HISTORY of HAMBURG, NY
FROM OUR COUNTY AND ITS PEOPLE
A DESCRIPTIVE WORK ON ERIE COUNTY
NEW YORK
EDITED BY: TRUMAN C. WHITE
THE BOSTON HISTORY COMPANY, PUBLISHERS 1898



TOWN OF HAMBURG.

The town of Hamburg, so named from Hamburg in Germany, lies in the western part of Erie county, directly south of Buffalo, and was formed from Willink on the 20th of March, 1812. In 1826 a small tract was annexed to Evans; on October 15, 1850, the town of Ellicott (now East Hamburg) was set off; on October 16, 1851, a part of West Seneca was taken off; and about the same time a small triangular tract east of the Abbott road was transferred to Hamburg. The town contains about 25,000 acres, and is bounded on the east by East Hamburg, on the south by Boston, Eden and Evans, on the west by Lake Erie, and on the north by the lake and West Seneca. The surface is rolling in the eastern part and level, with a g.entle inclination toward the lake, in the western part. The soil is generally a clayey loam and very prodüctive; along Eighteen-mile Creek, or the Idlewood, gravel abounds. Outside of the village the chief industry is agriculture; all kinds of farm produce, garden truck, fruit, etc., are grown in abundance. Along the lake shore several summer resorts and private houses have sprung up within the last ten or fifteen years.

The first town meeting was held at the house of Jacob Wright on the 7th of April, 1812, and the following officers were elected:

David Eddy. supervisor; Samuel Hawkins, town clerk; Isaac Chandler. Richard Smith and Nelson Whitticer, assessors; Abner Wilson, constable and collector; Nathaniel Clark and Thomas Fish, overseers of the poor; Joseph Brown, John Green and Amasa Smith, commissioners of highways; Abner Amsdell and Jotham Bemis, poundmasters.

Following is a list of the supervisors of Hamburg with their years of service:
David Eddy, 1812; Samuel Abbott, 1813; Richard Smith, 1814; Lemuel Wasson, 1815; Richard Smith, 1816; Isaac Chandler, 1817; Richard Smith, 1818: Abner Wilson, 1819; Lemuel Wasson, 1820—24; Thomas T. White, 1825; Joseph Foster, 1826—29; Elisha Smith, 1830—41; Isaac Deuel, 1842; Joseph Foster, 1843; Clark Dart, 1844; Amos Chilcott, 1845; Clark Dart, 1846; Isaac Deuel, 1847—48; Jesse Bartoo, 1849; Jacob Potter, 1850; John Clark, 1851—52; Ira Barnard, 1853—55; George W. Barnard, 1856; Morris Osborn, 1857—58; James S. Parkhill, 1859; Noel White, 1860— 61; Allen K. Dart, 1862—65; George M. Pierce, 1866—67; Robert C. Titus, 1868—71; George M. Pierce, 1872-73; Horace W. White, 1874—76; Andrel Stein, 1877—80; Harvey S. Spencer, 1881—82; J. S. Newton, 1883; Horace W White, 1884—86; John Brendel, 1387—89; Fayette Kelly, 1890—97.

There is some doubt as to who was the first settler in Hamburg, but every fact obtainable points to John Cummings, who purchased from the Holland Land Company a tract of land on Eighteen-mile Creek in 1803. There seems to have been a number of settlers in that year, among them being the Hicks and Van Namee families, Ebenezer Goodrich and Daniel Camp, all on the lake shore, and Nelson Whitticer, Ebenezer Ingersoll and John Van Namee, father of Leonard. About 1805 Mr. Cummings erected, near what is now Water Valley, the first grist mill in the town and the first in Erie county south of a rude corn mill in East Hamburg. He died soon afterward and was the first person buried in the old cemetery in Hamburg.

About 1804 Rufus Belden and Nathaniel Titus came in; the latter, in 1805, opened the first tavern in town on the lake shore. Among the settlers of 1805 were Abner Amsdell and son Abner, ‘Jotham Bemis, Abel Buck, Gideon Dudley, Russell Goodrich, Samuel P. Ribbard, Winslow Perry, King Root and Tyler Sackett. About 1806 Jacob Wright settled and opened a tavern at Wright’s Corners, now Abbott’s Corners, and about the same time Daniel Smith moved his corn mill, previously mentioned, from East Hamburg to the creek near Hamburg village. About 1808 Mr. Smith and his brother, Judge Richard Smith, erected a grist mill, and for several years the place was called Smith’s Mills. A saw mill was built at Water Valley about 1811. Other early settlers of the original town were:

Seth Abbott, Joseph Abbott, Samuel Abbott, William Coitrin, Benjamin Enos, Cotton Fletcher, John Green, Pardon Pierce, Giles Sage, Zenas Smith and William Warriner, the latter a surgeon in the war of 1812. At the battle of Black Rock, Newman Baker, William Cheeseman and Parley Moffat, residents of this town, were slain. Capt. Benjamin I. Clough of Hamburg, was an officer in that war.

After the war of 1812 Judge Zenas Barker purchased the Titus tavern on the lake shore, and a post-office was established there with the name of Barkersville. Bird & Foster succeeded Judge Barker. The Lake Shore road was long the principal route of travel, and at one time, it is said, there were nearly as many taverns as private dwellings on it. Prior to 1818 Lewis T. White, Jacob A. Barker, Daniel Brayman, Caleb Pierce, Lansing and Seymour Whitticer, the Shepard, Barnard, Jackson and Beach families, and others had became settlers. In 1822 the post-offices of Barkersville and Smithville (at Smith’s Mills) were discontinued and another, called Hamburg, established at Abbott’s Corners, which for several years was the leading business place in town. During the Patriot war in 1837—38 two or more movements looking to the invasion of Canada originated in Hamburg; in February, 1838, Colonel Worth dispersed a body of 400 patriots who had assembled at Comstock’s tavern for this purpose. Many of the early settlers were Germans, who, by 1840, had gained a wide reputation for their “Hamburg cheese,” which long continued to be a celebrated product of the town. In 1868 the Erie County Agricultural Society found a permanent home on the grounds of the Hamburg Driving Park Association, where annual exhibitions have since been held.

Among the prominent citizens of Hamburg are the following:
Col. George Abbott, Capt. B. K. Buxton, Isaac Long, Moses Dart and son Moses, John V. Dorst, George Kast and son George, Henry F. Kast and son Peter, Amasa K. Ostrander, John and Joseph Potter, Joseph McGee, Reuben Potter and sons Joseph and Reuben, Mathias Rittman and son Abram, George W. Sikes, John P. Spaulding, Prof. Elliott W. Stewart, Horace White arid son Horace W., Sanford Williams and son Addis E., Philander Rathbone, Amasa Smith, William H. Brown, Poltis Colvin, Elihu Johnson, Marcus Schwert.

Hamburg Village is situated on the Buffalo and southwestern division of the Erie Railroad, which was completed in 1875, and had its beginnings in the grist mill of David and Richard Smith. This mill soon gave place to a larger one, which was washed away in January; 1822. It was rebuilt by Mr. Mills, who was succeeded by his son, John T. Mills, who sold it to Isaac Long about 1827. The latter was followed by his son, Abram Long, who built a new brick structure in 1856; this was burned about 1888 and rebuilt. Soon after 1808 Root & Bliss erected a tannery, which was purchased about 1818 by Thomas T. White, who was succeeded by his son, Lewis T. White; the latter sold it in 1840 to John Sigel, and on October 5, 1896, it was burned. Willard Berry, in 1825, built a cloth mill, which was burned a few years later.

The place was first known as Smith’s Mills and afterward as White’s Corners; a post-office, named Srnithville, was established in 1820, with Ralph Shepard as postmaster, and discontinued in 1822, when a postoffice called Hamburg was established at Abbott’s Corners. This latter office was removed to Hamburg village about 1850, and since then this has been the chief business center in the town. In 1817 Bennett & Beaman were engaged in the mercantile trade and Ralph Shepard was keeping tavern. About 1820 Thomas T. White opened a general store on the corner of Main and Buffalo streets, and from him the place derived the name of White’s Corners, which it retained for fifty years or more. Later merchants were:

Thomas Fish, who was succeeded in 1852 by his son, Milford Fish, who built the brick store of Burton M. Fish in 1860; Milton Fish & Sons (Burton M., Clinton T. and Newton C.); Johnson & Huson, Bunting & Eliwood, Thomas L. Bunting, John G. Brendel, George W. Eddy & Co., Nicholas Pauley and son Nicholas, jr., George Federspiel, Federspiel & Eckhardt, Henry Mackmer, Joseph Kronenburg, Frank Schumer, Alexander C. Stolting, George Chandler, Edward S. Nott, Marcus Schwert, Henry Michael, Jacob Hauck & Co., Jacob Bush, Lewis Smith, William Tenner, Eliwood & Venner, C. Froehley, J. W. Salisbury, Charles H. Kehe, Joseph Shoemaker, Perry Parks, Lake & Eddy, Newton C. Fish, William Kronenburg, John Thiel.

The first physician in the village was Dr. Daniel Allen, who was in practice in 1817. Later physicians were Drs. Camp, Foote, Howard and Hyde, Dr. James Allen, Dr. George A. Schmidt, Dr. George Allen, Dr. Paige, Dr. Beckwith, Dr. F. W. Bartlett, Dr. S. E. S. H. Nott, Dr. C. W. Bourne, and Dr. George Abbott. Dr. D. R. Leach has been a dentist here for many years.

The first lawyer is said to have been David Lake, prior to 1840. Other lawyers were Abram Thorn, Ira E. Irish, Horace Boies, A. C. Calkins, Robert B. Titus, Hosea Heath, Fayette Kelly, and Perry M. Thorn.

In the foregoing list of merchants, physicians and lawyers are many who are now following their chosen callings.

The first school in Hamburg village was taught in 1820. In 1849 a two-story brick school house was erected, and in 1868 this was replaced by another structure costing $14,000; in the latter year the present Union school was organized with C. W. Richards as principal and Miss Olive North and Miss Hattie Dairymple as assistants; the first board of education consisted of

Rev. A. J. Wilcox, president, Dr. S. E. S. H. Nott, Dr. George Abbott, Dr. G. A. Schmidt, Dr. L. R. Leach, A. C. Calkins, Charles Sigel, Allen K. Dart, Joseph Kronenburg, O. C. Pierce and George Federspiel.

The village grew steadily after about 1850, and by 1870 had five stores of various kinds. In was incorporated May 9, 1874, with the following officers:

George M. Pierce, president: Dr. H. S. Spencer, Dr. G. A. Schmidt, J. Ritten, Thomas L. Bunting, Andrel Stein and A. C. Calkins, trustees; Thomas L. Bunting, treasurer; Andrel Stein, collector; A. C. Calkins, clerk.

On November 9, 1875, Alexander C. Stolting began the publication of the Erie County Independent, which was sold to J. W. Constantine about five years later. Soon afterward it passed to Charles G. Miller, who, in April, 1882, was succeeded by his brother, Joseph B. Miller, the present proprietor. Under Mr. Miller’s editorship it has acquired a wide circulation. In 1876 twenty-five numbers of the Hamburg Democrat were issued, and for one year Charles Sickman published the Hamburg Sentinel. The Hamburg Journal was started in 1880 by F. M. Perley, who was succeeded by E. P. Thurston; it it was discontinued about 1885.

A planing mill was built by Horace Dart in 1879, and on May 5, 1883, passed to the Hamburg Planing Mill Company, the officers of which were James Taylor, president; Thomas L. Bunting, secretary; and William S. Nelson, treasurer. The Hamburg Axe Company was organized in 1881 and went out of existence about 1885. In 1881 the Hamburg Canning Company was organized with a capital of $30,000 and with George M. Pierce as president and Thomas L. Bunting as secretary and treasurer. The planing mill and the canning factory are the leading manufacturing establishments in the village.

The Bank of Hamburg commenced business August 1, 1883, with a paid up capital of $50,000, and with these officers: George M, Pierce, president; Thomas L. Bunting, vice-president; H. S. Spencer, cashier all of whom still hold their respective positions. The People's Bank was incorporated May 22, 1891, with a capital of $30,000, and with Robert B. Foote, president, and Perry M. Thorn, cashier; Mr. Foote was succeeded by Burton M. Fish and he by Amos H. Baker as president.

Among the postmasters of Hamburg were Philander Rathbone, Dr. George A. Schmidt, Lewis E. Smith, Allen Monroe, Philip Juergens and Charles H. Wood. The following have also been prominent men in the village: Rudolph Stratmeier, John Bitler, A. S. Frierle and William Boden, blacksmiths; John Ritman and Adam Esenscheid, wagon-makers; Charles Beck and Allen Monroe, cigar manufacturers; Peter and George Kast, cider manufacturers. The oldest hotel in Hamburg is that of George Kopp, jr., which has been in the family for upwards of fifty years.

In July, 1889, the Hamburg Water and Electric Light Company and the Hamburg Investment and Improvement Company were organized with Thomas L. Bunting, president, and H. S. Spencer, secretary and treasurer. The water works were constructed that year, and the electric lights were turned on September 19, 1893. The last named company has successfully developed various parts of the village. In 1893 the old cemetery was converted into a village park, $5,000 in bonds being issued for the purpose. In 1895 a Business Men's Association was organized, with George A. Bensley as president, and about the same time a number of prominent women formed the Nineteenth Century Club, through whose efforts a free library and reading room were opened December 17, 1896. The village has a fire department consisting of one engine and three hook and ladder companies.

A Methodist class was organized in Hamburg about 1816, and afterward a church edifice was erected, which is now used for business purposes; a new frame structure was built in 1884. The Freewill Baptist church was organized about 1826, by Rev. H. M. Cary, the first pastor being Rev. H. M. Plumb. About 1830 they erected an edifice, which was finally purchased by the Presbyterians and enlarged in 1892. SS. Peter's and Paul's Roman Catholic church was organized in 1831; their present brick edifice was commenced in 1861 and dedicated June 29, 1863, and a parochial school was established in 1876. St. Jacob's Evangelical Protestant church was founded about 1850 and regularly organized in 1860; a house of worship was built in 1853 and rebuilt in 1887. Trinity Episcopal church was consecrated April 8, 1893. There is also a Wesleyan Methodist Society in the village.

Hamburg village had a population in 1880 of 758; in 1890 it was 1,331; and at the present time it is estimated at about 2,000. The village contains 7 general stores, 2 groceries, 2 drug stores, 2 clothing stores, 2 jewelry stores, 2 furniture stores, 2 hardware stores, 2 shoe stores, 3 meat markets, 2 merchant tailors, 3 millinery stores, 2 banks, a weekly newspaper, 3 printing offices, 10 hotels, a canning factory, 1 flouring mill, a planing mill, 2 coal dealers, 2 harness shops, 2 shoemakers, 2 livery stables, 3 cigar manufacturers, 8 blacksmith shops, a news and notion store, 2 photograph galleries, 5 physicians, 5 dentists, 6 lawyers, a union and 2 parochial schools, and 7 religious societies and 6 churches. In the vicinity are also a number of poultry yards.

Abbott's Corners (Armor post-office), from 1812 to 1850, was the chief business place in the town. It lies near the line between Hamburg and East Hamburg, and had its nucleus in the tavern of Jacob Wright, who came there about 1807, and who gave it the name of Wright's Corners. After the close of the war of 1812-15 Seth Abbott arrived and about 1820 opened another tavern; later he built a large brick hotel, and from him the place has since been popularly known as Abbott's Corners. Harry Abbott, his son, opened the first store, and when the post-office, named Hamburg, was established there was appointed the first postmaster. About 1850 the office was moved to Hamburg village and later the present post-office, called Armor, was established. Seth Abbott's hotel passed successively to Chauncey Abbott, William Titus, jr., Reuben Newton and (in 1861) Louis Hepp. About 1821 Sabin Weld built a tannery, which, after many years, was sold to George Lamb, who removed it to Buffalo. The first physician was Dr. William Warriner, who came before the war of 1812. Dr. Pringle settled there about 1820. Charles B. Hyde, the first lawyer, came to Abbott's Corners about 1825. Among the merchants who followed Harry Abbott were George White, Cushing Swift, Philander Rathbone and Louis Hepp. Mr. Hepp has been a hotel-keeper and general merchant there since 1861. John Romler has been a longtime wagonmaker and postmaster.

After 1850 the business interests and importance of Abbott's Corners rapidly diminished, until now there are but istore, 2 hotels, '2 blacksmiths, 1 church, etc. A Congregational church was organized about 1817 and an edifice erected in 1825; about 1850 the building was sold and the society became Presbyterian. The First Methodist Episcopal church was built in 1857. A Baptist society was organized in August, 1894, but soon disbanded.

Abbott's Road is a station on the Erie Railroad about one mile northwest of Abbott's Corners.

Water Valley, situated on Eighteen-mile Creek about a mile southwest of Hamburg village, has been chiefly noted as the best mill site in the town. At a very early date John Porter had a woolen factory there; it passed to Charles Haviland & Son, was burned in 1869, and on the site 0. C. Pierce erected the present grist mill of Arnold Pierce & Son, the daily capacity of which is about 200 barrels of flour. Later Edward Hunt built a foundry and planing mill where his father formerly manufactured agricultural implements. The foundry is now owned by Stewart Brothers. In 1883 Dietrich & O'Brien established a furniture factory which was subsequently burned. The first store was opened by Sterling Mallory, who was succeeded by Jesse Bartoo about 1848; the Jatter was followed by his son, who discontinued the business about 1873, and since then no store has been conducted there. Water Valley now contains little else than the foundry and grist mill.

Big Tree is a small hamlet and station on the Erie Railroad, north of Hamburg village, and where the White's Corners road crosses the Big Tree road, near Bush Creek.

Windorn is a post-office and station on the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburg Railroad and on the town line between Hamburg and East Hamburg.

Blasdell, situated in the north part of the town, is a brisk village founded by Heman M. Blasdell, who purchased and laid out the site and opened the first store about 1885. It contains three large manufacturing establishments, namely, a planing mill erected by J. I. Jewell in 1894, the stone-paper composition factory of Martin & Thacher, and an aeromotor factory. It also contains several stores and shops, a union school and a Brethren in Christ church, built in 1892. The Buffalo and Hamburg Electric Railway was constructed from Limestone Hill in West Seneca through Blasdell to Woodlawn Beach in 1895. In 1897 a terminal railroad was built from Blasdell to Depew as a "short cut" for the leading trunk lines. Besides these the village has stations on the Erie, the Lake Shore, the Western New York and Pennsylvania and the Nickel Plate Railroads.

The following are all summer resorts along the shore of Lake Erie, and are reached by one or more of the railroads which run parallel with the shore through the town.

Woodlawn Beach is is situated in the northwest corner of the town, six miles from Buffalo. It is the most popular resort, particularly for excursionists, on the Erie county shore of the lake.

Bay View is owned by the Bay View Rifle Association, and has long been noted for its rifle range.

Athol Springs contains the Fresh Air Mission Hospital, which was incorporated in 1894. For several years one or more hotels have been kept there. Lakeside Cemetery, incorporated July 3, 1895, was opened to the public August 22, 1896, and comprises 250 acres.

Hamburg-on-the-Lake, or West Hamburg, is a mile south of Athol Springs.

Wanakah is little more than a station on the three railroads.

Lake View is a railroad station in the southwest part of the town, and contains one hotel, the store of F. W. Cook, the factory of the Erie Cycle Company (built in 1895) and a union church (erected in 1892).

Idlewood lies in the southwest corner of the town, at the mouth of Eighteen-mile Creek. It is controlled by the Idlewood Association, which was organized in 1882, and has about twenty members, each of whom has a summer residence there.


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