Wednesday, March 31, 2010

1924 The Peanut Branch

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, April 6, 1924

Railroader Tells of Early Years on Peanut Branch

Brightly Painted Cars and Engines Used on
Roads Out of Batavia; Car Shops at LeRoy

By R. A. Murphy
(Below we print some reminiscences of some of the small
railroads around Batavia, N.Y. that are now incorporated into the New
York Central. The writer is a Rock Island pensioner and at one time
was superintendent at Minneapolis. He was born in Batavia and was one
of the pioneer railroad men of that section. His reminiscences were
contained in a letter to A.M. Clough, supervisor at Batavia, and were
evoked by a picture of the Batavia station that was printed in a
recent issue of the New York Central Lines Magazine.)

In looking through the New York Central Lines Magazine, I
noticed a photograph of the New York Central depot at Batavia, which
is one of the finest little cities in Western New York. The longer I
looked at it, the more I thought of Batavia, my boyhood home in the
days before the Civil War, and the railroads we had running into that

We had the old six-foot gauge Canandaigua & Niagara Falls
Railway. They had engines called the Niagara, Sam Brown, Ben Pringle,
Elmira and others, all inside connected engines. Today this old
railroad is the Peanut Branch of the New York Central Railroad.
I remember two brothers, Mike and Pat Dwyer, who ran engines on this
old road. I often rode down to LeRoy with them.

Car Shop at LeRoy
There was a car shop at LeRoy where they built cars for the New
York Central Railroad. They would load them on the broad gauge cars
and haul them to Batavia, place them on a turntable, let them down on
skids on a four-foot eight and a half inch track, on rails laid
between the rails of the six foot gauge and deliver them to the New
York Central Railroad. Your Tonawanda branch is part of this old six-
foot gauge railway.

Then we had another six-foot gauge road we called the Cohocton
Valley Railroad . This road ran from Avon to Batavia only, in those
days. They graded the right-of-way nearly to Buffalo, built a bridge
over the Tonawanda Creek, but never used it. They had a one-stall
roundhouse at Batavia and a small turntable. When they wanted to
turn the engine, they had to disconnect the tender from the engine
and turn them separately. The hostler's names were Pat Shea and Tom
Reardon. They were engineers afterward on the Erie, and Northern
Central Railroad, now the Pennsylvania Railroad. Often before putting
the engine in the roundhouse they would run her east of Batavia to
pump her up, and I would go with them and ring the bell. We had no
air bell ringers in those days on engines, or any injectors either.

This road was afterward built to Attica to connect with the old
Erie Railway at that point. They had quite a time crossing the New
York Central at Batavia. The New York Central had nearly 500 of the
finest men you could find - all from Erinís Green Isle - to keep the
old Cohocton from crossing, and you bet they didn't cross until the
New York Central allowed them to do so. The road into Batavia first
was the good old New York Central of today - the four track road of

Home-Switched Cars
Old Ep Powers pumped water for them with a tread mill and two
or three horses. He could not do this today. In those days old man
Clark would switch cars with an old gray horse and pull the little
red wheat cars down to Monell's and Gould's warehouses. Of course,
there were no elevators in those days. Charles Gould, the father of
the Gould coupler, was raised in Batavia. I remember him well as a boy.

Then when the Civil War started I went to work in the Western
Union Telegraph office of the New York Central for William McElron as
a messenger boy. Many a message I delivered in old Batavia, and many
a message I delivered to the home of Dean Richmond, who was President
of the New York Central Railroad. In my estimation, as a boy and
when I grew to be a young man and until he passed away, I thought
there was no other man like him. He was so good and kind to everyone,
and his good wife and family were the same.

In 1863 I ran away from home and went to New York and enlisted.
When I was discharged from the army in October, 1865, I came back
home, worked on the track a little while, and then went on as a
brakeman for Conductor Mose Cleveland on a mixed train between
Batavia and Canandaigua. I doubled the road of 50 miles each day,
wooded up about eight times, on the round trip, unloaded freight and
broke by hand - for $35 a month, and I was happy and contended.

Crime to Miss Coupling
I remember well the Creamer brake and the board that was
fastened by one bolt in one car in passenger trains to keep
passenger trains from falling off when going from one car to
another. There was considerable slack with the old pin and link
couplers. When an old time brakeman would miss making a coupling for
the first time, you would year the rest of the gang yell 'New Man.'
It was almost a crime to miss making a coupling in those days.

On the Peanut Division we had Engineers Al Lyons, George
McFagan, Mr. Perkins, Mr. Boyington, Charlie Martin and Hat Hamlin.
The conductors were Mr. Peak, Al Richmond (Dean's son), Hank Agar and
Mose Cleveland and a man by the name of Smith who ran extra on the
Tonawanda line. Mr. Marsh was also a conductor. I have forgotten the
engineer's name. John DeWolf fired for him. Mr. Northam, who was
later yard master at Buffalo, was the extra conductor. Conductors on
the Peanut in those days wore plug hats.

On the Attica Branch they had an old dome boiler engine, with
Harvey Backus as engineer. McMahon was his fireman and J.D. Terrell
was the conductor. The engine was named after him. The train
consisted of two cars. Old Man Chase was the baggageman and ran as an
extra conductor. On the man line we had the engines Racer, North
Star, Dean Richmond, Byron, Bergen, Pembroke, Churchville and others.
Some of the engines were inside connected with a ìVî hook, and were
called Hinkleys. Some of the engineers I can recall were Lin Ham,
Nick Kehoe, Dick Hart, Hank Carter and brother, Matt Earhart and
brother. Matt was called the 'Flying Dutchman'; John and Hank Day,
brothers, then Mat Sanford and Ed Woods. 'Old Boy' Houghtail was a
passenger conductor.

A man by the name of Coddington would take charge of three
stock trains from Buffalo to Rochester. They had no large packing
houses in the West in those days. The stock of all went through to
New York City. Another old conductor was L. Wood.

Partly Single Tracked
I made many a trip between Buffalo and Rochester, and stood at
the end of the track at Byron and Bergen waiting for a train to come
before we could pull out, as Byron was the first end of double track,
and then Bergen. They had a one-armed operator at Byron who was a
noble fellow, and would give us all the information he could about
trains while we were wooding up the engine. So, you can see, kind
acts are never forgotten, and I have never forgotten. He was a good man.

Those were the days when an engine went into Dave Upton's shop.
They did not squirt the black paint onto her and send her out in a
day or two, as they do now. The engine's wheels were painted and
varnished a beautiful red, and landscapes were painted on the sides
of the tenders, such as Niagara Falls, Genesee Falls and other
beautiful scenes. Also the sides of the headlights had pictures
painted on them. In wooding up, should a fellow strike the side of
the tank with a stock of wood he would have to get the gloves as with
the fireman. I know I would have been thumped one day had I not been
the better man of the two for having a stick of wood accidentally
strike the side of the tender. But as a rule, the boys were very
careful in wooding up.

Wooden Brake Shoes
Our cars in those days had the old wooden brake shoes. You had
to watch them to keep them from burning up going down old Byron
grade. Loaded freight cars in those days were not allowed to go off
the line. All cars had the contents transferred at all junction
points. No car accountants in those days as now! They had what they
called 'car chasers' who rode over connecting lines looking for cars
that were lost.

I remember one time after I had left the New York Central, in
the forepart of 1868, and gone to work on the Northern Central
Railroad out of Canandaigua, now the Pennsylvania Railroad, of a car
coming to our line loaded with beer from McKechine's brewery for
Elmira, N.Y., and which should have been transferred at Canandaigua.
Agent William Burgett asked me if I would haul the car without its
contents being transferred. I told him 'Sure.' I took it to Elmira.
Then after being unloaded at Elmira, the car was used locally between
Elmira and Williamsport.

In about ten days, along came a car chaser. I was on this run
as an extra conductor. Along came the car chaser and asked me if I
ever saw it before. I told him 'No,' and that I thought they might
have loaded it by mistake. You know railroad men never told a fib in
those days, neither do they now. At least I never heard of them
telling any, and I have been a trainmaster and an assistant
trainmaster on the B.C.R.N. and the good Rock Island Railroad for 35
years after coming West in 1880. As I am only a kid now - 78 years of
age - the good old Rock Island Railroad pensioned me off nearly eight
years ago.

Well, did you know that the New York Central had a continuous
rail in 1865 and 1866 on part of the Buffalo division? The rails were
split in two, lengthwise, and bolted together so they made a
continuous rail. The joints were not opposite each other. If Andy
McVully's father were living or old John Fredly, supervisor, they
could tell you about those days and rails. Good men they were. I hope
they are happy in heaven, where the tamping of ties, laying of steel,
lining up track, shoveling snow or shimming up old chair iron does
not bother them now. Good bless them and others who worked with them
in those days, and helped pump an old hand-car to and from work for
six or eight miles each morning and evening.

Submitted by Dick Palmer

Monday, March 29, 2010

Throop and the Underground Railroad

Mattie, the Lake Ontario-sailing cat's tale

Captain Horatio Nelson Throop, said Mattie, came from a sea faring family. His father Samuel had sailed salt water aboard a whaler and had named his first son for the greatest British sea warrior of sailing days, Admiral Nelson. Throop was a man of big ideas. He designed and built one of the fastest sailing schooners that ever floated on the lake, and his steamer the Ontario, a boat he also designed, was the finest passenger ship of her time.

One day at the village post office, Captain Throop spoke in greeting to his good friend and neighbor Samuel Cuyler, who in turn asked “Have you heard of the new law? If a slave runs away it's our duty to return him to his master. “

Throop answered “If a man has enough grit to run away and reaches Pultneyville, I'll be danged if I'll send him back south.”

“Well that's what I think too - I and others. How would you like to join us? With your ship, you could take our “passengers” on the last leg of their trip to Canada.”

Throop had worked hard since he was twelve years old and by now he had made a good deal of money. He thought about what it would have been like if he had not been free to steer his own course through life. There had been setbacks. But there had also been opportunity, and when it came along, he had been free to seize it. He felt fortunate to have been able to do what he wanted which was to sail the lake on his own ship and to have become wealthy while doing it. So he said yes.

A day later when the captain had again come out of the post office, Cuyler greeted him once more. Then he asked “Will you be making the run with the Ontario to Rochester tomorrow?”

Throop nodded.

“Then we'll have a cargo for you,” said his friend with a quick wink.

Throop glanced at a stranger across the street. The man was leaning on the bridge rail studying the several schooners tied up in the creek. He hadn't expected any fugitives to arrive in Pultneyville so soon. But he answered “Very well. My boat runs for passengers.”

The stranger looking over the harbor was a bounty hunter in search of runaway slaves. If he had heard the conversation he gave no sign, and Throop went on his way back home.

As he walked down Washington Street, Throop wondered how he would get his “cargo” aboard the Ontario. One or two fugitives could be placed in trunks or crates and carried aboard. But too many large boxes might make the slave catchers suspicious, for Throop's steamer normally did not load much cargo in Pultneyville. Nor could he walk the runaways aboard openly. Cuyler could perhaps distract one bounty hunter, but Throop knew at least three southerners were hanging around the town right now, and that at least one would be watching all the departing ships. Clearly they suspected some “passengers” were about to arrive in Pultneyville on the underground railroad. The slave catchers would collect a large reward for each runaway returned to the south, and anyone caught helping an escaped slave could be fined. It was even possible that the courts could seize his vessel for breaking the law and auction it off.

As he considered ways to outwit the bounty hunters, a wagon load of firewood approached. The teamster, Will Murton, pulled up his mules and said “Captain Throop I have your wood for the steamer here. This is the first load. Do you want it stacked on the pier?

Throop glanced out at the lake, noting the clear sky and gentle west wind. There would be no bad blows or heavy waves from the east tonight. He said, “Yes, that will be fine.” Then he had a sudden thought. “Hold on a moment, Will. I'd like you to do something a little different with our fuel this time.”

Throop looked around for nearby strangers, and then stepped close to the wagon seat and gave Will some odd directions as to how to stack the wood on the pier. Then he walked on to his home.

There were seven of them, Peter Butler, his wife Mary, Peter's father, and four other men, all field hands and all from a North Carolina plantation. They'd come north through Philadelphia to New York City and then up the Hudson to Albany where they were given a ride west on the Erie Canal aboard Black Joe's boat. Black Joe was a free black man. He owned his own canal boat and in the past he had smuggled dozens of runaways from Albany aboard it. He had put the group ashore in Palmyra, a day's journey from Pultneyville and the runaways had then come north to Williamson concealed under a wagon load of hay. Here, they spent the night at another “station” on the underground railroad before traveling afoot during darkness with a guide leading them the last five miles to Cuyler's house by the lake.

It was now late afternoon and Cuyler and Peter Butler stood on the porch surveying the lake and the little harbor to the west. They were also watching a large steamer, bold of bow and graceful of line, now slowing as she neared the harbor pier. The slap of her paddle wheel blades striking the water and the grand sounding hoot of her steam whistle as she backed down to come alongside the pier carried clearly to them over the quiet evening water.

“There's your boat.” said Cuyler. “After dark you'll go aboard. The captain will take you to Rochester and you'll be transferred to a Canadian steamer there. For now though, we'd best say inside. The fewer people see you the better. There are at least three bounty hunters in town, and I'm sorry to say there are a few locals who would also like a reward for turning in runaways.”

Darkness comes slowly in mid-summer on Lake Ontario. It was nearly 11 o'clock before the front door of Cuyler's house opened, and the fugitives filed out into the quiet night. Peter had told his wife to follow close with Father at her back. Peter led them quickly across the road and into the dark shadow of the warehouse on the pier's end. Here they pressed against the wall a few yards from the pile of cord wood for the ship's boilers that lay stacked down the length of the pier. The wood had been piled in two long lines about four feet high with a narrow lane between them just as Cuyler and told him it would be. Beyond lay the sleek white ship waiting to take them to freedom, her hull pale in the starlight. The lake lay still and hushed, as if it were holding its breath making not even a whisper against the shore, and the voices of a small group of men on the pier next to the steamer carried clearly to the runaways.

Peter looked up at the North Star near the bowl of the Drinking Gourd. They had followed that star for many days on their journey. Now the Ontario lay directly beneath it. He uttered a quick whispered prayer and then bent down to slip into the wood pile, followed by the rest of the group. As he disappeared into the shadowed lane, the unexpected sound of a banjo playing the song 'Dixie' came to his ears.

At the other end of the pier stood three southerners talking with Captain Throop who leaned on the railing beside his wheel house above them. Cuyler strolled up hands in pockets just as one of the southerners called out “Play another - do you know Jimmy Crack Corn?”

Throop picked up his instrument and said “Sing with me if you will. Sam here says I have a voice to shame a frog.”

Peter was nearly to the end of the wood pile. He crouched in its shadow wondering how they could get by the bounty hunters. The three slave catchers stood barely fifty feet away when he heard Mary gasp. A sudden clunk of a falling stick of firewood hitting the dock sounded behind him. Peter's stomach knotted in fear as he froze with bent knees in the darkness by the wood. A rat bolted across his feet, raced up onto the top of the woodpile beside him, and scampered away.

“What's that?” the tall man beside Cuyler asked as he turned to stare towards the wood pile. Peter's legs ached as he tried to stay still.

Cuyler, his hands clenched in his pockets, sounded casual as he said “I didn't hear anything.”

Then he gestured towards a small movement in the water, the V shaped wake left by a muskrat swimming by.

“There. It was that little swimmer perhaps.” He turned back to face the men. “Gents, I came to tell you a card game is in the making up at the Pigs Ear. If you can take yourself away from our Captain's sweet serenade, you'd be welcome to join us.” As he spoke, he jingled a handful of coins in his pocket.

The tall slave catcher's eyes followed the muskrat. Then he looked back at Cuyler and said “Reckon there's no action here tonight. Let's see what cards you Yanks can deal us.”

They moved off as Throop struck a chord from the banjo strings once and then began strumming a lively tune. When Peter still crouched on trembling legs, as motionless as the firewood next to him heard “Picayune Butler is Going Away” he reached for Mary beside him who took his hand and squeezed it in silent celebration. When the song ended, he straightened up and stepped forth followed by his family and the four men. All the runaways walked boldly up the gang plank for freedom.

The shadowed figure of the captain awaited them at the head of the gangway. Throop reached out to shake Peter's hand as he came up to the deck. “You're almost there. One more short passage and your journey's done. Now follow me this way.”

The next morning, after her fuel wood had been loaded, the Ontario cleared Pultneyville bound west. Once free of the harbor, Throop left the wheelhouse and went down to his cabin where he had hidden Peter's family. He invited them up on deck telling them “You're safe now. You can have the run of the ship until we reach Rochester. There we'll put you aboard my friend's boat for Canada. Andrew the Steward will take you all down for breakfast now.”

But Peter lingered behind for a moment. “Why do you do this, all you 'conductors'?”

Throop looked out over his ship's bow at the now calm waters ahead. Then he turned to meet Peter's steady gaze.

“I can't speak for Samuel and Captain Ledyard and Black Joe. Only myself. I was twelve when my father died. I turned to and went to work, for I had a mother and brother and two sisters to support. By the time I was twenty I had built my schooner Sophia, a thirty tonner. I lost her my first season through my own poor judgement. But people gave me another chance. My old master took me back at his shipyard and gave me work. I paid off my debts and began anew.”

Throop paused and leaned on the railing to gaze down at the water foaming along side the Ontario. He lifted his eyes to the horizon and continued.

“I have been very fortunate. There have been trials. I have always regretted my failure to secure investors for my screw driven steamer. I know my design was superior to the Ericcson propeller. But I have also worked with good people and I was exceedingly fortunate to have had the opportunity to design and build my Ontario, the finest steamer on all the lake.”

Throop straightened and again met Peter's steady gaze. “It's only right that others should have the same chances that I had. In the path of life there are many thorns as well as flowers. But man should be free to take that path wherever it leads.”

Peter nodded. “We are grateful”.

“Well, enough lofty talk. You should join your family for some food.”

“Yes sir. But can I ask one last question?”


“Why does your ship have a big eye painted on her side?”

“I caused that to be placed there. It is the Eye of Providence-under whose protection all men must mutually pledge to guard one another's lives, fortunes, and honor. Both afloat and ashore, we can do no less.”

© 2009 Susan Peterson Gately

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

With the Grain

Script No, 543, January 19, 2008

© 2008 David Minor / Eagles Byte

In 1643 Jesuit priest Father Isaac Jogues traveled around Dutch New York, stopping off at New Amsterdam to pay his respects to colonial director-general Willem Kieft. During his visit several Indian raids took place, in which the Natives, “burnt many houses and barns full of wheat.” The good Father, by the way, would be martyred by the Iroquois three years later, near the Mohawk River.

Jessie Ravage, writing in the Encyclopedia of New York State, describes how, by the mid-1700s, farmlands along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers and Scoharie Creek had become the ‘breadbasket’ of New York State. Much of the British Revolutionary War action along the latter was due to the fact that the region was a major supplier of wheat flour to the Continental army. In the years immediately following, landlords often levied their rents in the form of wheat. Gradually the northward spread of grain diseases pushed the growing areas further and further ahead, encouraging the settlement of lands to the west.

As mentioned last time, by late August of 1830, as John Fowler made his way across New York, that ‘breadbasket’ had moved into central and western New York. The construction of the Erie Canal had greatly facilitated the thrust and one of the greatest benefactors had been the canal-side village on the Genesee River. Jogues had mentioned one important use for the grain, right from the earliest Dutch settlement, which was the making of beer. That would continue on through Rochester’s development, as wheat and beer followed the plow, moving on through Buffalo and Milwaukee, until that ‘breadbasket’ would end up into the midwestern U. S.

As a student of agriculture, John Fowler showed particular interest in the wheat/flour business of Rochester, noting that the, “millers are making every effort to get their flour to New York, &c., ere the frosts commence. . . . At this, as at most of the villages I have passed along I have observed advertisements at the stores, in the public papers, and the bars of inns, offering the utmost cash price for any quantity of wheat”. He mentions the city’s eleven ‘flouring mills’ turning a total of 12,000 barrels of wheat into 2,500 bushels of flour. Every day! He goes on to mention, “various other mills and manufactories, distilleries, breweries, &c. &c., everything bespeaking the rising wealth and importance of the place.” But, as the morning moves along, he begins thinking of hitting the road again, telling his readers that frequent stages are leaving the village every day. He seems to have contracted a benevolent form of Genesee Fever – an earlier name for malaria – and has decided to check out more of the valley, planning to catch a stage upriver to visit Geneseo.

As he gathers his baggage we’ll take a moment to take a look at a wheat-related story appearing this year in the Rochester Republican. “Boring for Wheat – This is certainly an age of wonders. We have frequently heard of boring for water; but never till recently of boring for wheat. — Two persons (father and son,) lately succeeded in obtaining two barrels of wheat by boring with a common auger through the floor of Mr. Hill’s granary, [in] Parma, — it being elevated a little above the earth. They are now reaping the reward of their ingenuity in the county jail at Rochester.”

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Our Changing Lake

On March 25th [corrected date] author and sailor Susan Peterson Gateley will present a program on
recent changes in Lake Ontario history, a mystery, buried treasure tales and
how they are shaping the lake and our lives today - at the Ontario public
library. This illustrated talk will interest lake watchers, beach combers,
boaters and others with an interest in our great lake. During a illustrated
'virtual voyage' around the lake, Skipper Sue will share
observations and information on the lake and some of the major changes she has observed here during 40 years of sailing its waters and exploring its shoreline. Some of those changes are for the better, and some, for those who drink from a public water supply, not so much so. Nearly all the changes in the lake have the potential to eventually impact our own well-being considerably.

The talk is based on Peterson Gateley's most recent book "Twinkle Toes and the
Riddle of the Lake", published in 2009. She has written a half dozen books on
Lake Ontario's beaches, maritime heritage, and its ecology. She 'discovered'
Lake Ontario as child, but found her perspective on its importance to the area
greatly broadened after she began single-handing a 23 foot wooden sloop around
the lake.

Find out how a comet might have sunk the schooner Annandale, learn about a
possible a French treasure chest on Main Duck Island and other Lake Ontario
mysteries and recent changes as seen by Twinkle Toes the cat, in this program
at 7 pm at the public library in Ontario.

Ontario Public Library
1850 Ridge Road / Ontario, NY 14519
Phone: 315-524-8381 / Fax 315-524-5838

Wayne County Historical Society Map Club - March Meeting

We will be touring the offices of Wayne County Historian, Peter Evans. We will meet at his offices at 7:00, at 9 Pearl Street. Be aware that there are stairs and it is not handicap accessible. If you arrive late, please call Peter's cell phone at 846-5470 as the door will be locked when we are upstairs.

The meeting will be held on March 23 at 7pm.

At the last meeting Steve Paliotti brought in an 1822 Atlas and members enjoyed seeing how the canal was depicted as “The Grand Canal.” Edson Ennis also brought in an 1857 US/Mexico wall map.

Space is limited, so please call the museum for details.

For more information about this event, call the Museum of Wayne County History at 315-946-4943 or look at the website,

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Western New York Craft Art

Sunday, March 21
Rochester's Memorial Art Gallery will host
a panel discussion on the new book

Breaking Ground: A Century of Craft Art in Western New York

featuring Wendell Castle, Wayne Higby, Paul J. Smith, Suzanne Ramljak,
Robin Cass, Linda Sikora and Leonard Urso

2:30 PM
Memorial Art Gallery Auditorium
500 University Avenue

book signing to follow

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Le Roy's Ingham University

This Sunday, March 21st at 2:00 PM

Lynne Belluscio, curator of the Jell-O Museum at the Le Roy House

will speak at the meeting at the Henrietta Historical Society meeting

at the Henrietta Public Library on

“The Light that Failed – Ingham University for Women”.

455 Calkins Road

Rochester, NY 14623

1882 - Raised Barge Reaches Oswego

Oswego Morning Press
Sat. Aug 12, 1882

The Barge Kingsford in Port

The steam barge Thomson Kingsford, which was sunk by a collision
with the Saxon, on the Bay of Quinte, arrived in port yesterday. The
damage was temporarily repaired by a diver, she was pumped out and
steamed here. The cargo was taken off yesterday afternoon, and she
will go on Goble and Macfarlane's this morning. Captain McCarthy's
statement as to how the accident occurred, differs somewhat from
Capt. Van Alstyne's. He says the night was not dark, and that the
side on which the Kingsford was damaged proves that she was in her
proper position.

Submitted by Dick Palmer

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Central Library / Mt. Hope Cemetery

This coming Sunday, March 21st from 2:00 - 3:30 PM
The Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County and
The Friends of Mt. Hope Cemetery
will present the next in their series of "Rochester's Rich History" lectures

Strasenburgh Planetarium director Don Hall will speak on

Missing Mansions, East Avenue Then and Now

At the Kate Gleason Auditorium of the Bausch and Lomb Building
(handicapped accessible)
115 South Avenue (free parking on Sundays at the Court Street Garage)

Nunda Historical Society

This Sunday, March 21

"Golden Era of Silver Lake" 2 PM - Explore the fascinating history of nearby Silver Lake with Dan Miller, author of the new book "Silver Lake, New York: A Brief History". Copies of the book will be available at a special book signing.

The Nunda Historical Society meets at the Historical Society Building at 24 Portage Street.

(handicapped accessible)

Niagara County History and Genealogy

The Western New York Genealogical Society, Inc.
will hold their next meeting this Saturday, March 20th
at the Niagara Falls Public Library
1425 Main Street, Niagara Falls

The Schedule:

10:30 AM - Brief Business Meeting
11:00 AM - Speaker Craig Bacon, Niagara County Historian
12:00 noon - Lunch break, on your own, (no food in library)
12:30 PM - Local History Librarian Peter Ames will guide researchers
through library's genealogical collection materials
3:00 PM - Tour of Oakwood Cemetery

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Barns of the Genesee Valley, 1790-1915

On Thursday, March 18, at 7 PM, the Wheatland Historical Association will present publisher Jim Bruner, discussing his book on area barns.

Union Presbyterian Church of Scottsville

1 Brown Avenue
(585) 889-4574

As the accompanying comment notes, the book's author is Daniel A. Fink My apologies to Mr. Fink for omitting his name.

1370 Connection

This Monday 3/15, on 1370 WXXI-AM at 1 PM
Bob Smith will be presenting the following interview:

In this Women's History Month, we look at the impact of the history of the women's movement with filmmaker Louise Vance, who tells the story of how one group of youngsters was moved by experiencing the site of the birth of the modern women's rights movement.

Learning About The Women's Rights Movement LINK

A new film about a unique way some young women learned about the history of the women's rights movement will debut on WXXI-TV Wednesday, March 24th at 9:00pm.

“Seneca Falls” follows WOWER Power, a struggling multi-cultural theater troupe comprised of nine teenage girls from San Francisco, as they travel to Seneca Falls to perform their original play at the historic 150th Anniversary Celebration [1998] of this groundbreaking moment in American history.

Community Screening of "Seneca Falls" at the Memorial Art Gallery LINK

Saturday, March 20, 2010 - 1:00pm

Please join us for a preview screening of "Seneca Falls", followed by a panel discussion.

Other Womens History Month programming is listed at

Saturday, March 13, 2010


“Historic Photos of New York State” event

at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 18, at the Morgan-Manning House, 151 Main St., Brockport

Richard O. Reisem will present his book on historic photos from across the state during the event, which is free

For more information, call (585) 637-3645.

CENTRAL / WESTERN NEW YORK timeline / 1794


Governor George Clinton addresses the state legislature, urges strengthening defenses against the British. They vote £30,000 for fortifying New York City and £12,000 for the frontiers to the west and north.

Jan 27

Quaker mill owner Daniel Anthony (father of Susan B, Anthony) is born in East Hoosac (later Adams), Massachusetts.


Indian agent General Israel Chapin, noticing desertions from local reservations and fearing trouble from his charges, meets with them at Buffalo Creek and stays close to them on through this year and into the next.


William Berczy, Samuel Street, and Timothy Green, backed by Aaron Burr, Melancthon Smith and Elisha Boudinot, petition Canadian lieutenant governor John Graves Simcoe for 1,000,000 acres along the shore of Lake Ontario.

Mar 5

Onondaga County is carved out of Herkimer County. The town of Manlius is formed, with Comfort Tyler as Justice of the Peace. ** The Seneca County town of Ovid is formed.

Mar 22

The state legislature votes to extend the Mohawk Valley Road west from Fort Schuyler (Utica) to the Genesee River. The extension will be named the Main Genesee River Road.

Mar 26

William Berczy leaves New York City, heads upstate.

Apr 7

Berczy reaches Williamsburg.

Apr 15

Berczy leaves Williamsburg on a visit to Simcoe, accompanied by John Henry Sommerfeldt, Joachim Lunau and Francis Schmidt.

Apr 21

Chapin tries to get Mohawk chief Joseph Brant to agree to meet with George Washington at Pennsylvania's Fort Venango. Brant refuses. ** Onondaga sachem Clear Sky tells Chapin that the Iroquois nation is as free as any nation, including the

U. S.


The first church services in Ovid are held at the home of Abraham Covert.


A grand jury in Canandaigua fails to indict the German settlers who went on a rampage at Williamsburg last year. ** Chapin meets with O'Bale, son of Cornplanter, at Buffalo Creek. The chief insists Chapin accompany him to Presque Isle, Pennsylvania, to survey military conditions. Chapin agrees. ** Berczy and his German immigrants, having fled the law in the Genesee region, arrive at Queenston and Chippewa, Canada, on the Niagara River.

Jun 11

Carleton instructs Simcoe to prohibit the Americans from founding any settlement on the south shore of Lake Ontario.


Chapin manages to keep O'Bale and other chiefs from joining the British and other tribes in northwestern Ohio. ** The Iroquois meet at Canandaigua for internal discussions on a treaty with the U. S.

Jul 18

Simcoe protests to British minister to the U. S. George Hammond, in Philadelphia, that Charles Williamson’s settlement at Sodus is a threat to Canada.

Jul 25

The U. S. press publishes Simcoe's protest, and explains the threat it poses.


The wife of land agent Israel Chapin dies in Canandaigua. She's given the largest funeral the community's seen to date.

Aug 9

Christopher Dugan writes to Charles Williamson from the Falls of the Genesee, the first business letter written in (the future) Rochester. He informs the agent that the mill is badly in need of repairs, and that he would like some recompense for acting as caretaker for the property. ** New York State settler David Piffard is born in London’s Pentonville neighborhood, to a stockbroker and his wife.

Aug 10

A British party lead by Major Roger Hale Sheaffe crosses Lake Ontario, delivers a formal protest against Williamson's settlement at Sodus Bay and requests an audience with the land agent in a week's time.

Aug 19

Williamson drafts a letter to family friend Henry Dundas, secretary in the English Home Office, strenuously protesting Simcoe's threats

Sep 20

Colonel Timothy Pickering arrives at Canandaigua.

Sep 25

Williamson pays H. MacKenzie $41.20 to cover ‘his Expenses to Genesee Mills to get them repaired.’

Sep 26

The Oneida arrive at Canandaigua for the treaty talks. Canadian government representatives have been barred from the negotiations.


Cornplanter meets with Simcoe, who promises the Seneca chief Canadian land at Lake Ontario's Long Point if an agreement with the Americans is not reached. ** Farmer's Brother and Little Billy and their Senecas arrive at Canandaigua, joining the Cayugas, Oneidas, and Onondagas. Cornplanter arrives the following day.


Charles Williamson and his wife Ann have a son, Alexander.

Nov 4

Pickering feels he has soothed Indian feelings over the issues of Presque Isle and land along the Niagara River.

Nov 7

Some of the Indians drink too much and no negotiations take place.

Nov 9

Pickering presents the treaty to the assembled chiefs, but Cornplanter objects on the grounds of previous bad faith.

Nov 11

The Pickering Treaty is signed at Canandaigua, limiting the Seneca to western New York lands.The Six Nations receive $10,000 in goods as payment for their land at disputed points, notably Presque Isle, Ohio. The U. S. agrees to add $3000 to the $1500 annual payment promised to the tribes forever.


Charles Williamson's Geneva Hotel, built at a cost of $15,000, is completed. He hires former English hotelier Thomas Powell as manager and an English chef; celebrates the opening with a grand ball.


County boundaries are surveyed in the Military Tract. ** Connewango pioneer Sarah Ash (Metcalf) is born in Rensselaer County. ** A “Block-house” or public storehouse is erected at the salt springs at Onondaga Lake. ** The legislature authorizes the surveying of a road between Utica and the Genesee River. ** Onondaga County is carved out of part of Herkimer County. ** Jediah Stephens, having been recently elected supervisor of the new Canisteo district (parts of Steuben, Allegany and Livingston counties), meets Painted Post supervisor Eli Mead at Cohocton Village. They ride to Canandaigua together. ** The approximate date Elder Daniel Irish conducts the first church services (Baptist) in the Cayuga County town of Fleming. ** Augustus Porter prepares a map of the Phelps and Gorham Purchase from his own survey. ** East Bloomfield pioneer Markham family buys another farm in the area. The resulting settlement is named Markham's. ** Potential Indian and British problems slow settlement in the Genesee region. ** Philadelphian Thomas Cooper visits the Genesee Country. ** The town of Northfield, in what will become Monroe County, is created, containing the future towns of Brighton, Henrietta, Irondequoit, Penfield, Perinton, Pittsford, and Webster. ** The population of Herkimer County is 1500; Otsego County 12000, Tioga County 7000. ** Judge Augustus Porter leads a team to re-run the 1788 Pre-Emption Line, to correct errors. ** Abraham Cuddeback becomes the first settler in Skaneateles, starting a homestead in the military tract. ** Jemima Wilkinson arrives in the Town of Jerusalem with her followers. ** The Fabius area is settled. ** A bridge across the Genesee River is built at Avon. ** John Danforth arrives in the future Liverpool. ** The Candor village area of Tioga County is first settled. ** The Town of Virgil, part of the Town of Homer in Herkimer County, becomes part of Onondaga County.


Strict Baptist Minister Thomas Streeter settles near here. ** The governor and the council of appointment make Charles Williamson an Ontario county judge.


Pulteney land agent Charles Williamson arrives in the area. He lays out a village green (later Pulteney Square).


A one-room log schoolhouse, paid for by subscription, is built south of Pittsford. John Barrows is the first teacher. It will be the only one in the area for ten years. ** Early settler Simon Stone builds a sawmill and a grist mill just to the west of the settlement.


The Philadelphia office of the Holland Land Company hires surveyor Joseph Ellicott to mark out company-owned land in the northwestern part of the state.


Free black Asa Dunbar establishes a settlement in the Rochester area, on the east side of the Genesee River, which will one day become the Corn Hill neighborhood. ** Benjamin Barton sells his mill site on the upper falls of the Genesee to Sir William Pulteney and associates. ** Ebenezer “Indian” Allen abandons his unprofitable mill on the Genesee and moves to Canada.

Charles Williamson

Williamson clears a road between Palmyra and Sodus Point in the spring - the Old Sodus Road. He builds an inn on Sodus Bay and lays out 100 building lots. ** He acquires the Genesee Mill Lot once belonging to Ebenezer Allan in the future Rochester, from Robert Morris. ** Charles Cameron, an agent of Williamson, begins a village at Lyons. ** Williamson sends Joseph Biven to build a tavern on the Conhocton River (Biven's Corners, then North Cohocton. ** Williamson has Bath's main square (Pulteney) cleared except for a Liberty Pine Tree and has a blockhouse erected, in case of a Canadian-Indian invasion. He also has a one-story frame courthouse and a log jail built. When he learns of the U. S. victory over the Indians at Fallen Timbers he demolishes the blockhouse and builds 40 log homes, a theater and a racetrack. He offers ready-made farms for sale.

© 2012 David Minor / Eagles Byte