History of Hornby, 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

HORNBY. - About the closing years of the war of 1812-15, a few families of limited means, yet filled with determination and energy, sought to make a settlement in the extreme eastern part of the town of Painted Post. Asa and Uriah Nash, former residents of Otsego county, came to this region in the year 1814, and located in township number 3, of the first range, thus founding what became known in later years as the " Nash settlement." This part of the town was then supposed to contain much undesirable land, for which reason sales were slow and few indeed were the pioneers who cared to undertake its settlement and improvement. However, the Nash families began their improvement in the north part of the township, and after testing the quality of the land it was found wholly desirable, although hilly and rolling. Other settlers soon came in, among those of the year 1815 being Edward Stubbs, Samuel Adams, Ezra Shaw and Jesse Underwood. In the same year the "Platt settlement" was founded in the southwest part of the town, the settlers in which locality being Jesse Platt, John Robbins and Amasa Stanton. In 1816 the "Palmer settlement" was likewise established, its pioneers being Aden Palmer, James Gardner and Chester Knowlton.

In this manner these pioneers, and their followers soon afterward, made not only a complete settlement of what is now Hornby, but also succeeded in developing the natural resources of a comparatively undesirable region, making many good farms and comfortable homes. This beginning had the effect to attract others to the vicinity, and during the next few years there came Benjamin and Hiram Gardner, Isaac Goodell, John St. John, Aaron Harwood, John Sayer and Jacob Goodsell with his two stalwart sons Daniel and Henry. Still, these determined pioneers had to contend against many difficulties. Theirs was a wild region, the habitation of wild animals of many kinds, some of which were particularly destructive to growing crops and yard fowls and occasionally to cattle. To exterminate them the settlers devoted much time to hunting and from this region has been handed down many famous stories of wonderful achievements on the part of local nimrods. However, after the forests were cleared and farms opened the more annoying animals disappeared and only the ordinary obstacles of pioneer life were to be overcome.

Referring still further to the subject of early settlement, let us recall the name of pioneer Hodge in the eastern part of the town, and also in the same locality the later corners, Samuel Lilly, Wm. W. Cole, Martin Lane Benjamin Lewis, jr. Other early corners, equally worthy of mention, were Theodore Hendrick, John Harrison, Wendall Rhoda, Seneca Burnap, Thomas Jewett, Parnach Haradon, Marcus Gaylord, John Bixby, Josiah Wheat, Caleb Gardner, William Easterbrook, Jonas Ward, Andrew B. Dickinson, Henry Gardner, all of whom were settled previous to the division of Painted Post and the formation of Horny. This was done in 1826, the original town comprising all that is now Hornby and Campbell, the latter being set off from the former in 1831, taking half its territory. As then and since constituted, Hornby containing 25,200 acres of land, an excess over the thirty six square miles supposed to be included in township 3, range 1.

In 1830, four years after the organization of Hornby, the inhabitants of the district numbered 1,365, and in 1840, Campbell having been formed in the meantime, the population was 1,048. In 185o the number was 1,314; in 1860 was 1,291; in 1870 was 1,202; in 1880 was 1,209, and in 1890 was' 1,011. Thus we discover that in more recent years this town, in common with other similarly situated localities, has suffered a material reduction in population, owing to the same causes prevailing elsewhere the decline in interest and profit in agricultural pursuits and the tendency of the young people of both sexes to seek employment in cities and large villages.

The first election of town officers in Hornby was held at the tavern kept by Mr. Shaw, also at Knowlton's and Dickinson's stores, and is remembered as covering a period of about three days. This was in 1826. The officers elected were Andrew B. Dickinson, supervisor; Josiah Wheat, town clerk; Hiram Gardner, collector; Alonzo Gaylord, Milo Hurd and Jonathan Fellows, justices of the peace; Amasa Stanton, commissioner of highways; Hiram Gardner, constable. A more complete list of first town officers is impossible owing to the imperfect condition of records.

The supervisors of Hornby, in succession, have been as follows: Andrew B. Dickinson, 1826; Rice Nash, 1827; A. B. Dickinson, 182829; Daniel Clark, 1830-31; A. B. Dickinson, 1832-37; W. H. Gaylord, 1838; Amasa Stanton, 1839-41; David Smith, 1842-44; Flavel W. Morrow, 1845; Peter Rhoda, 1846-47; Willis H. Gaylord, 1848; F. W. Morrow, 1849; John T. Stanton, 1850; Peter Covenhoven, 1851-52; John T. Stanton, 1853; F. W. Morrow, 1854; Wm. A. Armstrong, 1855; F. W. Morrow, 1856-58; George Adams, 1859-60; N. B. Stanton, 1861-64; J. H Ferenbaugh, 1865; Asem Eddy, 1866-67; James B. Humphrey. 1868; Samuel Easterbrook, 1869-70; J. H. Ferenbaugh, 1871-73; Samuel Easterbrook, 1874-75; Samuel C. Erwin, 1876-77; Alfred Roloson, 1878-81.; Thomas Oldfield, 188283; Daniel Rogers, 1884-85; Albert Duvall, 1886-87; Thomas Old-field, 1888; J. H. Ferenbaugh, 1889; J. A. Stanton, 1890-92; E. J. Easterbrook, 1893-95.

The officers' for the year 1895 are as follows: E. J. Easterbrooks, supervisor; C. C. Roloson, town clerk; W. J. Underwood, H. D. L. Adams, F. L. Rogers and W. S. Lilly, justices of the peace; Oren Roloson, W. J. Wasson and P. B. Humphrey, assessors; James E. Armstrong, highway commissioner; John D. Scott, overseer of the poor; James McCarty, collector.

During the first fifteen years of civilized white settlement and life in Hornby, the inhabitants had little else to distract attention than their constant efforts to exterminate the wild animals then infesting the region. This people were not subject to the embarrassing incidents of the war of 1812-15, nor were there troublesome Indian neighbors to add to the difficulties attending pioneer life. However, only four short years after the organization was effected there came the anti rent or land controversy, the first serious period in local history; yet even this had not the distressing effect felt in many localities as the lands here were purchased at moderate prices, and only the difficulties of realizing ready cash on sales of crops confronted or annoyed the settlers. In all the events of the time local residents took a deep interest and some of them an active part. Meetings were held and the subject thoroughly discussed, and its result was a delegation to the Bath convention in January, 1830, attended by Isaac Goodsell, Samuel Oldfield, Josiah Wheat, Francis Northway and Levi Nash. Delegate Goodsell served on the committee appointed to petition the agents of the Pulteney and Horaby estates, and in all respects was a worthy and competent representative. This town was named in respectful allusion to John Hornby, who was an extensive land owner in the Genesee country; in fact was the holder of a two twelfths interest in the noted Pulteney association.

After this period had passed nothing noteworthy occurred to disturb the serenity of domestic life until the outbreak of the war of the Rebellion, during which period the town is credited with having furnished for the service a total of fifty one men. These were scattered through the several commands recruited in the county, and a more full narration of their services will be found in another chapter of this work.

The one event which more than all others has contributed to the welfare of Hornby was the construction and operation of the Syracuse, Geneva and Corning railroad, the line of which passes across the southeast part of the town. The company was chartered August 27, 1875, and was opened for traffic December 10, 1877. The entire town is benefited by this thoroughfare of trade, and to it the little hamlet called Ferenbaugh almost owes its existence.

The mention of this postoffice and station leads to the observation that Hornby has three settled hamlets, established for the convenience of the inhabitants of the town. They are designated by the names of Hornby, or Hornby Forks, Dyke, and Ferenbaugh. Of these Hornby Forks is perhaps the largest. Each has a postoffice. The hamlet first mentioned has a good school and the Baptist and Presbyterian churches. Dyke has a school and a Wesleyan Methodist church.

Speaking of schools recalls the fact that the first school in this town was taught by Jane C. Leach in the days of early history, while another early teacher was Alonzo Gaylord. Soon after the formation of the town in 1826, the territory was divided into districts, but five years later, after Campbell was sot off, redistricting became necessary. Since that time only such changes have been made as the public convenience demanded. The districts are now twelve in number, and the school property is estimated to be worth $5,300. The school population is about 235. In 1894 the public moneys apportioned to Hornby amounted to $1,354.40, and there was raised by local tax the additional sum of $1,429.14.

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