The village of Garbutt, long known as Garbuttsville, takes its name from the family who first settled there. Zachariah Garbutt, his wife, three sons, John, William and Philip, and his daughters, Elizabeth and Phebe, emigrated from England to this country in 1798; stopping upon the banks of the Hudson for two years, they worked their way into the wilderness of Western New York, as far as the Town of Seneca, Ontario County, where they remained for the period of five years, during which time Mrs. Garbutt died. Their son Nicholas was born after their arrival in the United States.
In 1804 John Garbutt came to Wheatland, locating upon the north bank of the Oatka, on lot No. 48; and in the following year, Zachariah, with the remainder of his family, joined him in his new home.
In 1807, Zachariah, the father, made a tour of the western country, going as far as the Mississippi, where he was taken sick, died, and was buried upon the banks of that river. His three sons, John, William and Philip, were upon the Niagara frontier in their country's service in the war of 1814.
John Garbutt erected upon his farm east of the village a brick house, which was the family home for many years. He married a daughter of Rufus Cady and reared a family of five sons, Zachariah, Cassius, Elmer H., Volney and William F.; and three daughters, Mrs. Lucretia Robinson, Mrs. Lydia Edmunds and Mrs. Jane Harmon. Of this number Mrs. James A. Robinson, of Rochester, N. Y., is the only one living. A further sketch of John Garbutt appears in the chapter on the " Farmers Library" of which he was one of the founders.
William Garbutt settled a short distance west of the village. He erected at first a log house, in which he resided some years; afterward building the commodious dwelling that now adorns the farm. He married Miss Elizabeth Dow, and had a family of eight, viz: Elizabeth, Margaret, William D., James, Phoebe, Zachariah, Robert R., and Philip.
In the Civil War of 1861 his son James was Wheatland's first offering upon his country's altar. He enlisted in Monroe County's first regiment, the old 13th, and died in his country's service. But three of William Garbutt's children survive. Philip is living upon the old homestead; while William D., and Robert R., are on farms in the immediate vicinity.
Philip Garbutt, some years after its erection, came into possession of the grist mill built by Peter Sheffer, and conducted the same for a long period; at the same time he was engaged in mining and grinding plaster, and in the sale of merchandise. At a later period, without forsaking his home industries, he was engaged in the same line of trade in the village of Mumford. Later in life he met with financial reverses, and removed to Ohio, where he died. He was held in high esteem by his fellow townsmen and for five years was their supervisor. His wife was Nancy Sheffer, the first white child born west of the Genesee River, January 20th, 1793. They had a family of six children, viz: Peter, Sheppard, Philip, John W., Ann and Phoebe. Of this number but one survives, John W., who is living in the old homestead.
Zachariah's daughter, Elizabeth, taught school in the log school house at Scottsville during the summer of 1 808; afterward marrying William Reed, by whom she had a large family of boys, who became prominent residents of Wheatland and of the adjoining Town of Chili.
In excavating for the foundation of the grist mill at Garbutt in 1811, the discovery was made of the vast bed of Gypsum that lay beneath the surface of the soil. It was afterward learned that this product was spread over a wide tract of territory through the center of the town. When ground the plaster was in great demand as a fertilizer of the soil, and farmers drove long distances to obtain it. A large and lucrative trade immediately sprang up. After the opening of the Genesee Valley Canal large quantities were shipped to points upon its line; and to villages upon the Erie, east and west of Rochester. The mining and manufacturing of plaster gave a great impetus to the growth of the settlement. Mechanics of various kinds flocked in; factories were started, and the business of the village kept even pace with its increase of population. Its residents were pleased, hopeful, elated. Some of them were accused of pride, with a disposition to boast of their acquisitions; of their church privileges; of the educational advantages of their schools; of their hotel accommodations; of the wealth of their mines; of the value of their mechanical industries; and they claimed that the volume of their trade was the envy of merchants in neighboring villages.
Be this as it may, in process of time as the years passed away, a change came over the spirit of their dream. Their church was demolished and its timber put to an ignoble use; their schools were reduced to one, and that a primary; their hotels were converted into dwelling houses; their workshops, one by one, slowly and silently sank from sight until there was but little left to the burg except its name.
Now, however, after a slumber of two score years Garbutt has awakened [in 1908] to a new life, and the wheels of industry are once more in motion. It has been discovered that the virtues of gypsum are not confined to its fertilizing power, but that it is an indispensable ingredient in the manufacture of wall board and various other products for which there is a great and growing demand, and now the following establishments are located there, employing from 200 to 300 men: The Empire Gypsum Company; The Sackett Wallboard Company; The Garbutt Gypsum Company; The Lycoming Calcining Company; and The Diamond Wall Cement Company.
Near by, at Wheatland, are The Monarch Plaster Company and the Consolidated Wheatland Plaster Company.