The name of the town of Fairfield was immediately after the division of Northampton, in 1807, changed to that of Parma. Its first officers were—Supervisor, Gibbons Jewett; Town Clerk, Justin Worthington; Collector, Daniel Spencer; Assessors, O. F. Rice, A. Webb, Abel Howe, J. Howel, George Huntley; Poormasters, Nathaniel Tibbel, Nehemiah Treat; Commissioners of Schools, Alex. White, Samuel Lattee, Samuel Baldwin; Constables, Fred Howe, Israel Douglass, John Landon, Sanford Briggs, J. Wing. Silas Leonard succeeded Gibbons Jewett in 1812 as supervisor one year; Gibbons Jewett again, one year; George W. Willey in 1814, one year; John C. Patterson, one year; and Gibbons Jewett again in 1816, who served to April 1819, or two years after the division of the town.
On April 6, 1813, a committee was appointed for the purpose of dividing the town into school districts, which consisted of the following persons, viz. : Norman Dawson, Oliver Gates, Josiah Fish, Enos Pembrook, and Elisha Cross; and at a special meeting, August 24 of the same year, the division of the town into nine school districts was effected. This was the first organization of school districts.
Very soon after the separation of Parma from Northampton, a fierce rivalry sprang up between the people in the northern and southern portions of the town, which was never allayed until it culminated in a permanent separation. At every town meeting it manifested itself in the pertinacity with which each party supported its local interests, and by every possible strategy labored to promote the success of its candidates. Their nearly balanced strength only increased the intensity of the conflict, and alternate defeat and victory called into exercise every available resource. The same inconvenience was felt that existed under the old organization, —the want of competent men who could legally hold office, as none but freeholders were qualified, and popularity was an essential element in such a controversy.
To obviate this, temporary deeds were occasionally executed, good until after election, which supplied the requirements of the law, and bridged over a difficulty which might otherwise have neutralized a victory, or, still worse, led to defeat. In the same year of the division of the town into districts, the new office of school inspector was instituted, and the officers elected to co-operate with the commissioners in " the concerns of common schools."
Also, in the same year, the first bridge across Salmon creek, on the Ridge road, was constructed at Whitney and Markham's mills, then in operation.
Slavery, then permitted in the State, existed to at least some extent in the town, as shown by the following and only record of that character, under date of December 19, 1814:”I, S. G. Clark, of the town of Parma, do hereby certify that Samuel Hicks, a male child, was born of my servant, black girl Polly, on the 20th day of March, 1814."
On January 27, 1817, Parma was divided, and the southern division organized as the town of Ogden, with the centre of the Ridge road as the new town line. Soon, however, Parma was extended to embrace the Gore, and the line changed to its present location, since which time there has been no change in its geographical extent or form.
Parma is situated in the northwest corner of the " Mill-Seat Tract." It extends along Lake Ontario about three miles, north and south nearly nine-miles, and east and west, on the Ogden line, about six miles, with an area of about forty-square miles. It comprises the north and south sections of Braddock's Bay township and the Gore, lying between the latter and the town of Ogden. The north-section is divided into eighty-one farm lots; the south section into ten ranges; each subdivided into lots, and the Gore into thirty-seven farm lots.
The first officers of this town, after its last organization, in 1817, were elected in April of the same year, as follows. viz. : Supervisor, Gibbons Jewett; Town Clerk, Zolved Stevens; Collector, Roswel Atchinson; Overseers of the Poor, Asa Atchinson, Samuel Castle; Commissioners of Highways, Stephen Atchinson, Eli sha Fulton, Jason Tyler; Commissioners of Schools, E. Tyler, J. Arnold, Silas Leonard; Assessors, Jonathan Underwood, Warham Warner, Arnold Markham; School Inspectors, Zolved Stevens, Gibbons Jewett, S. Armstrong, Daniel Johnston, P. Brockway, Jonathan Underwood; Constables, Roswel Atchinson, Augustus Mather; Pound-keepers, Christopher Levally and James Rawson; and a large number of overseers of highways.
The surface of the north section is very level, of the south section and Gore more undulating, but not hilly. The Ridge, on which is located the Ridge road, extends through the centre of the Gore. The soil is of a gravelly and sandy loam, mixed with clay. Quite an extensive clay belt extends across the town, from cast to west, embracing the north half of the south section. The soil is noted for its superior productiveness, wheat frequently yielding forty bushels to the acre, and other cereals in proportion.
It is watered by four never-failing streams and their tributaries: West creek, flowing cast and west through the north section; Salmon creek, flowing northeast through the town into Braddock's bay; Buttonwood, east of and parallel with the latter; and Long Pond creek, near the eastern line, and flowing parallel with the two latter. The north branch of the Salmon, in the west part of the town, and a branch of the Long Pond, rising in the centre of the town and flowing northeast, are important tributaries. Salt springs are to be found in both sections, from some of which, in the early days of its settlement, considerable quantities of salt were manufactured. The ruins of salt-works are still to be found about one mile southeast of Parma Centre. Deer or salt licks also abound, covering quite large areas, which, in extremely dry weather, become covered with an incrustation of salt.
A heavy growth of timber originally covered the whole surface, and in many localities a dense undergrowth, with swampy tracts caused by a clay bottom retaining the surface water, but which, when cleared, proved the most productive. Especially was this the case in the vicinity of West creek and Braddock's bay.
The original proprietors were Phelps and Gorham, who purchased the tract embraced between the Genesee and the Triangle line, twelve miles east and parallel with the river, from the Indians, for a " mill-seat.” To attract settlers, they offered these lands for sale at two dollars per acre, and on very long credit; and as a further inducement it was promised on their part to erect here a grist-mill, distillery, and ashery, for the convenience of the new settlements, —which promise, however, was never fulfilled.
Early in the year 1796, Bezaleel Atchinson, with his wife Polly and four small children, the eldest eight and the youngest an infant of one year, with his two unmarried brothers, Stephen and John, made the first settlement in the town on lots 2 and 3, in ranges 6 and 7, in the south section. Less than two months previous, they had left Tolland, Connecticut, to settle near Canandaigua, upon lands offered them by their brother Sylvester, then surveying in that vicinity; but not being well pleased with the apparent poverty of the soil, its stony condition, and tempted by the extra inducements presented by the agent of Phelps and Gorham, they decided to press on beyond the Genesee, into what was then a trackless, un broken wilderness.
They crossed the river on the ice with their oxen and wagon a few rode above the falls, and found shelter under the only roof on the site of the city of Rochester, —a sideless structure, built for the convenience of hunting and trapping, —where they rested a few days, inspecting the surrounding country, and planning for permanent settlement. Their final destination, sixteen miles to the northwest, could only be reached by cutting out their own road, where, after three days of heavy labor, they arrived, under the direction of one John Parks, a hunter and trapper of this wild region. An irregular, three-sided structure, without floors, windows, chimney, or doors, hastily thrown up, was their only protection against the snow and rain of early spring for six weeks, or until the completion of a substantial log house, which was erected on the line between ranges 6 and 7, in the northern part of lot 3.
To the inevitable hardships and deprivations that always attended the pioneer settlements of that day were added losses that it was impossible to supply, and which might well have discouraged a less indomitable energy than that which characterized the first settlers of western New York. Three of their four oxen had died. Their only horse and other stock, except one cow, had strayed away and were lost, and though entirely destitute of the means to replace them, land must be cleared for spring sowing, to save them from starvation. By an ingenious application of a crooked root of a tree found in the bank of the Salmon, they succeeded, with their one ox, in clearing off and planting eight acres of heavily-timbered land. Their first corn and other grain, both for food and planting, were obtained of Peter Shaffer, —who, four years previous, had settled at Scottsville, —and paid for in labor on the spot, which they then brought in canoes to the falls, and thence with great difficulty to the settlement.
In the latter part of 1798, Michael Beach settled on lot 7, range 4; Silas Leonard, on lot 2, range 7; and George Goodhue one-half mile east of the former; also one Laban, adjoining, who moved soon after to Wheatland. About the same time, Timothy Madden settled one-half mile southwest of Parma Centre, on the old Canawaugus road. In 1800 or 1801, Moses Schofield, southwest of the Atchison settlement, near Chase & Tierney's mills, on the east bank; and Asa, Jacob, and Dr. Sylvester Atchinson, brothers of Bezaleel, the latter of whom set a broken arm for the daughter of George Goodhue, —the first sспоиэ accident in the town.
At this time a settlement had been made on lot 7, range 2, by Samuel Hicks, with a wife and nine children, from Berkshire, Massachusetts. He was a trapper and hunter, which occupation he followed exclusively on the lake shore, near Braddock’s bay, at a place known to this day as Hicks' point. The exact date of this settlement is not known positively, though, according to the family tradition, they must have crossed the Genesee as early as 1791; while according to the memory of the first settlers still living, they came by way of Braddock's bay about 1800 or 1801. They did not concern themselves with agriculture beyond the bare necessaries of life, and living exclusively among themselves, and in manner and pursuit so different from the other settlers, their early history seems to have been but little known. Yet the weight of evidence leaves but little doubt that their settlement dates at least four years subsequent to the Atchinsons.
In 1802-3 came Gibbons' Jewett, George Huntley, Abner Brockway, Jr., Daniel Arnold, and John Leonard; in 1805, Jonathan Underwood settled on lot 1, range 4; Hope and Elisha Davis at Parma Corners, James Egbert and Jonathan Ogden. In 1807, Cornelius Bennett, at Burritt's Corners, on lot 2, range 4. In 1808, Lewis Davis, a lad, brother of Hope, and still living on the old place at Parma Corners. In 1809, Levi Talmage and Kennicone Roberts. In 1810, Augustus Mather, and four brothers, Samuel, Isaac, Abraham, Jr., and Jehial Castle, on lots 3, 4, and 5, range 7; R. Fulton, Markham, Lindell Curtis, E. Fulton, on lots 7 and 8, range 5; Zolved and James Stevens, Peter Hiller, and in the north section, its first settlers, John Cheney, at Bartlett's Corners; on the southwest corner, Jesse Stowel, one-half mile west, Jonathan Cory, adjoining, east; R. Winchel, Joel Bagley, and the four brothers, Jere., Gad., Barber, and Nathan Wright, at the triangle line, and known as the Wright settlement; and in 1811, Elisha Cross, at Bartlett's Corners; Baldwin, Jason, and Ezra Tyler, at Unionville; J. Thompson, at Parma Corners; Warham Warner, Joshua Whitney, and others, followed in rapid succession.
During these years many others made settlements at unknown dates, among whom were E. W. Thayer, Daniel Schofield, Philander Curtis, Sr., Shelton Beach, Jonathan Henry, E. Bancroft, Johnson several years. In 1874, Clark & Crary built a large steam saw-mill, stave and barrel factory at Unionville, which is doing a large business, and a few years previous a steam-mill had been erected at the Triangle line, near the lake, and is still in operation. D. M. Martin's furnace is doing a large business in the manufacture of farm implements of every description. It was built in 1867, near the Greece town line, and midway the south section. Gilmore, Peck, and others; also, Abraham Castle, Sr., father of Judge Castle, who came in 1811.
Where the Atchinson brothers located was known for many years as the Atchinson settlement, and until the opening of the inn at the Corners was the objective point of all new-comers prior to settlement, at which centered all highways and business northwest of the falls. Bezaleel Atchinson had five children born to him in his new home, the eldest of whom, Mrs. Betsey Wyman, still living one mile west of Parma Corners, was the second white child born in the town, which event occurred January 22, 1799, only one day after the birth of the first, a daughter of George Goodhue. Of the four coming with him, two, Roswell and Austin, are still living in Spencerport, at the advanced ages of eighty -eight and eighty -six. The father died at his home at a good old age, after living to see the consummation of a glorious work begun in hardship and privation.
Gibbons Jewett, one of the most prominent men of his day, was supervisor twelve years, and for a long-time justice of the peace. If legal forms are now more varied and complicated than formerly, the reckless contempt for all form and grammar, as shown by the subjoined copy of a veritable contract upon which Mr. Jewett passed judgment, rendered the duties of the justice notre the leas difficult; and though it might stagger the wit of a modern counsel, it did not dismay the primitive pettifogger:” Due Shelton Beach fifteen Shillings in Potatoes, which Erastus Robinson promises to pay to Jacob Hayden in pine boards; Said work is to be done in hand labor when called for, with the exception of two Shillings in cash to Michael Beach."
Abraham Castle, Sr., died August 27, 1812, and his wife, Joanna, September 14, 1817, and were buried on the land owned by his son Jehial. The former was the first person interred in the old grave-yard one-half mile east of Hunt's Corners. Samuel Castle lived sixty-five years on the homestead farm, lot 7, range 4, where he died March 16, 1874. His whole life was identified with the settlement and growth of that part of Monroe County, its public measures and improvements, and he was for many years one of its most prominent men. He was supervisor three years; town clerk, six years; justice of the peace, sixteen years; and appointed judge in April 1829.
Timothy Madden died 1829, on the place now owned by Russel Bates; his wife, Polly, is yet living with her daughter, Mrs. Randall, one mile west of Unionville, at the great age of ninety-six. Her son, Silas Madden, also living, was born 1802, and, excepting Mrs. Wyman, is the oldest living person born in the town. Mrs. Eleanor Johnson, daughter of Bealeel Atchinson, died 1803, and was the first death in the town. The first person married was Captain John Leonard to Miss Hencher, of Braddock's bay, where the marriage took place.
In 1805, John Atchinson married Clorinda Hicks. For many years private burying-grounds were the only ones in use, each family burying their dead on their own farm, which are now mostly destroyed. The first regular burying-ground laid out was one mile north and one-half mile west of the Centre, several years before the war of 1812.
Among the trades and professions, Jacob Atchinson was the first blacksmith, in a log shop on the farm of John Atchinson. R. Fulton, the first mechanic; Sylvester Atchinson, physician and surveyor; J. Thompson, tradesman; Z. Stevens, distiller; Daniel Arnold and Alpheus Madden, teachers; and E. W. Thayer, Joshua Whitney, and Atchinson, millers. The first frame house was built by Bezaleel Atchinson, and the first frame barn by Hope Davis, at Parma Corners, in 1809. The first road laid out in this town was on June 6, 1799, by Cyrus Douglass and Reuben Heth, and was the original Canawaugus road. It was surveyed by Alex. Rea, from the Atchinson settlement to the southeast, and long since vacated, except about one mile of the north end, which is still open.
The first apple-trees were raised by Bezaleel Atchinson, and set into orchards by himself and Michael Beach about the same time; though it is claimed by the descendants of Samuel Hicks that an old orchard, the remains of which, with immense trunks, were a few years ago dug up on his old homestead, was the oldest orchard in all that section of country.
The first mill erected in the town was a saw-mill, about the year 1806 or 1807. It was built by E. W. Thayer on the Long Pond creek, in the east part of the town, and about one mile south of the Hicks settlement. The second was a grist mill, purchased by Bezaleel Atchinson of one King, near Rochester, in 1809 or 1810, taken down, removed to the settlement, and rebuilt on Salmon creek, near where Chase & Tierney's mills are now located. A few years later a saw-mill was attached to it.
About 1811 or 1812, another saw-mill was erected by Whitney & Markham, where the same stream crosses the Ridge road, near Fowler's mills. Following these, three other saw-mills were successively built on Long Pond creek, and long since discontinued. First, by A. Mather, south of the Ridge; Hiram Handy, one mile north; and, about 1825, J. Fuller, near the east town line. In 1820, the first saw-mill in the north section was erected by R. Winchel West creek, east of the Centre road; a second by Philander Curtis, west of the road; and still later, a third by Joseph and George Buel, east of Winchel's: all of which were long ago destroyed. About 1840, Markham constructed the Sperry mills, and about the same time a carding-mill was erected on the Buttonwood by Mr. Trimmer, and did business several years. The Atchinsons erected a second mill on the Salmon, below Unionville, about sixty years ago, which was never operated. It was built too far above the water to work, and was taken down and rebuilt near the settlement, where it stood.
History of Monroe County, New York; With Illustrations
Descriptive Of Its Scenery, Palatial Residences,
Public Buildings, Fine Blocks, and Important Manufactories
published by J. B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1877