HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF PHELPS.
THE town of Phelps includes within its boundaries the northern half of township No. 10 and the southern part
of No. 11 in the first range, together with all that part of the "gore" lying east of the portion above
mentioned. This town or district was originally known as "Sullivan," and so named in allusion to General
Sullivan, the commander of the historic expedition against the western Indians during the summer and fall of 1779.
Upon the organization of the town in 1796, at the solicitation of the proprietary, the name was changed to "Phelps;"
in consideration of which change it is said that Oliver Phelps regaled the inhabitants with a sumptuous feast at
the tavern of Jon athan Oaks.
The honor of being the pioneer settler of this town is generally conceded to John Decker Robison, and enough of
history on this subject has been furnished by past writers to fill a volume; but in the present narrative we mainly
rely on the accuracy of the statements of Dr. Caleb Bannister in his address before the Agricultural Society in
1852. According to the address, in the summer of 1888, James Robison, son of the pioneer, was employed with Nathaniel
Sanborn to drive 100 head of cattle into the Genesee country, which were intended as presents to the Indians, in
order to conciliate their friendship and good will, that subsequent negotiations for their title to the lands might
be consummated with as little difficulty as possible. Robison and Sanborn reached Geneva with the cattle on June
3, 1788, and on the next day John Decker Robison arrived at the same place. The latter at once proceeded to the
town of Phelps, as afterward known, but then unnamed, and settled on lot No. 14 in township 11, first range, which
was surveyed to contain 320 acres of land, but by an error the tract actually contained more than 320 acres, and
its total cost to the pioneer was not far from $100.
The foregoing statement is corroborated by the fact that the consideration was paid by Robison in building for
Phelps and Gorham a house in Canandaigua, according to the following contract:
Memorandum of an agreement between William Walker on the one part and John D. Robison of the other part, witnesseth,
that the said Robinson doth agree to Build for the said Walker a house at Canadauque of the Same Dimensions and
in the same manner as the house now building by Captain Bartles at Geneva, with this Variation, viz.: he is to
build but one Chimney and is not either of the floors, or make the Doors or window Shets, he is to board himself
and procure all the materials except nails, the building is to be completed every way as well as the said Bartles,
there is to be a twelve square, seven by nine Glass Window frame in the front and rear of each room, the work is
to be completed this fall, for which the said Walker doth agree to pay the said Robinson forty pounds New York
Currency in the following manner, viz.: in provisions Sufficient for him the said Robinson's self and hands, while
building said house, and the remainder in a Lot of Land in No. Eleven, first range, to be valued according to Quality
and Situation, reckoning the whole Township at two Shillings per acre, and if the said Lot should be found to exceed
the Remainder of the said forty pounds, said Walker agrees to take his pay in Said Robinson's Labour after the
first day of June next, when the said Walker may demand it, witness our hands interchangeably, Signed this Twentyeighth
day of October, in the year of our Lord, 1788.
JOHN DK'R ROBISON.
Witnesses present, Ezekiel Scott, Enos Boughton.
The above building was used as a land office and for the residence of Judge Walker, the agent for surveys and sales
of Phelps and Gorham.
This worthy pioneer, John Decker Robison, built and opened a tavern on his tract in 1793, the first event of its
kind in the town; also his son, Harry H. Robison, was the first white child born in the town. The Robison purchase
included a part of the Phelps village site, being that portion thereof lying east of the town hall. In 1789 Mr.
Robison's family came to the town, and nine days later there also came Pierce and Elihu Granger, Nathaniel Sanborn
and a Mr. Gould, but all these returned to Connecticut (for all were Yankees) in the fall, leaving Robison and
his family alone in the town, eight miles from the nearest settlement (Geneva.) Following those who have been mentioned,
the next settlers in the town were Jonathan Oaks, Seth Dean, Oliver Humphrey, Charles Humphrey and Elias Dickinson.
In 1793 or '94 Mr. Oaks built a large frame house, which for many years was occupied as a hotel, and was located
at Oaks' Corners, a small hamlet of the town, its name being applied in honor of the pioneer. This was the second
frame tavern west of Geneva, a place of much note in early days, while its founder was hardly less prominent in
the new community. Philetus Swift was a pioneer of 1789, a man of much energy and influence, particularly in early
political history; and as well was he prominent in military affairs, he being commander of a company during the
war of 1812. Seth Dean, who has been mentioned, was a pioneer on the Phelps village site, and here in company with
Oliver Phelps he erected a saw-mill on Flint Creek, on the location where an industry of some sort afterward became
Another very prominent early pioneer was Dr. Joel Prescott, who settled in the town at an early day and was one
of the prominent physicians of the county. He came to this region as early as May, 1788, and, probably, for a while
resided at Kanadesaga, as during that and the succeeding year his name is found as a witness on several papers
dated at that place. At the first town meeting in Phelps, 1796, Dr. Prescott was elected school commissioner and
assessor, was appointed justice of peace, January, 1798, was supervisor of the town from 1797 to 1809 inclusive,
except 1805, and for several years chairman of the board; was school commissioner of the town for several years.
He located on a farm one. mile west of Oaks' Corners, and was the first physician of Phelps, his practice being
very extensive and laborious with the old time saddle bags strapped to his saddle. He was married in Phelps to
Lucy Reed, September 8, 1793, and had seven children, two of whom died in infancy, the rest living to mature years.
His home was among the earliest of frame houses in the town. With an active interest and efficient in rendering
them he was repeatedly placed in positions of trust by his fellow-citizens, and so great was the esteem for him
that his counsels were called for in all departments of life. He was born June 20, 1759, and died October 5, 1841.
His funeral took place on the afternoon of Sunday, October 6, and was attended by the largest number of people
that had ever before been gathered together on such an occasion, from 1,000 to 1,200 being present, among whom
were the principal and prominent men of Geneva and the surrounding country.
The following is worthy of a record in this place. Horatio Jones was one of the early pioneers at Kanadesaga or
Geneva. In 1788 he was joined by his brother, John H., at that place, and having obtained a yoke of oxen in the
spring of 1789, the two brothers went into the town of Phelps, found an open spot, ploughed and planted five or
six acres of corn, which they sold on the ground, and finally removed to the west of the Genesee River.
Referring again to the address of Dr. Bannister, we find the names of other early settlers, among them being John
Salisbury, who settled in 1791 a short distance west of Melvin Hill. Also in the same year came Walter Chase and
Nicholas Pullen; in 1792, John Patten and David Boyd; in 1793, Jonathan Melvin; in 1794, John Sherman; in 1795,
Osee Crittenden and Cornelius Westfall; in 1796, Jesse Warner and John Newhall; in 1797, Theodore and Lemuel Bannister,
who located just north of Oaks' Corners. Another account says Theo. Bannister settled in 1798, and Lemuel one year
later, which latter is probably correct. Deacon John Warner was a pioneer at Orleans, while the first settler at
Melvin Hill was Jonathan Melvin, from whom the hill derived its name. Jesse Warner settled at Warner Hill, east
of Flint Creek. Joseph Vandemark, Lodowick Vandemark, John and Patrick Burnett, came about or during the year 1794.
Lodowick was a skillful millwright, and put up an excellent saw-mill in the town. Other early settlers were Coil
Roy, Joseph, Eleazer and Cephas Hawks, Augustus Dickinson, and others now forgotten. About 1799 Cephas Hawks, Augustus
Dickinson and Theo. Bannister built a grist-mill on the outlet, on the site in later years known successively as
Dickinson's, Norton's, and the Exchange Mills.
In 1800 George Wilson and Harvey Stephenson came to the town, followed in 1802 or '3 by John Hildreth. John R.
Green was the first merchant at Oaks' Corners. Wills Whitman came with the Oaks. The first marriage in the town
was that of Joseph Annin with the daughter of pioneer Seth Reed. Magistrate Thomas Sisson performed the ceremony.
Cephas Hawks erected the first plaster-mill, and about the same time Luther and Francis Root, Ezekiel Webb, and
Nathaniel Hall, bought the Seth Dean grist-mill, and converted it into a plastermill.
The persons who have been mentioned thus far in this narrative were, it is thought, the pioneers of the town of
Phelps; there may have been others whose names are lost and forgotten, but drawing information from all reliable
sources, the statements above made are probably accurate in general. It will be observed that when once begun the
settlement progressed rapidly; in fact, in 1796, on April i, the inhabitants were so many that it became advisable
to organize the town and elect officers. Prior to this time the town formed part of a district, and was known as
Sullivan, as has been stated, but at the time of organization the name was changed to Phelps. We may further state
that according to Dr. Bannister the change in name from Sullivan to Phelps was made in 1795. Boyd's Gazetteer of
the State of New York, Albany, 1872, states that Phelps was formed in 1796, under the act of January 27, 1779.
The officers elected at the first town meeting were as follows: Supervisor, Jonathan Oaks; town clerk, Solomon
Goodale; assessors, Joel Prescott, Philetus Swift and Pierce Granger; collector, Augustus Dickinson; overseers
of the poor, Oliver Humphrey and Patrick Burnett; commissioners of highways, Jesse Warner, Oliver Humphrey and
Philetus Swift; overseers of highways, Cornelius Westfall, Abram D. Spurn, Charles Humphrey, Elijah Gates, John
Patten, Augustus Dickinson, David Woodard; pound-master, Jonathan Oaks.
The present town officers are: Wm. E. Edmonston, supervisor; Jno. T. Watkins, town clerk; Lysander Redfield, Richard
M. Green, Jesse P. Warner and Jno. B. Armstrong, justices; Staiham Crittenden, Wm. H. Hunt and Judson Raymer, assessors;
Russell B. Cobb, Thos. H. Gerow, Samuel Cuddeback, commissioners of highways; Jno. M. White, overseer of the poor;
Willard R. Laughlin, collector; Epenetus T. Lamb, James T. Sweeney, Adrian Easterly, commissioners of excise.
Succession of Supervisors: Jonathan Oaks, 1796; Joel Prescott, 1797-1804, and 1806-09; Pierce Granger, 1805; Elihu
Granger, 1810-11; Wm. Burnett, 1812-13, and 1816-17; Lemuel Bannister, jr., 1814; Thaddeus Bannister, 1815; Philetus
Swift, 1818-22; Wm. Hildreth, sen., 1823-26; Thos. Edmonston, 1827; Jas. Van Demark, 1828-29, and 1832-33 Richard
D. Cuyler, 1831 ; David McNiel, 1834; Isaac M. Norton, 1835; Fred'k Van Demark, 1836-37; Wm. Dickinson, 1838-40;
Jno. S. Harris, 1841-42; Moses Chapman, 1843; Cornelius Horton, 1844-52; Henry C. Swift, 1853; Hubbard McLoud,
1854; Sylvanus B. Pond, 1855; Lewis Peck, 1856-59; Ambrose L. Van Dusen, 1860; Nathan Oaks, 1861-64; Lysander Redfield,
1865; Henry Ray, 1866-67; Horatio N. Mather, 1868; Samuel E. Horton, 1869-70; David Cosad, jr., 1871; Thaddeus
O. Hotchkiss, 1872-73, and 1875-79; Hamilton McBurney, 1874; Jno. C. Warner, 1880; Benj. F. Odell, 1881-82; Abram
S. Smith, 1883-87; Thaddeus 0. Hotchkiss, 1888-90; Geo. B. Shepperd, 1891; Wm. C. Edmonston, 1892-93.
On the 11th of April, 1823, a portion of the town of Phelps was set off to Lyons, Wayne county, therefore to
correctly note subsequent changes in population we may properly begin with the federal census of 1830. In that
year the number of inhabitants in the town was 4,798; ten years later it had increased to 5,563; in 1850 was 5,542;
in 1860 was 5,586, the greatest number ever attained in its history. By 1870 it had fallen to 5,130. During the
next decade it increased to 5,189, and by 1890 had again fallen to 5,086, which is about the present population.
From this we discover that Phelps had a less population in 1890 than in 1840, or half a century before.
Among the pioneers of Phelps were a number of Revolutionary survivors, the names of some of whom can still be recalled,
but there were others who are now forgotten. At a later period, and during what may more properly be termed the
early history of the town, the inhabitants were called upon to furnish men for frontier service in the second war
with Great Britain. The enrolled militia of Phelps were frequently under arms during the War of 1812-15, and also
they performed duty on the Niagara frontier. Unfortunately no reliable record of the Phelps company has been preserved.
However it was during the War of 1861-65 that the men of the town made their most glorious military record, at
a time when the population of Phelps had reached its maximum, in 1860, the number of inhabitants then being 5,586.
In 1861 the war began, and from that time until no more volunteers were needed, Phelps was ever ready to contribute
men and means for the prosecution of the war. More than that, the patriotic people of the town, both men and women,
had local organizations the object of which was to relieve and administer to the personal comfort of the sick and
wounded soldiers. This organization was known as "The Phelps Union Soldiers' Aid Society," formed in
1863, and prominently connected with which were Mrs. Hibbard, president; Mrs. Stebbins, vicepresident; Mrs. Browning,
secretary and treasurer; Mrs. C. P. Moser, assistant secretary and treasurer; and Mrs. W. A. Smith, Mrs. Jackson,
Mrs. A. Hawks, Mrs. A. Swan and Mrs. Williams, directresses. During the course of the war the town of Phelps furnished
to all branches of the service a grand total of more than 500 men, although the imperfect records extant show a
number slightly less. An examination of the muster rolls will disclose the fact that hardly a regiment formed in
Western New York in which were any Ontario county men that did not contain Phelps enlistments. A preceding chapter
of this work has narrated, at length the composition of the several companies recruited in whole or in part in
the county, and a reference thereto will show the towns which contributed to the county contingent of volunteers.
THE VILLAGE OF PHELPS.
First in importance in this town, and one of the first in commercial and industrial importance in Ontario county,
is the incorporated village of Phelps. John Decker Robison was a pioneer of the town, and also of the village,
his purchase including a part of the village tract (lying east of the town hail). Seth Dean is also to be mentioned
in the same connection, for he also located on the village site and afterward became identified with Oliver Phelps
in the erection of a saw-mill on Flint Creek, where the Nelson & Bowker mill of later days was built. However,
pioneer Robison laid the real foundation for the subsequent village by erecting in 1793 his famous tavern. The
locality at once thereafter became a trade center, and before long we find Orin Redfield in general mercantile
business on the land now occupied by the Phelps Hotel. Hotchkiss & McNeil opened trade in 1810 in Root's bar-room,
but later on moved to the site of the Odell block. Wing & Nelson began business in 1813 ; Dwight and Partridge
in 1816; while David D. Van Auken and the Thayers were later business men. In 1816 Hotchkiss & McNeil built
the first brick block in the village.
As is elsewhere stated, Seth Dean built the first grist-mill, and he was followed in the same line by the larger
mill built by pioneers Hawks, Dickinson and Bannister, the latter being erected in 1799 on the outlet, while Dean's
mill was on Flint Creek. In the village, about 1812, Luther and Francis Root and Erastus Butler built a rather
large woolen-mill, and established an industry that prospered about three years and was then abandoned.
In fact, by this time (1812) the village had become a place of much importance, and had industries, and business
interests. The truth is that in the early history of this village the whole people were imbued mainly with the
spirit of enterprise, while in some other localities large tracts of land, and business interests as well, were
held for speculative purposes only. To outsiders, and to wits who spoke in derision, this village was known as
"Woodpecker City," yet no person will now venture to trace the origin of the name. In 1812 the village
was made a post station under the name of" Vienna," and so called in accordance with the then prevailing
custom of naming towns and villages after foreign municipalities (excepting English names, which were even then
distasteful to the Yankees). David McNiel was the first postmaster. About the same time mail stage routes were
established between Phelps and Geneva, Palmyra and Pittsford. Weekly mails were at first carried by Francis Root
and Lyman Williams. As Vienna this village continued without corporate character from 1812 to 1855, and then, under
the name of Phelps the court of sessions granted the petition of the people for an incorporation, thereby enabling
its citizens to carry to a completion certain desirable improvements which met with some opposition from the residents
of the town at large, who were not directly interested in village affairs and property, hence were not willing
to be taxed for those improvements. The order of incorporation was granted by Judge Folger in February, 1855, and
thereafter the first village trustees were elected, as follows: Zenus Wheeler, Dolphin Stephenson, Harvey Carey,
Anson Titus and John Trisler.
Thus constituted and organized, Phelps village entered upon an era of prosperity not before enjoyed during the
period of its history. In all these years there had been a gradual and healthful increase in popu_ lation and industry,
and at the time of incorporation we find the village possessed of such local institutions as were usual to other
similar villages of the county, and 'in many respects was far in advance of some other of the municipalities. It
had then church accommodations sufficient for the town's people added to those of the village; the schools were
of such character as to commend them to the public favor; and the impetus given to manufacture in various branches
made Phelps, forty years ago, a place of much importance. The railroad between Syracuse and Rochester furnished
ready transportation to both east and west markets, and before many years passed another thoroughfare of travel
provided a north and south outlet. These facilities have been increased quite recently, yet the confession must
be made that business in general in the village is not so great in volume as a quarter of a century ago. However,
avoiding comment, we may briefly refer to some of the leading institutions of the village, and in a measure trace
Schools.-Tradition has it that a school was opened in Phelps village prior to 1800, but on this point there
is a possibility of doubt. It is well known, however, that in 1805 a school was maintained, in the village, the
building standing on the site of the Hotchkiss bank, being a double house, one story in height, and occupied in
part as a dwelling.. house. Among the early teachers who are remembered as having charge of the first regular district
school were Chloe Warner (better known as Aunt Chloe), Rowland Dewey, Ann Bigelow, Abigail Bigelow, Betsey Newell,
Caleb Bannister, Jared Vvillson (later a prominent lawyer at the county seat), Dr. Harry E. Phinney, Miss Knapp,
Oliver Moore, Erastus Kellogg and John Chapman.
After the term of Mr. Chapman had expired (in 1820), the district was divided, in order that two schools might
be maintained, and to better suit the convenience of the children then living in the vicinity. Therefore the "East"
and "West" districts, so-called, were established and each provided with a school-house, that of the
east district being of stone and standing just south of St. Francis' Church, and that of the west district being
of brick. After the division above mentioned the teachers in the east school were Wm. King, Mr. Noble, Jacob Moon,
Erastus Marvin, Ziba Crawford, Chas. E. Pinkney, Sybil Marvin, T. A. Pinkney, Hiram Frazer, John S. Moore, Cornelius
Horton, Philander Dawley, J. C. Anderson, Fanny Henry and Mr. Coon, the latter concluding his period of service
about 1845. Among the teachers in the other districts during the same period were Cornelius E. Crosby, Richard
Marvin, F. Root and Ann S. Frazer. However, about the year 1845, the districts were consolidated, and in 1846 the
large brick building now owned by district number eight was built. In after years material repairs were made, but
in 1890 the new rear addition was erected, while the general structure was entirely remodeled. Also about the same
time (1846) the Phelps Union and Classical School was incorporated, and the affairs of its management vested in
a Board of Education. This proceeding placed the Phelps school on a level with the best academic institutions of
the county, and at that time it took the name above mentioned.
Succession of Principals: Lewis Peck, Thomas Purington, W. F. Crosby, Ziba H. Potter, Ezra J. Peck, Rev. Ferris
Scott, Lockwood Hoyt, John S. Coe, Ezra J. Peck, James S. Root, H. C. Kirk, Geo. W. Rafter, H. C. Kirk, F. M. Smith,
Cicero Hutchins, Daniel D. Edgerton. The members of the Board of Education are as follows: H. K. Bowker, president;
Wm. B. Hobbie, secretary; and F. H. Wisewell, Dr. Wm. Howe and Edward Hicks.
The village fire department is equipped with one serviceable hand engine, controlled and operated by the Crothers
Fire Engine Company; and a good hook and ladder apparatus, operated by the Redfield Hook and Ladder Company. In
the spring of 1889 the village gave permission to the Phelps Water Works Company to lay water mains through the
principal streets. Although a local improvement, the stock of this company is owned by non residents. The water
supply is taken from the locality known as Melvin Hill.
The Baptist church of Phelps village was organized January 31, 1843, although a society of this denomination was
formed in the town as early as 1808, and was known as the First Baptist Church of Phelps. The old society continued
in existence from 1808 to about the year 1860, but its life was one of vicissitudes and hardships. For many years
its meetings were held in school-houses and other convenient places, and not until about 1831 was a minister employed.
The Second and Third Baptist churches of Phelps were the outgrowths of this mother society. However, in 1843 the
Baptists of the village were sufficiently strong in ntimbers and influence to accomplish the formation of a society,
and on January 31 the organization was effected with fifty-one original members. The first pastor was J. H. Stebbins,
followed, in succession, by Revs. Bingham, Luke Davis, G. W. Mead, J. M. Wade, C. M. Newland, M. W. Holmes, W.
D. Woodruff, H. C. De Witt, Mr. Chase, C. A. Vottley and others. The membership of this church is now small. The
church edifice was built in 1845 and dedicated in 1847. The present pastoral supply is Rev. Mr. Long.
The Presbyterian church of Phelps village was organized May 10, 1831, with sixty constituent members, under the
pastoral charge of Rev. Levi Griswold. A comfortable church edifice was erected for the society on what is now
known as Church street, and here the society met and prospered, growing constantly in numbers and influence, until
certain dissensions worked a division in the church, followed by the withdrawal of about twenty members in 1840,
who organized a new society and held regular services. In 1858 the old school adherents, having then become numerous,
built a large and commodious edifice on Main street, while the dissentients occupied the old building on Church
street. However, about 1869 or 1870 the factions were once more united and consolidated, and all worshiped thereafter
in the Main street edifice. The building on Church street was then sold to the bishop of the diocese for the use
of the parish of St. Francis' Roman Catholic church. The Presbyterian church of the village is a large organization,
and is under the pastoral care of Rev. Wm. Henry Bates, who was in January, 1892, called to succeed Dr. Porter.
This society has a large Sunday school, and also helps to support several benevolent dependencies.
St. John's Episcopal church was founded in 1832. Its early services were held in public buildings until 1845
when the erection of the stone church edifice was completed and consecrated in 1856. The communicating membership
numbers fifty-three. The rectors in succession have been Erastus Spaulding, Edward de Zeng, Eli Wheeler, Erastus
Spaulding (second rectorship), Dr. Kendrick Metcalf, Francis T. Russell, Dr. Wm. B. Edson (who died December, 1892),
and Dr. Charles Wells Hayes. St. John's has an endowment fund of $12,500, the gift of the well-known Stanley family;
the rectory lot also was given to the society by the same generous donors.
The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Phelps, or, as legally organized, the "First Society of the Methodist
Episcopal Church," had a beginning in this village and locality during the early years of the present century,
although the formal organization was not effected until July 19, 1831, at which time Josiah Maffitt, Erastus S.
Morin and Caleb Bannister were elected trustees. In 1856 the substantial brick church edifice on Main street was
erected. The church has a present membership of about 200, and a Sunday school with about i 50 pupils. The present
pastor is Rev. Platt T. Hughston.
St. Francis' Roman Catholic Church. A mission was established in Phelps in July, 1856, which afterward developed
into a parish and church organization, and named as above mentioned, in 1857. The parish of course includes all
the Catholic families of the village and vicinity, and is under the pastoral care of Father A. M. O'Niel. As has
been mentioned in an earlier church history, the congregation of St. Francis' own and occupy the building formerly
used by the Presbyterian society.
The record of the press of Phelps village forms a brief though interesting local history, and while the newspaper
publications have not been many the proprietors have indeed been numerous; almost "too numerous to mention."
About the year 1832 the Phelps Citizen and Clifton Springs News was founded, but since that time the paper, in
its various stages of prosperity, and under its numerous proprietorships, has been known as the Vienna Advertiser,
The Phelps Democrat, The Western Atlas, The Phelps Union Star, The Phelps citizen, The Ontario Citizen and News,
and finally, as at present permanently established, as The Phelps Citizen. And we may here state, parenthetically,
perhaps, that at no time during the entire history of the paper (or papers) has its success been greater than at
present-under the management of Bussey Brothers. It is a bright, newsy, clean and interesting publication, enjoying
a large circulation and liberal advertising patronage.
Other papers of the village, which have had a transient existence only, were The Neighbor's Home Mail and The Phelps
As a manufacturing locality Phelps village has for many years held a position of importance among the municipalities
of the county. The two principal waterways of the town-Canandaigua Lake outlet and Flint Creek-have provided abundant
mill sites and privileges, and while the former stream has its general course north of the village, its principal
influences have ever extended to the village and contributed to its welfare. Flint Creek is a stream of good size
and crosses the village in an east and west direction, and its "fall" being considerable, abundant power
has been provided for operating the machinery of the many mills which have for nearly a century lined its banks.
In a preceding portion of this chapter reference has been made to the old milling and manufacturing enterprises
that have been operated in the vicinity, wherefore a repetition of them here is unnecessary; nor in the present
connection need we be confined by corporate limits, for the adjoining mills are quite a part of the local interests,
and may be so treated.
The commonly called Stone Mill, but in fact the old "Farmers' and Mechanics' Mill," now owned by the
estate of Dr. J. Q. Howe, was built in 1834, under the ownership of F. Van Demark; A. More, builder. This mill
is in the center of the village, and in the immediate vicinity is the basket factory of Henry J. Whiting, which
formerly was the Miller & Hoff mill; also the malt-house of Oliver Crothers & Son, the store-house and
machine shop. The old Edmonston mills, which were erected in 1819 are no longer used as originally built, but are
now the cider mill and brandy distillery of Peter Garlock. The mill is north of the Phelps Hotel. The Red Mill
at Phelps, built many years ago by Wm. Hildreth, has not been in operation during the last fifteen years.
The old foundry and machine shop and edge tool factory of Thompson & Co. is now a part of the extensive plow-
works of G. H. Parmelee. The carriage factory of S Bowker is a thing of the past, the shop having been sold to
other persons who for a time made thermometers, but afterward suspended business.
The Ontario Mills are half a mile northeast of Phelps, on the Newark road. Here are made about sixty barrels of
flour daily. Fridley Bros. are proprietors. Next west of this place is the location of the Empire Mills, of which
Philander Mott is proprietor. Still farther west is the Plainesville Mill.
At Unionville, which was formerly a place of some note, is the site of the once well-known Unionville Mill, originally
built in 1839, also the New Mill, on the site of the old paper-mill. Although still in operation, now owned by
R. A. Willing, this locality has lost its former prestige. The roller flour-mill here has a seventy-five barrel
A little farther east is the old Swift mill site, where General Swift built a small mill in pioneer days, and here
a mill has ever since been continuously maintained. Since 1858 Jesse Barlow (now sole owner) has had an interest
in the property. The present large mill was built in 1882, and has a fifty barrel capacity. Unionville, though
once a busy locality, has lost its primitive importance.
The Crown Manufacturing Company, by far the largest industry of Phelps, was incorporated in 1883; capital $100,000.
The large building was erected the same year, and here are manufactured annually about one thousand Crown Grain
and Fertilizer Drills, and about one thousand two hundred Crown Wheel-barrow Grass Sowers. About fifty men are
employed in the works. The officers of the company are Benj. F. Prichard, pres.; Geo. C. Prichard, vice-pres. and
treas., and Edward H. Leggett, sec. The officers are also directors. Summarizing briefly, it is found that the
manufacturing interests of Phelps at the present time are the Crown Manufacturing Company; Fridley Bros., millers;
Peter Garlock & Son, cider and brandy manufacturers; Jno. Q. Howe & Sons, millers; Calvin McIntyre &
Son, maltsters; J. K. Nester, maltster; G. H. Parmelee, plow manufacturer; the Phelps Chilled Plow Works of G.
H. Parmelee; H. C. & T. C. Severance, carriage manufacturers.
In 1857 L. B. Hotchkiss opened a private bank in Phelps. Thaddeus O. Hotchkiss succeeded to the business in 1869,
and Wm. B. Hotchkiss & Co. succeeded to the last mentioned owner in 1879. The banking firm of Jno. H. Roy &
Co. began business in February, 1883. The personnel of the firm is as follows: John H. Roy, Simeon K. Bowker, Wm.
T. Van Vranken, Isaac Roy, and Isaac Roy 2d.
The villages and hamlets of the town, except Phelps, are small and have been of little importance as elements of
local history. Of those worthy of mention Orleans is the largest, and is a station on the line of the Sodus Point
and Southern Railroad It is situated in the southwest part of the town, on Flint Creek, which stream has been utilized
to some extent in furnishing mill power. The Blythe Mills are to be mentioned as among the industries of first
importance in this locality. The public properties, past and present, have been the district school, the M. E.
church, the Baptist church and the H. P. Chapel. The M. E. church building was sold to the Presbyterians and its
congregation joined with the church at Seneca Castle.
The Baptist church at Orleans was organized in 1819, under the ministry of Elder Shay, its first pastor It had
fifty-eight original members, among whom were a number of the pioneers of the town and their descendants. The first
church edifice was built in 1820, burned in 1846, and soon afterward replaced with a more substantial structure.
Oaks' Corners is the name of a small hamlet situated three miles southeast of Phelps village, and attained an early
prominence from the efforts of pioneer Jonathan Oaks, who built a hotel here as early as 1793, and who also contributed
much to the general welfare and development of the town.
A Presbyterian society was informally organized here in 1803, and in the next year the organization was perfected
by Rev. Jedediah Chapman, the original members numbering fourteen persons. The society of this church has experienced
many vicissitudes, yet its life has been constant to the present time. Originally organized as Congregational,
it became Presbyterian in 1811 and so continues. The edifice was built in 1804, and still stands, a neat and well
preserved structure. Frequent repairs have been made to the building. The present membership is one hundred, and
in the Sunday-school are over eighty pupils. The pastor is Rev. Henry W. Maier, whose term began June 1, 1893,
succeeding Rev. Samuel Murdock.
Melvin Hill is a settlement in the southeast part of the town. The village of Clifton Springs includes within its
corporate limits a portion of the town of Phelps, a subject more fully discussed in another chapter. Gypsum is
a hamlet north of Clifton Springs and extends over the town line into Phelps, but it is a settlement belonging
chiefly to Manchester.
In this chapter occasional reference has been made to the early schools opened in the town, and however interesting
might be found a complete history of each from the time of founding, such a record is impossible in consequence
of insufficient minutes and record books. According to the present arrangement the town of Phelps has a total of
twenty-four school districts, four of which (Nos. 3, 5, 7 and 10) have no school-house. The school census of 1892
shows the number of children of school age to be 1,614; number of teachers employed, thirty.three; amount received
from all sources for school purposes, $18,056.80; paid to teachers, $10,959.49; total value of school buildings
and sites, $48,120. Of the school buildings in the town, thirteen are of brick, five of frame and two of stone.