February 19, 2004

Etna's history, to 1897

We'll see what the Town Planning Board has to say about Etna's future tonight, but here's a rich description of its past from George Goodrich. Etna was a very busy place, and this entry is considerably longer than the one for Varna, and also has two pictures in addition to the map.

Etna, East Side (1897)
Etna, East Side (1897, Photo by Silcox)

Map of Etna (1897)
Map of Etna (1897)

Key to the Map of Etna
1. Mrs. C. Turner.38. Blacksmith Shop.
2. J. T. Primrose.39. Houtz's Etna Roller Mills.
3. E. F. Weaver.40. Store.
4. James Rawley.41. Ai Van Horn.
5. Geo.Cowdrey.42. Ann Merchant.
6. L. Dusenberry.43. Geo. L. Snyder.
7. Arthur Burr.44. Mrs. William Haskins.
8. Mrs. H. Ralph.45. Ladrew Sherwood.
9. Mrs. D. Weaver.46. Eli Conklin.
10. L. Freeman.47. Wm. Tichenor.
11. Wm. Smith.48. Store.
12. School House, No. 11.49. Arthur Coggswell.
13. Shoe Shop.50. Meat Market.
14. David Brotherton.51. H. A. Root, Hotel.
15. Dr. G. L. Rood.52. Geo H. Houtz.
16. Baptist Church.53. Mrs. C. Houtz.
17. M.E. Church.54. Geo. H. Houtz.
18. Wm. W. Sherwood.55. W. Marsh.
19. Mrs. J. S. Weidman.56. Etna Hotel, C. Westervelt.
20. Dr. J. Beach.57. Depot, L. V. R. R.
21. Edward Gaston.58. Mrs. Mary H. Bartholomew.
22. E. Snyder.59. T. Rhodes.
23. C. Bartholomew.60. Freeman Bros.
24. Mrs. Davenport.61. J. Bartholomew.
25. E. Freeman.62. S. Ralph Estate.
26. L. Hemmingway, shop.63. Milo Snyder.
27. L. Hemmingway.64. Emma Snyder.
28. D. B. Conklin.65. Mrs. Hurley.
29. Mrs. John Reed.66. Etna Creamery.
30. Barbara Rulison.67. Blacksmith Shop.
31. Arthur Burr.68. Machine Shop.
32. P. Brady.69. Hannah Lee Estate.
33. Smith Stevens.70. Wm. H. Sherwood
34. D. Brotherton.71. Geo. H. Houtz, Store.
35. Cabinet Shop.72. Mary H. Bartholomew.
36. Wagon Shop.73. Mrs. G. B. Davis.
37. Blacksmith Shop.

Chapter XXXIII.


We are not able to give the year when Rev. Wm. Miller and his brother Arthur, who was a blacksmith, commenced building in the wilderness of what is now known as the village of Etna, but was first called, after them, Miller's Settlement.

The first grist-mill there was on the same spot and in the same building lately occupied by Jesse Bartholomew as a planing mill. The date of the erection of this mill cannot now be accurately given, and it has been claimed that it ante-dated White's mill at Freeville, but so far as we can learn, without authority, and, as it seems to us, without reason, for Capt. Robertson would not have gone to mill at Ludlowville with his crops of 1799 and 1800 if there had been a mill so near to him as Etna.

The first date of Etna which we can give with any accuracy or certainty is that of the organization of the first religious society in the township, the first and we believe to this day, the only regular Baptist church of Dryden, which was organized February 29, 1804, at the home of William Miller. The meeting was opened with singing and prayer by Mr. Miller, Samuel Hemmingway being elected deacon, and John Wickham the clerk of the society. Among the original members are said to have been Francis Miller, Elijah Dimmick, Silas Brown, Ebenezer Brown, Nathaniel Luther, Job Carr, Ziba Randall, Timothy Owens, Jonathan Dunham, Joshua Jay, Abraham Woodcock, Nathan Dunham, Joel Whipple, Samuel Skillinger, Morris Bailey, Orpha Luther, Asher Wickham, Mehitable Carr, Betsey Brown, Abigail Dimmick, Mary Owens, Lucy Dunham and Katie Woodcock.

A saw-mill was built at about the same time as the grist-mill, upon the site lately occupied by the Houtz saw-mill, and afterwards a fulling mill owned by Joseph Newell and Stephen Bradley, on the ground now occupied by the blacksmith shop of Bert Conklin. Daniel Carr and John McArthur carried on the first store in the house formerly occupied by Wm. Miller and now owned by the Houtz family. The first blacksmith shop stood where is now the center of the road between Houtz's store and grist-mill. The first church building was of logs on the lands of Nathaniel Luther, but was replaced by a frame building on the same ground, which is where the Etna Creamery Co.'s building now stands, and the building is the same one which Caleb Bartholomew used as a pattern shop. At that time there was a bridge across Fall Creek at that point. The first school house stood on the site now occupied by the Houtz store and was the building afterwards used as the old cooper shop, which was finally taken away by high water a number of years ago.

About the year 1815 the place took quite a change. Wm. Miller sold out his property to the Houtz family and the new settlement from that time bore the name of Columbia until about the year 1820, when the postoffice was established under the name of Etna. In the meantime Bradley & Newell sold their fulling-mill to Rice Weed. Stephen Bradley owned and occupied the place now owned by Hiram Root, which afterwards became the property of Joseph Hemmingway. Here he built the hotel, and the original "Bradley House" of former years is a part of the present hotel.

Etna, West Side (1897)
Etna, West Side (1897, Photo by Silcox)

The first shoemaker was Jacob Lumbard, whose descendants are known in the town of Dryden. About the year 1818 a store was built on the ground where Ed Carbury now lives, just east of Root's Hotel. At the same time there was another store kept by H. B. Weaver in the building now known as Houtz' white shop. Henry Beach built a sawmill which was burned on the island about where is now the center of the Houtz dam. Beach sold his interest in this property to J. H. Houtz, who rebuilt the mill, but later took it down to make room for a distillery. On that particular spot one saw-mill and two distilleries were burned and the last distillery was taken off by high water a few years ago, being remembered by the present generation as the old sash factory.

Another distillery stood on the island just back of Conklin's shop and was owned by John Dodge who came from Maine.

Columbia had two bridges at that time, one of which has been mentioned, and the other extended across the creek nearly in front of where Dr. Rood now lives.

When Henry L. Beach sold his property to J. H. Houtz he moved to what was known as Lower Etna, where Truman Rhodes now lives in a house that was then built by Mr. Beach as a hotel, from which there was a road running south to the corner of the pine woods. At that time Lower Etna possessed a hotel, paper mill, blacksmith shop, store, wagon shop, and several other buildings. The first tailor was John Weaver, who had a little family of children from which only nine attended school at one time.

The First M. E. church of Etna was organized April 13, 1835, and their meetings were held in the village school house until 1837, when the present church edifice were erected at a cost of about two thousand dollars, seating two hundred persons. The first trustees were James Freeman, Alvah Carr, Michael Vanderhoef, Richard Bryant, Thomas J. Watkins, Oliver Baker and John H. Porter.

Fifty years ago Etna had a hard name, being then noted for its horse running and liquor distilling proclivities, there being no less than ten or twelve stills within two miles square of this section of the town. While the general business of the place has not increased in recent years the character of its inhabitants and industries has very much improved, and a stranger who now visits Etna finds it very pleasantly located upon the opposite banks of Fall Creek, which are here connected by a very substantial iron bridge, one of the largest and best in the township, and the dwellings and public buildings, including churches and schools, show abundant evidence of the thrift, good taste, and enterprise of the inhabitants. The butter factory, recently incorporated, is one of the manufacturing enterprises which flourish, and for the past twenty-five years Etna has not been behind her neighboring villages in mercantile enterprise or in the educational advantages furnished by her excellent school.

The following pioneers of Etna have been brought to our notice:

Bartholomew, Jesse, Sr., was born in Branford, Conn., in 1763, and about 1783, in Lee, Mass., married Mamra Bradley, who did in Dryden in July, 1823, after which he married Betsey Locke Updike in Dryden in 1831. He came in 1798 to Herkimer county, from which place, after living in Locke, Cayuga county, he moved to the town of Dryden in 1812 or 1813, and purchased and settled on the land now known as the Hanford farm, one-half mile east of Etna, from which he was subsequently driven off by a man who claimed a better title. While he yet lived on the corner where the Etna road joins the Bridle Road, and in the traditional cold season of 1816, he raised a field of corn, said to have been the only crop of that kind matured in the town of Dryden that year. He died in 1846 aged 83 years. He was a devoted Baptist and is said by his children to have been so even-tempered as never to have been seen in a passion. He was the father of fifteen children and the grandfather of over seventy. Among the former were Jesse Bradley, who carried on a distillery in Dryden village in the Pioneer Period and moved to Michigan, where he died leaving a large family; Lemi, who served in the War of 1812, having enlisted as the record says at Dryden, Cayuga county, N. Y., in August, 1814, in Col. Fleming's regiment, which rendezvoused at Cayuga Bridge, and was one of the volunteers who took part in the celebrated "sortie of Fort Erie." He died in Westfield, N. Y. in 1872. Daniel, Sr., was born in Locke in 1798, and in 1819 married Jerusha Griswold, whose children, Mary (Wheeler) and Daniel, Jr., are still well-known residents of Dryden. Caleb and Jesse, Jr. have for many years been prominent business men of Etna, where they both still reside, Caleb having been largely engaged in the manufacture and sale of scales and iron bridges, while Jesse has manufactured specialties, one of which was the first machine used in Etna which would do planing and matching of lumber at the same time.

Carr, John, is said to have come to Etna from Pennsylvania as early as 1800, settling in the western part with his three sons, Job, Peleg and Caleb. His wife is said used to call her sons in the morning, saying: "Come, boys, the birds are saying Job, Peleg and Caleb."

Dunham, Jonathan, with his three sons, Henry, Louis and Nathan, coming from Pennsylvania, settled near Etna about the year 1800.

McArthur, Rev. Daniel, from Scotland, arrived in New York May 29, 1811. He was originally a Presbyterian, but changed his religious views and went to Edinburgh, where he was baptised and united with the Baptist creed. Soon after he took passage for America in the hope that the change of climate would prove beneficial to his wife, who was in poor health but died upon the voyage and was buried on Staten Island. After spending some time with friends in America from his native land he met Mr. Quigg, of Ithaca, on the Hudson river and was influenced by him to come to Dryden, as he did, and died here in 1847, leaving many descendants.

Houtz, Rev. Anthony, with his father, Philip Peter, migrated from Germany in 1768, when the former was only ten years of age, locating at Lancaster, Pa., where the son learned the trade of a tailor, and using this occupation as a means of support he studied theology and was licensed to preach by the German Reformed Church. The original family name was "Hauz"; but as they soon began to speak English, they changed the spelling and pronunciation to Hautz and later to Houtz, which with the English spelling is the exact German pronunciation of "Hauz". During his pastorate in Pennsylvania, his first wife died and in 1803 he married Katrina Keller, who became the step-mother of his four children and in the year following the mother of his fifth, John Heinrich Hauz, who was the old merchant and miller, John H. Houtz, so well known to the old residents of Etna, where now lives and toils at the roller mills his son, Col. George H. Houtz, the great-grandson of Philip Peter Hauz. In the years 1804 and 1805 Rev. Anthony Houtz preached at Canoga and Lansingville and as early as 1806 located at Etna, where he served the people not only as their preacher but also as a tailor, jeweler, or "time keeper," as they were called in those days, and as druggist and physician. His books, still preserved, show that the most universal diseases of the section at the time were the usual new country plagues, the ague and the itch. He was a very useful and much respected man in the new settlement, where he died in 1813 and was buried in the Etna cemetery.

The Rhodes family of the town of Dryden are of English descent, their ancestors having originally settled in Pennsylvania before the Revolutionary War and their great-great-great-grandfather was a cooper by trade who worked for Washington's Army and was killed by Indians in the massacre of Wyoming.

One of his sons, George Rhodes, came to Lansing from Northumberland county, Pa., in 1792, coming by the way of the Susquehanna river to Owego, from there to Ithaca through a forest road, and from there to Lansing, where they settled. They cut their way through the original forest, going east from Ithaca to a spot just east of Forest Home, where they crossed the creek and from there went north to the farm now occupied by John Conklin.

Etna, East Side (1897)
Etna, East Side (1897, Photo by Silcox)

Of a numerous family, one son, Jacob Rhodes, left home in 1804, when he was twenty-one years old, to go for himself. Taking his rifle, ammunition and hatchet, he came to the present town of Dryden, sleeping the first night on the banks of a small stream a short distance southwest of the present site of the village of Etna. From there he went east to where Freeville, McLean, and Dryden now are, camping the second night near the forks of the creek near Freeville. After prospecting for a number of days he came back to where he camped the first night and located, buying a claim owned by a revolutionary soldier named Savage, from Rutland, Vt. His early life was the usual one of the early settlers. For years he kept house by himself and depended upon the forest and streams for provision. He was noted for his woodcraft and marksmanship. In fact, he was barred from taking part in shooting matches, for, with him, to shoot was to win, and at the present time spots can be pointed out where he killed deer, bear, etc.

He married Margaret, daughter of Christopher Snyder, and of a family of eigh, four sons great to an old age, the four daughters having died in childhood or youth. The sons were Wm. S., Geo. W., and Miles and Truman Rhodes. The old home of Jacob Rhodes was until recently owned by Miles Rhodes, and is now occupied by W. J. Davis.

Jacob Rhodes, by combining farming with a distillery, accumulated a large property, which is now owned by his grand-children, consisting of about one thousand acres of land, lying in nearly a solid body south and west of Etna.

Goodrich, George B. The Centennial History of the Town of Dryden, 1797-1897. Dryden: Dryden Herald Steam Printing House, 1898. Reprinted 1993 by the Dryden Historical Society. Pages 136-44.

(The Dryden Historical Society, which sells this book, may be reached at 607-844-9209.)

Posted by simon at February 19, 2004 12:15 PM in , , ,
Note on photos


Richard Deeb said:

I'm wondering if anyone has any pictures of the Abner Morrill family that lived in Etna from 1904 to the last surviving member of that family...Miss Hestor Morrill who died in 1946.

Lisa said:


I found your page while looking for info on my Grandfather George Snyder. I have a copy of a photo of his bakery and restaurant said to have been located in Etna or Sharpsville. He lived from about 1874-1922. Do you have any record of a business with the name "Geo. F. Snyder" above the door? On one of the windows it reads "Bakery and Confectionary", another reads, "Oyster House", and another window (which I think is still part of his business) reads "The Wire Mill Restaurant"


Rebecca Levin said:


I was very happy to find this site. I'm wondering if anyone has any information, photos, etc about the two room school house that was in Etna in the 1960's. I have fond memories of attending the school for first and second grade (1961 - 1963). The teachers were Mrs. Sherwin and Mrs. Trevits. If anyone has any information or memories to share I'd love to hear about them.



richard deeb said:

Rebecca, I have some pictures of the Etna School taken about 1960. I attended that school from 1943 to 1946.

Debbie Hamilton said:

I stumbled on your site while looking for information on my ggrandfather & his family, and enjoyed it very much. A former Pittsburgh native myself, I only recently learned that he may have lived in Etna with his wife , mother-in-law and children in the 1890's. His name was Joseph T. (or J.T.) Donley. He was a lawyer and a one-time member of the PA House of Reps. who later married Mariah Swain, daughter of Hannah Emerick and Samuel Swain of Butler. If anyone has every heard of these folks, I'd really appreciate hearing from you. Thanks DH

Holley Padula said:

Wow! Who wrote this piece? It is so interesting.....and gives so much information into the little hamlet that I grew up in! It was a wonderful little village to spend your childhood....and it makes me sad that we can't get it back to waht it was!

Thanks for sharing this!!


Bob Aramini said:


I was in your second grade class with Mrs. Trevits. I have also been looking for pictures of the school house. The classmates I can remember are you, Gary Bordonaro, Doris Drake, Bobby Ellis and Karen Purcell. You and I ended up at Ithaca High(you were Validictorian - congrats again) where I ended up being good friends with Mrs. Trevit's son, Mark. I know that she was still around in 1984 when I ran into Mark at a reunion. Please share any photos you can find.

Bob Aramini

Stacie Kropp said:

I am purchasing (hopefully) the house at the corner of Lower Creek (#28) I hear that it used to be a creamery, looking at your site it looks as though it might have been owned by Bartholomew. I would love to find some pictures of the house back in the 1800's when it was built. Does anyone know more? Please email me.

Bob Ellis said:

Bob Aramini, Rebecca Levin.

Hey, I was good friends with both of you guys! That school was burned down in 1966...before it fell down. I remember being told to never go on the second floor for fear of collapse! I have my 2nd grade class photo taken inside the school in what....1963/64? Remember when Mrs. Trevits and Mrs, Sherwin turned the school radio on when Kennedy was shot in Nov. 1963? I'll always remember where I was. Haven't seen you guys in years and years and years......e-mail address is aolling@yahoo.com

Great site! I'm an Etna native and would enjoy hearing from anyone who recognizes my name. hyatt.richard@gmail.com

Ben Freudenreich said:

My ancestors emigrated to Etna c. 1845, and I'm trying to determine where they lived in 1880. Martin Freudenreich was married to Barbara Farmerie. The 1880 Census indicates that they lived on "Graham Avenue." The sheet on the Census has Graham Avenue next to Cherry Street. I find no reference to Graham Avenue on any maps I have. Can anyone identify it and located it?

Bob Ellis said:

Ben.... I lived in Etna since 1956 and I never have heard of a Graham Ave. or Cherry St., not even on old maps. There are few streets in Etna. There is a Graham Avenue in Cortland and a Cherry St. in Ithaca. My guess is they didn't live in Etna in 1880, probably Ithaca.

Bob Haskins said:

This is great information! Thank you for making it available. My 3rd great grandfather, Jacob Lumbard, is mentioned in this narrative. His son, Rufus Lumbard, left New York in 1861 and moved to Iowa. Do you have any more information about the Lumbard’s of Tompkins Co., or suggestions for finding information? I appreciate any assistance and thanks again for your site!

Best Regards,

Bob Haskins
Urbandale, Iowa

Claudia Smith Ciafre said:

Ben: Considering the location of Cherry Street in Etna, perhaps Graham Avenue no longer exists, but was purchased by the railroad? By the way, Barbara Farmerie is an older sister to my great-grandmother, Rosa, who married James Smith. I am looking for information on him. Smith is not such an easy surname to research. Glad to have read your message. Regards, Claudia

Claudia Ciafre said:

Ben: The Etna in this report is not Etna, PA in which the Farmeries lived. Claudia

Karen Parish Mitchell said:

I grew up in Etna, PA and was wondering if there was any way to find out the history of the house on Angle Way (Alley) that I grew up in. I know it was built in 1885, but would love to know the previous history/owners.

Ben Freudenreich said:

Bob and Claudia,

Thanks for your posts. Maybe Claudia is right -- that Graham Ave was purchased by the railroad. I do know from Census data that my relatives lived on Grant Ave, but that is some distance from Cherry St.

Does anyone have a picture of the Peerless Milk and Dairy at 150 Parker St?


P.S.: As I read through the history and the comments, it occurred to me that perhaps we are not all talking about the same Etna. My family lived in Etna, PA.

Clare G. Wiedmaier Jr said:

I like the info. I am asking if anyone has any info on the German family from German Cross road in Dryden Ny.

Kathy Hamilton said:

I just purchased an old locket owned by Aloysius Yester who lived in Etna, Pa and died in May 1969. The locket has a picture of his wife, Elizabeth, in it. Does anyone know of this family?

mike carberry said:

I'm a 4 generation who has lived in Etna,NY at the same house on Etna Lane.The home was given(or bought,not sure) to my great grandfather who worked for George Houtz and raced his horses at fairs and etc.My father is named after George Houtz,given his first and middle name.Interesting site :)

Rob Lumbard said:

Thanks for the info on Jacob Lumbard. Any New York Lumbards are welcome to contact your Iowa cousins.

milton couch said:


milton couch said:

Bob Ellis - I knew your father. Your grandparents, Fred & Lillian lived in your house when we lived next door. My mother, Dorothy, lived in the apartment for a few years.HTML

milton couch said:

mike - Iknew your family (Fern Carberry) We lived across the street moved there in 1925. Ed Couch lived there after my dad retired from the ithaca p.o. see Dryden post notepad.mk

milton couch said:

That corner of Etna Lane (east side) is so familiar. Our house was 2nd on the right side. I went to school thru the 8th grade (1938-1939) That was & still is my home town!

Milt Couch said:

mike - do you have any comment on my information. I would like to know if you received it.

Milt Couch said:

I remember going to the Cogswell store (#48) and buying candy from the candy counter which was just inside on the left. Other merchandise was further towards the back of the store. Arthur Cogswell's house #49 was on the corner of Etna Lane.

Milt Couch said:

Mike- I have been in touch with Bob Ellis & Judy Zazzara. They have helpful in identifying events re: Etna.

Bob Ellis said:

I recall Bill Apgar owning what is now the Etna Mill Apartments and running a hardware/lumber business out of it in the 1960's and 70's. He would hire Cliff Wallace and his old 1950's era pickup truck to unload box cars full of plywood and 2x4's from the RR siding up on Etna Lane, in where general Crushed Stone blacktop plant used to be. I loved riding up high on the back of his loaded-with-lumber pickup truck, driving back down to the 4 corners to unload.

Milt Couch said:

I find Bob Ellis' account very interesting. I can see him riding on top of the lumber.

Milt Couch said:

Sonny Spaulding & I went into the Houtz Feed Mill at times thru our secret passage and roamed thru the 4 floors. It was an adventure at the time. Of course many places in Etna was an adventure. I've been in touch with his family in Florida & hope to hear from him soon.

milton couch said:

I'm trying to find out if anyone who went to district#11 in the 30's are reading this piece of history. If so contact mcouch24@gmail.com

Daniel McArtur said:

I used to live right next to the school. We moved in 65. I do remember the radio of the Kennedy shooting, but does anybody remember watching the space shots from my living room next door? My family is mentioned in the Etna history and we have moved back into the area recently. Thanks for the blog posting! My children greatly appreciate the history so readily available.

Bob Ellis said:

Daniel McArthur, I think I recall you and your family living next to the school. We must have been about the same age. I don't see you in the Etna School second grade class photo however in the 1963/64 school year. I think the people who own your old house now also own the former school property and have built a garage where the school once sat. Remember the big, old merry-go-round the school had?


Bob - I would like to see a picture of the changes of the old school grounds. I have fond memories of the old merry-go-round when I went to school back in the 30's.

Daniel McArthur said:

Bob- I do remember you. I think I was a year behind. The merry-go-round was great! I have been looking for outside pictures of the school house, are any around? I cannot find my school picture insde, but Mrs. Trevits is glaring at me and I am frowning. My wife thinks it is hilarious.

Bob Ellis said:

Daniel, if you become a Facebook friend with Julia Edmondson Mastroberti, you will see a few of her old B&W photos that her mother took around the school during one of our May Pole days back in 1964. It shows the back of the school. Maybe your old house is even in it, I have to look.

Dottie said:

I am a descendant of Gen John Wilkins Jr. and I would like to know anything about his family, wife and children, who lived in Etna and Wilkinsburg, PA.

Anything would be of value to me.

Thanks, Dottie

Tomo said:

I am descendant of Thomas (Tomo) Hrvoic,he live in the Etna,PA from 1910-1040.If anyone has any information please contact me.unkwn50@yahoo.com

John M Welsh said:

I am looking for info regarding my G grandfather, last name is Parker and he supposedly owned a dairy on Parker street. Please e mail any and all info, would be appriciated, Thanks