William Dowdeswell papers  1765-1774
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Biography

In 1788 and 1789, Lt. Col. Eleazer Lindsley (1737-1794), a Revolutionary War veteran who held commissions in Spencer's Regiment, the Jersey Blues, and the Continental Army, traveled through the frontier areas of south central New York State to find land on which to settle. After rejecting the area around the Finger Lakes as unhealthy, he purchased a "rugged and uncompromising tract" of approximately 30 square miles from Gorham and Phelps in township No. 1 of the second range.

The following spring, Lindsley and his party of about forty traveled overland from Roxbury, Morris County, N.J., to Wilkes Barre, Pa. There they transferred their belongings onto seven ton boats and poled up the Susquehanna River to the Cowanesque, arriving at their property on 7 June 1790. The party included Lindsley and his wife, Mary Miller (d. 1806), and many of the Lindsley children and their families: Elizabeth (1764-1852) and Capt. John Seelye (1757-1813); Sally and Ebenezer Backus; Nancy (d. 1813) and Dr. Ezekiel Mulford (1764-1813); Samuel Lindsley and his wife, Lois; Phebe and David Paine; and Eleazer Lindsley (d. 1825) and his wife, Eunice Halsey. Lindsley's sons-in-law Dr. Mulford (New Jersey Militia) and Capt. Seelye (Pennsylvania Militia) were, like Lindsley, Revolutionary War veterans and loyal members of the Masonic Brotherhood. The settlement they established, one of the earliest in Ontario (now Steuben) County, New York, was alternately called Irwin, Erwin or Irwintown, but subsequently the name was changed to Lindsleytown (also Lindsley Town), Lindsley, and finally to Lindley. Another daughter and son-in-law, Jemima and Stephen Hopkins, migrated with the Lindsley party, but settled in nearby Luzerne County, Pa.

The Lindsleys were among the wealthiest and politically most influential families in the Painted Post district. In the 1790 census, Lindsley is recorded as owning 6 slaves, one of the highest totals for the lower tier region of New York state. In 1792, Lindsley's prominence in local affairs led to his election as representative for Ontario County to the state House. He died on his way to the legislature in January, 1794. Lindsley's son, Eleazer, Jr., continued in the family's political and social tradition in the community, serving as chair of the town council and judge of the county court, and his appointment as post master in 1804 places him among the earliest post masters in the district. Lindsley was considered a political conservative, joking in 1810 that he was considered a Tory by some. During the War of 1812, though too old for active service, he volunteered to supply American troops with provisions and lodging.

Lindsley married Eunice Halsey of Bridgehampton, N.Y., prior to 1787. Their daughters, Maria (b. ca.1789), Jerusha (ca.1790-ca.1824) and Emily (b. ca.1795), were each educated at the prestigious Miss Pierce's School in Litchfield, Conn., and each returned home to settle into married life. Maria married James Ford in 1806, Jerusha married Michael C. Tharp in about 1823, and Emily married George M. Hollenback prior to 1825.

Born in Middlesex Co., N.J., in 1783, James Ford migrated to Lindsleytown at the age of 20. He entered into local political life as secretary at town meetings, and during the War of 1812, he helped to organize the provisioning of American troops encamped on Lindsley property. In 1816, he moved a short distance down the Cowanesque to Tioga County, Pa., where he founded the town of Lawrenceville, and where he operated a sawmill and gristmill until his death in 1859. Ford served in the state House of Representatives in 1823-1824 and represented Tioga, Lycoming, Potter and McKean Counties, Pa., as a Jacksonian Democrat in the 21st and 22d U.S. Congresses (1829-1833).