Farmington Purchaser’s Family Connections to Rhoda Lapham Harris, Wife of Nathan
The Phelps and Gorham Purchase was the purchase in 1788 of 6,000,000 acres of land in what is now western New York State from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for $1,000,000 to be paid in three annual installments, and the pre-emptive right to the title on the land from the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy for $5000. A syndicate formed by Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham bought preemptive rights to 6,000,000-acre in New York, west of Seneca Lake between Lake Ontario and the Pennsylvania border, from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Phelps opened one of the first land sales offices in the U.S. in Suffield, Connecticut and another in Canandaigua. During the next two years, they sold 500,000-acre at a higher price to a number of buyers. People arrived from New England, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and from across the Atlantic, from England and Scotland. Settlers also included veterans who had fought under General Sullivan. There was considerable land hunger among people in New England, who had been crowded for some time. 1
The Phelps and Gorham purchase had been surveyed into townships by range and number, and by 1789 the first sale was made of township No. 11, range 3, (later named Farmington) to a group of men from Adams (Berkshire Co.), MA all members of the East Hoosick Society of Friends. As a group these 12 men purchased six square miles, at 12 cents per acre. Deed was granted to Comstock and Russell, representing all purchasers of their group: Nathan Comstock, Benjamin Russell, Abraham Lapham, Edmund Jenks, Jeremiah Brown, Ephraim Fish, Nathan Herendeen, Nathan Aldrich, Stephen Smith, Benjamin Rickensen, William Baker, Dr. Daniel Brown. 2
These twelve men had determined to purchase land as soon as was put on the market. Many of their piers considered the former Indian lands too adverse to emigrate; the distance too great, dangers too formidable.
In 1789 Nathan Comstock set out with two sons, Otis and Darius, accompanied by Robert Hathaway to prepare the newly acquired land for habitation. The trip from Berkshire County, MA to Farmington took about 12 nights. The land and water routes were both employed, a new horse and wagon path was started, from Utica to Farmington, about 130 miles to aid the increased travel. Upon arrival trees were felled and a cabin erected. 3
Nathan Harris’ and Rhoda primary motivation to purchase land and relocated to Palmyra came from the connection to Rhoda’s Lapham family relatives. 3 of the original Farmington purchasers were closely related to Rhoda. Abraham Lapham L415-D2H was Rhoda’s 2nd cousin from her father and 3rd cousin from her mother’s Lapham lineage. Abraham Lapham was brother-in-law of Nathan Aldrich who was a nephew of Nathan Comstock.
See several relationships below: (persons listed below include FamilySearch Personal ID numbers).
Nathan Comstock’s LZQT-NT7*, b. 1735 in Smithfield, RI and d. 1816 Farmington, NY
• His sister Esther Comstock L8Y1-BPS married Peter Aldrich LCFK-RLG
• Peter Aldrich was father of Nathan Aldrich LH3N-MNL
• Was Nathan Aldrich’s LH3N-MNL Uncle
Nathan Aldrich LH3N-MNL, b. 1762 Uxbridge, MA and d. 1818, Farmington, NY
• His wife Abigail Lapham LCR9-326 was first cousin of Abraham Lapham L415-D2H
• His father was Peter Aldrich LCFK-RLG
• His uncle was Nathan Comstock LZQT-NT7
• His brother in law was Abraham Lapham L415-D2H
Abraham Lapham L415-D2H b. 1755, Smithfield, RI and d.1836, Farmington, NY
• His wife Esther Aldrich L44T-WXB was sister to Nathan Aldrich LH3N-MNL
• Nathan Aldrich LH3N-MNL was his brother in law
• Nathan Aldrich married Abigail Lapham LCR9-326
• Abraham Lapham L415-D2H was first cousin of Abigail Lapham LCR9-326
• Abraham Lapham L415-D2H was 3th Cousin of Rhoda Lapham (Nathan Harris’ wife)
Silvia Silence Lapham (MQDJ-HXZ), b. 1731 Smithfield, RI and d. 1805 Gloucester, RI
• Mother of Rhoda Lapham K2JP-6PW
• 2nd cousin of Abigail Lapham LCR9-326 (thru her mother’s uncle Benjamin LZWP-37S
• 2nd cousin of Abraham Lapham L415-D2H (thru her mother’s uncle Joshua LC5G-XK3
• 3rd cousin of Abraham Lapham L415-D2H (thru her father’s uncle John Lapham LCVC-FMB)
Nathan Herendeen LH7D-SB9 b. 1736 Smithfield, RI and d. 1807 brought his family to Farmington in spring of 1790. This family would have been known by Nathan Harris prior to his departure to New York.
Gideon Durfee LLH5-WN5 b. 1738 in Tiverton, RI and d. 1814 Palmrya , NY
Known as the Rhode Island Colony, in November, 1791, Gideon Durfee, Edward Durfee, and Isaac Springer arrived from Tiverton, R.I. They came in wagons on the Military road to the old castle at Geneva; from thence without a path, found their way to Palmyra. Pardon Durfee, husband of Mrs. Ruth Durfee, now living, came early in the Spring of 1792, -- driving the cattle belonging to the colony. Nearly exhausted with fatigue and hunger, he inquired of his brothers if they could bring him some food. With tears they were obliged to reply, "we have none;" but there was relief in the case, -- Webb Harwood had gone to Jerusalem, now Penn Yan, forty miles, to the nearest mill, and was expected back that very hour.
The next August a boat landed near the farm house owned by Hon. Martin Butterfield, bringing Gideon Durfee, the elder, and Job, Stephen, and Ruth Durfee. Lemuel Durfee arrived four years later. Ruth Durfee married Capt. William Wilcox. This was the first marriage in this town. Mrs. Wilcox died, at the age of eighty three, the 13th of the present month.
It is said that Swift had failed to fulfill his engagements to Phelps and Gorham, -- but when the Durfee family arrived he "took heart," for they brought the hard coin in a leather satchel, sufficient to pay down for sixteen hundred acres of land. This money enabled Swift to secure a warrantee deed of the town. 4His land was on the north side of the section purchased by Nathan Harris in Palmrya.
Farmington is 9 miles from Palmyra and Macedon, on the east side of the Farmington township, is only 3 miles from Palmyra.
Abraham Lapham brought his family to the fertile lands of the Genesee country in 1792, locating in Farmington, Ontario county, New York. Subsequently he purchased a large tract of land in the township of Palmyra, where he removed in 1796. 5
Other brothers of Abraham Lapham also moved to New York; David Lapham M7MW-G5S,
Nathan Lapham KJDB-XYV, Asa Lapham LCX7-82N 6
*FamilySearch file numbers
3History of Farmington 1988 - Home
4 This is from THE EARLY HISTORY OF PALMYRA: THANKSGIVING SERMON, DELIVERED AT PALMYRA, N. Y., NOVEMBER 26, 1857, BY HORACE EATON