Thursday, May 26, 2011

Research Help

I had a request from Richard Cooper, one of our readers, asking for information on the Canandaigua Lake steamers of the 1800s. He was also looking for a map of their routes and where they docked.

He and I have checked out the back issues of the pre-blog Crooked Lake Review featuring Dick Palmer’s two pieces from 9/1995 and 10/1995. Also a reference to the Robert J. Verhile paperback (can’t put my hands on my copy right now).

We’ve seen the following website materials:

Preston E. Pierce’s “Historical Tour” of the lake

The Arbor Hill description of the Vierhile book

The Hub Pages’ “Tour of Canandaigua Lake & its history”

The USGenNet’s “History of Ontario County” pages 54-60

The sketchy map at

and The Woodville description at

If anyone has further suggestions for Richard could you please pass them along by adding your “Comment” below this post?

Any help will be appreciated.

David Minor

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rochester History Lecture Series

Tuesday, May 24, 7 p.m.

Ellwanger Estate, Carriage House:

"Albert Stone Photo Collection" with Lea Kemp

Ellwanger Estate, 625 Mt. Hope Avenue.

$12, with coffee, tea and light refreshments by Eco Bella Bakery

For details, contact Rose O'Keefe:; (585.244.4558)

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Erie Canal: The Power of a Can-Do Attitude

Skaneateles Library
Saturday May 21, 2011 1:00 p.m.

Author Martha Kendall tells the amazing history of the canal, which President Jefferson and President Madison said could never be built. They claimed the idea was "madness." But the 8th Wonder of the World was built, and the young United States knew that anything was possible! In addition to telling stories about this engineering marvel of its time, Martha Kendall performs music of the era on fiddle, guitar, banjo and penny whistle, and she shows stunning images of the canal today.

Free. No registration required. One-Time Event.

Sunday, May 15, 2011



"Disaster on Lake Erie:
The 1841 Wreck of the Steamship Erie"

Meet author Alvin F. Oickle, when he joins us at the Historical Society on May
19, to sign copies of his new book on a historic Lake Erie disaster.

According to his publisher, Mr. Oickle's newest release from the imprint is an
exciting treatise on a historic happening:
"On August 9, 1841, the steamship Erie, one of the most elegant and fastest
sailing [such vessels] between Buffalo and Chicago, departed, carrying 343
passengers. Many were Swiss and German immigrants, planning to start new lives
in America's heartland-[and] most never made it. The Erie erupted in flames
during the night, and, despite the heroic efforts of the crew of the rescuing
ship Dewitt Clinton, 254 lives were lost. As news of this disaster spread,
internationally renowned artists and writers, including Horatio Alger Jr. and
possibly James Fenimore Cooper, wrote about 'John Maynard,' a fictitious, heroic
helmsman. Historian Alvin F. Oickle's minute-by-minute account weaves together
the tragedy of the immigrant families almost at journey's end, the legend of
John Maynard that developed in the aftermath, and the fury of a fire on an
ocean-like lake."

WHEN: Thursday, May 19, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

INFORMATION:, (716) 873-9644

The Genesee Valley Civil War Roundtable

presents Joyce Thompson Hovey on "Myths & Legends of Abraham Lincoln" at 7:30 PM, May 18th. The meeting will be held at the American Legion, 453 West Main Street, Le Roy.

A discussion period will follow. New members are welcome.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New Society May Trip

The May meeting will be held on Saturday, May 14, 2011. We will meet at the Crosman Seed Company, 507 West Commercial Street in East Rochester.

Don Shilling will give a talk on "Concrest", the residential area nearby that was developed by Kate Gleason for the employees of the Gleason Works. After the talk we will have an introduction to the Crosman Seed Company.

Lunch will be at Lemoncello Cafe, 157 West Commercial Street in East Rochester. Their menu includes salads and paninis as well as cakes and gelato and specialty coffees. If you are planning to attend, please reply to me by May 10 [today]. We hope to see you on the 14th.

Martha Johnstone
585 473-0404

Monday, May 9, 2011

May 14, 2011: Civil War Saturday in Yates County!

Mark your calendars for this exciting day, when the Yates County Genealogical and Historical Society commemorates the 150th anniversary of the departure of the Keuka Rifles for the war. Events will get underway at the Court House at 9:30 a.m., with music and re-enactments of speeches and ceremonies that took place almost exactly 150 years ago.

Author George Contant will be on hand to talk about the Keuka Rifles and sign copies of his book, Path of Blood. A parade down Main Street, featuring re-enactors young and old, will follow. In the afternoon, the Penn Yan Fire Department will host a barbecue at Firmen’s Field, where a Civil War era pumper and a cannon will be on display. The cannon may even be fired!

All day, visitors may view an exhibit of Civil War era artifacts and documents at the L. Caroline Underwood Museum on Chapel Street.

At 6:30 p.m., The 77th New York Regimental Balladeers, David Kincaid, and the Irish Volunteers [live links on each of the three] will sing and play Civil War music at a free concert at Penn Yan Academy. What a day!

We need volunteers of all sorts to make this weekend a success – organizers, costume makers, musicians, and re-enactors! Email Ray Copson,, if you can help, or call the society at 315 536-7318.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Greece Historical Society meeting

TUESDAY MAY 10TH Greece Town Hall 7:00 p.m.

Following a brief annual meeting and election of board members,

the Greece Historical Society presents . . . . . . . . . . . .


by Janis Gleason

Kate Gleason, groundbreaking 19th century industrialist, mechanical engineer and real estate developer, was her own best invention. Living by the motto, “If I can, I will,” she engineered her own fate as an astute visionary—often regaled by the press as the “female mechanical genius with a Midas touch.”

Kate Gleason was the first woman to be accepted into Cornell’s engineering program. While she did not finish at Cornell, she is credited with helping her family’s small business grow into a nationally recognized machinery producer. During her presidency at the First National Bank of East Rochester, Gleason started eight businesses, one of which built affordable homes for working families. She continued her construction efforts while rebuilding Berkeley, Calif., and the French village of Septmonts. Kate Gleason continued the activist role of her mother, Ellen, supporting woman's suffrage and bequeathing much of her estate to philanthropic causes after her death in 1933.

JANIS GLEASON, a former board president of Writers & Books, is the author of this first definitive look at the life of Kate Gleason and her pioneering steps in the fields of business and engineering at a time when few women were allowed to be active in either. Her research over the past two decades has taken her from Rochester, to California, to South Carolina, and to France.

Currently serving as vice president of the Gleason Family Foundation, Janis Gleason has won numerous awards for her contributions to literary arts and civic organizations, including the University of Rochester’s Robert F. Metzdorf Award and The Community Foundation’s Philanthropy Award. She is married to James S. Gleason, the chairman of Gleason Corporation and the grand-nephew of Kate Gleason.

Following the program Mrs. Gleason will be available to autograph her new book "The Life & Letters of Kate Gleason", which will be available for sale. Soft cover $19.00 - hard cover $26.00

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Lyons Advertiser, Friday July 19,1822

(From the American Journal)

The opening of the Erie Canal has given a celebrity to the western part of this state, which without this great enterprise, it would have probably taken many years to acquire. Its fertile soil, its extensive and internal water communications, and its beautiful and variegated scenery, begin to attract the attention of travelers and strangers. No portion of our country will within a few years be able to compete with us in prosperity and improvement. Blessed with a climate equally removed from the scorching rays of a torrid sun, and the rigor of a polar winter, all the necessaries and comforts, and many of the luxuries of life, may be produced in the greatest abundance; and whatever surplus is produced, may, by means of the canal, be transported at a moderate charge to sure and profitable markets.

I have been led, Mr. Editor, to these brief reflections, from a short excursion I lately made down the Cayuga lake to Montezuma, and a few miles on the canal. A more agreeable and pleasant excursion than this cannot be made in our country. The shores of our beautiful Lake are not surpassed by any other in this country and perhaps in the world. In passing from Ithaca to Cayuga Bridge, we have a delightful and gradual transition, from lofty and elevated banks, rising with a gradual ascent to the height of five hundred feet but all susceptible of the highest cultivation, to scarcely fifty feet above the level of the lake.

Many elegant and well-cultivated farms, line the shores of this delightful Lake; and here and there a village crowns its banks, apparently resting in case and opulence. Prominent in situation and appearance rises Aurora, on the eastern shore of the Lake, twelve mils from the Bridge. It contains between thirty and forty houses, some of them elegant and all neat and rural. The Lake is here 4 miles wide , and the opposite shore in a high state of cultivation. Here are a male and female Academy, both in a flourishing state; and indeed its rural secluded situation, points it out as the seat of the muses. The Academic groves and rippling waters, carry our imagination back to the ages of ancient Greece, to the days of Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle.

Two miles below Aurora, Savanna Point projects into the lake- a most delightful situation, and to the man of taste and rural disposition, a most desirable resident. Four miles below this, is the village of Union Spring. This has the appearance of being thriving little spot. A large spring affording sufficient water to move a flouring mill and other machinery gives importance to the place.

Below this, commences the chain of beds of Gypsum, of more real value to the country than the same quantity of the precious metals. These quarries produce annually several thousand tons of this substance, which is consumed in the country about the Lakes and large quantities scat up the Lake to Ithaca, from thence transported to the Susquehanna river, and floated down its current to the interior of Pennsylvania. This trade was carried to a very great extent during the late war.

From the village of Union Spring, in passing down the Lake, the Cayuga Bridge can in a clear day be perceived, stretching like a line more than a mile in length across the Lake; and the villages East and West Cayuga, present a very pleasing appearance as they are approached from the south.

The west side of the lake, though destitute of any villages on its shore, is by no means devoid of interest. The great number of delightful farms cultivated to the very water’s edge, and a number of projecting points of land give a pleasing variety to the scenery. Some of those points have an enchanting effect upon the traveler, as they are approached. They are level plains, evidently produced by the alluvion deposits of the streams in their immediate vicinity, clothed with scattered elms and maples, and destitute of underbrush. In passing them, one is reminded of the tales of fairy land. This lake is becoming the channel of a very considerable commerce. It is the connecting link of a very extensive rich, and flourishing country, with the great canal. A steamboat has been in operation two seasons on the lake. The public are in a great measure indebted to the enterprise and public spirit of Oliver Phelps, Esq., for his eligible and delightful conveyance. The boat is more than a hundred tons burthen, handsomely fitted for the accommodation of passengers, and every attention is paid to their comfort and wants, by Mr. Phelps, who superintends himself.

Mr. Phelps has lately constructed an ingenious horse-boat to ply between the Bridge and the canal at Montezuma. This boat is a pleasing change from the monotonous movement of the canal boats to the more animated motion of the American Water Coach, as the proprietor has very happily named it. The conveyance in this boat is pleasant and safe. It is handsomely fitted for the accommodation of twenty or thirty passengers. It reflects great credit on the projector and proprietor, and it is to be hoped that his enterprise will be justly appreciated and rewarded..

Submitted by Richard Palmer

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Honeoye Falls/Town of Mendon Historical Society

Our May 5 program was scheduled to occur when the expanded Mendon Public Library is to open.

The program: “A Pictorial History of Early Rochester Public Library (Including Gates Public Library)” is to be presented by Susan Swanton, Retired Director, Gates Public Library.

The program is at the Mendon Community Center, 167 N. Main Street, Honeoye Falls.

It begins at 7:30 pm.

There is no charge to attend the meeting; the facility is accessible to the handicapped.