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Rushford Related Articles

Recollections of Kelloggville, Rush Creek and East Rushford

The following is excerpted from the book "Rushford and Rushford People", by Helen Josephine White Gilbert, 1910.


 

RECOLLECTIONS OF KELLOGGVILLE, RUSH CREEK AND EAST RUSHFORD

H. B. Ackerly

MY father moved from Delaware County, N. Y., October, 1834. He first bought one hundred acres below McGrawville but later sold the land and bought where Calvin Kellogg now lives. The first settlers in the Pliny Bannister school district, now called Kelloggville, were P. Bannister, R. Bannister, L. P. Walker, Daniel Balcom, John Orcutt, Aaron Capen, Jonathan Ackerly. Wm. Ackerly, Jared Phillips, Isaac Towell, Wm. Wheeler, Luther Woodworth, Daniel Kingsbury and Silas Topping. The most of them had large families ; thirty or forty attended the winter school. This was considered one of the best schools in the country. They had a frame schoolhouse. Log schoolhouses were more common. Schools were supported by each family paying according to the number of days sent to school and furnishing so much wood for each scholar. Sometimes people would neglect to bring their share of wood to school and the school boys had to go with hand-sleds and pick up hemlock bark off from old logs. A good many shiftless people lived then, the same as now. There was no compulsion to send children to school so a great many had a poor chance to get an education. Pliny Bannister was an old school teacher and took a great interest in schools.

Pliny Bannister and his brother Roderick built a sawmill and gristmill and a grindstone factory at the head of the Gorge and did a good business. These settlers came previous to seventy-five years ago. Later others moved into the school district, Chas. Colburn, George Colburn, Caleb Colburn, Abijah Colburn, Foster Sutton, Wm. Sutton, Jerome Lewis, Nathaniel Seavey, John Pryor, John Barnes and others. Wilson Gordon and sons, Orson and Thomas, had a sawmill on his farm, now owned by Mrs. Fannie McCall. Mr. Jerome Lewis managed the mill for the Gordons. Chas. Colburn and Sons purchased a sawmill privilege for a water-mill of my father on the farm now owned by Calvin Kellogg and sawed lumber for a number of years. L. P. Walker purchased the sawmill of the Bannisters. He lumbered for a number of years and sawed a great deal for customers. It was common to see Andrew Kimball from Cream Ridge and the Goforths from the Creek Road district get down there with their oxen before daylight, and to see Almond Benjamin and Newell McCall go into the Pine Woods and get out with a load of logs before daylight. Luther Gordon lumbered there a number of years and had a lumber camp on his grandfather Woodworth's farm. I remember that he and the Colburn brothers bought a pine lot of Oliver Benjamin and paid five dollars a thousand. It was considered a great sale and it was, as the lumber delivered at Caneadea sold at about nine dollars a thousand. The one hundred acres now owned by Mrs. Jennie Litchard Gilbert was given to our Baptist Church by the Holland Land Company. It was very heavily timbered with pine and was divided up into five and ten-acre lots and sold to the highest bidder. That gave those that had no timber a chance to secure some. I can remember when our Baptist Church* [*The church was then the standing timber.] stood in the woods on that farm. People said the land would not be worth a dollar an acre but the Litchard brothers thought better of it and bought it and cleared it and made a farm of it. I consider it one of the best farms in Allegany County. There have been millions of feet of lumber cut in the Kelloggville valley and hauled to Bufifalo with teams, fifty-four miles, and sold for from seven to eight dollars a thousand. A thousand feet made a load. They had to eat cold victuals all the four days gone.

The farms were small, generally fifty to one hundred acres, and all woods. Think of men moving large families into the woods with no schools near by and having to go where they could get work to get provisions to keep their families during the winter. They made black salts out of wood-ashes and sent them to Rochester. I have heard that they could not make more than two or three shillings a day burning hard wood and making black salts. Those were the hard times that Elder Thomas Pratt spoke of at the fiftieth anniversary. In those days they had plenty of game and fish. Deer and other wild animals were numerous. Speckled trout were abundant; they were the finest fish we ever had. They disappeared after the country was cleared.

I remember when the Indians lived on the Genesee River and had brush houses to live in on their hunting trips. They were friendly and would often call at houses and ask for something to eat. As a rule I think they were honest. In all of my Western travels among them for the last thirty-five years we would leave our clothes and provisions in the woods and they were never molested. I had a half- breed for a guide and he told me our things would be safe and I found it so.

L. P. Walker's sawmill that he purchased of the Bannisters was washed away. He became discouraged and went to California at the time of the gold excitement. It took some three or four months to get there. He was gone three or four years and came back without much gold. His sons John and Charles went to work and rebuilt the mill and paid ofif his debts while he was gone. The mill was afterwards sold to C. Balcom. At one time when Mr. Lucian Freeman, the well-known school commissioner, was visiting my brother Andrew, we had a quantity of pine logs in the pond. The Caneadea Creek was rising fast, so they with Mr. Balcom went down in the evening to try to secure the logs. They saw that they were surrounded by a rapid rush of water with bridges, trees and broken houses floating on every side of them. They started for the highest point of land where there were not more than eight or ten feet of dry land for them to stand on. It was a very dark night and their friends feared that they were lost. They had to remain there till morning. The sawmill and dam went out and the logs were lost. Their lives were saved by the break in the dam which lowered the water. I think O. T. Higgins' house went at that time and a great deal of other property.

This was small compared with what the first settlers suffered, with poor roads and bridges, living in log houses with stone fire-places and using iron kettles to bake in. I remember when my folks got a tin oven which was set in front of the fire and the bread had to be turned often to keep one side from burning. When a spare rib was to be roasted a tow string was fastened to the timber above and to the spare rib to hold it in front of the fire. They had to keep it well basted to keep it from burning. When the first stove with four griddles came into use it was considered a great improvement but only a few people were able to buy one, for a number of years. Ox-sleds, wooden-shod, were largely used. Some people had horses. Their conveyances were the lumber-wagons in which they moved from the East. The roads were such that a buggy could not stand the work. Matches were not in use. Flint from a gun-lock struck with steel or a jack-knife would make a spark which was caught on dry punk. Sometimes it would fail and they would have to go to the neighbors to borrow a brand of fire.

The main thoroughfare was from the east to the west. Sometimes a long train of covered wagons moved to Ohio or Michigan. Sometimes droves of cattle, sheep, horses, mules and hogs were driven through here. There was a dense forest of pine from Kelloggville to Caneadea and in fly-time drovers were bothered to get through. Boys were then in great demand at a sixpence, which was six and one- quarter cents.

Our fathers were anxious to have the wheat harvest come in Livingston and Genesee Counties. They would shoulder their cradles and travel through. Their families at home would get along the best they could by dividing the Kelloggville, Rush Creek and East Rushford

flour they had with one another. The northern farmers would ask them if they had brought their leek-hooks with them. We are now independent of them. Our Allegany and Cattaraugus Counties abound in rich grasses which produce the finest butter and cheese in the United States. Harrington and Schuyler of Medina had the job of building locks on the Genesee Valley Canal at Caneadea, which was commenced in 1837. They quarried stone in Kelloggville, where there was a layer of stone two and one-half feet thick, and hauled hundreds of loads over Sand Hill to Caneadea. This made work for a large number of men for a long time.

But few are living that went to school when I did. They are Parker Woodworth of Girard, Pennsylvania; Albert Bannister of Pasadena, California; Amelia Bannister of Fort Scott, Kansas ; Mrs. Nelson Smith of Farmersville Center, New York ; and A. J. Ackerly* [*Died April 13, 1909.] of Cuba, New York. This shows the changes in that school district since the settlement of Rushford. It shows that we are passing away, one generation after another, rapidly.

Now I shall confine my thoughts to Rush Creek. It was rightly named since it has a gravelly bottom and the freshets changed its course rapidly. This has caused great damage to farms and sawmills. There were four sawmills in that valley. My father owned one. Our dam went out in January. We went to work and rebuilt it. The last day while scraping gravel out of the creek there was anchor ice in the running water which was waist deep. We did not take cold.

I will, as I remember, give you the names of the inhabitants in Rush Creek school district: Lucian Frost, Luke Warren (who owned forty acres of woodland and lived in a log house with his seventeen children. It was said they had to dig roots for a living, at least they had a hard time to get along. The father became crazy and traveled constantly through this and adjoining towns saying, "Alonzo Jenison, the devil, stole my broad ax." After he moved out of the house it was found between the ceiling and the side of the log house), Watkins Ackerly, Nelson Rose, Isaac Cronk, Erastus Covill, Seth Covill, George Covin, Ezra Sweatland, Allen Capen, A. Gunn, "Bachelor" Tilton, L. Anderson, Wm. Harris, Abel and Ames Slusher, Asa B. Smith, Oliver Jenison, Luther Jenison, Ira Petty, Elijah Anderson, James Haynes, Daniel Haynes, and "Father" Haynes. At that time there were no bridges, the roads were poor and they had to ford the creek. I remember when they had to crook around trees and deep mudholes and it seemed almost impossible to get through.

There were a number of different denominations. Baptist, Methodist, Wesleyan Methodist and Christian. The Mormons worked hard but did not accomplish much, neither did the Christians, as they called themselves. The other denominations have continued to support a church. Different ministers would come and preach to them. "Father" Goff, a good Christian man, exhorted them often with much effect. In the early days Luther Jenison erected a rough, one-story building for the Methodist Episcopal Church. It was removed a few years after and meetings were held in the schoolhouse, until a few years ago when the people erected a nice Wesleyan Methodist Church, for which they deserve great praise.

Frank Johnson, father of Mell Johnson of Cuba, came in 1840 from Dry den, Tompkins County, New York, and lumbered for John McGraw and E. Southworth on lands now owned by Wm. Simpson. He stocked two watermills with logs. In 1848 John McGraw and E. Southworth came and built the steam sawmill and built up the town and named it McGrawville. It was a good business place and a good deal of money was handled. The store did a big business. In the winter it was common to see twenty or thirty teams from the north, Wyoming and Livingston Counties, loaded with lumber. Lumber was hauled to Caneadea to ship by canal to different markets. It had to be hauled over Sand Hill till 1852, when a plank road was built to Caneadea through the Gorge, over which a team could draw a great load. It made a very pleasant drive for carriages as it was cool in summer and the scenery was beautiful. In winter it was cold as the suction of the air bit more sharp than elsewhere. There was a branch toll road from Kelloggville to Rushford and the office was at the junction on Calvin Kellogg's farm. After McGraw and Southworth had lumbered for a number of years and taken off a great portion of the timber, they sold the property to Rumsey and Phelps of Buffalo. Mr. Rumsey was a tanner. Afterwards they sold out to Albright and Kelley. Mr. Rumsey said he made $25,000, in experience. Albright and Kelley ran it a number of years. Finally every bridge was swept away by an unusual freshet which caused a great pile of slabs to move from L. P. Walker's sawmill and take everything before it. Albright and Kelley sued L. P. Walker for damages and were beaten on the ground that that had been the place to pile the slabs for years before the road had been built and they had never gone out before. That finished the plank road. John McGraw was one of the best business men I ever knew. He was anxious to have a plank road built so he could get his lumber to the canal cheaper. He worked up a feeling among the people that it would be a paying investment, so a stock company was formed to build a road from McGrawville to Caneadea and from Kelloggville to Rushford. The contractors were James and Luther Gordon, PHny Bannister, John Barnes, Calvin Kellogg, Luke Hitchcock and ]\Ir. Kingsley. Michael Bolton did a good deal of work on the road. The road paid the lumbermen but did not pay the stockholders.

Mr. John Barnes had two miles of plank road to build. My father and my brother and myself helped him. The three of us with our ox team earned, altogether, four dollars and a quarter a day and boarded ourselves. We thought we were making money fast. We furnished some plank at four dollars and a half a thousand. The last of October we finished a bridge across C. Balcom's mill-pond east of McGrawville going into the water up to our waists to place timber.

In the thirties we had a cyclone. It came from Olean through Hinsdale and Rushford near McGrawville. A house owned by Bosworth was demolished and one person killed. It went on east through Belfast and Belmont and destroyed millions of feet of pine timber. I remember being at school at the time and when it became dark the scholars hovered around the teacher for protection. They had a right to be frightened for it was a fearful time.

The names of the inhabitants of East Rushford school district were Wilson Gordon and his sons Thomas and Orson, Ziba Forsath, "Deacon" Lewis, father of Mrs. M. C. White. Randolph Heald, Samuel Capen, Milton McCall, Xelson McCall, Harvey Crocker, Mr. Rathburn, Mr. Shields, Ezekiel Gillett. Lowell Wright, John Daball, Mr. Dunn, Mr. Delano, "Negro" Hill, Edwin Burr, Mr. Relya and others that came in later. It was one of the most noted manufacturing places in the county. James McCall built the first gristmill. Later it was owned by Grimard, Thomas Gordon and others. "Deacon" Lewis ran a sawmill and bucket factory, Milton McCall a linseed oil factory just above the bridge that goes up to the Crocker Brothers' farm, Amos Stone and Company a foundry)’, and Wm. Gordon and Sons a carding machine for wool. They also had one in Roderick Bannister's old gristmill at the Gorge. Later Avery Washburn joined the company which was a valuable one for the town and county. John Daball ran a door, sash and blind factory, Asa Worden and brother a tannery, Daniel and James Haynes a furniture shop. Nelson McCall kept a general store and postoffice, Samuel Thomas and Alexander a blacksmith shop, and there was also a hotel. Church services were well attended and the school was good. Altogether East Rushford was a lively burgh.

The first settlers lived in log houses till after sawmills were built. Then some of them built frame houses. In many cases it was years before they were completed. They generally built log fences at first. Afterwards they built rail fences out of pine, oak, cherry or ash. It took the best timber to split into rails.

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