THE TOWN OF
The other one of the three towns which were set off from
Cambria in 1812 was Porter, which was erected on the same date
with Hartland-June 1 of that year. When erected this town
included what is now the town of
which was set off in 1818. The town was named in honor of Judge
Augustus Porter. It is the northwestern town in the county and
along its lake and river front-localities which, as the reader
has already learned, were the scene of some of the most
memorable early events in American history. The surface of this
town is generally level and the soil along the lake shore a many
clay, while in the central and southern parts it is sandy and
gravelly loam. Four-mile and Six mile Creeks cross the town in a
northerly direction and the west branch of Twelve-mile Creek
crosses the southeastern part in a similar direction. The first
town meeting was held at the house of
, but the date is probably lost. There is an existing record
that the town meeting was held April 11, 1815, two years after
the erection of the town. In the old book with this record are
meagre accounts of a few other meetings, but containing nothing
of especial importance. It is quite probable that the war
interfered to such an extent that these meetings were almost
wholly interrupted in the early years ; but there is nothing to
indicate that the meeting of 1815 was the first one held, while
the absence of records for two or three years prior to 1819
could scarcely be attributed to the war troubles. Following is a
copy of the proceedings of the meeting of April 11, 1815. as
recorded in the old book:
”Dexter F. Sprague,
supervisor; Elijah Hathaway, town clerk; Joseph Pease, Nathaniel
McCormick and Thaddeus N. Sturges, assessors; Conrad Zittle and
Zebulon Coates, overseers of the poor; Benjamin Kemp, John
Martin and John Brown. commissioners of highways; David Porter,
constable and collector; Thaddeus McIntyre, constable; Conrad
Zittle and David Porter, groundskeeper.
On the 20th of June of that year Reuben Wilson was chosen
supervisor in place of Mr. Sprague, the reason not being
recorded. At the town meeting of April 6, 1819, the following
officers were chosen:
Michael Helms, supervisor;
Thomas Brown, town clerk; Jonathan Bell, George Ash and William
Doty, assessors; John Dunlap, collector; Conrad Zittle and
Daniel Kelley, overseers of the poor; Conrad Zittle, Daniel
Kelley and Richard Cuddaback, commissioners of highways; Moses
Barto, A. G. Hinman and John A. Hyde, commissioners of schools;
Jonathan Bell and Isaac Swain, inspectors of schools; John
Dunlap. constable; Daniel Kelley, poundmaster.
The usual regulations for the government of the town were voted
at this arid the preceding meetings. Among them was the
appointment of fourteen pathmasters to have charge of the road
The supervisors of Porter from 1819 to the present time have
been as follows
Michael Helms, 1819-24; Moses Barto, 1825-27; William Doty,
1828-29; no election, 1830; Leverett Bristol, 1831-34; Timothy
Hosmer, 1835; Leverett Bristol, 1836-41; John Porter, 1842; Ziba
Henry. 1843; Jehiel C. S. Ransom, 1844; Solomon Moss, 1845-47;
John Porter, 1848; Solomon Moss, 1849; Ira Race, 1850-53; Peter
Simmons, 1S54; Ira Race, 1655; George Swain, 1856-59; James L.
Fowler, 1860-62; Ezra S. Holden, 1863-64; Ira Race, 1865-66;
Rensselaer Ward, 1867-70; Elton T. Ransom, 1871-73; James M.
Foster. 1874; Elton T. Ransom, 1875-77; Richard D. Balmer, 1878;
Peter S. Tower, 1879; Rensselaer Ward, 1880; Joseph Thompson,
1881-82; Alonzo U. Gatchell, 1883-84; Joseph Thompson, 1885;
George Swain, 1886; Nelson D. Haskell, 1887; A. Judson Eaton,
1888; Harvey Cudaback, 1889-90; John E. Reardon. 1891-93; Elmer
E. Brookins, 1894-96; Edwin S. Carter, 1897-98.
The other town officers for 1897 are:
Edward G. Hall, town clerk; William J. Sweet, H. H. Helms and
Warren Curtis, justices of the peace; Francis Kyte, Frederick
Kelley and William Hill, assessors; George Parker, highway
commissioner; William N. Burmaster, collector; George C.
McCormick and John W. Haskell, overseers of the poor.
The town has now a population of about 2,300.
John Gould came from
in 1788 as a drover. He gave some of his recollections to Turner
”Col. Hunter was then in
. Our cattle and pack horses were ferried across to
in hateaux and
boats. Nothing then at
but an old ferry house and, the barracks that had been occupied
's Rangers. The Massasauga Indians were numerous then in
. They had no fixed habitations; migrated from camping ground to
camping ground in large parties; their principal camping
and Oueenston. There were their fishing grounds. Sometimes there
would be five or six hundred encamped at
. They were small in stature, gay, lively, filthy; and much
addicted to drunken ness”
”We sold our cattle
's Rangers. They were located mostly at the falls, along the
Four and Twelve-mile Creeks. Oxen brought as high as cows, £20.”
The settlement of this town which may be considered as permanent
did not take place until about the beginning of the present
century, although momentous events had preceded along the
frontier. John Lloyd, who had been a soldier in the garrison in
1799, settled in 1801 about three miles from the fort. After the
war he occupied a farm on lot 27. The following list embraces
the names of all who took land from the Holland Company down to
the year 1807, and are given in the order of the dates of their
contracts: 1803, Elijah Doty, John Waterhouse, Silas Hopkins,
Peter Hopkins, Obadiah Hopkins, Conrad Zittle, Ephraim Hopkins,
John Clemmons, Robert Bigger, James Benedict and William
McBride. 1804, Peter and Ephraim Hopkins, additional land,
Samuel Hopkins, John Freeman and John Wilson. 1805, William
Coggswell, Jonathan Jones, Abijah Perry and Samuel Shelly. Peter
Ripson and John Brown, and William McBride took additional land.
A few of these men were not actual settlers, but bought for
speculation, among them Silas Hopkins. Conrad Zittie located at
what became known as Zittle's Corners, later as
. Abijah Perry was father of William Perry, born August 11,
1812, the first birth in the town after this permanent
settlement began. William Coggswell was a man of considerable
education and taught the first school in town in 1806. Jonathan
Lutts settled in 1806 and afterwards bought a farm of the
Holland Company and lived in the town thirty years or more.
In 1808 Isaac Swain, who had previously settled on the Military
road, in the town of Niagara, removed to this town and purchased
eighty acres of John McBride, which was the southern half of lot
3 of the Mile Reserve. He had an exciting war experience and was
father of William and George Swain. Michael Lutts came in about
the same time with his brother Jonathan, and William Arbuthnot
came during or directly after the war.
Settlement here was almost wholly stopped by the war, only two
pioneers of importance coming in 1814; these were Rudolph
Clapsaddle and Joseph McCullum. The former located on lot 4, and
the latter on lot 9. John Vrooman came in at the close of the
war, having been stolen by Indians during the Revolution and
brought to Twomile Creek, where he remained a captive a number
of years. He was afterwards rescued and taken to
, whence he removed to his former home in Schoharie. John
McLoughiin settled in town in 1815, coming over from
also came that year, he and his brother Otis making their way
with a two horse wagon. Peter bought 100 acres of Conrad Zittle,
and Otis settled on another farm in this town. Michael Helms was
living in town before the war;
lived with him before his marriage and worked at his trade of
carpenter and cabinet maker. He was a prominent citizen in
public affairs and caused the opening of the first road east
from Four mile Creek to the
William and John Clapsaddle came into the town in 1816, John
locating on lot 9. He built the first saw mill and grist mill
about the year 1817, and kept an early tavern at what is now
Tryonville. In the same year David Baker settled in
, worked there as a carpenter three years, and then removed to
the site of
, where he purchased
. In the next year Mr. Curtiss took up land within the limits of
Ransomville, and cut the first timber in that part of the town,
and helped to lay out the road through the village and the one
from the Ridge to the lake. His brother, Capt. Gilbert W.
Curtiss, came in and ultimately made a home near by and went
, their native State, for his bride. They returned in a
one-horse lumber wagon, and when they reached the Ridge they
were compelled to cut a road through the woods to the site of
Ransomville. They brought apple seeds with them. from which an
orchard was started, which was the beginning of the large fruit
growing interest of the eastern part of the town. He was a
captain in the old militia, and from that position obtained his
well known title. In 1825 he opened a tavern at Ransomville in a
log building which stood in front of the later hotel. His
brother Gideon had already opened an earlier inn at this place,
but gave up the business before 1823. The tavern was kept in
later years by the two Sons of Captain Curtiss, the well known
business firm of Curtiss Brothers. Captain Curtiss died in 1868.
Other prominent settlers in the town between 1820 and 1840 were
Stephen Eaton, who came about 1820 and settled where his son
subsequently lived; Charles Quade, who was the first settler on
lot 51, and in 1830 built a tavern at what was then called
Quade's Corners, and afterwards Ransomville; Jonathan Moss, who
came from Vermont in 1823 and took up 168 acres at Moss's
Corners, a mile and a half west of Ransomville; David Force, who
settled on lot 25, in 1825; Horace Munson Durand, who arrived
about 1823 ; the Jeffords family, who came in 1826, and
purchased of Richard Cuddaback the farm occupied in later years
by James Warren; Jehial S. C. Ransom, after whom Ransomville was
named, who came from Ulster county on foot about 1826; he was
the first postmaster at Ransomville; L. C. Beals, William Kyte,
and John Hutchinson, who came in 1829; J. B. Clark, father of P.
C. Clark, came in 1830; Charles G. Willie, who settled on lot 11
in 1831; Lyman Whittaker and Erastus Downer, both of whom
settled in town in 1831; David Johnson, William C. McCormick,
John Robertson, and David Johnson, all of whom came in 1832 ;
Chester Balcom, John Powley, and William and John Whitfield, who
settled in 1834; James Warren and Henry Balmer, who came in
1836. Many other families are represented in Part III of this
Among the prominent residents of the town are S. Park Baker,
Peter S. Tower, Daniel Bradley, Samuel Brookins, E. S. Carter,
John and Joseph Clapsaddle, Robert and William Clapsaddle, James
M. Foster, Francis Kyte, Henry Lutz, Madison McCollum, Richard
McCracken, George L. Moot, George Parker, H. B. Timothy, George
P. Tower, H. B. Tower, John E. Reardon, William Smithson,
Christopher Quade, George C. McCormick, N. D. Haskell, Nicholas
and Frank Hoffman, Edward Calvert, Almeron Barker, Smith
Bradley, Leander Dutton, A. J. Eaton, Charles R. Ayer.
A tannery was in existence in this town before the war on lot 9
of the Mile Reserve, and was owned by Burton & Son. John
Clapsaddle built a small grist mill in 1817, which was operated
some years, when the water power failed and the town was without
a mill until the building of the one at
in 1840. Mr. Clapsaddle also built a saw mill about the time of
the erection of the grist mill; it long ago went to decay.
The village of Youngstown
is one of the oldest on the frontier, as the reader has learned
in earlier pages of this work. At the establishment of the
Niagara customs district in 1799, the port of entry was located
and remained there until 1811 when it was removed to
. Only a very small settlement was gathered at
at the time of the devastation of the frontier by the British in
1813, and that was wholly destroyed. After the war the locality
again assumed considerable importance and activity; the cutting
of the fine oak timber in this section gave employment to many
of the early settlers, and the shipment of large quantities of
the timber to
for use in shipbuilding was a source of a considerable
commercial interest here for some years. Later on a good deal of
wheat was shipped from here to
, and other business interests came into existence which
contributed to the growth of the place.
Robert Grensit kept the first tavern in this town on the site of
, and the house was conducted by his widow after his death.
Colonel Hathaway, a prominent early resident, kept a tavern as
as early as 1815 on the site of the present Ontario House; a
small grocery was connected with the house.
, before mentioned, opened a small public house here about
1819-20. John Young, who came from
, Ont., probably kept the first store, and the village received
its name from him; he was identified prominently with the early
public interests of the place. A school was opened in the
village in i8o6 by William Cogswell, and the first school house
was built about 1823. The village was a small and quiet hamlet
until towards 1825, after which the business interests were
extended more rapidly. The following decription of the place in
1823 is taken from another work;
The woods grew down to the rear of the lots on
and between this place and
the road passed through the forest that extended to the eastward
and to the edge of the river on the west. There were not more
than a dozen frame houses within the limits of the present
corporation. There was only one store, which from the color of
the building in which it was kept, was called the "red
store." It was conducted by two young men named Chittenden
and Woodruff, but John Young furnished the merchandise, and the
business was carried on in his interest. Of taverns there seems
to have been more than the business of that time demanded, there
being no less than three. The first was located at the north end
and was kept by Phillips & Williams; the second about midway
of the street, was that of Col. Elijah Hathaway, and the third,
which stood at the end of the Street. was conducted by Robert
Campbell. The accommodations were good for that day. There was
one wagon shop and one blacksmith shop, the first being the
property of two men named Squires & De Wolf, and the second
that of Nathaniel Brown. Judge A. G. Hinman was the postmaster,
the post-office being in his house, near the center of the
settlement. Mail arrived daily by stage from Lewiston and points
east and south
The foregoing gives a clear picture of Youngstown in its early
business existence, and is sufficient evidence that as late as
1820 the village was not one of great importance or bright
prospects. Gordon Davis came from
in 1823 and soon afterward began business in the shoe and
leather trade. David Burge came from
to the village the same year and afterwards was a partner with
Mr. Davis; they added other goods to their stock and for some
years carried on a large trade. Mr. Davis retired from the firm
in 1830 and Mr. Burge continued it.
Jason Davis, brother of Gordon, came to
in 1835, with his sons, Bradley D. and Nelson R. Davis. They had
previously in 1830 spent one year in
, and returned to
. Soon after their arrival in
the father and Bradley D. Davis opened a grocery under the firm
name of J. Davis & Son. A general stock of goods was later
added and for twenty years the firm did a large trade for the
times; the firm was dissolved by the death of the senior member.
Bradley D. Davis, and later the firm of B. D. Davis & Co.
carried on the business.
Dr. John A. Hyde came to
in i8i8, and for many years was the only physician there.
W. H. Doyle, who later became a member of the business firm of
W. H. Doyle & Co., merchants, came to the village in 1835.
Alfred Emerson, at one period a member of the firm of Alfred
Emerson & Co, settled early in the village, became a leading
merchant and buyer of produce. Alexander Barton, a painter, came
to the village in 1823, worked at his trade for a time and
afterwards opened a hotel, which was burned with other
structures on the night of April 19-20, 1863, and was rebuilt by
him. Ira Race settled in the place in 1826, followed farming
until 1833, when he was chosen deputy sheriff and held the
position three years; after that he held various local offices,
and for about forty. seven years was a justice of the peace. He
is still living (1897), with his wife, both being over ninety.
Judge A. G. Hinman was a conspicuous citizen of
for many years, was respected for his high character exhibited
in his official life and his activity in promoting the early
religious and educational institutions of the town. George Swain
was a son of Isaac Swain, the pioneer, and became a prominent
citizen. He was born in the town in 1819, was a successful
farmer and held various public offices; his brother William,
born in 1821, also was prominent asa farmer and fruit grower.
The stone grist mill in the village was erected in 1840 by
Hezekiah H. Smith; it was burned on the night of February 22,
1851, but was soon afterward repaired and was operated by Jason
and Nelson R. Davis, and still later by B. D. Davis. It is still
standing, though used for other purposes.
In 1855 B. D. Davis & Co. erected their large brick block.
The stone hotel (the Ontario House) was built in 1842 by
, near the site of the old Hathaway tavern; it subsequently
became the property of Robert McKnight, and later of his heirs,
and has been conducted under the name of the Ontario House by H.
C. Root and others. It is now kept by Timothy J. Murphy. The El
Dorado Hotel, of which Frank C. Steele is proprietor, was built
A saw mill was built in
in 1866 by W. D. Clark. A foundry was established and long
conducted by William Ripson & Co.; it is now conducted by
Julius Ripson. D. & J. Onen manufactured barrels for a time.
The present business interests of the village consists of Edward
G. Hall, shoes, etc.; Charles L. Taylor, drugs; John A, Haskell,
George M. Carter, and L. C. Beals, groceries; William A.
Hutchinson, general store; F. C. Thompson, dry goods; and W. R.
The Youngstown News was started March 4, 1881, by Nelson D.
Haskell, who on January 1, 1889, was succeeded by G. Oliver
Frick, the present editor and publisher. It is an eight-page
G. Oliver Frick, editor and proprietor of the Youngstown News,
is the son of Joseph A. and Clara Elizabeth P. Frick, and was
. January 26, 1872. He came to Wolcottsville, Niagara county, in
1880, and in 1884 removed to
, where he finished his education, which was supplemented by
attendance at the public schools of
. When thirteen he began learning the printer's trade on the
Youngstown News, then owned by Nelson D. Haskell, and he also
spent one year in
in the book department of Matthews, Northrup & Co. On
January 1, 1889, he purchased the Youngstown News, of which he
has since been the editor and proprietor, and which he has
placed in the front rank of
county weekly newspapers. He was married in September, 1893, to
Sarah W., daughter of Aaron Winchester, of
of Youngstown was incorporated April 18, 1854, upon the
presentation of a petition to the Legislature prepared by the
following persons: Ira Race, A. G. Skinner, W. H. Doyle and L.
P. Babcock. The boundaries of the village were made to include
Jots and 2 and parts of lots 3 and of the Mile Reserve. The
first village election was held on the 4th of October, 1854, and
the following officers chosen:
President, George Swain; trustees, George Swain, Samuel Fosdick,
Nelson R. Davis, Lewis C. Beals, and Alfred Emerson; clerk, S.
Olney; assessor, David Burge; collector, Paul Durfee; treasurer
George C. Hotchkiss; poundmaster, John Hart.
The present (1897) village officers are Frank C. Steele.
president; Charles Ripson, August Turner, and Patrick
Fitzpatrick, trustees; John W. Thompson, clerk.
The settlement on the
site of Ransomville was of little importance until after the
location there of Jehial C. S. Ransom in 1826, and the
establishment of the post-office. He opened a store and
established a good business. Other pioneers here were Lambert
Hail and Leverett Bristol In 1839 William H. H. Ransom, a nephew
of the pioneer, settled in the village and worked at his trade
of carpenter until 1843, when he bought out his uncle's store,
and was the leading merchant until his death; ; his son, Elton
T. Ransom, was associated with him under the firm name of W. H.
H. Ransom & Son, which is still retained.
The Curtiss Brothers, before mentioned, have long been
prominently identified with the business interests of the
village. Besides conducting the hotel, the Ransomville House,
they. in 1877, built the Excelsior elevator and grain storehouse
with a capacity of 25,000 bushels, and are engaged largely in
the handling of grain and fruit.
W. H. H. Ransom & Son built a large brick store in 1872, and
in 1877 erected a brick storehouse on a side track to the R., W.
& O. Railroad, which runs through the village. They carry on
an extensive grain, produce and general mercantile business.
Fowler & Harwick built a brick store building, which passed
to possession of James Bullock, who carried on mercantile
business there. Other old merchants were C. A. Barnes, Clark
Ransom, A. U. Gatchell, S. D. McCracken and George I. Eaman. The
present merchants are W. H. H. Ransom & Son, William T.
Gentle, Corwin & Hubbell, F. D. McCormick, A. J. Barry,
Dwight Sanger and A B. Thompson & Sons.
David Bagley also has a cider and vinegar works. The Ransomville
Basket Manufacturing Company was started in 1894 and gives
employment to a number of hands S. H. Morris is president and W.
T. Gentle secretary and treasurer.
East Porter, Tryonville and
are hamlets in this town, the latter having a general store kept
by C. C. Clapsaddle.
Fort Niagara is situated at the mouth and on the east bank of
the Niagara River, and its historic periods are recorded in
Peter A. Porter's book as follows:
”Recognizing the title
to the spot where Fort Niagara stands as vested in the Senecas
after their conquest of the Neuters in 1651, we may divide its
history into the following periods: Indian ownership, 1651-1669;
Indian ownership, French influence predominating, 1669-1725;
Indian ownership. French occupation, 1725-1759; Indian
ownership, English occupation, 1759-1764; English ownership and
occupation, 1759-1783; American ownership, English occupation,
the hold-over period, 1783-1796: American ownership and
occupation (excepting December 19, 1813, to March 27, 1815),
The history of the fort has been noticed in detail in earlier
pages of this volume. It has been garrisoned, with the exception
of a brief interim, since March 27, 1815, and the last defensive
work of consequence-the brick facing of the bastions, facing
east, dates from 1861. It is now the regimental headquarters of
the 13th U. S. Infantry, Col. Alfred T. Smith commanding.
and vicinity in late years has attracted a number of summer
residents, whose pretty homes have added much to the beauty of
the place. In 1896 an electric railroad, known as the "Old
Fort Route," was built by the Lewiston and Youngstown
Frontier Railway Company, of which Laurence D. Rumsey is
president Henry C. Howard, vice president; Kari Evans,
secretary; George R. Teller, treasurer; and Robert B. Goodman,
superintendent. The main line, opened August 11, 1896, is eight
miles long; a branch extends to
and Beach on
The first school in this town has been mentioned. The town was
early divided into districts and school houses gradually built,
to accommodate the growing population. The first school house in
was built about 1823, and was subsequently moved away and a
stone structure erected in its place. The first school house was
used for religious meetings until churches were built. For the
last fifty years the number of districts has been e.leven, and
there is now a comfortable school house in each. The town with
six others of the county constitutes the second commissioner's
district A graded school building was erected of brick in
about two years ago.
The first religious services in the town were held in very early
years at the fort, but there was little attempt to hold regular
meetings elsewhere until 1823 Methodist itinerants came into the
town with more or less regularity and held meetings. In 1823 a
and finding a few persons who were inclined to cooperate in the
formation of a church, he appointed a meeting at the house of
Judge A. G. Hinman for that purpose. The society was organized
in the Presbyterian faith in 1823, with the following members:
Mr. and Mrs. Bartol, Mr. Kelly, Mrs. Lutts, Mrs. McCormick, Mrs.
Rebecca Hathaway and her daughter Pauline, and Judge Hinman. A
church was built in 1836 under direction of Hezekiah H. Smith,
John A. Hyde, Gordon Davis and David Burge. The building was
enlarged in 1844 to accommodate the increasing membership. In
1896-97 this was replaced by the present structure.
The Baptist church at Ransomville was organized in March, 1834,
with thirty seven members. The first pastor was Rev. Samuel J.
Olney. The first church was built in 1840, of wood; it was
remodeled in 1870.
A Methodist church was organized at
. a hamlet in the central part of the town, in March, 1838, with
forty members. A church edifice was built in 1851. The first
pastor was Rev. William Buck.
Another Methodist church was organized at East Porter, the class
of which was formed in 1821; but the church (Fillmore chapel)
was not built until 1852. The original members numbered
fourteen. This society was in the
was regularly organized in June, 1852, with twenty members;
meetings were held in the school house until 1854, when the
church edifice, begun in the previous year, was finished.
Through the prevailing division in this denomination, which took
place in 1869, this church was sold at auction, and was
purchased by John Carter for the purpose of having services
continued. Regular meetings were held until 1869 after which no
stated services were held. In July, 1872, regular meetings were
renewed and in that year the conference united the
churches in one charge; they were again separated in 1876, in
which year Mr. Carter deeded back the church building to the
society under a favorable arrangement. It was re opened in May,
1877, and has since continued active.
Episcopal church at
is noticed in the chapter devoted to
St. Bernard's Roman Catholic parish was organized in
about 1830, when a chapel was instituted, and services were
conducted by priests from Suspension Bridge or
The Free Methodist
was built about 1880. The Wesleyan Methodists also have a church