History of Chemung County 1892 - Towner
Chemung County NY
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Our County and its People
A History of the Valley and County of Chemung
by Ausburn Towner, 1892






The situation, soil, and productions of the Town of Erin - Its early Settlers - Most of them Soldiers of the War of 1812 - A roll of the taxable Inhabitants in 1823 -Town Officers - Postoffices and principal Settlements - Early religious Influences -The Methodist Church -Erin's Schools, past and present - Business Enterprises - James H. Rodbourn - Secret and Charitable Societies - Cemeteries -Scotchmen in Erin -Some interesting Facts worthy of Record.

ERIN is a hilly section of the county and is well adapted to grazing.  It is situated north of Baldwin and extends to Schuyler County. The settlement of the town was commenced soon after the close of the War of 1812, in which some of the early settlers had been participants. A densely wooded country, abounding in wild animals fierce and ,destructive in their nature, it became the home of men and women possessed of unusual determination and endurance.


Basil Sperry was probably the first who settled in the town, coming from Tompkins County in 1815 and locating upon land owned by Sylvanus Smith sixty years later. He built the first house, made the first clearing, and raised the first crops.

The year 1816 was one of increased settlement and manful struggles of the pioneers against the discouragements incident to the establishment of homes in an unbroken forest, penetrable only by the use of the axe in advance of the teams, which were loaded with household goods or implements of husbandry. It was during this year that John Banfield, Abraham Elston, James Elya, Daniel Curtis, Gabriel Curtis, Philip Thomas, James Van Houter, and Thomas Van Houter his brother came from Tompkins County and settled in the northwestern part of the township. Delaware County, this State, contributed to the settlement made near Erin Center : Isaac Shoemaker, Alexander McKey, John McKey his son, Thomas Baker, James McMillan and several sons, William Stewart, Robert Stewart, Jeremiah Barnes, and Levi Decker. Robert and Alexander Park from New Jersey and Robert and Varnum McDowell from Vermont located north of the central part of the town. Ardon Austin, Samuel Vaughn, and his brothers Daniel and James settled on Austin Hill and Jesse White in the northwest section. Richard Walker. came also about this time. Isaac Boyer, a Revolutionary soldier from Pennsylvania, and his sons Israel and James located in 1817 on what was afterward the property of Charles McMillan. David Herrington from Rutland County, Vt., settled at the place afterward known as Herrington's Corners during the same year. A tract of land in the south part of the township was taken up by Col. John Tuthill and his son John in 1817. Anthony Hollenbeck, a soldier of 1812, and his brothers, Henry and John, settled in 1819. They were from Schoharie County, N. Y. David Caywood, a Revolutionary soldier, and William, his son, who was a soldier in the War of 1812, removed from Orange County to Ithaca about 1800 and to Erin in 1828. Of those who came later, about 1832, were Cornelius Becker from Delaware County and Abraham and Peter Blauvelt from Orange County. There were no frame buildings in the town until about 1825, when Thomas Baker built the first frame house. Others were erected soon after. In 1824james and Joseph McMillan built a saw-mill, the first in town, on Newtown Creek.


Erin was formed from territory within the township of Chemung on March 29, 1822. Pursuant to the provisions of this act a meeting for the election of town officers was held on the third Tuesday of May following at the house of John Banfield. The officers elected were: Alexander McKey, supervisor; Ardon Austin, town clerk; Daniel Vaughn, Thomas Baker, and Ebenezer Brown, assessors; John A. McKey, Jared Patchen, David Swartwood, commissioners of highways ; John Tuthill, Robert McDowell, William D. Stewart, commissioners of common schools ; Alexander McKey, Ardon Austin, Francis Banfield, inspectors of common schools ; John Tuthill, Robert McDowell, overseers of the Pool- ; Varnum McDowell, constable and collector; Thomas Baker, John Banfield, fence viewers; John Banfield, pound-keeper. The term of office was to expire on the first Tuesday of March, 1823. The taxable inhabitants in the town in 1823 were :

John McKey, Joint Tuthill, John Tuthill, jr., Alexander, McKey, Green M. Tuthill, Allen Hurlburt, David Herrington, Eli Sommer-, Ransom L. Wade, Ira Simmons, Julius Simmons, Abraham Shoemaker, Isaac Shoemaker, Daniel Swartwood, Abraham Swartwood, David Swartwood, Joseph McIntyre Jonah Osborn, William McIntyre, Thomas Lewis Brewster Goldsmith, Christopher Hedges, Christopher Hedges, it-., Robert McDowell, Farrell Hedges, William Hoyt, Daniel Decker, Varnum McDowell, Thomas Al(,,Dowell, Francis Banfield, -Michael Robinson, Joshua Clark, Thomas Baldwin, James Relyea, John Boyer, Oliver Relyea, John Hollenbeck, Henry Hollenbeck, -Anthony Hollenbeck, James Hollenbeck, Abram Elston, James Van Houter, Philip Thomas, Thomas S. Van Houter, John Banfield, Gabriel Curtis, Daniel Curtis, William Groom, David Jackson, John W. Watkins, John Elston, Lewis Catlin, Nathaniel Campbell, Mathew N. Norris, Jared Patchen, Richard Walker-, Ephraim Bennitt, ]Daniel Bennitt, Jedediah Bennitt, Daniel Howell, Caleb Curtis, Elias Billington, James Bishop, Morris Dean, Henry Clear, John Walker, Charles Chapman, Herman Sawyer, Horace Sawyer, Smith Pared, Nicholas Pareil, Alexander Park, Robert Park, Jacob C. Swartwood, David Park, Jeremiah Jared, John B. Andrews, James Vaughn, Ardon Austin, Andrew if. Everett, Cornelius Westbrook, Samuel Vaughn, Tames Boyer, Silas Valentine, Joseph Bennitt, Zachariah Valentine, John McMillan, Isaac Van Tyle, John Hartgrove, Joseph Mills, Levi Decker, James Decker, Isaac Brown, Silas Brown, William -Brown, Joseph Frost, Daniel Vaughn, Benjamin Smith, Henry Decker, William Smith, Elijah Shoemaker, Jeremiah Barnes, John Cooper, W. 1). Stewart, John Burrows, Robert Stewart, James McMillin, jr., Elihu Everitt, George R. McMillin.

The supervisors of the town up to the time of the formation of the county were:

1822-24 Alexander McKey 1825-26, -Michael Robinson; 1827, John Tuthill, sr.; 1828--29) Michael Robinson ; 1830-34, Ardon Austin ; 1835-36, Robert Stewart.


The town clerks for the period from the formation of the town to the present time have been :

1822-24, At-don Austin; 1825, Thomas Baldwin ; 1826-29, Robert Stewart ; 1830,James V. Baker ; 1831, Robert Stewart; 1832-37, Daniel Vaughn; 1838, Ardon Austin ; 1839-40, Isaac Saunders ; 1841-42, Peter McKey; 1843-44, James McMillan; 1845 -48, Zephaniah Richmond ; 1849-51, Alexander H. Park; 1852-54, Charles Baker; 1855, Jason Frost; 18,56-58, John Caywood ; 1859, Peter Blauvelt ; 1860-61, A. H. McDowell; 1862-66, Alvah 13, Rosenkrans; 1867-69, Charles Baker; 1870-71, James Dibble 1872-7 3, Sidney L. Dibble 1874-77, Giles Hollenbeck 1878-79, A. 11. Van Gorden; 1880-81, Hudson L. Fox; 1882, W. J. Churchill ; 1883, 11. L. Fox ; 1884, S. M. Dibble ; 1885-86, James Wakefield; 1887, A. H. Park; 1888-90, AV. H. Hollenbeck 1891, Mahlon L. Van Gorden.

The justices of the peace for the same period were:

Harmon Sawyer held the office in 1822 ; other incumbents prior to 1840 in the order or election were: Green M. Tuthill, Daniel Vaughn, Ardon Austin, Charles Chapman, Ardon Austin, William D. Stewart, John White, Hiram Tuthill, Ardon Austin, Philip Thomas, Charles Chapman, Samuel G. Stage, John A. McKey, Ardon Austin, Philip Thomas: 1840, Peter Blauvelt; 1841, AT. Everitt; 1842, Joshua Baker; 1843, Jacob Banfield ; 1844, Peter Blauvelt ; 1845, Jeremiah Rumsey and Samuel Roberts; 1846, Joshua Baker and Allen C. Lott; 1847, Samuel Roberts; 1848, Peter Blauvelt ; 1849, Zephaniah Richmond; 1850, C. C. Humphrey ; 1851, Samuel Roberts; 1852, Peter Blauvelt and J. B. Moore; 1853, Jason P. Woolever; 1854, Cornelius Hammond and Francis Beveridge 1855, Johnson Hawley and William Chapman 1856, Charles Baker; 1857, Ardon Austin ; 1858, Charles 11. Lewis; 1859, Philip Thomas ; 1860, Peter Blauvelt ; 1861, Alexander IL Park; 1862, John F. Hillaker: 1863, Albert H. McDowell; 1864, Amasa It. Herrington; 1865, William Chapman; 1866, Charles IT. Lewis; 1867, Albert 11. McDowell; 1868, Amasa R. Herrington; 1869, William Chapman; 1870, John F. Hillaker and Peter Blauvelt; 1871, A. 11. McDowell; 1872, Peter Blauvelt-, 1873, William Chapman; 1874, John F. Hillaker and William Kendall ; 1875, Albert H. McDowell; 1876, Amasa It. Herrington and John F. Hillaker; 1877, Alexander Shoemaker; 1878, Joshua Stephens ; 1879, Sylvester Jaynes; 1880, 11. C. Colegrove; 1881, J. J. Park; 1882, W. 11. Stephens; 1883, David Jaynes; 1884, R. C. Colegrove; 1885, James 11. Mitchell ; 1886, Toshna 11. Stephens; 1887, -Wallace Hanson; 1888, R. C. Colegrove; 1889, Jam" R. Mitchell and John G. Cowan ; 1890, George E. McMillan; 1891, W. W. Hanson.

The postoffices of the town are Park in the northeast, Erin near the center, and South Erin in the south part of the town.

The postmasters of Park have been as follows : Henry E. Beckwith, November 12, 1874; Lewis N. Wheeler, July 24, 1889.

The post-town of Erin was established early in the history of the county. The first postmaster, appointed January 2, 1833, was William


D. Stewart. His successors and the dates of their appointments are as follows: Duncan J. Stewart, June 17, 1837 ; Joshua Baker, October 5, 1847; George K. McMillan, May 30, 1850; Josiah Bennitt, November 29, 1851 ; John Caywood, September 15, 1853 James Hollenbeck, October 2, 18 55 ; Jason Frost, Decem ber 8, 18 5 5 Francis Hollenbeck, April 22, 1856 ; John Cooper, February 5, 1858 Francis Hollenbeck, May 23, 1863 ; William H. Blauvelt, September 26, 1863 ; James Hollenbeck, May 23, 1864; James H. Rodbourn, May 2, 1871 ; Fred Cowan, April 19, 1889.

The postmasters of South Erin in this township have been as follows: John Mitchell, March 26, 1851 ; Miss Caroline Mitchell, December 16, 1859. The office was discontinued July 6, 186o, and re-established July 7, 1874, Peter Blauvelt being appointed 'postmaster. He was succeeded by Amasa R. Herrington, February 1, 1876; James A. Baker, December 22, 1879; James R. Mitchell, April 1 1, 1 890

The postoffice at State Road in this township was in existence for twenty years. It was established on March 16, 1854, by the appointment of Alexander H. Park as postmaster. He held the office for thirteen years with the exception of the period between February 25th and June 1st of 185-9, when Ardon Austin was postmaster. Mr. Park's successors were Chauncey Hollenbeck, February 8, 1867 ; Garrett M. Hollenbeck, March 30, 1867. The office was discontinued on January 2, 1874.

There was a postoffice in this township at one time called by the rather romantic name of Green Hill. It remained such for only a few days more than five years. Hiram Roushey was the postmaster appointed January 6, 1852, and remained such until January 17, 1857P when the office was discontinued.

There was also another postoffice in the township once called Herrington's Corners. It was established on April 23, 1862, by the appointment of Amasa R. Herrington as postmaster. The office was discontinued on February 4, 1873.

Local preachers held meetings in Erin and preached earlier than 1828. Among them were John Greatsinger, James Taylor, and Jacob Allington. About 1828 Rev. Hiram Crane formed the first class, and Jeremiah Barnes and wife, C. C. Humphrey, and Abigail Baker (afterward


Mrs. Hammond) were among the members. Cornelius Becker and his wife and James Baker and his wife were also prominent Methodists. C. C. Humphrey was the first class-leader. Rev. Mr. Torrey was the first circuit preacher. The circuit including this church was formed in 1832 and was called the Spencer charge. eetings w re rst held in w at was called the Scotchtown schoolhouse and afterward in other school- houses.

During the year 1832 Cornelius Becker and his family came to Erin and settled on the farm afterward owned by his son, G. S. Becker. He was an active Methodist, and since that time Methodism has had a steady and sure growth until the church of Erin has become strong in its active membership. In 1874 Tames H. Rodbourn and John Hadsell as contractors erected for the society a church edifice for the sum of $2,500. The church was dedicated in 1875. The trustees then acting were G. S. Becker, Harvey Houck, Lewis Thomas, William Howe, A. H. Park, and Charles Baker. The minister in charge was Rev. P.Bull. Presiding elder, Thomas Tousey.

The Baptist Church of Erin was organized in 1864. Among the original members were Melzor Kellogg, Miles Ennis, James Dibble, and their wives. Other members were George Rumsey, E. W. Baldwin, Alexander Shoemaker and his wife, Charles Early and wife, and John Hawley and his wife. The church was a branch of the Breesport church and the same clergymen officiated at the two places. Meetings were first held in a school-house. In 1871 a church was erected at Erin village at a cost of about $2,500. Rev. Mr. Whitney was the first pastor. Alexander Shoemaker has been prominent in Sabbath school work.

The first church erected in the town was by the Presbyterians in 1836. The society disbanded and the building was taken down in the year 1874.

Erin was bonded for $30,000 to aid in the construction of the Utica, Ithaca, and Elmira Railroad, which was completed in 1874. This railroad crosses the township and has Park and Erin stations.

In 1823 the commissioners of common schools reported three school districts in the town. There were then 126 children between the ages of five and fifteen years, and 61 had attended school. The same report mentions the books in use: Webster's Spelling Book, American


Preceptor, Holy Scriptures, and Pike's, Daboll's, and Root's Arithmetics. In 1847 the number of children of school age was 472 and the facilities for a common school education had correspondingly increased. The number of districts has increased from three to thirteen and there are twelve schoolhouses in the town. By the report of 1890 there were 26,299 days of attendance at the public school,-, of Erin. The State appropriation has increased from $25.77 in 1823 to $1,600.91 in 1891. Erin village, located on land originally owned by Alexander McKee and Jeremiah Barnes, is near the center of the town on Newtown Creek and the line of the Elmira, Cortland, and Northern, and is the center of the business activity of the township. The village contains two churches, a school of two departments, J. H. Rodbourn & Co.'s steam saw-mill, creamery, shops of various industries, several stores, about fifty dwellings, and 200 or more inhabitants. The village is the outgrowth of the successful business enterprises of James H. Rodbourn started in 1865. The steam saw-mill erected in that year was burned June 7, 1881, and rebuilt during the same year. The first store was established in 1867 by Mr. Rodbourn and the creamery in 1882. The sawing done at the Mill has been 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 feet per year, and it has nearly exhausted the supply of timber within the township. The creamery has a separator and manufactures 6,000 to 7,000 pounds of butter per month.

The school building is of two stories and occupies pleasant grounds upon which nearly sixty trees were planted on Arbor days in 1890 and 1891. The churches already named are in the village.

William M. Gregg Post, NO. 430, G. A. R., Department of New York, was organized December 14, 1883, and mustered in on January 4, 1884. There have been fifty-four names on the roster; about forty remained in July, 1891. Past commanders: Joseph McMillan, G. W. Moxey, H. F. Snow, Chauncey Hollenbeck, J. G, Erhardt ; commander (1891), Sylvester Blauvelt; trustees, D. B. Vosburgh, A. Shoemaker, C. Hollenbeck ; relief committee, C. Hollenbeck, Harry Hugg, A. Shoemaker; relief committee for Horseheads, M. H. Humphrey, 0. A. Jakway, J. Jansen.

The Equitable Aid Union, chartered in 1884, has fifty-three members. The charter members were A. H. Park, Mrs. A. H. Park, Lewis Thomas


and wife, Theodore Smith and wife, S. H. Van Gorden and wife, Ward Vredenburg, Isaac Thomas and wife, John Thomas and wife, Mrs. A. H. Hummer, Eugene Hummer. The families of deceased members have received $4,325 prior to July, 18gi. Officers elected in June, 1891 : Lewis Thomas, chancellor; Julia Baker, advocate; Ed Earl, president; Jemima Van Gorden, vice-president; Theresa Robinson, secretary; Flora L. Coleman, accountant; J. W. Coleman, treasurer; Mary Robinson, chaplain.

A lodge of the 1. 0. G. T. was organized November 14, 1890; J. W. Coleman, C. T.

Erin W. C. T. U. was organized on February 26, 1889, with thirteen members and Miss 14. D. Fox as president. She was succeeded by Mrs. Vie Parke and Mrs. Lucetta Hinman. Officers elected in August, 1890: Belle Finch, president; Mrs. Flora Coleman secretary ; Mrs. E. 0. Dibble, treasurer ; Miss H. D. Fox, superintendent of social purity department ; Miss Belle Finch, superintendent of scientific temperance instruction. The union consists of twenty-four members.

The Scotchtown Cemetery Association was incorporated February 11, 1881. Nine trustees were elected, of whom Ira R. Jones, John Hollenbeck, and William Ormiston constituted the first class for a term of one year; G. S. Becker, William A. Lewis, and M. H. Humphrey the second class with a term of two years; Andrew H. Neish, B. Burgress, and. E. W. Hawley the third class with a term of three years. On February 19, 1881, William Ormiston, Andrew Neish, Ira R. Jones, Arthur Chase, and John S. Harding as trustees of the Erin and Breesport Church Society, formerly the Associate Reformed Church of Erin, deeded to the Cemetery Association the land formerly occupied by the Associate Reformed or Presbyterian Church together with the adjacent burying ground of the society for cemetery purposes. About this time the trustees of the association purchased one acre and one-eighth of land adjoining the cemetery from the farm of George Humphrey, from which farm the original plot was held as reserve by the original owner and deeded for church and burial purposes. The cemetery contains about two acres. The locality is called Scotchtown in memory of prominent Scotch families who settled in the vicinity. There are several other cemeteries in the town, but none of them are incorporated.


David Neish, Margaret his wife, and Mrs. Ann Humphrey were the last surviving members of the Scotchtown Presbyterian Church. All were born in Scotland. Alexander Shoemaker, born in Erin, April 21, 1823, has resided in the town over sixty years and in Chemung County nearly his whole life. Of the whole number of men who were drafted in the town in 1863 only Nelson Smith, Levi Decker, and Sylvester Blauvelt went into the service. Smith was wounded, Decker died of disease, and Blauvelt became crippled for life from the exposure and hardships of war. Abraham Blauvelt, born November 25, 1802, and James Hollenbeck, one of the early settlers, born October 7, 1801, both residents of Erin in July, 1891, exhibit a marked degree of bodily vigor and mental activity.

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