Geneva Village History 

History of Ontario Co, NY     Pub. 1878   

Pgs.   127 - 132, 137

Kindly transcribed by Donna Walker Judge  & Deborah Spencer    


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Nothing can be of greater interest to the student of local history than mention of those Romans of the forest who inhabited this county immediately prior to the advent of the white settler, and proud should the people of Geneva be in the recollection that where now are located their pleasant homes, scarce a century ago the wilderness resounded with the war-whoop of the fierce IROQUOIS, the most powerful as well as intellectual nation of aborigines of which we have any record. Where was there a warrior who equaled BRANDT or an orator superior to RED JACKET? The valor, and, it is well to add, the barbarity, of Joseph BRANDT (THAY-ENDENEGA) have gone down to history without a parallel in the annals of the world, while RED JACKET’s power at the council-fire and at the treaty was mightiest of all.

SULLIVAN’s campaign, and its severe but salutary results, are matters of history. At “Kanadesaga,” the American Army found and destroyed a large SENECA village. Here the warriors had gathered their forces, and at this point a battle was anticipated; but as the white soldiers advanced the Indians abandoned their homes and fled in terror before the thunder of his artillery, like leaves before the whirl-wind. Nearly a decade had passed after this invasion before an attempt was made by the whites to purchase their lands and enter upon their settlement. PHELPS and GORHAM completed their purchase April 1, 1788. This was effected with difficulty, in consequence of the interference and subtle intrigues of the agents employed by the lessee company. 

The history of the pre-emption lines is given in the county history. Between those lines, in the “GORE,” lay the tract of REED and RYCKMAN, consisting of sixteen thousand acres, held by them for services in negotiating Indian treaties, they being agents and members of the lessee company. Upon this tract, at the foot of the Seneca lake, was begun the hamlet which now claims attention as the metropolis of Ontario County. All that has been effected towards establishing the village, prior to 1793, was under the auspices of REED and RYCKMAN and the lessees. Geneva in 1787 consisted of a solitary, unfinished log house, inhabited by a man named JENNINGS. When white settlement was made at this point Buffalo was an Indian village untrodden by Americans, and six years elapsed before Colonel John HARDENBURG, the first settler in Cayuga county, had located where now stands the thriving city of Auburn. Rochester was a wilderness, and thirty years elapsed after the settlement of Geneva before Rochester, now a city of more than eighty thousand inhabitants, was incorporated as a village.

On June 4, 1788, Oliver PHELPS arrived at “Kanadesaga” (Geneva), and was highly pleased with the location and its surroundings. The following is an extract from a letter written by him at this time:

“I am well pleased with what I have seen of the country. This place is situated at the foot of Seneca lake, on a beautiful hill which overlooks the country around it, and gives a fine prospect of the whole lake, which is about forty miles in length. Here we propose to build a city, as there is a water carriage from here to Schenectady, with only two carrying places of one mile each.”

In 1788 the little village of Geneva was a pretty brisk place. Here were the speculator, the explorer, the lessee company and their agents, all actively engaged in furthering their respective operations. The lessee company had a bark-roofed framed tavern and a trading establishment on the lake shore. The village was the principal seat of the Indian trade for a wide region.

Asa RANSON, who afterwards became somewhat noted as the first settler at Buffalo, occupied a small hut and was manufacturing Indian trinkets.

Horatio JONES was living in a rude structure covered with bark, located on the bank of the lake. He was an Indian trader and interpreter. Clark JENNINGS had a log tavern on the bank of the lake, and there was a cluster of houses on the lake shore. Peter RYCKMAN, Peter BORTLE, and Colonel Seth REED were residing here at this time. These were prominent men, and did much in shaping pioneer movements at “Kanadesaga.”

At the close of day on the 20th of September, 1790, a small party of explorers emerged from the thicket at the foot of the lake, and the leader, Mr. Elkanah WATSON, thus describes the grandeur of the scene when their eyes fell upon this beautiful lake and landscape:

“The sun was just setting as we entered the lake, which opened upon us like a new creation, rising to our view in picturesque and romantic beauty. Our prospect extends south over a bold sheet of water. The tops of the hills and trees were just tinged with the departing sun, the evening was serene, and my mind involuntarily expanded in anticipating the period when the borders of the lake will be stripped of nature’s livery, and in its place rich enclosures, pleasant villas, numerous flocks, herds, etc, and inhabited by a happy race of people, enjoying the rich fruits of their own labors, and the luxury of sweet liberty and independence approaching a millennial state.”

This picture is given in the same connection:

“Geneva is a small, unhealthy village of fifteen houses,--all log but three,--and about twenty families. It is built partly on the acclivity of a hill, and partly on a flat, with deep marshes north of the town, to which is attributed its unhealthiness. We receive decent accommodations at PATTERSON’s, on the margin of the lake, but were troubled most of the night by gamblers and fleas, two curses to society.”

PHELPS and GORHAM sold to Robert MORRIS, who in turn sold to Messrs., Sir William PULTENEY, John HORNBY, and Patrick COLQUHOUN, who appointed Charles WILLIAMSON their agent. In February, 1792, Mr. WILLIAMSON visited the Genesee country and became much interested in the new village, in which he at once began to make improvements. His great work was the erection of the Geneva Hotel, which was completed December, 1794. Now, after a lapse of fourscore years, the building, once the wonder of the traveler and the home of the stranger, is occupied by Dr. SMITH, and known as “The Hygienic Institute.” The building is situated on one side of a pleasant park, on Main street, and is to-day one of the finest locations in the village. (An illustration and history of the building may be seen in other parts of this work.)

Captain WILLIAMSON began laying out the village on the bluff, on what is now Main street. They were three-quarters of an acre deep, and half an acre in front, and valued at $375 each lot. One article in the agreement with Captain W. was that no buildings should be erected on the east side of the street, that the view of the lake might not be obstructed.

Beginning with the year 1800 spans a period of progress in the history of this village to which her citizens may justly point with the finger of pride. Streets were lad out, dwellings, mercantile and manufacturing establishments erected, all pointing unmistakably to the glorious future so grandly realized in the Geneva of to-day.

The following comprises a list of the original purchasers of the lots from the PULTENEY estate. John JOHNSTON was the purchaser of much of the land lying on either side of South Main street, and Major James REESE was an extensive land-owner on the west side of Main street. Other purchasers were R. HUGHES, R. CUYLER, D. WALSH, G. LAWSON, J. HESLOP, J. CHESLEY, J. COLLINS, P. B. WISNER, H. BECKMAN, J. COLT, D. ALLEN, J. W. HALLETT, P. BORTLE, Jr., H. H. BOGERT, T. WILBUR, J. CLARK, J. BUTLER, J. DRURY, J. COLT, G. RANKIN, B. BARTON, E. PATTERSON, N. W. HOWELL, A RAWSOME, H. BEEKMAN, E. JACKSON, J. HORNBY, D. GOODWIN, W. ADAMS, E. and C. GORDEN, D. WALSH, T. ALLEN, D. DENNETT, J. and S. LATTA, D. ABBEY, J. ANNIN, J. LUMMIS, W. HOUTEN, R. M. WILLIAMS, S. WILLIAMS, S. BURROWS, A BONNIE, GORDON and EVANS, S. COLT, J. MOFFAT, and a Mr. TAPPAN.

In 1806, Geneva had grown to a village of sixty-eight houses. Thirty-five were located on Main street, seven on Seneca street, five on Castle street, two on Genesee street, and one on Pulteney street.

In 1806, the village had a population of three hundred and twenty-five inhabitants, but as yet had no church, and scarcely a congregation. During this year a steamboat was put in operation on the lake and a steam-mill erected—two events that contributed much towards the advancement of the little hamlet. It was in this year, also, that Colonel James BOGERT issued the first number of The Expositor, which he continued until 1809, when it was changed to the Geneva Gazette, and published by him until 1833, and is the same paper now published by S. H. PARKER.

In the first number of The Expositor, issued Wednesday, November 19, 1806, we find the following advertisements:

A. DOX advertises dry-goods, groceries, hardware, etc.

Septimus EVANS, one of the early merchants, announces that he has taken into partnership his brother-in-law, John S. CHABERS, and requests all those indebted to him to make immediate payment; and that the scarcity of money may be no excuse, he will take grain, etc., in payment.

WILLIAMS announces his services as a watch-and clock-maker.

Samuel WARNER calls for ashes, to be delivered at his ash works at the “Old Castle.”

William VOORHEES calls for lumber. Reuben BORDWELL advertises a drug-store, and Foster BARNARD a clothing business. Major James REESE, Richard M. STODDARD, and E. H. GORDON have business notices. The latter was postmaster, and advertises a list of eighty-six letters remaining in his office.

June 10, 1809, an enthusiastic celebration was held in the village, it being the day that commercial relations between Great Britain and America were restored. During the celebration a Federal salute was fired, and the last gun was wadded with the Non-importation Act, JEFFERSON Proclamation, Embargo Act, Supplementary Embargo Act, and Enforcing Act. The oration was delivered by Daniel W. LEWIS, Esq.

The village was incorporated June 8, 1812, and the first charter election was held at POWELL’s hotel on the third Monday in May, 1813, when the following officers were chosen: Foster BARNARD, Herman H. BOGERT, Abraham DOX, Samuel COLT, David COOK, trustees; James REESE, treasurer; David HUDSON, clerk; Jabez PEASE, collector; David NAGLE, Jonathan DOANE, Elnathan NOBLE, fire wardens.

The by-laws of the village were adopted at a meeting held at POWELL’s hotel, June 13, 1813. Among the by-laws is the following:

“Whereas, The indecent and demoralizing practice of bathing in the Seneca lake, opposite the said village, and in open view of the inhabitants thereof, is improper, and ought no longer to be tolerated.” Whereupon they proceeded to adopt an ordinance imposing a fine of one dollar upon any person bathing within certain prescribed limits.

Main, Washington, Water, Seneca, Castle, Hamilton, Genesee, and Pulteney streets were first designated by their respective names on the 16th of May, 1814. The charter was amended April 17, 1816, and the boundaries of the village designated.

The year 1812 finds Geneva a thriving village, and a point of considerable business importance. The following advertisements will give the reader a glimpse of the village, and the names mentioned are a part of the history of the place:

Th Lowthrop and Co. advertise an extensive assortment of dry-goods, blue and yellow nankeens, white jean, India dimities, very beautiful ribbons, etc.

J. and J. Pease acquaint their friends and the public that they have lately commenced business in their new store, where they will continue to carry on the manufacture of boots and shoes.

William ROBB announces millinery goods for sale at the corner store formerly occupied by Dr. FIELD as an apothecary shop. Among the different articles he advertises for sale are; spider-net sleeves, men’s night-caps, caps and head-dresses, and humhum muslin.

A. and G. L. DOX offer, cheap for cash, blue and yellow nankeens bohea tea, fancy collars, frying-pans, etc.

Wm. TIPPETTS offers seventy sides first-class sole leather for sale. Samuel COLT offers dry-goods, liquors, hardware, etc. Wm. HOUTEN has a new advertisement of the Geneva apothecary store. D. NAGLE advertises his hat manufactory, nearly opposite the hotel. Andrew FARLING, cabinet-making business; Robert MONTGOMERY, leather; A. DOX, store and lot of land for sale; Benedict ROBINSON, farms for sale; David HUDSON, physician and surgeon, Geneva; HENRY LAIGHT, attorney-at-law, Pulteneyville; GOODWIN and ELLIS, physicians and surgeons; R. HOGARTH, tailor; Albany Insurance Co.; Bath Academy; and James BOGERT also advertises the “Farmer’s Diary and Western Almanac” for sale at the Geneva bookstore.

Geneva responded promptly to the call in the war of 1812, and as early as August 5, 1807, we find that “Captain Walter GRIEVE’s company of artillery and Captain Septimus EVANS’ troop of horse have tendered their services to the commander-in-chief, as part of the quota required from the State, to be held in readiness for active service. In the Geneva Gazette of December 30, 1812, the following notice appears:


“A recruiting rendezvous for a company of United States infantry is opened in the village of Geneva, where all those who are desirous of evincing their attachment to the cause of their country by entering the service are invited to call. By a late law of Congress the pay of the soldier has been increased from five to eight dollars per month, in addition to the bounty of sixteen dollars and one hundred and sixty acres of land, and have it optional with him to engage for the term of five years or during the present contest with Great Britain. Those who enlist will be immediately supplied with a suit of winter clothing. At a crisis like the present, it behooves all those who are not callous to the voice of patriotism to step forward and distinguish themselves as the firm supporters of the only republic on earth.      “Myndert M. DOX,  Captain 13th Regt, U.S. Infantry.”

H. Gates SPAFFORD, speaking of Geneva in 1812, says, “It is a handsome, flourishing, and populous post village, finely seated on the west shore, just at the north end of Seneca lake, sixteen miles east of Canandaigua, and one hundred and ninety-two miles west of Albany. It commands a fine view of the lake here, nearly three miles in width, and its waters pure and limpid. There are one hundred and thirty houses and stores, several elegant mansions, an Episcopal, a Dutch Reformed, and a Presbyterian church; four school-houses; three apothecaries’ shops; a printing office; and about eight hundred inhabitants. The mercantile business is said to exceed in amount that of Canandaigua, the capital of the county. An extensive glass-factory has lately been erected on the west shore of the lake, a short distance south of the village, with a capital of one hundred thousand dollars.”

The year 1813 is chiefly noticeable in the history of this village, it being the year of incorporation of the Geneva Academy. March 29 of this year, an act of incorporation was obtained for this academy, for which was subscribed the sum of sixteen hundred dollars by the following persons, not less than fifty dollars being paid by any individual:

Polydore B. WISNER, H. H. BOGERT, Robert W. STODDARD, Samuel C. COLT, William HORSTEN, Jona DOANE, Thomas LOWTHROP, James REESE, James CARTER, John NICHOLAS, David COOK, John WOODs, Thomas D. BURRALL, Joseph STOW, Walter GREIVE, Robert SCOTT, Fred A. DE ZENG, William TIPPETTS, Abner COLE, Abraham DOX. The following comprised the first board of trustees: Rev. Jedediah CHAPMAN, Polydore B. WISNER, James REESE, Samuel COLT, John NICHOLAS, H. H. BOGERT, Robert SCOTT, David COOK, Thomas LOWTHROP, Jona. DOANE, Walter GRIEVE, William TIPPETTS, and Fred A. DE ZENG.

July 4, 1814, was celebrated with much pomp and magnificence, it being the day that the large schooner built by Mr. SPAULDING, called the “Robert Troop,” was launched. This was the largest vessel, at that time, that had been floated on the waters of the Seneca; it was fifty feet keel, and carried sixty tons.

The village, in 1820, had a population of one thousand three hundred and fifty-seven, one hundred and seventeen of whom were colored.

The year 1822 dawns upon Geneva, and finds it a flourishing village of one thousand seven hundred and twenty-three inhabitants; two hundred and fifty-one dwelling-houses; twenty-six stores; two printing-offices, publishing each a weekly newspaper, and one literary paper; a bank; a land office; a warehouse for the sale of glass, for the manufacture of which there were two factories about two miles from the village; fifty mechanics’ shops; one academy, with seventy-five students; three houses of worship, viz, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and Methodist. Its annual trade was estimated at half a million dollars. Three daily stages left for Rochester and Buffalo, west; Utica, Albany, and Cherry Valley, east; to Bath and Angelica twice; Ithaca, Oswego, and Newberg, three times; and to Lyons and Sodus, once a week.


In 1825, when America illustrious benefactor touched our shores, Geneva was not backward in extending to him a hearty welcome. A committee was appointed to address a letter of invitation to the general, and the following is a copy of the document:



“DEAR SIR,--We have been appointed by the inhabitants of this village a committee to invite you to pay them a visit while on your tour through this section of country.

“Our vicinity was the theatre of some very interesting operations during the Revolutionary war, in which you acted so distinguished a part, with a generosity and disinterestedness which are without a parallel in the annals of the world. It will afford our neighbors and ourselves the highest gratification to have an opportunity of expressing to you in person the very grateful sense we entertain of the public service rendered by you to our country, and of the great esteem we bear you for your private virtues. 

“Hoping that it will be agreeable to you to gratify our wishes, we subscribe ourselves, with every sentiment of respect and esteem,

“Dear sir, your humble servants, James REESE, Samuel COLT, Henry DWIGHT, John SHETHAR, Joseph FELLOWS, William TILLMAN, George GOUNDRY, W. S. DE ZENG, Richard M. BAYLEY, John SWEENEY, and Phineas PROUTY.”

The letter was transmitted to Buffalo for delivery. The committee, however, being aware of the celerity of the general’s movements, deputed two of their number to meet him at Rochester, and, in case a favorable answer was given, to wait upon him to the village. They met him at Rochester, and he kindly consented to visit them. This information was immediately forwarded by express to Geneva and the neighboring towns. The court of Yates county, being in session, was adjourned, and an opportunity given the citizens to unite with Geneva in the ceremonies of the day. Captain SHERMAN, of Yates county, immediately called out his company of cavalry, and repaired with them to BALL’s tavern, the place designated for meeting the visitor. Carriages were provided to meet the general and suite, consisting of his son, George Washington LA FAYETTE, his secretary, Mr. LE VASSEUR, and his friends Mr. CAMUS and Mr. SION. An elegant open carriage was furnished by Mr. D. ZENG for the use of the general, which was drawn by six beautiful gray horses. He was escorted to the village by a committee and Captain SHERMAN’s company of cavalry, followed by a body of citizens on horseback. Near the village were posted Captain RUGGLES and Captain MEEMS’s company of cavalry, Captain BAILEY’s (under the command of Lieutenant LUM), Captain BARTLE’s and Captain MANNING’s companies of artillery, Captain OTTLEY’s and Captain VAN AUKEN’s companies of riflemen, Ensign BRIZEE’s company of light infantry, together with many officers of neighboring regiments in uniforms, and a great body of citizens. As soon as the carriages came in sight the signal-gun was fired, and the military escort was increased by the above-mentioned companies uniting with Captain SHERMAN’s company, and took up the line of march, conducted by Captain BAYLEY, as marshal of the day, assisted by Captain DOX, Lieutenant STANLEY, and Mr. BUTLER. The private citizens, all being uncovered, formed two lines, through which the carriages passed to a stage erected on the public square, in front of which was a platform. Columns supported tastefully festooned arches, with wreaths and flowers, bearing the inscriptions, “Welcome to LA FAYETTE,” “WASHINGTON and LA FAYETTE.”

As the honored visitor approached the stage, his path was strewn with flowers, and he was welcomed by the following ode, finely rendered in song by a bevy of young ladies:

                                          “Welcome, partriot, to the shore

                                           Where none but freeman tread;

                                            Welcome to the land once more,

                                            Where freedom’s warriors bled;

                                            Columbia’s sons shall ne’er forget

                                            The brave, illustrious LA FAYETTE


                                             “When wrapt in war’s terrific gloom,

                                            Encompassed round with foes,

                                            You left your country and your home

                                            To bleed for foreign woes;

                                             Columbia’s sons will ne’er forget

                                             Their benefactor, LA FAYETTE.” 

The general was introduced by Major REESE, and the address of welcome was delivered by Colonel WHITING, at the close of which he responded in a few fitting remarks, and then examined two cannons, one brought by Captain MANNING’s company from Ovid, and the other by Captain BARTLE’s company from Vienna (Phelps). The former bore the following inscription: Surrendered by the capitulation of Yorktown, October 19, 1781; cast 1762,” and the latter, “Surrendered by the capitulation of St. John’s, November 25, 1775; cast 1756.” He was escorted to the FRANKLIN House, where a sumptuous breakfast was prepared by Mr. NOYES, and two hundred citizens gathered around the festive board with the general and his suite. At the close of the repast, he bade a tearful farewell to the soldiers of the Revolution who had gathered about him, and who had followed his leadership on many a hard-contested field. He took a kindly leave of the citizens; stepping into the coach; the crack of the driver’s whip was heard, and the Marquis DE LA FAYETTE left Geneva, bearing with him the heartfelt sympathy and admiration of those for the defense of whose liberty he had offered his distinguished services.

THE GENEVA WATER-WORKS—This organization was established August 20, 1796, and the following subscribed to the shares set opposite their names; Jacob HALLETT, for Chas. WILLIAMSON, 20; Jacob HALLETT, 6; Timothy ALLEN, 3; J. W. HALLETT, 1; David COOK, 1; David ABBEY, 1; Samuel HOOKER, 1; Clark JENNINGS, 1; C. HART, 2; Phineas PIERCE, 1; Thos. SISSON, 1; P. ALLEN, for Ambrose HULL, 2; Elias JACKSON, 3; Thos. WILLIAMS, 1; Ezra PATTERSON, 2; Samuel COLT, 2; T. WALBUR and W. LATHUR, 1; Jerome LUMMIS, 1; Job SMITH, 2; GRIEVE and MOFFATT, 4; Robert JOURDAN, 1; BEAN and LUZALERE, 1; Jacob BLACKENSTOSE, 1; HOWARD and GRIFFEN, 1; Wm. M. GUNNING, 1; J. JOHNSTON, 2. The following also subscribed to one share each; J. SAYRE, William ADAMS, Park ALLYN, Alex. BERNIE, Nath. W. HOWELL, Joseph ANNIN, Edward WHITE, Samuel LATTA.

The company was incorporated March 31, 1803, with the following charter members: Herman H. BOGERT, Jacob HALLETT, Jacob W. HALLETT, Samuel COLT, Nathaniel MERRILL, David COOK, David MAGEE, Ezra PATTERSON, Wm. HOUTFEN, Chas. WILLIAMSON, Thos. POWELL, John JOHNSTON, Polydore B. WISNER, and Joseph ANNIN.

The following is the board of directors as at present constituted: Stephen H. HAMMOND, Stewart S. COBB, Phineas PROUTY, Samuel H. VERPLANCK, Edward KINGSLAND. Mr. HAMMOND, president; Mr. VERPLANCK, treasurer; Mr. KINGSLAND, secretary.

The reservoir is located upon the “White Springs Farm,” lately owned and occupied by James O. SHELDON, about one and one half miles west of Main street on the old pre-emption road. The spring is two hundred and eighty-three feet above Seneca lake, and furnishes an abundance of water for the supply of the village.

GENEVA FIRES AND FIRE DEPARTMENT—The first fire of any importance of which any record can be obtained occurred at two o’clock A.M., December 29, 1807, when the still-houses of David BENTON and the Messrs. REEDS were consumed. Loss eighteen hundred dollars. Incendiary origin.

March 13, 1855, a fire broke out in the dry-goods store of D. D. SPIER, No. 32 Seneca street, and before the fiery element could be checked great damage was done.

In the following year, November 7, 1856, at ten P.M. a fire was discovered in the canal barns of Gilbert & Co., which spread with amazing rapidity, consuming, aside from the barns, a grocery, store-house, dwelling, blacksmith-shop, forty four horses and mules, two cows, and a lot of swine and fowls.

The village was spared from a visitation of fire of any particular consequence until 1871, when occurred the largest conflagratin with which Geneva has ever been visited. On the morning of February 4, of that year a fire broke out in Field & Afflect’s elevator, which raged fiercely, baffling the attempts of the fire men, and consumed the elevator, flouring-mill and malt-house, canal collector’s office, two barns, twelve houses, etc. The losses were estimated at one hundred and ten thousand dollars.

At twelve o’clock on the morning of May 14, 1872, a fire broke out in the building owned by G. C. ALLEN, and occupied by Facer & Underhill, and S. H. & E. Parker, publishers and proprietors of the Geneva Gazette. In fifteen minutes from the time the alarm was sounded the engines were at work, but the building being dry, burned like tinder. Facer & Underhill’s loss was two thousand dollars insurance, eight hundred dollars. The Messrs. PARKER, publishers of the Gazette suffered to the extent of about ten thousand dollars. Captain J. S. LEWIS was injured, and John IDE’s shop and dwelling totally destroyed.

Three months had not elapsed from the date of the destruction of the Gazette office when a fire was again discovered, July 27, in the planning-mill of CONGER & MACKEY, situated on Lake street, which, owing to the light and inflammable material of the building, was soon consumed. Loss, eighteen thousand dollars.

The remainder of the year was marked with no conflagration, but on the 28th of April, 1873, a fire broke out in the steam bending works of T. Smith & Co. Before the steamers arrived on the spot the flames were lapping and seething wildly up from ten to fifteen feet above the burning building, and all attempts to rescue the property from the fiery element was of no avail. The building was destroyed, and over thirty thousand dollars’ worth of property burned, with no insurance.

In the following year, September 29, 1874, the livery-stable occupied by S. K. JOHNSON, in the rear of the FRANKLIN House, was discovered to be on fire, and the flames quickly communicated to COURSEY’s tannery. DAVIS’ store-house, and several other buildings, and continued its fiery travels until twenty-two thousand dollars worth of property was consumed.

October 30, 1875, the steam-grist-and flouring mill belonging to W. S. CHURE was entirely consumed; loss, fifteen thousand dollars.

The village suffered severely from a fire which broke out May 24, 1876, in the tinware and stove store occupied by FULTON & SHIEBLY, on the east side of Exchange street. The fire spread southward, and enveloped in its lurid folds the extensive hardware store of Skilton & Co., occupying two fronts on the street. The total loss of the various parties amounted to forty-five thousand two hundred dollars.

On Tuesday morning, June 1, the alarm of fire was again sounded in Geneva, just one week to an hour from the time of the destruction of the PROUTY block on Exchange street. The fire broke out in the canal barns belonging to Richard KNIGHT, Jr., and before the flames could be checked the Seneca House and barns were burned, together with twenty-five horses. One man, Martin LANGDON, was consumed in the flames. The damage to property in this fire was twenty thousand dollars.



The charter of the village of Geneva gave the trustees power to “purchase one or more fire-engine or engines, and to raise money by tax for the purpose of defraying the expense of erecting suitable buildings for the protection of said engine or engines.” At a meeting of the board of trustees, held May 27, 1816, a resolution was passed authorizing, by tax, the raising of one thousand dollars for the above-mentioned purpose. May 28, 1816, the first fire company in Geneva was appointed, and comprised the following persons:

William GRIFFING, captain; Silas CHAPIN, James LAWSON, A. MCNAB, Phineas PROUTY, Francis DEY, William POWELL, Peter THOMAS, Daniel COOK, David FIELD, Jr., A. B. HALL, Hiram WALBRIDGE, Castle SOUTHERLAND, Boswick NOBLE, Nathaniel NOBLE, Gains CLARK, Roswell BAKER, Eli BANNISTER.

At a meeting of the board of trustees held May 18, 1818, the organization of three fire companies was authorized, and the following persons were appointed to compose said companies:

No. 1—Daniel L. SKAATS, Jabez PEASE, David FIELD, Jr., James BLACK, William TIPPETS, Richard HOGARTH, Comfort HAWLEY, D. L. LUM, Matthew LUM, Andrew P. TILLMAN, Joseph M. DAVINNEY, Silas CHAPIN, Samuel JACOBS, Moses HALL, Francis NARES, William ALCOCK, John WILSON, Samuel P. HALL, George MUMFORD, William W. WATSON.

No. 2—William FIELD, John SINGER, Truman SMITH, John DOX, Perez HASTINGS, John STAUNTON, Stephen BROCK, James G. DORCHESTER, Orson BRIZE, Elias BEACH, Peter R. THOMAS, Hiram WALBRIDGE, Abraham B. HALL, James RADLIFF, David FOLFORD, William CORTLESON, Frederick HAAS, William GOFF, Daniel COOK, Jonathan KEENEY.

No. 3—Griffeth P. GRIFFETH, James R. REES, Andrew MCNAB, Roswell BAKER, G. CLARK, Jonathan SPRINGSTEAD, Eli BANNISTER, William SUTTON, James HAYS, Seth CHAPIN, Anthony HEMINGS, Epaphroditus NORTHAM, Burton MONROE, Christopher CAMPBELL, William NUTTING, Bowen WHITING, Charles A. COOK, Castle SOUTHERLAND, Aaron YOUNG, David WILSON.

A resolution was also passed requiring the several companies to meet on the first Saturday of each month for the purpose of working the engine and pumps, and keeping them in repair, etc.

The citizens of Geneva are entitled to much credit for the interest early shown in the fire department, by the prompt organization of companies and the furnishing of funds. Good engines were purchased, hook-and-ladder companies were organized, etc. With the growth of the village the demand arose for more efficient apparatus than the “old hand-engines;” and the result was the purchase of a Silsby steamer in February, 1866, and a Button steamer in March, 1868. The present organization was effected July 2, 1870, as a paid fire department. The officers were as follows: C. L. HEMINGS, chief engineer; W. H. SUYDAM, assistant engineer, secretary, and treasurer; Thomas COURSEY, foreman of No. 1; William H. BUTTERFIELD, foreman of No. 2; and A. H. HOOD, foreman of No. 3, the hook-and-ladder company. The department is now in fine condition and officered as follows: W. P. HAYWARD, chief engineer; A. A. CAMPION, assistant engineer; William H. SUYDAM, secretary and treasurer; Thomas COURSEY, foreman of No. 1; J. MORRISON, foreman of No. 2; John DENNISON, foreman of No. 3, hook-and-ladder company. The engines are drawn by two teams owned by the corporation.

NEW YORK CENTRAL IRON-WORKS—This business was established in 1853, under the above name, and by the present proprietor, William B. DUNNING. It is a general machine-shop for the manufacture, of mill-gearings, etc., although much attention is given to the building of steam-engines and boilers. In the latter branch Mr. DUNNING undoubtedly stands without a superior. At these works were manufactured the engines now used on the steamers “Ontario,” “Elmira,” and Magee,” on Seneca lake; “Falling Waters,” at Rochester; “Yates” and “Steuben,” on Keuka lake, and the steamers on Otsego lake. Here also was manufactured the engine used in the extensive malt-house of BETZ and NESTER, at Geneva; JONES’ flouring-mill, at Ovid; the large flouring-and-plaster-mills, at Union Springs; the SELMSER flouring-mill, at Waterloo; the CICERO flouring-mills, etc. The establishment is furnished with all modern appliances in iron-working, and has a capacity of building any sized engine required. One fact, as much perhaps as any other to which may be attributed the success of this establishment, is that Mr. DUNNING himself has been a practical machinist over forty years. The works were burned in 1870, and immediately upon the old site was erected the present fine and substantial brick structure.

GENEVA MALT-HOUSE—This mammoth structure was erected in 1871. It is constructed of brick, four stories high, with Mansard roof, and has a frontage of two hundred and fifty feet, and is one hundred and eight feet deep. It has a storage capacity of two hundred thousand bushels, and is supplied with all the modern improvements for elevating grain, and the whole is driven by a fifty-horse-power engine. This is one of the representative institutions of Geneva, and is the third largest malt-house, in respect to business transactions, in the United States; and arrangements are now being perfected by Mr. NESTER which will undoubtedly place the establishment ahead of all competitors. It is a building which for beauty of design and proportion has no superior in the State. Its construction was planned and superintended by Mr. NESTER in person, and reflects much credit upon the firm as well as the village of Geneva.

THE STEAM BENDING WORKS of T. Smith & Co., located on Exchange street, is a large establishment, and justly merits the extensive business it has secured.

THE CARRIAGE MANUFACTORIES of D. W. BAIRD and B. W. KEYES, on Castle street, are in successful operation, and have a reputation for first-class work second to none in the State.

THE DE LANCEY DIVINITY SCHOOL is a diocesan theological institution. Its object is to afford theological instruction to persons coming into the ministry of the Protestant Episcopal church from the business world, and from the ministries of other religious bodies who could not, in their circumstances, attend a general theological seminary. It was originated by Bishop DE LANCEY, and went into operation in the year 1861, by the election of the Rev. Dr. RANKINE as its first rector. It was called the first the Diocesan Training School of Western New York; but after the death of Bishop DE LANCEY its name was changed to the present style. Such an institution does not of course contemplate any great number of students at any one time. Twenty-five ministers, who are now preaching the gospel, have had the benefit of its provisions. The Rev. Dr. RANKINE has been its rector since it first went into operation.

SCHOOL OF ST. FRANCIS DE SALES—Father James T. MCMANUS, ever mindful of the welfare of his people, conceived the idea of founding a school where the youth might receive instruction under the guidance of the church. He commenced the erection of a school edifice in 1874, which was completed and opened for students in September of the following year. It is a neat and commodious structure, eighty-two by fifty-five feet, two stories in height, and cost about fifteen thousand dollars. It has fifty-four distinct apartments, furnished with all modern improvements, and well ventilated. The school is in a prosperous condition, having an attendance of five hundred and twenty-five students, and is taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph.



Ark Lodge, No. 33, F. and A. M., located at Geneva, New York, received their charter from the Grand Lodge of the State of New York September 2, 1807.  It was signed DeWitt CLINTON, the then Grand Master.  The first presiding officer was Philetus SWIFT.  David COOK was the first secretary.  They held their meetings in Powell’s hotel.  The same building is now occupied as a hygienic institute. 

The officers for 1876 are: John T. SCOON, W. M.; Henry DEY, S. W.; Wm. G. DENNISON, J. W.; E. DAKIN, T.; S. N. ANTHONY, Sec’y; M. JENKINSON, S. D.; and Meyer JACOBS, J. D.  Meet every first and third Wednesdays in each month at 7:30 pm. 

Geneva Chapter of R. A. M. was organized in this village November 1, 1813, by virtue of a dispensation from the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of the State of New York, granted to companions Jacob DOX, Gerrit L. DOX, Ellis DOTY, Walter DEAN, Philetus SWIFT, Arthur LEWIS, Wm. BURNETT, Nathaniel ALLEN, Orson BARTLETT, and Samuel LAWRENCE. 

The present officers for 1876 are: Geo. A. LANING, H. P.; D. B .BACKENSTOSE, E. K.; W. T. SPOOR, E. S.; E. DAKIN, Treas.; S. N. ANTHONY, Sec’y.  Meet the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays, at 7:30 pm. 

Ontario Council, No. 23, of R. and S. M., received their charter February 5, 1860, and organized with Corydon WHEAT as Master. 

The officers for 1876 are as follows: W. P. DURRANT, M.; John T. SCOON, D. M.; W. E. HAYES, P. C. W.; W. F. EDDINGTON, C. of G.; S. N. ANTHONY, C. of C.; W. N. SMITH, Sec’y.  Regular assemblies, the first Monday evening of each month, at 7:30 pm. 

Geneva Commandery, No. 29, of Knights Templar was instituted September 13, 1860, by virtue of a charter issued by the Grand Commandery of the State of New York.  The first officers were: C. WHEAT, Commander; Calvin WALKER, G.; John SHOOK, C. G.; W. N. SMITH, Recorder. 

The officers for 1876 are: W. P. DURRANT, Commander; A. S. HOLLENBACK, Gen.;  W. T. SPOOR, C. G.; Rev. E. S. CORBIN, Prel.; Wm. I. HIGGINS, Treas.; S. N. ANTHONY, Recorder.  Regular conclaves, 1st and 3rd Thursdays in each month, at 7:30 pm. 

OLD CASTLE LODGE, No. 299, I. O. O. F., was instituted December 20, 1871.  The following were the charter members: P. CRANE, R. B. BEACH, S. GREEN, Geo. TAYLOR, E. DAKIN, Geo. McFEGGAN, C. H. PROUDFIT, Jas. McNICOL. 

The first officers were: Geo. McFEGGAN, N. G.; C. H. PROUDFIT, V. G.; S. GREEN, Sec.; E. DAKIN, Treas.  Present officers: C. OPDIKE, N. G.; T. ATKINS, V. G.; A. J. SWALLOW, Sec.; Hiram ARMSTRONG, Treas.; Ralph CLARK, P. Sec. 

W. & T. SMITH’s NURSERIES.--This nursery was commenced on a very limited scale, in 1846, by William, Thomas, and Edward SMITH.  They were practical young men, who had been raised with habits of industry and economy.  They were possessed of that skill and judgment so essential to the management of a business of this character, which commanded success, and has placed them in the enviable position they occupy in the trade to-day.  Industry, economy, perseverance, and combined labor were the essential features with which they commenced business.  Good judgment in the selection of fruits and ornamental trees suitable for the various soils and climate succeeded in founding a large trade.  They began business with only a few acres of land, but the growing demand for finer fruits and ornamental trees necessitated the purchase of more ground.  It requires prudence and constant thought to select the most desirable stock for the diversity of soil from Maine to California, and in the matter the proprietors have had the pleasure of giving general satisfaction. 

In 1863 Mr. Edward SMITH retired from the firm, and gave his attention to the raising of fruits for the New York market.  He planted an orchard of 60 acres, consisting of pear-, plum-, and apple-trees. 

In 1864 the present proprietors added largely to their business, which had already extended over 300 acres of land, in different stages of growth, mostly, however, in fruit-trees.  During the year they erected several large greenhouses, furnished with all modern improvements, packing-houses and root-cellars were also constructed, to facilitate the packing of the large orders; a neat and commodious office was furnished; the home-grounds were put in good and better order; many rare specimens of trees for ornament and propagation were planted, and 150 acres of land were added to the nursery and grounds,--rendered necessary by their rapidly-increasing business in the great West.  The opening of the great lines of railroads, and the general prosperity of the country, all seemed to assist these enterprising brothers up one of the largest nurseries in the United States, employing from 50 to 100 persons. 

Three foremen have charge of the ornamental department, green-houses, roses, etc.  Three other foremen attend the fruit department.  Ten to fifteen assisting agents control the shipping in boxes and bales, while 16 horses are kept in active service, cultivating grounds and carrying goods.  Nearly 100 agents are employed directly and indirectly in the sale of the goods, but the main feature of the business has been in the wholesale line, furnishing to smaller nurserymen and dealers in large quantities.  This nursery is said to have the most complete set of foremen in the United States, being practical men, having been with the firm from 10 to 15 years.  Many of the young men have grown up in the business from boyhood, and are skillful budders and propagators.  But few changes have been made in the working force, which speaks well for the general management of the concern. 

The proprietors attend personally to all the business, and superintend the various departments. 

The nursery is very favorably located both for soil and climate, while the shipping facilities are unsurpassed.  Situated near the borders of Seneca lake, whose waters seldom freeze, the atmosphere is mild and humid, a protection from the winter frost. 

The soil is a gravelly loam and clay subsoil.  The trees make a vigorous growth, producing wood of the finest texture, very hard and solid.  It is well known that heavy soils produce the hard woods, and light soils produce coarse grain and light woods.  The latter are more subject to decay, and do not transplant to all soils with equal success as those grown on heavy lands.  This is a matter of great importance to every planter, and not a year passes that the Messrs. SMITH do not receive additional testimony that the Geneva trees have proved more hardy and bear transplanting much better than those grown on light, sandy soils. 

Under-draining has been one of the principal features in the preparation of the nursery for the planting out of young trees and plants.  Five large farms have been thoroughly under-drained, with the laying of 400 miles of pipe, at a cost of $32,000.  This is the largest amount of under-draining done by any one firm in the United States. 

The trees and plants are mostly shipped in boxes, with the roots packed in damp moss, which keeps perfectly fresh from 2-4 weeks.  Boxes are made 2 ½ feet wide, and 9-10 feet in length, and weight, when packed, 1,000 pounds.  12-1600 of these boxes are shipped annually, besides large quantities which are packed and shipped in bundles and bales.  Nearly 150,000 feet of lumber is used yearly for boxes, and 75 tons of moss for packing the roots.  All trees leave the nursery in perfect condition, and have been delivered in good order to every State in the Union. 

The brand of “W. & T. Smith” on their boxes is sufficient guarantee that the trees and plants are genuine and true to name.  Honest and fair dealing has ever been characteristic of this firm, and it has secured to them a large trade and the confidence of the public. 

T. C. MAXWELL & BROS. NURSERIES - T. C. Maxwell & Bros., commenced their nursery business in Geneva in the spring of 1848, by the purchase of 6 ½ acres of land, then nearly covered with nursery stock. 

At that time there was probably less than 10 acres of nursery stock in and about Geneva.  That spring they planted the remainder of their lot, and in the following spring five acres more were added and planted.  From this time forward, by close application, combined with energy and enterprise, they have steadily enlarged their operations, until their nurseries now cover over 500 acres actually in stock.  They have always pursued the plan of improving their land by thorough under-drainage and deep tillage before planting to nursery stock, and in strict adherence to this policy they have purchased, drained, and planted to nursery, and now own 1,000 acres of the best land about Geneva.  They have not only remodeled the buildings standing at the time of purchase, but have added many new ones, including barns, and also tenant houses, where a large number of their employees are provided with comfortable homes. 

From the beginning, a very noticeable feature of these nurseries has been the very large number of pear--, ---standard and dwarf,--sherry-, plum-, and quince-trees grown in proportion to what is grown in many other nurseries; the soil of Geneva probably being unequaled in the production of these items, and thus inviting and securing a large trade from those sections where they cannot be grown with success.   

With a true appreciation of the beautiful as well as the useful, as soon as the means of the firm would permit the ornamental department was enlarged and improved until it stands second to none in the civilized world, so that today a larger or better assortment of handy evergreens can nowhere be found, while in choice deciduous trees, like the purple and fern-leaved and weeping beach, cut-leaved and purple birch, Kilmarnock, willow, and other weeping trees, there is no such stock to be found anywhere.  In numbers and quantity of choice ornamentals these nurseries are a happy surprise to all who visit them.  Among the new things first propagated and sent out by this firm may be mentioned the George PEABODY arbor vitse, the best and handsomest hardy golden evergreen known.  This was sent out with three other evergreens of merit in 1873, since which time they have been sent to many parts of this country and Europe.  New varieties of fruits, as well as ornamental trees and plants, are each year imported and tested, and when found worthy, propagated and disseminated.  The products of these nurseries are now annually or semi-annually sent to all parts of this country, Canada, British Columbia, and the provinces, and, as mentioned above, orders from Europe and not infrequent. 

R. G. CHASE & Co.--This firm consists of three brothers, R. G., G. H., and H. A. CHASE, all of whom were born and reared on a farm in Oxford county, Maine.  The two eldest commenced business as dealers in 1866, with a capital of $500.  They purchased their stock in Rochester, New York, and in person solicited orders.  The first season their sales amounted to about $10,000.  After the first year they employed agents, in small numbers, and increased the business from year to year, until during the past two years it has amounted to $200,000 annually.  About 200 men are employed by this firm as agents, many of them on a salary.  H. A. CHASE became a member of the firm in 1870. 

In the spring of 1871 the elder member, R. G. CHASE, came to Geneva to reside, the firm having purchased an interest in a nursery, which enterprise they have kept along by planting moderately each year, until now they have as fine a stock of young trees as can be found in the State.  But little is done by this firm in the wholesale trade, they preferring to send directly to the planter, whom they reach by means of the numerous agents employed.  They not only sell their own stock, but purchase largely of the wholesale dealers.  We will add that upon inquiry we find that this firm has a reputation of handling none but first-class goods, which has secured to them a large and lucrative business. 

RICHARSON & NICHOLAS.--This firm commenced business in the year 1870, with an original planting of five acres of nursery.  By enterprise and a strict attention to business their business has been largely increased.  The present size of their nursery is 112 acres; they employ 25 men, and send their stock into 10 different States.  The principal varieties of stock grown by this firm are apple-, standard and dwarf pear-, peach-, plum-, cherry-, orange-, and quince-trees; apricots and nectarines, roses, and a few ornamental trees. 

The grounds of Messrs. RICHARDSON & NICOLAS are finely adapted for the growing of pear stock, and they have 275,000 pear-trees for sale this fall, and of a quality unsurpassed. 

BRONSON, HOPKINS & Co.--This business was begun in 1867, by E. A. BRONSON.  The original size of the nursery was 10 acres, which has been increased to 150 acres.  Twenty-five men are employed, and stock is shipped to 20 different States.  The principal varieties of stock are fruit- and ornamental trees, shrubs, evergreens, roses, vines, small fruits, and flowering plants.  The soil consists of a heavy clay loam, thoroughly under-drained.  The stock is kept under thorough cultivation, and special attention is given to growing hardy and desirable varieties. 

ATWOOD, ROOT & Co.--This firm commenced business in 1870.  The nursery comprises 250 acres; 200 in trees and 50 in farming lands.  About 30 men are employed, and stock is shipped to 25 different States.  The varieties of stock grown by this firm are pear-, peach-, apple-, plum-, and cherry-trees, apricot and quince, ornamental trees and shrubs. 

SEARS, HENRY & Co.--James S. SEARS, David H. HENRY, Lemuel HERENDEEN.  This business was commenced in 1866, under the firm name of Anderson, Sears & Smith.  In 1866 it was known as Anderson, Sears and Henry, and in 1869 it was changed to the present firm.  The original size of the nursery was 24 acres, which has been increased to 150 acres in 1876.  This firm employ has been 15 to 40 men, and sell stock in 15 different States.  Their varieties are apple-, cherry-, plum-, peach-, quince-, orange-, and a large variety of ornamental trees, plants, and shrubs, with a general assortment of small fruits, consisting of currants, raspberries, strawberries, etc. 

This enterprise was begun on a small scale, with little capital; but by strict attention to business, coupled with a thorough knowledge of this branch of industry and honorable dealings, the trade is constantly increasing, and Messrs. Sears, Henry & Co. justly deserve the wide and honorable reputation they have attained. 

Other nursery firms are as follows: Merrell & Coleman, W. J. McKELVIE, Richardson & Kelsey, A. HAMMOND, HERENDEEN & VAN DUSEN, NICHOLAS & NEWSON, SELOVER, WILLARD & Co., Sisson & Co., J. W. LOVE, Burtis, Hammond & Co.


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