Archiver > NYWYOMIN > 2000-06 > 0960525944

From: "Dave And Kathy Becker" <>
Subject: History of Varysburg 3
Date: Fri, 9 Jun 2000 01:45:44 -0300

Copyright permission granted as per email #1


The Madden cheese box factory thrived and prospered and the villagers once again had employment. Many teams loaded with boxes were drawn to Attica or Warsaw and shipped via rail to their various destinations. The list of employees on the payroll fluctuated but at least 12 families in the village depended upon the Madden Mills for their support: George West, Robert Wilcox, Batzold Brothers, Peter Spink, William Spink, Wyman Spink, Frank Godfrey, John Kittle, John Markley, George Bauer, John Richards, Henry Persons, William and Walter Johnson, George Raab, Charles and Joseph Herrman, Fred Phinney, Al Norton, and Seeley Foote, who sometimes relieved Henry Madden on the carding machine. During the lull of winter months the villagers found work at the saw mill. In the height of production the Madden Mills were producing 20,000 cheese boxes a year often working day and night to meet to demand. By 1885 the Madden Mills included the carding factory, shoe peg factory, cheese box fact!
ory, saw mill and planning mill.

In the spring of 1864 Edward Madden, now the owner of Vary Saw Mill, had formed a partnership with George C. Davis, eldest son of Salem and Julina Davis. The mill dam had been causing much trouble, having been considerably damaged by the spring run off. All day long that May day Mr. Davis had been working with his men in the icy waters, making repairs to the mill. Taken with a sudden chill along in the afternoon, Henry Madden noticed his condition and helped him to his home. Before the next morning Mr. Davis became worse and was fighting a losing battle with death. He died May 19, 1864 at 29 years leaving his wife Juliette Barber and his young children George M. Frederick, Carlia J., and Theron B. Davis. George C. Davis was buried on the front lawn of his home (now occupied by Walter Conrad) owing to the crowded condition of the village cemetery. He died of typhoid fever which had been sweeping the area since the previous August.

When Edward Madden first arrived in town, Salem Davis' youngest daughter and child was 7 years of age. She would often sit upon Edward's knee as he told tales of the Irish Isles and it has been said she remarked one day that when she grew up that she would marry Mr. Madden. On March 1, 1869, Helen L. Davis, born June 14, 1849, the little girl who grew to a beautiful young woman, became the bride of Edward Madden. They began housekeeping in part of the house the Madden brothers had built, across from her parent's home. Their May-to-December marriage produced five children: Eva J. b. Dec 9, 1869 who was married to Wilson R. Hoy, the son of George Hoy the friend of Edward who saved the Madden Mills; Alice b. July 1, 1872; Gussie May b Aug. 30, 1879; Edward III b. Oct. 22, 1875 and Helen b Aug. 1, 1882.

On a bleak third of November 1899 Edward Madden died and soon after, the long history of the Mill operation began to die also. After his death the homestead was sold to his daughter Eva J. Hoy. Wife and daughter Helen removed to Medina, N.Y. where Mrs. Madden died May 25, 1934. Helen married George Montgomery and continued to reside at Medina. In 1932 the Madden house was sold to Robert Embt Sr.'s family, who had been renting the property after the Hoy's moved to Batavia. After his brother's death, Henry J., who remained unmarried, operated the mill for awhile and he and his sister Mary Ann, also not married, moved to the Rev. Jackson House on Attica Street. Henry died here in this house Dec. 7, 1901 and Mary Ann died Aug. 11, 1909 in a Buffalo hospital. Mrs. Eviza Madden had died May 19m 1862 at 70 years.

The Batzold Brothers operated the cheese box factory for a few years and John West operated the saw mill for the Madden's until the mill burned in 1895. But soon the mills became inactive.

About the year 1910 when evaporators came into the economy in full swing, the Hartung Bros., Charles and John, fruit growers from Medina, N.Y. purchased the mills. They utilized the old buildings and erected a modern equipped apple evaporator and once again the site hummed with activity, but this was to be short lived. After only a few seasons they sold out to Kemniel and Harris who only operated one year and once again the mills were closed. In 1925 some of the buildings were rented and used for bunk houses for laborers employed on the new Rt. 20A but soon too the bunk houses were deserted and despondency fell over the once prosperous site. The wilds of nature began to take over their rightful domain.

FIRE OF 1928

About midnight May 7, 1928, fire was discovered in the old mill. The fire company responded promptly but the fire which had such headway had destroyed it. A barn next to it owned by Mrs. Hoy was also destroyed, but the evaporator was saved. The mill at this time was owned by George C. Mason a banker in Webster, N.Y. Just one day over a month later on June 8, 1928, also about midnight, another fire was discovered which destroyed the apple drier, a two story building 30 x 75 feet, built in 1910. This also was owned by Mr. Mason. Both deeds were thought to be arson. Today nothing remains of the once prosperous Madden Mills.


Colonel Vary's brother in-law, Lodowick Thomas, settled in 1805 on lot 22, a short distance to the west from his sister's family, on 360 acres of land he had purchased overlooking the valley. It was his grandson, who would someday occupy the Vary house. Lodowick was married to Miss Esther Gates, the daughter of Joshua and Anna Lamb Gates. The Gates family also pioneered the wilderness of Sheldon. Lodowick and Esther were the parents of the following known children: Seth, Rowland who remained unmarried as did his sisters Mercy and Esther, Cynthia: (married to Amzi Conger) and Eliza who married Benjamin Thayer of Stephentown. Lodowick had seen service during the Revolution and his name appears on the pension list for service in the New York State Militia as a private. From available records it is found that he received $80 per year from Mar. 4, 1831 until his death June 6, 1848 at the age of 86 years. In a letter, his grandson Herman J. Conger states that his grandfather was w!
ounded in action. A War Department letter concerning Lodowick's military service also states that his name appeared as a private on a return of prisoners sent from the Province of Quebec by seas to Boston on Nov. 8, 1782. Mr. Conger also noted that Lodowick was buried in a family cemetery on his farm, beside the grave of his father Peleg Thomas Sr. who saw service with the English Army before the Revolution. Also in this Thomas Cemetery lies the grandsons of Lodowick who were killed in the Civil War.

Seth Thomas, the father of Jeffrey Thomas, was also a soldier serving as a private during the War of 1812 with Capt. Isaac Wilson's company of Lt. Colonel Worthy Churchill's New York State Militia in Genesee County, N.Y. Seth who was also buried on the Thomas farm according to one source, (and another saying in the Village Cemetery) died April 2, 1872 at the age of 78 years. His wife nee Samantha Fellows proceeded him in death on Sept. 21, 1859 at 51 years of age. They were the parents of: Eliza Ann who was married to James M. Jones a Civil War Veteran; Jeffrey Francis; Avery G. who became a village undertaker on Attica Street; Mary who was married to William Brewer and Eveline who married John Slader, who owned and operated a meat packing business in Chicago. Seth resided upon his father's farm and operated it until his death.

Jeffrey Francis Thomas, who moved into the Vary House from his father's farm in 1885, where he was born Aug. 4, 1829, was a very prominent man about Varysburg. It is from his diaries dating from 1860-1866 which are in the New York Library in Albany, that we have learned a great deal of Civil War times in Varysburg. Jeffrey Thomas was a self educated man and was not only a prosperous farmer but a country lawyer. He was married May 12, 1852 to Miss Harriet D. Richards, daughter of James and Anna Richards of Orangeville, whose family were pioneers in that township. The Thomas's, parents of two children, Francis S. born Jan. 30, 1858, died April 3, 1910, from septicemia caused from a prick of a price tag on a pair of new overalls. Francis after his father's retirement operated the family farm but with no children of his own, the name died with him. Ermina A. Thomas was married to Edwin Hall. Jeffrey Thomas, the father, died in the Vary House Feb. 25, 1900 after being stricken wi!
th numerous strokes. The original Thomas homestead erected by Lodowick Thomas burned.

Mrs. Ermina Hall resided in the Vary House following her father's death. She died in 1923, followed by her husband, in 1943.

(cont. next email)

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