THE TOWN OF RICHFORD.
WELL established historical record informs us that as early at least as the year
1808, Evan Harris made a settlement in what is now the town of Richford, but pioneer Harris only knew that he was
making a start in the northern part of the vast Boston purchase, and it mattered little to him what town or county
he was in as a settler. His wife died here February 19, 1812, and her body was buried in the Brown settlement grave-yard,
a few miles down the creek. A little later, Evan Harris, son of the pioneer, was seriously burned by falling in
a kettle of boiling sap. The accident happened April 10, 1812, while the father was away, and the little sufferer
ran to the home of Jeremiah Campbell, a full mile away, and Mrs. Campbell dressed his injuries. Evan Harris had
another son, born August 17, 1811, but further details of the family history are meagre.
Nearly all that is known of the family was sought out by that patient and untiring student of history and, distinguished
genealogist, the late Dr. D. Williams Patterson, of Newark Valley. The present writer acknowledges free access
to Dr. Patterson's manuscripts and published records, and also acknowledges, as material and valuable assistants
in the preparation of this chapter, the possessIon of the printed reminiscences of the late William F. Belden,
of Richford, and as well the generous aid of the fertile and reliable memory of Calvin J. Robinson, practising
lawyer and for more than half a century a resident of the town.
Elisha Harris, thought to have been a relative of Evan Harris, was a settler in the region in 1808, and was a taxable
inhabitant in old Tioga as early as 1802, in that part afterward set off as Caroline. He had three children, whose
names are not recalled.
Paul Stevens is thought to have been the next settler, but the year of his coming is not stated. In 1821 he sold
out to Gad Worthington and left the vicinity. Among his children were Paul, Seth, David, and one other, whose name
John Watson and family came in April, 1810, and settled in the southwest corner of the town. Later on he removed
to Michigan, where he died. His children were Susan, Rebecca, Mary, Sally, Samuel S., John, James L., and Jane.
Samuel S. Watson married with Betsey Rounsville, settled in Newark Valley, in 1838, and died in that town. James
L. married with Mary Gilbert and settled in the northwest corner of Berkshire, where he died.
Artemas Watkins and wife, who was Phebe Gilbert, came from Peru, Mass., and settled in Richford in 1812, on lot
461, west of where the turnpike was built. John Watkins, brother to Artemas, settled in Newark Valley about the
same time. Phebe, wife of Artemas, died May 30, 1840, and he died May 20, 1865. Their children were Betsey, Anna,
Semautha (who married first with John B. Leonard, and after his death with Daniel Rawley, of Richford), Benson
G., Reuben, Lyman, Polly, Ira W., Amanda M., AmOs G., (for several years justice of the peace of. Richford), Cynthia
A., and Harriet (who married with Squire D. Freeland, of Richford.)
Samuel Smith was one of the first settlers on the village site, to which place he came, probably, in 1813. He built
a small house and kept tavern çintil about 1817, when he was succeeded by Beriah Wells, and then moved out
into the town, where he died May 3, 1846. Tradition says, according to Dr. Patterson, that one of the children
of pioneer Smith died while he lived on the village site, and that the body was buried in what is now the hotel
garden. His other children were Hannah, (born in Richford, Nov. 29, 1813), Miriam, Ezekiel D., Lucy P., and Charlotte.
Nathaniel Johnson, says Mr. Robinson, was the third settler in the town, having moved into the house previously
occupied by Evan Harris, in 1814. His home, says the same authority, was the stopping place for all travelling
preachers, but at the end of sixteen years pioneer Johnson left the vicinity and moved west. He is recalled as
an upright man, and among the settlers was known as "brother-in-law" Johnson, and also as "the good
sinner." He came from Vermont. His children were Lucy, Rachel, Eber, Norman and Zilpha.
Heman Daniels was a native of Rutland county, Vt., and came with his parents to Paris, N. Y., soon after the revolution.
Heman married with Elvira Walker, and in 1816, after a few years' residence in the Susquehanna valley in Pennsylvania,
moved to Richford, settling on lot 574, this being the first settlement east of the valley and north of the village.
Mr. Daniels was a soldier in the war of 1812-15, and died in Richford at the ripe old age of 96 years. His children
were Heman, Elmon W., Elvira, Calvin W., Betsey Maria, Jason, and one other who died in extreme infancy.
Samuel Gleazen, a native of Stockbridge, Mass., settled on the village site in 1817, and is said to have built
there the fourth house, standing near the church property. Mr. Gleazen afterward lived in the town, except for
two years, and died there in August, 1865. In his family were nine children: Horatio J., Abigail P., Nancy, Lorain
G., Mary, Mary, 2d, (the first child so named having died), Hannah, Caroline, (who died an infant), Samuel, Samuel,
2d, (the first having died), and Caroline E. Gleazen.
Beriah Wells is remembered among the most prominent of the early settlers of Richford. He was a native of Richmond,
Mass., born Feb. 1. 1782, and was by trade a painter and chairmaker. He came to Berkshire in the spring of 1813,
and in August, 1817, moved to Richford, on the village site, and kept public house on the turnpike, east of the
square. His domicile was made of two small houses drawn together, but was sufficient for the time, and a comfortable
and much patronized hostelry for four or more years. Samuel Smith had built one of the houses and Nathan Johnson
the other, and landlord Wells was their successor. In 1821 Mr. Wells exchanged his hotel property for a farm and
then removed to Newark Valley, where he died June 30, 1861. His children were Frederick T., Palmer and Edwin Lucius
Stephen Wells was the father of Beriah Wells and came to Newark Valley from New England about 1815, and removed
to Richford about 1821. He was thrice married and had a family of five children, Stephen, the eldest son, was a
chair maker and painter in this town, and withal a useful man in the settlement. The second son was Beriah, of
whom mention is made in this chapter. The other children were Betsey, Love, and Lucius Wells. Stephen Wells died
June 14, 1838, aged 84 years. Stephen Wells, Jr., lived in Richford from 1815 to about 1818, and then removed to
Ezekiel Dewey was another prominent early settler, and came to the town in 1816 from Westfield, Mass. He lived
on the village site and at one time about a mile to the west of the settlement. His first wife was Lucy Johnson,
who died Dec. 27, 1828, after which he married with Eunice Smith. His children were, with the exception of the
youngest, born of his first marriage, and were Lucy, Semantha, Jane Elizabeth, David Wesley, Charles Johnson, Ezekiel
Hannum, Amanda, and one other, the eldest, who died at birth.
William Belden came from Berkshire county, Mass., and with his family settled in Richford in the year 1818. For
a few months they lived in a log house then recently vacated by Paul Stevens, the house standing a mile south of
the village. Later on Mr. Belden built a more substantial dwelling, into which he moved, the same occupied by his
son William F. Belden when he, in 1878, wrote his personal recollections of early life in Richford. However, pioneer
William Belden gained his greatest prominence in the town as the teacher of the first school, which he opened in
his own house. He lived in the town until his death, April 2, 1859. His wife having died May 13, 1855. Their children
were Fanny Maria, William Franklin, and Frederick Carlos Belden.
Gad Worthington, who was related to the Beldens, came to the town in 1818. He was a Connecticut Yankee by birth,
but came here from Lenox, Mass. In 1819, Mr. Worthington built one of the first saw mills in the town, an industry
much needed by the settlers. The next year he built a grist mill and thus added another to the necessary conveniences
of the region. He likewise built several houses and opened the first store of goods in the village, according to
the reminiscences of Mr. Belden. Mr. Worthington dwelt east of the turnpike road, on the south half of lot 424.
His wife was Fanny Belden, by whom he had these children: Dan Leander, Gad Belden, Fanny, Samuel Kellogg, John,
Mary Ann, and Robert Worthington.
George T. Pierce settled on the north half of lot 548 in the year 1818, although he had visited the town in 1817
and selected his land. By a mistaker his house was built on the wrong part of the lot, but Mr. Pierce suffered
nothing more than inconvenience through the error. His was the second settlement in the valley on the east side
north of the turnpike.
George P. Simmons. came from Paris, Oneida county, in 1818 and settled on the south half of lot 548.
Augustus Van Buren came to the town in 1818, and was the first colored settler in the vicinity, except the few
slaves who were brought to the region by their owners. But Van Buren was not a slave, as his freedom had been purchased
several years before he came to Richford. Mr. Belden, in his reminiscences, says that Van Buren paid his master
115 pounds, English money, as the purchase price of his manumission, and also that the negro often said he had
carried Martin Van Buren in his arms when a child; and after the settlement in Richford, and when Augustus was
grown old, the ex-president frequently sent small sums of money to him with which to purchase tobacco. Augustus
was a worthy and thrifty settler in the town and died generally respected, at the good old age of 102 years. He
was married twice and had four children, all by the first wife. They were Hetty, Sarah, Joseph, and one other,
the first born, who died in extreme infancy. -
The persons and families here mentioned were the pioneers of Richford, through whose efforts the beginning was
made, the lands in part cleared, and who laid the foundation upon which the town structure was afterward built
up. True, they made the beginning, but the real development of the town and its resources remained to be accomplished
by a later generation of occupants, and the greatest steps in local advancement were the results of their endeavors.
Peter Perry who settled in the west part of the town in 1821, was a native of Berkshire county, Mass., born Nov.
22, 1769. In 1796-97 he emigrated to Green, Chenango Co., but after his marriage with Jane Surdam, which took place
in Salisbury, Conn., they removed to Cincinnatus, and thence in the later part of April, 1821, to Richford, and
settled on a part of lot 460. In 1833 two of Mr. Perry's sons purchased the lot from Eleazer Dana. The property
remained in the family until 1894. Peter Perry died Feb. 27, 1845, and his wife on June 19 following. The children
in this family were Norman, Luther, Francis G., Daniel Meade and Edwin Perry.
After 1820 settlement in this northern part of old Berkshire became far more rapid than formerly, for the inhabitants
below then saw that this narrow valley was fertile and productive both in farm products and work in mechanical
In December, 1820, says Dr. Patterson's narrative, Chester Patterson, of Union, Broome county, made the census
enumeration of inhabitants then in the territory later set off to form Richford; and the result of his count showed
the town to contain forty-five families, and a total of 271 inhabitants. As they were in the town at that early
day, although not pioneers, they are nevertheless entitled to at least a passing mention in this record. In. the
order noted by Dr. Patterson the heads of families were as follows:
Beriah Wells, of whom mention has been made, had seven persons in. his family.
Henry Krum whose family name is still known in the town, lived on or near the village tract, and then had but one
child although others were born later. His wife was Harriet Rounsville.
Benjamin Rathbun lived at the village and was a teamster. Five persons comprised his family.
Isaac Goodale had a family of seven and was a farmer. He afterward removed to Michigan. In 1820 his father lived
in Berkshire, on west hill.
John Newton had a family of three, and lived, it is thought, on the same lot with Isaac Goodale.
Henry Morgan, and his family of five, lived. on a farm on lot 501. Later on he built a saw mill and utilized the
waters of Trout Run to drive the machinery.
Zelotes Olney and his family of nine lived on lot 501, but was in this part of the county previous to 1800. He
had several children.
Benjamin Olney was in the historic Brown settlement as early as 1798, but of the family history little is known.
Dr. Elisha Briggs was the pioneer physician and lived north of the old Catskill turnpike, on lot 501. His family
had seven members.
Caleb Arnold, with a family of six, lived on lot 500. He was one of the pioneers, and built the first saw and grist
mills in the town, the saw mill, probably, in 1813, and the grist mill later on. He also had a carding mifi, and
all were on west Owego creek. Mr. Robinson says that Arnold made cut nails, in which industry he was a pioneer
in the country. The Arnold saw mill was rebuilt in 1835, but the others were suffered to. decay.
Jacob Roads and his wife lived on the turnpike, on lot 498. He was an Englishman by birth and a mason and quarryman
Wheeler Wood, farmer, whose household included seven persons, lived in one of the five houses which comprised the
settlement once called Padlock; and so called from the fact that the denizens of the place always locked their
doors with a padlock, and the ever thoughtful house-wife likewise made fast the doors on going to the spring for
water. But neither record nor tradition says whether this custom prevailed previous to the robbery of Ezekiel Rich's
Elijah Gilbert, whose family numbered eight persons, was an early tavern keeper and also made hand-rakes and bedsteads
for the settlers. He lived on lot 461.
Amos, Daniel, and William G. Raymond, who were probably brothers, and whose families comprised, respectively, two,
four, and ten members, were also residents of the Padlock locality.
Russell Freeland was an early settler in the southwest corner of Richford, and a man of some note in the town although
he died of fever as early as 1837. In his family were twelve members, of whom seven were children in 1820. They
were Emerilla, Lydia, Clarissa, Mary, Vesta A., and Orin M. Freeland. In Mr. Freeland's house also lived his widowed
mother, his sister and brother. The brother was Joseph Freeland who owned a part of the lot. Descendants of these
families are stifi in the county.
David and Timothy Draper are also to be mentioned in this connection, though they were not freeholders in the town.
Daniel Harrington, farmer, with a family of five, lived on lot 460.
William Lynch also lived on lot 460, was a farmer, and had a family of seven members.
Jesse Gleazen, 2d, in 1820, lived in a log house on lot 422. Three persons then comprised his family. Caleb Gleason,
father to Jesse, also lived in this town and the vicinity, and is remembered as an old survivor of the revolution,
in which he was a soldier.
Thomas P. Brown, sometimes called Deacon Brown, lived on lot 422. In later years he removed to Maine, Broome county,
where he died, after which his family emigrated to Michigan.
Abraham Burghardt was the head pf a numerous and prominent family in the town, and lived on lot 223. His sons,
Jacob, Isaac, John R., and Abraham Jr., and his sons-in-law, Thomas P. Brown, (who married with Polly Burghardt),
and Samuel Olney (who married with Caroline Burghardt), were also conspicious persons in early Richford history.
They were farmers and substantial men.
Martha Tracy, widow of James Tracy, lived on lot 421. In her family were ten children.
Thomas Tracy, Ezra lowland, Abraham Dudley and Solomon Russell were in 1820 living in the eastern part of the town,
and were farmers with families, and most of them with children. Alexander S. Lamb dwelt in the same locality, but
at that time had no family. Thomas Keeny lived on lot 339.
Thomas Robinson, who in 1820 lived on the west border of the town, was both farmer and a maker of buckskin gloves
and mittens; and when that industry started in the village Mr. Robinson found his trade of more profit than farming,
hence removed to the settlement, and was there noted as manufacturer. Eight persons were in his family.
Ezekiel Rich became a resident of the town now called Richford in the year 1821. He was a native of Cherry Valley,
N. Y., born August 14, 1783, and was the son of Simon and Lucy (Lincoln) Rich. His wife was Caroline Slosson, daughter
of Ezbon and Electa (Williams) Slosson, and was a native of Stockbridge, Mass., born Feb. 23, 1791. Mr. Rich came
to Newark Valley soon after the year 1800, and as early as 1810 was in business with his brother-in-law, Otis Lincoln,
manufacturing gloves and mittens. He lived in Newark until 1821 when he exchanged for the Beriah Wells property
at Richford settlement, and in April removed with his family to the place. From that time to his death he was closely
identified with the best interests of this town, and when Ricliford was set off from old Berkshire it was named
in honor of its founder in fact-Ezekiel Rich. On coming to the town Mr. Rich at once established a glove and mitten
factory, and although he was connected with it only a few years he by no means retired from busi ness. He opened
a store in 1821, built and kept a hotel, dealt in land and engaged in farming. He died April 18, 1854. His children
were Mary Ann, who died in 1847; Chauncey Le Roy, for forty years a merchant in Richford and for twenty years connected
with the Southern Central railroad, and withal one of the best men for the town in all its history. Angeline Eliza,
who married with Dr. Lewis Halsey Kellogg ; Lucien Densmore, always a resident of the town; William Dunham, who
died an infant; and Maria Louisa, who married with John Moore Benjamin.
William Dunham, founder of the little settlement south of Richford village that once was called Dunhamville, was
born March 20, 1787, and came to Richford with Ezekiel Rich, in whose employ he was, travelling with a wagon and
selling the product of Mr. Rich's mitten factory and buying skins for future manufacture. At length Mr. Dunham
determined to found a village and to that end purchased a large tract of land south of Richford settlement, a portion
of which he laid out into lots and made some attempt to sell. The first school was opened in this vicinity. Mr.
Dunham had occasion to borrow considerable money to carry on his operations, and not being able to pay promptly
he was sold out, and his vifiage scheme came to naught. In later years he removed to New York, where he died July
16, 1855. His children were William S., Matilda Orcelia, and Robert H. and Isaac S., twins.
John Stedman was the head of a numerous and highly respected family in Newark Valley, from which town he came to
Richford in 1821. His children were Sophronia, Almira, Eliza, John Catlin, Sarah, Mary, Sylvia, and Anna Stedman.
William Tremble Jayne came from Orange county to Newark Valley in 1819, and thence removed to Richford, in 1825,
where he died Nov. 24, 1850. His children were Caroline, Frances, Mary Ann, Amzi Lewis, Samuel Armstrong, William
T., and Mary Pitney Jayne.
Dr. Elijah Powell, who came to Richford in 1823 and began the practice of medicine, was one of the foremost men
of the village and town for many years, and one who did as much to build up and establish the town as any man ever
within its limits. In 1824 he built the large three storied brick building at the northeast corner of the spark
and here he had an office and drug store for many years. He was interested in every measure looking to the welfare
of the town, active in church as well as in political affairs, and was in all respects a worthy citizen. He was
the last but one of the superintendents of common schools of the county, which office was abolished in 1847, and
was the first county commissioner of schools under the laws of 1856. However, so much is said of Dr. Powell in
the medical chapter that further mention here is a repetition, and we may ordy add that when he came to Richford
he was unmarried, but soon took for his wife Lydia Wells, who died July 18, 1833. His second wife was Jane Anderson,
who bore him seven children. Dr. Powell's practice extended throughout northern Tioga and southern Tompkins counties,
and as the result of long drives and almost endless labor his system became worn out, and at the age of 73 years,
on January 12, 1876, he died.
The men and heads of families whose names have been mentioned in this chapter were the founders of the town of
Richford. They came during the undeveloped period of its history and by their efforts established what became one
of the best outlying towns in the county, and that notwithstanding the fact that Richford inhabitants were compelled
to contend against obstacles not met in all the towns, for in this isolated valley of East Owego creek there was
little to attract settlement other than the general fertility of the soil and the substantial character of the
very first settlers. Indeed, the northern extremity of old Berkshire had no inhabitant previous to 1808, and here
on the highest land in the county Evan Harris made the pioneer beginning. The term "highest land" is
used in a general sense, for it is conceded that the most elevated lands in Tioga are in this town; and being so
elevated they are healthful, consequently desirable. But there were other settlers in the town previous to its
organization and are worthy to be recalled in this connection, although the mention must necessarily be brief.
Peter Perry came from Massachusetts at an early day and settled in the west part of the town. He had the first
"still," but such industries have long since passed out of use. Mr. Perry died in July, 1866. Elijah
Gilbert was the originator of the custom of padlocking doors in the town, but his chief notoriety came from locking
down the cover to his watering-trough on account of some trouble with his neighbors. Isaac C. Smith settled in
Richford in 1823. He married with Sally Pryor and raised a family of eight children. Horace Goodrich camefrom Durham,
Conn., soon after 1820, but later removed to Newark Valley where he died in 1829. John M. Greemleaf, who was later
a prominent figure in mercantile life in Owego, settled in Richford village in 1822 and in 1826 removed to the
county seat. Lemuel D. Polley, a native of the old bay state, but a former resident of Dryden, came into Richford
in 1825. In the same year Jacob Ayers, a native of New Jersey, came to the town. In the same connection, though
of a later date, may be mentioned the settlement of James Brigham, John Hamilton, Dioclesian Sears, Hotchkiss T.
Finch and others, all of whom were in some manner identified with the town in the period of its, early history.
ORGANIZATION AND CIVIL HISTORY.-
In 1830 this northern part of Berkshire had about 800 inhabitants and with the several interests then at their
height in Richford Village and its immediate vicinity, and with such men as Ezekiel Rich, Dr. Powell, Ezekiel Dewey,
and others of like stamp and business activity, it was only natural that a new town organization should be proposed
and accomplished. The inhabitants were entitled to the separation and every consideration of justice demanded it.
Therefore the legislature was besought when John G. McDowell and David Williams were in the assembly, and on April
18, 1831, an area of 21,835 acres of land was set off from the north end of Berkshire and called "Arlington;"
but why so named no present authority assumes to explain. However, on April 9, 1832, the name was changed to Richford.
and so called in honorable allusion to Ezekiel Rich, then conceded to be the foremost man within the limits of
As provided in the original act, the first town meeting was held Tuesday, March 6, 1832, at Mr. Rich's hotel, at
which time these officers were elected: Supervisor, William Dunham; town clerk, John C. Stedman; assessors, Wiffiam
Belden, George P. Simmons, Jesse Moore; commissioners of highways, Lorain Curtis, Hubbard F. Wells, Heman Daniels;
commissioners of schools, Jacob Burgett, Elijah Powell, Tower Whiton; school inspectors, Simeon R. Griffin, Israel
Wells, Edward W. Surdam; overseers of the poor, Nathaniel Johnson, William E. Raymond; collector, Obediah L. Livermore;
constables, Hiram W. Tyler, Henry Talmadge; justices of the peace, Platt F. Grow, Eri Osborn, David C. Garrison.
The subsequent civil history of Richford is briefly told, and is written in the progress and development of the
town and its territory from that until the present time. From a population, in 1830, of 800 or less there was a
continuous and healthful increase until the year 1880, when the maximum was reached, but since that time there
has been a gradual and steady decrease both in population and business interests. However, we may turn to the census
reports and note the fluctuations in population as indicated by published records. In 1835 the inhabitants numbered
882; in 1840, 989; 1850, 1,093; 1860, 1,404; 1870, 1,484; 1880, 1,477; 1890, 1,267, and in 1892, according to the
count made in that year the population of the town was 1,252, a less number than at any time in its history since
During all the years from the time of the first settlement down to the outbreak of the war of 1861-65, no untoward
event marred the quiet and peace of the inhabitants and in that time all local interests were fostered and promoted
to such an extent that Richford was regarded as one of the substantial towns of the county and of the region. In
1865, the Lake Ontario, Auburn. & New York railroad company was incorporated, and was authorized to build a
railroad from Fair Haven to Athens, the line of which passed through this town. The work was begun in 1869 and
was completed in 1879. This was, perhaps, the most important. improvement ever proposed to benefit Richford, unless
a possible exception may be made in favor of the old Catskill turnpilfe, which was built through the town in 1816,
and which had more to do with the early settlement of the region than any other single event. Taverns were located
along the road about every six to ten miles, and with immigrants constantly passing along in search of places for
settlement, and the old mail and passenger coaches making their regular trips, the line of the turnpike indeed
was a scene of constant and busy activity.
However, in the railroad enterprise, Ohauncey L. Rich was the potent factor in producing substantial results for
Richford. He was connected with the road in an official capacity for twenty years, and at times stood responsible
for its expense account when his private affairs needed his attention.
During the period of the war of 1861-65, this town, according to Mr. Belden's narrative, sent into the service
one recruit for each three voters, a record seldom equalled in any town in the state. Captain William Henry Powell
and lawyer Calvin. J. Robinson recruited Co. E of the 76th infantry, took the men to Cortland and thence to Albany.
This, however, was not the only command having Richford recruits in the ranks, as a glance at the military chapter
shows that volunteers from the town were in nearly every regiment recruited in the county; and in addition to the
general contribution of men and means, Richford bonded and otherwise pledged its credit to the extent of about
SCHOOLS.- Previous to the separate
organization of Richford, the schools were a part of the system in operation in the mother town of Berkshire, but
after the separation the commissioners and inspectors of schools at once set about organizing districts suited
to the interests of the inhabitants. However, the early records refer more particularly to the compensation to
be paid the inspectors and commisioners rather than the measures adopted for establishing and supporting schools.
Yet it is a known fact that the schools of Richford have been as well supported as in other towns similarly situated.
As now disposed the territory of Richford is divided into 15 school districts, of which Nos. 2, 5, 6, 7 and 13
have no schoolhouse within the town, but are joined with other towns. According to the county commissioner's report
for the year ending July 31, 1896, the amount of public money apportioned to Richford was $1,340.88, and the town
raised by tax $1, 647.46. The school population was 291, for whose instruction seventeen teachers were employed
and were paid $2,480.80. 'The school buildings are of frame material, and with sites are estimated to be worth
$4,170. The assessed valuation of property in the town was $359,282.
RICHFORD VILLAGE.- This pretty
little hamlet is pleasantly situated near the central southern part of the town, in the valley of the west branch
of Owego creek, and although it has never attained to the dignity of a corporate character the time has been when
Richford was numbered among the important business centres of the north part of the county.
According to Mr. Robinson, Ezekiel Rich opened the first store, in 1821, while so good an authority as Mr. Belden
says that the first merchant was Gad Worthington, who opened a stock of goods in the same year. However the truth
maybe we know not, neither is it important. Both were early business men and each contributed largely to the early
growth of the hamlet. In 1823 Wm. Dunham succeeded Mr. Rich, and the "old abeby" was a busy place for
The public park was donated informally by Ezekiel Rich and Beriah Wells and has ever been used as a common, with
little adornment, but stifi forms a desirable plat in the village centre. Gad Worthington's store building was
the first to be used solely for business purposes. It afterward passed into the hands of a Mr. Cook, who continued
the business a few years. In 1824 Dr. Powell's large brick store was built, and was the most substantial structure
of its kind in the village. The doctor opened a drug stock, and from that time on until recently some kind of business
has been conducted there. After a few years Wm. Dunham removed his stock to a store built by. him on the site of
his proposed village, and about 1829 James Robbins opened a stock of goods in the brick building vacated by Dunham;
and here he continued until 1834 and then removed to the new building so long occupied in later years by Mr. Rich.
Just before Mr. Robbins began business Doctor Seaman opened a store and also a distifiery, the latter a pioneer
industry and the only one of the kind in the village.
In 1844, Chauncey L. Rich and William Pierson succeeded to the Robbins store and from that time Mr. Rich was identified
with local business life, for a period of 40 years. He, with John H. Deming, formed one of the strongest firms
in northern Tioga county. Other and later firms in the same building were C. L. Rich & Co., Finch, Ketchum
& Co, W. C. Smith & Co., Smith, Allen & Finch, Smith, Krum & Co., and C. G. Krum, the latter the
Among the other merchants, early and more recent, in Richford were S. R. Griffin, in the brick store, followed
by C. A. Clark, Nathaniel Moore, W. H. Powell and M. Westcott. Hiram B. Rawley opened there in 1869, and the name
is stifi known to the trade. Other merchants were H. Tane, T. Brainerd, C. H. Swift (established in 1880 and still
in business), and Mrs. Delos Yaple.
The old firm of Bayette Bros., cigar manufacturers, is well remembered. Joseph Bayette was a Frenchman, living
in the east part of the town in a log house, and there he made cigars. He removed to Ithaca, thence came to Richford
in 1850 and set up a factory in the village. His Sons succeeded to the business and Bayette Bros. were known to
the cigar trade all through this part of the state for many years. The ftrm was succeeded by George and Edward
Rich who closed the business in 1877.
The present merchants and manufacturers of Richford are as follows: Hiram B. Rawley, Charles Krum, and Hotchkiss
S. Finch, general stores; Charles H. Swift, hardware; Wm. Howard & Bro., market; John D. Clark, crockery ahd
notions; H. S. & C. L. Finch, steam saw mills; Franklin Bliss, grist mill; D. MacLachlan, manufacturer of paper
cutters and pipe wrenches.
Richford was made a postoffice in. 1830. The postmasters have been William Dunham, Simeon Crandall, C. L. Rich,
John H. Deming, C. L. Rich, Matthew Westcott, C. D. Rich (1866), C. W. Finch, C. A. Clark, Hiram B. Rawley (1889),
and C. L. Rich, appointed August 1, 1893.
MILLS.- In 1813 Caleb Arnold built
the first mills in the town. In 1821, according to Mr. Belden, and 1823-24, according to Mr. Robinson, Gad Worthington
built the grist mill at the village. In 1831 Simeon B. Griffin built a grist mill about 40 rods from the junction
of the turnpike with Aurora street. About 1830 Mr. Wells built a saw mill north of the village, which later became
the large Deming mills. Wm. Pumpelly built a mill north of the village, about 1830. The Belden Bros'. saw mill
was built in. 1850, and in the same year another saw mill was built in the north part of the town, where, later
on, sash, doors and blinds were also made. The Wm. Andrews steam Mill was built in 1853. The large steam saw mill
of C. W. & H. S. Finch, near the depot, was built in the fall of 1870. In 1876 Franklin Bliss and H. S. Finch
erected feed mills. The Allen mill on road 18 is on the site of the Holcomb mill,, built in 1830.
CHURCHES.- The First Congregational
church of Richford, as now known, was organized December 23, 1822, as "The Society of Columbia," connected
with the Cayuga Presbyterery. It became Congregational in 1827, but remained with the Presbytery until 1868. The
first meeting house was built in 1823, and the second, the present edifice, in 1854. The pastors, in succession,
have been Seth Burt, 1822-25; Henry Ford, 1827; Mr. Cary, supply, 1829; David S. Morse, 182.9-3 3 ; Revs. Graves
and Ripley, supplies; Rev. Morse, 1835-40; Revs. McEwen and Babbitt, 1841.-42; Mr.' Morse, 1844-49; Mr. Page, 1850-51;
J. Woodruff, 1851-56; Richard Woodruff, 1857-63; J. S. Hanna, 1863; David Gibbs, 1864; Mr. Morse, 1866 and '67;
George Porter, 1868; Mr. Green, 1870-78; Mr. Thomas, 1874-76; E. W. Fisher, 1878; A. D. Stowell, 1880-82; E. P.
Dada, 1882'; George Miller, 1884-87; Chas. Bergen, 1887-90; Wm. F. Berger, ' 1890-91; John S. Mitchell, May 1,
1891, the present pastor. This church numbers 180 members, of whom 70 have united under Mr. Mitchell's pastorate.
An Episcopal church and parish were organized in Richford in 1832. A church edifice was erected and Revs. Carter,
Bailey and Burgess officiated as rectors, but the church had but a struggling existence and was soon disolved.
The Richford hill Christian church was organized as a society in 1857, erected an edifice in 1860, and from that
time experienced all the' vicissitudes incident to a feeble life until the society was dissolved. ' However, it
was revived and for several years enjoyed a fair measure of success, But at length meetings were discontinued and
the assigns of the 'original owners of' the land sought to renew under a forfeiture clause in the deed to the society,
and soon after this, on January 9, 1897, the meeting house was burned.
The first Free Will Baptist church of East Richford, was organized in 1864, and in 1870 completed a church home.
This society, too, has suffered hardships and many changes during the period of its existence.
1832 - William Dunham.
1833 - Gad Worthington.
1834-39 - Samuel H. Griffin.
1840 - Simeon M. Crandall.
1841 - Elijah Powell.
1842 - Simeon R. Griffin.
1843-44 - Chauncey L. Rich.
1845-46 - Chester Randall.
1847 - Lorain Curtis.
1848-50 - William Pierson.
1851-52 - C. Randall.
1853 - John H. Deming.
1854-56 - C. Randall.
1857 - Wm. J. Patch.
1858 - C. L. Rich.
1859 - Wm. J. Patch.
1860-62 - John H. Deming.
1863 - Wm. J. Patch.
1864-72 - John H. Deming.
1873-75 - Hotchkiss S. Finch.
1876-77 - C. D. Rich.
1878-83 - H. S. Finch.
1884-88 - George M. Geer.
1889-90 - H. S. Finch.
1891-93 - Daniel P. Witter.
1894-97 - J. W. Allen.