Settlers & Settlement of Wayne County, Part II

Christianna & Nancy Richards

Amos and Christianna Richards and their 13 year-old daughter, Nancy, settled on the lakeshore between what is now Sodus Point and Pultneyville in 1795. They may have been in the area as early as 1794, living near Daniel Russell in Williamson, but there is no proof of this. Their only "close neighbor" on the lakeshore was Elija Brown who came about 1796 to the area. The family cleared a small plot and built a cabin. Not much is known about Amos Richards, except that he is listed a taxpayer in 1799 and is included in the 1800 census of the town of Sodus. It is thought that Richards either died or left the area about 1802. Christianna and Nancy stayed on their land and continued the task of clearing land, erecting a log barn, planting an orchard and harvesting their crops. Early travelers, including Charles Williamson, were welcomed to their home, and their hospitality was well known.

Christianna Richards is said to have remarried by 1820 another early settler, George Alcock. They lived on her property near the lake. Mr. Alcock died in 1829 and is buried in Lakeview Cemetery in Pultneyville. Christianna died in 1848 at the age of 92 years. She is probably buried in Centenary Cemetery, which is located near her wilderness home.

Nancy Richards was born in August of 1782 in the state of Massachusetts. About 1807, she married Jeduthan Moffatt, and they lived the rest of their lives on the land she had helped to clear and plant. Jeduthan Moffatt served as a private in the War of 1812 and might have been present at the skirmish in Pultneyville in 1814. Mr. Moffatt died in 1860 at the age of 80 years.

When Nancy Richards Moffatt died in 1870, at the age of 88 years, her neighbors erected a monument in the Centenary Cemetery in her honor as the "last of the family that braved the dangers of the forest and made the first permanent settlement in Sodus. She lived to see the wilderness become a fruitful field and the desert blossom as the rose." Most local histories do not include much information on the women who participated in the early settlement of Wayne County, and it is important that we make note of not just these brave women, but all the rest who made the trip into the wilderness of our country.

Jonathan Melvin, Sr.

Jonathan Melvin, Sr. moved his family from Massachusetts to the "District of Sullivan", Ontario County, about 1795. This is now known as the town of Phelps, which is located just south of Lyons. He purchased 800 acres of land and set about clearing the land for farming. In 1806, Mr. Melvin expanded his land holdings when he purchased 500 acres in the town of Wolcott.

This land would eventually become the site of the village of Wolcott. By 1809, Mr. Melvin built a gristmill and sawmill on his property in Wolcott, as well as three log houses for his workers. It was not until 1811 that Johathan Melvin and some of his family moved to Wolcott from Phelps. In 1813, he built a frame house for his family and painted it black - a most unusual color for a house. It is said that he would respond, when asked why a black house, that the color reflected his personality. Apparently, this was not a fair assessment of himself, as he is said to have been a very generous and hospitable person.

Jonathan Melvin, Sr. had great plans for Wolcott. Unfortunately, he had given his land as collateral on a loan from banks in Geneva and Utica for a business associate. When the loans came due, his friend did not have the cash, and the banks foreclosed on Mr. Melvin's property. In 1822, Mr. Melvin returned to Phelps and died there in 1845 at the age of 95.

These are but a few of the many stories of the settlers and settlement of Wayne County.