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Town History

Among the new towns taken directly from the "mother town," Chautauqua, was Clymer, organized February 9, 1821, and given the name of the patriotic Pennsylvanian, George Clymer, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The town of Mina was set off from Clymer in 1824; and French Creek in 1829, leaving Clymer an area of 21,985 acres, bounded on the north by Sherman, east by Harmony, west by French Creek, south by Pennsylvania. The surface is a hilly upland, well adapted to grazing and dairying, being well watered. The soil responds well to cultivation and the Western New York & Pennsylvania railroad traverses the town from north to south, with stations in Clymer, North Clymer, Clymer Center and Joquins. Clymer Hill is in the western part of the town.

At Clymer, tanning leather was once an important business, and about 1860 Leonard Kooman established there one of the largest tanneries in the county. The first tannery was built on lot 35 by Ebenezer Brownell shortly after 1830. Walter L. and Loren B. Sessions conducted extensive tanning operations on the Brownell site in later years.

Original Purchases:
1820-May, Win. Rice, 59; July, Gardner Cleveland, Sr., 58;
1821-October, Horace and Anson Starkweather, 43; Jos. Wing, 51; November, John Cleveland, 58.
1822-March, Thos. Russell, 50.
1823-January, Leonard Amidon, 52; October, Wm. Rice, 60.
1824-June, Eben. Brownell, 35; Harry E. Brownell, 28; Jos. Brownell, 50.
1825-May, Amon Beebe, Jr., 30; August, Elisha Alvord, 21; October, Jos. W. Ross, 56, 55.
1826-April, Chas. Ross, 56; May, Moses Randall, 23; July, David Phinney; October, Jere. Glidden, 3, 8.
1827-March, Darius and Walter Freeman, 47; Ralph Petit, 47; April, Jere. Doolittle, 37; May, David Glidden, 16; June, Samuel Bligh, 32; August, Andrew Glidden, 16; September, Oscar F. and Daniel C. Glidden, 8; October, Francis F. Allen, 2.
1828-May, Alvah Marsh. 40; Archaelaus Chadwick, 1; John Petit, 47; July, Benj. Sullivan, 63; Samuel Ross, 27.
1829-July, Lyman Brown, 26; September, Jere. Chamberlain, 53; October, Urbane Hitchcock, 15.
1830-August, Harry B. Brownell, 28; September, Jackson Johnson, 33; Thos. Russell. 50.

Settlement was commenced in 1820 by Gardner and John Cleveland, who located on lot 58, in the southwest corner. The next year William Rice settled on lot 59, and in 1822 came Horace and Anson Starkweather and Joseph Wing. Eighteen families had located in the territory embracing the original town of Clymer in 1822. Nathaniel and William Thompson, Thomas Russell and Harry E. Brownell came in 1823. The first town meeting was held April 3, 1821, at the house of Gardner Cleveland, where were elected: Ande Nobles, supervisor; William Rice, Roger Haskell, John M. Fitch, assessors; David Waldo, clerk; Roswell Coe, John Cleveland, Alexander Findley, commissioners of highways; Ephraim Dean, Ande Nobles, John Lynde, school inspectors; John Heath, Roger Haskell, school commissioners; Alexander Findley, Roswell Coe, poor masters; Ande Nobles, Alexander Findley, overseers of highways; William Thompson, Amon Beebe, Roger Haskell, fence viewers, etc.; Ande Nobles, sealer; Eli Belknap, constable and collector. Before 1830 quite a settlement was made. Here had come and located Leonard Amidon in 1824; Charles Ross in 1824, on Clymer Hill; Ebenezer Brownell and Joseph Brownell in 1824 on lots 35, 28, 50; Peter Jaquins in 1825; David Phinney in 1826; Silas Freeman with thirteen children came to Clymer Hill in 1828. His son, Leonard B., resided in this and adjoining towns for many years.

Other early settlers were: Alexander Maxwell, Elisha Alvord, Joseph Ross, Samuel Ross, Moses Randall, Jeremiah Glidden, Jeremiah R. Doolittle, David and Andrew Glidden, Samuel Bly, Oscar F. and Daniel C. Glidden, Francis F. Allen, Alvah Marsh, Archelaus Chadwick, Ralph and John Petitt, Benjamin Sullivan, Lyman Brown, Jeremiah Chamberlain, Urbane Hitchcock, Samuel Wickwire, Charles Brighton, John S. Sessions.

The Cleveland and Rice families had many representatives. Gardner Cleveland, a Revolutionary soldier, had three children and thirtyfour grandchildren. William Rice had twelve children of whom three became prominent: Victor M., born in Mayville in 1818, was educated at Allegheny College, Meadville, Pa., and from 1848 to 1854 was connected with the city schools of Buffalo, and in 1854 city superintendent. From 1854 to 1867 he was State Superintendent of Public Instruction; William S., for twenty-one years teacher in Buffalo city schools, and several years city superintendent of Buffalo schools;. Emily A., long principal of Yonkers Female Seminary. William Rice was many years a justice, and in 1840 was one of the three representatives of the county in the State Assembly.

Ira F. Gleason (whose father Ira settled early in French Creek, coming from Connecticut), came from Madison county in 1831 to French Creek, thence in 1837 to Clymer Village and engaged in trade, which he conducted continuously for twenty years. He held many important offices-justice, supervisor, etc. Young gives the early merchants thus: "The first store is said to have been kept by John Stow in 1823. John Heath and Joseph H. Williams succeeded him. Alvin Williams succeeded them, and also kept an inn, the first in town in 1826. Later were Gardner Cleveland, Jr., and Howard Blodgett; Ira F. Gleason and John Williams; Gleason and Stephen W. Steward; Stephen W. Steward; Ayers & Blood. In 1875 William B. Blodgett and Arthur Beach were general merchants; Ayers & Coffin, druggists; Willis D. Gallup & Son, hardware and stoves."

One of the early and industrious pioneers of Clymer was Peter Jaquins, a soldier in the War of 1812. He moved from Guilford, Chenango county, to Cattaraugus county in 1820. In 1824 he bought a lot in Clymer, and in 1825 made his home here and erected the first saw and grist mills in the town. He was an excellent hunter, and it is said "that he captured nearly one hundred wolves previous to 1812, for which he received an average bounty of twelve dollars per head." His children were: Bruce, who located near his father; Edward, who went to Kansas; Wallace; Art, a farmer and cattle dealer, who married Frances Vrooman; Elizabeth. The name of this enterprising pioneer is perpetuated in the post office called Jaquins.

James, John and David Petitt, brothers, emigrants, arrived at New York about 1789 to become citizens of the New World. One of them settled on Long Island, one located in New Jersey and James made his home on the west shore of Lake Champlain. Here his son Ralph was born at Willsborough, Essex county. Ralph when a young man went to Genesee county, where he married Julia Lyons, March 25, 1827, and the next month the young couple came to Clymer and commenced housekeeping in the primitive house erected on Mr. Petitt's location on lot 47, on Clymer Hill. Mr. Petitt was thereafter a lifelong resident of the town and held numerous local offices. Ten of his children attained maturity.

Lyman Brown, a native of Kingston, Pa., born May 30, 1801, subsequently was a resident of Hamburg, Erie county. In 1820 he bought land on lot 26 in Clymer, and in 1831 became a settler of the town, where he resided until his death in 1873; his wife died the same year. Mr. Brown was extensively engaged in cattle dealing, was supervisor in 1848, and held other town offices. His sons were Jesse, Martin, Homer. Jesse was born May 9, 1825, in Erie county, married Louisa Bligh, of North Clymer in 1851; he followed the vocation of his father, served as town superintendent, supervisor several years, inspector of elections many years, and loan commissioner several terms.

In 1832 Gideon Brockway, with his wife and four children, removed from Southampton, Mass., to Clymer, purchased a farm and resided here until his death. His youngest son, Richard B., accompanied his father and made Clymer his home. Beman, oldest son, came a year later to visit his parents, and as he says, "in the winter of 1833 I taught a district school in Clymer, for which I was about as well qualified as the average citizen is to edit a newspaper. However, I made out to stand the occupation three months, which were the longest ones I remember to have passed in my whole life." Mr. Brockway proved his ability to "edit a newspaper" not many years after, by making a success of the "Mayville Sentinel," which he edited and published for ten years. He was on the editorial staff of the "New York Tribune" with such men as Horace Greeley and Charles A. Dana as companions. At the time of his death, December, 1892, he was the oldest newspaper editor and publisher of the State, and the owner of the "Watertown Daily and Weekly Times." In him all elements of a strong character were so united as to cause one to say, "He was a man!'

Williard McKinstry writes in the "Fredonia Censor" in 1885 this of the town:

"The dwellings fifty years ago were mostly of logs. Some noted characters have lived in this vicinity. Horace Greeley's parents about two miles from the village, and this was their post office address. J. G. Cleveland, since connected with the New York "Tribune," spent his boyhood days here. William Rice, a member of the Legislature in 1840, was the village blacksmith, and his son, Hon. Victor M. Rice, has since occupied a prominent position as State Superintendent of Public Instruction and was the founder of the free school system of this State. He struggled to get an education. His first school books were bought by his going to the woods and cutting wood for the ashery and drawing it there with a pair of steers which he had broken, made the exchange with my uncle who then carried it on. Hon. Silas Terry, a most worthy citizen, held a seat in the Legislature of 1840, and his son, L. S. Terry, who has been Supervisor several times, is one of the progressive farmers of the town. When Senator Lorenzo Morris first commenced practicing law he opened an office over Ira F. Gleason's store in Clymer, and Stephen W. Steward did mercantile business here before founding the First National Bank of Corry. It is a prosperous agricultural town, and the railroad and the building up of the City of Corry, eight miles distant, have given it a good market and prosperity. It has an excellent soil and contains many splendid farms. Hon. WaIter L. and Loren B. Sessions passed their youthful days with their father, John S. Sessions, an early settler on a farm in this town, and have always had a strong support here in their political aspirations. Although a small town Clymer has exerted an important influence at times in politics of the State through the men who have lived here."

Garrett Slotboom, a Hollander, came to Clymer in 1850, and died here in 1885. He had served his time in the Dutch army, married a daughter of John Nuytinck. His son, John A., was born in Holland, educated in the Clymer schools, and assisted his father in farming. He enlisted in August, 1862, in Company D, 112th Regiment, New York Volunteers, and served until the close of the war. He was wounded at Cold Harbor, Virginia, June 1, 1864. In i866 he commenced merchandising at Clymer Hill, continued twenty-five years, then located at Clymer Village. He served as justice of the peace and supervisor. He married Magdelene, a daughter of Peter Kooman (who settled in Clymer about 1858. He was born near Antwerp, Holland, emigrated to Buffalo in 1847. He died January 6, 1879). The Hollanders, many of whom have made their homes in the town, are useful and worthy citizens. Hon. G. W. Patterson, the land agent, it is said, was so impressed with the value of obtaining such frugal, honest and industrious people as residents, that he made extra inducements to secure their coming. About 1846 the first nucleus was formed here and now a large percentage of the town's best citizens are of this stock.

John Steward, Jr., settled in Harmony in 1821 and had a large family; his sons were, John, Stephen W., Eliphalet, and Alfred W. Stephen W. was for some years a. merchant in Clymer and was later one of the most prominent in founding the First National Bank in Corry, Pennsylvania. Alfred W., a farmer and cattle dealer, resided in the village. Sardius located in Harmony and was prominent.

Otis D. Hinckley was a resident of Clymer since 1850 and one of the town's most active and useful residents. He was for a time a merchant, but long and extensively employed as a surveyor. He was almost continually in office as justice of the peace, was justice of sessions of the county court, represented the First Assembly District in the State Legislature of 1875 and served as clerk of the Board of Supervisors for twenty years with marked ability.

William Emery, son of Gilbert Emery, an early settler of Harmony, born in Harmony, April 19, 1840, was a farmer and lawyer, and long held the office of justice of the peace and other positions of trust. Byron King, son of James King, another son of Clymer, was one of its most substantial citizens. Maurice Smith, son of Walker Smith, was also born in the town, and a farmer. J. B. Johnson was also a farmer and a lumberman. Other residents who have been of local importance were Hon. Silas Terry, Artemas Ross, Esq., James Wiltsie, Daniel Huribut, John B. Knowlton, H. E. Brownell, Jesse Brown, W. D. Gallup, Otis D. Hinckley, Ira E., William B. and Charles S. Gleason, Stephen W. Steward, Charles Brightman, Hartson S. Ayer, and John Bidwell, who headed the national ticket of the Prohibition Party, was a native of the town.

The religious denominations are: Methodist Episcopal, Baptist, United Brethren and Dutch Reformed. A good interest has been manifested in education, and, besides the district schools, a union school of three departments is conducted at Clymer Village.

Young carefully gathered facts concerning the early mills. He says in 1875:

"The first sawmill was built by Peter Jaquins in 1825; be added a gristmill the next year. Eight years after both were burned. A new sawmill was built and eight years thereafter that was burned and Mr. Jaquins again built one, which he subsequently sold to Porter Damon and John Williams, who also built a gristmill. Williams sold his interest to Damon. The mill passed to his sons, Loren and Andrew. The latter sold to Hartson S. Ayer & Brother and the sawmill was sold to Hall & Shepard. Hall sold to Welch and Shepard & Welch erected a large three-story planing and shingle mill. William Rice built a gristmill below the village on the west branch of the Broken-Straw and sold it to Judson Hurlbut, who built a sawmill. Daniel Huribut built a sawmill on Big Broken-Straw, on lot 50, a mile below the Shepard & Welch mill. John B. Knowlton now owns the mill, with machinery for planing, turning and the manufacture of agricultural implements. Thomas Card built a sawmill on lot 20, where he still owns a mill. James Upton built a sawmill on lot 45; the dam is built of stone from a large quarry near the mill. B. Parker early built a mill on lot 9. A stream sawmill was built by Shepard & Havens at Clymer Station, and is now owned by William Havens. A stream mill has also been recently built near the center of the town by Charles Maxwell and Joshua Hatton."

Clymer Village and station are practically one place, which is a thriving place of trade.

The first physician was Dr. Roswell F. Van Buren, who was in practice from 1826 to 1836, when he moved to Carroll. Dr. S. G. Peck settled early on 'lot 6, and practiced many years. Dr. Harvey A. Phinney succeeded to Dr. Van Buren's practice and continued a physician until his death in the fifties. Later were Drs. George R. Spratt, J. M. McWharf, Artemas Ross, L. P. McCray and others.

Supervisors-1821, Ande Nobles; 1822-23, John Heath; 1824-27, Gardner Cleveland; 1828, A. S. Underwood; 1829, Alex. Wilson, Jr.; 1830, John Heath; 1831-24, Wm. Rice; 1833, Harvey A. Phinney; 1836-39, Wm. Rice; 1840, Ira F. Gleason; 1841-42, Wm. Rice; 1843-44, Moses Randall; 1845, Wm. Rice; 1846-47, Samuel Bly; 1848, Lyman Brown; 1849-50, Chas. Brightman; 1851*55, Stephen W. Steward; 1856, Jesse Brown; 1857, Stephen W. Steward; 1858-59, Chas. Brightman; 1860, Herules Rice; 1861, L. S. Terry; 1862-63, Hartson S. Ayer; 1864-67, Joshua Hatton; 1868-70, Hartson S. Ayer; 1871-72, Jesse Brown; 187374, Otis J. Green; 1875, Jesse Brown; 1876-78, O. D. Hinckley; 1879-82, Lawyer S. Terry; 1883-89, John A. Slotboom; 1890-96, James D. Gallup; 1897-03-04-05-06-07-08-09-10-11-12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19-20, Lorenzo P. McCray, who in 1914-15-16-17, was chairman pro tem. of the board and in 1918-19 was its capable chairman. He is now serving his twenty-fourth term on the board, only one other member Joseph A. McGinnies having served a longer term.

Clymer reported to the State census bureau in 1915 a population of 1,316 citizens and 25 aliens. The Mohawk Condensed Milk Company of Clymer was reported as employing 31 hands, and four small factories employing eleven hands were operated within the town limits. The full value of real estate in the town in 1918 was $970,726; assessed value, $761,603.

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