Samuel Harvey's Journey to Settle in Mansfield, NY

The following story about Samuel Harvey’s journey to Mansfield is taken from "The History of Cattaraugus County, NY", published 1879 by Everts, edited by Franklin Ellis.

   Jacob B. Van Aernam, accompanied by his son Abram was the first to settle in the northwest part of the town, and located there in 1822. He was followed in the fall of the same year by John Chapman, and a little later by Samuel Harvey. Mr. Harvey was from Marcellus, Onondaga Co., and reached the place of his settlement Sept. 22, 1822. He returned to his native town, and remained during the following winter. On the 12th of March 1823, he in company with a young man named Daniel Wallace, each with a yoke of oxen, started for the new settlement. They had intended to start in the early part of the winter, and waited until March for snow to fall in sufficient quantity to make sleighing. Being disappointed in this, they startedwith wagons, finding good roads east of Genesee. West of that river they found snow; and at Warsaw there was so much snow, that farther progress with a wagon was almost impossible. With great difficulty they reached a relative of Mr. Wallace's, from who they obtained an ox-sled; with this they reached a place on Cattaraugus Creek called Zoar. There they left the ox teams, and proceeded on foot to the place of settlement. After crossing to the south side of the creek, and reaching the uplands, they found the snow from two and a half to three feet deep. They soon after returned to Zoar for their teams, and brought back with them about 500 pounds of hay,  all they could carry on the sled; but this was reduced nearly one-half in making the journey through threes, brush, over logs, etc. As soon as the snow settled sufficiently to enable them to work their teams in the woods, they went up to their lands and cut timber for a shanty. They stayed in the meantime with Jacob B. Van Aernam, who with John Chapman, assisted at the raising. The house was with "long shingles," made by splitting hollow logs through the center; the first course being laid with the hollow side up, and the next conversely over the joints of these. An opening was cut in one side and a bed-quilt, hung before it, answered the purpose of a door. The floor was made of hewn basswood logs. They moved into this house about the middle of April, and then began chopping for a fallow. Mr. Harvey cleared 15 acres, and sowed it to wheat that fall.
     When he came here he brought with him a dozen extra axes, 7 of which he sold to as many persons, who paid for them by cutting an acre of timber fit for lodging, and for each of the remainder he received about 6 days' work. In 1823, he went six miles to get a bushel of seed-potatoes, which he planted on the 27th of June of that year; and the same year he went a distance of 18 miles to get seed-wheat, having first to go a distance of 5 miles to get a wagon with which to bring it home. The following year Elihu Alvord, who had just settled in the southeast part, cut a road through to Mr. Harvey's place, a distance of 7 miles, to get wheat for seed. The nearest grist-mill was at Gowanda, then called Lodi, 14 miles distant; and frequently, to save two miles of travel, Mr. Harvey would ford  the south branch of Cattaraugus Creek.
On reaching the stream, he threw off his load, and having driven his oxen and sled across it, carried his grist, one bag at a time, wading through water two or three feet deep, until the last bag was safely deposited upon the sled on the opposite shore, where he would resume his journey.
     For several years the only commodity convertible by the settlers into cash   was "black salts" - the chief product of all early settlements in timbered countries. These, salts were conveyed to market, generally by means of a "drag" - a rude vehicle constructed from a crotched tree, the oxen hitched to the butt of the trunk, which served as a pole; two stakes standing upright and driven into the lower end of the two branches, with a few pieces of boards laid across, the lower end of the branches dragging on the ground, constituted and completed a "drag," whit which the early settlers of Mansfield, and of all Cattaraugus, went to mill, to meeting, and to market. Gowanda and Springville, distant from 15 to miles, were the only accessible milling places and markets prior to 1830
.   Submitted by Sue Cross Town of Mansfield Historian


Tags: Tag Municipality: