History of Friendship Village, New York (Biographical)
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

Transcribed by: Diana Gates Reinhart


FRIENDSHIP 729
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.
HON. ASHER W. MINER.

Son. Asher Wetmore Miner descends from the Connecticut Miners
whose first American ancestor was Thomas Miner, who, born at
Chew Magus, England, in 1608, came to America 1630, settled in New Lon-
don 1645, was a most prominent man in Eastern Connecticut until his death
in 1690. The name dates back to about 1350 when Edward III, bestowed it
upon "Henry the Miner" of Mendippe Hills, Somersetshire, for his prompt
efficiency in furnishing the King's escort as he embarked on that famous
invasion of France in which he won the noted battle of Crecy. Mr. Miner
was son of Absalom and Mary (Gorton) Miner, and was born Dec. 15, 1814,
in Brookfield, Madison county, and in 1829 came with his parents to the
wilderness region now developed into the charming town of Friendship.
(His father was born at Guilford, Conn., and his mother in Rhode Island.)
The journey was attended with more of difficulty than would now appertain
to a journey around the world. The young lad met the difficulties of pioneer
life with self-reliant courage, acquiring a practical education at the primi-
tive schools, and at the home fireside, under the teachings of his religious
parents, the principles of a Christian faith, broad, deep, humanitarian,
which ever inspired and controlled his actions through a long and useful
life. The environments of his youth tended to form a strong, self-restrained,
well-balanced character, the hardships and dangers stimulating his innate
energy, independence, industry and frugality, until in manhood he combined
the best elements of a successful business life with rare soundness of judg-
ment and keen financial ability. In his twenty-third year, Sept. 21, 1837, he
married Electa R., daughter of Dea. Samuel S. and Lydia Carter, a lady em-
inently fitted for a helpmeet for him.* In 1844, Mr. Miner became an ex-
tensive lumberman at Richburg, and soon engaged also in merchandising.
He was successful. His business relations brought him into the best social
circles in an extensive area, and he won the leading men to a personal regard
that uniformly developed into warmest friendship. In 1860 he made his

* Mrs. Electa R. (Carter) Miner was born at Victor, N. Y., Nov. 20, 1819, and came with her parents to
Friendship in 1823. She was more than an ordinary woman. In the 55 years of her wedded life thousands
of friends and strangers passed in and out of her presence and bore loving testimony to the simplicity, sereni-
ty and kindness that were innate parts of her nature. Baptist by birth and education she was a mother in
Israel to the Friendship church. To her the sisters first came for counsel and aid, and under her roof the
Baptist minister and missionary found warmest welcome. Her liberality claimed the good of all sects as her
brethren, numbering many of them as warm friends, and by her amiability and charities she illustrated the
virtues that all sects hold in equal esteem. "For a woman to live a long life like Mrs. Miner, employing the
intimate and confidential service of many domestics and others, and to have them all pay warm tributes of
love and admiration to her, is the highest test of character and the highest flight of eulogy." For many years
the Miner homestead, "Welcome House", was the center of the social manifestations at Friendship, and here
her great motherly heart lovingly poured its choicest treasures upon the circle of children and friends and dis-
pensed a regal hospitality to "the strangers within her gates." When she died in October, 1892, the whole
community was wrapped in gloom.


730 HISTORY OF ALLEGANY COUNTY, N. Y.

home in Friendship and never after changed his residence. He now had
many lines of business activity, but he was a natural financier and became
largely interested in banking. In 1870 he was elected president of the First
National Bank of Friendship (which he aided in organizing in 1864) and held
that position until his death, May 30, 1892. He was a stockholder and a di-
rector in the First National Bank of Cuba, First National Bank of Salaman-
ca, First National Bank of Franklinville, Citizen's Bank of Arcade, and First
National Bank of Exeter, Neb. He was a stockholder in the First National
Bank of Olean, and in other banking institutions. He was one of the larg-
est operators in the Allegany oil field, and realized much wealth from his
investments in this direction. He was a strong Republican in politics, held
many positions of local trust in his party, stood high in its councils, repre-
senting it frequently in county and state conventions, and in 1888 was a
member of the Electoral College from New York. His Republicanism came
from his intense patriotism. Many a soldier's heart was cheered by him,
many a veteran can tell of kindly remembrance, and the magnificent sol-
dier's monument crowning Mt. Hope cemetery, erected by his munificence,
is a perpetual memorial of his loyalty. He was public spirited in all matters
and expended thousands of dollars to advance the growth and importance
of his village and town. With his death the Baptist society lost its chief
pillar. His purse was ever open to its demands and he discharged every
yearly deficit with ostentatious generosity. He paid one-half the the cost of
erecting the beautiful church, and his wise counsels and fatherly sugges-
tions were important factors in the prosperity of the denomination. In the
home circle was most completely shown the loving intensity of his nature.
He was a tender and devoted husband, an affectionate father and a most
gracious entertainer, ably seconding his charming wife in her charming
hospitality. Without children, and with hearts overflowing with parental
affection, they lavished it upon the children of others. They adopted three
daughters, who are now Mrs. Kate M. Wellman, Mrs. Myra E. Corbin and
Mrs. Ella Lockwood. These were given the recognition, the rights, and the
affection of real children, and they returned the love they received in full
measure. Mr. Miner's private gifts were many and munificent to individu-
als, to churches and to schools. The soldiers' monument cost $5,000, the
new church received $14,000, and Cook Academy was given in no stinted
measure. Among the bequests in his will were these: to the Baptist church
$3,000 and a cancellation of $2,000 indebtedness held by him, to Mt. Hope
Cemetery Association $10,000 and a cancellation of a large indebtedness, to
Rochester Theological Seminary $5,000, to the Baptist Home Mission Society
$5,000, to the Baptist State Convention $5,000, to Cook Academy $3,000, to
the Home of the Friendless, New York city, $3,000. Mr. Miner was one of
the plain people, who sympathized deeply with all men as long as they re-
spected their own manhood. With wise and discriminating liberality the
truly needy found in him one ready to listen to their appeals and take their
cases into helpful consideration. His acquisition of wealth was largely

FRIENDSHIP 731

achieved by following his early formed habits of persevering diligence,
strict economy and thoughtful investigation, and he was a notable specimen
of the American growth which starts from poverty and develops into
wealth, statesmanship, wide personal influence and financial control. When
he was stricken down with heart disease on May 30, 1892, Memorial Day,
one of the strong men of Western New York passed away, and the sun
never set on a sadder day to his personal friends.

HON. ABIJAH J. WELLMAN.

Col. Abijah Joslyn Wellman, son of Dr. Jonas and Keziah (Joslyn) Well-
man, was born at Friendship, N.Y., on the 6th of May, 1836. His father was
born in Vermont in 1799; removed to Friendship in 1829; was an eminently
successful physician, and died in 1844 in the prime of manhood and in the
midst of a highly useful career. Col. Wellman engaged in mercantile busi-
ness in 1855, before he was of age, in banking in 1860, and in lumbering in
1864, in all of which pursuits he was actively engaged up to the time of his
death, June 8, 1889. In 1882 he invested heavily in the oil business and was
a large and successful operator in the Allegany oil field. At the organiza-
tion of the First National Bank of Friendship in 1864 he was chosen its
cashier, which position he held continuously to the time of his death. The
great success of this firm and reliable banking institution is due largely to
his wise judgment and financial ability. In September, 1861, he was ap-
pointed captain of a company of volunteers, recruited by himself, and which
subsequently became Company C, 85th N. Y. Vol. At the organization of
the regiment he was appointed major. His comrades in the army bear witness
at once to his soldierly and patriotic zeal; his determination to magnify his
office and not let his office magnify him; and his incessant care for the rights
and comfort of the individual soldiers. He rose to the rank of lieutenant-colo-
nel, March 14,1862; was soon entirely in command of his regiment. Under the
hot fire of the battle of Fair Oaks, May 31st, where he was leading his regi-
ment, he received a double wound in the head, and for more than 26 years
carried a conspicuous scar as a reminder of that memorable and desperately
fought engagement. By reason of disability resulting from this wound, he
was honorably discharged March 24, 1863, with the rank of lieutenant-
colonel, and the privilege of re-entering the army at any time with the same
rank. Colonel Wellman exhibited the forethought, the fertility of resource
and the quick adaptation of ends to means, that mark the successful states-
man, and his services were demanded for public office. For seven succes-
sive years, commencing in 1866, he was supervisor of Friendship and the
last three years of the time was chairman of the board of supervisors. In
1872 he was a delegate to the national Republican convention at Philadelphia
that nominated Grant and Wilson. In 1873 he was elected state senator
from the 30th senatorial district, which then comprised the counties of Alle-
gany, Wyoming and Livingston. His service in the senate continued from

732 HISTORY OF ALLEGANY COUNTY, N. Y.

1874 to 1877. He was assigned to four committees, being a member of the
one on banks and internal affairs of towns and counties, also chairman of
those on militia and state prisons. In the latter capacity he had much to do
with the framing of the legislation relating to reform in the state prison sys-
tem under the amended constitution, which resulted in a change very favor-
able to the revenues of the state. Mr. Wellman was the leader and stay of
the Baptist church of Friendship; was long one of its trustees and its clerk;
was deacon for 14 years. He was Sunday school superintendent for 24
years, and bore the expenses of the school with lavish outlay. He was a
benefactor of Cook Academy, of Rochester Theological Seminary, and of
numberless other objects of Christian aid and charity. Colonel Wellman
married, Sept. 17, 1863, Kate, daughter of Hon. Asher W. Miner, who, with
four children, A. Miner, Blanche, Roy and Guy, survive him. A son, Ray-
mond, died suddenly some years since just as he was entering a promising
manhood. Thus briefly is recalled the public life, military and civic, of one
of God's noblest men. In whatever he undertook, he showed not only farsee-
ing and practical wisdom, but a pertinacity of will that never yielded, a pa-
tience in investigation that never wearied, a system and order that brought
others to his standard of efficiency. He had an integrity that was never
questioned, a loyalty to home, family and friends that was never excelled.
He was faithful to every trust and left the rich legacy of a pure and stainless
record.

" We see him as he moved, .
How modest, kindly, all accomplished, wise,
With what sublime repression of himself.
And in what limits, and how tenderly;
Not making his high place a lawless perch
Of winged ambition, nor a vantage ground
For pleasures: but through all this travel of years,
Wearing the white flower of a blameless life."

STEPHEN W. COLE.


The Coles were among the early families in America. In 1637, James
Cole was an inhabitant of Plymouth, Mass., and was granted lands on the
south side of Leyden street. Cole's Hill, Plymouth, probably takes its name
from John Cole who was therein 1699. The Pilgrims who died in the winter
of 1620-1 were buried on that hill, and the survivors planted corn over their
graves that the Indians might not perceive how their number was diminish-
ing. Members of this family subsequently removed to Scituate, Plympton
and other towns in Plymouth county. The Coles were early in the eastern
part of Connecticut, and Ambrose Cole who died in Norwich in 1690 came
from Scituate, Mass. A branch of the family settled in Hopkinton, R. I.,
and here, Dec. 7, 1814, Stephen Welcome Cole was born. His parents be-
longed to that plain, intelligent and very worthy people known among them-
selves as Friends and to the outside world as Quakers, and when, at the age
of four, Welcome was left fatherless, the mother showed wonderful qualities

FRIENDSHIP 733

of intelligence, industry and parental care in the bringing up of her nine
children so that they should be fairly well educated for the arena of life.
Welcome received the advantages of a two years' course at the noted
Friend's School at Providence, R, I., and it never had a more attentive or
receptive student. He chose civil engineering as his profession and in 1835
was employed on the first projection of the Erie railway and was one of the
civil engineers whose skill and labor established a feasible grade for the
passage of the iron horse through the almost unbroken wilderness of the
Southern Tier. Mr. Cole purchased a farm of 700 acres in Cuba about four
miles from Friendship, and marrying in New London, Conn., July 27, 1839,
Elizabeth L., daughter of Rowse B. and Ruth (Morey) Browning, he brought
his young bride thither and made this farm his home until 1867 when he re-
moved to Friendship. (On her mother's side his wife descended from one of
the earliest families of Newport, R. I.) Their children were Stephen W.,
Jr., born Dec. 26, 1842, died in Rochester, March 11, 1864, and Sands, born
April 6, 1848, died Aug 3, 1879. Mr. Cole survived his youngest son but
three months, dying Nov. 5, 1879. Mrs. Cole later married Peter B. Reid,
and is still living, one of the best types ever existing of the warm-hearted,
generous, noble women of the pioneer period. She can look back and in her
recollections trace step by step the transformation of this county from a
forest wilderness to a smiling series of farms, gardens, villages and other
manifestations of the highest civilization. Mr. Cole possessed a winning
personality with great kindliness of heart, and rare business sagacity. As
a farmer his untiring energy early gave marked results in abundant crops
and choice herds, and fortune smiled upon his labors. About ten years
previous to his death he sold the farm on which he had so long resided and
purchased the Levi Pearse farm two miles west of Friendship village which
was his home until his death, which occurred while he and his family were
boarding at the American House in Friendship. During his residence at
Friendship he aided many a poor man in building a home, and was one whom
such sought for counsel and advice. His circle of acquaintance extended
far and wide and among all classes, and by his death the public, and especi-
ally the Congregational church, of which he was an exemplary member,
suffered a great loss. He was a man of wonderful strength and endurance,
of fine and cultivated intelligence. He could accomplish the work of two
ordinary men and yet keep in touch with the best literature and the current
events of the day. This great activity was combined with unswerving in-
tegrity and purity of character, and the world was truly better for his
having lived.

HERMAN RICE

Herman Rice, son of Josiah and Sophronia (Tuttle) Rice, was born of
English ancestry in Salisbury, Herkimer county, June 28, 1837. In the fer-
tile county of his birth he attained his majority as a wide-awake, progressive
farmer, making agriculture not only his occupation but a scientific pursuit.

734 HISTORY OF. ALLEGANY COUNTY, N. Y.

He loved the fields, the out-of-door life, the comfort of the large herds of
cattle under his care, and, when he and his young wife made their home in
Cuba in 1867, it was to apply his cultivated intelligence in the demonstra-
tion of what an argiculturist might and could accomplish on Allegany soil.
He purchased the John Cole farm, in a few years made his home in Friend-
ship, and, as his increasing needs demanded, added farm after farm to his
possessions, until his accession of broad acres made him the largest land-
owner of the town. These farms were conducted by him with unvarying
annual success, and he so educated his tenants that many of them became
successful farmers on their own lands. He was one of the few agriculturists
who possess the secret of successful tenant farming. He was not merely a
farmer but also a keen business man. His farms were conducted on busi-
ness principles, and in all departments of industry he left the impress of
a mind of more than usual perception and sagacity. During the first few
years of his residence here he made weekly trips throughout this section to
purchase cheese, and became thoroughly conversant with the county, its
resources and its people. Perhaps no other resident of the county had so
wide an acquaintance. When Cuba became an established weekly cheese
market Mr. Rice was regularly in attendance as the selling agent of several
factories. From his wide acquaintance with the various sections of Alle-
gany county no one was better acquainted with its resources and their pos-
sibilities of development, and he frequently stated that its natural condi-
tions of soil, water, and climate fitted it to become the equal of the rich
dairying section of Herkimer county. The truth of this he demonstrated
in his own success. He was a leader in other business fields. Among the
first to profit by the discovery of oil in the Allegany oil field, his sagacious
power of forecasting events led him to sell his holdings when prices were at
their highest. He had a natural and intuitive grasp of the principles under-
lying financial success and would have acquired an assured position in the
front ranks of operators on Wall street had circumstances located him in
their midst. He was an active, busy man, was twice supervisor of Friend-
ship, served on the village board of education from its organization, was one
of the organizers and president of the Farmers' Co-operative Insurance
Company for many years, and was director and vice president of the Citizens'
National Bank of Friendship from its organization. He was among the
founders and one of the first vice presidents of the Allegany County His-
torical Society, was greatly interested in preserving all things appertaining
to the pioneer period, and had a large store of historical reminiscences of
early days in the Mohawk Valley. He was an extensive reader of good lit-
erature and a discerning critic of merit in authors. He possessed fine per-
sonality, courteous and winning manners and a host of friends. He was con-
servative, careful and of sound judgment, had a fine legal and judicial mind,
weighing values and possibilities with an accurate mentality, and, as a re-
sult, was rarely the victim of a poor investment. When he died, May 29,
1894, the town and county lost one of its ablest citizens. Mr. Rice married

FRIENDSHIP 735

Stella E., daughter of Col. T. H. and Eliza (Salisbury) Ferris, Sept. 29, 1862.*
Their children were Joseph F. (see Courts and Lawyers) and Charles.

WILLIAM H. PITT, A. M., M. D.. PH. D.

Prof. William H. Pitt was born at Short Tract, Sept. 8, 1831. (See Gran-
ger.) He was the oldest boy in a farmer's family of ten children, and his edu-
cation was acquired by himself through sheer pluck and energy in the con-
stant face of difficulties. He left the farm when 16, "clerked" in a store
some years, attended Alfred Academy three years, taught at Friendship
three years, was graduated at Alfred in 1857, and entered Union College in
1858, graduating therefrom in 1860. He was then principal of Spencer, N.
Y., High School for two years (1861-2), held the same position in Angelica
Academy in 1863-4-5, was superintendent of education at Warren, Ohio, in
1867-8, principal of Friendship Academy in 1869-70-71, was professor of
physics and chemistry in Buffalo High School from 1872 to 1890, was State
Analyst of Foods and Drugs in 1881 and 1882, and has been professor of
chemistry and physics in the Medical Department of Niagara University
since May 26, 1884. Union College gave him the degree of A. M. in 1863,
the Medical College, University of Buffalo, that of M. D. in 1879, and Alfred
University that of Ph. D. in 1886. He has contributed papers to the Buffalo
Medical Journal and other periodicals and to the published proceedings
of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has been
a member of the Buffalo Society of Natural Science since 1872, doing origi-
nal work on the Journal and adding specimens of his discovery to its col-
lections. He has described and illustrated several new fossils found near
Buffalo, among them the first pteregotus (it is believed) found in this coun-
try. His greatest fame has been acquired in his applications of geology and
chemistry to petroleum. In both these fields he is high authority. His
declaration that oil existed north and east of the Oil Creek district was fol-
lowed in 1876 by the opening of the Bradford field. In 1880 he published a
map of the region along the line dividing the head waters of the Allegany
and Genesee rivers where he also declared oil to exist. His theory guided
O. P. Taylor in opening up the Allegany oil field. After many fruitless ex-
periments Prof. Pitt discovered a method of extracting the sulphur from
the nearly valueless Ohio and Canadian oils. The result has been to revolution-
ize the petroleum industry in those fields and to many times enhance their
value. His process is in successful operation at the Paragon Oil Refinery at
Toledo, Ohio, of which he is consulting chemist. His scientific knowledge
has been rewarded with a handsome competency, which neither tends to
slacken his desire for study nor to change his genial unostentatious nature.
He is and ever will be a thorough student. He married Miss Elizabeth
Church of Friendship, Map 18, 1861, and their summer home in this village
is one of the attractive centers of society.
* The name Ferris is from Leicestershire, England, from Henry, son of Gualchelme de Feriers, house of
Feriers, to whom William the Conqueror gave large grants of land in the three shires of Stafford, Derby and
Leicester. Jaffrey Ferris, made freeman in Boston in 1635, was one of the first settlers of Greenwich, Conn.,
and is the ancestor of many of the name now in America.

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