Friday, August 19, 2011


Received the following query from Louis Krupp. Anyone with any possible leads can post them as a COMMENT to this message. ALSO please copy your reply to Louis at

David Minor

I found a copy of "My Golden School Days: Class Memories" (copyright 1911, Reilly & Britton) in a book recycle bin. The sticker inside the front covers identifies the owner as Helen Shepard of Mitchell School. There's a page for the date (May 18, 1921), the class flower (American Beauty Rose), the class colors (red and white), the class pin (there was a class ring instead), the class motto ("Strive to succeed"), and a class yell (which I will spare you).

There is no indication of what city or state the school was in. The only hint as to location is this note (under "Stunts, Doings, and Jokes"): "On Sneak Day, Helen Lewis, Paul Stewart and Maud Hole walked to the end of Spring Canon [sic] and had a hard time getting out. I had to take off my shoe and it finally ended in Paul boosting me out. -- Maud H."

The book talks about the presentation of the class play "Cupid at Vassar") at the Opera House on April 16. The book also mentions the juniors entertaining the seniors "at a banquet served by the Circle Ladies at the Federated Church parlors."

(I've had a hard time finding "Spring Canyon." There's one near Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, and I sent e-mail to the Bellefonte library, but the folks there hadn't heard of Mitchell School. Bellefonte has an opera house, but they checked their 1921 newspapers, and there's no mention of the class play. And I've seen no mention of a Federated Church in Bellfefonte.)

Mitchell School (also referred to as "Mitchell High School") seems to have been a small institution, with only 13 students listed under "My Classmates":

Roland ("Paddy") Edwards
Alfred Stewart
Helen ("Babe") Shepard
Mellie Newell
Agnes Christensen
Paul ("Rosy") Rosebrough
Maud Hole
Helen Lewis
Vivian ("Jane") Shepard
Ethel Bowen
Rolf ("Gillie") Gilmore
Paul ("Skinny") Stewart

Past class officers included some of the above as well as these students:

Blyss Williams
Charley Pringle

There were seven teachers (listed under "The Teachers"):

Mr. Lehman
Miss Draper
Miss Erwin
Miss Schroeder
Miss McDonald
Miss Mulligan
Miss Wheaton

Members of the class of 1921 would have probably been born in 1903 or 1904. A search for "Helen Shepard" and "1903" turns up this:

A search for "Paul Rosebrough" turns up this:

It's possible that Mitchell School is (or, more likely, was) somewhere in upstate New York. If any of the historical societies or libraries in your area knows of this school, this book is free to a good home. Please feel free to forward or publish this e-mail address (; it's not one I use regularly, and if it gets spammed, I can always shut it down.

Thank you!

Louis Krupp
Boulder, Colorado



Western New York pioneers John Lusk and Oran Stone settle the Brighton area of the future Monroe County. Lusk buys his land from Johnathan Fossett and Caleb Hyde. This summer Lusk will return to Massachusetts to get his wife and bring her back to New York.


Early in the month English promoter Patrick Colquhoun begins conferring with 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. ** Phelps and Gorham sell a large portion of their New York State property to Robert Morris.


New York State has paid the federal government $1,545,889 since the beginning of the Revolution; it has received $822,803 back.

Apr 9

Connecticut land speculator Jeremiah Wadsworth begins buying New York State lands from Phelps and Gorham.

Apr 17

Buffalo mayor Pierre Augustus Barker is born in LaGrange, New York, to state assemblyman and veteran of the Revolutionary War – where he served under Lafayette - Samuel Still Augustus Barker and Mary L. Delavan Barker.

Jun 10

The Wadsworth brothers, James and William, nephews of Jeremiah, arrive in the Genesee Valley. Later in the year they will purchase 2,000 acres from Phelps and Gorham, at 80¢ an acre. They will also attempt to improve the wilderness trail between Whitestown and Canandaigua.

Jun 17

Buffalo lawyer and U.S. Representative Albert Haller Tracy is born in Norwich, Connecticut.


Ebenezer “Indian”Allan negotiates a loan of £634 from Niagara Tory trader Colonel John Butler, giving him as security a mortgage on the mill at Rochesterville.

Jul 3

The Commissioners of the state’s land office meet in New York City. Governor George Clinton presides. They review surveys of 25 Military Townships and name them, then appoint Robert Harpur and Lewis A. Scott to draw ballots. Over the next six days, lots of 500 to 600 acres are assigned at random to the veterans of the New York Continental Line.

Jul 4

The first annual perpetual payment to the Iroquois agreed to by New York speculator Oliver Phelps is made; 200 pounds, half in cattle and half in silver and gold.

Jul 9

William Wadsworth purchases 18 square miles of land near today's Honeoye Falls.

Jul 31

State land commissioners set aside two additional townships, Junius, in Cayuga County and Galen, in Wayne County, to make up for shortages in the Military Tract when the Boston Ten Towns boundaries are readjusted.


Allan journeys to Canandaigua, new headquarters of the Phelps and Gorham interests, to secure supplies and credit.

Aug 11

Allan makes out a £10 promissory note in Canandaigua to Oliver Phelps.


Allan travels to Canandaigua again for further supplies and/or credit.

Sep 8

Canal engineer Canvass White is born at Whitestown.

Sep 16

Allan makes out a $25 promissory note in Canandaigua to Israel Chapin, to deliver the like amount in “merchandisable flower” (flour), at $5/hundredweight, to “the Big Tree flatts” by May 1st of 1791. Nathan Perry Allen witnesses the note.

Sep 23

Allan writes to Phelps, in perhaps the first correspondence from the future Rochester, asking to buy back his note, after an Allan brother arrives at the mills.


Colonel Timothy Pickering meets with Seneca chiefs Red Jacket, Cornplanter, and others at Tioga Point, to hear grievances and negotiate over compensation for two murdered Indians. Pledges of friendship are exchanged.

Dec 1

Buffalo entrepreneur Benjamin Rathbun is born to farmer Moses Rathbun and Patience Jones Rathbun in Westford, Connecticut.

Dec 24

Berczy translates his recruiting pamphlets into German and publishes them.

Dec 26

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


Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham open a land office in Canandaigua. Their land sales lag and they sell a 20,000-acre tract west of the Genesee - the Mill Tract - back to Massachusetts speculators from Springfield and Northampton. The land will later form much of Rochester’s west side. The 100-Acre Tract is exempted from the sale. ** William Wickham and his family leave Orange County in the fall, heading for the Finger Lakes. They winter over in Tioga Point (Athens). ** The Federal Census shows the state's population has reached 340,120. It’s the fifth largest in terms of population. There are 1,075 settlers in western New York, mostly at the outlets of Canandaigua and Seneca lakes. The Pittsford area has 28 people in eight families, making it the first permanent settlement in the future Monroe County. Ontario County’s is at 205 families of 1,081 people. Montgomery County's population is 28,848.Canandaigua’s is under 100 people. German Flats, in Herkimer County, has 1,307, including 20 slaves. ** Former Albany mayor John Lansing is made a state judge. ** New York has the sixth highest U. S. slave population. ** Land agent Gouveneur Morris makes a second business trip to London, again staying at Froome’s Hotel in Covent Garden. ** Judge James Wilson of Pennsylvania requests mortgages on land he buys from Theophile Cazenove, in order to retain profits from rising prices. ** General Israel Chapin and Dr. Moses Atwater build homes in Canandaigua. ** Palmyra miller Noah Foster travels as far as New Jerusalem to have his grain processed at Richard Smith’s mill. ** The Markhams and the Smiths, settling in on the Genesee River near Rush and Avon, plant a crop of wheat. ** The Viscount de Chateubriand visits the Niagara area. ** Farmington, Connecticut, physician Timothy Hosmer arrives in the Genesee Valley. Along with three others he buys the future site of Avon for 18¢ an acre. ** The state's Land Board divides the Old Military Tract into townships, which it names, often with classical allusion. ** Niagara Genesee Land Company speculator Colonel John Butler, a Tory, writes to Fulton County judge Sir John Johnson, denying charges circulated in Canada that he had persuaded the Seneca to sell to Oliver Phelps in 1788. ** Speculator William Bingham reaches agreement with Robert Hooper and James Wilson to divide a land patent. Bingham gets the largest share, 10,000 acres, at the future site of Chenango Point (Binghamton). ** The state has 57,606 electors. ** E. B. O'Callaghan's map is published showing the Genesee Lands, including Phelps and Gorham's Purchase. ** The state comes to a second agreement with the Cayuga, paying the tribe an additional $1,000 for their land. ** Cornplanter and other Seneca chiefs meet with Washington, complaining about the Fort Stanwix Treaty terms and unfair land deals made with New York State. ** Mendon farmer Samuel Miller and his family raise the first crop of wheat grown west of Cayuga Lake. There are only two other families in the Town of Bloomfield. ** Enos Stone and other pioneers start the settlement of Tryon, on Irondequoit Bay. ** Isaac Scott settles Scottsville. ** Glover Perrin and his family settle Perinton. He builds a sawmill on Irondequoit Creek. ** Enos Boughton and his family, of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, arrive at their property bought in 1788, in the future town of Victor. ** The first settlers arrive at the midway point along the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake, to be named Aurora.


Settlers Israel and Simon Stone, brothers, and Seth Dodge, purchase 13,000 acres from Phelps and Gorham, paying 18 pence an acre. Israel builds a house on the future State Street


A warehouse is built at the mouth of the Genesee River, probably the first building in the future Rochester. ** Orringh Stone acquires property in the future Rochester. ** Enos Blossom settles on Allyns Creek, near the future East Avenue and Landing Road.


Nathaniel Rochester is elected to the state legislature.


Captain Charles Williamson wins a local Clackmannanshire election.

© 2011 David Minor / Eagles Byte

Thursday, August 11, 2011



Friday through Sunday, August 12 through 14, 2011

Celebrate the history, culture, recreational appeal, and beauty of the New York State Canal System and Erie Canalway Trail during Canal Splash!

Canal Splash! is a coordinated series of locally organized events and activities, including nature and history walks, museum and gallery exhibits, rowing regattas, kayak and canoe outings, musical performances, boat tours and more.

Find an event near you!
Events take place on and along the New York State Canal System and Erie Canalway Trail and at numerous venues throughout the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.

Contact the New York State Canal Corporation at (518) 436-3034.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Feb 22
The future Tompkins County towns of Caroline and Danby are formed from the town of Spencer in Tioga County.
Settler Abram Cole arrives in Mendon, builds a cabin on the Mendon-Pittsford Road.
Mar 2
The Canal Commission reports that a canal between the Hudson River and the Great Lakes would be impractical due to lack of sufficient water provided at the summit level.
Mar 5
Emily Bingham, teacher and women’s university founder, along with sister Marietta – LeRoy’s Ingham University - is born in Saybrook, Connecticut.
Mar 7
Canal engineer, geologist and meteorologist Increase Allen Lapham is born in Palmyra to Erie Canal contractor Seneca Lapham and Rachael Allen Lapham.
Mar 11                       
West Middlebury’s Baptist Church is organized.
Mar 28

Western New York missionary John Nepomucene Neumann is born in Prachatice, Bohemia.
Apr 5
The Oswego County town of Scriba is formed from the Oneida County town of Fredericksburgh (later Volney).
Apr 8
The New York State legislature authorizes the Canal Commission to seek funding from the federal government and from other states.
May 17
Holland Land Company chief agent Paolo Busti writes from near Philadelphia to his land agent Joseph Ellicott at Buffalo, asking him to enumerate the ways a canal across New York State, would benefit commerce and growth and inquiring as to the probability of one being built.
Boatbuilders Jacob Townsend and Sheldon Thompson’s schooner Catherine, built for Townsend, Bronson & Co., is completed and commissioned, near the Buffalo spot where La Salle had built the Griffin, to be commanded by Seth Tucker.
Jun 23
Lorenzo Niles Fowler, younger brother of phrenologist Orson Fowler is born to Horace and Martha Howe Fowler in Cohocton.
Oct 3
S. H. and H. A. Salisbury begin publishing the Buffalo Gazette, the first newspaper in Erie County.
Nov 18
The Pulteney Associates land sales begin at the future site of Rochester. Major Charles Carroll, Colonel William Fitzhugh and Colonel Nathaniel Rochester receive the deed for the One-Hundred-Acre Tract, purchased in 1805. Colonel Rochester surveys and begins offering a few lots for sale.
Nov 20
Lenox, Massachuetts, transplant Enos Stone buys the first lot in Rochesterville's Hundred Acre Tract, for $50. Agreeing to act as a land agent for Nathaniel Rochester, he accepts several bids for lots during the fall and coming winter.
Another inn is built at Riga. ** The printing press is introduced to Erie County. ** Portions of Allegany County are returned to Genesee County. ** An ox-powered ferry goes into service on Chautauqua Lake between Bemis Point and Stow. ** Robert Fulton is appointed to an Erie Canal commission. ** The Pavilion Hotel charges 6¢ a night for lodging and 12.5¢ for a meal. ** Le Roy judge Ezra Platt dies. ** Dansville’s Nathaniel Rochester frees two of his young slaves. He sells lots at Rochesterville on Buffalo, Carroll and Mill streets. ** Future governor Washington Hunt is born at Windham, to Sanford and Fanny Rose Hunt. ** The Reverend John Spencer conducts the first religious services in Alden. Samuel Slade, James Crocker, Samuel Huntington, and Jonas Stickney settle in the area. ** Future governor Edwin D. Morgan is born to Jasper A. and Catherine Copp Morgan, in Washington, Massachusetts. ** Governor Daniel Tompkins is authorized by the state legislature to appoint a committee of five to report on a system for the organization and establishment of public schools. ** Angelica land agent Philip Church travels to Europe on business, is prevented from returning by the upcoming war. His family is visited by a small party of Indians. His wife Anna feeds them while her visiting sister entertains them on the piano. Later in the year the two women are invited to a Indian New Year celebration. Chief Shongo adopts Anna into the tribe, naming her Ye-nun-ke-a-wa (first white woman). ** Lots south of Lake Erie’s Scajaquada Creek are sold - the future site of Black Rock (later part of Buffalo). ** The oldest stone to date in Hammondsport’s Elmwood Cemetery, bears this date. ** The Auburn Academy is built. ** Baptist preacher Elisha Brownson arrives in the Steuben County town of Cohocton the area's first minister. ** Mount Morris sawmill owner John McKay buys timber from Mary Jemison and, through the coming winter, will send it down a slide into the Genesee River at St. Helena (in today's Letchworth Park) for transport downstream. ** The old 100,000-acre Connecticut Tract in Orleans and Genesee counties, conveyed by Massachusetts to Connecticut and to Sir William Pulteney in 1801, is now divided by alternate lots.** Daniel Penfield builds a house near Irondequoit Creek on what will be named Penfield Road. Samuel Rich builds a house near the creek on the future Five-Mile-Line Road.
Dr. P. R. Hulbert sets up his practice. ** The original Auburn Academy is erected on Academy Street.
The first post office in Monroe County opens. ** Farmer and public official David Barker is born.
The hamlet of Castletown is founded. ** Colonel Nathaniel Rochester begins having some of the lots in the Hundred Acre Tract surveyed and put on the market. He has Mason Street laid out on the east side of the Genesee River, between the low and high water banks (it will later be named Front Street). He also lays out the site at the future northwest corner of Main and State Streets, which wlll become the site of the Eagle Tavern, then the Powers building. Ezra Mason settles in the Tract. The state builds a bridge across the river. ** A road is built (the future East Avenue) from Orringh Stone's tavern in the Brighton area to the falls of the Genesee. ** Learning that Francis and Matthew Brown had arranged to have the new bridge cross further up the river from the his lands Nathaniel Rochester has the state legislature make the road through his tract a state road. The original bridge site is reinstated. ** Twenty-year-old Vermont native Gideon Cobb arrives in the lower Allen Creek valley in his wagon pulled by a team of six oxen and settles. He begins hiring out his team.
© 2011 David Minor / Eagles Byte

Friday, August 5, 2011

New Society of the Genesee Visit to Palmyra

Hello New Society members:

On August 13, the NSG will be visiting the museums that make up Historic Palmyra. These include Palmyra Historical Society, Palmyra Print Shop, William Phelps General Store and home, Alling Coverlet Museum and an Erie Canal Museum which will be newly opened that day. All are in walking distance from each other. Tour begins promptly at 10 AM from the historical society building. The first floor in all buildings is handicapped accessible but upper floors necessitate climbing some stairs.

Lunch for the group will be served at the Alling Coverlet Museum about 12:15 with that tour following. It will consist of a variety of Wraps, Potato Salad, Chips, Cookie and Beverages. Total price for the tours and lunch will be $20 per person with all proceeds supporting Historic Palmyra to maintain these great buildings.

Reservation must be made by contacting Alberta Dunn at (585) 243 - 2281 or at no later than August 6th (today, by the time you read this - sorry for the delay).

Directions from Rochester: Take I-490E to exit 26. Bear right(East) onto PITTSFORD-PALMYRA RD (NY 31). Continue on RT 31 East for 13.4 miles into the village of Palmyra. Turn left onto Market Street. Continue 0.1 miles to 132 Market St. * There is a parking lot across the street.

Directions via Thruway: Go East to MANCHESTER Exit #43. Turn left onto Rt 21 N for 6.1 miles then turn right onto Main Street (Rt 31 E) for 0.1 mile then left onto Market Street.

Please contact Alberta if you have any questions about the program.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Taverns, Swap Days, Drovers & Livery Stables

By Richard Palmer

All of the above were intertwined. The early taverns had a livery stable and were places where men congregated to eat, drink and talk. Their importance is indicated by the fact that all taverns were licensed and it was the responsibility of local governments to issue the license. Taverns were required by law to serve refreshments to travelers and drovers. This included food, drink and lodging. The bar room was usually separate from the dining facilities, and if not, ladies were seated apart in a separate alcove. The taverns were usually stage stops and he tavern barns were change stations for the horses.

Drovers were commonplace and their needs had to be care for both in passing and for overnight. All livestock was moved "on the hoof" and drovers herded cattle along the road sometimes with 15 to 20 in a herd. Provision was made for holding the cattle, horses, sheep, pigs and turkeys in overnight enclosures. This was done at wayside inns that were located practically within sight of each other along the major roads and turnpikes in the old days. Drovers continued on the roads until the coming of the railroads, but much longer in areas where there were no railroads until much later. There were usually two livery stables in each small village.

Salesmen, called drummers, traveled by stage and later trains. and they would hire a rig to take them to the merchants. Loaded with many sample cases, a salesman made the rounds of the village and country stores. The tavern keepers were genial hosts, sometimes called inn-keepers or hostelers, and the men who cared for the horses in the liveries were hostlers. The most active were located in major communities along the turnpikes.

One uncommon local phenomenon was the annual fall Swap Day. The word went out and men assembled from miles around to buy, sell or swap horses. Horses swapped had defects so no one was "bested." Horse traders were all egotists and each believe he had a superior knowledge of horseflesh. Most of the participants had lost their amateur standing. On the appointed day the stable and yards would b e filled to overflowing with all kinds of rigs and horses. These swap days were sometimes called Jockey Day and they were continued until after the first decade of the 20th century. The modern version is the cattle and stock auction. In the old days the local hotels catered to the dealers and swappers.

At Swap Day a good time was had by all as the men wise to the ways of horseflesh and crafty swappers, all with a little larceny in their hearts, met at the all-day sessions. Great care was exercised as these experts groomed their horses, doctored, dyed and doped them. It is related that sometimes a man influenced by hard cider and excitement would swap horses three times and end up with the same horse! Talk in the back rooms by staple hands mentioned stimulants, opiates, dampening hay, kerosene mist over feed, sponges in nostrils and shoe polish on eyebrows.

Later bands of gypsies traveled through the countryside with long strings of swapping horses and they might camp for three days. At other times the law officers escorted them out of town as the merchants hastily locked their stores fearing thievery.

At farm auctions usually held in the spring about moving time the auctioneer had his individual "patter" that might go something like this: "Gentlemen, this horse stands 15 hands high, weighs 1,300 pounds, is going on eight years old - she is a good looker, a high stepper, kind and gentle and hasn't a blemish on her. She is sold free from ring bone, spavin, heaves and is sound as a dollar i n wind and limb - works in any harness, single or double. How much am I offered?" These auctioneers were responsible people and would mention it if a horse was a kicker, etc. Some words denoting the color of horses would mean little today - sorrel, chestnut, bay and roan, both strawberry and blue.

Some Western dealers would cull out the less desirable cattle, horses and sheep and send them back East to be sold. They would be pastured until such time as a sale occurred. Farmers always needed one good team of horses. Many times an extra or third horse could be used on the horse fork rope, single cultivator or on a three-horse hitch with the binder. It was this extra horse that was traded.

At Swap Day, the professional horse traders had a specialized vocabulary full of legal escape words. These might include such phrases as this horse could "stand without hitching, or "If you buy this cow you don't need to keep her." If it was returned, that meant you could kill it or sell it. "This horse doesn't look good" could mean it had only one eye. "A lady can drive it as well as a man." The age of the horse to the enlightened could be told by looking at the teeth. The meaning of the cliche, "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth," is obvious.

The aged, the kickers, run-aways, cribbers, and those with physical defects went to the Swap days. In earlier times, the swap day was where you would find injured and galled horses from the Erie Canal and the stagecoach lines. Some of the local blacksmiths had as principal customers the canal, stagecoach, express and forwarding companies. There were a great many of these lines hauling mail and freight in upstate New York prior to the advent of the railroad.