Early History

Town of Alma, NY

1806-1879 History of Allegany County, N.Y.; 1879 F.W.Beers & Co. NY; Reprinted 1978 W.E.Morrison & Co., Printers, Ovid, NY.

(also:ALMA HISTORY from: Gazetteer and Business Directory of Allegany County, N.Y. for 1875 Compiled & Published by Hamilton Child (Syracuse)


            “The first settler in Alma was Warren Hough, from Quebec, Canada, who located in the south part of the town in 1833. About the same time (probably a little later) a man named Longcore settled on lot number 20.

            Azor Hurlbutt, a native of Connecticut (b. January 27th, 1793), removed with his father to Oswego county in 1796. From Oswego county he came to Alma in 1834, and located on lot number 26. He became influential in town affairs, holding the office of justice of the peace about thirty years, the last sixteen years in succession. Other settlers before 1836 were two men named Hunter and Harding, and William Smith.

            In July of the last mentioned year Samuel B. Stebbins moved in from the town of Butternuts, Otsego county (his native place), and settled on the farm he still owns—part of lot 20 on Honeoye creek. Myron Allen was the pioneer settler on lot number 1, in the northwest part, in 1839. The next year Jared Emerson settled in the town. In the spring of 1843 William Andrus, from Steuben county, located on lot number 22, and has resided there most of the time since.

            R. R. Russel, a native of Homer, Cortland county, and a step-son of William Andrus, who had come to Canisteo, Steuben county, in 1837, and carried the mail from the place to Scio two years, located on his present farm in Alma in 1844. Jacob Crandall, from Alfred, settled at the head of Knight’s creek in 1845, and died there in 1863. His son, Luke G. Crandall, is a resident of the town. About 1848 David S. Clair, son of Paris Clair, who settled in Andover, where the former was born in 1836, moved with his father to Alma and they located on lot number 2, on the place where the elder Clair still lives. David S. Clair located upon his present farm in 1866, and has since cleared and improved it. In 1849 Joseph Smith moved in from Michigan and settled on the north part of lot number 114.

            Among those who came in 1853 were Benjamin Cole and N.H.Chamberlain. Cole, who was a native of Springfield, Otsego county, located on Honeoye creek. Chamberlain was born in Tioga county, Pennsylvania, but lived in Steuben county for a while previous to his advent in Alma, in August of the year mentioned.

            In 1851 Daniel Oviatt, son of Barber Oviatt, an early settler of Amity, bought and located on his present farm in Alma. In September, 1854, Josiah Bartlett, a native of Oxford county, Me., settled in the northeast corner of town.

            Robert D. Garrison and Clark White were settlers in the town in 1855. Garrison, a native of Schoharie county, had formerly lived in Tioga county, where White, who was his son-in-law, was married to his daughter Catharine. Mary Garrison, sister of the latter, married Aaron White.

            In 1856 Timothy Nobles, formerly of Steuben county, moved into Alma from Grove, and in December of the same year Martin Strickland, a native of Somerset county, Maine, located where he has since lived, on Honeoye creek. I.J.Elliot, who had lived in Wellsville since 1855, located on the Honeoye in 1857 and has since been engaged in farming and lumbering. J.P. Elliot, a native of Chenango county, who had settled with his father’s family in West Almond in 1826, came to Alma about 1859, settling on the Honeoye. He became identified with the affairs of the town. G.S. Wilcox, a native of Tompkins county, after a residence of two years in Broome county removed to Wellsville in 1852, and from there to Alma in 1860, and purchased a mill on Centre brook, which he converted into a steam mill and has since successfully operated.

            Alonzo H. Lewis, who was born in Tompkins county in 1827, and lived several years in Cayuga, Cattaraugus, Cortland and Broome counties, came to Alma in 1861 and located on the farm where he has since lived. C.G. Johnson, a native of Chenango county, came, with his father, to Allegany county about 1835, and after residing in Amity, West Almond, and Ward removed to Alma in 1862 and bought the farm he now (1879) owns—part of lot number 128.


FROM: Gazetteer and Business Directory of Allegany County, N.Y. for 1875

Compiled & Published by Hamilton Child (Syracuse)

ALMA was formed from Willing, Nov. 23, 1854. The first town meeting was held at the house of Azor Hurlbutt, March 6, 1855, and the following named officers were elected: -John H. Foland, Supervisor; Darius C. Judd, Town Clerk; Arvis Burrows, John C. Rowell, Walton T. Rice and Ambrose Straight, Justices; Samuel B. Stebbins, A. R. Southmade and Alzina Straight, Assessors; Solomon Allen, Daniel Shaw and Jasper White, Commissioners of Highways; Ebenezer Southmade and Charles C. Fay, Inspectors of Election; Wm. S. Oliver, Town Superintendent; John Halbert, Overseer of the Poor; Samuel Wyval, Collector; Samuel Wyval, Wm. Andrews, Saul G. Green and Solomon Allen, Constables.

The town lies upon the center of the south border of the county, and contains 23,349 acres. The surface is very rough and hilly, the declivities of the hills being mostly too steep for profitable cultivation. At various places outcropping's of sand. stone appear. Near the center and near the highest point in the town is a rough tract of sandstone rock covering 100 to 200 acres. The surface is covered with moss, on which the timber has grown. Near the center of this tract is an elevation of ten to fifteen feet, covering about an acre, and composed mostly of huge blocks of sandstone, which is destitute of vegetation, with the exception of a few shrubs and stunted trees. Honeoye Creek and its branches, flowing in deep, narrow ravines, form the principal drainage. The soil upon the uplands is a clayey and sandy loam, and in the valleys a gravelly loam and alluvium. Much of the town is yet covered with forests, and lumbering is the chief pursuit of the people. Agriculture has gained a foothold in the valleys and in a section known as the "Niles Hill district," where some well improved farms are seen. The supply of pine is well nigh exhausted.

The population of the town in 1870 was 766; of whom 665

were native, 101, foreign, 741, white and 25, colored.

SHONGO (Alma p.o.) (formerly known as Honeoye) is situated in the south-west corner of the town, on Honeoye Creek, and contains a hotel, store, blacksmith shop, saw and shingle mill, ten dwellings, and about forty inhabitants.

PIKEVILLE (named from a Mr. Pike, who erected the saw mills there,) was once a thriving lumbering village, but, since the burning of the saw and shingle mills located there, has gone to decay.

Settlement was begun in 1833, by Warren Hough, from Quebec, Canada, who located in the south part. A man named Longcore settled on lot 20, about the same time, or a little later. Azor Hurlbutt was born in Connecticut, Jan. 27, 1804, and removed with his father to Otsego Co., when only three years old. He removed thence to Alma in 1834, and settled on lot 26. When he came there was only a foot path east toward the Genesee, a sled path toward Honeoye Corners, and a road underbrushed toward Pikeville. He has held the office of Justice of the Peace for about thirty years, the last sixteen in succession. He still lives where he first settled. He built and opened the first hotel in Alma, in 1837. His daughter, Emeline, who was born Sept. 1, 1836, was the first child born in the town. Samuel B. Stebbins, a native of Otsego Co., removed thence in the fore part of July, 1836, and settled on lot 30. When he came, he says, there were but five others living in the south part of the town. They were, in addition to Hurlbutt and Hough, Wm. Smith and two others named Harding and Hunter. He has since lived in the same place. Mr. Stebbins relates that his daughters, Achsa Ann and Phebe, aged respectively twelve and eight years, killed a wolf about the year 1846. While he was away from home the children saw in a clearing back of the house, an animal which they supposed to be a fox, but which proved to be a wolf, young and very poor. They set the dog on him, but he did not run till the latter reached him and worried him some. The dog followed close, snapping at his heels at every opportunity. The wolf soon took refuge under the roots of a fallen tree, but the aperture was too small to fully conceal him or to admit of his turning round in it. The girls followed and saw that they could reach his hind legs, and one of them pulled him out while the other stood ready to despatch him. Myron Allen settled in the northwest part, on lot 1, in 1839. Jared Emerson settled in the town in 1840. Wm. Andrus, from Steuben Co., settled on lot 22 in the spring of 1843, and, with the exception of two years, has since lived on the same place. Joseph Smith moved in from Michigan in 1849, and settled in the north part, on lot 114. Timothy Nobles removed from Urbana, Steuben Co., to the town of Burns, in 1833; three years later to Grove; and thence, in 1856, to his present residence in this town. Captain Elisha Mix was an early settler in the town, but in what year we are not advised. He came from Potter Co., Pa., and settled on lot 47, where he died in 1859. His step-son, George E. Adams, came with him, and still lives in the town. The first death in the town was that of John Bagley, in 1838. The first school was taught by Clarinda Kent, in 1839. The first store was kept by Samuel J. Peet, in 1844.The first saw mill was erected by John W. Post, in 1843.