By Helen Corser Fox, Bristol Town Historian
The history of Bristol was first recorded in 1669, when the explorer,
Robert de LaSalle wrote to his homeland describing his visit to the
Burning Springs, where the Seneca Indians escorted him to see this
In 1779 General Sullivan traveled through this area.
His soldiers were impressed with the fertile land and many returned
as Bristol County, Massachusetts purchased this land for settlement.
Richmond, Bristol and South Bristol were all part of this purchase.
South Bristol was organized from Bristol in 1838.
The Goodings were the first settlers, followed by many
others from the Dighton Area. Gamaliel
Wilder also brought many settlers from Connecticut. In 1789 the town
was formed. Town meetings were held regularly often at the old Congregational
Church. Churches and school were formed. The district school was centralized
with Naples, Canandaigua, Bloomfield, and Honeoye. Today there is only
one church, The United Church of Bristol. There were small stores throughout
the town which later sold gasoline. Bristol was an agricultural town.
Other Industries were sheep raising with tanneries and chandleries
at Muttonville, which is now Vincent. The Cultivation and sale of hops
from 1853 to 1920 was a successful enterprise. Many fairs, Field Days
and festivals were held in Bristol.
The beauty and serenity of the hills and valleys has
drawn many to the area. Many permanent homes now dot the hills. Tourism
is the venture of the town now. We have Bed and Breakfasts, Pottery
shop, Antique stores, Wood specialty stores, and Computer Graphics
to name a few. The
Town Park across from the Town Hall at Bristol Center has sheltered
picnic areas, sports fields and jogging track available to all town
residents and also anyone passing by who needs to rest a bit before
Town government is still very local with meetings held
at the town hall. We have preserved our various cemeteries as best
as can be with the passage of time. Veteran's graves are decorated.
These include Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish American
War, World War I and II, Korea, and Vietnam.
Some Information to Help in Your Research:
The Town of Bristol Historian has the following in the archives at
the Town Hall. The list is a partial list of the holdings. This is
such a tremendous resource, I hope many of you will take advantage,
and submit a look-up request or stop in. Because the holdings are
large and various, kindly be as specific with your query as possible.
Names, dates, places, and specific questions will be very helpful
in searching through the Archives.
Your cooperation and courtesy will be greatly appreciated. Simple
requests for information may be free. Requests that involve more work
may be subject to a charge. If copies are requested, copying fees and
postage will apply. Otherwise, your reply will be e-mailed back to
Kindly submit your detailed look-up request to:
c/o Bristol Town Hall
6740 County Rd. 32
Canandaigua, NY 14424
Local Genealogy Work
Do you have a local genealogy project going? Do you have some local
ancestors or relatives that you would like to access family information
Well, we have a local volunteer, Shirley Pridmore Simpson, who along
with others has helped to organize an amazing amount (192,019 entries)
of genealogical records from sources in Naples, Bristol, and the town
of Italy as well as other individual contributors and her own personal
research. This large volume of work has been stored on a searchable
Rootsweb World Connect Project page which can be accessed by clicking here.
There is a search engine for looking up data and contact info for Shirley
on that page.
Bristol Historian Resources
| Census Records
||1883-1969. With sources, includes parents and
spouse when available.
| Cemetery Records
||All Bristol, various Honeoye/Richmond, South
Bristol, Naples, East, West and South Bloomfield, Canandaigua,
Cheshire, Academy, Allen's Hill and (old) Ovid Street in Seneca
| Military Records
||Locations of graves in local cemeteries, Civil
War letters, enlistment lists from before 1865, with regiments
and parents listed.
| Family Histories
||Data of over 200 families of the area. Many of
these go back to Dighton, Bristol County, Massachusetts, where
the pioneers came to settle the Dighton Purchase from Phelps
and Gorham and back to the "Mayflower".
| School Records
||School books, Academians and records from many
||Original Congregational Church records from early
1800's. Records from Baptist, Universalist, Methodist, Federated
and United Church of Bristol.
| Political History
||Town minutes from 1789 to present. Lists of the
town officers; early highway records.
||County and local histories, directories, ledgers,
journals, diaries, family genealogies, Dr.'s records and many
more too numerous to list.
||Gazetteers, Rural New Yorkers, Ontario County
||Over 175 scrapbooks from the 1880's to present.
Contains newspaper articles, obituaries, marriages and birth
||1859, 1874, 1904 and 1916. Gives residents names
||Many original deeds, some wills, early "ear-marks" from
1797 to 1840 and many other interesting files of data.
An Interesting Story Written by Festus Ganyard
The Ganyard family arrived in Bristol around 1799 when Festus was
four years old. By 1817 the family moved on with many other Bristol
pioneers to Granger, Medina County, Ohio. Ganyard Hill Road and a cemetery
off South Hill Road where a tombstone of Peter Ganyard is located are
all that remain of the name in Bristol. That four year old year old
boy left a story of his trip to and early life in Bristol. We can not
know unless we have hiked along the Appalachian Trail what a trip from
New England to Bristol at that time might be like. The motto "Do not
be scared before you are hurt" helped move these people on despite
crossing frozen lakes with ice cracking and breaking under the bays.
On the way to the Genesee country grown men were singing about their "Genny
House". They traveled in late winter in order to sleigh and cross frozen
streams easier and arrive in time to plant crops. On the way they joined
other groups going to Bristol. When they arrived they spent the first
night with John Codding's family. How well the young children played
together. Next morning after an eight Mile trip they reached Grandfather
Hatch's. Here they found old friends Allens, Wilders, and so on. Father
bought 90 acres in East Hollow with an eight foot square log cabin
less chimney. The house was as open as a barn and the March breeze
and smoke were almost suffocating. Mother would sit and weep while
he lay his tiny hand on her knee and say "Mama what makes you cry"?
The only answer was soft tears running down her cheeks. As Winter ended
and birds sang folks were busy at work and spirits rose. Family life
was very happy there at the new home in the forest. He describes the
cabin as follows. "The cupboard, so called, was two pins driven into
the side of the house and a board laid on them. A set of tea dishes
and dinner plates, knives and forks put on the boards. A set of wooden
plates called trenches were for common use. A large iron kettle, dish
kettle, dinner pot, spider and tea kettle, two chairs, two stools for
the little boys, a high bed and bedstead, under this a trunk bed, thus
I close the picture of the home." The happiness is in the mind not
the place. All the neighbors lived the same simple life. Babies were
born and families prospered in the new country.
History by Helen Corser Fox, Bristol Town Historian
-From the Bristol Historian Archives-
The U.S. - Mexican War
As you look through Bristol's history, you will occasionally see
references to the U.S. - Mexican War. To help understand the context
of these references, we have included a short article describing briefly
that conflict. To access the article, click here.
Other Links to Bristol and Ontario County History Websites
Ontario County Historical
American History and Genealogy Project (Bristol page)
Ontario County Genealogical
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