History of Hopewell, New York
SARACUSE, N. Y., 1893


ON the 27th of January, 1789, a district or town, called "Easton," was formed, and included within its boundaries all that is now Gorham and Hopewell. On April 19, 1806, the name was changed to "Lincoln," and still later, April 6, 1807, to Gorharn, being given the latter name in allusion to and in honor of Nathaniel Gorham, one of the proprietors under the Massachusetts pre-emption purchase. In 1822, on March 29, Gorham was divided, and the north half was separately set off and named Hopewell. According to the Phelps and Gorham system of surveys, Hopewell is township 10, range 2, and contains, approximately, thirty-six square miles of land.

In common with the towns generally of Western New York, the pioneers of Hopewell (though under its original name) were mainly New Englanders, therefore Yankees, and fully imbued with the characteristic spirit of thrift, push and progressiveness which so strongly marks that element of American citizens. The pioneer settlement in this town began in 1789 and the year following, and must have progressed with great rapidity, for in 1830 it had a total population of more than two thousand, a number of inhabitants not exceeded or even equaled at any subsequent census enumeration.

In 1798 Oliver Phelps and General Israel Chapin proceeded to a point in town 10 range 2, about three miles northeast from Canandaigua, where they had a large tract of land, and on which they made some improvements which did much to invite and encourage settlement in the town; the point has ever since been known as Chapinville; and here in later years a thriving little hamlet grew up, became an early post Villiage, and afterward a station on the Auburn and Rochester railroad.

The current of water in the outlet flowing northerly from Canandaigu.a Lake has at first but a slight fall, and it is not until about five miles northeasterly from the lake, at a place on the outlet now called Littleville, that sufficient power for a grist mill could be obtained, and this place was chosen for the pioneer mill. It is on the north bounds of the town of Hopewell adjoining the town of Manchester and about a mile south from Shortsville. Here Oliver Phelps erected a grist-mill in 1791 which was known as the Phelps Mill. Although but a crude and pigmy affair, it answered the purpose for some time, and the pioneer settlers came from long distances to get their grists ground. Samuel Day was engaged to run this mill, which had but one run of stone from which the flour was conveyed by a short spout to the bolt. Among the maps in the office of the State engineer of Albany is No. 341, Map of Messrs. Phelps and Gorham's Purchase." This map is dated 1792 and on it is located a mill on the Canandaigua outlet, at the junction of the Indian path or trail from Geneva through Oaks' Corners with the trail from Canandaigua Lake to the region of Palmyra. This is the precise location of the Phelps or Day Mill. In 1800 this mill was owned and operated by Edward Parker and run by him up to the time of his death, April 13, 1820, in the sixty-eighth year of his age. Afterward the place came into the possession of a company of "Fourierites," and in the fall of 1845 or spring of 1846, Norman C. Little came into possession, and in addition to the mill he kept a store. The place was called Littleville after him, and continues to be known as such up to the present time. Being unsuccessful in business, after an occupancy of two or three years, the property was sold out by the sherift and Mr. Little moved to Saginaw, Mich., where he was afterwards found drowned in the river. There is another Littleville named after him, situated at the junction of the Conesus with the Genesee River, about one and a half miles south of Avon village, where a saw-mill was erected in 1796, a grist-mill in 1810, and soon followed by a distillery. About 1830 these came into possession of Norman C. Little who, in 1833, built a large store and had a considerable trade. About 1837 he sold out, but the place still retains the name of Littleville.

When the Moravian missionaries, Bishop Cammerhoff and Rev. David Zeisberger, visited this region in 1750, after crossing Flint Creek they proceeded along on the main trail, and they say: "Towards evening we reached an Indian settlement where a city by the name of Onnachee is said to have stood, which is now uninhabited." As Onnaghee has been fully spoken of in another place it is only necessary here to give the location of the town, which has been identified as having been on lot 20, on the farm of Darwin McClure, formerly owned by Cyrus Gates, and situated on the old turnpike about five and a half miles west of Flint Creek and about three miles southerly from Canandaigua village. It was about half a mile north of the turnpike and on the south side of Fall Brook. On the north side of the brook the ground is low and flat, but a short distance to the north and some twenty-five or thirty rods north of the Northern Central Railroad is a rise of ground of a sandy, gravelly soil, and on which was the Indian burial ground Here quantities of skeletons have in time past been uncovered and brought to light by the cultivation of the land, and very large numbers of kettles, tomahawks, with some guns and other Indian implements and relics have been found. Some twelve or fifteen rods to the east of the village there are two springs of soft water, and some fifty rods to the west is a small spring of sulphur water. About sixty rods east of the village is a large flat limestone rock, hollowed on top, evidently for pounding corn in.

According to the best information now obtainable, the pioneers of Hopewell were Daniel Gates, Daniel Warner, Ezra Platt, Samuel Day, George Chapin, Israel Chapin, Jr., Frederick Follett, Thomas Sawyer, Benjamin Wells and Mr. Sweet, all of whom were from Massachusetts, while William Wyckoff who was another pioneer, was from Pennsylvania. A son was born to Benjamin Wells and wife on February 4, 1791, and was named Benjamin Wells, Jr. This was the first birth in the town. Calvin Bacon opened a school in 1792, which also was the first event of its kind in Hopewell. While it is generally conceded that the pioneers above mentioned were the earliest settlers of Hopewell, there were others, who are equally worthy of notice in the same connection; and while the majority of the pioneers were New Englanders, or Yankees, other localities contributed to the early population of this town Pen nsylvania and Maryland were represented by substantial natives who sought homes in this region, their coming being influenced by the agents of the London Associates, who caused highways to be made from Pennsylvania to the Genesee country, and otherwise invited settlement in the whole region west of Seneca Lake.

Tn addition to those already mentioned as first settlers in Hopewel], we may with propriety recall the names of others who are deserving of mention in the same relation, although the dates of settlements cannot be learned. Of many of these pioneer families and their descendants there will be found biographical sketches in a later department of this volume, wherefore in this chapter there need be given nothing more than a mention of the names of heads of families. Richard Jones was a Marylander, and came to Hopewell in 1805, and whose descendants are still living in the town. Nathaniel Lewis, Elarn Smith, Vimri Densmore, George Le Vere, Robert Buchan, John Price, Daniel Le Vere, John Freshour, Israel, John and Stephen Thatcher, Major Elijah Murray (a Revolutionary survivor), Elijah Ellis, John Russell, David W Beach, William Bodman, Erastus Leonard, Luther Porter, Robert Penn, Samuel Bush, Joshua Case, Oliver and William Babcock, John Ricker, Amos Knapp, Silas Benham, C. P. Bush, Daniel Warren, Shuball Clark, John Hart, John Faurot, George Chapin, Russell Warren, Dedrick Coursen, Robert Davidson, Moses De Pew, John Gregg, James Moore, james Birdseye, Edward Root, Ezekiel Crane, John McCauley, David Aldrich, Amos, Amasa and James Gillett, Joseph Lee, Oliver Warren, Elam Crane, Ezra and Leonard Knapp, Thaddeus Benham, Elisha Higby, William Canfield, Andrew Bush, Elder Anson Shav. John Kellogg, Thomas Edmundson, Daniel Macumber, Captain Thomas Davis, Rufus Warner, Apollas Baker, John Church, Jonas Whitney, Asel and Constant Balcom, Eben and Eli Benham, Ezra Newton and others whose names are forgotton or lost by lapse of time. These also were pioneers of the town whose coming and after labors contributed much to the early prosperity of Hopewell, and many of them left children, the descendants of whom still reside in the town and are numbered among its best citizens.

In addition to the many already mentioned, the names of other families may also be recalled as among the early settlers in Hopewell. There were the surnames of Thomas, Derr, Spangle, Skinner, Cleveland, Knapp, Marks, Sly, Purdy, Ketcham. Brundage, Bishop, Pembroke, Woodin, Knickerbocker and others now lost to memory, all of whom settled in Hopewell at an early day, the descendants of some of whom are yet in the town and identified with its present history and progress.

During the War of 1812 the young men of the town, as well as some of the older residents, were numbered among the enrolled militia, and as such rendered efficient service on the frontier, under command of General Porter. A full account of this service is detailed in a preceding chapter, to which the reader's attention is directed, and while no record exists to show the names of Hopewell men who performed service during that year, we may at least refer to the period, and know that some of the present residents of the town can connect their ancestors with the events of the war.

A reference to the war of 1812 naturally suggests at least a passing allusion to the still more important period of the war of 1861-65, and known as the late rebellion. In 1860 the town of Hopewell had a population of less than 2,000 inhabitants, notwithstanding which during the war, it furnished volunteers and troops for all branches of the service to the extent of more than 200 men, or more than ten per cent, of the town's population at the time. The history and record of the volunteers of Ontario county is given in one of the general chapters of this volume, but the history of Hopewell would be incomplete without some reference to this period of the war.

As has already been stated Hopewell attained its maximum popula- tion in 1830, or between 1820 and 1830. In 1822 the town was set off from Gorham and made a separate civil division of the county, and the first Federal census was made eight years later. The subsequent diminution in population in the town is fairly shown by extracting from -the census reports, and while the last sixty years have witnessed a falling oft of about 600 in the number of inhabitants, the fact occasions neither alarm nor apprehension, the same causes contributed to it that have reduced the rural population throughout the Eastern and Middle States. However, let us look at the census records and note the changes in population in this town throughout these years. In 1830 the population was 2,202; in 1840 it was 1,976; in 1850 it was 1,923; in 1860 it was 1,970; in 1870 it was 1,863; in 1880 it was 1,894; and in 1890 it was 1,655.

In the year 1825 the Board of Supervisors of the county purchased a farm of one hundred acres, situated in the southeast part of Hopewell, which was fitted up for a home for the county poor. The cost of the property was less than $2,000, but by subsequent management of the farm (now exceeding 200 acres) and the erection of necessary buildings, many thousand dollars have been expended. Previous to 1815 the indigent poor of the county were maintained by the towns separately, in accordance with New England custom. Although this is not a town institution, but of the county, its location in Hopewell makes necessary a passing reference to it. The Ontario county poor-house and farm are among the most noted institutions of the county, and one in which every loyal citizen feels a just pride; and it is a fact that no similar county in the State can lay claim to a like property which is conducted on more thorough and practical business principles than is this one. During the last five years the direct care of the inmates and the management of the farm has been entrusted to Ralph Wisner, as keeper, and much of the fame which this institution has acquired is due to the efforts of the keeper and his wife.

On the 22d of March, 1822, the Legislature passed an act dividing the township of Gorham, and setting off the north half thereof, which was the original town No. 10, of range 2, and creating a new town called Hopewell. On the 17th day of April following, the electors held their first annual town meeting, at which time officers were elected as follows: Supervisor, Nathan Lewis; town clerk, John Price; assessors, Elisha Higby, George Brundage, James Birdseye; highway commissioners,. Joel S. Hart, Erastus Lamed, William Canfield; overseers of poor, Rufus Warner, Lemuel Babcock ; commissioners of schools, Wm. Buchan, Jason Angel, Joshua Case; inspectors of schools, Joseph Merrill, Wm. Bodman, Joel Amsden; constables, Timothy Dunham, Hiram Dillon, Wm. Lamed, Jos, Parker; collector, Walter Wells. The first justices of the peace were Nathaniel Lewis, John Price, Amos Jones and Elisha Higby. Although lying adjacent to the county seat, Hopewell has never attained a position of much importance among the towns of the county. The, outlet has afforded an abundant water privilege to manufacturing enterprises, and during the early history of the town this power was employed to a considerable extent, and there has been maintained an industry of some sort on this stream ever since the settlement of the town. However, the proximity of Hopewell to the county village has operated to the disadvantage of the former, as enterprises have chosen Canandaigua as a place of operation rather than a remote locality.

Chapinville is a small hamlet located in the northeast part of the town, about in the center of school district No. 4. This is one of the oldest settled localities in this part of the county, for here Captain Chapin and Oliver Phelps caused to be erected a mill at a very early day, and about the mill a settlement was at once begun. At a comparatively recent period the Auburn and Rochester railroad was constructed through the village, which had the effect to temporarily stimniate business in the locality, but within less than twenty years the hamlet had resumed its former condition. The important industry of the Chapinville vicinity at this time is the " Chapinville Wheel Company," which was incorporated January 5, 1891, by Jacob Martin, Edward D. Martin, David N. Salisbury, Edward C. Scudelbach, and Addison D. Kelley and the object of which is the manufacture of wheels, gears and bodies of carriages and wagons. The capital stock of the company is $45,000.

The First Society of the M. E. Church and congregation in Chapinville was incorporated May 24, 1865, but the society was organized at a much earlier date, in 1852, by James L. and Harriet P. Munson, William and Elizabeth Callister, George W. Caton, Jerusha Caidwell, Elizabeth Stead, Mary Jackson, and Margaret Redfleld, as original members. However, we may state that Methodist meetings were held in this neighborhood at a day far earlier than indicated by the above dates. In 1853 the church edifice of this society was built. The first pastors were John Spink, D. S. Chase, Geo. W. Paddock, E. J. Hermans, A. F. Morey, and L. D. Chase, in the order named. The present pastoral supply of the church is D. D. Davis, who also officiates in the same capacity at Shortsville.

Hopewell Center is a hamlet still older than Chapinville, and being situated away from any railroad is of perhaps less importance than the other village. In a way, however, the Center has much local importance, and is the natural trading point for a large and productive agricultural district. The business enterprises of the Center are few, being the stores, hotels, shops and other adjuncts of hamlet existence. Here also is located the school of district No. 6, and the M. E. Church. The latter is known as the First Society of the M. E. Church in the town of Hopewell, and had its organization in 1819, Silas Smith, Ebenezer Benham and Ezra Newton being its first trustees. For a time, however, this society was discontinued, but was reorganized in 1841, and has since enjoyed a prosperous existence. It is now under the pas-. toral care of Rev. S. F. Beardslee, who also supplies the pulpit of the M E. Church at Seneca Castle.

In the southeast part of the town is the little hamlet called Lewis, a station on the Northern Central road, and a center of trade for a wellpeopled region. This hamlet is in school district No. 8, the schoolhouse and church being the most important of its local ihstitutions. The latter is under the present pastoral care of Rev. Cordello Herrick, he also being pastor of the M. E. Church at Flint Creek. The postoffice here is called Hopewell, while the name Lewis applies to the railroad station.

The Wesleyan church of Hopewell is to be mentioned among the institutions of Hopewell Center, although its members came from the town generally. The church was organized in 1843, by Rev. Ralph Bennett, and numbered in its membership some of the most substantial families of the town. Its earlier pastors were Revs. Bennett, H. M. Booth, Spoor, Ryder, Thompson, Brain, May, Slosson and others.

Ennerdale is a station on the Northern Central Railroad, between Lewis and Canandaigua. The post-office here is called Beulah. Other than a convenient point in the midst of a fertile farming region, this hamlet has no special importance. South of its locality and in the south part of the township was organized one of the pioneer church societies of the county. This was the Presbyterian church, the first meeting of which were held as early as 1803, although the organization was not completed until many years later. Rev. Jedediah Chapman was the organizing minister and the society drew its members from both Hopewell and Gorham, the latter of which towns included the territory of the former at that time. At an early day this church had a large membership, but, the organization of a church of the same denomination in Gorham, after Hopewell was set off, very much weakened the old society in the town last named. The Presbyterian church, parsonage and cemetery were situated in district No. 9, about fifty rods north of the Gorham line.

Schools.- In all matters pertaining to education the inhabitants of Hopewell have kept even step with the people of other towns of the county. Although the records are quite incomplete there is evidence which tends to show that schools were opened and maintained during the pioneer period, the first school being taught by Calvin Bacon in 1702, and that Elesta Murray, Ahi Tracy and Nathaniel Lewis were among the earlier teachers in the little old school house which stood on the turnpike road leading from Geneva to the county seat. Directly north of the old site, and in the extreme north part of the town, was another pioneer school house, in which Walter Fitzgerald was a teacher. Chapinville, likewise an old settled locality, had its school in operation at an early day: The settlement of Hopewell was accomplished so rapidly that the territory of the town was early divided and formed into school districts, and these have since been increased and rearranged to suit the convenience of the town's people. According to the present disposition of the town's area, there are twelve school districts, each of which has a good school building. The total value of school property in the town is $5,735. The number of children of school age in the town is four hundred and fifty one, as shown by the enumeration of 1892, to instruct whom twelve teachers are employed at a cost, in the year mentioned, of $2,704. The total amount of moneys received for school purposes in 1892 was $3,519.12. Of the school houses nine are of frame, two of brick and one of stone material.

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