Addison - Mercantile and Lumbering

Submitted by Pam Davis

   About this period the valley of Canisteo became the scene of active mercantile and lumbering operations.  In 1830, John Loop, Shumway & Glover, Wilcox, Birdsall & Weatherby began at Addison as lumbermen and merchants, and continued till some time in 1832, when John and Peter P . Loop, Caleb Weatherby, and Read A. Williams formed a co-partnership, and built a store in the lower part of the village on the north side.  They operated largely in both mercantile and lumbering business for about a year when they made an assignment, and soon after removed from the county.

  Mr. Williams became a lumber merchant in Chicago, Mr. Weatherby removed to Warren, Pa., where he died some years since.

      In the spring of 1833, John Loop went down the river with lumber, and left his brother, Peter P. Loop, who was a man of dissipated habits, in large of his interests at Addison.  On his return he found matters in a very unsatifactory state, which troubled him exceedingly.  He went to what is now Erwin Centre, to se to some lumbering interests there, and from there went up the Clendenny Creek some three miles to a saw-mill.  This was about five o'clock P.M., and it was the last that was ever seen of him in this part of the country.  A crowd of men turned out and made diligent search for him so long as there was any hope of his discovery; but at last it was given up as fruitless, and the supposition became current that some ruffian had murdered him to obtain possession of the money had upon his person.

   A story was told several years after that some one from this section, who had previously known Loop, saw him on the Mississippi River somewhere above New Orleans, and that, in an interview, he explained to the narrator the cause of his sudden disappearance, saying he found himself in Pittsburgh, destitute and almost naked, and being ashamed to meet his old friends, had resolved never to return to Addison.

   Whether there is any truth in this story or not, it is certain that Loop was very sensitive as to his honor, and possessed in a very high degree the respect and confidence of his fellow-citizens.  He was supervisor of the town, and the records made by him while town clerk show a very careful elegant handwriting.

   The next firm established here was Thompson & French, about 1834.  They built their store on the site now occupied by Smith's block, corner of Wall and Railroad Streets.  John Thompson, the head of the firm, resided in Addison;  John M. French, the other partner, lived at Big Flats.  They did a prosperous business for a few years, and in 1838 sold out to William J. Smith and Ai Fitch .  The latter was a resident of New Brunswick, N.J. Mr. Smith became a permanent fixture in the life and business of Addison, being one of its most enterprising and useful citizens till the time of his death.  He was the father of William A. Smith, the present successful merchant of Addison.  He came to Addison in 1836, and started in a store which had been built by Ransom Rathbone in 1833.  The store is still standing, on the east side of F. W. Lattimer's grocery store.

  Mr. Rathbone did a dry goods and grocery business from 1833-1836, when he removed to Rathboneville, where he died many years ago.

  S. L. Gillet, A. Cone, and Joel D. Gillet began mercantile business in Addison in the fall of 1835.  They occupied the Wombough store on Water Street, and did a prosperous business for three years.  In the fall of 1838, Joel D. Gillet brought the interest of his partners and removed his goods to a store which he purchased on Water Street at the east end of the bridge, where he did a large business till, on account of failing health, he sold to his brother, C. E. Gillet, in 1847, who continued the business till 1850, when he sold to Joel D. Gillet.  The latter continued the store till 1852, and sold to George Wells, who in a few months sold to E. L. & E. R. Paine.  This firm had a successful career for two or three years, and sold to George Graham and N. W. Mallory, who continued business till burned out in 1857.

  Thomas and Benjamin Phillips established mercantile business and built a store, now occupied as a dwelling, in 1836.  They continued only a few years.  Thomas Phillips was the father of Ransom Phillips , now residing in the town of Addison.  Merriam & Haynes succeeded them, and did business for a short time in the same store.

  Dr. Bradley Blakslee came to Addison in 1840 from Otego, Otsego Co.  He was born in the State of Vermont, October 1794, and is consequently eighty four years old.  In company with Ezra R. Brewer and Hiram Sleepe r, he purchased 1000 acres of land on Elk Creek, now in the town of Woodhull.  It was a lumber tract, and the company built a water-mill on Elk Creek and carried on lumbering there five years.  They also during the same period carried on mercantile business in a store belonging to Henry Wombough, on the north side.

   At the expiration of five years the company dissolved.  Hiram Sleeper and Bradley Blakeslee then formed a mercantile partnership and built a store where Jacob Graham's hardware store now stands.  They also built  a steam sawmill on 250 acres of pine land which they purchased about two miles up the valley, and continued about three years in this business, when they dissolved.  About 1841, Dr. Blakslee built his present residence and store adjoining, which he occupied about four years as a drug store.  It was burned down in 1851.


   William B. Jones and Caleb Wetherby kept early hotels on the north side of the river.  James Van Vleck built the first hotel on the south side.  It is now the rear part of the American House, and was moved back when the latter building was erected.  Mr. Van Vleck afterwards failed, and the property passed into the hands of William Wombough .

* The above information was obtained from the History of Steuben County, New York,Clayton, (1879).

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