Ontario County ,
Welcome to Ontario County, NY, History and Genealogy. This is is a central point of entry to independent not-for-profit web sites with historical or genealogical content. Although independent, it is affiliated with The American History and Genealogy Project. To learn more about this group, click the link above.
Kindly transcribed by Donna Walker Judge
From History of Ontario County, NY Published 1878
Pg 7 - 19
HISTORY of ONTARIO COUNTY, NEW YORK
HISTORY of ONTARIO COUNTY, NEW YORK
By Prof. W. H. MCINTOSH
History is the ledger of human existence; an epitome of individual and social progress; a lettered panorama of the past. Its credits established fact, gives permanence to valuable knowledge, and preserves the foot-prints of a transitory age. Authentic in the main, it is glorious in its object to preserve for future generations a knowledge of obligations to their predecessors.
N T R O D U C T I O N
Where once frowned a forest, a garden is smiling; the meadow and moorland are marshes no more, and the agencies by which these changes have been accomplished within the recollection of a few venerable men, sole survivors of a former generation, form the subject of our investigation. Although a brief period of time has elapsed since the first intrepid settlers made their appearance in the Genesee country, a vast change has remained un-chronicled, and there is little extant to inform the people to whom they are under obligations for many privileges. The present year revives the dormant pride of origin, and pulpit and press are active in supplying popular demand. But these efforts are ephemeral; the address is forgotten, the paper is destroyed, and only by systematized effort in book form can the history of Ontario be preserved. Sources of information are various; many different fountains have contributed to enlarge the current of record from its origin in vague traditions to the known and established events of the present.
Again, the nations of the old world, adventuring in frail barks upon the broad Atlantic, are seen exploring the bays and rivers of another continent, eager for treasure, and patient in search of a water route to the commerce of the Indies. The aboriginal meets them at the threshold of his forest domain, imbibes their vices, feels their power, and bars their progress westward. The IROQUOIS, in councils of the tribe and league, foreshadow a republic by a coming race of mingled nations, and, repelling invasion, roll back the tide of war, and sweep a province, with torch and knife, well-neigh from existence.
England asserts supremacy upon the Hudson, becomes the victor in the struggle for ascendency with France, and inaugurates oppression upon her colonies, resulting in the War of Independence. The SIX NATIONS ally themselves with the royal governors against the treacherous French, and lay waste with many a foray the fringe of colonial settlement. The massacres of Cherry Valley and Wyoming are followed by the famous march of SULLIVAN, whose cannon warned the villagers of the confederacy of his approach, whose soldiery destroyed their fields and habitations. States and General Government raise conflicting claims to lands they do not own. Vast tracts are purchased and offered to settlement at nominal rates. A tide of immigration is received; a county is formed with the area of a State, and a town with the territory of a county. Villages spring up, and farms are surveyed and occupied. The machinery of local government is instituted by town meetings, treaties are held, and the foundation of educational institutions laid. Roads are cut through the forests, and taverns established on their route. Led by a spirit of adventure, or earnest in seeking a home, hundreds of New England and Eastern New York people make the journey to the PHELPS and GORHAM purchase, and, delighted with the soil and climate, landscape, and future prospect, buy them homes, and thereon pass their days. As population increases, by the formation of new counties, area diminishes. Rude public buildings are superseded by others commensurate with progress. Newspapers are founded, and banks chartered, stage lines organized, and postal facilities afforded. Great Britain usurps authority, and the Republic, declaring war, brings home to the people engaged in clearing their lands the terrors of civilized and savage warfare. Buffalo is burned, and by regiments the aroused people rally to repel the foe. Sickness, and lack of markets, discourage some, but do not daunt the many. An exodus to Michigan is more than supplied by arrivals from the East. The Erie Canal is projected and completed. The Albany and Rochester Railroad marks the advent of rapid transportation, and having passed the pioneer and settler periods, the population had turned attention to what pursuit best entertained their fancy, when the storm of civil war darkened the land, and threatened dissolution. The men of Ontario were no laggards at LINCOLN's call, and none more brave than they upon the battlefield.
To fill the outline given; to delineate the forest-life; to call the roll of early settlers, and to render them the meed of well-won honor, are objects worthy of labor, --pleasurable for perusal.
In a region rich in romance, once abounding in game, and occupied by a partially civilized race; in a land of beautiful hill-encircled lakes, noble forests, and alluvial soil; and in a State whose wealth, commerce, and political power have been acknowledged in the appellation of the Empire State, are yet living scores of the sons and daughters of the old pioneers, who have witnessed the gradations from log cabin to stately mansion; from poverty to opulence; from a savage wild, traversed only by the Indian path, to an enlightened community, diversified by farm and village, stream and lake, and eminently noted for the culture and social rank of its citizens. Relics from the battle-field a broken musket, a battered canteen, the fragment of a shell are valued from association, and the lives of those who felled the original forest, gave boundaries and organization to towns, established initial enterprise, and fostered the interests of school and church, are an heir-loom to those following them. Every department of labor presents a field for investigation. Success is seen to have been evolved from failure, and retrogression from neglect. Not a century has transpired since the first white mans cabin was erected in the forest west of the capital; no evidence exists to-day but that the country has been inhabited for ages. The study of Ontario, comprising a lordly domain, and giving of her lands to establish other and rival counties, while holding her own in generous rivalry, is a theme of no ordinary interest to her citizens; it traces no rise from obscurity of individual or community to arrogant dominion and lawless rapine, but the gradual changes wrought by industry, whereby a sturdy yeomanry, descendants of exiles for religious freedom, sought homes in a distant forest, there endured hardships, reared their families, and lived to see their wildest fancies realized.
PRE-COLUMBIAN DISCOVERY RIVAL CLAIMS TO TERRITORY OF NEW YORK BASES OF CLAIMS ENGLISH SUPREMACY FRENCH RIVALRY.
Empires had arisen, matured, and fallen, and other empires followed them. Ages had passed away, and the broad Atlantic was a dreaded barrier, and the continent to the west an unknown region. Then, as now, the Falls of Niagara poured their masses of water over the precipice of the ever-lengthening canon with solemn reverberations amid the unbroken forest, and the noble Hudson swept past the Palisades on its way to the ocean; but the people who traversed these regions have left behind them little to indicate their existence, save the mounds which cover the bones of their dead. Believing in the common origin of man, the thoughtful can but ruminate upon the problem of Indian occupation. When and how came they upon this continent? What was their progress in arts and civilization? Had no advance been made by successive generations, or had they risen and then fallen to the savage state? Nature asserts her sway in contest with cultivation, and the highest state of civilization may have been extinguished by the leveling influences to time. Leaving origin to conjecture, races were found ranging from savage to civilized state, and AZTECS of Mexico, PERUVIANS of South America, and, far later, the IROQUOIS of New York, were seen as tillers of soil, architects of village hut to city temple, and numbered by thousands.
Various claims are put forth regarding the honors of first discovery of America. ERIC, a Northman, emigrating from Iceland, settled in Greenland in 986. Various voyages were subsequently made by his descendants to a country they called Vinland, but, if true, resulted in no permanent effectual possession. Spanish Arabians date a discovery by them in 1140; the Venetians, in 1436; but not till 1492 do we enter upon the authentic and substantiated. During that year Christopher COLUMBUS, while in the service of Spain, sailing westward, discovered land off the east coast of Florida, and opened a highway over the broad Atlantic. Confining exploration and conquest to the regions of the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi, Spain left the barren and unprofitable northward coast to the investigation of other powers.
Three nations claimed an ownership in the territory embraced in part by the present State of New York. They founded their title in the rights of discovery and occupation, and severally yielded only to the supremacy acquired by force of arms. That heterogeneous and hostile colonies should eventually unite to form part of such a nation as the United States, may well cause the most thoughtless to ponder upon our present and our future. Authorized by letters patent from HENRY VII, John CABOT, a Venetian, accompanied by his son Sebastian, set out on a voyage of discovery. He touched the coast on June 24, 1497, and called the country Newfoundland. To him is ascribed the honor of being the first to see the continent of North America. Sailing southward, with occasional landings. CABOT reached the capes of Chesapeake Bay, and then returned to England. In 1498, Sebastian CABOT, returning, explored the coast from Newfoundland to Florida, and hence the English claim to territory eleven degrees in width, and extending from ocean to ocean. FRANCIS I, of France, emulating the enterprise of Spain and England, sent out upon a voyage of discovery John VERRAZZANI, a Florentine, who thrice visited America, coursed along the coast a distance of over two thousand miles, in frail vessels, trafficked with the natives, and was the first European whose feet trod the soil of New Netherlands. Returning in safety, he gave an account of his exploration, and although he failed in finding a northwest route to the East Indies, he established for France a claim in the New World. To Holland we are indebted for the gem of New York. This nation, essentially commercial, formed a company for purposes of traffic and colonization in Africa and America, to which association was given the name of East India Company. This company engaged Henry HUDSON, an adventurous navigator, to seek a northern passage to India. Two voyages were fruitless, yet, in the service of the Dutch East India Company, he made a third, which has rendered his name immortal.
Setting sail on April 9, 1609, in the Half-Moon, with a crew of eighteen men, half of whom were English and the rest Dutch, HUDSON sought the northern passage amidst icebergs and frozen seas, skirted Greenland and Newfoundland, and, reaching the promontory of Cape Cod, called this land, as its supposed discoverer, New Netherlands. The voyage of VERRAZZANI had been forgotten, and the Indians, prepared by legendary tale, saw in HUDSON a Manito and in the Half-Moon a palace, and watched the movement of the vessel in deep amazement as an apparition from the sea. On the 12th of September, HUDSON entered the great river which bears his name, and sailed northward through the Highlands to the site of Albany. Opening a traffic with the natives, he obtained from them corn, beans pumpkins, grapes, and tobacco,--products indigenous to the clime,--and to them imparted the baneful knowledge of the effects of rum. Years after the discovery of Manhattan, the Dutch and Indians supposed the Half-Moon the first ship seen by the natives on the continent; and Holland, basing her claim on these discoveries of HUDSON, assumed ownership of land from Cape Cod to the southern shore of Delaware Bay. In this land of three-fold discovery, the Dutch, purchasing a piece of ground on the Hudson in 1614, erected a palisades trading house, and in 1623 made settlements at New Amsterdam and Fort Orange. The cause of emigration to New York originally was trade, not colonization, and the second race which mingled with them, from New England, and now forms so great a portion of the population of the State, were persons of education, claiming equality of right, and eminently fitted to be the founders of a republican government. Cordial to their English neighbors of the Plymouth colony, and on amicable terms with the Indians, the Dutch Company attempted a feudal authority. By contract, any one who within four years should plant a colony of fifty persons, all over fifteen years of age, within the limits of New Netherlands, were entitled to a grant of lands sixteen miles in length and extending inland an indefinite distance. Theses leaders of colonies were called Patroons, of whom Samuel GODYN, Samuel BLUEMENT, M. PAUW, and Kilian VAN RENSSELAER were the first and most prominent. VAN RENSSELAER purchased from the Indian owners the lands extending along the Hudson from Fort Orange, or Albany, to an island at the mouth of the Mohawk, and paid in goods. His colonists were poor dependents and ill adapted for the settlement of the country. Sir William KIEFT arrived at New Amsterdam, or New York, in 1638, as directory or governor of the colony. His administration is not marked with moderation, and his impolitic treatment of the Indians aroused their resentment and brought the colony to the verge of destruction. By his permission, many English families had settled on Long Island, and these soon imbued the minds of their neighbors with a love of untrammeled direction of their own affairs; and when, in 1664, the fleet of Admiral NICHOLS, sent out by the DUKE OF YORK, demanded the surrender of the Dutch province, the warlike STUYVESANT, unsupported by the people, reluctantly yielded to the English, and the right acquired by possession gave way to the power of arms. The province, in honor of JAMES II, then DUKE OF YORK, received the name of New York. New Amsterdam was given the name New York, and Fort Orange was called Albany. Notwithstanding the change of masters, the Dutch and English colonists soon found themselves far from freedom in the rights of property and government. The moderation of NICHOLS was succeeded by the tyranny of Francis LOVELACE, who arbitrarily imposed duties, levied taxes, and controlled legislation. Defrauded of their means and denied their rights, the people raised revenues under officials appointed by themselves, and, while uniting upon measures of common benefit, never ceased to continue a jealous observance and timely resistance of tyrannical measures. Thirty years from the first demand of the colonists, the representatives of the people met in assembly. In October, 1683, the first colonial assembly for the province of New York held session. The charter of liberties asserted that Supreme legislative power shall forever reside in the governor, council, and people, met in general assembly. Every freeholder and freeman shall vote for representatives without restraint. No freeman shall suffer but by judgment of his peers, and all trials shall be by a jury of twelve men. No tax shall be assessed on any pretence whatever but by consent of the assembly. No seaman or soldier shall be quartered on the inhabitants against their will. No martial law shall exist. No person professing faith in God by Jesus Christ shall at any time be any ways disquieted or questioned for any difference of opinion. Colonel Thomas DONGAN was the royal governor at this time; he was supported by the council of ten; and the assembly consisted of seventeen members, who, exercising a discretionary power over appropriations for the support of government, became a check upon extravagance and a protection to the people during the rule of the royal governors down to the Revolution.
Controversy between governor and assembly delayed measures of protection from active French aggression on the north, brought the English into contempt with the fierce IROQUOIS on the west, and but the sagacity of the Confederacy, who, nominally friendly to the English, and really at enmity with the French, desired only as neutrals to see these peoples destroy each other without a supremacy of either, would have brought the colony to the brink of ruin. Led by Peter SCHUYLER, Mayor of Albany in 1692-93, the IROQUOIS not only guarded the province of New York from the French, but checked their establishment of a chain of interior forts from the lakes to the Gulf.
Benjamin FLETCHER, then governor, by prompt response to call for help to repel the French invasion of the MOHAWK country, won credit from the people and the attachment of the SIX NATIONS. As the changes and revolutions agitated England, their influence extended to the royal province, and occasioned an event heavily freighted with consequences as regarded the subsequent affairs of the community. The germ of popular power as the warrant of our existence as a republic, was planted in the troubled days of May, 1691. The circumstance of the executions of Jacob LEISLER, and Jacob MILBOURNE, his son-in-law, so familiar to many, opened a chasm between the people, whose situation entitled them to consideration, and the representatives of kingly authority, who aimed at a complete usurpation of all power and privilege. The feelings of resentment and estrangement originated in that cruel and unjustifiable act kindled to a flame upon the breaking out of the Revolution. Even a name was obnoxious, and a county formed in 1772 at Tryon, after a colonial governor, was in 1784 changed to Montgomery, after General MONTGOMERY, a soldier of the Revolution. Jacob LEISLER, as the opponent of tyranny, the champion of the free-holder of New York, and a martyr to the causes of liberty, was the founder of a party which is an indispensable prerogative to popular government, and fully deserving a mention in a history connected with that early period. The war of the Revolution knew unwonted rigor in New York owing to the division of feeling and interest, and as Whig and Tory the people were ranged in nearly equal numbers. In eastern New York were fought various important battles. The defeat of the Americans on Long Island opened a season of gloom and uncertainty, still further increased by the loss of forts upon the Hudson; but the surrender of BURGOYNE at Saratoga gave rise to a buoyancy of hope and resolution which never faltered till the conclusion of the war. Contending with oppression, faction, and poverty, the thickly-settled regions along the Hudson were agitated upon the subject of rents. The feudal tenure was abolished in 1787. In December, 1839, the people organized and resisted the civil processes for the collection of rent, but finally dispersed without collision with the authorities. In 1850, the Quarter Sales, in which the landlord claimed a part of the purchase money at each transfer of a lease, was declared by the Supreme Court to be unconstitutional. This attempt to in-graft European custom upon American soil has not only proved a failure, but has entailed much of mischievous tendency upon descendants. It is pleasant to observe that the very inability to own lands along the Hudson contributed to send out westward the resolute settler to select himself a home at a cheap price and with a perfect title. By European law the region west of Albany was the property of the Eastern occupants, but long ere the Mayflower landed the pilgrims, the vicinity of Ontario had been the home of a people whose history as our predecessors is a subject of untiring interest. The strife with England ceased, and, as the people turned their thoughts to the west, we will anticipate their migration thither and study the character of the people whom it is their destiny to displace.
THE ANTIQUITIES OF ONTARIO - TRADITIONS OF THE SIX NATIONS -THEIR CIVILIZATION, CHARACTER, TRIBAL RELATIONS, WARS, TREATIES, AND FATE.
The plow has leveled the mound, the axe has felled the tree, and the monuments of former occupation within the present limits of Ontario are few in number. Upon a hill-slope overlooking Canandaigua Lake is the partially obliterated embankment of an ancient work. The construction through it of the Geneva and Canandaigua turnpike disclosed quantities of human bones, and relics of Indian manufacture. On the Victor road, several miles west of Canandaigua, exists a long, narrow trench, extending for miles; attributed to art, it is more probably a work of nature, and indicates a subsidence of the earth along a fissure in the limestone formation. Occasional traces are found of defensive structures in the way of palisades; holes in the earth from which the wood had decayed indicate the outline and form of the defenses. The traces of GANUNDASAGA CASTLE, near Geneva, are well preserved and easily traceable. The preservation of this spot is the result of a special condition made by the SENECAS when ceding their lands in this locality, that here the plow should never turn a furrow to disturb the sleep of their ancestors. The site of this old palisade slopes toward Ganundasaga Creek, from which the water supply was obtained. The work is rectangular in form, with bastions at the northwest and southeast angles. A fragment of an oak picket removed in 1847 is now in the State cabinet at Albany. A short distance northward of this fort is a low, artificial, broad-based mound, some six feet in height. The insatiate curiosity of the antiquary will ultimately invade this receptacle and disclose the remains of early days.
This fort was destroyed in 1779, by SULLIVAN, the palisade burned, the crops destroyed, and the fruit-trees cut down. About four miles northwest of the work noted, and upon a high ridge, existed a work which has been obliterated by cultivation; evidences of store places of supplies could be seen until recently. Fragments of pottery were found upon the site, which seems to have been of a more ancient date than others. Near Victor, upon the summit of a high hill, are traces of a palisaded fort, which recalls the expedition of DE NOUVILLE, in 1687. There is in these traces of a past age no indication of high antiquity, and, while we regard them all as the sites of Indian occupation, we may leave them to study briefly the traditions and legends of their builders.
The following, from STONE's Life of RED JACKET, bears upon the romantic scenery about Canandaigua Lake, and, coming down to us through the sachems of the SENECAS, lends additional interest to the landscape which it describes. It is a tradition of the SENECAS that the original people of their nation broke forth from the crest of a mountain at the head of Canandaigua Lake. The mountain which gave them birth is called GE-NUN-DE-WAH-GAUH, or the Great Hill. Hence the SENECAS were called the Great Hill People, which was their original title. The base of the Genundewah Mountain, as it is usually called, they believe to have been encircled, when their nation was in its infancy, by a huge serpent, he vast in proportions as to coil himself entirely around the mountain. The head and tail of the monster united at the gateway of the path leading to and from the steep summit, and there were few who attempted to pass that escaped his voracious jaws. Thus environed, a long time elapsed, during which the people were not only besieged and reduced in numbers, but made to suffer from the poisonous breath of the reptile. Finally, their torment being beyond endurance, the Indians resolved to attempt a sally. Armed with such weapons as were at hand, they rushed down the hill towards the dreaded portal, where all were seized and swallowed with the exception of two children, who somehow contrived to overleap this fearful line of circumvallation, and so avoid the terrible fate of the tribe. These children, thus spared and orphanized, were reserved for a high destiny,--the destruction of the serpent. Mysteriously the information was imparted how this object could be accomplished. Direction was given to form a bow from a specified kind of willow, and an arrow from the same material. The barb of the arrow was to be dipped in poison and shot obliquely, to allow of penetration beneath the scales. Obeying divine injunction, the death of the serpent was effected. As the deadly arrow penetrated the skin, the huge monster was seized with violent convulsions. Uncoiled from around the mountain, and writhing in the most frightful contortions, the reptile threw up the heads of the people he had devoured, and rolled down the steep into the lake, sweeping down the timber in his course. The disgorged heads of the Indians were petrified by the transparent waters, and may still be seen at the bottom of the lake in the shape and hardness of stones. From the two survivors sprang the new race of SENECAS. The hill is known to have been barren since the whites first came to the country, and still lies in a state of nature. Tradition affirms that the lake region was densely populated by a race of enterprising and industrious people, who were destroyed by serpents, and left their improvements to the SENECAS. Originally of one language, an unknown influence confounded their speech, and caused the formation of nations, while the SENECAS continued to speak in the original tongue.
Again it is related that during the wars of the SENECAS and the northern ALGONQUINS, a chief of the latter tribe was captured and carried to the sacred mountain, where he was confined in a fortification consisting of a bastion less square, surrounded by palisades. Youthful, brave, and finely formed, the captive was regarded with savage admiration, but the council, after brief debate, condemned him to death by the slow torture of impalement. To the lodge of death, where lay the condemned prisoner, came the daughter of the sachem, bringing food. Struck by his manly form and heroic bearing, the maiden resolved to save his life or share his fate. With silent tread she reached his side, cut the binding throngs, and besought him to follow her. The descent of the hill along a forest-path was being rapidly effected, when, just before reaching the lake shore, a wild, shrill alarm-whoop reached their ears. The beach was reached, a canoe was entered, and, with vigorous paddle-stroke, urged towards the opposite shore. Savage yells rose upon the air, and eager braves bounded down the declivity in hot pursuit. With undaunted spirit the young ALGONQUOIN sent back a defiant whoop, and soon, with plashing oars, a dozen canoes were following in his wake. On landing, the warrior, weakened by yet unhealed wounds, followed his active guide with flagging pace upon a trail leading westward over the hills, while ever nearer came pursuers, led by the grim old chief. Despairing of further flight, the Indian girl diverged from the trail and led the way to a table-crested rock projecting over a deep ravine, whose bottom lay thickly strewn with huge, misshapen rocks. Silently the hapless pair awaited the coming of the SENECAS. With knit brow, tall form, and eagle plume, the daughter saw her father spring forward, view the chase, and halt abruptly. Notching an arrow to his bow, he drew with sinewy arm, but, ere the shaft could fly, WUN-NUT-HAY, the Beautiful, interposed her person. With wild and native eloquence she plead with the sachem for mercy to the ALGONQUIN, and if denied asserted her resolve to leap with him the precipice to certain death. Her answer was an order for the warriors to advance and seize the fugitive. As they came leaping the devoted pair, with clasped hands, sprang from the cliff, and died. Their mangled bodies were buried where they fell, beneath the shelter of the everlasting rocks.
There is an interesting tradition associated with the burial-ground near GANUNDASAGA. The SENECAS had once a strong protector in the person of a great giant, in stature loftier than the highest forest-tree; his arms were a bow split from the largest hickory, his arrows, pine-trees. Upon his journeyings, he traversed the plains beyond the Mississippi, and thence came eastward towards the sea. While upon the banks of the Hudson an immense bird came up its waters, and flapping its wings as if to get out, he walked in and carried it to land. Upon its back were many men, who, filled with terror, signed to be returned to the river. As he complied, they gave to him a sword, a musket, powder, and balls, explained their use, and then the great bird spread its wings and swam away. Returning to the SENECAS at GANUNDASAGA, the weapons of destruction were shown, and the firearm was discharged before them. With terror at the report, and reproaches for bringing such weapons among them, they asked that the arms should be taken away, and added that such would be the destruction of their race, and he who brought them was none other than an enemy. The giant, in grief at their reproaches, withdrew with the strange gift from the council and lay down to rest in the field. Morning came, and the giant was found dead. The earth around was heaped upon the body where it lay, and it has been averred that he who opens this mound will find there a skeleton of supernatural size. On the other legend, and from relic and tradition we will look upon the people which they commemorate. When, in the early day, the Indians dwelt near the present site of Geneva, about the lower part of Seneca Lake, their principal occupation was in fishing. There were certain days, however, that, in their mythology, were considered sacred, and at those times it was sacrilege to engage in fishing. Upon one of the forbidden days a skeptical young warrior took his fishing tackle and rowed away in his canoe to the usual fishing-grounds. His friends, standing upon the shore, urgently called upon him to desist, but he continued obdurate, and was paddling slowly forward when a mighty storm arose, covering the lake with vapor and concealing him from their sight. Speedily it passed away, but terrible was its power; and, as the cloud lifted, the warrior and his canoe were seen to disappear beneath the surface, while a heavy explosion reverberated to the ears of those on shore. Ever since that day the spirit of the doubting warrior has been doomed to periodic appearance in his phantom canoe, and ever and again a deep booming sound attends his disappearance. Upon the calmest summer day, when not a ripple disturbs the glassy surface of that beautiful lake, there can be heard, at irregular intervals, a low, deep, solemn sound re-echoing along the waters and dying along the northern shore. The phantom canoe and the spectral occupant may not be seen, but the mysterious sound is no fantasy. While the history of Ontario aims at no detailed account of the IROQUOIS, yet, as immediate predecessors of the present white race, their record is instructive and essential. Of Indian nations, whose castles, forts, and fields are sites of the present city and village, the IROQUOIS are most conspicuous. Driven from the vicinity of Montreal, where, in subjection to the ADIRONDACKS, they learned to till the soil and go upon the war-path, the IROQUOIS migrated to Central New York, and settled upon the Seneca River. Later, a band proceeding eastward became known as MOHAWKS. Two other bands, united for a time, separated,--one, the ONEIDAS, established themselves east of Oneida Lake, the other, the ONONDAGA, located in the valleys and hills which commemorate their occupation. Two bands, living upon the Seneca River, became divided, the CAYUGAS dwelling upon the east bank of the lake bearing their name, and the SENECAS, proceeding westward, settled at NUN-DA-WA-O, at the head of Canandaigua Lake. The scattered bands became alienated, and mutually inimical, and so continued for an indefinite period. The idea of a league, suggested by the ONONDAGAS, was followed by a general assembly of tribal chiefs upon the northern shores of Onondaga Lake. The institution of the league was upon the principle of family relationship. Fifty hereditary sachem-ships were created, each equal in rank, with joint and coextensive jurisdiction. Eight of these sachems were assigned to the SENECAS, and, all united, formed an oligarchy known as the Council of the League. Independent in local, domestic, and mainly political matters, the tribal sachems were to their nation as all assembled annually were to the confederacy. Duties were assigned to each nation, and to the SENECAS fell the honor of doorkeepers of the Long House. The result of the confederacy was a growth of power and influence established permanently at home; their name became formidable abroad. With the knowledge of ability came the desire of conquest, and the confederates were not inaptly termed the Romans of the West.
Their old oppressors the ADIRONDACKS first felt their resentment in a warfare which terminated with little less than extirpation. During the struggle, Samuel CHAMPLAIN, one of a French company formed at Rouen in 1603 for purposes of colonization, had founded colonies along the St. Lawrence, and built a fort upon the site of Quebec. Years previously, CARTIER had kidnapped three chiefs of the HURONS and ALGONQUINS and taken them to England. To win ALGONQUIN favor CHAMPLAIN engaged in an expedition in 1609 against their enemies. Upon Lake Champlain the expedition fell in with the IROQUOIS, and both parties hastened with glad shouts to battle upon land. Near Ticonderoga, the allies, entrenched behind the fallen timber, sent a messenger to inquire respecting an engagement, which was deferred till next day. At daybreak, CHAMPLAIN placed two Frenchmen and a party of Indians in position to engage the IROQUOIS flank. Each side, two hundred strong and armed with bows and arrows, hoped for easy conquest,--the IROQUOIS from confidence in themselves, the ALGONQUINS from trust in the fire-arms of the French. Darting from their defenses, the allies advanced in front of their enemy, and parting in two bodies, right and left, disclosed the presence of the white men, who, in the height of their astonishment, ordered a discharge of arquebuse, aimed at three chiefs, two of whom fell dead and the third was badly wounded. The allies, shouting, discharged ineffectual arrows, while the Frenchmen put the IROQUOIS to disordered flight. In pursuit, many were killed and some captured,--one of whom was being tortured on the return, when humanely shot by CHAMPLAIN. Little did he consider that this rash act would embitter a powerful race against his countrymen, cause the laying waste of French territory, bar the advance of the Jesuit, and raise up for the English an ally whose co-operation would result in French overthrow. From such light incidents originate unforeseen results, and the fire-arm, a century later, was the potent agency by which the Indian was enabled to cope with the white and become a scourge to the settlements. Supplied with the new weapons by the Dutch and English, the IROQUOIS expelled the neuter nation from the Niagara peninsula in 1643, and founded a permanent settlement at the mouth of the river. In 1653 a strife was in progress between the SENECAS and ERIES, which resulted in the annihilation of the latter. A fierce battle was fought, as some assert, near the Honeoye Outlet, midway between Canandaigua Lake and the Genesee River. With half their number slain, the ERIES fled to an island of the Allegheny; but followed here, they went to other regions, and lost identity as a people. Active in many a foray and battle, the Indians were nowhere too distant to be safe from the attack of the confederates, who, by 1700, had assumed an acknowledged sway over all immediate races of Indian lineage. With the French, negotiation, armistice, and retaliation were successively employed, and one expedition after another was made into the villages of the League,--from which the occupants temporarily withdrew to the forest, and so rendered the enterprise against them futile.
DE LA BARRE was appointed governor-general of New France in 1684. The policy of intimidation had not been recognized as a failure, and the Frenchman resolved to gather an army, and, not succeeding by peaceful negotiation in alienating the IROQUOIS from the English, to advance and lay waste their country. A force of somewhat less than two thousand French and Indians was assembled in August on the borders of Ontario, and speedily the climate consigned a large portion of the former to the hospital. DE LA BARRE now attempted a treaty, and sent for chiefs with whom to counsel. GARANGULA, a SENECA chief, with a band of warriors, came back with the messenger. A speech which challenges admiration at this day was delivered by the IROQUOIS chief. Knowing the French weakness, he taunted them with it, and loftily asserted, "We are born freemen, and depend not on YONNONDIO or CORLEAR. We go where we will, and traffic as we please. If you have slaves, command them. Our women, children, and old men would have entered your camp, had not the warriors disarmed and kept them back. The expedition begun in bravado, continued in weakness, ended in ridicule."
A more successful expedition was projected and executed in 1687, by the Marquis DE NOUVILLE, successor of DE LA BARRE. The IROQUOIS were warring with French allies and introducing the English to the Niagara region claimed by both nations, and the new governor determined to strike the SENECAS a crushing blow, and then erect a fort at Niagara. The battle-ground being upon Ontario soil, the record in detail belongs to her history. The marquis began to establish a magazine of supplies at Fort Frontenac, and assemble troops at Montreal. Commanders of posts were ordered to Niagara, and thither Indian allies were directed. The confederacy saw these preparations and notified Governor DONGAN, of New York, who entered into controversy with DE NOUVILLE while he supplied the IROQUOIS with arms and ammunition. On the 13th of June, the French army, composed of regulars, militia, and Indian warriors, some two thousand strong, embarked at Montreal in three hundred and fifty bateaux, and by the 30th had reached Fort Frontenac. Dispatching orders to the officer in command at Niagara to meet him at IRONDEQUOIT, DE NOUVILLE in six days arrived at that place, and was joined almost immediately by a reinforcement of nearly six hundred French and Indians. During the 11th of July preparations for defense of the camp were made, and next day the line of march was begun towards the SENECA villages, leaving behind at the fortified landing a guard of four hundred men.
Proceeding up the east side of the bay, the camp was made for the night near Pittsford. Resuming the march on the 13th, the army advanced upon the SENECA village of GA-O-SA-GA-O, which was located upon what is known as Boughton's Hill, in the town of Victor. Concealed in dense underbrush, beneath a thick growth of timber, at a distance of a mile and a quarter to the northwest of the Indian village, lay a body of some four hundred SENECA warriors. Passing the northeastern edge of a swamp, the French scouts went on towards the village, and unsuspectingly the main body were passing the defile when, with yells and well-aimed shots, the ambuscade opened the attack. The direst confusion followed, and the French were in danger of massacre, when their Indian allies, rallying, repulsed the SENECAS. Among the warriors contending against the invading host five women were seen vying with their husbands in deeds of heroism. Overcome by numbers, the SENECAS fell back to a strong position and challenged a battle with equal numbers. Leader and men experienced such a terror from the assault that their allies vainly endeavored to induce a continuance of the advance.
Setting fire to their villages, the SENECAS withdrew eastward to the CAYUGAS, while the French employed themselves for a number of days in slashing the Indian corn. The Western Indians scoured the country in pursuit of straggling IROQUOIS, and gave no quarter to such as were overtaken. One large and two smaller villages were visited and found in ashes, while in their vicinity were seen horses, cattle, poultry, and swine, the latter in great numbers. The French now became alarmed at rumors of a gathering force of the IROQUOIS, and retraced their steps to the landing. The Indians by runners soon collected a force and pursued the enemy, but reached the bay only to find themselves too late. The result of this march may be summarized as a moral defeat of the invaders, since they made a compelled retreat without inflicting loss of life. The site of the ancient fort is known to-day as Fort Hill. Iron axes left by the French furnished material for the pioneer blacksmiths of the locality, relics have been unearthed by the plow in considerable numbers, while many graves near by attest a former large population. Retaliation followed in the fall of 1687, and the settlements near Montreal were laid waste and a number of captives taken.
In July, 1688, all parties desiring peace, DE NOUVILLE was met by a large delegation from the IROQUOIS at Montreal; a force of some twelve hundred warriors halted, not distant, to await results. A treaty was concluded, but frustrated by the wily action of a HURON chief, who, ambushing a party of the IROQUOIS on their homeward return, killed a part and captured the rest. He asserted that he knew nothing of peace, and was acting under DE NOUVILLE's orders. The fury of the FIVE NATIONS at the supposed treachery of the French was vented upon a people living in fancied security; a thousand French were slain, twenty-six burned alive, the settlement laid waste and improvements destroyed. The history of the IROQUOIS is a narrative of French and English effort, the one by the influence of the Jesuit, the other by that of commercial advantage to secure their alliance and lay claim to their lands. In 1700, the French and IROQUOIS made peace and exchanged prisoners. The TUSCARORAS of South Carolina numbered fifteen towns and twelve hundred warriors in 1708. Three years later, the encroachments of the colonists upon their lands drove them to arms. While a part were induced to remain neutral, the remainder met no mercy, and migrated in 1715 to New York and made the sixth of the confederacy, which was thereafter known as the SIX NATIONS. The SENECAS, of all the nations, were at heart most hostile to the English colonists. They made known their enmity by an attack, June 20, 1767, upon a body of provincials and regulars at the portage of Niagara, and followed it up by an assault upon a detachment of English marching from Niagara to Detroit. When the colonies began the war of Independence, none more eagerly embraced the British cause than the SENECAS. The massacres of Wyoming and Cherry Valley are attributed to that tribe or nation, and, in alliance with renegade whites, the SENECAS prowled along the border settlements and laid in ruins many a frontier cabin. Attention became attracted to the virulence of the IROQUOIS, and Congress sent out an expedition to break their power and lay waste their country. The command was entrusted to General SULLIVAN, who was directed to march northward along the Susquehanna to Tioga Point, where on August 22, 1779, he was joined by an Eastern force under command of General James CLINTON. On August 26 the united divisions, consisting of Continental troops, fifteen hundred riflemen, and several pieces of light artillery,--in all a body of five thousand men,--began their march up the Tioga and Chemung, accompanied by a train loaded with supplies for a month. At what is now Elmira, Colonel John BUTLER, commanding Tories, and Joseph BRANDT, Indians, took position, with from six hundred to a thousand men, behind rude earthworks, and awaited the approach of SULLIVAN. That commander made cautious advances, destroying town and crop which lay on his course, and on August 29 attacked the British and Indians. A battle of two hours duration followed, and a part of the Indians displayed great courage, while the shells thrown beyond them and exploding created a panic among others, who, fearful of being surrounded, abandoned the field and were pursued for nearly two miles.
The Americans pressed cautiously forward. Down the eastern shore of Seneca and across the outlet the army moved in three divisions, and September 7 reached KANADASAEGA, then the chief SENECA town. The Indians had assembled here, but had no courage to encounter so heavy a force, and fell back as the troops advanced. A Mrs. CAMPBELL and her four children, captured at Cherry Valley and adopted into an Indian family, were with the Indians in their flight from this village, and ultimately reaching their old homes were visited by General WASHINGTON and Governor CLINTON in 1784. While traversing the Mohawk Valley, the soldiers burned the villages, ruined corn-fields, gardens, and orchards, and before them fled the women and children in crowds to Niagara, while the warriors vainly sought to make a stand. The main army reached CANANDARQUE about the 11th of September, and destroyed twenty-three unusually well-built houses. Proceeding to the small village of HONEOYE, at the foot of Honeoye Lake, its ten houses were set on fire, together with the castle, which stood about one hundred rods from the foot of the lake. So unexpected was the approach of danger at this place that the Indians sat boiling their beans and corn until the soldiers were seen coming over the hill near where Captain PITTS later built his house. A post was established here with heavy stores, strong guard, and a cannon. It is commonly reported that this field-piece was sunk in a morass when the guard was withdrawn on the return of SULLIVAN. The army advanced upon Little Beard's Town, the capital of the western tribes of the confederacy, and the Indians resolved to try the issue of a battle, took position between Honeoye Creek and Conesus Lake, near what were known as Henderson's Flats. While constructing a bridge near Little Beard's Town, SULLIVAN sent Lieutenant BOYD forward to reconnoiter the village. A long weary march brought the party late at night to the place where they found fires yet burning in the huts. Sending back two scouts to report, the detachment, some thirty strong, remained over night, and set out next morning to rejoin the main army. A mile and a half from SULLIVAN's camp they entered an ambuscade, and bravely endeavored to cut their way through. A dozen men were shot down. BOYD and a man named PARKER taken, and the rest escaped. Trusting to a mystic sympathy from BRANDT, BOYD gave no reply to interrogations from BUTLER respecting the army of SULLIVAN, and was given to the torture. PARKER was at once beheaded, but on BOYD The most cruel and fiendish malice was expended till, wearied, his death-stroke was received. The capture of Niagara was not effected, and the army, crossing the Genesee September 16, returned on their track and went into winter quarters in New Jersey. The total loss of their crops and the ruin of their villages drove the Indian to seek subsistence during the winter of 1779-80 with the British at Niagara. Sufficient food was with difficulty obtained for them, and hundreds died of disease. The campaign of SULLIVAN broke the power of the SIX NATIONS, but the revengeful SENECAS visited a terrible retribution upon many a defenseless frontier family during the years between 1783 and 1789. Farther on, the treaties conveying lands and the experience of the settlers will be noted, and here we conclude our chapter by a comparison of the SIX NATIONS in later years with their prosperity in the past. It is a tradition of the SENECAS that, when most powerful, a census of the nation was taken by placing a kernel of white flint corn for each SENECA in a corn-husk basket which would hold ten or more quarts. By this method an estimate of over seventeen thousand is reached. The census of 1850 gave the number of SENECAS on their reservation in Western New York at two thousand seven hundred and twelve, whose income from land sales invested by the State and Government gives a semi-annual interest to the nation of nine thousand dollars. The treaty of peace between Great Britain and the United Stated abandoned the IROQUOIS to their conquerors, whose policy towards them in humane and just, and seeks to promote their welfare, regard their interest, and stimulate them to social improvement. They have long tilled farms, raised cattle, and yet preserve a semblance of former organization. They raised their first wheat in 1809, some thirty bushels; and harvested the crop of one hundred acres but two years later.
CHARACTER OF THE COUNTRY - CONFLICT OF JURISDICTION LAND TITLES - PHELPS AND GORHAM PURCHASE INDIAN TREATIES
The settlement of America at isolated points by different nations, the transient character of aboriginal occupation and their rapid disappearance on the approach of white men, the conjoined effects of mutual wars of extinction, famine, and pestilence, the migratory spirit of the coast population, their energy and persistence, the terms of ownership of lands, are all so many circumstances which indicate a providential supervision of our origin as a free people. There are those who deem it a wrong that the Indian has not been allowed his broad lands for the chase, and suffer a rich soil to run to waste. The landed estates of Great Britain and the hunting-grounds of the Indians' illustrate in common the evil of a large ownership with limited cultivation. It is regarded as an indisputable fact that the smaller the farms the greater aggregate wealth and production, and hence one source of the prosperity of the Ontario agriculturist. The campaign of General SULLIVAN, so notable among pioneers and their descendants, was more potent than all else in creating an interest in the Genesee country.
The valley of the Genesee, its beauty and fertility, its lakes and rivers, its uplands and rich plains, were viewed by the soldiers with wonder and pleasure. Accustomed to see the Indians disperse in bands as numbers multiplied and game decreased, the unwonted spectacle of fields long cultivated and yielding a rich harvest to aboriginal owners was at once novel and suggestive. Many districts of country in their orchards, farms, and gardens conveyed the impression of a civilized life. The corn-fields were extensive, and a single orchard contained fifteen hundred trees. To those who had looked only upon rugged New England scenery, its mountains, rocky hills, sterile soil, and scanty vegetation, the famous march presented a succession of inviting landscapes. Many of these men, retracing their steps from this new country of rich, easily-cultivated soil, began to anticipate the time when they might return thither, not on a mission of destruction, but of improvement, occupancy, and permanent development. Again at their Eastern homes, their tales of burning towns and ravaged fields were blended with descriptions of a very paradise.
The war of the Revolution was ended, but ten years elapsed ere the lands could be thrown open to settlement. Recognizing the SENECAS as owners of this domain, their activity in warfare implied a loss of right, and individuals, companies, State, and Government, concerned themselves in efforts to secure from the Indian a title to possession. It has been remarked that the seasons seemed to conspire to render the woods untenable to the Indians as the time drew near for the advance of the pioneers of settlement. The severity of the winter of 1779-80 was unprecedented. All Western New York lay covered by successive falls of snow to a depth of five feet. Wild animals, thitherto innumerable, died by thousands. As spring came the dissolving snow revealed the carcasses of many deer, and still in vain the haughty SENECAS longed to resume their station at the portal. The conclusion of that peace by which American Independence was acknowledged made no provisions for the SIX NATIONS, although thereby their ancient possessions passed by the treaty of 1783 into the hands of the United States. A double motive influenced the State and General Government to recognize the Indians as proprietors of lands,--the feelings of justice and humanity, and of peace and economy. Many who had suffered desired to have their rights declared forfeit, and the Legislature was not wholly averse to such action, but the influence of WASHINGTON and SCHUYLER induced a just policy. The undefined power of the United States opened ground for a conflict of interest between State and Confederation. The New York Legislature in April, 1784, passed an act making Governor George CLINTON, President of a Board of Commissioners to superintend Indian affairs. The commissioners were Henry GLEN, Abraham CUYLER, and Peter SCHUYLER, who, being authorized to ally with them other persons deemed necessary, chose eight persons, and still further augmented their force by securing the services of Rev. KIRKLAND, a missionary, and of Peter RYCKMAN, James DEANE, Jacob REED, Major FONDA, Major FRY, and Colonels WEMPLE and VAN DYKE, men who, from being traders of captives, were seen to have considerable influence. RYCKMAN was very active as an ambassador, and visited Oneida, Kanadesaga, Niagara, and then Albany, and a partial agreement upon a treaty was arranged. Pending these proceedings, CLINTON learned that Congress, in arranging for a general treaty with the Indians of New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, had appointed Oliver WOLCOTT, Richard BUTLER, and Arthur LEE as its commissioners. The question of right was plainly presented. The State Commissioners on the ground found the Indians averse to treat with them, and plainly expressing a preference for the Thirteen Fires. A council of the SIX NATIONS was secured in September, 1784, at Fort Schuyler, and CLINTON, addressing the ONEIDAS and TUSCARORAS, spoke of peace, settlement of boundaries, and the readiness of New York to treat with them for their lands. The chiefs of the CAYUGAS and TUSCARORAS present a letter from the Congressional Commissioner, wherein it was recited that New York had no authority from Congress to treat with them, and invitation was given to all the Indians to meet at Fort Stanwix on the 20th of September. CLINTON spoke to the deputies of the MOHAWKS, SENECAS, CAYUGAS, and ONONDAGAS, with an eloquence remarkable, and asserted the right of New York to deal with the Indians within her boundaries. BRANDT, CORNPLANTER, and others replied for the Indians. The council was harmonious, a treaty was desirable, and presents and provisions being given, the council was dissolved. The General Government concluded a treaty at Fort Stanwix on October 22, 1784. Peace was made, the limits of the SIX NATIONS defined, captives surrendered, and quiet possession of their lands guaranteed. Among the speakers at t his treaty was RED JACKET, who eloquently advocated a renewal of the war which he did not ardently promote during the passage of SULLIVAN through his territory. It is known that in the council the young chief, by his fiery oratory, won a strong hold upon his people, while CORNPLANTER, more ready in the field when success was possible, lost standing by his sage counsels of peace when hostility would have brought inevitable ruin. At a council held in June 1786, at Fort Herkimer, the New York commissioners bought of the ONEIDAS and TUSCARORAS a body of land lying north of Pennsylvania line, between the Chenango and Unadilla Rivers, and so began the acquisition of lands, which ceased not till all were taken.
Not only was there a mooted question of jurisdiction between State and Government, but between States, which question originated in the charters granted by English kings. The Plymouth Company, in 1620, received a charter from the British sovereign of a tract of country having a specified width, and extending westward to the Pacific. A second charter was given in 1691, which defined the eastern line as extending from 42 degrees 2, to 44 degrees 15, north latitude, and from ocean to ocean. The province of New York was bestowed, in 1663, by CHARLES I, upon the DUKE OF YORK, and embraced a region which extended from a line twenty miles east of the Hudson, westward, and from the Atlantic north, to the south line of Canada. The result of these conflicting grants was a claim by each colony of the same lands.
The cession by New York in 1781, and by Massachusetts in 1785, to the United States of all their rights to territory lying west of a meridian line run south from the west bend of Lake Ontario, diminished the amount of land in dispute to an area of about nineteen thousand square miles. A convention was held and the difficulty adjusted at Hartford, Connecticut, on December 16, 1786, where and when it was mutually agreed between commissioners from each State, that Massachusetts cede to New York her rights to all land lying west of the present east line of the latter State. New York, in turn, ceded to Massachusetts the preemption right, subject to native title, of all land in the State west of a line running north from the eighty-second mile-stone, on the north boundary of Pennsylvania, through Seneca Lake to Lake Ontario, except a reserved tract, one mile in width, along the east bank of Niagara River. By this act Massachusetts became possessed of fee in about six million acres of land.
Pending State and national negotiation, companies of active and influential men were formed to evade the law forbidding other than State purchases from the Indians, and to obtain for themselves a lease of land equivalent to an actual ownership. Two of these lessee companies were organized. One, the New York Genesee Land Company, originated in 1787-88, at Hudson, with John LIVINGSTON, Jared COFFIN, and Dr. Caleb BENTON as managers, and a membership of over eighty wealthy men. By forming a branch company in Canada, under the management of Samuel STREET, John BUTLER, John POWELL, and others, the influence of these men with the SIX NATIONS was secured. Connected with the Canadian branch was Benjamin BARTON, who, as a drover from New Jersey to Niagara, and as an Indian trader, had become well known to the SENECAS, had been adopted by them, and had sent Henry O. BAIL, son of CORNPLANTER, to an eastern school. In the main company were a number of influential Indian traders. The plan was comprehensive, and resulted November, 1787, in a lease for nine hundred and ninety-nine years, to the company, of nearly all the IROQUOIS lands in New York, in consideration of an annual rentage of $2,000, and a promised gift of $20,000. The State was not ignorant of these measures, and Governor CLINTON, in a proclamation, warned all purchasers from the company that their title would be null, sent messengers to the Indians with a statement of fraudulent design, and appointed John TAYLOR, in March, 1788, as Indian Agent, to counteract the proceedings of the lessees. The Legislature passed an act to dispossess all persons holding title from the company to Indian lands, and to burn their dwellings. William COLBRAITH, Sheriff of Herkimer, was ordered to attend to its enforcement. Military aid was furnished, and the orders fully executed. Restricted from open action, the lessees maintained a powerful influence against the State upon treaty grounds. Various treaties were made, until the lessees, despairing of success, asked a settlement from the Legislature, and in 1793 received a district equal to ten miles square in the Military Tract. A grand council was fixed for September 1788, at Fort Schuyler, and the arrangements for the embassy to the Indian country were on an extended scale. Indians, traders, lessees, and visitors from curiosity, made the gathering remarkable. While CLINTON endeavored to unravel the intrigues of the Lease, LIVINGSTON was insidiously opposing him, and being discovered, was ordered to depart. Dr. BENTON had gathered the SENECAS and others at KANADESAGA and plied them with liquor, good, and dissuasive speech, to keep them from the council. Messengers from CLINTON undeceived and brought many to Fort Schuyler. Encamping at SCAUYES, a French trader, named DEBARTZCH, by rum, presents, and intimidation, turned them back. It is saddening to observe the covetousness and selfishness shown by the whites in their transactions with the Indians. On the 12th of September, the deed of cession to the State was made, by the ONONDAGAS, of their lands, excepting some reservations. Negotiations with the ONEIDAS resulted in a like conveyance of their lands, excepting reservations at their principal village and other localities, and, after a wearisome negotiation, the CAYUGAS, on February 25, ceded all their lands except a tract of one hundred square miles, to the State, in consideration of present sums paid, and a perpetual annuity. At later periods the reservations were ceded or reduced to present limits. It was stipulated, by the CAYUGAS, that a tract of sixteen thousand acres, located on the west side of Seneca Lake, should be conveyed to Peter RYCKMAN. This land, lying between the lake and the old pre-emption line, and including the greater part of the present site of Geneva, was found to be the property of the SENECAS, yet a patent was issued to REED and RYCKMAN, which parties were then residing at KANADESAGA, Seth REED being at the Old Castle, and RYCKMAN at the lake.
In our synopsis of the history relating the change of title from nation to State, the absence of leading chiefs of the three nations has not been noted, and now the lessees, loyalists, and the other nations, bringing their influence to bear, appealed to prejudice and fear to prevent the Indians from observing their contracts; but the governor, promising protection, persevered and attained his purpose to throw open to sale and settlement the country, and in liberal reservations secure protection to the SIX NATIONS. The lands lying east of the Genesee country, now acquired by the State, were surveyed into townships, and re-surveyed into lots during the year 1790. These lands were known as the Military Tract, and were conveyed by warrant to soldiers of the State for services rendered from 1779 to 1782. The soldiers sold their warrants for mere trifles, and some of them made many sales to different parties, and there was so much of speculation and fraud that correct titles were scarcely known; the result was an avoidance of the tract, and a journey farther on to the fertile lands and undoubted title of the Genesee country.
Robert MORRIS, well known as the financier of the Revolution, was a resident of Philadelphia. Major Adam HOOPS, who had served as aid to General SULLIVAN on his Indian campaign, was an intimate acquaintance. Oliver PHELPS, of Windsor, Connecticut, was acquainted with both, and from them, and others, learned much of the Genesee country. The inducements presented for the purchase of land in that region were such that he resolved to turn his attention to that object. Accordingly, in unison with Messrs. SKINNER and CHAPIN, Judge SULLIVAN, William WALKER, and others, he arranged for the acquisition of one million acres. Meanwhile, Nathaniel GORHAM had proposed to the Legislature a purchase of a part of the Genesee lands. Mr. PHELPS proposed that Mr. GORHAM should join the association, and the proposition being favorably received, the measure before the Legislature was regarded as emanating from the company. The House passed a concurrent measure which was not supported by the Senate. The offer of GORHAM, and the rumors of the great value of the lands, brought forward other bidders prior to the meeting of the Legislature in April, 1788. All who desired to purchase were admitted into the association, which was represented by Messrs. PHELPS and GORHAM. Their proposition to buy all the land ceded to Massachusetts was accepted, and that great purchase known as that of PHELPS and GORHAM was consummated, by which the pre-emption right to six millions of acres of land in Western New York was vested in Nathaniel GORHAM and Oliver PHELPS, as representatives of an association, which contracted to pay the State, therefore, the sum of one million dollars, in three annual installments, using for the purpose Massachusetts scrip, then depreciated in value. A meeting was now held, and General Israel CHAPIN was sent to explore the country. Oliver PHELPS was made general agent to treat with the Indians and purchase their title to the soil. Nathaniel GORHAM was delegated to confer with the New York authorities in reference to running the pre-emption line, and William WALKER was appointed local agent of survey and sale.
Aware of the law in their favor, but the lessee influence opposed, the association determined to compromise. At Hudson, Mr. PHELPS consulted with the principal lessees and secured their alliance. A treaty was appointed at KANADESAGA, which was to be conducted by John LIVINGSTON, chief agent of the Long Lease. Mr. PHELPS set out with agents, surveyors, and assistants, to complete preliminaries and begin settlement. The party reaching Schenectady about the 1st of May, embarked their baggage upon bateaux, and set out on horseback so far as a road could be found towards Fort Stanwix. KANADESAGA was reached in June, and LIVINGSTON was at hand, but BRANDT and BUTLER, assembling the Indians at Buffalo Creek, kept them back from the treaty. On June 4, in a letter to Samuel FOWLER, a member of the association, Mr. PHELPS says, I am well pleased with what I have seen of the country. This place (Geneva) 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. Here we propose building the city, as there is a water-carriage to Schenectady, with only two carrying-places of one mile each. Mr. PHELPS had not entered upon his business to suffer defeat, and while waiting at KANADESAGA for the aid of the lessees, secured a letter of introduction to the SENECAS from Dominique DEBARTZCH, the French Indian trader, who, at Cashong, had aided the lessees, and was now as ardently engaged in behalf of Mr. PHELPS. It was apparent that the New York and the Niagara companies were at variance, and PHELPS, journeying to Niagara, met and secured the cooperation of BUTLER, BRANDT, and STREET, who promised to assemble the Indians at Buffalo Creek to hold a treaty. Returning to KANADESAGA, he there remained until a party of chiefs headed by RED JACKET arrived to conduct him to the council. Negotiations began about the 4th of July. There was present, as a counsel for the Indians, Rev. KIRKLAND, who had been appointed by Massachusetts to superintend the treaty. He was assisted by Elisha LEE, of Boston. Quite a number of interpreters were present. Both lessee companies were on the ground by representation, and chiefs of the MOHAWK, CAYUGA, and ONONDAGA nations were lookers on.
Mr. PHELPS presented his commission, indicated the object of the assembly, and made known the right he had acquired of Massachusetts. The majority of the SENECA chiefs favored a sale, but had determined to make the Genesee the eastern limit of their cession. Days passed, and the Indians finally yielded, and only the matter of price remained. John BUTLER, Elisha LEE, and Joseph BRANDT, as referees, decided that five thousand dollars should be paid for the purchase, and a perpetual annuity of five hundred dollars thereafter. These lands, thus acquired, constituted what has since been known as the PHELPS and GORHAM Purchase, and were estimated to contain two million six hundred thousand acres. The lessees, who managed to embarrass where they could not control, received for their forbearance four townships of land; a further claim for assembling the Indians was made of fifteen one hundred and twentieths of the purchase. The origin of the difficulty was the ill-understood rights of the State and general government, and mischievous influence of the British. The field being clear for the surveyor, Mr. PHELPS contracted with Colonel Hugh MAXWELL to divide the country into townships about six miles square. He first ran the pre-emption line to Lake Ontario, and then ran seven parallel lines distant from each other six miles, the seventh line being marked by a large elm tree near the mouth of Caneseraga Creek, where it joins the Genesee. The river was then taken as the line as far as two miles north of Avon, thus forming a right angle. Then ran twelve miles west of Caledonia, and hence directly north to the lake. These lines were the limit of the lands obtained by the treaty. East and west lines were now run, and the townships numbered.
The seven divisions were denominated ranges, and count westward, while the townships count from the south, northward. Several township lines were run during the fall of 1788; and in the year 1789, assisted by Judge Augustus PORTER, MAXWELL completed the work. The survey into farm lots, where entire townships were sold, was done at the purchaser's expense. One JENKINS and Frederick SAXTON were also early surveyors connected with the subdivisions. On his return East, Mr. PHELPS reported his work, pronounced the country good, and the purchase as large as was likely to be profitable. William WALKER remained in the country till the approach of winter, and returning, reported at a January meeting of the associates the sale of nearly thirty townships. The division of lands took place, and the early sale of entire townships was generally to shareholders. The bulk of the estate remained with PHELPS, GORHAM, and a few others. All the first settlers of this country were from New England, a fact explained by the difficulty of access from any other quarter, and the circumstance of the proprietors being from that locality. Until the opening of the road over the Allegheny Mountains to Pennsylvania, there was scarcely an exception; but when this avenue was furnished, and the nature of the country made known, quite an emigration came from the other Middle States, and some from Maryland. The New England settlers, noted for enterprise and aware of the difficulties of travel, and the danger when arrived, regarded themselves as the only class that would remove so far from their homes. They, as we shall see, came not as individuals but as colonies, and in association with accustomed neighbors, experienced only the hardships of the commencement without the loneliness of interrupted association. During 1796 or 1797 a law was passed by the Legislature enabling alien foreigners to hold real property in New York State. The Genesee country invited settlement of old-country men by the opportunity of arranging their farms to suit themselves, and continuing their own manners and customs. The route of travel varied with the season and inclination. The primitive method was by bateaux, following the course of lake, creek, and river; but when a State road was cut through by way of Auburn, from Whitestown to Geneva, in 1796, and the celebrated bride was built over the foot of Cayuga Lake in 1800, this became the great pathway of Western emigration. To ride to-day in a handsome car, with cushioned seat, upon a smooth track, at a fare of two cents per mile, and to pass pleasurable and safely from Albany to Buffalo, unconscious of the speed, greeting friends at villages during momentary stoppages, and resuming perusal of the daily paper sold upon the train while yet damp from the press, and filled with events noted but yesterday in distant regions,--to travel in this luxurious manner conveys no idea of the journeys to the Genesee country in 1790, and a few years later. The road above indicated was, in 1792, but an Indian trail improved but little, and upon its route at varying intervals for many miles but few log cabins were scattered, occasionally inhabited by cleanliness and comfort, but generally, as we learn from travelers of that period, far the reverse. Time, like distance, mellows the past remembrance, and few, having choice, would desire a return of pioneer days. While some adhered in travel to the water, others came through on horseback, with wagons often drawn by ox-teams, and some on foot. During winter the sleigh was run, and the frozen, snow-covered earth made the travel not disagreeable unless the dissolving snow should, as sometimes happened, abruptly leave them stranded. If the settler came from Long Island, he launched his bateau upon the Sound, and came to New York, thence up the Hudson River, whence transporting boat and effects to Schenectady, he passed up the Mohawk to Fort Stanwix; thence a brief portage to Wood Creek, and by that reaching Oneida Lake. Traversing the lake to the Oswego River, along that stream to the Seneca River, and the Genesee country beyond.
To those who performed that journey, looking back after a period of weeks, the lengthened route, the wearisome labor, the distant home, made the speedily erected log cabin a pleasant dwelling. Few now remain of those who experienced the effort required for the travel to the West, and to them it comes as a thing doubly of the past. Within a period of six weeks three thousand people sought homes in Ontario, at a time when the communication had been facilitated. The cause of this heavy influx of pioneer population deserves notice. The tales of wonderful fertility and beauty of the Indian home wrought on the mind. The weather was reported mild and wheat would produce enormously with slight labor. The independent New Englander could be no renter, and the offer of a lease was more of an indignity than an accommodation, and in instances, with little lese then his axe, he passed on to share with others in the difficulty and danger, the labor and fatigue, of cutting and clearing roads and making bridges to the Indian country, and then making a road to a place where he could settle down with his family upon a native track, made in his own virtue of an investment of former hard earnings, he rose each morning to follow the plow or gather the harvest, all his own, with none to demand tithes for occupation, and none to intimidate. The fall of 1788 saw a commencement at Canandaigua, and an occupation of Geneva. When the fast field lay open to settlement, and many in their Eastern homes were gathering their effects for an exodus in the coming season, Kanadesaga, at the foot of Seneca Lake, became known as Geneva, and the isolated outpost of occupation; here were taverns and huts, here were traders and surveyors, explorers and spectators some of them men of influence and character, others, a desperate and worthless class, the spume upon the crest of the pioneer wave.
CHAPTER IV Pages 14 - 19
LINE OF ORGANIZATION CONCURRENT
EVENTS - OCCUPANTS PRIOR TO PURCHASE - ADVENTURE PROGRESS OF
SETTLEMENT WEST - REDUCTION OF AREA - LOCAL SELECTIONS AND ACQUISITIONS
Ontario is descended from an original county, and from her, keeping pace with the increase of population, many another has been formed. Primarily of indefinite extent, the eastern border held the population of Albany, and all to the westward was an unknown land. Succeeding a denser settlement came desire for local government; and not without strong opposition, resulting at times in defeat, but eventually in securing their object, did the various counties sprung from Ontario secure their independent existence. Albany was organized November 1, 1683, as one of the original counties of the province of New York, and was made to include all territory north and west of the present limits, and at one time the whole of Vermont. Albany was the center of Indian trade, the rendezvous of expedition against Canada; and became the State capital in 1797. It was at this city that the first colonial Congress met in June, 1754, to concert measures of union and defense, in view of approaching hostilities with the French and Indians. Eight colonies were represented, and a plan of union drawn by Dr. FRANKLIN then adopted, and later rejected by king and by province, each refusing to yield so much to the other of freedom and power.
Tryon County was formed from Albany, on March 12, 1772, and derived its name from the royal governor of the province at that time. Its territory embraced all lands in the colony west of a north and south line through the center of Schoharie County. The name Montgomery was substituted for Tryon in April, 1784, and now the swarms of individuals, families, and colonies began to move out into the wilderness northward and westward, and speedily required new divisions of counties for convenience of jurisdiction and just representation of interests. Ontario was formed from Montgomery January 27, 1789, and derived its name from the lake which at that time constituted its northern boundary. In May, 1784, the first adventurous pioneer, with his family, setting out from Middletown, Connecticut, advanced beyond the then bounds of civilizations into the forests of Montgomery. Trusting in the future, and self-reliant, this man, Hugh WHITE, clearing away the trees, built of their trunks a habitation upon the great central Indian trail from Albany westward. Here, where two years later had grown the village of Whitestown, he tolled at improvement, endeavored to ingratiate himself with the Indians, and found relaxation and enjoyment in the society of wife and children.
One afternoon, WHITE being absent, a party of Indians were seen by his wife advancing along the trail towards her cabin. According to custom and a natural impulse, cordial greeting met the visitors, and food was placed before them. The object of the embassy was then made known by their leader, who asked to take the white mans daughter on a visit to their forest home. Memories of cruelties and life captivities rushed upon the mind, and to permit her loved child to depart among savages seemed a hard requirement. While, troubled by apprehension from acquiescence or refusal, the mother hesitated, and the Indians awaited a reply, a step was heard, and WHITE came in. Pleased at the visit, he gave a cordial welcome, and, learning the purport of their mission, gave immediate consent, and directed his child to go with them. The Indians withdrew, and anxiously the family awaited the issue. The evening of another day drew near, and the time for the return of the child was at hand. Finally, the plumes of the chief were seen nodding in the distance, and by his side tripped the elated girl, bedecked in the finery of a savage toilet. The test of confidence had been made and sustained; henceforth the settler WHITE knew no friends more trusty than were his red brethren. Following WHITE during the same year, James DEAN located near the site of Rome, upon a tract presented by the Indians as remuneration for services as interpreter. In 1787, the later pioneer of Wheatland, Monroe County, Joseph BLACKMER, advanced a few miles west of Judge DEAN and settled. Asa DANFORTH and family in May, 1788, moving by water for lack of a road far beyond predecessors, landed at the mouth of Onondaga Creek. The log tavern opened for the early pioneers by Major DANFORTH was long a favorite resort, and the comforts there obtained were in marked contrast with the wayside camps in the forest. With DANFORTH came Comfort TYLER, a man prominent in early history of Western New York. A teacher and surveyor upon the Mohawk, he was with James CLINTON when the boundary between New York and Pennsylvania was established. He was connected with initial improvements, and held many offices in Onondaga County. TYLER and DANFORTH engaged in making salt in those early years, and the commencement of works, which, in 1792, produced a daily yield of sixteen bushels, was made by the latter, carrying a five-pail iron-kettle, from Onondaga Hollow to the Salt Springs, upon his head. TYLER, while a member of the Legislature, in 1799, became acquainted with Aaron BURR, who, with General SWARTOUT, subscribed the entire stock for building the Cayuga bridge. TYLER was commissary in BURR's ill-fated expedition, and was arrested for connection therewith, but never tried. Settling at Montezuma, he became active in promoting the construction of the Erie Canal.
The next settlement was by John HARDENBURGH, at what was known as Hardenburgh Corners, the present site of Auburn. James BENNETT and John HARRIS settled in 1789, on opposite sides of Cayuga Lake, and there established a ferry. In 1788 the country west of Utica was known as Whitestown, whose first town meeting was held in April, 1789, at the barn of Daniel WHITE, and Jedediah SANGER was elected supervisor. At the third town meeting, held in 1791, Trueworthy COOK, Jeremiah GOULD, and James WADSWORTH were chosen path-masters. The latter had, in 1790, attempted a road from Whitestown through the wilderness to Canandaigua, and, as the supervisor of Indian trails, may be noted as the first path-master west of Cayuga Lake. At the commencement of settlement in the Genesee country, Jemima WILKINSON, with her colony, was located on the west bank of Seneca Lake; a family or two had settled at Catherine's Town, at the head of the lake, while at its foot was a cluster of huts inhabited by traders and settlers. Upon the Genesee River were a few Indian traders; on the flats were several families of squatter whites; individuals lived at Lewiston, Schlosser, Tonawanda Creek, Buffalo Creek, and the mouth of Cattaragus. Prior to the permanent occupation of Ontario lands, various persons, as missionary, trader, and captive, had lived among the Senecas or traversed their territories, and from the parts they played or the information their recollections furnish are deserving of present record. The first Protestant missionary among the Senecas was Samuel KIRKLAND. He had made the acquaintance of young men of the Six Nations in a mission school at Lebanon, Connecticut, and conceived the idea of laboring among them to secure their spiritual welfare. In company with two Seneca companions, he set out on January 16, 1765, to visit all the settlements of the Iroquois. The snow lay deep, and the party traveled upon snow-shoes, and rested at night upon a spot cleared for the purpose. Ignorant of the language of his guides, he could only converse by signs, and, loaded with his pack of books, clothing, and supplies, he yet made resolute progress. A letter from Sir William JOHNSON brought him a welcome at Onondaga, where a days rest was taken. Proceeding to Kanadesaga, a halt was made near the village to observe Indian ceremonies, and then the party was escorted to the presence of the head sachem, where every kindness was shown the missionary, and his continued residence with them considered and determined. Free communication was had by means of a Dutch trader, and within a few weeks a council was held for his formal reception into the family of the sachem. The occasion was marked by cordiality, and KIRKLAND was moved to shed tears of gladness and thanksgiving. He applied himself to learn the Seneca speech and advanced rapidly, but a cloud soon gathered over his prospects. Adopted by a sachem of prominence, but few days elapsed ere the Indian grew ill and died. There were not wanting enemies to employ the event against the missionary, they alleging that the white man had used magic to destroy his Indian father, or that the Great Spirit was offended at his presence and required his death. A council assembled daily. The head sachem became his intercessor, as ambitious chief his accuser. Speeches followed. KIRKLAND's papers were examined and the widow questioned. She gave as part of her testimony that in the evening after we were in bed, we saw him get down upon his knees and talk with a low voice. A final speech from KIRKLAND's friend was followed by loud applause, and the accused was acquitted as innocent. A famine followed; the failure of a corn crop and privation was endured unflinchingly. He was driven to dispose of a garment for a few Indian cakes, in all sufficient for a meal, but of which he made one suffice for a meal, while his fare for days was of acorns fried in bear's grease. A journey was made to the banks of the Mohawk, where he obtained a supply of provisions. Allied by time and interest to the Seneca Nation, he became instrumental in restraining many from war. He was active in the various treaties, and employed by New York and Massachusetts in that connection.
Few but have some knowledge of The Universal Friend, Jemima, daughter of Jeremiah WILKINSON, of Rhode Island, whose followers were pioneers of the Genesee country before the advent of PHELPS and GORHAM. It is said of this woman, that when twenty years of age, succeeding an attack of fever which prostrated the rest of the family, she herself was taken down and friends assembled to witness her death. A revelation required a resurrection, and she arose from her bed, knelt by its side in fervent prayer, and, saying that her physical life had terminated, assumed the role of a prophetess. Setting out upon a round of travel and exhortation, followers accompanied and converts were made wherever she went. In authority absolute, obedience was devoted. Her dress was strictly of neither sex, her mind uncultivated, and her memory excellent. For twenty years this woman traversed Pennsylvania, New York, and New England, and, grown confident in her deception, finally assumed that the spirit of Jemima WILKINSON had gone to heaven, and that the present inhabitant of the same body was the Saviour, the friend of man. In 1786, the Friends assembled in Connecticut, and resolved to migrate to some distant, unsettled region, where in peace they could enjoy their religion. Abraham DAYTON, Richard SMITH, and Thomas HATHAWAY were appointed to find a location. Their journeys brought them to Philadelphia, whence they traveled on horseback through Pennsylvania along the valley of Wyoming, where, meeting a man named SPAULDING, they learned of the region about Seneca Lake. By his directions they struck the track of SULLIVAN's army and proceeded to the foot of Seneca Lake, where, having become satisfied with the land, the return was made and the result announced.
A party of twenty-five Friends met at Schenectady in June, 1787, and proceeded by water to the proposed site of settlement. Reaching Geneva, they found there an unfinished log house, whose occupant was a man named JENNINGS. Proceeding up the east side of the lake they came to the outlet of Crooked Lake, and began a settlement in Yates County, near Dresden. Arriving in August, ground was prepared and sown in wheat, and in 1789 a number of fields were sown. At somewhat less than two shillings per acre fourteen thousand acres of land, comprised in eastern Milo and southeastern Starkey, were purchased at a public sale of lands in Albany. Benedict ROBINSON and Thomas HATHAWAY soon after purchased from PHELPS and GORHAM the town of Jerusalem, for fifteen and a half pence per acre.
The society erected a mill in the fall of 1789, and flour was ground there during the year. This was the first mill in Western New York.
The Friend arrived in the spring of 1789, and was presented by Benedict ROBINSON with one thousand acres of land, upon which she took up her residence. This society has the honor of making the first improvements in what was at the time a part of Ontario. A framed house was erected as a dwelling for the Friend. In a log room of an addition to this house the pioneer school was opened by Rachel MALIN.
David WAGGENER opened the first public house, and Benajah MALLORY was the first merchant in the county. The community began in prosperity, but rapidly declined. The rush of emigration surrounded the settlement. The Friend was arrested in 1796 and taken to Canandaigua on a charge of blasphemy; an indictment was prepared by Judge HOWELL, then District Attorney, and presented to the grand jury. Governor LEWIS, Judge of the Supreme Court, presiding, instructed the jury that blasphemy was not an indictable offense, and no bill was found. This decision was overruled by a full bench of the Supreme Court, and the offense decided to be indictable. In addition to other troubles, the Revs. James SMITH and John BROADHEAD, two Methodist circuit preachers, treading the forests in pursuit of auditors, found this retreat, and , establishing themselves in a log school-house, alienated many of the young people who chafed at the unreasonable restraints imposed upon them. When Jemima WILKINSON died, in 1819, she appointed Rachel MALIN, her successor. Meetings were continued, but the sect has become extinct, and little save the printed book is left to inform the people of this and other times of the rise, progress, and decay of this illustration of bold assertion and blind credulity of that imposture of the pioneer days.
Among the early women of the Genesee country was Mary JEMISON, called by the Indians 'the White Woman'. When a child, during the summer of 1755, a band of ten men, six Indians, and four Frenchmen surrounded her father's home on the Western Pennsylvania frontier, plundered its contents, and carried away captives the whole family, consisting her parents, two brothers, herself, and others who chanced to be present. Hurried into the forest, all were killed and scalped except Mary and a boy, who were brought to Fort Duquesne. Two Indian girls came to the fort to supply, by a captive, the place of a slain brother, and were present with Mary, whom they adopted as their sister, and took to their home. The terrible change in her condition had but a temporary effect, and youthful elasticity of spirit accustomed her to the wild life, to which she was becoming reconciled, when the transfer of Fort Duquesne to the British, and the assembly there of Indians who took her with them, brought back hope and desire to return to her people. The Indian girls hurried her away to her home in the forest, where, in time, she married a young Delaware, of whom she often spoke affectionately. Concluding to change her home, she set out, about 1759, on foot, with a little child, to travel a distance of six hundred miles, which lay between her and the Genesee River. The journey was accomplished, and a home found at Little Beard's town, where she was saddened by tidings of her husband's death. A few years passed and she married another Indian. When SULLIVAN laid waste the country her house and fields met the common fate. On his retreat the Indians returned to their village, while Mrs. JEMISON, taking her two youngest children upon her back, and followed by the remaining three, went around on the west side of Silver Lake, and down to the Gardeau Flats, where she found corn which two Negroes had raised. She husked the corn, and thereby earned sufficient to supply her family till the next harvest. Present at the treaty of 1797, the chiefs were disposed to specially provide for her, and she made a speech in her own behalf. It was a custom that when land sales were considered, if the warriors and women were dissatisfied with the course of the sachems, they had a right to take the subject out of their hands. During the council, RED JACKET covered up the council fire and declared the treaty ended. The warriors and women, asserting their prerogative, now informed Mr. MORRIS that the treaty would be continued by them. CORNPLANTER became their speaker in the newly-opened council, while RED JACKET withdrew. A reservation, bounded by herself, was set off to this white Indian, who, claiming to have made various improvements, and so being entitled to the land, was found, by actual survey, to have acquired title to thirty thousand acres of valuable land. Mary JEMISON lived to an advanced age, and died upon the reservation in 1825.
It was a remarkable fact in the history of Indian captivity that white men in time preferred the savage to the civilized life, and on opportunity chose the former. This circumstance was instrumental in enabling the government to treat understandingly with the Indians through these persons as agents and interpreters. When John H. JONES came to Seneca Lake in October, 1788, he found there Captain Horatio JONES, his brother, living on the lake bank in a log bark-roofed house, and with a small stock of goods carrying on a trade with the Indians. The history is appropriate here of this man, since his son, William W. JONES, born at Geneva, in December, 1786, was the first white male child born west of Utica, and he himself was recognized as the first white settler west of the Genesee River. Horatio JONES was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, November, 1763. His father was a blacksmith, and frequently repaired rifles. The son was daily in the habit of seeing and trying them, and hence, while quite young, he became an expert marksman. Energetic, bold, and skillful, he seemed born with an adventurous disposition, which was stimulated into activity by the passage of soldiers by his home on their way to the Indian country. A boy in years he was a man in spirit, and at the age of fourteen joined the army as fifer in a regiment commanded by Colonel PIPER, with which he remained during the ensuring winter. In June, 1781, the desire for more active service led him to enlist in a rifle company known as the Bedford Rangers, recruited by Captain BOYD, of the United States service. The company had been scouting for several days, when one morning at daybreak, during the prevalence of a heavy fog, the troop, thirty-two strong, met a war-party of Indians, numbering about eighty, upon the Ragstown branch of the Juniata River. The Indians had seen the approach of the whites, and concealed themselves. Suddenly a deadly discharge from unseen rifles struck down nine rangers, and in a brief space eight more were captured and the defeat accomplished. JONES, seeking to escape, had reached the summit of a hill, where he encountered two Indians, whose rifles were leveled at him and his surrender demanded, but turning aside he set out at a rapid rate, which bid fair to distance his pursuers, when, unluckily, his moccasin-string untied, caught upon a stick, and threw him to the ground. The Indians in a moment were upon him, and captured, JONES was brought back to the battle-ground, and with the others marched into the forest. Captain DUNLAP, commander of the company, was of those taken prisoner, and, partially disabled by a wound received, faltered in his tread during the assent of a hill. This was observed by an Indian, who stepped silently behind him, struck deep his hatchet into the disabled soldier's head, drew him over backwards, took his scalp, and then proceeding, left the poor fellow to die with his face turned upward. Two days passed upon the journey, and the captives had no food; on the third day a bear was killed, and to JONES fell the entrails for his portion. Seasoned by appetite and scantily dressed, they were eagerly consumed. Closely guarded by night, regarded with favor by the Indians, his burden was removed, and he had the pleasure on the march of assisting a fellow-captive to bear his load. Arrived at an Indian village upon the present site of Nunda, Livingston County, New York, and while ascending Foot Hill, JONES was informed that he must run the gauntlet to a hut in the distance, and if successful in reaching it, his adoption into the tribe would follow. Swarming from their huts, the entire population, armed with a variety of weapons, formed themselves in two parallel lines along the route. Jones dashed off amid a shower of missiles. A chief named SHARPSHINS struck at him viciously with his hatchet, and then threw the weapon after him; the blow was dodged and the goal reached in safety. A captive who followed was struck by SHARPSHINS, killed, and scalped. The rest of the party escaped with little injury. During the following winter JONES narrowly escaped death from smallpox, and on his recovery became a person of much influence in arbitration of disputes, repairing arms, and, as opportunity offered, interfering to save the lives of prisoners. He had been adopted into a family and given the name of FA-E-DA-O-QUA. On one occasion having swam the Tonawanda, his fame rose to a high pitch, and when a short time after, at Niagara, a British officer offered gold to the family as a ransom, the Indian father replied that the English had not riches sufficient to buy FA-E-DA-O-QUA.
A time came when thoughts of a former home impelled him to return. A day's journey was made, and at night reflections of a cold reception and forgetfulness occupied his mind, and the morrow saw him voluntarily return to Indian life, and engage with ardor in the pursuits of a forester. When settlement came to him, he renewed in part former associations. He established a trading-house within the borders of Seneca, thence removed to Geneva, where we have indicated his residence, and where he sold to John Jacob ASTOR his first lot of furs. He was married in Schenectady by Rev. Mr. KIRKLAND. In the spring of 1789, the brothers, Horatio and John H. JONES, having secured a yoke of oxen, went to what is now Phelps and, upon an open spot, plowed and planted a few acres in corn, which they sold on the ground, and removed in August to a tract of land west of the Genesee. Upon this they erected a shanty, meanwhile occupying an Indian cabin in Little Beard's Town. In the spring of 1790 the brothers moved west from Geneva, via Canandaigua and Avon, accompanied by Horatio's wife and three children, some hired men, and with their oxen hitched to a cart loaded with the household furniture. This cart was the first wheeled vehicle to pass over that route, and from Avon had no track, but found a way along ridges and openings. Horatio JONES built a good block-house during the year, and is credited with having raised the first wheat west of the Genesee River. Appointed Indian interpreter by President WASHINGTON, he held the position and ably discharged its duties for nearly forty years. At a council held by the IROQUOIS at Genesee River, November, 1798, Captain JONES and Captain PARRISH were decreed a present of two square miles of land. A speech by FARMERS BROTHER illustrates Indian appreciation of service, and in effect asks the Legislature to confirm the grant, which was done, and Captain JONES lived upon his Genesee land till 1836, at which time he died, at the age of seventy-five.
The name of Jasper PARRISH stands connected with early treaties and pioneer interests of Ontario at Canandaigua, and has left a history emulating, in essential service to Indian and white, that of his frequent associate Horatio JONES. Originally from Connecticut, the PARRISH family were residents upon the sources of the Delaware in New York at the commencement of the Revolution. While in 1778 engaged with his father in moving a frontier family towards the settlement, an attack was made upon them by a band of Indians, and all made prisoners. The father, after an experience of two years, was exchanged at Niagara, and returned to his family. Jasper was but a boy of eleven years, yet, as he entered the Indian village at Chemung, a shout from the war-party brought out a crowd of the occupants, who pulled the lad from the horse upon which he had been mounted and subjected him to severe usage. The chief, his master, sold him to a family of DELAWARES, residents upon the south side of the river, bearing the name of that tribe. His life during 1779, was one of hardship and suffering, from lack of food and want of clothing; but, being adopted by his owner into the family, kind treatment followed, and a love for hunting and fishing reconciled him to the rude life.
At Newtown, PARRISH was placed with the squaws and prisoners in a place of security during the battle with SULLIVAN, and, on finding themselves defeated, the Indians sent runners to the squaws directing their retreat, and PARRISH, after a hurried march, found himself at Niagara. The great body of the IROQUOIS assembled at that place, and there passed the winter. Occasionally tempted to a foray upon the Americans by the British bounty upon scalps, PARRISH was sold shortly after reaching Niagara to a MOHAWK named David HILL, a relation of Joseph BRANDT, for twenty dollars. A general council being held soon after, PARRISH was led by HILL into the assembly of chiefs, a belt of wampum placed about his neck, his hand taken by the old chief, who than made a speech with great gravity, which concluded, all shook the boy by the hand, and so he became a MOHAWK. PARRISH lived from May, 1780, till the close of the War for Independence, at a village of MOHAWKS, founded by BRANDT near Lewiston, In 1784 he was surrendered to the Americans at Fort Stanwix, according to the terms of the treaty, and returning to his father's family, then living in Goshen, Orange County, passed a year in school, to recover his knowledge of the English language, well-nigh forgotten. Employed by PICKERING, as interpreter at the treaties of 1790 and 1791, a report of his ability and honesty was made to General KNOX, secretary of War, and, as a result, he was engaged to act with General CHAPIN as his interpreter to the SIX NATIONS, and did much to adjust and reconcile differences. An additional appointment, as local Indian agent, was made in 1803, and both offices were held for many years. His influence was made available in making his Indian friends acquainted with agriculture, education, and Christian religion. The name of Jasper PARRISH occurs in connection with the early improvements in and about Canandaigua, where he ultimately died on July 12, 1836, at the age of sixty-eight. Of a family of six children, one, the widow of William W. GORHAM, is a present resident of the village of Canandaigua, the others having removed to various localities.
Samuel COE accompanied SULLIVAN upon his march of ruin, and, not ten years later, revisited the same localities as a guide through the forests of the Genesee for Oliver PHELPS. The fields had been left as the Town Destroyer made them, save the renewed growth of sprouts from the old apple-trees. Upon this exploration with PHELPS, an inducement was a payment of expenses, a sum in hand, and a deed to a lot of two hundred acres wherever he chose to locate.
As a route of travel in 1788, the journey of COE and PHELPS is traced as follows: Meeting them at Whitestown, we see them proceed to the ONEIDA settlement, thence direct to the ONONDAGAS, thence to the CAYUGAS, on to the runs of Seneca Castle. Proceeding west to the farm of Cyrus GATES, in Hopewell, they there rested briefly, and then pursuing the downward course to the gravel knoll east of what was known as the Liberty Day Farm, they reached Canandaigua Lake at Tinker's Point. The lake shore was then followed down to the outlet, which was forded, and the journey discontinue to the oak ridge, at a point known as the Henry PHELPS farm. The oak ridge was followed on to the high ground where stands the Academy. On the west side of Main Street, near the mansion of Mrs. GREIG, COE pointed out the site of SULLIVAN's camp. Halting for the night, the next day saw the travelers fording streams and pushing on to Big Tree. Here COE selected his two hundred acres previous to the purchase from the Indians or any survey. JONES, of whom we have written, made a selection of lands adjoining COE, and the party returned home. The lands chosen by COE and JONES were found, in 1790, to have been purchased as the permanent residence of the WADSWORTHS. COE called on PHELPS, at Canandaigua, and stated this fact, and was offered four hundred acres near Palmyra, which was refused as too distant from settlement. A like-sized tract was then proffered on the rising ground a mile or so west of Geneva, which was rejected as being poor land. Captain COE finally located at Virgil, Cortland County, where he later received a commission from the governor as a brigadier-general.
Trace we now the initiatory settlements of 1789. During the winter and spring of this year, a number of purchases were made by individuals and parties, and both at Canandaigua, the central point, and various other localities, actual occupation began. We shall find corn planted, wheat sown, houses built, and a mingled government of white and Indian authority established, each responsible for his nation.
In the compromise with PHELPS and GORHAM, the lessees were seen to have obtained four townships, the sixth, seventh, and eighth townships of the first range, and the ninth of the second. A fifth township, No. 9, in the first range, was deeded to BENTON and LIVINGSTON, prominent lessees. Two Indian traders, REED and RYCKMAN, had acquired title to land along the lake, and a village, known as Geneva, began to develop in place of Kanadesaga, at the foot of the lake. In the fall of 1788, the traders named laid out the village and township No. 8 into village and farm lots, and caused them to be drawn by ballot. The Canada lessees were represented by Benjamin BARTON, Sr., and the New Yorkers by Messrs. BENTON and BIRDSALL. To this focus of settlement all classes came, and a cluster of log houses extended along the lake shore. One Lark JENNINGS was conducting a log-built tavern on the lake bank, while Dr. BENTON occupied a frame tavern and traders' depot as agent of the Lessee Company. Early in the year 1789, a party of six Massachusetts men having, aside from another purchase, become owners of No. 10, in the fourth range, now known as East Bloomfield, Ontario County, entered into agreement with Judge Augustus PORTER, a native of Connecticut, to proceed to their western lands and engage in their survey. To learn the progress of settlement in Ontario, the memoranda of this western pioneer are made available as found in the history of the Holland Purchase. Mr. PORTER had arranged to meet one Captain BACON at Schenectady, and in May, on arriving there, he found that he had collected a drove of cattle and obtained provision and farming tools for a party of settlers, who were proceeding towards Ontario, in company with John ADAMS, one of the township proprietors, and family. Deacon ADAMS undertook to drive through the cattle, while the provisions were placed on two boats, having a carrying capacity of a dozen barrels each, manned by a crew of four men, and called Schenectady bateaux. The boats were brought up the Mohawk to Fort Stanwix, where a mile of portage was necessary to reach Wood Creek. At the portage a saw-mill had been built, and connected therewith was a dam capable of holding quite a body of water. The small quantity of water in the creek rendered it necessary at times to permit a flow from the dam, and this tide carried the boats down. The party reached and passed along Oneida Lake and its outlet to the Seneca River, and the outlet of Seneca Lake to Geneva. The rapids at Seneca Falls and Waterloo, then known as Scauyes, were the only hindrances to navigation. The empty boats were taken up the stream at the former place, by the efforts of a double crew, while Job SMITH, the first settler on the Military Tract, took their loading to the head of the Falls by the aid of a yoke of oxen hitched to a rude cart, whose wheels were made of sections sawed from a large log. Less difficulty was experienced at Scauyes, where the boats were impelled up the rapids with half their load, the rest being rolled up to the end of the fall. From Fort Stanwix to Kanadesaga no white residents were found, except one ARMSTRONG, at the mouth of Canada Creek. BINGHAM, at Three River Point, and SMITH, at Seneca Falls. Arrived at Geneva, where were a half-dozen families, among which was that of Roger NOBLE, of Sheffield, Massachusetts, the boats and their loads were left with Captain BACON, while a party of four, consisting of Augustus PORTER, Joel STEEL, Orange WOODRUFF, and Thaddeus KEYES, placing packs upon their backs, set out along the Indian trail for what was then designated as Kanandarque, situated at the foot of Canandaigua Lake. Here, as elsewhere stated, a street two miles in length had been surveyed, with lots calculated both for a village and farm use, pending the growth of the place. Three or four houses had been built, and were crowded with occupants, quite a party having arrived about two weeks before PORTER's visit. Benjamin GARDNER had installed his family in a log house near the later ANTIS' place, and Joseph SMITH, the pioneer of the village, had opened a tavern on the rising ground north of the outlet. General Israel CHAPIN, the Indian agent, Frederick SAXTON, a surveyor, Daniel GATES, and a few others, had made a passage by boat up the outlet to the lake, and were busily engaged in preparing for themselves accommodations.
Within a brief time William WALKER, agent for the survey and sale of lands, arrived with a party, built a log structure on the site of Mr. PHELPS subsequent residence, and, as the agent of the association, opened the first regular land office for land sales to settlers upon the soil of America. Among others who were later well known to those who had business in Canandaigua, and were residents of the place, was Phineas BATES, while Abner BARLOW is credited as having cleared and sown in wheat a part of Lot No. 2, west of Main Street, north of the square, during the fall of 1789, and thereby entered a claim to having put into wheat the first piece of ground in the purchase. Israel CHAPIN, Jr. Othniel TAYLOR, Nathaniel GORHAM, Dr. Moses ATWATER, Judah COLT, John CALL, Amos HALL, General WELLS, John CLARK, Daniel BRAINARD, John FANNING, Martin DUDLEY, Luther COLE, Aaron HEACOCK, and a few others came to Canandaigua during this year. In January, 1789, Prince BRYANT, of Pennsylvania, had bought No. 8, fourth range, and that part of No. 8, third range, which lies west of Canandaigua Lake, and in the following April sold to Gamaliel WILDER, Ephraim WILDER, Timothy CROSBY, P. BATES, and Deacon WILLIAMS, all of Connecticut. These parties commenced settlement on what is now known as Seneca Point, and sowed during the fall fifty acres which they had cleared of the oak lands in wheat. This was the first wheat sown in South Bristol, then called Wilder's Town. The crop being put in, the WILDERS returned East, leaving a man to exercise a superintendence till their return in the following spring.
SETTLEMENT IN 1789 - INFLUX OF POPULATION AND EVENTS TILL 1794 -TOWN
MEETING OF 1791 -THE STATE ROAD AND CAYUGA BRIDGE.
History challenges a precedent in the old world of the like occupation of territory and the growth of such a civilization as that in the Genesee country. Scythian from the north and Teuton from the east made fiery irruptions upon Rome, the Briton gave way to the Saxon, and he in turn became the serf of the Norman; but New York, humanely forgetful of Indian hostility, bought their forfeited lands, established the tribes in reservations, and opened a wide expanse at nominal prices for peaceful settlement. Not here and there a solitary settler, living years in the forest surrounding, but simultaneously and in colonies the large families of Massachusetts emigrants came West.
Led by report of a fine western country, Jared BOUGHTON had come to the Indian council at Geneva, where native titles were extinguished, and remaining during the season, returned in the fall. Enos BOUGHTON, brother of Jared, and assistant of William WALKER in charge of surveys, purchased of the company No. 11, fourth range, now known as Victor, at twenty cents an acre. The spring of 1789 saw the brothers Jared and Enos BOUGHTON on their way to their possession with wagons, oxen, and cows, and the outfit supposed to be required for their establishment. Axe in hand they cut a road to Canandaigua, and there leaving their teams, set out upon an Indian trail for their land. A pole cabin was built and the township surveyed into lots. Jared BOUGHTON began the work of improvement in that locality, and prepared ground for crop. Potatoes did not grow, the corn season was past, but two acres in buckwheat were harvested, and eight acres of ground prepared and sown in wheat. Winter approached, and leaving a young man named Jacob LOBDELL to take care of the place and feed some thirteen or fourteen head of cattle, the rest returned East. To Bloomfield came Deacon John ADAMS, its pioneer, accompanied by sons and sons-in-law, his daughters, and with the family some eight others, and erected a log house thirty by forty feet in size and fitted its walls with bertha for facilities of lodging. This large and crowded structure was the first dwelling erected west of Canandaigua. Early in the spring of 1787 three men, Gideon PITTS, James GOODWIN, and Asa SIMMONS, act out from Dighton, Massachusetts, in search of a home in the wilderness. Their first halt was at Newtown, where, with others, they erected the first white man's dwelling upon the site of Elmira, and raised a crop of Indian corn in the vicinity. A favorable account made to the people of Dighton on their return, induced them to form a company to purchase a tract of land from PHELPS and GORHAM when it should be put into market.
Calvin JACOBS and Gideon PITTS were deputed to select and buy as soon as the treaty was consummated, and following the survey, a purchase of forty-six thousand and eighty acres was made in Township 9, third, fourth, and fifth ranges. In 1789 this tract was resurveyed into lots and divided by lottery. Captain Peter PITTS drew three thousand acres upon the flats, at the foot of Honeoye Lake, and including the site of the Indian village ruined by SULLIVAN. The first sale made by PHELPS and GORHAM was of Township 11, range three, to a company composed of a dozen members, five of whom became residents of the town. The deed was given to Nathan COMSTOCK and Benjamin RUSSEL. The former, in company with two sons, Otis and Darius, and Robert HATHAWAY, came in 1789. Part came by the water route to Geneva with provisions, the rest by land with a horse and some cattle. The first labor was the erection of a cabin, which being done, a small field was cleared and sowed in wheat. The death of their horse was a serious loss. The duty of supplying the party with provisions devolved upon Darius COMSTOCK, who weekly made the journey to Geneva through the woods, a distance of twenty miles, and brought back his purchases upon his back. About the same time with the COMSTOCKS, Nathan ALDRICH, another of the purchasers, had come by water to Geneva, and thence carrying upon his back supplies and seed-wheat, came to his land, put in a small piece in wheat, and then, as winter came on, all returned to Massachusetts except Otis COMSTOCK, who occupied the log cabin, took care of the cattle, and knew no neighbors nearer than Canandaigua and Boughton Hill.
Early settlement was made in what is known as Phelps by John D. ROBINSON and Nathaniel SANBORN. The former having having erected a building in Canandaigua as the land-office and residence of William WALKER, received in payment lot 14, Township 11, range 1. Embarking his family upon a bateau at Schenectady, he brought them to their new home, where, pending the building of a log house, they occupied a cloth tent. A few days following their arrival, a party composed of the GRANGERS, Pierce and Elihu, and Messrs. SANBORN and GOULD joined them, and set to work clearing up ground on an adjoining lot and building cabins. All left for the East in the fall except the ROBINSONS, who had come to stay, and remained through the winter with no neighbor nearer than eight miles. He was rewarded for his enterprise by the advantages of location, and thorough knowledge of natural resources, later made available in the erection of a tavern stand and the use of valuable mill scats on the Flint and Canandaigua. The initial settlement and preparations above noted were not devoid of incident, more fully related in the various histories of the town, but examples of which are of interest in this connection. The life of the surveyor during the period of his work upon the purchase was rich in pioneer experience, and desirable as a matter of record. In connection with the survey of Township 12, second range, for John SWIFT and other proprietors, made in the early part of March, 1789, by a party consisting of Major John JENKINS, Solomon EARL, William RANSOM, and a Mr. BAKER, the following incident is related. The party were surveying near the lakes, and had erected for shelter a pole cabin, at which they were attacked shortly after midnight by four TUSCARORA Indians armed with rifles, which were thrust through the cracks of the hut and discharged with deadly effect upon the inmates. BAKER was shot dead, and EARL received a ball through the jaw, disabling him. JENKINS and RANSOM awaking, the former seized an axe, and, ably seconded by his comrade, beat back the assailants from the hut and captured two of their guns and a tomahawk. The Indians fled, and the surveying party proceeded next day to Geneva to give the alarm. The Indians, who had made the attack under the stimulus of hunger, returned, and rifled the hut of its provisions, and then fled towards Newtown. They were pursued, and two of them taken on the Chemung River. The nearest jail was at Johnstown, and the attempt to convey the prisoners thither being regarded as impracticable, a summary execution was resolved upon, and effected by use of the tomahawk. The criminals were taken blindfolded to the woods; one was dispatched at a blow, the other, attempting an escape, was mobbed. This was the first trial and execution in the Genesee country, and the barbarity of the act is excused by the exigencies of the times. Among the witnesses of this capital punishment were PARRISH and JONES, before mentioned.
The Indians experienced considerable suffering during the year, and when the stipulated annuities arising from land sales became due assembled to the number of two thousand at Canandaigua to receive their promised presents and provisions. A number of cattle were slaughtered for them, and such were their needs that even the entrails were eaten, and the provisions of the settlers much decreased before their dispersal. The influence of the British, and ill-concealed fear and dislike to them evinced by the pioneers, made it apparent that open hostilities were liable to take place any day; and under this cloud of dread uncertainty the preparations for occupation went steadily forward. Among the latest events connected with 1789 was the labor done in widening the trail and opening a road from Geneva to Canandaigua, the first piece of road so worked west of what is now Oneida County. The area of Ontario in 1790 was expansive as a State, and within that limit was a population of 1075. Diminished by the formation of Steuben in 1796, the census of Ontario in 1800 gave a population of 8466. Numerous the journey, varied the lives, and great the hardships experienced during this formative period embraced in a decade of years. A brief summary of events will close the county record of settlement and leave the detail to the towns.
Prominent, as containing the oldest and largest village in Ontario, is the town of Geneva. It was surveyed in the spring of 1789 by David FIELD, and a score of would-be-settlers had arrived ere that work was completed. Here CHAPIN, drawing for lots, obtained No. 21, memorable as the site of the picket fort and a partially destroyed orchard. The white clover and the June-grass had vegetated upon the cleared field, and the scions of the apple-tree roots were bearing fruit, but General CHAPIN had business at Canandaigua, and sold to Messrs. OAKS and WHITNEY at fifty cents per acre. In the spring of 1790, a party, among whom Jonathan WHITNEY was the leader, after a varied and severe experience, journeying from Schenectady to Geneva, reached the latter place, and sought accommodations at the tavern of Colonel Seth REED, whose provisions were limited to a loaf of bread and no flour or meal. A timely supply of both the latter arrived during the day from the Susquehanna, and WHITNEY secured a supply. Game and fish supplied the place of other food, but the decrease of the only cow deprived the family of milk. Sickness was general, and but few escaped the fever and ague. Elkanah WATSON, on his Western tour, writes under the date of September 21, 1791, Geneva is a small, unhealthy village, containing about fifteen houses, all log except three, and about twenty families. It is built partly on the acclivity of a hill, partly on a flat, with deep marshes north of the town, to the presence of which ill health is attributed. The accommodations by PATTERSON on the lake margin were decent, but repose was troubled by the presence of gamblers and vermin. On a visit twenty-seven years later, he says, I find an elegant and salubrious village, distinguished for the refinement and elevated character of its society. At Geneva the pioneer printer, Lucius CAREY, established the first newspaper in Ontario County. It was known as the Ontario Gazette Advertiser, and the first number was issued in April, 1797. In Geneva and the town of Seneca the earliest survey of roads was made, and a dozen of these, designated as running from house, mill, or farm to lake, line, or bounds, comprised at that time full half the surveyed roads in all the region west of Seneca Lake. The history of Geneva is linked with that of the entire Genesee country, to which it was the early gateway. Northward, in Phelps, ROBINSON is joined in 1791 by the GRANGERS, HUMPHREYS, OAKS, DEAN, and DICKINSON. At what is known as Oaks Corners, Jonathan OAKS built in 1794 a large framed tavern contemporary with WILLIAMSON's Hotel at Geneva. This was the second framed tavern west of Geneva, and its fame was wide-spread. The founder established a race-track a mile in circuit upon level ground near by, and this became the scene of many a contest of horse speed and human endurance. A church was built at the Corners in 1804, and residents of the locality indulged hopes that from this germ at the Corners, would grow up a thriving village and mayhap a city. Seth DEAN was the pioneer of Vienna. The attempted manufacture of the first cheese in the country is attributed to Mrs. DEAN, and its fate was indicated one morning b her seeing an empty cheese-curb and tell-tale bear-tracks all about it. Jonathan MELVIN was a settler on Melvin Hill, and became noted not only as a heavy dealer, large landowner, and mill-builder, but as the planter for public use of one hundred apple-trees along the road by his old farm. The circumstance from which this deed had its origin is thus related: In passing the Old Castle in an early day he picked up an apple, and was told to lay it down. You must be mean, said he, to begrudge a neighbor an apple. I will plant one hundred trees next year for the public, and he did it.
In the old town of Gorham, once Easton, now Gorham and Hopewell, the road to Canandaigua from Geneva first knew settlement in 1790, by Daniel GATES, Daniel WARREN, Samuel DAY, Frederick MILLER, Frederick FOLLETT, and the BABCOCKS', Lemuel, George, Isaiah, and William. Daniel GATES, Sr., from Connecticut, bought land in Gorham at eighteen pence per acre, and was the first collector of taxes in his town. Manchester's first settlers were Stephen JARED, Joel PHELPS, and Joab GILLETT. Nathan PIERCE came in during 1795. His home was in the forest, and the wild beasts his neighbors. The wolves made nightly chorus about his lodge, and on a return from mill one night, bearing a supply of flour, a pack of them became his escort to the door. Peleg REDFIELD became a resident in 1800, and late as this was, comparatively, his house and clearing were of the extreme pioneer order. The residents of Farmington in 1790 were twenty-eight in number. Their journey hither had been tedious, and their arrival was during unfavorable weather. Among the number were Nathan COMSTOCK and family, Isaac HATHAWAY, the SMITHS and Nathan HERENDEEN. These settlers were mainly known as Friends, and their apparent rashness in going to a wild and savage land caused the society to disown them. They were restored in standing in 1794, and their meeting was long the first one west of Utica. Illustrative of early travel, Jacob SMITH and family were thirty-one days on the way from Adams, Massachusetts, to Farmington, in 1791. Considerable fields of wheat were sown during the fall of 1790, apple-seeds were early planted, and fruit and cider soon enjoyed. In the person of Nathan COMSTOCK was seen the pioneer surveyor of roads. When the settlers found their lots and had built their cabins, COMSTOCK, mounted upon his favorite mare, rode along the routes of needed roads, while behind him the underbrush was cut and the beginning of roads made. Canandaigua is associated with all matters of general interest in the county. Here was the county seat, here public buildings were erected, treaties held, and projects of public interest inaugurated. Hither gathered attorneys unrivaled for ability, here were the initial courts of the county held, and the citizens of this town were prominent in local improvement or works of general utility. Within the period considered, town meetings, county courts, and treaties were held, and to this town localities now sites of cities and villages once were tributary. A hundred honored names would not exhaust the list of prominent and efficient early residents of the town. No. 7, range three, once known as Watkinstown, now Naples, took its name from one of the original proprietors, William WATKINS, with whom were associated in settlement, about 1790, Nathan, Joel, and Stephen WATKINS, Jabez METCALF, William CLARK, Benjamin CLARK, Simeon LYON, Jr., and John MOWER. Improvements essential to the neighborhood speedily followed, and mill, tavern, and school were soon in operation.
In South Bristol, between 1789 and 1796, after WILDER, were the settlers Theophilus and Matthew ALLEN, Joseph GILBERT, Jared TUTTLE, Peter GANIARD, Levi AUSTIN, Nathaniel HATCH, and their families. In 1795, WILDER is credited with having built the first saw-mill, grist-mill, and distillery, at Wilbur's Point, and erected the first public house in 1808. The primary settlers of Bristol were William GOODING and George CODDING, in 1789; James, George, and Elnathan GOODING, in 1790, and Alden SEARS and the CODDING's, John, George, Farmer, Burt, and William, in 1792. Stephen SISSON, a settler of 1790, is recorded as the first to engage in store and tavern keeping at that date.
The colony of the ADAMS family has been noted. There came to this town in 1791 Benjamin GOSS, and in 1794 Moses SPERRY; and besides these were the HAMLINS, Philo and Elijah; the RUES, Lot and Ephraim; the PARKS, Joel and Christopher; Gideon KING, Ashbel BEACH, Cyprian COLLINS, Benjamin CHAPMAN, Alexander EMMONS, Nathan WALDRON, Timothy BUELL, and Enos HAWLEY, fully described and located in town history. Victor's pioneers in 1790 were Asa HECOX, Ezekiel SCUDDER, and Abraham BOUGHTON. The children of these pioneers might well grow up with thoughts of the race just vanishing, for here were the historic fields renowned for foreign invasion and heroic defense. Here the French were cowed by the fierce SENECAS, and here the plow upturns the relics of their presence. Well may the writer linger upon these evidences of early occupation and deeds of arms, and here many he draw the contrast of the SENECA village and the present American,--the trail and the railroad, the hut and the house, the confederacy of the Indian and the republic of the white,--and trust that the later alliance of States may be more permanent than the league of the FIVE NATIONS.
The pioneers of West Bloomfield were Robert TAFT, Nathan MARVIN, Amos HALL, and Ebenezer CURTIS, and to this list may be enumerated Samuel MILLER, Sylvanus THAYER, J. P. SEARS, P. GARDNER and John ALGUR. Of Amos HALL it is noted that from the earliest military organization, he was a commissioned officer, and rose to the rank of major-general. During the last war with Great Britain he was at one time chief in command on the frontier, and at all times a prominent and valuable citizen. He was deputy marshal in 1790 and took the census of Ontario in that year.Richmond was settled by the PITTS and the family, consisting of Peter PITTS, his wife and ten children, for three years were the sole residents of the town. The second party was composed of Drs. Lemuel and Cyrus CHIPMAN and Phillip REED, with their families. The journey was made in the winter of 1795, with sleighs drawn by horse and ox teams. The men employed to drive the teams, Levi BLACKMER, Pierce CHAMBERLAIN, Asa DENNISON and Isaac ADAMS, became residents of the town, and Roswell TURNER came in 1796.
In Canadice, the town of ridge and lake, the pioneers were John WILSON, located at the head of Canadice Lake, and John WHEELER, Samuel SPENCER, John RICHARDSON and Andrew WARD, near Canadice Corners. The citizen of a kingdom or empire fines in America an absence of the representatives of power. Upon the rail-car or the crowded street, or in the public hall, each acts at will and all moves on in harmony. Contrasting this quiet and simplicity with the obtrusive action and parade of a monarchy, the question rises. Where is the power of American government and where do the people learn their sufficient and yet hidden springs of control? The solution is found in the freedom, equality and common need of the town meeting. This assemblage is the ground-work of our system and the security of its permanence. No sooner had numbers warranted and local necessities required a division of towns, than the meeting which gave it four followed hard after. The house of a settler was the place of congregating, the scarcity of available men often placed several offices in the hands of one person and the full machinery of school, road, and justice was set in motion, never, we trust, to stop.
The first town meeting held in Ontario after its set off from Montgomery, resulted from the formation of two towns, know respectively as Canandaigua and Big Tree. Two justices were appointed, one for each town: General Israel CHAPIN for the former and Moses ATWATER, the latter. The meeting in and for Canandaigua was held at the house of Joseph SMITH, at the foot of Main street, near the lake. It was opened and conducted on the first Tuesday of April 1791, by General CHAPIN, who was chosen supervisor, and James. D. FISH, town clerk.
On the same day, Moses ATWATER opened a town meeting at the house of Major THOMPSON, in the town of Big Tree, where John GANSON was chosen supervisor and Major THOMPSON, town clerk. The proceedings following the Canandaigua election have reference to the freedom of swine, properly yoked, and a bounty of thirty shillings for every full-grown wolf killed in the town. The oath of office was then administered by the justices to the officers just elected, and a record of ear-marks required to be kept. The notice of this meeting circulating far into the woods was received with pleasure, as offering an opportunity for acquaintance and enjoyment. Dealing with the untamed forces of nature, athletic games were the means of bringing the pioneers together, and the events of the day furnished matter of thought upon the clearings for weeks, nay, for life. The initial town meeting in the village was marked by an event which gives an insight into the character of the backwoodsmen. A few days previous to the meeting, a large wolf had been trapped in what is now Farmington, and secured in the bay of Nathan ALDRICH'S log barn, to be kept for the day of election. Early in the morning a party repaired to the barn, Jonathan SMITH and Brice ALDRICH entered the bay and secured the wolf, whose feet were tied, and then he, being slung upon a pole, was carried on the shoulders of the men, to the village. Voting being done, and the offices declared filled, a ring was formed, the wolf let loose and the dogs allowed to enter and engage in battle. The animal proved victorious in each instance, and was finally dispatched by a rifle-ball, and so ended the first town meeting.
While there are those who see all greatness and achievement in the past and a general degeneracy among the men of today, their opposites are found unwilling to concede the merit which early enterprise has won. The construction of the State road and of the Cayuga bridge are events creditable to the originators and all important in their results. He who dreamed of "black soil eighteen feet deep producing 100 bushels of corn to an acre under Indian tillage for unknown periods", as a preliminary to travel began a study of the route by water. Not till Robert MORRIS had opened a road did other than New England settlers venture into these regions, and then only to return in disgust at a remote country destitute of roads and ill supplied with provisions. A road over the mountains was begun June 3, 1792, northerly from the mouth of Lycoming Creek; ten days brought the workmen to Canonisque Creek, and by the course of its waters found themselves in the County of Ontario. By August, 1793, a road sufficient to pass wagons was completed to Williamsburg, 170 miles from Lycoming Creek. A trail, of which more hereafter, had long led from the home of the Mohawks to the western bounds of the Senecas; along this trace the travelers made the journey to Cayuga lake, over which the ferry bore them to continue their weary route.
The necessities of the people and profits from better communications led to State action, and on March 22, 1794, three commissioners, of whom General Israel CHAPIN of Canandaigua was one, were appointed to survey and lay out a road six rods wide. The route led from Utica as nearly direct as possible to Cayuga Ferry; thence to Canandaigua, and from that place to a settlement at Canawagus, on the Genesee River, at the point of erection of the first bridge which spanned that stream. Alone the road from Canandaigua, west towards Centerfield, where in February, Amos BRUNSON drove the first team, came the surveyor, Mr. ROSE and with him CHAPIN, of Ontario, and ELLIOTT of Onondaga, commissioners to note the work. The heavy timer was felled a width of 100 feet and a way into the dense forest was opened up a long view, and so was made a great change in the appearance of the country. The trees were felled, but little else done until by act of the Legislature, 1797, the State took the road from Fort Schuyler to Geneva under their patronage. A lottery was granted for opening and improving trunk-roads, among which this was known. All along the line of the road the inhabitants came forward with voluntary offer of services to aid the State Commissioner, and a subscription of four thousand days' labor was worked with willingness and faithfulness. This assistance, with some other, resulted in a road nearly one hundred miles in length, sixty-four feet wide, and corduroyed with logs filled in with gravel through the moist parts of the low country along its course. The improvement of this road gave rise to the transportation of passengers by states, the conveyance of mails, and an increased and continually increasing travel. In 1793 the first mail west of Canajoharie was carried from that point to Whitestown. Pursuant to the rules of the Post Office Department, mail was carried only where the rout was made self-sustaining by the contributions of those along the road, and the system extended rapidly westward. The contract for carrying the mail passed into the hands of Jason PARKER, Esq., who became the founder of a great line of stages which traversed the country like a net-work in every direction until the opening of the Erie Canal, and finally the Albany and Rochester Railroad. Westward, proceeding the rail-car, went the old state, till the iron parallels have driven it from main lines, and the back journeying leisurely from village to hamlet, but faintly recalls the old fashioned coach. Farther we shall learn of the State road as a turnpike, dotted all along its course by taverns of all classes and gates for the collection of tolls. The Pennsylvania wagons, the emigrant teams, the stage lines made the road appear as if occupied by an endless procession, and when the war of 1812 began, the passage of troops and munitions of war tasked its capacity to the utmost; but there was one point upon this road of which brief mention may be made, - the Long Bridge over Cayuga Lake. There was incorporated in 1797, "the Cayuga Bridge Company," consisting of John HARRIS, Joseph ANNIN, Thomas MORRIS, Wilhelmus MYNDERSE and Charles WILLIAMSON. their organization was made to accomplish the construction of a bridge across the northern end of Cayuga Lake to further and expedite the passage of travelers and emigrants bound West, and also as a means of income. The work was begun May 1799, and completed Sept 4, 1800. Its dimensions were as follows: length one mile and eight rods, and width twenty two feet, there being a sufficient roadway to permit the movement of three wagons abreast. The time occupied in construction was eighteen months, and its entire cost is given as $150,000. but few years' service was had from it ere its destruction by the elements. A second bridge was then built, and became a source of considerable revenue, while for years it was regarded as a great public improvement, and taken as a dividing ling between the East and the West. The bridge was abandoned in 1857, and aside from the journey by rail the ferry is employed in crossing. Portions of the runs are yet to be seen and mark its original site. A glance at present facilities of travel, an observance of the inventions for farm and domestic convenience and the perfect security experienced in all localities, placed in contrast, with the journeys by land and by water of pioneers, the apprehensions, far from groundless, of a renewal in the valley of the Genesee of the atrocities of Wyoming, the dense timber marking the richest land to be felled and burned, the roads to be cut out and made possible, and the constant call for physical exertion, sometimes when sickness hung like a miasmatic cloud over the changing soil, - such a contrast is well calculated to answer the thoughtless question, What is all this worth? why such a formidable array of names of early pioneers? As in the ranks of war the meanest soldier, whether firing rapidly into the lines of the foe, driving the team laden with supplies, or watching in the hospital over the bunks of sick or wounded comrades, is in all upon his duty and entitled to enrollment in the list of honor, so is the man who felled a forest tree, erected a log cabin, took part in a town meeting, or labored freely upon the roads, entitled to as honorable mention in the records which especially design the permanent history of the growth and development of a forest to the home of an enlightened and prosperous community.
Created by Dianne Thomas
These electronic pages may be printed as a link or for personal use, but is NOT to be reproduced in any format for profit or presentation by ANY other organization or persons.
Copyright 2001 - 2016