Friday, February 27, 2009

Canal News 1820-1822

Submitted by Richard Palmer

Cayuga Republican, Tuesday, April 25, 1820.

On the 13th inst. was launched on the Seneca River, the elegant
passage boat "Montezuma". Superintended and built by C. Tyler, Esq.
she is 76 feet in length, with a proportionate with and depth,
containing an elegant dining room, kitchen, an after cabin, with
other conveniences to accommodate the passengers, finished in a style
not inferior to any boats of passage on the American waters. She will
be ready for running upon the canal in about ten days, and will run
back and forth from Seneca River to Utica, a distance of 96 miles in
24 hours. On the day of launching, the Montezuma was taken through
the lock on the canal, and driven by two horses two miles in thirty
minutes, with 70 passengers aboard.


Onondaga Register, Syracuse, Wed., April 26, 1820

On April 20, the Montezuma arrived from Montezuma, built and
fitted up expressly for passengers, after a model furnished by
Comfort Tyler. There are two cabins with a kitchen and cooking
stove. It is 76 feet long, 14 feet wide. It arrived in Syracuse at 2
p.m. At 4 p.m. nearly 100 went aboard. The boat started from Salina
Banks loaded with people. It traveled a mile and a half in 22
minutes. A procession with a band went to Beach's Inn and returned in
a short time, 150 persons went aboard and returned to Syracuse. Two
horses were used, but one would have been sufficient. Canal is about
2 1/2 feet deep.

Lyons Republican, Friday, Aug. 3, 1821

The Grand Canal.

The business of the Canal progresses rapidly in this vicinity.
We are informed from a respectable source, hat the whole of the
western section, extending from Montezuma to Rochester is under a
great state of forwardness. The principal part of the excavation
between Rochester and Palmyra is completed; from Palmyra to this
place, and from this to Montezuma, there has been several jobs
completed and accepted of, and the remainder is progressing in a
manner to be completed about the first of September. There is at
present some difficulty in procuring a sufficient number of hands, as
laborers are in great demand at this season of the year among the
farmers, but as soon as the bustle of harvesting is over this
difficulty will subside.

The season has been rather unfavorable to the progression of
the work on the Cayuga Marsh, owing to the quantity of rain that has
fallen. The stone work throughout the line is progressing tolerably
well, and will no doubt be completed in season.

Geneva Gazette, April 18, 1822


Are wanted, for about ten weeks, to work in the construction of
the Canal through the Cayuga Marshes. Good hands shall receive from
twelve to thirteen dollars per month, in cash, to at the end of every
month, week, or day, at their option. Thy shall be well fed, and
lodged in comfortable shanties, with sufficient blankets. They will
be subject to some inconvenience from water and mud; but a portion of
the work will be dry; and all experience proves that men may labor on
the Marsh without any unusual exposure of health until the middle of
July, before which it is intended to have this portion of the Canal
completed. Those, who are willing to be employed, under this notice,
can apply to either of the subscribers at Montezuma.

Canal Contractors

April 5, 1822.
I certify that Hovey & Wethy are responsible men, and that I
have full confidence that they will pay all the hands employed by
them according to agreement.
Canal Commissioner

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New Society of the Genesee 2009 Organizational Meeting

Dear New Society Members:

A sign of Spring! The 2009 organizational meeting will be held on Sunday, March 8, 2009 at the Yard of Ale, Piffard, New York, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. We will have lunch and discuss the year's program. Bring your calendars! Please reply to Don Shilling at (585) 381-3171 or to me at (585) 473-0404 or We hope to see you then.

Martha Johnstone

I'd just like to add that anyone interested in knowing more about the group - we meet monthly during the warmer months to explore historic sites in Central and Western New York - e-mail me at dminor@eznet.,net for more information. Also write-ups of some of our past outings are on the Crooked Lake Review site:

It's possible that the upcoming year might bring some repeat visits of earlier sites. Bring your suggestions to the meeting. Hope to see many "newbies" there.

David Minor

Sunday, February 22, 2009

"Babylon is Falling"

by Thomas D. Cornell

I begin with a story that my grandmother, Marie B. Cornell, once told me concerning the Cornell-Heaton wars in Campbell, New York, during the 1930s.

“Your Grandfather had built a workbench out in the barn,” she said, by way of introduction. “He kept tools there. So your Uncle Edwin was able to make wooden guns for himself.”

What had gotten her started was a picture of Ed as a boy. He is posed for his father’s camera, “at ease” rather than “at attention.” In his left hand he holds his rifle, grasping its barrel just below the bayonet and resting its butt on the ground. From his right hip hangs a holstered pistol, and on his head--securely fastened by a chin strap--sits a helmet of World War I vintage. The soiled clothing, the twist in one collar, and the rolled-up shirtsleeves--combined with a neutral, yet confident expression--give him the look of a seasoned veteran.

“At dusk the wars would begin,” Grandma continued, launching into the heart of her story. “The Cornell and Heaton boys would chase each other around the house. Supper would be over, and I would be in the kitchen washing dishes and looking out the side window. I never saw Ed; he ran by too fast. But I would hear him cry out: ‘Look out down there! We’s a gwine t’shoot!’--followed by: ‘Babylon is falling! We’s a gwine t’occupy the land!’”

Now, my practice--whenever such lines came up--was to ask Grandma what their source was. Sometimes she knew, and sometimes not. After returning to Rochester, I’d take the information she’d given me and try to locate the poem, the hymn, the nursery rhyme, or whatever, from which the lines had come. If successful, I’d make a photocopy and take it with me on my next visit. We’d read it aloud together, and maybe that would prompt her to tell me things she hadn’t mentioned before.

“This was a Civil War song that George--your grandfather--knew,” she replied, when I asked her about Uncle Ed’s lines. “‘Babylon Is Falling’ may be its title.” Back in Rochester, however, I had no luck at the library. So on another occasion I queried her again. “Maybe it was a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar,” she suggested this time. “George once gave me a book of his poems.” But still my library efforts were unsuccessful.

Not until after Grandma’s death did I learn anything further. For several weeks Uncle John and I stayed at her house, sorting through the many things she had accumulated over the years. One morning while preparing our usual hot-cereal breakfast, my uncle surprised me by singing the lines that Grandma had quoted earlier:

Look out down there, we’s a gonna shoot.
Look out down there, can’t you understand.
Babylon is falling, Babylon is falling,
And we’s a gonna occupy the land.

“They are lines from a Civil War camp song,” he explained, when I asked. “My grandfather, who had served in the war, taught the song to my father--who, in turn, sang it to me when I was young. He sang it as a lullaby, on those rare occasions when he would comfort me by holding me in his lap as he sat in the platform rocker next to the coal stove.”

Armed now with confirmation of its actual source, I resumed my library work and persisted until I found the song mentioned in a book about Civil War music 1. That, in turn, gave me the composer’s name and opened the way for a visit to the library at the Eastman School of Music. There, on the shelves, I found a reprinted collection of Henry C. Work’s songs that included two of his most famous--“Marching Through Georgia” and “Grandfather’s Clock”--as well as the one that I sought.

Entitled “Babylon Is Fallen!” the song tells of a group of newly-freed slaves who have joined the Union army and captured their former master, a Confederate officer. For these soldiers the South had been an oppressive “Babylon” holding them captive. They saw the Civil War as sweeping away the old order and providing them a new homeland.

Written in Work’s version of African-American dialect, two of the verses--along with the repeated chorus--went as follows 2:

Don’t you see de black clouds
Risin’ ober yonder,
Whar de Massa’s ole plantation am?
Nebber you be frightened,
Dem is only darkies
Come to jine an’ fight for Uncle Sam.
Look out dar, now! We’s a gwine to shoot!
Look out dar don’t you understand?
Babylon is fallen! Babylon is fallen!
And we’s a gwine to occupy de land.

Massa was de Kernel
In de rebel army,
Ebber sence he went an’ run away;
But his lubly darkeys,
Dey has been a watchin’,
An’ dey take him pris’ner tudder day.
Look out dar, now! We’s a gwine to shoot!
Look out dar don’t you understand?
Babylon is fallen! Babylon is fallen!
And we’s a gwine to occupy de land.

Sitting at the library table, with the opened songbook before me, I savored my success. Through repeated trips to the library, through checking and cross-checking the factual content of remembered events, through locating not just a book that mentioned the song but one that reprinted the original score--in short, through historical research--I had reached back to the Civil War, to the song that Work had written in 1863.

Trained as a historian, I had been through the drill many times before. But this time was different, for this time I knew that the past could also be reached by another route. Over the years, the wartime experiences of my great-grandfather had been transformed, first into the experiences of my grandfather and thence into the experiences of his sons (including my father, who also recalled the song).

Like waves from a rock tossed into a pond, the effects of past events had been propagating through my family, generation after generation--long after the initial splash had died away. Thus, alongside the historical past--the past as revealed by research--there stood the remembered past. Included in the stories of my elders were the ripple effects of the Civil War. By listening to what Grandma and Uncle John had to tell me, I had felt for myself what Abraham Lincoln once called “the mystic chords of memory.3

1 Willard A. Heaps and Porter W. Heaps, The Singing Sixties: The Spirit of Civil War Days Drawn from the Music of the Times (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1960), pp. 278-279. On Henry Clay Work (1832-1884), see also the essay by J. T. Howard in the Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. 20 (1936), pp. 531-532; or the essay by Dale Cockrell in The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, Vol. 4 (1986), pp. 563-564.

2 For the reprinted version of the original score, see Henry Clay Work, Songs (New York: Da Capo Press, 1974), pp. 31-34.

3 Lincoln’s phrase comes from the last sentence of his first inaugural address: “The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Western/Central New York timeline - 1660-1669

A French mission is established at Boughton Hill (Gannagaro). The name means Place Where the Basswood Bark Lay, possibly referring to a bark water pipeline running down a hillside, perhaps the first pipeline in America.

Due to adoptions from conquered peoples the Iroquoian population peaks at about 25,000.

Jesuit priest François Gendron reports hearing about the Falls at Niagara.

A French colony is established in the area of the future Onondaga County near Jamesville. Jesuit missionary Francis Creuxius describes the Onondaga valley, mentioning the salt springs.

The Senecas ask the French for missionaries.

The French Jesuit, Father Jacques Fremin, after first stopping at St. Michel (known to them as Gannogarae, consisting of Huron, Neutral and Onondaga captives) takes up residence with the Seneca Indians at Totiakton, founds the mission of La Conception. ** The approximate date the French settlement near Jamesville is visited by a party of Spaniards from the Mississippi by way of Olean, seeking silver. When the French and Spanish begin quarreling the Iroquois kill them all.

Father Fremin visits Huron captives at Gandougarie (East Bloomfield). Father Garnier visits the Ganondagon area, possibly establishing a mission on the Dann site.

Aug 10
La Salle and Suplician fathers Dollier de Casson and René de Brehant de Galinée, his chaplains, trying to get to the Ohio River tribes, arrive at Lake Ontario’s Irondequoit Bay. They land at Indian Landing, in today's Ellison Park, Rochester.

Aug 13
La Salle, de Casson and Galinée arrive at Totiakton (Rochester Junction), on Honeoye Creek. They present the Indians with a two-barreled pistol, for the destruction of two of their enemies, the Andostoue from near Waverly, and the Mohegan. Other presents include kettles, hatchets, knives and glass beads. The French asks for a captive to guide them.

Aug 14
The Indians stall La Salle saying they await the return of a party of young warriors from the Dutch settlements with the captives, give the French wampum belts. While awaiting the return of the party they are treated to dog meat and the sight of the torture and dismemberment of Toagenha, a young boy war captive. Indians dance and make noises to frighten their spirits away. La Salle will end up departing without a guide.

Sep 22
La Salle, recovering from an attack of fever, heads for the Niagara Peninsula.

The Seneca take La Salle to Bristol to view the “water that burns”, a local oil spring.

Great Lakes
Father Joliet discovers Lake Erie.

© 2009 David Minor / Eagles Byte

Friday, February 20, 2009

1820-1822 Erie Canal News

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

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.

Geneva Gazette, Wed., July 26, 1820


Montezuma and Oneida Chief,

For the accommodation of passengers on the Erie Canal, will perform
their trips in the future, in the following order: - Leave Utica and
Montezuma every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings at 8 o'clock,
and meet at evening in Manlius; proceed next day at 4 o'clock, A.M.
and arrive at Utica and Montezuma at 6 P.M.

Price of Passage through the route, including provisions and lodging,
$4. Way Passengers 3 cents per mile.

Baggage at the owner's risk.

For passage apply at the Stage office, Utica; and at the Inn of
Richard Smith, Montezuma, or to the Capts. on board.

July 1, 1820.

N.B. Stages will be in waiting at most of the villages on the Canal,
and at Montezuma, to convey passengers to the Turnpike.

Cayuga Republican, Wed., Aug. 15, 1821

Mr. Editor,
Sir, - I send you a copy 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

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.

Geneva Gazette, Sept. 4. 1822

Daily Conveyance With The Packet Boats

The Boat Echo, going West, will leave Weed's Basin every
morning on the arrival of the above Boats, and arrive at Montezuma at
10 o'clock A.M. From thence passengers will be conveyed by Post
Coaches to Canandaigua. A Post Coach will leave Mr. Goodwin's
Tavern, in Canandaigua, every morning at 9 o'clock, and arrive at
Montezuma the same day. Boat Echo will leave Montezuma at 4 o'clock
A.M. to meet the Montezuma & Oneida Chief. This line is also
connected with the Steam Boat Enterprise, on the Cayuga Lake, which
leaves Cayuga Bridge for Ithaca on the arrival of the Coach from
Montezuma. Passages can be taken for Newburgh, Wilkesbarre and
W. FAULKNER, Geneva.
W.W. FENLON, Montezuma.
August, 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.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Riot in Lockport

Submitted by Richard Palmer

The Advertiser

Lyons Friday Jan. 10,1823

Buffalo Dec. 31

Riot. On Tuesday night last, a misunderstanding took place, between a
retailer of liquor and several canal diggers, at Lockport, Niagara
co. Which terminated in a general battle between the citizens, in
self-defense, and the diggers their assailants. It seems the villains
made free use of clubs, stones and whatever else they could lay their
hands upon.- About twenty persons are said to be more or less
injured, two of them John Jennings, a mason and Frances Postal, a
carpenter, are so much so that little hope is entertained of their
recovery. Postal was struck in the forehead with a stone so violently
that a small fragment of it was driven quite through the skull into
the head. The rioters were finally overpowered, and twelve of them
arrived in this village, ascorted an armed guard, on Sunday evening,
and were committed to the county goal.