We now come to the pioneers of the town. There are always two classes of those notable worthies; the floating, transitory and erratic frontiersman, and the genuine “settler,” the firm, unflinching, permanent immigrant who comes to clear and till the land and to possess it for himself and posterity.
In the earliest settlement of every place in this fair land of ours, there was at least a sign of the former, preceding true civilization. They erected a temporary cabin, cleared a small garden patch and soon passed on, having no desire to live in so close proximity to neighbors whose wives could gossip across division fences, especially about their husbands, which some good dames have done at times.
Probably a majority of the very first comers into our town were the floating class, but we find many of them, who, had not in early life imbibed that rambling, restless spirit so prevalent among the Yankee nation, and learned the truth of the maxim that “a rolling stone gathers no moss,” they might have had some of our very best citizens.
The first settler within the borders of the present Town of Canadice located themselves in 1795 above the head of Honeoye Lake near the present south line of town. At that time, no survey had been made save township lines and they were not, in some instances, established with much perception.
Pittstown, afterward Richmond, had not been formed, Middletown, now Naples, and a portion of Springwater, had just cast off the cognomen of Walkinstown and nearly all of Livingston County was included in the County of Ontario. “Claim lines” were run by the early comers with the axe. Sometimes a goodly claimant would take an indefinite amount of “terra incognita” and for awhile pride himself upon his riches, but sooner or later would settle down on some forty or fifty acres.
They made their own laws, sometimes of rather an illegal character, securing and intending to secure to the first claimant his “betterments” and they were usually respected. The man who ignored them and undermined another, left a name that was disreputable, even in the eyes of the present generation.
One law stated that the cutting and piling of three respectable brush heaps on a piece of land and a few marked trees together with erecting a log house secured to him and his heirs and indefeasible inheritance.
Previous to the time before mentioned, a few families settled in Naples, then Middletown, from Berkshire County, Massachusetts. Aaron J. Hunt had become dissatisfied with the “limited bounds of the Jerseys” and resolved to try his fortune in the wilds of the west and had chosen as his home the sequestered and once lovely valley of Wyoming, lying snugly ensconced among the Pennsylvania hills. The storms and winters of sixteen years having passed and to him the stains of the butchered kindred and the crushed spirits of the few left to tell the tale of sorrow, made it an unpleasant dwelling place.
Early in the spring with all his worldly effects, his family and a yoke of oxen, he came up the Susquehanna River as far as Newtown, now Elmira. Here he put all his household property that could be conveniently taken on a sled, leaving the balance and with his family on foot, proceeded as far as what is now Atlanta, where a temporary cabin had been erected by Richard Hooker and Joseph Bivin. Here they unloaded the goods and the team and a driver took the sled and returned to Newtown for the possessions left, before the little snow remaining snow would leave and thus make it impossible with their only land vehicle to bring their goods to the place of their destination.
They were now at the end of the road and the remaining portion of their journey was to be thru an unbroken wilderness, save only a solitary trail of the red man leading from the Susquehanna to the head of Honeoye Lake.
The remainder of the company, seven in number, with what provisions and necessary articles they could carry on their backs, started for their new home. Anyone conversant with the rugged region thru which they were to pass would not be surprised t learn that they did not reach the valley of the Honeoye before nightfall. They lost their way and sought shelter beside a fallen tree. The howling wolves on that eventful occasion and the loneliness of their situation as told us in 1876 by the youngest and last survivor of that group, Mrs. Sarah Lincoln of Hopewell (Mrs. Lincoln died in July of 1878, at the age of 95.), then verging on her centennial birthday, painting a picture making desolation doubly solitary. The next day, the sound of the woodsman’s axe was heard felling trees with which to erect a cabin on what is now lot 2 in the extreme southwestern corner of the “Pan Handle” of the present Town of Richmond.
This much we feel is necessary to say in order to properly introduce our young hero, the pioneer and first settler of our town who came with the family of Aaron Hunt. He was an enthusiastic lover of Hunt’s daughter, Jane, and who had been christened in the land of his nativity with the name of Jacob Holdren. History had not handed down to us the heart secrets of Jacob and Jane and “their prairied graves murmur them not forth.” It is enough for us to know that she was his star of empire and with her he “wended his way.”
Hunt built his cabin on the east side of the Honeoye inlet and commenced his first clearing there while Jacob chose the west side. Jacob assisted Hunt, who, in return, assisted him and he lived in with the family until he had cleared a few acres and built a habitation east of the present road and northwardly from the saw mill. Previous to building his house, Jacob procures fruit trees, both apple and peach with the assistance of Jane, he set them in the virgin soil of the valley, Jane holding them upright while he replaced the soil. It would be drawing no fancy picture, no climbing far the ladder of imagination, to say that they, in after years, as they sat beneath the spreading branches and partook of the golden fruit of those trees, surrounded by a treasured group of children and the numerous embellishments of civilized life, went back in their memories to the days of honest, primitive love in the wilderness.
In the fall of 1795, the twain were made one and soon crossed over and took possession of their newly made habitation. During a few of the first years of their residence there, they experienced all the privations incident to a backwoods life. Grain that was planted was mostly dug up by chipmunks or squirrels, a measure devoured by deer and other trespassers of the forest and, in one season, their stock of provisions was for awhile so nearly exhausted that they even boiled and ate green pumpkins and cabbage without salt or any other condiment for seasoning. Their nearest gristmill was Hopewell and the poor condition of the roads often constrained them to pound their grain in the aboriginal style. The old elm stump with a burned out hollowing on the top was used for that purpose. This was preserved as a relic and could have been seen standing on the Hunt place a few years ago.
Their nearest post office was Canandaigua, to which they made monthly and semi-monthly trips. Daily papers, we are told, found no readers in that vale in that day.
Jacob Holdren was a practical millwright of that day and built a number of the first mills in the country. He succeeded so well in business that from a poor boy, he became the owner of some three hundred acres of the best land in that region, milked from 20 to 30 cows and sheared from 500 to 600 sheep. He sold out in 1834 to a Col. Henry and went to Indiana.
The children on Holdren were eleven in number: Samuel, Betsy, Sarah, Jacob, Olive, Belinda, Clarissa Ann, Sabrey, Nathaniel, George W. and William H. Samuel was the first child born in town and when he was three years old, he was accidentally burned to death in Frosttown. He was buried in the orchard set out by his parents.
Nine long years of Jacob Holdren’s border life had passed away before the stillness of the forest was disturbed at any other point in town by the din of civilization.
Early in the fall of 1804, three stalwart Yankees from the western base of the Green Mountains set out on foot carrying the provisions for their journey on their backs. They were the brothers Gideon and John Walker and Josiah Jackman.
At the foot of Canadice Lake, they built a log cabin on the farm referred to as the Harry McCrossen place. One built on the farm owned by Hiram Colegrove and the other on the farm to be owned by Mansell R. Smith around 1876. In the latter part of the winter of 1805-6, they returned to their homes in the east for their families. With three teams of oxen and sleds and their possessions, and after a journey of twenty days, they took up their abode in the finished house. After finishing the other two dwellings, Gideon took the Colegrove farm. John stayed in the first one completed, and Josiah took the Smith property. With the greater part of log house carpentering being the splitting, preparing and placing upon the roof of “shakes,” from two to four feet long, laid in courses with straight poles at intervals lengthwise to hold them in place, the houses were soon completed.
Gideon was a man that did not like to work very well and was sometimes was known to get into contest and more than once, either he or his quondam friend, carried an eye or so vying with rainbow in colors. He remained in town about six years, built a log barn and sold to Simon Stevens, who arrived from Vermont in the winter of 1811, with a sled and a yoke of oxen. John Wilson came at the same time, bringing a load of good for Simon.
In the year of 1813, John Walker erected the first framed house in town. In 1809, Betsy Walker, sister of Gideon and John, taught the first school in town. The school house was of logs twelve feet square and had two windows with four panes each. The children in attendance belonged to The Walkers and Josiah Jackman.
The first crop of winter wheat raised in the new settlement was sowed among the tree stumps and gave a good yield. The first crop of corn planted on the mucky land gave a small yield due to chipmunk depredation, but the next crop was more remunerative. Pumpkins planted with the corn found notice in eastern prints as one of the wonders of the “Genesee Country.” The orchards set out in Canadice Hollow in 1809 were started from trees from Bristol.
Years passed, and with prosperity that came to the Walkers, a double wagon and a span of horses were purchased. John Walker, his wife and Mrs. Jackman set out for a visit to Vermont. The women rode in a double chair, then a luxury. On returning, they were presented with a cheese, securely wrapped and sewed to the underside of the chair bottom. It came safely through the trip.
Jackman cleared the land south of his house. When the lots were surveyed, the line separated most of his clearing from his house. Amos Jones went quietly to the Land Office and took an article of the south part of Jackman’s possessions. Jackman, not feeling disposed t quickly leave the place on which he had spent so much of his labor, continued to work thereon. Jones considering him a trespasser, thought best to institute “summary proceedings” to dispossess him, the interloped.
The nearest peace officer was an “old fowling peace” that had honorably served thru the war and to that Jones resorted. The result was that Mr. Jackman was seen the morning afterwards donned in his best pair of pants, the old ones hanging behind the house on a bush and Jones was in full possession of his ill-received premises.
Thru the years, Mr. Josiah Jackman did become the richest man in town and enjoyed himself counting over his dollars as well as Astor did handling his peltry, and Jackman’s sister, Marcia, a childless widow in her 80th year, lived in Springwater upon the charity of others.
In the year 1807, Ezekiel and Frederick Wilson and their families came into town and settled in Canadice Hollow. A log barn accommodated both brothers. The brothers Asa, Pliny, William and Zechariah Ackley from Livonia, were the carpenters. After its completion, the “boys,” both old and young, had an exhibition there which consisted of choice extracts from the text books of the day and a few rehearsals by the “old boys” of what they had learned in their day.
As wild “varmints” were plenty and night walking somewhat dangerous, notice was given well in advance that the christening of the first framed building in that hollow would be an all night entertainment. The exercise of the night was spiced with now and then a cotillion. Also a few down east border life yarns were thrown in as interludes. It was the first public gathering of all classes in the hollow.
Ebenezer Kimball also came from Bristol to Canadice in 1807, and settled on what was called the Partridge farm. No roads then led into town from Pitts flats, later called Honeoye. He employed hands to assist him in chopping a passage thru the forest. It took him two whole days to get from Honeoye to Kimball Hill or Kimball. First a log cabin was built and orchards set out from trees from Canandaigua and Bristol. Then other inhabitations of more pretentious character were constructed.
Kimball was the father of 10 children, the sons being Otis, Ira and Ebenezer Jr.; the daughters, Susannah, Betsey, Catharine, Nancy Arethusia, Melinda and Maryette. Betsey married N. G. Chesebro, who was long a resident of Canandaigua. N. G. Chesebro was instrumental in procuring the arrest of William Morgan and figured quite largely in his abduction, all of which long since became a matter of history. The honorable H. O. Chesebro and the lamented Caroline Chesebro, the authoress, were grandchildren of Mr. Kimball. Ebenezer Sr. was counted a very homely man, or in other words, nature had chiseled an unusual number of deeper curves and angels in his countenance than the majority of mankind usually possessed, but he was blessed with one of the very best dispositions, thus proving the aphorism true in his case, that homeliest folks are cleverest. At one time, he was drawn on a jury where two of his fellows were at loggerheads, firm gritty and mulish withal - and thinking the differences “pure cussedness” and desiring the parties to get enough from that one suit, decided to “disagree.” The jury went out and all agreed save Ebenezer. In vain they tried coaxing but he came out victorious and the case was set down for retrial.
The first settler in the southwestern part of town was David Badgero. His father was a French Canadian and a noted nimrod in his day and his mother was of German parentage. They left Canada in a very early day and came to Black River Country, where David married Miss Ann Gordon, by whom he had six children: Elizabeth, Nancy, Justin, Martinus, Catherine and David. She died and he removed to Burpee Hollow in the Town of Bristol early in the spring of 1803. There he wooed and won the heart of Miss Polly Gilbert and they were married in the fall of the same year. He remained there until the spring of 1808. Then, accompanied by his brother-in-law, Ruben Gilbert, his wife and children, he came by way of Honeoye to Livonia and in canoes or Indian “dugouts,” up the Hemlock Lake. They built a log house just across the line in Springwater where they lived while they erected another on the farm once owned by the heirs of Harlow Colegrove in Canadice. David’s first possession was fifty in the south end of lot No. 14. David’s second marriage was also blessed with six children: Sarah, William, Hannah, Reuben, Francis and Harry. When David’s wife, Polly, was three or four years old, she was suddenly taken blind and remained so during life. Of their children, Sarah, Hannah and Francis, all became blind when about three years old. William, however, had better sight and a greater range of vision than usual. A little incident of Hannah’s girlhood days may not be amiss here. While out one pleasant summer day picking string beans for dinner, something came gently and noiselessly into her half closed hand. “Twas a humming bird” me thinks the thought invariably came into her mind, “who told this innocent fellow that I was blind.” Francis was a skillful and accomplished workman in wood and was in youth, an adept artist with the violin, and the “observers of all observers” at the merrymaking in the surrounding country. He built and finished in a good and workman like manner, a number of dwelling houses and performed feats of lifting which seems almost incredible. Although his weight did not exceed 136 pounds, he had repeatedly lifted more than 2,000 pounds at once. He traveled over portions of this state and Canada and proved to thousands the truth of this. As was well known, Mr. Waite was a truthful and painstaking historian, yet it is hoped that this item was omitted from the eyes of an incredulous public, who will, of course, brand the above a “whopper.” For the benefit of those disposed, the reader is referred to a widely published account of the “lifting” contest held at Canandaigua in which the principles were Badgero and a 200 pound burly colored man. The former won by a considerable margin (330 pounds), raising a total of 2,185 pounds. This was not without intense amusement to the spectators and disastrous results to as likely a pair of trousers that ever telescoped the legs of a man. It is not known whether he ever again subjected himself to such a Herculean ordeal again. Probably not, or at least, not in Canandaigua.
Seth Knowles, from Massachusetts, had preceded them in that valley about one year. Seth left his eastern home in the spring of 1805, came to Livonia and took up a farm. The next season was very dry in that town and observing that showers were frequent in the vicinity of the lakes south of him, he resolved to make a prospecting trip in that direction after harvest.
In the fall of that year, Seth Knowles, his son Jared, and Peter Welch, took their guns, axes and necessary provisions on their backs and followed the old Indian trail over Bald Hill to the present town of Springwater, then Middletown. They built the body of a log house on Lot 4 and returned to Livonia. On the last day of March, 1807, Seth and his family came up Hemlock on the ice and took possession of his cabin, becoming the first settlers in the western part of the town. Seth Knowles brought “elecampane with the golden plume” into Springwater. He cleared something like eight acres on the flat and then exchanged with David Gilette for the land upon which stood the St. James Hotel. When the town of Springwater was formed, he had the honor of naming it.
Justus Grout came from Vermont to Livonia in the spring of 1808, and hired for one year to Samuel Pitts. During the same part of that year, Pitts and Grout came to the head of Canadice Lake for the purpose of making sugar, maple timber then largely predominating from the head of the lake southward. After a time, Pitts left Grout and went to Livonia for provisions. Grout knew that sone hands were at work in the woods and some two miles away making shingles so in their shanty he passed the night.
On Apri29, 1810, Justus married Catherine, the third daughter of David Badgero. As no ministers had as yet immigrated to this part of the moral vineyard, Esquire Stevens of Lima was called to tie the peculiar knot. To the best of our knowledge, this was the first marriage in the Town of Canadice. From 1810 to 1816, they lived in Springwater. Justus Grout was drafted in the War of 1812 from Springwater and went and acted his part nobly. His children were David, Martha, Nancy, Betsey, Justus Jr., Marion and Frank and Bradley. Martha, or “Aunt Patty” as she was familiarly called, was a very successful school teacher for seven years.
In that day school teaching was considered a higher calling than now, and housework and washing clothes for the family not disgraceful to even a applicant for a teacher’s license. Mothers at that time spun and wove and Aunt Patty, being a tailoress, performed the double duty of teaching the children and cutting and making garments in which they were clad. She married Luke Johnson ans died in town. (Mr. Waite, a student of Aunt Patty, and author of this work, recalls many a pleasant reminiscence of his early schooldays when under her parental care and instruction.)
In 1816, Justus Grout bought out his father-in-law and took up his abode in Canadice where he lived and died.
In 1808, Butler Lewis and John Leggett built cabins on land near where East Kimball had been settled. Lewis moved after a short time to another part of town. Story tells that the better half of Butler Lewis ran away with Walling Armstrong. The deserted husband then left, probably for Ohio. John Leggett developed the land and then sold out to Benjamin Green and died in 1836, Dr. Sylvester Austin settled there. He was one of the best physicians of his day, served as coroner and was a member of the State Legislature.
John Alger, a settler of Bloomfield, in 1789-90, built a house and erected a saw mill on the stream near the head of Canadice Lake. This was the first mill of any description in the town. From the fact of there being but a slight fall in the stream for some distance above its location, it became necessary to build a high flume and understanding or knowing the strength required to resist the lateral pressure of the large bulk of water it was to contain, the structure as so weak that it proved useless for the purpose for which it was made. As there was no road leading to the south further than the one laid out in 1810, to the foot of Canadice Lake, the castings for the mill were brought up the lake in whitewood canoes of Indian construction. Alger abandoned the mill and sold to Ezra Spencer.
Alger was a hunter of great experience and his gun furnished the meat for the table while working the mill. He was also a soldier in the War of 1812, and was so badly wounded that he was incapacitated for farm labor.
We have spoken of Grout’s visit to the cabin of the shingle makers. One Lewis Johnson lived upon the beautiful pine timber that once stood there. Leather Johnson was his appropriate name from the fact of his wearing a pair of buckskin pants and shirt and moccasins of the same material. It was his Sunday as well as his weekly rig-in heat, cold, in wet weather as well as dry. After tramping through the heavy dews so prevalent in those low lands, or thru a rain storm, he could often be seen stooping over and rolling up his wet “galligaskins” and as they became dry, he could be seen in a “question shape,” rolling them back again.
The farm was in a state of nature covered with stately pines. Many acres were chopped and a log or two taken off and the balance would be cut into convenient lengths, rolled into heaps and burned. Large quantities of charcoal were burned on the place in the early days.
Ezra Davis settled in Canadice in 1808. Where he came from we know little but he was a cabinetmaker by trade and furnished the coffins in which we buried some of te early settlers of the southern part of Richmond and the northern part of Canadice. He was the first one in town who followed that business. His dwelling was near the Canadice-Richmond Town line.
Samuel Bentley, early in the spring of 1809, began clearing north of where Canadice Corners is and some partial structures were built. He then exchanged with John Richardson for a farm in Conesus, giving six hundred dollars. Richardson’s advent into town was hailed joyously for two reasons: one, that of riches, and the other, for being a very ingenious man, the best in all the country to fit a yoke to the necks of “Bright and Brindle.” He also made large wheels that became quite a desideratum among the industrious women.
A part of the house was erected by Richardson and the balance in 1839, by Severance for a store and shoe shop. Freeman Warrick pounded soles for a long time for Severance.
Jesse Ballard was a man of iron will and possessed a constitution well fitted by nature for a backwoodsman and from the book of miscellaneous matters in the Town of Richmond we find that he was a resident there as early at least as the spring of 1806. We find his earmark, on the 24th day of May in that year, “a square crop of two half pennies on the right ear.” This was three years before he moved to Canadice, or that portion of Richmond now included in Canadice. He took up the farm now owned by the heirs of Lyman Nutt. Three years after he came here, he assisted John Richardson, Cornelius Holden and Cornelius Johnson in building the first schoolhouse in the northeastern part of town. He lived here five years and went to Virginia, where, in after years, by false affidavits he received a captain’s pension for a time. Fearing detection he left, leaving all at sea as to his whereabouts.
We now come to what was called in the early days “Frog Point.” For years this was the only name of the locality that lies at the foot of the crossroad leading westerly from Canadice Corners and seemingly a place where considerable business has been transacted.
According to a letter written from Armada, Michigan, to Byron Waite by the Rev Ira Spencer, the last survivor of the family of Samuel B. a few days before his decease, it states that so numerous were they in the land of their nativity that the village of Spencertown on Myrtle Creek in Columbia County, was named after them. There were eleven persons in his father’s family who left that place and came to this town on the 9th day of May, 1810. The children were then just nine, but Olive was born in the town in October of that same year. Samuel B. was in some respects a very peculiar man and his children were Ezra, Orra, Lorenzo, Ira, Samuel, Otis, Cyrus, Matilda, Horace and Olive. Ira was the first minister of the Christian order who preached in town. He was a ready debater, quick at repartees and a fair doggerel poet. Young Samuel was more than “a chip off the old block,” he also “loved his glass amazingly” and was the “poet laureate” at all the quiltings, weddings, raisings and logging bees in town. Many a happy little hit from him was remembered by some for many a year.
Joseph, another son, came to Canadice a year after the others and lived here for eight years and then moved to Allegany County. In after years, he was found dead and partially devoured by his hogs.
Seth Knowles, previously mentioned, married Margaret, daughter of Peter Welch, in 1810, and soon after settled in the north end of Bald Hill. This was the first family located on that hill. This trail, passing near his cabin, took the highest land southward and intersected two other trails, one from the eastern shore of Canadice and the other up Hemlock Lake. The first road past the house was surveyed May 6, 1815, by Martin Booth. Years later it was closed and the present one opened.
When he first trod the trail of his father’s place in Springwater to his cabin, Seth invariably carried a firearm as a defense against wolves. His first visit to the Town of Canadice was in 1806, while on a hunting excursion, passed a Seneca Indian camp containing twenty-two wigwams. He was drafted in the War of 1812, but choosing the seclusion he had selected rather than the din and clatter of military life, he gave Horace Spencer $60.00 and a yoke of oxen to take his place. He died in Livonia at the age of 97.
This brings us to and end of our list of early settlers prior to 1810. The amount of labor accomplished by the settlers within the first few years was astonishing. Those who passed the initial stage of settlement gave their ideas of what was required to make a good start in a new country.
The least any family could do with was a log house with two rooms. If this house were made by hired men, it would cost $100.00. A small log house, twenty feet square would cost $50.00. A number settling together could do with one yoke of oxen, and one set of farming utensils for every two families the first year. The price of oxen per yoke was $70.00, of a cow, $15.00, farming utensils necessary at first, $20.00, and an ox cart, $30.00.
It was not a difficult matter for a young man to secure farms during the earliest years of settlement. Many received a dollar per day wages and bought land for 25¢ per acre in 1797. Prices of various products in 1801 were:
Wheat - 75¢
Hay - 6 to 12¢ per ton
Butter and cheese - 11 to 16¢ per pound
Salt port $8 to $10.00 per cwt.
Whiskey - 50¢ to 75¢ per gal.
Salt - $5.00 per barrel.
Sheep - $2 to $4.00 per head.
Cattle for driving - $3 to $4.00 per cwt.
Horses - $100 to $125.00 per span.
Working oxen - $50 to $80.00 per yoke.
Wages - $10 to $15.00 per mo., including board.
Homemade suit - $4 to $5.00.
Shoes - $1.75 to $2.50.
The pioneer of Canadice were of two classes, the frontiersman and the settler. The former erected a temporary dwelling, cleared a small garden patch and, as game grew scarce, moved on. The latter engaged with zest in labor, urged by thoughts of a future comfortable home.
Canadice in 1810 was still part of the Town of Richmond. Growth was quite rapid and during this era the population grew to the highest figure. The census in 1830 was 1,386. In 1970, we were listed as having 971 residents.
Thru my reading, I have been fortunate to read facts and perhaps fables about some of the people who once inhabited our beautiful countryside. These I would like to share with you as a reflection of the challenge life presented in the yesteryear of Canadice.
David Tibbals took a farm in town, was a carpenter by trade and married thrice. His second wife, mother of six, died a most pitiable death on April 9, 1832, caused by falling on a new made fire in an old fashioned log house fireplace. Mr. Tibbals rose early on Sunday morning, built a fire as usual and went to the farm to do some chores. When he returned, he found Mrs. Tibbals sitting on the floor with her flannel clothing all burned off on side of her, with fragments of clothing and adhering coals scattered over the floor. She lingered four days and expired. Mrs. Tibbals was and unfortunate woman who had been plagued with epilepsy from her youth and this caused her premature death.
James Hyde purchased the farm and settled by Deacon Benoni Hogans. There were but four acres of the 135 he purchased cleared when he came there. Five children came with him and six more were born. When they came to town, he was a very poor man as a letter from one who passed thru adversity and poverty under his roof says. First payments he made on his farm were carried to Geneva on foot. When he made the last payment, he was able to hire a horse belonging to Charles Ellis. This was an old mare and the only animal of the horse kind in the neighborhood. The vehicle he rode in was a jumper made of green poles and bent into the form required, with chain traces and rope lines.
By trade, Mr. Hyde was a blacksmith and the boys dug on the farm. There was no road near the house and when it was cut through, a bee was made and the last bear caught in town were two cubs taken from a hollow tree at that chopping bee.
The farm of David Lawrence was settled in 1813 by Elisha Hewitt and sold in 1817 to Luke Johnson. It has often been related, tho how untrue we are unable to establish, that Johnson was a fugitive from justice. He struck the wilds of Bald Hill for a place of refuge, having manned a pirate vessel somewhere in the realm of Captain Kidd - and sure enough the place of refuge it was.
The old Kelly farm near the head of Honeoye Lake was first settled by John Kelly (John Kelly sold to George O. Alber, Jr. in 1875, and Evelyn McMann owned this property until around 1970). He was a Canadian, lived there when the War of 1812 was declared but his sympathies were wholly with us. He acted as a spy for our army and went in the garb of a farmer carrying a bridle in his hand. He was at length detected but by a hairbreadth maneuver, managed to get within our lines and to Hunts Hollow and to this farm. His family was made up of an even dozen: John, James, William, Joseph, Jedehiah, Ner, Richard, Adram, Catherine, Martha, Sarah and Harriet.
In the same year, and to quote directly from Mr. Waite’s writings, two dark clouds nearly merged in one, came floating over the hills from the “sunny south” and dropped, as it were, down into the same hollow and settled on the place held by James Kelly. These objects were two loveable and, in fact, loving ones, Samuel Story and his fair half, Dinah, the first colored people who selected a home in town after the exodus of the “red skins.” They remained here a number of years and Samuel was often heard to say that he married his wife for “pure love.”
William Sullivan, said to be a distant relative of the General of the General of that name, came into town in February of 1812 and settled on the shore of Honeoye Lake (George Alger farm at the head of the lake - dead recorded November 26, 1826). He had enlisted at the time of the Revolution from the State of New Jersey. When he came to Canadice, his wife, children, a span of horses and sleigh comprised his worldly gear.
He died in town in 1843 but always felt a little homesick. Eleven little Sullivans belonging to his family could be seen around the shore of the lake. They were named: Selah, Benjamin, Timothy, Catherine, Eliza, Maria, Melinda, Samantha, William, Gideon and Jedediah. Gideon married Catherine Kelly, the daughter of John mentioned above, and lived her life in this town.
William Brown was an early settler in the old Andruss farm. He was named “Thresher Brown” from the fact of his having traveled on foot to the farm of Shepard Macomber, threshing twenty bushels of wheat in a day with a flail and returned home at night. In later years, he went to Planchinville and through a mistake drank strong polash and after suffering two or three years, died there.
Simon Pemberton operated a small shop near Canadice Corners where he tinkered clocks and watches and was withal a very good fiddler. He was also a good hunter in his day and with his brother nimrods in the Allegany woods never liked to see hi put in an appearance there. Consequence was he was “accidentally” shot through the lungs but he recovered. He was also frozen nearly to death but was preserved to be killed by a horse.
Although of a darker hue than the rest of his neighbors, yet “Old Pump,” as Pemberton was called, possessed some sterling qualities. The old man would take his bitters and on one occasion, while killing hogs, he took too much and was obliged to adjourn the case until he became sober. His first examination of the unfinished work revealed a porker frozen solid in the scalding barrel. The old man gave up a long and cooly pronounced it “a damned cold scald.”
Like nearly all of the first settlers, Reuben Mann set out of his bed of tansy as soon as he became settled, showing a forethought in him, for not many moons had waned ere his bottle of tansy and whiskey and was brought into play to drive off the snakes. He hired Thomas Peabody to underbrush eight acres an bottom land for a smooth bore rifle. The area was near the junction of Canadice Lake Road and Johnson Hill Road today.
Cornelius Cannon made the first brick in town on this farm in 1823. After making some 15, 000, he was taken sick with the ague, hired Peabody to burn them and next year they ran an extensive kiln. Cannon had six children: one, Simon, went to Pennsylvania, taught school there awhile, went west and bought land on which most of the city of Peoria Illinois now stands.
After Cannon sold out, Nathan Wicks, a pettifogger, carried on the brick making. In March of 1826, Benjamin G. Waite from Washington County, succeeded Cannon and lived there until his death.
Waite came into town with a span of horses and wagon and the amount of dollars he possessed was some four hundred, all in silver, which he deposited at the bottom of a box of old iron without a cover and which came thru safely. Waite made nearly all the improvements on the land and remained in the family for several generations.
Of Waite’s children, Edwin G. died in California after hunting gold in 1849. He had been a member of both branches of the State Legislature, County Treasurer of Nevada County and served during four administrations as a naval officer of San Francisco. He was a chief clerk in a mint of State of California. His daughter, Mrs. E. A. Burton, lived in Rochester.
D. Byron, the author of much of these papers, was born in February of 1828, in Canadice. His education, after attending our one-room school house, was received at Alfred Seminary, Clinton Liberal Institute and the National Law School. Mr. Waite was admitted to the bar at Canton, New York in 1850, and, after seeing the sights of distant states and engaging in fur trading, he returned to Canadice. He first married Harriet Brown, the daughter of Maurice Brown, an attorney from Springwater. After her death, he married Amanda Colvin, a widow of a Methodist minister. His children were: Byron Audubon, Genevra Buretla and Gates Percival. He taught school and devoted considerable time to collecting and writing local history. He also collected and classified botanical subjects of his native town. Ornithological Union. His political party label was Republican but he often voted for competent Democrats rather than a Republican of poor qualifications. He was a town justice longer than any other incumbent to that time.
Green Waite lived in the same area in an early day. Waite, or “Uncle Green,” as he was called, was a brother to Benjamin and had bestowed upon himself a very large family. Uncle Green stammered somewhat and he was subject to the “blues.” When he had them badly, he would seek the company of William S. Gilbert as one who could sympathize with him in his troubles which were being deeply in debt and having a large family, mostly girls, hence little profit. As he began to see the coast clear, he was accosted by Gilbert with, “Well Uncle, how goes it now?” Better was the reply, “I’m getting out of debt and my girls are marrying off besides.” “How many do you have at home now, Uncle?” “Only fo-teen,” was his reply.
A farm was taken on Bald Hill around 1814 by Jonathan Waters from Shellfield, Massachusetts. While living there, His son Willis drowned in Hemlock Lake and his wife, in an insane fit, literally roasted herself in a fire.
The first store in town was on the north side of the road running west from the church corner. Artemus Severance ran this establishment with the aid of John Winch. These two men came together while peddling shoes in Plattsburg.
When Jesse Stewart came to Bald Hill, he bought ten bushels of wheat from Seth Knowles at $2.50 per bushel. He paid $10.00 down, worked ten days in harvesting and threshed wheat in the fall for every tenth bushel, earning twelve bushel of wheat. He purchased three quarters of a bushel of timothy seed for which he paid Seth but he was still a debtor. The remainder was thrown in.
Jabez Northrup, with a family numbering thirteen, settled in Canadice. He was a carpenter and erected a frame house better and larger than those of his neighbors. Here he lived till 1837, when he died at the age of 74. Before his death, his children had so settled about him that a coach shell could call all the living to their dinner. This family not only cleared the homestead but 300 acres in the neighborhood.
A single man named Montgomery began chopping on the Asa Hartson farm. One day while cutting down a large oak tree, a knot fell and fractured his skull. He was taken to William Brown’s on the Andrus farm and trepanned but died within a few days.
Eder Weed lived in Canadice for ten years before he sold out and went to Jerusalem. Specifications and drawings were prepared by Reuben Hamilton for Eder and a petition was made to our Legislature for assistance to enable him to test the practicality of propelling boats on the Erie Canal by steam. He was probably one of the first to move in this direction.
Superstition was not extinct since the wife of Eder was accredited to have supernatural powers. It is said that at the funeral of Samuel Bashford, a horseshoe nailed over the front door fell and denied her entrance to the house.
Deacon Adams came from New Hampshire in 1820. On the morning of August 31, 1829, his house, where his three daughters occupied the same bed, was struck by lightening. One was killed instantly, one lived five days, while the third, lying between the others was not injured.
Many, many more amazing, sad, interesting, bewildering and vague stories have been omitted, not by choice but because time has eradicated them. So many times we have listened to our elders but never took the time to record what they had to say. Time passes so quickly and although I have collected the previous pages, my wish is that another will do the same. I hope that one will care enough to take the time to listen and record the future history of Canadice for posterity.