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The History of Tuscarora NY

History of Tuscarora
by Harlow C. Hall
January 31, 1908

(Edited by Douglas Morgan 10/16/2018)

 The history below was written by Harlow C. Hall. Hall was born in 1880 on the former Hall homestead on Dutch Street, just outside the hamlet of Tuscarora. Harlow is the great-grandfather of current Tuscarora resident John Hall. John, who lives with his wife Gloria on Frost Road, in the 7th generation of Halls to live in Tuscarora.
   Harlow Hall had finished one year of college when he penned the short"History of Tuscarora, NY" found below. He was twenty-eight years old at the time. Harlow's biffest contribution what had been written by Smith, Northway and Doty, was his firsthand knowledge of Tuscarora and its inhabitants in 1908. Some of the people in 1908 were sons of the early pioneers with knowedge of their parents settling in the Tuscarora area.

    This is the first time that Hall's History has been available to the general public. The text was written by Harlow andappears as it does in the original manuscript owned by his descendants. The photographs, maps, and endnotes have been added. (DM)


   Historians have found that to give a complete and consecutive record of events of small hamlets as Tuscarora, is nearly impossible. No attempt was made to write the history during the lives of the very first settlers and many of the facts and incidents which then could have been obtained are now beyond recall.

   The material for this little sketch has been taken from the "History of Livingston County" by James H. Smith, put in 1881, the "History of Livingston County" by L. R. Doty of Geneseo, put in 1905; and the verbal statements of Mr. John Creveling and other pioneer residents of this community.

  The word "Tuscarora" was the name of a tribe of Indians in North Carolina. They were one of the most powerful of the Southern tribes and had 15 towns on the ??? and Genesee rivers. In 1711 with 1200 warriors, they engaged in war with the settlers and were defeated with great loss. The remnant of the tribe fled to New York and joined the Five Nations of the Iroquois which was then called with Six Nations. Although there is nothing absolutely, certain about it, there is little doubt that this place derived its name from such a source.(1)

   Tuscarora, located in the South Eastern part of the Town of Mt. Morris together with Nunda, on being opened for settlement, was known as the Tuscarora Tract. This was a part of the Morris Reserve with embraced the town of Nunda, Portage, Mt. Morris, Leicester and the South half of York in Livingston County.

   The Morris Reserve was a portion of the vast purchases of land made in Western New York by Robert Morris of Philadelphia, financier and patriot of the Revolution.

   To secure a clear title to these lands, it was necessary that an agreement be made with the Indians who were the real owners and accordingly a treaty was held with the Senecas at Geneseo in 1797. Mr. Morris was represented at this council by his son, Thomas Morris who finally secured a deed of the territory from the Indians. In consideration of which the Senecas reserved certain portions of same and received in payment of lands transferred, $100,000.

   The Morris Reserve was afterward divided into tracts and sold. The Tuscarora tract was at a very early date the property of Luke Tiernan of Baltimore. It was late in coming onto market and the rich lands were in the meantime seized by squatters whose only title was that of possession.

   In 1806 or 1807, James Scott and two or three other farmers went up the Kashaqua Valley with a view to locating. Noticing that the hazel bushes had hanging on them dead hazelnuts, they concluded that it must be frosty there, so they did not buy any lands. They spent the night in a partly built hut between Brushville and Nunda village. There was then but one occupied house between these two places and that was occupied by a squatter named Kingsly. Brushville is said to have been covered with low bushes, no trees of large size being found there. Hence the name Brushville which was afterward changed to Tuscarora.

   The squatter settlers spent their time in hunting, fishing, and trapping and paid but little attention to the development of the town and thereby hindered immigration. To protect his interests, Mr. Tiernan sent an agent, one McSweeny; but not understanding the men he had to deal with, McSweeny was beset with trouble. The squatters were ably defended in all suits for trespass by Joseph Dixon who caused the agent much vexation. On the advent of settlers, the squatters removed to other places.

   In 1822 Tiernan appointed Charles H. Carroll, afterward known as Judge Carroll, agent for the sale of these lands. Carroll soon made sales by means of articles. Many however never made second payment but followed the tide of immigration west ward.

   One of the first permanent residents was Daniel P. Sedam who in 1823 purchased 75 acres just east of Tuscarora. After making first payment, he had but $60 with which to build a home for himself and wife.

   The first deed on record given for land in this place was to David Babcock and others in 1831. Prior to this data however, quite a number of other residents had arrived. A sawmill had been built by Smith and Driscoll. J. P. Dodge has erected a fulling mill in 1826, a carding mill in 1830 and a saw mill a few years later. Mr. J. P. Dodge was one of the most influential citizens, was merchant for 25 years, Justice of the Peace and Supervisor of the Town for 10 or more years in succession. He died in Nunda in 1890, at the age of 90 years.

   Another one of the first settlers, was James P. Ammerman, who was a soldier in the war of 1812. He came from Cayuga Co. and located on a farm south of Tuscarora. The same farm on which Marion Conklin now resides (in 1908).

   Amos Hungerford settled on a farm a mile north of this village--the present home of George Creveling. One year later his brother Chauncy settled just west of him on the farm now owned by Lafayette VanDorn.

   As Asa Northway came in the year 1830 and erected the first frame dwelling in the vicinity. This house which is near the residence of Charles Claus, is still standing. Mr. Northway as well as the Hungerfords, came from Coldbrook, Connecticut, and were known as Yankees. Northway held a number of town offices and died in 1877.

   In 1826 Samuel R. and Jacob Bergen located here. Samuel remaining but a few years. The farm where Jacob Bergen located is now the home of Frank Ess.

   The home of John Creveling was first owned by Thomas Bodine, who remained only a few years.

   The farm where Perry Levey now lives was first bought by Jacob VanOrsdale in 1830. Abram VanOrsdale was also one of the first settlers.

   Among others of these first settlers were J. H. Bowers, J. Wheelock, Calvin Damon who kept a carding mill, Jacob Petrie, a blacksmith and his two sons, William and Peter. William was Justice of the Peace, Postmaster, built a warehouse and bought grain. He taught school as early as 1838 and for many years afterward.

   The school in Brushville was organized in 1830 and was called District No. 13. The first recorded number of pupils which was in 1835, was 126. The number who were over five and under 16 was 76. The amount paid for keeping school 11 months and 3 days, was $127.42. On account of the large number of pupils the school was divided in 1840, and all that part lying east and south of the creek was assigned to a joint district which, in part, was in the town of Nunda. F. A. NORTHWAY

   The first school house was in the southwest part of the village on the Nunda road. In 1842, a new school house was built at an expense of $400. This is the same building that is being used at present (1908). It is however, getting rather dilapidated and steps have been taken to put up a new building. The matter has been delayed in the hope that adjoining Districts may unite in building a Union school here.

   The First Presbyterian Church of Tuscarora was organized in 1839, by Rev. Israel Hammond, with eleven members of the Dutch Reformed order. The church was built in 1844 by William Harmon. The church bell was the gift of David La Rue. In his will he left a legacy of $300 to be used for the purchase of a bell and one of excellent tone was secured. January 20, 1844, it was incorporated as The First Protestant Reformed Dutch Church of Mt. Morris. At this time Israel Hammond was the pastor and had been from the organization. Aaron Conover, Garret VanOrsdale, Peter VanNest and William Howell were the elders; and John L. Tallman, Aaron Hall, Abraham S. Thompson and Stephen Birch, deacons. Brinkerhoff, Rev. James G. who died Dec 22, 1878 ae 81 yrs. It was dedicated with appropriate services in the summer of 1847. A dinner was served on the church lawn and Charles L. Bingham of Mt. Morris was the chief speaker of the occasion. The same church building, and bell are in good condition at present (1908). Rev. Dr. C. P. Coit of Rochester is supplying the pulpit regularly and the church is in a promising condition. (2) (3) (4)

   October 25, 1852, Stephen Birch, William N. Hall, Aaron Conover, William Voles, Isaac VanDeventer, William VanDeventer, William Post and Rev. Thomas S. Dewing met for the purpose of re-incorporating. Rev. Thomas S. Dewing was then pastor, Stephen Birch and William N. Hall were chosen to preside, and James Conklin, William N. Hall and Isaac Van Deventer were elected trustees. The name was then changed to “The Presbyterian Congregation of Tuscarora.”
   In 1870, the church united with the Presbyterian church at Union Corners, in the west edge of West Sparta, and January 2, 1871, the combined organization elected as first trustees; Hezekiah Johnson, L. J. Colburn, R. R. Conklin, from the Tuscarora congregation, and Wm. Slaight, Andrew Suydam and Peter D. Green, from the Union Corners congregation. Win. F. Jones was then the pastor and continued such till September 1873. John Jones, then located at Geneseo, next supplied the pulpit for a few months and was followed by Rev. T. Dwight Hunt, then the pastor at Nunda, who supplied the pulpit for six months. this union between the two churches was dissolved in the spring of 1874.
   The church was built in 1844. The church now numbers ninety-eight members (1908). The present Pastor is Rev. John Mitchell, who has served them about a year. Mr. Mitchell is also the superintendent of the Sunday-school, the average attendance at which, as reported in January 1880, was ninety-one.

   A Free Methodist Church was organized in August 1875 with about 30 members by Rev. R. M. Snyder who served as pastor for two years. He held meeting in the school house and was succeeded by Rev. William Southworth who remained until 1880. A church building started just south of the school house, was never completed and society for some reason ceased to hold services in this place.

   It is not generally known that the first Catholic services in the town of Mt. Morris and vicinity were held at Tuscarora during the building of the canal. Father McGuire of Rochester conducted the services in a rather inexpensive building located on land the use of which was donated by Judge Carroll of Groveland. This location was on what is now J. W. Slaights land at the top of the hill in the north end of the village. When the canal was abandoned services ceased and later the building burned down.

   The first physician in Tuscarora was Dr. J. H. Robinson. Others of the earliest doctors were, Galentine, Brown, Jeffers, Wells, Dean, Sharp, Moyer and Rowe. In those early days there were generally two or more physicians here at the same time. Doctor's Jeffers and Sharp were each here many years and probably practiced in Tuscarora longer than any of the others.

   In later years after Dr. Sharp moved away, we had Dr. Brown who is now in Nunda. Next came Campbell and then Bowen. Dunnlop was the next one and after him came Carr who is now practicing in Lyons. The present physician F. J. Schnell who came here about 2 years ago.

   The first merchant who did business here, of whom any record is found, was Bevier. He kept store during the early twenties in the building now used by W. J. Bevier as a store house. Another man by the name of ??? had a store here in 1837. In the same building, J. P. Dodge commenced business about 1841 and some 10 years later he removed to the building now the residence of Mr. Bevier. Here he continued in business until 1865, except at intervals when his sons A. and A. C. Dodge, and later A. C. Dodge and E. Youngs carried it on. J. P. Dodge sold to Wesley Hand and Jacob Post, the former of whom sold to Tallman VanOrsdale about 1867, and VanOrsdale to Lucius H. Barron about 1871. Post sold to Northway in 1872. Mr. Northway continued in business with Mr. Barron for a short time and was afterward successively associated with R. K. Bergen and C. Whitenack, the latter of whom he bought out in 1879. Mr. Northway was postmaster for several years and continued in business here until he sold to W. J. Bevier and removed to Nunda about 10 years ago.

   J. C. Van Deventer's store was built by William Petrie, where he did a general merchandise business from 1839 to 1873. Later during Harrison's administration, the post office was kept here by William Van Sickle. Previous to this Barney Beuerlein of Mt. Morris conducted a clothing store here for a short time. It was not used for a store again until J. C. VanDeventer began business 10 years ago. Mr. VanDeventer has been in the business since that time with the exception of an interval of 2 years when it was carried on by C. A. VanDeventer and son.

   The store now occupied by W. J. Bevier was built by John and David LaRue who carried on business here for some years. Others who have since been in the business in this store were, Elias Kinney who was afterward associated with John Sherwood, Henry and Sidney Alden and "Demorest and Sons"

   At one time a jewelry store was kept in the basement by F. L. Ripley who has since been in the same business in Dansville.

   In 1875 this store was purchased from the La Rue's by E. R. Creveling who was located here for 17 years and was associated in the business one year with his brother Wilson M. Creveling. Mr. E. R. Creveling who was postmaster during the first Cleveland administration, sold out to his brother J. E. Creveling and W. J. Bevics? Mr. J. E. Creveling was postmaster for one term and soon after was sold out his interest to Mr. Bevier who has been engaged here as merchant and postmaster for the last 10 years.

   That part of John Petrie’s property which is now used as a storehouse by J. C. Whitenack was originally a carding mill and later was used as a cabinet shop. It was located north of where the cheese factory now stands and was moved to its present position by Aaron Hall who, after remodeling used it as a store and shoe shop. He was for a time associated in the business with Harmon Hall. Robert Conklin bought them out and kept the store for 4 or 5 years, discontinuing in 1878. Both Aaron Hall and Robert Conklin served as postmasters and the post office was kept in this building.

   During the construction of the Genesee Valley Canal, a building was located on the present site of the Railroad station. It was used as two stores which were kept respectively by Lucius Bingham and Bailey Galentine. This structure was later moved to the canal near the Nunda road, and used as a warehouse by the La Rue's. It was afterward destroyed by fire.

   William Petrie's warehouse was located on the canal bank across the street from Mr. VanDeventer's store. When the canal was abandoned this warehouse was moved to the railroad where it now stands. It was here where Wilson Creveling bought grain for many years. Mr. Creveling moved to Mt. Morris a little over a year ago and the business has since been carried on by Thomas Carbrey.

   Tuscarora has another warehouse. This building was originally a cheese factory but has not been used for that purpose for many years. A few years ago, it was remodeled and is now used as a warehouse by J. H. Rowan. Mr. Rowan also runs the grist mill adjoining.

   This grist mill propelled by the water of the Kashaqua (Keshequa), was built in 1860 by David LaRue who operated it about 8 years, when he was succeeded by Garrett Barclay and David Miller. Garrett Miller subsequently bought out both of his brothers and assisted by John LaShell, carried on the business until Mr. Rowan came 3 years ago.

    It is remembered that the La Rues has a grist mill here many years before. It was located just north of the present mill and was run in connection with a saw mill.

   Time was when Charles Fiester kept a tannery just across the creek, nearly opposite the mill.

   On the same stream a saw mill was built by Isaac Hall and David LaRue. After Mr. LaRue's death in 1876, Mr. Hall purchased his interests and operated the mill for several years afterward.

   The saw mill that had been erected by J. P. Dodge, on the left of the road to Union Corners, did a thriving business for many years. During more recent times, a saw mill was located north of William Narrengan's blacksmith shop but was not run for more than 2 or 3 years.

   William Narrengan and J. D. Kuhn are the present blacksmiths. Mr. Narrengan has been in business here for over 30 years. Among the pioneers of the trade may be mentioned; Samuel Powers, who over 70 years ago had a shop in the southwestern part of the valley on the Nunda road; Isaac LaShell, Van West and Frederick Lehman who were located where Mr. Kuhn is at present. Later James Johnson and Joseph Trimble each kept this shop for some time.

   The wagon shop just north of this blacksmith shop was for many years kept by James Colburn. He was associated in the business for some time with Harrison Hagadorn. It was near here that a shoe store was kept at one time by E. Youngs.

   Squire Rumsey ran a harness shop for several years in Tuscarora.

   The first cheese factory which is now the J. H. Rowan warehouse, was built in the summer of 1877. It flourished for a few years receiving as high as 6,000 lbs. of milk per day. Later the price of cheese became so low that the factory was abandoned.

   The present cheese factory (1908), built and owned Young and Young, has been conducted successfully for 11 years (in 1908) and has proved to be a great help to the business of the place.

   The first tavern in the village which forms the rear part of the present hotel, was built in about 1826 by William Babcock.

   The present hotel, the Tuscarora House was built in 1841, by John and David La Rue who kept it until 1860. Samuel La Shell was the next proprietor and remained until he died over 20 years afterward. Among those who have since run this hotel may be mentioned; Louis VanOrsdale, Gridley, William Fiester, W. O. Ayers and C. J. Flint. Mr. Flint the present proprietor has repaired and greatly improved the appearance of the place.

   In the north end of the village, at the foot of the hill, in the building now used as a dwelling house, Nicholas Hall kept a hotel over 50 years ago. William Fiester also did a hotel business here some years later.

   At one time there were three hotels in Tuscarora. Besides those already mentioned, another was located where Mr. VanDeventer's new store house now stands. This hotel was kept at different times by Benjamin Conrad, Frederick Lehman and others until about 20 years ago when it burned down (circa 1888).

   At the time of the building of the railroad, a wholesale liquor store was kept by Hiram Rowell and was located on the west side of the highway between the railroad and Colburn's wagon shop.

   History has shown, that during the building and subsequent operation of the Genesee Valley Canal, Tuscarora was quite a large and important business place. The construction of the canal through this region, an expensive and difficult piece of work, provided for the employment of a large force of men. Because of the heavy grade many locks were required. These stone locks each costing the state $10,000. To tend these, people lived along the canal and many families had their homes between Sonyea and this place.

   The population was probably greater during this period than it has been at any time since. Tuscarora is said to have at this time equaled if not exceed Mt. Morris in a business way. The town meetings were frequently held here, the last occasion being about 30 years ago.

   When the canal was abandoned in 1878, this village was left in bad shape and it was not until the building of the railroad a few years later that business began to revive. In the meantime, the merchants had to have their goods in wagons from Mt. Morris.


  The railroad was first called the Rochester and Genesee Valley Canal Railroad and has since become a part of the great Pennsylvania System.

   Many who were raised and began business here afterward moved to other towns, they have since been numbered among the leading men of both Nunda and Mt. Morris.

  Tuscarora with meat market, 2 ware house shops, cheese factory, grist mill is at present (1908) a lively business. Large quantities of farm produce and live stock is shipped from this point.

   Manufacturing concerns would find this a good location for a factory. Hoped that many may locate here and make Tuscarora what she is destined to be one of the cities of the Empire State.

End Notes by Douglas Morgan


(1)According to A History of Livingston County, Doty, Lockwood L., pp 230, 308 & 1236 - "The Tuscaroras appeared with belts of wampum, as an assurance of their desire for peace in their southern homeland in the Carolinas. Three years later the Treaty of Utrecht was signed between France and England, and it was agreed that England should have all authority over the Five Nations of the Iroquois, but that there should be no restraint of trade by either party. This year, 1713, the English were asked to mediate between the warring Carolina Indians and the Tuscaroras, the latter having been badly defeated in their stronghold and eight hundred of them taken prisoners and sold as slaves. The Tuscaroras now began to come into Pennsylvania and creep into New York. p. 230

There is a further version of the above that speaks of a set-up by the settlers and rival Indians plotting together to take the Tuscarora lands in North Carolina. According to Chief Elias Jenson or Johnson in his book History of the Six Nations and Tuscarora Indians, he tells that there were about 6,000 Tuscarora Indians in North Carolina. They were split into six towns. They were also allied with six other Indian tribes, much like the Iroquois Confederacy. Some of the settlers dressed up like Quakers (because the Indians trusted the Quakers) and told these other Indians that if they were to kill the squatters invading their lands, no one (the whites) would care because they (squatters) were not citizens of a particular state. The Indians (of other tribes) did indeed then attack and kill some squatters. The Governor of the State (at that time I think Virginia had jurisdiction) instructed the militia, with the help of rival Carolina Indians to punish the Tuscaroras, the Tuscaroras being held responsible because the other tribes that actually committed the offense were an ally of the Tuscarora and because the settlers and the Carolina Indians wanted the Tuscarora's land. To simplify, the Tuscaroras were accused and punished for something they did not do and were defeated by both Indians and whites. This explains the two different versions of why the Tuscaroras came north.

TUS-CA-RO-RA, as applied to the Tuscarora reservation, comes from an Iroquoian word meaning "shirt wearers." The Tuscarora people came from the Carolinas between 1714 and 1723, though there were other migrations up to about 1854. p. 308

In 1785, the Tuscarora Indians were said to be located between the Unadilla River and the Chenango River. This is in the southcentral region of New York State, in present day Chenango County. (approximately 30 miles north of Binghamton)

The only known and documented Tuscarora Indian village in Livingston County is located by the New York State Historical marker #1110


There was also a settlement of Tuscarora Indians outside of Rush (where Honeoye Creek joins the Genesee River), Monroe County, New York. This is located by an New York State Historical marker #1189



(2)In the last issue of the "Rochester Presbyterian News" there is a picture of this church. It also contains the names of the different pastors and a more or less complete history of the society. (it was located at the Rochester Public Library - History Room in March of 1994)
According to James H. Hotchkin's 1848 book on the Presbyterian Church in Western New York: "In 1834 a building was erected that was 50 feet long and thirty-six feet wide”. The present-day church had begun in 1839 as a reformed dutch church with eleven members. Their pastor was israel hammond. He was there for five years. In 1844, the church's pastor was the rev. Peter van nest and as of Feb. 26, 1846, was called the second presbyterian church of mount morris and had thirty-six members. June 2nd, 1846, the church came under the presbyter of ontario. The reverend edward marsh is credited with being the driving force behind a successful revival in 1844. In 1848, the church was called Mt. Morris second Presbyterian church.

There is another church referred to as the Second Presbyterian Church of Mount Morris in 1831 and it came under the Presbyter of Ontario on Jan 18th, 1831. In 1830 they had 28 members, and in 1834 they had 32 members. It is not known for certain if these two churches are connected, are one and the same or two different churches and worshipers.

(3)From (Reformed Church of America) we learn that James G. Brinkerhoff left the RCA (Reformed Church of America) in the 1820s and served Secedder churches (there was a secession in 1822 to form the True Dutch Reformed Church). I (Russell Gasero) suspect that the Tuscarora church was one of their congregations. The True Dutch church did not survive, and many congregations joined the Presbyterian church, the Christian Reformed Church (organized 1857) or disbanded. The Mount Morris (Tuscarora) church is listed as organized in 1839 and dropped in 1847. The only pastor listed is Israel Hammond, 1842-45.

(4)Says Hotchkin: *Hotchkin’s History of Western New York, pp. 582, 582
“The church was organized as a Presbyterian church, and named the Second Presbyterian Church of Mt. Morris, February 26, 1846. The number of members in November of that year was thirty-six. The church was received under the care of the Presbytery of Ontario June 2, 1846. Rev. Israel Hammond was five years the pastor of the church while it was connected with the Reformed Dutch denomination, and during this period the church was aided in the support of its pastor by the Synod’s Board of Missions.’* The Free Methodist Church of Tuscarora was organized in August, 1875, with about thirty members, by Rev. K. M. Snyder, the first pastor, who had held services from March previous, and sustained pastoral relations two years. He was succeeded by Rev. Wm. Southworth, who remained till the fall of 1880. Services have been held in the school house since the organization. The present number of members is seventeen.


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