Madison County History and Genealogy

History and Genealogy

History of Madison County

Canaan Township Towns & Villages

From History of Madison County, W. H. Beers & Co, Chicago, 1883

As there is but one town in this township, and as the business of merchandising commenced prior to the laying-out of the town, we will revert back to about 1826. At this time, the woolen factory of Uri Beach was in full operation. creating a concentration of the people from a huge extent of the surrounding country, and Dr. Lorenzo Beach having decided to give up the practice of his profession, concluded that there was need of a store in which should be kept a general assortment of goods to supply the people of that community. Consequently, at about the above date, he opened a store and commenced in the mercantile trade. He did a very successful business for several years, and here gained his first financial foothold among the eary settlers as a good financier. With the extensive business of the factory and Dr. Beach's store, a little village began to grow up around this business as a nucleus, and there was quite a demand for more houses.

In view of this demand. Uri and Dr. Lorenzo Beach purchased a tract of land of Dr. James Comstock. embracing that upon which the town of Amity nowstands, and commenced to lay out a town. Abijah Cary surveyed and laid out one tier of lots on each side of the road (now the pike), in all thirty-three lots. The plat was made and the same recorded at London on April 11, 1831, under the name of New Canaan. In November, 1834, was recorded an addition to the town made by Dr. Lorenzo Beach and Luther Lane, the same being surveyed by James Millikin; and now we find the name of the town changed to Amity, by which name it has since been known. In 1831 the first hotel was kept by William J. White, and the first blacksmith, P. Strickland. The post office was established about 1830, prior to the laying out of the town, and was kept by Horatio Adams, on the Finch farm, and called New Canaan Post Office. The office was next kept by A. S. Stone, on the farm now owned by Henry Converse; then it was kept on the Nugent farm, and from there located in Amity, where it has since remained. In 1834-35, Luther bane erected a distillery, which was in operation about four or five years. About 1832, a Mr. Willey erected a comb factory, in which he employed several persons, and did a large business for four or five years.

Probably about 1832, Dr. Beach was succeeded in the mercantile trade by Rev. Henderson Crabb, father of Judge O. P. Crabb, of London. In 1834, Dr. Beach and Luther Lane purchased a stock of goods and opened a store in another part of the town. At this period Amity was one of the most nourishing towns in the northern part of Madison County. Here were two good stores, a flourishing woolen factory, a saw-mill, a distillery and a comb factory, besides a blacksmith and minor mechanical trades. Plain City then did very little business compared with Amity. But alas! her days of prosperity were limited. As given elsewhere in the history of the Beach family and of the woolen factory, the factory dam was declared a nuisance, and was torn out and a quietus put upon all manufacturing interests in Amity. Subsequently the railroad was built through Plain City, and it received a great impetus to its growth and prosperity, and became the leading trading and business town of this section; since which Amity has remained a quiet country village, doing a small but steady country trade; its mechanics, stores and post office being a convenience to the community. Amity now contains a population of perhaps 100, and embracing the following business: One general store by David Martin; one grocery by William Thompson; two blacksmiths and wagon-makers (John McGuigon and Augustus Frazell), and one physician, Dr. William H. Jewett. In addition to the above business, about one and one-half miles below Amity is quite a flourishing general store kept by M. Worthington, who has a good brick building, situated on the corner, on the pike and the road leading to Fuller's mill.

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