Biography of the Hon. Charles Colt
FROM: History of Livingston County, New York
By James H. Smith
Assisted by Hume H. Cole
Published By D. Mason & Co. 1881


The subject of this notice was born January 23, 1793, m the town of Pittsfield, Berkshire county, Mass. He was the youngest son of a large family of children. His early life was like that of New England farmer's boys of that period-plenty of work, with limited educational advantages. At sixteen he was apprenticed to a merchant, to learn the business, where he remained till he reached his majority. Meanwhile his father died.

During the summer of 1814, he made a trip on horseback to the Genesee country-the Far West of that day. His object was to find a location where he could in that new country, with his little patrimony set up business on his own account. Spending some time near Rochester where an older brother had settled, he pushed on as far as Buffalo. On his return he diverged somewhat from the main traveled route to look over a tract of land on the west side of the Genesee river, in the present town of York, inherited from the paternal estate by still another brother. Captivated by the beauty and promise of the Genesee Valley, the prospector determined to settle in this locality. This determination he carried into effect the spring of the following year, 1815. In copartnership with his brother he commenced business as a merchant in Geneseo-under the firm name of Solomon and Charles Colt. This partnership was terminated by the death of the senior member in 1823. Charles continued the business till about 1830.

Mercantile business of that day was principally barter, and in that way Mr. Colt naturally became a produce dealer, and eventually devoted all his time and energies to that business. For many years he was the principal buyer of farmers' produce in all this region. In that connection he was interested in a line of flat-boats navigating the Genesee river between Rochester and Geneseo.

The opening of the Genesee Valley Canal in 1841 put an end to that primitive mode of water transit.

The early education and natural taste of Mr. Colt attracted him to agricultural pursuits, and from 1830 tO 1837 he was interested with Campbell Harris in grazing the tract of land known as the "Brinton Flats" on the west side of the river; the property now owned by Charles F. Wadsworth.

With the late Gurdon Nowlen, Mr. Colt introduced into this county and manufactured what was then regarded a great improvement -the famous iron mold-board wood plow. It was a rude instrument compared with implements of the present time of the same character; but fifty years have wrought a great change.

It will thus be seen that the pioneer of 1815 was an energetic, pushing. active business man, of robust frame. He continued to be a leader in his line till about the year 1853, when he retired and devoted the remainder of his life to the care and management of a farm located near the village of Geneseo, where he continued to reside till his decease which occurred July 27, 1866.

It would almost necessarily follow that such a man as we have briefly outlined would take a large interest in the public affairs and politics of his locality. Mr. Colt was no office-seeker, but it is safe to say that he had much to do in the administration of public affairs in his county for many years.

As Anti-Mason and Whig, and afterwards Republican he was universally regarded as a "leader." The only State office he ever held was that of "Senator," having been elected to fill a vacancy in 1847 and for a full term in 1849.

He was an active member of the County War Committee during the late Rebellion-giving to it his full quota of energy and ripe judgment.

In his religious life Mr. Colt was no less active and conspicuous. For more than forty years he was identified actively with the Presbyterian church of Geneseo-during all that time being both trustee and elder.

He left behind him a name honored for integrity and business enterprise. Two children, a daughter and son survive him.

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