was formed March 30, 1802. Alexander, Bergen, Bethany and Pembroke
were taken off in 1812, and Elba and a part of Stafford in 1820. It
is the central town of the County. Its surface is level or gently
undulating. A limestone ridge, forming a terrace from 20 to 50 feet
high, extends east and west through the north part of the town. Tonawanda
Creek flows northward from the line of Alexander to Batavia village,
where it turns westward and flows through the town near the center
to the west border. Bowen's Creek is the other principal stream. The
soil is a deep, fertile, sandy and gravelly loam, with a clay sub-soil.
(p.v.) situated in the east part, on Tonawanda Creek, was incorporated
April 23, 1823. It contains the County buildings, New York State
Institute for the Blind, six churches, viz., Presbyterian, Methodist,
Baptist, Episcopal, Reformed and Roman Catholic; a female seminary,
union school, three newspaper offices, three banks, a large number
of hotels, stores and manufactories, and between 5,000 and 6,000
nhabitants. It is the most important village between Rochester and
Buffalo, and from it seven railroads radiate to different parts.
The streets are broad, bordered by beautiful rows of shade trees
and lighted with gas. Main street is one of the most beautiful and
best shaded streets in the country. The village has more miles of
good flag-stone sidewalks than any other village of the size in
State Institution for the Blind occupies a beautiful site, about
half a mile north of the Court House. Dr. A. E. LORD, the Superintendent
of the Institution, kindly furnished most of the following facts
respecting its history: The law for its establishment was passed
April 27, 1865. This act provided for the appointment of five commissioners
to select a site for the Institution and three to superintend the
erection of the buildings, and a Board of Trustees to take charge
of the Institution after the buildings were completed. The Commissioners
first named were E. W. LEAVENWORTH, B. F. MANIERRE, James FURGUSON,
O. K. WOODS and M. M. SOUTHWORTH. After examining several sites
offered, the Commissioners selected that upon which the Institution
now stands. The village of Batavia presented to the State this site,
comprising fifty acres of land, which was purchased at a cost of
over $10,000 and is now valued at $13,000. The grading and excavating
were commenced May 4th, 1866. The first contract was let to the
builder, Mr. Henry T. ROGERS, of Rochester, July 18th, and the corner
stone was laid with appropriate ceremonies, September 6th of the
same year. On this occasion Dr. S. G. HOWE, of Boston, delivered
an address. The following documents were deposited in the corner
stone: Copies of city and country newspapers; the programme of exercises;
copy of act establishing the Institution; a Continental bank note
of $35, and a Provincial note of the Province of New York, for two
shillings; a $5 bank note of the Bank of Attica, with an historical
sketch on the Bank, and a specimen of postal currency; pamphlet
containing a sketch of Batavia, by William SEAVER; a list of subscribers
for the grounds upon which the buildings were erected; copy of the
proceedings of the first Court held in Batavia, in 1803; photographs
of village Trustees, &c., and a large sheet of parchment upon
which were engraved the names of the Building Commissioners, Trustees
of the Institution and State and Federal officers. The contracts
of the builder on the main edifice were completed May 31st, 1868,
and it was formally delivered to the Trustees, July 15th. The buildings
are of brick, three stories high above the basement, which is of
blue limestone, quarried on the site, upon which rests a broad belt
of Lockport stone. The quoins and window dressings are of the same
kind of stone. The buildings front the south and consist of four
structures, a front and rear center building and two wings connected
by corridors, 14 by 32 feet, containing the halls and staircases.
The center buildings are 50 by 62 and 50 by 75 feet, and the wings
46 by 106 feet. The length of the entire front is 206 feet, and
the distance from front to rear, including portico, is 185 feet.
The wings present a front of 106 feet. The basement contains the
laundry, bathing rooms, water closets, heating apparatus, &c.
The other stories are conveniently arranged for the officers of
the Institution and assistants, and school and sleeping rooms for
150 pupils. The steam heating apparatus was furnished by Baker &
Smith, of New York. Rain water from the roof is conducted to a cistern
holding 5,000 barrels, from which it is pumped by steam into tanks
located in the attic of the rear building, thence distributed to
all parts of the building where needed. A well about sixty feet
deep, six feet in diameter inside the walls and capable of furnishing
4,500 gallons per hour of excellent water, is upon the premises.
amount paid to Mr. Rogers, the builder,
for the principal structure, was . . . . . . . . . . . . $194,183.35
Carriage House and Stable . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.995.00
Cellar, Cistern and Drains . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,750.00
Well . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . 2,064.50
Cooking Ranges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . 2,467.72
Steam Engine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . 1,013.50
Grading, Laying out Streets, &c. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Commission of Architect . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.500.00
Traveling Expenses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Per Diem and Mileage of Commissioners . . . . . 5,535.76
Making the entire cost . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
To the Commissioners for the erection of the building, Messrs. John
FISHER, of Batavia; John VAN HORN, of Lockport, and L. A. HAYWOOD,
of Warsaw, the people of the State are under lasting obligations
for their fidelity in executing the important trust committed to
them; and especially to Mr. FISHER for his almost constant oversight
of the work from the beginning. Great credit is also due to the
contractor, Mr. ROGERS, for the excellence of the materials employed
in every part of the building, and for the thorough manner in which
all was executed, and especially for the promptness with which it
was completed according to his contract.
the 20th of July last, Dr. A. E. LORD, for the past twelve years
Superintendent of the Ohio Institute for the Blind, accepted the
office of Superintendent. He took charge of the building on the
18th of August. The school was opened the 2d of September and has
been in successful operation since, with about 70 pupils enrolled.
The system of instruction pursued is similar to that generally adopted
by the best institutions for the blind in this country, including
a thorough course of training in the common branches of an English
education and most of the higher branches. Instruction is also given
in vocal and instrumental music. No provision has yet been made
for teaching trades to young men, but the girls and younger boys
are taught several kinds of useful and fancy work. Six teachers
are employed in the Institution. Everything throughout the building
is kept in the most perfect order, and the grounds, when graded
and ornamented according to the plan proposed by Dr. Lord, will
present one of the most attractive spots in the State.
Bryan's Female Seminary is a boarding school for young ladies, situated
in a pleasant locality and is in a flourishing condition. There
is also a flourishing school in connection with the Roman Catholic
is a hamlet.
Station (West Batavia p. o.) is a station on the N.Y.C.R.R.
Pembroke (p.v.) is partly in this town.
village of Batavia was surveyed in 1800, and laid out in lots and
in 1801 Abel ROWE, Stephen RUSSELL and David McCRACKEN took contracts
for lots. Mr. ELLICOTT fixed upon this site as the place for the
Land Office, and it was removed here in 1802. The formation of Genesee
County and the selection of this place as the County Seat made the
village the most important place upon the Holland Purchase for several
years. Previous to 1802 the place was known as "The Bend".
Mr. ROWE became the first inn keeper in 1801, and Mr. RUSSELL the
second one at the same place. McCRACKEN was the first physician
upon the Purchase. In February, 1802, Mr. ELLICOTT employed John
LAMBERTON and _______ MAYO to cut a road through the village. The
contract was made at Ransom's, Feb 20th. They came to Batavia on
foot, one of them bringing on his back a tent, the other a keg of
whisky. The road was one hundred feet wide and two miles long. The
price received for this work was twelve dollars per acre. It was
cleared off during the summer by the owners of the lots along the
road. The Buffalo road was the only one except Indian trails on
the Purchase. A post office was established in 1802 and James BRISBANE
appointed the first postmaster. The mail was carried once in two
weeks, sometimes on foot and sometimes on horseback. Mr. William
SEAVER, now a resident of Batavia, performed the duties of postmaster
from Jan 13, 1823, to August 6th, 1842.
first newspaper in Batavia, The Genesee Intelligencer, was printed
in 1807. It was a half sheet, of medium size, and contained two
or three columns of advertisements for the Holland Land Company,
a notice of an elopement and of a runaway apprentice boy, for whose
apprehension a bag of bran was offered as a reward. The subscription
list numbered about one hundred.
Arsenal was erected in 1810 or 1811, for protection against incursions
of British and Indians. It was constructed of logs, and about the
close of the war the present stone structure was erected near the
site. It is now in a dilapidated condition.
first Trustees of the village, elected in 1823, were David H. CHANDLER,
David E. EVANS, Nathan FOLLETT, Simeon CUMMINGS and Silas FINCH.
Trumbull CARY was Treasurer, and Parley PAINE, Collector.
the early settlers whose names have not been mentioned were Isaac
SUTHERLAND, Gen. Worthy L. CHURCHILL, Col. William RUMSEY, John
THOMSON, John LAMBERTON, David E. EVANS, James W. STEVENS, Richard
ABBEY, Jedediah CROSBY, Gideon ELLIOTT, Cotton LEACH, Sam'l F. GEER,
Benajah WORDEN and Wm. MUNGER.
a letter to Mr. BUSTI, the general agent of the Company at Philadelphia,
Mr. ELLICOTT, in speaking of the selection he had made for the location
of the Land Office, at the "Bend of the Tonewanta" says,
May 30, 1801, that one lot was sold and one house built, and he
had decided to call the place "Bustia" or "Bustiville".
Mr. Busti objected to the name and it was called Batavia, the name
of the Republic to which the Dutch proprietors belonged. Mr. Ellicott
informs him that the land sales are going on encouragingly and that
in one place on the "Great Road," within the space of
ten miles, thirteen improvements have been made.
first marriage was that of Wm LESTON and Lavinia HOW, and the first
death that of _______ HARRIS, in 1807. Hannah AUSTIN taught the
first school, in 1806; James BRISBANE kept the first store, in 1802.
Mr. ELLICOTT erected the first saw mill, in 1801, and the first
grist mill, in 1804, for the Holland Company, on Tonawanda Creek.
first town meeting of Batavia was held in March, 1803, at the house
of Peter VANDEVENTER. David CULLEY was chosen Town Clerk; Peter
VANDEVENTER, Supervisor; Enos KELLOGG, Asa RANSOM and Alexander
REA, Assessors; Alexander REA,, Isaac SUTHERLAND and Suffrenus MAYBEE,
Commissioners of Highways; David CULLEY and Benjamin PORTER, Overseers
of the Poor; Abel ROWE, Collector; John MUDGE, Levi FELTON, Rufus
HART, Abel ROWE, Seymour KELLOGG and Hugh HOWELL, Constables. The
Pathmasters were Martin MIDDAUGH, Timothy HOPKINS, Orlando HOPKINS,
Benjamin MORGAN, Rufus HART, Lovell CHURCHILL, Jabez WARREN, William
BLACKMAN, Samuel CLARK, Gideon DUNHAM, Jonathan WILLARD, Thomas
LAYTON, Hugh HOWELL, Benjamin PORTER and William WALSWORTH. At this
meeting there was some legislation of which the following is a specimen:
A bounty of five dollars on wolves, half price for whelps, and fifty
cents for foxes and wildcats. At the second town meeting, held in
1804, a law was passed imposing a fine of $5.00 on any person living
in any other county or town, who should drive cattle into the town
of Batavia to be kept. This was to preserve the fine feed in the
openings, on the Lockport and Batavia road, for the use of the settlers.
Settlers further east had been in the habit of driving cattle there
to pasture. No person was licensed to keep a tavern who had not
a securely inclosed [sic] yard of sufficient size to contain all
the "sleds, sleighs, wagons, carts, and other carriages that
he or she may have at his or her tavern at any one time, for entertainment
first general election after the organization of the town was held
in April, 1803. The vote for Senator is reported as follows: Caleb
HYDE, 146; Vincent MATTHEWS, 5; The next year the vote for Governor
was, 111 for Morgan LEWIS and 11 for Aaron BURR; for Lieutenant
Governor, John BROOME received 115 and Oliver PHELPS 7 votes.
some reminiscences of Wm. H. BUSH, one of the pioneers of Batavia,
we learn that in May, 1806, there were less than 100 acres of land
cleared on the Buffalo road within a distance of six miles of Batavia.
On his arrival here Mr. Bush built a log house, covered it with
elm bark and laid a floor of slabs and hemlock boards. As the cabin
had no chimney the cooking for the family was done in the open air
by a fire built against a stump. This was continued during the entire
summer. Mr. B. immediately commenced the erection of a saw mill
which was completed about the middle of October. This was kept running
from daylight till dark during the winter, and proved to be a good
investment. The settlers were ready to stock the mill with logs
to be sawed on shares, and there was a ready market for all the
lumber the mill could cut. Before cold weather came on Mr. Bush
built a stick chimney, laid a better floor, plastered the cracks
between the logs and cleared one acre of land around his house.
To pay for his mill he had sold everything except his scanty household
furniture. In 1808 he built a machine shop, and a carding and cloth
dressing establishment, the first upon the Holland Purchase. The
first wool was carded at this establishment on the 6th day of June,
1808; it belonged to George LATHROP, of Bethany. In February, 1809,
the first piece of cloth dressed upon the Purchase was dressed at
this mill, for Theophilus CROCKER. Customers came from a great distance
in all directions extending west as far as Niagara River. The largest
quantity of wool carded for one man was seventy pounds, and the
smallest, four pounds. The whole amount carded during the first
season was 3,029 pounds. It was no small task to get together the
machinery for this pioneer establishment. Hand shears were procured
from the Shakers at New Lebanon, a press plate from a furnace in
Onondaga County, a screw and box from Canaan, Connecticut, and a
dye kettle, press papers, &c., at Albany. The cost of transporting
these things was more than two hundred dollars. In 1809 Mr. Bush
erected a grist mill, and in 1817 a paper mill and a distillery.
He made the first ream of paper that was manufactured west of the
Genesee River. This early pioneer was successful in his enterprises,
accumulated a competence and enjoyed a serene old age.
to the erection of the grist mill at Batavia in 1804, the people
were sometimes without bread or anything to make it of. Flour was
brought on pack horses before the roads were of such a character
as to allow a better means of conveyance.
MIX became a resident of Batavia in 1809. He was a native of New
Haven, Connecticut, and worked at his trade, that of a mason, for
a while, then became a school teacher, and subsequently a student
at law, and in 1811 entered into the service of the Holland Company
as clerk in their Land Office, where he remained for twenty-seven
years. He possessed extraordinary talents as a practical mathematician,
and a memory of localities, boundaries and topography, which mapped
the Holland Purchase upon his mind. He was eminently useful not
only to his principals but to the settlers upon the Purchase. Ebenezer
CARY was an early merchant, of Batavia. He was one of the surveyors
of the Purchase and clerk at the Transit Store House previous to
his removal to Batavia. He died in 1825. Trumbull CARY came in and
settled in 1805. He occupied many positions of honor and trust,
and after a long and successful life, died June 20, 1869, at the
age of 82.
1822 a Mr. FARNSWORTH was convicted of forging United States Land
Warrants and sentenced to be hanged on the 20th of September. A
large crowd assembled to witness the execution, when to their great
disgust the President granted a reprieve for six months. The murmurings
of the disappointed multitude were loud and deep, and before the
expiration of the six months respite, he was pardoned, as it appeared
that he had committed no crime against the Government.
the fall of 1820, Mr. BUSTI, the agent of the Holland Company, was
visiting Batavia, when a Presbyterian clergyman called on him and
insisted on a donation of land to each society of his persuasion,
then formed on the Purchase. Mr. Busti treated the gentleman with
due courtesy but manifested no disposition to accede to his request.
The minister persevered in his solicitations until Mr. B. left the
office to go to tea, and followed him to the piazza of Mr. ELLIOTT's
residence and renewed his application. Mr. Busti's patience was
nearly exhausted and he at length replied: "Yes, Mr. R., I
will give a tract of one hundred acres to a religious society in
every town on the Purchase, and this is finis." This was not
satisfactory, he wanted the pledge for the benefit of the Presbyterians.
But "to save contention" it was given to "the first
religious society in every town." The zealous clergyman hastened
home and sent out runners to rally the Presbyterians in the various
towns in the vicinity, to organize and thus secure the land. The
Land Office was soon flooded with petitions from the various societies,
some of which were extremely ludicrous. One of these was directed
to "General Poll Busti," upon seeing which he insisted
that it could not be from a religious society, for all religious
societies read their Bibles and knew that P-o-double-l did not spell
Paul." Notwithstanding the urgent demands made by the various
societies, Mr. Ellicott, upon whom devolved the duty of carrying
out the promise of Mr. Busti, delayed for some time to convey the
lands demanded. In some instances the whole one hundred acres was
given to a single society and in others to two, three, and sometimes
four different denominations.
first church organized in Batavia was Congregational, in 1809, though
it soon after adopted the Presbyterian form of government. It was
organized by Rev. Royal PHELPS, with twelve members. The following
are their names: Silas CHAPIN, David ANDERSON, Ezekiel FOX, Solomon
KINGSLEY, Eleanor SMITH, Elizabeth MATHERS, Elizabeth PECK, Esther
KELLOGG, Hulda WRIGHT, Patience KINGSLEY, Esther KINGSLEY, and Polly
BARNARD. On the 24th of September, 1809, Rev. Mr. Phelps preached
in Jesse RUMSEY's barn and administered the Sacrament of the Lord's
Supper for the first time in this place. The first Trustees of the
Society were Ebenezer CARY, Ebenezer SEYMOUR and Benjamin PORTER.
Their church edifice was erected in 1824, and a bell weighing 1,000
pounds, cast in Batavia by James COCHRAN, was placed upon it.
James Church (Protestant Episcopal) was organized June 6th 1815.
John HICKCOX and Samuel BENEDICT were the Church Wardens. Measures
were immediately taken to erect a church but it was not completed
until 1822. The present church edifice was erected in 1835.
First M. E. Church of Batavia was organized Dec. 15, 1819, with
Thomas McCULLEY, Samuel F. GEER, Jeremiah BENNETT, Seymour ENSIGN
and Silas HOLLISTER, Trustees. The first class was formed in 1817,
consisting of fourteen members, only one of whom is now living.
The society worshiped for several years in the West School House
of Batavia. In 1823 a stone church was erected in the west part
of the village and is now used for a malt house. In 1841 a new church
was erected on Jackson street, now known as Terry Hall. A very fine
brick church is now nearly completed, and when finished will be
the finest church building in the County. It is of the Norman style
of architecture, 50 by 90 feet, with a lecture room in the rear
38 by 50 feet. The spire is 160 feet in hight [sic]. The structure
is an ornament to the village and highly creditable to the enterprise
and good taste of the society erecting it. Rev. S. HUNT is the present
Baptist Church was organized in 1835, with Richard COVELL, Jr.,
John DORMAN, Wm. BLOSSOM, Wm. D. POPPLE and Calvin FOSTER, Trustees.
Rev. J. CLARK was the first pastor. Their house of worship was erected
population of the town in 1865 was 6,004, and its area 34,437 acres.
number of school districts is 14, employing 20 teachers. The number
of children of school age is 2,066; the number attending school,
1,449; the average attendance, 502, and the amount expended for
school purposes during the year ending September 30, 1868, was $9,703.41
by Kristy Lawrie Gravlin.