Previous to the construction of the State Road through this town the settlers reached the interior lands by a primitive highway running along the south bank of Van Campen's Creek from Belvidere to the Lewis Utter farm; thence crossed to the north side and continued on west thriough the town, following the course of the creek more closely than the new thoroughfare. About the first step in the direction of a hamlet settlement was that taken by Othello Church in the erection of a gristmill on the bank of the creek in the year 1815, near what may now be described as the foot of Water street. In the next year two log dwellings were built near the site of the Baptist church, and soon afterward Mr. Church built his own dwelling where the American House now stands. Here he met a tragic death in December, 1823, at the hands of David Howe. However, previous to his death Mr. Church sold or leased the mill to Samuel S. Carter, who changed it to a carding and fulling mill, and for several years afterward it was one of the most conspicuous enterprises of the region. Col. Samuel King, the land speculator, also proved an active factor in early events and about the year 1820, possibly a little later built a large and pretentious tavern in the settlement, at what is now the corner of Main and Water streets. Truman Hill kept the house and its reputation as a place of entertainment spread far and wide. Here were held the meetings of the masonic lodge, while the place was famous in other ways for its notable assemblages. The building was burned about 1828, and its site was afterward used for other purposes. Indeed, for many years this eastern part of the present village was the chief center of trade and all business, and it was not until the construction and operation of the railroad that the location was changed. Still, among the early factors in village life, who have not been mentioned, were Peter G. Chapman, Hollis Scott, Mr. Davidson, Stephen Smith, Damon Church, Orange Church, Smith Church, Rufus Scott, and others, perhaps equally worthy of mention, but whose names are now lost to memory.
A fruitful and reliable source of information concerning early events of village life is found in the almost remarkable memory of William A. Hart, who came to the locality in March, 1842, with Joseph P. Reynolds and wife, the latter being sister to Mr. Hart. He was then 13 years old and what he saw and learned from older inhabitants were boyhood facts and became firmly impressed on his memory. Editor George W. Fries, of the Register, with the tastes and inclination of the antiquarian, made written data of Mr. Hart's reminiscences and recollections and the present writer is kindly furnished with them.
About the time indicated the Colwell ashery stood near the site of the brick house afterward owned by Prof. Miller, while Mr. Colwell's store stood near the Benjamin Robinson place of later years. Colwellalso built another potash near the Thomas Pierce house. The most pretentious dwellings of the hamlet were those of Mr. Colwell and Deacon Stowell. Bradley's hotel was on the site of Deacon Robinson's house. The centre of business and hamlet population was about where Judge Norton now lives. William Colwell, Rufus Scott and son Martin, and W. J. and Arba Wellman had stores, each keeping a large stock of general merchandise, and doing a successful business for many years. The only other store in town at that time was on the site of the old brick store, away up west of the four corners on land now owned by Mr. Mulkin. In 1825, according to the memory of Mr. Steenrod, Rufus Scott kept hotel, Martin Scott sold goods, one of the Churches run the gristmill, and Samuel Carteroperated the carding and fulling mills. Local interests in the lower village were never greater than those noted, although as years passed the business places changed hands. P. and J. D. Hartshorn did business in 1852 where Edward Newton now lives, Jarvis Alger had a harness shop, Robinson & Wingate run the carding and clothmill, Edward Hatch kept a tin shop and stove store.
On the west side of the North Branch another settlement sprung into existence, though perhaps of less importance than the lower village. The older residents will remember the famous hostelry kept by Josiah Morris, and the racing and wrestling events of every Saturday afternoon. Opposite to the Morris tavern Henry D. Babcock kept store. However, with the completion of the railroad these interests naturally removed to the center, and both east and west villages declined in business importance.
At the Four Corners, as then called but now the corner of Main with Depot and MIll streets, the first business enterprise was the store building erected by Stephen Smith, as early perhaps as 1830. ON the site was afterward built the brick store, then owned by Elisha Strong. The building was burned in April 1868. In 1842 Damon Church built the large frame flourmill, on the west side of Mill street, south of Mr. Hart's corner. The building still stands and is occupied for business and dwelling purposes. About 1846 Arba Wellman moved up from the lower village and opened store near the Corners, and in 1852 built on the site of the First National Bank. the corner, and a considerable tract of land north and west of it, was purchased in 1851 from Dr. Dana by William Colwell and Roswell Spear, and by them was cut up into village lots. February 14th in the same year, the first locomotive came into the town on the Erie road. The company designed erecting a depot near Samuel Cotton's house, upon which the people at the Corners at once purchased and gave for a site the widow Galen Evarts lot. Here the station was built and has ever since been maintained. Morris C. Mulkin began business in the village in 1854, and is still in trade, the oldest merchant in the town. At that time J. W. Rowley & Co. were in the brick store, selling dry and dress goods and groceries. Other merchants of about the same period, says Mr. Mulkin, were George W. Robinson, Arba Wellman, Albert F. Wells, jeweler, and possibly one or two others of less note. Gen. Robinson began business about 1850, with a stock of dry goods. In 1852 he added a banking department, and in 1855 was exclusively in the latter line in the old brick store. William A. Hart opened store in 1859 in the building now occupied as postoffice, and for the succeeding twenty-four years was one of the most active business men of the village. His dwelling is one of the oldest buildings of its class in the village, and was erected by Peter G. Chapman.
Such was the situation and condition of business life in Friendship half a century and more ago. During the twenty years following 1850 few changes were made except in ownership, a new generation of actors succeeding the old. Between 1870 and 1880 the village suffered serious losses through fire, yet we are told that fire is a great purifier and renewer. The old burned structures were replaced with new, many of the latter being of brick, substantial and ornamental. The same is also true of the dwellings of the village, all built from the stump, secure in construction and pleasing in appearance. Twenty five years ago, says Judge Norton, the leading merchants were Price & Bradley, William A. Hart, and M. Scott & Co., Higgins & Lewis (druggists), Calvin Cross, also Morse & Cross, hardware, M. C. Mulkin, grocer and banker. The First National Bank was also doing successful business, succeeding Miner & Wellman, bankers. In 1868 Ephraim Fairbanks built the American Hotel, but through loss by fire the old building has been twice rebuilt. The Mansion house now burned, was built in 1877. Having thus traced the growth of the business interests through different periods, we may with propriety refer by name to the present mercantile houses of Friendship, and then turn to other elements of municipal being and note them briefly.
At present the representatives of the dry goods business in Friendship are: Robert A. Scott, D. A. Daniels and Price & Rose; the clothiers are: M. Unger and E. A. Hewitt; hardware dealers, Drake Hardware Company, and Corbin, Carter & Co.; druggists, A. V. Jones and F. H. Mason; grocers, Graham & Robinson, Jordon & Stevens, C. B. Wales, M. C. Mulkin and E. B. Fairbanks; Meat and provision dealers, VanHorn & Jordon and E. J. Norton; boot and shoemakers, George W. Smith, C. Kershaw and J. L. Mell; saddler and harnessmaker, O. G. Sherman; ladies' wear, Mrs. E. M. Stoneman; millinery, Miss L. J. Cross and Misses O. & B. Briggs; furniture dealer and undertaker, F. A. McKee; bakers, Charles Niver, Mrs. L. B. Scott and Mrs. Wm. Dougherty; tailors, H. L. Dwight, and John J. Tunnington; confectioners, Simon & Steenrod, and Charels Brisco; jeweler, Chas. S. Lane; variety store, J. E. Beebe; grist and sawmiller, F. L. Hull.
MANUFACTURES. -- As a manufacturing center Friendship has attained little prominence among the villages of The county, and at no time its history have the industries been more than a few in number. The old grist and carding and fulling mills at the lower village were pioneers in their respective lines of production, but of these only the gristmill now remains in operation. Its present owner is F. L. Hull, who is also owner of a sawmill on the same location. The Damon Church mill on Mill street, did a successful business for many years but it is now a thing of the past and put to other uses.
The Friendship Sash and Blind Co., (Limited), was formed in February, 1886, and was under the active management of A. B. Vorhis, employing about 75 men. The second proprietors were Pitt & Bradley, who were in time succeeded by Mr. Hollister. Under the latter the concern went into the hands of a receiver and eventually was owned by the First National Bank. It is now operated by Park, Rowley & Reese and doing a successful business.
The Friendship Creamery was established in 1889, and for abotu 2 years was conducted on the co-operative plan, but with indefferent results. In 1891 the plant was purchased by Latta & Hobart, and for the next 5 years was operated by that firm on correct business principles, therefore with a fair measure of success. The equipment was so changed that cheese could be made when teh butter market was depressed, and during the year 1895 the firm manurfactured abotu 50,000 pounds each of butter and cheese. Manley W. Hobart became sole proprietor of teh business in Jan. 1, 1896.
The Morse & Willis M'f'g Co. was started in 1893 as a cheese box factory but closed in 1895.
John Thurston is the proprietor of a planing and sawmill and lumber yard, located on Elm Avenue.
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Created on ... February 01, 2002