A Genealogy of the Barnum, Barnam and Barnham Family

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A One-Name Study for the BARNUM/BARNHAM Surname



Notes for Polly BARNUM


From the History of Niagara County, New York (1878) comes the following information about the Town of Hartland and its settlers and early residents. The names of several Barnum and Southwell ancestors are mentioned.

Early Settlers. The first settlement was made in this town in 1803, by John Morrison, David Morrison, Zebulon Barnum, Jedediah Riggs, Isaac Southwell, and Daniel Brown. In 1805 Abel Barnum and Oliver Castle located in this town. Castle settled nearly two miles southwest of what is now known as Johnson's Creek village, and was the first preacher on the Holland Purchase, uniting with the Christian church at Slaton settlement, now Orangeport. John Morrison located on the farm now owned and occupied by Colonel Weaver and his son R. B. Weaver, the colonel purchasing the farm of Morrison, on the Ridge road, one mile east of Hartland Comers. Others soon came in and settled, and among them was Jephtha Dunn, in 1807, locating on the Ridge road, two miles east of Johnson's creek, where H. N. Hand now lives. Benjamin Cornell arrived in 1809, locating just west of Johnson's creek. Mr. Crane located on the Ridge road in 1810. Daniel Van Horn in 1811 settled at Johnson's creek. Benjamin H. Benson in 1811 located where he now resides, and James Shaw in 1812 On the Ridge road, two miles east of Johnson's creek. Dexter P. Sprague came in 1809, Colonel Richard Weaver in 1814, and J. W. Seaman in 1816.

Benjamin H. Benson located in 1811 near where he now resides, near the town line, south of Hartland Corners. Daniel Van Horn came to this town from New Jersey in 1811. George Garbutt, born April 5th, 1792, in England, came to Hartland in 1832, and lives at the village of Johnson's creek.

Colonel Richard Weaver, a native of Clarendon, Rutland county, Vt, was born April 19th, 1702. He came to Hartland in 1814, engaged with Mr. Edmunds in the pioneer agricultural pursuits of those times, and in due time became the owner of the farm occupied by the first settler, Isaac Southwell, where he has lived ever since. The old log house stood a little east of his present dwelling. Colonel Weaver during his early and middle life was an ardent lover of fine stock, especially horses, and at times was engaged in raising and training horses for the old-fashioned race course. He was also prominently identified with the early military operations of this section. In 1820 and 1821 he was commissioned by Governor Clinton as major, lieutenant colonel, and finally colonel of the militia regiment in his district.

Mary, widow of Elisha Brownell, and daughter of Jesse and Phebe Birdsell, was born November 4th, 1815, in a log house that had neither doors nor windows, other than those made by hanging up blankets. There was no chimney, and the under floor was made of basswood logs, split and laid down. The upper floor was of narrow poplar boards, drawn from Oak Orchard Creek, a distance of twelve miles, where was the nearest sawmill. The cradle in which she was rocked was a hollow log, adzed out, with ancient rockers attached. She is the oldest woman in the town who lives upon the farm on which she was born, which is on the Quaker road, three miles northwest from Johnson's Creek, and she was the first child born in that settlement. Her father, Jesse Birdsell, died in 1825. Her mother remained a widow until her death, aged 77.

Mrs. Baker, widow of the late Stephen Baker, was born June 4th, 1800. She resides with O. T. Bachelor in the southeast part of the town. Her mental and physical faculties are far above the average of her age and sex. She came to this town with her parents in 1809, and remembers distinctly many of the incidents of pioneer life.

Miss Maria Deuel is the oldest maiden lady in town. She was born in Stamford, Dutchess county, N. Y., January 12th, 1797. She located at Johnson's in 1817. She retains her mental faculties to a wonderful degree, and still does sewing for her younger neighbors, without the aid of glasses.

Pioneer Life in Hartland. With but slight exceptions, it was a territory presenting to the pioneer a rugged forest of heavy timber. Except by the resolute and determined, the task of securing a home was undertaken with a faltering step. To make even passable roads required a great amount of labor and time. The want of them was a serious drawback upon the efforts of the beginner, and a check upon rapid emigration. Before the determined and resolute adventurer the forest has melted away, and nearly the whole face of the country changed. Where the dense forest once stood there is now the waving field of ripening grain, and instead of the sturdy old oak, chestnut and beech, there is a forest of apple, peach and pear trees, remunerating the industrious husbandman, and gladdening his heart with their fruits.

Seventy-five years have passed since the first pioneer located in this town. Industry and indomitable enterprise have achieved their triumphs over sickness, privations and hardships. Comfortable homes have been reared where stood the rude accommodations incident to pioneer settlement. Luxury is found where stinted subsistence once prevailed. Church spires loom up, and schoolhouses are in abundance. An incident or two of pioneer life may be of interest, and also carry down to future generations the privations, dangers and great inconvenience under which the early settlers toiled and suffered.

Benjamin Cornell located near Johnson's creek in 1809. Pasturage being scarce near where he settled, he kept his span of horses at Oak Orchard Creek, that being the nearest pasture ground, a distance of ten miles. His milling, like his neighbors', had to be done at Rochester or Niagara. The first wheat he sowed he had to travel a distance of sixty miles to procure, and after stacking his first crop of wheat, his hired man, good clever soul, attempted to and did destroy a bumblebees' nest near the stack, by fire, and in doing so burned the entire crop of the first wheat raised.

Some of the pioneers, like Edmunds, had the necessary means to pay for their land and support their families for a year, while Jephtha Dunn was at the other extreme, he having just two shillings with which to buy a home in the wilderness. With an honest, manly courage, equal to the emergency, he walked up to the land office and was "booked" for a tract of land in Hartland, the price of booking being just equal to the amount of his cash capital. With a determined will he went to work, and soon became not only "booked" and "articled," but possessed a deed for the land for which lie had at first been "booked." This was a term used at the land office for those who only had money enough to have their names placed on file, as desiring land.

Jephtha Dunn, although starting with only two shillings, and experiencing all the hardships of pioneer life, was honored by his townsmen, and his name will go down to posterity as one of the bright pioneer stars of western New York.

Polly, wife of Isaac Southwell, who came here in 1803 with her husband, was the heroine of at least one "bear story." Hearing their old hog, their only one, squealing in the pen, she knew only too well the cause and, arming herself with a piece of an old chair as a club, she soon declared war on a bear she found in the pen, who defended himself nobly for a while, but was forced to retreat, leaving Mrs. Southwell mistress of the situation. The hog was so injured by the bear that it died, and the next day an old-fashioned figure-4 trap was set and baited with a piece of the dead porker, and the bear captured.

Mrs. Morrison, wife of John Morrison, who settled in this town in 1803, gives a relation of the events of a night, which no doubt will interest the reader. In the summer of 1804 Mr. M. had gone to Batavia to get some provisions, leaving her alone with her children overnight. A pack of wolves came near the cabin and set up a terrible howl -- such as is usual with them when scenting prey. Mrs. M. got up from her bed, and heard them for a long time, apprehending no danger until she found they had approached within a few feet of the door place. There was no door -- a blanket supplied the place of one; this, as she was aware, afforded but a poor protection. Careful not to wake up her sleeping children, lest the sound of their voices might excite the wolves to a bolder siege, she took her husband's axe, and stood sentry for hours and hours until, daylight approaching, the wolves retired into the depths of the forest.

Those who settled in the town in 1803 are supposed to have built log houses, but where most of them stood neither history nor tradition gives any statement that could be relied upon. A few of them, however, can be definitely located. Major John Morrison established himself in the south part of the town, near Eighteen-mile creek, chopped five acres, and in the spring brought his family from Niagara, U.C. [n.b., Upper Canada]

Isaac Southwell located in 1803 near the Ridge road, on the farm now owned and occupied by R. B. Weaver, one mile east of Hartland Corners. Here he built a log house, in the lot where Mr. Weaver's peach orchard is now growing, which was the first land cleared in the town. In 1805-6 Mr. Southwell cut oak timber, split it into rails and built the first rail fence in this town. In 1878 Mr. Weaver took up the old fence, and some of the rails were still in good condition; they are serving the third generation, and seem to be good for the fourth.

Daniel Brown located in 1803 about eighty rods west of Johnson's creek, on the Ridge road. Here he built the usual style of log house, without chimney, floor or windows, and some sort of a blanket was hung in place of a door.

In 1805 Oliver Castle located on what is still known as the "Castle farm," two miles southwest from Johnson's Creek. Mr. Castle, with the assistance of his wife, cut trees and put up a small log house, which they occupied for a number of years. The farm remained the property the Castle family until the spring of 1878, when it was sold to a Mr. Robinson.

Christopher H. Skeels purchased, in or about the year 1817, the first wooden clock sold in this town, and for many years this was the neighborhood timekeeper.

Jephtha Dunn built a frame house on the Ridge road in the east part of the town in 1811. Thomas R. Stewart was the owner of the first frame house at Hartland Corners, built in 1814. Samuel B. Morehouse built the present hotel building at Hartland Corners, in 1815.

From a small historical pamphlet of hartland, N.Y. (1990) comes the following. Thomas Jefferson was President when John Morrison, Zebulon Barnum and Jedediah Riggs, Isaac Southwell and Daniel Brown settled in the territory that nine years later became known as the Town of Hartland. The town derives its name from one of the same name in Vermont, from which many of the early settlers migrated.

The number of taxable inhabitants in Hartland in 1813 was 126, and the number of acres assessed to them at that time was 19,487 which was valued at $1.00 per acre. The rate of tax was one per cent.

In 1817 Royalton was taken off from Hartland, Somerset in 1823 and part of Newfane in 1824.

The first town meeting, called for Tuesday, April 7, 1812, was held at the home of Gad Warner. John Dunn, then a Justice of the Peace for Niagara County, presided. Soon after the opening preliminaries, the meeting was adjourned to the barn of Enoch Hitchcock. The voters elected William Smith to be the first Supervisor. Samuel Jenks, Henry Elsworth and David Weasner were chosen assessors. John Dunn, John Bates and Benjamin Wakeman were elected Commissioners of highways. Amos Brownson was elected tax collector. They chose James Lyman and Stephan Wakeman as overseers of the poor. One Constable, Amos Brownson, was elected. The Poundkeeper was Enoch Hitchcock. Six Pathmasters were elected, their duties being to supervise the paths and roadways where livestock might roam. The Pathmasters were James Weasner, Lyman Godard, Jeptha Dunn, William Taylor, Joshua Slayton and Stephan Wakeman. A fine of two dollars was imposed on the owner of any rams permitted to run at large. Swine were permitted free range.

The proposed budget included one hundred fifty dollars for highway improvement, and one hundred dollars for destroying obnoxious animals with a bounty of three cents a head for blackbirds. In order to collect the bounty, a person had to appear before the Justice of the Peace stating the bird or animal had been killed in the Town of Hartland. The budget this year did not include an appropriation for the support of the poor.

Ephraim Waldo died that year and a special town meeting, called on November 7, elected James Lyman Supervisor for the balance of the year.

It was customary to mark cattle, sheep and hogs for identification. Each farmer had his own marking which was recorded in the town books. Long lists appeared in 1812 and 1813. These markings were slits or cuts on the ears, such as "a slope on the underside of the left ear, or a square crop off the left ear and a slit in the center of the same ear."

At the annual town meeting on April 6, 1814, several items were discussed and resolutions passed. A bounty of five dollars was offered for a wolf's scalp. From the first of September to the first of December, no rams were to run at large. They imposed this fine to protect the breeding stock. The officials placed the lawful height for fencing at a minimum of four and one half feet of good materials, and openings up to two feet from the bottom were not to exceed four inches. The Pathmasters, now nine in number, had the additional duty of fence viewing. Farmers also had to keep swine, horses and sheep fenced. James Lyman was still Supervisor, a post he held until 1816.

In 1814 three school commissioners took office. These were Samuel Colton, James Welsh and Samuel Morehouse. The town paid the inspectors of schools, Daniel Cornell, John Secor and William Smith, one dollar per day. The town voted to raise an amount to equal one and one-half times the amount paid by the State for the support of the schools. The record for May 16, 1814 reported six school districts in the town. Nancy Judson taught in the first school, erected in 1813.

By 1815, swine were again allowed "at large." The bounty on blackbirds and squirrels was revoked, while the bounty on wolves was raised to twenty dollars. A seventh school district was created at Johnson Creek. The Town Board ordered the supervisor to have a map of the township drawn up.
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