Early Settlement (1794 – 1811) – Page

From the book  Arms’ Crossroads – Wallington  pp 7-9  by The Wallington Cobblestone Schoolhouse Restoration Committee 1982. Note the information in this publication was possible due to a  Hoffman paper entitled “The First 101 Years of Wallington” by Dale Wunder of South Geneva Road in 1976.

THE SETTLEMENT

In the ages preceding the settlement by the “White Man”, of the area now known as Wallington, it was part of the northern hunting grounds of the Cayuga Indians. For many centuries it had been this way, until the advent of the “White Man” in this area in the second half of the eighteenth century.

In the year 1794, Charles Williamson had a road built from Sodus Point through Wallington to Phelps, at a total cost $757.00.  It was a very crude trail indeed, if compared to a modern road of today, but we must not underestimate its vital importance to the development of this area. It was this trail that opened up these upstate territories to easier and more extensive travel and exploration. It was most convenient for the pioneer families looking for the promised  land on which to settle. So theoretically it stands that this was the seed that brought Wallington into existence.

October of 1808 brought Daniel Arms and his family to an area that for years to come would be known to the upstate traveler “Arms Cross Roads.” Daniel Arms and his wife, Mary had first emigrated from England to Chenango County, New York, in the post-Revolutionary War period. In 1793 they moved on to Old Castle, then to Phelps, and finally in the autumn of 1808 to a small clearing three or four miles east of Sodus Village.

They arrived in the area by late afternoon and made camp by an old tree stump. They had traveled many a mile in their long journey from England in search of a homestead, but this night would forever be remembered as the most terrifying of them all.

They built a fire and settled down for the night, but soon afterwards a pack of snarling wolves attracted by the fire, surrounded them in a circle. The Armses all huddled together around the fire for their protection. From where the family sat the wolves could clearly be seen sitting dog fashion, and throughout the night kept the family at bay with their hideous howling. In the early morning the wolves, tiring of their play, left the camp. It had truly been a long and horrifying night that would be the subject of nightmares for many nights to come.

One would think that after such a night as this the family would pack their belongings and be on their way as fast as possible, but Daniel Arms would not be scared off by any beast, so maybe out of stubbornness or sheer spirit in a challenge that he chose this spot for his family and him to settle upon.

That fall Mr. Arms acquired lot #5 of Colts allotment which consists of 141 acres. He built a log home approximately where the Mulberry home now stands on the north side of County Road 400 in Wallington. The junction of the Geneva Roads, (which was then the Pre-Emption line) and County Road 400, (then the Ridge Road) became known as Arms Cross Roads in honor of its first settler, Daniel Arms.

Mr. Arms seems to have been a very industrious man indeed, for in the remainder of 1808 he had a sawmill erected on the eastern bank of Maxwell Creek near his home. An undertaking of this proportion would have been virtually impossible for him alone, so he traveled back to Phelps to incorporate the help of these fine neighbors. According to legend just three days were needed to complete the structure. It seems that Mr. Arms had supplied all the food and drink, “so these Phelps neighbors had a jolly time in these northern woods.”

That first winter was a very trying time for these courageous settlers. Their settling so late in the year, and having no stocks of food from the past year just having to start a new life in a new land were all immense problems to be faced by the Armses. But Spring brought new hope and new families to the area. The land was clear of trees and brush, plowed, and readied for the planting of the first crops. Clearing the land seemed an endless task by itself, for millions of stones littered the soil of this region. The endless miles of stone fence lay proof of this tiresome work.

Work was not all there was to life, for the Armses and the other settlers, predominately of English and Dutch stock, were mostly schooled people who saw a need of education for their children. So it was in 1809 that they decided that a school must be built for this purpose. A small log school was erected on the west side of what is now known as North Geneva Road, just 300 feet north of the Wallington corners.

The school was first taught by Mrs. Armsburry, a sister of Daniel Arms, who apparently also came to the area with her husband. It must have been the spitting Image of our concepts of a small country school. The children all sat on benches made of pine, and each pupil had his own slate, but other than a few books brought along by the settlers the rest was very basic. Imagine the children saying the pledge to a flag of seventeen stars and Mrs. Armsburry teaching of the new president James Madison.