Pandemonium



Pupils of John L. Lewis Sr at Penn Yan: printed in the Yates County Chronicle
13 January 1870:

PENN YAN SCHOOL, APR. 20, 1815

Note-Mr. Lewis calls the name of the village at that time Morrisville or "Pen Yang" as he writes it in his note book. The latter was the name by which the town had been called and about that time there had been an attempt to change it to Morrisville, in honor of Morris F. Sheppard, but there being another place by the same name in the state it failed, and the name was modified to Penn Yan. He commenced his school May 1st, and continued here two years, six months and seventeen days, and his pay received was so meager that it showed a loss of more than $450 in the time, yet he taught 204 scholars, the names of which at this day will recall many early recollections and a more perfect and comprehensive view of the state of the population of both parents and children; those that have passed away and those continuing to form the present community, perhaps than any other historical means that can be presented:

Phelps - Thomas J., David A. and Mary.
Joanna H. Edmunds.
Wagener - Charles and Abraham.
William L. Way.
Sheppard - Charles C., John L., Geo. A, Sally and Sally F.
James D. Morgan.
Haw - Caroline M., William, Cortland W. and Joshua.
Catharine O'Brien.
Stewart - Lewis, Clarissa and David.
Anthony Wayne Van Pelt.
J illett - Sally and Jefferson.
William Shaw.
Kidder - William, Benjamin and Nathan L.
Maria Sabin; Clarissa Bronson; Wm. W. Wagener; Susan Wheeler; Rebecca Alford. Shattuck - Lydia B., Sabra and William Thomas Jefferson.
Susanna Sheppard; Lucy Quackenbush.
Wisner - Stephen and William.
Jillett - Julia, Luther and Edwin.
Sheppard - John S., Lewis and Howell.
Sally O'Brien.
Runyan - Benjamin, Harriet, Henry, Nathaniel and Sally.
Wagener - David, Samuel, Mary and Susannah. Alfred Brown.
Clark - Elizabeth, David and Millen.
Dorman - Temperance and John J.
Kidder - Hiram, Desdemona (married A.H. Bennett) and Calista.
Polly Lawrence; Hathaway Lawrence; Betsy Wheeler.
Finch - William and Polly.
Robert P. Sheppard; Elisha Beals; Francis H. Edmondson; Susan Shaw.
Ballard - Hanson, Clarissa, Sophronia and Joseph.
Lewis Bradley.
Smith - Stephen and Josiah.
Benjamin Colegrove; Jacob Roorback.
Raymont - Jason, William, Bonham and Stetson. Phelps - Rhoda and Angeline.
Betsy Shearman; John Heltibidal; Nancy McDowell; Anna Lawrence; William Doolittle. Woodruff - Maria, Jacob and Robert.
Alonzo Gregory; William Sagar; William Riggs; Isaac Stewart; Jason Kelsey; Almira Spencer; Samuel Henderson; Anna Stewart; Jesse Squier; George Chissom; William W. Barton; John Lawrence Jr.
Betsy Loomis; Aaron Scofield; Hannah Raywalt; Eunice Cutter; Seth Cook; Charles Stone; Mary Jane Lee; Elijah Covel; Betsy Wagener; Eliza Munn; Elizabeth Andrews; Solomon M. Murphy. Bronson - Sally, Asa and James.
Nancy Dixon; Martha McBride.
Wheeler - Samuel and Zachariah.
Thomas Jefferson Stroe; Peter Stewart; Shubert Prentiss; Harvey T. Lee; Adolphus Bennett. Fredenburgh - John and Abraham.
Stephen Havens; William Sayres; John L. Lewis Jr.; Laura Lawrence; James W. Shattuck; Myron Cole; Charles Staats; Selius Boots; Susan Ann Hull; James Sayre; Oren Shaw; Oliver Wolcott; Henry Morgan; Baldwin Chidsey; Pitt Stone; John O'Brien Jr.; Sophia Stone; Matthew Rose; Abraham Shearman; George Van Pelt; George Wheeler; Mary Ann Hedges; Wealthy Sprague; Truesdel Nichols; Amy Turner; Cynthia Scofield; Zebulon Collins; Amos Charles Babcock; Betsy Whitney; Alva Finch; Moses Rugar; Hiram Pierce; William Prentiss.
Andrews - Eliza Ann, Lydia and Orry.
Crane - Emma and Mary.
Elias Phillips; David Collins.
Higbee - Wayne and Anna.
Richard Powell.
Crane - Samuel and Alma.
Salem Griggs; Gilbert Ferris; Cornelius Cornwell; Betsy Hazen.
Hazen - Cordelia, Drusilla and Thomas.
John Davis; Sophiah Shattuck; Samuel Beckwith; Lydia Cole; Joseph Cole; Emeline Fitzwater; Erastus Wolcott; Polly Seely; Rachel Fitzwater; Sally A. Andrews; Lot Colegrove; Ruth Griggs; Betsy Bordwell; Spooner Pierce.

 

 

he man who took the census in the town of Benton in 1810 collected a great many more names than had the one who enumerated the town of Jerusalem in 1800, even though it had a much smaller area. Hundreds of families had come in from New England, Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey and southeastern New York. The population was dense enough to support a number of small congregations of worshippers, Methodists and Baptists and Presbyterians. Practically all these people were farmers, with here and there a rural store, a tavern, a blacksmith shop, a mill.

Penn Yan had a name, but it was still more of an idea than an actual place. After Benton was split from Jerusalem in 1802, the new town kept holding meetings at Lawrence Townsend's place out on the main road; at the intersection of this road and Main Street, a couple of taverns and one or two stores clustered among the tree stumps. In addition there were perhaps half a dozen houses nearby.

Downstreet two gristmills stood opposite one another on the banks of the Outlet, and two sawmills just upstream from the dam. Anyone bring a load of grain to the mills had to pick his way down a steep embankment to stream level, as the street ended abruptly about 20 feet above, near where Rebecca Wagener's small white cottage stood.

At this lower end of the street, besides the mills, were a store, John Dorman's old log house (now a distillery and tavern), his newer frame Red House (which is where the store was), and a few dilapidated log houses strung out near the bank of Jacob's Brook.

Ten years after Abraham Wagener accepted his "unpromising inheritance," it probably seemed less promising than ever. The mills at the foot of the street, and the crossroads at the head, separated by nearly a mile of unfathomable mud, could not have been anyone's idea of an up-and-coming place. It was invariably described by the few travelers who came through the place as dirty, devoted to whiskey, and plain hardscrabble. Even after it acquired its unique name, the place was derisively called "Pandemonium" by the pious farmers who lived in the surrounding rich countryside.