A General History of the Town of Batavia
In 1802, Genesee County and the Town of Batavia were the same, encompassing much of Western New York. Within the first decades of the 1800s, new counties formed and broke away from Genesee, and towns formed and broke away from Batavia. Today Batavia contains two governments of its own as well as the seat of county government. We can explain some of our history by looking at the development of our hamlets:
The City of Batavia is located on the east end of town. There has been a concentration of development there since 1802 when Joseph Ellicott selected a spot where Seneca trails came together near a bend in the Tonawanda Creek for his land office and mill. This part of Batavia became a Village in 1821 in order to have fire protection. In 1914, the Village became a City. Today, the City has desirable neighborhoods and needier ones, countless businesses, many schools, churches, cemeteries, civic organizations, social activities, a hospital and a theater.
Bushville was founded when William H. and Louisa Post Bush came to Batavia in 1806, and established their mills three miles west of the village. With these employment opportunities, it would have been natural for people to come to live in Bushville. Soon, a district school was established and the Quaker Friends Church began in 1875. Now the mills are gone, the church is gone, and the school is a private home. Bushville is a place where people live but have few places to gather.
Daw’s Corners can be found where Route 98 intersects with Batavia-Elba Townline Road. Today many families live there, but gone are Speyer’s General Store, the blacksmith shop, post office, and District No. 3 schoolhouse, as well as Nelson Bogue’s nursery business, which employed nearly 200 people in the 1880s. Daw’s Cemetery is located just east of Route 98 and is still active.
East Pembroke is a border hamlet shared by the Towns of Batavia and Pembroke. It started as a mill site with development influenced by the railroad. Today there are churches, stores, a post office and a school in East Pembroke. This hamlet still has places where people can gather together.
West Batavia is where Route 33 intersects with Wilkinson Road to the south and Hartshorn Road to the north. It once had a freight station (Crofts Station), general store, post office, and hotel. Today the freight station building still exists but has been moved and no longer serves as a freight station since trains don’t stop in Batavia anymore. The hotel stayed in business under different owners until the 1990s when it burned down.
Newkirk or Five Corners, is located on Bank Street Road where Batavia becomes Elba. Named for an early settler, more needs to be learned about Newkirk.
Putnam Settlement is partly in Bethany and was named for early settlers. The famous author, John Gardner, was born in the portion belonging to Bethany, but Batavia always claims him as a native son (his grave is located in Grandview Cemetery in the Town of Batavia).
We can see that each hamlet drew people with common interests and goals. Those interests and goals gave each place a personality and a story. But each was always a part of the same larger community. Batavians have always mingled — working together and sharing a greater history than that of the neighborhood or hamlet. Today, we are left with a town that has weathered changes and trends. We might not grow in size and population but we grow in experience and lessons learned.