Sunday, September 27, 2009

Progress of the Canal

Lyons Republican

Nov. 16, 1821

Utica November 6.

We are happy to state that the canal from this place to the Little Falls has been completed within the time contemplated and opened for the purpose of navigation. The water was let in from the termination of the Utica level to the Falls on Thursday last. On Friday morning Mr. Seymour, acting commissioner on the Eastern section Messrs. Wright and White, engineers, together with several other gentlemen, started from this village in the Chief Engineer, and followed by three other boats with passengers, performed the first trip on this interesting portion of the Erie Canal. In passing Frankfort, Herkimer and Germantown, many gentlemen came on board, and before the voyage was completed every boat was thronged with passengers and the bridges and towing path were lined with admiring spectators. At the Little falls the arrival of the boats was announced by a nation salute and the cheers of a great number of people, who had assembled to witness the scene. Here an incident took place which excited considerable interest particularly in the minds of those on board who had participated in the dangers and difficulties of the revolutionary war. There was a gentleman present who belonged to the family of Gen. Washington during the latter part of that eventful period, and who received him on board his barge after he had taken leave of the army at West Point, and conducted him to New York and from thence to Elizabethtown, whence he took his departure for Annapolis where Congress was then sitting, to resign his commission. The rudder of the Chief Engineer was surrendered to this gentleman who guided her into the first lock at the Falls, while the band of music played Washington’s march and the discharge of cannon reverberated from the surrounding hills.

On landing at the Fall a procession was formed and marched to the house of Colonel Meyers where a large number of gentlemen partook of an excellent dinner prepared for the occasion. A part of the boats return the same evening and the remainder on Saturday.

The Chief Engineer was built at Rome and was the first boat launched into the waters of the Erie Canal. It was in this boat that the Canal Commissioners, Engineers and others made the first trip from this place to Rome on the 23rd of October 1819.

Several boats arrived here last week from Schenectady, loaded with merchandize which entered the canal at German flats without unlading.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


From: Rex Stewart

Conversation: Steamboats IROQUOIS and MOHAWK/ FRONTENAC jpegs

To Whom It May Concern:

Good Afternoon.

I recently came upon your website and was excited about its contents relative to the steamboat era of Cayuga Lake.

Some months ago I built a model of FRONTENAC which I'm enclosing jpegs.

I am a professional modelmaker that specializes, in part, building 19th and early 20th century steamboats; especially the walking beam sidewheeler types. However, I have had commissions for the screw-propeller as well. To this end, I'm interested in locating photos of the steamboats IROQUOIS and MOHAWK as future builds.

If you or your staff can direct me to the source this would greatly be appreciated. To view other steamboats I produced please visit my website at .

Thank you for taking time to review. Hopefully I will receive some information from this query. Again, many thanks.


Rex Stewart

[[ You can pass along information either to myself -
or to Mr. Stewart at his e-mail address -
and copy me in on the message, please ]]


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

WESTERN / CENTRAL New York timeline / 1775-1779


May 14

New York pioneer, surveyor and congressman Micah Brooks is born in Cheshire, Connecticut, to minister David Brooks and his wife Elizabeth Doolittle Brooks.

Jul 13
The Continental Congress addresses the Six Nations of the Iroquois, asking for their cooperation in the war.

The New York Provincial Congress alerts the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety to the danger of war and requests they keep their militia ready to come to New York’s aid. ** Virginia-born Nathaniel Rochester, now a resident of North Carolina, attends his colony’s first provincial convention, as a member. He’s given a major’s commission and appointed a justice of the peace.

The Federal government sends agent George Morgan to meet with the Iroquois and try to gain their neutrality in the anticipated conflict with Britain. The Iroquois will attempt to remain neutral. ** The government renews the Covenant Chain with the Iroquois, linking the tribes with the rebel government. ** Congressman Elijah Spencer is born in Columbia County, New York.

Eighteen-year-old future New York State pioneer Moses Van Campen takes part in a military expedition against New England settlers in New York’s Wyoming Valley during the Pennamite Wars - a land dispute between Pennsylvania and Connecticut – becomes a militia captain, returning to Northumberland, Pennsylvania, afterwards.    

North Carolina Committee of Safety member Nathaniel Rochester helps prevent British general Alexander McDonald and his local troops from reaching Wilmington and shipping out to New York.

May 17
Botanist-geologist Amos Eaton is born in Chatham, to farmer Captain Abel Eaton and Azuba Hurd Eaton.

Jul 9
New York votes to endorse the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration is proclaimed in Philadelphia.

Oct 12
Batavia merchant and first postmaster James Brisbane is born in Philadelphia.

Future Genesee Valley pioneer David Piffard travels from Switzerland to Italy to work in commercial houses, spending his first year in Genoa and the following one in Florence.

Apr 20
A state convention, meeting in Kingston creates New York State; Kingston becomes the state capital. John Jay drafts a constitution. Almost all civil and military offices, including judges and Secretary of State, are to be chosen and governed by a Council of Appointment. Quakers are required to pay a bond in exchange for militia exemptions. A minimum six-month residency is required for the vote. Property and tax minimums are set for voting in Assembly and Senate elections.

George Clinton takes office as New York State's first governor.

Sep 9
The first New York State legislature meets, in Kingston. It soon adjourns.

Oct 10
Naomi Wolcott, future wife of Geneseo landowner James Wadsworth, is born in South Windsor, Connecticut, to Samuel and Jerusha Wolcott.

A new colonial constitution is approved by England. Governors are to be elected for three-year terms. The crown posts of Secretary of State and Attorney General fall under the jurisdiction of the Council of Appointment. Only the state may buy Indian lands. In murder trials the governor can only suspend sentence until the next meeting of the legislature, as is the case in treason and impeachment cases. He can also prorogue the Legislature up to sixty days in one year. The Treasurer will be appointed annually by a special act of the Legislature. Sheriffs are appointed annually by the governor and the council; they cannot hold the office for more than four consecutive years. An arsenal is to be established and maintained in every county. ** Future Pittsford resident Timothy Barnard serves as a bodyguard to George Washington on into next year.

Future New York State governor Nathaniel Puicher, Jr. is born to Nathaniel and his wife.

North Carolina
Nathaniel Rochester is elected to the state assembly and named Clerk of the Court of Orange County and a lieutenant of the militia. Later in the year he's chosen to direct an arms factory at Hillsborough, resigning his clerkship. He's then made a militia colonel and appointed as an auditor of state accounts.

The New York State legislature convenes in Poughkeepsie, meeting at the Van Kleeck House. They act to strengthen the powers of the state and to ratify the Articles of Confederation.

Feb 18
New York inventor and gazetteer publisher Horatio Gates Spafford is born in Tinmouth, Vermont.

Sep 24
Rochester pioneer Oliver Culver is born in East Windsor, Connecticut.

Future Syracuse pioneer Ephraim Webster enlists in the Continental Army. ** The Willowbend Inn is built, west of Batavia, named for a tree growing in the yard. ** The state’s first Militia Act is passed. The fee for Quakers wanting to purchase militia exemption is set at £10 a year. Non-commissioned coroners are exempted from militia duty from this year through 1782. The owner of a mill is exempt; ferrymen must obtain a license from the governor or commander-in-chief before being considered so. All persons working either for the state or for the U. S. are exempted. ** Future Genesee Valley pioneer David Piffard travels from Florence to England, catches cold crossing the Alps and stops to recover in Paris. He will take a job as a bookkeeper there and stay for the next five years. ** The state adopts the motto Excelsior (ever upward).

North Carolina
Colonel Nathaniel Rochester goes into business with Colonel Thomas Hart, father-in-law of Henry Clay, and with James Brown, future Minister to France. Rochester moves to Hagerstown, Maryland, to manage to manage an estate for Hart.

Connewango pioneer Ralph Williams is born.

Feb 27
Congress authorizes George Washington and General John Sullivan to form an expedition against the Iroquois in New York State and other regions.

Apr 19
New York Colonel Gose Van Schaick crosses Oneida Lake and defeats an Iroquois force near today's Syracuse.

May 29
Abolitionist and Erie Canal supervising engineer Myron Holley is born in Salisbury, Connecticut.

Jun 18
The Sullivan expedition leaves Easton, Pennsylvania. Among the expedition is future Le Roy pioneer Captain John Ganson.

Sullivan's forces destroy the Iroquois village of Runonvea, near Big Flats. ** Clinton joins Sullivan at Tioga Point, Pennsylvania.

Aug 4
Having built a dam earlier in the year at the source of the Susquehanna River just below Otsego Lake (the future Cooperstown), to build up a head of water after a dry winter and spring, General James Clinton receives word from Sullivan that he should be starting out to join forces.

Aug 9
Clinton breaches the dam; he and his men, in 200 boats, are swept downriver, heading to Tioga.

Aug 11
Sullivan’s forces ford the Susquehanna at its junction with the Tioga River, reach the former site of Tioga, march on to the Indian town of Shamong (Chemung), arriving in the evening to find it evacuated. They destroy crops and return to Tioga.

Aug 26
Delayed a day by heavy rain, Sullivan’s forces depart Tioga.

Aug 29
John Sullivan and James Clinton defeat Loyalist commander Sir John Johnson and Joseph Brant, at Newtown near Elmira, ridding the colony of Loyalists and their Indian allies. Cornplanter, Red Jacket and Handsome Lake fight on the British side.

A detachment of Sullivan's army marches east out of Geneva along the Seneca Outlet; future area pioneer Lawrence Van Cleef among them.

Sep 1
General Sullivan begins a two-week series of retaliatory raids against the Seneca and Cayuga Indian villages throughout central New York's Finger Lake region. Among the sites destroyed is that of Chonodote (Aurora). After the Seneca defeat at Newtown they end up at Niagara. Sullivan arrives at the deserted Indian village of French Catharine (named for a former captive) by midnight. ** Twenty of Cornplanter's warriors are gathered at Oswaya, where Olean Creek flows into the Alleghany River, to march against the Delaware, learn the enemy have retreated beyond the Ohio River.

Sep 5
Sullivan arrives at the village of Appletown (Kendae, Condoy), already fired by the Indians.

Sep 7
Sullivan crosses the outlet of Seneca Lake and arrives at the Indian capital, Kanadasaga (Canadesaga, Cunnusedago, known today as Geneva).

Sep 10
Sullivan reaches Genesee Lake (Canandaigua Lake) burns the village of Kanandarqua (Veruneudaga, today’s Canandaigua).

Sep 11
Sullivan reaches Onyauyah (Honeoye).

Sep 12
Sullivan nears Genesee Castle or Little Beard’s Town (Cuylerville), named for its chief

Sep 13
Sullivan reaches Canessah (Conesus, or Big Tree’s Town), defeating an Indian force there, then forges on to Casawavalatetah, on a small barnch of the Genesee River, and encamps. He sends Lieutenant Thomas Boyd to scout the area of Genesee Castle. Boyd takes a party of 28 (including the Oneida chief Honyere (Hanyerry) and Captain Jehoiakim, a Stockbrige Indian). Not knowing the way, they arrive at Gatht-seg-war-o-hare, about five miles south-southeast of their goal. Boyd sends four men to report back to Sullivan, and has an Indian horseman killed in the deserted village. Three other mounted Indians escape, sound the alarm. Boyd begins the return to Sullivan, sends two men ahead. They return and advise Boyd that five Indians are ahead on the trail. Despite advice from Hanyerry, Boyd pursues and is ambushed by a party of over 500 Indians and Tories. Fifteen of the twenty-three men are captured. Boyd and Michael Parker, taken prisoner are carried off to Cuylerville. Questioned, they refuse to buy their freedom with information, and are tortured to death, then beheaded.

Sep 14
Sullivan's forces reach Little Beard's Town, find the remains of Boyd and Parker, bury them that night.

Sep 15
Sullivan burns the Indians’ crops and food supply. He declares that the objectives of the mission have been met. Mary Jemison flees to Niagara with the remaining Seneca, but she soon returns to the Genesee Valley.

Sep 16
The bodies of the remainder of Boyd’s party are found at Canessah (Conesus, or Big Tree’s Town), all (including Hanyerry) mutilated. They are buried that day.

Sep 17
Sullivan returns to Honeoye.

Sep 18
Sullivan returns to Canandaigua.

Sep 19
Sullivan returns to Kanadasaga.

Sep 30
Sullivan reports to Congress that his forces have destroyed forty villages and at least 160,000 bushels of corn, losing under forty men. They have also cut down or girdled fruit trees all along the way.

Oct 31
John Lytle leads a rescue party into Cornplanter's camp at Oswaya, near today's Olean. He is able to ransom his wife and daughter Sarah, but the chief will not let Eleanor, Sarah's sister, go, having adopted her into his family. Lytle promise he will find a way to obtain her release, leaves with his wife and one daughter.

Red Jacket urges neutrality, predicts possible disaster for the Iroquois Nation. ** A patrol of Rangers is ambushed by the Seneca in the Spring. A third of the troops are killed and another third, including Horatio Jones, are captured. The rest escape. Jones is taken to Nunda and then on to Caneadea. He runs the gauntlet without a scratch. After one of his companions is killed and beheaded, Jones attempts escape twice but is foiled and settles into Indian life, eventually earning the name Handsome Boy.

© 2012 David Minor / Eagles Byte

Sunday, September 13, 2009

New Society of the Genesee - September Meeting

The September meeting will be on Saturday, September 19, at 10:30 a.m.
We will have the rare opportunity of a tour of the Powers Building located
at 16 West Main Street in Rochester. Please use the center entrance on Main
Street. Parking is available at the Sister Cities Garage at Church and Fitzhugh
Streets, a short walk around the corner.

Lunch will follow at Nathaniel's Pub, 251 Exchange Street in Corn Hill.
Parking is available in their lot. Nathaniel's is not able to provide separate
checks, so you will need to keep track of your order and the appropriate gratuity.
If you are planning to attend, please notify Martha Johnstone at
or (585) 473-0404 by September 16th.

We hope to see you there!


Submitted by Richard Palmer

Lyons Republican

Friday May 19, 1820

From the American Journal Steam Boat Launch

On Thursday last, a novel and interesting scene was presented to the
inhabitants of Ithaca and a concourse of strangers and citizens of
the vicinity. It had been previously announced that the Steam Boat
building on the bank of the Inlet near the village, would be launched
at one oĆ­clock. Every thing was in readiness. The day was exceedingly
favorable. It seemed that May had assumed her brightest smiles, and
put on her fairest garments. The banks were lined with spectators;
ladies and gentlemen, young and old, the pride and strength and
beauty of Ulysses, all in anxious expectation. The word of caution is
given, the workmen proceed to remove the fastings; when by
inadvertency the bow is first started, and whiled from its slider
upon the ground near the edge of the water. But the clouds of
disappointment and regret which now shadowed every countenance, were
of short duration. The obstructions were soon removed; the vessel was
again started, gliding with ease and safety into the water, and the
name she is to bear "The Enterprise of Ithaca" was announced amidst
the firing of cannon, and the loud; long, and hearty cheers of the

When we look back for a few years, to the wild, uncultivated, and
unpromising state of this section of country, such a scene as
Thursday presented, is calculated to fill the mind with astonishment,
and to excite reflections which are peculiarly grateful and pleasing.

From the present scene of improvement, we are irresistibly carried
forward to future prospects; and the interesting enquiry suggests itself
what may a few years hence produce! And reverting again to the
present, we acknowledge the full force and comprehensiveness of the
substitute which was proposed for the name of the steam boat who woud
have thought if of Ithaca.

The Enterprise is acknowledged by all who have examined her, to be a
most elegantly modeled vessel. She is about 90 feet by 30 upon deck;
120 tons burthen; and her engine is of 24 horse power. She will be
completed, ready to run, by the first of next month, when we shall
take occasion to give a more just and particular description of her.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Correction - Wayne County Historical Society map club

The previously announced meeting of the map club is on Monday the 14th, not Tuesday.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Country Matters

© 2007 David Minor / Eagles Byte

I’m not sure about the amount of boisterous excitement aroused by education conferences these days. Back in 1830 it was apparently low down on the scale. According to an Ithaca newspaper account of the October 28th Utica meeting - “It does not appear to have been as generally attended as its important objects would render desirable. Some desultory discussions took place, on the subject of education; which resulted in the adoption of . . . resolutions.” Whooo-eee ! ! !

We’ve seen, of course, some of the difficulties John Fowler has been encountering in upstate New York travel during these times. It couldn’t have been terribly easy for many interested parties to attend. Still, organizers were not about to give up. Another Utica convention was announced for January 12th of the following year.

“ . . . the friends of education and teachers of schools in the different counties of this state, are requested to send delegates.” It had also been resolved that each county in the state send delegates equal to the number of county representatives in the state legislature. The Ithaca writer therefore requested that all county “friends of education” meet in mid-December to select a slate of delegates to attend a January meeting.

And with that Utica update we’ll move on to the west. John Fowler, you may remember, has been visiting friends, former English countrymen, at New Hartford, four miles to the south having traveled there on August 15th by coach. “I was happily at the end of my journey ere I had time to becomes sensitive to injuries, grievous enough by repetition.” One of the main items on his agenda for this side trip is to survey the state of agriculture in the area. We’ll take a brief look at some of his findings.

The Utica area, for instance, has some of the best soil around and its various transportation facilities make it an important market hub for farm produce. Most of the land, some of it woodlots, usually owned outright, currently fetches from 25 to 50 dollars an acre. The primary crops (Fowler gives average yields, both in bushels and dollars; we’ll skip those) are wheat, barley, corn (being English he refers to it as Indian corn), and hay. Hops, turnips and apples produce iffy financial returns. Livestock are well-adopted to the countyside. Unlike Fowler’s English home, no heavy cart horses are found, only smaller breeds, which he calls stagers. “ . . . the cows are small, but good milkers; the oxen grow large, weighing sometimes 1500 lbs. It is quite customary to sell fat stock by its weight when alive.” Tilling is performed about equally by horses and oxen. Most hired manual labor is performed by year-round help, who earn from 5 to 12 dollars a month.

When he compares agriculture here with his own country’s he notes one deficiency. “Manure, in this part of the State, is not made a sufficient object of; oftentimes altogether neglected; but the farmers ere long will learn its value, if I mistake not.” He concludes, “I might add further, but these observations, very loosely thrown together, will probably suffice the generality of readers.” Probably so.

On Monday, August 23rd, he climbs aboard a Telegraph Stage and bounces off for Cayuga County.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hibernicus - Letter XXIX

Submitted by Dick Palmer

Montezuma, July, 1820.

My Dear Sir,

I consider navigation on a canal, not only the least expensive, but the most secure mode of travelling that can be adopted. Here is no bursting of boilers nor any other accident to which steam-boats are exposed. You can neither be burnt nor drowned, and your horses cannot run away with your carriage and dash it to atoms; but then you must be on the constant look out to avoid a fracture of the head from the low and ill constructed bridges: why, in this country of wood, stone should be used for erecting bridges; why they should be made so low as just to avoid the boat; why they should contain abutments jutting out into the canal, and for ever striking the boat; and why the stones should be piled upon each other without mortar, are questions which I must refer to the decision of the Canal Board and their engineers.

If the bridges had been sufficiently elevated, then the boat could have been drawn from a mast instead of the side, as is practiced in Flanders, and an unceasing and pernicious wearing of of the banks by the drag rope would have been prevented. I know of no other accidents that can happen, except from the falling of trees across the boat, or from the carelessness of the men who have the management of the locks.

I saw at Jordan, which is 80 miles from Utica, two loaded boat, which had left Schenectady seven days before. This would average 25 miles a day, and part of the way is on a difficult ascending navigation up the Mohawk. Again; a vessel of 50 tons went from Utica to Trumansburgh on the Cayuga Lake, 130 miles in three days, loaded with merchandise, and without change of horses. A loaded boat can go on this canal without difficulty at the rate of 40 miles a day.

I have just learned that the state is about to purchase the rights of the Western Inland Lock Navigation Company. This is a very just and proper measure. The works of the Company are out of order, and the toll is exorbitant. Every bushel of wheat has to pay a duty of 59 cents before it reaches Schenectady.

The canal of this Company at Rome is one mile and three quarters long, thirty-two feet wide at the top, and from two and a half to three feet deep. It has two locks 73 feet long, and 12 feet wide. The lift of the one on the Mohawk is ten feet, and on Wood Creek eight. This work was made under the direction of Mr. Weston, an English engineer, who had, besides his expenses, a salary of a thousand guineas a year. The superintendent of the laborers had a salary of 2,500 dollars; and this short canal took two years to make.

What a difference in management; proceeding at the same rate, it would take two centuries to complete the Erie Canal. The water cement was imported. The lock at the German Flats was made of terras, and at Little Falls of Welsh lime. The former has answered best.

The tolls of this Company are so oppressive, that boats frequently unload and pass through the locks empty and resume their load afterwards. It is indeed well that the state has purchased it. I am persuaded that the markets of New York will now be supplied with western, instead of southern flour, and that the displacement of the latter from the market will greatly affect the agriculture of the south.

In looking at the great results which must arise from it - it is impossible to keep out of view some of the revolutions which will take place in the internal trade of the country. There is a certain class scattered all over, who unite in one profession, the calling of iron mongers, grocers, druggists, and shop keepers, and who are continually offering temptations to purchasers. The facility of conveyance by the canal, will induce people to resort to villages for supplies. The thrifty housewife will take her cheese and her butter to market, and return with her sugar and tea.

A considerable deal of trade will be carried on by exchange, and more scope and greater encouragement will be afforded for the operations of industry and economy. A vast capital will be employed to more advantage. A canal boat of 40 tons can be purchased for 400 dollars, which, with two horses, will be cheaper than a heavy wagon of six horses, and will convey ten times as much. The comparative cheapness of canal barges to river sloops as well as wagons, will supersede the necessity of very large investments of capital.

With all these and other important advantages staring the community in the face, it is not extraordinary, that there should be an organized opposition against the canal that wretches should be encouraged to instill poison into the public mind, and to destroy its embankments? By the bye, can you tell me why accidents in the bursting of embankments and mill-dam occur more frequently in the night time than in the day?


Tuesday, September 1, 2009


The next meeting of the Musuem's Historic Map Club
will be Tuesday, September 14 at 7 p.m.
Loreen Jorgensen will speak on
maps in the museum's collections.
All are welcome. Please call
315 946-4943 for more information.

Wayne County Historical Society
Museum of Wayne County History
21 Butternut Street
Lyons, NY 14489