Matthew McNinch Letter, circa 1861, with introduction by Robert McNinch, 1993†


From Meredith (McNinch) Chilson, 5680 County Road 2B, Belmont New York 14813


This Biography by Matthew McNinch was written about 1861. Matthew was born in Sussex County, New Jersey, on March 3, 1784. He died at Conesus, New York on March 3, 1867. He states in his letter that he had lived in Conesus fifty seven years at the time he wrote his statement. He came to Conesus with his family at the age of eighteen. The original of this statement was hand-written by Matthew. The spelling and phrases are as Matthew wrote them. The original paper is in my possession.

[introduction by Robert McNinch, New York, 1993] [see Notes 1 to 7]


Matthew McNinch, son of Patrick McNinch


[Matthew McNinch] ďson of Patrick McNinch, was born in New Jersey, in the County of Sussucks [sic, Sussex County] in the year 1784, March 3rd, at the end of the Revolution war. He moved that same year up to the state of Pennsylvania, in Northumberland County, in the forks of the Susquehanna. My fatherís name was Pattrick McNinch, he came from Ireland, was born there. My motherís name was Jane Scott, she came from Ireland also; her fatherís name was James Scott. My father and mother were married about the year 1770 or 1771. They were in Ireland when married and soon after embarked for North America. They first settled in New Jersey, then after the war, when the Indians got quiet, they moved up to Pennsylvania in Northumberland County, Torbut Township. We resided there until I was about eighteen years old, then my Father thought to try and better himself. He had six sons and two daughters, of which two were younger than myself. We fixed for moving to the Genessee country. We got about ready to move, my Father got sick, and, it getting late in the fall, he urged the family to start and leave him at his daughterís. They started, and the second day after, he died. We went on, when we got to the wilderness, it came a great rain, raised the water, made bad roads, and we worked our way through to the headwaters of Tioga, went down that to the mouth, then up Canisteo to the head, and not a bridge on either stream. We had to ford it, sometimes the water [was] so high it about swim the horses and waggon. So, we were over the worst of the waters; we worked our way on to Dansville [New York], there was one grist mill, David Shutts, one store, one publick house and a few scattering huts over the plane [sic].


There were but few roads here then, and they were poor and rough. We started from Dansville for the head of Conesus lake. We came by the way of Darling haven. Mr. Havens, he kept a publick house. Then we went on up to where Jacob Been now lives. We went on through the woods down to where Hector McKay was just making a beginning. He put us on an old road or rather an Indian path down to the inlet bridge, an old log bridge that I expect Colonel Sulivan built to get his army across. Then we were to the head of Conesus lake, on Henderson flats, where we resided for three years. There were but three families of us white folks at the head of the lake. My mother and her family, Mr. Jacob Durham and his family, Mr. [Benjamin] Himes and his family. Except us three families we had no white neighbors nigher [sic, closer] than three miles of us, but Indians plenty; they were civil and friendly. This was a great place for fishing & hunting, wild game plenty; I recollect one time in particular, it was on Sunday evening, there was about thirty Indians out before the door, some twenty rods from the house, along the creek, fishing and sporting, hopping, jumping, running and hooping. Hearing so much about those savages in the time of war, I just thought to myself, at that time, if they thought proper at that time, how easy they could have slaughtered us few whites then. But I was not alarmed, nor afraid, for they were peaceable and friendly. They used to fish and hunt, for a number


McAninch Family History NL, VIII-4  October 2000  Copyright Frank McAninch   page 2000-30


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