Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
Directories of Chemung County, New York
Chemung County NY
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Guy Maxwell, one of the proprietors of DeWittsburgh, was born in Ireland, July 15, 1170. His parents left a port in Scotland for America, in June 1770, and were shipwrecked in the Irish Channel, and were thrown on the shores of the County of Down, where he was born soon after. In 1772, the family made a second attempt, and reached the American shores at Annapolis, in Maryland, and made a settlement at Martinsburgh, Va., near the Potomac. Their son, Guy, was placed in the store of Gen. James O’Hara, then of Martinsburgh, afterwards of Pittsburgh, Pa., to "learn the art, trade and mystery of a merchant." His term expired at the age of eighteen, on the 15th of July, 1788. He was to have accompanied Gen. O’Hara to Pittsburgh, but the arrival of Col. Hollenback, of Wilkesbarre, on a visit to his Virginia relatives, at the time, changed his destination, and he accompanied him on his return to Wilkesbarre; and in Sept. 1788, commenced business with Col. Hollenback at Tioga Point, (now Athens,) and remained there until August 1796, when he removed to Elmira, to engage in the mercantile business and superintend the sale of his village plot. He was soon after appointed Sheriff of Tioga, by Gov. George Clinton, which office he held for a number of years, and also held other positions of trust and profit. He died February 23d, 1814, at less than forty-four. He had been concerned with the late Stephen Tuttle in building a flouring mill on Newtown Creek, and in mercantile business in the Village, in connection with the late Thomas M. Perry, under the firm of Perry & Co., which closed about the year 1808.

Mr. Tuttle settled in Elmira in 1818, and died a few years since universally esteemed. His wife survived him about ten years, and died at the age of eighty-seven. They could say with the celebrated Logan-that no one ever left their roof hungry or in want.

William Hoffman came to Elmira from Northumberland, Pa., in 1799, with his worldly goods in a pocket-hankerchief. He engaged in the Hatting business, but left it to become a model farmer, and still survives, an honorable specimen of the early pioneer, enjoying a green old age, surrounded by all that can render a man comfortable, with hosts of friends, who love and respect him.

Henry Wisner, the proprietor of the westerly portion of the village, was a resident of Warwick in the county of Orange. He was a member of the Continental Congress, and voted for Independence on the 2d July 1776, but the next day (as appears by the journals of that body,) was called home to take command of his regiment in the field; and left before the declaration was engrossed, and his name does not appear to that imperishable document. His liberality in the gift of a public square, and other lands to the citizens of Elmira, are an honorable monument to his memory. There are many other individuals whose names should appear in a full history of the first settlement of the country, which may yet appear, but the limited spaced devoted to this publication prevents it.

The treaty held at Elmira with the Six Nations, by Col. Pickering on the part of the United States, took place in 1791. A previous one was held at Tioga Point in 1790, commencing on the 16th and closing on the 23d November. The tribes there represented, were the Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, Chippewas and Stockbridge Indians. The difficulty which called the Council together, was amicably arranged by the shrewdness of Pickering, who then resided at Wilkesbarre. Hendrick Appaumut, and eloquent Stockbridge, Red Jacket, Corn-Planter, Farmer’s Brother, Little Billy, and Fish-Carrier, an able and distinguished warrior of the Cayugas, were present. They came to the council excited; but Pickering had quieted them, and at the close, Red Jacket delivered an inflammatory speed in reference to the sale of their lands to Phelps & Gorham, at the treaty of Fort Stanwix in October 1784. To enquire into the charges of Fraud at that treaty, a meeting was appointed to be held at Pained Post on the 17th June, 1701; but the papers in reference to it show that it was held at Newtown, though called the Treaty of Painted Post. There are yet persons living who were present and well recollect the demonstrations. The Indians, according to the statement of Capt. Geo. Gardner, encamped in the westerly part of the village, and their tents were ranged from where the Brainard House now stands to the upper part of the village. The conferences were held a part of the time under the Council Tree on the flat east of the Court-house, on the premises now owned by Hector M. Seward, Esq., who religiously protects the spot where the old tree stood, and were completed on the flats where the State Fair was held on the grounds of Mrs. Arnot. Among the papers in reference to this treaty, which are preserved, it appears that a copy of the Release from the Six Nations to Phelps & Gorham, was presented by Col. Pickering, and a certificate signed by him, dated Newtown Point in the State of New York, July 7, 1791, states that the day before " the principal Sachems of the Senecas now attending the Treaty held by me with the Six Nations at this place," assured him that they were satisfied with the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, and that Red Jacket and Corn-Planter understood it as they did at the time, and that the statements made by them at Tioga Point in Nov. 1790, were unfounded and mischievously intended.

There is also the examination of Col. Matthias Hollenback, who was present at the treaty of Fort Stanwix and also at Newtown, taken before Brinton Paine, one of the judges of Tioga County, at Newtown Point on the 14th of July, 1791, showing the fallacy of these complaints-also the deposition of Thomas Rees, of Northumberland, taken at the same time, and those of Elisha Lee and Eleazer Lindley, on the 5th of May, 1791, and a statement of the allegations made before Pickering, by Red Jacket, at Tioga Point on the 21st of November, 1790. The investigation terminated in a satisfactory manner.

The visit of Louis Phillippe, late King of France, and his two brothers at Elmira, in 1797, is a notable event. He had spent some time n Switzerland as a teacher and afterwards served in the French army as an aid-de-camp to a French General, under the assumed name of Corby, until 1794. Suspicions were excited as to his true character and he left the army and the county and remained some time in Denmark. His father had perished on the scaffold and his mother had been imprisoned in Paris, and his two brothers, the Due de Montpensier, and the Count de Beaujolais, had been shut up in the Castle of St. Jean at Marseilles.

In 1796 communication had been opened between the Dutchess of Orleans (their mother,) and the French Directory, and she was informed that if she would induce her elder son, the Duc d’Orleans to repair to the United States, the sequestration should be removed from her property and her two younger sons should be released and permitted to join their brother in America.

Under this arrangement, the King set sail from Hamburg for the United States, in the ship America, captain Ewing of Philadelphia on the 24th of September, 1796, and arrived in Philadelphia twenty-seven days thereafter.

The other brothers sailed from Marseilles and arrived Philadelphia after a tedious passage of ninety-three days. After the union of the brothers they spent the winter in Philadelphia, mingling in the first society there. They visited General Washington, at Mount Vernon, and traveled through Virginia, Kentucky and parts of Ohio, and early in June arrived Buffalo.

On their way from Buffalo to Canandaigua, then almost in a state of nature, they met Alexander Baring, (afterwards Lord Ashburton) whom the King had seen at Philadelphia, where he married a daughter of Wm. Bingham. After a few minutes conversation they pursued their respective routes, Mr. Baring telling the King, (as General Cass relates,) "that he had left an almost impassable road behind him, and the King answering by the comfortable assurance, that Mr. Baring, would find no better one before him." The brothers soon after arrived a Canandaigua, where they spent some weeks, under the hospitable roof of Thomas Morris, then a resident there. They continued their route Geneva, where they procured a boat and embarked on the Seneca Lake, which they ascended to its head. Here they remained a few days at the house of Mr. George Mills, and shouldering their packs, came on to Elmira on foot, bringing letters from Mr. Morris to Henry Towar and other residents of the place. It was a wonderful mutation in human affairs, that he who entered our village with a pack on his back should so soon have occupied a Throne. Here they remained about ten days, boarding at the Tavern kept by Mrs. Seely, the widow of Nathaniel Seely (afterwards called the Kline House.) Mr. Towar furnished them with a Durham boat, well fitted up, in which they descended the Chemung, and Susquehanna rivers, to Wilksbarre, from whence they proceeded across the country to Philadelphia. In a letter, dated at Philadelphia, August 14th, 1797, from the Due de Montpensier to his sister, the Princess Adelaide of Orleans, describing their journey, he says "It took us four months-we traveled during that time, a thousand leagues, and always upon the same horses, except the last 100 leagues, which we performed partly by water, partly on foot, partly on hired horses, and partly in the stage, or public conveyance. We have seen many Indians, and remained several days in their country. To give you an idea of the agreeable manner, in which they travel in this country, I will tell you that we passed fourteen nights, in the woods, devoured by all kinds of insects, after being wet to the bone, without being able to dry ourselves, and eating pork and sometimes a little salt beef and corn bread." The work of General Cass, entitled "France, its King and People," gives many interesting details of this visit of the French King.

An examination of the Assessment Roll of 1798, so often referred to, will show some singular facts as to the increased value of real estate in and about Elmira, in sixty years. The best farms of the Chemung valley, the Hammond farm, the Miller far, the McDowell flats, the Jenkins farm, the Sly farms, are assessed in that year at $10 per acre, the others on Seely Creek and the plains about Elmira and towards Horseheads and Big Flatts at from five to eight dollars per acre. The Starret farm, the heart of Big Flatts, at ten dollars per acre-now not an acre of those lands can be purchased at less than sixty to one hundred dollars per acre, and many of them higher. The lots in Elmira previous to 1800 were sold at one to two hundred dollars for lots 100 feet front by 219 deep-now many of those lots bring from forty to one hundred dollars per foot front. The opening of the canals connected with the Erie Canal, gave the first impetus, to improvement. The completion of the New York & Erie Rail Road, with the energy and perseverance of those who have settled among us, and the wonderful power of steam have advanced half a century, the most sanguine expectations of the few persons (deemed half crazy for their predictions at the time,) who had ventured to prophecy the astonishing increase, which has since been attured to prophecy the astonishing increase, which has since been attained. He who thirty years ago should have predicted the wonderful feats of the Electric Telegraph, would probably have been placed in a strait jacket; nor would he who should have prophesied in 1836 that the journey to New York could be performed with case and comfort in ten or twelve hours, (except in a balloon) have fared much better. Yet we have lived to see Elmira, which thirty years ago numbered but her hundreds, and every one well known, now roll up her ten or twelve thousand, and many of us, scarcely know our next neighbor. The progress of the surrounding villages shows a similar state of things, and we already begin to talk of the cities of the Southern Tier, where a few years since, scarce a hamlet existed. In view of the past, and its astonishing results, what may we not expect of the future? The vast results produced by the spirit of the age aided by the wonderful power of steam and electricity, may well encourage us in the hope of still greater attainments. The opening of new canals and railroads, chequering the country in every direction, assisted by some new agent of power, which may yet be found to supersede the use of steam, may justly astound the few old settlers, who yet remain, and who have lived to see their fond hopes, and far reaching calculations realized long before the periods which they may have assigned for their consummation. That they did predict such results is a high compliment to their judgment and foresight.

The Masonic Fraternity of Elmira, has been so long established (nearly seventy years.) that it would seem that some notice should be taken of their institution in these sketches. It is known, that a traveling Lodge of Free Masons, accompanied Sullivan’s Expedition and a Masonic funeral took place at Tioga Point, August 18th, 1779, in honor of Lieut. Jones and Capt. Davis who were buried at Pittston with Masonic honors, under a general order of the Commander-in-Chief, dated August 17th, 1779. Union Lodge No. 30 was instituted on the 26th of August, 1793, of which Amos Park was the first Master. He was re-elected for four terms, John Konkle two terms, Joseph Hinchman three terms, John Miller five terms, Caleb Baker four terms, Samuel Tuthill five terms, Elias Satterlee, who died while Master, John Cherry twice, George Guest, Hohn Fitz Simmons, Orange Chapman, Daniel E. Brown twice, Isaac Roe, and Wyatt Carr to the time of its close, in 1827. Under its new organization, in 1843, B.B. Payne four times, James S. French five times, D.S.Hamilton twice, and William M. Gregg down to 1853, when the Sixtieth Anniversary of their organization was celebrated. At that time these statistics were collected. The following list of the departed members was then furnished, adding such as have died since:-

Horace Agard Abner Hetfield Nathaniel Seely
Eben Bartlett Joseph Hinchman James Seely
Caleb Baker Nathaniel Hinchman Berzaleel Seely
Thomas Baldwin George Hornell John B. Seely
William Baldwin Jared Hoyt Jonas Seely
Isaac Baldwin E.S. Hinman Samuel S. Seely
Waterman Baldwin Samuel Hendy John Stoner
Ichabod Baldwin Hohn Hughes John Spalding
Isaac Baldwin, 2d James Irwin Simon Spalding
Thomas Baldwin, Jr. Elijah Jones William Spalding
Grant B. Baldwin Ithamer Judson John Shepard
Howell Bull Samuel Ingals Henry Shriver
David Bardslee John Konkle Christian Scott
Samuel Besley Abner Kelsey Joseph Smith
Seneca Baker Joseph Kingsbury  Solomon L. Smith
John H. Brown Rev. John Kline Abraham Shoemaker
A.A. Beckwith John H. Knapp Robert D. Shappee
Jefferson Bartlett Nathaniel Knapp Elias Satterlee
Platt Bennett Aaron Konkle Timothy S. Satterlee
Dugald Cameron George Mills Charles Sherwood
Daniel Cruger Noah Murray Whittington Sayre
James Cameron  Ezekiel Mulford John S. Suffern
Phineas Catlin Vincent Mathews Uriah Stevens
John Coe John Miller John Stephens
George Coryell Peter Masterton Ira Stephens
Samuel Colegrove John McCann John Spicer, 1821
John Cherry George McClure  Nathan Teall
Francis Collingwood H.M. Graves Henry Towar
Orange Chapman Charles Maxwell Samuel Tuthill
William Dunn D. Cameron Maxwell Stephen Tuttle
Joseph Draper O. O’Hanlon George Townsend
Eleazer Dana Amos Park Fitch Wattles
Jonathan Eaton Moses Park Walter Watrous
Samuel Edsall David Paine John W. Watkins
John Fitz Simmons Michael Pfautz Clark Winans, Jr.
Jacob Gilbert Jotham Purdy Jacob Westlake
Joseph Gillett Samuel Ransom John W. Wisner
William S. Garrad George Reeder Isaac S. Wood
George Gardner  Stephen Reeder Samuel Winton
Caleb L. Gardner William R. Rochester Isaac Roe

Of the surviving members of the first organization, yet living are:-

A.S. Atkins, 1814 G.H. Bull, 1817 C.W. Dunn, 1819
Thomas Maxwell, 1814 R. Bancroft, 1818 John Jackson, 1822
M.McReynolds,1815 L. Biles, 1818 Abraham Riker, 1822
H.W. Atkins, 1815 L. Hudson, 1818 D. Bently, 1822
W. Carr, 1823 John C. Roe, 1826 R. Hetfield, 1828
C. Greatsinger, 1823 Samuel Riker, 1826 Isaac Reynolds
V. Conkling, 1826    

A new Lodge called Ivy Lodge has been established a few years, and both are flourishing, but the data to show their numbers since 1853 are not now at hand.. In looking over the list of deceased members of the fraternity, particularly among the earlier ones, it is perceived that more than twenty of them bore arms in the war of the Revolution.

The ancient Indian name of the present village of Elmira was Ski-ne-do-wa, meaning "at the Great Plains." Subsequently it was named Ka-na-we-ola, meaning a "head on a pole." The tradition derived from Red Jacket in reference to this name is that about 1730 a council of the five nations was held here, at which one of their Chiefs was tried for some crime, convicted, e-headed and his head placed on a pole, a little west (as he said) from the old Council Tree, which would be where the present Court House now stands.

The County Seat is located at Elmira. The Court House and Jail and Clerk’s Office are on Lake Street. The Chemung Canal extends South from Seneca Lake, through the central valley to the Chemung River at Elmira, forming a direct communication with the great chain of internal water navigation of the State. A navigable feeder from Corning, Steuben County, forms a junction with the Canal on the summit level at Horseheads. The Junction Canal extends several miles along the Chemung, affording navigation at points where the river is obstructed by rapids and narrows. The New York & Erie Rail Road extends along the Chemung River, through Chemung, Southport, Elmira and Big Flatts. The Chemung Rail Road extends North from Elmira, through Horseheads and Veteran to the Lake and Canandaigua. The Elmira & Williamsport Rail Road extends from Elmira, South through Southport into Pennsylvania, forming a direct line to Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington.

The first settlers, ranked among their numbers many men who had been actively engaged in the revolutionary war. [Among the early settlers were also as many women as men, but the early historians rarely bothered themselves with the names of these good women many of whose lives and histories are lost to us - JMT] Colonel John Hendy, who settled here in 1788, held a commission in a regiment of Northampton (Pennsylvania) troops, was engaged in the battles of Monmouth, Trenton and Princeton, and at the latter battle brought off from the battle field the body of General Mercer, a distinguished Virginia officer, who was wounded in that engagement and died subsequently of his wounds. He was a native of Northampton County, Pennsylvania, where he was born September 3d, 1757; he held many town offices, and died in 1840, aged eighty-three years and upwards.

Brinton Paine, a Colonel of the State troops and a prisoner of war, in a British prison ship, died at eh age of eighty-one. Mathew Carpenter, who bore arms in the same contest, died in 1839, at the age of eighty-one years. Sela Matthews, another of the soldiers of the Revolution, died in 1833, at seventy-one, and John Konkle, Esq., who served in New Jersey, and the first Postmaster of Elmira, aged seventy-three years.

These venerable relics of the stirring times of the American Revolution, were permitted to linger among us, as if by a special providence, that all of us might see and know the fearless patriots, who battled for the rights of freemen against such fearful odds, and to transmit to their children unimpaired, the inheritance, which by their valor and energy, had been thus secured to us. The truth of this will be exhibited to any one who visits the Cemeteries of Elmira, while he sees the names of many who were active in forwarding the public interest, who were laid there at forty and fifty years of age.


Elmira has the honor of establishing the first regularly Chartered College for young ladies in the State of New York. There are now two others-the Ingham University and Vassar Female College, but both of these received their Charters at a more recent date.

The founding of the Elmira Female College grew out of the labors of Rev. Harvey A. Sackett and his wife, Mrs. D.H. Sackett, who began their efforts in the city of Auburn. A Charter with the beginning of a subscription was obtained, but owing to some discouraging circumstances, in the prosecution of the enterprise at Auburn, a proposition was laid before some of the citizens of Elmira, to transfer the institution to this place. This proposition was met in such a liberal manner, that the Charter was amended and the transfer took place. The name of the institution was then "The Elmira Collegiate Seminary"-with only the rank of a first class academy. Subsequently the Charter was so amended as to grant full Collegiate privileges and powers, of the sesame rank with the other Colleges of the State. A splendid College building was erected scarcely surpassed by any of the kind in this country, chiefly after the designs of –Parker, Esq., of Westfield, N.Y. as Architect.

The College was dedicated in September, 1855, and in the following month was opened for students. For the first year, it was under charge of Mrs. M.A.W. Dunlap, as Vice President.

At the close of the first year, Rev. A.W. Cowles was elected and inaugurated as the first President, who still holds that office. The College has achieved a wide and growing reputation, so that probably no institution in this country occupies a higher place in respect to its extensive and thorough course of study-the actual success of the Faculty in the government and general management of the College, and in the marked results of able instruction in the high grade of scholarship which those have attained who have pursued the regular course of study. The enterprise has been a most decided success. Under the generous benefactions and financial skill of Simeon Benjamin, Esq., the College has reached a firm and permanent basis. Its property, as reported to the Regents of the University, amounts to more than $80,000. The income from term bills has been as high as $19,000 per annum, and has rarely been less than fifteen thousand.

Still, the College is but partially supplied with those things needful for its best growth and usefulness. The grounds need to be laid out as an ornament to the village. The building needs internal improvements, both in conveniences and in suitable decorations, such as frescoing the Chapel, fitting up the Halls, furnishing a Gymnasium, a Library, and such various additions and improvements as shall correspond with the high rank the College has attained, and with the reasonable expectations which are entertained by the friends of Education in this and other States.

A few thousand dollars for these purposes are now very much needed, and it would seem highly proper and reasonable that Elmira should make the College a beautiful and lasting ornament, as it is already an honor to the public spirit and liberality of the village, and to this section of the State.

The College is a constant means of extending the reputation of the village. Circulars, to the amount of two thousand a year, are scattered throughout the whole country, from Maine to California. Students from all the Northern States have been members of the College, and their friends and neighbors, and circles of correspondence, are made acquainted with Elmira and the College to which its name is attached.

Thus Elmira owes much of its present reputation and prosperity to this, among other sources and means of improvement.
Under charge of S.O. Gleason, M.D., located on East Hill, built in 1852, by Fox Holden, M. Hale and S.O. Gleason, who still retain the ownership-Dr. Gleason having the entire charge of conducting it. Main building is 34x78, four stories; two wings, each 20x32, three stories high. Another building 36x20, two –and-a-half stories; eight acres in the lot; cost $15,000; can accommodate one hundred person; water from a spring, conducted into the building through wooden pipes.

The beauty of its location is unsurpassed by any similar institution. Dr. Gleason has had thirty years experience in his profession. Mrs. Gleason has charge of the female patients, and is a regularly educated physician. The glens, hills, and wild scenery by which it is surrounded, make it a most desirable location for the invalid.

Under the superior management of Dr. Gleason, and his accomplished lady, it has become one of the most popular in the Northern States, and its popularity is constantly increasing. Patents have been received from all but five states, and from Upper and Lower Canada.