History of Shelby, NY
FROM: Gazetteer and Business Directory
OF Orleans County, N. Y. For 1869.
Compiled and Published By Hamilton Child, Syracuse, NY 1862


SHELBY, named in honor of Governor Shelby, was formed from Ridgeway, March 6, 1818. It is the south-west corner town of the County. Oak Orchard Creek crosses the town near the center, and branches of the same stream and of Johnsonís Creek rise in the town. At Shelby Center is a fall, affording a valuable water-power. The surface is undulating, and the soil is a mixture of sand, clay and lime. The Tonawanda Swamp occupies a portion of the south border.

Shelby, (p. v.,) usually known as Shelby Center, is situated on. Oak Orchard Creek, a little north of the center of the town, and contains two churches, viz., a Baptist and a Free Will Baptist; a hotel, a paper mill, two saw mills, two grist arid flouring mills, a heading mill, a stave mill, several stores and mechanic shops, and about 350 inhabitants.

East Shelby (p. o.,) is a hamlet in the east part and contains a Methodist church, a store, a saw mill and a blacksmith shop.

West Shelby (p. o.,) contains a church, a store and a blacksmith shop. About haifa mile south is a Methodist church.

Millville, (p. v.,) in the north-east part, contains three churches, viz., Friendsí, Methodist and Presbyterian; a store, a tannery, a grocery and a shoe shop.

Medina (p. v.) is partly in this town.

Shelby Basin (p. o.) is a hamlet.

The first settlement was made by Alexander Coon, from Rensselaer County, in 1810. He settled about two miles west of Shelby Center. The first habitation of the family was constructed of four crotches, stuck in the ground, stakes laid across and covered with elm bark. This was the, sleeping apartment for the boys and hired men until a log house could be erected, the father and mother in the mean time seeking lodging at a neighborís. In about five days a comfortable log house was built without boards, nails or shingles. The cattle were kept on browse the first winter, and that kind of fodder constituted a large part of their food the succeeding one. Eleazer Tracy, John Timmerman, Nicholas Smith, Henry and Robert Garter, came in the same year; and William Bennett, James and Samuel Carpenter, William Older, David Hagerman, David Demaray and Elijah Bent, came in soon after. During the war provisions were scarce and very high, and the cold season of 1816 succeeding, added greatly to the hardships of the settlers.

Mr. Coon paid at one time eleven dollars for a barrel of flour in Rochester and three dollars for its transportation to his home. One man made black salts and conveyed them to Gaines on a hand sled to get money to pay his taxes. Among the other early settlers were Simon Letts, J. R. Parsons, Darius Southworth, James Mason, David Burroughs, and others by the name of Sherwood, Snell, Servoss, Squires and Potter.

Ralph K. Gregory, of Scotch descent, removed from Vermont to Shelby in 1816. He had six sons, all of whom settled near him, and all but one are still living in the same vicinity, within an hourís ride of each other. Their ages range from sixty-six to seventyeight, and their sum amounts to about 432 years. Mr. Gregory came with an ox team, and was on the road from February 5th to April 3d. Amos Gregory, then nineteen years of age, drove the team, consisting of two yoke of oxen, and he informs us that they were three days in performing the last four or five miles of the journey. The father was a farmer and all the sons followed the same occupation. By industry and economy they have all acquired a competency and are now enjoying a serene old age, honored and respected by all who know them. Their names are Ira, Philo, Amos, Norman, Ralph and Matthew.

David Burroughs, the father of S. M. Burroughs, was the first Supervisor of the town and was one of the Representatives from Genesee to the State Convention of 1821. Be was a faithful and efficient public servant in every place to which he was called.

Joseph Ellicott, the agent of the Holland Company, purchased seven hundred acres upon the Oak Orchard Creek, embracing the water-power and the site of the village of Shelby; and subsequently fourteen hundred acres below and embracing the village of Medina.

The first birth in the town was that of Asa Coon, February 14, 1811; and the first death that of William Bennett, October4, 1812. The first saw mill was erected by Joseph Ellicott in 1812, and the first grist mill in 1813. The first inn was kept by David Timmerman in 1816; and the first store by Christian Groff in 1818. Cornelius Ashton taught the first school in the winter of 1815ó16. The first church (Baptist) was organized July 25, 1818.

Rev. James Carpenter was the early preacher in this vicinity. It is said that his sermons seldom occupied less than two hours, and often began at noon and were not finished until sunset. He was a great lover of hunting as well as preaching, and many a deer and bear fell before the aim of his unerring rifle. A large bear made a visit to the Elderís pig pen one night, when the young porker, not fancying the embrace of his bearship, gave the alarm and aroused the Elder from his slumbers. Seizing an ax he rushed to the rescue, and with one blow laid the beast at his feet and saved his pig.

Benjamin Darling, from New Hampshire, came to Shelby in 1815; he was a Trustee of Millville Academy for several years. Abraham Biddleman came in 1817, with his parents, and settled a short distance from Medina. In March, 1818, Mr. Biddleman and James Woodward were engaged in a very successful deer hunt. About two feet of snow was upon the ground, there had been a thaw and a freeze, forming a crust sufficiently strong to bear a man with snow shoes, but not strong enough to support a deer. With snow shoes made of boards they started out, and in about half a day killed five deer. In 1822 Mr. Biddleman helped build a shanty for the canal contractors at Medina, and cut the timber from a portion of the present site of that beautiful village. After finishing the cabin he went to work on the canal for thirteen dollars a month and board. The contractors brought three barrels of whisky from Rochester and gave each man a ration of one gill per day. Being ignorant of the effects of that beverage, Mr. B. took his ration the first day, and being satisfied that whisky did not agree with his constitution, afterwards sold his rations for three cents each to those who could stand a double portion.

The population of Shelby in 1865 was 3,203, and its area 27,659.

The number of school districts is fourteen, employing fourteen teachers; the whole number of children of school age is 826; the number attending school, 610; the average attendance, 341, and the amount expended for school purposes during the year ending September 30, 1868, was $5,128.54.


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