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The History of Ceres


contributed by Lisa Yates

[Source: The history of Ceres and its near vicinity, from its early settlement in 1798 to the present. The early part written by M. W. Mann, and the latter part by Maria King. Olean, N.Y., Gillett & Weston, 1896.

Pg. 71

There must have been some other teachers earlier than any mentioned, it would seem, or Miss Susan Richardson is the one to whom reference is made.  The trustees had to conduct the examinations to test the applicants efficiency, and, after going through with the legal requirements several times, were inclined to make light of it, and so when she came before them they could think of nothing wiser to ask her than the impertinent question, “Did you ever have a beaux, and are you afraid of thunder”? They gave her a certificate duly signed.

On the New York side of the village the schoolhouse was built as early as 1833, but it may not have been used before the winter of 1833-4.  Hiram Willson was the first teacher, and taught for two if not for three winters.  He was a student from the seminary at Lima, and was regarded as a superior teacher. As penmanship was a matter of much importance when there were no copy books and the teacher had to write all the copies, and make the pens, too, of goose quills, it was a serious drawback to Mr. Willson that his hand trembled so that he was not a good penman.

After Mr. Willson, Edward T. Pratt taught a summer term, Julia Main, Deidamia Green, Barton Edwards, Sophronia Burdick, Tacey Babcock, Sardinia Wells, Harriet Maxson, Harriet Nye, Abigail Maxson, Olive Forbes, Armina LeSuer, &c., a list, like the children say, “too numerous to mention.”  Miss Maxson taught the first summer of 1844.

The Edwards, John and David were generally among the three trustees.  They succeeded in getting (p.72) her to come and agreed to pay her the unprecedented sum of $20 a month.  It is true that she was to board herself, but she boarded with her sister, Mrs. Green, for seventy-five cents a week.  She was going through the course of study at what was afterwards Ingham University, Leroy, and was considered a prize as a teacher.  Teachers had taught for $1.50 a week of five days and a half, and as a very general thing boarded around.  Indeed many teachers taught for less than $1.50, --$1.25 was the more common price.

Miss Maxson inspired her scholars with great enthusiasm in their studies and has been remembered lovingly and gratefully all these years.  She taught one summer on the Pennsylvania side of the line, and in the winter on the New York side of the line.  She then went to Alfred as preceptress, where she has remained ever since and is now the widow of President Allen.

After several years there came so many complaints against the Edwards because they paid such high prices for teachers, that they chose to be set off in a district by themselves.  It was a serious injury to the village school but they retained their separate school as long as they had children of their own to send, when the schools were again united, but there never has been the interest in the schools there was in those earlier days, when history, philosophy, botany, rhetoric, algebra, astronomy, chemistry, etc., were taught, the teachers doing much work out of school hours.

The village of Ceres was especially unfortunate in being on both sides of the line between Pennsylvania and New York so that though attempts were made to unite the districts none of them were successful until 1893, when the (p.73) school house on the New York side was built over and arranged for two departments and two teachers. There was some arrangement then made so that the scholars from the Pennsylvania could attend.

In referring to some of the people of the district objecting to the high wages that were paid to teachers by the Edwards in the forties, there were those who had children who fully seconded them in their efforts to get good teachers.  Chief among them was John Bell, who had a large family and was eager to have them well educated.  Dianah King, though a widow and poor, was willing to make heavy sacrifices to have her children educated.


The first physician who became a resident of Ceres was Dr. Enoch Maxson.  He built a small house now used as a barn by Byron Danforth.  He married the widow Waterbury, a daughter of John Darling. After Mr. Van Amburg's death, which was in 1835 or 1836, he bought a house on the hill so long known as “the John Austin place”.  Here he lived for several years but sold out and moved west in 1837, or thereabouts.  He must have come early in the thirties.

The next who came was Dr. Converse Green, now of Alfred. He came early in the forties and remained until about their close.  He bought the house built by Clark Stillman.  It was a wearing life to travel over rough roads in all kinds of weather and often in the night, and the remuneration was not sufficient to induce one to remain long, until the country was pretty well settled and the roads greatly improved.

In 1849 Dr. R. P. Stevens came and practiced. (skipped page) (p.75) Dr. Ledyard lost his life in Central America in the fall of 1870, as did his brother-in-law, Robert Bell, who had accompanied him, being also a dentist.  In his travels Dr. Ledyard had been in the habit of going without weapons, but at the time of his death he was well armed.  Not being suspicious they were taken unawares and both cut down simultaneously.

Of Dr. Enoch Maxson it should be mentioned that he was a very kind man. One instance of his kindness should not be passed without record. A poor motherless boy, of about fourteen, had epileptic fits, and often suffered much from injuries received while having them. His father lived in a little shanty not far from the creek and was clearing a follow on the north part of what was then known as the William Bell farm.  In one of his fits, when alone, he fell into an open fire and was terribly burned.  By walking some, and being carried by his father, he reached Dr. Maxson’s, where he was kindly received and cared for during the short time he lived-between two and three weeks.

Drs. Smith and Mead were for many years the principal physicians in Olean, and the ones sent for when there was anything serious the matter here. Somewhere in the thirties Dr. Truman established himself in Bolivar and was sometimes called upon, as he was nearer. In later years Dr. Whitney of Olean had considerable practice here.  Dr. Green furnishes some items of his experience while at Ceres, which I gladly give.  He says that his ride extended eighteen or twenty miles in some directions, which we can readily understand was way up the Oswayo, and its tributaries as far as settled, and up Bell’s Run.  (several pages missing).

(p. 109) …lived with him for a time, married Elizabeth Smith, second daughter of Harry Smith. They lived on the Phelps place for a time, but removed to Ohio, and later to Wisconsin, where Mr. Deitz died, after a long and lingering illness, leaving his wife and six children. She, being a woman of much energy succeeded in keeping her family together and bringing them up to be intelligent and useful citizens.  Mrs. Deitz is still living, though broken in health and advanced in years, honored and beloved by her children, and the many friends she found whereever she has lived.

When Mrs. Deitz was here last, in ‘92-’93, she bought and put up a tablet for her grandfather and grandmother, and an uncle who had died when a young man. It cost over $60, and she had but little help in meeting the bills, but was glad to have something to mark the graves of those whom she had known and loved as a child, and whose memory she had always cherished, and who for their prominence in the early settlement should be remembered.

Isaac Phelps must have come here quite early in the thirties. His wife was Laura, daughter of Dr. Rue.  She was an estimable woman and I think one of the first church members.  She must have died before 1850.  For a second wife he married Amarilla Maxson, and moved away from Ceres.  Later his second wife dying, he married a Miss Lull, grand-daughter of the widow Lull, and moved to Wisconsin.  His only son went into the army, during the late war and died there.  A headstone among those of his family, keeps him in remembrance here.

(p. 124) Enoch Maxson, son of Judge Maxson, who married Andrew Barber’s oldest daughter, is one of the oldest settlers there.  He has been, like all his family, a hard working industrious man, and has raised a large family of children to habits of industry and frugality. The early settlers were none of them wealthy, and could not procure for their children the best advantages of the schools of the country, but it is interesting to note with what perseverance and energy many of the younger persons of both hamlets are acquiring a liberal education.

Other prominent citizens of Main (possibly Main Settlement, which is between Ceres and Portville) are Ashley Packard, Charles Crandall, James Main, and, for many years, William R. Maxson, who sold out and moved to Richburg and has recently died there.  Oliver Langworthy, who married Judge Maxson’s youngest daughter and settled there in 1849, is one of the worthy citizens of the place.  His sons are married and one living near him, the other at Carroll, and his daughter at Olean, the wife of Mr. Haight.

Ashley Packard married Virtue, one of Captain Mathew Crandall's daughters.  They have one son who is a prominent man in Arizona.  George and David Crandall were prominent citizens of the eastern part of Main Settlement.  Daniel has recently gone to live with his daughter in Cuba.  George is living at an advanced age and is feeble.  His first wife was a Hamilton; his second, Mrs. Eliza Mills.  Nathaniel Walker bought Captain Crandall’s farm and lived there many years, dying in 1888. His wife has since died.  They were excellent citizens.  John J. Robarts came to Ceres during the war.


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Last updated on July 9, 2006
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