Hallsport and Vicinity

From a paper written by Hazel shear for a Grange Program, 1952

(Transcribed by Georgia Cornell, 2018 - document at ACHS)

                Presenting a brief history of the Hallsport region presents a somewhat new but interesting angle to the historian who has been accustomed to think of the town history as an entire unit. Although quite a bit has been done on the Hallsport history within the town of Willing much interesting material has been side-stepped in deference to the local historians in the surrounding towns. Now in thinking of the Hallsport community it is of course necessary to go over the town lines to include all those to whom this little village was the center of all normal activities.

                Now we look at a map of Allegany County, we find Hallsport in the northeastern part of Willing, very close to the Independence line and close to the Wellsville line. Although Andover does not touch Willing, people who live on the hill road as far north as Route 30 in Andover came to Hallsport rather than to Andover because it was slightly nearer and the hill was not so steep.

                The topographical map of the Wellsville Quadrangle printed by the U.S. Geological Survey shows very plainly all the hills, giving the elevations, all the creeks and runs. It is an exposition in itself o why people in an early day grouped themselves together according to the land Nature had prepared for them.

                Put the point of a compass on Hallsport and the pencil just inside the Independence line north of Fulmer Valley and draw a circle. Within this magic circle I believe you will find most of the people who made up what we think of as the Hallsport community. This circle would also contain the rather legendary settlement of Christian Hill from which, perhaps, Hallsport may have grown.

                It would be great fun to go around this circle, clockwise, and fill in all the lot numbers with the names of the first settlers, from whence they came, the date and all the entertaining stories. But this would take too much time. A few of those who held first title to the lands are:

                Lot 128, Independence: Gordon Stout, from New Jersey, via Tompkins Co. 182_

                Lot 126: Oliver Babcock said to be first settler in Independence, from Alfred, (born in Rhode Island) 1818

Lot 111: Jacob Fulmer who was born at sea, lived in Northampton Co. Pa. to Tompkins Co., in 1812 and to Independence in 1821, His son William, born in Northampton Co. Pa. came in 1821 also.

Lot 114: Luther Green in 1820 Born near Albany in 1796.

Lot 117: William Hamilton took up Lot 117 in 1819 – The same year in which John Ford became the first settler in the town of Willing, Hamilton moved on West. John P Livermore from Vermont, purchased this lot which had come into possession of Isaiah Green, from Green in 1821. Luther Green sowed the first timothy in the town of Independence on Lot 117 for Hamilton in 1820. **Pg. 132D. Allegany Co. Directory 1874-75

Lot 107: William Briggs from R.I., via Yates Co. in 1822. John Holloway who married Sarah (or Sally) daughter of Nathan Babcock, also came to the Lot in 1820 so no doubt he sold out to Briggs. Briggs was an 1812 Veteran too. He died in Hallsport in 1829 at the age of 35. His death occurred 13 yrs. Before that of Melantha Jane Hall who is said to be the first burial in Hallsport Cemetery.

Lot 106: Caleb and Samuel Briggs from R.I. in 1822

Lot 105: Samuel Livermore from Wilmington Vt. In 1823

Lot 114: Conrad Minges, born in Northampton Co. Pa. in 1823

Lot 103: Nathan Stillman, born R.I. came in 1820

Lot 89: Smith Dexter, Sr. born in R. I. 1820

Lot 90: Nathan Babcock, b. R. I. 1820

Lot 93: Elijah Lewis from Rensselaer Co. 1827

These were all in the town of Independence and it will be noticed well before the date that Calvin Hall who had settled in Independence in 1824 moved to Hallsport and built his 1838 hotel. So it has always seemed to me that sooner or later we may be able to prove that it was a much older settlement than our histories say. However, it maybe that the uncertainty of the Willing title at the time held people back from purchasing those lands. The directory of 1874-75 from which the Independence Lot No. was taken gives the settlers on many Lots in Willing but they are on the other side of the town. Independence being the Phelps and Gorham purchase deeds were easily obtained through a local land agent and recorded in Bath, Steuben Co, Independence seems to have been settled very rapidly as soon as it set off from Alfred as a town in 1819. Independence at that time and until Nov. 19, 1851 extended to what was the Scio line nearly half across what is now the town of Willing. In this strip of land owned by the willings and Willing Francis there seems to be no record of early sales, but as soon as the Willings cleared up their intricate family dealings in 1834 these farms were also taken up. (Willing Francis, the man, should not be confused with Willing-Francis the company. Willing Francis was the eldest son of Thomas Willing Francis and grandson of Charles and Anne Shippen Willing. His father died intestate and left lands to be divided between the children and grandchildren. He married Maria, daughter of George and Rebecca Harrison Willing.) (One has to read many of these old deeds to begin to understand the long process.)

The first lot sold was to Hercules Darling in 1836 for Lot 11 which is oddly enough the one which became the York Home and the place of the first meeting of the Town of willing on Mar. 2, 1852. The second deed was in 1838 to Ozias Yale. This was Lot 43 and the place on which John Ford made the first settlement in the town. The third deed was to John Cline for Lot 207 now owned by Lyle Stout, in 1842. Lucy Sherwood was next, buying Lot 185 on Beech Hill, the farm now owned by Devere Graves.

Among the families on the Willing side who soon filled out the circle were Woodcock, Wilson, Lee, Graves, and Beach. There seems to have been very little going towards Hallsport beyond what we now call the Brandes Road but was then known as the Independence Road. One exception to this was the Beach Family which no doubt went that way because of their close connection with the Cate family. The Cate family was settled on Lot 222 in 1836 as proved by letters written to them by members of their family at Mayville, Chautauqua Co.

One of the best accounts of the coming of a typical family to our section was told by Mrs. Sally Ann Dyer in her 92nd. Year. This was published in the Andover News, June 29, 1905.

“I do not remember much about our life in Pennsylvania. I had a little yellow cup given to me there and still have it. Father gathered all our household goods together and we came with a sleigh for it was winter, up to Tompkins Co. N.Y. about twelve miles beyond Ithaca. There we lived two years, and when we came to move from there we had two loads of goods instead of one and two more children, Sindona and Isaac. Our first night on the road we stayed in Ithaca in a hotel. I remember it as well as can be. In the morning we older children walked along the side of Cayuga Lake. I remember seeing the big lake and also the water of Seneca Lake, but I was riding then. We came to Hammondsport for our next stop. We were four days and three nights on the road coming: we moved by wagons and it was the last of April or the first day of May we landed here in Independence. Father was thirty seven years old on that day. We came over the hill from Alfred, crossing Baker’s Bridge at Alfred Station. Just before we got to old Uncle Eddy’s we broke down. Remember we had two wagon loads of goods, three cows and one hog being drove on foot. After we broke down we had to leave one wagon there and come on this way. We stayed all night with uncle Eddy’s, the two homeliest old people that ever were in the country. Old Mr. Eddy had a sister that was as homely as he was. There we took our beds in the house and made them on the floor. The whole house was not as big as this room (her parlor) and had a fireplace on one side and two beds on the other. The next morning we came on right over the hill to Strong’s Mill; right down here where Elijah Rollins lives now. This mill was built in 1819, for I remember seeing the date in large figures on the gable end of the mill. We stopped there and rested and warmed and then came on. When we came up the hill my mother walked from the foot of the Andover Hill and carried Isaac who was six months old. I was eight years old and walked beside her thru the woods. A wagon road had been cleared in a way so that we came on zigzag around the trees. The hog travelled right along with the cows. Charles, Sindona and Caroline rode in the wagon and Andrew and mother and I walked. Mother carried Isaac all the way from the foot of the hill to the Griggs place, as it is now, but then Uncle Isaac Hiles lived there in a shanty which he built. The trees were cut down around the house so that they would not fall on it. Such big hemlock trees as they were. The shanty stood across the road from where the house stands now. Here our journey practically came to an end, we made up our beds on the floor and lived there until the neighbors with Father and Uncle Isaac Hiles made a clearing and rolled up the logs for a house for us. Our first house was built away back in the fields by a spring, but afterwards the spring dried up and Father built another house over by the road on the very spot where the Frank Basset house now stands. William was born in this house, I was eleven years old. I am eleven years older than William. Uncle Isaac Hiles had five children and we brought six, making eleven, and we had such a good time. While we were there we saw a big porcupine among the branches of the trees which frightened of terribly. They had a fire built in one end of the log house with a few stones laid in front of the logs on the ground against the wall as a back wall and this made the fire place;……” (Copied from gravestones in Fulmer Valley Cemetery – Gordon Stout D April 10, 1865 Age 79 yrs. 11 Mo. – Margret Stout D. Dec. 19, 1876 age 90 yrs. 7 mo. – Sidona Stout Spicer D. Oct. 25, 1891

Hallsport was of course, named for the Hall family. It could not have been a better name for in going through my Hall family records recently I was a bit astonished to realize that practically everyone in the village traces his ancestry thru the Halls. There would be enough for a large D. A. R. chapter of their own should they wish it.

                The pioneer physician was Dr. Anthony Barney who was born in Massachusetts, studied medicine in Herkimer Co. and came to Independence in 1825. Rev. Nathaniel Perkins was the first minister. Histories say that he was Baptist but a member of the family told me he was an Episcopalian. Mrs. Harry Seaver is the proud owner of the chair which was called his “pulpit chair”. It is almost a three-cornered chair and has a place on the back where a book rack rested and was the place on which Rev. Perkins placed his Bible and song book. He carried the chair with him to whatever home was opened for the services.

The first school house is said to have been a log structure about where the road from Fulmer Valley now comes on to the main road. This school house burned and the next one was built near the present Seaver home. That met with the same fate and another was built near the Hiram Parker house. Again the building burned and the present schoolhouse building was built. I have been told some very conflicting stories about the first saw mill. It is said to have been built soon after the first log hotel. It was located at the confluence of what today we think of as Fulmer and Chenundah Creeks, but at that time the common name for the creek now known as Fulmer was “Rabbit Creek” and the other one “Hemlock Creek”. Soon after the sawmill was put in operation (if my informant is correct) Hall built a frame hotel, his second hotel, and the first framed building in Hallsport. As people began coming in there was an ever growing demand for all kinds of supplies and a wagon trade developed as the bridge paths grew into roads. The wagons were “tote wagons” and men who owned them would have a whole string of wagons and teams. Hall therefore built a large enough barn to accommodate this trade; when the stage routes were opened he accommodated them. It is believed that Job Smythe, the versatile, built the first store which was probably a log building. Cantine was an early store-keeper, Cline and Parker built the store that is now owned and run by Raymond Scott. Scott’s father and a man by the name of Clair purchased the store from Parker and Babcock about 1914. J. Cornish kept the store in that same building at an early date, or a building in the same location.

The first mail in Hallsport was carried on horseback and came from Angelica by way of Phillipsville (now Belmont) through the woods where Wellsville now stands and up to the Foster Farm below Stannards where it went close to the hill and followed the creek closely around the north side of the hill and up the valley. John Cline was the first contractor and builder.

                The Botanic Distellery stands out as one of the most important industries of Hallsport. It seems to me that a very worth-while project for Hallsport, or perhaps its Grange, in the Centennial year would be to collect and preserve the history.

Joshua Palmer and his step-son John Wheeler were early black-smiths. The blacksmith book of G.W. Cate is a large leather bound book that is in itself almost a history of Hallsport, and in itself could make a complete evening’s entertainment. The 1850 Census gives Jabez Card as the merchant in town. He and his wife Ellen were born in R. I. in 1790 and 1800. The 1855 Census gave Freeman Perkins as owner of the water saw mill. (This is the mill that is said to have “quit” every time there was a little dry spell). John Cline was listed in the Census as a coppersmith which invites a bit of research. Levy Skinner was a shoemaker, George Bennet & Brother Thomas made Edgetools and Stephen Sherwood carpeting and Palm hats in his home.