TOWN OF ELMA.
This town is situated a little northeast of the center of the county with Lancaster
on the north, Manila on the east, Aurora on the south, and West Seneca and East Hamburg on the west. Elma was formed
December 4, 1857, from a tract of six miles square which was taken from Lancaster and Aurora; it was the last town
erected in Erie county. Had it been included in the Holland Company’s survey, it would have been township 10, range
6; but its territory was all embraced in the Buffalo Creek Indian Reservation.
The surface of this town is gently rolling, the summits of the elevations being from fifty to one hundred feet
above the valleys. Big Buffalo Creek and Cazenove Creek flow across the town, the latter in the southwestern part
and the former in the northeastern. The soil is clayey loam in the north part and gravelly loam in the south part.
The farmers of the town are principally engaged in mixed agriculture and raising garden products for the Buffalo
Among the early settlers in the territory of Elma were Lyman Chandler (1829,) Willard Fairbanks (1830), Wilder
Hatch, Hiram Pettingill, Taber Earl, Martin Taber and Luther Adams (1834). Joseph Briggs settled in the town in
1829, Thaddeus Hurd in 1832, Ichabod Griggs in 1833, Epsom Woodard in 1834, Lewis Wilson in 1835, John Schmalz
in 1837, Jacob Young in 1842, Jacob Jergee and Thomas E. Wier in 1848, Otis A. Hall in 1850. Other settlers and
residents were John Quincy Adams, Silas H. Arnold, Eleazer Bancroft, Frank G. Buflis, James J. Grace, Joseph Grace,
Albert Davis, James C. Davis, John W. Griffin, Michael Grise, Cyrus Hurd, Tames Tillou and Horace Kyser.
In 1827 Taber Earl built a tavern on the road from Aurora to Buffalo; it soon passed to Samuel Harris, who kept
it until his death, when it was used for a dwelling. About 1821 Martin Taber built a second hotel on the opposite
side of the road from the first; it is still standing and was long known as the North Star House.
About 1832 a Mr. Estabrook built a saw mill, the first one in the town, on the site of the later Bullis mill. In
1835 or 1836 Lemuel Hatch and Robert McKean arranged with Seneca White, an Indian chief, for the privilege of building
a saw mill on Buffalo Creek, on the site of East Elma. McKean’s interest in the project was transferred to Joseph
Riley and he and Mr. Hatch built the mill in 1836. Riley sold out to Hatch, who died in 1842, and Zina Hemstreet
took the property and operated the mill twenty-five years.
In 1840 Zabina Lee took up his residence, with consent of the Indians, on the farm now occupied by 0. J. Wannemacher,
on the site of Spring Brook village. In May, 1842, the last of the reservation was sold to the Ogden Company, and
the region was soon subdivided and settled.
Lewis Northrup located on the site of Spring Brook in 1843 and built a saw mill the next year. A Mr. Flannigan
had, with consent of the Indians, kept a tavern in a log house on the hill at the north end of the Spring Brook
site. Another log tavern was built by David J. Morris in 1844, in which year Horace Kyser, Joseph Tiilou (before
mentioned) and Zenas Cobb settled there. Alfred Marvel settled in the town in 1848 and opened a road from Spring
Brook to his well known farm. James Davis lived a mile south, and Chester Adams a mile north of Mr. Marvel. James
H. Ward settled at Spring Brook in 1849 and was justice of the peace about twenty-five years.
The northwest part of Elma was chiefly settled by members of the Ebenezer Society, which has been sufficiently
described in an earlier chapter. In the mean time the saw mills of the vicinity were rapidly converting the forests
into lumber and excellent farms were brought under cultivation. The building of the Buffalo and Aurora plank road
in 1848 was of considerable benefit to Elma, making it possible to haul the large quantities of wood and lumber
to market with greater facility. The construction of what is now the Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad
across the town in 1867 still further improved communication with markets and gave the town a marked impetus.
Elma Village.— This hamlet is situated
in the north part of the town where the first house was built in 1845 by Joseph Peck; in the following year a few
neighbors had gathered around him, and they joined in the erection of a school house wherein a school was taught
in the succeeding winter. The hamlet of Elma Center is a station on the railroad. A hotel was built there by C.
W. Hurd in 1847 and in 1850 he built a store there. Henry Wright was also a former merchant there. At the present
time there is one store and a tavern.
The first saw mill at the village was built in 1845 by Eleazer Bancroft and was in operation to 1880. He also built
a chair factory, which was subsequently removed to Aurora. Another saw mill was built in 1846 by C. W. Hurd and
Joseph B. Briggs, who afterwards added a grist mill, planing mill and lath mills these mills are still in operation.
A steam saw mill was erected in 1850 by Elam Clark and Warren Jackman and abandoned many years ago. The first store
was built by Warren Jackman in 1852, and business was conducted by a Mr. Ives, who was the first postmaster. Other
merchants there were James Clark and Erastus Markham, who is still in trade and is postmaster. William H. Bancroft
built the first blacksmith shop in 1847. At the present time there are a store, a cider mill, a carriage factory
and a Methodist church in the village.
Spring Brook.— This is the largest
village in the town and is situated in the western part on the old plank road. The first house here, excepting
the log tavern on the hill, before mentioned, was built by Lewis Northrup in 1843. He erected a saw mill in 1844
and a grist mill about ten years later, all of which passed to Eli B. Northrup and are still in operation. A log
tavern was built in 1843 by David J. Morris; both this and the earlier one on the hill were abandoned as public
houses within a few years and a frame tavern was erected which was conducted many years.
The first store was opened in 1830-by E. G. Kent, who was succeeded by Samuel Hoyt, and he in 1875 by John Collins;
later the business passed to Charles H. Sweet. Stephen Northrup built a store in 1856 which was burned in 1872
and a brick building was erected on the site. John G. Fisher opened a store there in 1877; his successors were
Henry Kihm and Richard T. Barnett. The first postmaster in the village was David J. Morris, and his successors
were Stephen Northrup, John G. Fisher, William Cole, Harrison Tillou and Richard T. Barnett.
The first steam saw mill there was built in 1848 by Horace Kyser. William English, a later owner, connected a grist
mill with it and both were burned in 1860. Mr. Kyser built a new grist mill in 1863, which was burned in 1872.
A grist and saw mill were built on the site, which in 1882 passed to Briggs & Sweet; these mills were also
burned and not rebuilt.
A cheese factory was formerly operated here, but is now not in use. The village has three hotels, two of which
have been noticed; the third was built in 1894 by Louis Leger. Spring Brook railroad station is about a mile north
of the village.
East Elma, a hamlet south of the eastern part of the town, where Leonard Hatch and Joseph Riley built a saw mill
in 1836. When this property passed to Zina A. Hemstreet and a little hamlet gathered about it became known as Hemstreet's
Mills. A grist mill was built in 1856, but it remained idle a number of years, and the saw mill was carried away
by a flood in 1859, and subsequently rebuilt. In 1866 Dayid, Ellery S. and Anthony L. Allen, brothers, bought the
property and remodeled the grist mill into a woolen factory. The business was conducted a number of years, and
then given up and the machinery taken out and carried away. The saw mill is also idle. Isaac Gale opened the first
store there about 1856, which was burned in 1878. George W. Hatch built the store, in which trade is still conducted,
in 1868. Z. A. Hemstreet and the Allen brothers were also former merchants. The railroad station for this vicinity
is Jamison Road, about one and a half miles west of East Elma. A store has long been kept there by Ernest Bleeck,
who is also landlord of the only tavern; one other general store is kept and there is a carriage shop there.
Blossom—This is a small hamlet
in the northwest corner of Elma and partly in West Seneca. It was this region that was formerly inhabited by the
Ebenezer Society. About 1856 Charles Reichert purchased the store which had been conducted by the society; other
merchants were Gasper Bauer, Frederick Thram and Mrs. D. Kleeburg. A grist mill built many years ago by the Ebenezer
Society is still in operation. A hotel has been kept there for many years.
The first church organized at Spring Brook was the Congregationalist, which organization built a church edifice
in 1853 and called Rev. Nehemiah Cobb as pastor. The society became embarrassed and the land reverted to its former
owner, David J. Morris. In 1868 a Union society was organized which acquired the church property and held it for
the use of all denominations; the Methodists have, however, been the principal occupants. The German Methodists
built a house of worship there in 1872 and it is still used for services in that faith. There was a Methodist church
organized at Elma village in 1850. The present frame church was erected in 1859 and dedicated by the well known
preacher, Rev. Glezen Fillmore.
A German Lutheran church was organized at Blossom in 1862, and a house of worship was soon erected; it was burned
and the present structure built in 1872. The German Methodist society at that place purchased a house of worship
of the Ebenezer Society in 1861; this was used until 1880, when the present church was built.
The first town meeting in Elma was held March 19, 1857, at the house of C. W. Hurd, and the following officers
Paul B. Lathrop, supervisor; Warren Jackman, town clerk; Addison Armstrong, Thomas Aldrich and Nathan W. Stowell,
justices of the peace; Asa J. W. Palmer, collector; Zen as M. Cobb, Horace Blood and Theron Stowell, assessors;
Whipple Spooner and Benjamin Lougee, commissioners of highways; William Standard, overseer of the poor; Asa J.
W. Palmer, Aaron Hitchcock, Isaac Freeman, Franklin Mitchell and William Jackman, constables; William H. Bancroft,
John W. Cole and John Small, inspectors of election; Elbridge G. Kent, town sealer.
The following is a list of the supervisors of the town of Elma from its organization to the present time:
Paul B. Lathrop, 1857—59; Zma A. Hemstreet, 1860—61; Christopher Peek, 1862—63 Lewis M. Bullis, 1864—65; Paul B.
Latlirop, 1866; Alfred Marvel, 1867—68; Hiran Harris, 1869—70; Alfred Marvel, 1871—73; William Winspear, 1874—76;
Eli B. Northrup. 1877—80; Alfred Marvel, 1881—82; James Tillou, 1883—84; Cyrus Hurd, 1885; Myron H. Clark, 1886—87;
Timothy Clifford, 1888; Eli B. Northrup, 1889—90; Charles H. Sweet, 1891—92; R. T. Barnett, 1893—94; John Luders,