Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Canal Items from the Wayne Sentinel - 1833

Submitted by Richard Palmer

Wednesday March 13, 1833


Collectors of Canal Tolls appointed by
the Canal Board for the year 1833:

Chauncey Humphrey / Albany
Abijah Wheeler / West Troy
James Myers / Schenactady
Sanders Landing / Little Falls
Thomas M. Francis / Utica
Bela B. Hyde / Rome
Benjamin F. Colvin / Syracuse
Wm. H. Noble / Montezuma
John Adams / Lyons
Philip Grandin / Palmyra
John Bowman / Rochester
Seth L. King / Brockport
Cephas S. McConnell / Albion
Asa W. Douglass / Lockport
Zenas W. Barker / Buffalo

Wednesday April 24, 1833

The Erie Canal is now open and navigable through its whole extent.
The prospects for active and profitable business during the season,
are flattering to all classes of our citizens; and nothing is wanted
but industry and perseverance to warrant rich returns to their
labors. The business on the canals will probably be somewhat
pressing, till the merchants have supplied themselves with their
spring goods.- The activity and enterprise of the inhabitants of the
villages on the canal in Western New York, are highly complimentary
to American character and perhaps there is not where to be found a
more liberal and intelligent spirit, than characterizes them.
Possessing all the facilities for pecuniary and intellectual
aggrandizement, which a country unequaled in natural resources can
furnish, they will one day be the richest and happiest people in the
world, and surpassed by none in generous and honorable sentiments.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Take Me Back to Manhattan

John Fowler finishes his 1830 visit to Long Island

When Englishman John Fowler stayed with a relative in Whitestone, New York, in
1830, the immediate area was mostly agricultural. Thirty years later, in 1860, its
population was only 630, so would have been considerably smaller when Fowler
arrived. The area got its name for a rock down by the boat landing. Fowler’s first
two full days there, August 6th and 7th, were spent visiting neighboring farms.
He took a great many notes, mostly regarding Long Island itself, which at this time
consisted of King’s (or Brooklyn), Queens and Suffolk counties.

Roads on the island are quite good, although sandy; most leading to Brooklyn, where
ferries and steamboats for Manhattan, capable of transporting wagons and carriages,
are readily available. With such a large market just to the west, farmland prices are
probably among the highest in the state. A visit to one of the bays convinces Fowler
that fishing is abundant in the area. And lobsters “I myself saw the claw of one which,
when fresh, I am satisfied would have weighed from seven to nine pounds.”

That second day, one in which the temperature reached 85 degrees, when the two men
return, it’s to learn, from one of the New York papers, that England’s King George IV
has died on June 26th. The Duke of Clarence has succeeded him as William IV.
Fowler turns in but finds it difficult to drift off, since the temperature is still high and
he's had to close his windows – those damn mosquitoes again!

The next day, August 8th, Fowler decides to head inland from the East River a bit,
visiting the village of Flushing, to the south. Contrary to what some of you might
think, it was corrupted from the name of a Dutch village, Vlissingen. Between the
two settlements he notes the aftereffects of the tornado that had struck a few days
earlier. Flushing was more developed than Whitestone. Fowler describes an actual
village, with houses, stores and churches. Spafford’s Gazetteer had summed it up as,
“quite a place of resort for the butterflies of fashion, at least for a part of the year.”

Fowler and his relation head back for Whitestone late in the afternoon. After dinner he
takes the steamboat back to Manhattan, getting ready for his trip upstate. While he’s
winding up his affairs there we’ll take note of a few more 1830 Long Island happenings.

Back in February Elias Hicks, founder of a schismatic branch of the Quaker religion and
an early abolitionist, died in his home in Jericho, a dozen mile to the east of Whitestone,
at the age of 81. A little further to the east of that, on Long Island Sound, Port
Washington residents got stage service into the city. Down on the south shore, also
back in February, William Hutchinson and C. F. Le Fevre began publishing The Long
Island Telegraph and General Advertiser
, the island’s fifth newspaper. In November of
1831 it will be renamed The Hempstead Inquirer by new owner Morris Snedeker.

One change would be made to island place names, within the town of Hempstead, as a
temperance movement swept through the area. An early settlement, known as Rum
Point (for its many taverns) was renamed Greenwich Point. Later it would have
another new name – Roosevelt, for Teddy.

© 2007 David Minor / Eagles Byte

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Canal Museum features art exhibit

Submitted by Richard Palmer

SYRACUSE - An art exhibit depicting the lives of those
who work and play on the fabled bodies of water that border New York
City's five boroughs, will be displayed April 8 to 30 at the Erie
Canal Museum in Syracuse.

Among those who visitors will meet are a dry dock operator, an eel
fisherman, a fireboat preservationist, and a guerilla swimmer.

Gathered from the East River to the Erie Basin, the Hudson to
Hempstead Harbor, each new perspective connects a personal passion to
a fabled local maritime history.

The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; and
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. For further information go
towww.eriecanalmuseum.org or call 315-471-0593.

The museum is located at 318 Erie Blvd. East.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Reform Movement on Erie Canal

Submitted by Richard Palmer

Reform Movement Stemmed Crime and Immorality along the Erie Canal

by Jonathan Anderson

In 1825 New York State's 363-mile Erie Canal was opened from Albany
to Buffalo. Almost immediately, the trans-state canal route fueled an
explosion of commerce and New York State was transformed into a chain
of urban commercial centers. As commerce spread across the state, so
did the lure for illicit activity that preyed on the canal's
prosperity. Nowhere was this more evident than in the canal districts
of the urban centers that developed along the canal route.

The urban canal districts became lined with docks, warehouses,
factories, lumberyards, and the variety of trade shops that supported
the canal system. The canal districts also became lined with taverns,
fight houses, brothels, and all the low haunts that attracted the
criminal sort. The canal districts were said to have harbored such
criminal classes as expert burglars, thugs, confidence operators,
highwaymen, church sneaks, robbers, and murderers. Inevitably the
urban canal districts became notoriously tough crime ridden red light

In the eyes of some, the canal had become a haven for vice and
immorality. After all canal life attracted workers who drank, swore,
fought, gambled, and engaged in worse acts of degradation. These
workers lived a rough transient lifestyle that arguably invited a
mischievous and criminal lifestyle.

During the early canal period the Sabbatarian Reform Movement
exploited the perception of canal immorality and pressed to hold the
canal to moral account. As late as the mid-19th century, this
movement pressed the State Legislature to close canal transportation
on the Sabbath. Petitions to limit transportation, close locks,
boycott Sunday business threatened to slow the current of canal

Supporters of the movement hoped that halting canal business on
Sundays would allow the canalers an opportunity to seek and observe
religious services and saving graces. Tangent to this movement, the
Boatman's Friend Society was formed in 1830 to promote the moral and
religious improvement of the canal folk. Six-day boat lines also were
formed seeking the patronage of Sabbath observers.

Opponents of the movement argued that the boat workers would simply
use the day of rest to pursue their ungodly activities. Ultimately,
the demand for developmental and commercial progress won out and the
canal business continued to flow seven-days a week. The low haunts of
the urban canal districts flourished.

As strange as it might seem at first glance, the policing system of
the day encouraged the canal district / red light phenomenon. What
better way to police a community than to harbor the low haunts to an
isolated district? Where better to locate stolen plunder and the
criminal element than the canal districts? These districts earned
notorious watch-post nicknames by the police and watchmen such as
"Robber's Row" in Syracuse.

Perhaps the most unfortunate victims of the canal district vices were
the young impressionable 'Canal Boys,' many of them orphaned, who
were schooled in a life of crime. For them the canal districts were
their classrooms. It was said that these precarious and resourceful
class of youth learned all the graduations of crime from simple acts
of larceny, pick pocketing, and games of trick, to the more daring
acts of robbery, burglary, and murder. All trades necessary for
survival in the tough urban canal districts.

Their plight worsened upon the approach of winter when the season of
navigation closed. Condemned to wintering the streets, seeking safety
in numbers, these wayward youths formed criminal street gangs
'colonies of waifs,' and practiced their evil trades in the streets
throughout canal urban centers.

The policing system of the canal period was caught unprepared for
this urban juvenile delinquency problem. It offered no relief from
the unforgiving life on the streets other than jail. The hapless,
unfortunate, and homeless canal boys were shrewd to exploit this
refuge as a means for food and shelter. With no regard as to age,
penitentiaries and local jails swelled with ill-clad, unwashed, and
hungry youth.

In response, as early as 1846, blew the winds of reform. Vanguarded
by the citizens of Syracuse, a reform movement pressed for the canal
boy's mental and moral well-being.

Legal appointed guardians, age related registrations, legal contract
reviews, and houses of refuge soon provided a measure of protection
from exploitation. Historically, the movement birthed the beginnings
of a statewide juvenile justice system.

Ultimately, the reform movement influenced the breakup of the urban
red-light canal districts and the low haunts of the communities, like
uncontained weeds, rooted elsewhere throughout the neighborhoods.
Crime and policing would never be the same.

(Jonathan Anderson is historian of the Onondaga County Sheriff's
Department where he is a lieutenant in the Professional Standards Unit.

Jonathan L. Anderson
Lieutenant – Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office
Professional Standards Unit (315) 435-3000
407 South State Street
Syracuse, N.Y. 13202

Friday, March 20, 2009

Western/Central New York timeline / 1680-1689

Mar 4
William Penn receives the grant for his colony from Charles II. It includes land as far north as Syracuse and as far south as 40° latitude.

Swedes from the Delaware area visit near present-day Big Flats.

The French leave the Seneca country. Jesuit missionary Father Julien Garnier returns to New France.

Father Hennepin publishes Description de la Louisiane nouvellement decouverte, in France, reports seeing a giant waterfall between lakes Erie and Ontario - Niagara Falls. ** Colonial governor Thomas Dongan orders the coat of arms of the Duke of York placed on a gate at the Seneca village of Gannonata (near today’s town of Mendon), to proclaim the area as England’s.

War breaks out again between the Five Nations and France, in western New York; is settled by the peace of September 5th, at Famine Cove, on Lake Ontario. ** Father Garnier visits the Senecas at Irondequoit Bay.

Feb 6
The Duke of York is crowned as James II. New York becomes a royal province.

Dec 21
New York City native Jan Vinje (Jean Vigne, Vienje, Finje, Van Gee), a frmer, miller and brewer, dies at the the approximate age of 65.

May 8
New France governor Jacques-René de Brisay, Marquis de Denonville, writes to the Marquis de Seignelay, Minister for the Colonies, recommending the construction of a fort at Niagara with or without a peace with Indians.

Nov 1
French Jesuit Father Lamberville writes to Chevalier de Callieres, Governor of Montréal, to inform him that New York's governor Thomas Dongan had assembled the Iroquois Nations in New York City and told them to keep the French out of English territory and to break off all relations with them.

France's Minister of the Navy the Marquis de Seignelay prepares a memo for Louis XVI warning of English plans to use the Iroquois to help drive the French out of Canada, and proposing military strategy to keep the English away from territory claimed by France.

May 22
The Marquis de Denonville, governor general of New France, having decided on a campaign against the Iroquois in New York, has mass said at Québec and sets out to rendezvous with his flotilla of canoes at Notre Dame de l‘Etrisse, about ten miles upriver. Denonville then goes on ahead to Montréal. The fleet is halted by strong winds at Villeneuve.

May 26
The fleet sets out, stopping at Trois-Rivièr where Denonville confers with post governor de Varenne. Setting out again he is halted by squalls and takes refuge at the house of the farmer La Force, at the entrance to Lake Ontario. Denonville and his wife are rescued when their canoe almost overturns.

Jun 11
Two companies of Denonville’s force set out from Montréal.

Jun 14
The last of the French force passes through the rapids at Montréal. Denonville and the Intendent move on overland to La Présentation (Ogdensburg, New York).

Jul 4
Denonville’s forces leave Cadaraqui (Cataraqui, Kingston) Ontario.

Jul 10

Some of Denonville’s French and Indian forces arrive at the future site of Pultneyville.

Jul 11
Denonville lands a large invasion force - 1500 Frenchmen, including the Baron de Lathonton (author), Daniel Duluth (founder of the city), Henri de Tonty (explorer), François d’Orvillers and Louis Hector de Callieres - and 1500 Ottawa and Mohawk Indian allies) at the mouth of Irondequoit Bay, not daring to cross the sand bar. They meet a number of Algonquin allies coming from the west. A small log enclosure is built and Denonville's boats are sunk so they will not blow away. French trader Fontaine Marion is executed for guiding English traders.

Jul 12
After building a temporary fort to protect his boats Denonville marches his army southeast toward the Indian village of Gannagaro (Ganandogan), stopping for the night at the southern end of Irondequoit Bay.

Jul 13
In the midst of intense heat, 800 Seneca, forewarned, attack Denonville's forces - the
Denonville Ambuscade. The Indians withdraw when the remaining French forces come
up. Casualties are moderate for the Indians; the French loses close to a hundred men. A
thunderstorm begins during the night.

Jul 14
After the rain stops they march through the future site of the village of Victor and enter
Gannagaro, which the Indians have burned and abandoned.

Jul 15
The French under Tonty, Calliere and Vaudreuille destroy Seneca corn collected at
their granary at Gahayanduk (Gandouaree/Fort Hill at Ganondagan) on Mud Creek.
The fort is also destroyed. The remaining Seneca will all survive the winter.

Jul 17
The French arrive at the Seneca camp at Totiakton (Rochester Junction), find the Indians
gone. The French spend the next day feasting on crops and pigs.

Jul 19
The French destroy Totiakton, claim the area for France, and start back for Irondequoit

Jul 20
The French destroy Gannounata (Lima-Avon). Denonville discovers a coat of arms sent by
lieutenant-governor Dongan claiming the area is English territory.

Jul 23
The French camp at three small lakes, today’s Mendon Ponds Park.

Jul 24
Denonville's forces burn their log fort on the bay.

Jul 26
Denonville departs from Irondequoit Bay, bound for the Niagara area and then to Montréal in August.

Aug 5
Dongan presents propositions to the Iroquois to not to make peace or war with the French.

Aug 6
The Iroquois respond that they will continue to fight the French and inform Dongan of any articles of peace made with them.

The entire Iroquois League allies itself with the English.

Nov 10
James II issues a warrant to governor Dongan, ordering him to protect the Five Nations as Royal subjects.

Baron La Hontan visits the Buffalo area, suggests that a fort be built there. Fortifications are erected by Denonville at the future site of Fort Niagara.

Feb 8
Dongan tells the Iroquois that the French claim to have purchased land from them in the past.

Feb 13
The Iroquois respond that the French have no claim to their land.

Feb 16
The Iroquois tell Dongan they do not trust the governor of Canada and want the French removed from their beaver hunting grounds.

Fortifications erected last year at the future site of Fort Niagara are dismantled.

Aug 1
The Albany Convention is established for protection against a French attack.

Approximately 2250 Seneca inhabit the colony.

© 2011 David Minor / Eagles Byte

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Garbutt Tailor Shop Talk

On Thursday, March 26th, Historic Pittsford will present
Sabrina Henneman, Collections Registrar at Genesee County Museum
speaking on "The Story of John Quinn, Tailor:
His Garbutt NY Tailor Shop - Built 1849".

in addition Pittsord resident Dick Minster will deliver his
Remberances of Garbutt, his Hometown

The talks will be at 7:30 PM at Christ Episcopal Church
37 South Main at Locust (just to the south of Hicks & MCCarthy,
on the opposite side of S. Main)

All are welcome.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

First Canal Boat Through Lyons

Submitted by Richard Palmer

The first official boat ever to pass through Lyons on the canal.

Lyons Republican, Friday, Nov. 30, 1821

On Thursday last, the citizens of this place, were gratified
with a view of the elegant Packet-Boat, Myron Holley. She arrived at the
aqueduct on Wednesday evening, having on board a large number of persons from
Palmyra and other places adjacent to the canal. This boat is well
calculated for the accommodation of passengers, and is said to
surpass any one on the whole line of the canal. It is 80 feet in length, and 13 feet in
width. It has two convenient rooms for passengers, and will
accommodate one hundred persons. It draws but 10 inches of water when loaded, and
cost two thousand dollars.

A great number of persons assembled to witness this truly
interesting scene. Between two and three hundred embarked on board, when she
started back for Palmyra, where she safely arrived the same evening. The banks
were literally lined with anxious spectators to behold this elegant specimen of
western enterprise. Owing to the unfavorableness of the weather the lock
and aqueduct were not in a situation to let the boat pass through,
otherwise she would have come down as far as this village. Mr. Seymour
Scovel, the owner of the boat, deserves great credit for his remitted
exertions in finishing and rendering her thus commodious.

This is the first boat of any magnitude, that has navigated the
waters of the Erie Canal, on this section, and we are not a little proud of
having it said, that even the forests of the west, have yielded to the
enterprising industry of man, and that boats of burden are now gently
gliding in the midst thereof. Every one present evinced a degree of
pleasure in witnessing, what they dreamed impracticable five years

The boat is expected here again next week, should the weather
prove favorable.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Heading for Lawn Guyland

We re-join our English visitor John Fowler as he starts around the state in 1830

A lot was happening on our last visit to New York City, back in 1830. Scotsman James Stuart and his wife were departing America to return to Britain after a three-year visit; Englishman John Fowler was arriving, for his own tour of the former colony. During the year the city saw the debut of a thirteen-year-old Irish stage prodigy, a celebration of the second popular uprising over in France, a hot-air balloon flight from the Battery to Amboy, New Jersey, and a mutinous crew landing near Coney Island and burying a treasure there in the sands. In other words, things pretty much as normal, there at the mouth of the Hudson.

Now our man Fowler prepares to explore the rest of the state in this year of 1830 - he would write about the journey next year, in Journal of a Tour Through the State of New York. On August 4th he writes, “Previous to my setting out on my intended excursion to the western part of the state, wishing to see something of Long Island, and having given a relative, resident near Flushing, a promise of spending a few days with him, took my place this afternoon upon a steam-boat plying daily to different parts of the Sound, to Whitestone, about eighteen miles distant from New York.” Ever since the consolidation of the city nearly seven decades in the future, Whitestone has lain within the limits of the city.

Passing on toward Long Island Sound, Fowler mentions passing by “Horll Gatt, or Hurl Gate.” This of course is Hell Gate, where the Stuarts have been staying. Perhaps they were out in the gardens that day and glanced up as Fowler’s ship steamed past.

Fowler finds a “conveyance” waiting at the Whitestone landing, which takes him to his relative’s farmhouse, for a ten-year reunion. The area was settled back in 1645, and at the time of the American Revolution was home to Francis Lewis, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. A young school teacher from further out on Long Island will come along eight or nine years from now. Kid by the name of Whitman.

Fowler and his kinsman spend the evening reminiscing. Having purchased his present farm from his wife’s family, the unnamed relative tells Fowler that nothing could induce him to return to England.

The next day Fowler’s given a tour of the farm, viewing nearly fifty acres of woodland, apple and peach orchards, plus pens of cows, sheep and pigs. The day has become quite sultry; during the middle of the day dark clouds gather and a brief tornado - Fowler’s word - tears up a few trees and brings branches from others crashing to the ground. Half an hour later the skies clear.

That night sleep comes fitfully to Fowler. Not the bedbugs which he complained of in Brooklyn, but mosquitos, not to mention, “locusts, crickets, tree-toads, kater-dids, grasshoppers, &c, &c, the din and bustle of the country, though of a different kind, seems scarcely less than that of the town.” He’s heard that winter quiets things down but to him it’s a remedy, “ as bad as the disease.”

We’ll tiptoe out quietly, try to let him get some sleep

© 2007 David Minor / Eagles Byte

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Canal News 1820-1822/a

Submitted by Richard Palmer

Cayuga Republican, March 8, 1820

Montezuma Village Lots.
The lots in the village of Montezuma are now offered for sale,
being surveyed of different sizes to suit purchasers. The natural
advantages of this village are supposed to be greater than any
village possesses on the Canal from Lake Erie to Utica. It must be
the place of deposit for the produce from the Cayuga Lake, the Seneca
lake, the Canandaigua lake and outlet, Mud creek and the Seneca
river. Its inexhaustible sources of soft water, of a far superior to
that at Salina, will always render it a place of importance for the
manufacture of that necessary and useful article.

Its clay for making the different kinds of ware has been found
to be excellence; and it is expected that the abundant supply of
water to the Canal will afford a sufficiency of waste water for mill-
seats, and all other necessary hydraulic purposes. The bridge over
the Seneca river is now building, connecting it with a Turnpike road
to the east and west, which with the rapid progress of the settlement
in its immediate vicinity, must inevitably render it a place of the
first importance in the western country.

An opportunity is now afforded for persons to purchase, who
wish to settle in a growing village, or to vest their money in the
purchase of property which will rapidly increase in value. More than
fifty village lots have been sold this spring, and purchasers who
wish to have a choice of stands are requested to call soon.

Enquire of Comfort Tyler and Peter Clarke, Esq's. at Montezuma,
where a map of the village may be seen, or of Joseph Otis, James
Lovatt or James B. Clarke, New-York, committee for said company.
Montezuma, March 10, 1819. 39tf

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.

Cayuga Republican, Auburn, N.Y., Wed., May 31, 1820


On Thursday morning last, a respectable number of the citizens
of this village, went to Bucksville about 7 to meet the Montezuma, a
new passage-boat on the Canal, having His Excellency DeWitt Clinton
and General Stephen Van Rensselaer on board. The boat arrived at
Bucksville from Montezuma about 7 o'clock. The morning was fine, and
our citizens went on board and continued as far as Jordan, a distance
of 10 miles. During the short passage, a breakfast was served up in
handsome style, and every attention was given by the managers of the
boat to the convenience and pleasure of the party. Our passengers
returned in a small boat to their carriages delighted with their

Cayuga Republican, May 31, 1820

Post Office Notice.

A POST OFFICE is established at Montezuma, by the name of
Montezuma Post-Office, and Richard Smith is appointed Post-Master.
Montezuma, May 25, 1820.

Cayuga Republican, Wed., Aug. 15, 1821


Mr. Editor,

Sir, - I send you a cop of a card, signed by some gentlemen
passengers, in the Canal-Boat Montezuma, with the addition of their
places of residence. Various reports are in circulation respecting
the conveyance of passengers on that section of the Canal between
Utica and Montezuma, should you give this an insertion, it may be a
satisfaction to the public, and some advantage to the Erie Canal
Navigation Company.

WE the undersigned, having passed from Utica to Weed's Basin, on
the Canal, a distance of eight-eight miles, in the in the Passage
Boat Montezuma, Capt. Joseph Swan, very cheerfully declare the great
satisfaction we have experienced, both from that mode of conveyance
and the uniform civility and obliging deportment of the Captain, and
all the persons attached to the Boat.

We fared very well a the table of the boat and felt no
inconvenience either from the heat or smell of the kitchen, and
reached our destination without fatigue, about twenty minutes before
the time appointed. Several of us had Ladies of our party, some of
whom were in delicate health, and they all found it an agreeable and
easy conveyance.

Weeds Basin, 10th August, 1821
Wm. H. Winder, Baltimore
D. Lenox, Philadelphia.
John Greenfield, New York
Ephraim, Ohio.
C. Tanner, Geneva

Lyons Republican, Friday, Nov. 30, 1821

On Thursday last, the citizens of this place, were gratified with a
view of the elegant Packet-Boat, Myron Holley. She arrived at the
aqueduct on Wednesday evening, having on board a large number of persons from
Palmyra and other places adjacent to the canal. This boat is well
calculated for the accommodation of passengers, and is said to
surpass any one on the whole line of the canal. It is 80 feet in length, and 13 Ω in
width. It has two convenient rooms for passengers, and will
accommodate one hundred persons. It draws but 10 inches of water when loaded, and
cost two thousand dollars.

A great number of persons assembled to witness this truly
interesting scene. Between two and three hundred embarked on board, when she started
back for Palmyra, where she safely arrived the same evening. The
banks were literally lined with anxious spectators to behold this elegant
specimen of western enterprise. Owing to the unfavorableness of the weather the lock
and aqueduct were not in a situation to let the boat pass through,
otherwise she would have come down as far as this village. Mr. Seymour
Scovel, the owner of the boat, deserves great credit for his remitted
exertions in finishing and rendering her thus commodious.

This is the first boat of any magnitude, that has navigated the
waters of the Erie Canal, on this section, and we are not a little proud of
having it said, that even the forests of the west, have yielded to the
enterprising industry of man, and that boats of burden are now gently
gliding in the midst thereof. Every one present evinced a degree of
pleasure in witnessing, what they dreamed impracticable five years
ago. The boat is expected here again next week, should the weather prove

Cayuga Republican, April 3, 1822

The subscribers have entered into a line of FORWARDING with
John O'Hara, Esq. of Scipio, who is to have a line of Boats on the
Mohawk river, and teams on the road from Albany to Schenectady. They
will transport goods from Albany to Montezuma, or to Rochester, if
the Canal is navigable, and will transport produce to Albany, on as
good terms as any other Company that is responsible. The Boat FARMER
of Brutus, will be run by Sylvester Sheldon; Boat PERSEVERANCE, by
Elias Cady; Boat SOLACE, by Edmund B. Fellows. The boats will run on
regular days, viz: One of the above mentioned boats will leave Weed's
Basin every Monday and Thursday of each week, from the 25th April and
the 1st day of July next.
Brutus, March 28, 1822.

Lyons Advertiser
Sept. 23, 1822
From the Albany Argus

Erie Canal
We have recently had an opportunity of acquiring some information
respecting the progress of the eastern section of this great work,
which we presume will be gratifying to our readers. It will be
recollected that this section has, for the last and present season,
been under the immediate direction and superintendence of Mr.
Seymour. The work is prosecuted with great spirit and persevering
industry. It is estimated that there are five thousand persons at
present engaged in various employments on that section of the canal.
The Schoharie creek is to be crossed by means of a dam. The dangers
and delays incident to the construction of such a work had excited
much alarm and apprehension. This dam was completely finished last
week, and is secured in the most durable and substantial manner; it
is more than six hundred feet long, and so perfect has been its
construction, that the water falls over it in an even and unbroken

The early completion of this dam & of the heavy & difficult jobs at
the Little and Great Nose, two promontories which present formidable
obstacles, together with the forward state of the work in general,
give the strongest assurance that the line of the canal will be
completed the present year as far eastward as Schenectady.
Great loss has been sustained during the present summer, occasioned
by a want of means to transport the produce of the country to market.

Large quantities of flour lay exposed to the weather for weeks in
succession and the owners had at last to pay from ten to twelve
shillings per barrel, to have it carried from the Little falls to
this city. If the canal, at the opening of this season, had been
completed to Schenectady, it is estimated that there would have been
a saving to the proprietors, in the transportation of the single
article of flour for this year alone, the enormous sum of one hundred
thousand dollars.

The amount of toll for the present year, will greatly exceed what was
estimated in the last yearís report.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Western/Central New York timeline / 1670-1679

Father Etienne de Carheil visits the Cayuga near Union Springs, Cayuga County, to help Father Garnier. Around this time the chapel of St. Jacques is established at Boughton Hill. Father Pierre Raffeix arrives in the area, after founding a mission at La Prairie, near Montréal. Father Fremin returns to Montréal. ** Father Rene de Brebant de Galinee draws a map of the south shore of Lake Ontario.

Father Pierre Raffeix visits the Cayuga Indians.

Father Raffeix returns to the Genesee area. Father Jean Pierron also visits the area.

Jun 17
Close to 50 Indian prisoners are brought by the Seneca to the region around Lima from the south and four of them are killed. The Seneca dance and make noises to frighten their spirits away.

Dutch trader Wentworth Greenhalgh visits the Seneca village of Totiakton.

Jun 18
Greenhalgh and his party continue on to Gannagaro where they find the remaining prisoners. Nine more are murdered.

Greenhalgh and party, scouting Iroquois strength in the area, travel by horseback from Albany as far as Lima. The horses are the first seen by the Seneca. ** Iroquois Confederacy members friendly to the English create the Covenant Chain, a commercial and military alliance, with them, signing two treaties at Albany. The first, between the Five Nations and Connecticut and Massachusetts, ends King Philip's War (New England's Second Puritan Conquest). In the second the Iroquois and the Delaware broker an agreement between Maryland and Virginia on the one hand and the Iroquois and the Andastes (or Susquehannocks) on the other.

Nov 18
René Robert Cavalier, Sieur de La Salle's expedition leaves Fort Frontenac, Canada, sailing west on Lake Ontario.

La Salle, visits the mouth of Irondequoit Bay a second time, doesn't attempt to bring his 20-ton brig over the sand bar. He sails on and sets up a trading post at the mouth of the Niagara River, the future site of Fort Niagara.

Dec 6
La Salle reaches the mouth of the Niagara River, anchor offshore due to the lateness of the hour.

Dec 7
La Salle’s party visits a Seneca village on the Canadian side of the Niagara River. They set off on snowshoes to climb today’s Queenstown Heights and camp at the mouth of the Chippewa Creek (today’s Welland River), with the sound of a large, distant cataract in their ears.

Father Louis Hennepin is the first white man to see Niagara Falls. He travels with La Salle, who establishes the first shipyard on the Great Lakes, on the banks of Cayuga Creek, in the future Buffalo area, where he builds Le Griffon, the first known ship to be built in America. ** The Frenchman de la Motte passes through Totiakton and obtains corn for his journey down the Genesee. ** Franciscan fathers establish a bark mission where Rochester’s Mercy High School stands today.

Jan 20
The first boat of La Salle's expedition lands at the lower end of the Niagara River. He will lays the keel for the
Griffin near Cayuga Creek on the Niagara River by the end of the month.

Griffin is sailed upriver to Squaw Island.

Franciscan Recollect missionaries Louis Hennepin, Zenobe Membre and Gabriel de la Ribourde build a wood chapel in the Irondequoit valley, part of the future site of Rochester.

La Salle returns to his expedition, consisting of Recollet father Louis Hennepin and 30 men, after conferring with the authorities back in Québec.

Aug 7
Griffin is sailed onto Lake Erie, the first European-built craft to do so. On the return voyage the vessel disappears.

Fort Conti is erected at the future site of Fort Niagara. It soon burns and is abandoned.

© 2009 David Minor / Eagles Byte

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bond of Union - book review

Bond of Union: Building the Erie Canal and the American Empire
by Gerard Koeppel

American infrastructure, which has been sadly neglected for half a
century, is finally getting another look, from a new administration
confronting economic collapse. What better time to contemplate the
first great piece of American infrastructure: New Yorkís Erie Canal?

It too has been neglected for generations, but the story of its
creation nearly two centuries ago may provide guidance and
encouragement for today's would-be builders: politicians, engineers,
workers, and the American people in general.

In Bond of Union, New York historian Gerard Koeppel tells the story
of the creation of the Erie Canal, from its conception in 1807 by
Jesse Hawley, a western New York grain merchant in debtors' prison who
wrote a series of newspaper essays about the need for the waterway
under the pseudonym Hercules to the canal's completion in 1825,
making it the first great bond between the seaboard American nation
and the vast continental interior.

The canal joined the Great Lakes at Buffalo to the Hudson River at
Albany and, via the Hudson River, to the Atlantic Ocean at New York
City. The immediate and spectacular success of the canal in binding
east to west established New York City as the young nation's economic
engine and New York State as America's Empire State. But like all
great undertakings, building the canal was only accomplished by a
passionate and determined cast of characters who overcame a host of
challenges and many surprising twists and turns that, until now, the
author said, have not been accurately portrayed. Bond of Union sheds
new light on:

The long competition between New York and Virginia to reach the
western territory first; a battle whose most famous generals were New
York's De Witt Clinton and Virginia's Thomas Jefferson, the story
behind Benjamin Wright - the man who has become known as the Father of
American Civil Engineering.

The discovery of American waterproof cement.

The vicious political feud over the eastern end of the canal route
west of Albany, which involved surveyor John Randelóthe man who had
famously laid out the numbered streets and avenues of Manhattan.
The notorious battle between rival settlements Buffalo and Black Rock
to be named the canalís western terminus.

Koeppel is the author of Water for Gotham: A History. He was a
contributor to Water-Works: The Architecture and Engineering of the
New York City Water Supply. He is an Associate Editor of the second
edition of The Encyclopedia of New York City and was a contributor to
The Encyclopedia of New York State and The Encyclopedia of the New
American Nation, for which he wrote the Erie Canal and other entries.

His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New York
Observer, the New Yorker, the New York Sun, the New-York Journal of
American History
, and American Heritage Invention and Technology.

Mr. Koeppel is a former editor at CBS News, and serves on the
Executive Council of the New York City Chapter of the Society of
Professional Journalists. He resides in Manhattan.

-- Dick Palmer

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Old Times Are Now Forgiven

Saying good–bye to 1830's New York City

As John Fowler strolls around at the very southern tip of Manhattan in 1830, he remarks on the Battery, “. . . thronged as it is with much of the youth and gaiety of the city, attracted there for the twofold purpose of inhaling the refreshing breezes, and surveying the interesting and ever-varying scene around.”

Sixteen years earlier his countrymen had bombarded Fort McHenry at Baltimore, the same year they’d put Washington to the torch. In New York, it had been this same battery that had helped prevent such occurrences here. A short while before then, as tensions with Great Britain had begun escalating, 22 defensive works had been erected, dotting the various water approaches from the Narrows to the Upper Bay, along the west side of Manhattan, in Brooklyn’s Gravesend Bay and on the Queens side of Hellgate, where James Stuart and his wife have been summering.

Most of the weaponry at the various sites is mounted atop raised works made from dirt, combined with wood and stone. Blockhouses are mounted on hilltops. Any invasion force would meet a vigorous and lethal defense. Even now in 1830 construction is nearing completion on Fort Hamilton (for Alexander Hamilton), located atop the former Fort Lewis on lower New York Bay. It will be the harbor’s first granite fort and is one of four that still survive in our own time. (The others are Fort Jay, Fort Williams, and Castle Clinton). Eleven years after Fowler’s visit further work on Fort Hamilton will be supervised by a young first lieutenant of engineers from Virginia. Robert E. Lee and his family will spend five years at the post.

Fowler leaves us with a few further observations.

The fire department seeks to enroll many young men, who are thus legally excused from militia duty.

Their fire engines combine the, “useful and ornamental in a far greater degree than I ever witnessed elsewhere.”

The city’s hackney coaches are far superior to those back home, most of which are suitable only for transporting felons to
prison or deceased subjects to dissecting rooms.

He mentions in passing the local jails, charitable institutions as well as, “. . . two Museums, Marine Baths, Botanic Garden, Reading and News-rooms, Private Schools and Academies, Free Schools, a Philological Society, Printing Establishments from which issue periodically several talented and scientific publications; and newspapers without end.” Finally he prepares to take his leave.

As we saw earlier, Fowler spent five weeks mid-way through his time here in New York on a tour to Buffalo and back, taking a slightly different route than Stuart did two years earlier. We’ll make that trip with him at a future date.

© 2006 David Minor / Eagles Byte