Submitted by firstname.lastname@example.org. I transcribed about 75% of this uncopyrighted book, omitting several articles about farming societies like the Grange.
TOWN OF SHELDON
Historical Comments, Narratives and Summaries of Factual Events
Postrevolutionary, Development, Current
F.W. Kehl [b. 1868, d. 1953]
All references to: The Sheldon Historical Society, throughout this work are conditional, by virtue of the nominal change in the authors.
Strykersville, New York
Lithographed in U.S.A.
Edwards Brothers, Inc.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
It was a long-cherished hope that an associated citizenry would unite in a combined co-operative effort to revive and memorize in a compendious, quaint and homely edition, fitting the times and environments of the era, to which their descendants harken back with intense interest.
The rapidly decimating numbers of the pioneer settlers became increasingly apparent, and the void in our economy threatened to send graced memories to oblivion. It was then that the call for action became virile and an Historical Society was organized.
The author of this Treatise was elected President, and from there stems the source of this project. Our Society is inert, we have accumulated copy for a manual, but have no funds.
It is by this irony of fate, that at the sunset of life, this opportunity is seized upon, to save a worthy cause in private endeavor.
At this epochal turn of generations, we owe a debt to posterity, wherein we shall not fail them.
Pusilaninity is the thief of all time. [A section which I did not transcribe attributes this quote to President Cleveland, during a dispute between the US and England over the Panama Canal Zone]
Time and tide wait for no man.
The reactionaries, like in the case of Fulton's steamboat, are everpresent.
The tabling artifice is usually fraugt with partisan bias, and is received with suspicion.
On the heritage of a valiant ancestry we are steadfast in our adherence to the home, for which they lived and wrought and fought. Our comforts are rooted in the home, they are inseparable.
The modernistic transcurrent trend, is a roaming, homeless life, in which the intrinsic human values are never known. Let us build, not a house, but a home, founded on the loyalty of an ancestry with a valiant tradition and history, and avoid the luring pitfalls incumbent upon a transcurrent people.
There are biographical conditions which for ethical consideration are not compatible with or amenable to the promptings of history, and therefor must be relegated to the realm of tradition.
Although the region of which these pages treat, covering our township, is not known as having been particularly conspicuous, it has priority in the matter of settlement and early industry, and was contemporarily noted as a frontier outpost.
Our effort has been to facilitate a practical conception of the realities upon which our environments are a sequence, and to which is thus attributed a pertinent transcending significance.
The History of Sheldon as regards our purpose begins with the Advent of the First Settlers in 1804 who constituted a frontier settlement in the primitive wilds remote by scores of miles from dependable bases of supplies.
No phase of contemporary history dealing with frontier life is so inadequate, as is the portrayal of fact regarding privation and want, of which nothing short of living it, can convey a proper estimate.
It is to the founders of the institutions of our native township, and in recognition of their valorous deeds, that we dedicate this work, as a memorial to their memory, and as an expedient to emulate their example.
In presenting this work to a distinguished reading public, whose interests are ours, we recognize the responsibility of our trust. Our aim to maintain a truthful and kindly tone of presentation, was our fondest hope.
We bespeak for ourselves in return, the same frankness in evaluating the work, that permeated the sentiments of the narrators.
SHELDON HISTORICAL SOCIETY
On Feb. 22, 1927, an historical society was organized in the town of Sheldon, for the collection, preservation and publication of material for a history of the town of Sheldon. On Tuesday P.M. there was a meeting held in the Masonic Hall at Varysburg. F.W. Embt acted as chairman. The following officers were elected: President, F.W. Kehl; vice-president, W.D. Goodrich; secretary and treasurer, Mrs. George McQuilkin; historian, F.W. Embt; directors, Eli George, Mrs. Jennie Warner, Theodore Kirsch. The organization was incorporated. It is under the auspices of this organization that material has accumulated and copy prepared and typed, so that by community co-operation, the published Manual was anticipated.
SUPREME AUTHORITY [between the words, a triangle inscribed inside a circle]
We offer this insignia of the Eternal Triune God and Creator in solemn protest of the world-engulfing pagan cult of man's selfsufficiency, without dependence upon God, whom they so flagrantly ignore, while if God did not keep them and their mysterious faculties, functioning, they would not know that they are existing. The conflict of man with his Creator has manifested itself with varying intensity in former age. The consequences are known but not heeded. Let us unite to use our cultural progress in the interests of our welfare.
THE SOCIETY'S TRIBUTE TO THE UNNAMED PIONEER
We are listing a decimated number of pioneer settlers of each locality whom we are able to recall. We regret that we can not pay homage to the great majority by identification in name, but we will dedicate a page to their interests in our common cause and to commemorate their part in the pioneering effort and to compensate for our apparent neglect.
A movement was in progress in the 20ies of this century to organize a Historical Society in the Town of Sheldon, which originated and was promoted and sponsored by Miss Hariette Calkins, Editor of the Sheldon Democrat. She was interested in local historical research and was an accomplished and resourceful composer. To her must be given the credit and honor of having recognized the void in our industrial economy whose history threatened to lapse into oblivion.
Equally noteworthy and of importance is the aid and support given the movement by Dr. and Mrs. George McQuilkin, particularly Mrs. McQuilkin, who offered her car in furtherance of the cause of historical research. The society is indebted to her for her generosity and kindness.
Through the medium of The Sheldon Democrat, a meeting was called and the society was organized in 1927 and was incorporated. The state historian did his part well to help us, but we lapsed. No history was forthcoming, but an abundance of material for a volume has accumulated. Will we see it published? An extended and varied summary of events is the basis of our history. Reasoning from cause to effect and vice versa, it spontaneously gives a perspective of the whole, even better than written history. These are the attending processes from which we derive a true picture of the realties involved.
Historians are not born, nor are they made by appointment, but by experience, study and research.
A natural aptitude to discern and to memorize, is a pre-eminent attribute to achieve even a moderate success.
His opportunity to elaborate, within the realm of truth is his greatest asset.
History is an intangible thing created in the mind and founded in the natural and moral law. It is flexible and subject to error.
The preface is the blueprint of our structure. Through the course of years we have prepared many, none have been satisfactory. Our aim is high, our purpose sincere, none other will do in this turbulent age. A vicious cycle has hit the earth and is threatening to get out of hand. The world harmony is disrupted, its mechanism is in the throes of destruction. The majesty of the law is a dead letter and anarchy is the dreaded threat.
Human artifices to sustain selfsufficiency, endured only so long as to prove their utter futility. Human selfsufficiency never prevailed and never will. The word--"Agnostic" is now omitted from the dictionary because it is considered obsolete. But we know to our travail that we can get no further, because we are losing the earth from beneath us. The was that is now in the making will mark the telling tale. The Eternal God doesn't change nor do his Immutable Laws. Unless we, like the penitant Ninivites return to Him and obey His Laws, will we be spared.
After the elapse of 143 years since the first settlers set foot on Sheldon soil, and all pioneer settlers had long since passed on with traditions heading for oblivion, we are awakening to the call of our title page: "From whence do we proceed?" It has presently in the third and fourth generation become virtually impossible to do justice in an attempt to describe the adventure, deprivation, isolation and hardships endured by the first settlers in a primitive, heavily timbered forest. It must be experienced in order to be adequately appraised. The roaring, bawling ox-teams driven through fire, coal and flame to pile the burning timbers is a horrible memory.
To divide a bushel of corn in the center and hang it over the shoulder, carry it 5 miles to the waterdriven mill, was sweet in the thought that they had the corn and the bag.
Burial spots were marked with slabs from the fields. Hay was snaked in on skids. The cultivated crops were hand hoed, the clearing was done by the axe.
The equipment was all on a par. Any attempt to describe the situation would be preposterous. It is the purpose of recorded history to preserve human values and interests to posterity. The energy on the hilly and rocky farms of New England for two hundred years, transferred to the fertile lands of Western New York was the prelude to the conquest of the Great West. While Western New York rapidly developed into the granary of the country, her sons were surveying the western states. The marvelous effort and energy put forth in the rapid expansion and development of the settlement is the proof of their metal. No achievement in modern times can exceed their triumph. Theirs is the priority and is fundamental.
NARRATIVE AND SUMMARY OF THE PERIOD AFTER THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR TO THE SURVEY OF THE HOLLAND PURCHASE
At the close of the Revolutionary War large tracts of wild land were in possession of the State of New York, and in 1786 the state granted two tracts to Massachusetts to satisfy certain claims of that State; but retained her sovereignty over the ceded territory.
The largest of these tracts, known as the Genesee country, embraced the western part of the State and was designated by a line running south from Sodus Bay on Lake Ontario to Pennsylvania.
This line was called the "pre-emption line", because it was decided to allow the State of Massachusetts the right of pre-emption, or first purchase, of the land west of it. New York, however, retained the ownership of a strip a mile wide along the Niagara River.
In 1788 the State of Massachusetts sold to Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham and to others for whom they acted, its pre-emption right to western New York for $1,000,000. This sum was to be paid in certain securities of the state, which were then worth about one fifth of their face value.
In July of the same year Phelps negotiated with the Indians at Buffalo, for their interest and claim, (which descended to them by right of the crown of Great Britain), for the purpose of completing the title, and bought for $5,000 down and a perpetual annuity of $500 about 2,600,000 acres bounded on the east by the pre-emption line. The west boundary was a meridian line from Pennsylvania to the junction of Canaseraga Creek with the Genesee river, thence along the Genesee to a point two miles north of Canawagus village thence due west twelve miles, thence due north to the shores of lake Ontario.
The tract thus defined constituted the famous "Phelps and Gorham's Purchase."
Before Phelps and Gorham had half paid for the entire pre-emption right they had bought from Massachusetts, which comprised all that portion of New York west of the meridian which now forms the eastern line of Ontario and Steuben Counties, excepting the mile wide strip along the Niagara river containing some 19,000 square miles, the securities with which they were to pay had risen to nearly par, and finding that they should be unable to fulfill their contract they induced the State of Massachusetts to resume its right to the portion of its original claim which they had not yet bought of the Indians, and release them from their contract as to that part, leaving on their hands the tract since called.
Phelps and Gorham's Purchase, and bounded as above described. This agreement was reached on the 10th of March, 1791.
Two days later Robert Morris contracted with Massachusetts for the pre-emption right to all of New York west of Phelps and Gorham's Purchase. It was only after much difficulty and delay that Mr. Morris completed his title to the tract by buying out the interest of the Indians.
On the Phelps and Gorham's Purchase the Indians relinquished their claim as before stated for the sum of $5,000 and an annuity of $500, now they were not so easily dealt with.
In 1797, six years after the conveyance from Massachusetts to Mr. Morris was made an agreement with the Indians was reached by a council held at Geneseo n the month of September.
By this agreement the Indians retained eleven reservations, amounting to three hundred and thirty-eight square miles. Among them is the Gardean reservation, a part of which was included in the present town of Castile where Dehewamis, or Mary Jemison, spent fifty-two years of her life.
The conveyance from Massachusetts to Mr. Morris was made May 11th, 1791, by five deeds. The first covered the land between the Phelps and Gorham's Purchase and a line beginning twelve miles west of theirs on the Pennsylvania border and running due north to meet the northern border of the same Purchase two miles east and twelve miles north of Canawagus village.
The next three deeds embraces as many sixteen-mile strips, crossing the state north and south, and the fifth what remained to the westward of these. The trust covered by the first mentioned deed was what has been called "Morris's Reserve", from the fact that he retained the disposition of this section in his own hands when he subsequently sold all west of it. It included in Wyoming County the towns of Covington, Perry, Castile and part of Genesee Falls.
Its western boundary, separating it from the Holland Purchase, was the "East Transit" line, so called because it was run with a transit instrument in connection with astronomical observations. It is called the "east" transit to distinguish it from a similarly surveyed meridian passing through Lockport, which is called the "west" transit.
The laying down of this line was a slow and laborious operation. All of the summer and autumn of 1798 was consumed in running the first eighty miles of the transit meridian. The surveyor in charge of this work was Joseph Ellicott.
After Robert Morris had contracted with the state of Massachusetts for the pre-emption right to the tract which Phelps and Gorham returned to it in March, 1791, because of inability to fulfill their contract, and while the negotiations were in progress with the Indians, headed by the crafty Seneca chief Red Jacket to consummate a purchase of their interest, large areas were being conveyed to representatives of parties who subsequently constituted the Holland Purchase.
December 24, 1792, Robert Morris deeded to Herman Leroy and John Linklaen one and a half million acres of his lands west of the east transit line.
On the 27th of the following February, he gave a deed for a million acres to these gentlemen, and Gerrit Boon.
July 20th, 1793, he conveyed to the same three parties eight hundred thousand acres, and on the same day to Herman Leroy, William Bayard and Matthew Clarkson, three hundred thousand acres.
These gentlemen purchased this vast tract as trustees for a number of rich merchants of Amsterdam, Holland, who have commonly been spoken of as the Holland Company, and the Holland Land Company, though their was no corporation with either of those titles.
The immense estate acquired by them, being all of New York west of the east transit line except the Indian reservations and the State mile strip along the Niagara, constituted the Holland Purchase.
When the Indian title to the Holland Purchase had been extinguished by Mr. Morris in 1797, measures were immediately taken for the survey of the tract, so that it might be put in market, sold and settled.
Operations were directed from Philadelphia by Theophilus Cazenove, who was the first general agent of the Hollanders. He appointed Joseph Ellicott chief surveyor, and in the autumn of 1797 he and Augustus Porter, Mr. Morris's surveyor, as a step toward ascertaining the actual area of the purchase, made a tour of its lake and river front.
The running of the east transit line in the next year by Mr. Ellicott, as already related, was another step in the survey of the Holland Purchase, and at the same time eleven other surveyors, each with his corps of axmen, chairmen, etc., went to work at different points, running the lines of ranges, townships and reservations.
All through the purchase the deer were startled from their hiding places, and the wolves were driven growling from their lairs, by bands of men with compasses and theodolites, chains and flags, while the red occupants looked sullenly on at the rapid parceling out of their broad and fair domain.
The division of the land began by laying off of six mile strips, reaching from Pennsylvania to Lake Ontario, called ranges, and numbered from east to west, and dividing them by east and west lines into regular townships, numbered from south to north.
Each township was to be subdivided into sixteen mile-and--half squares called sections, and each of these into twelve lots three-fourths of a mile by one-fourth, containing one hundred and twenty acres apiece. After twenty-four townships had been surveyed on this plan, the subdivision was judged unnecessarily minute, and was so much so as to be often ill adapted to the surface of the ground, and thereafter mile-and-a-half squares composing a township were each divided into four three-quarter-mile squares of three hundred sixty acres apiece.
The price at first charged for the company's lands was $2.75 per acre, one tenth to be paid down. Subsequently the price was reduced to an average of $2.00 per acre.
In 1801 there were 40 sales, in 1802, 56; in 1803, 230; in 1804, 300; in 1805, 415; in 1806, 524; in 1807, 607; in 1808, 612; in 1809, 1160.
Nic. Minkel often helped me load at the feed mill but this time he was different. When he had the last bag placed on the high load he swung around and seated himself on the load. When farmers are loaded they want to move. Nic. knew that well, but that didn't concern him now. After a deep cough he said: "Frank, I won't live long any more." Then he related how the flood swept away his sawmill together with his desk and books and how some took advantage and denied their bills. He died shortly after.
In passing, I told Will Klein, how differently he was when I last saw him. Will related "That reminds me" story, saying. When he worked for me, one night, in a dream, he awakened all of us by calling: "Alphose George is coming! Gee, he's got a roush!" (Roush, German: Drunk, English). Nic. was a gentleman and the fact that he bore false witness against his neighbor, shows that he was dreaming.
In the summer of 187 an epidemic of Bloody Flux prevailed in this area, that was particularly fatal to children and emperiled the lives of adults and left its impress on the survivors. It baffled the medical skill of local talent and too late, to save all, did it become known, through medical aid summoned from without, that skillful applications of Castor Oil would cure the disease.
OLD ROAD SYSTEM
Since the arrival of the first settlers in 1804, for the enterim of one hundred years, the Town Law provided that the Highway Commissioner subdivide the highways of the township into districts, the freeholders of the districts to be assessed pro diem on the basis of their assessed valuation, with one day poll tax added for each, subject to the provision of the law. This system looked plausible and might have worked in the beginning, so long as it was a back-furrowing job, throwing both sides to the center of the road by means of the plow and ox team. But these were the preliminaries of road building. Now came the turnpiking. There was no road building equipment of any kind, excepting the plow and the hand dump-scraper.
The larger realty holder had the most days to work, it was in his interest to provide himself with equipment. For instance: a team and plow counted one day, the same as a man would. It was equally so with regard to team and scraper, team and wagon, etc.
How did it work out? The Pathmaster carried the official list of days allotted to each resident of the district and credited their work. The unworked days were returnable and collectable in cash. Naturally the larger land holders were in for a beating. They owned the only scraper in the district, and it was that scraper that moved every inch of dirt into the road embankment for generations. Their teams and men criss-crossed the turnpike to and fro holding and dumping scrapers, from morn 'til noon, from noon 'til night, while the Bourgers leaning on their hoes, turning an occasional sod upside down. In 1902 that sort of democracy came to a happy ending. Since the inception of the present system of highway improvement the taxes have trebled, but is not all chargeable to the highways, even if it were, none would wish the old condition of road improvement back again.
By the roadside more often named North Road was erected in the year 1930 by the State Education Department a tablet in memory of a distinguished notable. The tablet reads: Here stood a log house built in 1807, home of Ziba Hamilton, physician of Holland Land Co., surgeon in the war of 1812, Pioneer Settler.
At a regular meeting of the Town Board held Feb. 25, 1931, a resolution was unanimously adopted, designating the entire length of the highway running north and south through Sheldon in which the Tablet is erected to be named and known as Hamilton Road. Dr. Hamilton was well and favorably known far beyond the limits of his home town. At any rate, the Office of the Adjutant General at Albany, of the War of 1812, together with the Department of Education remembered him and honored him by erecting a tablet to his memory, while his fellow townsmen of another generation persisted in referring to the highway as North Road in spite of Tablet and sign. He was a large holder of real estate owning about one half the land from Route 20A to Center street. When the elder Martin Keem was foreman he employed 13 hired men.
Sheldon has a pardonable pride in having an authority as competent and widely experienced in the matter of choosing a location to live, progress and prosper, as Dr. Ziba Hamilton, in having preferred Sheldon from all of the select terrain if Western New York, aptly referred to as: "The garden of America." He died in 1854 and lies buried in Cemetery Hill, Sheldon, N.Y., Route 20A.
After the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 immigrants from a radius surrounding Luxemburg arrived in Buffalo. The countryside about the village at that time had no appeal to them in contrast to their rugged native homeland and they investigated further afield. It was in 1833 when the first immigrant, Peter Zittel settled in Sheldon, in the beautiful valley which subsequently was named Dutch Hollow, because of its exclusive German settlement. This is a misnomer because the settlers were German not Dutch. We conclude that the appelation Dutch which was so aptly applied for German could not be merely accidental. There were Dutch Flats, Dutch Grocery, Dutch Town, and verbally: "Your name is Dutch", "You are in Dutch", etc., was commonplace. This manifestation stems back to pre-Sheldon days. The Pilgrims from England founded Boston in 1620. Contemporarily the Dutch founded New Amsterdam at the mouth of the Hudson. This period comprised 150 years in the colonial days, prior to the revolutionary war. The Pilgrims were in the majority and gave the Dutch a pretty economic race to hold their own at New Amsterdam. They won control and named the town New York. We further conclude that the Dutch must have offered mighty disagreeable resistance in the attempt to hold the fort, because, even to this day whomever they (descendants of the pilgrims) don't like, is just plain Dutch.
SET OF RELATIVES
The Blue Light, Mount St. Mary Academy, Kenmore, N.Y. November-December, 1915
From the above publication we reproduce a paragraph which is of interest and significance
to a large group of Sheldon people. The paragraph read thus: "Margaret George has a very
interesting set of relatives. This conclusion was reached after hearing about them for the
unptieth time." If the High School Publications recognize the George family as interesting
relatives, their popularity is increasing. Besides, according to the assertion in this article,
they are letting themselves be heard from.
NICHOLAS BARTZ, SR.
When we say Nicholas Bartz, Sr. we mean the senior of four generations ago. He had worked as laborer in New York City and came to Sheldon in 1835. On his way out to Buffalo he was in a party of eight men walking to Sheldon. The roads were bad and night overtook them at Willink. On the eastern outskirts (about the present village limits) a large house was burning full blast. They proceeded on their way eastward 'til nearly midnight when they calculated that they must be in Sheldon where they stopped at a log house on the top of a short hill. There was no light and a deadly quiet prevailed. They wrapped at the door, there was no response. Mr. Bartz had acquired a bit of English while working in New York, so he wrapped again and called: "Where is Mr. George living?" Soon a candle was lit and a door opened. There were two ladies living there and they inquired about their way to Perie George's house. The lady faced to the west
and waved her hand westward, then turned to the south and waved southward. They expressed their sincere thanks as best they could and departed. The place presently is the home of Roy Metz. Mr. Bartz's expedition arrived at its destination. We know that he married in the George family and prospered.
On the most reliable sources now available, Perie George would have precedence in the order of priority as first arrival of the now widely disseminated George family. Circumstances indicate that he arrived in 1834. The exact date is of minor importance at this time. Other members of the family soon arrived, one of which is the principal in this sketch. Peter George (Brix Peter) lived in Humphrey's Hollow, had a large farm, was prominent and prosperous. His family was numerous. When he retired he lived at Sheldon and for pastime he shaved shingles. To advertise his enterprise he fenced his lot with shingle bunches. He liked to play cards, the rectory was opposite the street and he had an occasional game with the pastor to spend the evenings. To add charm to the entertainment the pastor placed refreshments by his side. Semiannually prior to the first of January and July Mr. George made a pilgrimage to Buffalo. It was the guess that he had his banking written to date. On these trips he carried a gallon jug. He improved the opportunity to ride with the pastor to E. Aurora where they took the train. On the way back, the pastor, without creating any suspicion, managed to pour one half of the contents of Mr. George's just into another jug which he had provided, and refilled Mr. George's jug with water. It ran along for some time, the pastor serving Mr. George with the
material poured from his jug. At length Mr. George casually remarked: "But my whiskey is better than yours!" The pastor looked sober and queried: "How do you make that out?" Mr. George's evidence was not shaken, he replied: "Mine isn't so caustic and it doesn't scratch so in the throat." The pastor in telling his friends about what happened, chuckled, saying: "He should pay for his whisky himself." He was uncle to the noted boxing champion, Ed. Don George.
The Arcade and Attica R. R. Corp. crossing the western tier of townships in Wyoming Co. and plying between the villages of Attica and Arcade has a long and laudable career dating well back to the century mark. It has witnessed the coming of practically every trunk line in Western New York save the Erie and the New York Central. It ranks favorably with the largest industrial enterprises in the agricultural county of Wyoming. It is owned by the community stockholders and locally it has political and civil support to the extent that their responsibility is not imperiled. This situation is favorable and bids well for its continued endurance. The county wide railroad has excelled all others in the point of settling claims for damages in their favor and the public is convinced that it is cheapest to beware.
Johnson's Fall in Dutch Hollow Creek could produce the energy of an enormous power plant if the waters could be preserved and spread over the entire year. There are three vertical falls in immediate succession, the lower having a height of 91 ft. The total height exceeeds that of the Niagara Falls. The enormity of the energy lost impresses itself upon us in periods of the rising creek when the roar of the waters over the falls is heard in a radius of three to four miles. A small but beautiful, naturally developed park and its primitive grass-covered lawn bids well for a tranquil rest in an outing trip of the urban tourist, in remote isolation and oblivion so easy accessible and almost at his doorstep.
On the slopes of tributary of Buffalo Creek in the vicinity of Strykersville lies a column or embankment that simulates a two track railroad embankment in regard to its straight lines overall. It is 350 ft. long running due north-east-south-west. Its incline is about 30o. Its north terminus gradually loses itself in the rising slope, its south end terminates more abruptly on the level near the creek. It is covered with trees somewhat below average normal size. The embankment is at least 10 ft. high. Is is believed the ridge is of artificial origin.
Topography and Soil Formation
The saying "on the hills of Sheldon" is not well taken. It stems from hills traversed en route to Sheldon, particularly to the west. It has a better than average mileage of straight roads crossing at right angles, than any township n the surrounding area. On the contrary the domain is particularly fortunate in having little if any tillable land that can not be readily worked with modern machinery.
In the area of the township lie three major creek valleys, fertile and beautiful and Buffalo Creek constitutes part of the west border. The soil formation is generally of a gravel and loam mixture in the valleys and a gray loam on the uplands. By the aid of modern methods of farming, its agriculture is in a high start of cultivation. The chief agricultural pursuit is dairying, with horses, hogs and poultry interspersed as sidelines. The crops are in the main the various varieties of hay, silage corn, the common small grains, beans, peas and potatoes.
Maple sirup [sic] and sugar production is a major enterprise.
In the year 1801 the Holland Land Co. had established an office in Batavia and recorded 40 sales. The settlement up the Tonawanda Valley progressed rapidly and in 1804 230 sales were recorded, among them was that of Turner in the Cayuga Valley Town of Sheldon on the Indian Trail from Portage to the Ohio Valley. Turner carried on an active trading business with Portage and made 7 ox-team round trips, fording all streams the first winter carrying produce. Turner's Store became a frontier outpost and for 30 years this pioneering development progressed with leaps and bounds. The people were exclusively descendants of the Pilgrims moving westward in the Post-revolutionary exodus to the famous Genesee Country.
A town map is not essential in a book of this nor does it merit the place of importance so aptly ascribed to it in its premise, because topographically the scenery is in evidence and needs to support, so are the highways and as to names and locations the continuous changes in ownership render the map impractical and therefor it isn't worth the consideration. All ownerships are traceable b name in the County Clerk's Office down to and including the first settlers.
The extended and varied summary of miscellaneous events is the basis of our history.
Reasoning from cause to effect and vice versa, it spontaneously gives a perspective of the whole situation, even better than written history could decscribe.
Among the early arrivals from abroad was Nicholas Straub, he was a progressive leader and the founder of Straub's Corners now renamed Sheldon. He got at variance with a certain school teacher and after a hand to hand fight the teacher died, but not immediately. It is not now known what charges were preferred against him. (This data is available in the Supreme Court records.) He had a trial and was released. No sentence was imposed. The Straub family remained in business for considerably over 100 years. The granddaughter, Mrs. Pauline Victor sold the hotel property in 1945.
A NOBLE PEOPLE
In preparing our summary we have valiantly tried to hold the fort, however, in the matter of tracing the original settlers, we are in the position of a stalemate. We have no clue, excepting the files of their purchase and transfer.
The good people have departed for richer pastures, leaving no address. We will remember that they fought the battles which freed us from foreign oppression, and upon that victory, they set out to the unexplored wilds to make the country inhabitable. We wish them Godspeed in their memory.
Among the antiques of civil architecture in the rural areas of the country was the quaintly artful covered bridge, crossing streams and creeks in one span to marvelous lengths. Its open pegged plank trellis on either side carried the bridge and the load of the crossing vehicles. The well braced roof construction kept the supporting trellis rigidly in place. It protected against leaking roofs and spared from destructive washouts, they endured the ages. Of the hundreds of them in use, never one failed under its load, when in good repair. Sheldon had none, while in our neighboring town to the north they were very popular.
From the chapel you view the St. Cecilia's School class rooms. You are arrested by the sight, you pause to study and compare. Yes it is true. Of the twenty-five or thirty present, all of the same size, appearance, and stature, suggests a school of twins. We readily admit that this is a debatable question, but there can be no argument on the contention that they all are cousins.
More than three score years ago, some woods were still unfenced, a cross fence at the front served to keep the cattle out. Spotted trees in the line designated the boundaries. Such a primitive area of woodland lay to the west of Cattaraugus Road. Beetree and fur hunters vied with the elements in their depredations to create a jungle.
Two brothers of school age did their bit to clea up and make fuel wood. An old, kindly, dignified gentleman approached them in the thicket, walking with a cane. He engaged the boys in a friendly conversation and praised them for having the greater part of the woods so well cleaned up. On departing he said: "My name is Jeffry Thomas, I did some dentistry work for your father." He was then nearly five miles, bee line, from his home He was the son of one of the earliest settlers.
Among the first arrivals to succeed the settlers, was Christopher Kelver. He bought a farm on Big Tree Road and entered into the live stock dealer business. Four sons inherited their father's propensities and were dealers in various localities, one being an influential vendor in the East Buffalo Yards. Town Supervisor Henry Kelver, a grandson, living on the homestead is carrying on the local industry which his grandfather founded. In our day, the motor truck and cattle rack abound, the long droves of cattle, sheep and hogs that obstructed the highways are no more. In reviewing the era of the drover period, during the greater part of a century, the bulk of the live stock trade was in the hands of Kelver's.
For three score years the intersection at Center and Hamilton roads was named Straub's Corners. Mr. Straub arrived with the first immigrant settlers and owned all the land at the corners north of Center road. He also erected two hotels with dance halls and stabling facilities, and three dwellings. He donated six acres of land which is the site of St. Cecilia Church Property.
To some, the settlement was known to be Straub's Corners, to others it was Sheldon. To strangers it was a nuisance. If he called "Sheldon?" the answer was! "Yes!" His comeback! Where is Straub's Corners? You say: "This is Straub's Corners!" The time spent to clear up the disgusting complex was lost to you and the stranger, while Sheldon was a moot question, because it didn't date to say that its soul (name) was its own. Among the immigrant settlers are the following: Straub, George, Popp, Lereaux, Schmidt, Sonith, Logel, Faber, Slater, Nimiger, Bauer, Buecher, Backe, Armbrust, Conrad, Bartz, Fontaine, Leforte, Sloand, Stemper, Hyman, Beaver, Minkel, Jack, George Hirsch, Schiltz, Reiter, George, Metzger, Niederbrum, Rengel, Metz, Calteau, Kehl, Simon, Conrad, Almeter, Schiltz, Scheitler, Reding, Musty, Deheck, Kirsch, Stadtfeld, Bettendorf, Erion, Banco, Quast and Miller.
From the original settlers of this section we can list but eight: Hamilton, Barron, Brown, Castle, Person, Sparks, Noyes, Patterson.
TYPICAL SETTLER VILLAGE
More than the other rural villages in Sheldon, Varysburg was the real type of the rank and file of them as to youthful life an vigor. It had the advantage of priority, since the settlement proceeded up the valley from Attica, and the fertile valley of its location was immensely in its favor. Industry and the handicrafts thrived and prospered.
Down the decent of the decades, the neighborliness, contentment and spirit of community life, of the early constructive period, has never again been approached. With our bow in recognition of the achievement of the early settlers, we offer apologies from our best effort in venturing to name a few: Turner, Vary, Scoville, Thomas, Parker, Hoard, Ward, Cawkins, Persons, Trull and Beck.
Immigrant settlers of Varysburg and vicinity, whom we can recall: Wolf, Bauer, Nevinger, Glor, Embt, Barnes, Welker, Bye, Caughran, Knab, Hoffour, Noel, Baetzold, Ripstein, Rapp, Zehler, and Corp.
Johnsonburg may be designated the small twin sister of Varysburg and lies in the same valley two miles upstream. The settlement developed contemporarily with Varysburg and has the same creditable social and economic early history. The early settlers can be traced to name and location in the records of the Holland Land Company: From our limited list, we quote: Johnson, Humphrey, Tozier, Barber, Briggs, Royce, Hoy and Kohler.
Immigrant settlers of Johnsonburg and vicinity, whom we can recall are: Zehlor, Youngpeter, Bauer, George, Serve and Weber.
The history of Strykersville has much in common with that of Varysburg so far as concerns entity and community settlement, but Varysburg as settled first. It lies in the Tonawanda Valley and its business tendencies lean somewhat eastward, especially in the matter of the County Seat, while Strykersville is situated in the Buffalo Creek Valley and its business in the main is westward. While in the old days Varysburg was at least on a par, the industrial era may credit Strykersville with easier and shorted roads to the great factory centers. Among the settlers ins this sector we list: Stryker, Warner, Stanton, Hall, Case, Richardson, Demonjot, Hyman, Castle, Kuster, Clapp, Reisdorf, Herrmann, Metzger, David, Bennion, Miller and Kreuter.
In the early period of development, Sheldon Centre held its own well compared with other local settlements. In the near radius were four shoemakers, two tailors, two blacksmiths, two wagon makers, one tinsmith, one butcher, three stores and two hotels. Later was added, one cheese factory and a large garage structure built of cement blocks. Concentration of industry and mass production have displaced the rural shops to the last vestige and all crafts and trades are spontaneously scrapped. Whatever your skill, in any craft, is of use only in the repair shop. The Community Repair Shop is the only future country factory.
We give the names of immigrants from the locality of Sheldon Centre: Perry, Metzger, Clement, Shier, Becker, Leveque, Martin, Heintz, DeBuse, Marshal, Dorshide, Fugle, Musty, Deheck, Kirsch, Shuler, Reno, Lewis, Logel, Jungers, Loures, Kibler, Hatwas, Reiter, Kalmes, Trauscht, Jacoby, Calteaux, Hantz, Reinhardt and Gutenberg.
The name Humphrey is well and favorably known in our county and far beyond its limits, on account of the extended banking system operated by them, with headquarters at the County Seat.
In the Cayuga Valley to the south of the Indian Trail, a settler named Humphrey staked his tent, contemporary to the arrival of Turner, Hoard, Thomas and others, and this section of the valley, in distinction of that downstream was named Humphrey's Hollow, while further down, the valley came temporarily into national prominence, as: The Beautiful Valley of Folsomdale, childhood home of Mrs. Grover Cleveland, First Lady of the Country.
Mrs. Orange Tozier was a Humphrey, daughter of the pioneer, and their enterprise at the intersection of Center Road is now known as "Toziers". For this subdivision we can name but these pioneers: Humphrey, Tozier and Barber. Of early arrivals we quote: George, Kirsch, Klinch, Perry, Kemp, Naswa, Francis George, Emlinger, Petrie, Becker, Lambert, Clair, Zehler and Zook.
In the vicinity of Harris on Route 20A we recall the names of pioneer settlers in narrated instances as follows: Diamond, Borden, Harrington, Person, Dalyrimple. Early immigrants from abroad: Keem, Moyer, Erisman, Dumas, Boise, Folk, Gonnker, Kelver, Smithley, Stillinger, Schwabel, Glaser and Kinsinger.
The first immigrant to come to an exclusively yankee settlement in Sheldon was Peter Zittel, grandfather of Fred Zittel living on the homestead. He arrived in 1833. Names of immigrant settlers in Dutch Hollow follow, to wit: Zittel, Worst, Gerhardt, Veit, Goebel, Rehorn, Halbbauer, Winter, Dumas, Ess, Ziegler, Merlau, Heinz, Weber, Weidig, Swyer, Kunz, Dellinger, Popp, Baker and Botalo.
One the bank at the roadside of the farm presently owned by Henry Logel stood a log house which was the boyhood home of Frank Glaser, the formerly widely known brewer of Strykersville. He, together with three brothers served in the Civil War and was seriously wounded. During the course of the war, in various engagements, all of his brothers fell in action.
After the close of the was he made several trips to Baltimore to purchase surplus war stock in the line of field equipment, blankets and mantels. He married into a prominent family and acquired by purchase the hotel and ballroom opposite the church property at Sheldon. Several years after, the long horses tall barn near by took fire and with it, the hotel was destroyed. Mr. Glaser now took over the Demonjot Brewery at Strykersville, owned by his Father-in-law.
Not many years intervened when a new brewery and hotel were erected, which in its location on a gracefully rising summit, with its unique architectural design and copula, was a landmark that would grace any town. There was but one small brewery in competition and apart from that, the whole countryside was served by the Glaser Brewery. Horsedriven city delivery was not in evidence.
The fire hazard is a definite risk, and if the policy lapsed it is indefinitely compounded. This happened in the instance of the new brewery. From the Insurance Agent who had written the expired policy, we have this first hand written version: It was a Sunday afternoon, when I was sitting at my desk typing policies. I was facing a window which gave me a plain view of the brewery some 40 rds. Away. Suddenly I saw a cloud of smoke emerging from the roof of the brewery. I knew the proprietor had notice of expiration of the policy, but I had no bid to ernew, which he agreed to do if he didn't go elsewhere. At my arrival at the scene of the fire, I soon learned that the renewal was yet pending.
In Sheldon there are three distinct George families, that are no more related to each other than they are related to the Lloyd George family of England. They are native from three different souvereignties of Europe, France, Belgium and Germany, and their relation has nothing in common, excepting the name.
What is a real George in one family, is not of the same species in the others. As far as the few rest of us are concerned, we are satisfied to let them thrash it out among themselves.
SMALL CAUSE FATAL EFFECT
Subsequent to the close of the Civil War there lived in Humphrey's Hollow, young people, who had three sons in the family. In the autumn, after the most pressing work was arranged the husband went to work in a hopyard at Byron.
In the course of time, while cutting hops, he had the misfortune to inflict a slight abrasion or injury in the skin of his leg with the knife. The wound gradually healed, while at the same time, it also developed a small bunch; this in turn became irritant. He came home and consulted a local physician. The doctor examined the enlargement silently, and without warning, suddenly lanced the tumor. He thereby severed an artery. He then bound the leg at the thigh and departed. They could not locate him 'til the third day, and during all this interim the patient suffered the most excruciating tortures. When he returned the leg was dead to the bandage. He amputated it. The most unfortunate victim died in twenty-seven days.
That American Democracy is real, has one looming earmark which the world cannot deny, and that is its surrounding respect for others rights, which is inherently observed, and practiced to a nicety. In hardly another country is the sereneness and assurance, born of good will, so pronounced as in out country. The spirit of overlordism in many foreign lands has corrupted respect for authority; the moral law, and even common decency is outraged sometimes to a nauseating degree.
We know that this is not a perfect world, but of it we enjoy the best.
SETTLERS. DEPOT AREA
George, Streicher, Kibler, Romesser, Davis, Halpin, George, Cluney, Humbert, Hanley, Lorang, Perry, Schwab, Klein, Becker, Bardo, Brill, Bergdol, Serve, George, Jungpeter, Minkel, Bravo, Perry, Gebel, Wilkie, Schwab, Leonard, Dominese, Murphy, Becker, Riter, Reisdorf, Perl, Fugle, Dominese and Harman.
Bauer, Victor, Jungers, Pasch, Hoard, Bardon, Corp, Troll, Kibler and Wittman.
PERSON'S CORNERS. (Turner's Store)
Tanner, Persons, George, Almeter, Goungers, Victors, Felten, Dickes, Logel, Roup, Smith, Gebel and Simon.
Thirty years after the advent of the first settlers, immigrants from Europe appeared on the scene. The appelation is a vague generality, and leaves a wide range of nationalities as possibilities for their native country. It is a peculiar incidence, however, that all came from an area, comprising various sovereignties, which was the region of the Holy Roman Empire in Central Europe two thousand years ago. Their seats of government were variously at Treves, Aix-la-chapelle and Brussels. At Treves (Trier) there remain some Roman structures of masonry well preserved and in use. This would indicate a civilization of two thousand years duration for the genealogy of Sheldon's immigrant settlers. Some boast, but, O, horror, Rome fell. No peoples outside of christendom were more relevant to the principles of true philosophy than were the ancient forbears of our own.
WHAT WE CHERISH
To the memory of the cultural and ethical standing of our forbears, we offer a reprint of an obituary written by a casual friend, one of the many, not
known for literary attainments: Correspondence.
Apr. 13, 1888
Today we have interred Mr. Anthony Deheck on St. Cecilia's Cemetery. It was the largest funeral procession that has yet been here.
Mr. Deheck was born Jan. 28, 1835, a native of Bewingen, Luxemburg, from whence he immigrated with his parents in 1853, shortly after he was awarded a teacher's diploma at the normal school at Luxemburg. He followed his profession and taught school here for many years. In 1862 he married Miss Mary Kirsch, native of the belgian province of Luxemburg.
Consecutively, he held the office of town clerk for 15 years, which speaks for his reliability and competence. He leaves the mourning widow and eleven children, the oldest 25, the youngest 3 years of age.
Deheck was Luxemburger throughout, a man of honor in the full sense of the word.
He was provident to his family and a distinguished citizen.
The community extends cordial sympathies to the bereaved family.
The congenial printers anticipated a substantial supplement in the nature of a glossary to the work, in order to stress and to emphasize the originality of the text, which has a place and a purpose. It relates realties, essentials and facts, however rudely and crudely presented, which give a true perspective of our economic development.
We may be ever so deficient in format and brilliant presentation of material, but in the matter of veracity and fact we yield no quarters.
At the conclusion of the work we are faced with an unsolved problem in the question of priority in foreign immigration. Roswell Turner the first settler arrived in 1804. History records that Peter Zittel was the first immigrant settler in 1833. This is not corroborated by the evidence. It is a historical fact that the influx of immigrants to Western New York began with the completion of the Erie Canal in 1826. On account of its importance, I will here narrate as follows: On June 12, 1927, I as President of Sheldon Historical Society, accompanied by Mrs. Dr. George McQuilkin, Secretary called on Nicholas Keem in the interests of historical research. He said, his father Martin Keem Sr. while blasting in the Erie Canal had the misfortune of fracturing a leg, whereupon he came to Sheldon for asylum and care. This would indicate kinfolk. Furthermore, the incident happened before 1826, when the canal was in operation.
The George genealogy records Perie and Joseph to have arrived in Sheldon in 1833. No one individual has ever claimed priority as first immigrant arrival.
The presumption is, there is none, and that the first arrival was not singular. The official records of the Holland Land Company offer nothing in the premise of residents, but recorded actual transfers by title deed.
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