The early sheriffs discussed in this chapter are those men who held the office before the division of Erie and Niagara Counties. Much of the activities taking place between 1808 and 1821, occurred in present-day Erie County. It is important to provide this information because of the obvious impact on what was to become Niagara County.
Asa Ransom, one of the first pioneers to Western New York, has the distinction of being the first settler to accomplish many things in this area.
Asa Ransom left Sheffield, Massachusetts in 1789. With his wife and infant daughter, Ransom settled in Geneva, practicing the trade of silversmithing. A year later he journeyed farther west, settling in New Amsterdam. Here he continued to manufacture ornaments for the Indians and any other articles that could be sold or traded. The Ransoms had another daughter, born in 1797, and believed to be the first white child born in western New York (outside Fort Niagara).
On September 1, 1799, Asa Ransom left Buffalo, settling in what is
now known as Clarence Hollow. As part of an agreement with the Holland Land Company, Asa built a “backwoods” hotel for travelers. In
December of 1801, Governor Daniel Tompkins appointed Ransom justice of the peace, the first appointment of an official in this portion of the state. Later, Ransom served on the first grand jury west of the Genesee River.
Ransom built a sawmill and the area’s first gristmill around 1805. Also in 1805, at the first town meeting for the Town of Willink, Asa Ransom was elected assessor. Willink is a large area of land, which takes in the present-day towns of Hamburg, Eden, Concord, Boston, Evans, Brandt, Sardinia, Collins and North Collins. In 1807, the town elections were again held and the people elected Asa Ransom town supervisor.
In 1808, the state legislature established Niagara County (all lands
which are present-day Niagara and Erie counties). On March 6, 1808, Governor Tompkins appointed Asa Ransom the first sheriff of Niagara County. At the time, Ransom held the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the local militia, the Niagara Regiment. The appointment as Sheriff compelled Ransom to resign his commission in the militia...