History of Lepeer, New York

LAPEER was formed from Virgil, May 2, 1845, and embraces the south-east quarter of that township. It is situated upon the high ridges west of the Tioughuioga River, on the south border of the County, west of the center. The declivities of the hills bordering upon the river are precipitous. “Luce Hill,” in the northwest part of the town, is the highest point and is 1,600 to 1,700 feet above tide. The streams are all small brooks. Hunt’s Falls, upon Fall Creek, near the south border of the town, is a beautiful cascade about 70 feet high. The soil is a gravelly and sandy loam. A large part of the town is still unsettled.

Hunts Corners (p. o.) is a hamlet in the south part of the town; and

Lapeer (p. o.) is near the center.

The first settlement was made in this town in 1799, by Primus Grant, a colored nian, on lot 594. He was a native of Guinea and the farm upon which he settled has since been called by that name. Aaron Jennings now occupies the place. Peter Gray, a native of Fishkill, Dutchess County, was the first white settler, He came from Ulster (now Sullivan County) in July, 1802, and settled on lot 70. In 1803 Seth Jennings, from Connecticut, settled on lot 597, where he resided until his death. Mason Jennings now resides on the same farm. Simeon Luce, from Massachusetts, settled on lot 57 in 1805. The farm is now occupied by his son, Ebenezer Luce. Mr. L. died at an extreme old age, leaving a. numerous posterity. At the time of his settlement be had no neighbors within four miles in one direction and five in the other. Captain Thomas Kingsbury, a Revolutionary soldier, settled in the southeast part of the town in 1802, on the farm now occupied by E. Evans. Timothy Robertson came into the town about 1803. He was a Revolutionary soldier and was with. Montgomery at the storming of Quebec, in. 1775. Zachariah Squires and Robert Smith came in 1806, and settled on lot 70. Mr. Smith was a soldier of the Revolution and held a commission under Washington. He was the father of Abram Smith, now living in town. John S. Squires from New Haven, Conn., settled on lot 68 in 1807. The place is now owned by Hon. Dan C. Squires. In 1813 a company of volunteers was organized for the war; Simeon West was Captain, John S. Squires, Lieutenant, and William Powers, Ensign. The members of the company were regarded as minute men, but their services were not required.

Simeon Luce and Rebecca Ayers were married in Virgil, in 1805, while on their way to their home on Luce Hill.

The first marriage in the town was that of James Parker and Lucy Wood. who settled where Alford Alvord now lives. The first birth was that of John Gray, son of Peter Gray, in 1803. The first death was that of Robert C. Squires, May 9th, 1809.

Sixteen soldiers of the Revolution settled in Lapeer, all but one of whom died here. The following are the names of fourteen of them: Robert Smith, George Tatman, Thomas Kingsbury, Stephen Kelley, Oliver Hopkins, William Parker, David Crowell, Nathan Smith, Henry Turk, Nathan Walker, Timothy Robertson, Samuel Soule, Asa Parker, James Pollard.

Prince Freeman, from Queensbury, N. Y., settled on lot 67 in 1810, on the farm now occupied by Elijah Freeman. Wolves were very numerous at this time and in one night killed twelve sheep for Mr. Freeman. Jabez Hazen, from Windham, Conn., came in 1809, and settled on lot 53, where Luke Hazen now lives.

Simeon Luce erected the first grist mill, in 1827, and. Samuel and John Gee the first saw mill, in 1825. Messrs. Nichols and Turpening were the first merchants, having commenced business in 1834 or 1835. The first postmaster was Royal Johnson, who still holds the office. Ebenezer Luce taught the first school, in 1814. Among the early clergymen of Lapeer were Rev. Mr. Harrison and Dr. Williston, of the Presbyterian order; Rev. Mr. Sheopard, of the Baptist, and Rev. Mr. Densmore, of the Methodist denomination.

A noted camping ground of the Indians was located a short distance north of the present residence of Jerome Squires. It was upon a bluff that overlooks Big Brook, and covered. with an immense forest of elms, basswood, maple and other timber, in which roamed a multitude of wild animals. From the camping ground the Indians scoured the surrounding country in quest of game and returned at night loaded with the products of the chase. Bears, wolves, panthers, deer and other animals were very numerous.

This town, with a population of about 800, furnished fifty-two for the United States service during the late rebellion, many of whom became distinguished upon the battle-field and sealed their devotion to their country with their blood. We know of no town with the same population that showed a better record. The following are the names of those who died in the service of their country: David M. Turner, Francis E. Verran, Samuel D. Squires, William W. Jennison, Squires S. Barrows, Frederic Wilcox, David W. Parker, Linden Parker, Edgar Freeman, William H. Parker and John Flanley.

The population in 1865 was 762 and its area 14,147 acres.

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