Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sweet Land of Libbeus

Script No, 547, February 23, 2008

© 2008 David Minor / Eagles Byte

Entering Batavia from the east John Fowler mentions spotting an “extensive brewing establishment”. He doesn’t know its history but this would be the three-year-old brewery on the future Elm Street, just off to the right as he rode by. It had been built by Libbeus Fish, who had come from Vermont as a young boy in 1796, along with his father, to the mouth of the Genesee. The two had stayed there with one of the numerous Hosmer clan for several days, Libbeus suffering with the less-lethal form of Genesee fever found away from the swampy parts of the river’s valley. Father and son set up a mill and were soon joined by the mother and five other children. The following year the eight Fish’s would build a cabin near Ebenezer Allan’s mill, future site of downtown Rochester. Before long Libbeus had a new brother, John, by many accounts the first white child born in the growing settlement, although he had several rivals in the infant persons of Mortimer Reynolds, Seneca Allan, and a son of Enos Stone.

By 1800, then in his early thirties, Libbeus had purchased property on the east end of Batavia, near the site of the school on Ross Street, and a few year later purchased more land a few blocks back to the east. He became a town trustee and later a president of the Bank of the Genesee. He ran the brewery until 1835, then turned it over to his son Eli. Today, after a succession of owners – and fires - the plant’s descendent, the R. R. Gamble Distributing Company, operates at Batavia’s Industrial Park on the other end of town. Fowler takes a moment to expound on the good then being done by various temperance societies against the “too free use of ardent spirits.” He does approve of the substitution of “malt liquor” but it’s not the stronger malt liquor of today. Back then, to a Brit the phrase referred to a weaker brew, which was often augmented with more potent spirits to ‘up’ the alcoholic potency.

But, on into Batavia. Fowler feels it’s quite a bit larger than Le Roy, but the population figures he gives are only 200 higher here than Le Roy’s. He also mentions seeing two or three good inns, the Holland Company’s land office, and a court house with its attendant jail. Which brings us back to the trial we mentioned last week.

Full details are not easily accessible. Here’s what we do know, courtesy of the Ithaca Journal of April, 1830, and the Saratoga Sentinel of June. As mentioned last time, in early January anti-Mason stalwarts James and Elijah Gray, father and son, allegedly murdered James Davis in Le Roy. The ensuing trial opened in Batavia on Wednesday, April 21st, Judge Gardner presiding, with D. A. Rumsey and lawyers Marvin and Redfield for the people; esquires Allen, Chandler and Hosmer (G. Hosmer, this time) for the defendants. Both teams had their days in court. By the time everyone had made his speeches – usually from three to five hours apiece – it was a few minutes before midnight on Saturday. Judge Gardner then turned the case over to the jury, to be decided then and there, even though it was the Sabbath, it apparently being too inconvenient to continue the trial on Monday. Around seven AM the jury found the Grays guilty. One online source did report that Governor Throop had later commuted one of the sentences, but further details are elusive. If you know what happened, let us all know. Next time we’ll shuffle off west.

© 2008 David Minor / Eagles Byte

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dr. John W. Potter and the Mineral Spring

By George Henry, Historian

John W. Potter was born May 15, 1821 in Vine Valley Yates County On Aug 4, 1846 he married Mary Lucetta Cornell in Albany NY. After her death he married Mary Catterson (or Mary Catherson depending on the source). He died Jan.17, 1889 in Canandaigua NY. That is the beginning and the end of Dr. Potter's life. It is the middle that makes him interesting and a part of the history of the Town of Gorham.

Dr. Potter was educated at Alfred Academy, Genesee Wesleyan Academy and Albany Medical College. He practiced medicine in Albany County and in Glen Aubrey, Broome County. He was supposedly a surgeon during the Mexican War.

In 1856 he went to Kansas but returned and settled in Tidioute, Warren County PA. It was during this time that the oil fields were being developed. Dr. Potter speculated in the buying and selling of land, example according to his Federal Income Tax, he made $10,000.00 within that year. He was somehow also involved in the oil business. He became a wealthy man during his stay in PA.

While he was still in Warren Co. PA. he prepared for his move to Canandaigua. On July 7, 1866 he purchased part of lot 31 in Canandaigua and 100 acres from James and Ellen Whorral of Canandaigua near Main St.

Mary Jane Potter describes her father's reason for moving to Canandaigua in her April 20, 1869 diary as follows. " We leave this place with the intention of going to Canandaigua and building a water cure at the springs on Cananadaigua Lake."

Dr. Potter made much money in the buying and selling of land in PA and he continued to do the same in Canandaigua. During the period between 1869 and 1876 he purchased nine properties. He and his sons were actively involved in the operation of some of these farms. He was also a very active in breeding of race horses and in horse racing. In 1869 his horses took first prize at the Rushvlle Fair and two week later first prize at the Reed Corners Fair.

Dr. Potter felt that mineral springs water could cure people. He often went to Burdick's Water Cure in Buffalo, to one in Rochester and the Clifton Springs Spa. On April 4 1869 he purchased for $5500.00 from John and Elizabeth Salisbury of the Town of Gorham 40 acres plus 4 1/2 acres on the lake for the mineral springs. This included "right" at all times to go on the land to repair, take away and put down pipes running from the spring.

This 40 acres was in the north west corner of what is now the Martin Farm on East Lake Rd. There is a small stream running through it. In talking to the people that operate the Martin Farm this is what I learned. There was/is a spring about 1/2 mile from the road. Several years ago it was dug out to form a pond about 10-12 feet down at the bottom of the pond was a large boulder. When this stone was moved the water came gushing out. It was a vile smelling and tasting water. So we have Dr. Potter's water cure spring.

The description of the mineral springs from the Potter family genealogy by Harry G. Tuttle. " The mineral spring was about 5 miles down the East lake Rd. The spring was not on the road, the water was piped down about a mile . It had a strong sulfur smell, there was always an accumulation around the edge of the pipe". As of Aug 17,1869 his price was five cents a gallon.
Dr. Potters dream of a water cure spa did not advance beyond the finding of and piping the spring water to the road and his house.

Source material
The Potter Descendants of Avery Potter, James G. Potter and George W. Potter
By Harry G. Tuttle.
Record of deeds-- County Archives

Thursday, August 19, 2010



Jan 7

James Rees writes to surveyor Seth Pease, anxious to hurry along the corrected traverse survey of the Genesee River.

Feb 15

Congress passes legislation allowing any state to discharge its Revolutionary War debt by payment to the Treasury before April of next year, or by spending a like amount over the next five years in the construction of fortifications. New York State is the only one that chooses to do the latter.

Mar 8

Cayuga County is formed out of Onondaga County. ** The Onondaga County town of Camillus is formed from Marcellus.

Mar 29

New York State passes a gradual emancipation act.

May 25

The board of supervisors of Bath meets for the first time. Canisteo's first supervisor, Uriah Stephens presides. Charles Cameron is appointed as the first Steuben County treasurer.


James Wadsworth having returned to Geneseo, makes another visit to New York City.

Aug 1

Pease's surveying party encounters a scarcity of drinking water, is forced to use some found deep in a hole punched in the ground by a fallen tree.

Oct 3

Chloe Boardman Lusk, first wife of Penfield pioneer Stephen Lusk, dies of the 'fever' at the age of 22.

Oct 6

John Noyes Wadsworth's widow, Esther Parsons Wadsworth, mother of James, William and John Wadsworth, dies at the age of 67, is buried in Geneseo's Temple Hill Cemetery.


Hector pioneer William Wickham falls from his horse and drowns in the Seneca Lake inlet.


Philadelphia lawyer Philip Church meets Anna Stewart at Washington's funeral. They will marry in 1805 and move to the New York frontier.


Scots immigrants living in Johnstown buy land from Charles Williamson of the Pultney interests and an advance party of 23 settle Big Springs (later Caledonia). ** Williamson is named as a state representative again. ** A number of families settle along Le Roy's East Main Road. ** Seneca sachem Handsome Lake sees visions, becomes a prophet. ** Legislation is passed to control quality of the salt manufactured in the Onondaga area. Further packaging, inspection and shipping standards are also mandated. ** Early Connewango settler Asabel Brown is born in Grand Isle, Vermont. ** With land sales faltering the state begins a system of taxes. ** The first distance markers on the Williamson Trail are erected by Laverne Beatty, between Bath and Cohocton, at a cost of $7.00. ** Holland Land Company General Agent Theophilus Cazenove is fired and returns to his native Switzerland. He will be replaced next year by Paolo Busti. ** Daniel Carroll of Hagerstown, Maryland, and his brother Charles of Washington, D. C. make their first trip to the Pulteney lands. ** Canandaigua's St. John's Episcopal Church is founded. ** The Ganargua River, flowing out of the Bristol Hills and through the future Wayne County to the junction of the Clyde River and Canandaigua Outlet, now cleared of debris by settlers as far as Palmyra, is declared a public waterway. ** The majority of Northampton County's officials are re-elected. Jesse Beach is named pathmaster, the first west of Caledonia. Fifty dollars is raised for town expenses, especially the construction of bridges. ** The village of Salina (the nucleus of the future Syracuse) is laid out at the eastern end of Lake Onondaga to house workers in the new salt industry. ** The first church in the future Monroe County is formed in Pittsford. ** John Tryon opens a store in Monroe County's Town of Brighton. ** Canandaigua attorney Nathaniel W. Howell is named attorney general for western New York. ** Connecticut born Micah Brooks settles in East Bloomfield. ** French writer and traveler François Alexandre Frédéric, duc de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt visits Niagara Falls.


Joseph Ellicott plats the Buffalo Creek site. It's to be called New Amsterdam. ** Surveyor William Peacock first visits the area.


The Congregational church and St. John's Episcopal Church are founded.


James Wadsworth establishes Castle Town in what will become the 19th Ward. ** Settler Enos Blossom builds a house at the future junction of Linden Avenue and Landing Road. ** Eli Granger and Abner Mingells launch the first American-built merchant vessel on Lake Ontario, at Hanford’s Landing.

(c) 2010 David Minor / Eagles Byte

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Society August Trip

Planned by Richard Reisem

editors' note:

The group has no official "membership" - newcomers are always welcome

please e-mail Martha Johnstone at with your RSVPs



The farmhouse was built in 1820 and lived in by Amos Buckland, one of

four brothers who were early settlers in Brighton. The house is built

of Brighton brick manufactured by the Buckland family. Our tour guide

is Mary Jo Lanphear, who is the Brighton historian. She will tell us

the interesting history of the house, the Buckland family, and their

contributions to the fascinating history of the Town of Brighton. The

gardens were planned and are maintained by the town and Allens Creek

Garden Club. The tour will take approximately an hour and 15 minutes.

After lunch, if the weather is nice, Richard Reisem will offer a

brief tour of the south section of Mount Hope Cemetery, which is

directly across the street from the Elmwood Inn. The tour will focus

on famous artists buried in Mount Hope and the sculptural works of

famous artists, which will include an enormous Art Deco monument

designed by Tiffany Studios, the Gannett monument designed by

Fletcher Steele, the William Warfield monument with engraving of

Showboat, the fine calligraphy of a famous penman, the artistic

versatility of the Noah Corning family, and the gravesite of the man

who became the protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, in Kurt Vonnegut's

Slaughterhouse Five. The walking tour will be about an hour.


Saturday, August 14, 11:30 am

Tour Guide Nancy Uffindell

The Erie Canal fueled our nation's westward expansion. It made Rochester a boom town, and New York the Empire State. Meet some of Mount Hope Cemetery's famous and less famous people and explore their important connections to this legendary waterway.

Meet: North Gatehouse opposite Robinson Drive

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Reed Corners Grange Dinners

By George Henry, Historian

What is the "Grange" you ask? The readers born after 1960 may not know how important the Grange was during the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century.

The Grange Patrons of Husbandry was founded in 1867 as a fraternal organization to promote the economic health of the farm community. This included buying supplies, marketing produce and lobbying for education and research programs. From the Grange sprang the Cooperative Extension Service, Farm Credit Service, Rural Mail Delivery and, in our area, the Grange League Federation aka GLF and later as Agway.

The Reed's Corners Grange was founded in 1875. The meetings were held in homes, the Baptist Church and the old hotel. In 1914 they purchased Tozer's wagon shop which was remodeled to include a kitchen. Membership topped in 1936 at 231. The Grange was the center of social activities with round and square dancing almost every week during the fall and winter months. It was where many organizations held their dinner meetings. At that time every farm community had a Grange Hall.

It is the Grange dinners that is the focus of this article. But first some background into the social and economic conditions of the period from 1936 to mid 1960. The folks then had survived the great depression and WW2. They were frugal people and money in general was tight. There were not many eating establishments with large banquet rooms. In 1942 there was the Canangaigua Hotel and the Webster Hotel with accomadations sufficent to handle a large group. Today there are five places that can handle a large group. IN 1942 Mom was home taking care of the house and preparing meals. They sure were not going to spend $5.00 at a resturant when they could have a good home cooked meal. Today with two income families, and the perception of money much different, it is easier to just go out for dinner. The Grange kitchen and dinning room was multipurpose.It was a place for the church, grange and other organizations to hold their dinner meetings and a source of income for the grange.

There is no record of how many dinners the Grange put on during the period between 1938 and 1968. However, Mae Henry was in charge of 79 dinners. In two notebooks she recorded the menues of thoes dinners. The organizations included the Odd Fellows, Lions Club, Rotary Club, Church, International Harvester, Republican Committee, School, Girl Scouts, Grange, an insurance company,father and son banquets and dinners put on for the general public with the purpose of generating income for the Grange. On some of the menus is recorded the income, cost and profit of that dinner.

It must be noted that the work, time and effort to put these dinners on was all volunteer by the ladies of the grange. Even some of the food like pies, cakes and bread was baked by these folks and donated. There is one page in the note books that records the folks who donated. As follows: Beulah-2 large containers jello, Mary-2 gal milk 2 lemon pies, Helen Otis-one bu. potatoes, Ethel -one lb butter, Ethel Pulver- steamed b bread, Lillian- 2 pies, Adelaide 2 glasses jelly, Elizabeth- 2 pies and on and on for 16 more ladies

These were not small dinners, on some is recorded the number served. The smallest was 49, the largest was 325. The average of the recorded numbers was 105. Some were served family style, with heaping platters of food put on the tables. Others served cafeteria style, this was mostly for the 2 cent, 3 cent and 5 cent suppers. I should explain what a 2 cent supper was. A serving of potatoes was 2 cents, vegetables 2 cents, meat 2 cents, bread same, coffee same through the rest of the menu. The dinners put on for the general public were very popular with folks coming from all over even coming from Canangaigua. And why not, with some of the best cooks preparing the food and real home made pies, cake and bread. The price sure was right as you will see later in this article.

The mornings of the dinner must have been something to watch, and the organization would have made a General proud. The ladies would gather peel and prepare the potatoes, prepare the meats for cooking, make salads, cut vegetables, set the tables and all the other tasks that go into serving 300 people. When dinner time came the daughters and some of the men would help serve the food, pour coffee and make sure the platters were full of food. Ah yes, then dinner is over and the work of cleaning up and washing the dishes still had to be done. Now this made for a long day and some very tired folks.

This is an example of a 5 cent supper.

Ham 75 lb.

Scalloped potatoes 1 bu.

Beets 1 pk.

Carrots 1 pk.

Turnips 1 pk.

large kettle of squash

Cold slaw large cooker of sliced cabbage

Baked beans 3 large dishes

Brown bread 8 loaves

Buttered rolls 24 doz.

Cottage cheese 4 furnished

Pickles 4 furnishes

Pies 28

Cake 7

Served over 233. Took in $120 and cleared $85.23

This means that the folks ate for $.51 per person. No wonder they were popular.

Try doing this one today. Served 150.

1 and 1/2 gal. oysters raw.

5 and 1/2 gal. oysters scalloped

Scalloped potatoes 7 pans

Cabbage salad 11 dishes

Rolls 15 doz.

Butter 3 lbs.

Pickles 1 and 1/2 gal.

Coffee 6 lbs. used 4

Cream 6 qts


Cakes 16

Jell-O 16

One more example of a 5 cent supper served over 300.

Beef 75 lbs

Potatoes mashed 1 1/2 bu.

Beans 4 dishes

Jello 4 1 qt. dishes

Milk 2 gal.

Butter 5 lbs.

Coffee 7 lbs.

Carrot salad

Cabbage 20 lbs.

B Bread 4 -2 loaves each ( I thinks this means that 4 people made 2= loaves)

Pies 12-2 each ( same with the pies)

Cake 5 (not enough)

Took in $145.00 Cleared $ 91.00.

This means the folks had a meal for $.48. What a deal.

For anyone interested the original diaries are on file at the Ontario County Museum and digitalized copies are at the Gorham Museum.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cayuga Museum of History and Art barbecue fundraiser

Food catered by Balloon’s Restaurant and music by The Flying Column will be the main attractions for this 4th Annual Cayuga Museum of History and Art barbecue fundraiser to be held on Sunday, August 15th from 3 pm to 6 pm at the Deauville Island Shelter at Emerson Park in Auburn, NY. Tickets are only $25 per person for adults and $15 for children under 10 years. Tickets are available by advance sale only.

To purchase tickets, visit, call or send a check to the Cayuga Museum, 203 Genesee St., Auburn, NY. 13021. Tickets are also available at No ticket will be sold after August 9th. For more information, contact Museum staff at (315) 253-8051.