History of East Bloomfield, New York
SARACUSE, N. Y., 1893


ON January 27, 1789, Ontario county was created and its inhabited portion organized into provisional districts, or towns with an incompleted civil jurisdiction. One of these was called Bloomfield, and included within its boundaries all that is now Mendon, Victor and East and West Bloomfield. The two towns first mentioned were taken off in 1812, and West Bloomfield in 1833. The latter creation necessitated a change in the name of the mother town, hence it was called East Bloomfield.

The original occupants of this town, so far at least as we have any definite knowledge, were the Seneca Indians, and within what is now East Bloomfield, on the east side of Mud Creek, (known to the savages as Gan-ar-gwa), and on lot 13, was at one time the Seneca village of "Gan- dou-gar-ae," the St. Michael of the Jesuit fathers, and, a place of some note in aboriginal history. This village was destroyed by Denonville in 1687, and though the inhabitants fled the invaders also destroyed growing crops in the vicinity, which were said to have been cultivated to a great extent. This subject, however, is so fully discussed in an earlier chapter that no more than a passing reference to it is necessary in this place.

In 1789 the Phelps and Gorham proprietary sold township 10, range 4 (now known as East Bloomfield), also townships 12, range 1 (now Arcadia, Wayne county), to a party of Massachusetts purchasers, comprising Capt. William Bacon, Gen. John Fellows, Gen. John Ashley, and Elisha Lee, of Sheffield; Deacon John Adams, of Alford; and Dr. Joshua Porter, father of Judge Augustus Porter. According to the reminiscences of Judge Porter, he made an arrangement with the purchasers to survey the tracts of the township, and in May, 1789, met Captain Bacon at Schenectady, where also was Deacon Adams and his family. These pioneers had a number of cattle and such utensils, provisions and implements as were needful in making a beginning in a new region. The goods were carried as far as possible by boats, while Deacon Adams had charge of the cattle. The journey was at length accomplished, though after much labor and hardship, and in the same year, 1789, the pioneer settlement of East Bloomfield was begun.

The honor of pioneership in the town is accorded Deacon John Adams, whose party comprised himself and his sons John, William, Abner, Jonathan and Joseph, his sons-in- law Ephraim Rew and Loren Hull, and also Elijah Rose, Moses Gunn, Lot Rew, John Barnes, Roger Sprague and Asa Hickox, and the families of such of them as were married. Truly, it may be said that this was a formidable party of determined Yankee pioneers, and that many of the hardships which usually attend early settlement were set at naught by the numbers and courage of the first settlers of the old township No. 10. Pioneer Lot Rew died in 1793; Laura Adams opened a school in 1792; General Fellows and Judge Porter built a saw-mill on Mud Creek in 1790; Benjamin Goss married the daughter of George Codding about the same time, which event is said to have been the first of its kind on the Phelps and Gorham purchase. Other first events may be recorded by mention of the distillery of Nathaniel Norton, and the tannery of Anson Munson, each prior to 1800. These pioneers of the town settled mainly in the Mud Creek neighborhood, though a few of them made their first improvements in the eastern part of the town generally, and almost wholly in what afterward became districts four and ten. In the same vicinity also there settled at a very early day Nathaniel and Ezra Norton, Benjamin Goss, John Keyes, Joel Steele and Thaddeus Keyes.

Having referred to the original settlers of East Bloomfield, we may also recall the names of other early residents of the town, briefly mentioning them and directing the reader's attention to the latter part of this work where will be found biographical sketches of pioneers, early settlers and others. In the east part of the town in the vicinity of the pioneer settlement there dwelt Oliver Chapin, who built a gristmill on Fish Creek, and who was one of the settlers of 1789. Dr. Daniel Chapin and Aaron Taylor came in 1790, while others followed at later periods, among them Heman Chapin and Roswell Humphrey, 1795; Cyprian and Tyrannus Collins, i8oo; and at dates now unknown came settlers Nathaniel Baldwin, Philo Norton (son of pioneer Aaron Norton), Zebediah Fox, Chauncey Beach, John Doud, Jonathan Humphrey, Asa Johnson and others whose names cannot now be recalled. Joel Steele and Capt. Nathan Waldron were also in the east part of the town, as also were Timothy Buell, Joab Loomis, Benjamin Wheeler, Joel Parks, Benjamin Chapman, Ashbel Beach, Israel Beach, George Lee, while westward of these there settled the pioneer Goss, or Gauss, family in 1789; Aaron Collins, a minister, in 1795; Amos Bronson in 1794; and Moses Gunn, Gideon King, Daniel Bronson, Joel Kellogg, Joseph Parker, and other families whose names were Lamberton, Winslow and Tainter. Moses Sperry was in the south part of the town, as also were Pitts Hopkins and Erastus Rowe. Ebenezer Spring may also be named among the pioneers.

The west and southwest portions of this town were settled early. Pioneer Silas Sprague and his sons Silas, Roger, Asahel and Thomas made the first improvements here, and at or about the same time came Lot Rew. In this region the first settlers generally were those named and also Elijah Hamlin, William and John Adams, Jonathan Adams, Nathan Wilcox, Christopher Parks, Henry Lake, Asa Doolittle, Asher Saxton, Enoch Wilcox, Ransom Spurr, James McMann and Israel Reed. In the northwest part of the town the early settlers were Moses and Flavel Gaylord, Silas Harris, Ebenezer French, Joseph Dibble, Alexander Emmons, Ransom Sage, John Benjamin, Archibald Ransford, Luther Millard and Silas Eggleston.

In the central portion of the township is the pretty little village of East Bloomfield, situated entirely within the boundaries cf old school district No. 8. The pioneer and early history of this locality naturally belongs to the village narrative, yet we may properly mention in a general way the names of some of the early dwellers of the vicinity. Dr. Daniel Chapin made a pioneer settlement here, and the subsequent growth must have been quite rapid, for upon his removal, Dr. Ralph Wilcox succeeded to local practice and was soon afterward followed by Dr. Henry Hickox. John Fairchilds, Silas Eggleston, Abraham Dudley, John Keyes, Benjamin Keyes, Deacon Hopkins, Elisha Hopkins, Abner and Gaius Adams, Asa Hayward, Elijah Rose, Isaac Stone and Ephraim Turner are also to be named among the early settlers of this central district. The pioneer of the village site was Benjamin Keyes, whose generous donation of land for the park has ever caused his name to be held in kind remembrance by the villagers. These first settlers were mainly native New Englanders-Yankees-and imbued with truly patriotic and generous sentiments, and to them, or any of them, the giving of land for park purposes was a custom of long standing, and such an action was never animated by selfish motives.

The pioneers of East Bloomfield were a hardy, industrious and progressive body of Yankees, and their coming to the region had the effect of inducing settlement in the town and vicinity by other New Englanders, and at a comparatively early day we find the whole territory occupied and as densely populated as any other part of the Genesee country. The originally formed town of Bloomfield was a large territory, from which four distinct townships were created, and these divisions make it impossible to state the population of the mother town in such manner as to throw any light on the number of inhabitants of East Bloomfield previous to its separate erection. However, we may state that the population of Bloomfield, as existing in 1830, was 3,861, there then being only three large towns in the county. In this connection also we may state the population of the town at various periods, showing the fluctuations in number of inhabitants at the beginning of each decade. In 1833 Bloomfield was divided and West Bloomfield set off, hence the number of people was reduced, there being in East Bloomfield in 1840 only 1,986 inhabitants; in 1850 the number was 2,262; in 1860, 2,163; in 1870, 2,250; in 1880, 2,527; and in 1890, 2,039.

The early settlers of this town were not only thrifty but were patriotic, and even during the doubtful period of the war of 1812 emigration from the east to the town was constantly going forward, while during that period within the town there were the organized militiamen, many of whom went into the service on the frontier, and from there a few of them never returned. But it was during the war of 1861-65 that the town made its best military record and showed the characteristic New England martial spirit, for in that period the records show that more than one hundred volunteers are credited to the town, and were scattered throughout the regiments of New York, which were specially noted for their fighting qualities. However, it does not become important in this chapter to review at much length the military history of East Bloomfield, as in one of the general chapters of this work a more extended account of military experience during the war referred to is given, but we may here state in a general way that the volunteers of East Bloomfield were mainly in these regiments: The Twenty-seventh, the Eightyfifth, the One Hundred and Twenty-sixth, the One Hundred and Forty eighth, while many others were scattered through various other commands of State troops

The town of East Bloomfield has very appropriately and munificently remembered her honored soldier dead by the erection of a handsome brown granite monument in the park in the village of East Bloomfield. This was done by the people in the year 1868, and the expense of the work was about $6,000. On the base of the monument is this inscription "East Bloomfield. To the memory of her sons who died in defence of the Union, 1861-65."

The Village of East Bloomfield.- In the central part of School District No. 8 is the pretty little village of East Bloomfield. This locality was one of the first settled in the town, and its pioneer, Benjamin Keyes, apparently anticipated a future village in this immediate locality, for, in accordance with New England custom, he set apart a desirable tract of land for a public park, about which the village should be built up. One of the earliest evidences of a village here was the tavern established by Ephraim Turner, who was succeeded by one King. Mr. Turner was also a tanner in the neighborhood and had much to do with the early history of the place. The first dealers in merchandise in the village were Norton & Beach, the latter of whom (Elisha Beach) was the first postmaster of the town. The firm of Childs & Gardner began merchandising about 1812, while later proprietors in the same line were Roger Sprague, Daniel Bronson and others. Peter Holloway was the village blacksmith as early as 1804, but being ambitious, turned landlord and built a hotel. Jared Boughton, of Victor, also built a hotel of brick in 1812, which was run by his son Frederick. Besides Ephraim Turner, before mentioned, Anson Munson also engaged in tanning as early, it is said, as 1804, and some of his leather was used by shoemaker Zadock Bailey, a settler in 1798.

The village of East Bloomfield stretches away a mile in length, reaching from the now called old village limits to a point somewhat beyond the railroad station. In fact, where was once but one village there are now two, though where the one stops and the other begins would be difficult to determine. There are two post-offices, one at the depot, called East Bloomfield Station, and the other at the old village and ever known as East Bloomfied. Each village has its special industries and institutions, but no unfriendly rivalry is known among the people.

At an early day the village attracted some attention as a manufacturing center, and a special industry was wagon and carriage making, but in common with the great majority of villages similarly situated the importance and value of these industries seems to have declined with passing years, and now the local manufacturers do not aim to supply much more than domestic trade.

The banking firm of Hamlin & Steele was formed in 1883, and continued to 1885, then changed to Hamlin & Company. Under this style the present partners. John S. Hamlin and Henry M. Parmele, conduct a general banking business. The other business men and merchants in East Bloomfield are F. Munson & Company, general dealers; 0. F. Thorpe, drugs and groceries: E. H. Ashley & Son, hardware.; Barton Douglass, flour and feed; Childs & Wilson, meat market; Michael Monaghan and Thomas Cummings, blacksmiths; Neenan Brothers, wagon makers and blacksmiths; T. A. Spitz, carriage painter; S. Mayo, carriage maker and dealer, established 1846; A. E. Spitz, horse goods and harness maker; P. McGreevey, shoe dealer; Edward S. Mason, barber and town clerk; William Bridgiand, tailor; C. W. Bradley, agricultural implement dealer; F. K. McMann, jeweler and photographer. We may also mention the grist and flour- mill of C. M. Bayless on the old mill site, which has been in use for some kind of manufacture for at least three-quarters of a century. The physicians are S. R. Wheeler, P. S. Patridge and D. O. Williams. The local dentist is Charles Sweeney. Postmaster, Thomas W. Peeling.

The busy little hamlet which has been built up at the station owes its prosperity, if not its very existence, to the construction of the railroad and the establishment of a depot at this point. The business interests here are fairly equal to those at the old village, and may be summarized as follows: C. H. Mason & Company, general merchants; R. W. Appleton, groceries and boots and shoes; F. Wheeler, agricultural implement and coal dealer; M. B. Eaton and William A. Frear, blacksmiths; John S. Hamlin, coal and lumber; C. H. Mason, grain and produce; Daniel McWilliams, general hardware; C. K Zimmerman and Leonard Jones, evaporators; William Van Aken, undertaker; Hugh Flanigan, cooper; Thomas Welch, proprietor Rowley House; Mark Reubenstein, clothing and jewelry; C. H. Mason, postmaster. On the site of the old "Shepard triill" the firm of Burrell Brothers have a good water-power flour and feed-mill.

The East Bloomfield Academy is one of the important and enduring institutions of the locality, and although in late years its corporate character has been lost and it is now a Union school, it has not lost in value or worth by the modification. In April 9, 1838, the academy was incorporated by an act of the Legislature, the following persons being named as its trustees: Robert Hill, Moses Fairchild, Josiah Porter, Bani Bradley, Harlow Munson, Silas Eggleston, Calvin Porneroy, Timothy Buell, jr., Henry Prindle, George Rice, Thayer Gauss, F. J. Brunson, Myron Adams, Frederick N. Tobey, Frederick Munson. In 1840 the institution passed under control of the State Regents. Its first principal was Aaron Garrison.

The academy building, a large three storied brick structure, occupies a commanding site in the center of the village, having a front on the public, park. After a period of about forty years the institution passed from its originally intended character and became the property of the Union Free School District in which the village is situate, and the high standing and character of the school which was firmly established more than half a century ago has ever since been maintained. The Board of Education comprises these members; T. W. Peeling, Dennis Neenan, B. S. Partridge, J. S. Hamlin, F. W. Page, John Mason, R. W. Appleton, S. R. Wheeler. Officers of the Board: J. S. Hamlin, president; P. A. Spitz, secretary; F. R. Munson, treasurer; principal of the school, Arthur F. Neeley.

In this connection we may also properly mention the schools of the town generally, for it is a well known fact that in East Bloomfield the educational interests have been guarded with commendable zeal, but to trace the history of each school in each district would be an impossible task. However, enough is known to authorize the statement that the first school in the town was built and opened on Mud Creek as early as 1792; the second in 1795 in what became district No. 7; the third in No. 6 in 1797, and others throughout the town as rapidly as settlement permitted. Later on the territory of the town was arranged in districts, and these have at various times been altered to suit the public convenience. According to the present arrangement of its territory, East Bloomfield has eleven school districts, each of which has a school building. The total amount received for school purposes for the last current year was $5,833.39, of which $4,589 was paid to the fifteen teachers employed. The value of school property in the town is $11,750. The school population in 1892 was 552. Of the buildings nine are frame, one of brick, and one of stone.

It so happens that the churches of the several societies having an organization in this town are located in East Bloomfield village, and on the road leading thence to the depot; and although they may be treated as institutions of the village, their attendance is drawn from the town at large. A brief narrative of the history of each of these will prove interesting.

The Presbyterian church of Bloomfield dates its special organization only from 1873, although it is properly and directly the outgrowth of the "Independent Congregational Society," which dates its history almost to the first settlement of the town itself. The society just mentioned was formed September 8, 1795, and pioneers Nathaniel Norton, Ehud Hopkins and Asher Saxton were chosen its first trustees. The regular church organization under the name of the Congregational Church, was effected in November, 1796, through the efforts of that zealous laborer, Rev. Zadoc Hunn, and the original members were sev enteen in number. The first church home of the society was built in 1801, and was without doubt the first church edifice in all Western New York. On the 19th of June, 1822, the church adopted the Presbyterian form of government, but in 1825 returned to Congregationalism, and so continued until September 2, 1873, when the Presbyterian form was formally and permanently adopted. As has been stated the old pioneer meeting-house was built in 1801, although not fully completed until several years later. In 1836 a new edifice was begun, and finished and dedicated September 28, 1837. Twelve years later the building was materially repaired and enlarged. The present church property consists of a large and well arranged house of worship, and also a commodious chapel and lecture-room adjoining the church.

The missionaries and pastors, in succession, of this church, throughout its life and vicissitudes have been as follows: Zadoc Hunn, Seth Williston, Jedediah Bushnell, Jacob Crane, David Higgins, John Weber, Aaron Collins, Oliver Ayer, Darius O. Griswold, Julius Steele, Robt. W. Hill, Henry Kendall, Luther Conklin, Lewis D. Chapin, J P. Skeele, Arthur F. Skeele, Charles S. Durfee and Charles C. Johnson, the latter being the present pastor, who was installed in 1889.

The original members of this church were Zadoc Hunn, John Adams, Amos Bronson, Ephraim and Chloe Rew, Amos Leech, Joseph King, Ehud and Hannah Hopkins, Asa and Mary Hickox, Chloe, Abner and Abigail Adams, Lucy Bronson, Martha and Clarissa Gunn. The present membership of the church is 212; of the Sunday-school 200.

The First Baptist Church in Bloomfield was organized in June, 1799, having an original membership of seventeen persons, as follows: Elijah Rose, Benj., Abijah and Roxy Stilwell, Pitts Hopkins, Enoch and Nancy Wilcox, Rachel Barnes, Anna Rose, Chester Doty, Eli and Lucy Lyon, Aaron and Otis Hicks, James and Betsey Case and Simon Simmons. The early meetings of the society were held at convenient places and not regularly, and it was not until 1803 that a church house was provided, and that an humble log house situate in the north part of the town of Bristol, north of the locality known as Baptist Hill. However, in 1805 the parent society was divided by the withdrawal of the members living in Bristol, and after a few more years of uncertain and varying life the old society ceased to exist, except on the records.

In this connection we may also mention the existence of a Universalist church and society in Bloomfield, which had only a brief career. Their meeting-house was built about 1832, but was afterward sold to the M. E. society.

The First Methodist Episcopal Church and society of East Bloomfield was organized May 12, 1834, with an original membership of twelve persons. Then hardly more than a missionary station, the few members succeeded in 1840 in building a small frame meeting-house, which stood near Mud Creek. Rev. John Parker was the pastor at that time. In 1861 a society and church organization was effected, and on the 9th of April it became a body corporate, Simeon B. Sears, Harlow Munson, George Wright, Benjamin D. Spring, Benj. F. Jenkins, Myron Mariner, Levi S. Beach, Chauncey Knowles and Nelson Parmele being the trustees elected. The society then purchased the old Universalist property at East Bloomfield village, and from that time has maintained a church home at that place. The present membership of the church is 145; of the Sunday-school 100. The pastors, in succession, since the reorganization, have been as follows: Jonathan Watts, A. F. Morey, Martin Wheeler, S. B. Dickinson, J. Edson, Andrew Shurtliff, R. D. Munger, Charles Hermans, J. C. Hitchcock, Henry Van Benschoten, S. A. Morse, G. W. Terry, Wm. Armstrong, T. S. Green, Wm. Bradley, P. M. Harmon, J. M. Dobson, Edmund J. Gwynn.

St. Peter's Church. The parish of St. Peter's in Bloomfield was established in 1830, and the first services were held in dwellings and the Universalist meeting-house, the latter being subsequently purchased by the society, but later, in 1859, being sold to the M. E. society. The society of St. Peter's then built a neat chapel, which was thereafter used for services. At present the church has no resident rector, but some of the earlier ones may be recalled by naming John Norton, Reese Chipman, Edmond Embery, Manning Stryker, Seth Davis, Edward Livermore, Alex. H. Rogers, Lewis L. Rogers and Henry M. Baum, who officiated in the order named. St. Peter's has about sixty communicants, and a Sunday-school with about twenty pupils.

St. Bridget's Church. The first masses of the Catholic church were said during the forties, though not until 1851 was the parish organized and church built, the first pastor being Edward O'Connor. In 1874 the new edifice was begun, and completed and dedicated the next year. It is of brick, and in appearance is neat and attractive. Father O'Conner was succeeded by Father Byrnes, and the latter by Father Lee. At the present time the services are conducted by Father John J. Donnelly, whose residence and leading parish is at Victor village.

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