The Early History of Ontario County, New York
Kindly transcribed by Deborah Spencer
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From the History of Ontario County, NY
Published 1893 Pg 121 - 136
Settlement in Ontario County--Character of the Pioneers--Yankees,
English, Scotch and Irish--Disturbances on the Frontier--British
Soldiers Still Occupy Forts on the United States Side of the Treaty
Line--The Simcoe Scare--Their Withdrawal in 1796--Events Preceding the
War of 1812-15--Political Sentiment in Ontario County--"War"
and "Peace"--Meetings--The Outbreak, the Struggle and Final
Peace--Population of the County at Different Periods.
permanent and substantial settlement of the Genesee country began soon
after the purchase by PHELPS and GORHAM of the pre-emption right ceded
However, there was made by the pioneer "Friends," or
followers of Jemima WILKINSON, a permanent colonization on the west side
of Seneca Lake even before PHELPS and GORHAM acquired and perfected
their title. As
is well known, these proprietors held the right to purchase from the
Indians all the territory of the State west of Seneca Lake, but as a
matter of fact, they secured only about 2,600,000 of the more than
6,000,000 acres included within the region, the large remainder having
reverted to Massachusetts, and being secured by Robert MORRIS, was by
him sold to the so-called Holland Land Company, except that portion west
of the Phelps and Gorham purchase and east of a meridian line, starting
at a point twelve miles west of the southwest corner of the Phelps and
Gorham purchase, which was supposed to contain about 500,000 acres,
which Mr. MORRIS reserved, and which was commonly called the Morris
Reserve, and which was afterwards sold to different parties in various
tracts; and it was under these proprietorships that the legitimate
settlement of the region was begun.
purchasers and settlers who acquired title from PHELPS and GORHAM direct
was mainly New Englanders--Yankees; many of whom were veterans of the
Revolution, and being imbued with a spirit of enterprise, thrift,
independence and courage, so characteristic of their class, they sought
a home in the then new country which they well knew to be highly
fertile, and in which the peaceful art of agriculture might be carried
on with generous returns.
Therefore the Yankees came and settled in the region among the
first pioneers; and to-day many of the residents of Ontario county can
trace their ancestry back directly to New England stock, and justly
proud, too, they are of the fact.
In the same
region, also, and within the limits of Ontario county as constituted
previous to 1823, came the "Friends" and built up their little
colony hardly more than a score of miles south of old Kanadesaga.
This people came from both New England and Pennsylvania, and the
improvements made by them were of the most substantial character for the
were thrifty, earnest plodders, but did not wish to be considered
enterprising, for they were a strictly pious people and the devoted
followers of an equally conscientious leader.
The New Jerusalem, as they called the locality of their
settlement, included some of the most productive lands of the Genesee
country, and the faithful tillers of the soil who dwelt within the
region steadily increased their possessions and left to their
descendants an goodly inheritance in lands.
must be acknowledged that under the proprietorship of the London
Associates, and under the direct and personal superintendence of Charles
WILLIAMSON, original Ontario county received its most substantial early
WILLIAMSON was a man well calculated by nature and education to head an
enterprise such as that with which he was entrusted, and, moreover,
instead of being the haughty and overbearing manager, he proved himself
the courteous and obliging gentleman, and one who fostered alike the
interests of proprietors and purchasers; and he had at his command an
almost unlimited fund of money with which to develop the region under
his charge. The
settlers under Charles WILLIAMSON came from New England, Maryland,
Virginia, Pennsylvania and Eastern New York, while in addition to the
settlement by Americans, he also induced immigration from foreign lands,
mainly from England and Scotland, with an occasional Irishman.
settlement and development of the region of the original county west of
the Genesee River in no manner devolved upon Captain WILLIAMSON, but
that country was likewise under competent management, and therefore was
occupied and improved almost as rapidly as the Phelps and Gorham tract.
The Holland Land Company and its managing agents were earnest and
progressive, and while their settlers were principally Americans, there
were nevertheless many among them of Dutch descent, while from across
the Canadian borders there came a fair contingent of French and English.
Some of these also drifted over the Genesee and located within
the boundaries of Ontario county as it existed prior to the creation of
during the period of pioneer settlement and early development of Ontario
county, all was not peace and unretarded prosperity within the region.
In the extreme western part of the State was Fort Niagara, while
further east was Oswego; at both of which places the English still
maintained garrisons, and that notwithstanding the results of the late
British soldiery had no love for the Americans, and their hatred and
jealousy prompted many of the petty insults and indignities they were
charged with having committed.
The treaty of peace in 1783 fixed the forty fifth parallel as the
boundary line between the province and the States, except as was
otherwise determined, but the British claimed that the people of the
United States frequently violated the provisions of the treaty to such
an extent that the Canadian government, at the suggestion of the crown,
felt it a duty to maintain an armed force along the frontier, extending
as far west as Detroit.
In doing this, however, the British not only assumed to protect
their own possessions, but actually trespassed on United States
territory with full knowledge of the fact, so determined was the
Canadian government to show proper resentment of what were claimed to be
breaches of the treaty stipulations.
The result of this awkward situation, though possibly not
dangerous in character, worked many disadvantages in Western New York,
and somewhat retarded its settlement, for it was not until 1796 that the
British finally withdrew from the territory.
John JAY's treaty of amity, commerce and navigation was concluded
with Great Britain November 19, 1794, and proclaimed February 29, 1796.
Thus ended an embryo war, but it was not finally concluded until
after Gen. Anthony WAYNE had improved an opportunity to administer
severe punishment to the Indians and Canadian provincial troops in a
sharp battle on the Maumee River on the 20th of August, 1794.
1794 was an eventful period in the history of Ontario county and Western
New York. In
the month of August, Governor Simcoe, of Canada, sent Lieutenant R. H.
SHEAFFE with a protest and letter to Captain Charles WILLIAMSON,
demanding that he should relinquish his design of forming a settlement
at Sodus and move off the ground.
This was delivered to WILLIAMSON at Sodus, he having gone there
in company with Thomas MORRIS and Nathaniel GORHAM, jr., on being
notified to meet the messenger of Governor SIMCOE.
The news of this hostile demonstration of the governor of Canada
rapidly spread through all the settlements of the new country, and
caused great consternation among the people.
The attitude of Great Britain in persistently retaining the forts
at Oswego and Niagara, contrary to the stipulations of the treaty of
peace--the act of the governor of Canada in marching a body of troops
and erecting a fort at the Rapids of Miami, seventy miles within the
territory of the United States--the tampering of British officers and
agents with the Indians of New York, and the evidence of aid extended by
them to the western Indians who were hostile to the United States, and
who had in turn defeated and repulsed Generals HARMAR and ST. CLAIR, and
the fears of a like result in the issue that General WAYNE had made with
them and which was then pending, was enough to create a feeling of the
greatest uneasiness among the people.
An unusual emigration of the New York Indians to Canada had only
a few weeks before occurred, which included the great body of the
Senecas, as a body, remained in the State, but they had become morose
and quarrelsome and had committed many outrages upon the settlers.
In great numbers they had gone to the aid of their western
brethren, fitted out with blankets, clothing and decorations from the
king's stores at Niagara.
When this message and demand from Governor SIMCOE came, it seemed
as if the sequel would speedily be the breaking out of a general war,
and such was the alarming crisis that many of the settlers made hasty
preparations for a sudden flight and at least a temporary abandonment of
their homes. In
writing of this affair to Sir William PULTENEY, Captain WILLIAMSON says
that Governor SIMCOE had "left nothing undone to induce the Six
Nations, our neighbors, to take up the hatchet the moment he gives the
previous to this country had been excited on account of the act of the
British officers and agent and with the alarming conduct of the Indians;
the Legislature of this State had enacted a law for the erection of
fortifications and for supplying the necessary arms and ammunition.
General KNOX, secretary of war of the United States, in response
to a representation made, on July 3, of the situation of affairs on the
northern and western borders of the country, had replied that
correspondence had taken place on the subject with the British minister,
and that an order had been issued in favor of the governor of New York
for one thousand muskets, cartridge boxes and bayonets.
The act of
Governor SIMCOE in ordering the people of the United States out of the
Indian territory in Western New York was at once officially communicated
to John JAY, who had sailed for England on the 12th of May. Under
date of August 30, 1794, President WASHINGTON wrote to Mr. JAY, and
observing "on this irregular and high handed proceeding of Mr.
SIMCOE," he says, "this may be considered as the most daring
act of the British agent in America, though it is not the most hostile
and cruel. All
the difficulties we encounter with the Indians, their hostilities, the
murder of helpless women and children along our frontiers, result from
the conduct of agents of Great Britain in this country.
They keep in irratation the tribes that are hostile to us, or we
of them, to unite in the war against us; and whilst it is an undeniable
fact that they are furnishing the whole with arms, ammunition, clothing,
and even provisions to carry on the war, I might go father, and if they
are not much belied, add, men also in disguise."
provisions of the act of the Legislature heretofore mentioned, Governor
Geo. CLINTON, from New York May 29, 1794, writes to James WATSON, Mathew
CLARKSON and Benjamin WALKER, commissioners for purchasing field
artillery, etc., for the use of the militia, saying: "The present
aspect of affairs on our western frontiers renders it advisable to
deposit at Canadaque, in Ontario county, one thousand weight of powder,
and a proportionate quantity of lead, and the same quantity of each in
Onondaga county, which you will be pleased to cause to be done without
delay, as it is represented to me that the militia of those exposed
counties are destitute of ammunition.
Lieutenant-Colonel Othniel TAYLOR will take charge of that
directed to be deposited in Ontario county, and Major John L. HARDENBURG
of that to be deposited in Onondaga county."
middle of July Captain WILLIAMSON and Thos. MORRIS received proposals
for palisades, thirteen feet long and one foot square to be delivered on
Pulteney Square, Geneva, for the purpose of erecting a fortification at
that place. This
was in response to an advertisement for one thousand palisades and the
price asked was six pence (12 1/2 cents) each.
An article in the Albany Gazette, September 11, 1794,
under date of September 6, says: Governor George CLINTON writes to Major
General GANSEVOORT that a British officer had protested against the
occupation of any part of the Indian territory for war or settlement by
the United States until all questions between Great Britain and the
United States were definitely settled.
Governor CLINTON says arms must be sent at once westward,
particularly to Ontario county, that the principle set up by the protest
"cannot for a moment be tolerated by our government, and if any
attempt should be made on the part of the British to carry it into
execution, it will be justifiable and necessary on our part to repel
force by force."
commissioners appointed to carry into operation the law directing
fortifications to be erected on our northern and western frontiers, have
fixed on the following places for erecting block-houses and pickets,
to-wit: On the western frontier--a block-house at Canandaigua, Canawagus,
on Genesee River, and at the town of Bath.
Pickets at Fort Brewerton, at Three River Point, at Geneva, at
Mud Creek, at the head of Canandaigua Lake, and at the Painted Post,
near the Pennsylvania line.
On the northern frontier--a block-house at Skeensborough, at
Willsborough, at Peru, at Plattsburgh, and at Thurman's Patent."
connection it may as well be stated that Charles WILLIAMSON had met with
a good deal of opposition.
He had been a captain in the British army, but as he was a
prisoner of war at Boston, having been captured while on his voyage to
this country, he had taken no active part in the war.
For a long time he was much mistrusted by many of the early
settlers, who remembered the cruelties they had endured during the war,
and retained a strong hatred against the British, so that up to the time
of the affair at Sodus he was looked upon by many with suspicion.
In writing about this he says: "To such an extent was this
carried that every road I talked of was said to be for the Indians and
British; every set of arms I procured--though really to enable the
settlers to defend themselves against the Indians--was said to be for
supplying the expected enemy; and the very grass seed I brought into the
country for the purpose of supplying the farmers, was seized as gun
powder going to enemies of the country."
His energy and activity in the year 1794 against the acts of the
British and Indians had much to do in gaining the confidence of the
settlers, and in the course of time this was fully accomplished.
after the affairs of Sodus, a bright and cheering ray of hope appeared,
and strong anticipations of peace and quietness prevailed.
Only a short time elapsed before the spirited onset of General
WAYNE took place, and the western Indians were so badly beaten and
completely routed, that they became demoralized, were quite humbled, and
anxiously sued for peace.
The Senecas returned completely crestfallen.
The warfare of General WAYNE was one they had been unused to; it
was impetuous, terrific and crushing, and in their imagination he seemed
more than human and inspired them with a terror that conquered
effectually as his arms.
The proud and haughty spirit of the Iroquois was humbled and
completely subdued, and they began to quietly settle down in their
villages and resumed amicable and peaceful relations with their white
neighbors and the settlers began to feel that they were once more in
peace and security.
withdrawal of the British from the State and the quiet which followed
left the region of Western New York in a condition of absolute peace,
and an era of great prosperity ensued.
From that time (1796) until the beginning of the second war with
Great Britain, the history of the county consisted chiefly of a constant
flow of immigration into the townships, and as rapidly as they were
filled, or even partially so, there came a demand for the division of
the territory and the creation of new counties.
In a preceding chapter is told the history of the frequent
divisions of old Ontario, and the number of times it was called upon to
surrender territory to new county formations.
During the period referred to the growth and development of this
region of country were almost phenomenal, but as the years immediately
preceding the war of 1812-15 were fraught with numerous political
disturbances, a feeling of bitter animosity was engendered between the
contending governments, and even in this county there arose a serious
division of sentiment which temporarily checked the tide of settlement
and turned the public attention to the affairs under discussion, to the
neglect of personal concerns.
However, this is a subject which naturally leads to a narrative
of the events of the war as they related to Ontario county; but in the
present connection these events may be very briefly treated, for this
county was not the site of any of the stirring events of the war, and
the contention therein was chiefly at the polls and in the frequent
"war" and "peace" meetings held in several of the
which led to the second war with Great Britain were numerous.
Although charged to the contrary, the United States always
carefully observed the provisions of the peace treaty made at the close
of the Revolution, and had also maintained a strict neutrality during
the progress of the Napoleonic war with the British kingdom, when
gratitude should have induced a participation in it.
For several years the aggressive acts of the British had been the
subject of anxiety and regret and finally engendered feelings of
animosity on the side of the Atlantic, and resulted in the laying of an
embargo upon shipping in American ports, but as that measure was found
injurious to commercial interests it was repealed and the
non-intercourse act passed in its stead. This,
too, was temporarily repealed, the British ambassador at the time
consenting to a withdrawal of the obnoxious "orders in
However the English government refused to ratify the agreement
and recalled her minister, whereupon the president revoked his
proclamation and again put in operation the non-intercourse act.
formally declared on the 19th of June, 1812, but the measure was not
invariably sustained throughout the Middle and Eastern States.
The opposing element was embraced in the Federal party, its chief
ground of opposition being that the country was not prepared for war.
The Federalists constituted a large and influential minority in
Congress, and had a considerable following throughout the country.
They asked for further negotiations, and met the denunciations of
the ruling party (the Democratic and Republican, for it went by both
names) upon the English government with bitter attacks upon Napoleon,
whom they accused the majority with favoring.
may have been the prevailing sentiment in Ontario county at that time
would be difficult to determine with accuracy.
However, it is very well known that a majority of the people of
Western New York were deeply interested in the American cause, and
active in their efforts both at the polls and in organizing the militia
for warlike operations.
The Federalist party in the county numbered among its members men
of wealth and influence, and its opposition measures were substantially
confined to public discussion; yet on September 10, 1812, they held a
formidable meeting at Taylor's Hotel in Canandaigua at which time
resolutions expressive of the sentiment of the party were adopted, but
no determined opposition to the war was advocated.
the year preceding the outbreak of the war, the villages of Onondaga,
Canandaigua and Batavia were made depositories for military stores,
supplies, ammunition and arms.
At that time and previously as well the entire able-bodied male
population between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years were among
the enrolled militia of the State; and in accordance with the prevailing
custom of the period the militia men of each county were expected to
meet at the general training and annual muster to perfect themselves in
the arts of war.
This precautionary measure of enrolling available militia men was
adopted soon after the Revolution for the purpose of guarding the
frontiers, should occasion therefore arise, but more particularly in
this region of country were the militia organizations desirable to repel
any sudden attack on the part of the Indians of the region.
already been stated, British troops remained in possession of the posts
at Niagara and Oswego from the close of the Revolution to 1796, from
which time they frequently attempted to incite Indian hostilities
against the Americans; and during the years preceding the War of 1812,
the same influences were again at work both in Canada and in this State,
that the Indians might be induced to declare war upon the frontier
settlements of Western New York.
Hardly a week passed during the first years of the war that
rumors of Indian outrages did not startle the inhabitants of this county
and cause them to look with anxious eyes on the half-tamed Senecas of
the region, many of whom had more than once bathed their hands in
Fortunately, however, the rumors proved false, but the terror
they inspired was none the less real.
The news of
the outbreak of the war was brought into Ontario county by express very
soon after the beginning of hostilities, and within six days thereafter
a large public meeting was held at Canandaigua for the purpose of
adopting such measures as should be necessary for the public good.
Major William SHEPARD was chosen chairman and John C. SPENCER
secretary of the meeting, and a committee of correspondence was also
appointed, comprising Nathaniel W. HOWELL, Thaddeus CHAPIN, Zachariah
SEYMOUR, Oliver L. PHELPS, John C. SPENCER, Nathaniel GORHAM, Moses
ATWATER, James SMEDLEY and Hugh JAMESON.
At this time it was decided to organize a "Citizens'
Corps," to be composed of men exempt from military duty, and who
should defend the county against a possible Indian invasion which might
occur while the militia was on the frontier.
Other equally patriotic meetings were held in East Bloomfield,
Farmington and Seneca, and at each effective measures for the defence of
the county were taken.
A noteworthy organization was that formed in the town first
mentioned, and called the "East Bloomfield Alarm Company," the
members of which determined to arm themselves, and if called upon to
hasten to the relief of any portion of the county which might be
however, the people of Ontario county were exempted from an Indian
attack during the period of the war.
On the 26th of May, 1812, Erastus GRANGER, superintendent of
Indian affairs, with interpreters Horatio JONES and Jasper PARRISH, held
a council with the chiefs of the Six Nations who were then living in the
Mr. GRANGER did not seek to enlist their services, such not being
the policy of the government, but urged them to remain neutral.
To this they agreed, but said they would send a delegation to
consult with their brethren in Canada.
RED JACKET, the renowned Seneca sachem, at first declared for
neutrality, but when the British invaded their reservation lands that
action was a signal for digging up the hatchet, and they became united
with the Americans.
However, the Indians frequently met in council before they took
up arms against the British, and on one of these occasions RED JACKET
addressed his hearers (both whites and Indians) as follows: "Our
property is taken possession of by the British and their Indian friends.
It is necessary now for us to take up the business, defend out
property and drive the enemy from it.
If we sit
still upon our seats and take no means of redress, the British,
according to the custom of you white people, will hold it by conquest.
And should you conquer the Canadas you will hold it on the same
principle, because you have taken it from the British."
council was soon afterward held, at which a formal declaration of war
was adopted and reduced to writing by an interpreter; and this was
undoubtedly the only formal declaration of war published by an Indian
the declaration, however, no considerable number of the Indians took the
field on the American side during the year 1812, and there were many of
the chiefs who were really desirous that their people should remain
outbreak of the war the militia kept marching to the frontier, there
being no apparent lack of numbers, and all were anxious to capture
Canada the next day after their arrival.
But they were quite ignorant of actual war, and the first touch
of reality chilled them to the marrow.
In one respect they were prepared for the struggle, in that the
regiments were amply provided with officers.
General Amos HALL, of Bloomfield, major-general of this division
of the State militia, was in command on the frontier for a short time,
succeeding General WADSWORTH.
On July 11 he was superseded by Major-General Stephen VAN
RENSSELAER, who established headquarters at Lewiston.
The disastrous defeat of the latter caused him to be succeeded by
General Alexander SMYTH, a regular army officer, but even he failed to
accomplish hopes for results, wherefore he resigned in December, 1812.
In April, 1813, Major-General LEWIS and Brigadier-General BOYD
arrived on the frontier and assumed command of the American troops.
officers found great difficulty in obtaining a permanent force, as the
military system of the country was in an unorganized condition, and it
was considered a remarkable thing if a volunteer should remain three
months on the frontier.
Officers were plenty, but inexperienced, those who fought in the
Revolution being generally too old for present service.
Added to these disadvantages, the country then possessed a timid,
vacillating president, and a dominant South which was unwilling to
strengthen the North and its outposts.
These were some of the reasons for the feebleness which
characterized the prosecution of the War of 1812-15.
spring of 1813 General LEWIS invited the warriors of the Six Nations to
come to his camp, and soon received three or four hundred of them under
the lead of FARMER's BROTHER.
However, it is difficult to state who was their acknowledged
leader, one account saying it was FARMER's BROTHER, and another names
Henry O'BAIL (the Young CORNPLANTER) as holding that position, while a
third authority credits YOUNG KING with being the principal war-chief.
After their enrollment by General BOYD, the Indians remained in
service a short time and then returned to their inhabitants.
from these events of the war, we may observe the movements and
disposition of the Ontario county soldiery.
During the year 1812 the local troops were on the frontier much
of the time and engaged in such movements and operations as were
required, yet the battles of the campaign were not of such a character
as to test the mettle of the county militia.
However, in 1813 the men of Ontario county were actively engaged
in the campaign in Western New York.
The report of General HALL shows that he reviewed his force in
Buffalo and that they comprised 129 mounted volunteers from Ontario
county under command of Colonel Seymour BOUGHTON; also 433 Ontario
county volunteers commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel BLAKESLIE, together
with other militia from Buffalo, Canada and Genesee county.
General HALL's command was in the battle at Black Rock, where the
Ontario militia did most of the fighting and acquitted themselves with
credit by sustaining the attack of the Royal Scots with much firmness,
but not being properly supported and finding the enemy attacking them on
two sides, they were compelled to retreat.
However, General HALL was determined to make a firm stand at the
borders of Buffalo village, but at that time the cry of "Indians
are coming" filled the men with terror and they fled precipitately.
The result was that Buffalo village was plundered and burned,
while the inhabitants of the entire region deserted their homes and
sought refuge and safety in the villages and settlements to the east.
In the campaign of the year the Ontario militia suffered severe
loss, forty of Colonel BLAKESLIE's regiment being made prisoners.
General HALL rallied two or three hundred of his discouraged
troops at Williamsville, but their services were not required, and no
further conflict followed.
The general acted with all possible energy and failed only
through the defection of his force and his own inexperience in military
destruction of Buffalo, and the threatened invasion of Genesee county,
carried dismay into every heart and suffering into every household.
The defenceless families at once abandoned their homes and
possessions and fled eastward, having no definite end in view other than
to escape death at the hands of the British and their Indian allies.
Along every thoroughfare of travel they came, foot-sore, weary
and half-starved across the border of Genesee county and into Ontario,
where they were received and cared for as well as the means of the
people would permit.
Their sufferings would have been greater had not the prompt
measures of relief been taken by the public authorities and the citizens
of more fortunate localities.
The Legislature voted $40,000 in aid of the devastated territory,
besides $5000 to the Tuscarora Indians and a like sum to residents of
Canada who were driven away from home on account of their friendship for
the United States.
The citizens of Canandaigua appointed a committee of relief, who
raised a considerable amount in that and surrounding towns, and sent
communications soliciting aid through all the country eastward.
They were promptly responded to, and liberal contributions were
raised throughout the State.
With this aid, and that of the commissary department and the
assistance of personal friends, those who remained on the frontier
managed to live through the unfortunate winter of 1813-14.
Canandaigua Relief Committee just mentioned addressed a communication to
Hon. Philip S. VAN RENSSELAER and others, of which the following is a
January 8, 1814.
county, and that part of Genesee which lies west of Batavia, are
All the settlements in a section forty miles square, and which
contained more than twelve thousand souls, are effectually broken up.
These facts you are undoubtedly acquainted with; but the
distresses they have produced none but an eye-witness can thoroughly
roads are filled with people, many of whom have been reduced from a
state of competency and good prospects to the last degree of want and
sudden was the blow by which they have been crushed that no provision
could be made either to elude or meet it.
The fugitives from Niagara county especially were dispersed under
circumstances of so much terror that in some cases mothers find
themselves wandering with strange children, and children are seen
accompanied by such as have no other sympathies with them than those of
Of the families thus separated, all the members can never again
meet in this life; for the same violence which has made them beggars has
forever deprived them of their heads, and others of their branches.
Afflictions of the mind, so deep as has been allotted to these
unhappy people, we cannot cure.
They can probably be subdued only by His power who can wipe away
all tears. But
shall we not endeavor to assuage them?
To their bodily wants we can certainly administer.
The inhabitants of this village have made large contributions for
their relief, in provisions, clothing and money, and we have been
appointed, among other things, to solicit further relief from them from
our wealthy and liberal-minded fellow-citizens.
In pursuance of this appointment, we may ask you, gentlemen, to
interest yourselves particularly in their behalf.
We believe that no occasion has ever occurred in our country
which presented stronger claims upon individual benevolence, and we
humbly trust that whoever is willing to answer these claims will always
entitle himself to the precious reward of active charity.
We are, gentlemen, with great respect,
Committee of Safety and Relief at Canandaigua.
campaign for 1814 was a remarkable contrast to those of the previous
years of the war.
Early in April there came to the general rendezvous
(Williamsville) Brigadier-General Winfield SCOTT, followed soon after by
Major-General BROWN, the latter having been ordered to command the army
that should be collected in Western New York.
His force consisted of two brigades of regulars under Generals
SCOTT and RIPLEY, and one of volunteers under General P. B. PORTER.
This was composed of 500 Pennsylvanians, 600 New York volunteers,
all of whom had not arrived when movements began, and nearly 600
In General PORTER's command were the Ontario county militia.
They took part in the capture of Fort Erie, the battle of
Chippewa, Lundy's Lane, Conjockety Creek and the later attack and
attempted capture, by the British, of Fort Erie.
The fort was relieved and saved, however, by the splendid action
of General PORTER and his Western New York and Pennsylvania volunteers.
Very high credit was given to General PORTER for his eloquence in
engaging the volunteers, and his skill in leading them.
The press sounded his praises, the citizens of Batavia tendered
him a dinner, the governor brevetted him major-general, and Congress
voted him a gold medal.
of the siege of Fort Erie was substantially the close of war on the New
York frontier, and all the troops except a small guard were withdrawn
from Fort Erie.
During the following winter commissioners were endeavoring to
negotiate a treaty of peace at Ghent, and there was a universal desire
for their success, for in Western New York at least the people had had
enough of the glories of war.
The victory at New Orleans was soon afterward followed by the
signing of the treaty at Ghent, and everywhere was immediately spread
the welcome news of peace.
present chapter we have already stated that the early settlement of
Ontario county was somewhat retarded by the events of the War of 1812
and the years immediately preceding it.
A glance at the records of the war will suffice to show why this
was so. But,
notwithstanding the fact that settlement and development may for the
time have been checked, they were by no means suspended; and it is a
fact that regardless of adverse circumstances and unfortunate events the
growth in the county's population, even during the decade in which the
war took place, was almost remarkable.
In proof of this we may with interest refer to the population of
the county at different periods.
the year following that in which Ontario was separated from the mother
county, the census enumeration of the several towns showed that the
number inhabitants in the entire county, with its 6,600,000 acres, was
only 1081. Ten
years later, in 1800, the territory of the county had been materially
reduced by the erection of Steuben county, notwithstanding which the
census of that year showed Ontario to have 15,218 inhabitants.
During the next ten years, the county of Genesee was created,
taking within its boundaries almost half of the original territory of
Ontario, nevertheless the census of 1810 gave the latter county a
population of 42,032.
By 1820 the number of inhabitants had increased to 88,267, as
shown by the census of that year.
Between 1820 and 1830 the area of this county was still further
reduced by the erection of Livingstone, Monroe, Yates and Wayne
counties, and the enumeration of the last named year naturally showed a
less population, the number then being 40,167.
curtailment of the county's territory has since been made, and the
fluctuations of population, as shown by the several federal census
enumerations, have been as follows:
In 1840, 43,501; 1850, 43,929; 1860, 44,563; 1870, 45,108; 1880,
49,541; 1890, 48,453.
Created by Dianne Thomas
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