The Historian's Office


Site map


Stafford Canning Cleveland's 
History and Directory of Yates County (1873)
Name Index


The last quarter of the 19th century saw a great many County histories written across the United States. They are of greater or lesser worth, both for historical or genealogical reasons, depending on the author and the circumstances. Stafford C. Cleveland, editor of one of Penn Yan's weekly newspapers from the 1850s into the 1880s, was not a native of Yates County but saw its history with a clear and interested eye. It is certainly one of the best and most accurate of any of the multitude of histories written at the time, and one of the earliest. He was interested in the Public Universal Friend and her followers, and was able to interview the last few remaining survivors of her fellowship and household; his account of the Society went a long way toward rehabiliting the Universal Friend's reputation, and in the process recorded some fascinating stories of western New York's earliest settlement.

Cleveland began printing family histories in his newspaper in 1868 and continued even past the first publication of his book in 1873. Many of these were necessarily condensed when he did publish, and his chapters on Starkey, Potter and the incomplete chapter on Torrey were never published in his lifetime. The County Historian has a copy of Cleveland's History annotated with the references to these articles, and they will be posted as part of this name index.

The County and the research community is deeply indebted to Bonnie Bunce, who has given permission for this index that she compiled to be posted on this site. She retains the copyright, and any reference to this index must cite her as the compiler.


In his Preface to the History and Directory of Yates County, Stafford Canning Cleveland stated that he and his partner, Rodney L. Adams, started work on it in 1869, and he alone finished it four years later. He stated that they limited the family biographies to the early pioneer families who settled in Yates County prior to 1820, yet they do not seem to have adhered strictly to this restriction. Additionally, not every family who settled in Yates County prior to 1820 was profiled in the History, because, as Mr. Cleveland states near the end of several chapters, he was unable to learn anything about a number of early families and was only able to list the names of heads of families who lived in Yates County only briefly in the early years and then moved away.

Whenever it appeared that a person is referenced under two different names, such as a nickname and a proper given name, or two slightly different spellings of the same surname, a cross reference in parentheses to the other name follows the first reference in this index, such as "(see also Smith, John J.)." S. C. Cleveland explained these errors in the Preface where he wrote:

"Proofreaders and printers can be wonderfully fallible, and what is worse, often careless if not woefully, lazily negligent. . . . But there are numerous other sources of error . . . Every event paints a different picture on the memory of every witness that beholds it; and human memory, with all its untold worth to man, has many caprices and tendencies to false impression. It need not be strange then that in our local annals, depending chiefly on oral information, there appear to be occasional mistakes of fact, as well as mistakes in rendering facts." (Emphasis added.)

There are over 26,000 entries in the surname index, but not each entry refers to only one individual. Women, if they married, are listed under both their maiden and married surnames, and if a woman married more than once, you will find an entry under her other married name as well. In addition, in some cases a reference to an individual name does not indicate that there is only one person by that name, or even that there is only one reference to the name on a particular page. Sometimes the same name refers to two different people on the same page, since it was common for brothers and sisters to name their children after their own siblings or fathers, so a person with such a name could not be referred to as a "junior" in the index. There were a few free black people and Indians referred to in the History, and where S. C. Cleveland noted a person's race in the history, a notation to that effect appears in brackets after the person's name. Lastly, if a man practiced a profession, such as a minister of a church, a judge, or a doctor, his professional title was noted in brackets "[ ]" after his name in an attempt to differentiate between people of the same name.

Since this index was created with the needs of genealogists in mind, the miscellaneous section provides references, which may lead the family history researcher to additional records on his or her ancestors. Some items in the miscellaneous section were included to show the history of the area and the types of industry in the early days, and were included in Cleveland's original index to the history.

Index to Stafford Canning Cleveland's History and Directory of Yates County, 1873

TV WZ Miscellaneous References to articles