1828: Joseph Fellows to Philander Curtis & Leonard Bragg

This letter was written by Joseph Fellows, an English lawyer, who worked for Col. Robert Troup (1756-1832). Troup was a Revolutionary War veteran who served various political assignments until nominated by President George Washington, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, as a Judge in the District Court of New York. He resigned that post in 1798 to resume a law practice in New York City and to become the managing agent for the Polteney Estate. The Polteney Associates were British investors who purchased hundreds of thousands of acres in western New York State. Through the efforts of this association, land claims from Indian Nations and other states were cleared for this area by the mid 1820’s.

The ownership of this land by foreign investors did not sit well with the citizens of New York State, however. They particularly resented the fact that foreign investors were not required to pay taxes on this land and its improvements. Troup came to realize that these lands must be sold and was persuaded to offer them at a fair price. Further, to lessen the hostility of the citizenry, he was inclined to support philanthropic proposals. Joseph Fellows did not necessarily agree with his boss but carried out his wishes.

In this letter, Fellows shows no enthusiastic support for the proposed Methodist Episcopal meeting-house and writes merely that he has been instructed by Col. Troup to commit $100 towards its erection.




Geneva [New York]
June 25th 1828


I have submitted to Col. [Robert] Troup the letter you addressed to me under date of the 23d January last, requesting aid toward the erection of a meeting-house, 3 miles north of Parma Corner, for the use of the “first society of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Parma,” and I am instructed to subscribe one hundred dollars toward the object.

On presentation, at this office, of this letter, with a receipt signed by a majority of the Trustees, at any time after the building is commenced, the amount will be credited on any debt due to the agency.

With great respect, I am, gentlemen, your humble servant, — Joseph Fellows

Messrs. Philander Curtis, Leonard Bragg, Austin Atchinson, Trustees &c.

  • Philander Curtis, son of Zacharia Curtis, was born March 14, 1790, and died March 21, 1860. He was born in Vermont, but at an early date came to Camillus, N. Y. from which town Philander came to Parma. He became a successful farmer and accumulated a large property, having 325 acres of land. He furnished means to build one-half of the M. E. Church at North Parma and his house was the customary home of all itinerant preachers. In Camillus Mr. Curtis married Laura Goodrich, by whom he had these children: Harriet, who married William Foster; Charles, who lived and died in Parma; Nancy, who married Elias Curtis; and Caroline, who married Jacob Riker. His first wife died May 1, 1825, and August 14. 1825, Mr, Curtis married Catherine Scofield, by whom he had four children Philander, Benjamin,. Laura, and James.” From Landmarks of Monroe County, NY by William F. Peck (1895), Part III, p. 180 – 181
  • “Leonard Bragg, was a native of Massachusetts, born September 21, 1788, and came from Parma, Monroe county, to Orleans county in 1833. He purchased a farm three fourths of a mile square in East Carlton and other property in the vicinity. He afterward sold this property and bought a farm of 100 acres one half mile south of Carlton station, where he lived until his death February 1, 1860. He was a brickmaker, a mason, and contractor and builder of considerable note. He built the brick church on the Ridge road in Greece, Monroe county, known as the Baptist Church, the brick church at Parma Center, and several other buildings. His wife was Philinda Gidmore, born in Cambridge, N. Y., May 28. 1892, and died in Brockport, N. Y. They were married July 13, 1809, and their children were as follows: Charlotte, born May 12, 1810, at Saratoga; Harmon, born June 23, 1812, in Monroe county, and died December 13, 1813; Justin, born November 13, 1814, and died November 29, 1814; Phoebe, born January 16, 1816, at Livingston county; John, born May 17, 1818, in Monroe county; Phabritus, born October 29, 1820; Polly, born November 16, 1822, in Monroe county; Leonard, born August 19, 1829, In Parma, Monroe county; Philinda, born March 20, 1832. From: Landmarks of Orleans County, New York; Edited by: Hon. Isaac C. Signor; Assisted by: H. P. Smith and others; D. Mason & Co., Publishers; Syracuse, N. Y. 1894.

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