BY MARK W. HEATH ESQ.
GROVE, lying on the north border of the county east of the center, was incorporated
as Church Tract, March 8, 1827, the territory coming from Nunda. It assumed the name of Grove in 1828, and included
the territory of Granger until April 18, 1838. It is surrounded, north by Livingston county, east by the same county
and the town of Burns, south by Birdsall and west by Granger. Grove contains 21,070 acres of land. The surface
is rough, hilly, with several valleys and ridges. Branches of Canaseraga and Black creeks permeate the eastern
and southern sections, and Cashaqua Creek heads in the northwest part. Chautauqua Valley is in the east part. The
soil is a gravelly loam in the valleys and a clay loam with hardpan subsoil on the hills. The shipment of the products,
largely dairy ones, is greatly facilitated by the proximity of both the Erie and Central New York and Western railroads,
each has about five miles of track in the town. It is a purely agricultural town, with no great historical features,
no manufacturing and a decreasing population, which the census gives as 623 in 1840, 1,154 in 1850, 1,139 in. 1860,
1,056 in 1870, 1,125 in 1880 and 954 in 1890.
The first officers, elected at the first town meeting, held at the house of John Bellows, a two-story log structure,
were Isaac Van Nostrand, supervisor; John Boughton, clerk; Henry Root, Curtis Coe, John Wheeler, assessors; George
Matter, Elias Smith, overseers of the poor; Dexter Carpenter, Enos Baldwin, John Boughton, highway commissioners;
Abner Comstock, collector; Ira Hopper, Abner Comstock, constables; Abner Scoville. Willard S. Maer, school commissioners;
Charles Mills, Jr., Elijah Griswold, Jr., John Boughton, school inspectors. At this meeting it was voted to raise
$250 for schools and $250 for roads; also voted to make a fence 4½ feet high a lawful fence, and to forbid
cattle, sheep and hogs from running at large within hail a mile of any store, tavern or mill between November 1st
and April 1st under a penalty of one dollar for each offense. Cattle and sheep were to be "free commoners"
from April 1st to November 10th.
John White, the first settler, born in Columbia county in 1786, came here in May, 1818, and located on lot 35.
He brought his family from Herkimer county with an ox-team, . and cut his way from Nunda through a dense forest.
His log house built that year was the first civilized residence of the town, and here the first religious (Methodist)
services were held in 1821, and the first school was taught in. 1826 by Emily Page. Around this modest habitation
was soon a little settlement. Alexander Bailey, from Vermont in 1818, being the first neighbor of Mr. White locating
on the same lot in the spring of 1819. On this lot 35 occurred the first birth (that of Laura Bailey on Christmas,
1821), the first wedding (Elijah White to Lucy Dana in. 1822) and the first death (that of William White, date
unknown). In this section of the town was kept the first "inn" in 1828 by Henry Andrews, near where the
town's first store was opened three years earlier by Thayer & Smith.
In 1823 James Brewer from Nunda located southwest of the center of the town. His house was frequently chosen as
the place to hold elections. and as neighbors located near, notably Jonathan Parsons, Benjamin Pratt, Elias Alvord
and others, an active business center was developed, with stores, shops, etc., which did much trade until the lumbering
interests had carried to market the bulk of the original forests of the town. A log schoolhouse was built here
in 1826. In 1851 Jesse Brewer opened his tavern, which for years was noted for its public gatherings, balls, town
meetings, elections, etc. With the decline of lumbering The Corners dwindled to nothingness. Samuel Swain, born
in Northwood, N. H. located in Nunda then in Allegany county in. 1818. In 1849 he moved to Grove, although by being
active in the town affairs of Nunda and holding town offices he had much to do with this part of the town before.
He was a surveyor, laid out many of the roads of Grove and gave name to Swains station where quite a village was
developed. A sawmill, built here early by one Jenks, was bought and conducted by Philip A. Seager, who was the
first merchant of the place and prominent in affairs. He located on lot 2 in 1828 and previous to 1840 moved to
the vicinity of Swains.
Early Settlers.- Heman Parker came
in 1821, Riley Parker in. 1822, John and Henry Grander in 1824, Rev. Frederick Closser and James Ewart in 1830,
Harry Knight in. 1833, Daniel Goelzer and Timothy Mabie in 1838, George F. Rogers in 1840, Sylvester S. Heath in
1843, Burton Bentley and Isaac C. Guy in. 1844. Cephas B. Carter who was prominent in. building up the dairy interests
of Grove, erecting the town's first cheese factory in. 1872, came in 1847. Many settlers came before 1850. The
names of the earliest settlers are given in the list of names in the town's first official board, and Beer's (1879)
History gives these names of settlers before 1844 who were living at that date: J. S. Barney, Samuel Brace, Daniel
G. Brewer, Burton Bentley, J. W. Bennett, Chauncey Dodd, Michael Eiseman, James Ewart, John Gruber, John Grunder,
Daniel Goelzer, C. L. and V. R. S. Havens, Thomas G. Haight, Moses March, Timothy Mabie, Asa and Heman Parker,
George Swartz and D. Smith.
The town has been populated by a frugal and industrious people, who in an unostentatious way have wrought well
in the work of civilization and many have acquired ample means from their industry. The air is pure, the water
comes from springs and everything exists to give long life and good health to its residents. The town was most
patriotic in the dark days of the Civil War that tried men's souls. The list of its soldiers is a noble one and
eloquently tells Grove's devotion to the Union.
Soldiers of 1861-5.- 1st N. Y.
Dragoons, William J. Emmons, Co. A; William Holmes, Co. E; Charles B. Fox, William H. Kelley, Co. F; George Ames,
Elisha G. Ames, Ziba E. Barney, Alouzo H. Bennett, John W. Booth, Robert C. Chapman, James Closser, Salmon Farr,
Henry Fry, James H. Folon, Simeon Gaelser, Chancellor L. Havens, Elijah Harwood, George R. Harwood, Joseph Harwood,
Ransom Haight, Mark W. Heath, William H. Niles, Milan Parker, Halsey Phelps, James Rogers, Byron D. Russell, Leonard
P. Russell, Edward Smith' Godfred Smith, Henry Smith, Jesse W. Smith, Philip Smith, George H. Spoon, John L. Spike'
Benjamin F. Town, John Threehouse, Sepherenus Ward, Seth H. Weed, Marcus W. Wood' Co. I. 33d N. Y., John M. Knight,
Jacob Seager, Co. E; Norton E. Bardwell, Eugene Beach, Charles Newman, Horatio B. Raynard. Co. F. 74th N. Y., Josiah
I. Byers, Co. F. 85th N. V., George W. Barney, John Barney, William S. Smith, Co. E. 89th N. Y., Edwin A. Bennett'
Co. A. 97th N. Y., Harley H. Pierce, Co. K. 104th N. Y., Harlan Barney, Abram Folon, Carlos G. Lowell, William
G. Masks, Hiram Passage, Randolph R. Weed, Daniel White, Elijah White, Co. A; Washington G. Bennett, John Weideright,
Jay G. Young, Co. E; Solomon Closser, William H. Culver, John Gruber, Jr., Daniel Swender, Co. F. 109th N. Y. Hiram
F. Campbell, Co. K. 136th N. Y., Hiram Allen, Co. B; Devillo A. Dodge, Co. E.; Jacob Steih. Co. F; Patrick Ryan,
Co. H; John Ryan, Co. I. 188th N. Y., James Clute, Co. B; John Nichols, Elbert Sprague, Samuel Thornton, Co. G.;
John Ames, Andrew D. Barnhart, Winslow H. Clark, George P. Fay, William S. Gibbs, Calvin L. Jenks. George W. Patterson,
Lawrence Pendergast, Sylvester H. Pickett, Jacob Pitts, James L. Sutton, Alva Thompson, Clark Thompson, Co. I.
189th N. Y., John Ryan, Co. F. 1st Vet. Cav., Hiram Brace, Austin Evans, George F. Rogers, Co. D. 2d Vet. Cav.,
George White, Co. L. 21st Vet. Cav., Obed A. Patterson, Co. K. N. Y. Heavy Artillery, Fourth Regt., Harrison W.
H. Hovey, Co. D; Albert Pratt, Martin Pratt, Co. F. Sixth Regt., Harvey E. Derrien, Co. L. Eighth Regt., Henry
Anthony, Co. H. Ninth Regt., Jacob Aylor, Daniel Gruber, Henry Swender, Co. A; Daniel Steih, Co. F. Sixteenth Regt.,
Harrison W. Bentley, Co. F. Charles Knight served in Co. I, 15th Mich., William Mabie also in a Michigan company,
John White in Co. I., 12th Penn. Cav., and Lafayette L. Wirt in Co. I, 19th Mass.
Religious Bodies.- Methodism was
early here, Rev. Cyrus Story, an itinerant, preached at the house of his brother Methodist, John White, in 1820,
and here the White's Settlement M. E. class was formed in 1821 with four members, Mr. and Mrs. White, Alexander
Bailey and another. A church was built early in the town; as settlement changed the church was moved, from time
to time remodeled, and is now situated between Brewer's Corners and the north line of Grove. The "White's
Settlement" church, built in 1875, had a Rev. Mr. King for its first pastor. The present one is Rev. J. K.
Underhill. The Sabbath-school has 35 attendants.
A German Evangelical church costing $500 was built in 1856 in the west part of the town. Rev. Jacob Waggoner was
the first pastor. Rev. Ernest Gleason is now in charge. The Sabbath school has 75 members.
"The People's Church of Swains," built in 1889 is occupied by the Protestant Methodists. Rev. Alex. Manship
was its first pastor; Rev. W. H. Marshall is now in charge. The Sabbath school has about 30 members.
From 1836 to 1840 a Presbyterian church existed here under the pastoral care of Rev. W. P. Kendrick.
There are ten school districts and ten frame school houses, and the assessed value of the school property is $5,500.
The village of Swains is the business center of Grove. Here is located the steam saw, planing and feed mills of
H. G. Shaw, the stores of Sedam and Bergen and F. S. Hark, the latter being the postmaster. These, with the Erie
station (E. C. Merrill station agent) and a small population form a quiet hamlet in a picturesque valley. There
are two portable steam sawmills now located in Grove. M. Havens has one on the Burton Bentley farm where he manufactures
hardwood and hemlock lumber, and J. L Spike and Samuel Blakeley operate one about four miles west of Swains.
Harvey G. Shaw. son of Cyrus Shaw. was born in Dansville, Sept. 27, 1827. He was educated at the common schools,
married Sarah Eldridge, and has 2 sons and 2 daughters. In 1856 he settled in Grove and erected a sawmill at Swains,
and manufactured and dealt in lumber, and where he now has a steam saw, planing, and feed mill. Politically Mr.
Shaw is a Democrat and has been 10 times elected supervisor of the town with quite a large majority, the usual
Republican majority being about 6o. He has been thrice elected justice of the peace, has been poStmaster 3 terms,
was census enumerator one term, and is a member of Canaseraga Lodge, F. & A. M., No. 781.
Mark W. Heath, son of Sylvester S. Heath, was born Nov. 8, 1842, in Nunda. When Mark was a year old his father
settled in Grove and there passed the remainder of his life. He married Catharine White and they had io children,
4 of whom are living. S. S. Heath died Jan. 2, 1892. Mark W. Heath enlisted Aug. 11, 1862, in Co. I, 130th Regt.
N. Y. V., and served 3 years. He is a member of Seth H. Weed Post of Canaseraga. He has been constable for several
years and was deputy sheriff in 1880. He married Dora D. Clark; they have a daughter, Erma May Heath.
John L. Spike, son of Josiah Spike, was born in Naples, N. Y., Nov. 8, 1843. His father came to Grove in 1853,
and is now a resident. John L. Spike enlisted in Co. I, 130th Regt. N. Y. V., and served 6 months, then re-enlisted
in Battery D, Fourth U. S. Artillery, and served until discharged in August, 1865. He is a member of Seth H. Weed
Post, No. 296. In 1866 he married Lucina J. Johnson and has 3 children. Since the war he has been engaged in farming
and is also a manufacturer of lumber. He has been town clerk for 9 years.
Grove had for years quite a fame as the residence of Frederick Decker, "the Ossian giant." He was born
in Geneseo, May 9, 1836, son of John B. and Christiana Decker, people of slightly more than medium size. He however
grew to a height of 6 feet, 11 3/4 inches, with a weight of 300 to 350 lbs. He was on exhibition for years in many
of the United States, and made his home in Grove in 1877 where he died March 21, 1886, and was buried at Swains.
Of. ten children he was the only one exceeding normal size. His wife, formerly Mary E. Lane, whom he married Oct.
21, 1861, weighed about 105 lbs. and none of their children attained his proportions. His son Frank lives at Angelica
and is a conductor on the C. N. Y. and W. R. R., his daughters Viola and Flora married brothers named Nelson and
live at Nunda, Nora married John Lanphear and lives near Fillmore. Mrs. Frederick Decker married second Israel
Price and lives at Swains.
Stockbreeding is here quite an important branch of farming, and there are some quite extensive stockraisers and
farmers. Among them are L. F. Windsor, proprietor Echo Bank stock farm, W. E. Swain, William Van Nostrand, who
formerly had a large heading mifi here, Michael Gelser, John White and others.
Present Town Officers.- Justices
of the peace, Edwin Mabie, Earnest R. Gelser, William Kelley, Elmer C. Merrill; assessors, Fletcher Pierce, James
Ryan, Fred Ludwig; constables, James Ryan, John Bardwell, Ezra Ludwig, Chris. Mechenbacker, collector, C. L. Dunn;
inspectors of election, E. W. Ludwig, N. P. Staub, Talman Johnson, Thomas Haight; excise commissioners, John Carter,
C. A. Stuart, Jacob Ludwig, Jr.; highway commissioner, James Aylor; overseers of the poor, Daniel Stee, A. Hinman
Supervisors.- Isaac Van Nostrand,
1827 to 1832; Reuben Weed, 1833, '34, '38, '42, '43, '44, '45, '46, '48, '55; John Boughton. 1835; Joseph Platt,
1836, '37; Elisha Scott, 1839; John S. Culver, 1840; John Willard, 1841, '47: Heman Parker, 1849, '50; William
Kellogg, 1851; R. Lawrence, 1852; Alex. Bailey, 1853, '54; Sidney T. Derrien, 1856, '57, '58, '59; Jesse Brewer,
1860; Samuel Swain. 1861 to 1870; Goodwin S. Hovey, 1871 to 1873; Harry G. Shaw, 1874 to 1880, '86, '90, '91, Daniel
C. Grunder, 1881 to 1885; A. J. White, 1889; C. C. Cronk, 1892, '93; C. K. Bacon, 1887, '88, 94, 95. (Mr. Bacon
removed from town in 1895 and Ezra Ludwig was appointed to fill vancancy.)