Saturday, November 29, 2008

Early Erie Canal news items

Submitted by Richard Palmer

Geneva Gazette, Wed., Aug. 30, 1815

Seneca Locks. - We have the satisfaction to state, that on the
23rd inst. the first Boat (about 70 feet in length) went through the
two upper locks on the Seneca Falls, loaded with upwards of one
hundred persons. In presence of a great number of spectators,
collected from different parts of the country.

The boat having entered the Guard Lock, went through the new
Canal, nearly 3-4ths of a mile in length, and descended the two Locks
in 25 minutes; then turned about in the Seneca river and re-ascended
the Locks, in 9 minutes - all which no doubt will be accomplished
hereafter in much less time, considering that every thing was new,
and managed by hands unacquainted with Lock navigation concerns, the
architect, Mr. Marshal Lewis, excepted, whose faithful exertions
deserve the highest praise.

The workmanship of these Locks, as it respects solidity and
neatness, is probably not exceeded by any heretofore construction.
The Locks, Canals and Dams, as far down as Col. Mynderse's old mills,
will no doubt be completed before winter, and the remainder, near
and below the Col's. new mills, will in all probability pass
inspection by the middle of next season. The completion of these
Locks will be important - not only as it respects the advantages
which this village will derive from it, but in particularly, the
convenience of transportation for the immense country west of this.

Geneva Gazette, July 17, 1822

We are informed that in consequence of the lowness of the water
in this section of the canal, it is to be drawn off the upper levels,
beyond Palmyra, and that until the embankment at Mann's Mills is
completed, and the waters of the Genesee river let into the, the
navigation will not extend farther westward than Palmyra.

Geneva Palladium, Wed., Aug. 28, 1822

Steam Boat. - On Saturday last, Mr. Battle, the projector and
builder of the Steam-boat, Mohawk Chief, took on board a number of
citizens and a few hands who are acquainted with the navigation of
the Mohawk, and started up the river, for the purpose of trying the

And although not half the power of steam (as represented by the
engineer) was applied, which the machinery is calculated to bear,
still se went off in fine style, till she came to a rapid, called by
the boatmen knock-em stiff; this she ascended, though not with the
same velocity, as she is calculated to do when her machinery is

After having handsomely passed the rapid, she was hove about
and proceeded down the river about two miles below the city, when she
began o hove about and returned to her moorings.

During this trial, she was propelled by power applied to wheels
fixed in her stern; Mr. B. not yet having completed that part of the
machinery, calculated for rapids, which is by two setting poles on
each side of the boat, to be worked by the power of steam. -
Schenectady Cabinet.

Geneva Palladium, Nov. 6, 1822

From the Utica Gazette

The aqueduct across the Mohawk Rover, at Little Falls, was
finished last week and filled with water. This is a structure of
considerable magnitude, built entirely of stone, in point of solidity
and beauty, probably not exceeded by any work of the kind in the
United State. It forms a connection between the Erie Canal and the
old cut on the opposite side of the river, and answers the double
purposes of opening a communication to the village of Little Falls,
and of feeding the canal with water.

A Marble slab , with the following inscription, executed in a
very handsome style by Mr. Erastus Cross, of this village, is placed
in the parapet wall over the centre in the principal arch.

COMMENCED AUG. 23 - COmpleted Oct. 15.
Canal Commissioners.
HENRY SEYMOUR, Acting Commissioner,
BENJAMIN WRIGHT, Chief Engineer.

Geneva Palladium, Nov. 13, 1822

Erie Canal. - The water has been let into the Canal from Little
Falls to Schoharie Creek, east, and west from Genesee river to
Monezuma, making about 200 miles of uninterrupted canal navigation.
Boats are now arriving at Utica, from Rochester. There is every
reason to believe the Canal will, in a few days, be opened to
Schenectady. - Ib.

Geneva Palladium, Nov. 13, 1822

Several boats loaded with flour, left this village (Rochester) las
week for Little Falls by the Canal, and there were also some
arrivals. We understand there is some wan of water between this place
and Montezuma, which will probably soon be supplied.
A collector's office is to be opened in this village, during
the present week, for the purpose of receiving tolls of boats,
arriving and departing. D.S. Bates, Esq. is appointed Collector. The
embankment at Irondequoit, answers the highest expectations, and is
thus far found to be durable and permanent. - Rochester Telegraph.

Geneva Palladium, Nov. 13, 1822

Ironduquot Embankment. - This interesting section of the Erie
Canal, which was first opened on the 15th inst. is distant from this
place about eleven miles. The approach to it from the west is lateral
to, and situated on an elevated roll or ridge of land, of about 80
rods in length, which rises from the bed of Ironduquot creek, and
forms one of its banks, and is, in its turn, used to form one side of
the embankment of the Canal, till you come to the main valley of the
creek, where the course of the Canal crosses it. This natural bank
rises, generally, to within about six feet of the level of the Canal,
which is there built on it.

The valley of the Ironduquot, where the Canal must pass, is
seventy-two feet lower than the banks, and forty rods wide. The base
of the embankment constructed, is 304 feet, through which is built a
culvert, of twenty-six feet chord, with a semi-circular arch of 244
feet in length. The ground, on which this structure was placed, was a
soft, alluvial marsh: - in consequence, it became necessary to place
in on piles, of which thee are nearly one thousand.

The scenery is magnificent! While you are silently and
peacefully navigating the tops of an artificial and natural
mountains, the eye takes in, at a single glance, the whole fertile
valley of Ironduquot, and the mind expands itself to the amazing
importance of the internal improvement which this work connects, and
has now thrown into operation. The expense of the above work is
probably $40,000. - Rochester Telegraph.

Geneva Palladium, Wed., Nov. 27, 1822

Extract of a letter from a gentleman of this place (Rochester,)
traveling by the canal to Weed's Basin, dated Nov. 11.

"The boats from Rochester to this place (Weed's Basin) are now
making their regular trips, and arrive in time to meet the boats
every morning from Utica, thereby requiring only two days from
Rochester to utica. The The boat taking passengers from Rochester to
Pittsford, is not as capacious as might be wished, but they are fully
compensated by the elegance of the boat Myron Holley, the superior
style of the fare, and the polite and prompt attentions of the
master, Capt. Allen, which is met with at the last mentioned place;
and I am informed that the accommodations on board Mr. Culver's boat
are equally good. I understand an arrangements on board Mr. Culvert's
boat are equally good. I understand an arrangement is to be made for
running these two boats alternately, which, when completed, will make
a daily line from our place, of a mode of traveling which, perhaps,
is not surpassed in the state, particularly at this season of the
year." - Rochester Telegraph.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Barbara Bell's New Book

Preston Woods Publishing Co, will release Schuyler County Days Bygone by Barbara H. Bell on December 19, 2008. Barbara H. Bell is Schuyler County's longest-serving his­torian. In her fifth book on local history, Bell has combined storks and historical photos from her archives, which detail the history of the people, settlements, and local legends of the county.

"No one else has ever come close to her persistent investigating, study­ing, recording, and reporting the history of this corner ol the world," says Frank Steber. former president of the Schuyler County Historical Society and a local anchor. "For over five decades she has succeeded in gather­ing news and facts about the people, the places, and the events that have made Schuyler County what it is today."

The legend of the Seneca Lake monster, horse rustling, pioneer riving, salt mining, gold mining, wine making, and the origins of many of the settlements in Schuyler County are a sampling of the topics that appear in Schuyler County Days Bygone.

"Barbara's latest book is a great read for those interested m the region's fascinating history or just want to know more about the area in which they live - highly recommended!" says Andrew E. Tompkins, director of the Schuyler County Historical Society museum.

A book signing will be held on Friday, December 1 9, from 4 to 6 p.m., at Storylines Bookstore & Cafe, 211 N. Franklin Sr., in Watkins Glen, N.Y.

Schuyler County Days Bygone (ISBN 978-0-9725571-3-9, is a trade paperback, 338 pp, 8 1/2 x 5 1/2, $23.95.

In 1954, Barbara H. Bell started writing historical articles for local newspapers and has spend the last 54 years researching and reporting on local history. In addition to her hundreds of articles published in local and regional newspapers, she has published four previ­ous hooks on local history. In 1995, she was named outstanding historian of New York state by the Historians' Association of New York. Mrs. Bell lives in Irelandville, New York.

Barbara Bell is a featured author on the Crooked Lake review website. The CLR reprinted her book Letters to Suzanna.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ill-Got Gains

According to Thomas J. Wansley, the black steward and cook of the brig Vineyard, he’d been on board the vessel in New Orleans when its cargo - consisting of 112 bales of cotton, 113 hogsheads of sugar, and 54 casks of molasses - was lowered into the hold. A small number of kegs were also stowed away. In later court testimony he told of hearing at the beginning of the voyage that there was a sum of money aboard. The vessel left port on November 9th, 1830, bound for Philadelphia.

Off North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras Wansley revealed the presence of the money to fellow seamen Charles Gibbs (a nefarious character signed on under the All-American alias Thomas D. Jeffers), Aaron Church, Henry Atwell and young Robert Dawes. A plot was soon hatched.

On the evening of November 23rd, the Vineyard’s captain William Thornby was on the quarter-deck observing Dawes as the teenager manned the wheel. The young sailor called below for someone to trim the wick of the binnacle light, a pre-arranged signal. Wansley arrived and, as he passed behind Thornby, grabbed a pump handle and struck the unsuspecting captain to the deck. A few more blows to the head finished the job and Gibbs came up and helped the others heave the body overboard. First mate William Roberts, having heard suspicious sounds, arrived on deck at about the same time as seaman Church. Attacked by Church and Atwell he spun around and threw himself feet first down the companionway.

Grabbing the binnacle lamp, Church, Atwell and Dawes hurtled into the dark after him. Roberts was caught, struck down by a number of blows, hauled onto deck and thrown overboard. He tried to swim back to the ship, struggling and pleading for rescue, but quickly sank below the surface.

The conspirators gathered up the two remaining crewmen, James Talbot and John Brownrigg, and threatened them with their officers’ fate unless they cooperated. As if any added incentive was necessary, a promised share in the treasure sealed the deal. The kegs were hauled on deck and the money divided, then Gibbs, understanding navigation from his background as a buccaneer in the waters off Cuba, set the Vineyard’s course for New York’s Long Island.

Arriving a dozen or so miles off Southampton, the seven loaded the money aboard a longboat and a jolly-boat, torched the Vineyard, and rowed off in the two small vessels. A strong gale out of the east blew the small flotilla rapidly along the southern shore of Long Island, in the direction of Manhattan’s Lower Bay. As they approached Rockaway Bar, running parallel to the island south of Brooklyn, they tried crossing the half-submerged spit of land. The jolly-boat was suddenly flipped, tossing Church, Talbot and Atwell into the churning waters.

Davy Jones locker gained three new residents. Not to mention $23,000 of Philadelphia consignee Stephen Girard’s coins. Gibbs, Wansley, Brownrigg and Dawes leaned into their oars, hoping to avoid a similar fate.

Amusing Stories of Old Canal Days

submitted by Richard Palmer

Lyons Republican, Oct. 26, 1950

By Edmund R. Johnson

The recent Wayne County Historical Society anniversary
celebration, at which Dr. David Ennis gave such a very interesting
talk, with photo-slides, about the old and new Erie Canal, stirred
the writer's recollections of canals and particularly those connected
with the Lyons of his boyhood.

Old-timers will remember Charlie "Tat" DeGoyler, who was one
of the local cutups, and who then clerked in Sautter's Shoe Store in
Canal street. One hot afternoon, when he had dressed up for some
evening affair, and was alone in the store, another village wag bet
him a dollar he would not dive into the canal just as he was.

Charlie immediately stepped to the rear door and took a header
into it. Back then, there was an old-timer, Theodore Crager, who
lived at the County Home. He was a veteran of the Civil War, and
used to walk or get a lift to Lyons on occasion, to get a little
liquid refreshment not on tap at the home. he had composed a long
jingle, bringing in the names of many of the Lyons citizens. It went
something like this:

"All right sir," says Colonel Kreutzer. "Not at all," says
Billy Small. ":Yes, sir," says Mr. Messmer to Jakie Kaiser,
supervisor. "I'm willing to pay a shilling for a yard of drilling,"
says William Zwilling.

"It;s going to storm," says William Bourne: "Only a shower,"
says Dr. Tower. Sully Schlee with a load of hay on his way to Sodus
Bay. On the beach he'll see Fred Leach; also Fred Gucker with a real
good looker. When you hear the sound of the big base drum, you'll
know the lager beer has come.

The above is only a sample and the complete rigamarole went on
an dos ad infinitum.

DeGolyer had memorized that nonsense and whenever he saw the old
man on the street for the first line, the composer would reply with
the next line, and they would continue it thus until the end, much to
the amusement of any newcomers in town.

Uncle Bert Hotchkiss, father of the present Bert, told me that
one of the pastimes of the boys in his time was to gather on one of
the canal bridges and night, with large stones, and make bets as to
who could drop one in the headlight of any passing boat. He also told
me how they would throw fresh cut sod into the canal, after a rain.
These would be full of worms, and would attract bullheads, insuring a
fine day's fishing the next morning.

Several years ago when I was staying on a vacation at the
Calvin Hotchkiss home on Water street, I was awakened about midday by
tremendous howls of "Whoa! Whoa! followed by a long string of
unprintable curses and name-calling by the mule diver of a boa
approaching the lock, so I know by experience the choice swear
vocabulary of the canalers.

While living in Philadelphia, one of our neighbors, a George
Richards, told me of a unique experience on the canal. He was a
native of Erie, Pa., and ran away from school to fire locomotives on
the Erie Railroad. After he became a freight engineer he retired by
request from that job, because on one of his trips he got tired of
waiting on a siding for a coming train, pulled out on the main line
and proceeded until he saw it approaching, and then had to back up.
he then entered the Erie shops and became an expert mechanic.

He later went to work for an engine company in Erie and was in
on the development of gas and gasoline engines. Ultimately he was
sent to New York City, where he was service man on those engines,
many of which were installed on residential estates for pumping water.

Along in the late 1880's one of the engines was installed in a
canal boat and since such engines were very temperamental in those
days, he went along as engineer on the trial trip. There were too
many breakdowns and stops for repairs at various towns and they
finally gave it up at Utica. At one of the locks on the way, his
captain got into an argument with the captain of another boat over
precedence into the lock, and when said argument reached a cursing
pitch, the other captain's wife came out of the cabin and handed her
husband an axe. That ending the argument.

On another occasion, they were passing a boat going in the
opposite direction. This operation required the dropping of the tow
rope to the other boat, so it would pass under the engine-driven one.
The keel of the latter, on account of the propeller, was down so deep
that the tow rope snagged it, and the mule team was dragged backward
into the canal, and the ensuing language of the mule driver and his
captain was lurid.

Other experiences of Richards were also very interesting. he
installed one of those engines in Holland's first submarine and acted
as his engineer in the trials. On one of the first submersions they
went down 50 feet in New York Harbor. The air got foul and hard to
breathe. Holland started to raise the boat and then passed out,
having forgotten to turn on the air which was carried in auxiliary

Richards was pretty near all in when they reached the surface
but he had enough strength and presence of mind to shove a wrench up
through a gravity valve in the top of the sub, which would open
outward but not inward, and thus got in enough air to save them both
from suffocation.

On another occasion, in winter, when they were to make another
trip, Holland was delayed in getting down to the dock in Hoboken, and
again Richards got tired of waiting and decided to go out alone.
Ice had formed on the glassed portholes in the sides of the conning
tower, so he couldn't see out to guide the boat, and he according
left the hatch cover open. the engine gave him some trouble, so he
had to leave the wheel, every once in awhile, and duck down to look
after it. He stayed down too long on one of those trips and when he
came up he was across the bow of the leading boat of a canal tow and
between it and the tug.

The boat hit the sub and rolled it over while he was half way
out of the hatch. The sub went down and he made a quick swim and
landed on an ice cake, from which he was rescued by a tug, and taken
to the New York side of the river, where he dried out and returned on
the ferry to Hoboken.

On getting back to the starting dock he found an old-timer who
had been watching the whole affair. This man had taken some sights
on where the sub went down and gave very accurate information to
Richards and Holland. They went out in a row boat, located the wreck
and had it raised by a diver and steam crane.

Holland was approached by one of the aggressive Irish societies
who had a scheme for sinking British battleships with his sub. The
only thing that came out of it was that Richards got the name of
"Chief Engineer of the Irish Navy." The Peruvians also approached
Holland because they were having one of those many arguments with the
Chilians and wanted to use the sub against them. They offered
Richards the job of running it; would pay him $51,000, and would
place it in escrow, so it would go to his estate in case of his
death. He didn't bite and Holland didn't either.

An article, I believe in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
last year, wondered as to the whereabouts of that first sub. Richards
ad I saw the hull of it some time previous to 1912, lying outside of
the Museum of Pennsylvania University, in Philadelphia.

Returning again to the Erie Canal, Williams Annual Register of
New York, dated 1830, lists the amounts and kinds of freight handled
on it for the year 1829, a total of 33,000 tons and the total of
tolls at $161,418 John Adams was toll collector in Lyons in 1828 and
he collected $27,123. Phillip Grandin collected $53,778 in Palmyra.
Newark, then in its infancy, is not mentioned. The 1817 estimated
operation cost of the Erie Canal was $4,881,738. In 1827 the actual
cost was given at $9,027,456, but there is some question of the
accuracy of this sum.

The register gives the names of various canal packet lines. One
of them was the Erie Canal Packet Boat Company between Utica and
Rochester, distance 160 miles, through in 46 hours, boats daily, the
Buffalo, Niagara, Ontario, Rochester and Utica.

Early settlers of Lyons, many of them progenitors of present
German-named citizens, came here by those packets. An early resident
in a very old newspaper clipping, tells of looking out of her window
very early one morning and seeing a large party of Germans cooking
breakfast over fires in the village park, where they had encamped
during the night.

One of these Germans went to work for Gansz, who ran a dairy
farm down near Lock Berlin. His sons, who deliver the milk, undertook
the job of teaching the German English, and they facetiously, as is
often done to foreigners, misinformed him by substituting various
unprintable words for those used commonly. The German, having a day
off, went down to one of the canal bridges, stopped to look over a
boat moored under the bridge, and essayed to get into a pleasant
conversation with an Irishman on it, starting in by calling him some
unpleasant and ribald names.

The Irishman immediately took fire, sprang ashore and started
to beat up the German in an attempt to throw him off the bridge.
Fortunately, the German was well built and prevented this. He went
back to the arm and told Gansz what had happened, and, on inquiry,
what he had said that had caused the fracas. On being told how the
boys had misinformed him he started laying for them in the bar, and
for two weeks the boys had to throw the lines over the horses' backs
when they got near the barn, and let them go there on their own
account, to keep them from getting a healthy retaliatory beating.

Charles Gutschow of Spencer street, who came to Lyons from
Germany when he was 19, though not the victim of the above story,
worked for Gansz at the time, and told me about it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

That Daring Young Man

An events calendar for Autumn of 1830 in Manhattan

© 2006 David Minor / Eagles Byte

There were a few events in the New York area in the autumn of 1830 that Scots visitor James Stuart did not take notice of. However former mayor Philip Hone provides us some of the details.

On October 14th the city’s Masonic Hall on lower Broadway played host to the third annual industrial fair sponsored by the American Institute. While the exhibition itself seems to have made a favorable impression, “. . . every object which the versatility of invention and the industry of our artisans and manufacturers could produce.”, Hone was less than enthusiastic about the evening’s entertainment, which consisted of a speech on the American tariff system by Tristram Burgess, a Rhode Island congressman, during which, “I had the misfortune to be one of the audience.” Must have been a philosophical or political disagreement with the lecturer; what one of us would not have given much to have been there for such an scintillating topic?

Five days later Hone reported a Vermont death notice with a local connection. Back on March 1, 1785, printer Francis Childs, a protege of Benjamin Franklin, had founded the New York Daily Advertiser, with its motto “THE HOLIEST MOTIVE IS THE PUBLIC GOOD”, publishing it down on Water Street for the next five years before selling it to Philip Freneau. Childs, the publisher of papers in New York and Philadelphia, had passed away at the age of 67.

Somehow Hone must have missed a piece of aviation history that occurred on September 9th, less than a mile down Broadway from his residence. (Stuart was apparently somewhere else that day, as well).

There are various estimates as to the numbers, but somewhere between twenty and thirty thousand people had gathered at Castle Garden that sunny Thursday afternoon. They watched as a young astronomer, poet and inventor climbed into the wicker gondola of a hot air balloon he’d built and cast off the ropes connecting him to the soil of New York’s Battery. As the crowd shaded their eyes with their palms and their parasols, the young aeronaut ascended into the clear sky and drifted slowly toward the west bank of the Hudson. But not before he’d dropped a good supply of leaflets, containing his poem on the joys of flight, into the crowd. He soon disappeared from sight.

Two hours later his craft set him gently down thirty miles away, on a farm near South Amboy, New Jersey. Just five years after the completion of the Erie Canal, Charles Ferson Durant became the first American to fly in the Western Hemisphere.

In November Hone referred briefly to an event taking place on the southern end of Brooklyn. It had actually begun exactly two months after Durant’s flight. The brig Vineyard left New Orleans that day, heading for Philadelphia with a cargo that included sugar, cotton, and molasses. And $54,000 in Mexican coins, destined for Stephen Girard, Esq. The wealthy 81-year-old banker would never collect his shipment.

And now is the time for practicing patience. Until next time.

1820s Canal News

Submitted by Richard Palmer

Geneva Gazette, Wed., May 10, 1820

Canal Navigation. - The navigation on the middle section of the
great western canal has commenced. The passage boat Montezuma was to
have started on her regular trips from Seneca river to Utica, a
distance of 94 miles, on the 1st inst.

Carthage Bridge. - We are informed that the elegant single arch
bridge, erected at an enormous expense over the Genesee river, at
Carthage, fell down a few days ago. Fortunately, no person was
passing over at the time.

Ontario Repository, Canandaigua, N.Y., January 8, 1822

Storage & Forwarding

The subscriber having taken the large and commodious Ware-
House, at the east end of the village, situated on a large Basin of
the Canal, is now ready to receive in Store, all kinds of Property.
having formed a connection with as respectable a Line of Boats as any
in the country, he will be able, on the opening of navigation in the
spring, to Forward property as low as any other regularly established
Forwarding House in the country.

He solicits the patronage of his friends and the public in

Palmyra, Jan. 1, 1822.

Geneva Gazette, Geneva, N.Y., Wed., Oct. 8, 1823

Canal Mail. - A daily Mail is now carried between Utica and
Rochester in the packet boats of the Erie Canal Navigation Company,
which greatly facilitates the communication with the western parts of
the state. When the canal is not navigable, the contractors are to
carry the mail by land on the same route.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Roman Arches Over River

Lyons Republican, Oct. 30, 1952

Submitted by Richard Palmer

Dr. Ennis Writes History
Of 'Roman Arches Over River'
By David Ennis

"Roman arches over Indian River" is what herman Melville called
them - he was writing about the original Erie Canal. The gray stone
arches that the traveler sees occasionally while crossing our State
on the highways were built somewhat later, about a century ago, just
before the Civil War, when the "Improved" Erie Canal was constructed.

Some of these "water bridges" were enormous structures, and
very famous in their day such as the Lower and Upper Mohawk
aqueducts; the Genesee aqueduct at Rochester, which you can still
cross in a trolley car or automobile, over the swift river waters;
and the Montezuma or Richmond aqueduct, over the Seneca River in the
heart of the great marshes, resting on 90-foot spliced piles,
designed and built by one of Lyons' distinguished citizens,
VanRenesselaer Richmond, the father of Mrs. Katherine Sweet.

The first aqueduct at Lyons crossed the Ganargua River west of
the present structure, between the Mindel and DeGroat farms out
Layton Street way, in the days of the original water way - the grand
Erie Canal of its proponents, or the "Clinton's Ditch: of those who
couldn't understand how boats could be made to go up hill. All that
remains of this aqueduct today are a few stones, visible only at low
water, and the earthen embankment on each side just above the "Ox
Bow" bend.

In these days the canal ran between the Ganargua River and
Layton Street as it approached the village from the west, passed
through Lyons in an S-curve, and went east back of the entire length
of Canal Street through Pilgrimport to Lock Berlin and Clyde

Our aqueduct that you can see from the bridge on the old Newark
Road wasn't famous, but it functioned for over a century, and after
its abandonment when the Clyde River was canalized, became a sort of
monument to the canal builders and engineers of the past. With its
five perfect arches, piers, and rounded abutments, it was a pleasing
sight, representing a rare combination of grace, utility, and
historical significance.

Now that it has been partly torn down, many doubtless feel that
our village has been deprived of a landmark of singular historical
and architectural significance. This is true, of course, but the
structure was doomed before this and the Village Fathers cannot be
accused of official vandalism here.

The real beginning of the end came not this month, but about
five years ago when the State Department of Public Works removed the
coping from the towpath on the side toward the Clyde River, allowing
earth and vegetation to come between the great stones of the arches,
which in time will cause them to fail.

This step was taken to obtain the stones for shoring up the
bank between the Canandaigua outlet dam and the Leach Road, just
south of the bridge over the present Lock 27, the needs of the moment
having evidently obscured the greater, if less tangible,
responsibility tot he future. This action occurred before the present
writer was aware of it - otherwise a vigorous and possibly successful
protest would have made to the highest quarters.

Last spring the Village Board received an official notice from
the Department of Public Works that two of the abutments were in poor
condition, their bases having become undermined. It was all too
obvious that before long this part of the aqueduct would topple over,
thus blocking part of Ganargua's channel and by obstructing its
normal flow into the Clyde River, creating a very real hazard of
increased high water at the time of the usual spring floods in this

There as no alternative, then, but for the local authorities to
carry out this directive, and certainly they cannot be blamed for
initiating the present work of partial demolition.

It is to be regretted, of course. that years ago steps were not
taken to preserve this priceless landmark. With a little care it
would have lasted for hundreds of years, each year becoming of
greater interest and value. Let us hope that other old canal
structures in the vicinity can be preserved with care.

They are splendid monuments to the efforts our forefathers made
to bring about the present greatness of our State and our Country,
and their contemplation and study cannot help but make us better
Americans They built the longest canal in the world, in the shortest
time, for the least money, and to the greatest public benefit.

(caption with photo published in the paper) Mayor Clark R. Gardner
inspects the wall put up by village employees headed by Frederick
Schlierman, foreman, in Maple Street, of immense stones taken from
two piers on the old Erie Canal.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Occupations on Parade

The November, 1830, New York City festivities move on to their conclusion.

© 2006 David Minor / Eagles Byte

The parade up Broadway continues moving past James Stuart, with all of the city’s trades well represented. Following the printers, hundreds of mounted tailors, bakers, coopers and butchers, all wearing tri-colored cockades to celebrate the recent French regime change, trot up the broad avenue, filling it from one side to the other. The butchers have gone all out, their steeds pulling four wagon-floats. The lead carries an life-sized ox, “so admirably stuffed and set up, that I was for some time in doubt whether it was a living or a dead animal.” The second wagon carries a band following blacks dressed in oriental costumes; the third a pair of live lambs; the fourth meats being turned into sausages before the spectators’ eyes.

Troops of hatters, masons, carpenters and blacksmiths parade past our Scots visitor. Next come the smiths’ vocational descendants, the makers of boilers and the latest steam engines. Their movable display features a miniaturized steamboat, “furnished with all its equipments, and thoroughly manned with officers and crew, cables, anchors, steering-wheel, bell and fuel, surmounted by flags, ornamented with a portrait of Louis-Philip, with the names inscribed of Fulton, Livingston and Allaire.” The last named was James P. Allaire, a partner of the other two, who would turn out the vessels designed by Fulton and financed by Livingston.

Next Stuart ticks off cabinet makers (with examples of their furniture art), carvers, gilders, coach makers, saddlers, bricklayers, plasterers and tobacconists. Free cigars and snuff, assembled on the back of a wagon, are liberally distributed to the throngs lining the street. Over a thousand firemen follow with 44 engines pulled by everything from the firemen themselves to horses, and blacks in Moorish costumes. The maritime profession is represented by horse-drawn miniature French warships and pilot-boats under full sail.

Another wagon carries a chair-manufacturing shop, crawling with furniture makers producing a maple cane seat chair, the completed object to be presented at the Washington Square ceremonies to former U. S. president James Monroe. On and on the city’s professions are displayed to the delight of the crowd - comb-makers, book binders, Hibernian Benevolent Society members, ropemakers, cobblers, tanners, mule skinners, and many etceteras. Stuart makes his way to the parade ground ceremonies at the end of the route, listens to a prayer and undoubtedly florid and profuse oratory. Then, the mobs break apart and it’s off to dinners in various public establishments, “the evening spent in festivity.”

Looking back on the occasion Stuart has a few observations. He notes the orderliness of the entire proceeding, unaware of a single accident or incident disturbing the public decorum. The windows and doorways were filled with only women and children, the entire male population of the city apparently participating in the procession. He also notes the vast sums spent on the event, calculating that every man involved has laid out an average of three dollars of their own hard-earned money.

We’ll leave James Stuart with his reminiscences until a future time. Next week we’ll see what he missed.


submitted by Richard Palmer

Lyons (N.Y.) Advertiser, Friday, Nov. 8, 1822

Sacket's Harbor, Oct. 11.

Dreadful Shipwreck. - Loss of the schooner Appellona, W.
Merrit, master. This vessel left Oswego on the evening of the 14th
inst. partly laden with pot ashes, salt, and about 16 tons of stone
ballast, bound to Genesee. About half past 10 P.M. Oswego light
bearing E.S.E. 18 or 20 miles distant, and about 16 miles from land,
the schooner lying under close reefed foresail, and a heavy squall
rising from the west, the vessel was struck by lightning - the master
and crew on deck knocked down, the tiller, rudder head, binnacle,
windlass, bulk head, cabin stairs, all shattered to pieces; then the
lightning stove the pumps, pot-ash and salt barrels, and went out of
the larboard side, tearing off a streak of plank about a foot below
the water's edge; we then prepared the boa, and five in number got
in, and the vessel sunk in fifteen minutes from the time she was
struck; the first sea that came, filled the boat half full of water,
the wind blowing N.W. with a heavy combing sea; kept her before it,
and about an hour before day, landed 13 miles below Oswego. The
master was very much injured in his sight and hearing, but is fast

Western / Central New York timeline - BC

B. C. dates extremely approximate

420,000,000 B. C.
The Niagara Escarpment is formed.

400,000,000 B. C (Late Silurian)
The Salina Group of shale and dolomite (dolostone), containing thick deposits of salt and gypsum several miles wide stretching between the future Albany and Buffalo, is laid down.

200,000,000 B. C.
Part of the ocean bottom is uplifted to form New York’s Finger Lake region as lakes in the central part of the future state begin draining to the south.

100,000,000 B. C.
A second uplift in the New York region forms the valleys of the Cayuga and Seneca rivers.

16,000 B. C.
A global warming trend begins. The glacier recedes in the southern tier to the Angelica area and remains stationary, depositing the Angelica Moraine and impounding Lake Wellsville. The lake extends southward for 13 miles, draining by way of Honeoye and Oswayo creeks into the Allegheny River.

13,500 B. C.
New York
The glacier at Angelica begins receding, depositing a moraine, exposing Black Creek Valley and lowering Lake Wellsville 80 feet to form Lake Belfast-Fillmore.

13,000 B. C.
Niagara Falls is created as the glaciers retreat north and Lake Tonawanda’s waters pool up at its western end.

12,000 B. C.
New York
The Genesee Valley glacier ice recedes to the Portageville area.

10,000 B. C.
The Wisconsinian glacier retreats from the central part of the state.

9,000 B. C.
The first humans, Paleo-Indians, arrive in the Genesee Valley. ** The Seneca River
begins flowing over the Onondaga Escarpment , forming rapids and waterfalls.

4,000 B. C.
The Algonquin Indians migrating from Asia, reach the New York State area.

2,000 B. C.
 The Middle Woodland culture reaches the area, as the migratory hunter-gatherer Lamoka people fade away.

© 2012 David Minor / Eagles Byte

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Parade Gets Under Way

A November , 1830, parade begins moving up Broadway

© 2006 David Minor / Eagles Byte

When I worked in lower Manhattan in the late 1980s, twice a day I’d walk behind the Municipal Building on my way between the City Hall subway stop and Pearl Street where my office stands. Just west of Police Plaza (off limits to strollers since 9/11), I’d pass a fragment of brick wall with a barred window set into it. The display commemorated a site dating back to before the American Revolution.

In 1763 sugar trader Henry Cuyler had built a warehouse down on nearby Liberty Street. The wealthy Rhinelander family had purchased the building shortly after Cuyler’s death in 1770. When the family had the building replaced in 1892 they’d saved the window as a reminder of the British occupation of New York, when hundreds of American prisoners had died while incarcerated in the building, and installed the window in their new building near the future Police Plaza site.

The display had sort of a special meaning for me. In April of 1777 Simeon Minor, an collateral ancestor, had been captured by the British at Roxbury, Connecticut, and had subsequently died in the Sugar House. My cousin Mike (on my mother’s side) once asked me if I sometimes heard a disembodied voice coming through the bars calling, “Da-vid, D-a-a-vid!”. Can’t say that I did; I’ll have to listen more carefully next time.

Decades later, on 1830, one former prisoner, luckier than Simeon, is preparing to take part in the November 26th parade up Broadway, celebrating the July regime change in France. Former sailor John Van Arsdale probably casts more than a few glances eastward toward his former prison as he waits for proceedings to get under way. A native of Goshen, New York, he had made the epic marched on Quebec with Benedict Arnold in 1775 and fought at forts Montgomery and Fort Clinton, along the Hudson, two years later where he’d been captured and held in the lower Manhattan sugar facility before being transferred to the hold of one of the noxious British ships anchored off Brooklyn. He would finally be released nine months after his capture, in time to participate in the Clinton-Sullivan campaign against upstate New York’s Indians.

Now, as spectators James Stuart and former mayor Philip Hone, along with hundreds of others feel their collective pulses begin to quicken, participants such as Van Arsdale, former president James Monroe, Revolutionary-era spy Enoch Crosby, Boston Tea Party “Indian” Alexander Whaley, prepare to move out. 30,000 people fill the streets of lower Manhattan, half again the island’s daily commuting population.

James Stuart provides the most complete description, so we’ll call on him once more for a final assignment. A squadron of cavalry lead off the procession. The parade’s end will not pass Stuart for three more hours. The dignitaries follow - mayor Walter Bowne, ambassadors, congressmen and state legislators, high sheriffs, consuls, committee members and foreign ministers, and 500 mounted French visitors, Columbia College provosts and medical and law students. Then, as in the 1825 Erie Canal opening celebration, members of all the trade guilds follow. The printers show off the latest in on-demand publishing technology, as a press mounted on one of their floats turns out copies of an ode written for the occasion. While everyone grabs one and peruses the sterling verbiage, we’ll take a break. Until next time.