When I first knew the place where the center or business part of the village now is, it did not seem that the time would ever come when it would be one of the most active and thriving country villages in Western New York.
From the first settlement of the town until 1824, there was only one log house on the south side of the road crossing the fiats. It was where Humphrey & Marvin’s hardware store now is. The road crossing or four corners was then farther east, about where Hiram Willson’s wagon shop now is. A few rods west of the log house above mentioned you came to a swampy piece of woods on each side of the road, extending to near where the mills now are, and the road for the most of the way was a log causeway, and on the south side, where Center street now is, was a dense forest of elm and maple timber.
But to return to the corners. On the 7th day of January, 1824, Thomas Anls, George Smith and Isaac Marsh, commissioners appointed by act of the Legislature, passed the 17th day of April, 1822, laid a road from Bath, Steuben county, to the town of Livonia, Livingston county, which passed through this valley, and is the road now passing through this village north and south, and establishing the four corners where they now are.
Soon after the opening of this road, and in 1824-25, Harvey S. Tyler and Dr. John B. Norton built a store on the corner where Allen & Whitlock’s store now is.
I will here state that all the store or place where goods were sold previous to this time, was a small store kept by Hosea H. Grover, on the old road on the west side of H. W. Tyler’s grove, where there were two or three small buildings and a log house and potash. But to return to the corners. Soon after the store was started Varnum Barber built a house and hat shop where Frank Doughty now lives; and soon after built a blacksmith shop and house where Hiram Becker now lives, and where he did business for a number of years.
Zaddock Grover, who owned and occupied the house first mentioned, sold to Timothy Rider and built a log house near where Mrs. Alonzo Snyder now lives. Rider built a frame barn south of the house, and in a few years sold to John B. Norton, who occupied the premises until about 1850, and sold many village lots. Otis Stratton bought a lot and built a house where James Capron now lives, about 1826 or 1827, and about the same time Ira Harrington built a house where H. E. Allen now lives, and worked at shoemaking.
After the store on the corner had been occupied by different ones until the spring of 1829, Horatio Dyer and Nelson Wells came from Richmond and went to selling goods there. They built a potash building and bought ashes and made potash. H. W. Tyler’s barn is partly the old potash building. About this time or a little before, Varnum Barber built a house where the evaporator is and sold to H. S. Tyler, who occupied it for a number of years. Also about the same time the house where David Curtis lives was built and the land on both sides of the road to the grist mill had been cleared.
In the summer of 1829, Zaddock B. Grover bought a lot on the corner where Morris & Grover’s store now stands, and built a store building, which was the first building on that side of the road anywhere near the corners. I recollect of having helped Timothy Jerome to frame the potash building for Dyer & Wells, and the store for Grover; and I also helped D. H. Grover to enclose and finish the store which was the first of my working at the trade, Soon after this the house now occupied by L. R. Hopkins was built, and also the house now owned by J. D. Hendershott was built by S. G. Grover, where he lived until his death many years since, and the village began to grow slowly.
In 1883, Dr. J. B. Norton built for himself a dwelling house where the old log house formerly stood, which he occupied until 1850, when he sold to Alonzo Snyder. Snyder put on an addition and converted it into a tavern in 1851, and the same was used as such by different ones until a few years past, and might have been until the present time if the town had not refused to grant license to sell strong drink since 1878.
In 1835, Thomas C. Grover having bought the store on the southeast corner, made an addition to it, and converted it into a tavern, or hotel, as they began to be called, which hotel was opened, as I learn, on the 5th day of July of that year. Grover built a store adjoining on the south. Clark & Bradner had a store, and there were three or four other buildings adjoining on the south. Gary Knapp, Solomon Waterbury, D. H. Grover, C. Y. Andruss and others occupied those buildings. There were barns and other buildings east of the corners on the south side of the road. All of those buildings were occupied by different ones until the summer of 1854, the hotel then being occupied by Porter Hotchkiss, when a fire broke out in the east hotel barn, in which a valuable pair of horses belonging to Esq. Babcock of Burns was burned. The fire spread to the other buildings and all on that side of the corners, some ten or twelve buildings, was wiped out.
I will not try to give each building as it was built, but will mention some as I call them to mind. The large house now owned by Edmund Robinson was built in 1842, by Thomas C. Grover. D. H. Grover was the contractor, and I assisted in doing the work. About this time Tyler & Grover built the store where H. H. Densmore’s drug store now is.
I will now mention the church buildings in town. In 1833 the Methodist church was built by subscription from the church members and others. It was to be a Methodist church, but free for other denominations when not used by them at their appointments. There were many Universalists, as well as those who did not make any profession, that subscribed for the house. The contractors who built the house were Willson Willey and a man by the name of Partridge, of Livonia. The next church was the Christian church on east hill, built in 1839, by my father and myself as contractors. The Presbyterian Church, at the south part of the village, was built in 1840, by myself as contractor and builder. The A.C. or Advent church was built in 1871, under direction of a committee chosen for that purpose, D. H. Grover overseeing the work, assisted by J. D. Hendershott, Charles Green, George Davis, Orson Walbridge, and others in doing the work.
About 1853, Horatio Dyer built the store where Henry T. Grover is now doing business. After a few years Dyer sold to D. H. Grover & Son, and they continued to do business there until the death of D. H. Grover, some four or five years since.
I will now mention some improvements at the south part of the village at a later date. In 1870, D. C. Snyder built a fine residence at the corners where J. D. Clemons now lives, and a little later N. R. Hopkins built his house, where J. M. Root now lives. E. B. Snyder, S. H. Withington, Wm. Hunter, E. W. Doughty, Frank S. Grover, J. L. Nibs, and George A. Pierce are each occupying splendid residences, which have all been built within a few years past. Mrs. Alonzo Snyder occupies the old house built in 1832 by Zaddock Grover, but having been repaired and added to, it is now a residence that should be an ornament to any village. North of the corners are a few residences lately built which I will mention: H. H. Densmore’s, Harvey W. Tyler’s, Erastus Wemett’s, Henry Stuart’s, F. M. Waite’s, and the two houses by W. C. Robinson and Sheldon Robinson. Wm. Amos and others have repaired their buildings so that they have now quite fine residences. The stores and houses combined of Frank E. Delong, and Stephen Parshall though mentioned last are by no means least among the additions to the village.
About 1872 or 1873 there was a new street opened, running south from Mill street, which I shall call Center street. In 1878 Furman Thompson built and moved into the house where he now resides. Soon after the schoolhouse of district number 2 was moved on, enlarged and made into what it now is - a very commodious house. Since then there has been added a number of residences, mostly very good ones.
On Mill street there are some fine residences. I will mention those of D.C. Boone, Edwin Wilber, H. L. Snyder, C. B. Jackman, Henry Ford, David Curtis, S. C. Tyler, Fred Conderman, all which have been lately built or repaired.