Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
Tri-County Communities
Chemung County NY
History of Erin, Chemung County NY
Article - History of Erin
Year: 1975 
Article by Percy A. Chapman 
Submitted by Michael Chapman
Retyped by Elaine Frey
Photos from Frank Patton & Michael Chapman
Erin Page
This book was written by Percy A. Chapman - date unknown, but probably about 1975. . It was typed and put together by David and Dennis Chapman in June of 1986.

(Beneath this was hand written the date 1975 and signed Percy A. Chapman.

Photo of Percy submitted by Michael Chapman


 Above this was hand written – Picture was taken in 1918-19 by Harold Miller RR Station attendant taken with an old Box Camera.)

In the Early 20th century in the town of Erin, New York, much maple syrup and sugar was produced.

Tons of tobacco were grown and handled by the Rodbourns. One of the three old tobacco sheds is owned and used for a town tool house. The packing house was moved by Rodbourns to the M.E. Church and used as a kitchen for many years.

Two grain mills were in operation. One was operated by James Mitchel in the east part of the Hamlet the other by Errit Rosecrans near the Laurel Hill Road. Both were run by Steam Power.

The Rodbourns operated a large saw mill in the Hamlet, many portable mills were located through out town.

At one time there were three grocery stores in the Hamelt Rodbourns, Parks, and W. H. Blauvelt. At one time L. O. Ennis operated a feed store in the back of the Park Store. The Rodbourns bought the Park Store and leased it to the town as a town hall for many years.

There were two creamerys, one on the Fairview Road known as the Horseheads Creamery Company, the other one was owned and operated by a milk company from New York City.

In the early part of the century a ton each of butter, cottage cheese and kasene was manufactured in the old Horseheads Creamery and was transported to Horseheads every morning by one team of horses and one team of mules.

Hundreds of bushels of buckwheat and potatoes, tons of hay and straw were shipped by rail, plus 60-70 cans of raw milk each day.

Hundreds of cords of wood were also shipped by rail each winter. There were two doctors in the Hamlet. One had offices in Earl Collson’s house, the other was in Don Palmer’s house. Their names were Dr. Brockaway and Dr. Jakway. There were three blacksmiths. One, Frank Rogers shop, was in Elenor Nichols Garage. Humphreys was across the old Laurel Hill Road from the town tool house. Oliver Elston’s was located on the State road north of the Hamlet. The Rogers shop had slings for shoeing oxen.

There were 13 school districts, all are abandon. There were four churches, the Methodist Church in the Hamlet, still in operation. The Baptist Church was also in the Hamlet, is now used for the Historical Society Museum. The M. E. Church at Austin Hill was torn down. The Presbyterian Church was located in Scotch Town Cemetery that was torn down.

There were four post offices. One was located on the old State Road east of Marchel Drake’s farm at the top of Swart Wood Hill.

The John Mitchel P. O. was at Mitchels Corners on the Marsh Road. The third was West of Harringtons Corners, the fourth was in the Rodbourn Store. A star route was carried by horse from main P.O. to Chemung. Since 1900 over 100 houses have burned or just fell down.

In the early times, there was picket fence and boardwalk from the Baptist Church to the town tool shed. And plank cross walks from the Baptist Church to the town tool shed.

The Rodbourns Mansion burned in 1947. Their saw mill in the Hamlet was dismantled in 1912, the old Horseheads Creamery burned in the 30’s. The creamery by the R. R. Station was torn down in the 60’s.

The Railroad and station was taken up in 1938. The last of the picket fence was removed in 1948.

The first hard surfaced road was constructed from the Baptist Church to Horseheads in 1910.

There were several chair makers in the town. One was Henry Conklin on the Greenbush Road, Jake Moulter in the South of Erin on the Page Road, this is now abandon road, Tom Shattuck on the Laurel Hill Road, Hames Conklin on the Marsh Road. Some of their old chairs are still around.

In 1919, O. E. Chapman erected a feed and flour mill near the RR station, where the grocery store now stands, and ground some of the finest buckwheat flour and wheat and rye flour that could be found any place. The mill was closed for the lack of grain to be ground. The mill was dismantled and torn down in the 50’s.

There were seven cemeteries in the town. The Old Scotch town free cemetery next to the Scotch town School. The scotch town Presbyterian church, was torn down. Austin Hill Cemetery on Austin Hill next to the Methodist Church and the old school house. Both were torn down. The Hollenback Cemetery on Henry Hollenback’s farm on the old Laurel Hill Road between the Laurel Hill farm and Jackson Creek Road. The Tuttle Ridge Cemetery is in the South West part of town near the town of Baldwin on the Tuttle Ridge Road. The Gardner Cemetery on Peyer Gardner’s farm toward the hamlet from Tuttle Ridge Road, the markers are piled on a stone fence near by the plot is grown to tree and brush. The Harrington Cemetery south on the Federal Road on the left side of the road a short distance past the barn at Harringtons Corners or Rose Kasukeys. The markers have all been removed from the plots.

The Mitchel Cemetery was located on John Mitchel’s farm on the north side of the Mitchel Road, now known as the Thayer Road, west of the P.O. of the Wine Coop(Wynkoop) Creek Road and Mitchel Road. It too is a brush lot.

The Erin Center House was a very busy Center in the early years. It was a Stage Coach stop, with spare room for travelers and a bar that served all the beverages of the time and a dining area. It had a large ball room where many square dances were enjoyed, also, a place for political gathering and elections for many years. It was built and operated by Jimmy Hallenack. It was located on the northeast corner of the Old State Road and the Green Bush Road. It burned in the 20’s.

Before World War One in 1914 the people were contented and happy with their environment. The people could select their public officials by ballot. All officials were elected by vote, there wasn’t any appointments then.

Eggs were 12 cents a dozen, milk was delivered in the hamlet for 1 ½ cents a quart by Dan Bailey, bread was homemade for 5 cents a loaf, rice was 4 cents a lb., coal oil 10 cents a gallon, wood was 75 cents a face cot and delivered.

Most people had a couple cows, a pig or two, a horse and carriage, a sled, a good barn for hay and room for their live stock and carriage and sled. A barn yard handy for their live stock too. They had a barter system that worked well, they could exchange eggs, butter, maple sugar and syrup for groceries, bib overhals 50 cents a pair, shoes $1, leather boots, stock, yard goods and hardware. If the produce was worth more than the groceries one would get a credit slip instead of money, which was used as money any time at the store.

In the late 1800s to 1900s there was two water powered flour mills at Van Etten Ville operated by water wheels which turned the huge grinding stones. One could take 6 bushels of wheat and have it ground to flour and get enough flour to last nearly a year. Buck wheat was also ground for Pancake flour at the same mills. The miller would take 1/10 of the weight of the grain as tole to pay for grinding.

Many farmers had a few swarms of bees that produced honey for the farmer and his neighbors, also enough mathiglum for his winter entertainment.

Many small flock of sheep were kept for meat and the wool they produced which was used for lining quilts and wearing material. Many quilting parties were enjoyed by the neighbor ladies during the winter.

Many residents and the church had ice houses that they would fill with cakes of ice taken from Dell Brewer’s and Charles Jackson’s farm ponds during the winter. Ice Cream socials at the Church were a real pleasant get together for homemade Cream. During the summer a good freezer of homemade ice cream was enjoyed on the farm also. Nearly everyone had a good cellar under their houses to store their vegetables and canned goods.

Nearly all cellars had a milk tree to set their pans of milk to cool and let the cream rise to the top, then it was skimmed off in a cream crock. When the 3 gallon crock was full, it would be moved to a warm place to sour before it was churned. When churned the butter would be packed in 2 or 5 lb. crocks. The buttermilk and butter would be returned to the cool cellar for future use.

Some people churned by hand with a dasher churn while other had a dog tread to power the churn. The dog tread was a machine with an endless walk away that turned under the dog’s weight. Sheep were used some times. They had to keep walking until the brake was applied and stopped the walk way. If they would back to the quit that was full of barbs that would prod them ahead.

The Dog Power at left was photographed by Joyce M. Tice at Troy's Bradford County Farm Museum. A goat or sheep could also be used to run this treadmill attached to a butter churn. 
In the past 50 years our rural area has become a lost cause. Our town fathers have abandoned 75 to 100 miles of road through out the town. Many houses through out the town and out buildings have fallen down. All of our 13 school districts have been abandoned also.

In 1910 John Munson on Austin Hill purchased the first automobile in the town, the make is unknown.

In 1913, Fred Bixby purchased a Model T. Ford. In 1913 Welse Hallenbeck purchased a model T. Ford. Those three cars were all the cars that had been owned in the town before 1913.

A few Edison phonographs that played Cylinder records and used a large horn and standard to hold the horn up were available at that time. There were a few Perless and Westinghouse Steam engines around. They were used to cut wood and thrash and press hay. Most of the wood was cut by cross cut saws, axes and buck saw on and old saw buck. Before World War One there were a few old 2 horse sweeps that were also used for power.

After the devil was let loose in 1914 things for the town have continually gone his way. Including the present time and are still going to Hell.

In 1975 the officials think the people aren’t mature enough to think for themselves or to live under civilian and democratic rule, our officials are making decisions that belong to the voters. The old town has become totalitarian.

The South Erin Telephone company was built and maintained by the people on the line, they had over 50 customers. It was hooked in the switch board at the Rodbourn’s store which could be coupled in on the Bell Telephone service for out of town calls. The phones were wooden wall phones with a crank on the side one could ring anyone on the line by ringing a combination of rings, such as 3 short rings for central, 2 long rings was general alarm in case of emergency. One could ring any number and one half of the receivers would come off the hook, because it would ring in all houses. There were no secrets.

Park Hill and Austin Hill had the same arrangement. Electrical power lines were erected to the Hamlet in 1927, gas lines were laid in 1967. Until then one had a utility bill backache.

The Beckweth Hotel at Park Station was another hot spot for the residents of the community in the early teens and before. Early in the century, many farmers harvested their grain by hand with a cradle and hand rake. It was threshed by spreading it on the barn floor and walking their horses over it, or by flail. Then winnowed out by pouring the grain from one container to another letting the wind blow out the chaff. Later a fanning mill came in. That was a great improvement for cleaning grain. Later some farmers purchased the McCormick drop reaper, which was drawn by a team of horses or oxen. That cut the grain and dropped it in gavels or piles that was tied by hand and set in shocks to cure. By then, the Westinghouse threshing machine was being used. It had a long straw carriage that could run the straw out. It was operated either by a two horse treads or sweep and later by steam power. A few barns were burned by sparks flying from the old wood burning steamers. Later, coal was used to fire the old boilers then there weren’t any sparks. Until 1910 or 1912 the highways were divided into short stretches of 10 or 12 miles long.

The people on the allotted stretches of roads would choose a man that was known as a path master to look after his stretch of road.

The people were permitted to work out their road taxes by helping their Path Master. All males 21 years old, that didn’t own real estate, were assessed $1.00 Pole tax. They had what were called slicks to smooth the road beds. They were made of planks nailed together and drawn by a team of horses. When the road crossed a swampy area they would cut logs and place them side by side.

This was known as cordoriding. Later the town purchased a machine with a mole board for cutting ditches and smoothing the road bed. The name of the machine was climax road grader. It had wood wheels and was drawn by two teams of horses.

In about 1913 the town highways went to one unit, and a superintendent of highways was elected to look after all the roads. They also purchased a large climax grader, a huge steam engine to haul the graders. The steam engine was a Burdsall Steam Tractor. It took 3 men to operate the grader. One to steer, the other to operate the mole board and one man to operate the tractor.

A tobacco shed was purchased from the Rodbourns for a town barn to store the equipment in. None was left outside. The equipment consisted of hand tools, 2 dump wagons, one carryall, watertank, 2 graders and a steam tractor, and a concrete mixer.

The steam tractor was later exchanged for a steam roller. If my mind serves me correctly, in the early 20’s the town purchased a Russel reliance Grader, all iron. Also a Cletrac Crawler tractor, and a model 7 Ford jiffy dump truck. All the roads, after they were worked were hand raked and the stones drawn off.

In the early part of the 20th century business and employment was quite stable in the town of Erin. The Rodbourn Manufacturing Co. employed 75 – 100 men at their saw mill in the Hamlet, and the portable mill at park station plus 2 farms, one the Laurel hill farm and the farm in the hamlet, and the general store.

They built four houses between the Laurel Hill Road and the Church Road, plus the General Store and 3 houses East of Church Road, and at Park Station they built 5 houses after the pattern of the houses built in the Hamlet. The houses that were built in Park Station were located west of the RR Station not far from the RR tracks. The saw mill was near the present highway between the Beckwith hotel and the houses. All the houses in the hamlet plus the old farm house was rented to their employees and the same for the houses at Park Station.

Four men worked in the store. The general store was a complete general store. A complete grocery store on one side in front, on the other side a complete hardware, in back a full stock of boots and shoes for men, women and children, plus clothing of all kinds, stockings and socks for all. Besides many bolts of yard goods such as gingham, calico prints, ticking, unbleached muslin and other fabrics.

Many farmers, in the winter, cut logs and peeled bark, and cut many cords of excelsior wood for the Rodbourns. There were two maintenance gangs of 12 – 15 men who were employed by the RR Co. that worked from the hamlet and surrounding country. Besides two station attendants one at Erin and one at Park Station, each of the Creamery Companies hired 4 to 5 men each. Many farmers employed men both full and seasonal time.

After about 1913 the highway dept. hired 6 – 8 men for the summer months.

Rodbourns had 4 coal sheds by the RR siding next to the new town creek. They carried 4 grades of coal or sizes: pea size, chestnut, egg and soft coal, for steam engines. One could get 300 to 500 lbs of soft coal for thrashing or hay pressing.

The RR siding turned off the main track south of the Station Crossed the Fairview Road to the big lumber mill. The old mill was a two story building. All the sawing was done on the second floor. They had a large mill pond that the logs were rolled in and were hauled up a skidway by cable powered by a steam mule to the mill. The logs were stripped of their bark and the bark was loaded in a RR car and shipped to a tannery, sometimes to the tannery at Breesport. They bought bark and logs from the farmers, also they did custom sawing and sizing for the farmers, also shingle bolts that they cut in shingles. A lath mill also was used as everyone they used lath and plaster inside their houses.

There was a 20 ton platform scale and a scale house near the store for weighing coal, hay and other produce.

Back of the store a tobacco shed was converted to a shed to tie horses while customers were doing their trading. Also one end was used as an ice house.

At the church, a platform along the west side of the belfrey was for the people to step out of their wagons at the same level. An old tobacco shed back of the church was converted for horses and wagons, in one end they had an ice house. Both creameries had large ice houses. The Horseheads Company filled their ice houses from local ponds. The new Creamery the ice was shipped in box cars from Cortland NY and was transferred to the ice house by horses and wagons or sleds. They would use several car loads of ice to fill the ice house.

There were three huge heating units used by the public from the Army Surplus that was used in the army prison Camp on West Water Street near the river.

One was used in the Rodbourns store, one was used in the old town hall, and one was used in the M.E. Church. They would take 4 foot wood and pieces as large as a man could handle.

S. B. Fowler was janitor at the church for years and usually had the church warm. The members used to have wood bees to get the wood for the winter.

Alice Rodbourn played the old reed organ for years than a piano was purchased, Alice played that as long as she was able to get to Church. She also gave music lessons to many of the young people.

I think it was a shame that she was not remembered by the church people. She never collected one cent for her services.

Erin politics hasn’t always been Democratic and Republican in the teens a Supt. Of Highways was elected on the Bull Moose ticket. Later a Supt. Of Highways was elected on the prohibition ticket. The voters in the town elected a Supt. Of Highways. One supervisor, which until 1975, was a member of the governing body of the County Board of Supervisors. Each town had a representative. Also elected: 2 justices of the peace, 2 councilman, 3 assessors, 1 town clerk, 2 poor masters, and 2 constables. Officers voted for in the county was Supreme Court Judge, County Court Judge, District Attorney, Co. Highway Superintendent, County Sheriff, County Clerk, County Welfare Comm., County Humane Officer, County Board of Health, County Treasure, County Coroner, County School Superintendent and County Election Committee. The public forces have doubled and the voters have less voice each year.

There are too many gravy trains. Taxes in the past 20 years have increased 1000 %


ROADS CLOSED AND BUILDINGS ALL GONE: Daniel Green on Green Road. Road abandon and buildings gone. Percilla Page on Page Road, Road closed, buildings gone. White Head on Page road, Road closed, buildings gone. Rev. George Rumsey, Sr. on Rumsey Hill Road, road closed buildings gone. Jake Moulter on Page Road, road closed buildings gone. Wess Lindeberry on Page Road, road closed and buildings gone. John Shoemaker on Shoemaker Road, road closed buildings gone. Chas. Shaddoc on Page Road, Road closed, buildings gone. Frank Hallenbeck, Sr. on Green Bush Road, Road closed and buildings gone, Hanna Bennet, Green Bush and Rumsey Hill Road. Road closed, buildings gone. Dan Gurnsey on Red Chalk Road across from old Red Chalk school. Road closed, buildings gone. Henry Hallenback, Laurel Hill Road, road closed, buildings gone. Dock Jones on Walker Hill Road. Road closed, buildings gone. Fred Hilicar on Hilicar Road, road closed, buildings gone. John Brown on Brown Road. Road closed, buildings gone. Norman Rosecrans off Austin Hill Road, Road closed, buildings gone E. K. Roper Road. Road closed, building gone. Hank Delerimple on Delerimple Road. Road closed, buildings gone. Fred and Edward Elston’s parents on road off Greenbush Road. Road closed, buildings gone. Joshaway Staples, Staples Road off North Chemung Road. Closed, original buildings gone.

Burt Little Road. Road closed, building (?) Adam Moulter. Road off Langdon Hill Road. Road closed buildings gone.


Daniel Green, Calvin Blauvelt, Worden, Sam Rugar, Harry Hugg, J. Mitchel, Sr., Peter Gardner, Jake Moulter, Sr., John Shoemaker, Wess Lindeberry, Luke Mackentire, Henry Paige, (?) Whitehead, Rev. George Rumsey, Sr., Jim Conklin, Sr., John Bennit, H. Manchester, Bill Nurse, Isic Elston, Dock Jones, Joe MacMillin, Henry Hallenback, Jimmy Hallenback, Peleg Blauvelt, Lorenzo Pike, Lorenzo Benjamin, Lorenzo Leonard, John Walker, A. D. Brewere, R. Thorn, Nelson Rosecrans, Matt Palmer, Ebbeneeser Palmer, John Chapman, Sam Chapman, John M. Cavis, Giles Hallenback, Sr., Ira Jones, Jim Davis, Elic Hummer, Kalup Hummer, Johnson Hummer, Davi Mackentrie, Chad Dewey, Oliver Elston, Alvy Sweezy, Fred Hansen, Marshel Drake, Byron Parks, Theador Howe, John Reppard, Ike Thomas, Sam Houch, Chancy Hallenback, Fred Hilicar, S. B. Fowler, Fred Crandel, William Houch, Sr., B. Humphrey, F. Harrington, the Rathbourns, the Todbourns, Henry Dalyrimple, Sr., Cornelious Cavenough, the Cobbs, N. Barton, Sr., th Koucks, Benjamin Nickols, Sr., Ed Carkuff, George Hall, Sr., Josh Staples, E. Austin, Jacob Bryan, Sr., Herm Husten, Sr., John Smith, Sr., William Thomas, Hector Youngs, Craig Youngs, Honas Blauvelt, John Finch, J. Palmer, James Wood, Tinker Hawley, E. K. Roper, Chas. Shattock, Thomas Shattock, C. Simpson, Beckwith, The Peckers (Prett, Asa, Jay), Fred Kellog, Fred Seeley, Fred Wood, Chas. Jackson, and many more I don’t recall. [No women are mentioned here in this list, so they are truly forgotten]


The Hallenback clan was the largest followed by the Houcks clan, the Rosecrans Clan and the Davises. Most all familys were quite large back then.

In the horse and buggy days through out the town, there were many watering troughs by the roadside, one on Palmer Road at the bottom of Jim Woods Hill, one on Marsh Road toward VanEtten from Hixes Corner. One on the State Road in front of the Fred Crandle Residents. One on the Langdon Hill Road at the forks of Langdon and Staples road. One on Rorick Hollow Road near the Cobb Farm. One on Walker Hill below the Dock Jones farm. One on Jackson Creek in front of the Clevelands house. One on Dibble Hill, now known as the Lurel Hill Road, up from the village about one mile. O. E. Chapmans hewed the last one on Dibble hill from a cherry log.

The Erin Railroad Station was dismantled in 1938 and the tracks were all taken up. The Creamery & Chapman’s Flour Mill are also dismantled & gone, a grocery store is now where the flour mill stood, and Decker’s Trailer Park is where the Creamery was located.

Hi Joyce,

My name is Gary Belknap, and I live in Big Flats, NY.  Really enjoy your website. [February 2011]

My mother, June Totoritis Belknap, gave me a handwritten pamphlet (for lack of a better word) from her uncle, Percy Chapman.  I typed it into Word format and forgot all about it.  It is an interesting story of how the Chapman family (including Johnny Appleseed) came from Boston to Chemung County.  I believe that it is true, although I have to say that after my mom passed in 2007 I have no idea who is left in that family.  Here is the account- maybe you can share it with others.  If you need any other information, email
Gary Belknap

The Beginning Of The Chapmans In America

One of the earliest settlers on New England shores was Robert Chapman of Hull, England, who settled in Boston, Massachusetts in 1635.  He is considered to be the father of the Chapmans in America.  One of the most picturesque bearers of this name was John Chapman, whose trips through Pennsylvania and Ohio planting apple seeds won the name “Johnny Appleseed.”

In later years, five Chapman brothers migrated from Boston to Orange, New Jersey.  Their names were as follows: John, Simeon, Eugene, Adelbert and Robert.  They came by raft from the Susquehanna River to Athens, Pennsylvania, where the Chemung River meets the Susquehanna.  From there thy poled their way up the Wyncoop Creek to near Hixtown, and then traveled overland.  John decided to stop and settle about three miles from Hixtown, New York.  Simeon continued north to Odessa, N.Y., and settled there.  Eugene turned west and settled at Naples, N.Y.  Adelbert continued west to Ohio, and Robert turned south and settled in Little Genesee, P.A.

John married Salley Doney – they had six children.  John was killed in the woods by a falling limb at age 47.  The Chapmans have a plot in Hixtown Cemetery next to the Doney’s plot.  John and Salley and some of their family are buried there.  Their offspring are as follows:

1.      Sam Chapman married Rhoda Albe Chapman.  They had five children – four of them survived.  The remaining ones were:

a.        Oscar Chapman (married Maude Conklin)

b.      Bessie Chapman (married Harrison Palmer)

c.       Ruth Chapman (married Charles Smith.)

d.      Pearl Chapman (married Francis Palmer)

2.      Della Chapman (married A. Hess) (no children).

3.      Stella Chapman (married Erastus Garbrandt).  They had one boy – Lucius Garbrandt.

4.      Abner Chapman (married Almina Rumsey).  They had five children and lost one.  The remaining children were:

a.       Merrit Chapman (married Rose Rosecrans)

b.      Elmer Chapman (married Aeta Thomas)

c.       Edith Chapman (married Leroy Davis)

d.      Byron Chapman (married Viola Ormston)

5.      William Chapman (married Freelene Rumsey).   They had four children:

a.       Bertha Chapman married Mahlen Palmer

b.      Emma Chapman married Bill Pepper.

c.       Floyd Chapman married Pearl Green

6.      Ida Chapman (married Fred Bixby).  They had four children and lost one.  The remaining children were:

a.       Lulu Bixby (married Fred Jones)

b.      Clarence (was married)

c.       Leon (was married)

I never knew too much about the other four Chapman brothers, although my middle name was given in honor of Adelbert Chapman, Jr. of Ohio.  He made two trips from Ohio to Erin, N.Y. by horse and buggy.  I saw him one time when I was very young.  There is a highway in Erin, N.Y. honoring the Chapmans.  There is also a highway in Schuyler County near Odessa honoring the Chapmans.
Percy A. Chapman

I forgot to tell you where I come into this- Merrit Chapman married Rose Rosecrans, had my Grandmother Frances Chapman who married George Totoritis who had my mom, June.
Gary Belknap

Chemung County NY
You are our welcome visitor since 23 SEP 2003

Published On 09/23/2003
By Joyce M. Tice