From the Town Historian

From the Town Historian

In the early part of the 19th century, as the inhabitants of Western New York increased, towns were established when the population was deemed sufficient to have a tax base that would support said town. Often established towns were divided to create a new town, such was the case with the town of Alabama.

David Gary, Benjamin Gumaer and John Wolcott were instrumental in requesting the State Legislature to enact legislation to establish a town per their suggested boundaries. The group suggested the town be named Norway, but as there was already a town in New York of that name it was decided to name the town Garysville in honor of David Gary.

On April 17, 1826 the legislature enacted an act establishing a town by the name of Gerrysville. How or why the name was mistakenly changed is not known.  The town was created from the towns of Shelby and Pembroke.  In 1828 the name was changed to the present Alabama. The northern section of the town is in the Holland Land Purchase tract while the southern portion is in the Tonawanda Reservation Tract. Township 13, Range 3 and 4 in the survey system. The town’s southern border was changed in 1857 due to disputed property lines.

Of Historical Interest:

Seneca’s win fight to keep their reservation and not be moved west.

Construction of Oak Orchard Tonawanda Feeder Canal.

Establishment and decline of Oak Orchard Acid Springs Hotel/Sanitarium.

The intersection of the Lewiston Trail with the Canniangone Trail. This was a major and route for those hardy pioneers who traveled to and settled the west and military units headed for Fort Niagara. Truly, this is one of the nation’s most historic trails.

The mining of Gypsum that provided employment for residents for over a century.

Notable Residents:

John Ranken Gamble – United States attorney for the Dakota Territory in 1878. He was elected to the Territorial House of Representatives in 1877, and served there until 1879. He also served in the Territorial council from 1881 to 1885. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1890, and served in that capacity until his death in 1891 in Yankton.

Robert Jackson Gamble – He became a district attorney for the second judicial district of the Territory of Dakota in 1880, and was a city attorney for Yankton in 1881 and 1882. Afterward, he went on to become a member of the Territorial council in 1885. Several years after South Dakota became a state, he was elected a representative to the Fifty-fourth Congress in 1895 as a Republican. Although an unsuccessful candidate in the 1896 election, he was elected to the Fifty-sixth Congress.   During the Fifty-sixth Congress, he became the chairman of the now-defunct U.S. House Committee on Expenditures on the Public Buildings.

Rolla W. Roberts – In 1881 Rolla moved to Saginaw Michigan and worked as a surveyor for the Pere Marquette Railroad Company until 1886, when he was appointed assistant city engineer for the City of Saginaw, a position he kept until 1888, when he was promoted to the position of City Engineer, a position he held until 1897. In 1902 he entered into private practice until 1902 when he again accepted the position of city engineer which he held until 1912. While serving as city engineer, Rolla built and lay out nearly all the streets and sewer system comprised within the consolidated city of Saginaw

John S. Vosburg – Instrumental in the founding of Tombstone Mining Company and Town of Tombstone, Arizona Territory

Narcissa T. Roszell Bemis –  Mrs. Bemis became involved in many causes involved in justice and equality, often testifying before the legislature pleading her case on behalf of her causes. During the Civil War she would visit army camps on behalf of the Sanitary Commission. She was also active with the Children’s Aid Society, The W.C.T.U, the Political Equality Club, and the Iowa Woman Suffrage.

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