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“Tales of the Past” by Frank Connor

Tales of the Past

Chapter 17 - Early settlers and where they lived, Jacksonville.

by Frank Connor


Shortly after the arrival of Phillip Short in Hemlock other settlers started coming, most of them locating at the foot of the lake along the outlet. In a few years the village extended from the lake to the corner where Samuel Collins lives.

Phillip Short built the first cabin a short distance east of the homestead farmhouse. He died a few years after his arrival here and is buried in the old family lot in the woods east of the farmhouse. Darius Jacques located northeast of the village, Ruell Blake west of the village on the farm known as the Clancy farm. At one time he was the wealthiest man in Livingston County. He owned a large amount of land and also dealt in wool, produce and live stock.

He was a peculiar man in many ways and many stories are told of him. It is said that it was not uncommon for him to carry several thousand dollars on his person in the billfold that we have in the museum. He made business trips to New York City often and it is said invariably would refuse to pay his fare on the train, saying he had no money, until he would be threatened to be put off the train when he would pull out his billfold and pay. He died in the County Home at Geneseo.

De Rastus Hinman located in the village, where he opened a store. Richard Hudson, a licensed preacher of the Methodist denomination, located farther down the outlet in Jacksonville, where he built a residence in 1826. He built and ran a store in 1807, upon his arrival, somewhere near Collins corner. He discontinued the business in 1809 for some unknown reason. The store building in now the north end of Mr. Collins’ barn, which stands on the east side of the road. This is the oldest frame structure in the village. The account book of this store is in the possession of Mr. C. W. Hudson, grandson, who lives in Honeoye Falls. Entries in this book show that Levi Van Fossen, John Walker and Ben Farnum opened the first accounts on June 9th, 1807.

About this time (1807) Austin Woodruff was doing a general trading business. Nearly everything handled in a store then was hauled from Albany by ox-cart. Grain, fur and ashes were hauled there and exchanged for salt, spices and other necessities.

There are many stories as to where the name, “Hemlock”, came from. The one I think most likely is that it was named from the lake which received its name from the amount of Hemlock timber growing along its shores.

In the early days there were several saw mills located at the lake and along the outlet. Of course a great many slabs were made by these mills and from this the nickname of “Slab City”, came. This nickname has stuck well; several people never heard of Hemlock but had heard of Slab City.

In 1829 another village was planned, to be known as Jacksonville. It was to be located down the outlet northeast of Hemlock at the foot of Holden Hill, now known as the “White Bridge”. This place had a woolen mill, grist mill and distillery. A man by the name of Holden planned to make it the business center of the locality. He had it surveyed and great were the things he was going to do. Time and events changed his plans for him and afterwards the place was known as the “Lost Village”. When the supporters of Jacksonville saw that they were too far off the main road to ever grow much they considered moving the village up on the corner (Collins). A tavern was built on the land now owned by James Wood but was not operated very long. The site where it stood can be identified from the remains of the old cellar wall in the corner of the field. The place might have grown and united with Hemlock in forming a fair-sized village, but the coming of the Erie Railroad destroyed all prospects.