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


YATES, named in honor of Governor Yates, was formed from Ridgeway, April 17, 1822, as Northton, but its.name was changed the following year. It lies in the north-west corner of the County, upon the lake shore. It is crossed by Johnson’s Creek and several smaller streams. Marsh and Four Mile Creeks have their whole course in the town. The surface for the most part is level, but along Johnson’s Creek it is undulating. The soil is a sandy loam in the south, and along the lake, clayey.

Lyndonville, (p. v.,) situated on Johnson’s Creek, contains three churches, several manufactories and mechanic shops, and about 400 inhabitants.

Yates Center (Yates p. o.) contains a church, a hotel, several stores and mechanic shops, and about 300 inhabitants.

George Houseman, from Adams, Jefferson Co., settled in this town in 1809, and John Eaton, from Pennsylvania, in 1810. Settlers came in very slow, and ten years after the first settlement, most of the town was a wilderness. Samuel Salisbury and his brother came to this town in 1817. Settlements were few and far between, and provisions were scarce and high. Wheat was three dollars a bushel, corn two and potatoes one dollar. Before the next harvest the inhabitants were out of bread and nothing to make any of. The growing wheat was beaten out, boiled and eaten in milk, which served as the best, if not the only substitute for the staff of life. Mr. Salisbury says the milk was strongly flavored with leeks, which were abundant in the woods where the cows roamed. Elders Irons and Dutcher used to preach in a log school house near D. Lewis’, south of Lyndonville. They were Baptist preachers. The first Methodist preachers were Z. Paddock, Boardman, Hall and Puffer; the last named was called “Old Chapter and Verse,” on account of his familiarity with the Scriptures.

The first marriage was that of George Houseman, Jr., and Sally Covert, in 1817. The first death was that of Mrs. George Houseman, Sr., in December, 1813. The first inn was kept by Samuel Tappen, at Yates Center, in 1825, and the first store by Moore & Hough, in 1824.

The first school was taught by Josiah Perry, in 1819. Rev. Samuel Salisbury says: “School houses were scarce, and as for churches there were none. I attended school two miles from home, in a log house, near Mr. D. Lewis’, south of Lyndon, and this log school house was for years our place of worship. Among my early school teachers were William C. Tanner and Miss Mastine.” Black salts were the main dependence for money to pay taxes and for other incidental expenses of the day. He says: “My last feat of chopping was in 1832. I walked three miles, morning and evening, and chopped three acres fit for logging in ten and one-half days.”

Horace Gould, from Connecticut, started for the Genesee Country, in company with two others, in March, 1818. They came with a one horse wagon, and arrived at East Bloomfield, Ontario Co., in. fifteen days. In 1819, in company with his uncle, Elihu Gould, and his family, he came to Gaines and located about two miles west of Stillwater, “where, in after years, I used to toil all night and catch nothing, except a hard cold. It was on the 5th day of May, 1819, that I first found my land, yet through the good providence of God I raised about thirty bushels of corn and about the same of potatoes. During the first season we were sometimes rather short of food, especially meat, but some of the boys would often kill some wild animal, and we were not very particular what name it bore, as hunger had driven us to esteem nothing unclean, but to receive it with thanksgiving. The first winter I passed very pleasantly, teaching school in the old log school house, standing at what was afterwards called Matthias Brown’s Corners.”

The following narrative of Reuben Root, who came to this County with his father in 1804, is from the "Pioneer Records :"

“The party Corning with my father consisted of his wife, five sons and one daughter, and the Dunham family, consisting of six or seven persons, which constituted the whole white population then residing between the Niagara and Genesee Rivers, except a family by the name of Walsworth that lived at the mouth of Oak Orchard Creek. My father built a house with poles, such as we could carry, and covered it with elm bark; in this house we lived over two years, when it was renewed by laying down a floor of split basswood logs, hewn. After building a shelter for the family, the next thing in order was to supply ourselves with food and clothing, as the scanty supply which we brought with us was growing still more scanty. We cleared a small piece of ground and planted it with corn, from which we raised our bread. Our other provisions consisted of fish, venison, bear, raccoon and hedge hog meat. We had to pound our corn for two or three years, when we began to raise wheat, which we took to Norton’s mill, at Lima, to be ground. The distance was about seventy miles, by way of the lake and Irondequoit’ Bay. The County was infested with bears and wolves at that time, and we could keep no domestic animals to supply ourselves with provisions of our own raising. In the summer of 1806 or 1807, my father got a cow from Canada, and in the following fall she was killed by wolves. Our clothing was made from hemp of our own raising. We could not raise flax, on account of the rust which destroyed the fibre. For several years we had no boots or shoes, for the want of materials with which to make them. My father built the first frame barn in what is now Orleans County; the lumber and nails he brought from Canada. Turner, in his History of the Holland Purchase, is in error when he says that ‘James Mather built the first frame barn and, got part of the lumber from Dunham’s mill.’ Our barn was built before Dunham’s saw mill was built. The barn was torn down 22 or 23 years ago, by Daniel Gates, who then owned the place, and some of the flooring may now be seen on the premises. They were split and hewn from white wood logs. The nails used were wrought. In September, 1814, my father and myself (the only ones in our family liable to military duty) were ordered to meet at Batavia, then to Buffalo. On our arrival at Buffalo there was a call for volunteers to go over to Fort Erie, under Gen. Porter, and take the batteries that were besieging that Fort. My father and myself volunteered and assisted in taking the batteries and in capturing 500 prisoners. This was September 17th, 1814. After this we were discharged, receiving $8.00 per month each for our services. In 1814 I took an Article of the farm on which I now reside. In 1815 I went to Canada and worked on a farm during the summer. The winter following I returned and chopped twenty-five acres on my farm, and in March, 1816, I went to Toronto, C. W., and took command of a vessel and sailed on the lake during the season of navigation until 1820.” He was married in 1819 and moved to his farm in 1820, where he has since resided. He says: “We have raised a family of ten children, five Sons and five daughters, all of whom are married and are now living, unless they have fallen quite recently by the war, as my oldest and youngest sons are now in the service of our country.”

This was written by Mr. Root in June, 1864. He is still living.

The population of Yates in 1865 was 2,122, and its area 22,607 acres.

The number of school districts is thirteen, employing fourteen teachers; the number of children of school age is 699; the number attending school, 572; the average attendance, 298, and the amount expended for school purposes during the last year was 84,957.76.


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