History of Gorham, New York
FROM: HISTORY OF ONTARIO COUNTY
NEW YORK
EDITD BY: GEORGE S. CONOVER
COMPILED BY LEWIS CASS ALDRIDGE
PUBLISHED BY D. MASON & CO., PUBLISHERS
SARACUSE, N. Y., 1893


CHAPTER XXII.
HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF GORHAM.

ON January 27, 1789, in pursuance o the act creating the county and dividing its territory, a town called "Easton" was formed, and included all of townships 9 and 10, second range, Phelps and Gorham purchase. On April 17, 1806, the name of this town was changed to "Lincoln," and one year later, April 6, 1807, was again changed to Gorham, and so called in honor of Nathaniel Gorham, one of the proprietors. In 1822, township 10 was taken from Gorham and given a separate organization under the name of Hopewell; and in 1824 all that part of township 9 in the third range which lay east of Canandaigua Lake, was annexed to Gorham, the convenience of the inhabitants east of the lake demanding that such annexation be made.

The first settlement in this town was made in the year 1789, in the locality known as Reed's Corners, by James Wood, whose particular location was on lot fifty-four. The other pioneers and early settlers in this part of Gorham were Silas Reed,. John McPherson, Jeremiah Swart, and one Gurnsey, nearly all of whom left children, the descendants of some of them being still residents of the town. In this part of the town is the little village of Reed's Corners, named in honor of the pioneer family, of which village a more detailed narrative will be found on a subsequent page.

In the extreme northwest part of the town, including the part set off to Gorham from Canandaigua, there dwelt at an early day James Wood, son of the pioneer, Alexander Sampson, Jonathan Stearns, and other families whose surnames were Koomer, Sackett, Wilson, Mead, Davis, Fisher, Carson, Gulick, with others whose names are not now recalled. South of the Reed's Corners vicinity the pioneers were Silas Reed, Harvey Stone, Jacob Young, Mr. Wilson, Royal Stearns, Thomas Tuffs, John Tuffs and others; while still further south dwelt pioneers Nathan Pratt, Elisha Pratt, Charles Russells, Benjamin Washburn, Daniel Treat, Eben Harwood, Archibald Armstrong, G. Merrell, Charles Headgar.

East of the Reed's Corners neighborhoçd there settled at an early day a colony of pioneers, among whom were a number of Dutch families from the Hudson River Valley, but unfortunately many of the surnames have been lost. So far as can be now learned the early settlers in the northeast part of No. 9 were Darius Miner (1812), Ebenezer Lewis, 1798; Levi Sortell, 1810; William Howe and Frederick Spaulding, 1811.

In the eastern part of the town is located the pleasant post village of Gorham, named from the town, and about which is a fertile agricultural district. This is an important locality, for here Flint Creek has its course, and various mill enterprises have added to the resources of the vicinity. In this connection the name of Levi Benton became conspicuous at an early day, he having built the first grist- mill in the town, on Flint Creek. The first lumber-mill on the creek was built in 1808 by one Craft. The surnames of Petit, Phillips, Perkins, Pickett, Harris, Sherman, Arnold and Hogeboom are named as heads of families who settled in this part of the township at an early day, the domain of their settlement extending west to the center of the town.

The incorporated village of Rushville is situated in the south part of Gorham, and includes within its corporate limits parts of three towns- Gorham, Potter and Middlesex. Nothing of more than ordinary importance contributed to the early settlement of this locality, and it was not until a comparatively recent date that railroad communication between this place and the county seat was opened. Ludin Blodget was one of the pioneers of this locality, as also in the same connection may be mentioned the names of Daniel Gates (proprietor of the once famou Gates' Tavern), Henry Green, Chester Loomis, Samuel Torrey, Timothy Moore, Captain Harwood, Zebediah Morse, Daniel White, John Catlin, Curtis Chatfield and Oliver Chatfield. A little farther east some of the pioneers were Richard Westbrook, William Bassett, James Lewis, Lemuel Moore, Solomon Blodget, William Blodget, Samuel Reed, Horatio Gates, Lewis George. West of the Rushvillë neighborhood the earliest settlers were Christian Fisher, Abraham Garrison, John Ferguson, the Franciscos, Briggs, Van Brankens, Martins, Sheep, Bascoms, Abner Du Valle Northward from this locality and along the lake shore, the early settlers were Otis Lincoln, Southwick Cole, Amasa, Gage (head of the numerous and thrifty Gage family of Gorham), Henry. Elliott (built a grist-mill in 1815). Still farther north pioneer James Wood made his first beginning, which has been referred to in this chapter. However, without here making more detailed statements concerning the pioneer families of Gorham, the attention of the reader is directed to another department of this volume, wherein will be found further allusion to the early settlers of Gorham, and as well to their descendants and some of the later generations of inhabitants of the town.

From the large number of names of heads of families above mentioned it will be seen that the early settlement of Gorham was made as rapidly as that of any part of the county of similar situation. In 1824 the town was enlarged by the acquisition of territory from Canandaigua, and constituted according to its present boundaries. In 1830 the census enumeration showed Gorham to contain two thousand nine hundred and seventy-seven inhabitants, and since that time there has been a gradual and constant reduction in number, as will be seen from the statement taken from the census reports. The population in 1840 was 2,789; in 1850 was 2,645 in 1860 was 2,537; in 1870 was 2,389; in 1880 was 2,521, and in 1890 was 2,203. It will be seen from this that the present population of this town is about eight hundred less than that of sixty years ago.

The civil, social, political and military history of Gorham is equally interesting with that of any other interior town in the county. Its pioneer settlement began at about the same time as elsewhere, but when it actually ceased to be of that distinguishing character is quite difficult to determine. However, while it was still in operation the people of the town were disturbed by the events of the War of 1812, and that conflict called the young men of the enrolled militia into service on the western frontier, while others were in the regular continental army; but, unfortunately, no records have been preserved, and is thereforeimpossible to name the volunteers in the militia service during the war.

In the war of 1861-65, commonly known as the Rebellion, the town gained an enviable reputation. At that time its population was about 2,500, and the records show that more than two hundred and twenty-five men entered the service, while the fact exists that at least twenty-five or thirty others were in commands not credited to the town, making a total of more than two hundred and fifty men to the town's actual credit. Recent publications have been made which show the services of the several commands in the field in which were Gorham volunteers, and almost every comrade has not only the record but also the roster of his regiment and company, wherefore in this chapter it is not necessary to more than refer to the period of the war. In an earlier chapter of this work will be found a record showing the composition of the Ontario county regiments, with some pertinent allusion to their services in the field, and to the military chapter, therefore, the attention of the reader is directed for further information regarding the record of Gorham's soldiery.

The Village of Rushville.- In point of importance, population and business interests, Rushville stands at the head among the villages of Gorham, and in fact is the only one of those in the town that has acquired a corporate character. Unfortunately, however, for the general good of Ontario county, and particularly the town of Gorbam, comparatively little of the corporate territory of Rushville is within this county, the same lying chiefly in Yates county, and taken from the towns of Potter and Middlesex. The Union School district of Rushville nevertheless extends beyond the village limits on the Ontario county side. The village is distant from the county seat, by wagon road, about ten miles, but the most convenient route of travel beiween these points is the Middlesex Valley and Northern Central railroads.

In addition to its general business and manufacturing interests, the village possesses several large and useful public buildings, and as well a number of societies and enterprises of fraternal character. On the Gorham side of the village the generally called public institutions are the cemetery and the M. E. Church property, while the Congregational church is south of but very close to the line.

The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized about the year 1821, the original members being from Gorham, Potter and Middlesex. The first church edifice was begun in 1830, and finished and dedicated in June, 1832. The society has a large membership, numbering about 200 persons, and is at present under the pastoral care of Rev. M. J. Wells, who also supplies the pulpit of the M. E. Church at Vine Valley.

The Congregational Church at Rushville has among its members a number of residents of Gorham, who are prompted by convenience in their attendance there rather than at the church of the same society at Reed's Corners. The present pastor of this church and society is Rev. Hover, who officiates in the same capacity at Reed's Corners.

The Roman Catholic Church at Rushville extends its parith into this town. Its present pastor is Rev. Father Dougherty.

Gorham Village.- This pretty little hamlet may be said to be the most important trading center in the town. Settlement in its immediate locality began with the present century, the pioneer being Thomas Haistead, who laid the foundation for a village by erecting a public house. Soon afterward Levi Benton built a grist-mill, utilizing the waters of Flint Creek for purposes of power. Craft's saw-mill was erected in 1808, and in the same year Joseph Palmer opened a store and began trade. Thus was the village founded. Its original name was Bethel, and was thus maintained until about 1856 when it was changed to Gorham. In the village a frame school-house was built in 1815, and also in that year the cemetery was laid out.

As Gorham village has its location on Flint Creek the locality very early acquired some prominence as a manufacturing and milling center. This reputation has ever since been maintained, though the last score of years have witnessed a general diminution rather than an increase in industry. However, the recent completion of the Middlesex Valley railroad has had the effect of stimulating a renewed effort in the direction of manufacturing, hence the outlook for future prosperity becomes brighter.

In 1868 a disastrous fire destroyed many of the business buildings of the village, but these were afterward replaced with more substantial structures. We have mentioned some of the early interests of the village and may also add the names of the first physicians, Doctors Coffin and Dean; and the churches, the Methodist, built in 1828; and the Presbyterian and Baptist, both built in 1842-43. The large and sub.. stantial school-house was built in 1874. The principal business enterprises of Gorham at the present time are the general stores of William Pulver and and A. M. Phillips; the drug store of Bowen Cook; Crozier's hardware store; Charles Johnson's store (he being also postmaster); the hotel of Mark Bane, together with the shops and light industries of a well-regulated village. In the immediate vicinity are the sawmill, commonly called the "Stockoe mill ;" the grist mill of the Gorham Mill Company, (Joseph Hershey, owner); the planing mill and the barrel and stave factory.

Reed's Corners is the name of a very small settlement in the northeast part of the town; and although the smallest of the hamlets, or villages, in Gorham, it has a historic importance in many respects superior to the other trading centers which have greater population. It is a fact, also, that many of the institutions which have developed and grown in other localities had their beginning at or near the Corners. The business interests at Reed's Corners comprise the general store of A. S. Winne, the wagon shop of George W. Tozer, and the hotel of Mrs. George Partise. The Reed's Corner Recreative Association have a hall for entertainments, and near the cross-roads is situated the grounds of the Gorham Agricultural Association. The last mentioned is one of the old institutions of the town, having been formed in 1852 and maintained without interruption ever since. The track is one-third of a mile in length, the grounds on the Mason H. Reed farm are ample, and the annual meeting of the association is an event of importance in local annals. The president is S. B. Douglas; secretaries, Frank G. Gage and John Turner; treasurer Virgil Smith. Among the directors are G. W. Tozer, A. J. Anderson, William Macgaffe, John H. Miller and Charles Washburn.

In the vicinity of Reed's Corner are the Congregational and Baptist Churches, both of which are offshoots from older societies in the town. Neither has a resident pastor, the supply of the former being Rev. Hover of Rushville, and of the latter Rev. Rose of Gorham village.

Referring briefly to the churches of the town, it may be noted that as early as 1796 religious teaching and preaching was conducted in Gorham. Revs. Owen and Hamilton of the M. E. Church were missionary workers in the region at that early day; and the result was the organization of "The first M. E. Society of the Town of Gorham," which was the parent of Methodism in the town. In 1842 the society made a permanent lodgment at Bethel (Gorham). where the church has ever since been maintained. It is a joint station with Stanley and is now under the pastoral care of Rev. 0. D. Davis. In this connection also we may mention the organization of theM. E. Society at Reed's Corners, which was incorporated in 1856 by John Turner, Jacob W. Lamb, Abram Arnold, Moody Wyman and Hiram F. Wilbur, trustees.

The Presbyterian Church of Gorham was organized February 26, 1828, with twenty four members. The first meeting-house was erected near Reed's Corner, but in 1843 the society was divided and the Gorham village church formed. Thereafter the Congregational Church at the Corners was organized and the edifice built by former members of the mother society.

Schools.- The educational welfare of Gorham has neverbeen neglected and an examination of the facts will show that this interest has been carefully regarded. As early as 1813 the town, which then comprised Gorham and Hopewell, was divided into school districts and moneys appropriated for the maintenance of schools therein. However, on the separation of Hopewell from the mother town, and the annexation of a large territory from Canandaigua, the Gorham thus constituted was redistricted according to the convenience of the inhabitants.

It would indeed be difficult to trace the history of the schools in every district in Gorham from its earliest infancy to the present time, and such a recital would even then have a doubtful interest, but we may broadly state that school teaching began in this town as early as 1798 and has continued uninterruptedly to this time. According to the present disposition of educational interests in the town, there are sixteen school districts, fourteen of which have good school-houses, there being eleven of frame and three of brick material, and of a total value, exclusive of the large Union school at Rushville. of $6,820. In 1892 the town received for school purposes $4,428.21, of which amount the sum of $3,616.10 was paid to the fifteen teachers employed. The school popu lation of the town is 577.

Organization.- Gorham was formed as Easton January 27, 1789, but as to the date of organization there appears some uncertainty, the records giving no account of town meetings previous to April 4, 1797, and from the general character of the minute book it is doubtless a fact that the town organization was not perfected before that time. The town meeting was then held at the dwelling house of pioneer Frederick Follett, and officers were elected as follows: Supervisor, Samuel Day; town clerk, James Austin; assessors, Samuel Day, Frederick Follett, Silas Reed and George Brandage; collector, John Warren; overseers of poor, Wrn. Engle and Joseph Brundage: commissioners of highways, Elijah Hurd, Robert Whittery, Wm. Hicks; constable, John Warren.

Succession of Supervisors.- Samuel Day, 1797: James Austin, 1798; Daniel Gates, 1799-1802; Samuel Reed, 1803-8; John Price, 1809-18; Lemuel Morse, 1819; Stephen Bates, 1820; John Price, 1821; Aaron Younglove, 1822; Lemuel Morse, 1823; Chester Loomis, 1824-25; Lemuel Morse, 1826; Timothy Mower, 1827-32; Joseph Blodget, 1833-34; 34; Adam Fake, 1835; Joseph Blodget, 1836; Isaac Phillips, 1837; Joseph Blodget, 1838; Staats Green, 1839-44; Wm. H. Lamport, 1845-46; Hiram Harkness, 1847; Staats Green, 1848; Wm. R. Pettit, 1849-50; David H. Runyan, 1851; James M Pulver, 1852-53; Marvin Gage, 1854; David Pickett, 1855-56; Harvey Stone, 1857-59; James M. Pulver, 1860; Hiram Harkness, 1861-65, 1867; Henry Metcalf, 1866; John Robson 1868-72; Erastus Green, 1873; James Robson, 1874, 1876-78, 1883; Lebbeus Phillips, 1875; Adnah J. Phillips, 1879-80; Lorenzo D. Gage, 1881-82; De Roy J. Harkness, 1884-86; Wm. O. Valentine, 1887; Alex. D. Allen, 1888-92; Marvin Gage, 1893.

Present Town Officers.- Marvin Gage supervisor; H. Clark Wood, town clerk; Gilbert W. Elwell, Lewis C. Lincoln, Wm. Pulver, Richard Ringer, justices of the peace: J. Andrew Henry, D. A. Goodrick, John W. Washburn, assessors; John Dear, collector; John W. Turner, cornmissioner of highways; Charles Babbitt, overseer of poor; Charles Stark and Thomas Dawson, constables.

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