THE TOWN OF LEWISTON.
The town of Lewiston was erected from Cambria on February 27, 1818, and has always retained its original area,
which is 22,231 acres. The town is the central ore of the three western tier and borders on the Niagara River.
The mountain ridge divides the town into two nearly equal parts, and the surface is broken and rolling along the
base of the ridge, while elsewhere it is comparatively level. The soil is genera'ly a productive sandy loam. Four-mile,
Six mile and Twelvemild Creeks rise in this town and flow northeasterly to the lake ; Fish Creek flows westerly
to Niagara River in the southern part, and several small streams help to drain the town. The Devil's Hole, the
scene of the terrible massacre in the French war, is on the bank of the river in the extreme southern part of the
town. Five miles above Fort Niagara and bordering the river is a peculiar flat of several acres which is more than
sixty feet lower than the surrounding territory and bears the name of Five-mile Meadow. It was here that the British
landed the night before the capture of Fort Niagara, in December, 1814, as described in earlier chapters. This
town possesses scenery of great beauty and grandeur, and its history in early years is replete with tales of stirring
Upon the erection of the town the first town meeting was ordered held at the house of Sparrow Sage, and the second
was held at the house of John Gould. The date of the first meeting was April 7, 1818, and it was presided over
by Rufus Spalding and Gideon Frisbee, justices of the peace. The following officers were then elected:
Supervisor, Rufus Spalding; town clerk, Oliver Grace ;.assessors, Benjamin Barton, Amos M. Kidder and William Miller;
highway commissioners, John Beach, Aaron Childs, Reuben Reynolds; overseers of the poor, Jacob Townsend and Arthur
Gray; school commissioners, Joshua Fairbanks, William Miller and Rufus Spalding; inspectors of schools, Amos M.
Kidder, Reuben Reynolds and William Hotchkiss; constable and collector, Eleazer Daggett; sealer of weights and
mcasurcs, Amos S. Tryon. Eleven overseers of highways were also chosen, one for each of the districts into which
the town was divided.
The usual ordinances for governing the town, regulating the restriction of domestic animals, placing a bounty on
bear scalps, raising $200 for improvement of roads, and $75 for support of the poor, were voted at the first town
meeting. and added to at subsequent meetings, as necessity demanded.
The supervisors of Lewistown have been as follows:
Rufus Spalding, 1818; Benjamin Barton. 1819-27: (Nathaniel Leonard filled out an unexpired term of Mr. Barton's
in 1823); Jacob Townsend, 1828-30; Sheldon C. Townsend, 1831; Lothrop Cook, 1832; Alexander Dickerson, 1833-41;
Sherburne B. Piper, 1842-45; Benjamin Hewitt, 1846: Seymour Scovell, 1847-48; Benjamin Hewitt, 1849; Arthur Gray,
jr., 1850; Leander K. Scovell, 1851; Andrew Robinson, 1852-53; John L. Whitman, 1854; John Robinson, 1855; Reuben
H. Boughton, 1856; Franklin Spalding, 1857; Benjamin Hewitt, 1858; Franklin Spalding, 1859-60; Isaac C. Cook, 1861-62;
Moses Bairsto, 1863-66; Silas S. Hopkins, 1867; Moses Bairstu, 1868; Sherburne B. Piper, 1869-74; William J. Moss,
1875-77: William P. Mentz, 1878-80; Galen Miller. 1881-85; William J. Cooke, 1886-90: Galen Miller. 1801; Wilber
T. Pool, 1892-98.
Thomas F. Scovell served as town clerk for forty consecutive years, from 1852 to September 29, 1892, when he resigned,
and Milton Robinson was appointed to fill the vacancy. The present town clerk is William C. Townsend.
This town is the permanent abiding place of the Tuscarora Indians, whose reservation occupies about a third of
tile area in the central and northern part. The history of this tribe is well known. In the war of the Revolution
such of the Tuscaroras and the Oneidas as joined the British forces and fled before the approach of Sullivan in
his expedition westward, sought refuge with the British garrison at Fort Niagara. In the next year a part of these
returned to their former haunts in Central New York, and the remainder took up their abode on a mile square of
land on the mountain ridge here, which had been given them by the Senecas. At a later date the Holland Company
granted them two square miles adjoining, their former possessions, and in 1808 they purchased of the company an
additional tract of between 4,000 and 5,000 acres. These lands constitute the present reservation, which has been
brought under good cultivation, and the occupants have so far advanced in civilization that they form a respectable
element in citizenship. They have two churches, Baptist and Presbyterian, the latter having been in existence since
1805. There are also good schools and the council house. The nation was long ruled by Chief John Mountpleasant,
son of Captain Mountpleasant, who was born on the island of Mackinaw in 1779 and came to the reservation two years
later. He was an officer in the British army in 1812 and participated in the battle of Queenston; he also served
as interpreter, being versed in the language of various tribes. After the war he returned to the reservation, where
he died October 9. 1854. John Mountpleasant, the son, was born January 18, 1810 and was elected chief in 1827,
when only seventeen years old. In 1831 he was married to Jane Green, a daughter of the tribe, who subsequently
died and he married Caroline G. Parker, a Seneca woman and sister of Gen. Ely S. Parker, who was General Grant's
military secretary. This chief was possessed of a good degree of intelligence and executive ability and was a representative
Indian; he served as one of the delegates of the Six Nations at the obsequies of Red Jacket in Buffalo; he was
one of the trustees of tile Thomas Indian Orphan asylum, and a corresponding member of the Buffalo Historical Society.
His administration of the affairs of his people was marked with ability, judgment and kindness. He successfully
cultivated a large farm, and lived in a large and handsome dwelling where the most liberal hospitality always prevailed.
Chief Mountpleasant died May 6, 1887.
The first permanent white settlement in this town was made at about the beginning of the present century on the
site of Lewiston village. Among the few who were located here in 1800 were the families of Frederick Woodman, William
Gambol, Thomas Hustler, Henry Hough, Henry Mills, Joseph and John Howell, and two others named Middaugh and McBride.
Thomas Hustler was an early tavern keeper, his house standing on a corner of what is now Center street opposite
its junction with Portage street. His house was long well known and popular. Middaugh was keeping a tavern as early
as 1788, and McBride built a tannery here in 1799. The History of the Holland Purchase states that Silas Hopkins
said he spent most of the summer of 1788 in Lewiston, buying furs, and that the only white inhabitant then was
Middaugh. In published reminisccnces of John Mountpleasant it is stated that the Middaughs were from the North
River, and that when they came here they occupied one of the old houses left by the Mohawks. Hough had a Mohawk
wife and lived in a house that had been occupied by Brant.
In 1802 Lemuel Cooke settled here and was conspicuous in the early history of the place, and his sons were afterwards
leading citizens. Mr. Cooke had been a surgeon in the army. One of his sons was Bates Cooke, who held the office
of corn ptroller of the State, and was a member of congress with Daniel Webster; he died in Lewiston May 31, 1841.
Another son was Judge Lothrop Cooke, who died in July, 1855. A third was Isaac Cooke, who died earlier.
Jesse Beach settled in the town in 1801, and two years later located on a farm two miles east of Lewiston village.
Later he owned the farm occupied at one period by Colonel A. Dickerson at Dickersonville and there built tile first
dwelling and blacksmith shop. Silas Hopkins, before mentioned, settled in the town in the first year in which the
lands of the Holland Company were offered for sale. He was afterwards a colonel in the American army in 1812, and
subsequently was one of the judges of this county. John Robinson, from Pennsylvania, settled on the west third
of lot 11, in 1806. Asahel Sage came into the town and located on his farm in 1807; his neighbors were John Gould,
and two families named Bragbill and Smith, who had located on the first tier of lots east of the Mile Reserve.
There were then no settlers father east on the mountain. Solomon Gilbert was an early settler in the town, and
Joseph Hewitt came in several years before the war, having removed from Connecticut to Genesee county in 1803,
and later to the town of Cambria, until he exchanged farms with William Howell and became owner of the place occupied
subsequently by his son, J. P. Hewitt. Isaac Colt came in from Sussex, N. J., in 1809, bringing his wife and six
children, making tile journey with two yoke of oxen; he lived a short time on lot 24, on the Military road, but
soon located on lot 25, where he opened a tavern. In the same year Aaron Childs came with his wife and four children
and settled on the Ridge road, where he kept a tavern a number of years, and finally removed to Niagara.
Dr. Alvord was the first resident physician, but it is not known just when he arrived. He was followed by Dr. Willard
Smith in 1810. A school was opened in tSo6 by a Scotchman named Watson, and the following year Jonas Harrison,
who was a pioneer lawyer opened another in a log building on what is now Center street. One of the two rooms in
the building was used for a dwelling and the other for the school. The village has been described as it appeared
in 1807, when "it contained two small frame and five or six log houses. The ground on either side of Main
(now Center) street, for a short distance, was cleared and fenced in, and corn and other grain was grown on it.
There wer.e many old dry trees standing, and thick woods bounded it on the north and south sides."
Joshua Fairbanks, long a resident of Lewiston, made his first visit to Western New York in 1791, and narrated to
Mr. Turner his experiences on his journey and after his arrival as follows:
We coasted up Lake Ontario: going on shore and camping nights. We were seventeen days making the journey from Geneva
to Queenston. The only person we saw on the route, from Oswego to Niagara, was William Hencher, at the mouth of
Genesee river. We made a short call at Fort Niagara, reporting ourselves to the commanding officer. He gave us
a specimen of British civility during the "holdover" after the Revolution. If was after a protracted
dinner-sitting, I should think. He asked where I was going. I replied to Chippewa. "go along and he d -------
d to you." was his laconic verbal passport. There was then outside of the garrison, under its walls, upon
the flats, two houses. No tenement at Youngstown.
I landed at Queenston-went into a house, partly of logs and partly framed, and commenced keeping tavern. There
was then a road from Fort Niagara to Fort Erie. At Queenston, Hamilton had a good house built, the rest were small
Benjamin Barton settled in Lewiston in 1807, but had previously become interested in business with General Porter.
As soon as the Mile strip on the Niagara River was surveyed into farm and village lots, he attended the sale at
the office of the surveyor-general in Albany; that was in 1805. While there he met General Porter and their long
friendship began. They purchased several farm lots, including the property around the falls, and bid off at public
auction tile landing places at Lewiston and Schiosser, for which they received a lease for twelve or thirteen years.
In 1806, under the firm name of Porter, Barton & Co. (which has been noticed in the history of Niagara), they
commenced the carrying trade around the falls on the American side; they were connected with Matthew McNair, of
Oswego, and Jonathan Walton & Co., of Schenectady; and this was the first regular and connected line of forwarders
that ever did business from tide water to Lake Erie on that side of tile Niagara. After the war of 1812 Mr. Barton
moved w-ith his family to Lewiston, his favorite place of residence, and commenced rebuilding and repairing the
property which had been injured in the war. During the last fifteen or twenty years of his life he retired from
business, excepting agriculture, to which he was much at-. tached. He died in Lewiston in 1842, at the age of seventy-two
In May of 1801 Gen James Wilkenson arrived on the frontier, commissioned to open a road between Lakes Ontario and
Erie. He ordered General Porter, then at Fort Niagara, to aid in the work with the soldiers in the garrison. Of
this work Turner says:
In the season of 1802 it was opened as far west as the brow of the mountain at Lewiston: and from thence to a mile
west of Tonawanda creek, the timber was cut down, but not removed. The work of the season included the erection
of bridges over the Tonawanda and Cayaga creeks. The road was left in this condition until 1809, when an appropriation
was made by the Legislature for its further improvement, of $1,500; the sum to be collected from the debtors to
the State for land purchased upon the Mile strip. Joseph Landon, Peter Vandeverter, and Augustus Porter were appointed
Commissioners to lay out the money. It was used to make a
passable wagon road from Black Rock to the Falls. This was the end of government appropriation.
Judge Silas Hopkins narrated some of his reminiscences to Turner, in which is found the following:
Spent most of the summer of 1788, at Lewiston, purchasing furs. I bought principally beaver, otter, muskrat, mink.
The Indian hunting grounds for these animals were the marshes along the Ridge road, the bays of the Eighteen, Twelve,
and Fourmile creeks. The marsh where I now live (six miles east of Lewiston), was then, most of the year, a pond
or small lake. The only white inhabitant at Lewiston, then was Midpaugh. He kept a tavern-his customers, the Indians,
and travellers on their way to Canada. I carried back to New Jersey about four hundred dollars worth of furs, on
pack horses. At that period, furs were plenty. I paid for beaver, from four to six shillings; for otter about the
same: for mink and muskrat four cents. There were a good many bears, wolves, and wild cats; but a few deer. Immediately
after the defeat of St. Clair, the Indians were very insolent and manifested much hostility towards the whites.
Asahel Sage settled on a farm in Lewiston in 1807. He gave the following reminiscences to Turner:
I moved upon the farm in Lewiston, where I now reside, in 1807. John Gould. - Burgbill,-Smith, were then settled
on the first tier of lots back of the Milestrip; no other settler farther east up the mountain. Sanders, Doty,
Goodwin, Webster, Hawley, were the pioneer settlers in Sanders' Settlement. Jairus Rose, Defoe, Springsteen, the
Carnevs, went in west of Pekin after the war. The Reynolds and Carneys were the first settlers at Pekiri. Beamer,
Wilson, Bridge, Dr. Ortan, Bliss, Earls, were among the earliest settlers between ridge and mountain west of Scott's.
Besides those already mentioned there are known to have been several other settlers in Lewiston village before
the war. John Latta became a settler a few years before the war and built a tannery which he operated until the
burning of the place. Caleb W. Raymond and a man named Hull were blacksmiths, and a man named Dorman was an apothecary.
It is likely that there were a few other residents.
Achish Pool, with his wife and two sons, Thomas and William, made tile journey from Massachusetts in 1811 and arrived
at Lewiston October 13. Their conveyance was a covered wagon which was drawn by a yoke of oxen and one horse. The
Gillette family were also early settlers at Lewiston.
A list of other prominent though later residents of the town includes Joseph P. Hewitt, a contractor, farmer, and
lumberman; Hetzel Colt, born here in 1809; Walter Lotta, born in town in 1826; Jeremiah G. Campbell, many years
assessor, who came here from Vermont in 1819; Robert and A. J. Nichols, friflt growers and natives of Lewiston;
Ziba A. Downer, who arrived in 1832; James Buckley, who came here with his parents about 1835 ; and John A. Cleghorn,
Edgar W. Barber, Lewis W. Hull, James Kelley, Leander K. Scovell. Samuel Treichier, Capt. James Van Cleve. Charles
McConnell, William P. Mentz, William Legg, Miles Parker, J. N. Babcock, James Johnson, William Patterson, Charles
and George Hotchkiss, Samuel Burns, Philip Bechtel, Asa Thompson, Isaac N. Jack, Samuel B. Russ, Charles A. Bairsto,
W. S. McCollum, J. O. Hooker, J. W. Murray, and others.
The war came and with it all the attendant terrors of hurried flight by the inhabitants, destruction of property
and cessation of industry. There was a rude arsenal building in Lewiston at this time which stood near the site
of the later American Hotel, in which were stored arms and other munitions of war. A small battery was built on
the brow of the mountain opposite Queenston Hcights in 1812, which was called Fort Gray, after the man who superintended
the work. Some years before the war, even, the inhabitants had a foretaste of what was in store for them. In 1808
the 41st British Regiment was stationed in Fort George, some of whom deserted and came over to this side. The British
employed Indians to arrest the deserters and return them to their command. An incident of these proceedings is
thus related by an early resident:
I have seen a large number-twenty or more-British soldiers sent over the river, tramping with impunity up and down
the Main street of Lewiston inquiring and searching for deserters. The Indians caught two and took them past Lewiston
in the night, over the river. They were severely dogged, and it was reported that each received five hundred lashes.
The feelings of our people became aroused at this insolent manner of capturing deserters, and they determined to
stop it. For two or three miles on the road running east of Lewiston the people had ten hours to give notice to
each other of trouble. I remember that one bright moonlight night we were all aroused by the blowing of the horns,
and men armed came rushing in with the information that the Indians had got some deserters and were coming in with
them. The alarm proved false. About the same time Sergeant McDonald, who had charge of some twenty-five men at
Queenston, came over with three or four men to hunt for deserters. This party the citizens captured, and were about
starting them off to jail at Batavia, when a committee of some of the leading men in Canada came across the river,
and an agreement was made with our people that no more soldiers should be sent to our side, or Indians employed
to catch deserters.
Another incident that took place in connection with tile embargo on trade, was thus related:
Mr. Dorman, who has been mentioned as an early apothecary in the village, hail goods and potash that were of great
value in Canada, but the embargo prevented their being taken over. On town meeting day, which was the first Tuesday
of April. when every man in the place was attending the meeting, some twelve miles distant, Dorman had three boats
come from Qneenston with twenty or twenty-five men. armed with clubs swinging at their wrists. They opened the
store, and rolled the ashes and carried the other property down the bill and took it over the river. Having so
much to do, they did not quite get through until the men began to return from the meeting. where they had got information
of what was going on. As a consequence the Canadians had to leave a large share of the property, which fell into
the hands of the citizens of the village.
The following interesting notes on the local situation on the frontier in this immediate locality, were contributed
to a county newspaper recently:
At the junction of the Portage road with Main street, there was a public house for many years, which, during the
war of 1812, was kept by a man named Gad Pierce, who was an active frontier partisan. When hostilities commenced
between the two countries, there was a very small nnmber of troops on the American side of the river, and only
a single company to garrison Fort Niagara. It was expected every night that the Fort would be attacked by the British,
who had a large force at Fort George. Mr. Pierce, aware of this state of affairs, one day raised all the inhabitants
in the surrounding country, and had them assemble at Lewiston. Horses of every kind were brought into requisition,
and when the citizens were mounted, they appeared at a distance like a formidable troop of cavalry. Among them,
too, were several Tuscarora Indians, who entered with spirit into the maneuvre. Instead of swords they used walking
canes, sticks and ramrods Several of the ramrods were polished sceel or iron, which made a very bright and flashy
appearance. The cavalcade moved from Lewiston, along the river road, in sight of the enemy, and entered Fort Niagara,
the blankets of the Indians fluttering in the wind, and the various habiliments of the farmers, the limping and
overstrained plow horse. the nibbling gait and twitching head of the wild pony, with now and then a noble looking
horse, fornaed, to those who were near, a most ludicrous spectacle. In the fort they dismounted and performed some
slight evolutions in the most laughable manner. At the command to mount some of the Indians executed the order
in such a masterly way as to throw themselves entirely over their ponies. To the British, the imposing appearance
of the troops with their steel ramrods, which glittered in the son like broadswords, had the desired effect; the
contemplated attack was not made. At the time of the general invasion Mr. Pierce had his family removed to a place
of safety, but would not himself quit the premises. He and four others formed the little garrison, with which he
determined to defend his home. They waited for the approach of the enemy. At length a company of British regulars
appeared and a fire was opened on them. They continued the defence for some time, but as their opponents were numerous,
it was impossible to keep them at a distance. A part advanced upon the front of the house and succeeded in breaking
down the door, firing the guns as they entered. The defenders effected their escape in an opposite direction without
any of their number being wounded.
After the investment of Fort George and Fort Erie by the Americans in the spring of 1813, and when the frontier
was in their possession. they established a ferry just below the site of the later Lewiston suspension bridge.
It is related that on occasion a party of Canadians gathered at the ferry wharf and attempted to kidnap or otherwise
harass our people as they crossed the ferry. Thereupon a squad of boys, with the assistance of one man, secured
a four-pounder gun, dragged it to a point commanding the Canadians, loaded it with grape shop, fired upon the intruders
and drove them away.
During the battle of Queenston, which was, of course, seen from this side, balls from the heights came across into
the settlement, some of which passed through or partly through buildings. It will be remembered that the American
militia refused to cross the river in that battle, for which conduct they were charged with rank cowardice. Miles
Gillet, a son of Solomon Gillet, was one of a number who did cross with the intention of taking part in the battle.
He hid behind a stump and placing his hat on its top, drew the fire of some of the British Indian allies. His hat
was riddled with bullet holes, and he returned the fire. The experiences of the elder Gillet have been detailed
on an earlier page.
When the invasion was made no place on the frontier suffered more than Lewiston. The attack was a surprise. The
Indians, preceded by the British a few minutes and under the license given them by Riall, their commander, they
began the indiscriminate shooting of the people. The little force under Major Bennett, that was stationed at the
settlemerit, were soon compelled to retreat after losing a number of men. A few days earlier a small force of Americans
and friendly Indians had been gathered for the defense of the frontier between Lewiston and Five mile Meadow; but
they were likewise surprised in an unorganized condition and forced to flee. It was in this party that the elder
Gillet was engaged, as before related. Soon the only thought on the part of the inhabitants was how to reach a
place of safety. An "Old Pioneer" wrote the Lockport Journal a few years ago, as follows:
At one time when the red-coats were seen landing at Lewiston, every owner of a a horse hitched up to his sleigh
and piled in their goods and escaped to the mountain. But one woman was left alone in her cabin. As two "reds"
came to the house they seized her infant child which happened to be outside and threatened to kill it if she refused
to let them in. But she persisted. when they dashed the child's brains out against the corner of the house, and
then mounting the roof began descending the chimney. With quick presence of mind she emptied her straw bed into
the fire which smothered them so that she easily finished them with her axe. After washing the soot off their faces
she recognized two of her neighbors who were tories.
The killed at Lewiston numbered about twelve, among whom was Dr. Alvord. the pioneer physician, Thomas Marsh, Jarvis
Gillet, who was only seven years old and who was shot while trying to escape with his mother, and two others named
Tiffany and Finch. All but one were scalped and that one was beheaded. Dr. Alvord had just mounted his horse before
his dwelling to ride away, but was shot before going far. The escape of Lothrop Cooke and his brother, Bates Cooke,
has been narrated.
Reuben Lewis lived at the foot of the mountain on the outskirts of the present village, and having agreed with
a neighbor that he would never be taken alive, he fought after he was wounded until the enemy came up and killed
him. For other details of the invasion the reader is referred to the earlier chapter treating upon this war.
The Tuscarora village shared the fate of Lewiston. We quote from Turner as follows:
The Ridge road presented one of the harshest features of the invasion. The inhabitants on the frontier, en masse,
were retreating eastward, men, women and children, the Tuscarora Indians having a prominent place in the fight.
The residents upon the Ridge who had not got the start of the main body, fell in with it as it approached them.
There was a small arsenal at the first four corners west of Howells Creek, a log building containing a number of
barrels of powder, several hundred stand of arms and a quantity of fixed ammunition. Making a stop there, the more
timid were for firing The magazine and continuingtheretreat. The braver counsels prevailed to a small extent. They
made sufficient demonstrations to turn hack a few Indian scouts who had followed up the retreat to plunder such
as fell in the rear. The mass made no halt at the arsenal, but pushed on iu an unbroken column, until they arrived
at Forsythe's. where they divided, a part taking the Lewiston road and seeking asylums in Genesee county and over
the river, and a part along the Ridge road and off from it in the new settlements of what are now Orleans and Monroe
counties, and Wayne and the north part of Ontario counties. All kinds of vehicles were put in requisition. It was
a motley throng, dying from the torch and the tomahawk of an invading foe, with hardly a show of military organization
to cover their retreat.
The enemy pressed on up the river, destroying everything of value on the way. Isaac Colt was wounded at his tavern
on the main road toward Niagara Falls. Major Mallory, who seems to have been in command at Fort Schiosser, made
a little resistence, but in vain, and the settlement at the falls suffered the fate of Youngstown and Lewiston.
Late in the month (December) a strong force of British went from Fort Niagara east to Wilson and as far as Van
Horn's mill in Newfane, destroyed the mill and most of the buildings on their way. During the following summer,
the British being in possession of Fort Niagara, small marauding parties, mostly Indians, paid unwelcome visits
to the settlers who had ventured back to their homes. An Indian who was passing through the woods came out on the
Ridge road at the house of Sparrow S. Sage. Mr. Sage was absent and the house was occupied by his wife and another
woman. The Indian took them prisoners and started towards the fort. Before they had proceeded far the companion
of Mrs. Sage escaped, found Mr. Sage and told him of the outrage. He pursued and caught the Indian, wounded him
severely and rescued his wife. The concluding events of the war, as far as they related to this frontier, have
been sufficiently described in the chapter before referred to.
It must be borne in mind that the sufferings of the refugees from the frontier were much greater than they would
have been if the settlement was an older one. Few of them had much money and many had very little property. What
they did possess was in many instances abandoned in the hurried flight and was carried off or destroyed. The whole
country was in a state of poverty. Prices of the necessaries for life were high and money hard to obtain Trade
was at a stand-still and settlement in new localities had ceased. But the pioneers who had begun their homes in
this town, as well as others elsewhere, were a courageous, hardy and determined class; otherwise they would not
have been there in the first place, and when the terrors of near-by conflicts had given way to peace, they hastened
back to rebuild their homes, and were rapidly joined by others.
Many of the settlers returned in 1815. Isaac Colt, the tavern keeper who was wounded, brought back his family and
bought lots 24 of the Mile Reserve and 30 of the Holland Purchase. Aaron Childs, John Robinson, Achish Pool, Silas
Hopkins, Joseph Hewitt and their families, and others, returned before the close of 1816. Among the newcomers at
about that time were Richard Ayer on the Ridge road; J airus Rose, the Carney family, the Defoe and the Springsteen
families settled at and near Pekin; the Bliss, Earl, Bridge, Balmer, Wilson, Dr. Orton and other families located
between the ridge and the mountain early after the war.
Between 1815 and 1825 settlement advanced rapidly. G. P. Nichols settled in 1819; Andrew A. Farley in 1823 and
Thomas Balmer in 1825. Later corners were Abel White in 1826; the Fletcher families in 1829; Peter Spickerman in
1835; Joseph Shippy, Sanford White, and John Cleghorn in 1836; James Buckley in 1838; Erastus Downer in 1841 ;
Charles McConnell and Reuben M. Doty in 1842; and many others who will be found properly noticed in Part III.
At the close of the war the only structures left standing in Lewiston village were the stable belonging to Solomon
Gillet, which was built of logs, and the walls of the stone house of Jonas Harrison, which he erected in 1809.
The village had been surveyed into lots and a few streets in 1805 by Joseph Annin, and in 1822 it was chartered.
When the troubles were over the warehouses of Porter, Barton & Co. were rebuilt and transportation between
the village and Schiosser was resumed. Thomas Hustler returned to the place as soon as he could and began keeping
tavern again. A man named Hart kept a tavern in the place in 1816; Josiah Shepard in 1817; Solomon Uerseyin 1823;
Samuel Chubbuck at the riverside in t824, and Thomas Kelsey in the "Kelsey Tavern" in the same year.
Here La Fayette stopped in 1825. The Frontier House, built by Benjamin and Samuel Barton, opened in 1826, is still
standing and occupied as a hotel. The American Hotel, at the boat landing, built by Nelson Cornell on the site
of his old Steamboat Hotel, was opened about 1850. But in spite of what would seem an unusual number of public
houses in the early years, the village did not grow rapidly. It was a port of entry from 1811 to 1863.
Joshua Fairbanks returned and began his mercantile business. Amos Tryon opened a store in 1815; Solomon Hersey
and Crosier & Parish in 1816; Fairbanks & Thompson in 1817; Calvin Hotchkiss in 1818; Townsend, Bronson
& Co., in 1819; John Wyner, druggist, in 1820; N. Tryon & Co., in 1823; Norton Tiebout and L. & A.
Woodruff in 1825; Joseph A. Norton, 1826; William Hotchkiss, jr., F. J. Hotchkiss and Guy Reynolds about 1830;
Hugh Fraser, 1838. Other business men of the village during this period were Samuel Mackin, who had a tannery about
1820; Joseph Tryon, a tailor, who began as early as 1825; Harvey Shepard and Leonard Shepard, blacksmiths in early
times; and Benjamin Barton, who was nearly or quite the first postmaster. Later merchants were Nelson Cornell,
Burr & Belden, John L. Whitman, Cady Murray, and Sanford White. The present merchants are C. C. Whitney, John
Fleming. Mrs. Eugene Murphy, Mrs. John Hamilton, Murphy & Townsend, and Powell & Welch. The St. Elmo was
built as a residence by Shurburne B. Piper and in 1895 converted into a hotel.
Drs. Alvord and Willard Smith, the early physicians, have been mentioned Dr. Smith came back after the war and
continued in practice, dying in 1835. He had as a partner for a time, Dr. Frisbee, who was the next physician to
arrive here. Dr. William McCollum came from Porter in 1834 and became a partner with Dr. Smith, and removed to
Lockport after the death of the latter. Dr. Ambrose Thomas, a pioneer physician at Niagara Falls, settled in Lewiston
about 1837 and remained to about 1855. In 1843 Dr. George P. Eddy, sr., came; he subsequently removed to the Falls.
Dr. Edward Smith, son of Dr. Willard Smith, practiced in the place in later years, as also did Dr. George P. Eddy,
son of the senior physician of that name, and Dr. Milton Robinson, son of John Robinson, the pioneer. Drs. Coon,
Whittaker, Cole and Thomas were also physicians of past years.
Jonas Harrison was the first lawyer in Lewiston and was here before the war. Judge William Hotchkiss settled here
in 1810 and remained until his death in 1848. Bates Cooke. before mentioned, probably studied with Mr. Harrison,
and became a prominent official. Ziba Colvin practiced at one period as partner of Judge Hotchkiss. Sherburne B.
Piper settled in Lewiston in 1833. Other lawyers of former times were Judge Birdsall, James H. Paige, Leonard Bennett,
John V. Berry, and Judge Horatio J. Stow, who was once recorder of Buffalo.
Immediately after the war the citizens of Lewiston, as well as of the other parts of the town, adopted measures
for the establishment of schools. A few log school houses had been built and schools taught before that event,
the first one in 1806. In this village a stone school building was erected and finished in 1816, in which Jonas
Chamberlain was teacher. It stood in what was afterwards known as Academy Square. This was superseded by a brick
building on the public school lot, and that by a more commodious one which was erected about 1845.
The Lewiston Academy was an incorporated institution, the corner stone of which was laid by Niagara Lodge, No.
345, F. & A. M., July 4, 1824. It participated in the general school fund and also was endowed by the Legislature
with the proceeds of the Lewiston ferry license, which yielded in some years nearly $1,000. The academy building
was erected under the supervision of Benjamin Barton, William Hotchkiss, David M. Smith and Robert Fleming, building
committee. The first principal was Rev. David M. Smith. The institution was prosperous for a number of years and
drew many students from Canada These were mostly lost after the time of the Navy Island affair, and seriously reduced
the receipts. It continued in existence, however, until 1851, when the building of the Lewiston suspension bridge
caused the discontinuance of the ferry and the consequent failure of that endowment, when it was closed. During
the life of this old academy many young men were educated within its walls who in later years became prominent
in public or private life.
Lewiston was connected with Rochester by a stage line as early as 1816, and the business continued until it was
displaced by railroads. A survey was made for the Lewiston and Junction Horse Railroad, to connect with the Lockport
and Niagara Falls Railroad in 1835, and work on the line soon began. The organization was named the Lewiston Railroad
Company, which was incorporated under the names of Bates Cooke, Jacob Townsend, Oliver Grace, Leonard Shepard,
Joshua Fairbanks, Calvin Hotchkiss, Amos S. Tryon, Seymour Scovell, Benjarnin Barton and Lothrop Cooke. The route
of the road was from the river bank at the landing along the course of the river to a little above Tuscarora street;
thence it turned, crossed that street, followed up Fourth street to Center, which it followed to its intersection
with Portage, whence it crossed several farms to a point of junction about two and a half miles from the landing.
The road was finished in 1837, and though a primitive affair in all respects, it served its purpose more than ten
years. When in 1851 the Rochester and Niagara Falls Railroad was built, the charter of the horse railroad company
was sold to the Buffalo and Niagara Falls Railroad Company.
The Lewiston suspension bridge was built by two incorporated companies, one on each side of the river; these were
the Lewiston Suspension Bridge Company and the Queenston Suspension Bridge Company. The board of directors of the
Lewiston company were James Van Cleve, president; Joseph E. Ways, Calvin Hotchkiss, Seymour Scovell and William
Fitch, directors; A. V. E. Hotchkiss, secretary and treasurer. Edward W. Serell had charge of the construction
as engineer, and Thomas M. Griffith was the builder. The bridge cost $56,000 and was opened in the spring of 1851.
The bridge was partially destroyed in January, 1864, and was not used after that time. Its ruins are still visible.
The business growth of Lewiston seems to have been most active between 1845 and the close of the war of the Rebellion,
and a number of enterprises were projected which promised to aid in the growth of the village. In 1851 the Legislature
granted a charter for the construction of the Lewiston Water Works, the purpose being to construct a small canal
to bring water from the Niagara River above the falls to a convenient point on the brow of the mountain near Lewiston,
where a heavy fall could be secured for manufacturing purposes. This canal was projected twelve feet wide and four
feet deep, and would have cost $175,000. The survey was made and estimates calculated but the difficulty of obtaining
so large a sum of money for the purpose killed the enterprise.
A large steam stone grist mill was erected on the bank of the river at the foot of Center street In 1824, but it
had been in operation only about a year when it was burned. A water power mill was afterwards built on the river
between the steamboat landing and the suspension bridge, but it was carried away by ice in 1844.
The most destructive fire in the village was that of about 1867, which burned the Lewiston Hotel, in which it originated,
and all the buildings between that point and the tunnel on the railroad, with the cabinet shop and dwelling of
Lemuel Cooke on the west side of the hotel and the buildings beyond.
The village has always been very inadequately supplied with apparatus for extinguishing fires, and the place has
suffered severely on several occasions on that account. A fire company which had charge of a small hand engine
was organized about 1838. At the present time there is no organized fire department.
The first newspaper published in Lewiston was the Niagara Democrat, which was established in 1821 by Benjamin Ferguson;
it wasremoved to Lockport in the following year, when the chances of Lewiston being the county seat began to diminish.
The paper was renamed the Lockport Observatory. The first number of the Lewiston Sentinel was issued September
20, 1822, by James D. Daly. In the following April it passed into the hands of Oliver Grace and was continued by
him a few years. The Lewiston Telegraph and Ship Canal Advocate was established in the spring of 1837 and had a
brief existence under management of Harrison & Mack. The Lewiston Review was published here for a time by Edward
and William Rayment.
Lewiston was incorporated as a village under an act of the Legislature dated April 18, 1843. It was divided into
two wards, the first comprising the territory east of the middle of Fifth street, and the second that west of that
line. The first village election was held on May 2, 1843, and the following officers elected:
President, William Hotchkiss clerk, Jonathan Bell; collector, George W. Shockey; treasurer, Canton Bartlett: constable,
John T. Beardsley; trustees, Lothrop Cooke, E. A. Adams, R. H. Boughton, Nelson Cornell. The present (1897) officers
are Wesley J. Bedenkapp, president; John Carter, Robert Pendergast, Charles A. Howell and J. W. H. Kelly, trustees;
John C. Hooker, clerk.
The Lewiston and Youngstown Frontier Railroad (the Old Fort route) was opened in 1896 as was also the Niagara Falls
and Lewiston Railroad (rhe Great Gorge route). Both are electric lines, connecting the points indicated, and afford
easy and quick communication with all the historic spots along the Niagara River.
In 1855 Rev. J. J. Lynch, C. M , afterwards archbishop of Toronto, conceived the plan of erecting on the shore
of Lake Erie an educational institution for the young of Catholic parents, and to accommodate those whose purpose
it was to study for the Catholic ministry. Subsequently a site for the institution was chosen on the Niagara River
about two miles below Suspension Bridge. The institution, which was given
the name, Seminary of Our Lady of Angels, had begun its existence on the lake shore and later was removed to Buffalo
for a short time, where it had a feeble existence, until May 1, 1857. Father Lynch was now aded by generous persons
to purchase an old inn which stood on the highest point of Monteagle Ridge and there the institution was opened
in May. 1857. Other priests were associated in its management and it entered on a career of prosperity. On the
20th of April, 1863, a charter was obtained. On December 5, 1864, the building was almost wholly burned, one student
perishing in the flames. Prompt measures were adopted for rebuilding, Pope Pius IX contributing $i,ooo, and the
Seminary re-opened with 150 names on the roll in September, 1865. At that time only one wing of the present main
building was completed. In i866 the main structure, with a front of 214 feet, was erected; in 1868 another wing
was added. In 1874 the building of the college chapel, 78 by 120 feet, was commenced and soon finished. The buildings
are handsome stone structures.
In 1883 it was erected into a university, under the present title of Niagara University, by the Regents of the
University of the State of New York; its original name and individuality, however, are still preserved in the department
of arts and theology. In the same year a medical department, located in Buffalo. was organized.
Faculty of the college.- Very Rev. P. MeHale, C. M., president; Rev. J. W. Hickey, C. M., professor of French;
Rev. C. J. V. Eckles, C. M., professor of Latin, trigonometry and rhetoric; Rev. B. L. Carey, C. M., professor
of mental philosophy, chemistry and natural philosophy; Rev. J. V. O'Brien, C. M., professor of Latin, Greek and
rhetoric: Rev. J. P. Cribbins, C. M., professor of mental philosophy; Rev. J. J. Brady, C. M., professor of astronomy
and elocution; Rev. J. F. Kennedy, C. M., professor of Christian doctrine; Rev. J. A. Tracy, C. M., professor of
Greek: A. L. Kraegel, professor of music; J. E. Fitzgerald, A. B., professor of difterential and integral calculus;
W. J. Kuellertz, professor of German; A. F. Veit. professor of German.
Board of Trustees.- Rt. Rev. James E. Quigley, D. D., chancellor; Very Rev. James McGill, V. C. M.: Very Rev. P.
McHale, C. M., president Rev. J. O. Hayden, C. M , vice president and treasurer; Rev. L. A. Grace, C. M., secretary
and librarian: Rev. J. W. Hickey, C. M., Rev. C. J. Eckles, C. M., Rev. R. F. Walters, C. M., Rev. B. L. Carey,
C. M., Hon. T. V. Welch.
Rev. Patrick Vincent Kavanagh, C. M., whom Rev. P. McHale succeeded as president in 1894, was born in Ireland in
1842, came to Buffalo in 1849, was graduated from this seminary in 1866, and the same year was ordained to the
priesthood by the late Bishop John Timon. He became connected with the institution soon afterward, was elected
vice-president in March, 1871, and in 1878 succeeded Rev. Robert E. V. Rice, C. M., as president, which position
he held till 1894. He is now pastor of the Church of the Immaculate Conception of Baltimore, Md.
There are a number of societies connected with the university, notably the R. E. V. R. Literary, organized September
20, 1866; ; the Basilian Literary, October 20, 1869; the S. O. L. A. Literary, October 26, 1869; the Niagara Cecilian
Association, November 20, 1869; the Sodality, 1870; the P. V. K. Shakesperian Society, October 22, 1887; and the
League of the Sacred Heart, September, 1892. The first attempt at a college journal was Niagara's Tribute, which
appeared January 1, 1870. In 1871 this sheet gave place to the Index Niagarensis, which on December 15, 1884, became
the Niagara Index, which is issued semimonthly. It is edited and conducted by a staff of students appointed by
the president, and printed in the university.
The village of Sanborn is situated in the extreme southeastern part of the town on the Falls branch of the New
York Central Railroad. It takes its name from Rev. E. C. Sanborn, an enterprising man who located there in 1846.
The first settler here was Seth Lyon, who took up lot 33 in 1826. In 1863 Rev. Griffin Smith came to the town and
located at Pekin on the eastern town line. In 1864 he associated himself with Lee R. Sanborn, son of Rev. E. C.
Sanborn, in the purchase of land on the site of Sanborn village. The purchase included ninety acres lying on both
sides of the railroad, arid in the following year the tract was divided, Mr. Sanborn taking about thirty-five acres,
Mr. Smith ten, the remainder being deeded to Ryan Smith, a brother of the minister. The part going to the Smiths
was fenced as farm land, while Mr. Sanborn carried out his previously formed plan of laying his tract out in village
lots and placing them in market. John Dutton was the first purchaser. Lee R. Sanborn built a saw mill here in 1854,
which was burned July 3, 1861, and immediately rebuilt on a larger plan. He was a member of the Legislature in
1870 and 1871. The first postmaster was John Starr. Sanborn Union Hall was built in 1865. A cheese factory was
started in 1867 by a stock company, which for many years did a large business. In 1868 Mr. Sanborn built a steam
grist mill, which was purchased in 1875 by John Mower, who improved and enlarged it. It finally passed to Charles
G. Sanborn, who sold it in to Hudson Brothers (Benjamin and James), the present owners, who came here from Virginia.
Its daily capacity is about sixty-five barrels of flour and 125 bags of feed. The present merchants in the place
are Andrew Riegel, A. L. Pierce, and L. B. Pike & Son. There is also a hotel kept by William D. Subberra and
a few shops and artisans.
The hamlet of Dickersonville is in the northeast part of the town and in early years was of considerable business
importance. It took its name from Col. Alexander Dickerson, who has been noticed as an early settler and tavern
keeper there. Its business interests have almost wholly disappeared in more recent years. William Pool was appointed
the first postmaster in 1850, and in 1852 was succeeded by Alexander Read, who was followed by Rev. Sheldon C.
Townsend under whom it was discontinued.
Pekin is a post-office and hamlet which is divided by the Lewiston and Cambria town line, and has been noticed
in the history of the latter town.
Model City is a recent production of the modern "land boomers'" enterprise. Its chief promoter was William
T. Love, who about four years ago conceived the idea of founding, in the north part of this town, a city on scientific
and artistic principles. He received options on large tracts of land, surveyed them out into city lots, and for
two or three years "boomed" the place. He also obtained franchises from the State Legislature for an
unlimited water supply from Niagara River, and projected a gigantic canal for this purpose upon which about $40,000
were expended. A few buildings were erected, including a union church in 1895. and streets were laid out and some
grading done. On December 19, 1896, F. W. Moore started a newspaper called the Model City Power, which on April
i, 1897, passed to John E. Strayer, who removed the outfit in June to Lewiston. Model City is now a station on
the R. W. & O. Railroad.
The first religious society organized in this town was the later First Presbyterian Society, which effected its
organization in June, 1817, as the First Religious Society of Lewiston. The first trustees were Erastus Park, Josiah
Shepard, Aaron Childs, Augustus Porter, Rufus Spalding, Elijah Ransom, and Benjamin Barton. The first preacher
was Rev. David M. Smith, who came in August, 1817; he resigned in 182!. Between the years 1825 and 1835 the structure
known as "the stone church" was erected which has remained in good condition to the present time. The
church was reorganized in 1854. Rev. L. G. Marsh is pastor.
St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church of Lewiston is noticed with other churches of the denomination in the chapter
devoted to Lockport.
St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church of Lewiston was organized as early as 1851, when the first records in existence
were commenced, and when Rev. W. C. Stephens was the resident priest. He remained till 1856 or later. Rev. Patrick
Thomas Mullaney is the present rector in charge, coming in June, 1885, as Father Morris O'Shea's successor. The
society owns a frame church and rectory.
The Methodist church at Sanborn was organized February, 8, 1868, with Rev. George Kittenger as the first pastor.
Meetings were held in various places until 1873. when a handsome church edifice was finished at a cost of about
The Methodist church at Dickersonville was organized about 1850 or 1855, and an edifice was built on land donated
by Rev. Sheldon C. Townsend, who was the first preacher.
A Universalist church had a flourishing existence at Lewiston for several years, but finally ceased as an organization.
Their old frame edifice was converted into business uses about ten years ago.
There is a Baptist church at Sanborn which was built about twenty years since.