was formed from Batavia, March 14, 1820. Oakfield was taken off
in 1842. It is the central town in the north border of the County.
The surface is level or undulating. Oak Orchard Creek is the principal
stream. It enters the town near the north-west corner and flows
north-east, through the center of the town, to the north-east corner,
then flows west, through the north part, into Oakfield. The Tonawanda
Swamp occupies the north part of the town. Bigelow and Spring Creeks
flow across the south-east corner. The soil is a fertile, sandy,
gravelly and clayey loam.
Hill, (Elba p. o.) near the center of the town, contains three churches,
viz., Methodist, Congregationalist and Baptist; a hotel, two stores,
two shoe manufactories, a wagon shop, two blacksmith shops, two
harness shops, a tailor shop and about fifty dwellings. A Friend's
meeting house is located about a mile north of Pine Hill.
Elba, (p. o.) is a hamlet, containing a Methodist church, two woolen
mills, two grist mills and a saw mill.
Corners, in the south part, and
Corners, a little north of the center, are hamlets.
first settlement was made at Daw's Corners in 1801, by Samuel and
Amos RANGER, from Vermont. Samuel CLARK, from Mass., and his son
Samuel, settled in 1802, and Samuel HALL, from Seneca Co., and John
YOUNG, came soon after, and located near Pine Hill.
O'FLING was another of the early settlers of Elba. In 1813 he and
three sons and a son-in-law enlisted in the army. At Fort George,
in 1813, Gen DEARBORN's attention was called to the soldierly bearing
of the old gentleman and asked him where he had seen service. He
replied, "In the Revolution under Captain Dearborn." A
recognition followed and Gen. Dearborn took so much interest in
the family that he used his influence to obtain Lieutenant's commissions
for two of the sons and another was admitted as a cadet at West
Point. One of the sons was killed in the sortie of Fort Erie.
first birth was that of Betsey WHITE, in 1802, and the first death
that of David KINGSLEY, in 1804. Mason TURNER taught the first school,
near the center, in 1811. Stephen HARMON kept the first inn, in
1815, and Samuel LANE the first store, at Pine Hill, in 1819. Horace
GIBBS erected the first saw mill, on a branch of Spring Creek, in
the east part of the town, in 1810, and Comfort SMITH erected the
first grist-mill, on the same stream, in 1815.
Turner's Pioneer History we find the following reminiscence of pioneer
life by the widow of John YOUNG:
husband having the year before been out and purchased his land upon
the Holland Purchase, in the fall of 1804 we started from our home
in Virginia, on horseback, for our new location, ___ We came through
Maryland, crossing the Susquehanna at Milton, thence via Tioga Point
and the usual route. In crossing the Allegany Mountains night came
upon us, the horses became frightened by wild beasts and refused
to proceed. We wrapped ourselves in our cloaks and horse blankets
and attempted to get some rest, but had a disturbed night of it.
Panthers came near us, often giving terrific screams; the frightened
horses snorted and stamped upon the rocks. Taking an early start
in the morning, we soon came to a settler's house and were informed
that we had stopped in a common resort of the panther. Arriving
at our destination, a family by the name of CLARK had preceded us
in the neighborhood. Myself and husband and the family named were
the first settlers on the Oak Orchard Road, or in fact north of
Batavia. Mr. Clark was kind enough to give us a shelter for a few
days until my husband built a shanty. It was about ten feet square,
flat roofed, covered with
split ash shingles; the floor was made of the halves of split basswood;
no chimney; a blanket answered the purpose of a door for awhile
until my husband got time to make a door of split plank. We needed
no window, the light came in where the smoke went out. So much for
the shanty, and now for the furniture. --- For chairs we had benches
made by splitting logs and setting the sections upon legs. A bedstead
was made by boring holes in the side of the shanty and inserting
pieces of timber which rested upon two upright posts in front; a
side piece completed the structure. Peeled
basswood bark answered the place of a cord. We of course had brought
no bed with us on horseback, so one had to be procured. We bought
a cotton bag of Mr. BRISBANE, and stuffing it with cat-tail, it
was far better than no bed. Buying a little ironware, crockery,
and a few knives and forks, we were soon under way, house or shanty
keeping. We got our flour and meal the first year at Caledonia.
The second year we were in, I had an attack of the fever and ague
which confined me for nearly a year. That year my husband cleared
four acres, besides taking care of me and doing the
cooking. It was no uncommon thing in the first years of settlement
for women in child-birth to be deprived of the aid of a physician,
and often the attendance of their own sex had to be dispensed with.
Mr. Young died in 1836."
population of the town in 1865 was 2,044, and its area 22,631 acres.
are 9 school districts, employing 10 teachers. The number of the
school population is 600; the number attending school, 446; the
average attendance, 210, and the amount expended for school purposes
during the year ending September 30, 1868, was $2,936.38.