HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF BENTON.
IT requires no stretch of conscience, no exaggeration of fact, to say concerning the town of Benton, that among
the towns of Yates County, or even among the towns of Western New York, it ranks with the foremost in point of
thrift, wealth, enterprise, productiveness, and generous hospitality on the part of the present generation of inhabitants
therein. And what is true regarding them is also said to have been characteristic of their ancestors, The early
history of settlement, development, and improvement in this town was not dissimilar to that of other towns in the
same region, the localities bordering on Seneca Lake. The lands here were a part of the Phelps and Gorham purchase,
and being surveyed, the greater portion of the town, as at present constituted, comprised township No. 8, of the
first range. This implies that its eastern boundary abutted the old pre emption line, which was the fact; but in
making disposition of the lands east of the line and west of the lake, the district of territory between these
boundaries was included within Benton.
Originally, before Benton as a town was set off, township No. 8, first range, together with the land east of it,
and Milo as well, were all a part of the district of Jerusalem, a provisional township of old Ontario County, organized
as such for jurisdictional purposes upon and soon after the erection of the mother county. The district of Jerusalem
was organized in 1789, but the town itself, within substantially its present limits, was not organized until 1803.
The district of Jerusalem was settled mainly by the followers of the Universal Friend, whose principal habitations
were on the shores of Seneca Lake and the vicinity of the mouth of the outlet, and in the town of Jerusalem, as
now designated, while scattering settlements of this peculiar people extended northward into the town of Benton
proper, or, more strictly speaking, into township No. 8 of the first range. This settlement by the Friends commenced
about 1788, and continued until the closing years of that century. In the meantime settlement was being rapidly
made by other pioneers than the Friends, and who had nothing in common with them either in religious belief or
sympathy with the Friend's teachings. In fact they were believers in the Christian religion as taught by established
denominational churches, and the peculiar manner and method of worship indulged in by the Friends found no favor
in their eyes. Therefore they sought to be set off into a separate township, using as a means of accomplishing
that end a petition to the Court of Sessions about to be held at Canandaigua; which petition was as follows:
The petition of many of the inhabitants of Jerusalem humbly sheweth: That whereas, many of the reputable inhabitants
of No. 8, in the first range in this town do wish to be incorporated into a town by themselves; and to prevent
disputes and preserve friendship among us, we pray this Honorable Court to set off said No. 8 into a town by the
name of Wilton, with all the liberty and privileges which other towns in the State of New York have and enjoy.
And your petitioners in duty bound will ever pray. February 1, 1799. (Signed), Griffin B. Hazard, Enoch Shearman,
Benjamin Durham, Silas Hunt, James Parker, John lympton, Benjamin Briggs, William Ardery James Scofield, George
Wheeler, Nathan Wheeler, Elisha Wolcott, Elisha Woodworth, Ezra Rice, Samuel Buell, jr., Eliphalet Hall, Joel P.
Sawyer, Daniel Stull, Daniel Brown, Perley Dean, Francis Drains, Jesse Drains, Joshua Andrews, Levi Benton, Enos
Fuller, Silas H. Mapes, Smith Mapes, Dyer Woodworth, Otis Barden, Jeremiah Jillette, John Knapp, James Springsted,
William Gilbert, William Hilton, jr., William Hilton, David Riggs, Elisha Brown, Ichabod Buell, Samuel Buell, George
Bennett, Cyrus Buell, David Riggs, Philip Riggs, George Wheeler, jr., M. Lawrence, Thomas Lee, jr., James McCust,
Thomas Hathaway, Daniel S. Judd, Daniel Lazelere, Dennis Shaw, James Allen, Thomas Clark, James Beaumont, John
Neil, James Brown, Ellis Pearce, Henry Mapes, Simeon Lee, William Cunningham, John Meeckelnane, John Bruce, Hezekiah
Townsend, Matthew Cole, Reuben Riggs, Ezra Cole."
Referring to the names included in the foregoing list the reader will observe many who were among the pioneers
of Benton, as now constituted, while not a few were dwellers in the district of Jerusalem outside the town proper,
but who, for some cause, probably as heretofore stated, were desirous of having the separation made as the petition
asked. But, notwithstanding the evident strength of the petition, its prayer was not granted by the court. However,
four years later, in 1803, Jerusalem was made a separate town, and on the 12th of February, of the same year, under
the name of Vernon, another township was created, including all that is now Benton, Milo, and Torrey. The name
Vernon was continued until 1808, when an act of the legislature changed the name to Snell, there having been erected
previous to 1803 a town in Oneida County also named Vernon. For some reason the people of the town of Snell became
dissatisfied with the name, and had recourse to the legislature with result in another change, this time to Benton;
and so named in honor of Levi Benton, the first settler within the limits of the town as it now stands.
The first reduction in the extent of territory of Benton was made in 1808, when Milo was erected, and took from
the mother township No. 7 of range first and all the land east thereof and west of Seneca Lake. The second and
last curtailment of Benton's territory was made in 1851, by the erection of Torrey, for which both this town and
Milos surrendered their lands, and the most desirable agricultural sections of them.
Township No. 8 of the first range, which includes the greater part of what is now Benton, is bounded north by Ontario
County; west by Potter, No. 8, second range; south by Milo, No. 7, range one, and, a part set off to Jerusalem;
and east originally by the old pre-emption line. The land east of the line was included in Jerusalem first, and
afterward followed the various town organizations that eventually became Benton. To correct an erroneous impression
that exists in some minds, it may here be stated that the main road leading from the residence of Hon. Guy Shaw
north to Bellona is nowhere between those points touched by the old or the new pre emption line. The old line lies
east of this road, and, as near as can be determined from maps in existence, passes along the short stretch of
north and south road lying west of the residence of James McMaster. The new pre-emption line runs into the lake
just north of Dresden, in Torrey.
The subject of this chapter is the town of Benton as at present constituted. Among the sub divisions that form
Yates County, Benton occupies a position of prominence, for, in point of agricultural productiveness it ranks first
and foremost. This enviable condition is of course largely due to the exceedingly rich quality of soil that extends
over nearly its entire surface. Topographically the lands of the town may be classed as level generally, with a
gradually rolling surface affording an excellent natural drainage system. The lands of the town are considerably
higher than in the vicinity Penn Yan, and travel between the county seat and Benton Center is necessarily up a
long hill. Bellow, on Cashong Creek, is in one of the most depressed localities of the town, but not so low, perhaps,
as in the vicinity of Flat street. But nowhere in the entire, township do there exist bills or vales of such height
or depth as to embarrass or prevent cultivation in any form or character.
If any of the towns of the county can lay claim to possessing Indian history in connection with its early history,
in that respect Benton's claim is of first importance. In the extreme northeast corner of the town, on the farm
now owned by William W. Coe, the Senecas had built up a little village which had been commonly called " Cashong,"
but which General Sullivan, in his official report of his famous expedition in September, 1779, designated as "
Gotheseunguean." Fowler, in his diary of early history, calls the name " Kashanquash." However,
convenience and euphony have changed the name to Cashong, by which the stream in the locality is still designated.
Here was a little village of a few cabins, but in the vicinity the Indians had growing crops and bearing orchards.
At a later date than 1779 two traders, Dominick De Bartzch and Pierre Pondre, maintained a post for traffic with
the natives. They, too, claimed the lands in the vicinity. But in this nar rative these persons will not be considered
or treated as having been the pioneer settlers of the town. In the " draught" of town lots in Benton,
De Bartzch fell owner to No. 22.
Pioneer Families of Benton. - A history of Yates County published nearly a score of years ago devoted to Benton
more than 200 of its pages, the greater part of which had particular reference to the old families of the town.
In view of this fact, and in deference to a general request made upon the publishers of the present volume by a
large and influential majority of men of the county, many of them descendants of pioneers, the local chapters of
this work will contain less of biographical and geneological record than did its predecessor work. But at the same
time an effort will be made to mention briefly as many of the pioneer families as can be recalled. It is not that
the pioneers of Benton are not worthy of extended mention, but the fact that they have been so fully written in
the history referred to would seem to preclude the necessity of again treating at length concerning them, and would
appear to make this volumn but a repetition of the former, and therefore lose much of its value and importance.
Common consent accords to Levi Benton the honor of having been the pioneer of Benton. In his honor the town received
its permanent name. He was the cousin of Caleb Benton, who was one of the New York Genesee Land Company, the latter
being the chief disturbing factor that had much to do with retarding the settlement and development of the Genesee
Country, on account of the nefarious scheme of leasing all the Iroquois lands against the express will of the State
of New York. Levi Benton, with his family, came and made a settlement on lot thirty seven, during the year 1789.
Mr. Benton was prominently connected with nearly every leading enterprise in the town; was frequently a public
officer and one in whom the people had every confidence. His wife, whom he married in Canaan, Conn., was Molly
or Mary Woodworth, and by whom he had nine children: Polly, Olive, Levi, Luther, Calvin, Joseph, Nancy, Hannah,
and Ruby. In 1816 Levi Benton and his wife moved from the town and took up ther final abode in Indiana, where both
died at an advanced age. The name Benton has no representatives in the town at the present time.
Major Benjamin Barton was the pioneer in the northeastern section of the town. He bought the 700 acre tract of
Dominick DeBartzch and made his settlement there, on Cashong Creek, soon after Levi Ben-ton's coming, probably
during the same year. He was a surveyor, and had much to do with laying out early roads and running lot lines.
He built, about 1796 or '97, a large frame house at Cashing, with the evident intention of maintaining it as a
hotel, for it had that important adjunct of all taverns of the period, a spacious dancing hall. Also Major Barton
wasa a public man, filling the office of sheriff of Ontario County from 1802 to 1806. In 1809 Major Barton moved
from the town.
John Dye succeeded Major Barton in the ownership of the Cashong farm, so called, and is said to have built a grist-mill
on the creek as early as 1805. The saw-mill near the same site is believed to have been built by Thomas Gray, also
a pioneer. Mr. Dye died in 1820, and was succeeded by Andrew Brum, who won fame, if not fortune, in having exhibited
the first elephant in the region.
The most numerous, and perhaps the most prominent family now in the locality of Cashong, are the descendants of
Jephtha Earl, senior. Mr. Earl, in 1821, became owner of the mill property at Bellow, placing it in charge of his
son Jesse. It afterward became the property of another son, Jephtha Earl, jr. The latter, born in 1806, still lives
in the town, in an elegant house near Earl's Landing on Seneca Lake. He moved here from Bellona in 1830. Of the
Earl family, only Jesse, Jephtha, jr., and Arthur, sons of Jephtha, senior, became residents in Benton. In 1829
Jephtha married Eliza Hutchinson, who bore him seven children. Arthur Earl was born in 1810; married Sybil Conklin
and had nine children.
Otis Barden was at the head of one of the most respected pioneer families of Benton. He was a native of Massachusetts
and descended from revolutionary stock. He made his " pitch " of land, as all New Englanders say, on
lot fifty, while his brother Thomas located in the township north of Benton. This was in 1789. Otis married Elizabeth
Parker, the daughter of James Parker of the Friend's settlement. Their children were Betsey, Sally, Charlotte,
who married Aaron Dexter; Susan, who married George Carpenter; Otis, who married Cata Butler; James P., who married
Charlotte Gage; Henry, a prominent physician who married Caroline Purdy; Ira R., who married Susan Hanley William
M., who married Olive Hanley; Eleanor C., who became the wife of Daniel Ryal, and Lois E., who married Henry H.
Thomas Barden, brother of Otis, married Olive, daughter of Caleb Benton, and had eight children: Thomas, Ezekiel
C., Levi, Otis B., Olive, Isaac, Richard, and Polly or Mary.
Thomas Barden, father of Otis and Thomas above mentioned, with his wife and five of their children-Sylvanus, Milly,
Eunice, Lois, and George - moved to Benton in 1799. George Barden, the last named of these children, married Dolly
Witter and raised thirteen children, viz.: Dolly, Hannah, George R., Elizabeth, Sylvanus, James, Levi, Philo, Lucy
A., Minerva, Mary J., Martin W., Tilson C.
In 1792 Ezra Cole and his family, formerly of Litchfield, Conn., but directly from Unadilla, N. Y., came to Benton
and settled on lot 113, where the hamlet Benton Center now in part stands. Ezra Cole built a log house first, but
afterward, in 1804, a large frame building which he opened as a tavern. Here he lived until his death, in 1821.
The children of Ezra Cole were Matthew, Delilah, Lois, Nathan P., Daniel A., Asa, Smith M., Sabra, and Ezra.
Asa Cole and Smith M. Cole, sons of Ezra, afterward became residents of the little village of Penn Yan, and each
followed his fathers' example in that he became tavern keeper. Their location was at the corner of Main and Head
streets, as now known. Both were active men in the affairs of the village and town, but Smith M. afterward moved
to Flat street in Benton, and maintained a tavern stand where Charles B. Shaw now lives. Asa married, first, Sally
Sprague, by whom he had two children; and second, Lydia Francis, by whom he had one child, Frank R. Cole, whose
pleasant residence and large farm are located just north of the village limits. Of Asa Cole it may be said that
he served during the war of 1812 as lieutenant in Captain Bogart's Geneva company. During his after life he was
ever known to friends and neighbors as Major Cole.
Samuel Buel was the head of one of the pioneer families of Benton, and one of the contingent of former residents
of Unadilla that came and settled near the Center in 1792. Samuel Buel was a native of Connecticut. He was a soldier
during the last French and Indian war, and held a captain's commission during the Revolution, and served at Fort
Edward in this State. At this place Cyrus Buel, son of Samuel, was captured by the British and held three years
in captivity, in Canada. Being released he returned to his family. Samuel Buel married, first, Sarah Holmes, who
bore him six children: Sarah, Samuel, Cyrus, Paulina, Betsey, and Ichabod. His second wife was Susan Morse, by
whom he had eight children: Henry, Catharine, Anna, Hannah, Esther, Artemas, Mary, and Matilda. Samuel Bel, the
pioneer, died in 1809.
Eliphalet Hull was another pioneer of 1792 in Benton, and likewise one of the Unadilla colony that during that
year settled near Benton Center. Mr. Hull is remembered as having been prominently connected with early events;
was the first school teacher in the town; the first Methodist class leader in the region, and a teacher in singing
of remarkable ability. His wife was Huldah Patchen, by whom lie had eight children: Salmon, Hannah, Daniel, Sarah,
Martha, Anna, Eliphalet, and Seth. Seth Hull, brother of Eliphalet, came to Benton in 1800. The surname Hull, descendants
of these families, is not now known in the town.
George Wheeler was a settler in Benton in 1791. He was an extensive land owner, and as such possessed all now of
Penn Yan village lying north of the outlet and west of Benham street with its continuation, Sheppard street. The
wife of George Wheeler was Catherine Lyon, by whom he had eight children: Ephriam and Samuel, both of whom died
in childhood, and were buried where the cemetery now is, east of the Center; Eleanor, George, jr., Nathan, Susan,
Margaret, and Zachariah. George Wheeler, the pioneer, died in 1824, and his wife in 1827.
Philip Riggs, widower, with a family of children settled near the center, on lot 116, in 1795. The children were
David, Benjamin, Reuben, John, Mary, Hannah, Anna, Betsey, and Susan. It is understood that the surname Riggs has
no representative in Benton at this time.
In the south part of Benton, and in the extreme northern part of the present village of Penn Yang, Robert Chissom
was the pioneer settler. The lands on which he located were a part of the purchase of George Wheeler, whose daughter
Mr. Chissom had married. His log house stood about where is now the Ayers residence, and was opened by him as a
hotel. Mr. Chissom died in 1806. His children were Catharine, Peter, Ephraim, Hannah, and George.
Moses Chissom, brother of Robert, located in Benton in 1794. He married Mary, daughter of Philemon Baldwin, by
whom he had eleven children.
Philemon Baldwin was one of the odd yet valuable characters of the town during the days of its infancy. His occupation
was that of a farmer and miller. It is said that Philemon Baldwin suggested the name by which the county seat should
be called and known - Pang Yang, - changed by common consent to Penn Yan. Mr. Baldwin's immediate descendants were
Asa, Philemon H., Amos, Caleb, Rune, George, Mary, Sally Ann, Elizabeth, and Esther.
Elisha Woodworth became a settler in Benton in 1798, on lot 41, the premises now in part owned by John Merrifield.
In Mr. Woodworth's family were these children: Erastus B., Elisha, Polly, Sally, Abner, Amy, Ariel, Anna and Amelia.
Polly Woodworth married Dr. Calvin Fargo, an early physician of Benton, to whom there were born these children:
Hiram S., Russell R., Julia, Elizabeth, Abigail R., John C., and Elisha W. Abigail Reed Fargo, one of these children,
married William Hoyt Gage, son of Reuben Gage.
Moses Gage, his wife Sarah, and his children, Mariam, Buckbee, Reuben, Aaron and Isaac D., came from Dutchess County
and settled in this town in the year 1801. Here Moses died in 1812, and his wife in 1813. William Hoyt Gage, now
residing on Flat street, is the son of Reuben Gage by his marriage with Azuba Hoyt. The other children of that
union were Jesse, Horace, Martha, Aaron, and Reuben P. William H.was the youngest child but one. The surwme Gage,
representatives and descendants of pioneer Moses Gage, are numerous in Benton at this time, and are among the most
enterprising and public spirited residents thereof.
In 1792 Samuel Jayne came to the Genesee Country, and in 1797 became the owner of a farm on lot 8, where his son
Samuel now resides, 1891. His wife was Eleanor VanZile, by whom he had three children, Samuel, Henry and William.
John Coleman was born August 30, 1770. His wife, Christiana Rhine, whom he married May 24, 1795, was born August
18, 1771. In 1798 John Coleman bought fifty acres of land at Bellow, and brought his family to the place the next
year, The wife and children journeyed down Seneca Lake on a raft, landing at Earls, while the husband came overland
with his cattle and other stock. The children of John and Christiana Coleman were John, born March 4, 1796; Margaret,
born May 24, 1797, married William Taylor and died in Benton; Henry R., born October 15, 1800, died May 3, 1880;
Elizabeth, born November 4, 1803, married William Bamborough; Daniel, born May 27, 1806, killed by accident while
on wedding tour; Sally, born October 14, 1808; Charles, born April 30, 1811, and lived and died in Benton, December
23, 1883. Charles Coleman, the youngest son of John, married Mary Ann Seely. Their children were George C, who
died from wounds received in the army; Charles Edward, now in Nebraska; and William Henry, who owns and occupies
the old home farm of his father, about a mile west from Bellona. Charles Coleman was six times elected justice
of the peace in Benton.
Truman Spencer was the third pioneer settler in Benton. He came during the year 1788, and made a purchase from
Levi Benton of land on lot 8, in the locality afterward known as Spencer's Corners. In 1789 James Pattison and
his wife, and their daughter Lois (Pattison) Spencer, wife of our pioneer, came to the location and occupied the
cabin which Truman Spencer had previously built. James Pattison died in 1792 and his wife in 1821. David Spencer
was the first child born to Truman and Lois Spencer, and his birth, September 8, 1790, was the first event of the
kind in the town. The other children born to them were Nancy, David P., Laura, Olive and James. By reason of his
services in the militia organizations, Mr. Spencer became known as captain. As the civil list will show, Capt.
Spencer was one of the presidential electors in 1832. His wife died in 183o, after which he married Martha, widow
of George Wheeler. Truman Spencer died in April, 1840. From this old pioneer has descended a good number of active,
energetic citizens of Yates County.
Captain Lawrence Townsend, a soldier of the Revolution, made a purchase of land in Benton in 1790, and moved to
the locality during the winter following. His place, which was a tavern, and he its landlord, was on the continuation
of Head street east of and not far from the residence of Thomas Gristock. The children of Lawrence Townsend were
John, Anna, Henry, Phebe, Darius and Abraham.
Aaron Remer was the son of John Remer, a pioneer of what is now Torrey, having settled there in 1800. Aaron was
born in New Jersey, and on coming to Torrey located at or near Lawrence's Mills on the outlet, in which he became
interested. Leaving there he settled where Thomas Gnistock now lives. His wife, to whom he was married in 1804,
was Phebe Townsend. He died in 1841, and his wife died in 1867. Their children were Lawrence T., Ann, Phebe, Mary,
Jane, William T., and Sarah. Aaron Remer was known as captain, from the fact that he organized a cavalry company
in Benton during the war of 1812-15. The company was in active service for about three months. Captain Remer was
in all respects the representative and worthy citizen. He was one of the members of Assembly from Ontario at the
time of the erection of Yates County, and was an active agent in bringing about its separation from the mother
county. He was the first member of Assembly from Yates, in 1823. In 1831 and 1832 he again represented this county.
Stephen Whitaker was the first settler in the locality of lot No. 20 in Torrey, he having come to the town in
1799, and there he resided until his death in 1827. He came to the Genesee Country from New Jersey. Stephen Whitaker
was a man highly respected in Benton; he was one of the founders, and the chief one, too, of the first Presbyterian
church and society in the town, and was one of its most devoted, conscientious and worthy members. In town affairs
he was frequently called upon to fill offices of trust. Mr. Whitaker was married four times; first in 1772, to
Susannah White, by whom he had one child; second, in 1779, to Ruth Conklin, who bore him eight children; third,
to Mary Cross, in 1793; and fourth to Agnes, the widow of Daniel Potter. The children of Stephen Whitaker by his
second marriage were Jonathan, Mary, Deborah, Stephen, Ruth, Isaac, Phebe, and Ann. Jonathan, eldest child of Stephen,
was born in 1780; married in 1806, Mary Bailey. Their children were Squier B., Stephen M., Alexander F., William
H., Ephraim M., Ruth Ann, Marietta, and George W. Squier B. Whitaker was thrice married; first to Mercy Amsbury,
second to Lydia C. Amsbury, and third to Mary L. Olmsted, James S. Whitaker, of Penn Yan, is the son of Squier
B. Whitaker by his marriage with Lydia C. Amsbury. William Harlow Whitaker was born August 16, 1813, and died July
29, 1881; married Ann Eliza McDowell, November 3o, 1837. Their children were William H., Jonathan, Augustus, Marietta,
Frank, Aurelia, Kate L. and Charles F.
Enos Tubbs, an old revolutionary soldier, settled on lot 31 in 1788 or 1789. He was twice married, having no children
by his first wife, and eight by his second.
The name Havens stands for pioneership in Benton, the representatives coming to the town in 1810 and the years
following. The family is numerous in the town today.
Benjamin Dean came to the county in 1798, locating first near Seneca Lake, but in 1804 settling in Benton, on lot
74. He had several sons who preceded him to this region.
Perley Dean was a pioneer on what became known as Flat street, on lot 39. He came here in 1793.
Elisha, Daniel and Martin Brown, natives of Connecticut, but directly from Vermont, located on lot 31 during the
year 1793. Later on lot 78, just west of Benton Center.
David and Experience (Pierce) Peckins were natives of Massachusetts and came to Jerusalem in 1810. Their children
were Hannah, Elipha, David, Lydia, James, Alexander, Sabra, Elisha, Martha, George, and Samuel. Elipha Peckins
remained in this county and lived for many years in Benton. His wife was Martha Raymond, by whom he had four children:
Myron, Arabella, Charles R., and Jane. Myron Peckins married Sarah J. Taylor, daughter of Alva Taylor of Benton,
and now resides in Penn Yan. Charles R. Peckins married Eleanor Briggs, daughter of Seth B. Briggs, an old and
respected resident of Benton. Further mention of Myron and Charles Peckins will be found elsewhere in this volume.
One of the most prominent families in the southwest part of Benton was that of which James Taylor was the highly
respected head. Their settlement was made in 1821, on lot 112. They were not pioneers, but were a family worthy
of at least passing mention in this chapter. On the same lot Briggs Belknap settled in 1819. In the same general
locality, on lot 87, Noah Davis settled in 1813, and his brother, Thomas Davis, in 1814. They were pioneers in
James Smith and family, from Orange County, settled south of Benton Center in 1812. Their children were Job, Julia
Ann, Mary, Sophia H., Emily T., and Susan T. Sophia H. Smith became the wife of. Eli Sheldon.
The Guthrie family, many representatives of which still reside in the county, settled in Benton in 1819.
The Crozier family, of which Adam Crozier was the head, settled in the town in 1821.
But the families whose names and lives have been recorded on the preceding pages did not constitute the entire
contingent of persons entitled to mention in connection with the early history of Benten. The families named were
perhaps the leading ones, possible the most prolific, and more closely identified with the history of the town,
past and present, than were others of whom briefer mention was made. In a town like Benton, where settlement commenced
in 1788 and concluded only when all its lands were taken up and improved, it is difficult to determine just where
pioneership actually ceases. But that the record may be made as complete and reliable as possible, it is proposed
to devote some further space to a mention of the names of some others of early settlers in the town, but of whom
there cannot be made any extended record.
The Angus family, of whom Walter Angus was the pioneer head, settled in the town in 1800. A large number of his
descendants are still residents in Benton, living mainly on the shores of Seneca Lake.
In the north part of the town there were resident prior to 1804, either as individuals or heads of families, Joseph
Corey, Joseph Ritchie, Dyer, Rilish and Artemas Woodworth, Lyman and Enos Tubbs, Timothy Goff, Elisha Smith, Elihu
White, Silas H. Mapes, James Springsted, Jesse. Lamoreaux, Abram Florence, Stephen Wilcox, Joseph Smith, Richard
Wood, Isaac Horton, James Davison, and others, perhaps, whose names at this time cannot be recalled.
Dr. John L. Cleveland, a former resident of the county, and a medical practitioner of some importance, became a
citizen of Benton, living at the Center in 1818.
Russell Youngs and his wife, Anna (Buell) Youngs, settled in Benton in 1801. Their children were Alma, Polly, Maria,
Milan, Oliver and Fanny. The youngest child, Fanny, became the wife of Samuel H. Chapman. He is remembered as having
been a school teacher of long experience, and court crier for more than thirty years. In politics Mr. Chapman was
a Whig, then a Republican, but during his later life he was interested in the cause of prohibition. The children
of Samuel H. and Fanny Chapman were Charles E., who died in hospital during the war; Mary Jane, now at home; Henry
0., who died in 1849; Alson, who died in 1889; Russel, who is a prominent wagon maker at the Center; Eugene, who
lives in Torrey, and Fred, who manages the home farm. Samuel H. Chapman died April 16, 1885.
William Hilton settled on lot 5o in 1794. His wife, Ruth, died in 1826, and he in 1828; Robert Patterson settled
on lot 43 in 1798 or 1799; the Weed family, who are still numerous in the county, settled on Flat street in 1808;
Ephraim Kidder located in the town in 1800; the wife of John McMaster, the progenitor of a large family, many of
whose descendants still live in the town, located in Benton in 1810; the McFarrens came to the county in 1806;
Jared Patchen settled on lot 70 in 1807; John Powell, a former blacksmith in Penn Yan, made his settlement in 1816;
the Lamport family came to Benton in 1812; Abel Peek's family settled in 1813; the Randall family came in 1812;
the Ketchum family were early settlers in Flat street; the children of Ebenezer Boyd, Robert, Lewis, and Phebe,
settled in Benton in 1814; Jacob Winants was a settler in Benton in 1800, and left a large family, five of them
being residents of the town at an early day.
The western part of Benton was originally heavily timbered, and was known as the West Woods. In this locality settlement
did not commence as early as in the eastern sections, and it was not until 1816 or thereabouts that improvements
were made here. Among the more prominent of the first families in this region of the town were the Rectors, Cranks,
Wheelers, Simmonses, Fingers, Gooses, Carrolls, Moons, Millers, and others, perhaps, whose names are lost by time.
Many of the families whose names have been mentioned on preceding pages have descendants still numbered among the
families of the town today, while there were others, pioneers perhaps, who lived here for a time and then moved
to some other locality. Looking over the lists of residents of Benton at the present time the fact will appear
that many families who were not pioneers have substantial descendants now in the town, and they, too, among the
most thrifty and forehanded of its people. Elsewhere in this work will be found some brief mention of persons and
families who have been identified with the development and prosperity of Benton during the last fifty and less
It has been the custom of all past historical writers to furnish at least a partial list of town officers in connection
with town chapters; and it appears to be conceded generally that the office of supervisor is as representative
a position as can be selected from among township officers of which to furnish a succession. Benton was brought
into existence in 1803, but the records of the town during the first seven years of its history, whether under
the names of Vernon, Snell, or Benton, do not appear to be in existence. From all that can be learned Samuel Lawrence
was supervisor during 1808 and 1809, and was succeeded by Elijah Spencer in 1810. Of course the reader will understand
that names of persons may be found in the following succession of supervis ors of Benton who were residents of
township 7, or Milo; but none such will appear after 818. The same may also be said of Torrey, which was not made
a separate town until 1851.
Supervisors of Benton. - Samuel Lawrence, 1808-09; Elijah Spencer, 1810-14, 1817-19; Joshua Lee, 1815-16; Meridith
Mallory, 1820; Abner Woodworth, 1820-21, 1831-32; Jonathan Whitaker, 1823, 1825, 1829; John L. Cleveland, 1824;
Elijah Spencer, 1820-28; Aaron Remer, 1830; Anthony Gage, 1833; Samuel G. Gage, 1834-35, 1838-42; Heman Chapman,
1836-37; Abner Woodworth, 1843; Aaron Edmonds, 1844; Hatley N. Dox, 1845-47; James Simmons, 1848; Alfred Baldwin,
1849; William S. Hudson, 1850; Edward R. Briggs, 1851; Henry Hicks, 1852; William Taylor, 1853; Isaac N. Gage,
1854; George W. Spencer, 1855; William T. Remer, 1856; George A. Sheppard, 1857; John Merrifield, 1858-59, 1865-67;
Samuel Allen, 1860; Homer Mariner, 1861-62; Caleb Hazen, 1863-64; Samuel Jayne, 1868; Henry C. Collin, 1869-70;
Wemple H. Crane, 1871; Samuel B. Gage, 1872-73; Mason L. Baldwin, 1874-75; George W. Taylor, 1876-77; Myron Peckins,
1878-79; Ebenezer Scofield, 1880-81; Bradley T. Mallory, 1882-83; Horace Underwood, 1884-85; James M. Lown, 1880-87;
Frank Coe, 1888-89; James B. McAlpine, 1890-91.
Justices of the Peace. - Under an amendment to the constitution of 1821, passed in 1826, justices became elective
and not appointive offices; but in Benton there appears no record showing the election of any justice prior to
1830. From that time the justices, with date of election of each, has been as follows: Abner Woodworth, 1830-34;
Samuel C. Lyon, 1831, 1835; John A. McLean, 1832, 1836, 1847; Jesse T. Gage, 1833, 1837, 1841, 1853; Edward Young,
1838; Samuel G. Gage, 1839, 1847, 1851; Robert P. Buell, 1842, 1846, 1850; Levi Patchen, 1843; James Young, 1843;
Alpheus Veasie, 1844; Josiah S. Carr, 1848; Charles Coleman, 1849, 1857, 1861, 1865, 1869, 1873; George B. Stanton,
1852; William Comstock, 1854, 1858, 1862; William S. Hudson, 1855; James Durham, 1856, 1860; Martin Brown, jr.,
1859, 1863; Edwin Lamport, 1862, 1864; Thomas H. Locke, 1866, 1870, 1874, 1878; Henry R. Taylor, 1867, 1871; Daniel
Millspaugh, 1872, 1876; Myron Peckins, 1876; William Best, 1879; Walter W. Becker, 1880, 1884; Rowland S. Manley,
1881; Charles R. Peckins, 1882, 1886, 1890; George B. Barden, 1883, 1887; William H. Coleman, 1885; Emmet C. Payne,
1888; Ashley W. Barden, 1889.
Villages and Hamlets. - That part of the incorporated village of Penn Yan which lies north of Head street forms
a part of the town of Benton; and the electors therein have a voice and ballot in the election of town officers
of Benton, and village officers of Penn Yan. But the voters of Benton outside the village have no voice in the
election of municipal officers; therefore any extended reference to the village as a part of the township is not
appropriate to this chapter.
Outside of Penn Yan the principal central point for trade and business in Benton is the little hamlet called Bellona,
situate on Cashong Creek, in the northeast part of the town. From the time of the founding of the village about
1810, until the present time, the population has at no time exceeded 300 souls; but, in a way, Bellona has been
and is an important point. Its business interests have been comprised in the saw and grist mills, the indispensible
tavern, and two or three stores. Bellona was made a mail station in 1813, with Martin Gage as postmaster. He held
office until 1839, and was then succeeded by Dr. Anthony Gage. The stone mill at Bellow was built about or soon
Benton Center is the name of a little village having no corporate organization, situate very near the middle of
township No. 8 as originally laid out and surveyed. It is distant from the county seat about three and one half
miles, on the main thoroughfare of travel north from Penn Yan, and at the intersection of the road just mentioned
with the only east and west road that leads directly and entirely across the town. The proximity of the Center
to Penn Yan precludes the possibility of its ever becoming a trading point of importance. Having no natural water
power, it is not of value as a manufacturing locality. The first settlement in Benton was made east of and near
the Center by Levi Benton, while the lots Nos. 113, 114, 115, and 116, that contribute lands to the hamlet proper,
were themselves occupied at an early day. Still the village had no postoffice until 1825, when Joel Ross was appointed
postmaster. David Buell succeeded him, since whose time John A. Haight, Isaac N. Gage, Asahel Savage, Myron Cole,
Edwin Lamport, and Oliver C. Guthrie have held the same office. Benton Center has two churches and church societies,
each of which is mentioned on succeeding pages of this chapter.
Ferguson's Corners is the lesser in importance of the three hamlets of the town. Its situation is in the extreme
northwestern section of Benton, and its size is scarcely greater than the average of corners or cross roads. A
postoffice was established here in 1842, but discontinued in 1865.
Church History of Benton - It has been said, and with much show of truth, that Benton is the mother of churches
in Yates County. The only locality that had a church prior to Benton was that occupied by the Friends, and theirs
was but a primitive log building. Moreover, the Friends were a sect that colonized in the region, worshiping in
peculiar form and manner, not recognized by the established churches or religious denominations then extant, and
one that proved not to be founded upon substantial basis and without perpetuity.
The Methodist Church in Benton had its inception in the missionary preachings held as early as the year 1792 in
Levi Benton's barn, at which time and period Ezra Cole was a local preacher and organizer. In 1793 he organized
a Methodist class, among the members of which were himself and his wife, Matthew Cole, Lois Cole, IDelila Cole,
Eliphalet Hull and wife, George Wheeler, jr., and wife, and Mrs. Sarah Buell. Eliphalet Hull was the first class
leader; George Wheeler the second. At that time Benton was in the Seneca Lake circuit, and so remained until 1806.
A Genesee conference was formed in 1809, and a Crooked Lake circuit in 1814. The first meeting house of the society
was erected in 1807, on the farm now of M. L. Baldwin, about a mile south of Benton Center. Except that of the
Friends, this was the first meeting house erected in what is Yates County. George Wheeler, jr., furnished the land
for the building.
The first twenty years witnessed increasing strength in the class and society, but misfortunes and some secessions
worked injuriously until about 1826, when a revival re-established its strength. In 1828 the Benton circuit was
formed, including the several classes in the town, with result in the erection of a house of worship west of the
Center at Havens Corners. Five years later a parsonage was built near the church. The Center did not become a station
until 1841, and for all prior time such services as were held were conducted either by local preachers or circuit
riders. The church at the Center was built in 1855, and substantially remodeled and repaired in 1859.
The Methodist Church at Bellow is but a branch or offshoot from the mother society of the town. The first services
were held in 1805 in the log school house, and in 1809 such interest had come to be shown that a regular place
for preaching was established. The class at Bellona was formed the same year, among its members being Benjamin
Bidlack, Henry Oxtoby and wife, Jacob Wood and wife, and John Davis and wife. In 18 to a meeting house was commenced
and enclosed during the first year, but it was not until 1820 that it was fully completed. It stood on the hill
just north of the village.
In 1841, under the direction of H. R. Coleman, Summers Banks, J. W. Wood, George Waite, and Charles Coleman, as
building committee, the new centrally located church edifice, 36 x 56 feet in size, with steeple and bell was erected.
Two years later, in 1843, Bellona was made a separate charge, and Seth Mattison was its first preacher. In 1866
extensive repairs were made to the church edifice, making it when completed an attractive and commodious house
of worship. The committee in charge of the work were Charles Coleman, Summers Banks, George H. Banks, J. H. Huie,
C. Lazenby and George Brooks.
The Baptist Church and society of Benton Center, and in fact of the town, had their origin in the meetings and
services that are said to have begun as early as 1797, although there exists no tangible proof to show that any
organization took place prior to 1800, when Elder John Geoff was appointed and ordained to the charge of the society.
David Southerland and Moses Finch were elected deacons. At that time it was known as the Vernon Church. Elder Goff
was pastor of the church for thirty six years, and is remembered particularly on account of the great length of
his discourses at regular church meetings, funerals and wedding celebrations. In 1836 he emigrated to Michigan.
The first church edifice of this society was erected in 1818, and stood, not at the Center, but on the road next
east and leadingto the north. At that time there were a number of Universalists in the town, and they contributed
toward the fund with which the church was built. Occasionally Universalist services were held in the church, In
1848 the commodious church edifice at the Center was erected. The trustees, Samuel G. Gage, George R. Barden, James
Southerland, John Church, and Charles Gilbert acted as building committee. The parsonage property was purchased
in 1856, costing $1,200.
Elder Goff began his pastorate in 1800 and served thirty six years. Next, after a vacancy of two years, Elias Buck
was called, remaining two years. William H. Delano came in 1840 and served four years. John W. Wiggins was called
in 1845, and Daniel Litchfield in 1847, the latter serving four years. Elder Almon C. Mallory was ordained in 1851,
and continued in charge of the church twenty four years. Subsequent to the pastorate. of Mr. Mallory the elders
in charge have been T. S. Hill, Albert Martin, V. P. Mather and S. D. Works.
Among the earlier members of the Baptist Church at Benton Center can be recalled the names of Samuel Buell, Moses
Finch, David Southerland, David Riggs, William Gilbert, Benjamin Fowle, Francis Dean, Simon Southerland, Smith
Mapes, Isaac Lain, Elisha Benedict, Ephraim Kidder, Isaac Whitney, Buckbee Gage, Benjamin Dean, Samuel Raymond,
Robert Watson, Jonathan and Jesse Brown, Stephen Wilkins, David Kidder, David Holmes, David Trimmer, John L. Swarthout,
Stephen Coe, Charles and Joel Gillette, James Southerland, Heman Chapman, Jacob Watson, Henry Nutt.
The Presbyterian Church of Benton, the mother of several other societies of that denomination in the county, was
organized through the efforts and influence of pioneer Stephen Whitaker. He was a Presbyterian and laid the foundation
of the society in the prayer and conversation meetings held at his own house as early as the year 1802. On the
7th of November, 1809, Rev. John Lindsley organized a society at a meeting held at Mr. Whitaker's house. The original
members were Stephen and Mary Whitaker, John and Susannah Armstrong, John and Sarah Hall, George and Elizabeth
Armstong, John and Sarah McLean, Solomon Couch, William Read, Rebecca Boyd, Terry Owen and wife, and William Roy.
The first ordained elders were Stephen Whitaker, John Hall and Solomon Couch. The society had no regular pastor
until 1820, when on September 13th Rev. Richard Williams was installed.
In 1816 the full organization of this church was effected, and the name "The First Presbyterian Congregation
of the Town of Benton," was adopted. The first church edifice of the society was erected in 1821 on the southwest
corner of lot No. 12. Here services were held until January, 1839, and then transferred to the church then recently
acquired at Bellows. Here they have since been continued, but a good proportion of the old membership and their
descendants became united with the church at Penn Yan. In fact it was considered that there was a virtual removal
of the old church to the county seat.
The church building occupied by the Benton Presbyterian Society on its removal or transfer to Bellows village was
the same formerly occupied by the society of the Dutch Reformed Church. The latter had its organization in 1833,
and the church edifice was built the same year at the individual expense of John Pembrook and Jacob Meserole; but
the sale of pews nearly made good the amount expended by them. The society continued only about six years, and
the building was sold in 1839 to the Presbyterian Church and society. The latter absorbed the former congregation.