HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF VICTOR.
IN 1789, under the name of Bloomfield, the territory of the town now known as Victor, was first organized by competent authority and without dispute as to right of sovereignty and jurisdiction. However, there was an earlier occupancy of this particular region than that accomplished by the settlers under the Phelps and Gorham titles, for reliable records furnish the information that here was the Seneca village known as Gan-da ga-ro, although of the time of its founding we have no knowledge. In 1656 the Jesuit father, Chaumonot, visited the locality, but some doubt has been expressed regarding the exact location of the village at tnat time, for the Indians were not only migratory in their personal habits, but frequently changed the location of their villages. In 1677 and ten years later the village was on Boughton Hill, one mile directly south of the village of Victor, and contained, according to Greenhaigh, about 150 houses. In 1669, Galinee, the associate of La Salle, described Gandagaro as a large plain, about two leagues in circumference on the edge of a small hill, and surrounded with palisades. It was this description that aroused a feeling of doubt as to the time the village was founded. Denonville found some kind of a work on the hill north of Victor village, and evidences of a small village have been discovered here, but the weight of testimony tends to show that Gan-da. gan was south of the great hill. This Gandagan, alias Gandagaro, was the “St. James” founded by the Jesuits about the middle of the seventeenth century, and afterward discovered by the Moravian missionaries. It was also a chief seat of the Senecas and the residence of the sachem who presided over the grand council of the tribe. In 1687 Denonville, the French governor of New France, made an expedition against the Senecas and destroyed the village. However, this subject is treated at much length in one of the earlier chapters of this volume, to which the attention of the reader is referred for greater detail; and the brief observations we have here made are only introductory, and for the purpose of showing that the earliest history of this locality was fully as interesting as that of later years.
By an act of the Legislature passed January 27, 1789, Ontario county was created, and provision was also made for the formation of jurisdictional districts for the purposes of organization and government. One of these districts was called Bloomfield, and included all that is now East and West Bloomfield, Mendon and Victor. The town last mentioned, the subject of this chapter, was set off and separately organized May 26, 1812; and although the early history of the town was made while it formed a part of Bloomfield, that fact will be disregarded and and the town treated in the same manner as if No. 11 in the fourth range was an original creation.
Pioneer and Early Settlement.— All authorities concede to Jared Boughton the honor of being the first pioneer settler in what is now Victor. Enos Boughton, brother to Jared, was a clerk - for William Walker, ths principal agent for the surveys and sales of the Phelps and Gorham Co. Enos purchased township No. 11, fourth range, from the proprietors, paying therefor twenty cents per acre for the land, the money being furnished by his father, Hezekiah Boughton, and other members of the family. In the spring of 1789 Enos and Jared Bough ton came to Canandaigua, and soon afterward visited the recently purchased township, in their journey following the old Indian trail. In the extreme south part of No. 11, they built a small cabin and made other preparations for a permanent residence in the then wilderness region. In June following, Hezekiah Boughton, jr., and Jacob Lobdell arrived at the cabin, bringing with them cattle and implements for household and farm use. After making improvements and clearings, and harvesting the season’s crop, all these pioneers, except Lobdell, returned to the east for the winter. In February, 1790, Jared Boughton and his family set out upon the journey to their future home, and after many noteworthy incidents, and some hardships, they safely arrived at their destination on the 7th of March, and gained the distinction of being the pioneer family of Victor.
The Boughtons were a prolific as well as adventurous family, and after their surname the historic Boughton Hill itself was named. Hezekiah Boughton, the father, with his son Seymour and daughter Theodoria, came to the town in the fall of 1790, and settled in the “hill” neighborhood in a locality afterward called “Turner’s Hill.”
Jacob Lobdell, who was about eighteen years old when he first came to this locality, became the owner of a hundred acre farm by purchase from the Boughtons, and he married the daughter of Levi Boughton, and was also the sire of a large family. He was the first supervisor elected for Victor, and was otherwise prominent in town affairs. He died in 1847. Hezekiah Boughton in 1792 built the first framed house in the town, which he put to use as a tavern, in which occupation he was the pioneer. He died in 1798, and was succeeded as landlord by one Dickinson. Jared Boughton left the town in 1799, but two years later returned, and remained until his death. Frederick, son of Jared, was the first child born in the town, the date being June I, 1791. Claudius Victor Boughton, child of Hezekiah, jr., became a prominent man in the town, and after him the town was named.
Having mentioned at some length the facts connected with the settlement by the Boughton family, it is proper that there also be some reference to other early settlers in the township. We have noted the fact that Enos Boughton purchased the entire township from the Phelps and Gorham proprietary, but of course he did not remain absolute owner for a great length of time. The lands were sold to various purchasers, each of whom became in a measure a pioneer, or at least an early settler; therefore, for the purpose of preserving a record of all such persons and families, we may appropriately name them, but without reference to date of settlement or locality of their respective first purchases of land. The list is as follows: Elijah Ingersoll, David Lusk, Asahel Boughton, Jirah Rowley, James Upton, George Low, Dinah Brooks, Joseph Rowley, Lora Davis, Thomas Ingersoll, Joseph Thrall, Elisha Coon, Isaac Marsh, De Forest Boughton, Silas Pardee, Solomon Turper, Nicholas Smith, Timothy Williams, Samuel Gillis, Jeremiah Hull, Thomas Hawley, Jabez Felt, Harry Hart, Eleazer Boughton, Jared Boughton, Lucy Boughton, Jacob Lobdell, Urana Willard, Erie Hawley, John Hughes, Nathaniel Turner, Isaac Root, Elisha Brace, Peter Berry, Elisha Williams, Jesse Scudder, Israel Simmons, Joseph Brace, Nathaniel Boughton, Solomon Griswold, Johanna Marsh, Claudius Victor Boughton, Isaac Hathaway, Reuben Parmele, Jonathan Smith, M. O. Dickinson, Alice Boughton, Abraham Boughton, Ezekiel Scudder, Ira Seymour, jr., Ebenezer Bement, Ezra Wilmarth, Reuben Brace, Thos. Beach, Asahel Moore, Abraham Brunson, Abner Hawley, Wm. Jackson, Seymour Boughton, Andrew Colton, Henry Bement, Simeon Parks, Silas Thayer, Harry Boughton, Sr., John Brace, Gershom Wilmarth, Joseph Perkins, Peter Turner, Erastus Ingersoll, Enos Gulls, Asa Root, Samuel Perkins, Abijah Williams, Jabez Hart, Rufus Dryer, Seymour Boughton, jr., Asahel Lusk, Edwin Bement, Samuel Rawson, Silas Barnes, Manley Hawley.
These names represent not only the proprietors of the lands of the township upon its
subdivision, but represent also pioneers, and in many cases the children and wives of pioneers, in whose names titles were given through feelings of generosity and for convenience; and it is quite probable that names of persons are mentioned who were not early residents of Victor, but who were land owners for purposes of speculation, for of some of those named there is little or no record ex- cept as holders of title. However, of some whose names are above referred to there is a record of settlement, and also we may state that the town had a few pioneers who are not named in the list of proprietors.
Asa Hecock settled in the town in 1790, and was the first postmaster; also an early tavern-keeper, and at one time a side judge of the courts. Abijah Williams also settled in Victor in 1790, first in the north part, but moving later on to the southern part of the town. Nicholas Smith settled in 1790; Ezra Wilmarth in 1796; Reuben Parmele, an early and prominent Presbyterian minister, in 1798; Elisha Brace in 1793. In the same connection may also be mentioned the names of Josiah and J abez Morehouse, Dr. Thomas Beach and Elisha, Herman, Joseph, Dr. Joel, and Reuben Brace, all of whom were early settlers and identified with the development of the region. Those who have been named in this connection were pioneers in the south part of the township, in the locality later known as School District No. 2.
In the eastern part of the town is the hamlet now called East Victor, which was originally named Scudderville, after Ezekiel Scudder, who built here the first permanent mill in the township. The locality has also been called Freedom The pioneers of this district (No. 4) were Abraham Boughton, 1791; Thomas Hawley, a pioneer saw-mill builder; Otis Wilmarth, builder of an early grist-mill; Elijah Griswold, who had a carding-mill as early as 1800; Levi Boughton, settler in 1790; N. 0. Dickinson, tavern.keeper; Samuel Boughton, shoemaker; James Felt, distiller; John M. Hughes, carding-miller. In the same locality also were early settlers Samuel Drowne, Eleazer Boughton, Nathan Jenks (merchant), James Barnhart, Cornelius Conover, Asahel Moore. In the southeast corner of the town Solomon Griswold made the first settlement, remaining only a short time, and giving way to Isaac Wheeler. In this neighborhood also were Ebenezer Stone, wheelwright and handy man at any trade, and William Barber, said to be a famous hunter.
The west and southwest portions of Victor were not settled until about twenty years after the eastern and southeastern sections, and a number of the settlers here were from the Mohawk valley country. Jonathan Culver came in 1801; Increase Carpenter in 1808; Roswell Murray in 1810; as also did Stephen Ellis and Elston Hunt. Murray’s wife was sister to Brigham Young, the Morman leader. Other early settlers in this locality were John and William Ward, James M. Campbell, Abijah Covill, Ezra Wilmarth, Samuel Dryer, James Wilmarth, Deacon Sheldon, and James Potter.
In the northwest part of the town is located the railroad station and post-village called Fisher’s, and so named in honor of Charles Fisher, who settled here in 1817. However, it was not until the completion of the railroad and the establishment of a post-office that the name was regularly applied to the station. Irondequoit Creek has its course in this part of the township, consequently the locality became desirable for the purposes of both farming and lumbering. The result was in the founding of a settlement at an early day and the starting of numerous saw mills along the stream mentioned. Asahel Lusk was an early settler here; Elisha Coan was an early corner, and built a saw-mill; Richard Brunson had a saw-mill and also a distillery, the latter as early as 1818; Richard Hayes was proprietor of a grist-mill; Jonas Allen built a saw-mill in 1814, and a fulling and carding-mill in 1817. Among the other early settlers in this immediate locality we may mention the names of Gregory Hill, Joseph and Barzilla Woolston, Asa Gaskill, and David Barrett, while in the same general region, and a little farther east, the pioneers were Joseph Rowley, Simeon Parks, Eleazer Boughton, Jonathan Smith and Isaac Simmons. In the extreme northwest of the town dwelt pioneer Abraham Mattison, who built the first saw-mill on Irondequoit Creek. A little later David Lyon built both saw and grist-mills (1820), and in 1825 Erastus Hughes operated a fulling-mill. John Earle and Samuel Moore were also early settlers in this locality. East of the section just referred to, and in what afterward became District No 7, the early settlers were Capt. Jirah Rowley, a pioneer of ‘District No. 8, who served in the War of 1812—15, and was captain of the Victor militia company. In this neighborhood also lived at an early day Ichabod Town, the cooper; Allen Bearmore or Barmour, Asa Root, De Forest Boughton, John Gould, and Squire Fox, the latter being noted for his native ability as a lawyer in justice court.
The northeast part of Victor was settled very early, when we consider its comparatively remote location. The first improvement here was made in 1797 by James Upton and Jabez Hart, and in the next year there came pioneers Isaac Marsh, the first tanner; Jirah Rowley, who soon moved to the north part of the town; Abraham Bliss, John Cline, and Joseph Trall came in the same year, while among the later early settlers were Timothy Wilson and John Rose, the latter a local preacher of the M. E. Church. John and Timothy Lane settled about 1800 in the extreme eastern part of the town, and in 1802 Jeremiah Richardson began an improvement in the northeast corner.
District No. 1 and Victor Village.— In the central part of the town is located the large school district known as No. 1, and within the limits thereof is the attractive village of Victor. The location of this district was generally favorable to early settlement, but it so happened that its pioneers were quite extensive land owners, consequently the number of early settlers was small. About where the depot is now located dwelt pioneer Peter Turner, and north of him was Isaac Root. Israel Blood settled in the northeast corner of the district soon after 1790, while in other parts the pioneers were Joel Hart, Samuel Burgman, Samuel Rawson, and Michael Brooks, the latter a tailor by occupation. The village site was occupied and owned by Capt. Abner Hawley, whose residence, and also that of his son James, were the only buildings standiffg in 1798. James Hawley kept a tavern, and was the pioneer in that line, and was succeeded in business by Rufus Dryer, who came to the town in 1792, and became a man of note in local affairs. He was prominent as a landlord, and built and conducted the Victor Hotel, one of the landmarks, in name at least, of the village. Enos Boughton was the pioneer merchant, and was followed in that line by William Bushnell. Other early business men of Victor may be briefly mentioned, among them Bushnell & Jenks, Giles Arnold, Thomas Embry, Alfred Gray, merchant, 1817, succeeded by T. M. Boughton; John Turner and William Turner, shoemakers, 1826; Stephen Collyer, wagonmaker, 1816; David Stout, hatter; Wm. T. Roup, harnessmaker; Enos, Samuel and James Gillis, tanners, established 1810.
For many years there was a feeling of friendly rivalry between the residents of districts Four and One, for each had an ambition to be the more important center. Scudderville, or East Victor, possessed the most desirable water-power, while Victor was the natural center, at which the principal highways terminated. The latter gradually ac-. quired the greater population, and East Victor maintained its early manufacturing supremacy.
The completion of the Auburn and Rochester railroad in 1840, added much to the prosperity of Victor village, although the station is half a mile distant from the business center. The post-office was established at the village soon after 1810, the first postmaster being Asa Hickox, succeeded by William Bushnell, the latter serving twenty years, and being succeeded in 1835 by Wm. C. Dryer. In 1892 the Lehigh Valley Company completed an extension of their road through the center of the village, thus affording additional shipping and traveling facilities to the people, though it must be confessed that this improvement has made no apparent increase in manufactures.
Within the last score of years the people of the village have realized the necessity of having a corporate existence, which should in a measure separate the municipality from the township. To this end an incorporation was effected during 1879, and the newly elected trustees held their first meeting on December 31. These trustees were James Walling, Josiah Upton, Albert Jacobs and William R. Townsend, the latter of whom was elected president of the board. The first clerk of the village was F. W. Edmonds. The corporation includes about one square mile of land, extending about half a mile in each cardinal direction from the business center. The trustees at present are Theodore
M. Norton, Albert Bailey, John M. Ladd and William A. Higinbotham. Mr. Norton is president. The village clerk is Gilbert Turner. The population of the village is about 8oo inhabitants.
Although one of the small municipalities of the county, Victor numbered among the oldest trading centers of the region. James Hanky opened the way to trade by starting the tavern here, and was later on followed in the same pursuit by other worthy citizens, among whom we may recall the names of Eleazer Boughton, Rufus Dryer, Asa Hickox, John M. Hughes, George W. Dryer, Wm. C. Dryer, Harry Peck and others. Rufus Dryer and N. O. Dickinson were early millers, while Enos Boughton and William Bushnell were the first merchants. The stone store was built in 1834. The frame school-house was built in 1816, its first teacher being Melancton Lewis. The principal general merchants in the village at the present time are A. Simonds’ Sons, successors to A. Simonds & Sons, and William B. Gallup. F. E. Cobb is the local druggist, Walling & Brace, the tailors, while the present incumbent of the post-office is D. A. McVean.
About 1870, William C. Moore opened a private bank at Victor, ran it about ten years and then failed. He was followed in business (more successful in results, however,) by Parmele, Hamlin & Co., and in 1889 Norman A. Wilbur purchased the Parmele interest, and the firm of Higinbotham & Wilbur was formed. The members of the firin are William A. Higinbothani and Norman A. Wilbur, both men of worth and integrity, and each interested in the welfare of the village and town.
At the New York Central station is a large and well equipped flouring- mill, which was built in 1876 by Amos Scramling. In 1885 this property, was purchased by the present proprietor, E. S. Berry.
In 1816 the first frame school-house was built in the village, and as has been stated, Melancton Lewis was its first teacher. In the village, both before and after the incorporation, educational affairs have received deserved attention from the trustees of the district, and a good school building and excellent teachers have always been provided. In 1883, at an expense of about $15,000, the trustees of the district caused to be built the large school-house which now adorns the village.
The Herald is the name of a newspaper published at Victor village, under the sole proprietorship of Wm. W. Gillis. The Herald is an independent paper, devoted to the interests of the county in general and of Victor in particular. It is the only paper published between Canan.. daigua and Rochester, or in northwestern Ontario county. The paper is In all respects a worthy and enterprising publication, and deservedly enjoys its large circulation and a good advertising patronage.
The pioneers of Victor were not wholly unmindful of the spiritual welfare of the community, and at a very early day provided for religious instruction according to the New England custom. They first acted as a united people, and secured the services of a minister of the gospel to conduct services for the benefit of all the inhabitants, and a little later on (1804,) raised by contribution enough money to purchase a lot and build a meeting-house. This was known as the “Proprietors’ Church,” from the fact that nearly all the then land owners of the town contributed to its erection. At length, as the population increased, each denomination prepared to conduct services according to the rules of the church favored by it, hence withdrew from the use of the union ejifice and built for themselves. In another part of this chapter will be found the names of the contributors to the Proprietors’ Church.
The First Presbyterian Church of Victor is the outgrowth of early meetings inaugurated by Rev. Reuben Parmele as early as 1798, although the life of the society from the time of its origin has been one of many vicissitudes. Mr. Parmele began holding Congregational meetings in 1798 at the request of the inhabitants of the town, and on the 10th of February, 1799, a society was organized with twenty members. In January, 1828, a majority of the members determined to adopt the Presbyterian form of church government, which resulted in a division of sentiment in the society. However, in 1832 the factions were reunited and an independent Congregational church was organized, and was so conducted until March 8, 1858, when a Presbyterian government was adopted, and the “First Presbyterian Church of Victor” was formally organized, and thenceforth superseded the older society. The first church edifice of this society was built in 1837, at a cost of $3,500, and was substantially enlarged and repaired in 1844, and again in 1860. The parsonage was built in 1868. The pastors of this church since its original founding have been as follows: Reuben Parmele, Philander Parmele, Ebenezer Raymond, Jabez Spicer (supply), John Taylor (supply), Richard Kay, Jarius Wilcox (supply), Charles E. Furman, Charles Merwin, A. V. H. Powell, C. Waterbury, C. C. Carr, Wm. H. Webb, G. P. Nichols, Henry T. Miller, W. B. Marsh, Robert Ennis, Thomas E. Babb, C. W. Backus and Charles Noble Frost. the latter, the present pastor, having been installed in November, 1889. The church membership numbers 197 persons, and the Sunday school has 200 pupils.
The Methodist Episcopal Church.— The history of Methodism in Victor dates back to the early years of the century, and to the primitive meetings occasionally held by Joseph JewelI, Amos Jenks and James Kelsey, which resulted in the formation of a class in 1807, followed by a permanent church organization. The first meetings were held at convenient places, one of which, the Ladd school-house, was especially devoted to the use of the society. In 1820 a small church edifice was built, and so far completed as to be dedicated in August, 1821, although it was not entirely finished until 1829. It was enlarged in 1832, and five years later the society purchased a parsonage. The large edifice superseded the old church in 1870, and was completed during the following year, and dedicated June 15. The church has a present membership of about 220 persons, a Sunday-school with 100 pupils, and is under the pastoral care of Rev. Richard W. Copeland.
The First United Universalist Society of Victor was organized by the compact signed by its members in 1834, although Universalist teaching and preaching was conducted in the town as early as 1825, under the ministerial labors of Wm. J. Reese. The early meetings were held in the M. E. and Proprietors’ churches, the latter of which afterward became the property of the Universalist society, and was used by it until the erection and dedication of the large brick edifice in 1857. Universalism in Victor had a beginning as humble as any other of the town’s institutions, but continued to grow and spread until it became one of the leading churches, both in members and influence. The pastors, in the order of succession, have been as follows: James Cook, S. W. Fuller,
L. L. Saddler, Olin Ackley, Geo. W. Montgomery, Stephen Miles, Daniel R. Biddlecome, Kneeland Townsend, James Cook, J. R. Johnson, Charles S. Skinner, Thos. Bartholomew, Thos. Whitcomb, W. W. Dean, Charles D. Fluhrer, Rev. Goodenough, Thomas Borden, Rev. Peck, Stephen H. Roblin, G. L. Leland and Charles Legal, the latter being the present pastor, who entered upon his duties July i, 1891. The church has 100 members, and the Sunday-school about 125 pupils.
St. Patrick’s Church at Victor was an out mission attached to Palmyra, from 1850 to 1857, and was attended by Fathers Kilbride, Walsh and Casey. In 1857 East Bloomfield received a resident pastor, and Victor was made one of its out-missions, being attended during the next four years by Father P. Lee. In 1859 the church was built. Father Wm. Hughes succeeded Father Lee, and in 1882 the Victor church was given a resident pastor, the first being Rev. Angelo Lugero, who was the successor to Father Hughes. On October 20, i888, Rev. J. J. Donnelly was appointed pastor. In St. Patrick’s parish are 170 families, numbering about 875 persons.
The Episcopal Church, or mission, at Victor village was erected in 1873, and named” Church of the Good Shepherd.” It was consecrated in September, 1874. The parish has but few families and the church ever maintained a struggling existence. It has no regular rector, being supplied with occasional services by clergymen from other parishes.
In an earlier part of this chapter we have referred to the early settlement in the locality where is now the little hamlet called East Victor, which was originally known as Scudderville. Among the villages of the town this place has acquired little importance, except in connection with early settlements to which we have referred. The New York Central road passes half a mile south of it, and the Lehigh Valley is still nearer, yet East Victor remains about the same in business importance. During the greater part of a century this has been a milling locality, but the present industry in that line is substantially confined to operations at the Winans Mills.
Fisher’s Station we have also referred to, and to the early mills in the northwest part of the town. At the station at the present time the business interests are the grist and saw- mills of Kingsley Brownell, the general store of George E. Prosseus, and potato storage of C. W. Ford & Co., the latter an industry of much note.
Town Organization.— On the 26th of May, 1812, the town of Victor was formed from the still older town of Bloomfield, and in October following the inhabitants held a meeting and determined to call their new formation “Victor,” after and in honor of Claudius Victor Boughton, who had rendered great service to the people in the early events of the war then in progress. The first meeting of the freemen was held April 6, 1813, and these officers were elected: Supervisor, Jacob Lobdell; town clerk, Eleazer Boughton; assessors, Nathaniel Boughton, Ezra Wilmarth, and Sellick Boughton; commissioners of highways, Ezekiel Scudder, Elisha Williams, Joseph Brace; overseers of the poor, James Upton, Rufus Dryer; constable and collector, Solomon Griswold; poundmaster, Joseph Perkins.
Schools of Victor.— In 1790 the inhabitants of the Boughton Hill locality built a school house, it being the first in the town. The East Victor neighborhood had a school before 1800, and District No. 8 had one in 1798. Indue time the township was divided into districts and school accommodations were provided for each. There are now fourteen districts in the town, three of which (Nos. 11, 13 and 14) have no school-houses, hence are joint districts with others. The reports for the year 1892 inform us that the school census is 688 children, and that the value of school property is $21,650; that there are eight frame, one brick, and two stone school buildings; that seventeen teachers are employed, to whom is paid annually $5,637.22, while the amount of school moneys received from all sources, for the year mentioned, was $9,504.80.
Succession of Supervisors— Jacob Lobdell, 1813—14; Andrew Colton, 1815; Jacob Lobdell, 1816—18; Jared Boughton, 1819—20; Jacob Lobdell, 1821; Eleazer Boughton, 1822—23; Samuel Rawson, 1824; Jacob Lobdell, 1825; Samuel Rawson, 1826—28; Nathan Jenks, 1829—30; Orin Miller, 1831—33; Henry Pardee, 1834—35; Samuel Rawson, 1836; Jacob Lobdell, 1837; Samuel Rawson, 1838; Azariah Bickford, 1839; Henry Pardee, 1840; Joseph Rawson, 1841; Thomas Embry, 1842; Henry Pardee, 1843; Thomas Embry, 1844; Lauson Dewey, 1845; Wm. C. Dryer, 1846—48; Peter S. Bonested, 1849; Wm. Ball, 1850; Lauson Dewey, 1851; Levi B. Lobdell, 1852—53; William S. Clarke, 1854—56; Josiah Upton, 1857—58; Lauson Dewey, 1859—67; Wm. C. Dryer, 1868; James Walling, 1869—77; Gilbert Turner, 1878—79; Bolivar Ellis, 1880—82; Marvin A. Wilbur, 1883—86; Stephen Van Vorhis, 1887; John Colmey, 1888—89; Wm. B. Osborne, 1890—91; Willis D. Newton, 1892—93.