History of the Settlement of Steuben County, New York
by Guy McMasters, 1853
Excerpt from Chapter VII


At the organization of the county, all that territory which now forms the towns of Tyrone, Wayne, Reading, in Steuben County, and the towns of Barrington and Starkey, in Yates, were erected into the town of Frederickton. The name was given in honor of Frederick Bartles, a German, who emigrated with his family from New Jersey in 1793, or about that time, and located himself at the outlet of Mud Lake, at the place known far and wide in early days as Bartles' Hollow. He erected under the patronage of Captain Williamson a flouring and saw mill. General McClure says of him, "Mr. Bartles was appointed a Justice of the Peace. He was an intelligent, generous and hospitable man. His mill-pond was very large, covering about one thousand acres of land, and was filled with fish, such as pike, suckers, perch and eels, which afforded a great deal of sport for the Bath gentlemen in the fishing season. Such parties of pleasure were entertained by Squire Bartles, free of costs or charge, and in the best style.

We fared sumptuously, and enjoyed the company of the old gentlemen. He possessed an inexhaustible fund of pleasant and interesting anecdote. His dialect was a mixture of Dutch and English, and was very amusing."

Bartles' Hollow, in the days of Captain Williamson, was thought a spot of great importance. Mud Creek was then a navigable stream, and it was thought that the commerce of Mud Lake and its outlet would require a town of considerable magnitude at the point where Squire Bartles had established himself. In the speculating summer of 1796 the proprietor was offered enormous prices for his hollow, but he declined to part with it. In 1768 Mr. Bartles rafted one hundred thousand feet of boards from his mills to Baltimore. In 1800 he ran two arks from the same place, of which adventure the following minute was entered by the County Clerk, in Vol. I, of Records of Deeds:--

"Steuben County.--This fourth day of April, one thousand eight hundred, started from the mills of Frederick Bartles, on the outlet of Mud Lake, (Frederickstown,) two arks of the following dimensions:--One built by Col. Charles Williamson, of Bath, 72 feet long and 15 feet wide: the other built by Nathan Harvey, 71 feet long and 15 feet wide, were conducted down the Cohocton, (after coming through Mud Creek without any accident,) to Painted Post for Baltimore. Those arks are the first built in this county, except one built on the Conhocton at White's saw mill, five miles below Bath,, by a Mr. Patterson, Sweeney, and others, from Penna., 70 feet long and 16 wide, was finished and started about the 20th of March the same year.

This minute is entered to show at a future day the first commencement of embarkation in the (as is hoped) useful invention.

By HENRY A. TOWNSEND, Clerk of Steuben Co."

The success of Squire Bartles' arks produced as great a sensation in the county as the triumph of the "Collins steamships" has created in our day; but craft of this species have long been abandoned by our lumberman. Mud Creek has failed since the clearing of the forests, and the produce of the Mud Lake country seeks the eastern market by canals and railroads.

Among the early residents in the town of Bradford were Henry Switzer, Samuel S. Camp, Abram Rosenbury, Henry Switzer, senior, Thomas Rolls, Michael Scott, Daniel Bartholomew and Captain John N. Haight.

General William Kernan, of County Kavan, in Ireland, was the first settler in the part of the old town of Fredericktown, which is now the town of Tyrone. He settled in 1800 upon a lot in a tract of 4000 acres, which had been purchased of Low & Harrison, by Mr. Thomas O'Connor of the County of Roscommon in Ireland. Mr. O'Connor proposed to settle a colony of his countrymen on this tract. He himself lived for a time in a log-house on the hill by Little Lake, above the farm now occupied by Gen. Kernan. Two children, a son and daughter, accompanied him in his sojourn in the woods. The former is now Charles O'Connor, Esq., the eminent lawyer of New York City. A large number of Irish Emigrants settled on the O'Connor tract, but after a few seasons abandoned their improvement--being discouraged at the labor of clearing the land, and discontented at the want of religious advantages according to the practice of the Roman Catholic Church. Gen. Kernan alone remained on the tract.

Other early settlers of the town of Tyrone were Benjamin Sackett, Abram Fleet, Sen., Gersham Bennett, Thaddeus Bennett, Abram Bennett, Jonathan Townsend, Capt. John Sebring.

Elder Ephraim Sanford, Josiah Bennett, Solomon Wixon, Josiah Bennett, Joshua Smith, John Teeples, Simeon Sackett, John Sackett, Sen.., and John Woodard, were among the early settlers of the town of Wayne, in 1800 or 1803. It seems, however, that this township was settled several years before. Judge Dow, of Reading, says, "I think it was in the fall of 1791, I went to view land in township No. 5, second range, (now Wayne). At that time two families only were there, Henry Mapes and Zebulon Huff. I went to the same place again in 1794, and learned that Solomon Wixon, with a large family, two of name of Silsbee, two or three Sandfords and others had settled there."

Judge Dow settled near the present village of Reading Centre, in 1798. David Culver followed him in 1800 to 1804, or about that time, were William Eddy, Abner Hurd, Timothy Hurd, Simeon Royce, Matthew Royce, Reuben Henderson, Andrew Booth, Samuel Gustin, John Bruce and Samuel Shoemaker. Among others who settled about the year 1806, were John and James Roberts, Daniel Shannon, Caleb Fulkerson, Richard Lanning, George Plumer, and Andrew McDowell.

Judge Dow having been consulted by the writer of this sketch with regard to a supposed inaccuracy in the outline of Seneca Lake on an old map, gave him a few notes of the settlement of the country, which are as follows:

"I left Connecticut and came to the head of Seneca Lake in April, 1789, and stayed there, and at the Friends' Settlement until late in the fall, then after being away a few months, returned to the head of Seneca Lake in March, 1790, and continued to reside there and at the place where I now reside until the present time. The Friends (Jemima Wilkinson's followers) made their settlement in 1788 and 1789, but between them and the head of the lake, a distance of 20 miles, it was not settled till the time above mentioned (1798).

"The map represents the Seneca Lake as extending south to Catharine's Town. This is not correct. There were Indian clearings at the Head and at Catharine (as the two places were familiarly called) when white people came there in 1789. There was a marsh but a little higher than the level of the lake extending from the beach of the lake, up south, nearly to Catharines, and quite across the valley, excepting a tract of tillable land lying between the northern part of said marsh and the west hill, and extending south from the beach about one-half or three-fourths of a mile to a part of said marsh. This land was called the Flat at the Head on which David Culver and myself resided. This flat was the true locality of the Culverstown of the map and the village of Culver's of the book, anything to the contrary notwithstanding.

"The rains and the melting of the snow raised the lake some every spring about that time, (1790), and the greatest part of the marsh was covered with water. A stranger might possibly mark down the marsh for part of the lake.

"I saw Caleb Gardner in 1789, who said he lived at Big Flats, and understood from him that others had settled there. In the spring of 1790 I saw Col. Erwin at Chemung, who with one or two men was driving some cattle to his son's at Painted Post. The lands along each side of Catharine Valley were not settled, I think, till 1798 or 1799. People then came and settled, three, four, and five miles southeast of Catharine. This place was called Johnson's Settlement. On the lands west of the valley settlements were made probably about the same time or soon after.

"When I first came to Newtown Point as it was then called (now Elmira) there were but few houses in that place. There were six or seven on the road and at Horse-heads. Further on were two houses, but at that time I think they were not occupied. There was one house within about a mile of Catharine; there were two or three in Catharine, and two or three on the flat at the head of Seneca Lake. I am pretty sure these were all the houses that had been built at that time (April 1789) at Newtown, at the head of the Lake and between the two places."