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Region's towns have a common parent


Northfield, parent of seven present Monroe County towns, was set off as a unit of Ontario County, NY. In 1788, the land was made available after the Revolutionary War and the Treaty of Buffalo Creek. Land developers and entrepreneurs, named Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham, had purchased approximately two million acres, which was divided into Ranges and Townships. The tract reached from the Pennsylvania border to Lake Ontario, with its eastern boundary line passing through Seneca Lake and the western boundary was the Genesee River.

It has long been assumed that two cousins by the name of Simon and Israel Stone came to what is now Pittsford, purchased over 13,000 acres of land from the developers Phelps and Gorham. These two young men were veterans of the Revolutionary War and had perhaps seen this fertile area when accompanying Sullivan on his march through this area. These Stone cousins had come from Salem NY in Washington County near the Vermont border. The area was called Northfield.

The cousins cleared dense forest, built two log houses - one near the Big Spring - at the approximate site of 38 State Street. After establishing the small settlement, they returned to Salem where there was a large contingent of family, many named Stone, some named Nye, Dunn, and Dodge. By summer of 1789, parts of those lands had been resold and the land lying at the strategic Indian Landing on Irondequoit Creek was sold to John Lusk, whose family came from Berkshire County, Massachusetts.

John Lusk purchased land at the bay but did not remain to develop the parcels. He returned to Massachusetts and left his son, Stephen, who later moved to Pittsford where he farmed and followed his trade as a tanner. At approximately the same time, where the present village of Pittsford stands, a tiny settlement was growing up at the junction of a road leading from Bloomfield and Lima to join the trail leading to the Landing. The residents there at "Stonetown" were almost all "kissing cousins".

Caleb Hopkins had arrived in 1791 and in the decade from 1790 to 1800, there were several other men who also came to Pittsford. By 1796, there were enough settlers in this wide area to justify the creation of a town government. The first Northfield town meeting was held April 5, 1796, at the home of Paul Richardson in what is now called Pittsford Village. The records of this early pioneer settlement are gleaned from the diligent writings of the town clerk, Dr. John Ray. His old, hand-written record book is carefully preserved in the office of the Town Historian.

Now, what about Simon and Israel Stone? They had returned to Salem and had persuaded many relatives and friends to join them in this fertile valley of inexpensive land, just ripe for establishing large farms. I am sure the two men made a tidy profit on reselling much of the acreage. Simon stayed, married Hannah Nye and together they had five children. Their homestead was on East Street and at one time Simon sold his neighbors a small plot of land that was to become a cemetery. It is there that Simon is buried. Someday there will be a marker from the Sons of the American Revolution marking his grave. (More about Simon in another article.)

Israel married Lucy Root and there were no children from this union. Israel died at the early age of 35 and there is no record of a burying place. Stone did travel frequently between Northfield and Salem and it is conjectured that he might have died on one of his trips. So far, I have not been able to find a final resting place for Israel nor for his wife, Lucy, who married three more times before her death. It is said that she spent much of her life trying to collect the monies due her husband from the sale of land from his early purchase.

Northfield became Boyle in 1803; when Penfield and Perinton had been established and separated. In 1813 the name was changed to Smallwood and when Brighton was separated from the town, it was renamed Pittsford by Caleb Hopkins after his hometown of Pittsford, Vermont. Pittsford was divided again when Henrietta was established in 1818. Brighton was divided in 1839 when Irondequoit was formed and in 1840, Penfield and Webster were formed as two separate towns.