Historical Souvenir of Mexico,
Oswego County, NY
Many thanks and appreciation to Esther
Rancier for contributing this information. Esther is researching in
Richland and Mexico the Soul/Soule,Brace and Daniel
P. Smith families, and would appreciate hearing from anyone researching
"BRITISH DESERTERS ALONG LAKE ONTARIO"
Deserters assisted by Mexico settlers: the "Blind Trail" to the Little Salmon River. For some years after the close of the Revolutionary War the British occupied the post at Oswego and there were frequent desertions from that army. Settlers living along the Ontario lake shore, the country thereabouts then being sparsely settled, sympathized with deserters, largely because of their natural antipathy to an enemy with whom they had for a long time been at war, and whom they desired to injure. So that wherever there was a cabin within reach of the British posts it was occasionally subjected to a sudden and rigorous search for deserters by a party of red-coats. This was the case in the eastern part of the town of Mexico where a few log cabins stood, at Vera Cruz which had suddenly sprung into being, and further north between the Salmon River and Sandy Creek; and especially along the latter stream - a country into which the settlers were now penetrating.
Deserters from the posts on the St. Lawrence frequently made their way West to the lake, sometimes as hands employed on sailing vessels and other times by retreating along timber paths and depending upon the good services of the American settlers. There was what was called "a blind trail," used to facilitate the escape of these men into the heart of the state, which during 1790-'94 was used frequently. To strike directly south from the St. Lawrence River was impossible owing to the vast stretch of uninhabited country, for the fringe of settlements that had to be reached to insure safety extended across the center of the state following the Mohawk River to Fort Stanwix, with an interim of woods to Onondaga and at infrequent distances west from there into the new county of Ontario. So in order to subsist while effecting their escape the poor wretches from the river posts headed west. They were always warmly received, fed and piloted on from house to house, as was the case later with slaves from the South, a half century later who, heading for Canada, came north by way of Syracuse. Sometimes a party of Indians fishing at the mouth of the Salmon River, usually the Oneidas, were induced to pilot the British refugee to Fort Stanwix; but usually he worked as far west as Little Salmon River where during the earliest period following the war were a few cabins and from there was piloted across country to Fort Brewerton, thence south to Salina and Onondaga Hollow, the two frontier hamlets in existence during the years mentioned.
SOURCE: "Grips" Historical Souvenir of Mexico, N.Y.  p. 27.
2002 Esther Rancier