a rule live a quiet and peaceful life, the result of fresh air, pure water and healthful exercise. A "raising," a wedding, a funeral, or even a "horse-trade" furnishes sufficient nervous stimulus for the good of the community.

SOME OF THE PIONEERS.-The first man to settle in Clarksville was Horatio G. Slayton, who came in the early spring of 1822 from Cuba, of which this town was then a part. He settled about a mile south of the village on Dodge's creek, built his log cabin and began clearing his farm. Two months after locating here a son was born to him. This son Joseph P. Slayton was the first white child born in the town. He lived through all the vicissitudes of pioneer life and died at the ripe age of 70 in the autumn of 1892. In 1824 came John Murray. In 1827 James McDougal and Jabez Lurvey, and soon after many others, until quite a settlement was formed where the village now stands. Most of the settlers bought their land of the Holland Land Co., either directly or through the agency of Colonel King, who bought it for 25 cents per acre and sold it for $1.50. Among the early settlers was Anson Congdon, who, at the age of 16, came with the Main family from Otsego Co. After remaining a year he became so homesick that in midwinter he tramped back to his old home, a distance of 250 miles, through a very deep snow. He returned shortly after to this place, accompanied by his father and several members of the family. Mr. Congdon was one of the chief builders of the town. He engaged at various times in farming, the lumber business, and lastly in the petroleum industry. He was a prominent factor in the politics of the county, and exclusively controlled the political bearings of his town for half a century. He held various town and county offices, and represented his county in the state legislature of 1851. His death occurred at the age of 73, Feb. 23, 1890. Benjamin Smith of Rhode Island, came from Otsego Co., in 1835 with wife and nine children and located on the place where Mary J. Smith resides and lived there until his death in 1858. (See Genesee). Another of the pioneers of this place is Prentice Peckham. His 'father moved into town from Stonington, Conn., during 1836. "Uncle Prent," as he is familiarly called, is a typical representative of the "down-east " Yankee. He has quite a reputation as a weather prophet and his quaint stories about his boyhood "down in Connecticut" are always interesting.

The first sawmill in the town was built during 1828, by Joseph Palmer. Another was also erected in early times by Anson Oongdon, near the village. A portion of the mifidam and some remnants of timbers are yet visible. The first store was built by Geo. Hartson. Of late years the building has served as a hotel. The pioneer blacksmith is Levi Dunn, who built his first shop about a mile north of where the village stands. Mr. Dunn now has a shop in the village and his work shows the skifi of half a century's experience. The first physician residing in the town was James McDougal.

CHURCHES - Clarksville has two churches. The first organized was the Baptist church. The society was formed as a branch of the Friendship Baptist church by Elder T. Fuller, Nov. 21, 1838. The names of the first members are Cyrus Peckham, Henry Main, Olive Gillett, Mary Peckham, Wm. P. Briggs, Eunice Nichols, Joel Gillett, Abigail Gillett, Anson Gillett, Prentice Lewis, C. W. Peckharn and Elvira Lurvey. March 1, 1843, a separation was effected from the Friendship church; and Holden E. Prosser was chosen pastor. He remained four years. The present pastor is Elder W. R. Prentice who has occupied this pulpit since 1893. The building is pleasantly located on the east side of the village main street. It is a wooden structure, built during 1853 after the usual mode of architecture used in country churches at that period. It will seat about 300 persons, is heated with gas and valued at about $3,000. Opposite the church is the parsonage, a neat country-house, which was purchased in 1876 for $1,350. The membership of this church is 45. The Sabbath school was organized during 1860. It has at present 45 members and 5 teachers. The superintendent is Miss Cora Whiteman, assistant superintendent, Mrs. Newcomb; treasurer and secretary, Miss Flora Windsor.

At Obi, a smaller village in the southern part of the town, is located the "United Brethren in Christ" church. This society was organized by Rev. S. H. Smith in. 1861. There were at first but seven members. The church was built during 1868 at a cost of $1,700. The building is similar in style of architecture to the one at Clarksville village. The first pastor was N. R. Luce. The present one is Rev. Kincaid. There are now about 40 members of the society. The valuation of the church property is about $3,000.

SCHOOLS. - There are now nine school districts in the town, although three of them are joint-districts. The public school money for the town in 1896 amounts to $809.92, distributed thus: district 1, $132.52; district 2, $113..54; district 3, $110.54; district 4, -----; district 5, $112.80; district 6, $111.37; district 7, $118.05; district 8, $110.06; district 9, $1.04. The largest attendance is in district No. 1. This is the district in which the first school was organized during 1827. The teacher was Maria McDougal who taught in a small building where the residence of Hon. M. M. Congdon now stands. She began with a daily attendance of eight; the children coming through the forests along the footpaths, and keeping a vigilant watch on all sides in fear of meeting a stray wolf or bear. The school building of this district is located in the village of Clarksvifle. It was moved to its present site in 1890, from a location about half-a-mile north of its present situation. The average daily attendance of this school is 38. The building is heated with gas and in the belfry is a fine $100 bell, the gift of the district. All the schools of the town are well attended and instructed, showing an earnest desire on the part of the taxpayers to fit the coming generation for their responsibilities as worthy citizens of the United States.

SOCIETIES. - Among the societies, religious and otherwise, are the Ladies' Aid Society, with a membership of 40. Mrs Prentice, president; Mrs. M. A. Congdon, treasurer; Mrs. Caroline Jordan, secretary, also the The Missionary Circle, with a membership of 35. Cora Whiteman, president. The Good Templars are represented as well. Diamond Lodge, No. 716, of the I. O. U. T. has a suite of rooms on the second floor of the establishment of H. P. Jones. This lodge was organized during February, 1894, by Prof. Ford of Hornellsville. There were 12 charter members. The membership has now increased to 40.

G. A. R. - Although there, is no G. A. R. Post in town there are many soldiers of the late war., Most of them belong to the Stephen Battle Post at Cuba. Among those who braved the hardships of that great struggle and returned are R. J. Jordan, Jerome Isenhour, Win. Perry, Frank Howard, Wm. Holliday, Samuel Marshall, Nahum Robinson, J. Whiteman and several others. Mr. Jordan enlisted in the 85th N. Y., in 1861, was with McClellan in his Peninsular campaign, and his regiment was one which formed the rear guard during the famous retreat. At the battle of Fair Oaks and during the seven days' fighting which followed, Mr. Jordan was in several hot, and rather uncomfortable situations. At one time he stood in a riflepit four hours in cold water waist deep, where if one had the audacity to display any portion of his person above the surface he became a target for the sharpshooters. Mr. Jordan returned home in 1864 broken in health by these severe ordeals. But with the care of those at home and by the aid of a strong constitution he is living a robust old age. -

Mr. Isenhour enlisted in Co. K, 136th N. Y. He was at first with the Army of the Potomac, and was at Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg. After these great fights, enough in themselves to satisfy almost anybody's taste for adventure, the regiment was ordered to join Sherman. Then. followed that thrilling, world-renowned "March to the Sea." Pew soldiers have had the honor of being in the great battles against Lee's army and those of Sherman's campaign and returned to relate their experiences.

Wm. Perry was a comrade of Mr. Jordan's. After Mr. J. came home his regiment was captured, so that in addition to the previous adventures of the regiment, Mr. Perry can tell us all about prison life in the South during the war. Mr. Holliday was one of the 21st N. Y. He was severely wounded in 1863 and returned home.

Among those who went never to return was Stephen Peckham, a brother-in-law of Hon. Anson Congdon. He was in all the hard-fought battles around Richmond, was wounded at "The Wilderness " and. killed at the assault on theConfederate works at Petersburg by a shell. Andros Southworth and David Bartoo suffered the horrors of Andersonville prison until they died. Nelson Thurston and Reuben Wixson were two more of the "boys in blue "who laid down their lives on the battlefields of the South. Clarksville has as many genuine hard-fighting army boys in her history as any town of her population in the state, and they all made records of which their friends are not ashamed.

BUSINESS INTEREST. - To a casual observer the business interests of this town would appear trivial as compared with her sister towns in the county. But Clarksville sends her quota of the products of two great industries, which have a world-wide record. These industries are the manufacturing of cheese and butter and the production of petroleum and gas. Thus does this town. in her humble way help to feed and illumine the world. Perhaps the more important is the latter.

Clarksville has no railway, yet it is one of five or six towns in the county to boast of a novel thoroughfare, the importance of which few understand. A person traveling from north to south across the town after leaving the village of Clarksville will notice what appears to be a very poorly-kept road, amounting only to a path, but decorated with a telegraph line passing straight over hill and down dale from east to west across the town. There is no clatter of machinery, no flying trains, yet this is one of the great commercial highways of the world. Indeed if one stops and listens intently he may hear a faint "click-click" beneath the sod, but that is all. This insignificant appearing highway is the Standard Oil Co's. main pipeline between the great oil fields of Northern Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Western New York and the ocean. Buried in the earth are pipes eight inches in diameter stretching from Central Indiana to New York City. Through these pipes pass most of the petroleum exported from this country. At intervals of 30 miles are enormous pumps to force the fluid on its way. On reaching the seaboard the crude oil is refined and sent abroad or to all parts of the United States. This pipeline was laid in 1880.

The pioneer oil producer of this town is P. E. Hammond, who now resides at Cuba, N. Y. He is a veteran in the oil industry, and saw Pithole and other ephemeral oil-towns rise and fall. He has a genuine love for drilling test wells or in oil country parlance "wildcatting." It was this phase of his character which led him, during the discovery of oil in Wirt and Bolivar, to "lease up" several farms and drill a "wildcat" well. This well is located on the Smith Bartoo estate lot 12. At a depth of about 1,000 feet an immense volume of gas was struck. The bits of rock broken by the drill were blown out by the force of the escaping gas and it was only the heavier tools which could be let down into the well. The howling of the escaping gas might have been heard over a quarter of a. mile. The pressure when confined was nearly 600 pounds to the square inch, but no oil was foundThis well was soon sold to the Standard Company at cost, as gas was not then a popular fuel. Mr. Hammond then drilled another "duster" or worthless well on the farm of Joel Wixson, and then another in Courtney Hollow.

Meanwhile several men in the village of Clarksville, among them Hon. M. M. Congdon and Jerome Isenhour, organized a company and drilled a well on the farm of M. N. Butts. This well found the oleaginous fluid and produced about 4 bbls. daily. About this time a company was formed at Cuba to supply that village with gas for fuel. In drilling wells for this purpose they accidently found the oil-bearing rock. A company, consisting of E. L. Barton of Cuba, J. E. Ackerly and John Sammel of Olean, and F. E. Hammond leased a tract of land about four miles in length and three-fourths of a mile in width, extending northeast and southwest and began operations. This proved to be the principal oilbelt of the town, and some of the best wells are not more than half-a-mile from where Mr. Hammond drilled the first well.

In 1887 there were over 350 wells located here producing oil and gas. Their estimated value at that time was $500,000, including machinery and all the paraphernalia of the oil industry. Their daily production then was not far from 1,000 bbls. At the present time many of the old wells have been abandoned but new wells are being drilled occasionally, so that the number of producing wells is nearly the same. But the produetion is much decreased being not more than 200 bbls. daily. Among the chief producers who now have wells in the town are Wm. and T. B. Love. They have 35 wells and a daily production of 40 bbls. The Bradley Bros. of Wellsville and Bolivar have 60 producing wells. Wallace Dye and Cassius Congdon of Clarksville and A. J. Applebee of Wellsville are also interested. The Dodge's Creek Oil and Gas Company was organized May 4, 1895, with A. J. Johnson president, Will Reed secretary and treasurer, H. D. Worthman, G. D. Metcalf and Mr. Hewitt directors.

Many wells producing gas, owned by the Empire Gas and Fuel Co., and supplying Cuba, Bolivar and Wellsville, are located in the town. This village is lighted and heated by gas from a plant owned by Cassius Congdon. The village of Obi is supplied in a simiiar manner with gas from the Standard Oil Co.'s lines. This company pipes large quantities of gas from this town to furnish fuel for their pump stations and refining plants at Olean. To drive the gas through the intervening 15 miles of pipe ithe natural pressure is not relied on, but an enormous gaspurnp, on the Smith Bartoo estate performs the giant task of sucking the gas from several wells and forcing it away through the pipe line to Olean. This huge pump is driven by two 80 H. P. boilers and the plant is lighted by electricity, this being the only light which may be safely used near the great pump.

Clarksville had her first experience with railroads during the oil boom. In 1882 a narrow-gauge road was built from Cuba via Clarksville to Bolivar. The road never paid running expenses and was a complete loss to its owners. After several spasmodic attempts at healthy action it was abandoned.

The state of the surface of the town makes dairying a thriving industry. The hillsides are so steep and the soil so thin that raising grain is out of the question, but these same hillsides make the finest of pastures. The cheese is made in two factories owned by Hon. M. M. Congdon. One factory is in the village of Clarksville (built about 1867, can use the milk of 500 cows. and made 193,000 lbs. in 1894), and the other at Obi. (This was built in 1877 by R. T. Robinson. It uses the milk of 400 cows and made 116,000 lbs. of cheese in 1894.) Mr. Congdon is the oldest son of Hon. Anson Congdon. He is engaged in various industries and is the recognized political leader of the town. He was a member of assembly from this county during 1892 and 1893. As a cheesemaker and salesman Mr. Congdon is an expert. The two factories manufacture about 300,000 pounds of cheese annually. He is ably assisted in the factories by his sons Cassius and Dean.

Among the principal dairymen are Jerome Isenhour, E. Bartoo, A. Councilman, R. J. Jordan and M. Wixson. Each of these gentlemen have one or more large herds of cattle which present them with a handsome annual income. M. N. Butts has a large dairy of Jersey cattle with which to supply an "up to date" creamery. Mr. Butts has all the modern machinery necessary to the production of first-class butter. The power he uses is furnished by a spring far up on the hillside which furnishes an ample wa-terpower. Mr. Butts' dairy has a high reputation in New York City.

The merchants of this locality are G. B. Keller, M. Wilkinson and H. P. Jones of Clarksville village and Wm. Reid of Obi. They each keep a stock of groceries and drygoods.

The only hotel is kept by Mrs. L. A. Wilkinson. A stage carrying mail, passengers and freight runs daily from Obi, through Clarksville to and from Cuba.

Clarksville derives its name from Hon. Staley Nichols Clarke, agent for the sale of the Holland Purchase lands at Batavia and later at Ellicottville. It has 22,805 acres of land with an equalized value of real estatein 1895 of $309,136 and an equalized value per acre of $13.55. The personal property, "equalized valuation," of the town amounts to $15,050. The population has been given by census reports thus: 1835, 252; 1840, 326; 1845, 443; 1850, 668; 1855, 781; 1860, 865; 1865, 879; 1870, 784; 1875, 797; 1880, 852; 1890, 891; 1892, 847.

The first town meeting was held June 23, 1835. The officers elected were, supervisor, P. Lurvey; clerk, Clark Saunders; justices, Clark Saunders, Samuel Parrot, Alden Stone, Henry Swarthout; assessors, Jabez Lurvey, Asa Southworth, John Van Ness; road commissioners, Clark Nichols, Moses Parsels, J. G. Stone; commissioners of schools, H. Southworth, E. Main, Win. Southworth; overseers of the poor, Samuel Oompton, James McDougal; constables, Alfred Main, A. Hedden, H. Southworth, J. McKinstry; collector, H. Main.

The town officers of 1895 were, supervisor, Cassius Congdon; clerk, Samuel Wilkinson; justices, F. Mortimer, H. H. Barber, C. N. Briggs and .R. Hubbard; road commissioner, C. N. Briggs; overseer of the poor, Wm. Love; collector, Win. Reid; assessors, Ithamer Ferrington, E. C. Bartoo, Frank Windsor; constables, Levi Robinson, Win. Reid, Win. Deyoe, L. L. Keller and Arthur Williams.

SUPERVISORS. - 1835, '36, P. Lurvey; 1837, '38, '39, '42, Clark Saunders; 1840, '41, '43, '49, '64, '65, '69, '76, '77, '78, Anson Congdon; 1850, '54, '60, '63, '67, Wm. C. Southworth; 1855, '56, '57, '66, '70, '71, '74, Martin Butts; 1858, '59, Joseph Haynes; 1868, Wm. O. Butts; 1872, '73, Wm. O. Congdon; 1875, '78, '79, '89, '91, M. M. Congdon; 1880, '81, J. H. Pendleton; 1882, '84, '86, '87, C. M. McDougall; 1883, Jos. P. Slayton; 1885, J. K. Robinson; 1888, '90, '92, M. H. Bailey; 1893, Victor Hammond; 1894, '95, Cassius Congdon.

SOLDIERS IN THE CIVIL WAR.- A. G. Arms, A. J. Armstrong, L. Burdick, Charles Beckwith, David Bartoo, C. H. Beckwith, Edwin Bliss, Albert Barr, Jesse Burdice, Peleg Burdice, George Burdice, David Brown, Charles Courter, Wm. Carrier, Jno. Kline, Webster Cole, Jos. Cole, Jno. C. Childs, Edwin Cleveland, Ira Champlin, Milton Coon, Levi Compton,. Walter Cleveland, Cyrus Capen, Hugh Chesney, Wm. Compton, E. L. Doty, A. Eastman, Daniel Eastman, Alvah Foster, Josiah Ferrington, Horace Foster, Chas. Foster, David German, Jas. German, P. Green, R. L. Hubbard, Phil. Haines, Fred. Hall, Jno. Hoag, Geo. W. Harwood, W. J. Holmes, A. J. Haines, J. B. Isenhour, S. P. Jenison, Wm. Jarvis, 0. Kingsley, Henry Keller, E. R. Kent, Daniel Lucas, Edwin Lucas, Sherman Lacy, G. W. LeFevre, S. Luddington. A. J. Lawrence, Allen Lawrence, Edwin Munger, Henry Munger, C. H. Miner, S. P. Maston, L. McDonald, F. J. Muller, H. W. Nichols, Jno. Peckham, Alva Peckham, Herbert Peckham, Charles Powers, Stephen Peckham, A. B. Patyson, Wm. Pendleton, George C. Peckham, Floyd Parker, Henry Robinson, Nahum Robinson, Almond Robinson, W. H. Sefton, L. P. Slayton, Harry Streeter, Fred Streeter, Nathan Southworth, Levi Smith, A. Scott, Arthur Sheldon, Daniel Streeter, Lewis Swarthout, Daniel Taylor, N. Thurston, Daniel Thurston, Reuben Wilson, J. H. Whiteman, W. S. Wilkinson, Leroy Ward, J. Wellig, W. J. Wixson.

(Continued with some of the residents)

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