History of Sherman, NY

It was not until April 7, 1832, that the town of Sherman began its separate existence, having previously been a part of the town of Mina. The town comprises the second township and fourteenth range as described in the Holland Land Company’s survey; covers an area of exactly 36 square miles and is bounded on the north by the town of Chautauqua, east by Harmony, south by Clymer and west by Mina. The Pennsylvania railroad crosses the town north and south; Sherman, an incorporated village with a population of about 1,000, being the only settlement of consequence in the town and the only railroad station. The population of the town in 1915 (State census) was: Citizens, 1,695; aliens, 37. French creek, soon after taking its rise in Harmony, enters Sherman and crosses the town in a westerly direction to the village of Sherman, then turns and flowing a southwesterly course passes into the town of Mina on its way to the river. Chautauqua creek rests in the northwestern part of Sherman and soon passes into the town of Chautauqua on its northward way to Lake Erie.

The settlement of this region, once begun, was rapid. Tradition says that the first settler was Dearing Dorman, with his wife Huldah (Perkins) Dorman, and little son Amosa. In 1823 Mr. Dorman built a log house twelve by sixteen feet, with a roof of elm bark, on the town line road, on land later owned by Theodore Skinner. There, November 28, 1823, the first white child was born, Archibald Dorman. Mr. Dorman, with Elisha Eades, built log houses, Eades’ being across the road in the town of Chautauqua. They returned to Batavia, one hundred eighteen miles, by the route they had to travel, and were moved with an ox-team. Mr. Dorman raised the first acre of wheat in the town, thirty bushels to the acre. He planted his corn by cutting into the earth and pressing the soil down upon the kernels, as the Indians did.

Alonzo Weed built the first sawmill, on land owned by Lester R. Dewey. The first marriage was Lester R. Dewey, Sr., and Fanny Patterson, Otis Skinner, the first justice of the town, officiating, March 23, 1825.

There is a question regarding the first death. It is said a Mrs. Arnold was the first to die, and was buried on the farm later owned by James Upton. The general impression is that the first death was that of an Englishman who died at Elliott Smith’s. On Smith’s lot in the Sherman cemetery is a grave, and on the headstone these words, “John Walling, a native of England, died July, 1832, supposed to be about thirty years of age.” The first doctor was Thomas Green.

In May, 1832, Benjamin H. Kip and Otis and Elijah Miller bought the land where Sherman village now stands, built a sawmill, and in 1833 a carding and cloth-dressing mill. Otis Miller built a blacksmith shop and a tannery. These three men were the founders of the village first called Millerville, and afterwards Kipville; later the name was changed to Sherman. The heads of the first twelve families were: Benjamin H. Kip, Elijah Miller, Otis Miller, James Barker, George Vaness, Lucius Cook, George Hart, Kiler Dean, Alanson Patterson, Pitts Simmons, Hiram A. Case and Dr. Thomas Green.

Sherman is a prosperous town, and the village rivals the town in its enterprise and progress. Three-fourths of the land area of the town is under cultivation and perhaps 75 miles of wagon road, traverse the town. There are in Sherman five principal factories and ten small ones. The important industries are C. E. Cobb, lumber; Klein & Co., evaporated apples; the Mohawk Condensed Milk Co.; the Powdered Milk Co., of America, and the Sherman Canning Co. (canned vegetables). The village stores are modern and with those modern utilities, electric lights and telephones, a strong bank, the fraternal orders, social societies and churches, life in Sherman is very pleasant. The village is well built and far above the average in the number and size of its brick blocks.

The first newspaper in the village was the “Western New Yorker,” started in 1853. The “Chautauqua News” was established March 22, 1876, by E. W. Hoag, and bought in December, 1879, by C. E. Sheldon, who conducted it until October i6, 1918. At that time “The News” was sold to the Dorman Printing Company (M. L. and L. B. Dorman) and consolidated with the “Sherman Advance.” “The Advance” was founded October 6, 1916, by the Dorman Printing Company and successfully published until October i6, 1918, when the two papers were consolidated under the Dorman ownership.

Sherman was incorporated a village, September 8, 1890. The first municipal election was held October 3, 1890, the first officials being J. L. Thayer, Francis A. Ellis, Charles E. Cobb, trustees; Henry F. Young, treasurer; John McKean, collector; Thomas J. Newell was appointed village clerk.

In August, 1865, a great flood damaged the town. Two dams above and one at the end of the village went out, and nearly every bridge in the town. A more destructive flood, the worst in its history, swept the town in the evening of August 24, 1892, the iron railroad bridge and all the bridges from the head of French creek to the Mina line, except an iron one at Sherman Center. Much damage was done to business and private property.

In 1865 a disastrous fire swept away the postoffice, town clerk’s office and all town records. In 1869 many business buildings on Main and Miller streets were destroyed, brick blocks then succeeding the wooden ones burned.

FROM: History of Chautauqua County, New York and its people
John P. Downs – Editor-in-Charge.
Fenwick Y. Hedley Editor-in-Chief.
Published By American Historical Society, Inc. 1921