about 1800 there was nothing much to suggest the settlement would ever amount
to anything. Robert Chissom had a small public house on the road to Canandaigua,
right at the foot of the hill. David Wagener had added a gristmill on the
Outlet's south bank to the sawmill on the north bank by the dam. The gristmill
was owned by Melchior Wagener, David's younger son, for the benefit of the
widow, who also had a life interest in the home farm and other lands.
David Wagener had died
the previous August, and soon afterward his elder son Abraham came in from
his farm in East Milo and build a house on the east side of the new road
laid out between Benton Center and the gristmill. Abraham Wagener's house
was the first in the settlement not constructed from logs, but of sawn lumber.
Dr. John Dorman and
his family lived in a big log structure near the foot of the same street,
which was at yet nameless, as was of course the settlement itself. Three
or four additional log houses were scattered in the space between the road
and Jacob's Brook.
With the exception
of Dorman's place, these houses were built by squatters on Wagener's land.
By this time Dorman owned five acres, all on the east side of the street;
soon after the turn of the century he built the frame "Old Red House"
and moved into it with his family. The old log structure was fitted with
distilling equipment by Dorman's eldest son, Aaron Gilbert Dorman, called
Gilbert. It's said that this operation only produced two quarts of alcohol
a day with its antiquated copper boiler system.
One of the squatters'
cabins was inhabited by a family named Lenox. Robert Lenox and his wife
are shown on the 1800 census, in about the right location; they are said
to have lived behind where the Community Bank is now, down by the creek.
Cleveland tells a very vivid story about this couple's encounter with a
bear who was raiding their pigpen. Robert was so frightened he climbed to
the roof of the cabin and stayed there; his wife was so outraged at the
impending loss of their only pig that she attacked the bear with a cast-iron
frying pan and succeeded in driving it away, though she broke the pan in
doing so, which no doubt was nearly as grievous a loss as the pig would
have been. Cleveland says she afterward proudly displayed the handle of
the famous fryiing-pan as a trophy of her adventure. Catharine Chissom Crane
in her interview with Cleveland excerpted at the left confirmed the story.