The Settlement on the Buffalo Road and Akron
Excerpts from "The Town of Newstead Septquicentennial 1823-1998"
Soon after 1803, the Peter Vandeventer tavern became the center of a small settlement on the Buffalo Road. Archibald Clark opened a general store which was well patronized, since the nearest store then in existence was twenty-five miles west at Buffalo. The Clark store was located at the corner of Cummings and Main Roads (currently a house).
Neighboring towns were beginning to be settled at about this same time.
- The first land in the Town of Alden which had been surveyed by the Holland Land Company was sold to Jones Van Wey in 1806; however, there was no settlement of any size until several years later.
- Several more families arrived in Clarence in 1806, and among them were Jonathan Barrett, John Tyler and Justice Webster. In 1807 William Barrett, Thomas Brown and Asa Harris arrived.
- The "Centennial History" states that Asa Harris settled three miles west of Clarence Hollow and at a point which thereforth went by the name of Harris Hill though the hill is so low as to be hardly perceptible.
- Several others settled in the present Williamsvllle and Amherst around 1807, One of these early settlers was Jonas Williams, who was vigorously striving to build up the village of Williamsville though without much success. There were but a few houses in Williamsville in 1807, which was then called Williams Mills.
- Land outside the city of New Amsterdam or Buffalo sold as low as $225 an acre. In 1806 there were but 16 houses in Buffalo, eight of them scattered along Main Street, three on the Terrace, three on Seneca and two on Cayuga: The author of the "Centennial History" believes that Mr. David Mather who made the above statement may have overlooked a few buildings.
Captain Samuel Pratt was one of the inhabitants of Buffalo. He had established a flourishing trade with the Indians in furs and other articles. Descendants of Captain Pratt were prominent in business and society in the city of Buffalo for several generations and members of the family still live there.
These neighboring towns of our present Town of Newstead were also being stetted and the setters could visit friends and eventually trade with each other. After all, visiting friends and relatives was practically the only relaxation one had in those days.
At the time of the early settlements, the present Town of Newstead was called Erie. Some early settlers of
"Erie" were Elisha Geer, Jonathan Fish, Charles Knight and his son-in-law Lemuel Osborne. The latter two arrived early in 1807 and in July of that year, according to Mrs. Osborne, daughter of Mr. Knight.
The first church of our present Town of Newstead was organized in her father's home. Mrs. Osborne was still alive when the Centennial History of Erie county was printed and she told the author there were 12 persons present who organized a Methodist society, and her father was the first class leader This was the first Methodist organization on the Holland Purchase, The First Methodist Church of Akron is an outgrowth of this small society, and from this small beginning derives its reputation as the "Cradle of Western New York Methodism:
The Society of Friends which met at Hamburg was probably the first religious organization in the present Erie County and the Methodist "Society" the second. Even Buffalo had no church at this time.
Circuit riders were the preachers in the early days of the Methodist Church, They came to the small, newly
formed towns on horseback to preach the gospel to the settlers. They might stay a few weeks, boarding with the members, and preaching on Sunday. They undoubtedly earned their board helping the pioneer with his many tasks, The members of the churches conducted services themselves in the absence of the circuit riders,
The first preachers to come to Erie (Newstead) were Peter Van Ness and Amos Jenks. George Lane, a year later, came to minister to the Methodists whose membership had now grown to about fifty.
In 1809 Francis Asbury, the first Methodist Bishop in America, visited this area and formed the Genesee Conference. In 1826 the Methodists built a church called The People's Delight on the present Draper farm.
The First School
In 1807 a log school house was built somewhere on the Buffalo Road, probably near the store of Archibald Clark. The first teacher, a Mr. Keith, is reported to have been paid $19 a year. He, of course, "boarded around" and his board was part of his salary - a custom which persisted in paying school teachers for
The Holland Land Company was only one of many land companies formed in New York State. The Holland Land Company had purchased the land from the Genesee River westward and south to the Pennsylvania border. The Indians who possessed the remaining land in Western New York had reserved it for their own use sold 7,000 acres of land to the Ogden Land Company in August 1826. A famous
Indian, Red Jacket, noted for his oratory, protested in vain to the Senecas when they sold more land. Red Jacket, whose real name was Sagoyewatha, was a shrewd chief as well as a great spokesman, and foresaw the troubles the Indians might have in selling such large tracts of land. He was given the name Red Jacket by the white people because of the bright red jacket he was extremely fond of that had been given him by the British when as a young man of 20, he had acted as a messenger for them in the Revolutionary War He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo where a large monument is erected at his grave
The Ogden Land Company immediately set about having their lands surveyed. Some of the lands they purchased are where the Village of Akron is now located. It is not definitely known the exact location of the Ogden Company's lands.