History of the, Village of Canisteo, Steuben County, 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

[Also see the town of Canisteo]

THE VILLAGE OF CANISTEO. - In the general division of the lands of township 3, range 5, Col. Arthur Erwin drew lot number one, but soon afterward exchanged lots with Solomon Bennett, the latter being the first settler at the place afterward called Bennettsville. Lot No. I covered substantially the present village site, but previous to the white occupancy here stood the Delaware Indian town which had been dignified by some writers with the name of "Kanestio Castle." This ancient village is said to have contained about sixty hewed log houses, with stone chimneys in each, and to have been the home or seat of operations of a noted "Delaware King," known as At-weet-se-ra. The place was destroyed in 1765 by direction of Sir William Johnson.

The honor of having been the pioneer on the village site may be accorded to Colonel Erwin or Solomon Bennett, probably the latter, as he opened the first store and kept the first hotel. The first blacksmith was Nicholas Doughty, a well educated German and worthy citizen. However early may have been the founding of the village, it did not attain a standing of any importance among the municipalities of the county previous to the year 1850, at which time the Erie Railroad was put in operation. This gave impulse to the growth of the place, but not until the year 1868 did it become a manufacturing center, when Lawrence Allison built the large boot and shoe factory, furnishing employment to nearly one hundred persons. This was followed by another similar factory, a planing mill, sash, door and blind factory, bent wood works and a chair factory; and within the next five years the manufactured product was worth $1,000,000 a year. In 1868 the village proper had but 350 inhabitants; ten years later the population reached 2,000.

The Canisteo Academy was one of the most praiseworthy institutions ever founded in the village, and one which has endured and enjoyed a successful existence to the present day. It was built by popular subscription to the capital stock, at an entire cost of $17,500. The institution was chartered March 15, 1868, and its first Board of Trustees, who were also in fact its founders, were Lewis F. Lake, Henry Hamilton, Commodore P. Chamberlain, Nathaniel C. Taylor, George Riddell, John H. Consalus, Joshua C. Stephens, Edward P. Bartlett, Mortimer Allison, Lucius A. Waldo, John Davis and Richard Allison. The building is of brick, three stories high and beautifully situated on an eminence overlooking the village. It was finished and opened in September, 1871. The present attendance at the academy averages about 125 pupils annually, the patronage being drawn from the county at large and even beyond its borders.

The present trustees and officers are: Lucius A. Waldo, president; F. H. Robinson, vice president; W. E. Stephens, secretary; George L. Davis, treasurer, and Herman E. Buck, Oran Lathrop, A. N Burrell, N. S. Baker, William H. Ordway, William G. Porter, Charles Mead, William P. Bailey, O. O. Laine, S. P. Marsh, Ira W. Hall, Enos Smith, Mortimer Allison and J. E. Shaut. The academy has an endowment fund of $2,000.

As years passed and the population and business interests of the village increased, there was created a demand for improvements and expenditures in which the town at large were but little interested, and for which the outside taxpayers were not disposed to contribute. To provide the necessary revenues the village residents determined to procure an order of incorporation under the laws of the State, therefore, in 1873, the Court of Sessions made an order incorporating the Village of Canisteo. Thus our interesting little place threw off the hamlet and adopted the municipal character.

The first village election was held May 16, 1873, at which time these officers were chosen: Lucius A. Waldo, president; Mortimer Allison, L. P. Weed, Smith Eason, trustees; Daniel Upton, collector; William H. Mead, treasurer. William E. Stephens was the first clerk; Hiram J. Colgrove, police constable; Hiram C. Whitwood, street commissioner. One of the first duties of the trustees was to provide sidewalks through the principal streets, which being done, a system of lighting was adopted and a fire department organized, the latter the nucleus of the present efficient body. The present department comprises Canisteo Hook and Ladder Co., No. 1, Waldo Hose Co., No. 1, Drake Hose Co., No.2, Weed Hose Co, No. 3, and a company of fire protectives. However, the steamer seems to have lost its usefulness since the construction of the water supply system, hence its company disbanded, and the "Truck" was purchased in its stead. The steamer, a good La France engine, is held in reserve for any emergency. The fire department building was erected in 1880.

The Canisteo Water Works system and company is another of the worthy institutions of the village, and another evidence of local thrift and progressiveness. The works were constructed in 1887, at a cost of about $45,000 Water is obtained from a reservoir on one of the hills outside the corporation limits, while the source of supply is a series of springs in the vicinity of the reservoir. The company has laid seven miles of mains through the streets of the village and have 219 taps and fifty one fire hydrants The officers of the company are: O. O. Lane, president; De M. Page, secretary, and W. G. Porter, secretary.

The Canisteo Electric Light and Gas Company, and the Fuel Gas Company, are also worthy of mention among the local improvement companies of the village, and though not yet fully developed, are promising of good results in the future and will undoubtedly add materially to the business importance of Canisteo.

The Union Free School of Canisteo enjoys the reputation of being one of the best and most thorough institutions of its kind in this part of the county. Many years ago the old district system was abandoned and in its stead the people voted for a Union Free School, with an academic department. Tne present Board of Education comprises H. S. Beebe, Elijah Hallett, W. B. Taylor, A. H. Burrell, William D. Carter, Harrison Crane and I. E. Lyon.

With these and other kindred institutions added to the ordinary local interests, it will be seen that Canisteo is a village of importance among the municipalities of the county. However, still further advances are expected in the near future, for on the roadbed of the old Canisteo and Whitesville Railroad Company there is promised to be built a line of railway from the village up Bennett's Creek to Oswayo, via Rexville and Whitesville. For this enterprise the people of Canisteo have pledged the sum of $20,000.

As at present constituted Canisteo enjoys the reputation of being one of the most pleasantly situated and best governed villages in the county. As a manufacturing center it has considerable importance and all mercantile interests are well represented. It is a temperance village in which there are no saloons. The principal manufacturing industries are the large tannery of Richardson, Crary & Co., formerly Richardson & Shaut, built in 1880; the tannery of Charles Flohr's Sons, established in 1875 by Charles Flohr. Flohr's custom and merchant mills were started about the same time but are now discontinued. The Canisteo Sash and Door Works is a large concern employing about one hundred men, and were originally known as the Vorhis Planing Mills, established in 1868. The present company is comprised largely of non resident capitalists. W. D. Carter, successor to H. Carter & Sons, is proprietor of an extensive foundry and machine shop. This industry was founded in 1873.

The Canisteo Shoe Co. abandoned the village in May, 1895, thus taking from our little municipality one of its most important industries. L. Allison & Co. began the manufacture of boots and shoes in the village about fifteen years ago, the firm being succeeded in 1884 by the Allison Boot and Shoe Co. The Levi S. Davis shoe factory was one of the important local industries and was originally established by Isaac Allison. The Weed Saw and Stave mill was established by L. P. Weed in 1854. The Canisteo Spoke Works were started by Stephens Bros. about 1882. John Carroll, the present proprietor, succeeded to the business in 1886. Among the other local industries may be mentioned the Hub and Spoke Works of Thomas Slosson; the wagon factory of Alfred Slosson; the pearl button factory of D. A. Tucker & Son; the chair factory of Taylor Bros., and the planing mill of Shell I. Wilkins.

The village has half a dozen hotels, prominent among which are the Canisteo House, the Commercial House and the Riverside House. The general merchants are E. Clarkson & Bro. and Felix D. Clossey. The dry goods merchants are William Riddell, C. E. Smith and G. J Sanders. The grocers are George Walker & Co., T. K. Brownell, James Roblie, L. Davison, L. P. Rice, Charles Mead, Ralph Dunham and Mrs. Baker. The druggists are J. W. Mitchell, E. L. Hess and George P. Reed & Co. Furniture dealers, Stephens & Hitchcock, and E. A. Carter & Son. Hardware dealers, O. O. Laine; W. P. Goff, and Burrell & Carroll. Jewellers, E. H. Miner & Co., Bate McKean, and William Dudley. Bakers, T. N. Wallace, Miner Merwin and Frank Hallett. Tinsmiths, F. J. Kearns and Wells Trowbridge. Boot and shoe dealers, H. E. Buck, John A. Wirt and T. K. Brownell. Meat markets, John Bailey and J. Bert Williams.

The Bank of Canisteo was established in 1876, and did business in the building at the corner of Main and Depot streets. The officers were Mortimer Allison, president; Lawrence Allison, vice president, and and W. W. Ball, cashier. However, in 1883, the banking interests in the village suffered seriously through financial disaster, although the affairs of the bank were not wound up until the next year. The present substantial banking house of Porter & Davis, the members of which are William E. Porter and George L. Davis, began business in the early part of 1884.

Among the fraternal and social organizations of the village may be mentioned Morning Star Lodge, No. 65, F. & A. M., which was chartered about 1840, although it was the outgrowth of old Evening Star Lodge, the latter being established in this village as early as 1814 or '15. In this connection also, we may mention the Men's Association, a religious organization, entirely informal in its character, yet one of the most deserving and praiseworthy institutions in the village.

The officers of the village for the year 1895 are as follows: Herman E. Buck, president, and O. O. Laine, I. Edward Lyon, A. H. Bunell and William E. Flohr, trustees; John Jackson, clerk; George L. Davis, treasurer; Seymour B. King, collector. Population in 1890, 2,071.


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