Submitted by Richard Palmer.
May 16, 1895
Honest John Hammond
The Illustrated Buffalo Express recently gave an outline of the preparations for the celebration of the centennial anniversary of the settlement of Wellsville in June. The Express says the date is June 19th and 20th, but we understand the date has recently been put forward one week so as not to interfere with school commencements throughout the county.
The Express gives the names of some of the early settlers, and an extended sketch of the life of Hon. John Hammond, with a portrait. Mr. Hammond was the father of Mrs. William W. Bean of Dansville and with his wife spent his last years here. Mrs. Hammond died here but a few months ago. We copy the sketch of Mr. Hammond’s life as of special interest to many of our readers who knew him.
Another well known Alleganian, who was prominent in the affairs of the county during the half century of his active career, was the Hon. John Madison Hammond. He was known all over Allegany as “Honest John Hammond.” He came of Scotch English ancestry, and descended from a family which settled in this country early in the 18th century.
He was born in South Bainbridge, Chenango county, on January 24, 1811, and his early life was spent with his parents on the farm. In the summer he worked in a brick yard, and in the winter he attended school. Mr. Hammond grew up energetic, intelligent and enterprising. At the age of 17 he began teaching in winter.
Soon he secured an interest in the lumber business, running the lumber by rafts on the Delaware river to Philadelphia, and accumulated $600 - quite a fortune in those times. In March, 1831, he married Eliza Ann, daughter of David and Susan Gillett of Bainbridge, descendants of Huguenots who settled in Connecticut, and in March, 1832, both families removed to the town of Hume.
There they bought a fine tract of land on the Genesee river, a mile north of the present village of Fillmore. Augustus Hammond - born in 1819, the only survivor of the original family - still lives on the old homestead, where his father, a soldier in the War of 1812, died in 1861.
John Hammond became the master spirit of the family. He built a tavern, a store, and founded and managed a heavy lumber trade. The Upper Genesee valley was then looking for an outlet for the products of its forest - lumber, timber, shingles and staves.
Mount Morris, the nearest point of the Genesee Valley canal, opened in 1841, was 24 miles from Hume, leaving small returns for lumber after the cost of hauling over hard roads. Mr. Hammond was a foremost agitator for an extension of the canal. Finally the extension was ordered by the state, and in 1849 Mr. Hammond took a contract to construct the four miles south of Fillmore. This he completed the next year, and in 1851 he was appointed superintendent of the call which was then opened from Oramel to Shakers.
Owing to a change in political control he held this office but one year. At the return of his party to power he was again appointed superintendent in 1854, and served two years more. The northern Assembly District of Allegany county elected him in 1857 to the state Assembly where he served in 1858. Later he was chosen a delegate from the 30th district to the constitutional convention of 1867, where his record added to his previous reputation.
The next year he was nominated by the Republican State Convention for canal commissioner, but the ticket failed of election. During the remainder of his life Mr. Hammond neither sought, nor would accept public positions. When the war of the rebellion called for men he spent his time and his means in raising recruits, and gave two sons, one of whom was killed.
At the age of 19 Mr. Hammond helped to organize a temperance society in his native town - at a time when such a movement was radical and unpopular. He was first an anti-slavery Seward whig, and then one of the builders of the Republican party.
With opportunities which most men would have turned in to riches he saved only a fair competence. In 1882 he was stricken with partial paralysis, which event marked the close of his active life, although he was comparatively comfortable till his death on on March 8, 1887. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Hammond, all born in Hume - were: Jane, Mary Ann, Jonas D., John M., Isadore S. and Charles H. Only three are living - Jane, now Mrs. Bean, of Dansville, Jonas D. of Hume and Charles H. of Hornellsville. John M. was killed at the battle of Malvorn Hill, Virginia on July 1, 1862.