History of Cameron, NY
From: Landmarks of Steuben County, New York
Edited by: Hon. Harlo Hakes
Assisted By: L. C. Aldrich and Others
D. Mason & Company, Publishers,
Syracuse, New York, 1896

CAMERON. - Within its present boundaries this town contains 27,700 acres of land; as originally formed on April 16, 1822, it included all its present area, and also the 22,000 acres set off to Thurston, as well as a portion of Rathbone. The former was created in 1844, and the latter in 1856. Geograpically, Cameron is located a little south of the center of the county, and its surface is high rolling upland, broken by the deep and quite narrow valley of the Canisteo, which stream crosses southeast through and near the center of the town. The soil is a clayey and gravelly loam, fertile and reasonably productive in many localities, but quite barren in others by reason of the stony and rocky character of the slopes.

When created, Cameron was named in allusion to and honor of Dugald Cameron, an early settler of Bath, at one time agent of the Pulteney estate, and withal one of the foremost men of the county during the period of his active life.

Directly, this town was formed from the original town of Addison, and its early settlement was made while the territory was a part of that jurisdiction. The pioneers of this locality were Richard Hadley, who afterward became known by the odd title of "The Second James," and Phones Green. Hadley first settled on the village site, near the railroad crossing, and is said to have been ousted from his domicile by a landslide. He built the first saw mill, while the honor of building the first grist mill fell to Capt. Samuel Baker, who came to the. town in 1816. Phones Green made his improvement about a mile below Baker's mill. Both these pioneers made their settlement in 1800, and it seems they must have been alone in this wild region for some time, for the next settlers, Joseph Butler, John Sauter and John Hollet did not reach here till several years later. Hollet kept the first tavern, while the first storekeeper was Andrew G. Erwin of still later settlement. James B. Wheeler was the grandchild of Mr. Baker, and was but seven years old when he came to the valley. He lived to witness wonderful changes in the town, and was himself afterward owner of the mill, which he rebuilt several times. About 1816 Amos Caldwell built a carding mill which was later on operated by John Place. John Dean soon came in and also located near the mills, the latter being a center of trade and settlement.

Still later settlers were Isaac Santee, in 1820, followed by the Halletts from the North of Ireland, originally, but hardy and enterprising men, whose descendants are still numerous in the valley. Silas Wheeler, a Scotchtman, was here early, as also were Joel Clark, Amasa Downs, Isaac Jones, James Lawrence, Capt. John White, William Moore, Skelton and Joseph Robinson, Nathaniel Bundy, and others.

On South Hill Elisha Leach settled in 1825, and Reuben Drake in the Swale about the same time. James and Henry Knickerbocker settled on the north ridge in 1826 and Elias Mason came about the same time. Thomas Allen came in 1827, Richard Smith in 1831, John W. Barrows in 1832, and so on until even early settlement ceased. Still, in the same connection, justice demands mention of Andrew Bates, John Shaw, Timothy Carpenter, Joseph Plaisted, N. Rouse (the fiddler and an important functionary on all public occasions), Samuel Pugsley, John Barber, Harley Sears, Hiram Averill, John French, David Ames and Amos White as early and worthy residents, all willing to brave the dangers and privations of pioneership in a new and then certainly uninviting region. Some of these men were farmers while many others were lumbermen, and in fact the latter pursuit prevailed for many years. Indeed, this whole valley was primarily covered with a splendid forest growth and the lumber shipped down the Canisteo from Cameron and vicinity amounted to millions of feet annually. But as the lands were cleared the town became an agricultural region, while the water power of the river turned the wheels of many mills of various kinds.

The advocates of a new town project became earnest in their discussion as early as 1820 although it was not until two years afterward that the matter took definite form. The act was passed April t6, 1822, and the first town meeting was held at the house of Samuel Pierson, a mile and a half north of Cameron village, in February, 1823. Unfortunately, the early town records have been lost or destroyed. However, it is known that Elias Mason was the first supervisor; Moses L. Pierson town clerk and collector, and James Brownell, constable. At this time the local population could not have exceeded 400, as in 1825 the number of inhabitants was but 553. As evidence of later rapid growth we may state that in 1830 the population had increased to 924, and in 1840 to 1,359. Ten years later the greatest population in the town's history was reached, being 1,701 in 185o. In 186o it had fallen to 1,569, and in 1870 to 1,334. The next ten years, however, showed an increase to 1,611, but in 1890 had decreased to 1,564. In 1892 the population of the town was 1,455.

The anti rent conflict, as it has been commonly called, was not without its disastrous effects upon the people of this town, though local interests suffered no more seriously than did those of other localities whose settlers held their land under the Pultney and Hornby titles. The delegates to the Bath convention from Cameron were Jacob Thayer, Joseph Loughry, Isaac Santee, Sheldon Porter and Hiram Averill, the latter serving on the committee which prepared the memorial presented to the agents of the proprietary. However, after the period of disturbance had passed, and after the settlers had become quieted in the possession of their lands, all affairs resumed their natural channels, and thenceforth the history of the town was uneventful.

During the period of the Rebellion the town of Cameron furnished eighty three men for the service, who were scattered through the various companies and regiments recruited in the county, notably the 86th, 23d, the 107th and the 189th regiments of infantry.

The supervisors of Cameron, in succession, have been as follows: Elias Mason, 1823-27; Joseph Loughry, 1828-30; Moses L. Pierson, 1831; Andrew G. Pierson, 1832; Isaac Santee, 1833-36; C. P. Hubbard, 1837; James H. Miles, 1838; Joseph Loughry, 1839-40; Moses De Pue, 1841; James Lawrence, 1842-44; H. L. Swift, 1845; Luther White, 1846-47; H. J. Hyatt, 1848; John Miles, 1849-50; H. J. Hyatt, 1851; William N. Smith, 1852-53 and 1856-59; Peter Chase, 1854; John Mitchell, 1855; Samuel D. Sellick, 1862-64; Orange W. Hinds, 1862-64; Luther White, 1865; Heman S. Swift, 1866-67; Jesse Santee, 1868 and 1881; A. J. Lawrence, 1869-70; Charles A. Bateman, 1871 and 1877-78; Lucius C. Pierson, 1872-73 and 1882-85; Grattan H. Wheeler, 1874-75; S. A. Gardner, 1876; John E. Dicky, 1879-80; Royal S. White, 1886-88; Joel Clark, 1889-90; Almon Waters, 1891; Joel Clark, 1892-95.

Half a century ago Cameron had more and greater industries than during recent years, for the lumbering operations were of great magnitude in this valley and brought to the town a class of people who possessed means and circulated it freely. Taverns and public houses were numerous and each arriving stage coach brought its contingent of newcomers and buyers. In 1850 the New York and Erie railroad was built through the town, but even this great thoroughfare of travel had not the effect of keeping alive the interest of former years. Cameron village, West Cameron and North Cameron were places of note and importance at that time, yet only one has maintained its standing to the present day. West Cameron is now a hamlet of half a dozen dwellings, a church and a school, and its postoffice was discontinued in 1874. Here was once the home of Isaac Santee, David Ames and Luther White. North Cameron now consists of a few dwellings, and other evidences of the days of stage travel, especially the old buildings once used as hotels, for there were four of them on the old Bath road, The postoffice, however, has been maintained here, the present: postmaster being Galen A. Clark. Cameron Mills is also a post station on the railroad, in the east part of the town. The postmaster is James Crawford.

The town of Cameron has several organized church societies, being four Methodist Episcopal and located at Cameron, West Cameron, South Hill and North Hill; also a Baptist church at Boyd's Corners, and a Christian church located in the Gardner district, so called.

Cameron has thirteen school districts, with 355 children attending school. For their instruction fourteen teachers are employed annually. The public moneys apportioned to the town in 1893-4 was $1,628.53, and there was raised by town tax $3,533.88.

The town officers of Cameron for the year 1895 are as follows: Joel Clark, supervisor; J. D. Wheeler, town clerk; James A. Smith, W. E. Ferguson, Mowry Stuart and G. M. Reese, justices of the peace; P. P. Mason, M. G. Dickey and J. Halliman, assessors; George Gunderman, highway commissioner; R. K. Wilson, overseer of the poor; F. E. McKenzie, C. E. Stuart and Z. D. Stuart, excise commissioners.

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