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


ON the 20th of March, 1789, the Phelps and Gorham proprietary conveyed by deed to certain representatives of a Massachusetts company, the tract of land now known as Naples, being township 7. in range 4, for the consideration of 1,056 pounds Massachusetts currency. However, there is a little history back of this apparently plain transaction which is worthy of narration. According to the records, written and traditionarv, during the year 1789 (the true date is believed to have been 1788) a company of Massachusetts. residents was formed for the purchase of a township of land in the Genesee country from Phelps and Gorham. For the purposes of the company, which numbered sixty persons, a committee of eleven was chosen, and the latter delegated their authority to a smaller committee, comprising Edward Kibbe, Nathan Watkins, and William Cady.

In September, 1789, the committee set out upon the journey to the Genesee country, and in three weeks arrived at Canandaigua. They at once visited Gen. Israel Chapin, who represented Phelps and Gorham, and informed him of the purpose of their presence, and by him they were directed to examine township 9, in range 2 (Gorham), which they did, and at once decided upon its purchase. However, before the negotiations were completed, this town was purchased by an agent of a Dutchess county company, whereupon the committee of Yankees were referred to township 9, in range 5 (Richmond), with a request to examine its lands. This being done, and the town proving satisfactory to the visitors, its purchase was agreed upon at the price of 1,056 pounds, but, either through error or design on the part of the grantors, the deed of conveyance described township 7, in range 4, which the grantees accepted. There does not appear any evidence to show that the grantors manifested any disposition to correct the error, wherefore the purchasers were at liberty to accept the township described or take none at all.

Notwithstanding the evident fraud practiced upon them, the purchasers o.f the town accepted the situation, and at once made preparations to settle and improve the lands of the town. The pioneers of the town were Samuel, Reuben and Levi Parrish, who with their families started for the western country in January, 1790, and four weeks later reached the head of the lake, and thence proceeded to the site of the present village, where they built a small log-house. Soon afterward Levi Parrish built a second house in the same locality. But the Parrishes were not altogether alone in this then wilderness region, as the Seneca Indians were still in the neighborhood and watched the operations of the white pioneers with evident interest, but made no attempt to molest them. In April or May following other pioneers came to the town to the number of thirty, and among them were Capt. Ephraim Cleveland, Colonel Wm. Clark, Nathan and William Watkins, John Johnson, Jonathan Lee, and their families. The newcomers built the third dwelling house in the town, and during the summer Capt. Nathan Watkins built the fourth, Captain Cleveland the fifth, and Colonel Clark the sixth. In 1793 Captain Watkins built the first framed barn, and the honor of building the first framed house fell to pioneer Isaac Whitney, in 1794, Captain Watkins also was the pioneer hotel-keeper in the town.

The persons and families mentioned above were the first settlers in the town, but they were soon afterward followed by others, whose names are also worthy of mention in these pages. Captain Edward Kibbe came in 1793; Dr. Thomas Maxwell in 1796; Otis Fuller in 1813. Mr. Sutton very appropriately arranges the names of early settles in Naples, from which we extract the following: In district No. 1 the pioneers were James Lee, Richard Hooker (1811), John Sibhart (1812). In district No. 2 were Wm. James, Asa Perry, Paul Grimes, Guy Hinckley and E. Stiles. In district No. 3 were Rev. Thomas Peek, John Powers and Seymour Gillett. In district No. 4 were Peter Whitney, Wm. Oakley, Amaziah Cornell, Nathan Tyler, Abijah Shaw and Israel Meads. In district No. 5 were Zacheus Barber, Oliver Tenney, Lemuel and John Barber, the latter in 1798. The settlers of No. 6 were Abraham Sutton (1811), John Sutton (1812) and Samuel Shaw, Jacob Dagget, Nathan Clark and Russell Parrish, all in 1812. In No. 7 the first settler was Aaron Hunt, who built the first grist mill in the neighborhood. Others in this vicinity were Jacob Hoidren, Jonas Belknap, Gail Washburn and Wm. Sullivan. In No. 8 were Stephen Garlinghouse, Jesse Peck, Mr. Taliman, Wm. West, Sr., and Joseph Grant; of No. 9 were Isaac Whitney, Benj. Clark, Simon Lyon, Stephen Storey and Dr. Newcomb; in No. ro were Isaac Sutton, Thomas Blodget, John Blodget, Thos. Bentley, Wm. Bush, David Fletcher; in No. 11 were Alanson Lyon, Elisha Sutton, Chas. Wilcox, Bushnell Cleveland, Uriah David; in No. 13, Deacon David Carrier, Pitts Parker, Ichabod Green, Samuel Stancliff, John Cronk, Ithamer Carrier and Michael Keith; in No. 15 were Reuben Parrish, Peabody Kinne, Robert Wiley, Nathan and Wm. Watkins, and the already mentioned Clark, Cleveland and Kibbe, John Johnson and Levi and Samuel Parrish; in No. 17 were John Hinckley, Nathan Goodell, Ami Baker, Joshua Lyon, Joseph Battles, Hiram and Stephen Sayles.

One of the first duties which engaged the attention of the proprietors of this town was the proper survey of its lands and the division of the lots; and this seems not to have been done previous to 1793. The whole area was surveyed into 195 lots, each having 108 acres. Fifteen of the best lots were first selected and each was divided into four parts, a total of sixty, one of which parts was allotted to each of the sixty original proprietors. Then followed a general drawing of lots, according to the established New England custom, and while many of the pioneers held their lots for their children, very large tracts were sold to speculators of the East.

In 1795 and '96 the inhabitants began the work of laying out and opening roads in various directions from the center of the town. Previous to this time the chief thoroughfare of travel was to the head of the lake, thence down the same to whatever point was desired. The road to Rushville was surveyed in 1794; the. Bristol road was partly constructed in 1795; the road to the Indian landing from Reuben Parrish's was made in 1796.

Having referred at some length to the pioneer and early settlement of the town of Naples known as No. 7, in range four, attention may now be turned briefly to the early civil history of the same territory. As originally formed by the Court of Sessions in January, 1789, the district included all its present area, also all that is now Italy and part of Springwater. The earliest name applied to this district was "Watkinstown," and so called in allusion to pioneer William Watkins. This naming is believed to have been done in January, 1788, at which time the territory of the county was divided into districts; however, in 1785, the year in which the town was organized, Watkinstown was dropped and Middletown adopted in its stead. The next year, on April 5, the organization of the town was made complete and town officers were then elected. The change of name to Naples was accomplished at a later date, on April 6, 1808. Italy was taken off in 1815, and a part of Springwater in 1816, and by these separate creations Naples was reduced to its present area.

At the first town meeting above mentioned the following officers were elected: Supervisor, William Clark; town clerk, Joel Watkins; assessors, Jabez Metcalf Edward Kibbe and Edward Low; highway commissioners, Nathan Watkins, Wm. Dunton and Elijah Clark; poor masters, Wm. Watkins, Ephraim Cleveland, Robert Wiley; constable, Elisha Parrish; pathmasters, Levi and Reuben Parrish, John Mower and Isaiah Post; fence viewers, John Johnson, Benjamin Hardin and Isaac Whitney; poundmaster, Jabez Metcalf.

The patriotic military spirit of the early settlers of Naples is shown in the fact that the town furnished a militia company for the frontierservice during the War of 1812-15; and it is worthy of special remark that this is one of the few towns in which the roll of militiamen has been preserved. The names are as follows: Elijah Clark, captain; Joseph Clark, lieutenant; and privates, Fisher Metcalf, Elias B. Kinne, Levi Watkins, Otis Pierce, Jonathan Pierce, Wm. Danton, Kimball, Matoon, ____ Dodge, ____ Wheeler, John Cronk, Pitts Parker, Daniel Parker, Ichabod Lyon, Benj. Johnson, Edward Low, Jacob B. Sutton, Zelotus Sackett, Captain Wm. Watkins, Henry Porter, Robert Vickery, Ephraim W. Cleveland, John W. Hinckley, Amos Johnson, Amasa S. Tift, Loring Pottle; sergeant, Lyman Hawes.

Equally honorable, also, was the record made by Naples soldiery during the war of 1861-65, in which the town is credited with having sent more than two hundred men into the service; and many of them never returned. In memory of the faithful performance of their duty and of the specially brave deeds of many the generous town's people caused to be erected a memorial townhall, a building both useful and ornamental, in lieu of the customary soldiers' monument. Land was purchased in 1869, at the corner of Main and Monroe streets, and thereon at an expense of several thousand dollars a large two-storied and basement brick building was erected. It was completed November 16, 1872.

The Village of Naples.- The history of Naples village is a part of the history of the town itself and with difficulty are the subjects separated. The pioneers of the township located within the limits of the village proper, and from this central point all subsequent operations were conducted. One of the first improvements which called for attention from the pioneers was the need of a water supply to furnish power for mills. To provide this the people made a united effort and constructed a race from "below the falls," by which mill sites and abundant power were afforded. On this stream pioneers Benj. Clark and Jabez Metcalf built the first saw-mill in the town. Reuben Parrish also built a saw-mill in 1796, at the "mouth of Parrish gulley," and in the same year Benj. Clark built a grist mill where O. M. Woodruff's Ontario Mills now stand. Likewise Jason Goodrich built a cloth and carding mill, Paul Grimes built a woolen mill, and Perry Holcomb a fulling mill in the vicinity, all at an early day.

The pioneer tradesman of the settlement was a Holland Dutchman named Hesselgesser, who was noted for the large price rather than the extent of his wares. Later merchants were Warren Clark (also distiller and owner of an ashery), Pardon T. Brownell, Robert Fleming and Calvin Luther. Paul Grimes was the proprietor of the first public house, and another early representative of the same business was Joseph Clark. Joshua Abbey was the village blacksmith, and Jabez Metcalf, Jason Goodrich, Oliver Tenney, Amaziah Cornish and Charles Wilcox were the first carpenters and joiners. The first distillers, in succession, were Reuben Parrish, Warren Clark and Zacheus Barber. Phineas P. Lee, son of Col. James Lee, is also said to have been the first white child born in the town, while the first death of which there is a record was that of the Seneca Indian, Kanesqué, at the unusual age of one hundred years. Benjamin Clark married Thankful Watkins in 7795, and Susanna Parrish taught the first school, in 1792, which were also first events of this kind in the town.

Naples is the largest unincorporated village in Ontario county, and while the subject of incorporation has frequently been discussed the necessity for such action has not been apparent. In fact, between the inhabitants of the village and those of the town at large there has ever existed perfect friendliness, and neither seems inclined to oppose the projects of the other. The result is that the numerous public improvements, both in and outside the village, are paid for by the whole town. And in the matter of improvements there has been no backwardness on the part of Naples's people, for both village and town are far advanced in this respect as anylocality of the county, and on every side the view of the interested visitor is rewarded with a general appearance of neatness and progress.

In 1890 the total population of the village and town was 2,455, more than one-half of which is within the village proper. The public properties of the latter are four church buildings, the Memorial hall, the Union school, formerly the academy, and these added to the several mercantile and manufacturing interests, and the many residences built along Main street on both sides of the business center, all combine to make Naples one of the most attractive villages in the county. Previous to 1892 communication with the outside localities and the county seat was had only by wagon travel and steamboat, but in the year mentioned the Middlesex Valley Railroad was completed, thus affording rapid connection with the large villages of the region. This is a boon which the people of the town fully appreciate, as they have for many years paid interest on a largebonded indebtedness, created to aid the construction of the road, and for which they had previously received no return whatever.

The present business interests of Naples are not numerous, neither are they of great magnitude; but all are important and contribute to the prosperity of the town. There are three well equipped flouring mills, known, respectively, as the Ontario Mills, O. M. Woodruff, prop.; the Naples Mills, N. W. Clark, prop.; and the mills of J. C. Morgan. E. A. Griswold is owner of a saw and planing mill and basket factory. J. H. Loveland has a planing and shingle mill and basket factory. Z. F. Knapp has a basket factory. W. B. Ensworth is the present proprietor of the knife factory.

The principal merchants in trade during the early spring of 1893 are the firm of Lewis Brothers and G. C. Dill, dry goods and general stores; grocers C. G. Everitt, D. J. Doughty, C. M. Lyon, A. W. Durston, Mrs. E. R. Thornton, George Stoddard, the latter also dealing in drugs Storey Bros. are dealers in boots and shoes; J C. Morgan is the druggist; F. W. James, stationer and bookseller, also postmaster; W. H. Tobey, merchant tailor and clothier; M. B. Reed, merchant tailor; S. R. Sutton and Charles Peck, jewelers; O. W. La Valley and J. P. Richardson, harness makers and dealers; E. Wells & Co. and Doolittle & Graham, hardware dealers; J. H. Tozer, furniture dealer; Mrs. Tyler and Johnson & Stetson, milliners; E. E. Lafler and Rowland, meat markets. The hotels are the Naples House, M. Brown, prop., and the Luther House, S. S. Luther, prop.

The banking house of Hiram Maxfleld was established in 1877, and it is no fulsome compliment to say that this is one of the safest and strongest private banking institutions of Ontario county.

Naples has been the home of several newspaper publications, among which may be mentioned the Free Press, founded January 1, 1833, by Charles P. Waterman, and was continued about two years. The Neapolitan was started in 1840 by David Fairchild. In 1845 it was sold to Phelps, who changed its title to the Naples Visitor, and soon afterward the paper suspended publication. The Naples Journal was published, in 7853 by R. Denton. The Naples Record was started in January, 1870, by Mr. Deyd, who was its sole publisher and proprietor until February 1, 1873, when he sold a half interest to R. M. McJannett, who was a partner until July 1, 1877, when he sold to Mr. Deyo. October 1, 1878, Mr. Deyo leased the office to Miles A. Davis, who published the paper until November, 1879, at which time Mr. McJannett purchased and ran it until February 1, 1884. January 1, 1880, Mr. Deyo established the Neapolitan, which paper he continued to publish until February 1, 1884, at which time he purchased the Record of Mr. McJannett and consolidated the two papers under the name of Neapolitan Record. The paper continued under this name and management until October 1, 1887, when it again changed hands, and the old name, Naples Record, was restored."

May 1, 1890, Rev. F. P. Leach, then pastor of the Baptist church, began the publication of an eight. page church paper called the Naples Church Union. Mr. Leach continued its publication until he removed from town January, 1891-when the publication ceased. The work on this paper was done in the Record office.

The Naples Academy was the outgrowth of an ineffectual attempt to form a Union school in 1858. Following the failure of the Union school enterprise, a subscription fund of $12,000 was raised in the village, and in 1860 the academy building was erected, the cornerstone being laid June 72, and the building soon afterward completed, with capacity to accommodate two hundred pupils. The first principal was M. M. Merrill, succeeded by Charles Jacobus, P. V. N. Myers, L. G. Thrall and others. In the course of time, however, the academy property was transferred to the Board of the Union School District, the latter including parts of three town districts Nos. 2, 9 and 15. The principal of the Union school is Burr W. Mosher.

While there has not been made any attempt to organize an elaborate fire department in the village, the enterprising citizens have provided a good serviceable engine, hose cart, truck, and an abundance of buckets. This equipment in the hands of interested residents and all working unitedly, has thus far proved equal to any emergency. The truck is in charge of "Morgan Hook and Ladder Company, No. 1," an organization which was incorporated June 22, 7885.

The church and religious history of Naples has an interest equal to its civil and political records, yet may be briefly narrated. The town now has three and possibly four active church societies, the fourth being St. Januarius Roman Catholic, which had it organization soon after 1880, but has had a resident pastor only a short time Father Ege is the present incumbent. The church edifice stands on Tobey street, in the north part of the village. The other churches referred to are the Presbyterian, Methodist Episcopal and Baptist.

The present Presbyterian church and society of Naples are the outgrowth of the still older Congregational society, the latter dating its history back to the pioneer days ofthe town. That indefatigable Christian worker and organizer, Rev. Zadoc Hunn, conducted religious services in this town as early as 1792, but not until 1800 was there any formal organization. On February i of that year, Rev. Samuel Fuller completed the organization with these members: Nathan and Sarah Watkins, Edward and May Kibbe, Timothy Madden, Mary Clark, Mrs. Parrish, Samuel, Susanna, Mark and Lydia Watkins, Lemuel Barber and Martha Cleveland. Rev. Mr. Fishals preached for a time. Rev. Solomon Allen was the first regular pastor, installed December 75, 1803, and was followed in the same capacity by Revs. Silas Hubbard, Lyman Barrett, John C. Morgan, John Burbank, Mr. White, John C. Morgan, Henry Morgan, Mr. Everett, G. T. Everest, Mr. Roulette, F. S. Gaylord, B. F. Millard, Miles B. Gilston, W. L. Austin and B. F. Millard, the latter being the present pastor.

The first services were held in a log barn and afterward in the log school-house on the square. In 1823 the society began raising a fund for the erection of a church home, and in December, 1825, the edifice was completed and dedicated. However, during the course of its history this church changed its form of government and became Presbyterian. In 1850 a new edifice was built, but was burned in March, 1874. It was soon afterward replaccd by the handsome structure now in use. This church has a membership of one hundred and fifty-one, and a Sunday-school of two hundred and seventy pupils.

Methodist Episcopal services were first held in Naples as early as 1826, but not until several years later was a class formed and an organization effected. A church edifice was first erected for the society in 1851, at the corner of Vine and Main streets. From a small beginning this society has grown into one of the most numerous and influential in the region. Rev. E. G. Piper is the present pastor.

The Naples Baptist church was organized in 7843, yet as early as 1826 preaching service of this society was held in the town. After organization the society purchased the Congregational edifice, and being thus provided the Baptist society became one of the permanent institutions of the town. Elder Cole, an aged Baptist minister, had much to do with the early, history of this society, and among others who followed him in pastoral work were David Olney, M. Tuttle, E. A. Hadley, H. Ingraham, Amos Chase, Edward Tozer, W. F. Purington, R. H. Tozer, S. J. Douglass and others. The present pastor is Rev. Eugene Anthony.

The Christian church of Naples is now a thing of the past, the society having forfeited its property and 'the same reverted to the general conference. The church in Naples was organized in z 826, the first meetings antedating that event by several years. The society transferred to the village and reorganized in 1842, and Rev. J. J. Brown was its first pastor at the latter place. The church edifice was built in 1845, and removed to its present location in 1875.

In the same connection mention may also be made of the Methodist Episcopal church and society at Garlinghouse in the township, of which D. A. Parcells is pastor; of the Free Will Baptist church society, which is under charge of Rev. Lindsay, and of the Methodist Episcopal society at Hunt's Hollow, over which Rev. E. G. Piper exercises pastoral care.

The early school records of the town of Naples are indeed meagre, but well grounded tradition has it thatthe education of the youth of the town was begun very soon after the first settlement. The first frame school-house was built on "the square" in 1797, and here Isaac Blanchard and Caleb Abernathy were first teachers. As the population increased the town was divided into school districts, and these have been changed from time to time to suit the convenience of the inhabitants. At the present the town has sixteen districts, two of which, Nos. 12 and 16, have no school-house. In the town is a school population of seven hundred and forty-eight (census of 1892), and there are employed thirty three teachers, at an annual expense of $5,380. In 1892 there was received from all sources school moneys to the amount of $7,243.46. The Union school building at Naples village is of brick, and all others in the town and village are of frame, and the total value of all school property is placed at $34,225.

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