History of West Sparta, NY
FROM: History of Livingston County, New York
By James H. Smith
Assisted by Hume H. Cole
Published By D. Mason & Co. 1881


THE town of West Sparta lies south of the center of the county. It is bounded on the north by Groveland, on the south by Ossian, on the east by Sparta and North Dansville, and on the west by Mt. Morris and Nunda.

The surface of West Sparta is also quite hilly, though less mountainous than that of Sparta and Ossian. There is also more of an unsettled, uncultivated appearance than is characteristic of the towns lying to the east or west. The soil is somewhat heavier than that of the surrounding towns, especially in the northern part, where it is of a clay loam. In the southern part the soil inclines to a sandy loam. An extensive marsh, known as Canaseraga swamp, in the northeastern part robs the town of much of its tillable soil. The only important streams are Canaseraga creek, which flows north along the eastern border, forming the boundary line between this town and Sparta, and Butler brook, a smaller stream in the southern part, in which is a perpendicular cascade of some sixty feet. The Dansville Railroad passes through the extreme eastern part of the town.

This town was formed at the time of the division of the original town of Sparta, February 27, 1846. The first white person to break land and build a cabin in the present limits of the town were William McCartney and Andrew Smith, who came from Scotland in 1791, landing in Philadelphia and coming to West Sparta in 1792. William McCartney acted as clerk for Captain Williamson, a land agent.

The cabin which was built under the directions of Williamson was situated on land afterwards owned by John McNair, later by Judge James McNair, and at present by Hugh T. McNair. The nearest white settlers at that time were at Arkport, Steuben county, some fourteen miles south, and at Williamsburgh, in Groveland, twelve miles north.

McCartney and Smith, however, must be regarded only as temporary residents within these limits, for two years later the former purchased land near what is now known as Comminsville, within the present limifs of North Dansville, where he moved and where he rcsided until his death in 1831. Andrew Smith remained but one year, when, on account of fever and ague which was probably developed by the swampy nature of the soil in that section of the town, he removed to Bath, purchasing there a farm where he resided until his death, some time about 1840.

The first permanent settler was Jeremiah Gregory, who located in 1795 in the southern part of the town. After him a short time came other settlers, among whom were William Stevens, in 1796, Abel Wilseyin 1797, Benjamin Wilcox in 1798, and still later, Samuel McNair in the year 1802 or '3. John McNair, in 1803, came on a prospective trip to this new country and purchased of John Wilson of Fredericksburgh, Maryland, a tract of land containing four hundred acres in the then town of Sparta three miles north of Dansville. He then returned to his home in what was known as "The Irish Settlement," Northampton county, Pennsylvania ; and in the early part of 1804, with his family of six sons and one daughter with her husband, set out for his new home in the Canaseraga Valley, joining there a son and daughter who a year br two before had preceded him. The journey was made in covered wagons, containing besides the family the furniture and implements with which to begin their pioneer life in this region of forests and hills. Arriving some time in the middle of June, the family found a temporary home in the log cabin which had been put up on the tract in 1792 by direction of Captain Williamson. and occupied by William McCartney. A part of the farm was cleared of timber and had doubtless been at some time cultivated by the Indians.

Here on this tract they at once built a comfortable home of hewn logs, which is still standing in a good state of preservation on the farm which is now owned by Hugh T. McNair.

The children of John McNair were William, Samuel, John, David, James, Andrew, Robert, Margaret and Christiana, all of whom are dead; but many descendants are now living in the vicinity.

Among other pioneers of the McNair family was Judge Hugh McNair, grandfather to Hugh T. McNair, now living in West Sparta, who for some years was Prothonotary of Ontario when it included the county of Livingston. All of his sons are dead but one who lives in Corning, Iowa. William W. McNair, whose widow lives here, was Hugh's oldest son.

The early history of this region is but a repetition of that of the surrounding towns. Lumbering and shingle making were for some years the principal occupations of the settlers. The privations incident to the new settlement were keenly felt; but it is not known that any of the pioneers suffered from actual want. For some time the market for such produce as their farms yielded was confined to the settlers each year arriving, or occasionally they bartered their products for the wares and goods of the merchants at Bath and other as scantily inhabited settlements in Steuben county.

It was not until 1823 that the first store in the town was opened by Jonathan Russell at what is now Union Corners. The nearest post-office was at Bath, thirty miles distant. These inconveniences in procuring merchandise, and in keeping up an intercourse with the outside world, were, it may be imagined, among the chief hardships of their pioneer existence.

It is to the fortitude with which these early fathers and mothers endured privations; to their hardy self-denial, and to their courage under the difficulties which beset them, that their descendants are indebted for whatever prosperity and comforts surround them to-day.

Beyond the clearing of land into farms, and the lumbering traffic attendant upon such labors, the progress in other kinds of business was slow.

The first grist-mill was built by Samuel Stoner m 1823. The first tavern kept in the town was by Ebenezer McMaster in 1820, at what is now known as Kysorville. The first wool-carding and cloth-dressing mill was established by Benjamin Hungerford in the year 1814. In this establishment Millard Fillmore, President of the United States in 1850-53. was apprenticed to the trade of cloth-dressing, serving four months on trial. Having been set by Hungerford at menial labor that had no connection with the contemplated trade, when the four months had elapsed he gave up the business and returned to his home in Cayuga county to begin the career which made his name a household word throughout the nation.

The first town meeting after the division of the town in 1846, was held on April 7th of that same year in the school-house standing at that time near the property of John Muchler. At that meeting the following officers were elected:- Supervisor, Roswell Wilcox; Town Clerk, Gideon D. Passage; Superintendent of Schools, Sam'l G. Stoner; Assessors, Jacob Chapman, James F. McCartney, Alexander Henry; Commissioners of Highways, David McNair, James Van Wagner, James Northrop; Inspectors of Election, Peter VanNuys, William D. McNair, Jr., Levi Robinson, Jr., appointed; Justices of the Peace, Hiram Jencks, short term, Stephen Stephenson, one year, Samuel Scribner, two years, H. G. Chamberlin, four years; Overseers of the Poor, William Spinning, Aaron Cook; Collector, B. F. Hyser; Constables,Freeman Edwards, B. F. Hyser,A. J. Thompson, Nathaniel Hanna; Town Sealer, John Stoner, Jr.

Thereafter the succession of Supervisors and Town Clerks was as follows :



Town Clerks.


Roswell Wilcox,

David McNair.








Hugh McCartney.

Calvin B. Smith.


Jas. F. McCartney.

Alvin W. Spears.



Calvin B. Smith.


Alexander Kinney.

Alexander Rogers.


David McNair.



Leonard B. Field.

Peter C. Cuykendall.



Alexander Rogers.



Willis C. Rose.



Alexander Rogers.


Peter VanNuys.



Leonard B. Field.

Stephen Stephenson.


Leonard B. Field.

Isaac Van Hooser.


Ogden March.

John O. Kelley.


Leonard B. Field.

Isaac Van Hooser.





William J. Slaight.




Edward M. Gregory.


Leonard B. Field.




Henry B. McNair.


James B. Frazer.

C. Fredk. McNair.


James B. Frazer.

Russell C. Stoner.

The other officers for 1880 are :-Justices of the Peace, Merritt B. Dake, Henry B. McNair. Stephen Kemp, John Perine; Highway Commissioner, William Johnson; Assessors, Fred Miller, Andrew J. Kennedy, Augustus Hungerford; Overseers of the Poor, John N. Kemp, Henry F. Muchier; Collector, Joseph McCay ; Constables, Joseph McCay, Nelson B. Wiilett, George Hunt, George Lester, Buell Gould; Inspectors of Election, Frederick Miller, James F. Muchler, A. C. Green; Game Constable, Job Woodworth; Excise Commissioners, Hugh T. McNair, William Van Doren.

West Sparta furnished a large number of soldiers during the war of the Rebellion, but as no correct record of the enlistments was ever kept we cannot learn in what regiments they enlisted, nor what fate met the brave men who perilled their lives in the defense of their country. The following is as complete a list as could be obtained of the men who entered the service at different times during the progress of the war.

The following enlisted from West Sparta previous to July 2, 1862.
Marshall Hungerford, Charles Burr, James Edwards, Alonzo Farnsworth, Horace Herrick, Edward Kenney, John Tohnson, Jerome Hardendorf, Robert Pierce, Stephen A. Kemp, Thomas Radigan, Michael Radigan, Edward Kiehle, Josiah Kiehle, Wm. Streffa, Archibald Van Ness, George Walters, Frank Swager, Jasper Wadsworth, John Wadsworth, Henry Vorhees, Melvin Walker.

After that date, and previous to July 18, 1864, the town paid a bounty of $50 to each of the following who enlisted:- Geo. W. Libby, Henry K. Price, Jas. Ulyett, Ogden Marsh, Solomon Wise, Roswell Masten, Thomas Owens, Win A. Edwards, John Gorigan, Wm. H. Whetstone, James McKeown, Hamilton S. McMaster, Wm. A. McMaster, Shubal W. Farnsworth, Gilbert M. Van Veizer, John Kelly, Thomas Bonner, John F. Gill, John Aon, Ira B. Sherwood, Wm. A. Selover, Henry W. Spear, Jehiel Johnson, James A. Rogers, A. T. Blanchard, Andrew J. McNair, Sçuire L. Herrick, John W. Wampole, Geo. R. Torrey, Daniel B. Wadsworth, William Servis, John M. Dennison, Charles C. Vorhees, Edwin Smith. In 1864, and previous to July 18th, the following number enlisted :- Orlando Abby, AndrewJ. Kennedy, John Kemp, Jr., Joseph Aeret, Henry V. Thompson. Joseph Doty, James Pendergast, John Johnson, Charles Gant, Wm. Brown, Sylvanus H. Cook, Calvin Shortliff, Wm. Patterson. Marshall Hungerford, John Aplin, Wm. C. Hague, Josephus H. Lawrey.

Under the call of July 18, 1864, for five hundred thousand men, the appended number was enlisted:- George C. Brooks, James Simpson, David Simley, Henry Atwood, Wm. Butler, John Walker, Jesse Smith, Jr., Benjamin Wampole, David Blank, Rosweli S. Clark, Alex. Duvall, James Colwell, Robert Kelly, John Cunningham, Geo. Froelig, Amasa W. Aber, John M. Harvey, Westley P. Gridley, Silas R. Rhodes, Thomas H. Rhodes, Duty S. Cram, Wm. M. Wolcott, Albert West, Charles Sawyer, Daniel Brace, Thomas Hennessey, George Judson, John Gallagher, Thomas Wilcox, Andrew Rush.

STATISTICS OF P0PULATI0N.- In 1870, West Sparta had a population of 1,244, of which 1,144 were native, and 100 of foreign birth. In 1875 the population was 1,208, a decrease of 36. In this year the native population was but 1,097, a decrease of 47 in those five years, while the foreign population had increased to 111 in the same length of time. Of these 1,208, only 6 belonged to the colored race, 610 were males, 598 females, and 32 aliens; and of this number but 12 who were twenty-one years of age, and upwards, were unable to read and write. Of the total population but 164 were owners of land; 238 were liable to military duty; 349 were of voting age, of which number 297 were native, 34 naturalized, and 18 were aliens.

AGRICULTURAL STATISTICS.- The census of that same year gave the town in improved land 14,238 acres; 3,261 acres of woodland, and of unimproved land 1,708 acres. The value of farms was $911,718; of farm buildings, $95,061; of stock, $107,370; and of agricultural implements, $29,264. The sales from these farms were to the amount of $82,041. Fertilizers were used to the amount of $275.

SCHOOL STATISTICS.- Wes tSparta has 12 school districts, containing 334 children of school age. During the past year school was taught 339 4-5 weeks, employing 22 teachers, and with an average attendance of i 52. The number of children attending some portion of the year was 284. The amount paid for teachers during the year was $1,520.88. The district libraries are very meager, being valued at $11.00 only.

There was expended during the year for school apparatus, $2.10; for fences, repairs, furniture, &c., $55.28, while the total incidental expenses were $191.31. The value of school houses and sites is $4,460. The total valuation of the districts is $6.454.08.

West Sparta contains no villages of note.


Kysorville, a little hamlet in the northern part of the town, consists of a grocery store conducted by Frank Muchier, in business one year, a cider mill, (William Buell,) blacksmith shop, (James Jones,) a school house, and a few dwellings.


Woodville, in the south-eastern part, contains a large Souring mill, owned by Morey & Goho, who have been engaged in the business here five years, a church, a school house, and a few dwelling houses.

The place derived its name from John, Rufus, and Asa Wood, who located there at an early date.

The Union Church of Woodville was built by the Evangelical Association of that place about the year 1850. It was first preached in by Rev. Thomas Aitken.

No records exist to show the origin of the society or its progress. The church is also used by the Free Methodist society, the pastor of which, in 1880. was Rev. Charles Southworth.


Byersville, in the southern part of the town, some three miles west of Woodville, derived its name from Samuel Byers. The first settlement was made here about 2823. It contains about sixty inhabitants. The only Store is devoted to general merchandise and is kept by Russell C. Stoner, who has been in business here two years. The present postmaster is Elijah Kinney, who was appointed in February, 1880. The present physician is Dr. A. V. Watkins, a graduate from the Eclectic College of Philadelphia in March, 1871, who has been located in Byersville since that time.

CHURCHES.- The Free Methodist Society of Byersville was organized in 1876. The class was formed September 9, 1877. The church was built soon afterward, and at the time of dedication the members were : D. L. Pickard and wife, L. N. Turrey and wife. Mr. Merrick Jencks and wife, Mr. and Mrs. R. C. Stoner, Georgiana Powell, Libbie Powell and Clarence Pickard. The dedicatory sermon was preached by Rev. A. F. Curney, who presided two years. The second pastor was Rev. D. J. Santrnier, who officiated one year. The Rev. Charles Southworth was in charge in 1880. The church edifice is quite a fine building for so small a place, and is clear of debt. The present membership is thirty-five.


Union Corners lies in the western part of the town about a mile north of the center, and close to the line dividing the town from Mount Morris. It contains but a school house, blacksmith shop, two churches, and a few dwelling-houses.

The Onion corners Methodist Episcopal church was organized in 1879 under the pastorate of Rev. B. A. Partridge. The church edifice was erected in 1880, and is a nicely situated and substantial building. The membership is thirty-six. The pastor in 1880 was Rev. F. M. Cole.

The Presbyterian church of Union Corners was organized by Rev. Elihu Mason, August 21, 1825, with the following members

Garrett VanWagnen, and Mary, his wife, Mrs. Catharine Bogart, Mrs. Catharine Thompson, Abraham Thompson, James O'Brien, and Nelly, his wife, James J. Amerman, and Jacob Van Middlesworth. The following were the officers chosen and ordained :-Garrett Van Wagnen, First Elder; James J. Amerman, Second Elder; Jacob VanMiddiesworth, Third Elder.

There is no further record regarding the transactions of the society until August 6, 1828. At that date Rev. Norris Bull as moderator, received to membership in the church Catherine Thompson, Archibald Ten Eyck and Eliza, his wife, Phillip Thompson and Hannah, his wife, and Hannah G. Thompson. September 27, 1828, the Rev. N. W. Fisher as moderator, Phillip Thompson and Archibald Ten Eyck were elected elders.

April 19, 1832, the following elders were added:
Obed Cravath, Calvin E. Crank, Jacob Bergen, and Samuel Comstock. On the 5th of March, 1834, the first trustees were chosen. These were Jabez Hungerford, Stephen Trowbridge, first class; Samuel T. Comstock, Jacob Bergen, second class; Abraham S. Thompson and Gilbert Bogart, third class.

The following has been the succession of pastors :-

Rev. Amos P. Brown


Rev. L. Robbins


Rev. Leonard Rogers


Rev. L. Hull


Rev. Samuel H.Rawson


Rev. Horatio Norton

1843- ----.

Rev. William Bridgeman


Rev. William Fithian


Rev. M. Barton


Rev. T. Darling


Rev. R. W. McCormick


Rev. P. S. Van Nest

1867- ----.

Rev. Willis C. Gaylord


Rev. William Jones


Rev. J. M. Horton


Rev. S. McKinney

1876- ----.

Rev. B. A. Partridge (M. E. pastor)


Rev. J. Mitchell

1880- ----.

The present house of worship was built in 2835, and was the first one built by the society.

Return to [ NY History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ]

NY Counties - Albany - Allegany - Broome - Cayuga - Chatauqua - Chenango - Clinton - Columbia - Cortland - Dutchess - Erie - Essex - Franklin - Fulton - Genesee - Herkimer - Jefferson - Lewis - Livingston - Madison - Montgomery - Niagara - Oneida - Onondaga - Ontario - Orange - Orleans - Oswego - Putnam - Queens - Rensselaer - Richmond - Rockland - St. Lawrence - Saratoga - Schenectady - Steuben - Suffolk - Tioga - Tompkins - Tryone - Ulster - Washington - Wayne - Yates

All pages copyright 2003-2012. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy