Major Samuel Sinclear – Bicentennial Biography No. 18

Bicentennial Biographies is a not-for-profit radio project designed to raise awareness and increase interest in local history. It is brought to you as a public service by the Chautauqua County Historical Society throughout 2011 to celebrate the county’s 200th birthday. To learn more, visit www.McClurgMuseum.org or contact your local historical society.

Map provided by www.co.chautauqua.ny.us

Major Samuel Sinclear was born in New Hampshire in 1762 and joined the army when he was only 14, serving for four years.  While in service, he was present at the Battles of Bemis Heights, Monmouth and Valley Forge. He was discharged at the age of 18 and after spending time in Maine as a ship builder, he came to New York in 1788, where he lived in Utica and Cherry Valley.

In 1809, Sinclear purchased land from the Holland Land Company at the Batavia land office and started building a log cabin in what is today Sinclairville. The cabin was built at the intersection of two roads, one lead to Cherry Cheek, the other to Charlotte Center.

Other settlers soon came to the area, and Sinclear’s cabin came to serve as a dwelling for new settlers while they built their homes, a schoolhouse and a church. In the fall of 1810, Sinclear cut a wagon road from Fredonia to Sinclairville, the first opened into the central part of the county; and in October 1810, his family, which included his stepsons, Obed and John M. Edson, arrived.

During the summer of 1810, he erected a sawmill and in the fall a frame dwelling house which was for many years the village tavern. In 1811 he built a gristmill. In 1813 he was elected the first supervisor of Gerry, then comprising the present towns of Charlotte, Gerry, Cherry Creek, and Ellington, and continued as its supervisor for six years.

Sinclear died on February 8, 1827. It was not until after his death that Sinclairville assumed its name (with the alternate spelling).

Ref: Young’s History of Chautauqua County; History of Chautauqua County, New York and its people; Sinclairville’s History in Text and Pictures

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– J. Sample

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