"Ambrose F. Grow's Reminiscences of Galen"

Originally Serialized in The Clyde Times in 1908

This is a series of three long reminiscences of former Wayne County resident Ambrose French Grow, sent to the editor of The Clyde Times. Mr. Grow was born Dec 21, 1825 in either Galen NY or Penn Yan NY, and passed away November 15, 1909 in Winslow, Washington State, almost a year to the week of the last published installment of his reminiscences. These are transcriptions from images of microfilm of the original newspaper pages. The images were sometimes difficult to read and this is a best guess transcription. The transcriber was unable to determine if he sent in any more reminiscences.

The Clyde Times, Thursday, August 20, 1908


Editor Clyde Times:

In "Grip's" Historical Souvenir of Clyde, N.Y., recently received through the courtesy of my friend, Mr. Wm. Moak, a former resident of Galen, now of Winslow, Washington, Dr. Darwin Colvin gives a history of the early settlement of the town of Galen and the village of Clyde, as well as portions of Seneca County.

Much of this history was obtained from Aunt Betsy King and Joseph Watson, and seems to me to be somewhat incomplete.

Many that were known to be among the early settlers of that part of what was, at a later date, the County of Wayne, are left out, and among them my father, Elias Grow, who first settled in Junius, Seneca County both he and Captain Luther Redfield removing from Massachusetts at, or nearly at, the same time. My mother's parents, Dryer by name, living with my father and mother.

The wife of Luther Redfield Sr. and my mother were sisters.

My mother, Huldah Dryer, and her sister, Mary - Mrs. Redfield - were born in West Stockbridge, Mass., growing up there to womanhood. My grandfather and grandmother Dryer both died and were buried in Junius, so that they were among the earliest settlers of that town.

Father left Junius for Galen, prior to the year 1820, where he settled on new land, clearing and building the house in which myself and two older sisters were born. The older of the two sisters was born in 1820, the other in 1822, and myself December 21, 1823/25(?).

This farm was one mile south of Clyde on the road leading from Clyde to Angel's Corners; passing out of my father's hands into those of Sylvester Clark Sr., - just how and why, at this late date, it may not be advisable to state.

In after years it was owned and occupied by one Watkins. The house in which I was born on this farm - a story and a half house - was still standing when my friend Moak left Clyde for the West two years ago. When misfortune took him, through no fault of his own, father moved back to Junius and from there to Penfield, Monroe County, in 1829, when I was between three and four years old. I remember distinctly of living in Junius at that age and of moving to Penfield, where my father died September 8, 1831.

The spring after father's death, my mother and nine children - a sister, younger than myself dying in 1829 - returned to Clyde to be near her sister, Mrs. Redfield.

The first school I ever attended in Clyde was in a schoolhouse on the south side of the river. This schoolhouse was a fair sized frame building, built in the style of many another country schoolhouse of that day, and stood on a large lot south of the street - or public road - leading west from the homes of Sylvester Clark and John Condit, some 25 or 30 rods south of said corner on the east side of the road.

I well remember the continuous seat and desk running around three sides of the old schoolroom, facing the middle of the room on the sides, and the fireplace in the east end, and of its being raised a couple of steps above the rest of the floor and the continuous hard seat beneath the desk, with only one opening in the west end to enable the larger scholars to reach their alloted seats, where the little "kids", myself among them, passed many a weary hour.

Some of the old men yet alive, in or about Clyde, may remember this old school building, or others similar to it. In some of these old time country scholars were found perhaps two or three boys between the ages of fifteen, who made up their minds that they would let that "man teacher" understand that they were old enough to shows (sic) a little independence, and persisted in throwing chewed paper wads up to the ceiling where, sticking, were neither ornamental nor useful, and after being told once or twice by the teacher to stop, the teacher would pick out one of the best boys in the school and send him to the nearest beech grove for a handful of white beech persuaders, and returning, he would select one or two, and, to give them additional toughness, would run them through the hot ashes in the long box stove or the fireplace. Then the largest boy being called out on the floor, he defiantly told the teacher he "would not" come.

Do you remember, my old reader, about that time of hearing a noise and seeing that eighteen-year-old lad in the hands of the teacher, wiping up the dust of six or eight feet in diameter of the rather dusty floor, and then of his being held by the teacher's left hand, while the right hand was shipping out the dust from shirt-band to shoe-strings; and when returning to his seat of seeming a somewhat sorrier as well as a wiser lad?

The other younger lads when called out, you remember, came out and took their dose of oil of beech without any unnecessary fuss about it.

That continuous hard seat with the desk above for a back and the fact of the younger lads and lassies falling to reach the floor, was neither "a thing of beauty nor a joy forever", but seated there, we learned the rudiments from A to Z on to ab, bc's, through all the list of "abc's" and from Walker's Spelling Book, as we advanced in knowledge, learned of the ___ who thought that _____ (illegible for several lines). ____ he would now." The old man shied a few wisps of turf without effect, and finally getting his "dander up", he pelted him with stones, when "he came down and begged the old man's pardon."

There in those old times schoolhouses of Galen and vicinity, we learned to spell words from baker on to valetudinarian and incomprehensibility. Words large enough for the foundation of the "Temple of Fans", pictured on the cover Walker's Combined Reader and Spelling Book. From this book of our childhood, we, at one bound, passed on the Old English Reader, Samuel J. Kirkham's Grammar, Daboll's Arithmetic, Peter Parley's and Olney's Geography and Atlas, and still on by degrees to Smith's and Smiley's series of school books. From the Old English Reader an advance was made to The Manual, or New English Reader, and Wilson's and McGuffy's Readers, not forgetting Webster's Spelling Book.

From the old Clyde schoolhouse and the schoolhouse "beneath the hill" in what was then known as the Glover District, where Byron and Charles Fields, Bonaparte and Madison Liek, Andrew Meade, the Stratton boys and some of the fairest of New York girls, were schoolmates, my school days ended in the "old brick schoolhouse" when Mr. Schram was Principal and Wescott teacher of higher mathematics and the languages, with a lady teacher in the primary department.

There Byron and Charles Ford, Wellington Colvin, better known as "Duke" Colvin, James Chapman, James Redfield, and many others, started on the road to higher attainments, or taking some cross roads, ended in total failure, by reason of the formation of habits in youth which have wrecked many a bright intellect the world over.

A. F. Grow, Winslow, Wash.

The Clyde Times, Thursday, September 24, 1908, page 2


The old frame schoolhouse, already mentioned, with its large lot, was bought a few years after the return of our family from Monroe County, by an older brother and sister, as a home for the family and, after making necessary changes in the building, it became a comfortable home for a number of years. The brothers and sisters marrying, the old house was sold and all the family finally left for the West. My mother died at Batavia, Illinois, in 1860(?), at the age of ___ years.

My oldest sister, Adeline, taught school for twenty years in Galen and vicinity, until she was united in marriage to Louis A. Beebe, of Lima, Livingston County.

Doctor Hendrick, whose name appears often in the "Historical Souvenir of Clyde," was our family physician for years, and attended my sister, Adaline, through a long and dangerous illness. When convalescent and, proposing to begin teaching again soon, she asked the old physician what his bill was, he replied, in his then well-known deliberate manner, "Well, Adaline, I won't charge you anything for the medicines, and the visits you may return." Such as he, "are the salt of the earth."

The faces of Aaron Griswold, John Condit, William S. Stow, James R. Rees, "Rast" Snedaker, Captain Luther Redfield, Albert French Redfield, (not "Francis," as Dr. Colvin has it), J. C. Adkins, known by the writer as a barber, Joseph Watson, Jacob Scott, Seth and Saragette Smith and Ambrose Field, look as natural as when I last saw them, about fifty-four years ago.

Charley Field, as he was familiarly known, in my school-boy days, has changed since I last saw him, when attending school in the then Glover district.

I saw Clyde for the last time, the morning of the 19th of May, 1852, when myself and Miss A. M. Price, with a party of young people, left Clyde for Rose Valley, where Miss Price and myself were united in marriage at the hotel there. Mr. Thayer proprietor, and the former landlord of the Clyde Hotel. A livery team and carriage from Peter Allen's stable, conveyed the party to Geneva, going via Lyons. May 20th we took the cars for Buffalo, on our way to Batavia, Illinois. There, fifteen months after our marriage, she, who left the friends of years, to join her fortunes with one she had chosen as her life partner, was laid to rest in the cemetery at Batavia, the mortal part to await the Resurrection Morn, the immortal to bask in the light of that city that needeth not the light of the sun, for the Lamb is the light thereof.

Isaac and Arza Lewis, mentioned in connection with early times in Clyde, married sisters, Sophia and Mary Redfield, and moved to Michigan, in the early days of the settlement of that region, when a territory. Joseph Watson's wife was Keziah Redfield. The "Older Redfields," mentioned by Dr. Colvin were Beriah and Luther Redfield, Jr., who were in the mercantile business when I was a small boy and, af ter my return from Illinois in 1841 to Clyde, they were engaged in banking. Failing soon after this, Beriah removed to Michigan. In 1845, I again went to Illinois and, returning on a visit in 1848, Luther Redfield, Jr., was running the large grist mill on the north side of the river, near the lower river bridge. Captain Luther Redfield was never to my knowledge the proprietor of that mill. Luther Redfield, Jr., left Clyde in after years and went into the mercantile business, in New York City.

There were many of the early settlers, living south of Clyde, on the road to Angells Corners. Among them was Eliphalet Stratton, the father of Oliver Stratton, mentioned by "the ____," as one of the early settlers. Oliver Stratton, on the death of his parents, bought out the heirs and occupied the old home while he lived.

The old log house, of my early remembrance, on the Stratton farm, was built of logs, hewed on the inside, and large for a long building. When a lad of about 8 years, I was a frequent visitor at Mr. Stratton's, as Abraham Stratton was about my age and we were firm friends on up to manhood. This large log house had wide doors on opposite sides and a huge fireplace that would take in a six foot back-log. Being there at the approach of evening of a wintry day, the doors were thrown open, a horse hitched to a large maple back-log, (and by the way, the floor was of ___cheons, against logs, hewed roughly and laid on heavy sleepers,) and led in through the door to about opposite the fireplace, then unhitched and led out of the opposite door. The log was rolled in place in the huge fireplace, the immense andirons put in place and then a large beech forestock placed on them. Soon a fire was roaring up the chimney, containing a quarter of a cord of beech and maple wood. Oliver was the oldest of the Stratton boys and married __ve(?) Weed, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Weed and granddaughter of Aunt Betsey King.


The Clyde Times, Thursday, November 19, 1908, page 2


Other early settlers, South of Clyde, not before mentioned, were Mr. Lamoreaux, father of Sisson Lamoreaux, a resident of Clyde in my younger days. Mr. Louis Velie was another, a less near neighbor of Mr. Stratton's. Mr. Velie and wife were Hollanders, and Mrs. Velie, or "Aunt Jinney," as she was more familiarly known, was a rather quaint old Dutch lady, large and fleshy, and whole-souled to a degree. No one going there was allowed to leave without partaking of the abundance of good things with which her table was supplied.

Visitors went out to their home frequently from Clyde and stored up many a quaint saying, mirth provoking as they were, spoken in somewhat broken English, and peculiarly expressed. A Presbyterian minister from Clyde by the name of Gelston - the old people being members of that church in Clyde - called there near the noon hour, and Aunt Jinny's earnest request remained to dinner.

Pouring out his tea, she took the molasses pitcher and began pouring a rather liberal portion in his tea, and thinking enough of that kind of sweetening in tea, "as good as a feast," said: Thank you, Mrs. Velie, that is a god plenty." She still poured in liberaly (sic), saying: "O! Mr. Gelston, nothing is too good for a minister!" Mr. Velie was a hard working prosperous farmer, having cleared a large farm out of the timber, besides taking contracts and clearing land for others about him.

There were several boys in the family, all good workers, but lacking in culture, and some of them not quite "compos mentis" they only filled a space in the world somewhat narrow; yet they may have been in some degree like the character Pollok described in his Course of Time "who never had a dozen thoughts in all his life and never changed their course." The name his mother called him by he scarce remembered, though the visual line that girt him round the world's extreme bound," and yet each of these may like him have "lived happy, died happy," and been saved.

Another early settler still farther south was a Quaker, Cyrus Smith, who in 1836, when Martin Van Buren was elected President over William Henry Harrison, told the voters in Clyde if they voted for Harrison they would elect him and get "two dollars a day and roast beef" every day for the next four years.

Albert Smith son of this old Quaker, was wont to depart somewhat from the straight path marked out by his Quaker parent, and "with hale fellows well met" in Clyde, held "Spirit" seances where Bachus(sic) was the ruling spirit, and on one occasion, "when wine that maketh glad the heart of man" and loosens the tongue till language forbidden in the decalogue became far too general, this Quaker son, Albert, so shocked one of these revelers by his use of language and with tongue to (sic) thick for perfect utterance, pleaded with him to not swear by the Ruler of the Universe, but "by Moses or some of the prophets."

Something more might be said of the rule of Bachus and old King A___no; in those days of the long ago in Clyde where young men were ruined for life. Harry Goodchild is mentioned by Dr. Colvin. It used to be thought by some of the better portion of Clyde citizens, that the first syllable of this man's name whose "hotel" was a combination of saloon, grocery store and butcher shop, should be changed to the reverse of good. Goodchild's scales were of the spiral spring variety, and canal boat men his customers to a great extent. It was commonly understood, that his customers got sold as well as that old Harry sold himself many times over.

A packet captain, it was said, once called for a piece of beef and when Goodchild hooked it out to the scales, the captain was using his eyes, and as Harry pulled on the scales and announced the weight, the captain politely requested him to not be in too much of a hurry, and just hang it on the hook and let it go of it. The result was that human flesh in Goodchild's meat shop was not of quite as ready sale when the story went up and down the old York State ditch.

Harry Goodchild kept a _____ (illegible for several lines). The packets were run by those horses, while freight boats only used two. Those packets were considered a great advance over the common canal boat, as they made a speed of three miles an hour, and carried the mail.

Goodchild would saw up cordwood into stove lengths, and stack it up in regular round hay stack-style, for seasoning, dealing it out in small quantities as wanted.

Zina Hooker was the keeper of what was known as the "Old Line" canal barn, and I remember of passing along the towpath near the lock, when an Old-Line boat was within locking distance, with a boat of some other line just behind, when the driver crossed the forward boat's towline; then there was a pretty lively scrap between the drivers; the Old-Line driver was getting the best of the intruder, when the other driver took a large stave and began pounding his head, blood running down his face in streams. The Old-Line barn being close by, Hooker ran out to the aid of his driver, getting the other fellow by the coat collar and the seat of his breeches, and pitched him head first down the bank of the towpath, taking the fight all out of him.

Fights, in the early days of boating on the Erie Canal, were common, whole crews fighting pitched battles to maintain rights they claimed as this (sic) own; and attempts to cross towlines within locking distance, when passing through locks, was a common cause for some pretty tough rough-and-tumble fights.

There were men also, all through that portion of York State, and other parts as well probably, who, something like the prize fighters of the present day, went about the country getting up fights for the gratification of the bummer element of both town and country.

There was one of these bullies in the neighborhood of Marengo, who was in search of some other man of his class and putting up at a country tavern one night, found a lad some sixteen or eighteen years of age and in the course of the evening began teasing him, bully style, when the lad got his blood up until he was "crying mad" and the result was, that noted fighter got one of the severest beatings of his life, and was thoroughly whipped. Leaving for home, he declared that when a sixteen year old boy had whipped him, he was done fighting and he quit for good.

Another old settler living near Marengo, and mentioned in "Grips" Historical Souvenir of Clyde, was Laomi Beadle, a man was said to have been of the best cradlers of the days when grain was harvested in this manner, and also in those days men were scarce who could rake and bind and keep up with a good cradler. One of these was a young man, whose name is forgotten, who was challenged on a heavy bet, by Mr. Beadle, to rake and bind the wheat all day that he cut. The bet was taken. Mr. Beadle was tall, heavily built, long legged and long armed, cutting a wide swath. Up to noon, the young man took the grain as it came from the cradle, which was laid in an even swath, being right at the old man's heels to the very last clip. About the middle of the afternoon, Beadle seeing that there was a prospect of his losing the bet, began to be a little careless about laying the grain, and as night approached it was thrown from the cradle fingers in such shape that the young man got spunky and still close to his back called out at the old man: "Anywhere inside the fence old Beadle, __ any where in the field" and the best cradler about Marengo lost his bet.

In Junius, Seneca County, when my father was a resident there, among the early settlers were Dr.(?) Lynus Ely, father of William Ely of Clyde. Dr. Ely was an ___ (rest of passage and several paragraphs following are illegible).

.... lasted longer than the cake than another slice of cake would come. Poor woman, she became deranged, and remained so for years.

Rev. Mr. Merrill is well remembered, as my parents were members of the Presbyterian church for which he preached. He is remembered more distinctly, from the fact of his having a club foot, and short leg, with a light steel frame attached to his shoe to make the deformed leg the length of the other.

There were old settlers, in Marengo, Junius, Tyre, Angells Corners, Savannah, Rose Valley, and old Galen, not mentioned so far; but will try and call them up to remembrance.


Ambrose French Grow was the son of Elias Grow and Huldah Dryer, who had 10 children, of whom four, older than Ambrose, were said to be born in the Town of Galen. Ambrose married Amanda Frances Wisner, who survived him by many years. Ambrose and Amanda spent much of their married life in Kansas, but between the 1880 and 1900 census years removed to Washington State. Further information about Mr. Grow, his ancestry and descendants can be found in ancestry.com's lineage database.

1830 United States Federal Census
Name: Elias Grow [according to son Ambrose, he died 1831 in Penfield, Monroe County NY]
Township: Junius
County: Seneca
State: New York
1 male under 5
1 male 10-15
2 males 15-20
1 male 40-50
2 females 5-10
1 female 10-15
1 female 15-20
1 female 40-50

1840 United States Federal Census
Name: Huldah Grow
Township: Galen
County: Wayne
State: New York
1 male 20-30
1 female 15-20
1 female 30-40
1 person engaged in manufactures and trades

According to information posted on ancestry.com, Ambrose F. Grow first married an Anna M. Price in 1852, no location stated, no further information about her. According to Mr. Grow, she passed away 15 months (ca. August 1853) after their marriage in Rose NY in May 1852, and rests in a cemetery in Batavia IL. He was said to have married Amanda Frances Wisner on November 8, 1854, somewhere in Wisconsin. Ambrose's older brother Elias W. Grow is found in the 1850 census of Darien, Walworth County, Wisconsin. According to the Wisconsin Land Records database, on September 1, 1857 the Stevens Point WI land office issued 40 acres to a Huldah Grow, who purchased this land.

In 1850 Ambrose was residing in the household of his older brother Daniel Dryer Grow in Batavia, Kane County IL. His future bride Amanda Wisner was residing with her mother Lydia and several siblings, two census entries away from the Grow household!

1850 United States Federal Census
Name: A F Grow
Age: 24
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1826
Birth Place: New York
Home in 1850: Batavia, Kane, Illinois
Household Members:
Name Age
Daniel D Grow, 32, "mecanic," $600, b. NY
Rhoda Grow, 28, b. NY
Minerva Grow, 11, b. NY
Charles A Grow, 8, b. NY
Darwin C Grow, 3, b. IL
A F Grow, 24, "mecanic," $125, b. NY

1860 United States Federal Census
Name: Ambrose Grow
Age in 1860: 36
Birth Year: abt 1824
Birthplace: New York
Home in 1860: Zeandale, Wabaunsee, Kansas Territory
Post Office: Zeandale
Household Members:
Name Age
Ambrose Grow, 36, farmer, b. NY, $800, $150
Amanda Grow, 25, b. NY
Frank Grow, 5, b. IL
Ella Grow, 3, b. Iowa

1870 United States Federal Census
Name: Ambrose Grow
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1826
Age in 1870: 44
Birthplace: New York
Home in 1870: Zeandale, Wabaunsee, Kansas
Post Office: Manhatten
Household Members:
Name Age
Ambrose Grow, 44, farmer, $1500, $700
Amanda Grow, 34, b. NY
Frank L Grow, 14, b. IL
Ella S Grow, 13, b. Iowa
Carrie Grow, 10, b. KS
Jessie Grow, 8, b. KS
Hattie L Grow, 7, b. KS
William Grow, 4, b. KS

Lineage information on ancestry.com states that Ambrose and Amanda's sons Walter and Fred were born in Winslow, Kitsap County, Washington. The family appears in the Webaunsee County, Kansas census in 1880.

1880 United States Federal Census
Name: A. F. Grow
Home in 1880: Washington, Wabaunsee, Kansas
Age: 54
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1826
Birthplace: New York
Father's birthplace: Vermont
Mother's birthplace: Massachusetts
Household Members:
Name Age
A. F. Grow, 54, farmer
Amanda F. Grow, 45
Frank L. Grow, 24, farm laborer
Carry M. Grow, 20, teacher
Jessie F. Grow, 19, at home
Hattie Grow, 17, at home
William M. Grow, 14, farmer
Walter M. Grow, 6, at home
Fred A. Grow, 2, at home

1900 United States Federal Census
Name: Ambros E Grow
Home in 1900: Eagle Harbor, Kitsap, Washington
Age: 74
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1826
Birthplace: New York
Household Members:
Name Age
Ambrose (illegible initial) Grow, 74, b. Dec. 1825, married 46 years, farmer
Alandra (sp) F Grow, 65, b. Oct. 1834, married 46 years, 8 children, 8 living
Walter L Grow, 27, b. Oct. 1872, farm hand
Fred A Grow, 23, b. Aug. 1876, farm hand
Grow, William, b. Nov. 1865, married 7 years, farmer
Grow, Clare, b. Aug. 1868, married 7 years, no children

1910 United States Federal Census
Name: Amanda Grow
Home in 1910: Eagle Harbor, Kitsap, Washington
Age in 1910: 75
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1835
Birthplace: New York
Relation to Head of House: Mother
Father's Birth Place: New York
Mother's Birth Place: New York
Household Members:
Name Age
Fred A Grow, 31, married 6 years, teamster, handling freight
Inez M Grow, 27, married 6 years, no children, b. Maine, parents b. Maine
Amanda Grow, 75, widow, 8 children, 7 living

1920 United States Federal Census
Name: Amanda F Grow
Home in 1920: Eagle Harbor, Kitsap, Washington
Age: 85 years
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1835
Birthplace: New York
Relation to Head of House: Head
Father's Birth Place: New York
Mother's Birth Place: New York
Household Members:
Name Age
Amanda F Grow, 85, widow, freely owns home
Fred A Grow, 42, time-keeper, logging camp
Inez M Grow, 37, daughter-in-law
William M. Grow, 54, freely owns home, farmer, own farm
Clara M. Grow, 51
Grow, Dorothy E., niece, 6, b. WA, residing with John and Harrier Parfit, janitor at public school

1930 United States Federal Census
Name: Amanda Grow
Home in 1930: Eagle Harbor, Kitsap, Washington
Age: 96
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1834
Relation to Head of House: Mother
Household Members:
Name Age
Fred A Grow, 50, age at first marriage 24, carpenter, ship yard
Olivia Grow, 46, age at first marriage 20
Amanda Grow, 96, widow, b. Illinois (sounds like someone answered for her)

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