TOWN OF NEWSTEAD.
This town was formed from Clarence on the 27th of March, 1823, with the name Erie,
which was, changed to Newstead’ in April, 1831. It includes township 12, range 5, and a part of township 13, range
5, of the Holland Company’s survey, and embraces about 30,708 acres and also a small part of the Tonawanda Indian
Reservation, lying in the northeast corner, over which the town has a nominal jurisdiction. Newstead lies in the
northeast corner of Erie county, and is bounded on the north by Niagara county, on the east by Genesee county,
on the south by Alden, and on the west by Clarence. Tonawanda Creek forms the northern boundary, and into it flows
Murder Creek,. which the Indians called See-un-gut, signifying “roar of distant waters.” The south part is drained
by the headwaters of Ellicott Creek. A limestone ledge, containing hydraulic limestone, crosses the center of the
town; on the north the surface is level with a soil of clayey loam, marl and sand, while on the south it is gently
undulating, the soil being a clayey loam underlaid with limestone. The principal occupation of the inhabitants
outside of Akron is general farming.
The first town meeting in Erie (now Newstead) was held in May, 1823, but on account of the destruction of the early
records by fire it is impossible to give the first officers, etc. The following is as complete a list of the supervisors
of the town as can be ascertained:
John Boyer, 1825, 1831—32; William Jackson, 1833; Cyrus Hopkins, 1835 and 1837; John Rogers, 1838; Hezekiah Cummings,
1839—40; Almon Ford, 1842; Marcus McNeal, 1843—45; John Boyers, 1846—47; Henry S. Hawkins, 1848—50; Lorenzo D.
Covey, 1851; Edward Long, 1852—53; Henry S. Hawkins, 1854; B. K. Adams, 1855; Loreuzo D. Covey, 1856; E. J. Newman,
1857—58; Ezra P. Goslin,1859—61; Henry Atwood, 1862; Ezra P. Goslin, 1863—65; Marcus Lusk, 1866-72; William T.
Magoffin, 1873; D. B. Howe. 1874; H. H. Newton, 1875; William T. Magoffin, 1876; Timothy W. Jackson, 1877—84; William
T. Magoffin, 1885—86; William M. Cummings, 1887—94; Henry L. Steiner, 1895—97.
That portion of the original Tonawanda Indian Reservation lying in Newstead comprised about thirteen square miles
and included the site of Akron village. In August, 1826, the Ogden Land Company purchased about 7,000 acres of
this tract and opened it to settlers, leaving the reservation with its present area of about 2,000 acres. In 1798
Joseph Ellicott caused the main trail of the Six Nations to be cut out from Batavia to Buffalo; it ran westward
through Akron and Clarence Hollow, and was the first wagon track in Erie county. What is known as the Buffalo road
was opened about a year later. In 1800 Timothy S. Hopkins and Otis Ingalls raised the first piece of wheat on the
Holland Purchase, in the Vandeventer neighborhood. They soon became permanent residents of Amherst and Clarence
The first land sold in Newstead was lot 10, section 8, which Asa Chapman "articled" on November 3, 1801,
for $2.75 an acre; soon afterward he was living near Buffalo and probably never settled on this tract. Other purchasers
of 1801 were Peter Vandeventer (four lots in sections 8 and 9), Timothy Jayne, David Cully and Orlando Hopkins.
David Cully remained a permanent resident; in 1802 Peter Vandeventer settled on the Buffalo road, in the west part
of the town, and opened a log tavern, which was probably the first building in Newstead. The same year William
Deshay, John Hill and Samuel Hill, jr., purchased land. The first town meeting of any kind on the Holland Purchase
was held at Vandeventer's tavern March 1, 1803, when Peter Vandeventer was elected supervisor of the new town of
Batavia; David Cully was chosen town clerk. The first State election on the Purchase was also held at this tavern
in April, 1803.
According to the records of the Holland Company Samuel Beard, William Chapin, Jacob Dunham, Samuel Edsall and Asahel
Powers purchased land in 1803, and Charles Bennett, John Felton, Silas and Thomas Hill, and Cyrus Hopkins were
purchasers in 1804. About this time Charles Barney, Aaron Beard, T. Cole, Robert Dunham and Samuel Miles became
settlers. The town meetings of 1804 and 1805 were held at Vandeventer's tavern and he was elected supervisor; the
meeting of 1805 was the first one in the new town of Willink, which was about eighteen miles wide and extended
from Pennsylvania to Lake Ontario. John Beamer, Aaron Doiph, Eli Hammond, Henry Russell and George and Samuel Spaulding
purchased land in Newstead in 1805, and about 1806 Archibald S. Clarke opened the first store in Erie county outside
of Buffalo, near the Vandeventer tavern. Early in 1807 Charles Knight and Lemuel Osborne arrived, and in July of
that year the first Methodist church or class in the county was organized at Mr. Knight's house, he being the class
leader. The same year the first school was taught by a Mr. Keith. Archibald S. Clarke was the first member of assembly
from the old county of Niagara, being elected in 1808, 1809 and 1810; about 1811 he became the first postmaster
in all this territory, having the office-named Clarence-at his store; in 1812 he was elected the first State senator
from Erie county.
Before 1812 the, following had settled in this town along the Buffalo road:
Samuel Anderson, John S. Bafl, Joseph and Luther Barney, Samuel Bates, John Boyer, James H. Case, Archibald S.
Clarke, James Cronk a Mr. Chamberlain, Isaac Denio, William Hall, Charles Knight, Martin Lewis, William Mills,
Stephen Osborne, Jacob Pratt, Joel Parmeley, Samuel Strickland and Peter Vandeventer.
About 1816 the Clarence post-office was removed, and soon after 1823 another was established with the name of Erie,
the postmaster being John S. Ball, who had succeeded Mr. Clarke as a merchant. The office was changed about 1831
to Newstead and discontinued soon after 1837.
The following were among later settlers of the town:
Hezekiah Cummings (in 1828), Robert Benedict, Nathan L. Barney, Jonathan Russell, James McMullen, Marcus McNeal,
Lorenzo D. Covey, Ezra P. Goslin, Alpheus Prince, C. B. Rich, Wilber N. Hoag, William Davis, Edwin Hawkins, Asher
Moon, Clark Pardee, Asher Wheeler, Charles Ainsworth, Marcius E. King, William Jackson, Benjamin Johnson, John
and Lewis Seaton, Silas Saxton, Elbridge Little, William Strickland, William Whitley, Moses Nash, A. K. Hubbard,
William Cofran, Calvin C. Kingsley, Thomas Downey, Jonathan Delano, James Harrington.
The first railroad in the county (except one three miles long, from Buffalo to Black Rock) was built from Medina
to Akron, Fallkirk and Richville, Genesee county, about twenty miles, in 1835. It had wooden rails, and one passenger
and one freight car, drawn by two horses, one ahead of the other; the fare from Akron to Medina was sixty-four
cents. The road proved unprofitable, and after two or three years was abandoned.
Akron Village had its inception
in 1826, when Jonathan Russell purchased lot 26, built a frame house, and opened part of it as a store; this building
is now a part of Charles F. Berghorn's drug store. About the same time a Mr. Whicher erected a grist mill and Elisha
Hill put up a saw mill. The latter was afterward owned by F. E. Dunham & Co. These and other enterprises soon
diminished the importance of the Vandeventer settlement as a business center, and before 1840 the latter had become
scarcely more than a rural hamlet. In 1831 Spencer S. Harrington opened a tavern and Mitchell Osborne a grocery;
the latter continued in business over fifty years. About 1.832 Elisha M. Adams, Harrison Osborne and John Wainwright
engaged in mercantile business, and "Squire" Huntley built a fulling and carding mill, w.hibh soon passed
to Hezekiah Cummings. After 1850 Harlow Cummings occupied the mill building as a hub factory.
The first physician in Akron was Dr. Isaac Parcell, who came in 1831; following him were Dr. Wright, Dr. F.
Norton, Dr. L. P. L. Parker, Dr. 0. P. Crane, Dr. L. D. Crane and Dr. S. W. Hurd.
Among the later merchants are the following:
Adams & Baker, B. K. Adams & Knight, Adams & Newton, Harvey H. Newton, H. H. Newton & Sons, Abram
Post, Maj. William T. Magoffin, William M. Cummings, Charles D. Smith, Wilson P. Hoag, Frank Magoffin, Charles
F. Berghorn, Berghorn & Roach, Frederick W. Powell, Mrs Emma Pennell, Dr. Ezra Pennell, David Munter, Kopelowich
& Smith, John W. Tuttle, Henry P. Eagan, Morrill T. Dailey, Thomas Brothers, William R. Burns, George B. Garnham,
John A. Anderson, Edward W. Buckley, Mrs. J. Krohn, Lorenzo D. Covey, Dunnett & Co., James Mossrnan, Mr. Douglass,
R. S. Mills, Parker & Harrington.
The Akron House was built by John Baird and first kept by S. S. Harrington in 1831; later landlords were Harrington
& Stewart, George Brown, N. B. Wickwire, George Shannon, Thomas Blackmore and Smith & Wells. Another hotel
was erected about 1860 by A. B. Wheeler, the American House in 1872, the Altenburg House about 1883, and the Union
Hotel about 1886.
The village was originally called "The Corporation," and about 1836 had the appearance of a log-yard,
being strewn with logs from the adjacent forests. About that time the Akron post-office was established with Elisha
M. Adams as postmaster; he was succeeded by Sylvester Goff, Lorenzo D. Covey, H. H. Newton, William L. Paxon, William
T. Magoffin (thirteen years), William M. Cummings, James E. Paxon and J. Crawford Hoag.
The discovery in 1839 of hydraulic or water limestone at what became Fallkirk, on Murder Creek, by Jonathan Delano,
led to the establishment of one of the leading industries of the town. In 1840 he built a small kiln, capable of
manufacturing about 300 tons of water lime per year. This was on land owned by Daniel Fisher. In 1843 the property
was sold to James M. Souverhill, who conveyed it to James Montgomery, who enlarged the works and also manufactured
land plaster from gypsum discovered on the Indian Reservation. Enos Newman became his partner and afterward the
sole owner, and in 1852 sold the concern to his brothers, Edward J. and Leroy Newman, who built a three-story stone
fiouring mill; in 1858 they built a "perpetual burner" and in 1859 a second lime kiln and a separate
cement mill at the lower falls. About 1852 Enos Newman, with his son Amos, established a cement mill on the south
side of the creek; this was sold in 1864 to E. J. & Leroy Newman, which firm then became E. J. Newman &
Co. Their large cement mill was burned in 1870 and a new steam mill erected, and about the same time a new method
of quarrying limestone by tunneling was inaugurated, which reduced the cost of manufacture one-half. The capacity
of their works was increased to about 600 barrels of cement per day, and in 1878 a new fiouring mill, with a daily
capacity of 150 barrels, was erected. The property is now operated by Henry L. and William C. Newman.
Hezekiah Cummings & Sons started another cement mill on Murder Creek in 1854; in 1865 it was abandaned and
a new one erected nearer the quarries by Homer H., Palmer and Uriah Cummings, Sons of Hezekiah. This establishment
was sold in 1869 to the Akron Cement Works, the officers of which were Hon. D. N. Lockwood, president, and Frank
S. Coit, treasurer. In 1870-71 still another cement manufactory was established west of Akron by Homer H., Palmer
and TJriah Cummings, who were succeeded by the Cummings Akron Cement Works.
The discovery of water lime gave existence to the hamlet of Fallkirk, where J. D. Jackson erected a large brick
block in 1843, and H. D. Jackson established a tannery. The place, though now a part of Akron village, contains
two hotels and the barrel factory of Timothy McCarthy and Albert J. Flynn.
Akron village was incorporated
in June 1847, but the destruction of the early village records by fire in 1871 preclude the mention of its first
officers. In 1850 it had a population of 453; in 1870, 444; in 1880, 1,036; in 1890, 1,492. The corporate limits
have been nearly doubled, taking in Fallkirk, and now equal about one square mile. In 1849-50 Hezekiah Cummings
erected a stone grist-mill at the foot of Main street; this was subsequently operated by John Wilder and now by
H. H. Croop. For many years fire protection was afforded by a bucket brigade, which was succeeded by a chemical
engine, which gave place to two hand engines; in 1896 a fire department, consisting of two hose companies and one
hook and ladder company, was organized. In 1896 a water supply was established by the village, which was bonded
for $30,000. About 1887 natural gas was discovered on the Wilder farm, and on November 1, 1896, the Akron Light,
Fuel and Power Company was incorporated with Richard H. Bell, president; Irving D. Eckerson, secretary, for the
purpose of supplying natural gas to the village.
The first banking business done in Akron was by Wickwire & Co., who started a private bank about 1882, and
who were succeeded by N. B. Wickwire in 1886. The private bank of Tabor & Wiltsie was started by them in March,
The Akron Breeze, the first newspaper, was started in September, 1878. by Frank G. Smith; later publishers were
King & Murray, John H. Meahi, and, since 1889, Edwin M. Read. The Akron Record was published a short time by
Covey & Wheeler; it was absorbed by the Breeze. The Akron Herald was established May 28, 1896, by John C. Murray.
The Akron Union High School was organized December 18, 1883, the first principal being F. W. Lindsley, who was
succeeded by George W. Watt, and he by Orson Warren. A brick school house was erected in 1890, and in 1893 an addition
was built on the site of the old building, which had burned.
From the Methodist class organized in 1807, with Charles Knight as leader, was formed the Methodist Episcopal Church
of Akron, which erected a log meeting house in 1820 on land donated by Lemuel Osborne. In 1836 another edifice
was built of stone on a site given by Jonathan Russell; it was dedicated in 1840 and enlarged about 1865. A Baptist
church flourished in the Vanderventer neighborhood for many years. In 1837 it was succeeded by the Baptist church
of Akron, which built an edifice in 1838; this was followed by the present structure, built in 1873, at a cost
of $12,000. The Presbyterian church of Clarence was organized about 1820, erected a building on the Buffalo road
in Newstead, and in 1839 was divided, the Newstead church hay. ing fifty-one members. They erected a church in
Akron in 1852. The German Methodist Episcopal church was organized in 1867, and in 1868 purchased the Catholic
edifice. The first mass of the Roman Catholic church was celebrated at the house of Thomas Downey in 1847; a church
was built in 1854 and in 1868 sold to the German Methodists, and a new edifice erected in 1883. A Free Methodist
church was built about 1885 and a German Lutheran church in 1896.
The village of Akron now has an estimated population of 1,800, about 20 stores of various kinds, 2 private banks,
2 weekly newspapers and printing offices, 5 hotels, a theater, 2 cigar factories, a heading and stave mill, a creamery,
a fine public park, 2 flouring mills, 1 foundry, a bottling establishment, 2 public schools and 7 churches. There
are also numerous shops, coal and lumber yards, markets, cider mills, etc. It is one of the largest cement manufacturing
centers in the world, the annual output being about 500,000 barrels. There are also three large mushroom plants,
the most extensive one covering about three acres, being owned by Eckerson, Harrington & Bell. This industry
was started about 1890.
South Newstead is a small hamlet
in the south part of the town. It contains a German Lutheran church and the store of George W. Schworm, who is
Hawkins's Corners, about one mile
south of Akron, contains a German church and a few houses.
Swift's Mills, situated on Murder
Creek in the north part of the town, was settled by Julius Swift, who purchased 500 acres of land and built a saw
mill and grist mill and opened a store there-all about 1840. The property subsequently passed to his sons, Julius,
James and Luman P. Swift. After the construction of the Niagara Falls and Canandaigua Railroad through the town
in 1854 the importance of Swift's Mills as a business center diminished. The saw mill has been been abandoned;
the grist mill is now owned by Luman P. Swift and the store by E. J. Snell.