Town of Bristol
6740 County Road #32
Canandaigua, New York 14424
Phone: (585) 229-2400
The Town of Bristol Town Hall hours:
Monday thru Friday
8:00 a.m. - 12:00
1:00 p.m. - 4:30

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More about Bristol

and Our History

Geographic Location

The Town of Bristol is located in west central Ontario County, in the State of New York. It occupies an area of 36 square miles or 22,840 acres. It is approximately 35 miles southeast of Rochester, 8 miles southwest of Canandaigua, 13 miles south of Victor, and 12 miles north of Naples.

Elevations in the town range from 850 to 1,950 feet above sea level. The only relatively level land is in the Bristol Valley, which extends the entire length of the town, north to south. Mud Creek flows through Bristol Valley from south to north and is the principle waterway, which facilitates drainage for the town. The creek eventually empties into the Barge Canal. The three north and south ridges which compose the terrain of Bristol are the spurs or northernmost reaches of the Allegheny Mountains.The natural features of Bristol make it a source of never-ending beauty.

Bristol History

When the Senecas first roamed these hills and valleys, the region was crowned by a dense growth of timber. Maples and elms grew on the flat land. On the hills, oak and chestnut predominated, intermingled with pine, beech, hemlock, ash, basswood, hickory, poplar, ironwood, butternut, buttonwood, wild cherry, and a few other varieties.

It is said, wolves and bear roamed the forest, panthers haunted the deep ravines in the hilly regions, and stealthy wild cats crouched in the trees. Deer glided gracefully in the shadows—squirrels were everywhere—the red, grey and black of the species.

History records that the first white men to visit Bristol were the French explorer, Robert de LaSalle, and the missionary, Galinee. In August 1669, they visited the Seneca village south of Victor to await an Indian escort to Ohio. While negotiations were pending, Galinee recorded: "In order to pass away the time, I went with M. de LaSalle, under escort of two Indians, about four leagues (ten miles) south of the village (Victor) where we were staying, to see a very extraordinary spring. Issuing from a moderately high rock, it forms a small brook. The water is very clear, but it has a bad order, like that of the mineral marshes of Paris, when the mud on the bottom is stirred with the foot. I applied a torch and the water immediately took fire and burned like brandy and was not extinguished until it rained. The flame is among the Indians a sign of abundance or fertility, according as it exhibits the contrary qualities. There is no appearance of sulphur, or any other combustible material. The water has not even any taste and I can neither offer or imagine any better explanation than that it acquires the combustible property by passing over some aluminous land."

Neither the Indians nor the white man realized that is was natural gas, coming from underground and bubbling through the water that caused the water to burn. Probably set afire by lightning for the first time, the flame was several feet high and burned until extinguished by a heavy rain or high wind. More than hundred years passed before it was discovered that gas could be used for heat and light.

When Walter Case owned the "Burning Spring" farm, he and his wife often cooked over the flame of the spring—it was a hot flame, and at that time, rose to a height of eighteen inches. The drilling of gas wells in the area has caused the flame to become much smaller.

On July 10, 1937, the glen was the scene of one of the many celebrations staged in commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the LaSalle and Denonville expeditions. A log cabin "trading post" was built and a pageant presented on a coast-to-coast radio program.

The Burning Cave on the same property, may be considered more spectacular, but is not as much of a curiosity as the burning waters of the creek. On the side of the twenty-five foot falls is a deep niche and from within its inky darkness, a steady flame burns. Called a cave, it does not permit a person to stand upright, and the heat of the flame prevents crouching within it.

For many years, the glen at the Burning Spring was the most popular place for picnics for the local folks and excursions for tourists.

In 1969, the Tax List of Bristol named the owners of twenty-two taxable commercial gas wells in the town. During the period 1915-1935, there were many private gas wells on various farms; at that time, one could have a well dug for about $200. Sometimes, wells were dug and no gas was found, or it might be a small vein, which was quickly used up, but if a rich vein were found, it heated a home for many years. Natural gas was not only Bristol’s first connection with history, but has been an enduring tie to it.

A gas well "rig" during the earlier search for gas or possibly oil in Bristol.

In the angle formed by County Road 2 and Flatiron Road, there was a large Indian Village; a smaller one was located near Randall Gully in the southern part of town, just off present Route 64; Randall gully another was east of Route 64, on a hill south of the Fisher Hill Road. A small village was located on the rise of ground northeast of Baptist Hill and another near the Burning Spring. There were eight Indian sites in Bristol.
On September 11, 1779, General Sullivan’s troops marched through Bristol on Lot No. 3, crossed Mud Creek on Lot No. 4, and followed the Indian trail to Honeoye. He must have burned the village at Flatiron Road, just as he destroyed the Indian village at Canandaigua, before entering Bristol.

An amusing story is told by Helen Herendeen, former Bristol historian: "About a hundred years after Sullivan’s march, some young lads in Bristol had the idea from their reading of history that Sullivan’s army had buried some treasure along their line of march across my grandfather’s farm, so they came and asked him if they might dig for the treasure. He gave them permission on condition that they shovel back all the dirt into the holes when they were through digging. This they promised to do.

"They spent much time that summer hopefully digging for treasure, but they finally tired of this unrewarding occupation and abandoned their efforts. When it came time for fall plowing, Grandfather had to mount his saddle horse and make a number of house calls to remind the young men to return and keep their part of the bargain by shoveling back the dirt."

"It is said that there are cannon buried up on West Hill across the flats from my farm, upon the Gregg farm or in that vicinity, on Elm Tree Road."
"The horses were becoming exhausted hauling these heavy cannon up the steep hills, over the rough terrain, so they decided to bury the cannon before they had to bury the horses. I believe that someone is now trying to locate a cannon with a metal detector. If they should locate one, we would indeed have a memento of the American Revolution."

One of the soldiers who received a land grant for service in the Revolutionary War was William Gooding, who with two younger brothers, James and Elnathan, walked to Bristol from Dighton, Massachusetts, in the spring of 1788. They drove before them a flock of sheep, a herd of young cattle, and a cow for milk. Their claim established on Lot No. 1, in the northeast section of the town, the brothers cleared a few acres of ground, sowed wheat and planted turnips. They built a crude log cabin for themselves, and a shelter for their livestock, and cut and stored hay to feed the animals during the winter, leaving seventeen year old Elnathan to care for the animals. Elnathan was the first white man to winter in Bristol.

"This story was told by Elnathan’s great, great grandmother, Ada Fisher Bliss: "One evening, not long after his brothers had left him alone, Elnathan was cooking his supper outside over a campfire, when the long shadow of a tall Indian fell across the fire. Elnathan did not panic, but ladled out a bowl of his stew and handed it back over his shoulder to the Indian, who happened to be a hungry young man. This act was the beginning of a long friendship between the two young men. Someone gave the Indian the name of Jack Kelly."

"Ada said it was not unusual to come into the kitchen in the early morning and find a number of Indians sleeping on the floor around the fireplace." The Goodings and the Fishers always made them welcome.

William and James Gooding returned with their families in the early spring of 1789, and soon built a larger, more substantial cabin and a blacksmith shop. William was kept busy shoeing oxen and horses, and repairing and making tools for other pioneers and his anvil was kept in steady use as the settlement continued to grow.

Deacon George Codding and his son, George, traveled over the Susquehanna route from Dighton to Bristol in 1788 – 1789. His sons, John, Faunce, Burt and William soon followed him. The Coddings had drawn Lot No. 3 in the lottery in Massachusetts.

The Town of Bristol was formed by the Court of Sessions, January 27, 1789. Many of the first settlers were from Dighton, Bristol County, Massachusetts, and they named their town for that county.

The first meeting to organize the town was held April 4, 1797, Gamaliel Wilder and George Codding presided. The following officers were elected: Supervisor, William Gooding; Town Clerk, John Codding; Assessors, Faunce Codding, Nathan Allen, and Nathaniel Fisher; Commissioners of Highways, James Gooding, Jabez Hicks, and Moses Porter; Constables, Amos Barber, Nathan Allen, and Alden Sears, Jr.; Overseers of the poor, George Codding, Jr., and Stephen Sisson; Overseers of Highways (or Pathmasters) Eleazer Hills, Peter Ganyard, Theophilus Allen, Elnathan Gooding, John Simmons, and Amos Barber; School Commissioners, Aaron Rice, Ephraim Wilder, and Nathaniel Fisher; Collectors, Amos Barber and Nathan Hatch.

Bristol in 1789 included South Bristol, which was detached and organized March 1838. The present town, No. 9 in the 4th range, was purchased for the Dighton Company, at fifty cents an acre, by Rev. John Smith and Calvin Jacobs, in whose names the title was vested. The town was first surveyed and laid out in tiers of lots, north and south, beginning at the northeast corner and numbering from one to 60. Each lot was intended to contain 400 acres, and to be 108 rods wide, but the survey gives a variance of from 100 to 112 rods.

Other early settlers were:

Andrews, Samuel --
1791, Lot No. 40. His father, Ebenezer of Dighton, Massachusetts. During the Revolution, Ebenezer was a sergeant under Captain Peter Pitts in Col. Timothy Walker’s Regiment. In 1795, he and his family moved to Bristol. He died here in 1808. Benjamin brother of Samuel, moved from Lot 40 to Farmington, Michigan, about 1828, with his family.

Barber, Captain Amos --
After 1796, Lot No. 51

Briggs, Zenas --
An early settler near the Bristol Center cemetery. His oldest son was a well-known tavern keeper west of Canandaigua.

Bowen, Jeremiah --
1800, Lot No. 45.

Case, James --
About 1800, Lot No. 34. He had a large family

Case, Jonathan Joy --
About 1802, Lot No. 34. Brother of James. Had a large family. His family history is detailed in The Case Family genealogy.

Codding, George, Jr.--
Lot No. 3—Became a wealthy and prominent citizen. His will provided support for churches, school and the town.

Codding, Faunce --
Lot 5—A nail maker in Dighton, he continued his trade in Bristol and made the nails for his barn, the first structure of its kind in Bristol. He died in 1810, age 40; his widow and part of his family moved to Lockport, Illinois.

Codding, Burt --
1791, Lot No. 7—Moved to Ohio. Property later owned by Levi W. Totman.

Codding, John --
1791, Lot 3. Large family—moved to Ohio, Medina and Summit counties, after John’s death.

Crandall, John --
About 1802. Tavern keeper; ran a four horse stage.

Crosby, Samuel --

Crow, John --
1794, Lot 15

Cudworth, Nathaniel --
1798, Lot 39

Fisher, Nathan --
About 1795, settled at Fisher’s corners.

Francis, William --
Came in the winter of 1800 by ox-sled with his family and household goods.

Goodale, Solomon --
Born in Brookfield, Massachusetts in 1767. He first settled in Phelps in 1795. An experienced surveyor, and first resident minister in Phelps, he preached in school and private homes. First Town Clerk in Phelps. He came to Bristol in 1802; minister of First Baptist Church. His records listed 450 marriages, and 1,000 baptisms. We do not know what happened to his records. He died November 7, 1862, age 96.

Gooding, James --
1789, Lot No. 4. A farmer and "somewhat of a tailor" brother of Elnathan and William.

Gooding, Job --
1794, Earliest settler on Lot 39. Said to have been a sea captain, who settled in Bristol so his sons would not go to sea.

Gooding, Thomas --
From Massachusetts in 1802.

Gooding, Zephaniah --
1798, Lot 41—Brother of William, James and Elnathan.

Hicks, Aaron --
1795—Lot 37.

Hill, Eleazer --
1794, Lot 13. When war was declared against Great Britain in 1812, he organized an independent company for volunteer service.

Hills, Hezekiah --
1797, Lot 6. A farmer, he came from Dighton to Bristol by ox team.

Jackson, Azer & Elias-
Brothers. They settled about 1803 on Lots 44 and 45.

Johnson, Larnard --
Blacksmith, Bristol Center.

Jones, Asa --
1802, Lot 47. At his death, he was buried on the farm.

Jones, Seth --
1802, Lot 38. Tavern keeper, Baptist Hill. In War of 1812.

Jones, Sylvanus --
1802, Lot 44. He was a major in the military service, and exercised some influence in town affairs. At his death, his land was sold and his descendants moved west.

Kent, John --
1797, Lot 38. Came to Bristol from New Jersey in 1795 on horseback. A shoemaker. He cleared his land by hammering sole leather and driving pegs for George Codding, paying for two days chopping on his clearing with one day’s work at his bench.

Low, Anthony --
Donated land, one and one-half acres, for the First Congregational Church, Bristol Center. Moved to Granger, Medina County, Ohio.

Mallory, Samuel --
1795, Lot 14. The Mallory family history dates back to the tenth century. In 1754, four brothers came to the United States and their descendants have scattered over the U.S. He was a school commissioner, and a prominent citizen in town.

Marsh, Marcius
1796-7, Lot 5. The town line was the property line. His name has been spelled Marcius and Marcus, but all legal documents relating to him use the spelling Marshes. His children became the pioneers of Wisconsin.

Mason, Isaac --
He had a tannery south of Bristol Center: a business begun at Muttonville, where he dressed the sheep pelts.

Mason, John --
1801; Lot 44

McCrumb, George --
From Dighton, bought property 1789.

Miner, Enoch --
Wagon shop, "Mayweed."

Mitchell, Oliver --
Lot 16.

Phillips, John --
About 1800, Lot 41.

Phillips, Luther --
1803, Lot 38. First shoemaker on Baptist Hill. His descendants went west.

Reed, George --
ca. 1805, Lot 52.

Reed, Joshua --
1798, Lot 39. Shoemaker.

Sears, Captain Alden --
1792, Lot 36. Revolutionary War solider.

Short, Theophilus --
1796, Lot 11. Built a log house and started a brickyard in 1801. In 1804, he moved to Manchester, purchased 500 acres of land at $5.00 an acre. The village of Shortsville is named for him.

Simmons, Benjamin --
Lot 47. His brother, Constant, lived near him on same lot.

Simmons, Constant --
Lot 46. His son, Henry, later owned the land.

Simmons, Constant --
1797, Lot 49. He erected a log house, at that time, the finest in town. He ran a tavern in his home for several years.

Simmons, David --
1798, Lot 42. Brothers, Ephraim, Simeon, Benjamin, Richmond and Constant all settled in Bristol at the same time, and were reputable, industrious and prosperous citizens. David died during the epidemic of 1813.

Simmons, John --
From Dighton, Massachusetts—1792, Lot 38.

Simmons, Philip --
1805, Lot 50. Trader and farmer. He and his family moved to Michigan.

Simmons, Seth --
Lot No. 1. A carpenter: Built his house about 1798.

Sisson, Stephen --
1793. Had a store and Inn at Muttonville. It was the first frame building in town.

Smith, Daniel --
ca. 1800. Lot 43.

Spencer, Abijah --
1789, Lot 6. His brother, Aaron, settled in Burbee Hollow in 1790; sold his South Bristol property in 1795 and moved to Canandaigua, New York. Abijah sold to Dr. Thomas Vincent.

Taylor, Daniel --
1804, Lot 4. A cattle dealer, he took his drove to Philadelphia. He was reported to have had a large and profitable business.

Taylor, John --
1797, Lot 13.

Torrence, Samuel --
Came from Connecticut about 1800. Lot 36. His son, Sheldon, moved to Livingston County.

Trafton, John --
Came from Dighton in 1797, age 17. He worked for his brother-in-law, Daniel Burt and for Burt Codding until he paid for his farm on Lot 15.

Vincent, Dr. Thomas --
A native of Rhode Island, he moved to Geneva in 1795; and came to Bristol in 1797, where he bought part of Lot No. 6. The land was partially cleared and contained a log house built by Abijah Spencer. Dr. Vincent was Bristol’s first physician. The Hamlet of Muttonville was renamed Vincent in his honor.

Walker, Eliakim --
A backwoodsman, and early settler on Lot 42. He had a log cabin and a small vegetable garden. When deer became scarce and shy, he moved to Michigan.

Walker, Tisdel --
1802, Lot 42. He died young, leaving a small family.

Warrells --
A cabinet maker north of Bristol Center.

Warren, Abijah --
ca. 1805, Lot 15. His son, Abijah, was the first to conduct a tanning business in town. The tannery was west of the Congregational Church; discontinued at that location, and the business relocated at Muttonville.

Wheeler, Aaron --
1798, Lot 36. A son moved to Michigan.

Whitmarsh, John --
1791, Lot 7.

Whitmarsh, Rufus --
1806, Lot 17. Rufus was a carpenter, and built most of the earliest frame houses in Bristol. His old farm was later the property of N.W. Randall; the main part of Randall’s house was built by Rufus in 1819.

Wilder, Ephraim --
1793, Lot 14, where he built a small log cabin, stayed one summer, then settled on Lot 10 in Bristol Center. He put up a log house, and later a frame house, subsequently occupied by James McKinney. Ephraim had a distillery and tavern for several years. Ephraim was a brother of Gamaliel Wilder of South Bristol. Descendants in this area include Tiffany, Hatch, Gilbert, Codding, Gooding and Sisson.

Wolcott, E. --
Operator of a distillery on Mud Creek, Bristol Center.

Town Meetings

The first meetings were held in the North Meeting House and School House, North Parish, which may have been the first log building to house the Congregational Church: from 1809 till 1837, at various houses, and Inns, and for nineteen years at the Congregational Church.
At a special meeting, at the North Meeting House, North Parish.

April 28, 1797:

Proceeded to choose Gideon Ferre inspector of Lumber.
Voted that all fence viewers be allowed $1.00 per diem.
Voted that all fences 4 – ½ feet shall be considered lawful.


Voted to put a bounty of one penny each on squirrels and woodpeckers. Ears of squirrels and heads of woodpeckers.
As for the squirrels, McIntosh relates in the "History of Ontario County" – "The red and grey squirrels were rare, but the black squirrel was so numerous in 1800 that, on one occasion, two bands of five young men each, set out in contrary directions, to return at an appointed hour to a feast to be provided by the party bringing in the least squirrels. Three hundred squirrels were killed, all black except for one grey one. In 1818, these squirrels were so abundant that in a cornfield eighteen or twenty were seen on a tree.


Voted that the Highway Commissioners direct the Pathmasters to dig up the Canada Burdocks in their districts.
Voted a 2¢ bounty on squirrels.
Mcintosh says, "It is unfortunate that the Canada thistle has effected a lodgment on the farms of the county."
And tells how they got here: "In 1815, a Mr. Wood went to Albany with a load of produce; he there fed his horses hay from the wagon box. On his return home, the hay was thrown out, and up sprang the thistles, which have defied every effort at their extirpation and proved a pest to the harvester and thresher."


Voted to pay School Commissioners and School Inspectors.
To raise $200 for the poor.
Voted that no rams were to run at large from September 1, to November 15.


Voted to buy a book for the Town Records.
Voted to raise $100 for the poor. To pay School Commissioners and Inspectors 75¢ per diem.
Voted a penalty of $5.00 for rams at large.
Voted to divide the town into highway districts.
Voted to pay the collector 3% for collection.


Meeting at the Town Clerk’s office to divide the town into assessing districts.
Pathmasters were elected for each road district and were responsible for the maintenance of the roads in their district. Each was given a list, made up by the commissioners, of those assessed to work on the roads:
Every male inhabitant over 21, residing in the district (excepting ministers of the gospel, and priests of every denomination, paupers, and idiots and lunatics).
Every person owning or occupying land in the district, whether resident or non-resident, male or female.
All corporations owning land in the district.
The number of days’ work required was determined by the amount of real or personal property of the assessed. Work for one district varied from one to thirteen days.
At least 24 hours’ notice was given to all persons assessed to work on the highways in their district, advising them of the time and place to appear with the necessary implements required for the job. They were permitted to work eight hours a day between 7:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M.
All noxious weeds, briars and brush on the highway adjoining any uncultivated or uninclosed lands in the district to be cut down, once between June 15th and July 1st; and between August 15th and September 1st.
Any loose stones on the beaten track of every road to be removed once in every month from April 1st to December 1st.

Assessed labor was expected to remove snow within 24 hours of being notified. The amount of work required was in proportion to the original assessment. All persons called out and failing to appear at the designated place, or to commute at $1.00 per day, within 24 hours after due notice, were liable to a fine of $1.50 a day for each day’s labor required. The fines, collected by the pathmaster by suit in justice’s court, were used to have the snow removed.

Monuments erected as boundaries of highways "to be kept up and renewed so that the extent of such roads may be publicly known:" Any guideposts, erected by the commissioners within the limits of the district were to be kept in repair at the expense of the town.

The number of pathmasters in office each year varied from six in 1797 to fifty-two in 1836. The number dropped to thirty-three in 1838, when South Bristol became a separate township.

It was not lawful for cattle, horses, sheep, swine, or goats to run at large, nor to be herded, nor pastured in any public street, park, place, or highway in this State. They were seized and kept until disposed of according to law. Any person responsible for the stray animals was fined $5.00 for every horse, swine, or head of cattle; $1.00 for each sheep or goat found.

In Bristol Center, Horace and Allen Hooker ran the pioneer store in the ballroom of Timothy Wilder’s hotel. Mr. Bradbury was a subsequent storekeeper in the same place. The Hooker’s success warranted the erection of a large house on the corner, also used as a store. George Gooding succeeded the Hookers and transformed the store into a tavern.

Cyrus Wheeler and a Mr. Williams were distillers. Mr. Pool was a resident in the early days.

In the hamlet of "Mayweed," which was located near the present trailer park on Route 20A, John Sears and Benjamin Waldron were early tavern keepers, one on each side of the road. Ward Parks had a store in an early day, and a store continued there for 25 years. David Niles was the owner and operator of a forge, and his shop was well patronized. Enoch Miner ran a wagon shop and was kept busy for years.

The first store at Baptist Hill was kept by Mr. Hunt in 1810. His stock was kept in a small farm building, just west of the store run by S.H. Wheeler during the Civil War, and later by William Doyle. Joel Park had a store in the same building as Mr. Hunt, as did Dr. Jacob Gillette, who sold goods and practiced medicine. Dr. Gillette erected the first brick building in town. It was later destroyed by fire. Aaron Van Orman was the pioneer blacksmith, with a shop north of the old Baptist Church. A tavern kept by Luther Phillips was one of the firsts in the hamlet.

Muttonville was a small hamlet on Route 64 South and Vincent Hill Road. It has been called the nation’s greatest abattoir, where the number of sheep slaughtered has been reported at 30,000 a year, in the mid 1800’s.
As early as 1797, when the first records were kept, there were 21 registered earmarks in the town. By 1850, when Bristol reached its height in population, there were 210 flocks identified by earmarks. In addition to the local sheep led to the slaughter pens, flocks were driven to the pound from miles around, and from as far away as Ohio.

Asahel Gooding was the leader in this enterprise and for years conducted an extensive business, selling the hindquarters of the animal for meat; the pelts for coats, gloves and shoes—both were transported by wagon to Rochester, New York. A thousand candles a day were made in the tallow chandlery and were sold as far away as New England.

Asahel erected a beautiful gothic house in Muttonville, which was the home of Katharine Sisson (Case) Fales’ family from 1872 until 1965, when the house burned Katharine and her husband, Ernest Fales, had a new house built on the old foundation; they later moved to Canandaigua.

Eleanor A. Hicks recorded in her diary on April 22, 1893 that there was a big fire in Muttonville. Orestes Case lost his horse barn, two horses, a cow and a pig. Also involved were a very old hotel, which was empty, and a small store owned by Eugene Rood.

The Four Corners with the store owned by William Doyle. The Bristol Post Office is the small building directly behind the store. Grange Hall building to far left.

The Post Office with Willie Kennedy, Chauncey Ingraham, Tom Wells, Irv Johnson, Harold Sleight, Post Mistress Clara Gilbert, Theo. Sleight, and Emery Wells standing in front of it.

The Bristol Fair Association was organized in January 1851, with a membership of 128. The first officers were: President, Francis Mason; vice presidents, Elijah Jones and Norman Hills; recording secretary, Norman W. Randall; corresponding secretary, Myron O. Wilder; treasurer, Arunah Jones.

Besides the annual Fair, the Association was somewhat on the order of the Grange, with a literary character. The members met at a different school each time. A paper on some farm topic, prepared by one of the members, would be read and this was followed by a general discussion on the subject.

The first Fair was held in Bristol Center, September 16, 1852. During the Civil War Years of 1862–1864, it was discontinued; when it resumed in 1866, it became a two-day fair. For a time in the 1870’s, the exhibition was extended to three days.

The Ontario County Fair in Bristol: In 1937, Mrs. O.P. Letchworth, owner of about 300 acres of property in Bristol offered to build a half mile track and a grandstand if the Ontario County Fair Association would purchase 30 acres of land for about $500 and shift the Fair to Bristol. The offer was accepted and the Fair remained in Bristol until 1948. Attendance at the 1947 Fair was 12,770. Although the 1948 Fair was considered the most successful post-war Fair, the directors decided to move the location to a more centralized place in the county.

Mrs. Fales said the first emancipation of women in Bristol came when a creamery was built in Bristol Center. Among the men who financed the business were: Dr. B. T. McDowell, Fred E. Tones, Garrett Wheaton, Willis Seamans, and Nick Case. The creamery was reached by a winding road around the base of the hill back of the Bristol Center store.

Few farmers kept more than two or three cows, enough to supply their own needs, and perhaps have a few pounds of butter to sell at the country stores. Some housewives had regular customers in Canandaigua and the Bloomfields. It was a weekly task to churn cream into butter and one less chore when the cream was sold to the creamery. Twice a week, varied sizes of cans of cream were picked up at the roadside by a man in a small wagon drawn by a team of horses.

The creamery was not equipped to process large quantities of butter, and was a short-lived enterprise. After it closed, farmers took their cream to Honeoye Falls.

Mrs. Fales reminisced: "There were six stores that I can remember. Two at Baptist Hill, one at Vincent, two at Bristol Center, and one farther south, about three miles. They all sold the same type of merchandise—some carrying more of one thing than another did. One store at Bristol Center sold percales, unbleached muslin, outing flannel, gingham, and spools of thread."

The store in Vincent carried only groceries and kerosene. "I remember the gas stove around which the men gathered, sitting on benches, which in summer were removed to the front porch; the open cracker barrel, where everyone helped himself. Candy was behind a glass case—stick candy, licorice ropes, round hard peppermints—and gum, about the size and shape of a pencil, which was mostly wax with a sweet coating. I also remember being allowed to take and egg to buy a stick of candy, but never could understand why at one time an egg bought two sticks, and another time only one."

Mrs. Fales also remembers: "In the store at Vincent was the first telephone system in our town. Mrs. Eugene Rood, the wife of the storeowner, operated the switchboard. Just how far the lines extended, I do not know. There was a telephone in our house, and there were telephones in Mayweed. There were sixteen on our line—including Dr. McDowell, at Bristol Center, and our store. Of course, everyone listened in!"

Superviors - Town of Bristol

1797 – William Gooding
1884 – Leonard H. Jones
1803 – James Gooding
1885 – William H. Doyle
1808 – Eleazer Hills
1888 – Youngs William Smith
1812 – William T. Codding
1889 – Mark A. Case
1815 – Richard Simmons
1892 – Mark A. Francis
1816 – George Codding
1894 – Herbert L. Case
1817 – Richard Simmons
1896 – Harlan M. Fisher
1819 – George Codding
1898 – Charles Richmond Simmons
1820 – James Gooding
1901 – Samuel Moranda
1821 – Joseph Wilder
1903 – Garret F. Wheaton
1824 – William T. Codding
1905 – Elias J. Gooding
1827 – Warren Brown
1909 – William M. Simmons
1828 – Jonathan J. Case
1911 – Seymour W. Case
1833 – Allen Brown
1915 – Frank Ferrin
1835 – Francis Mason
1917 – John B. Gregg
1836 – Benjamin F. Wilcox
1923 – Harry R. Marble
1838 – Francis Mason
1925 – Barton T. McDowell, M.D.
1842 – Aaron Hicks
1929 – Harry R. Marble
1843 – Lemuel Hicks
1933 – Anson G. Rogers
1844 – John Mason
1945 – James G. Reed
1845 – Elnathan W. Simmons
1949 – Marion Gladding
1846 – John Mason
1959 – Kenneth Whitcomb
1847 – George Gooding
1965 – Wilfred Ward
1848 – John Mason
1971 – Wilbur J. Wilson
1852 – Oliver Case
1975 – George Ward
1852 – John Mason
1977 – Robert Walrath
1854 – Francis Mason
1979 – Robert A. Green
1858 – Arunah Jones
1985 – Raymond Barend
1859 – Stephen A. Codding
1863 – William G. Packard
1865 – Richmond Simmons
1867 – Sylvester H. Wheeler
1871 – William A. Reed
1876 – Leonard H. Jones
1882 – Lewis J. Reed
1883 – Elkanah Andrews

Election Time in Bristol

‘Twas the night before election
And all through the hills,
The people were nervous
Some even had chills.
Automobiles were speeding
All over the town,
Which had made for itself

‘Twas the day of election
And all through these hills
The names of the candidates
Echoed with thrills.
Clohecy was busy
Trying to stop
Those Marbles from rolling
Right over the top.

Buckelew was a running
As fast as he could,
But he couldn’t quite catch
Charley Jones as he should.
Then Higley appeared
On the scene quite amused
For he thought he was elected,
But instead was confused.

There’s another Jones family
This town represents,
A man and woman
Who kindly consent
To run for the office
Of Bristol Town Clerk.
He for the office
And she for the work.

‘Tis the day after elections
When all through these hills,
Not a person was stirring
They were doping their chills.
For the battle is won
With all good intentions;
But some would be glad
Of just "Honorable Mention."

 - John Gregg

Mr. Gregg was born and lived most of his life on the road in town that bears his family name. He was a farmer but had an obvious ability for poetry.

Farm Related Industries of Bristol

Some of the first settlers brought with them carefully chosen rams and ewes from which their large herds of sheep originated. As early as 1797 records show 21 registered earmarks in town. The little group of houses on and around the corners of what is now Route 64 and Vincent Hill Road was the center of the Sheep Industry. No wonder it was called Muttonville!

To prepare the sheep for slaughter the sheep were driven to the hamlet and into a large pond in order to wash the wool. Wool was the foremost resource from the sheep for clothing, blankets and pelts. The pond was so deep the sheep had to swim to get out.

The men who killed the sheep were paid by the head. The hindquarters were dressed out for meat. The remaining parts were placed in large vats, where the fat was melted and skimmed off for the tallow to make candles.

The Candle Molds were on a device much like large wheels with many spokes. Hot tallow was poured into the molds fastened on these spokes. When the molds were filled, the wheels were turned to go outside the building, where the cold air hardened the candles. They were then boxed and shipped all over, even as far as New England.

The town checked this enterprise by mandating fences for holding pounds and appointed fence viewers to make sure all was in order. Town ordinance read, "The rams shall not run at large from the middle of August to the middle of November under penalty of $5.00 fine to the owner." In 1850, there were 210 flocks of sheep.

It would appear that after the passing of this industry in Bristol the residents of the area were somewhat pleased as they changed the name of the hamlet to Vincent in honor of the first Doctor in Bristol. Also, to the west the hamlet of Mayweed was named for a daisy-like flower, which grew in profusion at that location. (Elm Tree Road and Route 20A.) These names certainly gave the area a more peaceful description.

Hop Farming

Hop vines were rooted in Bristol about 1835 from seedlings brought from England. Hops were a vine planted in hills, once set out they lived for years. They were in rows about six feet apart. The hills were spaced six feet apart also. It was then possible to cultivate between the rows and to accommodate the bins used for picking which were passed down the rows. The bins were of wooden frames with three large divisions called pockets made up of burlap. Hops were picked in late August or early September. This brought many workers from as far away as Rochester and Buffalo. The picking refers to pulling off the lovely green hops from the vine. (The pickers were paid by the bushel.) The hops were taken to the dry house. The Kilns on which the hops were dried were made of wooden slats over which kiln cloth was placed. After the hops were placed on the kiln, they were dried by means of large furnaces, where sulfur, know as brimstone, was used for firing. After drying the hops were baled in burlap for market.

Hop season meant a lot of work for everyone. At night the farmers held dances at various farms to entertain the pickers who came from around the area. This was a more fun type of industry. After blight and prohibition, the industry declined as other markets had opened in the west with more modern methods to make production more economical.

Large spreading apple trees were abundant on most farms, especially on the Valley Road. In order to preserve the apples, evaporators were set up. The owners of the evaporators would contract with the local farmers. When the apples were brought in they were weighed and emptied into a sorting bin. The inferior apples were chopped and dried and sold for use as pectin.

The good apples were pared by machine dropped onto a belt to the trimmer and then the slicer. They were then bleached and moved on to the kiln. After drying they were stored, being frequently turned by shovels. When they were ready for market, they were shipped in burlap bags. After canning factories became common, this procedure was no longer used.

The black raspberry market in Bristol used the drying procedure for preservation. That also passed, as it was possible to truck the fresh berries to the Rochester Public Market in about an hour.

Hop Picking

Hop pickers resting on the edge of a bind during harvest on Seamons farm (County Road 32 near Bristol Center). Poll puller on left – Merton Packard. Pickers – Rita Simmons Hopkins, Edna Haskins, Mary Hunn Moranda, Howard Pierce, in front. (He was later killed in France during World War 1).

Hop bin mentioned in previous article with pickers seated on edge. Vines hanging on poles background. Circa: 1905-1910

Blacksmith Shops

The blacksmith shops turned to garages as the automobile came to town. Many such shops were in town with gas stations at each one. The distilleries and most of the grocery stores are gone, as are the gas stations.

The beauty of the hills once again encompasses the valley.

An old view of Bristol Center, taken nearly at the top of the hill, going west from the Center on County Road 32.

Bristol to Ohio - 1817

In October 1817, James Ganyard, Elizur Hills, Anthony Lower, and Burt Codding, four Bristol, New York farmers went to Ohio, in a carriage drawn by two horses, to inspect the lands of Township 3, Range 13, in the Western Reserve. They remained for several days, and being well satisfied with the richness of the land and its adaptability for farming purposes, they returned to their homes in Bristol. They purchased from Gideon Granger, the proprietor, three-fourths of the township, at $4.00 an acre. They sold their farms in Ontario County to Mr. Granger in part payment, and together gave a mortgage bond amounting to over $14,000 on the new lands in Ohio.

After the agreement had been made, and before the written contract was signed, James Ganyard transferred his right of proprietorship to John Codding, reserving for himself only as much land as he had paid for.

Soon after they had taken possession of the Granger lands, and had commenced making improvements, Congress placed large areas of Government lands, in the counties south of the Reserve, on the market, at less than half the price paid by the Granger settlers. As a result, when the mortgages became due, the owners were unable to pay them and their lands and possessions reverted to the former proprietor.

In early February 1818, the first train of emigrants started in ox sleds from Ontario County, New York. The party consisted of Elizur L. Hills, with his sisters, Abigail and Marilla; Elizur Wolcott; John Codding and wife, and one child; Festus and James Ganyard; Seth Dye and wife; Richard Paull and wife; and Seth Paull, with his family of two children. They arrived on the new lands in the middle of March.

The following fall, another party, consisting of Elizur Hills and wife, with seven children; Anthony Low and family; and Burt Codding, joined their friends and children who had preceded them.

All these families settled close together in the vicinity of what is now known as Coddingville. Nathan Hatch came with his family of five children, on October 24, 1818. In February 1819, Benjamin Burt and his mother settled with their sons and brothers, John and Daniel, who had preceded them the previous fall. At the same time came Belia Spencer, with his family; the widow Amanda Isbell, with her child; and James and Amos Isbell, two single young men; James Ganyard, with his wife and two children, two of this sons had already located here the year before, and Mrs. John McCloud, who lived with the Ganyard family, and Hoel Hatch, whose parents had arrived the previous year.

The political organization of the township, later called Granger, took place in February 1820, and the first election for civil officers occurred at the house of Seth Paull, on the first Monday in April. Board of Trustees 19 and 1820. This is known as Reed’s Schoolhouse. John Codding taught a school at Copley’s corners, for several years in the early days of the colony. John Burt taught at Grangerburg in 1820 and 1821.

Others born in Bristol, who emigrated to Ohio: Samuel H. Pomeroy, born March 15, 1810 in Bristol, Ontario County, New York, son of Samuel and Penelope (Allen) Pomeroy. Simpson Simmons, born Bristol, October 10, 1805, son of Jonathan and Ruth (Gooding) Simmons. Benjamin Burt, born February 14, 1804. He was only 15 years old when the family went to Ohio. He started a day or so before the family, with the cows; he arrived the day before the family at their new house, having walked almost the entire distance. George Codding, born Bristol, March 31, 1800; moved to Granger in 1821. John Codding, born in Bristol May 2, 1797; moved to Granger in 1818. John N. Ganyard; Seymour A. Ganyard; Hoel Hatch; Franklin Sylvester, were a few of the many that moved west during that period. There were many that migrated to Illinois and Michigan as well.

The First Congregational Church

Bristol has been called the town of many churches. From the time of settlement, there had been seven church organizations in the town.

The oldest of these—one of the oldest in the county—was the First Congregational Church of Bristol, which was organized in June 1799 by the Rev. Zadoc Hunn and Rev. Seth Williston, a missionary; although Congregational services were held in the town as early as 1793.

The meeting house was a long structure, constructed of unhewn timbers, and was equipped with a desk and seats of a rude description. It stood on the East Side of Route 64 nearly opposite Route 20A.

The first members were: Isaac Hunn, George and Sarah Codding, Ephraim and Lydia Wilder, Nathaniel and Hannah Fisher, Chauncey and Polly Allen, Marcius and Amerillus Marsh, William and Lydia Gooding, Samuel and Phebe Mallory, Selah Pitts, Mr. Foster, James Gooding, Alden Sears, and Thomas Vincent.

In 1810, a new meeting house was planned. Proceeds from the permanent sale of pews, to finance the new building amounted to $6,874. Pews below the gallery brought in $5,875, seats in the gallery, $999.

Anthony Low donated one and one-half acres of land for the new building, which was completed in 1812, and dedicated in 1814. According to Arch Merrill (the Rochester Newspaperman and author) there are 711 panes of glass in the many long windows of the church, located near the corner of Lee Road and Route 64.

In 1823, the Church was in the care of the Ontario Presbytery; they withdrew in 1844 and joined the Ontario Association of Congregational Churches. It never relinquished its right of Congregational rule during the period of Presbyterial connection.

Strict obedience of church rules and standards was expected, and punishments for infractions ranged from a stern rebuke to the complete disgrace of excommunication. Trials were held in the church meeting room, and a careful record was kept of all the church proceedings.

It has been said that revivals added extensively to the church membership, while wholesome discipline considerably reduced it.

The first Sunday school of the Congregational Church was organized in 1814, shortly after the dedication of the Church building. This was five years before the first Sunday school library book was published in this country.

In 1832, the building was "refitted"; again in 1846, it was thoroughly repaired. In 1875, it was altered and redecorated: In 1890, the high, colonial-type pulpit was removed and a desk installed; the gallery was removed and the church again redecorated.

The Church building was used for Town meetings and elections in 1818, 1862, and from 1873 until 1902.

In 1907, a floor was put in at a balcony level, making the church into a two-story building, with the sanctuary on the second floor, and dining room, recreation room, cloakroom, and kitchen downstairs; new carpets were added and the building was painted.

For years, antique collectors coveted the huge chandelier, a gift of the East Bloomfield Congregational Church when that congregation installed gas lights. Originally, it was a circle of twelve kerosene-burning lamps with delicately etched chimneys, suspended from large arms. In the old days, it hung low so the sexton could reach the lamps for refilling and trimming the wicks. When electricity came to the Valley, the chandelier was raised and wired.

In 1925, Mr. Issac Newton of Cleveland, formerly of Bristol left a $150,000 endowment fund, the interest of which to be used by the former Universalist, Congregational and Methodist churches, now known as the Bristol United Church.

Also in 1925, a new roof and an entrance and portico to the kitchen were added. The church building was completely renovated and redecorated.

The ten-room parsonage, built in the mid-1800’s was repapered and redecorated several times. In 1923, a pipeless natural gas furnace was installed, and a galvanized cistern replaced the old wooden one. In 1925, it was completely repaired and redecorated, and a "splendid" porch was added. Damaged by a fire in February 1982, the building was razed and a new house built on the site. The parsonage was damaged by fire at an earlier date, in the spring of 1933; it was then repaired and repapered.

Sheds on the church property erected in 1907 for the protection of the horses in bad weather were removed in the winter of 1932.

In June 1949, a new roof was put on the church building at a cost of $603. The chimney on the north side was removed.

In the 1950’s, the three churches of Bristol, the Community Church at Baptist Hill, the Congregational Church in Bristol Valley on Route 64, and the Methodist Church in Bristol Center found they were unable to pay adequate ministerial salaries and maintain church properties, so a joining of the congregations was considered.

It was decided by the three church boards to present this idea to the membership of each church, with the stipulation that it had to be passed by 85% of each church’s membership. When this was voted upon, the Congregational and Methodist Churches voted for such a merger, but the Community did not.

Pastors, Rev. Edwin Tilt of the Methodist Church and Rev. A. Claire Potter of the Congregational Church, very good friends, understood the need for consolidation and continued to support the idea of federating. This was legally accomplished in 1947. Both Pastors resigned thinking it better for all if a new pastor entered the picture to work equally with both groups. The joined churches became The Bristol Valley Federated Church with governing made up from members of both churches, now one church. Ernest Fales was elected President of the new board. Affiliations with both Methodist and Congregational denominations were maintained.

Because of the different sizes of the church buildings, the winter services were held in the smaller, more easily heated Methodist Church; the summer service sand social gatherings in the Congregational Church.

The Sunday school was in charge of Katharine Fales and James Reed, Jr. who worked together. It was an active group. Many of those young people can be found in our community and other places where they are making useful contributions

The social life of the church was carried on by a joint Women’s Society. They put on many money raising activities. The Annual Fall Roast Beef Dinner attracted people, "from near and far."

Another social group, "The Family Circle" met for a potluck supper, the first Monday of every month. Mrs. Walter Case headed this activity until she moved away. Then Mrs. Anson Rogers took over. If one had not been at church the previous Sunday, one could expect a call from "Lucy: reminding them of the super and Family Circle meeting. It was a fun night with games, cards and occasionally a speaker.

The successful Federation continued. After several years of discussion, the Bristol Community Church decided by vote of the membership that they would like to join. By vote of the Federated Church, this was approved. December 1975, the group voted to join the United Church of Christ, the local group to be known as the Bristol United Church.

Because of the size of the church and the fact that the parsonage at Baptist Hill had been recently renovated, it was decided to use the facilities at the "Hill." It was agreed to sell the other church properties. The Methodist Church building was sold to the Bristol Historical Society for $500.00 with the understanding that it would not be used for religious purposes. If not used by the Historical Society, it would revert to the Church. The former Congregational Church properties were sold as well.

No records of the Congregational Church would be complete without the mention of "Gabriel." The sheet-iron weather vane, believed to date back to 1814, may have been made by a local blacksmith. "Gabriel" served faithfully atop the tall, white church steeple for many years, pointing out the direction of the prevailing winds, and as a welcoming committee of one to the "Valley."

Deserving a rest after so many years of faithful service, and the indignities of rifle bullets and bird droppings, "Gabriel" now reposes in the University of Rochester Memorial Art Gallery. The arrangements for this move were due largely to the efforts of Katharine Case Fales.

The First Congregational Church Route 64, Bristol Center. Circa: 1950’s

The First Baptist Church

The Baptists perfected their organization in 1799. In 1803, the first Baptist Church of Bristol and Bloomfield was organized, and a log church was built one mile north of the section of Bristol referred to as Baptist Hill.

On February 7, 1805, the First Baptist Church of Bristol was organized, with 34 members: Elder Solomon Goodale; Jabez and Elizabeth Hicks; Asher and Esther Coburn; John and Mary Gregg; James and Betsey Case; Jonathan Phillips; Simeon, Gamaliel, Lydia, Matilda, and Abigail Simmons; Aaron and Otis Hicks; Lydia Bowen; Betsey Boyd; John, Betsey, and Sallie Chapman; Lucy and Jonathan Colburn; Sally, William, Jr., and Rebecca Francis; Irena Dunmore; Hannah, Luther, and Priscilla Phillips; Luscomb and Polly Codding; Samuel and Esther Gorse; Delano Sears; Deborah Briggs; Polly McCrumb; Lovina Reed; May Kimble; Sally Bodden; and Phoebe and Margaret Crandall. Reverend Solomon Goodale became their pastor and held regular and stated meetings in different convenient locations.

This organization built a log church near the site later occupied by the Universalist Church. About 1807, the Bloomfield church was abandoned and its members joined the Bristol Church. The reunited society moved their log church across the road, to the northeast corner of Baptist Hill. In 1812, they erected a frame building on the site. Workmen began dismantling the interior of the building in December 1910; and the last remnants were removed in December 1911.

Early church letters are interesting. Most are simple transfers from one Baptist Church to another; the earliest transfer was from Rehoboth, Massachusetts, in May 1800.

A second Baptist Church of Bristol was organized in 1821, from the first, with Elder Eli Haskell and 24 members. So many moved west that the remainder joined with the fourth Baptist Church.

Nathaniel Cudworth, Luther Phillips, Seth Jones, and Joshua Reed gave the property, containing four acres, and fourteen rods of land, to the Baptist Society. "In order to accommodate said Society and the public with a plot of ground for the convenience of their meeting house and burying ground. All the parcels of land are bounded on the corner between the east and west halves of lots number 38 and 39 in Bristol, including the highways which cross each other at right angles at the above-mentioned corner."

The Indenture conveying this land to the Trustees of the Baptist Society in Bloomfield and Bristol—Baylies Phillips, Jabez Hicks to Lyon Simmons and Seth Hathaway, Esq., -- was dated May 26, 1812

The Baptist Church of Bristol, New York. Circa: 1910-1911.

The building was located on the northeast corner of County Road 2 and Oakmount Road. Even though the structure is gone, Bristol has been continually called "Baptist  Hill."

The First Methodist Church

Excerpts from a paper written by Elizabeth Case Morse for the centennial celebration of the church – December 1946.

The First Methodist Church of Bristol dates its organization from 1845, and the building of its church from 1846.

Methodist preaching began in 1800 when William Case obtained a license from the Methodist Episcopal Church to preach, and a permit to be a missionary among the Indians of Western New York. He was the pioneer of the denomination in the town.

A class of eleven or twelve members was formed in 1806, including James and Betsey Case; James, Bathsheba, and Miss McCartney; Mr. Johnson; William Boughton, and others. James Case was class leader the first year.

Meetings were held in the schoolhouse in Mayweed, or at the home of James Case. By 1815, most of the original members had died or moved away, and a new class was formed in connection with the church in Richmond. George Reed, Jr. was class leader.

Charter members—in 1825, Amos Benjamin and his wife Hannah Maygett Benjamin, Julia, Harriet, and Mervin Benjamin, brought their letters of transfer from the Methodist Society of Amenia, Duchess County, New York, to help form the Society here, but as nothing was done about forming a society until 1845, all but Julia, who had married Alanson Reed, had moved to Illinois, and though here named as members were never active here. The other members were Hiram and Irene Clark Parsons; Ward and Irene Joyner Totman; Oliver and Nancy Reed Tiffany; Oliver and Judith Ann Gifford Case; and Nancy Reed Goff, and probably George Gooding, Ephraim Gooding and Abner Reed.

July 1, 1846, George Gooding and his wife Achsah, of the Town of Bristol, Ontario County, New York, conveyed to the trustees of the First Methodist Episcopal Church and Society of Bristol. Ephraim Gooding, George Gooding, Abner Reed, Alanson Reed, and Ward Totman, and their successors in Office forever, a tract of land supposed to be one-quarter acre. At that time, bounded on the north by the public burying ground, on the west by George Goodings land, on the south by a lot deeded by Gooding to James Wilder, and on the west by the highway. The sum paid by the trustees for this land was $50.

On the back of the document was the following statement:

Ontario County:

On the fourth day of September 1846, before me the Subscriber, a Justice of the Peace, in aforesaid county, came George Gooding and Achsah, his wife, whom I know to be the persons described in, and who executed the same. And the said Achsah on a private examination apart from her husband acknowledged that she executed the same freely and without fear or compulsion of the husband.

--Edwin Gooding

"On October 12, 1863, Ward Totman and his wife Irene, decided the land on which the parsonage is located to Ward Totman, Edwin Gooding, and Augustus Reed for $350. Whether this also included a house or not, I don’t know, but it seems to me it must have. In later years the parsonage, at that time in bad repair, was built over virtually as it is today."

"On June 16, 1869, Augustus Reed and Edwin Gooding, as trustees of the church leased the plot of ground across from Horatio Sisson for $25. This was for the erection of church sheds and was for a term of 99 years, and was to revert to the original form when the sheds were no longer used. With the advent of the automobile, the sheds were no longer needed and were torn down".

"Whether or not there was a basement under the church when it was built is a point I’ve not been able to prove. My mother has told me this incident which happened either at the time it was excavated, or perhaps remodeled; Two members, I believe it was James Reed and Byron Tiffany, disagreed violently on the construction of the walls, one wanted wood and the other, cement. Saying that wood would rot out—no agreement could be reached, so a compromise was made. Each man should build a sidewall to please himself. The north wall built of cement endured, while the south wall of wood, with a wooden window ledge, had to be replaced with cement several years ago."

"There have been many changes in these one hundred years, some large, some small. One of the outstanding and enduring beauties was the stained glass memorial window set under the pastorship of Rev. Walter W. Dailey in 1906-1907. There was the installation of gas to replace the oil lamps, and only a few years ago, they were superceded by electricity. The old stoves gave way to a gas furnace. The choir, down out of the gallery to our "amen" corner, and slowly the other "Amen" corner has gone. The organ gave way to the piano."

"The social rooms have seen many changes. I imagine the first major one was the installation of the inside stairway to the ground floor. Previously, the only way to get there from upstairs was by going around the outside—not too pleasant in winter. The kitchen was remodeled. The benches along the sides of the tables were replaced with nicer, more modern ones."

"In 1934, the old steeple had to come down and a smaller one was erected in its place to hold the bell, which for 100 years has called our parents, grandparents, and even great grandparents to worship; and in earlier times tolled for the death of its members in the same clear tone that today called us to this meeting to commemorate with it the 100th Anniversary of the First Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Bristol Center."

"In the 1940’s, it became evident that Bristol Valley could not longer support the churches and a movement was made to unite the three churches. The Church of Bristol (Baptist Hill) opted not to join but the two Valley Churches formed a Federation—each keeping their own denomination. The Methodist Parsonage was sold and the money invested. In the winter, the smaller, more easily heated Methodist "Upper Church" was used and in the summer, services were held in the "Lower Church."

"Due to several unfortunate circumstances and population changes all three churches united and went to he Baptist Hill Church under the denomination of United Church of Christ Congregational."

"The Historical Society of Bristol after several attempts bought the Methodist Church building for it’s permanent home. It was in bad repair and slowly necessary repairs were made. The sanctuary is as it always has been and is available for special services-weddings, baptisms, and funerals, but not the regular services. The basement will hold the artifacts of the History of Bristol."

"The bell is still in the steeple and on special occasions is rung. It’s clear tones alerting the residents to happenings as those in year’s past."

The First Universalist Church


Universalist teaching and preaching in the Town began in 1816. The first meetings and the one for organization probably were held in dwellings or in nearby groves. In the winter of 1828, meetings were held in the schoolhouse at Baptist Hill, and in the summer, in a grove. The date of formal organization is not on record, but the first official report of the First Universalist Society is given as May 1, 1833.

The first building occupied by the Society, erected in 1836, was constructed of cobblestones; the lower floor used as a school and the second floor was used for religious services—it could seat 200.

In the year 1856, the legality of the title to the church property was questioned. The appointed investigative committee reported as follows: "We, your committee, report that they searched the records of the office of the clerk of Ontario County without success; but found in Arunah Jones’ keeping, a deed executed by the trustees of the first Baptist Society of Bristol to Seth Jones of the same place, quitting their claim to all the ground or land lying north of the burying ground, and a similar deed from Seth Jones and wife to many individuals; with the understanding that it shall be used for a meeting house and schoolhouse, and such other buildings as may be needed for the same and for nothing else."

Interesting to note that all of the school meetings, from the date of this report to the deeding of the property to the Universalist Society, there was a resolution passed that no singing school shall be held in the building during the year.

The money for the stone church and schoolhouse was raised largely by subscription; and the deed given to Joshua Phillips, Lyman Hawes, and seven others.

At the annual meeting of the Universalist Society on November 26, 1860, Billings Case and A. C. Hathaway were appointed as a special committee to solicit funds for building a new church. Also, W. Scott Hicks and Peleg F. Hicks were appointed to confer with School District No. 1 to determine what they would charge to release their claim to the site now occupied by the schoolhouse.

At the January 12, 1861 meeting, the building fund committee reported that it had secured subscriptions amounting to $2,700. The school committee reported that the district had unanimously agreed to sell their right to the schoolhouse for $100. At this time, it was unanimously decided to build a church and David A. Pierpont, Ezekiel Cudworth, and Peleg F. Hicks were chosen as a committee with full authority to prepare a draft of a church building, to be presented at the next meeting.

January 19, 1861, a building committee was chosen with authority to let the contract for the building of the church. One year later, January 4, 1862, at the annual meeting of the Society it was reported that the church was completed and paid for.

On February 21, 1872, a committee was appointed to build a parsonage near the church. It was completed in 1872, and destroyed by fire in 1960.

The Sunday school was started in 1862.

The church bell was purchased July 29, 1861. Bought by the pound—1,017 pounds at 28 cents a pound—with a mounting cost of $40. The total cost was $324.76.

Members recorded at a February 2, 1861 meeting: Rev. L. P. and Lida Blackmore; Aaron F., Eunice, and A. Carlisle Orcutt; Elkanah and Sarah S. Andrews; W. Scott and Eleanor A. Hicks; A. C., H. A. and Mary Hathaway; Almeda Park; Mrs. May E. Thomas; Ellen M., Samuel B., and Roxanna Dorrence; Robert B. Simmons; Peleg F. Hicks; Maria L. Francis; M. E. Paull; E. M. and George Baily; S. A. Jones; Eliza Phillips; Zadia Case; Prudence Adams; and Lovice Fletcher. By 1876, one hundred families were represented in the parish. The Sunday school had 100 members and was kept up throughout the year.

At the turn of the century, the dinners at the Universalist Church were even then a tradition. It was a two day affair with usually chicken pie served the first day and oyster stew on the menu the second day. At the time of World War 1, the dinners were cut to one. Somewhere along the line it was changed to a turkey supper and later to a smorgasbord. Before the social hall was added to the church, the dinners were served in the Fireman’s Hall or EKOR Hall, as it was previously known. (Empire Knights of Relief) Only one year was omitted from this one hundred-year-old tradition. The women baked turkeys in their homes at the time of the turkey suppers. It was a real community effort and many neighbors participated, who didn’t even belong to that church.

In the earliest days, hitch barns stood on the East Side of the church where the kitchen now stands.

In 1913, the Universalist Church Fair was held in the EKOR Hall with orchestra, violin solos and a comic farce "Jumbo Jim" starring Harold Wheeler, Frank Gilbert, Harold Ferrin, Mrs. John Gilbert and Mrs. Leslie Gilbert.

Rev. George Campbell was pastor from 1924 to 1931 and Rev. Harry M. Wright from 1931 to 1946. Rev. Wright was made Pastor Emeritus in the 1950’s.

Rev. Robert T. Dick was chosen as pastor and served from 1947 to 1951. During his pastorate, the Lord’s Acre Program, where area farmers let the church members work land for the church was very effective. Five to ten acres were in crops. In the fall, there was a church service in the fields to celebrate the harvest.

In 1948 when the Universalist Church sanctuary was remodeled, Fred Ward built and electrified the cross at the front. Frank Gilbert built the atlet, memorial cabinet and two built-in stands at the back of the church. Fred Ward did the lettering on the front of the altar.

The Methodist and Congregational Churches federated in 1947, but at that time, the Church on the "Hill" chose not to join.

On March 16, 1950, the Universalist women voted to contribute $50 to the electric organ fund. This is a memorial to Miss Agnes Hathaway and other deceased members. Miss Hathaway went as a missionary from the church to Japan, where she served many years. She always remembered the church of her girlhood. It was through her generosity the church interior was redecorated in 1949. Installed in 1950, a new Hammond spinet organ, replacing the old pump organ, which had been in the church for 60 years. On Easter Sunday 1951, the Universalist Society dedicated the new organ and a plaque.

On May 5, 1960, a fire destroyed the church parsonage as well as another home and threatened the church and a damaged two additional homes. The parsonage had been rented to a family since the church had no resident minister at the time. The Red Cross opened relief headquarters in the Firemen’s Hall and was assisted by the Fire Department Auxiliary, Knick Knack Klub, and the women from the church.

In 1961, the First Universalist Church changed its name to Bristol Community Church.

In 1962, Mrs. Marble sold her house to the church for $7,000; a much lower price than she could have gotten elsewhere. It was purchased to use as a parsonage. Also in 1962, the sanctuary was again remodeled and redecorated. During the 60’s, the Women’s Society was divided into two groups; a day group and an evening group called the Hathaway and the Ruth Circles.

On October 24, 1967, in the minutes of the Board meeting of the Bristol Valley Federated Church mention is made of exploring the possibility of getting together with the Bristol Community Church. Again in June 1968, September 1968, and November 1968, combined Boards discussed the problems and possibilities.

On February 16, 1969, a meeting was held to approve the tentative constitution for uniting the churches and opening bank accounts, retroactive to January 1, 1969. However, it wasn’t until December 7, 1975 at a special meeting that the final proposal to merge and consolidate into a single corporation to be known as "The United Church of Bristol" was finally held and voted on. Problems with legal requirements could finally be solved and while there were a few court problems still to be taken care of, the three churches were now permitted to act as one.

From the first, the new church retained successful programs of each of the individual denominations. The Family Circle continues, as did the church suppers. "Gabriel’s Horn" may have disappeared in name, but the "Bristoletter" carried on the newsletter tradition. Rummage sales, holiday baskets for the needy, ditty bags for the boys overseas continued as well as special inner city groups rolling bandages and of course, the Memorial Day Services.

Boswell Insse, a Civil War Veteran, between 95 and 100 years ago, initiated the project of Memorial Day Services. Children of the Bristol Rural School District #1 assisted him. Later it became associated with the children of the Universalist Church and also some of the other children of the area. Mrs. John Gregg succeeded him for many years, followed by Mrs. Harry Marble, Mrs. George Durkee, Mrs. Walter Jones and now Mrs. Dorothy Erb. Others assisting have been Ralph Pestle and Mrs. Andrew Rogers.

On January 19, 1970, Levi Corser reported at a Board meeting that the Methodist Church was about to be transferred to the Bristol Historical Society. However, it was September 20, 1978 when Attorney William Scott wrote a letter to Mrs. Katharine Fales, Moderator of the Church, enclosing a deed for the sale of the Methodist Church to the Historical Society.

On October 18, 1973, the Andrews house was sold to Mr. Franz Mittermayer. When the church bought the Andrew’s house (the home on the north side of the road across from the present parking lot of the church) in the 1960’s for approximately $6,000, it was used as Sunday school and meeting rooms.

At the August 13, 1975 Board meeting, it was announced that the Valley Church steeple had been struck by lightening. It was voted at this meting to offer the Valley Church to the Town of Bristol for use as a public building for the sum of $1.00. No mention is made of action the Town might have taken.

In September, it was announced that Mr. Klugg and a representative of Mr. Ardell would come out and remove the weathervane, "Gabriel," and the steeple for transfer to the Rochester Memorial Art Gallery and they would close over the building to keep out he weather. The amount of $1,700 was received for the weathervane.

On December 22, 1975 a contract was signed with Frank J. Marianacci Inc. for building an addition to the church including a kitchen, social hall and classrooms.

A special meeting on November 6, 1977 approved accepting an offer for the property of the former Congregational Church of Bristol on Route 64 and Lee Road.

During 1979, the church historical records had been microfilmed for a collection at Ithaca College and would be placed in the Cornell University Archives.

In April 1981, final payment was given to Frank Marianacci for the contract work performed. The West Side of the church was strengthened and new support material installed.

In November 1981, Nancy Woolston resigned as organist, and Mary Jane Baker was hired to replace her.

In December 1981, United Church of Bristol road signs were placed at three intersections—5 and 20 and Oakmount, Route 64 and County Road 2, and Route 20A and County Road 2.

In the spring of 1984, the Shawn Fox Memorial Playground was purchased and installed in memory of the son of Bernard and Joann Fox. This has been well used by the children of the church as well as the neighborhood kids and reminds us how fragile our children are.

In September, the Narthex was renovated and doors repaired. Also, the Community Pantry was started at the church for the needy, a truly ecumenical endeavor with the help from neighbors and other churches.

At a congregational meeting on July 14, 1985, it was decided to sell the parsonage. In October, it was sold to Lanita Jermyn, a sister of Leona Case.

May 21, 1989 was the first day back into the completely redecorated sanctuary with new chandeliers, newly decorated walls, ceiling, new carpets and soon to be recovered cushions for the pews.

The Libraries

The Bristol Woman’s Club was instrumental in starting the Baptist Hill Library; they began collecting books to be exchanged among their members. When Rev. F. F. Buckner became pastor of the Universalist Church in 1899, he encouraged the women to expand the private loan library.

A provisional charter was granted in May 1900. The Bristol Free Library was opened to the public on April 23, 1901 and a permanent charter was granted in 1915.

At first, the library was contained in the homes of the librarians: Mrs. Carrie Hicks Perry, Mrs. John Travis, Mrs. Albert Gilbert, and Mrs. Earl Marble. When the number of books became too large to be kept in a home, Mrs. Harry (Effie) Marble offered the upper floor of the Marble store to the Association. Books were available on a self-service basis whenever the store was open, from 7:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M. weekdays, and after church on Sundays.

Mrs. Marble not only served as librarian; she was storekeeper when her Assemblyman husband was away from home. While juvenile deputy of Ontario County, Pomona Grange, she organized nine juvenile Grange units. Mrs. Marble was active in the women’s society of the Universalist Church; first chairman of the Bristol Home Bureau; member of the Board of Trustees of the Bristol Free Library, and treasurer of the Board for 27 years. As Town Historian, she founded the Historical Society of Bristol, and her well-organized scrapbooks tell a story of the town in the early 1900’s. Through her efforts, many artifacts were collected as a beginning for a Historical Society museum. "Effie’s" bimonthly "Family Life Letter" was sent out by the County Extension Service to Home Bureau Club members, her charming style and home-spun philosophy became so popular, it was more widely read than the current best sellers of the time. She received fan mail—women loved her ideas. In addition to all her activities, she raised her two motherless teenaged grandchildren, and her home was often the gathering place for their friends. Her garden was a showplace of the community every summer.

In 1949, the Marbles sold the store they had owned for 29 years, and the library was moved to the Grange Hall. Some of the original books, carefully cloth bound by the women of the community, were among those moved.

In 1953, the school on Oakmount Road was discontinued, its pupils scheduled to attend East Bloomfield Central School. Through the efforts of Clinton T. Sears, Honeoye School District Superintendent, the schoolhouse, play equipment, and the school treasury were donated to the Bristol Free Library Association. Volunteers insulated the walls of the building, built bookshelves, and painted. Men, women, and children moved the books. The grounds were landscaped. And a very attractive library was the result of their efforts.

Leighton Gilbert was president of the Board of Trustees for 25 years. The names of LaVerne and Sylvia Brown, Elizabeth Jones, and Mrs. Billings Case were found many times in the officer records. Mrs. Ola Fisher, succeeded by her daughter, Jane, followed Mrs. Marble as librarians.

The Bristol Valley Library at Bristol Center had its beginning in 1913, when Valley residents presented a home talent play, "Valley Farm" as a fundraiser. February 1914 marked the formal organization.

Willis C. Seaman was the first president of the Board of Trustees; associated with him were Mrs. Francis M. Pierce, Mrs. Garrett Wheaton, Mrs. Joel Totman and Mrs. Bert Codding.

The library was first housed in Willis Seaman’s store where the books were on revolving shelves. On election night, 1914, the store burned and the scant supply of books were lost.

The library was re-established on the second floor of the old Timothy Wilder hotel (4508 Route 64, South, currently owned by Louis M. Clark). There was a barbershop and residence on the fist floor. Miss Florence Wheaton was the first librarian: she was paid 25 cents a day, and worked two days a week.

From the hotel, the library was moved to the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Preston Case, next door to the present building. Florence Wheaton (later Mrs. Jones of Canandaigua), moved to Canandaigua, and Mrs. Case became the librarian.

The present charming little library doesn’t offer a clue to its former use as a blacksmith shop. The trustees deliberated at length before they decided on the move to the old shop. Preston Case wanted $175 for the building, which was a substantial sum in 1919. Another $600 was needed to get the building ready to house a library, and this was borrowed from Benjamin Case, a trustee.

For years, the building was propped up with old railroad ties, which caused considerable discussion. Debts were paid off by a series of dances and suppers. Everything was donated, and usually 25 cents was charged for supper and dance. Not until the depression years of 1932 and 1933 were all the obligations met.

In 1929, the library received the collection of the Bristol Springs Library, which closed that year.

In 1942, the U.S. Postal Service began to rent space in the library for $5.00 a month. The postmistress "kept an eye on the books" when the librarian was not in attendance. The post office was removed in 1971, and it has been missed.

Credit for the success of the Valley Library must also be given to Earl Fletcher, who served 40 years on the Board of Trustees; Mrs. Elizabeth Case Morse, daughter of Benjamin Case; and librarians, Helen Case, Erma Johnson, Anna Fletcher, Leta Hatch and Mrs. Herbert (Genevieve) Rogers, who earned 50 cents a day, on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

Of course, many more names should be included in the credits for both libraries; those mentioned were in the records available.

One Board of Trustees administers the present Bristol Library. Since that time, many improvements have been made to the structure. The latest is the acquisition of the neighboring property south for more parking and future expansion as the need arises.

Historical Society of Bristol

The Historical Society of Bristol was surprised recently to find that it was not the first such organization to be formed in the Town. A ledger was given to the Society telling of the formation of the Historical Society of Bristol in 1883. It contained a list of members, by-laws, minutes, and their goals.

Their goal: "to secure from reliable sources the history of the Town of Bristol from its first settlement onward." This is the same goal that the present Society has set for its self.

The main difference being, the Society formed by our forefathers was because they thought it the thing to do. The one formed in 1950 was motivated by the State. It is unfortunate that the original Society lasted such a short time. The present Society’s work would have been much easier.

Mrs. Harry (Effie) Marble, as Town Historian on August 31, 1950, organized the Historical Society of Bristol at a meeting in her home.

Mrs. Marble as Town Historian had collected many historical papers, and a need was felt for an organization to be responsible for their preservation.

Mrs. Marble was elected temporary chairman for the meeting, but declined the office of president; she felt she could better serve the Society as historian.

Levi Corser was elected president; Theodore Weiderhold, vice president; Mrs. Kenneth (Elizabeth) Morse, secretary; and Mrs. T. G. (Helen) Herendeen, treasurer.

The Board of Directors: Roy Miller, Ernest Fales, Mrs. Alvin (Marge) Brough, Robert Fordyce, Mrs. Kenneth (Adele) Gray, Mrs. Theodore (Louise) Weiderhold, Mrs. Herendeen, Mrs. Levi (Eloise) Corser, and Mrs. Walter (Elizabeth) Jones.

The Society received a Charter granted by the State Education Department, on September 25, 1953.

With the purchase of the Methodist Church building in Bristol Center, the Society had a permanent home. There was much to be done and much more has to be done to make the building what the Society wishes, in a section of the County so rich in history.

There have been many fund-raising events----craft and bake sales, raffles and donations. With the proceeds from these, a new roof was put on, new front steps were built, the damaged plaster in the sanctuary was replaced and the building painted inside and out. Recently the front doors have been replaced.

The Sanctuary has been retained in its original state and may be used for weddings, christenings, funerals and so forth. The basement will display the historical artifacts. The Society’s use of the building keeps a landmark in use—a church that was built in 1846, on donated land by donated labor.

Bristol Valley Grange No. 1080

Bristol Valley Grange No. 1080 was organized December 29, 1906 at a meeting in the Bristol Center Methodist Church with 33 Charter Members. By the first meeting on January 12, 1907, there were 71 enrolled members. The first meetings were held in the Methodist Church, but as membership grew, the group moved to the old tavern for a few meetings, and then to the Bristol Center Improvement Company (present Town Hall). In 1938, the Grange moved to Baptist Hill when the Bristol Amusement Club presented their hall (the former E.K.O.R. hall and skating rink) to the Grange, to be used as a permanent home. The consideration was that the Grangers pay the transfer fee. After extensive alterations, the dedication of this building was held on August 19, 1939.

To relieve parents’ worry over what to do with their children while they were attending meetings, the Juvenile Grange was organized on September 21, 1932, under the direction of Mrs. Harry Marble. A special room for the juvenile meetings was completed on the second floor of the hall in 1940.

November 5, 1957—The local subordinated Grange voted to disband by January 1. It was reported that the Bristol Volunteer Firemen were interested in taking over the Grange Hall and furnishings. The final meeting of the Grange was scheduled for December 14, with a supper at 7 P.M.

In 1958, the Bristol Volunteer Fire Department became the owner of the Grange Hall building, using it for their money making and social functions.

In 1976, it was torn down and later replaced by the new Fire House (Station No. 2) that was built to provide the Baptist Hill area with better fire protection.

The Bristol Valley Grange No. 1081 Building on County Road 2 in Baptist Hill, taken before the Firemen owned it in 1958.

The Harmony Circle of Bristol

On an early spring afternoon in 1921, a group of women met at the home of Ella Case, to form a Women’s Club. This was in answer to the Men’s Club formed previously by the Rev. Charles Paille of the Bristol Congregational Church.

They felt that a "Club" was too severe, that "Circle" was a more feminine term. As it was non-sectarian harmony was necessary, thus "Harmony Circle".

Ella Case was chosen as head or "Mother", an office she held until her death in 1942. Mary Burnett held the place until she moved from the community. Then Lucy Rogers was "Mother" for several years, followed by Anna Fletcher, a Charter member. At the present time, Erma Johnson holds the position.

It soon, after formation, became necessary to confine the membership to 24, as the meetings are held in members’ homes, the second and fourth Wednesday s of each month.

From activities held mostly within the Circle, money has been raised for many civic projects. During the Depression much charity work was carried out in the community. Toys and gifts were wrapped for children at Christmas. Bonnets and quilts were made for newborns. Food was collected and distributed. During war times, World War II, the Korean War as well as Viet Nam, the women made kits, wrote letters, and sent packages to the soldiers overseas.

For years the Circle has held auctions, bake sales, hometown plays and put on Election dinners.

Many Inter-Circle trips, picnics, contests and banquets have kept members interested and in harmony. Mothers, daughters, and now granddaughters have enjoyed membership over the years.

The Men’s Club of the Congregational Church is long gone but the Harmony Circle has flourished for 68 years and hopefully will continue for many more. Thus proving that indeed a "Circle" is better than a "Club" is.

The members have abided by their original Constitution with very few changes, which reads as follows:


We, the undersigned, do hereby draft and approve this constitution and by-laws of the Harmony Circle of Bristol.

The object of the organization is to promote better individual and community social activities for people.

Any girl of 14 years of age or over may become a member upon the invitation of the members of the Circle.

A regular business meeting shall be held quarterly to elect officers and any other business that shall come before the meeting.

There shall be a president and three vice-presidents, a secretary and a treasurer. The vice-presidents shall be chosen by the president, others elected by the circle.

A Circle Mother in the person of Mother Ella Case is chosen to serve as advisor for all time and is ex officio member of all committees.

Signed this third day of October Nineteen Hundred and Twenty One, Year of our Lord.

Florence E.W. Jones

Mary H. Hunn

Helen M. Lambert

Gladys A. Hunn

Lois E. Reed

Clara Reed Semans
Alice Hayward
Mildred Moranda
Nina Tones
Anna P. Fletcher
Mabel E. Reed

In 1971, Harmony Circle members celebrated their Golden Anniversary. Past members and friends were invited to a banquet held at the old Congregational Church. At that time, Anna Fletcher was our "Circle Mother" and continued to be until her death in 1983.

It is our hope that this organization will continue its activities for many years to come.

The watering tub in the middle of the intersection of what is now County Road 32 and Route 64 in Bristol Center.

Knick Knack Klub

In the 1940’s, Mrs. Billings (Elsie) Case moved to the Baptist Hill area. Elsie had been a member of Harmony Circle in Bristol Center, when she had resided there.

During one of the annual Turkey Suppers in the Bristol Grange Hall on Baptist Hall, Elsie talked with several women about starting a club.

The first meeting was held at the home of Mrs. Wilfred (Jean) Ward on Baptist Hill. At that meeting, Elsie was asked to be "Mother’ of the club. The members decided to bring knick-knacks to their meetings and it was from this that the club derived its name.

There were 24 members at one time and each month one member would entertain. The meetings were held on the last Tuesday of the month at member’s homes.

The members number 15 at this time and perform many charitable activities.

At Christmas time, the Klub gives gifts to shut-ins and many elderly community members. They remember many with cards during times of need and times of joy.

In the fall of 1989, the Klub plans a large buffet dinner, to which, it is hoped they can invited as many of their former members as they can reach, for an evening of reminiscence.

The Bristol Volunteer Fire Department

The Bristol Volunteer Fire Department was founded in 1952. The earliest recollection seems to be of a discussion held January 7, 1952, during a Men’s Club meeting at the Congregational Church. It was then suggested that a fire protection district be formed and various forms of fire warnings; such as ringing church bells or horn blowing was suggested.

The thing that really motivated the formation of the Department was a dreadful fire, earlier that year, that destroyed John Shenk’s garage on Route 64. The garage was located three buildings north of the then Methodist Church in Bristol Center.

The East Bloomfield-Holcomb Fire Department held the contract for most of the Town of Bristol and answered the call, and with the use of chemicals was able to save an adjacent house. Water arrived by tanker from Canandaigua but was too late to save the garage.

This created even more interest in fire protection. In a meeting at Church, February 4, 1952, the "Bristol Bucket Brigade" was formed. Officers were elected at that time:

President:Burton Legg

Vice President:Kenneth Morse

Secretary-Treasurer:Clarence Granata

Chief:Hillary Meehan

Assistant Chief:John Shenk

Assistant Chief:James Thompson

Interest was so great that the first membership list shows 79 who paid to become either an active fireman or honorary member. They adopted the name, Bristol Valley Fire Department. Because interest spread throughout the town, the name was quickly changed to Bristol Volunteer Fire Department. Dues were $5 a year, as they remain today, and meetings were held at the Town Hall in Bristol Center.

The organization was made much easier by the able assistance of Stuart French, a long time member of the Richmond Fire Department in Honeoye. He was Assistant Mutual Aid Fire Coordinator for Ontario County and most valuable counselor during the early years.

Later in the spring of 1952, Mendon Fire Company gave the Department their Peerless Squad Car. With the help of Bud Sauer of Mendon, a tank, pump, and hose were installed.

The first official fire call was at Mel Wheaton’s Double Diamond Ranch on Route 64, south of Bristol Center. Twenty men responded and the damage was held at $500.

After a few more responses, it was felt justified to apply for a reduction of insurance rates, through the National Board of Underwriter’s. A 20% reduction was granted to all property owners with in a 3-mile radius of Burton Legg’s barn, on property south of the Bristol General Store, where the fire truck was housed.

Ernest Fales donated the lot next to the library in Bristol Center with a 99-year lease for a firehouse. Work was started on the building, which was somewhat larger than a two-car garage.

On September 26, 1952, the first of many Field Days was held, with a net profit of $557.

Another financial boost was $179.50 turned over to the department by 35 men who had gone to the East Side of Honeoye Lake to fight a forest fire. They were paid 50 cents an hour and turned it all over to the Bristol Valley Fire Department.

In October 1952, the Charter for the company was received from New York State. The first officers of the new corporation were the same as previously mentioned.

The purchase of a 1929 Sanford Pumper for $500 from the Village of Fair Haven, New York was in November 1952.

In June 1953, the members met with the Town Board to seek some of the $850 in money paid to Canandaigua, East Bloomfield, and Richmond for fire protection. They were granted $500 with the full amount paid the following year.

In the fall of 1954, another firehouse was started on land donated by Clarence Bailey east of the Four Corners on Baptist Hill on County Road 2.

The first new fire truck was purchased in June 1957. It was a 500-gallon Ford Pumper. It cost $7,800 of which $3,500 was borrowed from the Evergreen Cemetery Association for 3½ years. It was custom equipped and put into service in September 1957.

The year 1958 saw the purchase for $1.00 of the Bristol Grange Hall building on County Road 2, south of the Four Corners in Baptist Hill. This building was used for fund-raising activities and meetings until it was demolished in the late 1970’s.

Many dinner dances, field days and carnivals followed along with other money-making events to support the Fire Department.

In August 1973, the purchase of 14 acres of land on Route 64, north of Bristol Center was made from Mr. and Mrs. Glen McPherson. This is the location of the firehouse built there during 1974-1975.

Early in 1975 saw the formation of an Emergency Rescue Squad, with a nucleus of 5 Emergency Medical Technicians, and many others with Advance First Aid. There was an initial membership of 24 and they answered their first call on February 1, 1975.

Since that time, they have become a full- fledged Ambulance Corp with the membership updating their training constantly. The members of the squad respond to more emergency situations every year, giving a much needed and appreciated service to the Town of Bristol residents.

The 1980’s have brought more changes and improvements to the Fire Department. A two-bay firehouse was built on the land where the Bristol Grange Hall, later Fireman’s Hall once stood. The property where both original firehouses stood in Bristol Center and Baptist Hill was sold. The fireman built a large pond for fire protection and tanker drills on the Route 64 property. Much of the fire fighting equipment was upgraded during the last 10 years as well.

In 1989, the equipment for fire protection in Bristol is very modern and is providing exceptional coverage for the residents of the Town of Bristol.

Women's Auxiliary of the Fire Department

The original Bristol Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary was formed at a meeting held in the Town Hall, June 16, 1953, with 18 women in attendance. It was called the Ladies Auxiliary of the Bristol Volunteer Fire Department.

The first officers elected were:

President:Mrs. Ted (Louise) Weiderhold

Vice-President:Mrs. Scott (Marge) DeLucia

Secretary:Mrs. Sidney (Vedah) Cooley

Treasurer:Mrs. Clarence (Jo) Granata

The first act after the establishment of a Constitution and by-laws was to assist the firemen at their 2nd Annual Field Day.

During their first year, they reached a membership of over 50 and began meeting in the new firehouse on Route 64.

After several years of active assistance to the firemen, the membership waned and they disbanded in 1959.

At a meeting in the Firemen’s Hall at Baptist Hill on March 3, 1971, the Auxiliary of the Fire Department was reorganized. The following officers were elected:

President:Mrs. Russell (Mary) Gliewe

Vice-President:Mrs. Edward (Lucinda) Perrin

Secretary:Mrs. Gerald (Nancy) Langer

Treasurer:Mrs. William (Jean) Frost

There were 13 in attendance at that meeting and before the end of the year, the membership had reached 35.

The new revised Constitution and by-laws were voted into effect June 2, 1971. That fall saw the start of the annual Halloween party for the Bristol children that was held in the Firemen’s Hall at Baptist Hill for many years. It is now held in the new building on Route 64.

In 1973, the first of many catering jobs began. The Auxiliary was asked to cater the Cheshire Firemen’s Banquet and did so for several years. For many years, money was made at the Annual Firemen’s Carnival on the Firemen’s grounds on Route 64, from the Cake Wheel that the Auxiliary had and in the fall several days of Hunter’s Breakfasts were served. But the main source of income has been the many wedding receptions and catered activities that the Auxiliary has done throughout the years. The money earned has always been used to improve the equipment in the firehouse and to purchase specialized items needed by the Fire Company from time to time because the whole purpose of the Auxiliary is to support and assist the firemen in times of need.

Aerial view of "Baptist Hill" looking west toward the Four Corners and the Church.

The First Memorial Day Celebration of Bristol

Bristol Center---on that first Memorial Day, there were 13 little girls dressed in white.

A few years earlier they had sung, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again." By May 30, 1869, Johnny had marched home and the little girls were marching in pairs to decorate the graves of his fallen comrades.

They were marching on the lawn of the Bristol Valley Congregational Church. Twelve carried flowers, and the 13th a flag.

From the church lawn, where they heard speakers, including Spencer Gooding, a Canandaigua attorney, they were taken to a waiting coach, bound for the Bristol Center Cemetery and the soldiers’ graves.

Mrs. Albert Johnson, the only surviving member of the group, recalled that the coach was drawn by four horses whose bridles were decorated with small flags. The horses had larger flags draped across their backs, and the coach bore an even larger banner.

Thomas Murray, a Civil War veteran, supervised the girls. He picked 13 girls, Mrs. Johnson remembered, to represent each of the 13 United States. At the cemetery, Walter Hicks of Vincent (then called Muttonville) a hamlet in the Town of Bristol, gave a brief biographical sketch of each veteran in whose honor the day was observed.

Later, the girls placed their flowers and Murray the flags, at each soldier’s gravestone.

That was the first Memorial Day in Bristol, 1869.

Naomi Johnson, who was born in the Town of Bristol, October 21, 1859, the daughter of Martin and Nancy Reed Goff related this story. She lived in Bristol all of her life. She attended rural schools and the Teacher’s Training Class at Canandaigua Academy, taught three years at Bristol and Boswell’s Corner, and was married to Albert Johnson in 1879. They built a home on West Hill and lived there until he died in 1943.

Mrs. Johnson was an honorary member of the Bristol Historical Society and the Bristol Valley Grange. She was a life member of the Methodist Church. The Johnson’s had a son and a daughter, Mrs. Nina Tones, with whom she later lived. Mrs. Johnson died in 1955 at the age of 96 and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery at Baptist Hill.

The custom of decorating the graves of the soldiers in Bristol continues today with flags placed every Memorial Day.

Horses and buggy going up the bill from Bristol Center, toward Canandaigua.

Reminiscence of Polly Mason Morse

"My father, John Mason, was one of the first settlers of Bristol. He sat down on his farm in the year 1800, built a house of logs and therein put his little family. In 1803, Polly Mason, the one who writes this, first saw the light from that log house. I was rocked in one half of a hollow log, with head and footboards to keep the pillows and baby in order, and there I slept and dreamed my baby dreams, and was as happy as if my cradle had been made of rosewood, while the long-drawn howl of the wolf was heard as he sought his prey. I was like all the daughters of Eve; full of mischief, playing with rag babies, making mud pies, and many other pranks that a child is heir to, but my mother was a practical woman, and when my eldest sister was ten years of age, and I was nearly eight, she introduced us to the spinning wheel. We had our stints, my sister’s was ten knots for a day; my own was seven, as I was not quite eight years old.

Before I was fourteen, I was put on the loom to make cloth for the family, in which I became adept, and now I must blow my own bugle. I don’t know of one now living but myself who can relate the fact. The month was October, my work weaving, I started the shuttle as the sun came up, working steadily on all day, and when the sun went down out of sight, I had woven fifteen yards, set down every yard as I wove it.

I well remember the War of 1812-13. Our second neighbor on one side was a captain in the militia. One morning as the day was coming; he rode to the door in hot haste, and told my father to get his French gun and cartridge box ready and to go to West Bloomfield. He said the British and Indians had landed at Buffalo, and would be in Canandaigua before night. The two political parties at that time were Democrats and Federals. The Federals, some of them, laid the war at the door of the Democrats. All the men liable to do military duty were gone to Bloomfield, and we women and children were waiting for the Indians to come and take our scalp locks.

They and the British burned Buffalo, then little more than a hamlet, but did not get to Canandaigua, and on the 10th of September, the Tars and Marines on Lake Erie were seen to make the proud flag of great Britain come down."

A story told by the descendants of John Mason, the pioneer; their first home was crude log cabin. One afternoon, while John was away, his wife and baby were alone and she was seated next to the cradle where her child was sleeping. She as terrified when the blanket, which served as a door, was pushed aside and two large Indians walked in. They made it known they wanted her to come outside; there, they soon made it known that they wanted an axe. She hesitated because her husband’s axe was new, and she was not sure it would be returned. The Indians went into the house and laid their guns on the bed, to let her know they only wanted to borrow the implement. She assented, and soon heard them chopping a tree a short distance away. Sometime later, they appeared with their prize, a large fat coon. They handed her the axe, retrieved their guns, and left as silently as they had appeared.

About the time of the first town meeting in 1797, sawmills were in operation, and the settlers had begun to discard their log houses for larger and more comfortable frame dwellings. Some simply enlarged their homes by frame additions to the original log house.

The New Electric Road

We ain’t a-plowin much this spring,
We’re just a-sittin round.
We ain’t a-lottin much on crop
That grow up out the ground,
We won’t have time to harvest ‘em
When they come to be growed.
We’re waitin for the whistle
Of the new electric road.

When Doc rides up the valley
Behind his tandem team,
He lights another two-fer and
Has a pleasant dream
Of sittin in his office without
A trouble nigh,
A-smokin a ten-center and the
Cars a-whizzin by.

When all of us good Grangers
In secret session meet,
Instid of teachin of us how
To raise more corn or wheat,
Or whether mules or horses
Can draw the biggest load,
We jut listen for the
Whistle of the new electric road.

The minister as Dailey he
Lets his prayers arise,
Keeps one eye good and pious
A-gazin at the skies,
But the other is a-watchin
For somethin better far,
It’s lookin for the comin
Of the first electric car.

Walt is goin to quit runnin
A common country store.
He’ll have a grand emporium
With a glass front in the door.
Elli’ll have a hotel and
Nick’ll tend the bar,
When he ain’t out a-watchin
For the comin of the car.

Tones, and Gregg, and Holcomb have
Come down off the hills,
And Fletcher, and McGory, and
Hewitt, Day, and Mills,
They’ll sell their farms and
Furniture; throw in the stock to boot.
They’re comin to the valley
To hear the whistle toot.

Cole and Ketchum are going to
Shut up the blacksmith shop,
And Lake will let his peggin
Awl, and last, and hammer drop
Though all the horses
Go unshod, and all the harness broke.
They’re listnin for the
Whistle, and watchin for the smoke.

Mud Creek is full of suckers,
And there’s lots that are not in it;
I mean the kind they say are born
At least one every minute,
But the easiest of any is the
Railroad crazy bloke
Who’ll deed a way across
His farm to smell a little smoke.

We all are just a-wondering
What’ll make the wheels go ‘round
And if they sell lectricity
By the pint or by the pound
But—twould break us
Up entirely if now the thing should fizzle.
So we’ll watch out for the
Smoke and listen for the whistle.

-- Sanford Hall
   1877 – 1936

"Sanny R" as he was locally know, was born in Canada but lived the majority of his life in Bristol, with his bachelor uncles and maiden aunts. He was trained as a barber and cut many heads of hair in his time, never having a shop. He took a great interest in local activities and often expressed his sense of humor in poetry.

What necessitated the writing of this poem it lost to history, but it is believed that there were rumors of an electric trolley or railway being built down through Bristol Valley.

Bristol (Baptist Hill)

Universalist Church and Parsonage (which burned) looking toward the east from the Four Corners.

Looking south from the Four Corners (County Road 2) note the board fence along the cemetery.

Baptist Hill School

On cold days, the children huddled around the stove, which provided heat from coal and wood, until natural gas was available. For many years, two gas heaters have been sufficient. Gaslights were installed many years ago, through funds made possible by the many plays and entertainment given by the pupils. More recently these have been replaced by electricity. Improvements during the many years have made this a modern country school.

Prior to the present school site, school had been held in the basement of a cobblestone church, which stood very near the present Universalist Church. (United Church of Bristol) Services of this faith were held in the upper part.

On June 25, 1836, the district voted to pay the Universalist Church $100 for the south room in the basement for school purposes. Grandchildren of some of the pupils are now living in the district.

Records do not show where school was held before this time. The community was settled in 1797, forming a hamlet in about 1810. Records dating back to 1819 show that school opened on November 20 and was in session four months, closing for the older boys to help with the farm work.

The expenses of those days were in sharp contrast to today’s exorbitant school budget. Parents were assessed one-half cord of two-foot wood per pupil. The qualifications of teachers were limited, not requiring even a high school education.

At a meeting held in 1821, it was voted to hold school for ten months. The winter term began November 1, and the summer term the first of May. They also voted that if a child broke a light or glass, he or his parents shall pay for it within one day after notification, or pay one shilling.

At a special meeting held in 1834, it was voted that the schoolhouse be open for public worship when not needed for school, but not for singing school.

Baptist Hill School in 1840

(Copied from an old, handwritten paper, author and date unknown.)

The schoolrooms were in the basement of the Universalist Church, very pleasant rooms and commodious, with four large double windows, so plenty of light and room.

The few that are living called us class 1850 when it really was six or seven years preceding in the early forties, that I remember an illumination of the church, cobblestone church with cathedral windows. It was a beautiful sight. It must have been in 1840, the last I remember of church.

Now, will see how we can explain those wonderful rooms (and they surely were) where from 30 to 50 wild boys and girls worked to get a little knowledge, and they did. Had good teachers, good discipline, with so many to look after. The seats were long benches, with desks in front, with an aisle coming through the center from the south, with step down to each floor until you reached the center of the room the lowest "where children could sit with feet on floor." On north side two long rows of seats with an aisle in center, with desks in front. We used Sanders’ series of books, called then, good. The Speller, which was studied from first to last, with not much passed by. The school was noted for the good spellers. A class of fifteen or twenty standing on a mark, striving to outdo each other, especially when we had (spelling bees) "especially when we had company which we had often." The parents came often, that encouraged and inspired teacher and scholars, as it should. Every student will do better if the parent is there to see him or her. Then we had public days when we would spell down, have a paper, recitation, etc. Then we had great mathematicians, we had schools from around would bring problems, examples, and would have very exciting times, it was very much enjoyed by all.

The north room had tables and seats around, used for anything useful, a painting class, drawing and writing. Many of the boys and girls have gone from this school well equipped to take their life work and succeeded, making the most useful, intelligent, manly men that the world needs.

Recollections of Dr. MacDowell

If you saw White Owl cigar stumps on the porch railing of a house in Bristol, in the early part of the 20th century, Dr. MacDowell had been there recently—probably professionally. He had very little time for socialization, though he loved his patients and covered Bristol, South Bristol and the Academy on Route 21.

In the winter, he usually was "snowed in" away from home once or twice. He had a team of horses with a driver and he wore a fur coat, which made him resemble a very large bear.

Later he got a Ford car. Dr. was a physician not a mechanic, and when he started on a call every one within earshot knew it. The car roared, plunged out of the garage into the road and he was off.

His relaxation was the General Store and he learned more about his patients there than in his office! He charged 25 cents for a call within a mile radius of Bristol Center and 50 cents for the next mile, etc. A handful of pills was 25 cents to 50 cents and he always filled the envelope BEFORE he wrote the instruction. As his writing was not readable in the first place, patients always asked for oral instructions. If perchance, the pills came out of his pocket instead of the black medicine bag—some mothers were known to wash them and dry the pills in the oven before giving them to their children.

He was school doctor for the 12 school districts in the town. The examinations were at best simple, since he had been attending physician at most of their births and illnesses.

Once when Doc. decided to take a vacation, the people were horrified. He went for a week to the Adirondack Mountains. Everyone expected to die in his absence but no one did and after that he regularly took time off.

He never had regular calling hours but came as soon as he could.

If it was a toothache, then he sat the patient in a chair---used forceps and extracted the tooth---remarking afterward that it was "not painless extraction."

As the world changed and Doc. became older, he had time to become Town Supervisor and later County School Physician with an office in Canandaigua.

Dr. MacDowell was raised by his grandmother in Walworth, New York. Following his medical education, he moved to Canandaigua and started his practice in Bristol from a room on the upper floor of what had once been a tavern. He drove out from Canandaigua by horse and buggy until his marriage to a local girl.

Dr. Barton T. MacDowell was a big boned, good natured, mild mannered, red head who served as the last of the rural doctors in Bristol. Dr. Thomas Vincent was the very first doctor, followed by Dr. Durgan, Dr. Mallory, and Dr. Hicks. There are many people on this earth today that owe their first slap and breath of life to Dr. Barton T. MacDowell.

Ice Harvest

By Kenneth Morse

Ice harvest began on Mud Creek as soon as the ice was thick enough to be cut. Several days work was required to fill an icehouse.

Early in the morning, teams were hitched to sleds, called "bobs", which were fitted with large boxes to hold the ice. The boxes were the same as those used on wagons.

Some men, more compassionate than others, warmed their horses’ bits before they hitched the team. They cupped the bits in their hands and warmed them with their breath so the icy metal wouldn’t tear the skin on the animals’ mouth.

Horses wore special shoes, called "never–slips", to enable them to keep their footing on the ice. The neighborhood blacksmith used a special wrench to screw plugs, somewhat like cleats, into these winter horseshoes. Never-slips lasted several years, though sometimes it was necessary to have a horse’s hooves filed down to fit last year’s shoes.

When ice accumulated on the sled runners, the bob had to be hoisted aloft to break off the ice before the sled could travel on. There were no road scrapers or snowplows in those days.

At the creek—the ice was marked, and cut with a two-handled, coarse toothed saw. The bobs were backed onto the ice, the blocks were picked up with large tongs and loaded into the boxes.

Yes, men fell in, had an icy bath and survived to laugh about their mishaps.

Ice houses were frame structures with double walls. Sawdust was packed between the walls for insulation; it was piled up against the inside walls, and on the floor. Each block of ice was surrounded by sawdust as it was stacked in the building. A space of about six inches was left between ice and walls. When the building was filled and closed up, it was airtight.

Kenneth said his father had an ice house sixteen feet high. In the summer, the townspeople bought ice from him to make ice cream.

Bert Codding had a slaughterhouse and an ice house near Mud Creek and County Road 32. He was the proprietor of a meat market, located northwest of his house and on the same lot, facing the present Route 64 in Bristol Center. On Tuesdays and Fridays, he peddled meat kept cold in his wagon by cakes of ice; women brought their platters out to the wagon to get the fresh meat, none of which was wrapped.

View of Bristol Center taken from the East Hill Road (County Road 32, now) facing South Hill.

The Levi S. Corser Memorial Park

In 1979, the Town for future use purchased ten acres opposite the Bristol Town Hall and Highway Garage. During the 10 intervening years, many attempts and several Town Administrations have tried to get Federal and State Grants for the construction of a Town park there. Each effort has proved fruitless, but every year the attempts were made.

After many rejections, the present Supervisor, Raymond Barend contacted the United States Army Reserve Unit, Company D 4064th Engineering Battalion of Canandaigua and arrangements were made for the men to use their weekend training time toward the construction of the Town Park.

The plans for the park are quite extensive with a running track, 2 tennis courts, a winter skating rink, soccer field, baseball diamond, as well s 2 pavilions, a tot lot, and a lavatory facility. Many volunteers have also agreed to give of their time and materials, in conjunction with the Reserve Unit.

By the fall of 1989, the buildings and running track are expected to be completed, with the baseball diamond, soccer field and possibly one tennis court scheduled for 1990.

On June 10, 1989, the Park was formally dedicated, as the first part of Bristol’s Bicentennial Celebration. At 11 A.M., a ceremony on the grounds was held.

The Reverend Alexius Lopez, pastor of the United Church of Bristol, delivered the Dedication Litany and Prayer, followed by Reverend A. Potter of Fairport, a former pastor of the Bristol Congregational Church in the 1940’s and personal friend of Levi. Reverend Richard Gilbert of Rochester, who grew up and received his calling to the ministry on Baptist Hill, gave his insight into Bristol. Former Supervisor, Robert Walworth spoke of the progress made since his administration had purchased the property for the park. Assemblyman Frank Talomie of Geneva, our representative in the State Legislature, gave his reminiscences of Levi and best wishes for the future. Master Sergeant Mitchel Markus of the Canandaigua Army Reserve Unit and a resident of Bristol spoke on the behalf of the Unit as to the planned construction schedule.

In attendance were Levi Corser’s widow Eloise, who now resides in Canandaigua, as well as two of his three daughters, Mrs. Robert (Jane) Culver of Palmyra and Mrs. Merle (Helen) Fox of Bristol.

"America, The Beautiful" was sung in a duet by Mary Jane Baker and Joann Fox, both of Bristol.

Following this section of the program, Eloise Corser cut the ribbon to expose the sign for the Park. The present Town Board helped in the planting of a red maple tree, as the first part of the park landscaping. Previously, hop vines were planted in the park, in honor of the hop fields that once provided an industry in Bristol.

A short tour of the grounds was led by Supervisor Barend to explain the future location of the facilities in the park. Then everyone adjourned to the Bristol Firemen’s Hall on Route 64 for a "Pot Luck" luncheon.

It is hoped that the attendance of over 75 at the dedication is a good indication of future interest and use of this park.


Bristol Planning Board Records
    For information concerning Bristol’s location, elevation, etc.

Historical Society of Bristol
    Histories of the Churches
    School and Tavern records

History of Ontario County, New York
    McIntosh and Conover Editions

The Town of Bristol, by Sarah G.P. Kent
    Accounts of John Mason
    Bristol Fair Association

Levi S. Corser
    Political History of the Town of Bristol

Katharine Sisson (Case) Fales
    History of the Congregational Church
    Industries of Bristol

Elizabeth (Case) Morse
    History of the Methodist Church
    History of the Historical Society

Helen (Corser) Fox
    Editing Industries of Bristol

Anne Bidwell
    History of the United Church of Bristol

Pauline Pestle
    Background of the Knick Knack Klub

Genevieve Rogers
    Background of the Harmony Circle

Lucinda M. Perrin
    Background of the Bristol Volunteer Fire Dept. & Women’s Auxiliary

M. Shirley Snell
    Bristol to Ohio – 1817
    School on Baptist Hill

Various individuals reminiscences

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