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Landmarks of Tompkins County, New York
by John H. Selkreg, 1894; D. Mason & Co., Publisher
This town lies upon the western border of Tompkins county, south of Ulysses and north of Newfield. The surface rises to a mean elevation of from 500 to 700 feet above the lake and is diversified by rolling slopes and level tracts. The soil is principally a gravelly loam adapted to grain and grass growing. The town contains 23, 086 acres, of which nearly or quite 20,00 acres are improved. The principal stream is Five Mile Creek, which has its rise in the northwest part of the town and flowers southeasterly, receiving the waters of several smaller streams, and in the southeast part enters a deep gorge over a precipice, forming one of the many beautiful cascades in the region, called Enfield Falls. Above the falls the ravine presents many scenes of great natural beauty, and its wild and picturesque scenery has commanded the admiration of the many who have visited it.
The first settlement of Enfield was about the beginning of the present century, several years after white pioneers had begun to making of their rude homes within the limits of the other towns of Tompkins county. Ithaca, Trumansburg, Jacksonville and Goodwin's Point in this immediate vicinity had each been settled before a pioneer penetrated into what finally was taken from Ulysses to form the town of Enfield. In 1798 Jabez HANMEER settled on the south line of the town of Ulysses but it was not till 1804 that John GILTNER pushed on father into the forest and located on lot 45 on what has been known as the John HORTON farm. He removed elsewhere a few years later.
Judah BAKER became in 1804 the first permanent settler of the town. He came from Coxsackie, Dutchess county, NY with his wife and seven children, three horses and wagon, and traveled westward by the usual route until he reached Fall Creek near Ithaca. Leaving his family there he pushed ahead to find the site of the wilderness home. Proceeding some distance up on the inlet he turned westward and chopped a wagon-way three miles to his destination. There he made a little clearing, built a hut, and then returned for his family. They all arrived in June, 1804, their whole fortune as far as money was concerned consisting of $11. His first dwelling was on the site first occupied by J.M. BAKER, his grandson. Enfield Center is situated chiefly on the large tract at one time owned by Mr. BAKER. Judah BAKER lived in the town until his death in 1851, at the age of 88 years.
While the building of a large log cabin was in progress in 1806, a young man named COOPER was killed by a falling log; this was without doubt the first death in the town. It was in this old log barn, which was standing in recent years, that Elder Ezra CHASE preached for many years before the existence of meeting houses.
In 1806 while Mr. BAKER was in quest of a stray cow he heard the sound of an ax-a sure indication that there was a white man at one end of the halve. Following the sound he came to a clearing where he found Ashbel LOVELL and his family, who had lived there about a year. Mr. LOVELL had settled on the farm occupied in recent years by David JOHNSON, now owned by Wm. WALLENBECK. He was a good citizen and his descendants still live in the town.
"Applegate's Corners, " so called, was settled in 1805 by John APPLEGATE, John WHITE, and Peter BANFIELD. John APPLEGATE opened the first tavern at the Corners in 1807; the first school house was built in 1809. A post-office was established under the name of APPLEGATE, and Joseph TIBB is postmaster and conducts a store.
Johnathan ROLFE came in from South Amboy, N.J. in 1806, with his wife and four children and settled on the farm afterwards occupied by youngest son, Jonathan; this place is now owned by Squire B. L. ROLFE. In the same year Gilbert LONGSTREET settled in the west part of the town; his daughter married Lewis H. VAN KIRK, father of Leroy H. VAN KIRK, now county clerk.
The VAN KIRK family has long been a prominent one in the town. Joseph VAN KIRK was the pioneer and settled here very early. He had a son, Lewis H. who was a cattle dealer and drover, and was sheriff of the county 1852-1855. His widow is still living in Ithaca with her son, LEROY H. (See personal sketch in a later pages of this volume).BEACH came in about the year 1804; they settled on lot 62, where David PURDY located in 1827. this lot like many others of the military lots, was the subject of litigation, and the title was finally given to David PURDY and his heirs. Isaac BEACH moved after a few years to the farm where Silas HARVEY lived, and John removed to OH.
Samuel ROLFE came to the town in 1807, locating at Applegate's Corners; he was justice of the peace many years.
James BAILEY and James RUMSEY, the former from what is now Romulus, came in 1806 to the south part of the town. Mr. BAILEY had served in the war of 1812 and settled where his son, Daniel, afterwards lived, now occupied by his son Edwin. Mr. RUMSEY had lived in Scipio a year, going there from Orange County, and in the fall of 1805 came to Enfield with his sons, John and James, cleared a piece of ground sowed wheat, and returned to Scipio. In the spring of 1806 he came back with his family and built a log house where his son George now lives.
The early milling for the people of this town was done at Ithaca and for a number of years the need of a grist mill was severely felt. In 1812 Benjamin FERRIS built a saw mill above Oliver RUMSEY'S house, which was the first saw mill in town. In 1817 Isaac RUMSEY, a brother of James, came in and built a grist mill at the falls on the site of the present mill.
In the fall of 1809 two brothers, Timothy B. and Squire J. NOBLE, came from Pennsylvania to look at some Enfield land which had been purchased by their father. In the following spring they and their father (John) and mother came in and settled on a tract of 400 acres on the south side of what has been known as "Noble Street." The tract was divided equally among the four.
Pioneer work was begun along the southern border of the town in 1809 by Amos and Gilbert J. OGDEN, John COOPER and Reuben D. LYON. Isaac CHASE was a settler at Enfield Center as early as 1809, living there in a log house; as was also James NEWMAN. Nathaniel, so of the latter, kept a tavern there before 1812. David THATCHER settled at "Kennedy's Corners" before 1812, and John TOWNSEND located early on the site of "Bostwick's Corners." Andrew BOSTWICK had lived at Port Byron and bought Townsend's farm at sheriff's sale in 1820. His Andrew began mercantile trade with Oliver WILLIAMS. William L. and Herman V. BOSTWICK of Ithaca are sons of Orson. (See history of Ithaca and biographical sketches.)
F.J. PORTER came from New Hardford, Oneida county, in 1814, and settled where he still lives, and in the same year John SHEFFIELD settled where he remained the rest of his long life. Samuel HARVEY came from New Jersey and kept a tavern in the town for many years. He was father of Joseph and Silas HARVEY, to whom he gave 240 acres of land. They have descendants in the town.
Jesse HARRIMAN, who is described in the history of Trumansburg as a very early settler there (1792), came into Enfield in 1819-20, located first near the center and built a saw mill. He afterwards moved to Five Mile Creek where H.T. HAVENS now lives, and lived there with his son Lyman. He died in 1866 at the great age of 95 years. Wayne PAYNE, the first supervisor of the town, lived in 1819 where John HETHERINGTON lived in later years, now occupied by his son Frank, and in the same year John SUMMERTON came in and settled where he passed most of his long life. Charles WOODWARD came to the town in 1822.
In 1825 T.S. and J.B. WILLIAMS came from Middletown, CT, and the former opened a store at Applegate's Corners, the latter acting as clerk in 1826 T.S. WILLIAMS purchased what was known as the Beekman lot and there built a saw mill which was operated by ox-power. In 1827 they removed to Ithaca, and in the history of that town will be found proper mentioned of their later lives and their descendants.
Jervis LANGDON the late wealthy businessman of Elmira, was a clerk in Enfield Center about 1831-32, first in Ira CARPENTER's store and afterwards a merchant in the firm of LANGDON & MARSH. He then removed to Ithaca where he was in trade of a time before his removal to Elmira.
Among the more prominent citizens of the town in later years was COL. Henry BREWER, who came in from Ulysses, where he had located in 1839. He was enthusiast in agricultural matters and instrumental in the introduction of more extensive clover-growing in the town. He was father of William H. and Edgar BREWER, and is deceased. Edgar BREWER occupies the homestead. Col. Henry BREWER was a member of assembly in 1850.
Many other persons and families who have contributed to the growth and prosperity of the town are properly noticed in Part III of this work.
We cannot consistently follow the settlements of the town further, nor hope to name all who have been conspicuous in transforming the primitive wilderness into the present prosperous agricultural district.
This memory of their labors for their posterity lives after them and to their great honor. Personal sketches of many prominent families of the town will be found in a later part of this work. The town in essentially an agricultural community, manufacturing operations never having been important and mercantile interests only such as would suffice for the people. The course of events has continued upon a quiet and even way until the war of 1861-65 which drew from the inhabitants many of the young and old who went forward to the aid of the government. The town sent out 107 volunteers and their self-sacrificing deeds were honorable to themselves and productive of good to the cause for which they fought.
The town of Enfield was erected from the southwestern part of Ulysses on the 16th of March, 1821, and received its name from the town of Enfield, in Connecticut. The records of the town down to the year 1845 are lost.
Following are the names of principal town officers for the year 1894:
Statistics - The report of the board of supervisors for the year 1893 gives the following statistics; number of acres of land, 22,007. Assessed value of real estate, including village property and real estate of corporations, $531,493; total assessed value of personal property, $42,200. Amount of town taxes, $3,356.64. Amount of county taxes, $1,235.87. Aggregate taxation, $5,832.93. Rate of tax on $1 valuation. .0102. The Town has fifteen school districts besides the joint districts.
Applegate's Corners took its name from John APPLEGATE, who built and kept the first tavern there in 1807, and the first school house in the town was built a little to the north of the Corners about the year 1809. A small mercantile business has been carried on there from the beginning, and some of the men who later on became leaders in business in the county first started here. Among these were Josiah B. and T.S. WILLIAMS. The first road laid out in the town was from these corners southwesterly to the farm where Nicholas KIRBY lived in recent years; the road is now unused. Joseph TIBB now keeps a store here and is postmaster, the name of the office being Applegate.
Besides the post-office at Applegate, there are two others in the town - Enfield Center and Enfield Falls. At Enfield Center is a pretty little village, where Charles WRIGHT, William H. RUMSEY and George LORD are merchants. John G. WORTMAN, now the undertaker of the place was for many years in mercantile business here, and rebuilt Wortman Hall from the old Presbyterian church. Samuel D. PURDY, now a farmer, was former merchant.
Enfield Falls in the southeastern part of the town, is a hamlet centering around the grist mill, on the site where the first mill was built. R.S. HALSEY has the mill, and Charles BUDD is postmaster; there is at present no mercantile business here.
CHURCHES. - The Baptist church of Enfield was formed in 1817, at the house of ELDER John LEWIS, and comprised 26 members. Services were held at the house of Jonathan ROLFE and later at the Woodward school house in the south part of the town. In 1842 a house of worship was built at Enfield Center at a cost of about $1,300. The present pastor is REV. T.F. BRODWICK.
In 1821 5 persons instituted the Christian church of which Elder Ezra CHASE was the first pastor; he was succeeded by Rev. J.M. WESTCOTT. The church was built at Enfield Center many years ago. H.L. GRIFFIN is the present pastor.
The Methodist church of Kennedy's Corners was the development of a class which was formed at the North school house in 1844, with Elias LANNING was leader; it was at the first under the charge of the Jacksonville church; but later under the church of Enfield Center. The church edifice was built in 1848.
The Methodist church of Enfield was recognized a separate charge January 19, 1835. Rev. Joseph PEARSALL was the first pastor. Prior to the date class meetings had been held in a barn at Bostwick's Corners, and in other barns near by. On the 3rd of June, 1835, a lot was bought of Andrew BOSTWICK for $50 and a church erected upon it. On the 13th of March, 1876, it was determined to remove the building to Enfield Center, which was done and the building was repaired at a cost, including the new site, of $3,200, and on June 20, 1876, the church was dedicated. the present pastor is Rev. J.H. BRITTON.
In about the year 1831, Rev. William PAGE, who was then filling a pulpit as stated supply in Ithaca, visited Enfield and became instrumental in organizing a Presbyterian church, which was fully effected under the care of the Presbytery of Cayuga, February 14, 1832. The society has been several times changed to other Presbyteries, as they were organized. On the 28th of February, 1838, after several others had seven the church, Rev. Warren DAY was installed and remained until 1844, when he was succeeded by Rev. Moses JEWELL. A meeting house was finished at Enfield Center in 1835-5, which is now used as a public hall. The society disbanded many years ago.
Thank you Norma Tanner for transcribing these records into digital format.
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