Margaret St. John - Table of Contents

Margaret St. John
Excerpts from
Recollections of the "Burning of Buffalo and Events in the History of the Family of Gamaliel and Margaret St. John"
By their daughter, Mrs. Jonathan Sidway
Published in the Buffalo Historical Society Publications, Vol. 16

My parents were from the towns of Norwalk and Kent, in the State of Connecticut. My father was from Norwalk and my mother from Kent.

My mother, Margaret Kinsman Marsh, was the daughter of Cyrus Marsh, who was the first Presbyterian clergyman settled in the township of Kent, according to Connecticut annals

Gamaliel St. John [author's father] was born Sept. 22, 1766. He died June 6, 1813. My mother was born in Wilton, Connecticut, July 15, 1768; died April 29, 1847.

They were married in Kent October 16, 1788, and took up their residence in a house built by them in the village of Danbury, Connecticut, where they lived for several years, and until they had born unto them five children ....

Partaking of the spirit of emigrating to the West, they moved to the town of Westmoreland, Oneida Co., N. Y., where was born their daughter Margaret. During their residence in Oneida County my father entered into contract with the proper persons for constructing a portion of the turnpike from Albany to Cayuga Lake. His contract called for the necessary work to be done on a section of seven or eight miles between the Cayuga and Owasco lakes. That work necessitated their removal to Cayuga County. During their stay in Cayuga there were born unto them three children ....

My father removed with his family, in the year 1807, to a farm in Williamsville, then Niagara County, now Erie County; on which farm is still to be seen the large spring that constitutes the source of the Mill Creek at the village of Williamsville, and which is one of the tributaries of the Tonawanda Creek. But he did not move his family until he had made, in the previous spring, a tour of observation that extended all along the Niagara frontier. The farm thus selected was then the property of Mr. Andrew Ellicott, a brother of Joseph Ellicott.

The House in Buffalo

The family moved to Buffalo in the spring of 1810, having previously bought of Mrs. Chapman a claim for Lot No. 53, Holland Land Co. survey, on which was the frame for a house, forty feet square, standing on blocks, and back of which was an appendix of twenty feet square, one and a half stories high, enclosed and floored, having a chimney with the old-fashioned fireplace, and baking oven by the side of the fireplace. Lot 53 is directly opposite the Tifft House, which is on the site of the old Phoenix hotel.

Into this apology for a house the family, then consisting of the parents and ten children, moved on or about the 10th of May, 1810. On the 28th day of that month, in the chamber of the above-mentioned appendix, was born the eleventh child, Orson Swift St. John.

The price paid Mrs. Chapman for Lot 53 and appurtenances was $4,000; and $200 paid to Mr. Ellicott procured the deed.

The lumber for the covering and finishing of the house purchased of Mrs. Chapman was all drawn from Williamsville; the logs for which had been cut and drawn to the saw-mill during the winter previous (the winter of 1809-10), The shingles for the house were all made during the same winter by my father and his boys, Elijah and Cyrus. Much of this material was drawn in the winter before moving to Buffalo, and the remainder was drawn afterwards as it could be got through the mill.

The cellar was made of the dimensions of the whole house, and the stones with which the walls were laid up were drawn from the quarries of Judge Erastus Granger on the banks of the Three-mile Creek, east of the then village of Buffalo. That creek was known where it emptied into the Niagara River below the then ferry at the foot of Niagara Street as the Scajaquada, commonly pronounced Conjockada. .

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