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Addison, N.Y.

Submitted by Pam Davis

Geographical Situation

   Addison is situated in the southern part of the county, and lies upon both sides of the Canisteo River.  It is bounded north by Thurston, east by Erwin, south by Tuscarora, and west by Woodhull and Rathbone.

Physical Features

   The surface of the town is chiefly a hilly upland, broken by the valley of the Canisteo and its tributaries.  The principal valley is one mile wide, and is bordered by steep hillsides ranging from three to four hundred feet in height.  The chief streams which intersect it are the Canisteo River, the Tuscarora, Elk Lick, and Goodhue Creek.  Goodhue Lake, is the northwest corner of the town, covers an area of about 100 acres.  The alluvial soil of the valleys is rich and productive; on the hills it is clay, mixed with the debris of broken shale, and produces a fair yield of the various kinds of grain, grass and fruit.

Early Settlement

   The first settlement in the town of Addison was made by Samuel Rice in 1791.  Reuben and Lemuel Searles, Oliver Miller, George Goodhue, John Martin, Jonathan Tracy, Abel White, James Benham, Asahel Stiles, Silas More, Elisha Gilbert, William Wombough and Martin Young were among the first settlers.

   William Wombough settled on a farm about two miles southwest of the village, on the road leading to Troupsburgh.  He was the father of William and Henry Wombough, the former still a resident of the town.  Henry died some years ago at Addison.  He was a prominent man, and owned a large milling interest at one time in Minneapolis, Minn.

   John Helmer and John Martin settled on farms about a mile above the village on the river.  None of their families now reside in town.

   Samuel Colgrove was a surveyor, and settled in the town at an early day.  He resided on the road between William Wombough's and the village.  he afterwards removed to Arkport.

   The first saw-mill was built by George Goodhue about 1793.  William Wombough also built a saw-mill in 1805, and the year following a grist-mill.  Samuel Smith opened the first store.  Stephens Rice, son of Samuel Rice, was the first white child born in the town and the first person married were Brown Gillespie and Miss Gilbert, daughter of Elisha GilbertJames Martin, brother of John and IsaacMartin, was the first person who died among the early settlers.  The names of many of the pioneers of the town and those who took a leading part in the civil and industrial affairs, will be found in that part of our history copied from the early records, under the head of "Organization."

   Martin Young, one of the earliest settlers, came into the country with Col. Arthur Erwin and settled at the junction of the Tioga, and Canisteo Rivers.  In 1793, he cut a pine tree on the bank of the Canisteo, neart its mouth, and from the stump there sprouted up three other trees, which are now standing.  They measure up about twenty-two inches in diameter.  The old stump from which the tree was cut eighty-five years ago, is still plainly to be seen, although a portion of the top of it is somewhat decayed.  Mr. Young moved to Minnesota about 1850, and hearing of the singular circumstance of the growth of these trees requested his son, Francis E. Young, to investigate the matter and inform him of the facts in the case.  Mr. Francis E. Young proceeded to examine and measure the trees, and in the winter of 1875 had a sign put upon them setting forth the fact of the cutting of the tree by his father in 1793, and of the sprouting and growth of the three trees from the stump.  That sign is still remaining there, and has been read by hundreds of curious visitors.

   Martin Young, drove the first wheeled vehicle into Addison, -a cart drawn by a yoke of oxen.  Francis E. Young, a son of Martin Young, was born in Addison in 1812, and was one of a family of sixteen children.  Although sixty-six years of age he is hale and vigorous.

Organization

   This town was one of the original towns of the county, and was known as Middletown till April 6, 1808.  At this date it was changed to Addison, in honor of Joseph Addison, the English author.  The early settlers called it also "Tuscarora."  A part of Troupsburg was taken from it in 1808, Cameron in 1822, part of Woodhull in 1828, part of Rathbone in 1856, and Tuscarora in 1859.

   In the earliest record, entitled "Votes and Proceedings of a Town-Meeting held in and for the Town of Middletown the first Tuesday in April 1797," we find that Reuben Searles was elected Supervisor; Oliver Miller, Town Clerk; George Goodhue, John Wyman and John Martin, Assessors; Lemuel Searles, Constable; Jonathan Tracy, and Oliver Miller, Commissioners of Schools; Reuben Searles, Jr., and James Benham, Pathmasters; Elisha Gilbert and Silas Morey, Fence-viewers; Reuben Searles, Poundkeeper.

   "Voted, that Reuben Searles' barn-yard be a town pound."
   "Voted, That a lawful fence be four feet and a half high and but five inches between rails."
   "Voted, That a ferry be kept near where the road crosses the river, and that threepence be charged for a man to cross."
   "Voted, that the next town-meeting be held at the school-house in said town for the year ensuing."

   It is not stated at what house this town-meeting was held, but it was probably at the school-house, as Timothy Searles was appointed to take care of that building, and Reuben Searles to be fireman.  This speaks well for the civilization of the pioneers of Addison.  They probably built the first school-house in the county of Steuben; if not, it was certainly one of the first, for it must have been erected as early as 1796; and at that period there were few, if any school-houses in the county.

   At this meeting Reuben Searles, George Goodhue, John Wyman, and John Martin were appointed a "committee for settling with the town of Painted Post."
*This town was included in Painted Post before the organization of Steuben County; hence when the county was organized and the new town of Middletown formed, there were accounts or other matters to be settled with the old town of Painted Post, from which Middletown was set off.

   The second town-meeting was held at the school-house, as above appointed, on the first Tuesday in April, 1798.  Reuben Searles was re-elected supervisor, and by successive elections continued to hold that office till 1804.  In the latter year George Martin was elected supervisor.  Mr. Searles was again elected to the office in 1805,.  In 1806, George Martin was elected again, and held the office each succeeding year till 1810, when David Dickinson was chosen supervisor for one year, and was succeeded in 1811 by Timothy Searles, who held the office continuously till 1814.  In this year William B. Jones was elected supervisor, and continued to be elected each year, till 1817, when he was superseded by Samuel Colgrove, who was supervisor till 1821, and was succeeded by William B. Jones, who served till 1823, when Samuel Colgrove was again elected, and continuously thereafter till 1827. 

During this period the town clerks were---

The Town Clerks

1797-1800 Oliver Miller 1810 Elisha Searles
1800 Brown Gillespie 1810-14 Jesse Rowley
1801 Abel White 1814-17 David Dickinson
1802 Harvey Rice 1817 John Towsley
1803 Jonathan Tracy 1818-1820 Martin Young
1805 Alpheus Cheney 1820 Isaac Santee
1805 Elisha Searles Þ 1821-24 Martin Young
1805-10 Solomon Tracy 1824-27 Jesse Rowley
Þ by virtue of a warrant bearing date Oct. 29, 1805

The Town Collectors From The Organization Till 1827 Were As Follows:

1797 Lemuel Searles 1810-13 Lemuel Searles
1798 William Morey 1813-15 Lemuel Benham
1799 Reuben Searles 1815 Abel White
1800-3 Lemuel Searles 1816-18 Stephen Towsley
1803 Reuben Searles Jr. 1818-23 Hiram Averill
1804-9 Lemuel Searles 1823-26 William Austin
1809 William B. Jones 1827 Alfred Nichols

During The Same Period The Town Elected The Following School Commissioners:

1797
Abel White
Jonathan Tracy
Oliver MIller
1816
William B. Jones
Abel White
William Wombough
1798
Abel White
Oliver Miller
Reuben Searles
1817
Samuel Colgrove
William Wombough
Thomas Metcalf
1799
Oliver Miller
Reuben Searles, Jr.
1Abel White
1819
William Wombough
Samuel Colgrove
Isaac Santee
1800
Brown Gillespie
Elisha Searles
John Vercampe
1820
William Wombough
Samuel Colgrove
Elijah Hallett
1801
Abel White
Reuben Searles
Reuben Searles Jr.
1821
Baonerges Fluent
Andrew Longhery
Thomas Wheat
1802
Elisha Searles
Reuben Searles
Harvey Kill
1822
Samuel Baker
Elias Mason
Thomas Wheat
1813
Thomas Searles
Samuel Colgrove
David Dickenson
1823
John Towsley
Asahel Thomas
Peleg J. Cole
1814
William Wombough
Stephens Dolson
Henry Tracy
1826
William H. Warner
Jeremiah Rowley
Jacob Cole, Jr.

   From 1802-1813 no election of school commissioners appears in the records.
 

I   n 1798 a bridge across the Canisteo was in construction, and it was "voted that a sign-post be erected on the north side of the river, near where the bridge is to cross the river."  In 1799 " a tax of $20.00 for the support of the poor" was voted " to be paid in produce."

   "Middletown, the 9th day of April, 1801.  Recorded two slaves for Thomas Thissle; the age of Luce fifteen years old, the age of Will eleven years old."

The bridge referred to above was in progress in 1903, as we learn from the following:

   "March, the 15th day , 1803. Jonathan Tracy, Town clerk, received one hundred and fifty dollars for the use of building a bridge in Middletown."

   "February, the 22d day, 1804. Jonathan Tracy, Town Clerk, received one hundred and fifty dollars for the use of building a bridge in Middletown."

Payments were made on the work as follows:

   "April 4, 1803. Paid four dollars by order of the Commissioners."

   "April 27, 1803.  Paid fifty dollars by order of the Commissioners."

   "June 7, 1803.  Paid fifty dollars by order of the Commissioners."

   "July 15, 1803.  Paid fifty-six dollars by order of the Commissioners."

   "March 2, 1804.  Paid one hundred and fifty dollars by order of the Commissioners.

Jonathan Tracy, Town Clerk

The Following, With Reference To The First Hotels, Will Be Of Interest:

   "Be it remembered, that we, the Commissioners of Excise for Middletown, in the county of Steuben, have resolved and licensed the following persons to keep public inns or taverns in said Middletown for the year one thousand, eight hundred and three, namely:  Elisha Searles, Elisha Gilbert, Robert Martin, Lemuel Benham; and have taken as a duty of excise, for the use of said Middletown, five dollars from each and every person so licensed, as witness our hands this 4th day of May, 1803.

"John Knox
"Reuben Searles,
"Abel White."

   In 1808 the name of the town was changed to Addison.  This year a committee was appointed to select a convenient spot for a burying-ground, and it was "voted, that the committee is to get the burying-ground cleared and fenced, and all the expense is to be paid out of the money in the poor-office."  It is to be presumed that there were no poor at that time to need the fund that had accumulated, and there fore it was devoted to another purpose.

In 1814 the school commissioners laid out four school districts, as follows:

   "The Commissioners of Schools for the town of Addison have filed in a report at the Town Clerk's office for the division of the town into school districts, dated the 4th of February, 1814.  Divisions as follows to wit:  First district to be composed of all that part of the town lying between the town of Painted Post and the new dwelling-house of John Martin, and from the Canisteo bridge, so as to include the dwelling-house of Henry Tracy;  the second district, from the dwelling-house of Henry Tracy to the dwelling-house of Jesse Rowley;  the third district, including the dwelling-house of John Martin, to continue up the river so as to include the dwelling-house of Simeon Baker, the fourth district to continue from thence up the river to the western boundary of the town.

"Samuel Colgrove,
"David Dickinson,
"Timothy Searles,
"Commissioners."

   "Voted, That the school money be divided and paid over the different school districts, according to the number of scholars in each district, when proper trustees are chosen to receive it."

   "Voted, That fifty dollars be raided by ensuing year for the use of schools."

   "Voted, That the bounty on wolf's scalps be the same as last year."

   The first return of a general election for members of Assembly, State Senator, and member of Congress is dated April 28, 1814, and signed by William B. Jones, Martin Young, John Towsley, and David Dickinson, inspectors of election.  For Assembly, Daniel Cruger, 38 votes; Moses Van Campen, 13 votes.  For Senator, Philetus Swift received 14 votes;  Bennett Bucknell, 14 votes;  Chauncey Loomis, 14 votes;  John J. Pendergrast, 14 votes.  For member of Congress, Oliver C. Comstock received 36 votes, and Evens T. Throop, 36 votes.

   June 26, 1818, the fifth school district, extending on both sides of the river, "from a small run of water called Stephen Hadley's Creek to the west line of the town, "was laid out by the school commissioners.

   "March 3, 1819.  Voted, wolves no bounty, panthers, ditto."

   In November, 1819, Vincent Matthews and John D. Higgins, of Bath, and Samuel Colegrove and Isaac Santee, of Addison, school commissioners for their respective towns, laid out school district No. 19, in Bonney's Settlement, lying partly in the town of Addison and partly in Bath.  In 1822 another bridge was built across the Canisteo at Addison village.  At the town-meeting in 1821 it was "voted to take one hundred dollars of the poor money, to be put with other money, for the purpose of building abridge over the Canisteo at this place."

   This year "voted, that the bounty on wolves' scalps be ten dollars, and no person to be entitled to the bounty except residents of the town."  "Voted, that one hundred dollars be raised for the support of schools."

* The above information was obtained from the History of Steuben County, New York, Clayton, (1879).


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