Skip to Content

Town History

Historical Figures

Samuel Hallett was born into a large family in Canisteo in 1827. He must have been a young man with great ambition and confidence and full of the enterprising drive of the frontier people.

At Alfred University he met Ann Elizabeth McDowell from Wayne, New York. They were married in 1848, when he had graduated from the Albany State Normal School. Some reports say that they taught school for several years. He also clerked for John B. Mitchell, Ann Eliza's uncle, who ran a store in Wayne. John Mitchell had other business interests, and young Sam became his confidential secretary acquiring business acumen from his employer.

In 1851 with his wife's brother, Francis Marion McDowell, he got into the lumbering business in the Canisteo valley around Adrian. They prospered. The next year they set up a bank in Hornellsville and soon a branch in Bath. He even visited Europe at this time to promote the Hocking Valley Railroad. Sam Hallett must have been a person with great persuasive ability to convince people of the soundness, or at least the profitability, of new ventures.

He paused in 1854 when he was only 29 years old and had built for his family a plantation-size SUMMER HOME AT WAYNE. Hallett's new construction was added to an already existing house. The property there had been owned by John B. Mitchell as early, maybe, as 1815.

This handsome new house became the symbol of Hallett's rapid success. In addition to his impressive house, Hallett had great ideas for Wayne including a girl's seminary and a railroad. Wayne had been his wife's home and the place where he began his business career.

In 1856 Hallett's aspirations led him to run for Congress. He lost this race. Never daunted, the next year, in 1857, he opened a bank in New York City. Samuel Hallett and Company had their offices at No. 53, Beaver Street, NYC. With him were his wife's brothers Frank M. and George W. McDowell and his wife's sister's husband, Nirom M. Crane.

Hallett, the salesman, then went back to Europe selling stocks and bonds for the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad, and promoting the Nautilus Diving Bell. Europeans as well as Americans were caught up in the great speculative enthusiasms. These were years of great living and entertaining and travelling for the Hallett family. They had a brownstone residence in Brooklyn and this imposing estate at Wayne for their summers where they entertained politicians, financial tycoons, deposed French royalty, and literary celebrities.

In 1863 Hallett's firm, in association with John C. Fremont, bought the controlling interest in the Leavenworth, Pawnee and Western railroad. This line became the eastern division of the Union Pacific. They soon ran short of money and Hallett went before Congress to get additional funds for the road. Fremont withdrew but Hallett took over and continued construction of the Kansas link of the railroad to the Pacific. Suddenly, on July 27, 1864, Hallett's phenomenal success ended, when, as the story goes, he was shot down in the street outside his hotel in Wyandotte (now Kansas City), Kansas. Sam Hallett was only 37 years old.

His young widow came to live the year round in the summer mansion at Wayne, her home town. The place went into slow decline. Timber and property was sold off and eventually the tenanted farm could barely pay the taxes. Mrs. Hallett secluded herself in the house and lived on until 1893. During the last years of her life her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Robert Leslie Hallett, with three children, lived in the Hallett mansion with her. One of these grandchildren, Margaret Hallett Lang, wrote of her happy childhood there and described the house and its furnishings in a long letter to Lola Austin Morse in 1951.

The Aisle of Pines

Ephraim Sanford was a Revolutionary War veteran and the earliest Baptist minister of Wayne Township (originally named Fredericktown). He was born in North Killingworth, Middlesex County, CT in 1747. He married Esther Brown in 1786, daughter of Triston Brown. References and Baptist church archives refer to the Rev. Ephraim Sanford as a devout Baptist, who came into Steuben County in 1793 as the first permanently settled minister of any denomination to locate in the Lake Country of Western/Central New York.

As a patriot during the Revolutionary war, his two brothers were Tories of the bitterest type. After the close of the war he moved to the State of Vermont and afterwards to Steuben Co., NY. He was a Baptist preacher, having a wide reputation for his eloquence and piety. The New York State Gazetteer says of him that "he was a silver-tongued preacher, who used to pass the sacrament in pewter tankards;" and adds the misanthropic remark, that "nowadays the order is often reversed, and that many churches have silver tankards and pewter preachers." His wife was a cousin of the famous Maj. Moses Van Campen, whose name and fame is intimately connected with the history of Southwestern New York where he was several times a captive of the Indians and forced to run the gauntlet." (From 1880 History of Livingston County Michigan.)

Baptists living in the area now Urbana and Barrington of Steuben County (including Wayne) sought to organize a new association of Baptist churches. The large and original Ontario Baptist Association minutes state that Brother Sanford and others from the County of Steuben had requested three separate and new Baptist associations so as to reduce the geographic size of the original Ontario group. Once that decision was made, the "Second Baptist Church of Wayne" became part of the newly established Steuben Association and subsequent changes for the congregation were finalized. At the first meeting of the Steuben Association, Sanford's congregation at Wayne entertained the delegates and this location became the leading church in the formation of the new association. Regional Baptist Churches had annual meetings together but there was little formality recorded until the early 1800s when Baptist Associations were created. By September 1818, the "Steuben Association" was well on its way to creating a strong congregation of faithful Baptist followers.

This First Baptist Congregation (1819) approved the "dismissal" of more than 30 First Wayne Baptist Church members to form a Second Baptist Church and congregation located in the Town of Wayne. Also in 1819 the new Second Baptist Church became a member of the Steuben Association and began plans for constructing another meeting house documented as having been completed in 1828 on Alderman Road where a permanent church was built. The second meeting house was built on the John Wright farm. At this location a meeting for official incorporation was held on February 21, 1820, at which time it was voted to legitimately name the newly formed congregation the Second Baptist Church in the Town of Wayne. A meeting for incorporation of the Second Baptist Church in the Town of Wayne was recorded at the County Clerk's office in Bath, Steuben, NY, in March 1820. The second structure was still standing in 1848 but later was consumed by fire. From January 1821 - June 1825, Elder Sanford administered the ordinances of the newly formed Association and current congregations at Wayne. For reasons wrought by frigid winter weather, on January 13, 1840, a meeting was held in the store of J. B. Mitchell where it was decided to accept a site given by William Boyer to build a new (third) meeting house, the location being that of the current Wayne Village Baptist Church. Elder Daniel Sunderlin accepted the work of building the church with donations made by the congregation for $1,500. Construction and dedication of the current Second Baptist Church were completed in 1846. In 1872 the name was again changed to the Wayne Village Baptist Church. The current church building plus additions and property have survived time and members continue to affirm the original spiritual and religious intent of its founders from 1817, especially Rev. Ephraim Sanford. The 1797 Fredericktown congregation mission carries on and remains a spiritual theme of the community. The congregation also continues its ongoing membership in the Finger Lakes Association of the American Baptist Churches of New York State and the American Baptist Association. In historical contexts, this church and its first pastor Rev. Ephraim Sanford were the first in a series of individuals, locations, constructions and events that brought the mid 18th century Baptist religious movement to the upstate Finger Lakes Region of New York. In its centennial celebration of the Steuben Association of 1917, the sermon pointed out that as of that date, fifty-two churches were association members, about 9,000 persons had been baptized and over 350 ministers had been church pastors for the Steuben Association since the start of it in 1819. The momentum of the new Steuben Association began in earnest thanks to Sanford's efforts. Sanford was a pastor of the Wayne Baptist church from its inception in 1794 until his death in 1836 and in that time was noted as having also been responsible for the first 50 years history of the entire Steuben Baptist Association.

Settlers Come to Mt. Washington

Sanford-Schulsen Family

History of Steuben County

Francis M. McDowell was born June 12, 1831, in Wayne, New York. His grand-parents were Scotch, English, Irish and Welsh. He attended the common schools in Wayne and went on to further his education at the institution that has become Alfred University in Alfred, New York.

In the fall of 1851 he became interested in the lumber business with Mr. Samuel Hallett and when the Bank of Hornellsville was organized in 1854, he was elected cashier. In January of 1857 the firm of Samuel Hallett & Co. was formed and Mr. McDowell became a member of the firm and moved to New York City where he took charge of the business while Mr. Hallett was in Europe for two years on important railroad negotiations.

He married Sarah Josephine Spang, daughter of Charles F. Spang of Pittsburgh, PA, in London in October of 1861. She died in 1868.

During the winter of 1867-68, Mr. Hallett was one of seven gentlemen who founded the order known as the Patrons of Husbandry. Soon after, he was elected treasurer of the National Grange and held that position for twenty-one years.

The seven founders of the Grange were Oliver H. Kelley, Aaron B. Grosh, John R. Thompson, John Trimble, William Saunders, William M. Ireland and Francis McDowell. Their names are inscribed on a Birthplace Marker located near the site of the original building on the south side of 4th Street SW, near Madison Street on the Mall in Washington, DC. The marker was officially dedicated on September 9, 1951, and is the only private monument on the Mall.

In December of 1874 he married Miss Eva Sherwood of Woodhull, New York, and returned to the old McDowell homestead in Wayne. Mr. McDowell died in March 1894 in Penn Yan, New York and is interment was in Lake View Cemetery in Penn Yan.

Francis Marion McDowell - Wikipedia

McDowell Paper Mills

Book: History of Steuben County, Prof. Clayton, 1879

The Eleusinian Mysteries and the Patrons of Husbandry

The National Grange of the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry

Don Rowland was born in Rochester, NY and graduated from LeRoy High School in 1939. Following a stint in the US Army, he studied at Alfred University in the College of Ceramics as a design student where he later obtained a BFA in Industrial Ceramic Design. In the mid 1950's, he worked in the Engineering Department at the Westinghouse plant near Bath. In the early 1960's he started teaching art in Finger Lakes area schools. Don received a Master of Science degree in Art Education from the State University College at Buffalo in 1963; and thereafter, he became chairman of the Art Department at Haverling High School. In 1966-68 he was chairman of the Western-Central New York Art Teachers' Association.
Don retired as head of the Haverling Art Department in 1978 and shortly thereafter became the Wayne Town Historian in 1980. It is documented from Town of Wayne historians by word of mouth that in the two years between retiring and becoming the town historian, Don painted a wall mural depicting the Town of Wayne and nearby historical sites adjacent to the town. His mural is signed and dated 1980. As a tribute to Mr. Rowland's time and commitments to the Town of Wayne, two entire rooms were dedicated to his memory where his Wayne documents, local archives, donations and artifacts continue to be safely stored and maintained by the Town of Wayne History Group.
Physical characteristics: The mural is 8ft 6in high and 25ft 6 in wide. The Town of Wayne had the mural cleaned via hiding long lost businesses names with a paint over and thereafter, restoring the mural's paint glaze by resurfacing the entire mural surface in Autumn of 2010.

Don Rowland -- In Honor of Our Veterans

Don Rowland -- Crooked Lake Review

Don Rowland -- Article on Aisle of Pines

Eva Sherwood McDowell was born in Woodhull, New York, on December 17, 1851. She attended the old academy in Woodhull. When she was in her teens, she assisted her father who was at that time Commissioner of Schools for a portion of the county where they lived. A family illness kept her from attending college.

In December 1874 she married Francis M. McDowell of Wayne, New York, a vineyardist and one of the Founders of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry (Grange). She was a charter member of the first Grange organized in Wayne, New York, and helped keep the books of the National Grange where Mr. McDowell was the Treasurer. This she did for nearly forty-three years.

Mr. McDowell's health failed in 1893, and in the fall of that year Mrs. McDowell was elected to succeed him at the 27th annual session of the National Grange held in Syracuse, New York. She was re-elected twelve times to that position.

Mrs. McDowell obtained a position in the Department of Agriculture of the State of Ohio after Mr. McDowell's death and she moved to Columbus, Ohio; however, she continued as the Grange Treasurer.

In 1909 Mrs. McDowell moved to Wellesley, Massachusetts, with her daughter who became the head of the physics department at Wellesley College; she died in November 1928. She was remembered for her love for the Grange and for continuing her husband's work in the National Grange.

The McDowell residence still stands in Wayne and the McDowell Cemetery can be found at the corner of Keuka Hill Road and State Route 230 just outside of Wayne.

Alderman Francis Gleason was born November 29, 1891 in the Town of Wayne.  He was the son of Edgar J. and Sarah Baker Gleason.  He attended Hammondsport school, graduating from high school in 1911.  In 1915 he graduated from the Tennessee College of Law in Chattanooga.  He was a vineyardist most of his life but did work as a purchasing agent for the Curtiss Aircraft Company in Hammondsport during WWII.  Aldy, as he was known, became active in politics in 1926 and was the Town of Wayne Justice from 1932 to 1955 when he was elected as the Town of Wayne Supervisor.  He served in this position until 1963 when he was elected as the Town Justice.  Regarded as a foremost area historian, he served as the Town Historian for many years.  He was a life member of the Urbana Lodge 459 which he joined in 1917, served as deacon of the Wayne Baptist Church from 1923-1964 and was a member of the Waneta Grange. 

The Story of the Jinrikisha

If you have a disability and are having trouble accessing information on this website or need materials in an alternate format, contact us for assistance.