PAGES 1 - 11

Source: Historical Souvenir Series No. 20
Wolcott, N.Y. and Vicinity
Copyrighted June 1905, "Grip," 109 Corning Ave., Syracuse, N.Y.


Wolcott, a village of 1,500 population occupies an eligible location in the centre of a large agricultural section, and is the principal village in the northern part of Wayne County. It has a favorable site on the Lake Ontario branch of the R., W & O railroad which is operated by the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company; and is the prospective point of intersection of trolley lines projected north from Syracuse on the east and Rochester on the west.

Wolcott is the business and shipping centre for fifteen to twenty miles radius of the best fruit and farming section of the state. The industry is largely the handling of fruit-apples, and berries; canning, evaporating of receiving for shipment crops, with an annual valuation of $500,000.

Another considerable industry is that of pickles and kraut, the production of which aggregates in value from $12,000 to $15,000.

Two hundred and fifty acres are devoted to raising vegetables for this factory, and the yield usually pays the farmers about $50 an acre.

One of the largest creameries in Wayne County is located at Wolcott in which considerable local capital is invested. It pays to the dairymen every month $5,000 which is largely distributed in the village in trade. At Sodus is located a branch of this creamery. About 1,500 pounds of butter is made daily at the Wolcott creamery.

Grains, potatoes and onions are also raised in abundance in this section and find a market and shipping point in Wolcott. These productions and others common to a profitable farming section aggregate in valuation annually about $200,000.

There are two foundries, a flouring mill, a cider mill and wood working shops in the village; four department stores, four drug stores, four groceries, two hardware and plumbing firms, a furniture store, two undertakers, three clothiers, three milliners, three dressmaking and ladies tailors, a wagon, carriage and musical instrument business, two harness shops, two meat markets, four blacksmith shops, two photograph galleries, two barber shops, two lumber yards, two coal yards, four hotels. There are five physicians, six attornies, two dentists, three opticians and two veterinaries.

The Twitchell-Champlin Company operate a cannery of fruits and vegetables, employing from thirty to sixty hands.
The J. Weller Company employ from ten to a dozen in the manufacture of pickles and kraut.
G.H. Northup handles dried fruits.
Olivet Bros. & Cunningham, largely green fruits, also manufacture barrels.
Wm. Davis, green and dried fruits.
The Mercur Packing Company, dried fruits.
J.S. Terrill, green and dried fruits.

Wolcott, an up-to-date business place, is built largely of brick business blocks and fine class of residences. The streets are largely macadamized and heavily shaded by elms and maples. The sidewalks are chiefly stone and cement. Most of the residences are surrounded by well kept lawns and considerable taste is displayed in the adornment of grounds with shrubs and flowers. The streets are lighted with arc lights and incandescent lights are largely used in homes and business places.

There are two well conducted weekly newspapers and two substantial banks.

The school is a comparatively new building-a large and handsome structure, built at a cost of $25,000 or $30,000.

The fire department consists of three volunteer companies, having an engine, hooks and ladders and ample supply of hose.

There are five churches, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal and Protestant Methodist. Four of the structures are of stone or brick. The church attendance averages 800. The valuation of the church property in the village, including endowments, will aggregate $150,000. Each society owns its parsonage. The Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian societies own considerable real estate in the village outside of churches and parsonages.

A great deal of building is going on this year, principally residences for which a new and attractive street has been opened, called Leavenworth Avenue.

Society in Wolcott comprehends literary societies, clubs, insurance and social fraternities. The population of Wolcott is largely of the desirable class of people who are in good circumstances and in business of some sort. There is a pride of home and village among the people which insures the prosperity and growth of the community. Many former Wolcott people who have become prominent in much larger communities still entertain a fondness for their native place and in the summer a considerable tide of "old home comers" and their friends enliven the society of this beautiful and progressive village.

Wolcott by its location invites home seekers and those looking for favorable business sites. That it keeps up with modern progress is shown by its excellent lighting system, telephone service and the unusually large number of automobiles owned in the place.

Many of its citizens have summer cottages at Port Bay and Lake Bluff on Great Sodus Bay, arms of Lake Ontario, only a few miles north of the village, where they live during the hot months going and coming daily with their automobiles, or driving back and forth fine teams, Wolcott people generally take pride in nice horses.

Wolcott: Earliest Business Men and Earliest Industries; Large Enterprise Gave Birth to the Village: -

The first settler and land owner in the village of Wolcott was Jonathan Melvin, Sr., who bought 500 acres largely included in the present corporate limits of the village. Melvin, who was a revolutionary soldier, came here from Melvin Hill in the town of Phelps, Ontario County, in 1806 and the following year he put up a small building for shelter. Melvin, for those days was a plunger, and to carry out his projects he borrowed money from the banks in Utica and Geneva.

In 1809 he built a grist mill and saw mill on the Rumsay site both of which he sold to Obadiah Adams in 1812. Melvin donated a site for a schoolhouse and for a village park. He sold a plot of land to Sam Mellin who put up a fulling, cloth dressing and carding mill and he also sold three acres known as the swamp lot to Dr. David Arne, which includes what was the site of the old Presbyterian church. Melvin built an ashery on the north side of Main Street and a distillery on the west side of the road leading to the Beach grist mill. Melvin painted an old farm house black, which afterwards gave it the name of the "Black House Farm." Melvin died at Phelps in 1845.


Obadiah Adams, brother-in-law to Osgood Church, who first surveyed pretty much all of the lands in this section, was one of the largest operators in lands and promoters of enterprises in this locality. He was the colonel in the state militia from 1812 to 1824. Coming to Wolcott in 1810 he first bought 40 acres of land from Jonathan Melvin, which lay on the east side of New Hartford street. He built a story-and-a-half frame building on the site of the Wolcott House where he opened a tavern. In 1812 he bought the old schoolhouse which stood across the street and moving it over on to his lot connected it with his tavern. In this addition he opened a store, being the first merchant as well as landlord in the village. Trade for a few years prior to that time went to Sodus Point where it was expected that owing to the excellent harbor the chief town in this section would spring up.


The daring and energy of Melvin, Adams and the Church's, who were then settled at Wolcott, opened up a trading point at this place which soon out-rivaled Sodus Point. Saw Mills, grist mills, carding mills and asheries erected here very quickly made this the centre of trade. Mr. Adams erected a kiln for drying corn and grinding meal which he shipped in large quantities to Canada. His large hogsheads filled with meal for shipment gave the place the sobriquet, "Puncheonville." He also erected a blast furnace east of the Beach Mill, but never put it into operation as he failed at about that time, 1824, and moved to Rochester, where he opened a hotel and a couple of years later died.


When the stage road between Rochester and Oswego was opened his hotel at Wolcott became a much famed house for the accommodation of travelers passing through by stage. To accommodate his shipments of pearl ashes and corn meal, principally, as well as other produce which he bought in large quantities, he bought land on the east shore of Sodus Bay and erected a wharf where he shipped produce and received merchandise. It lay between Glasgow and Bonnicastle and was known as "Sloop Landing." There he laid out a village, put up a warehouse and other good buildings and launched a sailing vessel. As a speculation the enterprise on the lake proved unsuccessful, but for a few years more produce was shipped from "Sloop Landing" on the lake than at any other point on the south shore between Oswego and Niagara.


Isaac Leavenworth was another of Wolcott's prominent citizens but at a considerable later period. He founded the Leavenworth Institute which along in the early sixties ranked high as an educational institution, and did a great deal in other ways to promote the interests of the village. In 1849 he was elected to the Legislature.

Samuel Mellen about 1812 erected fulling, cloth dressing and carding mills on the land which he bought from Jonathan Melvin, Sr. These he sold to Jedediah Wilder, a veteran of the war of 1812, in 1816, who sold out to Roswell Benedict in 1826.


Elisha Plank in 1813 bought 467 acres north of the village and erected a saw and grist mill on Mill creek, which was carried away by a freshet, Nov. 1, 1814. He and his son were both carried down in the current in trying to save some of the property. The father was rescued but the son was drowned. The next spring when Plank erected a second gristmill his house was burned. He died Sept. 25, 1852.


Dr. David Arne was on of the most prominent men of Wolcott in its earliest period. He purchased of the Geneva bank the "Black House Place," the old Jonathan Melvin home, which the bank had to take when Melvin failed. For some years he was justice of the peace in the village. He also went to the assembly and was on the bench, a court of pleas judge. He was the first postmaster in the village.

Elias Y. Munson, who came to Wolcott with Obadiah Adams and for a few years was a clerk for Reuben Swift & Co., became a commanding figure in business at Wolcott a few years later. In 1829 he purchased the old Adams tavern which in the winter of 1836-'7 burned. Munson rebuilt it of brick, the first brick structure in the village, and conducted it as the Northern Exchange Hotel. He was a mason by trade and helped lay the walls of the Auburn State Prison. He died June 23, 1861.

Rev. Amos P. Draper, a carpenter by trade, came to Wolcott as an ordained preacher in the Baptist Church.


Jacob Butterfield, a tanner and shoemaker, about 1811, purchased of Osgood Church three acres on which he built a tannery and carried on business for years.

Wm. M. Nurss and Merritt Candy came in 1823 and erected a distillery and ashery on the east side of the creek. They purchased Elisha Plank's gristmill and also established a store. Mr. Candy died in 1828 and Mr. Nurss closed out their business, being succeeded by Alanson Melvin, whom his father, Jonathan Sr., had left here to wind up his affairs.

Stephen P. and Chester A. Keyes bought of E.Y. Munson all of the tract across Main Street from the Wilder lot to the gulf and moved the old barn and sheds over to the tavern stand. The messrs. Keyes occupied the old Munson store.

Nathan Pierce, son-in-law of Levy Smith, built a hotel, which was later known as the White hotel, and kept it several years.

Dr. Tripp purchased from the Geneva Bank the Melvin mill property and repaired and conducted it for some time.

The present Wolcott house, standing on the site of Adam's tavern, which, as has been stated, was burned and rebuilt by E. Y. Munson as the Northern Exchange, was enlarged by Julius Whiting in 1880. He was succeeded, Feb. 1,1887, by S. A. Williams.

James V. D. Westfall was the first to open a banking business in a small way.

Roe, Ellis and Pomeroy in 1875 started a private bank. In the spring of 1884 Mr. Pomeroy sold his interest to Messrs. Roe and Ellis.


Arcadia, taken from Lyons, Feb. 15, 1825.

Butler, from Wolcott, Feb. 26, 1826.

Galen, originally township 27, Military tract, receiving its name from having been appropriated by the Medical department of the army, from Junius, Feb. 14, 1812.

Huron, from Wolcott as Port Bay, Feb. 25, 1826; its present name was fixed March 17, 1834.

Lyons, from Sodus, March 1, 1811; named from supposed topographical resemblance to Lyons, France.

Macedon, from Palmyra, Jan. 29, 1823.

Marion, from Williamson as Winchester, April 18, 1825. Its name was changed Feb. 12, 1808.

Palmyra, the original town, was formed in Jan., 1789.

Rose, from Wolcott, Feb. 5, 1826; named from Robert S. Rose of Geneva.

Savannah, from Galen, Nov. 24, 1824; named from the savannahs in the south part of the town.

Sodus, the original town, was formed Jan., 1789; called by the Indians Assorodus, "silvery water."

Walworth, from Ontario, April 20, 1829; named from Chancellor Walworth.

Williamson, from Sodus, Feb. 20, 1802; named from Charles Williamson, the American agent for the Pultney estates.

Wolcott, from Junius, March 24, 1807; named from Gov. Oliver Wolcott of Connecticut.


The legislature by the act of July 25, 1782, created the Old Military Tract as it was called. It contained 1,800,000 acres and included the present counties of Onondaga, Cortland, Cayuga, Tompkins and Seneca (except a strip across the southern end of Cortland county, west from the Tioughnioga river, about a mile and a half wide), and all of Wayne county east of Great Sodus Bay and Oswego county west of the Oswego river.

In this tract there were 28 townships, called "Military towns" to distinguish them from the towns afterwards created in erecting the counties enclosing them.

In 1786 the legislature created a military tract, 768,000 acres in the counties of Clinton, Franklin and Essex which was laid out in twelve towns, bringing the total number up to 60. Each was laid out as nearly square as practical, averaging about 9 2/3 miles square and containing each 100 lots of 600 acres to the lot or a total of 60,000 acres.

The towns in the first military tract, comprising Galen were numbered and given classical names all of which have been retained (as far as the supply would go) in the re-constituted towns. Except where they coincided with county lines, none of the original boundaries were preserved, each "military" town supplying territory for two or three re-organized towns. The only "military" town overlapping a county line is that of Sterling which contributed territory for both Wayne and Cayuga counties. The numbering of the towns began with Lysander (in Onondaga county) near the northeast corner of that tract. (the second "military" town south of Lake Ontario) and was carried south going from east to west.

The towns, placed in order in which they were numbered, together with the counties which have since absorbed them, are as follows: No. 1, Lysander, Onondaga, 2. Hannibal, Oswego; 3. Cato, Cayuga; 4. Brutus, Cayuga; 5. Camillus, Onondaga; 6. Cicero, Onondaga; 7. Manlius, Onondaga; 8. Aurelius, Cayuga; 9. Marcellus, Onondaga; 10. Pompey, Onondaga; 11. Romulus, Seneca; 12. Scipio, Cayuga; 13. Sempronious, Cayuga; 14. Tully, Onondaga; 15. Fabius, Onondaga; 16. Ovid, Seneca; 17. Milton, Cayuga; 18. Locke, Cayuga; 19. Homer, Cortland; 20. Solon, Cortland; 21. Hector, Schuyler; 22. Ulysses, Tompkins; 23. Dryden, Tompkins; 24. Virgil, Cortland; 25. Cincinnatus, Cortland; 26. Junius, Seneca; 27. Galen, Wayne; 28. Sterling, Wayne and Cayuga.

The federal government having offered lands in the west to the soldiers of the revolution, the state laid out the military tracts to keep as many here as possible, offsering a bonus of 100 acres to privates who would relinquish their western claims and accept this offer of 600 acres of land in this state before July 1, 1790. The state reserved in each town two lots for schools, two for churches and two to be distributed among comissioned officers. The allotment of lands was to be made by drawing.

In default of a settlement on each 600 acres within seven years the land was to revert to the state. Fifty acres of each lot called the "survey fifty" was subject to the charge of forty-eight shillings ($6.00) to pay for surveying, and if that were not paid in two years the "survey fifty" was to be sold. Compliance with these two main conditions gave the patentee full title to the whole 600 acres.

The distribution of lots occurred July 3, 1790, under the direction of the governor and four state officers. The names of the claimants of the land were placed on ballots in one box and numbers corresponding to the allotments were placed on ballots in another box. The person appointed by the commissioners first drew the ballot containing the number of the lot; in which manner each claimant's allotment was determined.

The earliest settlement of the Military Tract was on the east shore of Cayuga Lake, and so far as records go the settlers were the family of Roswell Franklin near Aurora, Cayuga county, who came up from Wysax, Penn., by boat, following the Susquehanna and Tioga rivers to Newtown (Elmira) thence crossing to the head of Seneca lake; thence by boat through that lake and Seneca river to Cayuga lake.


Wolcott prior in 1855 is shown on page 5. The Wolcott Hotel was then occuppied by E. Y. Munson, who constructed balconies on the old building. Julius Whiting afterwards built the new hotel.

The first white building, the Gilbert Block, was occuppied by D.C. Whitford in 1872. B. A. Merrill, boots and shoes, was then in the second story and Billy Culliford lodged in the basement, where for some years prior he ran a saloon. The building was erected by two brothers- hatters. George H. Arnes had a justice's office on the second floor for 45 years.

In the building beyond were located Hovey & Burnet, hats, (the site of Olmsted's drug store); Smedley & Roberts, groceries (the site of the bank); Wellington Olmsted, restaurant.

The Arcade was built by Isaac Leavenworth. Curry, harnessmaker, occuppied the west end upstairs. The oval patch over the walk is his sign. Hyde & Davis, grocers, were under his shop. Their sign over the end windows can be read through a strong glass. William Wadsworth previously had a store there. In the east end of the Arcade, Mrs. Bissell had a millinery store, over which was A.A. Stinard's shoe shop. In the middle store of the Arcade was Thomas' printing office. When the building was first erected it was wholly occupied on the ground floor by Schaeffers' general store.

Henry Sheldon and Dexter Taylor were also in business in those old buildings.

In the engraving on page 8 are shown the new brick structures which stood in 1877. That with the bay window was put up by D.G. Whitford in 1876. Seamans, some years after, performing on the slack wire lost his life by the falling off one end of the wire, the rebound throwing him off. The first building is now the site of Murphey's store. Beach's business was next beyond. Then cam Whitford & Campbell. Paige built the next building; U. G. Brewster erected and occupied the next, Jefferson Abbott the next to that; and Albert Wells the building next to the Arcade.

The middle building beyond the ruins (see page 8) was Stephen Bullock's wagon shop and in the next to the left Sam and William Rogers had a blacksmith shop. The old Methodist Church is plainly seen beyond (now the site of D.C. W hitford's residence). Back of the church was a cemetery. No trace of it remains.

Across Mill street on the corner was W.W. Paddock, hardware. East of him was S.H. Foster's drug store and Amos Nash's egg vats. Phillips' cabinet shop was on the west side of Mill street, and the old foundry stoof across the street.

In the brown house, corner of Main and Jefferson streets (now Conway's residence) George H. Reed made furniture.


This building was burned early Sunday morning, Feb. 10, 1884. The alarm was given by ringng the church bells. The Empire Block stood on the north side of Main street, extending west from Mill street. It was built by Well & Wheelock. In the corner was the entrance to the Delano Hotel. From an account of the fire in the "Lake Shore News" the following facts were taken:- A telegram to Oswego brought steamer No. 2 with fifteen fireman who arrived at 7 a.m.

H. A. Delano and family, H.C. Creque and family, Mr. and Mrs. R. A. Wheelock and Mr. and Mrs. H. M. Hamilton got out safely, only the latter saving a few valuables.

Eight blocks, all brick, were burned, including the Wells and the Sax blocks on the south side of Main Street. Twenty-three business firms were burned out and fourteen families rendered homeless.

The following were losers by the fire:- Henry Michael, building; Jerry Seibring, building, etc; H. A. Delano, Empire House; R.A. Wheelock, building; R. Beach, flour and feed; Warren & Tuttle, hardware; Martin Spahr, stock and household; Casper Spahr, building; C.H. Finch, clothier and household; C. Post, stock and household; L.I. Kenyon, building; C. H. Allen, building, goods and household; W.W. Paddock, stoves; H.C. Creque, household; Mrs. Ira Scott, household; G.A.R., A. O. U. W. and F. & A.M., furniture; J. N. Robertson, M.D., office effects; G.H. Northrup, building; J.G. Sax, building; H.C. Moses, stock; E.J. Peck, drugs; L. Burgdorf, harness; D. Winchell, butcher; J. Cline, stock; A. Wells, market and household; C.B. Moon, boots and shoes; James A. Merrill, office and household; C.F.Valkenburg, stock; F. Abbott, building, stock and household; D. Conger, stock; Charles Purdy; Peter Cole, household and stock; C. Weldon, household; Wm. H. Thomas, "Lake Shore News;" E.W. Newberry, stock and furniture; Mr. Bassett, carriage painting; Whitford & Campbell, stock; U.G. Brewster, stock; Thacker Bros., stock; H.A. Grans, stock.

The total of losses was about $145,000.

The heaviest losses were those of R.A. Wheelock $35,000, H.A. Delano $14,000, G. H. Northrup $7,500, L.I. Kenyon $9,000, Casper Spahr $6,500, Jerry Seibring $6,000, C.H. Finch $5,000 and W. H. Thomas $4,500.


The old town of Wolcott, comprising the present towns of Butler, Wolcott, Huron and Rose, was set off from the north end of Junius, Seneca county, March 24, 1807, but a legal organization was not effected until April, 1810. On June 11, 1814, a special town meeting was convened to consider the question of uniting with the towns of Galen, which then included Savannah, Sterling, Cato, Hannibal and Lysander, in a new county but it was defeated.

The division of the town was next agitated, about 1823. It was proposed to make four towns out of the original town of Wolcott. A convention was called by the moving spirits and the matter was discussed freely. The affimative was settled without much trouble, but there was some trouble in the adjustment of the boundary lines. Huron and Butler both wanted to include Wolcott village, and Red Creek which then had some aspirations desired to arrange matters so that it would be the chief village in the town of Wolcott.

Nearly three years were occupied in reaching an understanding and in 1826 the division of the old town of Wolcott was effected.

Up to the time Wayne county was erected Wolcott was in the county of Seneca, as was also Galen lying south of it. It comprised a township of about twelve miles square bounded on the north by Lake Ontario, on the east by Cayuga county, on the south by the town of Galen and on the west by Ontario county, which at the time comprised all of the western part of the present county of Wayne.

In 1810 the population of Wolcott was 480 including only fifty-nine males who had the property qualifications for voting for State Senators. This was four years after the location in the town of the first white settler.


The settlement of the town of Wolcott was begun by Jonathan Melvin, Sr., who located on lot No. 50 in 1806. Jonathan Melvin, Jr., his son, was the first settler in the town of Clyde. Then came Adonijah Church from Massachusetts in 1806; Osgood Church and family and Hiram Church and Dr. Zenas Hyde and Zenas Wheeler in 1807; Lambert Woodruff who bought land in the vicinity of Red Creek in 1807 and moved onto it in 1810; Eliab Abbott in 1808; Obadiah Adams in 1810, Nodiah Child and Giles and Thaddeus Fitch in 1811; Jacob Snyder with a family of ten children in 1813.

Giles Fitch came here in his business as a mail contractor, the first who carried mail between Auburn and Wolcott, riding the distance on horseback.

Osgood Church, a surveyor, came here as a sub-agent for the lands of Charles Williamson. On October 27, 1809, he obtained the deed for 855 acres at $2.40 an acre. His brother Adonijah served as commissioner of schools and supervisor.


Lambert Woodruff bought 500 acres adjoining the Balack farm where he lived for a time.

Thomas Snyder, the son of Jacob Snyder, erected the first saw and grist mill at Red Creek.

Jonathan Runyon, a revolutionary soldier, took up 600 acres of land in the town of Wolcott.

Robert McArthur , John Ford and Daniel Patterson were soldiers of the war of 1812 who settled in the town of Wolcott.

Wm. Olney Wood, one of the early settlers, was a tanner at Red Creek. He built Wood's hotel there and afterwards opened a private bank. He also served as supervisor of the town.

Capt. Horace L. Dudley, who came here in 1824, was captain in the state militia in 1829.

Obadiah Adams, a brother-in-law of Osgood Church, was a colonel of the state militia and a prominent business man in the village of Wolcott.

The personal history and characteristics of many of these mentioned in this sketch are detailed elsewhere in this work and will be found interesting reading. Very complete reference is made to several under the caption "Wolcott; Earliest Business Men and Earliest Industries."

Zenas Wheeler, an elder in the Presbyterian church, was a member of the General Assembly in 1837.

Abijah Moore came to the village in 1809.

Stephen and Sylvanus Joiner on March 1, 1811 bought 1,050 acres for $4 an acre ef Fellows and McNab on lot 344.

Hiram Church, a son of Osgood Church, was two years old when his father came here, in 1808, and lived to see a beautiful village spring up into full and thrifty growth before he died, in 1889. Considerable material has been taken for this work from historical articles which he wrote and which were published in the "Lake Shore News."

John C. Wadsworth, who came from Vermont, and settled in Butler with his father in 1819, located in Wolcott in 1832. He was sheriff of the county four years.

Jesse Mathews was another who lived in the town before 1820. He was supervisor in 1817.

Lott Stewart, who kept tavern at Stewart's Corners, was widely known throughout the county.


Prominent among the early settlers of the town were the following:-

James Alexander, Ephraim P. Bigelow, Benjamin Brown, Luke Brinkerhoff, George W. Brinkerhoff, Deacon Cyrus Brockway and Peres Bardwell. Seth Craw, Alpheus Collins and Thaddeus Collins. Daniel Dutcher, Rev. Amos P. Draper, Anson Drury, George Doolittle and John Dow.

Joseph Foster, Stephen D. Fowler, M.P. Foster, M. P. Foote, Alanson Frost, Roswell Fox, Jacob Fraber and Milton Fuller. John Grandy, Moses Gillett and Ashley Goodrich.

Linus Hubbard, James M. Hall, Rev. Ira H. Hogan, Thomas Hall, Hamilton Hibbard, Aaron Hopkin, Alpheus Harmon, John Hyde, Stephen Herrick, Thomas Hancock, Elijah Hancock, Consider Herrick and William Hallett. Capt. Thomas W. Johnson, Ezra Knapp.

Jarvis Mudge, Gardner Mudge, John Mack, Elias Y. Munson, Silas Munsell, Abijah Moore, Caleb Mills and Pender Marsh. Wm. P. Newell, Samuel J. Otis, Isaac Otis and Roger Olmsted. Wm. W. Phillips and Prentice Palmer, Isaac Rice.

Levi Smith, Wm. Sax, Charles Sweet, Noah Starr, Jacob Shook, Roger Sheldon, Wareham Sheldon and Jabez Stewart. John Turner and Eliakim Tupper.

George I. Van Fleet, Garret Van Fleet, Robert Van Tassell, Ransom Ward, Jedediah Wilson, Jesse W. Williams, Joseph Ward, Franklin Ward, John Woodruff, Charles Woodruff, Lyman Whitney, Jacob Ward, Nathaniel Williams, Glazier Wheeler, Eli Wheeler and R. W. Younglove.

The First Tavern in the village of Wolcott was opened and kept by Obadiah Adams.


What was known as the "Lyons Petition" was the earliest movement for the erection of Wayne county. It was dated Nov. 15, 1822, and was addressed to the Legislature, asking that the towns of Lyons, Sodus, Williamson, and parts of the towns of Phelps in Ontario county and Wolcott and Galen, then in Seneca county, should constitute the proposed new county of Wayne. The petition was presented to the Legislature Jan. 8, 1823, and reported by committee favorably February 3. The bill for the erection of the county was passed April 11, and included the towns named in the "Lyons Petition." The bill named as commissioners for determining the site of county buildings Wm. D. Ford of Jefferson county, Samuel Strong of Tioga county and Oliver P. Ashley of Green county. Court was to be held until the county seat was fixed in the "Presbyterian meeting house in Lyons." That portion of Phelps included in the new county was finally annexed to the town of Lyons. Nathaniel Kellogg of Sodus, Wm. Patrick of Lyons and Simeon Griswold of Galen were named commissioners to build the court house and jail. The supervisors of the new county were directed to meet at the house of Henry L. Woollsey, Lyons, then a tavern in that village, on the first Tuesday in October to levy an assessment for collecting $2,500 towards building a court house and jail, the same amount to be levied at their next annual meeting. The commissioners in June, 1823, decided upon the public square in Lyons as the site of the county buildings.

The Pultenay Estate was the largest landed possession in Wayne county where many of the farm titles come from its owner, who with two other capitalists purchased the lands from Robert Morris of Philadelphia. Mr. Morris bought from Phelps & Gorham 2,200,000 acres in western New York currency, equal to about $75,000. The Phelps & Gorham grant was originally made by the state of Massachusetts, which claimed title to pretty much all of western New York under grant from the crown of Great Britian. After the revolution this claim was adjusted between the states of Massachusetts and New York, and Phelps & Gorham received a good title. Through an agent in London Mr. Morris sold a large part of this tract to Sir Wm. Pultenay, John Hornby and Patrick Colquhoun to whom he transferred the title to about 1,200,000 acres for thirty-five thousand pounds sterling, about $175,000. Subsequently, the three partners, London men, divided the tract, Sir Wm. Pultenay's share besides the lands comprised in the tract embracing portions of several counties, contained parts of the towns of Lyons, Galen and Wolcott in Wayne county amounting to about 80,000 acres. The title to the Pultenay estate was held in the name of Charles Williamson, who came from England as the accredited agent and in order to hold the title secured naturalization papers, the law of this country forbidding aliens to hold large tracts of land not actually settled by them.

The Pultenay title was contested for some years but was confirmed both by decrees of the courts and by legislative enactment. The headquarters, or land office, was for years at Geneva, and there the purchasers of farms (the tenants as they really were) had to go to make their periodical payments. What is now Wayne county was then divided between Seneca and Ontario counties.

Mr. Williamson brought with him as agents or factors Charles Cameron, John Johnstone, James and Henry Tower, Andrew Smith and Hugh McCartney, men who undoubtedly have descendants still living in some parts of Wayne county, and whose names are conspicuous in the early history of the county.

Cameron was in fact placed in charge of the lands during the earliest period of settlement, in the vicinity of Lyons and Clyde, where he acted as local agent. Some claim that he gave the name Clyde to the river after which that village is named. In 1803 or '4 Mr. Williamson returned to Scotland leaving Col. Benjamin Walker in charge of the estate. He was succeeded by John H. Woods of Geneva. Col. Robert Troup became their successor, as did also James Rees.

Continue on to Part 2

Prepared by Volunteer Marilee Rayome. Marilee would like to hear from others researching her surnames VAN VLECK, DIETRICH, LARKIN, COOL, HARPER and FLINT in the area of Wolcott and Butler. [Note: Marilee doesn't have the rest of the book and has no info on persons mentioned in the pages she typed. For further information, please contact the Office of the County Historian.]

Back to Town of Wolcott Page

Created: 12/12/99
Copyright © 1999 Marilee Rayome/ M. Magill
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