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Landmarks of Tompkins County, New York

by John H. Selkreg, 1894; D. Mason & Co., Publisher

Chapter XVI
The Town of Danby

The reader of the preceding history of Ithaca in this volume has learned of the coming to that place in 1789 of the DUMONDS and YAPLES from Ulster County, and their primitive improvements on land to which they supposed their title would continue to be good and sufficient. In that supposition they were mistaken; for through the non-payment of taxes in Albany by an agent they lost their title, and in 1795 the party, consisting of Isaac and John DUMOND and Jacob and John YAPLE, formed some kind of a partnership agreement and pushed on into what is no the town of Danby and there took up farms. The partnership continued several years after the first settlement. Many others of the pioneers of the northern and northwestern parts of this town were also from Ulster county and vicinity, while many of those who located at what became the so called "Beers Settlement" at South Danby were from Fairfield county, Conn. The DUMONDS and YAPLES, undismayed by their discouraging experience in Ithaca, plunged energetically into the task of making new homes. They were met by numerous obstacles, of course, being forced to cut their way through the woods to the locality, to contract their own roads, and to build their long houses without the aid of neighbors. The tract where those worthy pioneers settled is included in the farms now or recently owed by John SEAMAN, James COMFORT, the widow of Henry YAPLE, and a son of David YAPLE. Several descendants of both the pioneer families are now residents in this county. Isaac DUMOND, son of John, was the first white child born in the town, August 12, 1795, and lived on the homestead to a venerable age.

The pioneers in the "Beers Settlement" district (South Danby) were Dr. Lewis BEERS, one of the very early physicians of the county, and his brother, Jabez BEERS, who came in from Stratford, Fairfield County, Conn., in the spring of 1797. They settled on the farms now owned by E. L. B. CURTIS and John HALL respectively. Mr. CURTIS is a grandson of Dr. BEERS. The doctor was accompanied by his wife and two indentured young men named William R. COLLINS (afterwards for many years a prominent citizen of Ithaca), aged sixteen years, and Joseph JUDSON, aged fifteen. The latter was a prosperous farmer of Danby.

Jabez BEERS had a wife and family, and his daughter named Harriet became the wife of John SCOTT, of Ithaca.

Dr. Lewis BEERS became a conspicuous figure in the early history of the county. He built the first frame house in the town in 1801. He was chosen the first justice of the peace of the town, receiving his warrant in 1807 from Governor Daniel D. TOMPKINS. In the same year he was appointed first judge of the Court of Common Pleas. In this office he was succeeded by his brother Jabez. The latter was also elected to the Assembly at a later date. Dr. BEERS was the first and only president of the old Owego and Ithaca Turnpike Company, assuming the office in 1812 and continuing until the road became a public highway in 1841. He was founder and first pastor of the "New Jerusalem Church," or Swedenborgian, which faith he adopted about 1813. After a long, honorable and useful life he died September 4, 1849, at the age of eighty-one years.

In the spring of 1805 Dr. BEERS returned to his former home and brought back his aged parents, who were cared for by him until their death. His father died in Danby, January 3, 1816, and his mother April 10, 1817.

In 1796 Elias DEYO became a resident of the town and for ten years was the only settler of foreign birth. He was a German.

David CLARK located in the Beers Settlement neighborhood in 1801, and Lewis BEARDSLEY in 1802, on the farm now occupied by Stockton B. JUDSON. Benjamin JENNINGS came in the latter year. Oscar JENNINGS was his son, and the late Benjamin JENNINGS his grandson. He was from Cornwall, Conn., and settled on the farm now occupied by the family of William BUCKLAND. Benjamin JENNINGS was a member of assembly in 1827 and 1837, and a prominent and useful citizen.

Deacon Hezekiah CLARK, John PUMPELLY and Philo HAWES came to the town in 1803, and Benijah TICKNOR in 1804. Abner BEERS, jr., came in 1804, and Nathan BEERS in 1805. In the latter year Joseph JUDSON purchased the farm which remained in the family many years.

Comfort BUTLER, Nathan and Seymour H. ADAMS, and David SMITH, with their families, came to the town in 1806 and became reliable citizens in the growing community. Seneca HOWLAND came in 1807.

Settlement in the town continued steadily, though not rapidly, until the war of 1812-15. Elbert CURTIS, M.D., came from Stratford, Conn., in 1809, and settled where his son, E. L. B. CURTIS, now resides. He later bought the Jabez BEERS homestead and lived there to 1857, when he removed to Ithaca and died there November 3, 1866, at the age of sixty-nine years. He was a prominent and useful citizen; was member of assembly in 1838, and held various town office.

Selick BATES and Charles WRIGHT settled in the town in 1812. The former removed to the town of Caroline; his daughter married Charles WRIGHT's son, Abraham.

In the northern and northwestern parts of the town, returning to the year 1804, we find that Thomas, John, William, Abraham, James and Samuel SWARTHOUT located there. They were from Ulster county, N. Y., became useful citizens, reared families, and still have many descendants in the town.

Peter DAVIS and his son William arrived in the same year (1804) and soon afterwards John MASTERSON, Spencer EATON and Jacob WISE. John MILLER came in 1805. John ELYEA, the pioneer of this name in the town, came in 1813.

Moses BARKER settled in the western part of the town in 1814 on the farm owned in recent years by his son-in-law, G. A. TODD. A few years later James BRIGGS settled on a farm about half a mile from West Danby post-office, and his brother Isaac located about a mile distant.

In the southern part of the town Moses BANFIELD settled in 1802 on the farm occupied in recent time by George J. BRATT. His son Isaac was a leading citizen of the town. Aaron BENNETT came to this part of the town in 1806, and Amos HALL, grandfather of Albert HALL, came about the year 1807 and settled where the widow of Albert now lives. Amos's sons, Leonard and Silas, followed their father hither two years later. The first named son was father of Albert.

Isaac JENNINGS came in from Saratoga county in 1815, settled where William SMILEY lived in recent years. Others who located in the town in later years, and prior to 1840 were Dr. Aaron TIBBETTS, who was a leading physician more than forty years; Simon LOOMIS, Jackson GRAVES, Elihu KEELER (father of Charles KEELER) and many others who will be mentioned further on.

The first birth in this town was that of Isaac DUMOND, son of John, which occurred August 12, 1795. Isaac lived in the town to a great age. The first death was that of Mrs. ROGERS, wife of Joseph ROGERS, who was a tenant of DUMOND's; her death took place about the year 1797.

The pioneers made early arrangements for the simple education of their children, as far as possible, and a school house was erected at the Beers Settlement about the beginning of the century, and within a year or two afterwards another was built in the DUMOND and YAPLE neighborhood. Joseph JUDSON was the first teacher. Some of the Danby children had attended school prior to this in a log school house in the town of Ithaca.

The organization of the town of Danby did not take place until February 22, 1811, when it was taken from the town of Spencer, Tioga county, and it was annexed to Tompkins county, March 22, 1822. On the 29th of April, 1839, a small part of the town of Caroline was annexed to Danby.

The first town meeting was held on the 12th day of March, 1811, and the following officers elected: Stephen BEERS, jr., supervisor; Uri HILL, town clerk; Nathan ADAMS, Aaron BENNETT and Benjamin JENNINGS, assessors; John YAPLE, Seymour H. ADAMS and Hudson JENNINGS, commissioners of highways; Jacob YAPLE and Stephen BEERS, overseers of the poor; Birdsey CLARK, constable and collector; Hudson JENNINGS, constable; Lewis BEARDSLEY, Hezekiah CLARK, John DUMOND and John YAPLE, fence viewers and damage appraisers; Hezekiah CLARK, pound-master.

It was voted at this meeting to "locate the town pound in the ensuing year on the corner of the section where it crosses the turnpike, one half of which to be on Esquire BEERS's land. Dr. Lewis BEERS agrees to build said pound at his own expense."

Following is a list of the supervisors of the town from the beginning to the present time; the list contains the names of many early settlers already mentioned, as well as later prominent residents of the town:

Stephen BEERS, jr., five years.			Miles C. MIX.
		Benjamin JENNINGS, eleven years.		Sherman MILLER.
		Elbert CURTIS.					Elbert CURTIS.	
		Jonathan B. GOSMAN.				Andrew TAYLOR, two years.
		Harley LORD.					Frederick BEERS.
		Benjamin JENNINGS.				Elbert CURTIS.
		Chester W. LORD, two years.			Eli BEERS.	
		Alexander GASTIN.				Andrew TAYLOR.
		Elbert CURTIS.					Chester W. LORD, two years.
		Eleazur TAYLOR.					Lyttleton F. CLARK, two years.
		Francis NOURSE.					William A. MANDEVILLE, two years.
		Gideon TUTHILL, two years.			Levi CURTIS, three years.
		Eli BEERS.					Elbert L. B. CURTIS, two years.
		Francis NOURSE, two years.			Josiah HAWES, eight years.
		Elbert L. B. CURTIS.				John E. BEERS, twelve years.
		Francis NOURSE.					Frank A. TODD.
		Frederick BEERS.				John E. BEERS, two years.
		Lemuel JENNINGS.				F. A. TODD. 1892-3.
		Elbert CURTIS.					Henry HUTCHINGS, 1894.
		Dioclesian A. MARSH.	

This town, as the reader has learned, was among the foremost to respond to the call of the country in the struggle for the perpetuation of a free government. It is also most commendable that the people upon the successful close of that great contest at once took steps to properly honor the memory of those who sacrificed or imperiled their lives for the good of their country. To this end the "Soldiers' Monument Association of the town of Danby" was organized on the 4th of July, 1866. The directors were Charles B. KEELER, president; E. L. B. CURTIS, Levi C. BEERS, John L. HANCE, and Rev. Warren MAYO. About $1,900 were raised by entertainments of various kinds, which was increased to $3,000 by vote of the people, and E. L. B. CURTIS, John L. HANCE and Josiah HAWES were given authority to negotiate for the erection of a suitable monument. The result of this noble action stands in a beautiful marble shaft twenty-nine feet high, which was raised with appropriate ceremonies. On it are the names and date of death of forty-five men who gave their lives in the war.

The town has always been chiefly a grain and stock growing district, and now ranks among the foremost in this respect. The farmers are, as a rule, well-to-do, and pursue their business on advanced methods. Some farmers are giving attention to milk production and a fine milk depot and ice house was built at West Danby in 1893.

Following are the principal officers of the town for 1894: Henry HUTCHINGS, supervisor, West Danby; William H. BAKER, town clerk, Danby; Frank D. SMILEY, collector, Danby; Jacob WISE, justice of the peace, Danby; Charles E. BRUCE, constable, Danby; Jerry DORN, constable, South Danby; Clarence H. SLOCUM, constable, Caroline Depot; Simeon D. SINCEBAUGH, constable, West Danby; Nelson C. WILLIAMS, commissioner of highways, Danby.

STATISTICS. - Number of acres of land in the town, as shown by the supervisors' report of 1893, 33, 286; assessed valuation of real estate, including village property and real estate of corporations, $625,254; total assessed valuation of personal property, $43,000; amount of town taxes, $1,331.79; amount of county taxes, $1,502.09; aggregate taxation, $4,339.09; rate of tax on $1 valuation, .0065. Corporations - D., L. & W. Railroad Co, assessed value of real estate, $8,000 amount of tax, $52; G., I. & S. Railroad Co., assessed value of real estate, $32,000; amount of tax (including ax on the company's telegraph line), $211.25; N. Y. & P. Telephone Co., assessed value of real estate, $3.25; W. U. Telegraph Co, assessed value of real estate, $150; amount of tax, $0.98; Ithaca Water Works Co., assessed value of real estate, $1,200; amount of tax, $7.80.

DANBY VILLAGE. - This village covers the site of the Beers Settlement on the old Ithaca and Owego turnpike, six miles from Ithaca. Here the first dwelling was erected by Elias DEYO as early as 1708. The more prominent early settlers in this vicinity were Abner BEERS, David CLARK, Hezekiah CLARK, John PUMPELLY, Hudson and Benjamin JENNINGS, Letis BEARDSLEY [sic Lewis BEARDSLEY*], Erastus BIERCE, Uri CLARK, and Stephen BEERS, several of whom have been mentioned. About the year 1806 Abner BEERS opened the first store here in a long building, since which early date various merchants have traded here.

The first mills in this town were erected by the DUMONDS and YAPLES, a saw mill in 1797 and a grist mill in 1799. They were on Buttermilk Creek on land that was undivided between the two families. The Elm Tree flouring and saw mills at Danby were erected by a stock company composed of Messrs. ELLIS, JOHNSON, BEERS and DE FORREST in 1853. About three years later the company sold the property to Thomas J. PHILIPS. He added steam power, and conducted the business until December 15, 1868, when the mill was burned. The site remained vacant until 1878, when FRAZIER & KRUM built the new mills; these were sold to W. R. GUNDERMAN in 1880. He successfully operated them until 1889, when they were again burned, and Mr. GUNDERMAN removed to Ithaca, where he operates a grist mill and general storehouse business.

The first post-office was established at Danby in 1801-2, at the residence of Dr. Lewis BEERS, who was appointed postmaster. In 1811-12 it was removed to the residence of Jabez BEERS, and about the year 1827 was removed to the village and Hudson JENNINGS was made postmaster. The present official is Henry BEARDSLEY.

The first public house in the village was kept by Deacon Hezekiah CLARK in 1811 in what was in late years the residence of Levi C. BEERS. Prior to that date Dr. BEERS entertained travelers at his house.

Henry S. BEARDSLEY and Charles OSTRANDER now carry on stores in the village, and the saw mill on the site of the old Judson mill is in the JENNINGS estate. T. H. HOWELL and Josiah HAWES formerly had stores here.

The Danby Rural Cemetery Association was incorporated July 1, 1871. Land for the cemetery was donated by E. L. B. CURTIS. A board of trustees has charge of the affairs on the association.

WEST DANBY. - This hamlet is situated on the Cayuga Inlet, and is a station on the Geneva and Sayre Branch of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. The first settlement here was made by Moses BARKER in 1814. The first dwelling was built by Jared PATCHEN, who owned the land but was not an actual settler. James GRIMES occupied the house as a tenant. John PATCHEN came to this locality in 1823, purchased a farm, and reared a family. He was father of Ira PATCHEN. William HUGG was a settler here about the year 1816. Ira PATCHEN built and opened a store about 1850, and carried on business more than thirty years. There has never been any manufacturing of account. A saw mill is located here which is now owned by John BANFIELD. The Novelty works, for the manufacture of yard sticks, sign boards, etc., are conducted by D. A. BEACH. Fairbrother & Co. have a store, and F. A. FAIRBROTHER is postmaster. A. J. TUPPER is the other merchant of the village.

SOUTH DANBY. - This is a small hamlet in the southern part of the town, the settlements in which have already been described. A post-office was established here many years ago, and Sarah JENNINGS is the present incumbent of the office. There is one store and a blacksmith shop here.

CHURCHES.- Religious organization followed very closely the early settlements in this town. The Congregational church at Danby village was first organized as a Presbyterian society in 1807, and continued as such until 1867, when it became Congregational in form and doctrine. The church edifice was built in 1820, but has been at various times improved and enlarged. The present pastor is Rev. J. R. JONES.

There was formerly a Baptist church in Danby village, but the building has recently been transformed into a town hall.

The Methodist church at Danby was organized as a class, with five members, in 1811, and incorporated as a society in 1832, during which year the house of worship was erected; it has been much improved at various times. The first pastor was Rev. Elijah BACHELOR, and the present one is Rev. J. R. ALLEN. The church was rebuilt about ten years ago at a cost of about $3,000.

The Methodist church at West Danby was organized in 1869, but a class had existed there many years earlier. The first pastor was Rev. E. G. W. HALL. The church was built in 1870. The present pastor is Rev. A. G. BLOOMFIELD.

The South Danby Methodist Church was organized as early as 1830, and was formerly a part of the North Danby charge. The church was built in 1836. The charge was separated from the parent church in 1843. In 1871 the church was extensively repaired. The first pastor was Rev. Peter COMPTON. The present pastor is S. D. GALPIN.

The Church of New Jerusalem. - This denomination was organized into a society May 30, 1816, in the old school house, under the name of "New Jerusalem Society of the County of Tioga." There were then sixty-four subscribers. On the 23rd of March, 1825, eighteen persons formed a society in this faith at Danby, under the pastoral care of Dr. Lewis BEERS. In the following April a church was begun on a lot donated by Dr. BEERS; it finished in November. The building has not been regularly used since 1866, and is now a barn. There were no regular services after 1866.

Christ's Protestant Episcopal Church was organized August 12, 1826, in the school house of District No. 2. The first rector was Rev. Lucius CARTER; the first wardens, Daniel WILLIAMS and Walter BENNETT. The church building was erected in 1834 and consecrated in 1836. The church is not now active.

The West Danby Baptist Church was first organized with twenty-seven members dismissed from the Spencer church for that purpose in 1821. This church was afterwards move to Ithaca. In 1823 the old Spencer church was divided into the First and Second Baptist Churches of Spencer, and the latter subsequently removed to West Danby. There the church building was erected in 1840. The present pastor is Rev. S. S. VOSE.

* Correction to what is believed to be a typo in the original.

Landmarks - Chapter XVII

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