Sunday, February 28, 2010

CENTRAL / WESTERN NEW YORK timeline / 1793

Williamsburgh now has 52 building lots sold. Williamson has a house, a barn and stables and a peach orchard, as well as 60 cows, 100 oxen, 8 horses and 100 pigs, on the site.

Feb 18
Charles Williamson, in Philadelphia on business, learns that his young son Alexander has died from fever back in Northumberland, Pennsylvania.

Feb 20
Lawyer and land speculator James Wadsworth writes from New York City to his cousin Jeremiah Wadsworth in Connecticut, suggesting he buy a particular tract of land in the Genesee Valley.

Charles Williamson buys himself a new horse in Philadelphia. He returns to Northumberland then heads for his lands on the Genesee.

Mar 19
Sarah Piffard is born to broker and future New York State pioneer David Piffard and his wife Sarah Eyre Piffard, in London.

After having inspected the Wadsworth lands in the Genesee Valley, James Wadsworth writes to Jeremiah that he feels the lands would be very attractive to Connecticut investors and farmers.

Apr 15
Charles Williamson arrives at Bath.

New Jerusalem resident Alexander Macdonald returns from Albany with four batteaux loaded with iron, steel, nails, hardware, chocolate, leather, scythes, rum, pork and earthenware, most meant for Williamsburgh. Williamson’s father and brother send seeds and fruit trees.

May 17
Indian commissioners Colonel Timothy Pickering and Beverly Randolph arrive at Niagara to observe British negotiations with the Indian tribes.

Jun 3
Amos Park, James Cameron, Nathaniel Seeley, Jr., Henry Sterrett, Peter Loop, Jr., Nathaniel Teal, James Seeley, and John Crabtree present a petition to the grand lodge of the Free and Accepted Masons of New York, for the establishment of a lodge at New Town (later Elmira).

Jun 10
Williamson's family arrives at Bath.

Jun 18
Union Lodge, No. 30 is chartered at New Town.

Jul 15
Charles Williamson runs an ad in the Albany
Gazette for an agricultural fair to be held at Williamsburgh, beginning on Monday, September 23rd.

Charles Williamson begins advertising his villages in Albany. ** The German settlers at Williamsburgh demonstrate against Williamson and threaten him. Tom Morris, son of financier Robert Morris, goes to Canandaigua for help.

Aug 26
Masons in New Town hold the first meeting of Union Lodge, No. 30. Officers are elected (Amos Park, president; Peter Look, Jr., secretary; and John Konkle, treasurer). William Dunn, future sheriff of Steuben county, is the first person initiated.

Aug 30
Berczy and four of his settlers air their complaints to the German Society in New York City.

Sep 23
Charles Williamson begins his first Williamsburgh Fair and Genesee Races, intended to attract new real estate prospects to the area.

Sep 25
Williamson holds a £50 horse race, on the flats of the Genesee River below the village.

Sep 26
Williamson holds a grand sweepstakes horse race. ** Broome County pioneer Joshua Whitney, 44, dies of yellow fever while on a trip, in Wind Gap, Pennsylvania.

Sep 27
Christy Williamson, young daughter of Charles Williamson, dies of Genesee Fever in Bath, New York.

Oct 30
An injunction and subpoena is issued by New York's High Court of Chancery in Berczy's name, against Williamson, forbidding him to take any further actions against the German settlers until further notice. Berczy personally deliver the subpoena.

Nov 8
Judges, assistant judges, justices of the peace and a number of residents, all from New York's Ontario County, meet at Canandaigua, resolve to fight attempts by other counties to succeed from New York State and so enable their residents to buy land directly from the Indians. Judge Timothy Hosmer is elected chairman; Nathaniel Gorham, clerk.

Robert Morris begins selling off large tracts of land because of bank failures in London that leave his credit weakened. He completes the sale of 3,600,000 acres of western New York land to Theophile Cazenove, agent for the Holland Land Company, a consortium of Amsterdam banking houses. ** Auburn is founded when Colonel John Hardenburgh of Ulster County settles there. ** The town of Seneca is founded. ** A treaty with the Onondaga reduces the size of their reservation. ** Moses De Witt and William Van Vleck become partners, erected a potash manufactory in Onondaga County. ** James Geddes begins manufacturing salt at Geddes. ** Williamson begins filing land records in Albany, registering three deeds and eighteen mortgages. He is appointed as a judge of the county's recently created Court of Common Pleas for Ontario County. ** Joseph Chaplin’s Oxford to Ithaca road is completed. ** The Painted Post supervisory district is created as part of Ontario County. Settler Eli Mead is appointed supervisor and attends the annual board session at Canandaigua. ** Williamson relinquishes the lease to his lands in Balgray, Scotland. ** Indian commissioners Pickering and Randolph travel west on Williamson’s road to treat with the tribes at Niagara. They are joined en route by General Israel Chapin and his interpreters from Canandaigua. General Benjamin Lincoln conveys presents for the tribes across the state by water. ** France’s exiled Prince de Talleyrand-Perigord visits the Genesee Valley, is pleased with what he sees. ** The Markham family rent a farm in East Bloomfield and begin raising potatoes. ** Canandaigua's first courthouse, jail and county clerk's office are built. ** West Bloomfield’s first church services are held. ** Massachusetts farmer Cornelius Treat arrives on foot in the Town of Mendon by way of the new Mendon-Iona Road, builds an elm bark cabin, then returns to New England to bring his family here. ** Seneca Falls settlers Job and Marion Gorham Smith leave the area. ** Christopher Dugan, brother-in-law of Ebenezer Allen, is granted a license to operate a tavern in Scottsville. ** Revolutionary War veteran Ephraim Sanford buys 1,864 acres of Mt. Washington land in the Town of Wayne from New York City promoter Jacob Hallett. ** Miller Solomon Hatch builds a saw mill on Allyns (Allens) Creek, supplying lumber for theBrighton area. **
Asahel Birchard purchases 160 acres in Mighell’s Gore (later Lima).

Bath - Charles Williamson founds the town, named for William Pulteney’s daughter, the Countess of Bath. He begins promoting it in Pennsylvania and Maryland newspapers. ** Charles Cameron runs a survey for the village; Thomas Rees, Jr. lays out the streets. ** Williamson's cabin, a land office and nearly 20 other log buildings are erected James Henderson builds a sawmill. A kitchen is added to John Metcalf’s Tavern by builder J. Glendinning.

Geneva - After a Pre-emption Line mix-up in 1788 the area is returned to Ontario County. ** Charles Williamson has streets and lots laid out by surveyor Joseph Annin.

Le Roy - Charles Wilbur erects a cabin in the area. ** New York capitalist Herman Le Roy and associates William Bayard, Matthew Clarkson and John McEvers purchase 85,000 acres of western New York land from agent Robert Morris — the Triangle Tract. ** Hinds Chamberlain travels through the area, camps overnight by Allen’s (later Oatka) Creek. He mentions the nearby cataract looking like buttermilk, giving the falls their name.

Williamsburgh - Captain Elijah Starr finishes his tavern in time for the September fair. ** Samuel Murphy begins teaching the first school in the village. ** A post office is established.

New Jersey - Abolitionist, minister and college president (Le Roy’s Ingham University) Samuel Hansen Cox is born.

© 2011 David Minor / Eagles Byte

Friday, February 26, 2010

Canal Image of the Past

Passing through Waterford - It's been
a long time since a vessel 300 feet long
and 44 feet wide has squeezed through
Lock 2 at Waterford.

This view was taken in the early 1940s.

Dick Palmer collection

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Deep Tale

Script No, 541

© 2008 David Minor / Eagles Byte

August 25, 1830. Mid-morning. As John Fowler leaves Canandaigua, New York, heading to Rochester, he mentions passing through Victor, Minden – he got a bit confused; it’s ‘Mendon’ not the town in Montgomery County – Pittsford, and Henrietta Corners. That’s actually just ‘Henrietta’, but at the time some locals apparently added ‘corners’. Fowler might have noticed a cobblestone house just now being completed in Henrietta. This belonged to James and Rebecca Tinker, who had begun construction two years previously, to house themselves and their six children. Their homestead is the site of a museum in our own time.

Newspapers of the day have little to say about these settlements, apart from a few cases of small pox in Victor, and Rochester itself. So, along with Fowler, we’ll just pass through. He arrives too late in the evening to explore the village and makes reference the next day to, “mine host”, not saying whether he stayed in a private residence or in one of the numerous hotels and taverns here in town. He does mention, however, the surprising growth of the place for one founded only eighteen years ago. And it is important to remember that most of the area was only a brief step beyond frontier status in 1830. The following tale, reported back in February – with tongue slightly in cheek - in a local paper called The Craftsman, points this up.

A man is walking down Buffalo Street (today’s "West Main” when he comes across a woman poking a stick into the mud of the road. He overhears her muttering to herself, “Ah, me! I’m sure he’s here abouts some where, the dear cratur, and if I ounly had a longer stick, so that I could poke down a little grain deeper, I should find the darling!”.

He asks what it is she’s lost. “Och, bless your kind soul! It’s my swate little child, my darling Jemmy that’s lost in the mud.”

He says, half to himself, “A child lost in the mud, in the city of Rochester? Impossible! The woman’s crazy.”

She elevates her voice. “Jemmy! My darling, if you’re under the mud, spake!”. A youthful voice is heard from under the mud’s surface, somewhat smothered and indistinct, “A little lower—there—there a grain lower, and I can reach it.” She responds, “Och, the darling, there he is, sure enough. Don’t try to talk, Jemmy, or maybe you’ll get your swate little mouth full o’mud.”

Voice: “There, now, I’ve got hold of it—pull, now! Pull! . . . Uts! My hand has slipped—a little lower—there, I guess I can hold on with both hands. Now pull!”

The mother encourages the boy, “Hold fast, Jemmy! Och, my darling, there he comes! Spet the mud out o’your mouth, Jemmy, and thank the jountleman for helping ye out. Lord, love your swate soul, Mister, whoever you are, for saving my child. And Jemmy, my dear Jemmy, listen to your mother, and never try to cross the streets of this blessed city, till you’re big enough to help yourself out of the mud, jisst, my darling.”

Sunday, February 21, 2010


February 21, 2010

RE: Photo Query in Crooked Lake Review Blog, Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mr. Minor,

The photo of the small steamer you posted looks a lot like one of a number of small steamers that used to ply the waters of Keuka Lake before they ultimately were either shipped off the lake or dismantled.

The site of the photo is possibly the remains of the pier that extended out into Seneca Lake from the first lock of the Crooked Lake Canal at Dresden, which closed around 1875. I believe the canal itself was finally sold to the New York Railroad in 1878.
Just looking at the boat, it probably had a fairly shallow draft and might have been able to pass through the canal before it closed. The Croooked Lake Canal was designed to average four feet in depth between locks. If this is the case, I'd say your photograph would be dated sometimes before the last quarter of the 19th century.

After a more careful look at the photograph, it my impression that the pier next to the little steamer looks a bit unkept. This could mean that the little steamer was tied up on the south side of the old pier that used to extend from the first lock of the Crooked Lake Canal sometime after it closed. The clothing worn by the men is clearly late 19th century, posibly early 20th century, so you might have a photograph of an old private steamer that was puttering around Seneca Lake probably around the turn of the 20th century.

As a word of introduction, I am Len Leffner, a scuba diver from Maryland who has been visiting Keuka Lake since 1984 in search of sunken vessels in that lake.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

CENTRAL / WESTERN NEW YORK timeline / 1792


Toward the end of the month Charles Cameron and John Johnstone, working for Charles Williamson, take a wagon train out of Baltimore, headed for Carlisle, Pennsylvania, preparatory to moving on into central New York.

Jan 9

Newly-arrived Scottish land agent Charles Williamson is sworn in as a U. S. citizen, in Philadelphia.


Williamson meets with Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in Philadelphia. He travels to the Genesee Valley via Albany to visit Kanadesega (Geneva).


Ebenezer “Indian” Allan sells his mill site on the Genesee River to Benjamin Barton Sr. of New Jersey for £500 ($1,250), in New York currency. Barton almost immediately resells the property to Robert Morris agent Samuel Ogden. Ogden will soon sell it to Charles Williams, agent for Williamson. Allan works with the Seneca to build a sawmill at the outlet of Silver Lake. This will produce the first boards in the Upper Genesee Valley west of the Genesee River.

Mar 14

New York State authorizes a loan of $500,000, to be apportioned amongst it's twenty counties.


Williamson visits Philadelphia, calling on Robert Morris, John Adams’ son-in-law William S. Smith and British minister George Hammond. He finds the business outlook depressed. Nevertheless he begins planning a series of innovations and improvements concerning markets, harbors, roads and the mails. He recommends centers at Bath, Williamsburgh and Geneva. ** General Israel Chapin is appointed Deputy Superintendent of the Six Nation Indians. ** Most of Berczy's German recruits switch to a new contract whereby they will sharecrop their new lands for a period of six with years with an option to buy at preferential rates afterwards. A few chose to continue under the old indentured servants contract

Apr 10

The Chemung County, New York, Town of New Town is formed from the town of Chemung.

Apr 11

Williamson officially takes title to the 1,000,000 acres purchased by the Pulteney Associates.

May 2

William Berczy and his New York settlers sail from Altona, Germany, in his brig Frau Catharina.

May 8

The Frau Catharina reaches the open Atlantic.

May 26

Prussian ambassador Ernst August Anton von Goechhausen (Gõchhausen) alerts authorities in Hamburg and Altona of Berczy's plans to recruit thousands of settlers for the New World.


Lieutenant Governor Simcoe draws up a memorandum to guide negotiations over an Indian boundary line, suggesting Canada allow the retention of the Genesee territory by the U. S. (with no trading posts allowed) in return for a large area south of Detroit for Canada. The rest of the land south of lakes Ontario and Erie would be an Indian buffer zone, with no whites permitted. ** Charles Williamson and his family arrive in Baltimore. Williamson returns to the area on the Genesee near Big Tree (Geneseo). ** The mortgage for Benjamin Barton’s mill site at the upper falls of the Genesee is registered with Ontario County clerk Nathaniel Gorham, in Canandaigua, with payment to be made on or before July 1st of next year.

Jul 17

The Frau Catharina arrives off Newport, Rhode Island.

Jul 22

The Frau Catharina arrives in Philadelphia.


Charles Williamson contracts Genesee Fever while en route to Albany from Williamsburgh. He’s taken in by the John Dolson family of Mud Creek.

Aug 3

Berczy and the Frau Catharina passengers disembark at Philadelphia.


Williamson begins laying out a one-thousand acre farm on the Genesee, naming the site Williamsburgh, after Sir William Pulteney. ** Benjamin Patterson gathers seventy German families at Lycoming Creek, Pennsylvania, to begin work on Williamson’s roads.


Williamson works on Williamsburgh’s defenses. He travels to Pennsylvania, finds Berczy's Germans have only built five miles of road. ** New York Indians ask Canadian lieutenant governor John Graves Simcoe to mediate between them and the U. S. government.

Oct 10

Berczy's ship Heinrich and George arrives in New York, carrying the rest of his peasants but, unknown to him, some of Quaker Prophetess Jemima Wilkinson's followers as well.


This month and next Benjamin Ellicott leads James Armstrong, Augustus Porter, and Frederick Saxton in a resurvey of 1788's Pre-emption line, making adjustments to disputed boundaries.


Berczy conjoins his two groups. Patterson brings them to Painted Post for the winter, and takes thirty of them on to Williamsburgh. One hundred remain behind until spring.

Dec 15

Mrs. Marian Gorham Smith, wife of Seneca Falls settler Job Smith, dies in childbirth.

Dec 24

Robert Morris contracts with Holland Land Company agent Theophile Cazenove for 1,500,000 acres of land west of the Genesee for the same price the Pulteney Associates had paid for 1,000,000 acres.


Robert Morris travels to Europe, meets with the principals of the Holland Land Company. He will sell most of his land in the state east of the Genesee River, to William Pulteney and his associates, for 75,000 pounds. ** The town of Chili is settled. ** Cortland is founded. ** Oliver Phelps opens a land office complex at Canandaigua. ** Connecticut-born surveyor Judah Colt comes down with Genesee Fever. ** Joseph Morgan settles at what will become the eastern part of the Monroe County town of Chili and, along with William Hencher, Henrietta. ** George Clinton defeats John Jay to become governor. 585 Cooperstown residents vote for Jay. Judge William Cooper feels that there would have been many more but that a number of people were off looking for a child lost in the woods near the Burlington neighborhood. Irregularities in voting are used as an excuse to discount the votes from Otsego, Clinton and Tioga counties. The Board of Canvassers reject all protests. ** A group of French settlers move into the future site of Chenango County's village of Greene. Most move on when their title to the land is later invalidated. ** Mohawk chief Joseph Brant and Seneca chief Farmer's Brother visit the western tribes, obtain their approval for negotiations with the U. S. government next spring in Ohio's Sandusky area. ** A resurvey of the Pre-Emption lines reveals an error, creating a gore or triangular plot, about a third of today’s Chemung County. It also moves Geneva and Dundee out of Massachusetts land into New York. ** Joseph Wilson settles the Onondaga County village of Baldwinsville. ** PennYan physician Andrew Oliver is born in Vermont. ** The book Maude’s Travels describes John Maude’s journey through the Finger Lakes and Genesee River country. ** Robert Morris, his agent Samuel Ogden, Benjamin Barton, and others buy the township between the Genesee River and Irondequoit Bay, to establish a town at the head of the Bay, and a city, to be named Athens, on the east bank of the Genesee at the lower falls. Barton buys the One-Hundred-Acre tract on the Genesee, soon transfers it to Ogden. ** Peter Sheffers and his sons cut a road in Henrietta from Stoney (Allen's) Creek to the falls, the future West Henrietta Road. Spring flooding will wash away the house of Timothy Allyn/Allen. Discouraged, he sells part of his land to new arrivals John and Solomon Hatch, moves to Geneva, New York. ** Two families are residing on the trail between Geneva to Canandaigua, four families between Canandaigua and Avon. ** This year and next Massachusetts officially transfers 3,600,000 acres of its Hartford Convention lands to the Boston Ten Town tracts - in Broome and Tioga counties - to settlers. ** Nathaniel W. Howell, after conducting an academy in Montgomery, leaves to study law. ** Eighteen-year-old Steven Lusk opens a tannery, distillery and shoemaking business in Irondequoit. ** D. Ingraham travels from Boston to Albany, then proceeds to set out across New York to Niagara, via Schenectady, Whitestown, Clinton, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Geneva, the Jemima Wilkinson settlement, Canandaigua, the Genesee River, and ending up at Fort Niagara, then crossing over to visit the planned future site of the British fort.


James Wadsworth purchases a 27,000-acre parcel of land here from his cousin Jeremiah, begins speculating himself. Daniel Haynes buys a farm from James. ** The Reverend Samuel Kirkland convenes a council at Geneseo with the Indians, promising the aid of the U. S. in helping them adjust to white civilization. He organizes a delegation of chiefs to visit Philadelphia. One, Oneida chief Good Peter, has his portrait painted by John Trumbull, while there.


The Western Inland Lock Navigation Company is formed by General Philip Schuyler and merchant Elkanah Watson, to build a three-mile Little Falls canal and another linking the Mohawk River with Wood Creek. Financier Robert Morris is brought on board.


Irish-born New York pioneer landowner Colonel Arthur Erwin is shot by a squatter over a land and crop dispute while visiting in Luzerne County. The town of Erwin, New York, which he owned but never saw, is named for him.


The Dutch investment house of P. & C. van Eeghen, Schimmelpennick, Stadnitski, Van Staphorst, Vollenhoven, W. & J. Willink join together to form the Holland Land Company. Their U. S. agent Theophile Cazenove begins buying up land in western New York.

Charles Williamson

John Johnstone builds a barn at Williamsburgh and moves Charles Williamson’s house nearby, the two buildings to be known as the Hermitage Farm. Nathaniel Fowler builds the Starr Tavern in the new village. Total cost of the tavern - $275. The trail up from Pennsylvania is widened. ** He is given a tour by Colonel Arthur Erwin, out of Savona, to Bath, Keuka Lake and to the site of Dansville. ** He begins promoting a U. S. - Canada postal system.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Rochester's Puerto Rican Community

This coming Sunday, February 21st at 2 PM

Julio Vazquez

Chair and CEO of Eugenio Maria de Hostos Charter School
will present

The Puerto Rican Community of Rochester and its Institutions

at the Henrietta Public Library

455 Calkins Road in Henrietta

Programs are free and handicapped accessible.

In case of inclement weather, call the library at 585-359-7092.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Nov. 1, 1906


The Boatman's Trade Was an Important Item to Villages Along the
Line of the Canal - Keeping the Stream Free from Pollution

Lyons, Oct. 31. - The season soon to close has been a good one
for boatmen on the Erie canal, but the palmy days of canaling are
over. To the land dweller it looks like a hard life but that is not
always so. There is a constant interest in seeing what has happened
around the locks since the last trip, and the comparison of profits
of the year with those of previous years. This season there about
2,600 boats on the Erie, only ten of them steamboats. The steamboats
are making better money around New York.

Watching the slow progress of a canal boat loaded with lumber
it seems as if the family on board would grow old and die of
weariness before the trip was made, but in fact the round trip from
Buffalo to New York is usually accomplished in thirty days, and a
boat is expected to make it eight times a year. When the captain's
family lives on a boat it is their hope to be in a pleasant town when
winter stops travel where the children can attend school and where
there are other boatmen's families.

Sometimes a woman is seen driving a canal boat but not often.
The women may take the helm and assist the boat through the lock but
they seldom go out on the towpath. A baby is sometimes seen on board,
and many a pretty-faced, sweet looking young girl sits at her sewing
as the men rush around to let their boat down easy to the next level.

When all travel was by canal or stage it was the event of the
day to see the packet come in, and the packet driver was as much
admired by the small boys as was the stage driver. When his horn was
heard it was a signal for the youth of the town to run to the dock.
In the fifties the driver was Billie Meade and the packet horn would
be sounded as the boat passed the pottery, his horses whipped up to
bring the passengers in with a dash and a crowd would gather to see
if there might be a fight. It was the custom for the fighting men of
Lyons to challenge boatmen and so frequent were encounters that the
little green at the Lyons lock was known as Battle Square.

Along the line of the Erie trade with boatmen was the business
of the villagers, and that accounts for the winding streets of
Lyons. When the stores were built the banks of the canal were not so
wide an deep, and the doors on the canal side were as much used as
those on the street. There were no license laws and most storekeepers
found their best profits in selling liquor to boatmen. The old Graham
House was a fashionable hotel, and the packet barns were behind it.
The building is now a cooper shop.

Everybody living in Lyons is familiar with the low ground on
the Pilgrimport road known as "the old canal," but present generation
does not know that the route of the Erie for the first twenty years
after it was dug was too crooked to be practical, and the
straightening was for economy. If the present plan for the Barge
Canal is accepted, there may be a ditch like that where the bulrushes
grow now, and where about seven years ago the stench from decaying
vegetation was so great that the state made an effort to abate the
nuisance and to clean the offensive ditch. About one hundred barrels
of disinfectant were used in the space of a mile.

All that can be done to keep the Erie a sweet stream is
accomplished at great expense, for the popular idea is that it is the
natural sewer of the state. In times past, before the fines for the
offense were promptly levied, people used to direct their drains into
it, and any little trifle like a dead horse or load of rubbish was
dumped into the water. But now the mandatory laws are rigid and the
water is perhaps as clean as in the average stream where the fall is
no greater. The water is constantly renewed and the state scow
attends to repairs.

Within fifteen years an island has formed in the basin in this
village, and that it is allowed to stay there shows the change that
has come to business methods. The basin used to be necessary for
boats to turn around, as some were in the trade solely for the use of
the pottery and turned back eastward at this point. Some interesting
legal points have come to light occasionally as to ownership of land
along the line of the Erie. For instance, a local manufacturer
recently wished to acquire more land in the neighborhood of his plant
and found that the land in question was never really owned by the
state, but that when the canal was put through, Jacob Leach sold to
the state the earth removed and retained actual ownership of the
land, and that it can be sold only for the original purchase price.

Submitted by Dick Palmer

Friday, February 12, 2010

Genesee Valley Civil War Roundtable - Play Discussion


Jim Schmitt of Lyndonville will discuss his play,
Gettysburg, the True and the Free, which is based on actual events from the critical Civil War battle. A discussion period will follow. New members welcome.

Le Roy American Legion, through the front entrance
53 West Main Street,

Wednesday, February 17th
7:30 PM

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Jane Oakes will speak on the subject, including
details of Fairport's Shaw Opera House,
for the Perinton Historical Society, on Tuesday, February 16th
at 7:30 PM at the Fairport Historical Mueum at 18 Perrin Street

Admission is free. For further information (585) 223-3989

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


For all of you readers out Buffalo way -

Michael F. Rizzo, author of the new book They Call Me Korney
about the 1920s Korney Gang, "ruthless bandits and killers that roamed the streets of Buffalo"
will be at the following locations.

February 13 - Borders Books, Amelia Drive - 2 PM
February 20 - Borders Books, Walden Avenue - 2PM

February 25 - Kiwanis, Marilla, New York
(Discussion and Readings)

for further details the author may be reached at
mikerizzo64 @


One of our readers sent me the following Query, regarding a photograph he owns -

"My grandmother, who lived in Kendaia, left me this photo of a boat on either Cayuga or Seneca Lake. Do you know the name Lowft or Lowmft, lake and location? Turn of the century Early 1900s"

If anyone has any suggestions for tracking it or possibly an answer please reply to me at


Rochester Historical Society's New Museum

The RHS's new home space at the Rundel Library debuts this coming Monday, Februaruy 15th,
from 1 to 5 PM. The new space, at 5 South Avenue in Rochester, on the library's second floor,
will have an initial display of two paintings of area Civil War soldier Wiliam Kidd, early paintings
of the Genesee River, early firefighting equipment, World War I posters, and a rigged table used
by the Fox Sisters during their "conversations" with the departed.

Admission is $3, $5 for families and for admittance to the archives and research center.
To contact the research center call (585) 428-9471

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Keep That Policy Paid Up, and Handy

Script No, 540, December 29, 2007
© 2007 David Minor / Eagles Byte

On August 25, 1830, John Fowler took an hour or so before breakfast to look around Canandaigua, which he found even more impressive than Geneva. He took particular note of, “The private residences, both in the village and vicinity . . . uncommonly elegant, laid out with courts and gardens, and every way worthy of the affluence and respectability of their occupants, many of them {the houses, that is} commanding a beautiful view of the lake and its surrounding scenery.”

He wouldn’t have been around long enough to learn too much about the history of this village, the seat of Ontario County. But if he walked two short blocks up Main Street he would have seen several of those admirable houses, among them those belonging to Dr. E. Carr and to Alexander H. Howell, both of them on the five-year-old Gibson Street. It was around this time that another, belonging to land agent Augustus Porter, would have moved to the street from several blocks further up the hill.

It’s unlikely the streets would have been labeled at this early date, but even if Fowler knew the name of the street the ‘Gibson’ would have not meant much to him. It did to most Canandaiguans however.

Henry B. Gibson, born in Pennsylvania, had arrived here ten years ago, in 1820, and become well known as a banker and, some years after Fowler’s visit, a backer of railroads. He would have a steamboat named for him cruising up and down Canandaigua Lake, and would donate the land for the Ontario Female Seminary (not a seminary for training female clergy, by the way) and serve on its board of trustees.

It would have been impossible for Fowler to miss Ontario County’s 1824 courthouse just down the hill, across Main Street from Blossoms Hotel, where he’d stayed overnight. The courthouse’s replacement, to be built in 1857 near the hotel, looked a bit like the original on steroids. Its dome can be seen from miles away when you approach the city along Fowler’s route today. Other buildings he might have seen in the village were the 1813 Congregational Church, the 1814 Granger Homestead, St. John’s 1816 Episcopal Church and the 1818 Methodist Church.

At some point during his brief visit Fowler heard about the fire that had taken place downtown a little less than two weeks earlier, not the first for the year, either. But the village had been the scene of several noteworthy events that year. Back on January 29th a fire wiped out the R. Carter Company distillery. Their insurance policy had expired a short time before and the owner was out $3,000. The next day extreme cold hit the area, with the temperature dipping to 10 degrees below zero (up in Québec two men had frozen to death that same day). In April another fire had destroyed a slaughterhouse and next-door icehouse. The possibility of arson was mentioned in the press but no suspicion would have fallen on N. G. Cheesebro, owner of the two plants; he had no insurance and found himself out one thousand dollars. Then, on August 5th, Pomeroy and Gorham’s 1826 steam flour mill was destroyed by flames. Newspapers described the scene as, “awfully grand, as well as alarmingly distressing to behold.” The two owners did have $8,000 of insurance. Unfortunately, the plant was worth $28,000. And local wheat would have to be processed elsewhere.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Black History Month Oratorical Revue

Performance by Dr. David Anderson, Frederick Douglass re-enactment.
Presented by the Rochester School District Board of Education.

Tuesday – Feb 9
5:30 p.m. Third-floor conference room
Rochester School District, 131 W. Broad St.
Free. (585) 262-8175.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Abraham Lincoln: Self-made in America

An Exhibition at the Ontario County Historical Museum

February 12 – March 11, 2010

A rare traveling exhibit featuring reproduction artifacts from the Abraham Lincoln
 Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, will be in Canandaigua, NY,
 February 12 – March 11, 2010. The exhibit will be presented in only 40 locations during a 
nationwide celebration of the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth and is free of charge.
 The Ontario County Historical Museum is the only venue in Western New York chosen 
for display. The Ontario County Historical Society, the exhibit’s host will also offer a 
number of Lincoln and Civil War related events starting February 13. Please join us in a 
celebration of the life and times of our 16th president.

The reproduction artifacts on display, all
 modeled from originals in the Presidential Library and Museum, include: Lincoln’s 
favorite books; his son Tad’s toy cannon; the nameplate from his Springfield home; his 
stovepipe hat, which he used like a briefcase to hold important papers; a Presidential 
campaign banner; an axe that Lincoln used to chop wood; the bloody gloves found in 
Lincoln’s pocket the night of his assassination; and many other unique and interesting

A companion exhibit, Self Made in Western New York, presenting the success stories of 19th 
century personalities from the region will also be open at the museum during the Lincoln exhibit.

55 North Main Street, Canandaigua, NY 14424
(585) 394-4975

Friday, February 5, 2010

Eastman House Event

You are invited to a fun and interesting event this Monday evening (February 8th) at the George Eastman House:

An open forum relating to the community’s view of Rochester — based on the nearly 1,000 photographs submitted to the museum’s “Picturing Rochester” exhibition. The forum is free and open to the public.

Guest speakers will include representatives from the city, county, education, and business. These community leaders will engage in a forum, to be moderated by Jennifer Leonard, President and Executive Director of Rochester Area Community Foundation, which helped fund this event celebrating Rochester’s 175th birthday.

Monday, February 8
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

The photo exhibit will be open and free to the public one hour before and one hour after the forum

WHERE: The George Eastman House – 900 East Avenue, Rochester

Arch Merrill Redux

February 5, 2010

Last summer, Democrat and Chronicle journalists Jeff Blackwell, multimedia reporter, and Max Schulte, assistant photo editor, hit the road to explore the rambling Genesee River and the people connected to it - an updated version of D&C reporter Arch Merrill's 1943 River Ramble.

Their discoveries were documented in a series of articles, photographs and videos, published in print and on the Web.
(for web link ckick on 'on the Web'.)

Jeff will bring their stories to the February meeting of the Greece Historical Society at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9, at Greece Town Hall, 1 Vince Tofany Blvd. Come see how the river has fared over the past six decades and what the future may hold for it and the people who live and play on it.

The meeting is free to members. Donations are appreciated from others.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

In the Early Days, New Mother's Trek

Bolivar Breeze, Aug. 26, 1909

Young Cuba Mother Rode on
Horseback With Baby to Canandaigua
in 1820. Three Days Trip
(From the Cuba Patriot.)

The writer, a few days since, enjoyed a brief chat with the venerable Seth H. Tracy of Belmont. Mr. Tracy is a son of Ira Tracy, who kept a public house (a long structure) which stood nearly opposite where he Howell condensory now is, along about 1821-2, and was Cuba's first town clerk in 1822.
Seth H. came near being a native born Alleganian, the interesting event of his birth occurring at Canandaigua, the former home of the Tracy's and to which hey returned after a few years of pioneering here.
Recalling some of the stories of the early days in Cuba, Mr. Tracy told how his mother made the journey with her first born in her arms, and on horseback, back to the old home, to show her mother her baby. It must have been about 1820, and he roads in western New York were not by some degrees as good as they are today.
The first day she reached Angelica, where she found a former neighbor with whom she remained over night.
The next morning the journey was resumed, night finding her one and a half miles down the creek from Dansville, where another acquaintance had founded a home. Her welcome was cordial and the visit was greatly enjoyed, her friends looking upon her with surprise and admiration as one direct from the very verge of civilized occupation.
Resuming her place in the saddle at an early hour in the morning, the hard journey was forgotten almost, when at dark her faithful steed was reined up at the door of her home, and her mother in an ecstasy of delight, grasped her little grandchild in her arms and smothered her daughter with kisses.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Brighton Memorial Library talk

On Thursday, February 4th, local author

Ruth Lampert

will discuss her book Fish, Faith and Family
an account of her father's fish store on Joseph Avenue in Rochester.

The talk is at 12:10 PM at the library, 2300 Elmwood Avenue, Brighton NY
(585) 784-5300

CENTRAL / WESTERN NEW YORK timeline / 1791

Jan 27
Dr. Asa Fitch, father of future scientist Asa Fitch, marries Abigail Martin at Martinsburg.

Early in the month English promoter Patrick Colquhoun begins conferring with capitalist William Johnstone Pulteney, MP, in London over real estate opportunities in the Genesee region of New York State. Pulteney also confers with William T. Franklin, grandson of Benjamin Franklin and a Federalist sales agent for New York lands.

Feb 15
Pulteney, former governor of Bombay William Hornby, and Colquhoun meet, authorize the latter to enter into an agreement with William Franklin for the purchase of land in New York State.

Mar 4
Former commissioner of Revolutionary War claims Aaron Burr is sworn in as a Democratic U. S. Senator from New York.

Mar 17
Colonel William S. Smith, U. S. Secretary to John Adams’ legation, brokers a deal with Pulteney and Hornby to purchase 1,000,000 acres of New York lands from Robert Morris, at 26¢ an acre.

Apr 5
The Genesee (Geneseo) District of Ontario County holds its first town meeting, at Canawaugus (between Avon and Caledonia)

Apr 9
The first session of the courts for Geneseo District is held at Canawaugus.

Apr 26
The Association formed by Pulteney, Hornby, and Colquhoun meets in London and chooses Scottish officer Captain Charles Williamson as its agent in the U. S.

May 3
William Wickham and his family, having left Tioga Point (Athens) and proceeded to the Finger Lakes by way of boat, foot and canoe, arrive in Hector to become the first permanent settlers. They quickly build the first house in Hector.

May 5
Williamson writes to his father, Alexander, back in Scotland to tell him of his new position.

May 11
Massachusetts officially transfers 1,185,570 acres of its Hartford Convention lands to
the following tracts – Morris Reserve, Triangular Tract, Connecticut Tract, Cragie Tract,
Ogden Tract, Cottinger Tract, 40,000-acre Tract, Sterrit Tract, Church Tract, Morris
Honorary Creditors’ Tract, and the Holland Company Purchase – which includes lands in Allegany, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Orleans, and Wyoming counties.

May 27
Williamson meets with his new employers to announce he’s made a deal to sell 300,000 acres of New York State land to Archibald Boyd of Maryland, pending their approval. They authorize the sale, for close to £75,000.

May 29
Williamson receives his formal authorization from the Associates.

May 30
The Pulteney Associates meet. Williamson announces the closing of the Boyd deal. Colquhoun announces that William Franklin is demanding more money for their New York acreage and that he and his employer Robert Morris also want to liquidate their holdings in the Association. Williamson is given his instructions, containing few restrictions.

Colonel Timothy Pickering and Canandaigua lawyer Thomas Morris spend most of the next two months negotiating with Indian chief Cornplanter and local tribes at Newtown (Elmira).

Jun 26

Rochester ransportation pioneer and road builder Gideon Cobb is born in Pawlet, Vermont.

Jul 1
The bark Robinson arrives at Annan, Solway Firth, Scotland, to receive Charles Williamson, his family and their goods, for passage to New York.

Jul 4
The new Bank of the United States opens its subscription books, sells all stock within two hours. Among the purchasers are Colonel Smith, backed by the Pulteney interests.

Jul 8
Charles Williamson and his family board the Robinson for America and wait for favorable wind conditions.

Jul 12
With winds strengthening, the Robinson sets sail.

Jul 21
Colquhoun arranges with the German Baron Frederick de Damar (Diemar) to act as a land agent for the Pulteney Associates and the two men employ another German, William Berczy, to sell New York State lands in Germany and recruit German immigrants.

Jul 22
De Damar sails for Hamburg to have the recruiting materials published.

The Pulteney Associates meet, appoint Donald Stewart to recruit Highland Scots emigrants.

Aug 4
The Robinson, delayed in Solway Firth by heavy weather, attempts to depart, soon springs a leak.

Aug 7
The leak aboard the Robinson forces a layover at the Isle of Man.

Stephen Bayard, General Philip Van Cortlandt, Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, and Elkanah Watson travel out of Albany to the Finger Lakes and from Cayuga Lake to Geneva along New York’s Seneca River.

Sep 7
Colquhoun signs an agreement with Berczy.

Sep 8
The Pulteney Associates meet for the final time, approve the agreement with Berczy.

Sep 20
Lebanon, Connecticut, native Timothy Allyn arrives in western New York, purchases 156 acres in the future Penfield from Jonathan Fassett for 31 pounds (around $80). He also buys an additional 350 acres in Brighton. He will erect a cabin on a creek that takes his name.

Nov 9
The Robinson having run into violent seas near the Virginia Capes, Williamson opts to land at Norfolk, rather than submit his family to any further dangerous weather by heading for its original destination, Philadelphia. They move up to Baltimore by year’s end.

Berczy translates his recruiting pamphlets into German and publishes them. ** Canal promoter Elkanah Watson, backed by Philip Schuyler and writing as "A CITIZEN", reports to the New York state legislature that a canal could be built across the state utilizing natural waterways.

Dec 8
John H. Jones, trader and brother of Indian captive Horatio Jones, leaves settler Gilbert Berry’s inn and ferry at Canawaugus, travels down the Genesee by canoe for about four miles before being forced off the river by ice. He spends the night at the Samuel Shaffer cabin in Brighton.

Dec 9
Jones travels on to Rochester’s rapids, on the Genesee.

Dec 10
Jones arrives at the falls of the Genesee to discover that Ebenezer “Indian”Allan is no longer the proprietor of the mill there, having turned it over to his brother-in-law and partner Christopher Dugan.

Dec 11
Jones moves on up to Lake Ontario, trades with Indians there for otter, mink and muskrat pelts, in exchange for a blanket and some calico.

Dec 26
Berczy hires Johann Leopold Hohenhausen to recruit 50 colonists to go to New York.

Financier Robert Morris buys the Phelps and Gorham's land west of the Genesee River back from Massachusetts, acquiring 4,000,000 acres for $333,333.33. ** Zebulon Norton and Enos Boughton build a mill at a rapids on the Genesee. The site called Norton’s Mills, later becomes West Mendon, then Honeoye Falls. ** Connewango pioneer Jotham Metcalf is born in New Hampshire. ** Colonel Eleazer Lindley of a small settlement on the Tioga River, near the Pennsylvania border, is elected to the state legislature as representative from the sparsely settled (population 1,075) Ontario County. Although new counties have no official representation, he is accepted to serve. Land he purchased from Phelps and Gorham becomes the Steuben County town of Lindley. ** Joseph Chaplin begins building a public road from Oxford, on the Chenango River, to Ithaca. ** John Hornby buys land from Phelps and Gorham that will become the village of Savona. ** Ephraim Sanford buys 600 acres in the Steuben County town of Wayne. ** All state land west of Utica is made part of the western senate district. ** Andrew Ellicott and Connecticut surveyor Augustus Porter begin surveying the borders of Phelps and Gorham lands. ** The Cayuga tribe, having negotiated with Pickering, agree to lease most of their reservation to John Richardson for a $500 annual rent. Earlier land sales are reaffirmed and a friendship treaty made. U. S. Secretary of War Henry Knox criticizes the arrangement. The last of the Senecas in the Bog Flats region move out. ** William Hincher and his son, of Big Flats, build a cabin at the future site of Charlotte, on Lake Ontario, the first house between Fort Niagara and the Genesee River. ** The Phelps-Gorham land company's annual payments of $500 to the Seneca Indians begins, continues on through 1805, after which the record is unclear. ** Pompey's Trueworthy Cook, Salina's Jeremiah Gould, and Geneseo's James Wadsworth are elected pathmasters, in charge of wilderness trails through Northampton County, at the third annual town meeting in Whitestown. Wadsworth is allowed to practice law by Ontario County judge Oliver Pelps. ** The approximate date Richard Hooker settles Cohocton. ** "A map of the Genesee Tract, in the County of Ontario & State of New York" is published in London. The Phelps and Gorham townships and the state's forts are portrayed. ** The Genesee/Finger Lakes region has approximately 1,000 residents. ** Israel and Simon Stone settle Pittsford, sow wheat, and are joined by five former New England neighbors. Among them are Caleb Hopkins, Jonathan Fassett, Jr., and Jacobus Mabee from Vermont. Hopkins, being from Pittsford, Vermont, will give the new settlement its name. Fassett settles on his Phelps & Gorham purchase in the future Penfield. Hopkins builds a cabin above the falls of Irondequoit Creek and will build a saw mill there. ** The U. S. government establishes weekly mail service between Whitestown and Canandaigua. ** Teenaged Stephen Lusk, settled last year in Irondequoit with his family, is attacked in the Spring by a bear as he canoes in Irondequoit Creek, manages to drown it. His already disenchanted mother, upset by the incident, demands that her husband John take her back to Massachusetts, where they will remain. Stephen stays in western New York.

The Society for the Promotion of Agriculture, Arts and Manufactures is established at the Albany Academy. ** The Albany Institute of History and Art is founded.

Canandaigua Township is created. ** The Canandaigua Academy, the first educational institution in western New York, is founded.

The approximate date Christopher Dugan and family arrive at Ebenezer Allan’s mills. Allan goes back to Mt. Morris, leaving Dugan in charge. The mills will soon fall apart.

© 2010 David Minor / Eagles Byte