History of Caton, 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

CATON. — On the 28th of March, 1839, the Legislature passed an act, by which "all that part of the town of Painted Post, in the county of Steuben, being township No. 1, in the first range," etc., "shall constitute a new town of the name of Wormley." However, on the 3d of April, 1840, the erecting act was amended and the name of the town was changed to "Caton," in memory of Richard Caton, one of the original land proprietors in the region. The first name—Wormley—was given to the town in allusion to Samuel Wormley, the first postmaster at the office having his name.

This town is situated in the extreme southeast corner of the county, and contains 22,700 acres of land. The surface is a rolling upland, yet more nearly level than most lands in the county. Its soil is a clayey and shaly loam, and the streams are small brooks flowing northward. At an early day lumbering was extensively carried on in the town, and the forests were not generally cleared away until a comparatively recent date. From that time the chief pursuit of the inhabitants has been farming and sugar making, and as an agricultural town Caton ranks well among the divisions of the county. The farms as a rule are well cultivated, the buildings neat and attractive, and the general appearance of things throughout the town indicates thrift, energy and prosperity on the part of its people.

The pioneer of township i is said to have been one Ford, who built a log cabin and made a clearing a little east of the Center in 1810, although during the same year other woodsmen made a clearing in the town, but no settlement. However, Ford left the vicinity after two years of hardships, and was succeeded by the first permanent settler, Isaac Rowley, a native and former resident of Bradford county, Pa., though previous to locating in Caton he had lived in Lindley. In 18t9 this doughty pioneer cut a road from over the Pennsylvania line into the southwest part of Caton, to the point where he made his location. The next settlers were Stephen and Simeon Hurd, Uriah Wilmot, John Rowe and Erastus Kidder, all of whom came to the town in the spring of 1821. Salmon Tarbox came in 1822, and about the same time Elias P. Babcock, E. Robbins and Abner Gilbert purchased 4,000 acres of land near the Center. Mr. Gilbert built a saw mill near where the Baptist church was afterward erected. The settlers in 1824 were Ephraim Hill, Levi, Willys and Eli Gridley and their families. In 1825 Dr. Gregory located southeast of the Center. Isaac Thompson settled in 1827. In 1832 Frederick and Gershom Bernard built a saw mill near the Corning line, and in the same year Bennett Breeze built the first grist mill in the town, and located on Barnard's Creek, about two miles north of the Center. The first steam mill was put in operation in 1842 by Dexter and Daniel Davis, and was located in the heavy pine woods above Barnard's Mills. James Davison was another of the early settlers of Caton, while among the many others may be mentioned Jonathan S. Hurd, Simeon Hurd, Joshua Russell, Titus Smith, Samuel F. Berry, Henry D. Smith, l3enoni Johnson, John Gillette, Salmon Tarbox, Orlando Gregory, Ephraim Robbins, Rufus Howe, Horatio Gorton, George Bucher, Amos Lewis, and others of later date, but all of whom were devoted to the best interests of the town by building up substantial homes and farms for themselves and their families.

In 1840, when first set off from Painted Post, Caton had only 797 inhabitants, but during the next ten years, the population increased to 1,214. In 186o the inhabitants numbered 1,550, and 1,554 in 1870. In 188o the number increased to 1,642, but during the next ten years fell off to 1,445. The population of Caton in 1892 was 1,388, or less than at any census enumeration since 185o

The act creating the town provided that the first meeting for the election of officers should be held on the second Tuesday in February, 1840. In fact, the new town itself did not have an organized existence previous to the first Monday in February of the year mentioned. The first officers were Amos Lewis, supervisor; Orlando Gregory, town clerk; John Gillett, Russell Stanton and Zimri B. Robbins, assessors; Israel Woodworth, Jacob Robbins, George Westcott and N. C. Babcock, justices of the peace.

The town officers in 1895 are Alonzo Deyo, supervisor; P. F. Gridley, clerk; Alonzo Deyo, F. W. Speer, John Wellman and Edgar Matteson, justices of the peace; J. S. Holmes, E. W. Barnard and E. A. Hill, assessors; B. S. Niver, collector; Jonas Johnson, overseer of the poor; H. D. Davis, highway commissioner; H. J. Farran and Henry Russell, excise commissioners.

The supervisors of Caton, in succession, have been as follows: Amos Lewis, 1840; John Gillett, 1841 and '43; Naboth C. Babcock, 1842; James L. Whitney, 1844-45; Amzi English, 1846; Orlando Gregory, 1847-48; Henry D. Smith, 1849 '53; Christian Minier, 1850, '54, 1860-62, '66; James Lawry, 1851-52; D. Clinton Westcott, 1855-56; P. H. Brown, 1857, and 1864-65; William D. Gilbert, 1858-59, '63 and '67; J. B. Rathbun, 1869-71; Levi Force, 1872; 'Edwin C. English, 1873-74; Alonzo Deyo, 1875-77 and 1893-95; Abram J. Whitney, 1878; W. O. Matteson, 1879-92.

During the period of its history, there have been built up within the limits of the town two small hamlets or trading centres, each established for the convenience of the inhabitants. They are named, respectively, Caton and West Caton, the former located near the center of the town, and the latter near the northwest corner. However, both these hamlets are specially mentioned in the department of the work devoted to municipal history. The same may also be said of the churches of the town, which are referred to in the chapter on ecclesiastical history.

The town of Caton has a military record equal if not superior to any other civil division of the county, for if statistics be accurate there were sent into the service during the war of 1861-65 a total of 196 men, as reference to the official roster will disclose. In 1860, a single year before the outbreak of the war, the town's population was only 1,550. Few towns in the county can equal this record. Also in this little town are twelve school districts, with twelve teachers employed annually. The value of school property is $6,415. During the school year 1893-4, the town received of public moneys $1,379.09, and raised by town tax the further sum of $1,613.o5.


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