The Townsends (spelled Townshend in England) traced their ancestry back to the service of King Henry I, the youngest son of William the Conqueror. Jacob Townsend’s ancestors arrived in the colony of Massachusetts in 1637. Some of the family remained in England and became tied to American history. Charles Townshend served in the British House of Commons. He was the subject of much “ill feeling for the acts that bore his name ‘Townshend Acts’ which ignited the revolution!” Charles when taunted by a political opponent responded: “I dare tax America!” Some of these taxes were on tea, glass, and paper. Charles’ brother, George commanded the British forces after the death of General Wolfe. Montcalm surrendered to Townshend during the siege at Quebec. This victory presaged the end of the French and Indian Wars.
Jacob Townsend (1769-1850) and his brother, Kneeland, traded and shipped goods to and from the southern states and the West Indies. Their warehouse located on Long Wharf in New Haven, Connecticut was 3,480 feet long. It was the longest wharf in the world at that time. President Jefferson imposed an embargo in 1807 forbidding all foreign trade. Jefferson wanted to avoid entanglement with the conflict between France and Britain.
Jacob decided to move his commercial interests to Lewiston about 1810. He established trading operations in Black Rock, Oswego, and Lewiston. Jacob established a large profitable farm above the escarpment. It was used as a military post during the War of 1812.
In 1810 Jacob formed a shipping and trading firm known as Townsend, Bronson & Co. He was also involved in shipbuilding. Three of the many ships Jacob built were the Fair American, the Charles & Ann , and the Catherine. The government purchased these ships for the Great Lakes Navy during the War of 1812 and renamed them. The Charles & Ann was renamed the Governor Tompkins (see http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/g7/governor_tompkins.htm) and the Catherine was renamed the Somers. The Somers took part in the Battle of Lake Erie and was captured by the British at the mouth of Niagara River on night of Aug. 11,12 th 1814 Later used in the British Provincial Marine (see http://www.historycentral.com/Navy/MISC%202/somersI.html)
After the war of 1812 Jacob and his partners bought the ships back from the government. Jacob was also part of the partnership of Gillett and Townsend.
Jacob Townsend married Betsey Clark in New Haven, Connecticut. After her death he married Eunice Atwater. Rev. Sheldon Clark Townsend (1802-1884) was the second eldest son of Jacob and Betsey. He married Rachel Tompkins of Niagara County.
Jacob and his son, Rev. Sheldon Clark Townsend, both served as supervisors of Lewiston. Rev. Townsend and his wife, Rachel Tompkins, donated land to build the Dickersonville Church on Ridge Road. Prior to the church being built Rev. Townsend and other ministers in the Lewiston area presided over church services at homes. Rev. Townsend was the last postmaster of the Dickersonville post office in the mid 1850s. Rev. Sheldon Clark Townsend wrote to the Oswego Palladium in 1877 at the age of 75 years old. He details some of the family history and the War of 1812. http://www.rootsweb.com/~nyononda/journals/oswegosheldontownsend.html
Samuel Townsend (1825-1901), son of Sheldon, married Susannah Pool, granddaughter of Achish Pool an early Lewiston settler. Sheldon’s half-sister, Mary Townsend, married William Hotchkiss son of William. William Hotchkiss Sr. built the Long and Short House in the village.
James Sheldon Townsend (1859-1909), son of Sheldon Clark Townsend and Rachel Tompkins Townsend, was the Chief Constable for Lewiston. James married Sarah Rowena Bradlee of Cambria. Sarah is a descendant of Nathaniel Bradlee of Boston (a Son of Liberty, who dressed as an Indian for the Boston Tea Party). Constable Townsend was described as a “terror to the evil doers of the frontier and the river toughs.” The Townsends are related to many of the early families in the area including Cook, Way, Campbell, Emmons, Moss, Hinds, Wright, Campbell, Sutherland, and others.
Williams, Edward T. Niagara County New York a Concise Record of Her Progress and People 1821-1921, Chicago, Illinois: J. H. Beers & Co.
Townshend, Doris B. Townshend Heritage, New Haven, Connecticut: New Haven Historical Society, 1971.
Townsend, Barbara O. original letter from 1812 written to Jacob Townsend