During the 1950s the Wellsville Daily Reporter ran a series of articles called “Mystery Farm” for a weekly column. This story was transcribed and submitted by Don Adams and is a typical story telling the history of our area which might be otherwise forgotten. Commonplace today, people in the Allentown, Scio and Wellsville areas refer to the steep incline just west of Wellsville on State Route 417, as “Norton Summit”. The “Long View” that is available from the top of Norton Summit overlooks the valley which beheld the Norton Farm described in this historical article. For the sake of readability, I have taken the liberty of joining the 3-part story into one. Thank You, Don, for researching and transcribing it for use here on our website…….webmaster, rt.
“Wellsville Daily Reporter….. 2-15-1957
FIRST OWNER OF NORTON FARM CUT ROAD THROUGH WOODLAND
Norton Farm on the Knight's Creek Road, The Reporter Mystery Farm for last week is the story not only of a family which has been successful in the fields of farming, timber and oil.
In December of 1831, Esther Dwindle became the bride of William L. Norton. The bride was only 17 at the time. The new Mrs. Norton was from a small town in Vermont while Mr. Norton had lived in New York State near the southern end of Lake Champlain.
Early the next spring, the young couple traveled to Belmont. They lived there for a time while Mr. Norton cut a road from Scio five miles back into the timber land to 100 acres of property. The property, part of the Morris Reserve, was a wedding present from his father.
When the road was completed, the young man cleared a small amount of land and built their first home. The house was a log cabin located by a spring. Mr. and Mrs. Norton moved to the wilderness home. Four of the couples five children were born in this cabin.
Indians were still prevalent in the area. Mrs. Norton increased his holding by purchasing 455 acres of land at a dollar per acre from the Indians.
During the early years, Mr. Norton entered the lumbering business. The first saw mill was located on Knight's Creek just below the house.
The timber business expanded and men were needed to work in the mill. At one time Mr. Norton held many acres of timber land. Once the timber had been cut, the owner would give the land to his employees, reserving only the mineral rights.
As success came to the family, Mr. Norton decided to build a residence. The large parlor of this home was an exact duplicate of the East Room of the White House. A man was sent to Washington to bring back the design. A large barn was also constructed by Mr. Norton. This hip-roofed structure us still use today.
Later the present residence was built on the site of the old home. Parts of the old house were moved from the property while a section became one of the tenant houses.
The present home, when first built included a wing where Mr., and Mrs., Norton lived with two of their grandsons, Lucius E. Norton, Jr. and Charles York. Mr. and Mrs. Norton, Sr. lived in the main part of the house.
The farming business was diversified in many ways, but the chief business was dairying. As the years went by Mr. Norton's lumbering enterprise continued to expand. At one time he was the owner of 33 mills. Mr. Norton also owned the first steam saw mill in the county. Lumber was transported to Scio along a plank road.
A new business came to Mr. Norton when oil was discovered.
The Norton property lay in the Allegany Oil Field and the owner along with William Taylor opened the first field in the area in 1882.
The partners sponsored several oil companies in the early days of the oil business.
In December of 1899, Mr. and Mrs. Norton died within two days of each other. The Double funeral climaxed a story of hard work, ingenuity and success for the couple.
Of their children, four survived, Lucius E., Henry, Ebenezer and Myria York.”
Lucius Norton was the next owner of the property. He not only inherited the property but most of the business interests of his father. Continuing with farming, lumbering and oil, Mr. Norton expanded the businesses.
Of the enterprises which was formed was the Norton Oil Company, now owned by Mr. Norton along with his two brothers and sister.
He also was a partner in Clark and Norton Machine Shop, an enterprise which his father had not been a part of.
Lucius Norton and his wife had three children, Lucius E. Norton, Jr., Mrs Leona Munson and Mrs. Lucia Wright.
Lucius Norton, Jr. inherited the property and business interests in 1926 upon the death of this father. He continued with all the activities of his father and grandfather.
Many new oil leases were developed by Mr. Norton. A new project was begun on the frm by Mr. Norton. Sheep were raised by Mr. Norton.
Mr. Norton had three children by his first marriage, Mrs. Amy Taylor, Mrs. Leah Hartman and Oak Norton. Miss Susanna Norton, now a student nurse in Buffalo, was his only child by his second wife.
Mr. Norton died in 1952 and his wife took over the operation of the farm and businesses.
The dairy was sold by Mrs. Norton and there is no longer a lumber mill. Mrs. Norton, however has continued operating the farm with a sheep herd and directs the oil interests.
Mrs. Norton did keep beef cattle for while but has discontinued that project.
The present farm is comprised of 300 acres. During the summer, Mrs. Norton hires help to till the fields. Last summer 14 acres of wheat and 25 acres of oats were raised. The meadows are seeded to birdsfoot trefoil, alfalfa and the remainder to a mixture of timothy and clover. A hundred aces of timber was cut in the past year from the farm.
Pasture land is leased to neighboring farmers.
Mrs Norton is kept busy not only overseeing the business, but taking care of 70 Oxford sheep, a Tenesee Walking horse and doing her own housework.
Since the death of her husband, Mrs. Norton has remodeled the main home. She is now having one of the tenant houses modernized.
Thus the story of the Norton Family is the true story of the Mystery Farm. With the birth of Oak Norton's child, four generations of the family have been born on the farm.