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“History of Springwater” by Orson Walbridge

Early History of Springwater New York

Chapter 3 - History of the Early Civil Divisions of New York, Furnished by D. B. Waite

by Orson Walbridge


It may be interesting to some of our readers to have in an abridged form the dates of the political governments or organizations under which the territory of the present town of Springwater has been from time to time.

The first division of the province of New York into counties was on November l, 1683, and Albany county, besides taking in considerable territory north and east of the Hudson, also included on the west side of the Hudson’s River all lands front Sawyer’s creek to the outermost end of Saratoga, and by subsequent acts took all the western part of the present state. Tryon county was taken from Albany March 12, 1772, and embraced all the province west of the Delaware River, and to the east lines of the present counties of Montgomery, Fulton and Hamilton and in a straight line to Canada, and in April, 1775, it was divided into six districts; the “Old England District to include all lands west of the Susquehanna.” After the Revolutionary war the name of Tryon was not very palatable to the people living in the county, and on April 2nd, 1784 it was changed to Montgomery.

The town of Whitestown was formed March 7th, 1788, and included all the western part of Montgomery to Lake Erie. Ontario county was set off from Montgomery January 27th, 1789, and took in all the state west of the east line of the Phelps and Gorham purchase, and the county was divided into the towns of Augusta, Bloomfield, Bristol, Groveland, Canandaigua, Charleston, Easton, Farmington, Geneseo, Hartford, Jerusalem, Middletown, Palmyra, Phelps, Pittstown, Seneca, Sodus and Sparta; but for political purposes it was divided into two districts, Canandaigua and Big Tree or Geneseo, and remained thus until each town assumed a separate organization, and the township line between the 4th and 5th Ranges from Lake Ontario to the Pennsylvania line was the division line, and hence the present territory of Springwater fell into the Geneseo district. The two districts elected their first officers in 1791. End as aristocracy was known in those days as well as now, Captain John Ganson was elected the first Supervisor. He being the only man in the Geneseo district who owned a pair of boats. Middletown was called “Watkinstown “ after Captain William Watkins, one of the original purchasers of the township, until 1795, and it did not assume a town organization until April 5th, 1796, when it took the name given by the Legislature.

It was named Middletown because it lay midway between Bath and Canandaigua. April 6th 1808 the name was changed to Naples, hut for what reason we are unable to say. Middletown at its organization included the original townships Nos. 7 in the 3rd, 4th and 5th Ranges; and No. 7 in the 3rd Range was set off February 15th, 1818, and received the name of Italy, and on April 17th, 1816 five and one-half miles were taken from the west side of No. 7 in the 5th Range, and three miles from the east edge of No. 7 in the 6th Range (which was included in the town of Sparta) and formed into the present town of Springwater. When the county of Livingston was taken from Ontario and Genesee, February 23rd, 1821, no changes were made in the boundaries of Springwater.

To show the primitive condition of this town, we will transcribe a few notes from the records of Middletown and Naples while this town was a portion thereof. The first town meeting in Middle-town was held April 5th 1796, when it was “voted that all persona shall serve the town without any reward for their services. Voted to pay two pounds for each wolf or panther that shall be killed by any inhabitant of said town. Voted to pay eight shillings for each wild cat that shall be killed by any inhabitant of ad town. Voted to raise ten pounds by a tax for the use of ad town.”

April 4th, 1799, it was “Voted that hogs shall run by being yoked with yokes the side pieces 18 inches long and the other parts in fare proportion.” April 7th, 1806, “Voted to pay six cents per head for each hawk, owl and raven that shall be killed the year ensuing.” To show the relative wealth of the town of Middletown when it took in the three townships, we will take from the records of Ontario county a tax item. In October 1799 there were raised in that county $3000 for building a Jail; $1000 for the Highways; $500 for Schools; $2455.50 for other county expenses and Middletown’s portion of that tax was just $75. June 80th 1818, it was Voted to choose three persons for the purpose of mowing Canada thistle in Naples, and Joseph Kibbe, Simeon Lyon and Nathan Watkins Jr. chosen. Thus it can tie plainly seen that one of the worst agricultural pests made a very early visit to these parts, and judging from appearances they came to stay.