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.
Seth Cole was born in Chesterfield, Mass. in the 1756. He served in the Revolutionary War and married Celia Sampson in Chesterfield in the early 1790s.
Cole came to the area with his family in 1805 from Paris, N.Y. and settled at the mouth of Canadaway Creek, near the shore of Lake Erie. It is believed he was the first settler of what is today Dunkirk. He contracted with the Holland Land Company to cut and clear a road from the town line between Pomfret and Portland to Silver Creek, at a price of $10 per mile. He died June 10, 1810 at age 54 years.
It is said his widow did great service in the War of 1812 by calling help when the British invaded. In July, 1812, a salt boat chased by a British cruiser came into the mouth of the creek for protection near the Cole homestead. The cruiser anchored a quarter of a mile from shore and sent a boat of 13 men out to seize the salt boat. When they came near the mouth of the creek, they were fired upon by a group of 40 men. During the fight, Mrs. Cole acted as a general patrol. She mounted her horse, and went to Fredonia to rally the men to the mouth of the creek; and after her return, she was actively engaged in carrying food and drink to the little army. This has been called the first naval fight of the War of 1812.
– J. Sample