History of Nichols, NY
FROM OUR COUNTY AND ITS PEOPLE

A MEMORIAL HISOTRY OF TIOGA COUNTY

NEW YORK
EDITED BY: LEROY W. KINGMAN
W. A. FERGUSSON & CO. ELMIRA, N. Y., 189?


THE TOWN OF NICHOLS.

TROUGH the Moravian missionaries who traversed the Susquehanna and Oh emung valleys long before any organized civil jurisdiction was attempted to be exercised over the region, information was brought to the chroniclers of Colonial history in New York that in various portions of the valley mentioned there dwelt an occasional white man among the Indians. In this locality such occurrences were rare, but in the upper Chemung and Canisteo valleys they were more frequent, and on one occasion Colonel (afterward Sir William) Johnson sent a detachment of frontiersmen to drive certain offending white renegades from that region, for their influence had such a contaminating effect upon the savages that they became seriously annoying to the provincial government. However, history does not give any record of undesirable occupancy in this part of the country, although on the south bank of the Susquehanna and within the borders of the present town of Nichols was an Indian village of considerable importance. In the immediate vicinity of the mouth of Wappasening creek was one of favdrite resorts of the red man for hunting and fishing, and on the broad and fertile plain land in the same town the Indian raised as good corn and vegetables as did the whites in the east, and great indeed was the surprise of Sullivan’s men when they discovered the productive qualities of the soil in the region.

Many stories of the Indian occupancy are handed down to us through past writers of early history, and such as have been told of the, locality now known as Nichols are well verified and do not rest on the unstable foundation of tradition. In the general chapters of this work relating to the period of Indian occupancy will be found the narrative of the unfortunate experience of two deserters from the British army who were pursued, overtaken, and ruthlessly shot on Maughantowano flats. They were left where they fell, but the more humane Queen Esther sent from her settlement and gave the bodies a decent burial. History also informs us that during the revolution two American soldiers were captured by the Indians and while being taken up the valley to a secure place of confinement at the once called Fitzgerald flats (in what is now Nichols) the captives made a sudden attack upon their custodians, killed two of them, and made good escape from probable death. However, through the accounts written by General Sullivan’s officers and men, the best early descriptive history of the valley country has been given to succeeding generations. Indeed, it was through these reports taken back and spread throughout New England that this part of the state came to be settled by the Yankees at such an early period; and it has been said that it was also through the medium of these very reports that Massachusetts learned that the Genesee country and western and southern New York contained superior land, and therefore clung tenaciously to the strict construction of the royal charter and finally became the owner of the pre-emptive right to several million acres of the most fertile lands in this state. All of Tioga county north of the Susquehanna and east of Owego creek was ceded to Massachusetts under this claim.

General Sullivan’s army destroyed all buildings, and as far as possible all vestiges of the Indian occupation in the Susquehanna valley during the summer and fall of 1779; and, although the savages remained under the protection of Fort Niagara during the later years of the war, many of them returned to their former habitations after peace was declared, and were found here by the white pioneers who came first into the valley. They came back to their hunting and fishing grounds at the mouth of the Wappasening, and not until settlement was well advanced did they leave the region to live on the lands which the state and the general government set apart for their use. At a point opposite the mouth. of Owego creek lived an Indian named Nicholas, a Mohawk, who was a successful. farmer among the pioneers, and who accumuizted considerable stock in cattle and horses; but he, too, after the whites became more numerous, left the region and was no more known in local annals. Soon after the Indian occupation was at an end and before the state made final disposition of the lands, there came and lived for a time within what is now Nichols several squatters, adventurous pioneers from the east, who took and held lands without claim of title, for they were poor in purse and sought ‘to make a home in the new country. They were neither law-breakers nor disturbers, and settlers of their class were in almost every town in the county. From this occupancy there has ever been a question as to whom belongs the honor of having been the pioneer in Nichols, the squatter without title and whose only capital was energy and determination to succeed, or the settler under regular title, who bargained for and bought the land from its owners. However, before referring at length to the period of settlement, a brief allusion to the land titles in Nichols is desirable.

According to statistical reports there was only one royal grant to an individual which conveyed title to land in this county, and that was a charter of lands in the towns of Owego and Nichols, dated January 15, 1775, to Daniel, William, and Rebecca Coxe, John and Tabor Kemp, and Grace Kemp, wife of Tahor Kemp. This grant carried title to 100,000 acres of land, and was made in compromission of a claim the grantees held on lands in the Carolinas and elsewhere. Another and a large portion of lands in Owego and Nichols was known in history and on the public records as the township of Hambden, and was disposed of as follows: To Nicholas Fish, 6,400 acres in Owego and Nichols; to William Butler, 3,000 acres in Nichols adjoining Coxe’s manor on the west; and to Colonel Nichols was also granted a large tract of land in both Owego and Nichols, aud in allusion to this worthy the town received its name. Hooper’s patent included a large tract of land in the western part of the town, and was named in allusion to the patentee, RObert Lettice Hooper.

EARLY SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT.— One of the earliest and most reliable writers of contemporary history in Nichols was the late Judge Charles P. Avery, author of the series of articles published in Saint Nicholas in 1853 and 1854. In his article on this town Judge Avery says: “Among those who first settled in this town were the families of Ebenezer Ellis, Peletiah Pierce, and Stephen Mills, two of whom, Ellis and Mills, removed to Barton. George Walker becoming occupant by purchase of the premises left by Mr. Ellis." He also says that Daniel Pierce and Daniel Mills, Sons of the pioneers, were born in the town, Pierce in 1787 and Mifis in 1788. Alexander Effis was also born in the town, in 1788, and Judge Avery remarks that they, were, probably, the first whites born in this part of the county. He further writes of Captain Thomas Parks, living just over the Pennsylvania line, but says that he was not the Captain Park, the pioneer of Candor. It is also recorded by the same authority that in 1787 or ‘88 James Cole, from Wyoming, was living in the town, and that Judge Ooryell and Robert Lettice looper visited the valley country in an exploring tour and were entertained at Cole’s house, on the land which, in 1853, was occupied by Emanuel Coryell. However, Judge Avery explains that the settlers mentioned “claimed but a possessory interest in the land occupied by them, no title yet having passed from the patentees.”

Another authentic writer of local history was the late William Fiske Warner, who, discussing early settlement in Nichols, says “The first settlement was made in 1787 by John and Frederick Evelin (or Eveland, as now spelt by their descendants), A. VanGorder and his sons Leonard and Benjamin. These all settled near Canfield’s Corners. Ebenezer Cole, Peletiah Pierce, Stephen Mills, and James Cole came in the same year. Judge Emanuel Coryell and his family came in 1791 from Coryell’s Ferry on the Delaware, in New Jersey. Caleb Wright occupied land where Nichols village is build up. Jonathan Platt and his family, and Major Jonathan Platt and his family, came from Bedford, Westchester county, in 1893. Col. Richard Sackett came in the same year. Miles Forman, a. revolutionary soldier, and his family came from Westchester county in 1794 or ‘95. Major John Smyth, a revolutionary officer, and his sons General John, Nathan, and Gilbert Smyth, came in 1794.”

“The Indians,” continues Mr. Warner’s narrative, “were at this time residing on the Maughantowana flats. Lewis Brown, Ziba Evans, Jonathan Hunt, Richard Searles, and Asahel Pritchard came about the same time. The last two moved to Union (now Owego). Daniel Shoemaker, a soldier of the revolution, came in 1801 or 1802 and settled on the flat lands he had purchased of Robert Lettice Hooper in 1792. John Pettis, Joseph and John Annable, Joseph Morey, David Briggs, William Thatcher, Daniel Lanning, John Russell, and Isaac Sharp, a revolutionary soldier, were also among the early settlers. All settled along the rich river flats, which had been a favorite corn ground of the Indians for many generations. These bottom lands have furnished a rich harvest of relics of the Indian occupation, turned up by the plow or the washing of the stream.”

“The early settlers had the common experiences incident to pioneer life. They had abundance of game and fish from the streams, an4 in a short time corn and wheat were gathered. The wheat was pounded in a mortar made in a hard wood stump, and a pestle was attached to a bent sapling which formed a spring-pole. After the first supply of garments was worn out those made at home of flax, wool, and deer-skins were used. At length Caleb Wright built a grist mifi and also a saw mill, the first in the town. Pixley’s grist mill at Owego, and another on Shepard’s creek had been built only a short time before.”

Mr. Warner’s description of early life and his interpretation of the pioneer character were so original and so natural to him, and his simple style of writing was such that the present writer feels constrained to quote him at still greater length, but space forbids.

In Nichols the historian is necessarily at loss to determine what is correct and authentic in regard to the pioneers or the exact year of their settlement, for on this subject past writers do not agree, and it is hardly expected of the historian in the field to-day to determine which statement is the most -reliable. The pioneers themselves are all gone and few indeed are their sons and daughters now living in the town. However, before leaving this branch of the subject the writer feels bound to respect the statements made by the most recent chronicler of early settlement in Nichols, Miss Mary L. Barstow, of Nichols village.

According to this authority, Emanuel Coryell was the first permanent settler in the town in the year 1791. He found squatters on the land in advance of him and among them were Mifis, Effis, Pierce, Walker and Cole, all of whom are mentioned on a preceding page. It was indeed fortunate that the honor of having been the first permanent settler should have fallen to Judge Coryell, for such honor was most worthily bestowed. In after years he became one of the foremost men in Tioga county and was called to many positions of trust in the early history of the region. In the bench and bar chapter of this work will be found an extended mention of both his public and domestic life and service, and the facts need no repetition here. Yet as he was an important part of the history of Nichols so must the name be mentioned in these pages.

General John Smyth was the second permanent settler, according to accepted authority, and took up his residence here in 1794. Nathan and Gilbert Smyth were sons of General Smyth, and the former afterward owned the old home farm of the flats. Later generations of this family spelled the surname Smith; a name still well known in the town. The children of the pioneer were Elizabeth, Nathan, Gilbert, David and John. Daniel Shoemaker, the old revolutionary patriot, came up from Monroe county, Pa., his family were at Wyoming when the terrible slaughter took place.

Jonathan Platt and his son Major Jonathan Platt, and the families of both, came to Nichols in 1793, as is elsewhere stated. Miles Forman, the son-in-law of . the elder Platt, came a few years afterward. Both he and Major Platt held the office of sheriff of the county. Jonathan Platt, the elder, died a few years after his settlement. In 1805. Jonathan Platt, Jr., son of Major IPlatt, removed to Owego settlement and became a clerk in John Laning’s store, and five years later began business for himself. William Platt, brother to Jonathan, Jr., was the third lawyer in Owego. He was also the father of Thomas Collier Platt, whose name and public life are known throughout the country.’ The family in Nichols was one of the most prominent in the river valley, and the name is stifi known in the town. Caleb Wright, who has been mentioned as the builder of the first grist and saw mills in the town, was in many respects a prominent figure in early history. He also built a dam across Wappasening creek, and as an experienced millwright his services were in great demand all through this region. Edmund Palmer came in 1800 and afterward married with the daughter of Judge Coryell. He was a farmer of Nichols and a man of worth in the town. Stephen’ Reynolds, another early settler, came a poor man and located on a part of Judge Coryell’s land. He was a cooper by trade, an honest and industrious man, and his sons were among the thrifty farmers of the town in later years.

James Cole, who was a squatter on the land when Judge Coryell and Col. Hooper first. came to the region, was a settler here as early as 1787, and his brother, Elijah, was also here about the same time. James, Joseph, John, George, Daniel, Charles and Edward Cole were sons of Elijah, but all are now dead.

Miles Forman came into this region from Westchester county as early as 1786, and settled on land about a mile and one-half from Nichols village. He is remembered as sheriff of the county in 1811 and again in 1821, and also as a man closely connected with the early history of the county as well as the town. Jonathan Hunt, whose family name is still well known and numerous in Nichols, was a resident of Westchester county, and by former service a patriot of the revolution, having served at Bunker Hill and thence throughout the war. In this town he was a hard-working and earnest citizen and respected man. His children were Ebenezer, Mary, Willard, John, Adonijah, Jonathan, Irena, Seth; and Harvey Hunt.

Benjamin Lounsberry was a pioneer in Nichols, coming here in 1793 in company with the family of Jonathan Platt, Mr. Platt having married with the widowed mother of Mr. Lounsberry. This surname Lounsberry has since been prominently mentioned in connection with the best history of the town, and is stifi preserved in a station on the D., L. & W. railroad, and also in the residence in the eastern part of Nichols of several thrifty families. Benjamin, the pioneer, married with Elizabeth Platt, and to them were born Harriet, Hannah, Platt, Charles, Horace, Benjamin, James, William and Norman Lounsberry. Stephen Reynolds, of whom incidental mention has been made, came to Nichols about 1800 from Washington county and settled on the site of Hooper’s valley, or in that vicinity. He had thirteen children and from them has descended the Reynolds family of the town to-day, while many other of its representatives have settled elsewhere.

James Howell, who came to Nichols in 1806, was the pioneer head of a large, thrifty, and highly respected family who have ever since been well known in the town and identified with its best interests and history. Mr. Howell lived in various parts of the town during his life here, and by industry and energy acquired a large property in lands. His wife was Amelia Laning, and of their children six grew to maturity, viz: Elizabeth, William, Frances, John L., Mary A., and Robert, the latter enjoying considerable local celebrity as historian, geologist and naturalist. John L. Howell, another son, was for many years a merchant at Nichols village, and was otherwise identified with the history of both town and vifiage. He was supervisor in 1866—68.

David Briggs and Henry Washburn came to Nichols in 1808, from Washington county, N. Y., and Flat Brook, N. J., respectively. Mr. Briggs settled in Briggs Hollow, which was named from him, and Mr. Washburn was an early resident in Hooper's valley. Both names are known in town to-day, and both stand for respectability and thrift.

Ursula Dunham was the widow of Sylvanus Dunham, and came from the eastern part of the state in 1808 or ‘10, locating on the river road, less than a mile above the village. ‘Of her ten children eight were Sons, and from all of them has sprung a numerous family in the county.

Joseph Ketchum was ‘another of the early settlers, possibly a pioneer, coming from Rensselaer county, and locating on the more recently known Pearl farm. His family and descendants are scattered through the county, but few are now in Nichols.

Judge Gamaliel H. Barstow, who came to Nichols .in 1812, and who from that time was one of the foremost men of the county, was a former resident of Sharon, Conn. Three years after he came he was elected to the Assembly, and after another three years was appointed first Judge of the Common Pleas and was also elected to the State Senate. In the bench and bar chapter of this work will be found a biographical sketch of Judge Barstow’s life; but what he was to the county, or to the state in his public life, so was he equally a factor in developing and building up Nichols to the position of importance it held among the towns of the county in the early years of the century. He was a physician as well as a judge and public man, and was also oneof the first to open a store and stock of goods in Nichols village. The name Barstow is still known in the town, and among the later prominent representatives of the family was Oliver A. Barstow, of Hooper's Valley. He was supervisor several years and otherwise influential in town affairs.

George Kirby came to the town in 1814, from Great Barrington, Mass., induced to such action by the previous coming of Judge Barstow. He was a shoemaker and brought his tools. He worked
for a time, but soon built a tannery and afterward became one of the most successful men of the town. He also built the first steam mill in Nichols. His son, Selim Kirby, was also a conspicuous figure in business circles in Nichols for many years, and while the unfortunate results of his banking business at South Waverly was the occasion of much discussion, it cannot be called more than a misfortune which may and does overtake similar enterprises.

Henry and Wright Dunham, from Madison county, came to the town about 1814 or ‘15, and bought lands up the creek. Henry Dunham was the son-in-law of Cabel Wright, and a man of importance in the town. He built a grist mill on the Wappasening, in 1822, which was for many years owned by some member of the family. Silvenus Dunham, of the same family, came later and built a carding and fulling mill, thus establishing a settlement of importance in that locality.

Thomas White and Anna Hale came about the year 1814. Mr. White from Clinton county, and the widow Hale from Bennington, Vermont. She married with Dr. Wiffiam Rood, and after his death with Jacob Totten.

Nathaniel Moore, a New Hampshire Yankee, settled in the town in 1816, on the place afterward known as the Moore homestead. Joshua White came in 1819. Joseph Morey, among whose descendants have been some of the most prominent men in the later history of the town, was a settler previous to 1825, while the Williamsons, John McCarthy, Joseph Densmore and others whose names are now lost, were here about the same time.

Oliver A. Barstow, whose name has been closely associated with the history of the town, especially since 1860, came to the region in 1825. He was prominently identified with the politics of the county and the town, and was also a merchant in the village many years. So far as the records are clear, Mr. Barstow was supervisor in 1864-65, and again in 1871-72; was Member of Assembly in 1866, and Justice of the Peace from 1862 to 1886.

ORGANIZATION.— The aim of the writer of this chapter has been to iace the pioneer and early history of Nichols from the time the squatters first appeared to the civil organization of the town as a separate division of the county. Of course the reader will understand that previous to the creation of Nichols, and after 1813, this territory formed a part of the older town of Tioga, and that the town of Owego preceded Tioga and included what is now Nichols from the organization of the county in 1791 down to 1813, when for convenience the towns of Owego and Tioga changed names. Previous to 1791, whatever there was of the exercise of civil authority over the territory of Nichols was as a part of the "Old Town of Ohernung," the latter then one of the divisions of Montgomery county.

As shown by the census report of 1825, the inhabitants of the territory of Nichols numbered 951, therefore it was only natural that the people of the region should ask for a separate town out of the mother town of Tioga. The necessary act of the Legislature was passed March 23, 1824, and all that part of Tioga lying south of the Susquehanna was erected into a separate town by the name of Nichols, and so named in allusion to Colonel Nichols, the patentee of a large tract of land within its boundaries.

The creating act also made provision for the first town meeting and the election of officers for the new jurisdiction, all of whicth was duly carried out. Town records, and especially the minute books of town meetings, are a fruitful source of information, both for the names of officers chosen annually and also for the light thrown on the facts of early settlement and the names of pioneers. However, in Nichols an unfortunate fire occured in 1864, during the clerkship of Luther Conant, and the town records were burned. This misfortune cost us the customary list of first town officers and as well the succession of incumbents of the leading offices in the town. In 1864 the clerk began a new town book, from which is taken the following succession of supervisors from that year, while the names of persons mentioned as having held the office previous to that time are taken ftoth a record kept by an interested editor living at the county seat. So far as obtainable the supervisors since 1847 have been as follows:

1847-George Wilson. 1851-52-H. W. Shoemaker. 1856-57-N. Lounsberry.
1848-Unknown. 1853-54-Harvey Coryell. 1858-Abram Westbrook.
1849-50-Harvey Coryell. 1855-Wm. R. Shoemaker. 1859-60-Peter H. Joslin.

1861-62-John L. Howell. 1870-Selim Kirby. 1878-84-Robert H: Morey.
1863-Peter H. Joslin. 1871-72-Oliver A. Barstow. 1885-McKean McDowell.
1864-65-Oliver A. Barstow. 1873-74-Fred C. Coryell. 1886-90-Elmore Everett.
1866-68-John L. Howell. 1875-McKean McDowell. 1891-97-Chas. P. Laning.
1869-Frederick C. Coryell. 1876-77-Selim Kirby.


Among the still earlier supervisors of Nichols we may recall the names of Emanuel Coryell, 1824; Neherniah Platt, 1825-27, and John Coryell in 1828.

TOWN OFFICERS, 1897 -- Supervisor, Charles P. Laning; town clerk, John J. Howell; assessors, George Newman, Warren A. Lane, John O. Bensley; justices of the peace, Ransom W. Darling, George F. Lounsberry, Warren A. Smith, Elijah K. Evans; commissioner of highways, Robert H. Morey; overseers of the poor, John L. Hoyt, Michael Quilty; collector, Charles McNiel; constables, William Curkendoll, George K. McNiel, Philip S. Farnham, Charles McNiel.

POPULATION.- From the federal and state census reports are taken the following statistics relative to the number of inhabitants in the town in the years mentioned: 1825, 951 ; 1830, 1,284; 1835, 1,641; 1840, 1,986; 1845, 1,924; 1850, 1,905; 1855, 1,871; 1860, 1,932; 1865, 1,778; 1870, 1,663; 1875, 1,683; 1880, 1,709; 1885, no count; 1890, 1,701; 1892, 1,635.

From this record it will be seen that the greatest number of inhabitants was attained in 1840, when all the - several interests of the town were, probably at their best. Since that time there has been a gradual, though not rapid, decrease in population, and at this time the number is about 350 less than in 1840, due chiefly to the same causes that have worked a similar decrease in a majority of the interior towns of the state, and not to the fact there has been a lack of enterprise on the part of the people of Nichols. Indeed, no such indictment could stand, for this little and comparatively isolated town has ever been noted for thrift and progresssion from the time when Judge Coryell came and made a residence here. But it was not the judge alone who made this a prosperous town during the early years of the century, but his example was followed by almost every one of the prominent settlers as they came.

In many respects Nichols in one of the most independent divisions of the county, and, taken altogether, its history forms one of the brightest pages in the annals of Tioga. First, it is the only town lying wholly on the south side of the Susquehanna, and that stream in a measure has had the effect to teach the people here the advantages of independence and self reliance, and the fact appears that this spirit has worked greatly to the benefit of the inhabitants, who at an early day made all their institutions permanent and substantial. Again, from the time of pioneership Nichols has been known as one of the best agricultural towns of the whole region, and it was the desirable quality of the soil that attracted many of the early settlers; and as one family came and found success in answer to patient endeavor, the coming of friends was induced, and before many years had passed the hill and back lands were taken and cleared, and fine farms appeared where but a little time before was a dense forest growth. To the aboriginal occupants the Maughantowano flats were known to produce abundantly under their primitive attempts at farming, and under the inteffigent efforts of the white-faced pioneer that special region became known as one of the most fertile in the northern part of the state. About the central part of the town the high lands and the river are separated by only a narrow strip of land, but further east, in the vicinity of Canfield's corners, or Lounsberry, the lands are fertile and highly productive. The same is also true of the Hooper's valley region although here no special attempt at settlement and improvement was made previous to the time when, the Pearsalls came and by building mills and operating extensively in lumbering developed the land for farms and built up a settlement which has endured and been progressive to the present day. (From 1830 to 1850 there were nineteen saw mills on Wappasening creek in Nichols and the adjoining towns of Pennsylvania.)

Thomas, Gilbert, and Nathaniel Pearsall were the real factors in developing the Hooper's Valley region, and were said to have made a beginning there as early as 1828, although soon after that time they were in the vicinity of Apalachin lumbering, milling, and otherwise developing the resources of the county. They came from Chenango county in 1828. Both Gilbert and Nathaniel died at Hooper's Valley, and Thomas at Owego. Thomas was perhaps the strongest business man of the brothers. He built the mills here. He was also prominent in connection with other enterprises, notably building the bridge across the river to connect Smithboro and the valley. Later he went south, but returned to Owego, where he died in 1881. After reverses had overtaken the Pearsall enterprises at the valley the hamlet they built suffered a serious loss in population and interests. However, the mills were bought by Mr. Higley and made into a carding and fulling mill, but were soon burned. In 1875, L. Burr Pearsall, son of Gilbert Pearsall, built a steam saw and planing mill at the valley hamlet.

The Smithboro and Nichols Bridge company was incorporated April 18, 1829, and Isaac Boardman, Nehemiah Platt, and John Coryell were appointed a committee to supervise the construction of the bridge. The first was built in 1831, but within a year was swept away by the swollen river. A second bridge met a like fate, in 1837, and the third in 1865. A ferry has since beeni maintained across the river to afford communication between Hooper's Valley and Smithboro. Hooper's Valley was made a postoffice in 1854. Gilbert Pearsall was the first postmaster, and served in that capacity until 1861.

Among the other early settlers in this part of the town were Ira J. Parks, who came here with the Pearsalls, and also a branch of the Coryell family.

Osborn is the name of a postoffice and station on the line of the D., L. & W. railroad, about seven miles west of Nichols village The settlement is a recent creation and not far advanced in the history of the town. A store is kept here by Charles L. VanGorder. -

The Asbury Methodist Episcopal church is one of the historic institutions of the town, and was organized in 1817 with Elijah and Phebe Shoemaker and Daniel and Maria Shoemaker as constituent members. The first pastor was Rev. John Griffing. The church edifice was built in 1822. The members now number about 25. The pastor is Rev. H. L. Ellsworth, of the Nichols village church.

Canfield's Corners was a hamlet in the east part of the town, in the locality where Ezra Canfield was an early settler, the crossroads settlement being named for him; and when a postoffice was established for the accommodation of the inhabitants of that part of the town Mr. Canfield was the first postmaster. However, except among the older residents who are little inclined to change from the order of things half a century ago, this locality 'is known as Lounsberry, a post station on the line of the D., L. & W. railroad. The locality, is rich in agricultural resources, is peopled with some of the most thrifty farmers of the town, but the commercial importance of the settlement is a small factor in local history. The store is now kept by Mr. Wheeler. R. B. Baker has a creamery. Previous to the construction of the railroad the inhabitants were without means of communication with the county seat other than teams. But at that time their trade was largely done at Tioga Centre at Col. Ransom's store. A ferry has been maintained across the river here for many years, as will be seen by reference to the history of Tioga, in another chapter. Here, too, is the River Valley M. E. church, the near-by district school, but little else except such buildings as are found around a station in a purely farming region.

The River Valley Methodist Episcopal church at Lounsberry is one of the oldest organizations of its kind south of the river, and in its history dates back to the year 1815 when a class was formed in that part of the town and meetings were held at the house of Joseph Utter and also in the schoothouse. The present edifice was built in 1873 on land given to the society by Jonathan Hunt. The church has about 60 members, and is under charge of Rev. H. L. Ellsworth, pastor of the Nichols M. E. church.

East Nichols is a post hamlet in the extreme southeast corner of the town, in an agricultural district, the inhabitants of which required for their convenience a postoffice and local mail distribution.

NICHOLS VILLAGE.- This pretty little hamlet of about 550 inhabitants is located half way between the east and west lines of the town and on the Susquehanna river at the mouth of Wapasening creek. Here are all the requisites of an incorporated village, both in point of business and population, but that character has not been assumed although the people have been discussing the subject several years.

aleb Wright was the pioneer settler on the village site, he having come in 1793, as near as can be determined, and taking up lands at the mouth of the creek, extending up and down the river half a mile in either direction. Pioneer Wright built a saw mill at the mouth of the creek, and when James Howell came to the settlement, a few years later, he (Howell) built another, half a mile up the river. 'Others were soon built in other localities, as lumbering interests demanded, and in the early years of the century the "Corners," as the settlement was first known, was a place of importance, and if personal recollections be reliable even at that early day this was also an important lumbering point on the river, and in the general prosperity of the period Wapasening creek and the mills built along its banks, reaching over into Pennsylvania, contributed in a good measure.

Robert Williams, who was the son-in-law of Cabel Wright, became possessed of a part of the Wright tract, and he, in fact, laid the foundation for the settlement by cutting his land into acre lots and selling to new arrivals for a modest consideration. Dr. Barstow bought a corner lot and opened a stock of goods in 1812, doing a general trading business in connection with his medical practice. Simmons Clapp took another lot, but his particular occupation in the settlement is not now recalled. Proprietor Willims also lived on the tract and was quite active in his endeavors to dispose of his lots. However, when Dr. Barstow became satisfled that the Corners was a place destined to future prosperity, he built another store and occupied his first for living purposes, as in the meantime he had married with Judge Coryell's daughter. George Kirby came in 1814 and. set up a shoeshop, but within a very few years had a tannery in operation and was an important factor in village history. Others soon followed and as early as 1820 it is said that Rushvffle had nearly two hundred inhabitants, and threatened rivalry with 'the county seat itself. The surrounding country was fast being settled and the settlement eas a busy place. Drs. John Petts and John Everitt came and were practising medicine, while in the meantime Captain Peter Joslin, Isaac
Raymond, James Thurston, Joshua Brown and still others had established homes in the village and were in some active way identified with its early history and growth. In 1820 Major Platt came from his farm to live in the village. He built and kept a hotel until his death, in 1825, but the business and building have survived for very many years.

When the little settlement at the Corners had become a place of some note, the inhabitants determined to find a name more suitable and appropriate, hence, Dr. Barstow suggested the name "Rushville;" which was at once adopted; and the statement is of record that about 1812 or '13 a postoffice of that name was established here. This, however, is doubtful. The name Rushville was given by the worthy doctor in compliment of Dr. Rush, a Philadelphia physician of note, for whom Dr. Barstow had high admiration. When Nichols was set off from Tioga, in 1824, it soon became necessary to establish the institutions of the new creation on a lasting basis, hence the name of the principal village was made to conform to that of the town. Both were called Nichols, and in recognition of the compliment Colonel Nichols generously gave $200, to be invested for the permanent good of the town and village. The fund was subsequently expended in the erection of a meeting house for religious worship.

A postoffice by the name of Nichols was established January 24, 1827, from which time the postmasters, in succession, have been as follows: Charles B. Barstow, appointed January 24, 1827; George Wilson, May 18, 1830; Daniel Ferguson, July 15, 1830; Sidney Dunham, May 21, 1834; Charles R. Barstow, May 26, 1841; John C. Barstow, January 22, 1844; Sidney Dunham, March 13, 1846; Cranston V. S. Bliven, May 19, 1847; John C. Barstow, June 22, 1849; Gamaliel Barstow, October 7, 1850; Timothy P. Alden, June 18, 1853; Miles D. Forman, August 13, 1857; James Tutton, June 28, 1861; Herman T. Joslin, August 22, 1863; Peter H. Joslyn, November 17, 1865; Timothy P. Alden, September 25, 1866; Coe Coleman, March 18, 1867; Henry Cady, March 22, 1870; Emmet Coleman, December 2, 1885; George M. Cady May 2, 1889; Isaac D. Fox, July 1, 1893.

While it is possible that life and business were better and more interesting in this village during the days of its early history than within the last quarter of a century, it is doubtful if the diversity of interests at that time were as great or as useful as those of the more recent period. 'True, Nichols is to-day practically without a manufacturing industry of importance, and this is the only elemerit wanting to establish permanent prosperity in the village. The other essentials, health, cleanliness, good order prevail, and a well-to-do and generally public spirited people reside there. As a shipping point for agricultural and farm products Nichols ranks among the best points on the line of the D., L. & W. railroad, and the amount of business of this kind done here each fall is surprising to any person not acquainted with the resources of the town.

For many years Nichols has been a well. ordered and pleasant village as a place of residence or one in which a family of children may be reared free from the misleading pleasures and temptations frequently encountered in more populous municipalities. A good school has been maintained here for many years, and in 1873 a union free district superseded the old system and an academic department added to the educational facilities of the institution. The first board of education comprised Dr. G. P. Cady. John Forman, C. Bliven, G. M. Cady, Selim Kirby, and H. W. Dunham. The present board, under whose management the academy is as prosperous as at any time in its history, comprises Sidney H. Lathan, president; William H. Clark, clerk, and A. B. Kirby, B. M. Waterman, S. B. Bixby, and Elmer Everitt.

In 1838, the Platt hotel on the corner was built, and about that time the village was at its height as a business centre. The first merchant was Dr. Barstow, who lived where is now Cady's brick building, and his house was further east. Emanuel Coryell, Jr., was his partner in 1841. Nehemiah Platt and George Wilson were also early merchants, the former beginning as early as 1825. Dr. Barstow also had a grist mill, a distillery, and a "potash." Coryell & Martin was another old firm. George Coryell and Selim Kirby were the tanners, but neither was in the vifiage proper. Among other and perhaps later business men were 0. A. Barstow, P. H. Joslin, John L. Howell, Eben Dunham, Harris Bros., C. Bliven, Edward Joslin. About the period of the war business was carried on mainly' by Peter H. Joslin, McLean & Howell, (succeeded by Howell & Morey), Barstow & Kirby, Miles Forman, Hiram Sherry, G. M. & G. P. Cady, O. J. Plum, the undertaker, while about that time Dr. John Everitt was an active medical practitioner in town. In the spring of 1865 Howell & Morey's store was broken open by burglars and about $800 of the firm's, and $400 of Mr. Howell's money was taken.

If it were possible to here recall the names of all the merchants and other business men who have in the past made Nichols village a seat of operations, the narrative might be both instructive and interesting. However, such a list is deemed unnecessary to this work, and this branch of our chapter may be concluded with the names of the present business interests of the village, viz: F. B. Baker, steam grist mill; F. H. Boss, general store; Joslin & Leasure, dry goods; S. A. Olmsted, grocery and feed store; 0. Bliven, general store, coal and produce; W. A. Osborn, grocery and notions; J. B. Edsall, hardware; Thomas Dean, dry goods. and groceries ; Cady & IFarnham, druggists ; P. White & Son, clothing and groceries; S. H. Latham, drugs; H. A. & H. C. Latham, boots and shoes; Harris, De Groat & Co., produce dealers ; G. H. Horton, agricultural implements; C. H. Rogers, meat market; Emerson Taylor, bakery; L. B. Boss, undertaker; Mrs. Almira Joslin, Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Vernie Long, milliners ; M. Everitt, variety store; D. J. Smead, harness maker; Lewis Brainerd, wagon maker; C. F. Bowen, commercial hotel; Wm. Yeardsley, American hotel.

Westbrook lodge, No. 333, F. & A. M, was chartered June 27, 1854, with officers as follows: Abraham Westbrook, W. M.; Daniel T. McDowell, S. W.; Oliver A. Barstow, J. W.; Edward Platt, treasurer James Tutton; sec'y; Aug. L. Smith, S. D.; Samuel Clapp, J. D.; Peter H. Joslin, tiler.

The charter members of the lodge included many of the leading men of the region at the time, and were, with those mentioned, Gardner Knapp, Lewis W. Lockwood, Ozias Higley, Dr. Sylvester Knapp, Joshua Spaulding, Wm. Segison, Nathan Mitchell, Wm. O. Robinson, Ira B. Guernsey, Walter C. Randall, Mark Drake, Dudley M. Bailey, Ransford, B. Bailey, Philetus Lowrey, Ephraim F. Dunham, Wm. Wheethouse, Miles Forham, 2d., Wm. S. Bravo, Sylvester Knapp, Jr., Wm. B. Stevens and Ebenezer Dunham.

The Methodist Episcopal church of Nichols village was the outgrowth of one of the primitive institutions of the hamlet which was organized at a meeting held at the house of Peter H. Joslin, February 14, 1824, and was then known as "The Free Meeting House Society of the Town of Nichols." The meeting house was begun in 1829 and completed in 1830. The society continued, in existence until about 1865 or '66, and then dissolved on account of internal trouble. The old building was substantially wrecked and former pew-owners lost their claims. The structure then passed into the M. - E. society's control. The Methodist class was formed in 1829 and has ever since been in existence, the Free Meeting, house being used for services until it became absolutely the property of the society. It was rebuilt by elder Brooks, and was formally dedicated in 1872. The present members number about 175, with about 200 names on the Sunday school roll. The pastor is Rev. Herbert L. Ellsworth.

The First Presbyterian church of Nichols was organized in 1859, with thirteen constituent members, under the pastoral care of Rev. Geo. M. Life. However, Presbyterian services were held in the village long before the formal church organization was-effected, and meetings were assembled in the free edifice built by popular subscription and the gift of Col. Nichols. The early ministers of this society were Revs. Ripley, Ira Smith, John Gibbs and Henry Carpenter, all previous to pastor Life. The new church building was begun in 1865, and was finished and dedicated in the fall of 1867. This church has 65 members, with about 100 names on the Sunday school roll, and is under the present pastorate of Rev. William Jones Gregory.

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