Sunday, December 30, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012


Continued from November 25, 2012

From Rochester in 1829 we move geographically on to the west. We pass though Batavia, where twenty-year old Elbridge G. Spaulding is beginning to study law in the office of Fitch & Dibble. Spaulding will have a successful legal career and become a mayor of Buffalo.

Back north to the canal again - it had bypassed Batavia - the next stop is the settlement of Lockport. Actually, make that village of Lockport; incorporation had taken place on March 26th. A local legend regarding the name of the town is fun, even if a grain or two of salt is advisable. One faction liked the name Lockborough; the other Lockport. A tavernkeeper named Esek Brown had just returned from Lewiston with a license for his establishment. The group thirst had been growing all day. They were let down when some busybody from the Holland Land Company pointed out the place needed a tavern sign to be in compliance with state law. That did it ! ! Historian Charles A. Kaiser tells us, "Ebenezer Mix arose to the occasion. He took a door-sill Esek had ready for his bar-room door, wrote on it with a coal 'Lockport Hotel, by E. Brown,' stuck it between the projecting ends of the logs of the bar-room, and Lockport Hotel and Lockport village were soon christened by something like immersion."

With the canal climbing sixty feet up the side of the Niagara Escarpment, the southern boundary of the prehistoric Lake Iroquois - larger than Lake Ontario - the double set of locks divided Lockport into two halves. To prevent confusion, a definition of Upper Town and Lower Town is in order. As the canal came in from the southwest the wall of the Niagara Escarpment could be seen ahead. The canal pushed into a long, narrow,, trench-like cul-de-sac, with tough sedimentary dolomite walls towering above on both sides. But this height difference had little to do with the town's neighborhood names; Upper Town is more of a cartographic term, meaning the half northwest of the canal. And, conversely - Lower Town is the half to the canal's southeast. The local population had dropped when many of the laborers moved on, with the upper town losing 400 workers - leaving around 2100 people - and the lower town with about 900.

As rivalry between the two sections increased there were those that were putting their money on the lower town. A group of investors from the Albany area informally known as the Albany Company were pushing the this section. Surveyors began laying out streets, with Market Street paralleling the canal's southeast side, acting as the nucleus of this section. At the far eastern end of the street a brick building was erected that would house the first bank in Niagara County. Located at the corner of Market and Church streets it can still be seen in the present day (2005). A block closer to the flights of locks the aforementioned frame Lockport House hotel was also built in 1829, and until it burned in 1841 was one of the finest stopping places in the western end of the state. The county's first newspaper, the Niagara Democrat had begun in Lewiston in 1821 and then moved here to Lockport the next year. After several transformations it had just now, in 1829, become the Lockport Balance. Apparently it maintained enough balance to remain under the same name for another five years, before the next round of transformations would begin. The first brick mansions in the neighborhood were also going up now; many would follow.

© 2005 David Minor / Eagles Byte

Friday, December 21, 2012



Jan 17                 
The Commissioners for building a New Prison at Sing Sing submit a report to the state legislative committee, detailing expenditures for 1825 of $24,889.21.

Harvard student James Wadsworth, of Geneseo, is threatened with expulsion, for illegal dress, for the second time.

Mar 15
Rochesterville High School opens, the city's first.

Apr 4                 
Owego, the county seat of Tioga County, is incorporated.

Apr 7                 
The village of Pittsford is incorporated.

Apr 16                 
The Onondaga County Town of Clay is taken off the Town of Cicero.    **    The Cassadaga Navigation Company is organized, capitalized at $20,000, to improve Cassadaga Creek. It’s never done.   

Apr 22                 
Lawyer, soldier, businessman Augustus Sacket, 59, dies suddenly at Albany, en route from his home in Newburgh to his former property at Sackets Harbor.

Alvah Plumb builds the Chautauqua, the first steamboat on the lake of the same name.    **    State representative David E. Evans resigns to become local agent for the Holland Land Company.

May 2                 
Jacob S. Otto, resident agent of the Holland Land Company, dies. He will be succeeded by David S. Evans, nephew of Joseph Ellicott and former accounting clerk at the land office.

May 17
Rochesterville banker John T. Talman, marries Maria Antoinette Livingston, daughter of New York City architect Henry Gilbert Livingston, in Rochesterville's St. Luke's Church.

Jun 30                 
The Chautauqua undergoes trials.

Jul 4                 
New York State officially abolishes slavery. 10,000 slaves are freed. Resistance is strong in agricultural New Utrecht (Brooklyn) and other towns where a large part of the farm laborers are black slaves.    **    The Chautauqua goes into service, with John T. Wills as captain.

Aug 5                 
Onondaga County pioneer, saltmaker and politician Comfort Tyler dies at his home in Montezuma.

Aug 9                 
Nevada congressman William M. Stewart is born in Galen.

Sep 8                 
The Michigan, with live animals aboard, is sent over Niagara Falls as a stunt.

Sep 19
James Wadsworth returns to Harvard.

Sep 22                 
The date that Joseph Smith says he unearthed the Book of Mormon, at Hill Cumorah, near Palmyra.

Oct 1        
Riga’s schoolhouse opens.

Oct 2                 
Harvard president John Thornton Kirkland writes to James Wadsworth's father James advising him that the son is wasting his time at Harvard and should be removed.

Oct 17
James Wadsworth's father writes to him, urging to either apologize to Kirkland and reform or return home in disgrace.

Oct 22                 
The elder Wadsworth once again admonishes his son, in a letter, to knuckle down.

Nov 1
The contract on Riga’s schoolhouse is paid off - $157.50.

The weekly Brockport Free Press - founded by Abiathar M. Harris and Thomas H. Hyatt - begins publication.

A tavern is built in Caledonia.    **    The Angelica Republican  is revived as the Allegany Republican, with Samuel P. Hull as its publisher.    **    W. W. Phelps begins publishing the Anti-masonic Canandaigua Phoenix. R. Royce soon buys it and changes the name to the Freeman.    **    Marine and missionary Jonathan Goble is born in Wayne.    **    The steamboat comes to Canandaigua Lake with the launching of the Lady of the Lake.    **    The town of Sennett is taken off of the Cayuga County town of Brutus.    **    Nehemiah Houghton purchases the American Hotel boarding house at Avon's sulphur springs.    **    The Ithaca Journal adds Literary Gazette, and General Advertiser to its title.    **    Over the past 30 years 3,879 people have been incarcerated in state prisons. 1,262 have served their sentences, 3,160 have been pardoned and 25 have escaped. 348 have been moved to other facilities and 765 have died.    **    The Owego Academy is founded.    **     Mehitable Kellogg Fairbank of Williamstown, Massachusetts, travels by Erie Canal to Lyons, and by stage to Sodus, to visit her parents Nathaniel and Mehitable Kellogg. She decides to stay; her husband Stephen and daughter Cordelia arrive soon afterwards.    **    A house is built at 81 Genesee Street in Skaneateles, supposedly by lawyer Freeborn Garrison Jewett.     **    Geneseo's Temple Hill Academy is incorporated under the name Livingston County High School., the county's first.    **    Land speculators begin attempts to wrest more land west of Batavia from the Iroquois.    **    Over 50,000 acres of reservation land owned by the Seneca Indians until last year goes on the market.    **    John Nutt buys 160 acres one mile west of Branchport, part of the Beddoe Tract. He hires Simon Cole to build a road past his property into Pulteney.    **     More steamboats, dubbed the Great White Fleet, begin servicing Chautauqua Lake.    **    Farmer-soldier Hiram Allen is born in Burns.    **    Seventeen-year-old Orson Fowler leaves Cohocton, walks the 400 miles to Heath, Massachusetts, to study under the Reverend Moses Miller of the First Congregational Church.    **    The approximate date Stephen Baldwin builds a mill on the Erie Canal at Baldwinsville.    **     A state law is passed to promote the training of teachers.    **     Combined revenue from the Erie and Champlain canals totals $859,058.    **    The office of Adjutant General is created; military commissions are no longer issued by the Secretary of State.    **    Elija T. Miller takes over the Scottsville public house owned by James Brown – later the Oatka Inn - adds a rear section to the building.    **    Pittsford pioneer, mill owner and school commisioner Jared Barker dies.    **    George Washington Millener and others purchase David Johnson’s dry dock in Port Byron.    **     Cattaraugus County is surveyed. The future Town of Lyndon  is divided into four equal parts – Over North; Down on the Flats;  West of the Center; Over South – the intersection being called Lyndon Center. A general store opens in the Center.

Bissell Humphrey, landlord of the Genesee House, buys the site and erects a new tavern.    **     The approximate date Libbeus Fish builds a malt house-brewery.

Businessman Benjamin Rathbun is elected a village trustee.    **    The late Seth Chapin, a member of the Masons, is accused of being implicated in the murder of William Morgan. Nothing is ever proven.    **    Use of the harbor doubles.    **    Peter B. Porter, Reuben Heacock, and other investors organize the Buffalo Hydraulic Association to create power from the three-mile canal between Buffalo Creek and Little Buffalo Creek.    **    Sylvanus Marvin, owner of the local franchise for the failing Old Line mail service to Albany, sells to Auburn inn owner Chauncey H. Coe, who hires Edward L. Stevenson as his local agent, then returns home.    **    Chauncey's brother Bela makes a down payment on the Mansion House.    **    The Buffalo High School Association, organized during a meeting at the Eagle Tavern, begins a campaign to raise funds.

 Tavernkeeper James Blanchard builds a hotel in Rutledge, the first frame public-house in the settlement.    **    While their parents are away from their cabin, the children of settler John Towers feed two “black dogs” through the homestead’s fence. The dogs out to be bear cubs. The cubs and their mother are later killed by Towers.    **    Connecticut-born Genesee County resident Nathan Snow arrives. He clears timber, cuts logs and builds a house in a week’s time.    **    Settler Job Gardner arrives from Coxsackie, New York.    **    Settlers Freeborn Fairbanks and Alden Childs arrive.

Le Roy
Pioneer Charles Wilbor moves to Milan, Ohio.

The population nears 10,000. . There are no adult natives. The oldest person born in the village is 16 years old.    **    A platform is built over the Genesee River to provide space for a farmer's market.   **    The house of hardware merchant Ebenezer Watts is completed.    **    The city has eight boat basins on the Erie Canal - Warehouse, Washington, Fisher's Screw Dock, Fitzhugh's, Ely's, Child's, Hill's (Johnson's) and Gilbert's.    **    An African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church is built at Ford and Spring streets.    **    The village's first directory is published.    **    Miller, banker and speculator James Livingston builds a home in the city's soon-to-be-fashionable Third Ward.    **    Abolitionist bookseller Samuel B. Porter moves here.    **    Alexander Street and Pennsylvania Street (now South Union) are completed from the Erie Canal north to East Avenue. Wadsworth Street (later Howell Street) is laid out on Wadsworth lands.

© 2012     David Minor / Eagles Byte

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Press Release

GENEVA, NY (Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012) – Vince Scalise, President of the Finger Lakes Boating Museum, announced today that the Boating Museum Board has added two new Directors.

Christopher Lytle of Seneca Falls and Fred Mayer of Hammondsport are the two newest members of the Boating Museum organization.

The Museum also has announced a new line of clothing in the Ship’s Store, which is available on the Museum’s web site at

Mr. Lytle’s private practice includes providing management and fundraising consulting, interim staffing and executive coaching to C-Suite nonprofit executives and boards. His career includes staff, volunteer and consulting positions with premier national and international organizations, which include the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, International Youth Foundation, Apple Computer Market Center (NYC), European Institute of Business Administration and the  Muscular Dystrophy Association-Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon.

He is a member of the Seneca Yacht Club, Seneca Sailing Academy, the Masons and the Finger Lakes Boating Museum. Mr. Lytle resides in Seneca Falls with his wife and daughter. He owns two antique boats – one power and one sail.

Mr. Mayer, also known as “Hank the Plank,” has been involved in many aspects of classic and antique boating since 1988. His expertise is in restoring and building wooden boats and he is also proficient in maintaining and repairing boats.

He has been a member of the Wine Country Classic Boats Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society since 1988, including acting as Chief Judge and Judge in various show venues in New York and out of state. He has owned and operated HankCraft Restoration since 1996.

Mr. Mayer has worked on Penn Yan and Thompson boats and recently purchased a Murray Wright boat that he is looking forward to researching and restoring. He takes a preservationist approach, always trying to maintain as much of the original boat as possible. His assessments and restoration are always based on the safest way to get the boat back in the water.

Mr. Mayer has been serving on the Museum’s Collections Committee. “I look forward to learning more about the local builders and the boats that were produced in this area,” he said.  “The wealth of knowledge that is available from this group will be priceless.”

    The new line of clothing featured on the newly redesigned website features the Museum’s new logo and includes a white cap with an embroidered logo, white golf shirts with a collar and an embroidered logo, ladies tees in a soft yellow color with cropped sleeves, straight sides and an embroidered logo, men’s tees in a white cotton blend with a screened logo, and original golf shirts in a cream color.

    The Boating Museum has assembled a collection of more than 115 wooden boats built in the Finger Lakes over the past 100 years, as well as numerous related artifacts and extensive reference material. The Collection is still growing as boats are offered on a regular basis by owners who recognize that the boats will be cared for and appreciated.

    The boating museum is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation and was chartered by the New York State Department of Education in 1997 to “research, document, preserve and share the boating history of the Finger Lakes region.”

    Additional information about the boating museum may be found on its website (

### END ###

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Continued from October 20, 2012

Construction on Rochester's Reynolds Arcade, that indoor mall, post office and business incubator designed by William Jones that we visited in 1828 was completed this next year. Most of Rochester's business community could be found gathered here in the main central corridor, four stories beneath the building's skylight, once the daily mail arrived. According to Rochesterian John Rothwell Slater, "You could buy a suit, pawn a watch, see a doctor, meet a friend, escape a bore, borrow money, sell a bond, send a telegram, read a paper, get a shine, eat a meal, play a game of chess and buy flowers for the lady; or you could hire a desk and wait for customers to come pouring in." Many did the latter. Tenants were clamoring for space in its 86 rooms and postmaster/landlord Abelard Reynolds stood to recoup his $30,000 construction cost quite quickly. The Reynolds Arcade you will see there in the 21st century, by the way, will be a replacement built in the early 1930s.

Even if you weren't pawning a watch or buying flowers for your lady, or doing both, in the arcade you might be wising up in other ways. The city's founder, Colonel Nathaniel Rochester, and other local promoters of education, founded the Athenaeum there as the building opened, to acquaint the citizens of this Erie Canal town with literature, science and the arts. From such a humble acorn would one day grow an oak tree known as the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Neither was the soul being neglected. On the first day of 1829 Unitarian minister James D. Green arrived by invitation in Rochester and launched a three-month series of sermons, eventually drawing as many as 500 worshippers to each meeting; launching the First Unitarian Congregational Society of Rochester. Green then moved on and a series of laymen, including canal commissioner Myron Holley, struggled forward to establish a Unitarian foothold.

Holley's work on bringing the canal to Rochester brought far more immediate results. Back in 1824, the year before the canal's completion, eight or nine boats a week would tie up along the canal running through the village. Now, in 1829, five times that number would pass through in a single day. There would often be a waiting line at each end of the aqueduct over the Genesee River. Seth C. Jones, one of the local boatbuilders launched a packet boat he called The Superior. The vessel lived up to its name, providing luxury service along the waterway that might have made our old friend James Stuart change his mind about canal travel. Described as weighing between 15 and 20 tons, the vessel featured washrooms, a bar, and a cabin that was seven feet in height. But it was the boat's decor that held the passenger's eye the moment he entered the palatial cabin, with original scenic oil paintings on each of the walls.

Two noted people left the Rochester scene this year. Nathaniel B. Rochester, son of the village's founder Nathaniel Rochester (no B.) moved westward to Buffalo to become manager of the newly-established Bank of the United States there. We'll head that direction next time. We'll pass on the journey of the young man named Patch who climbed to the top of a tower overlooking the Genesee Falls and entered into the beyond - and folklore. Got a boat named for him, too.

©  2005  David Minor / Eagles Byte

Friday, November 23, 2012


The Rochester Historical Society has moved to 115 South Ave. Rochester, New York 14604.  We are on the second floor of the Rochester Public Library’s Rundel Building.  Our phone number is 585-428-8470.  We have a web site at   The Museum is open on Tues. and Weds. From 10 to 3 and Thursdays from 11 to 3.

  William Keeler
  Librarian & Archivist

One label smaller still

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Meet the writer and get a signed copy of their book!  

This Saturday at the Buffalo History Museum: 50
local authors!

Including yours truly.

Cynthia Van Ness, MLS
bettybarcode AT yahoo DOT com
Author of "Quotable Buffalo" 
Founder of

"Are all librarians this much trouble?"
-Brendan Fraser as Rick O'Connell in
The Mummy Returns

Monday, November 5, 2012


Last minute change !
The location for tonight’s program, originally schedule for the Greece Town Hall,
has been changed to the Greece Justice Court building, across the parking lot from the Town Hall.

“Halfway to Heaven and You”: How Popular Songs Sang Us to the Suburbs

Tuesday, November 13th  7:00 p.m. Greece Town Hall
Suburbs began in America long before Levittown right after World War II.  In fact they first became popular in the early years of the 20th century.  “Halfway to Heaven” focuses on the suburbs where most Americans ultimately longed to live so we could all have our own little piece of the Garden of Eden.  America’s vision of Eden was not wilderness.  It was natural yet cultivated, innocent yet settled.  Its streets were winding and tree-shaded, its houses set on spacious lots, its atmosphere was that of the small town.  Yet it was only a brief train ride from the city.  America’ first suburbs combined city and country, the built and the natural, t o become the middle class ideal – and it’s all in our popular songs.
Michael Lasser is a lecturer, writer, broadcaster, critic, and teacher. For 20 years, he was the theater critic for The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.  He has spoken at universities and art and history museums in 34 states and the District of Columbia, and also appears with two singers in cabaret-style performances enhanced by his knowledge of the songwriters, the music’s history, and how the songs amuse us and stir our emotions.  A former teacher, he has also taught at Rutgers University, St. John Fisher College, and Fairleigh-Dickinson University.   He and Philip Furia are co-authors of the new book, America’s Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley, which will be for sale after is lecture.
Public welcome.  Reservations are not required.  Greece Historical Society members FREE. A suggested donation of $2.00 or more will be appreciated from others.
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Native American Day

Saturday, Nov 10, 2012 – 10:00 a.m. – Noon Greece Town Hall
At 10:00 a.m. Dr. George Hamell will talk about the very early Aboriginals who preceded the Seneca Nation in our area and how the Mid-Woodland Period Iroquois and Algonquin came to Greece to hunt and fish during the spring through fall seasons. He will tell us of the archaeological sites on Cranberry Pond, Long Pond, the Genesee River, and the Vance farm just east of Mother of Sorrows. He will bring with him, for display artifacts found in these sites that are now housed in the Native American Collection at the Rochester Museum and Science Center.  Visitors may bring artifacts they have to him for identification.
At 11:00 a.m. Mohawk storyteller, Barbara Bethmann-Mahooty will share tribal stories of the Iroquois Nations, including Seneca Nation.
On display will be a map of the hunting and fishing camps in Greece that we know existed, as well as artifacts from our Greece Museum.  Another display tells about the Iroquois Confederacy and more about each of the tribes and their people along with the type of headpiece each tribe wore. Chief Freeman Johnson, who lived in Greece, will be featured for his efforts to educate the community about his people and their traditions. He was largely responsible for the establishment of the historic site in Victor, Ganondagan.  Mr. Robert Dobson will display artifacts found on his family’s farm which is now Northgate Plaza. We will have for sale “A Brief History of Northgate Plaza,” showing many of the pictures Mr. Dobson loaned us of the farm and the history of his family.  Books from the Historical Society’s Reference Library will be available for perusing and some for purchase – both children’s books and adult’s.  Each child can take home a reproduction arrowhead.