Most of the people of this town were from New England or of New England Origin. They came poor in worldly goods but rich in courage, enterprise, and industry, and were well adapted to redeem the soil, covered by primitive forests, and change the town to its present fruitful condition.
The honor of being the first settler in Connewango is accorded to Eliphalet Follet. He settled on lot 38 in 1816, on the old Chautauqua Road, east of Rutledge. Here he soon after opened a house of entertainment, to accommodate travelers over that route on their way farther west. A son of Mr. Follet was the first born in town. A few years later Follet left the county, and we have been unable to learn more of his history.
The next settler was James Battles, a native of Vermont, from which State he came to this town in 1817. He was then a single man, about nineteen years of age, having been born in 1798. He was soon after married to Miss Rachel Hadley, which may have been the first marriage in town. But some of the old residents say the marriage of Calvin Treat and Miss Adaline Childs was the first; yet all agree that there was but little difference in the time of marriage and that both were compelled to go to Chautauqua County to find a justice to perform the ceremony.
Mr. Battles built the first frame barn in town. For many years he dealt largely in stock, and was an active businessman. He was also a prominent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Rutledge, and for a long time leader of the class.
Rev. Dr. Morgan, an old acquaintance, tells an anecdote that when this church was at its zenith, and fired with much zeal, Mr. Battles called upon the widow McGlasher to get the use of her barn, in which to hold their quarterly meeting. Mrs. McGlasher was a Scotch Presbyterian of the strictest sect, and therefore had but little religious sympathy with the "ranting Methodists," as she termed them. She wished to know "why her barn was wanted when Mr. Battles had a larger and better one standing but a few rods away, which had always been used for such meeting?" Mr. Battles reasoned, but to no purpose, and finally asked her why she refused the use of her barn; whereupon she told him her main reason was, "she had an old goose sitting upon a nest full of eggs under the barn, and she had often heard it remarked that thunder would kill goslings." Mr. Battle concluded to hold the meeting at his barn.
Cyrus Childs was the third settler in town. A native of Massachusetts, he came with his family from that State to this town in 1818, and settled on lot 22. He died in town a few years since, aged ninety-three.
James Blanchard came in 1818, and settled on lot 22. He was born in Bennington, VT, July 1789. His wife, Eunice, was born in Halifax, VT, January 1796. They opened a tavern, in 1820, on the old Chautauqua road. He also built a hotel in Rutledge in 1827, being the first frame public-house in town. He died March 1833. The widow is yet living on lot 18, aged eighty-three years. They had a family of four sons and four daughters. One of the sons, Hiram, is living on lot 18, and a daughter, Lucinda, in the town of Leon. Mrs. Blanchard is now the oldest resident living in town.
Lyman Wyllys came from his native state, Massachusetts in 1818. He settled on lot 23, but removed to Michigan.
Daniel Grover, a native of Vermont, settled on lot 23 in 1818. He was born in 1792, and is now living in Illinois. His wife was born in Vermont in 1797, and died in Illinois in 1872.
Calvin Treat settled on lot 38 in 1818. He married Miss Adaline Childs, May 21, 1819. He built a small grist-mill, the first in the town, on Spring Brook in 1822. He died on the same farm in 1832.
David Davidson came from Vermont in 1818, and settled on lot 48. He was the carpenter who built the first frame building in town in 1820. He was born in Vermont 1777, and died in Chatauqua Co. NY.
Ezra Amadon came from Cayuga County in 1820, and settled on lot 15. He was born in Bennington Vt., in 1796, and his wife in Guilford, Vt. in 1798. They stopped with James Blanchard until he put up a rough log house, with "cob" roof and split logs for a floor. After eleven years he moved to lot 56, commencing a new farm. Mr. Amadon says, "He possessed the first grain-cradle in town." He once caught a live bear, and, after keeping it awhile, sent it East and sold it. He says with the cattle he once turned into the woods, late at night, was a spring calf. In the morning he found it a short distance from the house, having been killed in the night by a panther. Of a family of ten children three are living: Lucius and Calvin live in Pennsylvania, and George resides with his parents in the town of Leon. Mr. Amadon is eighty-four years of age, with a vigorous mind and clear memory. He gave much information that could not have been obtained without his aid.
Culver Crumb settled on lot 61, in 1820.
Goldsmith Coffin, of Seneca County, was the first settler on lot 63.
John Fairbanks, from Onondaga County settled on lot 56, in 1822. He was born in Massachusetts, in 1766. His wife, Experience, was born in the same State, in 1769. They had fourteen children, eleven sons and three daughters. Mr. Fairbanks died on the same farm, in 1837. His wife died in 1835.
Henry Pellit, a native of England, came from Onondaga Co., NY, in 1823, settling on lot 13. His widow is yet living in Connewango.
James Hammond came from Chautauqua Co. in 1823, settling on lot 61. He was born in Rhode Island in 1797, and died on the farm now owned by Alonzo Grover, in 1866.
Remus Baldwin, from Caledonia, settled on lot 46, in 1818, and Dana Phillips, from Vermont, on lot 48 in 1819. He moved to Michigan.
Bela B. Post settled on lot 27, in 1819, but sold to Joel Post, a brother, and moved to Iowa, where he died.
John Farlee settled on lot 20, in 1819. He came from Genesee County. His wife died in the fall of 1821. She was buried in the garden, near their rude log cabin. It was the first death of an adult in town. We were informed by Mrs. Blanchard that on the day of the burial, being late in the fall, one of the most terrible storms she ever experienced raged the entire day and night. The winds howled fearfully through the almost unbroken forests, and a blinding snow-storm, unusual for the season, rendered it almost impossible to reach this pioneer home. There was no minister of God to offer consoling ministrations; but a simple fervid prayer was offered up by one of the friends, and the deceased was by loving hands laid kindly and tenderly away in her new garden home.
Stephen Nichols settled on lot 61, in 1820, and David Cooper on lot 29 about the same time.
Nathan Burt settled on lot 21, in 1821. He came from Mt. Morris, NY and died on the same farm.
Valentine Hill came from Ohio in 1822, and settled on lot 21.
Lomis Lillie settled on lot 21, Joseph Cunningham on Lot 32 and Luke Ward on lot 32, in 1823.
Daniel Whitin, from Vermont, settled on lot 48 in 1819. And Luther Marlow on the same lot in 1823.
John Towers, from Ontario Co., settled on lot 37, in 1826. For six weeks an old trunk served them for a table. One Sunday the following summer Mr. and Mrs. Towers went to a neighbor's to attend a religious meeting, leaving the children at home with instructions not leave the yard, which was enclosed by a brush fence. Upon their return, the children said they had fed two black dogs just over the fence, which were really two young bears. Soon after, Mr. Towers, in looking for his cows, was attracted, by the barking of his dog, to a tree, up which the dog had driven these cubs. Mrs. Towers was called, and left to keep the bears from descending, while Mr. Towers went to a neighbor's for a gun. She soon discovered an old bear near by. She set the dog upon the bear and drove it away. When Mr. Towers returned it was getting dusk. He shot one of young bear, but could not see the other. They built a fire at the foot of the tree, and remained until morning when they killed the other cub, and then followed the old bear, which they found and killed in the forenoon. Mr. Towers died in town. His wife is yet living, near the old homestead.
Jotham Metcalf settled on lot 2, in 1823. He was born in New Hampshire, in 1791. His wife, Sarah Ash, was born in Rensselaer County, in 1794. They built a rough log house, moved in, and commenced driving back the forests surrounding them. Mr. Metcalf and wife were exemplary Free-will Baptists, having united with that when young, and ever remaining members of it, except for a few years after his arrival in this town. there being then no Free Baptist church, they united with several others in forming a Methodist class at his house, in 1826. Mr. Metcalf was chosen leader of the class, and meetings were held at his house for two or three years, and it was known as the "preachers home." They again united with the Free-Will Baptists as soon as a church was formed at Little Valley, although twelve miles distant. Mr. Metcalf died in 1875. His widow is living with her son Harvey, and at eighty-four years, is smart and active. When we called to see her, she had just come in from a walk of nearly two miles having been out to call upon an old neighbor. Harvey and Henry L., sons, live upon parts of the farm settled on; David, another son, lives in Cold Spring; Harriet, a daughter, died in Randolph, in 1854; Mary (Mrs. L. Smith) lives in Napoli.
Ralph Williams, a native of Connecticut, born in 1778, came to this town in 1823, and settled on lot 1. His wife was born in Connecticut in 1782. They continued to reside on the same farm until 1868, when they went to live with their son George A. In 1875, Mr. Williams died at the age of ninety seven, and his wife at ninety-three, having lived together in married llife for the very unusual period of seventy-two years. They had six sons; Alzarat lives in Chautauqua Co.; Lauren died in Cold Spring in 1871; N. Bishop lives on the old farm; William W. and Frederic R, in Napoli.
In 1827, Nathan Snow, from Genesee Co., but a native of Connecticut, settled on lot 4. Having no house, he went to work, cleared away the timber, cut the logs, built a house, and moved in all within a week. He died on the same farm October 1861, aged seventy-one years. His widow Lura Snow, was born in Oneida County, and is now living with her son on the old farm. She is eightytwo years of age. Six sons and tow daughters are all living in the immediate vicinity. William D. lives on lot 6; Suel H. at Rutledge; Orre on lot 11; Edward in Randolph; Melvin on the home farm; and Chauncey A. on the same lot. He keeps a large dairy, manufacturing his own butter. He is also a stock dealer. The oldest daughter, Mrs. George Watkins, lives in East Randolph; and Mrs. Walter Thorp, another daughter, in Napoli.
Rufus Wyllys settled on lot 30, 1819. He was born in Massachusetts, 1780, and moved from that State a distance of 500 miles, upon an ox-sled, being twenty-three days on the road. The sled carried the family of elevne persons and all their worldly effects. John Wyllys, a son, says their bread for much of the time was obtained by pounding courn on a block of wood. They would try and pound it fine enough to get out a little fine meal for a "Johnny" cake for breakfast, make samp for dinner, and the same for supper, if they found the cows. For a table , for several years, they used a slab split from a large cucumber log, with four holes bored in the corners, into which logs were driven; and the only chairs were made in the same rude manner. "Catamounts" were used for bedsteads. At first they had to go to Fredonia to mill. Afterwards, Kent's Mill was built on the headwaters of the Connewango. Their usual mode of going to mill was with an ox team, drawing a crotch. Afterwards they dug a canoe from a pine log, and carried their grists in that on the Connewango. Mr. Wyllys and Samuel Farlee built a saw-mill on Elm Creek in 1823. John Wyllys, a son, lives on lot 27, aged sixtynine years, having lived in town fiftynine years, and with one exception is the oldest resident of Connewango. In speaking of the custome of the pioneer times he says, "It was against the rule of the neighborhood for any one to build a chimney until they had first burned out three logs of the house."
Daniel Newcomb went on lot 21 in 1821. He was born in Goshen, NY, and came to this town from Livingston in Goshen, NY. When he built his house every foot of his lumber was split from logs and hewed. There were nine childgren: Sallie M. married Wm. Snow, and still lives in town; Maxamilla married Suel Snow, and lives at Rutledge; and David and Morrell live in Elgin, IL. Mr. Newcomb had obtained a few sheep the season after his arrival, and the oldest daughter, Sally, was employed in watching them as they fed a short distance from the house. While thus engaged, she saw a large bear near by also watching the sheep. The dog held the bear at bay while sally made her escape to the house. Soon after, in Mr. Newcomb's absence, the attention of the family was drawn, late in the evening, by an unusual noise outside and the efforts of the dog to get from the house. Mrs. Newcomb, looking out between the logs, saw, by the light of the fire she hed built, nine wolves. The dog was let loose, and, following the wolves, was absent four days. Mr. Newcomb died in town, in 1855, and Mrs. Newcomb died on the farm, now owned by Joseph Grey, in 1846.
Julilus Gibbs, from Chautauqua County settled on lot 47 in 1822. A blacksmith by the name of Bradner settled on lot 30 in 1819. And Chauncy Butler, from Mt. Morris, NY on lot 39 also in 1819.
Leonard and Aaron Barton, young men form Massachusetts, settled on lot 15 in 1820. They chopped about ten acres, but becoming discouraged returned to Massachusetts. About 1822, General Seth Wood took this land and lived here several years, He then moved to Ohio where he died, leaving two sons in town, Thomas and Gaius. Thomas settled on lot 8, and died there. Gaius died in town about two years since.
Samuel Farlee came from Genesee County in 1819, and settled on lot 12. It look fourteen hands an entire day to clear a road two miles to where he built his shanty, which was put up without a nail. He moved to lot 5, and in 1827 built a good sized grist-mill on Elm Creek, having two run of stone. It continued to do business until about 1870. In 1865 a Mr. Farnsworth was employed in these mills. During the great flood of that year, in attempting to remove the slash-boards from the dam, he was washed away and drowned. His body was found the next day two miles below in the woods, on C. D. Tuttle's land, sitting in a natural position against a tree, entirely nude, except one boot, the collar band, and one wrist-band of the shirt.
Elias Wilcox, from Livingston Co. NY settled on lot 47 in 1820. He afterwards moved to East Randolph, where he lived until his death.
Russell Pennock settled on lot 30 in 1819, put up a log house and remained until about 1830, when he moved to Ohio.
Thomas Darling, a native of Windsor Co., Vt. came from York, NY in 1820, and settled on lot 30, afterwards moving to Ohio.
Peter Blanchard settled on lot 22 in 1819. He was born in Vermont, but came from Cayuga Co., NY. He died and was buried on the same farm in 1825, bein the fourth adult death in town.
Two brothers, Nicholas and Thomas Northrup, came to this town in 1818, from Stephentown, NY. In 1860. Mr Northrup went West on a visit, and on his return was killed by the cars. Of his sons, George died in Georgia in 1862, and Anson moved to Minnesota and pre-empted the land and built the first shanty, and then the first building, where Minneapolis now stands, and afterwards did the same at St. Paul; Stephen is living in Illinois; J. Brock and his sister, Freelove, now live at East Randolph. Thomas Northrup also settled early in town. He built a small shanty, covering it with elm-bark. He was the first town clerk of the town, which office he held for several terms.
Asabel Brown settled on lot 14 in 1823. He was born in Grand Isle, VT, in 1799. His wife, Flora, was born in Massachusetts in 1802. A small log house had been built by Lyman Wyllys, in which Mr. Brown lived for about twenty years, when he built what was known in the vicinity as the "Red House." He is now, at the age of seventynine, living with his son, Martin, upon the old homestead.
John Darling settled on lot 38 in 1821. He came from the State of Vermont, where he was born in 1786. His wife was born in the same State in 1797. Mr. Darling was the first supervisor of the town of Connewango. Soon after his settlement he was once engaged in boiling maple sap until late in the evening. Thinking it about time to return to the house, he lighted a torch and started, but soon found himself literally surrounded by wolves. He was compelled to return to his fires and remain until morning amid the howling of his companions. He died on the same farm in December, 1867, aged eighty-one. His wife died in 1840. He left three children, Isaiah, John, and Betsey.
Benjamin Darling, a brother of the above, was born in Windsor, Vt. March 1782, and Maria his wife, was born in the same year at Plymouth, Mass. They came to this town in 1821, and settled on lot 46. They came with an ox-team and sled, and were four weeks in making the journey. There being no school in the small log school house near by they occupied it while putting up a log house, which they covered with shakes and mossed in. He went to Mayville, Chautauqua Co., to get his land booked, but not having money to procure an article, he called on Mr. Peacock, the agent, and stated to him that he wanted booked to him 179 acres, being the east part of lot 46.
"I am from Windsor County, Vt."
"How much do you wish to pay?"
"Nothing, except the bare expense of booking."
"Well, what have you got at home?"
"I have a wife and five children, a yoke of oxen, a set of log chains, and three good axes."
"You can have the land, Mr. Darling."
Mr. Darling died on this farm March, 1861. Sylvester B., one of the children, lives on lot 38. Ezra and sister Huldah now live on the old home farm.
And here we must be allowed to say we are under many obligations to Mr. Ezra Darling for the aid he rendered in procuring pioneer and other history. We learned from him that the first dance held in town was on the Fourth of July, 1821, at the house of Russel Pennock. There being nothing but ox-teams, most of the girls came on foot. A Frenchman played the fiddle. The second dance was held at the house of Benjamin Darling, the following New Year's Day. There being good sleighing, the girls were brought on ox-sleds. We here learn that these scattering settlers, amid their privations and toils in carving out new homes in the wilderness, did not forget to lighten their cares by these sources of amusements.
We have thus far neglected to speak of the McGlashen family. The widow, Ann McGlashen, consort of Peter McGlashen, with four sons, came to this town at an early date, and settled at or near Rutledge. Robert came in 1818, settling on lot 47. He was the first Justice in town. James came in 1819, settling on lot 39, and Charles about 2825. These two brothers did much in building Rutledge and vicinity. They built the first frame house in town. In 1831 they built a large hotel with a commodious store, and became successful merchants. They were also large dealers in cattle. Some years later, the other brother, Peter, settled in Rutledge. They had quite a military ambition, and James became a Brigadier General of the militia, Charles a Colonel, and Peter a brigade inspector. James died at Cincinnati, OH; Charles moved to Red Wing, Minn. in 1860, where he died in 1872.
Richard McDaniels settled on lot 1 in 1824. He soon after sold to Jeremiah Bundy, who remained about three years and sold to George L. Fox, who died on the place in 1838. His widow and son yet live on the farm.
Henry L. Gardner, a native of Windsor, Vt. came to Connewango in 1825, where he married a daughter of Nicholas Northrup, and settled on lot 55.
Peter Pennock came from Genesee County in 1821.
Samuel Cowley settled on lot 8 in 1822. He was born in Cayuga County, in 1798, and came to this town from York, NY. Mrs. Cowley was a native of Connecticut. In October, 1844, during the presidential excitement of that year, Mr. Cowley in climbing a hickory pole fell, breaking both his legs. One of them not healing, amputation became necessary the following February, and he died while the operation was being performed. Mrs. Cowley and a son now live on the old farm.
Jared Stevens, a native of Oneida County, came from Genesee County in 1826, settling on lot 7. He commenced to cut logs for a cabin, but a heavy snow storm setting in, he put up a small shanty, covering it with shakes, but it leaked so badly he had to cover it again with bark. Mr. Stevens is now living on lot 39. His wife, who was a native of Middlesex, Conn., died in 1877, aged sixty seven years.
Levi Steele, a native of Granville, Vt., came from Genesee Co., NY, in 1829, settling on lot 48. He moved to Chatauqua Co, where he died. William Hollister, Jr., from the same place, came to lot 48 in 1831. He built a tannery and carried on a boot and shoe shop.
John Hammond settled on lot 61 in 1832; died on the same 1875, aged eighty one.
Job Gardner went on lot 54 is 1827. He came from Coxsackie. He moved to Illinois and was killed by the upsetting of a load of rails.
Luman Beach moved to Leon in 1821, and to Connewango in 1825. He came from Caledonia, NY.
Freeborn Fairbanks settled on lot 64 in 1827. Alden Childs settled on lot 56 in 1827.
Elias Carpenter, from Onondaga Co. NY, settled on lot 64 in 1825. He moved to Minnesota, where he died.
Ziba Hovey, a native of Grafton, NH, came from Genesee County in 1829, settling on lot 4. Hovey is still living in this vicinity with his children, ninety one years of age and enjoying good health.
John Benson, from Monroe County, settled on lot 10 in 1824. He was a native of New Jersey, and was born in 1800. His wife was born in Genesee Co. in 1806. Mr. Benson died in July, 1862, but his widow still resides on the farm he took up. Of the family, Marcus J. lives in East Randolph; William H. was killed by Quantrell's guerrillas, in Missouri, in 1862; Marvin died in town; Martin V. is a lawyer at East Randolph.
Daniel Benson settled on lot 9 in May 1824, coming from Monroe Co. He was a native of NJ, and was born December 1771, and died March 1838. Of seven children but one is living, Peter D., who resides in East Randolph, aged sixty six years.
Chauncey Helmes articled the south 100 acres of lot 1 in 1821, and built a plank house, but soon after sold to Robert Helmes, who came to town in 1824, being then a single man. He afterwards married Jane Benson. Before his marriage, intending one Sunday evening to call on Miss Benson, he started out just after dark, taking a foot path up the hill from where East Randolph now is, at that time an unbroken wilderness, to the house of Mr. Benson, about half a mile away. When he had gone half the distance, he was startled by the howl of a pack of wolves, which, in crossing the path and coming upon his fresh tracks, turned up the hill following directly after him. It is said he made excellent time, and reached Mr. Benson's unharmed.
Two brothers, Jesse and Erastus Boynton, from Allegany Co. NY, settled on lot 10 in 1825. Jesse died on the farm; Erastus moved to Olean.
Elnathan Pope, a native of Vermont, settled on lot 28 in 1831. He came from Allegany Co. Mr. Pope was born in 1788, and died in Wisconsin in 1866. Mrs. Pope was born in 1785, and died in town in 1852. Their son Andrew lives yet on lot 28. He invented the "Pope Milk Pan," patented in 1869.
Alfred Kinney, a native of Windham Co, Conn. settled on lot 36 in 1832. He was born in 1808. His wife was born in 1800. They now live with their son Alfred on the same farm.
Hecter Seager, from Ontario Co., settled on lot 38 in 1831. He was born in Hartfor Co. Conn. in 1793, and died on the same farm in 1859. His wife Sally was born in the same State in 1796, and died in 1857.
Richard Goodwin, a native of NH, located on lot 50 in 1825. He was born in December 1783, and died on the same farm in April 1858. His wife Ruth (Sanborn) was born in NH, July 1789, and died June 1849. Augustus is living upon the old homestead; Richard died in town in 1871; Eliza is living at Clear Creek.
William Bedell, a Methodist Clergyman, from Orleans Co., located on lot 58 in 1823, and James Wirt, from the same county, located on lot 58 in 1825.
Abijah Bruce, from New Hampshire, settled on lot 59 in 1826. He died in Randolph a few years since.
From 1825 to 1831 the following among others settled in town: John Pierce - Lot 59, Uziah Wheeler - same lot, Joseph Hamilton and Gideon Walker on lot 10; Willard and Reuben Cheney, lot 55; Edward Lumley and Calvin Hills, lot 4, Ezra Starmard and Ephraim Palmer - lot 19; John Fairchild, lot 7; Alex Wandell, lot 3; and Jeremiah and John Bundy, Thomas Dutcher and Alvah Palmer on lot 17.
In the years following, other settlers continued to locate in town. Roads were opened and worked. The rude log house gave place to the comfortable frame dwelling, and in the course of these years we have constantly seen the transition of the pioneer country to the fine farming lands of today.
In 1875 there were in town 12,654 acres of improved land, owned by 295 persons. There were 294 frame and 3 log dwellings. The population was 1320, of whom two were colored, 676 were males, 644 females; 1261 native born, and 69 foreign birth; 771 were born in the county and 97 in New England States. There were 396 voters and 336 children of school age.
Thanks to Liz Burdick for providing the information for this page; and to Artie Nichols for transcribing the information on this page!