Biography of John Volk
Yates County, NY Biographies





Voak, John and Rachel Dyer his wife, came to this place in 1796, from the town of Hardwick, Sussex County, N. J. A brother, Abraham, had previously settled in this vicinity. John "Vought" (as the name was then spelled) made his first purchase of land of Arnold Potter and wife, being forty acres, which is now the southeast corner of lot 9, east range of lots in the town of Potter, the deed bearing date May 12, 1801, consideration $150. It was on this lot he built his first cabin, which had a bark roof and a ground floor, and that was their first home in the wilderness, where bears, wolves, deer and Indians were numerous, and the cause of much fear and discomfort to the mother and children while the father was at a distance from home at work to support his family and pay for more land. Some time after the first cabin was constructed Mr. Voak built a log house on the site where he subsequently built the house that is at present the home of his grandson, John Voak, and his sons and his grandchildren. A portion of a log barn is still standing. Mr. Voak added to his first forty acres by purchase until he had about 700 acres, on which he settled his sons and daughters, and which is now conceded to be of quality unsurpassed in Western New York for general farming and fruit growing. The children of the first John and Rachel Voak were Lydia, born April 30, 1789, died April 5, 1877; James, born January 16, 1791, died February 27, 1874; Abraham, born May 12, 1793, died February 20, 1877; Isaac, born May 22, 1795, died June 8, 1834; Sarah, born September 16, 1797, died May 14, 1874; Samuel, born September 6, 1799, living; Joseph, born December 10, 1804, died February 11, 1884; Mary, born May 17, 1804, died March 12, 1813; John, born October 4, 1806, died January 30, 1812; Josiah, born January 1, 1809, living. Only two of the above named are now living - Samuel, in Benton, Lake County, Ill., with his daughter, in the ninety third year of his age; and Josiah, in his eighty third year, in Benton, Yates County, N. Y., with his son, W. B. Voak. James Voak, the oldest son, was born in New Jersey and was one of the four children that came from New Jersey with their parents to this country, that was then a wilderness, and had much to do in clearing the land of the forest and making it to " bud and blossom as the rose." In 1817 he married Rebecca Hall, who was born in the same locality, March 15, 1800. They settled and lived on the farm where Josiah Voak now resides. They remained there uutil their youngest son, John, was three years old, then making a change with his youngest brother, Josiah, they moved to and resided on the homestead farm the remainder of their lives. James and Rebecca Voak had four children: Ellen, who was born May 21, 1819, married Herman Stiles, and now resides in Kansas; Huldah D., born August to, 1820, married Hiram U. Reynolds, and resides in Illinois; Isaac D., born September 9, l822, now resides in Buffalo, N. Y., married Margaret N. Scott; she died leaving three children - Lorin, the oldest, only survives and now resides in Chicago, Ill. At the age of twenty James Voak, with others of his brothers and sisters, joined the Methodist Church, and lived thereafter a consistent Christian, honoring his profession by an upright, pious and good life. He was one of the trustees of the M. E. Church at the time it was built in 1844, and contributed liberally to its construction and support while he lived. All of his brothers and sisters, as Well as their parents, were members of the M. E. Church. Meetings were held at their home for many years previous to the building of the church, and the homestead was the stopping place of the early itinerant preachers. John Voak, youngest son of James, was born in Benton, N. Y., July 13, 1827, and was educated at the common schools and G. W. Seminary at Lima, N. Y. He has been a farmer all his life and stills owns the homestead. In politics he is a Republican, and is justice of the peace, which position he has held for a number of years. He married Rachel Schoon Scott, daughter of William Scott; she died October 2, 1885. They had three children: Mary R., Horace G. and Dexter J. Mary R. died January 7, 1878, aged twenty six years; Horace G. married Helen, daughter of Wesley Taylor, of Prattsburgh, N. Y; she died in 1887; and Dexter J. who married Oneida C., daughter of David Wells, of Potter, N. Y. Mr. Voak has lived on the homestead farm since about three years old. For a number of years he was engaged largely in introducing agricultural implements and machines, having sold the first successful combination reaper and mower, the first self raking reaper, the first horsefork, the first glass fruit jar or can, and various other inventions. He kept the "Voak Post office" as deputy the first five years of its existence, Peregrine Hollett being postmaster at that time.

From:
History of Yates County, N. Y.
with illustrations and biographical sketches
of some of its prominent men and pioneers.
Edited by: Lewis Cass Aldrich
D. Mason & Co., Publishers
Syracuse, N. Y. 1892


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