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I i 1 1.4 
















1 884. 

The reproduction of this book has been 
made possible throue^ the sponsorship 
of the Western New York Genealogical 
Society, Inc., Hambuig, N.Y. 




A Reproduction by 

Unigraphic, Inc. 

1401 North Fares Avenue 

Evansville, Indiana 47711 

nineteen hundred and seventy-six 




CHAPTER l,^T/u Subject-^ Beginning of Erie County's History —When it was Named — 

Its Boundaries — Its Area — The System Pursued 13 

CHAPTER II.— A>f> Giw«/yij» 1620— Topography — Level Land in the North— Rolling 
Land in the Center — Flills South of Center — Fertile Lands in Extreme South — 
River and Lake — Creeks — Character of Forests — Old Prairies — The Animal 
Kingdom — The Buffalo- The Neuter Nation — The Erics — The Hurons- The 
Iroquois — Former Occupants — FortiBcations — Weapons — Inferences — The 
French in Canada — The Puritans in New England — The Dutch in New York 15 

CHAPTER 111.— Ffvm 1620 to 1655 — The French Traders — Dutch Progress — The Jesuits 

— De la Roche Daillon — The Company of a Hundred Partners — Capture and 
Restoration of New France — Chaumonot and Breboeuf — Hunting Buffalo — 
Destruction of the Kahquahs and Eries — Seneca Tradition — French Account — 
Norman Hatchets — Stoned-up Springs 23 

CHAPTER IV. — r^/ Iroquois — Their System of Clans — Its Importance — Its Probable Ori- 
gin — The Grand Council — Sachems and War-Chiefs — Method of Descent — 
Choice of Sachems — Religion — Natural Attributes — Family Relations 27 

CHAPTER v.— />w« 1655 to 1679 — The Iroquois Triumphant — Obliteration of Dutch 
Power — French Progress — La Salle Visits the Senecas — Greenhalgh's Estimates 

— La Salle on the Niagara — Building of the Griffin— It Enters Lake Erie — La 
Salle's Subsequent Career — The Prospect in 1670 33 

CHAPTER VI.— French Dominion— A Slight Ascendency — De Nonville*s Assault — Origin 
of Fort Niagara — La Hontan^s Expedition — The Peace of Ryswick — Queen 
Anne's War — The Iroquois Neutral — The Tuscaroras — Joncaire — Fort Niagara 
Rebuilt — French Power Increasing — Successive Wars — The Line of Posts — The 
Final Struggle — The Expedition of D' Aubrey — The Result — The Surrender of 
Canada ^ 38 

CHAPTER VIL—^«^/w^ Dominion — Vonix^ic's League — The Senecas Hostile — The 
Devil's Hole — Battle near Buffalo — Treaty at Niagara — Bradstreet's Expedition 

— Israel Putnam — Lake Commerce — Wreck of the Beaver — Tryon County — The 
Revolution — Four Iroquois Tribes Hostile — The Oswego Treaty — Scalps — 
Brant — Guienguahioh — Wyoming — Cherry Valley — Sullivan's Expedition — Sen- 
ecas Settle in Erie County — Gilbert Family — Peace 45 

CHAPTER Will.— From 1783 to 1788 —Treatment of the Six Nations — The -Treaty of Fort 
Stanwix — The Western Boundary — Origin of the Name of. Buffalo — Miss PowelPs 
Visit — *'. Captain David" — Claims of New York and Massachusetts — How Set- 
tled—Sale to Phelps and Gorham — The Land Rings — A Council Cilled 55 

CHAPTER l\.— The a>««a7— Brant — Butler— Kirkland — Phelps — Farmer's Brother — 

Red Jacket — Cornplanter — The Mill Seat — The Bargain — Butler's Pay 61 

CHAPTER X.—From 1788 to 1797— *'Skendyoughwatti" — First White Resident — A Son 
of Africa — The Holland Purchase — Proctor's Visit — British Influence — Woman's 
Rights — Final Failure — The Indians Insolent — Wayne's Victory — •Johnston, 
Middaugh and Lane — The Forts Surrendered — Asa Ransom — The Mother's 
Strategy- First White Child— The Indians Sell out— Reservations. 67 

History of Erie County. 

CHAPTER XI.— Survey ami Settlement —Tht Holland Company — Three Sets of Proprietor 

— Their System of Survey — The State Reservation — The West Transit — The 
Founder of Buffalo — The First Road — Indian Trails — New Amsterdam — Hotel 
at Clarence — A Young Stranger — Ellicott Made Agent — First Wheat — The Office 
at Pine Grove — A Hard Problem — The first Purchase — Dubious Records — An 
Aboriginal Engineer — A Venerable Mansion — Chapin*s Project — The First Mag- 
istrate 75 

CHAPTER Xll.— From 1802 to 1807— Formation of Genesee County — First Murder— First 
Town Meeting — Primitive Balloting — The Big Tree Road — Buffalo Surveyed — 
Dr. Chapin — Erastus Granger — The Pioneer of the South Town — A Hard Trip 

— Snow Shoes — Division of Batavia — Willink — Erie — Settlement of Boston — 
An Ancient Fort — Settlement of East Hambuig — Of Evans — Of Aurora — Of 
Lancaster — Le Couteulx and Pratt — First Postoffice — Oiganization of Willink — 
Erie Town-Book — A Primitive Mill — Warren and Williams — A Tavern in Evans 

— A Grist-mill in Hamburg — A Four Days* Raising — First Meeting-house in the 
County — A Mill in Aurora — Settlement in Wales — First Methodist Society — A 
Traveling Ballot Box — First Erie County Lawyer — Chivalry at a Discount 84 

CHAPTER XIII. — Re-orgarngatioH — Division of Genesee County Necessary — Inconvenient 
Towns — Captain Bemis* Strategy — Erection of Niagara, Cattaraugus and Chautau- 
qua Counties — Short Courts — Town Changes — Clarence — Willink — Destruction 
of the Town of Erie — Actual Beginning of Erie County — First Officers — Attorneys 

— Court House 97 

CHKVTY.KXW.—Pumeers and Indians —-Voytxiy -^ Kn Aristocratic Mansion— A Horse 
Bedstead — Oxen — A Raising — Clearing Land — The Logging Bee — The Rail 
Fence —The Bam —The Well —The Sweep— Browse — Sheep and Wolves— Sugar 
Making — Money Scarce — Wheat and Tea — Potash — Sociid Life — Schools — 
The Husking Bee '—Buffalo Society — Indians — Describing a Tavern — Old King 
and Young Smoke — Anecdotes of Red Jacket 100 

CHAPTER XV.— From 1808 to the »^flr— Organization of Clarence — Settlement of Cheek- 
^ towaga — Settlement on Cayuga Creek — Progress in the Towns — A Pioneer Fun- 
eral — Glezen Fillmore — Porter, Barton & Company — ''The Horn Breeze" — 
Census of 1810— Town of ** Buffaloe '* — New Militia Regiments — Peter B. Porter 
— The Ogden Company — Settlement of Alden — The Beaver's Cannon — Settle- 
ment of Colden — First Settler of Gowanda — The Buffalo Gautte — Feminine 
Names — Old-time Books — An Erudite Captain — Advertisements for Workmen — 
** A Delinquent and a Villain*' — Morals and Lotteries — The Medical Societies — 
A P>deral Committee — Division of Willink — Hamburg, Eden and Concord — 
Approach of War — Militia Officers — An Indian Council — A Vessel Captured — 
The War Begun 113 

CHAVTEKXVl.— The Campaign of 1 81 2 — Confusion— ** Silver Greys"— The Queen 
CAariotte — The Charlotte Taken — Fear of Indians — Red Jacket's Logic — 
Iroquois Declaration of War — Capture of two British Vessels — The First Victim 
of War — Black Rock Bombarded — The Queenston Failure — Smyth's Proclama- 
tion — A Gallant Vanguard — A Vacillating General — Invasion Relinquished — An 
Erie Cdunty Duel — A Riot Among the Soldiers — Political Matters — Quiet 125 

CHAPTER XVII.— r;!/ Campaign of 1813 — The Young Commodore — Officers and Com- 
mitteemen — Hunters Caught — Canada Invaded — Transition Period of Our Mili- 
tary System — Surrender at Beaver Dams — Chapin's Exploit — Indians Enrolled — 
Farmer's Brother and the Marauders — A Raid and its Repulse — Skirmishing at Fort 
George — Perry's Victory — More Skirmishing — Burning of Newark — McClure 
Runs Away — Fort Niagara Captured — Danger Impending 136 


CHAPTER XVIII. — Sword and Fire — Number of Troops — The Enemy's Approach — Move- 
ments in Defense — ChapinV Wrath — Attack and Repulse — Another with Same 
Result — Blakeslie's Advance— Battle of Black Rock — The Retreat— The Flight 

— Universal Confusion — ** The Indians ! the Indians !" — Attempt at Defense — 
Chapin's Negotiation — The Village in Flame^ — Murder of Mrs. Lovejoy — The 
Enemy Retire — The Slain — McClure ♦.o Blame — The Flight in the Country — 
The Buffalo Road — The Big Tree Road — Successive Vacancies — Exaggerated 
Reports — Return of the British — More Burning — The Enemy at Hodge^s and 
Cold Spring — The Scene at Reese's — Harris Hill — Relief 148 

CHAPTER XIX. — r-*^ Campaign of i^i^— Mars and Hymen — Scott and Brown — Elections 
and Appointments — Discipline at Buffalo — The Death Penalty — The Advance — 
Capture of Fort Erie — Approaching Chippewa — An Indian Battle — A Retreat — 
A Dismounted Young Brave — Victor)' — Scalps — " Hard Tiroes " — Advance to 
Fort George — Return — Lundy's Lane— The Romance of War — Retreat to Fort 
Erie — ** Battle of Conjockety Creek " — Assault on Fort Erie — The Explosion — 
Call for Volunteers — The Response — The Track through the Forest — The Sortie 

— Gallantr)' of the Volunteers — General Porter — Quiet — Peace 159 

CHAPTER XX.—From the War to tJu Division of the County — The Situation — Red Jacket's 

Speech — General Porter — Tracy and Wilkcson — Another Newspaper — First Mur- 
der Trial — The Old Court House — Scarce Money — First Bank — The Cold Sum- 
mer — Marshal Grouchy and Red Jacket — Senecas in England — A President's 
Visit — Terrible Roads — Indian Sufferers — Religious Improvement — Father 
Spencer — The Erie Canal — Political Factions — First Steamboat — First Framed 
Church Edifice — The Boundary Commission — Attempt to Buy the Reservations — 
Red Jacket's Opposition — The Second Execution — The Grand Island War— Clin- 
tonians and Bucktails— Slavery in Erie County — Census of 1820 — Division of Towns, 175 

CHAPTER XXL— /Jn»OT FormaHon of Erie County until 1830— The New County — Niagara 
Perpetuated — Change of Characteristics — Towns and Postoffices — Wolves and 
Hunters — A Supine Cleopatra — Pigeons — Buffalo and Black Rock — So-on-ongise 
and Kauquatau — A Crime of Superstition — A Remarkable Trial — Resignation 
of Ellicott — Beginning the Canal — New Constitution — A Future President — 
Alden and Erie — Paying for Land in Produce — The Three Thayers — LaFayette's 
Visit — Noah and Ararat — Completion of the Canal — Purchase of Part of the Res- 
ervations — The Morgan Excitement — Shooting Niagara — Impeachment of Red 
Jacket — An Erie County Cabinet Officer — Anti-Masonry — Census of 1830 — Post- 
offices — General Appearance — Death of Red Jacket 190 

CHAPTER XXII.— /WW 1831 to 1840— ** The Year that Holt was Hung " — Erie and New- 
stead — German Immigrants — Mary Jemisoh — Incorporation of Buffalo — Politics 
— The Cholera — Commercial Prosperity — Inflation — Speculative Collapse — Form- 
ation of Tonawanda— General Gloom — An ** Agrarian Convention" — Opposition 
to the Holland Company — The Patriot War — Camp on Navy Island — Destruction 
of the Catoline — Militia Called Out — Scott on the Frontier — Dispersion of the 
Patriots — An Expedition to Erie— North and the Volunteers — Patriotism on Ice 

— Capturing Cannon — Final Dispersion — Bargaining for the Reservations — Du- 
bious Proceedings — Formation of Brant and Black Rock — The Harrison Cam- 
paign — Population in-i840 ■. 20S 

CHAPTER yiyAW.—From 1841 to i860— Slow Recovery— First Railroad— The Indian Troitty 
Confirmed — A Compromise — Buffalo Creek Reservation Surrendered — Cattaraugus 
and Allegany Reservations Retained — Tonawanda Reservation Bought and Given to 
Indians — New Settlements — Mr, Fillmore a Candidate for Governor — General Pros- 
perity — New Constitution — The Buffalo Convention — Mr. Fillmore Elected Vice- 
President — He Succeeds to the Presidency — Census of 1850 — The Ebenezer Society 

— German Immigrants — Increased Prosperity — Formation of West Seneca — Ex- 
tension of Buffalo — Formation of Collins, Marilla and Grand Island — Political 
Changes — The Census of 1857 — Formation of Elma — Campaign of i860 222 

History of Erie County. 

CHAPTER X\l\.— During and Since tht Union War^ The Outbreak— The First Com- 
pany—The Militia — First Eric County Regiment — Other Organizations — 'Eric 
County in Congress — Origin of the *' Greenbacks" — Another Regiment in 1862 — 
Changes in the Board of Supervisors — Events of 1864 — Close of the War — Numer- 
ous Political Changes — The Commercial Barometer — Conclusion of Continuous 
History 234 

CHAPTER WW .— Twenty-Jirst Infantry and Other Regiments— 'Tlk^F'\x%i Company— Four 
Companies go to Elmira — The Rest Follow — Oi^ganization of the Regiment — 
Roster of Officers — Dispute about Length of Term — Men Imprisoned — Off to 
Washington — In Garrison at Fort Runyon — Bull's Run — In Wadsworth*s Brigade 

— At Upton Hill through the Winter— Fort Buffalo — Parting with Wadsworth — 
Operations in the Spring — The Twenty-first at Fredericksburg — Its Farthest South- 
em Point — Weary Marches — Conflict of July 28th— Second Bull Run — Hard 
Fighting — Attacking a Railroad Embankment — Men Falling Fast — The Attack 
Repulsed — The Fight Continued — Pope's Army Defeated — Heavy Losses of the 
Twenty-first — Sufferings of the Wounded — The Twenty- first at South Mountain — 
At Antietam — Driving the Enemy — The Campaign of Fredericksburg — Provost 
Duty — Return Home and Discharge — Changes Among Officers — Final Roster — 
Thirty-third Infantry — Richmond Guards — In Virginia — Brigaded with the Forty- 
ninth— The Thirty-third at Yorklown — At Golden's Farm — At Mary's Heights — 
Discharge — Forty-fourth Infantry — Company A — Battles of the Regiment — 
Changes Among Officers of Company A 240 

CHAPTER XXWl.— Forty-ninth Infantry and Other Regiments — OrgSin'MtLtion of the Forty- 
ninth — Roster of Officers — To New York and Washington — Preparation — Move- 
ment to the Peninsula — Williamsburg — Gallantry of the Forty-ninth — Mechanics- 
ville — The Retreat — Return to Alexandria — Too Late for Second Bull Run — 
Antietam — Fredericksburg — Chancellorsville — Capture of Mary*s Heights — Re- 
crossing the Rappahannock — Accession from the Thirty-third — Extraordinary 
March — Gettysburg — Winter Quarters — The Great Campaign — Wilderness — 
Spottsylvania — Cold Harbor — Heavy Losses — Fort Stevens — On the Shenandoah 

— Opequan Creek — Discharge of Non-Veterans — Consolidation into a Battalion — 
Cedar Creek — Death of Bidwell — Back to Petersburg — Capture of the I^st Strong- 
hold — Return and Discharge — Roster of Officers at Muster-out — List of Battles — 
Sixty-fourth Infantry — Company A, from Erie County — Its Battles — Various 
Officers — Seventy-eighth Infantry — One Company from Erie County — Its Battles, 

etc 250 

CHAPTER XXVll.— One Hundredth Infantry— K New Regiment Authorized— Recruiting 
Commissioners — Camp Morgan — Colonel Brown — Roster of Officers — Homes of 
the Men — Off to Washington — On the Peninsula — Williamsburg — Battle of Fair 
Oaks — Colonel Brown's Coolness — ''Charge the One Hundredth" — Deadly Con- 
flict — Death of Brown — Other Losses — Valor of Casey's Division — Retreat of the 
Enemy — March to the James River — Malvern Hills — The Regiment Adopted by 
the Board of Trade — To Gloucester Point — Colonel Dandy — Removal to North 
Carolina — To South Carolina — Charleston Harbor — Folly Island — Capture of 
Part of Moms Island — Assault on Fort Wagner — Second Assault — Valor of the 
One Hundredth — Desperate Fighting — Repulse — Heavy Losses^ — The Siege — 
Captain Payne's Services — Capture of Wagner — Through the Winter — Return 
North — In the ** Army of the James" — Surprised and Driven Back — ** Ware Bot- 
tom Church" — North of the James — Capturing a Battery — Before Petersburg — 
Across the James Again — Winter Quarters — Again Before Petersburg — Capture of 
Fort Gregg — Final Victory — Official Changes — Consolidation — Discharge — 
Final Roster 259 


CHAPTER XXVIII.— Off/ Hundred and Sixteenth Infantry and Other ^e^ments — Commit- 
tee to Raise a New Regiment — Major Chapin Appointed Colonel — Roster of Oflfi- 
cers — To the Front — At Sea — Ship Island — Baton Rouge — Demonstration 
against Port Hudson — *'Camp Niagara" — Forward Again — Battle of *' Plain 
Store** — Assault on Port Hudson — Death of Chapin — Siege of Port Hudson — 
The Surrender— Down the River— At Fort Williams — To Sabine Pass and Back 
— Western I^uisiana — The Red River Expedition — Battle of Pleasant Hill — 
Return to Alexandria — To Morgansa — At Sea Again — At Washington — In the 
Shenandoah Valley — Victory at Opequan Creek — At Fisher's Hill — The Army 
Surprised at Cedar Creek — Sheridan Restores the Battle — The One Hundred 
and Sixteenth the Best Regiment in the Ninetieth Corps — Mustered Out — 
Reception at Buffalo — The Last Roster of Officers — The One Hundred and Fifty- 
fifth Infantry — Services in Virginia — One Hundred and Sixty-fourth Infantry — 
Its Battles — Its Losses— One Hundred and Eighty-seventh Infantry •» Roster of 
Officers — Services — Discharge 273 

CHAPTER XXIX.— Cavalry and Artiiiery yo/unteers — Tenth Cavalry— Four Erie County 
Companies — Their Officers — Hard Service — Battles — Consolidation — Muster- 
out — Promotion, etc. — Eleventh Cavalry — Company M — Its Services — Twelfth 
Cavalry — Companies K and M — Services — Muster-out — Fourteenth Cavalry — 
Metcalf s Company — Its Services — Consolidation, etc, — Sixteenth Cavalry — Four 
Erie County Companies — Services — Consolidation, etc. — Twenty-fourth Cavalry 
— Three Erie County Companies— Their Officers — Battles of the Regiment — 
Muster-out — Second Mounted Rifles — Three Erie County Companies — Officers — 
Battles, etc. — Wiedrich's Battery — Its Organization — Battle of Cross-Keys — Sec- 
ond Bull Run — Chancellorsville — Gettysburgh — Lookout Mountain — The Atlanta 
Campaign — Final Grand March — Twenty-seventh Light Battery — Services and 
Officers — Third Light Battery 290 

CHAPTER XXX.— ri/ atizen 5i?/</i>f7— The Early Militia— "General Trainings "— Early 
Organization — Changes in 18 16 — Numerous Successive Changes — A Stranj^e 
Looking Inspector — A Court Martial — A Roster of 1828 — The Militia in the 
Patriot War— Prompt Turn-out — Buffalo City Guard— The Two Hundred and 
Eighth Infantry — Re-organization of the Militia — The Uniformed Regiments — 
The Sixty-seventh Regiment — Its Services — The Ninety-eighth Regiment — Its 
Services — Sketch of the Sixty- fifth Regiment — Sketch of the Seventy-fourth Regi- 
ment — The Seventh Battery 296 

CHAPTER XXXI.— The Erie Canai— Its First Advocate, Jesse Hawley — Gouvemeur Mor- 
ris — Hawley's Essays — Western Inland Lock Navigation Company — Judge For- 
man's Resolution — Survey Ordered — Commissioners Appointed — The Inland 
Route Adopted — Law Authorizing Canal — Law Repealed During Year of 1812 — 
DeWitt Clinton — Canal Law* of 1817 — Ground Broken — Contest between Black 
Ruck and Buffalo -^Decision in Favor of Buffalo — First Work in Erie County — 
Breaking Ground at Buffalo — The Canal Completed -- Grand Celebration — Tele- 
graphing by Cannon — The Wedding of Waters — Description of the Canal — Im- 
menise Business — Enlargement Authorized — Work on it Stopped — Political Conflict 
— The Enlargement Carried Through — Description of the Enlarged Canal — Its 
Cost — Preparation to Sell the Canals — The Canals Relieved of Tolls 306 

CHAPTER XXXII.— ^aiAvo^x — Charter of Buffalo & Aurora Railroad Company — First 
Railroad Built —The Lake Shore — The Buffalo & Rochester— Formation of the 
New York Central — The Buffalo & Pittsburg — The Buffalo & Allegany Valley— 
The Canada Southern — The Buffalo & Jamestown — New York, Chicago & St. 
Louis — Buffalo, Pittsburg & Western — New York, Lackawanna & Western — 
Rochester & Pittsburg — New York, West Shore & Buffalo — The Lehigh Valley— 
General View 314 

8 History of Erie County. 


CHAPTER XXXIII.— Erie County AgricuUural Society-- Niagara County Agricultural So- 
ciety—Officers and Town Managers — First Fair — Change of Name — Decease of the 
Society — Revival in 1841 — First Fair of the New Society — Second Fair — ** Ham- 
burg Cheese*'— Report for 1843 — For 1845 — The State Fair of 1848— Great Suc- 
cess — Another County Fair it Buffalo — First County Fair in the Country Towns 
held at Aurora — First Charge for Admission — Horace Greeley's Address — Re- 
Organization in 1856 — Ground Leased Near the Indian Church — Officers for Suc- 
cessive Years — Efforts to Change Location — Purchase of Land — Value of the 
Property — The Grounds 321 

CHAPTER XXXIV.— C<?«ii/^ Buildings ---YKt^X Court House — A Circular Plot — First 
Jail — Destruction of the Court House — Another Erected — The Second Jail — Eric 
County Penitentiary — The Third Court House — Erie County Alms House— Move- 
ment for a County and City Hall — Law Authorizing It — Commissioners Appointed 

— Franklin Square Selected — Ground Broken — Laying the Corner Stone — 
Changes of Material — The Work Completed — Celebration of the Event — Descrip- 
tion of the Building — The New Jail 334 

CHAPTER XXXV. —aV«/ List — President — Vice-President — Secretary 6f War — Post- 
master-General — Foreign Ministers — United States Judge — United States District 
Attorney — Clerks of the District Court — Superintendent of Public Printing Office — 
Members of the House of Representatives — Presidential Electors — Generals of the 
Regular Army — Governor of New York — Lieutenant-Governor — Secretary of 
State — Attorney-General — Comptrollers — State Treasurers — Canal Commission- 
ers — Injector of State Prisons — Superintendent of Public Instruction — Regent 
of the University — Canal Appraisers — Judge of the Court of Claims — Circuit Judge 

— Judges of the Supreme Court — Member of the Council of Appointment — State 
Senators — Members of Assembly — Members of Constitutional Conventions — First 
Judges of the Common Pleas — County Judges — Sheriffs — County Clerks — Dis- 
trict Attorneys — Surrogates — County Treasurers — School Commissioners 339 

CHAPTER XXXVL— Geology of Erie County 350 

CHAPTER XXXVII.— History of the Town of Newstead 359 

CHAPTER XXXVIII.— History of the Town of Clarence 379 

CHAPTER XXXIX.— History of the Town of Amherst 396 

CHAPTER XL.— History of the Town of Tonawanda 412 

CHAPTER XLL— History of the Town of Grand Island 426 

CHAPTER XLIL— History of the Town of Alden 438 

CHAPTER XLIIL— History of the Town of Lancaster 452 

CHAPTER XLIV.— History of the Town of Checktowaga 466 

CHAPTERXLV.— History of the Town of Marilla 476 

CHAPTER XLVI.— History of the Town of Elma 489 

CHAPTER XLVIL— History of the Town of West Seneca 501 

CHAPTER XLVIIL— History of the Town of Hamburg 511 

CHAPTER XLIX.— History of the Town of East Hamburg 524 

CHAPTER L.— History of the Town of Aurora 535 

CHAPTER LI.— History of the Tojjcn of Wales 561 

CHAPTER LII.— History of the Town of Evans 571 

CHAPTER LIU.— History of the Town of Eden 583 

CHAPTER LIV.— History of the Town of Boston... 592 

CHAPTER LV.— History of the Town of Golden 601 

CHAPTER LVL— History of the Town of Holland 607 

CHAPTER LVII.— History of the Town of Sardinia 617 

CHAPTER LVIIL— History of the Town of Brant 623 

CHAPTER LIX— History of the Town of Concord , 630 

CHAPTER LX. — History of the Town of Collins 645 

CHA-PTER LXL— History of the Town of North Collins. 656 

CHAPTER LXII.— Personal Sketches 666 




Allen, Lewis F., portrait, facing 426 

Allen, Ellery S., Elma, portrait, facing 496 

Allen, Dr. Jabez, Aurora, portrait, facing 548 

Allen, Orlando, portrait facing 322 

Baker, Benjamin, East Hamburg, facing 534 

Bartholomew, Chauncey, Cheektowaga, 

portrait, facing 470 

Bowman, Palmer S., Lancaster, facing 452 

Bigelow, H. F., Amherst, portrait, facing 406 

Bird, Col. William A., portrait, facing 184 

Briggs, J. B., Elma, portrait, facing 490 

Campbell, John B.. Cheektowaga, facing 472 

Dodge, J. Wayne, Amherst, (steel.)... facing 402 

Driggs, Urial, Tonawanda, (steel,) facing 420 

Dunn, A. M., Cheektowaga, portrait,.. facing 468 

EUicott, Joseph, portrait, facing 76 

Eshleman, John, Clarence, portrait facing 388 

Eshleman, Jacob, Clarence, portrait,. ..facing 390 

Famsworth, Jerry, Alden, portrait, facing 450 

Flood, Joseph P., Manila, portrait,.... facing 484 | 

Foster, H. T., Marilla, portrait, facing 486 

Haven, Solomon C, portrait, facing 228 

Hitchcock, Apollos, Cheektowaga, ....facing 466 

Hitchcock, James, Cheektowaga, facing 474 

Hoag, Wilber N., Newstead, (steel,).. facing 378 

Hodge, William, portrait, (steel,) facing 156 

Hopkins, T. S., Amherst, portrait facing 398 

Hopkins, T. A., Amherst, portrait,... facing 410 
Hunt, Garret B., Clarence, portrait,... facing 380 

Hurd, C. W., Elma, portrait, facing 492 

Johnson, Dr. Ebenezer, portrait, facing 122 

Kraus, John, Clarence, portrait, facing 392 

Long, Isaac, Hamburg, portrait, facing 518 

McBeth Dr. John, Wales, portrait facing 570 

Marvel, Alfred. Elma, portrait, facing 498 

Nice, John, Grand Island, (steel,) facing 438 

Parker, Dr. Jared, Clarence, portrait... facing 386 

Penfield, Henry F., portrait, facing 676 

Potter, Samuel, M. D., Lancaster, 

portrait, (steel) facing 460 

Randall, Rev. William H., Amherst,... facing 412 
Rich, Charles S., Holland, portrait,... facing 616 

Robinson William, Alden, facing 446 

Riley, Gen. Aaron, Aurora, portrait,., facing 558 
Sanford, Anson, Lancaster, portrait,... facing 464 
Smith, Elisha, M. D., East Hambuig,. facing 532 

Simson, John, Tonawanda, (steel,) facing 424 

Spaulding, E. G., portrait, (steel) facing 236 

Stedman, Jonathan, Marilla, portrait, . facing 488 
Vaughan, Jesse, Cheektowaga, portrait, .facing 476 
Walden, Ebenezer, porft-ait, (steel,).... facing 96 
Williams, Wesley, Clarence, port rait,., facing 394 

Wiltse, Livingston G., Clarence, facing 396 

Wilkeson, Samuel, portrait, (steel) facing 176 

BIOGI^ApHjiC/'yL St^EjChjES. 


Allen, Ellery S., Elma, 496 

Allen, Lewis Falley, 7or 

Allen, Dr. Jabez, Aurora, 558 

Allen, Orlando, 666 

Baker, Benjamin, East Hamburg, facing 534 

Bartholomew, Chauncey, Cheektowaga, 471 

Bowman Palmer S., Lancaster, 465 

Bigelow, Harry Forest^ Amherst, 406 

Bird, Colonel William A , 699 


B"ggSi Joseph Bensori, Elma, 499 

Campbell, John B., Cheektowaga, 472 

Dodge, J. Wayne, Amherst 409 

I^"ggs, Urial, Tonawanda, 424 

Dunn, A. M. Cheektowaga, 473 

Eshleman, John, Clarence, 395 

Eshleman, Jacob, Clarence, 391 

Farnsworth, Jerry, Alden, 450 

Fillmore, Millard, 689 


History ok Erie County. 


FWxL Jo«epli P., Manila, ^.•.•.••^.•. 484 

Foster, Harruoo T^ Manila, <..«<^.... 4S5 

Haven, holomoD G., 670 

Hitcbcock, ApoUoft, Cheek tovaga, 473 

BiuJicodk. Jaaet, Cheektovaga 474 

Hcog, Wilber N.. Newstead, 378 

H'^pkios GcneraJ Timothj S., Ambent, 410 

Hof^ios. Hoo, Timothy A., Amhent, 411 

HttDt, Gan'et B,, Clarence, 393 

Hnrd. CUfk W.. Elma, 497 

JohnsoD, Dr, Ebenczer, 674 

Kraiu, John, Claxcnce, 391 

Ixmgt Ivtac, Hambarg, 523 

McBetb, Dt, John, Wales, 570 

Manrel, AKred, Elma, 498 

Kkc, John, Gnod Island, 438 


Ptoko; Dr. Jared, Claience, 393 

Pfwfio, Hciiiy r.,... ..•«.m....m.. ..•.•.•..•••• 070 

Potter, Samnel, M. D.. Lancaster. 466 

Randall, Rer. Wm. H., Ambent, ...... 412 

Rich, CkaiicsS.. Holland, 616 

Riley, Gen. Aaioo, Aorofa, .... .......... 558 

Robinson, William, Alden, 451 

Sanfocd, Anson, Lancaster, 464 

Simsoo, John, Tooa vanda, 425 

Snttb, Dr. Elisha, East Hambnig, . ...fadng 534 

SprakEuic, Elbridge Gerry 677 

Stedman, Jonathan. Manila, 4SS 

Yaagfaan, Jesse, Cheektowaga, 475 

Williams, W^eslcy, Clarence, 394 

WHkeson, Samuel, 682 

Wiltse, Livingston C, Clarence, 395 

||MJROD JcjlO|s| 

In attempting the production of a History of Buffalo and Erie 
County, the pubhshers did not underestimate the difficulties and the 
magnitude of their task. Although the county is not a very old one, as 
the years are counted since its first permanent settlement by white peo- 
ple, it has, nevertheless, seen more than three-fourths of a century of civ- 
ilized occupation ; and in this new world, as it is called, the settlement 
and growth of towns, villages and cities and the occurrence of import- 
ant events in their progress, have advanced with almost marvelous ra- 
pidity, while the materials for history have accumulated in a correspond- 
ing ratio. Especially is this true of localities as favorable for the upbuild- 
ing of great commercial centres as that contiguous to the foot of the 
ffreat system of American lakes. Moreover, the fact that the Niagara 
rontier, which was the theatre of desperate conflict, devastation and 
conflagration in the war of 1812, embraced the territory considered 
in this work, gives it a historic importance which is lacking in many 
localities. With these facts in view, and fully appreciating the im- 
portance of their object, the task of making a History of Buffalo and 
Erie County was undertaken by the publishers with a determination to 
leave nothing undone, to spare no labor or expense that could in any 
manner contribute to the successful and creditable accomplishment of 
the work. Whether or not they have succeeded in the task, and what 
measure of congratulation they are entitled to, are questions that are 
left with confidence to the future critical judgment of readers. 

The extent and comprehensiveness of this work were such as to 
necessitate its division into two volumes, the history of the county and 
towns being placed in the first, and that of the city in the second volume. 
This arrangement of the work rendered necessary some minor repeti- 
tions in the narration of events that each volume might be made in a rea- 
sonable degree complete in itself. For the same reason much of the Indian 
and pioneer history of the site of Buffalo, of the village itself and of the 
war during which the village was destroyed, is necessarily incorporated 
in the eany general history of the county in the first volume. Much 
valuable early history of the city will also be found in the later chapters 
of the secona volume treating upon special topics, is embodied 
for the purpose of making the record of those chapters complete ; thus 
rendering it unnecessary that the same facts should be given prominence 
in the earlier chapters. The same may also be said in relation to the bio- 
graphic portion of the work, which will be found unusually comprehensive 
and complete, embracing much that is valuable in a purely historic sense. 
The history in detail of Buffalo, previous to the war of 181 2, must always 
remain somewhat restricted, owmg to the entire destruction of the village 
with nearly all of the possessions of its inhabitants, by the British and 
Indians in 1813- 14. These facts will be duly considered by readers when 
referring to the earl}' history of the village and city as recorded in the 
second volume. 

12 History of Erie County. 

It is believed that the history of the county at large, and of the towns 
as presented in the first volume, will give entire satisfaction to all who 
peruse it. The utmost efforts of the publishers and their corps of writers 
who had that portion of the work in hand, were devoted to making it 
complete, comprehensive and correct. Every hamlet in the county was 
visited, records were searched, old residents interviewed and everything 
possible done that could in any manner add to the publication. 

It was a part of the plans of the publishers that a large portion of 
this work should either emanate directly from the pens ot able writers 
upon the different local historical subjects, whose lives have been largely 
passed in Buffalo and other parts of the county, or else be submitted to 
them for inspection, criticism and revision. This plan has been faith- 
fully carried out, to the manifest great improvement of the work ; and 
the thanks of readers, publishers and editor alike are due for generous 
co-operation in this respect on the part of Hon. James Sheldon, First 
Judge of the Superior Court of Buffalo, for the preparation of the ex- 
haustive chapter on the Bench and Bar of the county; to M. Pinner, 
Esq., and Gen. John C. Graves for what is, perhaps, the most complete 
county record of the Masonic Order that has ever been published ; to 
Dr. James B. Samo for the very able and judicious history of the Medical 
Profession and Institutions of the county, 'as related to the Allopathic 
school ; to members of the Homeopathic Medical Society for similar work 
relative to the Homeopathic School ; to Dr. S. B. Freeman for a compre- 
hensive account of the progress of dentistry in the county ; to Hon. Philip 
Becker, Dr. Daniel Devening, Dr. F. Dellenbaugh and other prominent 
German citizens, for their revision and final approval of the chapter devoted 
to the German interests ; and for similar inspection and approval of the 
respective chapters connected with their names, to Pascal P. Pratt, chap- 
ter on the Park system of the city ; to William H. Abell, President of the 
Western Elevating Company, r. G. Cook, Secretary of the same, and 
Robert Dunbar, chapter on the Elevator Interest of Buffalo ; to Henry 
Martin, President of the Manufacturers* and Traders* Bank, Hon. E. 
G. Spaulding, President of the Farmers' and Mechanics* National 
Bank, and James H. Madison, Cashier of the Manufacturers* and 
Traders' Bank, chapter on the financial institutions of the city ; to 
William Hod^e and Lewis F. Allen, for chapter on Cemeteries ; to 
Edward B. Smith and other prominent insurance men, for chapter on that 
interest ; to Ephraim F. Cook, former superintendent of schools, and oth- 
ers, chapter on the educational institutions of Buffalo ; to E. O. Van Brock- 
lin. Secretary of the Board of Fire Commissioners, and others connected 
with the department, chapter on the Fire Department ; to Thomas Curtin, 
superintendent of police, and other police officials, for records of that 
department ; to the pastors of the numerous city churches, for valua- 
ble aid in preparing the exhaustive church history of the city ; to the 
editors and proprietors of the various newspapers, for assistance in mak- 
ing a creditable history of local journalism; to Crisfield Johnson, of East 
Aurora, for valuable aid in the preparation of the county and town history, 
nearly all of which has passed under his critical revisfon ; to Hon. Lewis 
F. Alien for the history of Grand Island and other valuable assistance. 

In addition to the above names mentioned, there is recorded a list so 
long as to absolutely preclude its publication here, of prominent persons, 
official, professional and private citizens, who have in various ways \' indly 
aided in making this publication what it is, and who share equally in our 
grateful acknowledgments. 

[-|isTORy or [^RiE QoJ[Nijy^ 



Beginning of Erie County's History— When it was Named— Its Boundaries — Its Area — The 
System Pursued. 

THE history of the county of Erie begins about the year 1620, when 
the first Europeans visited its vicinity. In that year three French 
Catholic missionaries came to instruct the Indians living in Canada, 
northwestward of this locality. It does not appear that they visited the 
shores of the Niagara, but they obtained some information regarding 
the dwellers there, and that knowledge was eked out by the hardy 
French hunters and trappers who explored the shores of the great lakes 
in search of furs. Before that time all is either tradition or inference. 
Afterwards, although the historic trace is often extremely faint, yet it is 
still to be seen, growing gradually plainer Tor a hundred and eighty 
years, until in the beginning of the present century it swells into a broad 
and beaten pathway, trodden by the feet of scores of surveyors, of hun- 
dreds of pioneers, of thousands of farmers, of tens of thousands of all 
classes, conditions and nationalities. 

But Erie county was not organized with its present name and 
boundaries until 1821. The larger and the more interesting part of 
its history had at that time already taken place. It is necessary, there- 
fore, to point out that the subject of this work is the territory com- 
prised within the present bounds of the county of Erie, together with 
the inhabitants of that territory, no matter whether the events re- 
corded occurred before or after the beginning of the independent ex- 
istence of the county. 


14 History of Erie County. 

The county of Erie, in the State of New York, is situated between 42° 
25' and 43" 6 of north latitude, and between i** 30' and 2** 20' of longitude 
west from Washington. It is bounded on the north by the center of 
Tonawanda creek and by the center of the east branch of Niagara river 
(between Grand Island and Niagara county) from the mouth of the Tona- 
wanda to the junction with the west branch on the west by the line 
between the United States and Canada, from the junction up along the 
center of the west branch and of the whole river to Lake Erie, and 
thence southwesterly along the middle of the lake to a point where the 
international boundary makes a right angle with a line to the mouth of 
Cattaraugus creek ; on the south by a line from such point of intersection 
to the mouth of the Cattaraugus, and thence up along the center of that 
creek to the crossing of the line between the fourth and fifth ranges of 
the Holland Company's survey ; and on the east by the line between 
those ranges, from Cattaraugus creek to the Tonawanda creek, except 
that for six miles opposite the town of Marilla the county line is a mile 
and a quarter west of the range line. 

The range line is twenty-three miles east of the center of Niagara 
river at the foot of Lake Erie, and thirty-four and a half miles east of the 
mouth of Cattaraugus creek. The extreme length of the county north 
and south is forty-three and one-half miles, and its greatest width, includ- 
ing the lake portion, is about thirty-nine miles. The land surface contains 
one thousand and seventy-one square miles. Besides this it embraces, as 
we have seen, a considerable portion of Lake Erie, amounting as near as 
we can compute it to about a hundred and sixty square miles. This is 
not generally included in the county, but legally is as much a part of it 
as Tonawanda or Sardinia. The whole amounts to about twelve hun- 
dred and thirty square miles. 

We have been thus particular in designating the limits of the county 
in the beginning, in order to place the subject of this history clearly be- 
fore the reader. Whatever has existed or occurred within those limits, 
or has been done by the residents of that territory, comes within the pur- 
view of this work, and if of sufficient consequence will be duly noticed. 
It will be necessary, also, to refer occasionally to outside matters, in 
order to elucidate the history of the county and show the succession of 
events. Such extraneous references, however, will be very brief, and 
will be confined chiefly to a few of the earlier chapters. 

When " Erie county " is spoken of previous to the organization and 
naming of that county, it will be understood that the words are used to 
avoid circumlocution, and mean the territory now included within its 
boundaries. So, too, for convenience, the territory now comprised in a 
town will sometimes be mentioned by its present name, before any such 
town was in existence. 

Topography. 15 



Topography — Level Land in the North — Rolling Land in the Center — Hills South of Center — 
Fertile Lands in Extreme South — River and L.ake — Creeks — Character of Forests — Old 
Prairies — The Animal Kingdom — The Buffalo — The Neuter Nation — The Eries — The 
Hurons — The Iroquois — Former Occupants — Fortifications — Weapons — Inferences — 
The French in Canada — The Puritans in New England — The Dutch in New York. 

BEFORE beginning the record of events, we will give a brief descrip- 
tion of Erie County together with its occupants, its neighbors, and 
its relations with the rest of the world, as these existed two hundred 
and sixty-three years ago when the first white men came into this 

The topography or configuration of the surface of the county is the 
same now as then and may be described in the present tense. North of 
the limestone ledge the land is almost perfectly level, and near the Tona- 
wanda was originally swampy. The soil is a deep alluvial loam, and the 
appearance of the country at the present time reminds the traveler of the 
broad, rich bottom of western rivers. 

South of the ledge for ten or twelve miles, the land though more un- 
even than north of it, is not so much so as is usual east of the AUeghanies 
and in its cleared state bears a considerable Resemblance to the upland 
prairies of the West. The soil is a clayey loam interspersed with gravel. 

A little further south the surface becomes moderately broken and 
the soil gravelly. These are the characteristics of the central parts of 
the county. 

Still further south the ground except near the lake shore, begins to 
rise in hills, which at length attain a height of from seven to nine hun- 
dred feet above the lake. Between these hills run deep valleys, bearing 
northwestward toward the lake and varying from a few rods to nearly a 
mile in width. The tops of the hills generally form level table-lands, 
covered with a stiff clayey soil, while a fertile alluvial loam is found in 
the valleys. Along the lake shore, however, and for several miles back 
the land is as level as in the northern portions of the county. 

As any one passes from the table-lands just mentioned toward the 
southern boundary of the county, the surface descends and a fertile, 
rolling country again spreads out before him. Just before reaching 
Cattaraugus creek there is a range of steep declivities and rugged bluffs 
now known as the " Cattaraugus breakers," which extend the whole width 
of the county. Below these is only a narrow flat, portions of which are 
often overflowed by the turbulent waters of the Cattaraugus. 

i6 History of Erie County. 

West of the northern part of the territory we have described, the 
Niagara river runs in a very rapid current for a mile after it leaves 
Lake Erie, then subsides to a velocity of two and a half miles per hour, 
and divides into two streams about five miles below the lake, enclosing 
Grand Island, ten miles long and nearly as wide. Buckhorn Island, lying 
off the farthest point of Grand Island, continues the county's jurisdiction 
about a mile farther down, bringing it within three miles of the world- 
renowned cataract of Niagara. 

South of the head of the river, for six or seven miles, the lower end 
of the lake crowds still father eastward upon the land ; thence the shore 
trends away to the southwest, far beyond the limits of Erie county. 

Across the county run numerous creeks, the general course of all 
of them being westward or northwestward, and all finally mingling their 
waters with Lake Erie or the Niagara river. Tonawanda creek, as has 
been said, is the northern boundary of the county. Its length, according 
to the general course of its valley and aside from its lesser windings, is 
near sixty miles, thirty of which it has run in Genesee county when it 
strikes the northwestern corner of Erie. On its way to the Niagara, 
which it reaches opposite the middle of Grand Island, the Tonawanda is 
joined in Erie county by Murder creek, a stream about ten miles long, 
some four miles from the Genesee county-line ; by Ransom's creek, about 
fifteen miles long, which empties some twelve miles farther down ; and 
just above its mouth the Tonawanda is joined by EUicott or Eleven-Mile 
creek, which is not less than twenty-five miles in length. All, including 
the Tonawanda, head south of the limestone terrace, Murder creek break- 
ing through it at the village of Akron, Ransom's creek at Clarence Hol- 
low, and EUicott creek at Williamsville. 

Scajaquada creek enters the Niagara two miles below its exit from 
the lake, having flowed about fifteen miles in a westerly direction. 

About a mile and a half above the head of the river the principal 
stream of the county flows into Lake Erie. This is Buffalo creek, or 
Buffalo river as it is now sometimes called. It is composed of three 
principal branches. The central one, commonly called the Big Buffalo, 
heads in Wyoming county, crosses mto the present town of Wales in 
Erie county, after a course of a few miles, then runs northwestward about 
fifteen miles, and then westward fifteen or eighteen miles more to its 
mouth. Six miles from the lake it receives Cayuga creek from the 
northeast, that stream having followed a general westward course of 
about twenty miles. Two or three miles lower down it is joined on the 
other side by Cazenove* creek, which heads in the extreme southeast 
corner of the county, and flows thirty miles northwest, receiving, about 

• Not " Cazenov'ia.' as it is frequently printed. It was named by Joseph EUicott after The- 
cph.lus C azenove, the hrst general agent of the Holland Company, and this is not a case where the 
term-nation of the original name can properly be modified. 

Early Forest GRO^YTH. 17 

half way down, the waters of the west branch which have run in a gen- 
erally northern direction for fifteen miles. 

All these distances are merely approximate, and relate to the general 
course of the respective streams, and not to their minor curves. 

Five miles south from the mouth of the Buffalo, Smoke's creek, a 
twelve-mile stream, enters the lake, and a mile or two further up is Rush 
creek, which is still smaller. 

The north branch of Eighteen-Mile creek heads near the south 
bounds of the county, not far from the head of the west branch of the 
Cazenove, runs northwesterly twelve miles, then nearly west about five 
miles, where it is joined by the south branch, a stream about twelve miles 
long, and then the whole flows five miles westerly, and enters the lake 
about eighteen miles from the mouth of the Buffalo. 

Eight miles above its mouth is that of the Big Sister, a stream some 
fifteen miles long. 

The Cattaraugus forms the southern boundary of the county for thirty 
miles, and it heads some ten miles east of the county line. Though it 
makes a considerable bend to the southward, its mouth is nearly due 
west of its head. Its tributaries in this county are all small, the largest 
being Clear creek, a twelve-mile stream entering the Cattaraugus eight 
miles from its mouth. There are of course innumerable small brooks 
which cannot be mentioned in a cursory topographical sketch. 

Thus far the natural characteristics of Erie county are the same now 
that they were in 1620, and had been for unknown ages before, save that 
less water flows along the streams, than when their banks were shaded 
by the primeval forests. Some new names have been applied by the 
white man, but in many cases even the names remain unchanged. 

The outward dress, however, of these hills and valleys is widely dif- 
ferent from what it was two centuries and a half ago. In the southern 
part of the county the valleys were covered with beech and maple, the 
hills with oak and elm and occasional bodies of pine, and a little farther 
north with large quantities of hemlock. In the center the pine increased 
in quantity, the land on both sides of Buffalo creek and its branches being 
largely occupied by towering pines of the finest quality. In the northern 
section hardwood trees again predominated, the low grounds north of 
the limestone ledge bemg thickly covered. Birch appeared in large 
quantities on the Tonawanda. Throughout the county the various 
species named were more or less mtermingled, and numerous other 
kinds were found in smaller quantities. 

But the tract running east and west through the county for some 
ten miles south of the limestone ledge, was the most peculiar. Here the 
timber was principally oak, but a considerable part of the territory con- 
sisted of openings, or prairies, entirely bare of trees. It is difficult to as- 
certain their original extent, but there is no doubt that when the country 

1 8 History of Erie County. 

was first settled eighty-three years ago, there were numerous prairies of 
from fifty acres each down to five. Taking this fact in connection with 
the accounts of early travelers, it is almost certain that their extent had 
been gradually ' decreasing, and that a hundred and fifty years earlier 
nearly the whole of the tract in question was an open prairie. 

The animal kingdom was amply represented. The deer strayed in 
great numbers through the forest and darted across the prairies. In the 
thickest retreats the gray wolf made his lair. The black bear often rolled 
his unwieldly form beneath the nut-bearing trees, and occasionally the 
wild scream of the panther, fiercest of American beasts, startled the Indian 
hunter into even more than his usual vigilance. The hedge-hog and the 
raccoon were common, and squirrels of various kinds leaped gaily on the 
trees. Here the wild turkey and the partridge oft furnished food for the 
family of the red hunter, pigeons in enormous quantities yearly made 
their summer home, numerous smaller birds fluttered among the trees, 
the eagle occasionally swept overhead from his eyrie by the great 
cataract, and besides some harmless varieties of reptiles, thousands of 
deadly rattlesnakes hissed and writhed among the rocks in the northern 
portion of the county. 

Of all these there is no question. But there has been much dispute 
as to whether the lordliest of American beasts ever honored with his 
presence the localities which bear his name ; whether the buffalo ever 
drank from the waters of Buffalo creek, or rested on the site of Buffalo 
city. The question will be discussed some chapters further on ; at pres- 
ent we will only say that judging from the prairie-like nature of a portion 
of the ground, from the fact that the animal in question certainly roamed 
over territory but a little way west of us, from the accounts of early 
travelers, from relics which have been discovered, and from the name 
which we believe the Indians bestowed on the principal stream of this 
vicinity, we have little doubt that the county of Erie was, in 1620, at least 
occasionally visited by the pride of the western plains, the unwieldly but 
majestic buffalo. 

For buffalo, not " bison," we consider to be now his true name, and 
by it he will invariably be called in this volume. If his name was ever 
bison, it has been changed by the sovereign people of America, (all names 
may be changed by the law-making power,) and it is but hopeless 
pedantry to attempt to revive that appellation. 

In 1620, the county of Erie was in the possession of a tribe of Indians 
whom the French called the Neuter Nation. Their Indian name is given 
by some early travelers as Kahquah, and by some as Attiwondaronk. 
The former is the one by which they are generally known, and which we 
have adopted. 

The French called them the Neuter Nation because they lived at 
peace with the fierce tribes which dwelt on either side of them. They 

The Aboriginal Occupants. 19 

were reported by their first European visitors to number twelve thousand 
souls. This, however, was doubtless a very great exaggeration, as that 
number was greater than was to be found among all the six nations of the 
Iroquois in the day of their greatest glory. It is a universal habit to ex- 
aggerate the number of barbarians, who cover much ground and make a 
large show in comparison with their real strength. 

They were undoubtedly, however, a large and powerful nation, as 
size and power were estimated among Indian tribes. Their villages lay 
on both sides of the Niagara, chiefly the western. There was also a 
Kahquah village near the mouth of Eighteen-Mile creek, and perhaps one 
or two others on the south shore of Lake Erie. 

The greater part of that shore, however, was occupied by the tribe 
from which the lake derives its name, the Eries. This name is always 
mentioned by the early French writers as meaning " Cat.** On Sauson's 
map, published in 1651, Lake Erie is called "Lac du Chat,** Lake of the 
Cat. There were certainly no domestic cats among the Indians until in- 
troduced by the whites, and the name must be attributed to the wild-cat 
or panther. It may have been assumed by this tribe because its warriors 
thought themselves as ferocious as these animals, or may have been 
assigned to them by their neighbors because of the abundance of wild- 
cats and panthers in the territory occupied by the Eries. 

Northwest of the Neuter Nation dwelt the Algonquins or Hurons, 
reaching to the shores of the great lake which bears their name, while to 
the eastward was the home of those powerful confederates whose fame 
has extended throughout the world, whose civil polity has been the won- 
der of sages, whose warlike achievements have compelled the admiration 
of soldiers, whose eloquence has thrilled the hearts of the most cultivated 
hearers, the brave, sagacious and far-dreaded Iroquois. They then con- 
sisted of but five nations, and their " Long House,*' as they termed their 
confederacy, extended from east t'o west, through all the rich central por- 
tion of the present State of New York. The Mohawks were in the fertile 
valley of the Mohawk river; the Oneidas, the most peaceful of the con- 
federates, were beside the lake, the name of which still keeps their memory 
green ; then as now the territory of the Onondagas was the gathering place 
of leaders, though State conventions have taken the place of the council 
fires which once blazed near the site of Syracuse ; the Cayugas kept 
guard over the beautiful lake which now bears their name, while west- 
ward from Seneca lake ranged the fierce, untamable Sonnonthouans, 
better known as Senecas, the warriors /ar excellence of the confederacy. 
Their villages reached westward to within thirty or forty miles of the 
Niagara, or to the vicinity of the present village of Batavia. 

Deadly war prevailed between the Iroquois and the Hurons, and the 
hostility between the former and the Eries was scarcely less fervent. 
Betwixt these contending foemen the peaceful Kahquahs long maintained 

20 History of Erie County. 

their neutrality, and the warriors of the East, of the Northwest and of 
the Southwest suppressed their hatred for the time, as they met by 
the council fires of these aboriginal peace-makers. When first discov- 
ered, Erie county was the land of quiet, while tempests raged around. 

Like other Indian tribes, the Kahquahs guarded against surprise by 
placing their villages a short distance back from any navigable water; 
in this case, from the Niagara river and Lake Erie. One of those vil- 
lages was named Onguiaalira, after the mighty torrent which they desig- 
nated by that name — a name which has since been shortened into Niagara. 

In dress, food and Customs, the Kahquahs do not appear to have 
differed much from the other savages around them ; wearing the same 
scanty covering of skins, living principally on meat killed in the chase, 
but raising patches of Indian corn, beans and gourds. 

Such were the inhabitants of Erie county, and such their surround- 
ings, at the beginning of its history. 

As for the still earlier occupants of the county, we shall dilate very 
little upon them, for there is really very little from which one can draw 
a reasonable inference. The Iroquois and the Hurons had been in New 
York and Canada for at least twenty years before the opening of this 
history, and probably for a hundred years more. Their earliest Euro- 
pean visitors heard no story of their having recently migrated from 
other lands, and they certainly would have heard it had any such fact 
existed. There were some vague traditions among the Iroquois tending 
to show that they originally came from Canada, but at a period long 
before their discovery by the whites. The Kahquahs must also have 
been for a goodly time in this locality, or they could not have acquired 
the influence necessary to maintain their neutrality between such fierce 

All or any of these tribes might have been on the ground they occu- 
pied in 1620 any time from a hundred to a thousand years, for all that can 
be learned from any reliable source. Much has been written of mounds, 
fortifications, bones, relics, etc., usually supposed to have belonged to 
some half-civilized people of gigantic size, who lived here before the In- 
dians, but there is ver)- little evidence to justify the supposition. 

It is true that numerous earthworks, evidently intended for fortifica- 
tions, have been found in Erie county, as in other parts of Western New 
York, enclosing from two to ten acres each, and covered with forest trees, 
the concentric circles of which indicate an age of from two hundred to 
five hundred years, with other evidences of a still earlier growth. These 
prove with reasonable certainty that there were human inhabitants here 
several hundred years ago, and that they found it necessary thus to de- 
fend themselves against their enemies, but not that those inhabitants were 
of an essentially different race from the Indians who were discovered 
here by the earliest Europeans. 

Indian Occupation. 21 

It has been suggested that the Indians never built breast-works, and 
that these fortifications were beyond their patience and skill. But they 
certainly did build palisades, frequently requiring much labor and inge- 
nuity. When the French first came to Montreal, they discovered an In- 
dian town of fifty huts, which was encompassed by three lines of palisades 
some thirty feet high, with one well-secured entrance. On the inside was 
a rampart of timber, ascended by ladders, and supplied with heaps of 
stones ready to cast at an enemy. When Samuel de Champlain, the founder 
of Canada, at the head ot a large body of Hurons and accompanied by 
ten Frenchmen, attacked the principal village of the Onondagas, near 
Onondaga lake, in October, 1615, he found it defended by four rows of 
interlaced palisades, so strong that notwithstanding the number of his 
followers, the firearms of his Frenchmen and his own gallant leadership, 
he was unable to overcome the resistance of the Onondagas, and was 
compelled to retreat across Lake Ontario. 

Certainly, those who had the necessar}'. patience, skill and industry 
to build such works as those were quite capable of building entrench- 
ments of earth. In fact, one of the largest fortresses of Western New 
York, known as Fort Hill, in the town of Le Roy, Genesee county, con- 
tained, when first discovered, great piles of round stones, evidently in- 
tended for use against assailants, and showing about the same progress 
in the art of war as was evinced by the palisade-builders. 

True, the Iroquois, when first discovered, did not build forts of earth, 
but it is much more likely that they had abandoned them in the course 
of improvement for the more convenient palisade, than that a whole race 
of half-civilized men had disappeared from the country, leaving no other 
trace than these earthworks. Considering the light weapons then in 
vogue, the palisade was an improvement on the earthwork, offering equal 
resistance to missiles and much greater resistance to escalade. 

Men are not apt to display a superfluity of wisdom in dealing with 
such problems, and to reject simple explanations merely because they are 
simple. The Indians were here when the country was discovered, and 
so were the earthworks, and what evidence there is goes to show that 
the former constructed the latter. 

It has been claimed that human bones of gigantic size have been 
discovered, but when the evidence is sifted, and the constant tendency 
to exaggerate is taken into account, there will be found no reason to be- 
lieve that they were relics of any other race than the American Indians. 

The numerous small axes or hatchets which have been found through- 
out Western New York were unquestionably of French origin, and so, 
too, doubtless, were the few other utensils of metal which have been dis- 
covered in this vicinity. 

On the whole, we may safely conclude that, while it is by no means 
impossible that some race altogether different from the Indians existed 

22 History of Erie County. 

here before them, there is no good evidence that such was the case, 
and the strong probabilities are that if there was any such race it 
was inferior rather than superior to the people discovered here by the 

The relations of this region to the European powers in 1620 were of 
a very indefinite description. James I. was on the throne of England, 
and Louis XIII. was on that of France, with the great Richelieu Jis his 
prime minister. In 1534, nearly a century before the opening of this 
history, and only forty-two years after the discovery of America, the 
French explorer, Jacques Cartier, had sailed up the St. Lawrence to Mon- 
treal, and taken possession of all the country round about on behalf of 
Francis I, by the name of New France. He made some attempts at col- 
onization, but in 1543 they were all abandoned, and for more than half a 
century the disturbed condition of France prevented further progress in 

In 1603, Champlain had led an expedition to Quebec, had made a per- 
manent settlement there, and in fact had founded the colony of Canada. 
From Quebec and Montreal, which was soon after founded, communica^ 
tion was comparatively easy along the course of the St. Lawrence and 
Lake Ontario, and even up Lake Erie after a portage around the Falls. 
Thus it was that the French fur-traders and missionaries reached the 
borders of Erie county far in advance of any other explorers. 

In 1606, King James had granted to an association of Englishmen 
called the Plymouth Company the territory of New England, but no 
permanent settlement was made until the 9th day of November, 1620, when 
from the historic Mayflower the Pilgrim Fathers landed on Plymouth 
Rock. The English settlements were expected to stretch westward to 
the Pacific or Great South Sea, and patents were granted to accommo- 
date this liberal expansion. 

In 1609, the English navigator, Henry Hudson, while in the employ 
of the Dutch East India Company, had discovered the river which bears 
his name, and since then the Dutch (or Hollanders) had established forti- 
fied trading posts at its mouth and at Albany, and had opened a com- 
merce in furs. The}', too, made an indefinite claim of territory 

All European nations at that time recognized the right of discovery as 
constituting a valid title to lands occupied only by scattered barbarians, 
but there were numerous disputes as to application, and especially as to 
the amount of surrounding country which each discoverer could claim 
on behalf of his sovereign. 

Thus at the end of 1620 there were three distinct streams of emigra- 
tion with three attendant claims of sovereignty, converging toward the 
county of Erie. Let but the French at Montreal, the English in Massa- 
chusetts, and the Dutch on the Hudson all continue the work of coloni- 

Early French Missionaries. 23 

zation, following the great natural channels, and all would ultimately 
meet at the foot of Lake Erie. 

For the time being the French had the best opportunity and the 
Dutch the next, while the English were apparently third in the race. 



Tbe French Traders — Dutch Progress — The Jesuits — De la Roche Daillon — The Company of a 
Hundred Partners -<' Capture and Restoration of New France — Chaumonot and Breboeuf — 
Hnnting BufiFalo — Destruction of the Kahquahs and Eries — Seneca Tradition — French 
Account — Norman Hatchets — Stoned- up Springs. 

DURING the first twenty years little occurred directly affecting 
the history of Erie county, though events were constantly happen- 
ing which aided in shaping its destinies. Wc learn from casual 
remarks of Catholic writers that the French traders, traversed all this 
region in their search for furs, and even urged their light bateaux still 
farther up the lakes. 

In 1623 permanent Duch emigration, as distinguished from mere 
fur-trading expeditions, first began upon the Hudson. The colony was 
named New Netherlands, and the first governor was sent thither by the 
Batavian Republic. 

In 1625 a few Jesuits arrived on the banks of the St. Lawrence, the 
advance guard of a host of representatives of that remarkable order, which 
was in time to crowd out almost all other Catholic missionaries from 
Canada and the whole lake region, and substantially monopolize the 
ground themselves. 

In 1626 Father De la Roche Daillon, a Recollect missionary, visited 
the Neuter Nation, and passed the winter preaching the gospel among 

In 1627 Cardinal Richelieu organized the company of New France, 
otherwise known as the Company of a Hundred Partners. The three 
chief objects of this association were to extend the fur trade, to convert 
the Indians to Christianity, and to discover a new route to China by way 
of the great lakes of North America. The company actually succeeded 
in extending the fur trade, but not in going to China by way of Lake 
Erie, and not to any great extent in converting the Indians. 

By the terms of their charter they were to transport six thousand 
emigrants to Canada and to furnish them with an ample supply of both 

24 History of Erie County. 

priests and artisans. Charoplain was made governor. His first two 
years* experience was bitter in the extreme. The British men-of-war 
captured his supplies by sea, the Iroquois warriors tomahawked his hun- 
ters by land, and in 1629 an English fleet sailed up the St. Lawrence and 
captured Quebec. Soon afterward however, peace was concluded, New 
France was restored to King Louis and Champlain resumed his guber- 
natorial powers. 

In 1628, Charles I., of England, granted a charter for the govern- 
ment of the province of Massachusetts Bay. It included the territory 
between latitude 40° 2' and 44^ 15' north, extending from the Atlantic to 
the Pacific, making a colony a hundred and fifty-four miles wide and four 
thousand miles long. The county of Erie was included within its limits, 
as was the rest of Western New York. 

The Jesuit missionaries, fired with unbounded zeal and unsurpassed 
valor, traversed the wilderness, holding up the cross before the bewildered 
pagans. They naturally had much better success with the Hurons than 
with the Iroquois, whom Champlain had wantonly and foolishly attacked 
in order to please the Hurons and who afterwards remained the almost 
unvarying enemies of the French. 

The Jesuits soon had flourishing stations as far west as Lake Huron. 
One of these was Ste. Marie, near the eastern extremity of that lake, and 
it was from Ste. Marie that Fathers Breboeuf andChaumonot set forth in 
November 1840, to visit the Neuter Nation. They returned the next 
spring, having visited eighteen Kahquah villages, but having met with 
very little encouragement among them. They reported the Neuter In- 
dians to be stronger and finer-looking than other savages with whom they 
were acquainted. 

In 1 64 1, Father L'Allemant wrote to the Jesuit provincial in France, 
describing the expedition of Breboeuf and Chaumonot, and one of his 
expressions goes far to settle the question whether the buffalo ever in- 
habited this part of the country. He says of the Neuter Nation, repeat- 
ing the information just obtained from the two missionaries : " They are 
much employed in hunting deer, buffalo, wild-cats, wolves, beaver and 
other animals.** There is no mention of the missionaries crossing the 
Niagara, and perhaps they did not, but the presence of buffalo in the Cana- 
dian peninsula increases the likelihood of their sometimes visiting the 
banks of Buffalo creek. 

Down to this time the Kahquahs had succeeded in maintaining their 
neutrality between the fierce beligerents on either side, though the Jesuit 
missionaries reported them as being more friendl}- to the Iroquois than 
to the Hurons. What cause of quarrel, if any, arose between the peace- 
ful possessors of Erie county and their whilom friends, the powerful con- 
federates to the eastward, is entirely unknown, but sometime during the 
next fifteen years the Iroquois fell upon both the Kahquahs and the Eries 
and exterminated them as a nation, from the face of the earth. 

Destruction of the Eries. 25 

The precise years in which these events occurred are uncertain, nor 
is it known whether the Kahquahs or the Eries first felt the deadly anger 
of the Five Nations. French accounts favor the view that the Neuter 
Nation were first destroyed, while according to Seneca tradition the 
Kahquahs still dwelt here when the Iroquois annihilated the Eries. That 
tradition runs somewhat as follows : — 

The Eries had been jealous of the Iroquois from the time the latter 
formed their confederacy. About the time under consideration the Eries 
challenged their rivals to a grand game of ball, a hundred men on a side, 
for a heavy stake of furs and wampum. For two successive years the 
challenge was declined, but when it was again repeated it was accepted 
by the confederates, and their chosen hundred met their opponents near 
the site of the city of Buffalo. 

They defeated the Eries in ball playing, and then the latter proposed 
a foot-race between ten of the fleetest young men on each side. Again 
the Iroquois were victorious. Then the Kahquahs, who resided near 
Eighteen-Mile creek, invited the contestants to their home. While there 
the chief of the Eries proposed a wrestling match between ten champions 
on each side, the victor in each match to have the privilege of knocking 
out his adversary's brains with his tomahawk. This challenge, too, was 
accepted, though, as the veracious Iroquois historians assert, with no in- 
tention of claiming the forfeit if successful. 

In the first bout the Iroquois wrestler threw his antagonist, but de- 
clined to play the part of executioner. The chief of the Eries, infuriated 
by his champion's defeat, himself struck the unfortunate wrestler dead, 
as he lay supine where the victor had flung him. Another and another 
of the Eries was in the same way conquered by the Iroquois, and in the 
same way dispatched by his wrathful chief. By this time the Eries were 
in a state of terrific excitement, and the leader of the confederates, fearing 
an outbreak, ordered his followers to take up their march toward home, 
which they did with no further collision. 

But the jealousy and hatred of the Eries was still more inflamed by 
defeat, and they soon laid a plan to surprise, and if possible destroy, the 
Iroquois. A Seneca woman, who had married among the Eries but was 
then a widow, fled to her own people and gave notice of the attack. 
Runners were at once sent out, and all the Iroquois were assembled and 
led forth to meet the invaders. 

The two bodies met near Honeoye Lake, half-way between Canan- 
daigua and the Genesee. After a terrible conflict the Eries were totally 
defeated, the flying remnants pursued to their homes by the victorious con- 
federates, and the whole nation almost completely destroyed. It was five 
months before the Iroquois warriors returned from the deadly pursuit. 

Afterwards a powerful party of the descendants of the Eries came 
from the far west to attack the Iroquois, but were utterly defeated and 

26 History of Erie County. 

slain to a man, near the site of Buffalo, their bodies burned, and the ashes 
buried in a mound, lately visible, near the old Indian church on the Buf- 
falo Creek reservation. 

Such is the tradition. It is a very nice story — for the Iroquois. 
According to their account their opponents were the aggressors through- 
out, the young men of the Five Nations were invariably victorious in 
the athletic games, anfl nothing but self-preservation induced them to 
destroy their enemies. 

Nothing, of course, can be learned from such a story regarding the 
merits of the war. It does, however, tend to show that the two great 
battles between the combatants were fought near the territory of the 
Senecas, and that some at least of the Kahquahs were still living at the 
mouth of Eighteen-Mile creek at the time of the destruction of the Eries, 
but it is not very reliable even on these points. 

On the other hand, scattered French accounts go to show that the 
Kahquahs were destroyed first ; that they joined the Iroquois in warfare 
against the Hurons, but were unable to avert their own fate; that col- 
lisions occurred between them and their allies of the Five Nations in 
1647 and that open war broke out in 1650, resulting in the speedy de- 
struction of the Kahquahs. Also that the Iroquois then swooped down 
upon the Eries and exterminated them about the year 1653. Some ac- 
counts make the destruction of the Neuter Nation as early as 1642. 

Amid these conflicting statements it is only certain that between 
1640 and 1655 the fierce confederates of Central New York "put out the 
fires " of the Kahquahs and the Eries. It is said that a few of the former 
tribe were absorbed into the community of their conquerors, and it is 
quite likely that some of both nations escaped to the westward, and, wan- 
dering there, inspired the tribes of that region with their own fear and 
hatred of the terrible Iroquois. 

It is highly probable that the numerous iron hatchets which have 
been picked up in various parts of the county belonged to the unfortu- 
nate Kahquahs. They are undoubtedly of French manufacture, and sim- 
ilar instruments are used in Normandy to this day. Hundreds of them 
have been found in the valley of Cazenove creek and on the adjacent hills, 
a mile or two south of East Aurora village. Many more have been foupd 
in Hamburg, Boston and other parts of the county. 

They are all made on substantially the same pattern, the blade being 
three or four inches wide on the edge, running back and narrowing 
slightly for about six inches, when the eye is formed by beating the bit 
out thin, rolling it over and welding it. Each is marked with the same 
device, namely, three small circles something less than an inch in diam- 
•eter, each divided into compartments like a wheel with four spokes. 

The Kahquahs were the only Indians who resided in Erie county 
while the French controlled the trade of this region, as the Senecas did 

The Iroquois. 27 

not make their residence here until after Sullivan destroyed their towns 
on the Genesee during the American Revolution. These hatchets would 
be convenient articles to trade for furs, and were doubtless used for that 
purpose. It is extremely improbable that any Indians would have thrown 
away such valuable instruments in the numbers which have since been 
found, except from compulsion, and the disaster which befell the Kah- 
quahs at the hands of the Iroquois readily accounts for the abandonment 
of these weapons. 

Some copper instruments have also been found, doubtless of similar 



Their System of Clans — Its Importance — Its Probable Origin — The Grand Council — Sachems 
and War-chiefs — Method of Descent — Choice of Sachems — Religion — Natural Attributes 
— Family Relations. 

FROM the destruction of the unfortunate Kahquahs down to the last 
great sale of land by the Iroquois to the Holland Land -Company, 
those confederates were the actual possessors of the territory of 
Erie county, and a few years before making that sale the largest nation 
of the confederacy made their principal residence within the county. 
Within its borders, too, are still to be seen the largest united body of 
their descendants. 

For all these two hundred and thirty years the Iroquois have been 
closely identified with the history of Erie county, and the beginning of 
this community of record forms a proper point at which to introduce an 
account of the interior structure of that remarkable confederacy, at which 
we have before taken but an outside glance. 

It should be said here that the name "Iroquois" was never applied 
by the confederates to themselves. It was first used by the French, and 
its meaning is veiled in obscurity.* The men of the Five Nations (after- 
wards the Six Nations) called themselves " Hedonosaunee," which means 
literally, "They form a cabin;** describing in this expressive manner the 
close union existing among them. The Indian name just quoted is more 
liberally and more commonly rendered " The People of the Long House ; " 

*The writer has seen an old map which showed a tribe of Indians called ** Couis," living near 
the site of Kingston, in the province of Ontario, while another ancient map designated the territory 
then occupied by the Iroquois as belonging to the '* Hiro Couis." This is very plainly the deriva- 
tion of ** Iroquois," but what is the meaning of ** Hiro " or ** Couis," the writer saith not. 

28 History of Erie County. 

which is more fully descriptive of the confederacy, though not quite so 
accurate a translation. 

The central and unique characteristic of the Iroquois league was not 
the mere fact of five separate tribes being confederate together ; for such 
unions have been frequent among civilized and half-civilized peoples, 
though little known among the savages of America. The feature' that dis- 
tinguished the people of the Long House from all other confederacies, 
and which at the same time bound together all these ferocious warriors 
as with a living chain, was the system of clans extending through all the 
different tribes. 

Although this clan-system has been treated of in many works, there 
are doubtless, thousands of readers who have often heard of the warlike 
success and outward greatness of the Iroquois confederacy, but are un- 
acquainted with the inner league which was its distinguishing character- 
istic, and without which it would in all probability have met, at an early 
day, with the fate of numerous similar alliances. 

The word **clan" has been adopted as the most convenient one to 
designate the peculiar artificial families about to be described, but the 
Iroquois clan was widely different from the Scottish one, all the mem- 
bers of which owed undivided allegiance to a single chief, for whom they 
were ready to fight against all the world. Yet "clan** is a much better 
word than " tribe,'* which is sometimes used, since that is the designation 
ordinarily applied to a separate Indian nation. 

The people of the Iroquois confederacy were divided into eight clans, 
the names of which were as follows : Wolf, Bear, Beaver, Turtle, Deer 
Snipe, Heron and Hawk. Accounts differ, some declaring that every 
clan extended through all the tribes, and others that only the Wolf, Bear 
and Turtle clans did so, the rest being restricted to a lesser number of 
tribes. It is certain, however, that each tribe, Mohawks, Oneidas, Onon- 
dagas, Cayugas or Senecas, contained parts of the three clans named and 
of several of the others. 

Each clan formed a large artificial family, modeled on the natural 
family. All the members of the clan, no matter how widely separated 
among the tribes, were considered as brothers and sisters to each other, 
and were forbidden to intermarry. This prohibition, too, was strictly 
enforced b}' public opinion. 

All the clan being thus taught from earliest infancy that they belonged 
to the same family, a bond of the strongest kind was created throughout 
the confederacy. The Oneida of the Wolf clan had no sooner appeared 
among the Cayugas, than those of the same clan claimed him as their 
special guest, and admitted him to the most confidential intimacy. The 
Senecas of the Turtle clan might wander to the country of the Mohawks 
at the farthest extremity of the Long House, and he had a claiip upon 
his brother Turtle which they would not dream of repudiating. 

The Iroquois. 29 

Thus the whole confederacy was linked together. If at any time 
there appeared a tendency toward conflict between the different tribes, 
it was instantly checked by the thought that, if persisted in, the hand of 
the Heron must be lifted against his brother Heron ; the hatchet of the 
Bear might be buried in the brain of his kinsman Bear. And so potent 
was the feeling that for at least two hundred years, and until the power 
of the league was broken by overwhelming outside force, there was no 
serious dissension between the tribes of the Iroquois. 

Other Indian tribes had similar clans, but these were confined each to 
its own nation, and had therefore very little political value. The Scotch, 
as has been said, had their clans, but though all the members of each 
clan were supposed to be more or less related, yet, instead of marriage 
being forbidden within their own limits, they rarely married outside of 
them. All the loyalty of the clansmen was concentrated on their chief, 
and, instead of being a bond of union, so far as the nation at lar^e was con- 
cerned, the clans were nurseries of faction. 

The Romans had their g^ens, which were supposed to have been origi- 
nally natural families though largely increased by adoption, but these 
like the Scottish clans, instead of binding together dissevered sections, 
served under the control of aspiring leaders as seed-plots of dissension 
and even of civil war. If one can imagine the Roman ^ens extending 
through all the nations of the Grecian confederacy, he will have an idea 
of the Iroquois system, and had such been the fact it is more than proba- 
ble that the confederacy would have long survived the era of its actual 

Iroquois tradition ascribes the founding of the league to an Onon- 
daga chieftain named Tadodahoh. Such traditions, however, are of very 
little value. A person of that name may or may not have founded the 
confederacy. It is extremely probable that the league began with the 
union of two or three tribes, being subsequently increased by the addi- 
tion of others. That such additions might be made may be seen by the 
case of the Tuscaroras, whose union with the confederacy long after the 
advent of the Europeans changed the Five Nations into the Six Nations. 

Whether the Hedonosaunee were originally superior in valor and elo- 
quence to their neighbors cannot now be ascertained. Probably not. 
But their talent for practical statesmanship gave them the advantage in 
war, and success made them self-confident and fearless. The business of 
the league was necessarily transacted in a congress of sachems, and this 
fostered oratorical powers, until at length the Iroquois were famous 
among a hundred rival nations for wisdom, courage and eloquence, and 
were justly denominated by Volney, " The Romans of the New World." 

♦ At the time of writing the foregoing remark^? concerning the Iroquois clan-system, the author 
had not seen the valuable work of L. H. Morgan, entitled " The League of the Iroquois," but on 
examining it is pleased to find his own opinion regarding the effect and importance of that system 
confirmed by the previously expressed views of that careful investigator and sagacious writer. 


30 History of Erie County. 

Aside from the clan^ystera just described, which was entirely unique, 
the Iroquois league had some resemblance to the great American Union 
which succeeded and overwhelmed it. The central authority was su- 
preme on questions of peace and war, and on all others relating to the 
general welfare of the confederacy, while the tribes, like the States, 
reserved to themselves the management of their ordinary affairs. 

In peace all powe^ was confided to "sachems ;*' in war, tb "chiefs." 
The sachems of each tribe acted as its rulers in the few matters which 
required the exercise of civil authority. The same rulers also met in 
congress to direct the affairs of the confederacy. There were fifty in all, 
of whom the Mohawks had nine, the Oneidas nine, the Onondagas four- 
teen, the Cayugas ten, and the Senecas eight. These numbers, however, 
did not give proportionate power in the congress of the league, for all the 
nations were equal there. 

There was in each tribe the same number of war-chiefs as sachems, 
and these had absolute authority in time of war. When a council as- 
sembled, each sachem had a war-chief standing behind him to execute 
his orders. But in a war party the war-chief commanded and the sachem 
took his place in the ranks. This was the system in its simplicity. 

Some time after the arrival of the Europeans they seem to have fallen 
into the habit of electing chiefs — not war-chiefs — as counselors to the 
sachems, who in time acquired equality of power with them, and were 
considered as their equals by the whites in the making of treaties. 

It is difficult to learn the truth regarding a political and social sys- 
tem which was not preserved by any written record. As near, however, 
as can be ascertained, the Onondagas had a certain pre-eminence in the 
councils of the league, at least to the extent of always furnishing a grand- 
sachem, whose authority, however, was of a very shadowy description. 
It is not certain that he even presided in the congress of sachems. That 
congress, however, always met at the council-fire of the Onondagas. 
This was the natural result of their central position, the Mohawks and 
Oneidas being to the east of them, the Cayugas and Senecas to the west. 

The Senecas were unquestionably the most powerful of all the tribes, 
and as they were located at the western extremity of the confederacy, 
they had to bear the brunt of war when it was assailed by its most formid- 
able foes who dwelt in that quarter. It would naturall)' follow that the 
principal war-chief of the league should be of the Seneca Nation, and 
such is said to have been the case, though over this too, hangs a shade of 

As among many other savage tribes, the right of heirship was in the 
female line. A man's heirs were his brother (that is to say, his mother's 
son) and his sister's son : never his own son, nor his brother's son. The 
few articles which constituted an Indian's personal property, even his 
bow and tomahawk, never descended to the son of him who had wielded 

The Iroquois. 31 

them. Titles, so far as they were hereditary at all, followed the same 
law ot descent. The child also followed the clan and tribe of the mother. 
The object was evidently to secure greater certainty that the heir would 
be of the blood of his deceased kinsman. 

The result of the application of this rule to the Iroquois system of 
clans was that if a particular sachemship or chieftaincy was once estab- 
lished in a certain clan of a certain tribe, in that clan and tribe it was ex- 
pected to remain forever. Exactly how it was filled when it became 
vacant is a matter of some doubt, but as near as can be learned the new 
official was elected by the warriors of the clan, and was then "raised up " 
— i. e. inaugurated by the congress of sachems. 

If, for instance, a sachemship belonging to the Wolf clan of the Sen- 
eca tribe became vacant, it could only be filled by some one of the Wolf 
clan ot the Seneca tribe. A clan-council was called, and as a general rule 
the heir of the deceased was chosen to his place ; to wit, one of his 
brothers, reckoning only on the mother s side, or one of his sister's sons, 
or even some more distant male relative in the female line. But there 
was no positive law, and the warriors might discard all these and elect 
some one entirely unconnected with the deceased. A grand council of 
the confederacy was then called, at which the new sachem was formally 
^'raised up," or as we should say "inaugurated," in his office. 

While there was no unchangeable custom compelling the clan-council 
to select one of the heirs of the deceased as his successor, yet the ten- 
dency was so strong in that direction that an infant was frequently chosen, 
a guardian being appointed to perform the functions of the office till the 
youth should reach the proper age to do so. All offices were held for 
life unless the incumbent was solemnly deposed by a council, an event 
which very seldom occurred. 

Notwithstanding the modified system of hereditary power in vogue, 
the constitution of every tribe was essentially republican. Warriors, old 
men, and even women, attended the various councils and made their in- 
fluence felt. Neither in the government of the confederacy nor of the 
tribes was there any such thing as tyranny over the people, though there 
was a i^reat deal of tyranny by the league over conquered nations. 

In fact there was very little government of any kind, and very little 
need of any. There were substantially no property interests to guard, 
all land being in common, and each man's personal property being lim- 
ited to a bow, a tomahawk and a few deer skins. Liquor had not yet 
lent its disturbing influence, and few quarrels were to be traced to the in- 
fluence of woman, for the American Indian is singularly free from the 
warmer passions. His principal vice is an easily-aroused and unlimited 
hatred, but the tribes were so small and enemies so convenient, that there 
was no difficulty in gratifying this feeling outside his own nation. The 
consequence was that although the war-parties of the Iroquois were con- 

32 History of Erie County. 

tinually shedding the blood of their foes, there was very little quarreling 
at home. 

They do not appear to have had any class especially set apart for 
religious services, and their religious creed was limited to a somewhat 
vague belief in the existence of a " Great Spirit," and several inferior but 
very potent evil spirits. They had a few simple ceremonies, consisting 
largely of dances, one called the " green corn dance," performed at the 
time indicated by its name, and others at other seasons of the year. 
From a very early date their most important religious ceremony has 
been the " burnmg of the white dog," when an unfortunate canine of the 
requisite color is sacrificed by one of the chiefs. To this day the pagans 
among them still perform this rite. 

In common with their fellow-savages on this continent the Iroquois 
have been termed " fast friends and bitter enemies." They were a great 
deal stronger enemies than friends. Revenge was the ruling passion of 
their nature, and cruelty was their abiding characteristic. Revenge 
and cruelty are the worst attributes of human nature, and it is idle to 
talk of the goodness of men who roasted their captives at the stake. All 
Indians were faithful to their own tribes, and the Iroquois were faithful 
to their confederacy, but outside these limits their friendship could not 
be counted on, and treachery was always to be apprehended in dealing 
with them. 

In their family relations they were not harsh to their children, and 
not wantonly so to their wives, but the men were invariably indolent, 
and all labor was contemptuously abandoned to the weaker sex. They 
were not an amorous race, but could hardly be called a moral one. They 
were in that respect merely apathetic. Their passions rarely led them 
into adultery, and mercenary prostitution was entirely unknown, but they 
were not sensitive on the question of purity, and readily permitted their 
maidens to form the most fleeting alliances with distinguished visitors. 
Polygamy, too, was practiced, though in what might be called modera- 
tion. Chiefs and eminent warriors usually had two or three wives; 
rarely more. They could be divorced at will by their lords, but the latter 
seldom availed themselves of their privilege. 

These latter characteristics the Iroquois had in common with the 
other Indians of North America, but their wonderful politico-social 
league and their extraordinary success in war were the especial attri- 
butes of the people of the Long House, for a hundred and thirty 3'ears 
the masters, and for more than two centuries the occupants of the county 
of Erie. 

Success of the Iroquois. 33 



The Iroqnois Triumphant — Obliteration of Dutch Power — French Progress — La Salle visits the 
Senecas — Greenhalgh's Estimates — La Salle on the Niagara — Building of the Griffin — It 
Enters Lake Erie — La Salle's Subsequent Career — The Prospect in 1670. 

AFTER the overthrow of the Kahquahs and Eries the Iroquois lords 
of Erie county went forth conquering and to conquer.* This was 
probably the day of their greatest glory. Stimulated but not 
yet crushed by contact with the white man, they stayed the progress of 
the French into their territories, they negotiated on equal terms with the 
Dutch and English, and, having supplied themselves with the terrible 
arms of the pale-faces, they smote with direst vengeance whomsoever of 
their own race were so unfortunate as to provoke their wrath. 

On the Susquehanna, on the Alleghany, on the Ohio, even to the Mis- 
sissippi in the west and the Savannah in the south, the Iroquois bore their 
conquering arms, filling with terror the dwellers alike on the plains of 
Illinois and in the glades of Carolina. They strode over the bones of the 
slaughtered Kahquahs to new conquests on the great lakes beyond, even 
to the foaming cascades of Michillimacinac, and the shores of the mighty 
Superior. They inflicted such terrible defeat upon the Hurons, despite 
the alliance of the latter with the French, that many of the conquered 
nation sought safety on the frozen borders of Hudson's Bay. In short, 
they triumphed on every side, save only where the white man came, 
and even the white man was for a time held at bay by these fierce 

Of the three rival bands of colonists already mentioned, the French 
and Dutch opened a great fur trade with the Indians, while the New Eng- 
landers devoted themselves principally to agriculture. In 1664, the En- 
glish conquered New Amsterdam, and in 1670 their conquest was made 
permanent. Thus the too Dutch Lepidus of the continental triumvirate 
was gotten rid of and thenceforth the contest was to be between the 
Anglo-Saxon Octaviusand the Gallic Antony. 

Charles II., then King of England, granted the conquered province 
to his brother James, Duke of York, from whom it was called New York. 
This grant comprised all the lands along the Hudson, with an indefinite 
amount westward, thus overlapping the previous grant of James I. to 
the Plymouth Company, and the boundaries of Massachusetts under the 
charter of Charles I., and laying the foundation for a conflict of jurisdic- 
tion which was afterwards to have an important effect on the destinies of 
Western New York. 

34 History of Erie County. 

The French, if poor larmers, were indefatigable fur-traders and mis- 
sionaries ; but their priests and fur-buyers mostly pursued a route north 
of this locality, for here the fierce Senecas guarded the shores of the 
Niagara, and they like all the rest of the Iroquois were ever unfriendly, 
if not actively hostile to the Flinch. By 1665, trading-posts had been 
established at Michillimacinac, Green Bay, Chicago and St. Joseph, but 
the route past the falls of Niagara was seldom traversed, and then only 
by the most adventurous of the French traders, the most devoted of the 
Catholic missionaries. 

But a new era was approaching. Louis XIV. was king of France, and 
his great minister, Colbert, was anxious to extend the power of his royal 
master over the unknown regions of North America. In 1669, La Salle, 
whose name was soon to be indissolubly united to the annals of Erie county, 
visited the Senecas with only two companions, finding their four principal 
villages from ten to twent}^ miles southerly from Rochester, scattered 
over portions of the present counties of Monroe, Livingston and Ontario. 

In 1673 the missionaries Marquette and Joliet pushed on beyond the 
farthest French posts, and erected the emblem of Christian salvation on 
the shore of the Father of Waters. 

In 1677 Went worth Greenhalgh, an Englishman, visited all the Five 
Nations, finding the same four towns of the Senecas described by the 
companions of La Salle. Greenhalgh made very minute observations, 
counting the houses of the Indians, and reported the Mohawks as having 
three hundred warriors, the Oneidas two hundred, the Onondagas three 
hundred and fifty, the Cayugas three hundred, and the Senecas a thou- 
sand. It will be seen that the Senecas, the guardians of the western door 
of the Long House, numbered, according to Greenhalgh's computation, 
nearly as man}- as all the other tribes of the confederacy combined, and 
other accounts show that he was not far from correct. 

In the month of January, 1679, there arrived at the mouth of the 
Niagara, Robert Cavelier de La Salle, a Frenchman of good family, thirty- 
five vears of age, and one of the most gallant, devoted and adventurous of 
all the bold explorers who under many different banners opened the new 
world to the knowledge of the old. Leaving his native Rouen at the 
age of twenty-two, he had ever since been leading a life of adventure in 
America, having in 1669, as already mentioned, penetrated almost alone 
to the strongholds of the Senecas. In 1678 he had received from King 
Louis a commission to discover the western part of New France. He 
was authorized to build such forts as might be necessary, but at his own 
expense, being granted certain privileges in return, the principal of which 
appears to have been the right to trade in buffalo skins. The same year 
he had made some preparations, and in the fall had sent the Sieur de La 
Motte and Father Hennepin (the priest and historian of his expedition) 
in advance to the mouth of the Niagara. La Motte soon returned. 

Building of the Griffin. 35 

As soon as La Salle arrived, he went two leagues above the Falls, 
built a rude dock, and laid the keel of a vessel with which to navigate the 
upper lakes. Strangely enough Hennepin does not state on which bank 
of the Niagara this dock was situated, but the question has been care- 
fully investigated, especially by Francis Parkman, the historian of French 
power in Canada, and by O. H. Marshall, Esq., of Buffalo, the best 
authority on early local history in Western New York, who have proven 
beyond a reasonable doubt that it was on the east side, at the mouth of 
Cayuga creek, in Niagara county, and in accordance with that view the 
little village which has been laid out there has received the appellation 
of "La Salle." 

Hennepin distinctly mentions a small village of Senecas situated at 
the mouth of the Niagara, and it is plain from his whole narrative that 
the Iroquois were in possession of the entire country along the riven 
though few of them resided there, and watched the movement with 
unceasing jealousy. 

The work was carried on through the winter, two Indians of the 
Wolf clan of the Senecas being employed to hunt deer for the French 
party, and in the spring the vessel was launched, "after having," in the 
words of Father Hennepin, "been blessed according to the rites of our 
Church of Rome." The new ship was named " Le Griffon^' (The Grif- 
fin) in compliment to the Count de Frontenac, minister of the French 
colonies, whose coat of arms was ornamented with representations of that 
mythical beast. 

For several months the Griffin remained in the Niagara, between the 
place where it was built and the rapids at the head of the river. Mean- 
while Father Hennepin returned to Fort Frontenac (now Kingston) and 
obtained two priestly assistants, and La Salle superintended the removal 
of the armament and stores from below the Falls. 

When all was ready the attempt was made, and several times repeated, 
to ascend the rapids above Black Rock, but without success. At length, 
on the seventh day of August, 1679, a favorable wind sprung up from 
the northeast, all the Griffins sails were set, and again it approached the 
troublesome rapids. 

It was a diminutive vessel compared with the leviathans of the deep 
which now navigate these inland seas, but was a marvel in view of the 
difficulties under which it had been built. It was of sixty tons burthen, 
completely furnished with anchors and other equipments, and armed with 
seven small cannon, all of which had been transported by hand around 
the cataract. 

There were thirty-four men on board the Griffin, all Frenchmen with 
a single exception. 

There was the intrepid La Salle, a blue-eyed, fair-faced, ringleted 
cavalier ; a man fitted to grace the salons of Paris, yet now eagerly press- 

36 History of Erie County. 

ing forward to dare the hardships of unknown seas and savage lands. A 
born leader of men, a heroic subduer of nature, the gallant Frenchman 
for a brief time passesalong the border of our county, and then disappears 
in the western wilds where he was eventually to find a grave. 

There was Tonti, the solitary alien amid that Gallic band, exiled by 
revolution from his native Italy, who had been chosen by La Salle as 
second in command, and who justified the choice by his unswerving 
courage and devoted loyalty. There, too, was Father Hennepin, the 
earliest historian ol these regions, one of the most zealous of all the zealous 
band of Catholic priests who, at that period, undauntedly bore the cross 
amid the fiercest pagans in America. Attired in priestly robes, having 
with him his movable chapel, and attended by his two coadjutors. Father 
Hennepin was ready at any time to perform the rites of his Church, or to 
share the severest hardships of his comrades. 

As the little vessel approached the rapids, a dozen stalwart sailors 
were sent ashore with a tow-line, and aided with all their strength 
the breeze which blew from the north. Meanwhile a crowd of Iroquois 
warriors had assembled on the shore, together with many captives whom 
they had brought from the distant prairies of the West. These watched 
eagerly the efforts of the pale-faces, with half-admiring and half-jealous 

Those efforts were soon successful. By the aid of sails and tow-line 
the Griffin surmounted the rapids, all the crew went on board, and the 
pioneer vessel of these waters swept out on to the bosom of Lake Erie. 
As it did so the priests led in singing a joyous Te Deiim, all the cannon 
and arquebuses were fired in a grand salute, and even the stoical sons of 
the forest, watching from the shore, gave evidence of their admiration 
by repeated cries of " Gannoron ! Gannoron ! *' Wonderful ! Wonder- 
ful ! 

This was the beginning of the commerce of the upper lakes, and like 
many another first venture it resulted only in disaster to its projectors, 
though the harbinger of unbounded success by others. The Griffi^i went 
to Green Bay, where La Salle and Hennepin left it, started on its return 
with a cargo of furs, and was never heard of more. It is supposed that 
it sank in a storm and that all on board perished. 

La Salle was not afterwards identified with the history of Erie county, 
but his chivalric achievements and tragic fate have still such power to 
stir the pulse and enlist the feelings that one can hardly refrain from a 
brief mention of his subsequent career. After the Griffin had sailed, La 
Salle and Hennepin went in canoes to the head of Lake Michigan. 
Thence, after building a trading-post and waiting many weary months 
for the return of his vessel, he went with thirty followers to Lake Peoria 
on the Illinois river where he built a fort and gave it the expressive name 
of "Creve Cceur " — Broken Heart. But notwithstandmg this expres- 

La Salle. 37 

sion of despair his courage was far from exhausted, and, after sending 
Hennepin to explore the Mississippi, he with three comrades performed 
the remarkable feat of returning to Fort Frontenac on foot, depending on 
their guns for support. 

From Fort Frontenac he returned to Crevecoeur, the garrison of 
which had in the meantime been driven away by the Indians. Again 
the indomitable La Salle gathered his followers, and in the fore part of 
1682 descended the Mississippi to the sea, being the first European to 
explore any considerable portion of that mighty stream. He took pos- 
session of the country in the name of King Louis XIV., and called it 

Returning to France he astonished and gratified the court with the 
stories of his discoveries, and in 1684 was furnished with a fleet and sev- 
eral hundred men to colonize the new domain. Then every thing went 
wrong. The fleet, through the blunders of its naval commander, went 
to Matagorda bay, in Texas. The store-ship was wrecked, the fleet 
returned, La Salle failed in an attempt to find the mouth of the Missis- 
sippi, his colony dwindled away through desertion and death to forty 
men, and at length he started with sixteen of these, on foot, to return to 
Canada for assistance. Even in this little band there were those that 
hated him, (he was undoubtedly a man of somewhat imperious nature,) 
and ere he had reached the Sabine he was murdered by two of his follow- 
ers, and left unburied upon the prairie. 

A lofty, if somewhat haughty spirit, France knows him as the man 
who added Louisiana and Texas to her empire, the Mississippi Valley 
reveres him as the first explorer of its great river, but by the citizens of 
this county he will best be remembered as the pioneer navigator of Lake 

The adventurous Frenchman doubtless supposed, when he steered 
the Griffin into that vast inland sea, that he was opening it solely to 
French commerce, and was preparing its shores for French occupancy. 
He had ample reason for the supposition. Communication with the 
French in Lower Canada was much easier than with the Anglo-Dutch 
province on the Hudson, and thus far the opportunities of the former had 
been diligently improved. 

Had La Salle then climbed the bluff which overlooks the transfor- 
mation of the mighty Erie into the rushing Niagara and attempted to 
foretell the destiny of lake and land for the next two centuries, he would 
without doubt, and with good reason, have mentally given the dominion 
of both land and lake to the sovereigns of France. He would have seen 
in his mind's eye the plains that extended eastward dotted with the cot- 
tages of French peasants, while here and there among them towered the 
proud mansions of their baronial masters. He would have imagined the 
lake white with the sails of hundreds ol vessels flying the flag of Gallic 

38 History of Erie County. 

kings, and bearing the products of their subjects from still remoter 
regions, and he would perchance have pictured at his feet a splendid city, 
reproducing the tall gables of Rouen and the elegant facades of Paris, its 
streets gay with the vivacious language of France, its cross-capped 
churches sheltering only the stately ceremonies of Rome. 

But a far different destiny was in store for our county, due partly to 
the chances of war, and partly to the subtle characteristics of race, which 
make of the Gaul a good explorer but a bad colonizer, while the Anglo- 
Saxon is ever ready to identify himself with the land to which he may 



A Slight Ascendency — De Nonville's Assault — Origin of Fort Niagara — La Hontan's Expedition 
— The Peace of Ryswick — Queen Anne*s War — The Iroquois Neutral — The Tuscaroras — 
Joncaire — Fort Niagara Rebuilt — French Power Increasing — Successive Wars — The Line 
of Posts — The Final Struggle— The Expedition of D'Aubrey — The Result — The Surren- 
der of Canada. 

FOR the next forty-five years after the adventures of La Salle, the 
French maintained a general but not very substantial ascendency in 
this region. Their voyagers traded and their missionaries labored 
here, and their soldiers sometimes made incursions, but they had no per- 
manent fortress this side of Fort Frontenac (Kingston) and .they were 
constantly in danger from their enemies, the Hedonosaunee. Yet the 
French sovereigns and ministers considered the whole lake region, includ- 
ing the territory of Erie county, as being unquestionably a part' of " New 
France" (or Canada.) Their maps so described it, and they looked for- 
ward with entire assurance to the time when French troops and French 
colonists should hold undisputed possession of all that vast domain. 

In 1687, the Marquis de Nonville, governor of New France, arrived 
at Irondequoit bay, a few miles east of Rochester, with nearly two thou- 
sand Frenchmen and some five hundred Indian allies, and marched at 
once against the Seneca villages, situated as has been stated in the vicin- 
ity of Victor and Avon. The Senecas attacked him on his way, and were 
defeated, as well they might be, considering that the largest estimate 
gives them but eight hundred warriors, the rest of the confederates not 
having arrived. 

De Nonville's Invasion. 39 

The Senecas burned their villages and fled to the Cayugas. De Non- 
ville destroyed their stores of corn and retired, after going through the 
form of taking possession of the country. The supplies thus destroyed 
were immediately replenished by the other confederates, and the French 
accomplished little except still further to enrage the Iroquois. The Sene- 
cas, however, determined to seek a home less accessible from the waters 
of Lake Ontario, and accordingly located their principal village at Geneva^ 
and on the Genesee above Avon. 

De Nonville then sailed to the mouth of the Niagara, where he erected 
a small fort on the east side of the river. This was the origin of Fort 
Niagara, one of the most celebrated strongholds in America, which, 
though for a time abandoned, was afterwards during more than half a 
century considered the key of Western New York, and of the whole 
upper-lake country. 

From the new fortress De Nonville sent the Baron La Hontan, with 
a small detachment of French, to escort the Indian allies to their western 
homes. They made the necessary portage around the Falls, rowed up 
the Niagara to Buffalo, and thence coasted along the northern shore of 
the lake in their canoes. All along the river they were closely watched 
by the enraged Iroquois, but were too strong and too vigilant to be 

Ere long the governor returned to Montreal, leaving a small garrison 
at Fort Niagara. These suffered so severely from sickness that the fort 
was soon abandoned, and it does not appear to have been again occupied 
for nearly forty years. 

In fact, at this period the fortunes of France in North America were 
brought very low. The Iroquois ravaged a part of the island of Mon- 
treal, compelled the abandonment of Forts Frontenac and Niagara, and 
alone proved almost sufficient to overthrow the French dominion in 

The English revolution of 1688, by which James II., was driven 
from the throne, was speedily followed by open war with France. In 
1689, the Count de Frontenac, the same energetic old peer who had 
encouraged La Salle in his brilliant discoveries, and whose name was for 
a while borne by Lake Ontario, was sent out as governor of New France- 
This vigorous but cruel leader partially retrieved the desperate condition 
of the French colony. He, too, invaded the Iroquois, but accomplished 
no more than DeNonville. 

The war continued with varying fortunes until 1697, the Five Nations 
being all that while the friends of the English, and most of the time engaged 
in active hostilities against the French. Their authority over the whole 
west bank of the Niagara, and far up the south side of Lake Erie, was 
unbroken, save when a detachment of French troops was actually 
marching along the shore. 

40 History of Erie County. 

■ w ■ ■ 

At the treaty of Ryswick in 1697, while the ownership of other lands 
was definitely conceded to France and England respectively, that of 
Western New York was left undecided. The English claimed sovereignty 
over all the lands of the Five Nations, the French with equal energy 
asserted the authority of King Louis, while the Hedonosaunee themselves, 
whenever they heard of the controversy, repudiated alike the pretensions 
of Yonnondio and Corlear, as they denominated the governors respec- 
tively of Canada and New York. 

So far as Erie county was concerned, they could base their claim on 
the good old plea that they had killed all its previous occupants, and as 
neither the English nor French had succeeded in killing the Iroquois, the 
title of the latter still held good. In legal language they were " in pos- 
session," and " adverse, possession " at that. 

Scarcely had the echoes of battle died away after the peace of Rys- 
wick, when, in 1702, the rival nations plunged into the long conflict 
known as " Queen Anne's War." But by this time the Iroquois had 
grown wiser, and prudently maintained their neutrality, commanding the 
respect of both French and English. The former were wary of again 
provoking the powerful confederates, and the government of the colony 
of New York was very willing that the Five Nations should remain 
neutral, as they thus furnished a shield against French and Indian attacks 
for the whole frontier of the colony. 

But, meanwhile, through all the western country the French extended 
their influence. Detroit was founded in 1701. Other posts were estab- 
lished far and wide. Notwithstanding their alliance with the Hurons 
and other foes of the Iroquois, and notwithstanding the enmity aroused 
by the invasions of Champlain, DeNonville and Frontenac, such was the 
subtle skill of the French that they rapidly acquired a strong influence 
among the western tribes of the confederacy, especially the Senecas. 
Even the powerful socio-political system of the Hedonosaunee weakened 
under the influence of European intrigue, and while the Eastern Iroquois, 
though preserving their neutrality, were friendly to the English, the 
Senecas, and perhaps the Cayugas, were almost ready to take up arms 
for the French. 

About 1 71 2, an important event occurred in the history of the 
Hedonosaunee. The Five Nations became the Six Nations. The Tus- 
caroras, a powerful tribe of North Carolina, had become involved in a 
war with the whites, originating as usual in a dispute about land. The 
colonists being aided by several other tribes, the Tuscaroras were soon 
defeated, many of them were killed, and many others were captured and 
sold as slaves. The greater part of the remainder fled northward to the 
Iroquois, who immediately adopted them as one of the tribes of the con- 
federacy, assigning them a seat near the Oneidas. The readiness of those 
haughty warriors to extend the valuable shelter of the Long House over 

French INFLUE^XE Among the Senegas. 41 

a band of fleeing exiles is probably due to the fact that the latter had 
been the allies of the Iroquois against other Southern Indians, which 
would also account for the eagerness of the latter to join the whites in 
the overthrow of the Tuscaroras. 

Not long after this, one Chabert Joncaire, a Frenchman who had 
been captured in youth by the Senecas, who had been adopted into 
their tribe and had married a Seneca wife, but who had been released at 
the treaty of peace, was emploj^ed by the French authorities to promote 
their influence among the Iroquois. Pleading his claims as an adopted 
child of the nation, he was allowed by the Seneca chiefs to build a cabin 
on the site of Lewiston, which soon became a center of French influence. 

All the efforts of the English were impotent either to dislodge him 
or to obtain a similar privilege for any of their own people. " Joncaire 
is a child of the nation," was the sole reply vouchsafed to every com- 
plaint. Though Fort Niagara was for the time abandoned, and no regu- 
lar fort was built at Lewiston, yet Joncaire's trading-post embraced a 
considerable group of cabins, and at least a part of the time a detach- 
ment of French soldiers was stationed there. Thus the active Gauls 
kept up communications with their posts in the West, and maintained at 
least a slight ascendency over the territory which is the subject of this 

About 1725, they began rebuilding Fort Niagara, on the site where 
De Nonville had erected his fortress. They did so without opposition, 
though it seems strange that they could so easily have allayed the jeal- 
ousy of the Six Nations. It may be presumed, however, that the very 
fact of the French being such poor colonizers worked to their advantage 
in establishing a certain kind of influence among the Indians. 

Few of the Gallic adventurers being desirous of engaging in agricul- 
ture, they made little effort to obtain land, while the English were con- 
stantly arousing the jealousy of the natives by obtaining enormous grants 
from some of the chiefs, often doubtless by very dubious methods. 
Moreover, the French have always possessed a peculiar facility for assim- 
ilating with savage and half-civilized races, and thus gaining an influence 
over them. 

Whatever the cause, the power of the French constantly increased 
among the Senecas. Fort Niagara was their stronghold, and Erie county 
with the rest of Western New York was, for over thirty years, to a very 
great extent under their control. The influence of Joncaire was main- 
tained and increased by his sons, Chabert and Clauzonne Joncaire, all 
through the second quarter of the eighteenth century. 

In the war between England and France, begun in 1744 and closed 
by the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748, the Six Nations generally main- 
tained their neutrality, though the Mohawks gave some aid to the 
English. During the eight years of nominal peace which succeeded that 

42 History of Erie County. 

treaty, both the French and English noade numerous eflforts to extend their 
dominion beyond their frontier settlements, the former with more suc- 
cess. To Niagara, Detroit and other posts they added Presque Isle, (now 
Erie,) Venango, and finally Fort Duquesne on the site of Pittsburg; 
designing to establish a line of forts from the lakes to the Ohio, and 
thence down that river to the Mississippi. 

Frequent detachments of troops passed through along this line. 
Their course was up the Niagara to Buffalo, thence either by bateaux up 
the lake, or on foot along the shore, to Erie, and thence to Venango and 
Duquesne. Gaily dressed French officers sped backward and forward, 
attended by the fierce warriors of their allied tribes, and not unfrequently 
by the Senecas. Dark-gowned Jesuits hastened to and fro, everywhere 
receiving the respect of the red men, even when their creed was rejected, 
and using all their art to magnify the power of both Rome and France. 

It is possible that the whole Iroquois confederacy would have been 
induced to become active partisans of the French, had it not been for one 
man, the skillful English superintendent of Indian affairs, soon to be 
known as Sir William Johnson. He, having in 1734 been sent to America 
as the agent of his uncle, a great landholder in the valley of the Mohawk, 
had gained almost unbounded influence over the Mohawks by integrity 
in dealing and native shrewdness, combined with a certain coarseness of 
nature which readily affiliated with them. He had made his power felt 
throughout the whole confederacy, and had been intrusted by the British 
government with the management of its relations with the Six Nations. 

In 1756, after two years of open hostilities in America, and several 
important conflicts, war was again declared between England and France, 
being their last great struggle for supremacy in the New World. The fer- 
ment in the wilderness grew more earnest. More frequently sped the 
gay officers and soldiers of King Louis from Quebec, and Frontenac, and 
Niagara, now in bateaux, now on foot, along the western border of our 
county ; staying perchance to hold a council with the Seneca sachems, 
then hurrying forward to strengthen the feeble line of posts on which so 
much depended. In this war the Mohawks were persuaded by Sir Will- 
iam Johnson to take the field in favor of the English. But the Senecas 
were friendly to the French, and were only restrained from taking up 
arms for them by unwillingness to fight against their Iroquois brethren, 
farther east. 

At first the French were everywhere victorious. Braddock, almost 
at the gates of Fort Duquesne, was slain, and his army cut in pieces, by 
a force utterly contemptible in comparison with his own. Montcalm 
captured Oswego. The French lines up the lakes and across to the 
Ohio were stronger than ever. 

But in 1758, William Pitt entered the councils of George II. as actual 
though not nominal chief of the ministry, and then England flung herself 

Conflict between the French and English. 43 

in deadly earnest into the contest. That year Fort Duquesne was cap- 
tured by an English and Provincial army, its garrison having retreated. 
Northward, Fort Frontenac was seized by Colonel Bradstreet,and other 
victories prepared the way for the grand success in 1759. The cordon 
was broken, but Fort Niagara still held out for France ; still the messen- 
gers ran backward and forward, to and from Presque Isle and Venango ; 
still the Senecas strongly declared their friendship for Yonnondio and 
Yonnondio's royal master. 

In 1759 yet heavier blows were struck. Wolfe assailed Quebec, the 
strongest of all the French strongholds. Almost at the same time Gen- 
eral Prideaux, with two thousand British and Provincials, accompanied 
by Sir William Johnson with one thousand of his faithful Iroquois, sailed 
up Lake Ontario and laid siege to Fort Niagara. Defended by only six 
hundred men, its capture was certain unless relief could be obtained. 

Its commander was not idle. Once again along the Niagara, and up 
Lake Erie, and away through the forest, sped his lithe, red-skinned 
messengers to summon the sons and the allies of France. D'Aubrey, at 
Venango, heard the call and responded with his most zealous endeavors. 
Gathering all the troops he could from far and near, stripping bare with 
desperate energy the little French posts of the West, and mustering 
every red man he could persuade to follow his banners, he set forth to 
relieve Niagara. 

Thus it was that about the 20th of July, 1759, while the English 
army was still camped around the walls of Quebec, while Wolfe and 
Montcalm were approaching that common grave to which the path of 
glory was so soon to lead them, a stirring scene took place on the west- 
ern borders of our county. The largest European force which had yet 
been seen in this region at any one time came coasting down the lake 
from Presque Isle, past the mouth of the Cattaraugus, and along the 
shores of Brant and Evans and Hamburg, to the mouth of the limpid 
Buffalo. Fifty or sixty bateaux bore near a thousand Frenchmen on 
their mission of relief, while a long line ot ca^noes were freighted with 
four hundred of the dusky warriors of the West. 

A motley yet gallant band it was which then hastened along our 
shores, on the desperate service of sustaining the failing fortunes of France. 
Gay young officers from the court of the Grand Monarque sat side by 
side with sunburned trappers, whose feet had trodden every mountain 
and prairie from the St. Lawrence to the Mississippi. Veterans who had 
won laurels under the marshals of France were comrades of those who 
knew no other foe than the Iroquois and the Delawares. 

One boat was filled with soldiers trained to obey with unquestioning 
fidelity every word of their leaders ; another contained only wild savages, 
who scarce acknowledged any other law than their own fierce will. Here 
flashed swords and bayonets and brave attire, there appeared the dark 

44 History of Erie County. 

rifles and buckskin garments of the hardy hunters, while, still further on, 
the tomahawks and scalping-knives and naked bodies of Ottawa and Hu- 
ron braves glistened in the July sun. 

There were some, too, among the younger men, who might fairly 
have taken their places in either bateau or canoe ; whose features bore 
unmistakable evidence of the commingling of diverse races; who might 
perchance have justly claimed kindred with barons and chevaliers then 
resplendent in the salons of Paris, but who had drawn their infant nour- 
ishment from the breasts of dusky mothers, as they rested from hoeing 
corn on the banks of the Ohio. 

History has preserved but a slight record of this last struggle of the 
French for dominion in these regions, but it has rescued from oblivion 
the names of D'Aubrey, the commander, and DeLignery, his second ; of 
Marin, the leader of the Indians; and of the captains DeVilliers, Repen- 
tini, Martini and Basonc. 

They were by no means despondent. The command contained many 
of the same men, both white and red, who had slaughtered the unlucky 
battalions of Braddock only two years before, and they might well hope 
that some similar turn of fortune would yet give them another victory 
over the foes of France. 

The Seneca warriors, snuffing the battle from their homes on the 
Genesee and beyond, were roaming restlessly through Erie and Niagara 
counties, and along the shores of the river, uncertain how to act, more 
friendly to the French than the English, and yet unwilling to engage in 
conflict with their brethren of the Six Nations. 

Hardly pausing to communicate with these doubtful friends, D*Au- 
brey led his flotilla past the pleasant groves whose place is now occupied 
by a great commercial emporium, hurried by the tall bluff now crowned 
by the battlements of Fort Porter, dashed down the rapids, swept on in 
his eager course untroubled By the piers of any International bridge, 
startled the deer from their lairs on the banks of Grand Island, and only 
halted on reaching the shores of Navy Island. 

He being then beyond the borders of Erie county, we can give the 
remainder of his expedition but the briefest mention. After staying at 
Navy Island a day or two to communicate with the fort, he passed over 
to the mainland and confidently marched^ forward to battle. But Sir 
Wilham Johnson, who had succeeded to the command on the death of 
Prideaux, was not the kind of man likely to meet the fate of Braddock. 

Apprised of the approach of the French, he retained men enough 
before the fort to prevent an outbreak of the garrison, and stationed the 
rest in an advantageous position on the east side of the Niagara, just 
below the whirlpool. After a battle an hour long the French were utterly 
routed, several hundred being slain on the field, and a large part of the 
remainder being captured, including the wounded D'Aubrey. 

British Successes. 45 

On the receipt of these disastrous news the garrison at once sur- 
rendered. The control of the Niagara river, which had been in the 
hands of the French for over a hundred years, passed into those of the 
English. For a little while the French held possession of their fort at 
Schlosser, and even repulsed an English force sent against it. Becoming 
satisfied, however, that they could not withstand their powerful foe, 
they determined to destroy their two armed vessels, laden with military 
stores. They accordingly took them into an arm of the river, separating 
Buckhorn from Grand Island, at the very north westernmost limit of Erie 
county, burned them to the water's edge, and sunk the hulls. The re- 
mains of these hulls, nearly covered with mud and sand, are still, or were 
lately, to be seen in the shallow water where they sank, and the name of 
" Burnt Ship Bay " perpetuates the naval sacrifice of the defeated Gauls. 

Soon the life-bought victory of Wolfe gave Quebec to the triumphant 
Britons. Still the French clung to their colonies with desperate but 
failing grasp, and it was not until September, 1760, that the Marquis de 
Vaudreuil, the Governor-General of Canada, surrendered Montreal, and 
with it Detroit, Venango, and all the other posts within his jurisdiction. 
This surrender was ratified by the treaty of peace between England and 
France in February, 1763, which ceded Canada to the former power. 

The struggle was over. The English Octavius had defeated the 
Gallic Antony. Forever destroyed was the prospect of a French peas- 
antry inhabiting the plains of Erie county ; of baronial castles crowning 
its vine-clad heights ; of a gay French city overlooking the mighty lake 
and the renowned river. 



Pontiac's League — The Senecas Hostile— The Devil's Hole — Battle near Buffalo— Treaty at 
Niagara — Bradstreet's Expedition — Israel Putnam — Lake Commerce — Wreck of the 
Beaver — Tryon County — The Revolution — Four Iroquois Tribes Hostile — The Oswego 
Treaty — Scalps — Brant — Guienguahtoh — Wyoming — Cheny Valley — Sullivan's Expedi- 
tion — Senecas Settle in Erie County — Gilbert Family — Peace. 

NOTWITHSTANDING the disappearance of the French soldiers, 
the western tribes still remembered them with affection, and were 
still disposed to wage war upon the English. The celebrated 
Pontiac united nearly all these tribes in a league against the red-coats, 
immediately after the advent of the latter, and as no such confederation 
had been formed against the French, during all their long years of pos- 
session, his action must be assigned to some cause other than mere hatred 
of all civilized intruders. 


46 History of Erie County. 

In May, 1763, the league surprised nine out of twelve English posts, 
and massacred their garrisons. Detroit, Pittsburg and Niagara alone 
escaped surprise, and each successfully resisted a siege, in which branch 
of war, indeed, the Indians were almost certain to fail. There is no posi- 
tive evidence, but there is little doubt that the Senecas were involved in 
Pontiac's league, and were active in the attack on Fort Niagara. They 
had been unwilling to fight their brethren of the Long House, under Sir 
William Johnson, but had no scruples about killing the English when left 
alone, as was soon made terribly manifest. 

In the September following occurred the awful tragedy of the Devil's 
Hole, when a band of Senecas, of whom Honayewus, afterwards cele- 
brated as Farmer's Brother, was one and Cornplanter probably another, 
ambushed a train of English army-wagons with an escort of soldiers, the 
whole numbering ninety-six men, three and a half miles below the Falls, 
and massacred every man with four exceptions. 

A few weeks later, on the 19th of October, 1763, there occurred the 
first recorded conflict of arms in Erie county in which white men took 
part. It is said to have been at the *'east end of Lake Erie," but was 
probably on the river just below the lake, as there would be no chance 
for ambushing boats on the lake shore. 

Six hundred British soldiers, under one Major Wilkins, were on their 
way in boats to reinforce their comrades in Detroit. As they approached 
the lake, a hundred and sixty of them who were half a mile astern of the 
others, were suddenly fired on by a band of Senecas, ensconced in a 
thicket on the river shore probably on the site of Black Rock. Though 
even the British estimated the enemy at only sixty, yet so close was their 
aim that thirteen men were killed and wounded at the first fire. The 
captain in command of the nearest boats immediately ordered fifty men 
ashore and attacked the Indians. The latter fell back a short distance, 
but rallied, and when the British pursued them they maintained their 
ground so well that three more men were killed on the spot, and twelve 
others badly wounded, including two commissioned officers. Meanwhile, 
under the protection of other soldiers, who formed on the beach, the 
boats made their way into the lake, and the men who had taken part in 
the fight were enabled to re-embark. It does not appear that the Indians 
suffered near as heavily as the soldiers. 

This was the last serious attack by the Senecas upon the English. 
Becoming at length convinced that the French had really yielded, and 
that Pontiac's scheme had failed as to its main purpose, they sullenly 
agreed to abandon their Gallic friends and be at peace with the tri- 
umphant Britons. 

In April, 1764, Sir William Johnson concluded peace with eight 
chiefs of the Senecas, at Johnson's Hall. At that time, among other 
agreements, they formally conveyed to the King of England a tract four- 

Bradstreet's Expedition. 47 

teen miles by four, for a carrying place around Niagara Falls, lying on 
both sides of the river from Schlosser to Lake Ontario. This was the 
origin of the policy of reserving a strip of land along the river, which 
was afterwards carried out by the United States and the State of New 

This treaty was to be more fully ratified at a council to be held at 
Fort Niagara in the summer of 1764. Events in the West, where Pontiac 
still maintained active but unavailing hostility to the British, as well as 
the massacres previously perpetrated by the Senecas, determined the 
English commander-in-chief to send a force up the lakes able to overcome 
all opposition. 

Accordingly, in the summer of 1764, General Bradstreet, an able 
officer, with twelve hundred British and Americans, came by water to 
Fort Niagara, accompanied by the indefatigable Sir William Johnson and 
a body of his Iroquois warriors. A grand council of friendly Indians 
was held at the fort, among whom Sir William exercised his customary 
skill, and satisfactory treaties were made with them. 

But the Senecas, though repeatedly promising attendance in answer 
to the baronet's messages, still held aloof, and were said to be meditating 
a renewal of the war. At length General Bradstreet ordered their imme- 
diate attendance, under penalty of the destruction of their settlements. 
They came, ratified the treaty, and thenceforward adhered to it pretty 
faithfully, notwithstanding the peremptory manner in which it was 
obtained. In the meantime a fort had been erected on the site of Fort 
Erie, the first ever built there. 

In August, Bradstreet*s army increased to nearly three thousand 
men, among whom were three hundred Senecas, (who seem to have been 
taken along partly as hostages,) came up the river to the site of Buffalo. 
Thence they proceeded up the south side of the lake, for the purpose of 
bringing the Western Indians to terms, a task which was successfully 
accomplished without bloodshed. From the somewhat indefinite accounts 
which have come down to us, it is evident that the journey was made in 
open boats, rigged with sails, in which when the wind was favorable, 
-excellent speed was made. 

Bradstreet's force, like D*Aubrey*s, was a somewhat motley one. 
There were stalwart, red-coated regulars, who, when they marched, did 
so as one man ; hardy New England militia, whose dress and discipline 
and military manoeuvres were but a poor imitation of the British, yet 
who had faced the legions of France on many a well-fought field ; rude 
hunters of the border, to whom all discipline was irksome ; faithful Indian 
allies from the Mohawk valley, trained to admiration of the English by 
Sir Walter Johnson; and finally the three hundred scowling Senecas, 
their hands red from the massacre of the Devil's Hole, and almost ready 
to stain them again with English blood. 

48 History of Erie County. 

Of the British and Americans, who then in closest friendship and 
under the same banners passed along the western border of Erie county, 
there were not a few who in twelve years more were destined to seek 
each other's lives on the blood-stained battle-fields of the Revolution. 
Among them was one whose name was a tower of strength to the patri- 
ots of America, whose voice rallied the faltering soldiers of Bunker Hill, 
and whose fame has come down to us surrounded by a peculiar halo of 
adventurous valor. This was Israel Putnam, then a loyal soldier of 
King George, and lieutenant-colonel commanding the Connecticut 

For a while, however, there was peace, not only between England 
and France but between the Indians and the colonists. The Iroquois, 
though the seeds of dissension had been sown among them, were still a 
powerful confederacy, and their war parties occasionally made incursions 
among the Western Indians, striding over the plains of Erie county as they 
went and returning by the same route with their scalps and prisoners. 

Hither, too, came detachments of red-coated Britons, rowing up the 
Niagara, usually landing at Fort Erie, where a post was all the while 
maintained, and going thence in open boats to Detroit, Mackinaw and 
other western forts. Some also came by this route on their way to Pitts- 
burg, though that post was usually supplied and re-enforced by way of 
Pennsylvania and Virginia. 

Along the borders of Erie county, too, went all the commerce of the 
upper lakes, consisting of supplies for the military posts, goods to trade 
with the Indians, and the furs received in return. The trade was carried 
on almost entirely in open boats, propelled by oars, with the occasional 
aid of a temporary sail. In good weather tolerable progress could be 
made, but woe to any of these frail craft which might be overtaken by a 

The New York Gazette, in February, 1770, informed its readers that 
several boats had been lost in crossing Lake Erie, and that the distress of 
the crews was so great that they were obliged to keep two human bodies 
found on the north shore, so as to kill for food the ravens and eagles 
which came to feed on the corpses. Other boats were mentioned at the 
same time as frozen up or lost, but nothing is said as to sail-vessels. There 
were, however, at least two or three English trading-vessels on Lake 
Erie before the Revolution, and probably one or two armed vessels 
belonging to the British government. One of the former, called the 
Beaver, is known to have been lost in a storm, and is believed by the 
best authorities to have been wrecked near the mouth of Eighteen-Mile 
creek, and to have furnished the relics found in that vicinity by early set- 
tlers, which by some have been attributed to the ill-fated Griffin. 

The Senecas made frequent complaints of depredations committed 
by Whites on some of their number, who had villages on the head waters 

The War of the Revolution. 49 

of the Susquehanna and Ohio. " Cressap's war," in which the celebrated 
Logan was an actor, contributed to render them uneasy, but they did not 
break out in open hostilities. They, like the rest of the Six Nations, had 
by this time learned to place implicit confidence in Sir William Johnson 
and made all their complaints through him. 

He did his best to redress their grievances, and also sought to have 
them withdraw their villages from those isolated localities to their chief 
seats in New York, so that they would be more completely under his 
jurisdiction and protection. Ere this could be accomplished, however, 
all men's attention was drawn to certain mutterings in the political sky, 
low at first, but growing more and more angry, until at length there burst 
upon the country that long and desolating storm known as the Revolu- 
tionary war. 

Before speaking of that it may be proper to remark that, munici- 
pally considered, all the western part of the colony of New York was 
nominally a part of Albany county down to 1772, though really all 
authority was divided between the Seneca chiefs and the officers of the 
nearest British garisons. In that year a new county was formed, embrac- 
ing all that part of the colony west of the Delaware river, and of a line 
running northeastward from the head of that stream through the present 
county of Schoharie, then northward along the east line of Montgomery, 
Fulton and Hamilton counties, and continuing in a straight line to 
Canada. It was named Tryon, in honor of William Tryon, then the 
royal governor of New York. Guy Johnson, Sir William's nephew and 
son-in-law, was the earliest " first judge " of the common pleas, with the 
afterward celebrated John Butler as one of his associates. 

As the danger of hostilities increased, the Johnsons showed them- 
selves more and more clearly on the side of the King. Sir William said 
little and seemed greatly disturbed by the gathering troubles. There is 
little doubt, however, that had he lived, he would have used his power 
in behalf of his royal master. But in 1774 he suddenly died. Much of 
his influence over the Six Nations descended to his son. Sir John John- 
son, and his nephew, Colonel Guy Johnson. The latter became his suc- 
cessor in the office of superintendent of Indian affairs. 

In 1775 the Revolution began. The new superintendent persuaded 
the Mohawks to remove westward with him, and made good his 
influence over all of the Six Nations except the Oneidas and Tuscaroras, 
though it was near two years from the breaking out of the war before 
they committed any serious hostilities. John Butler, however, estab- 
lished himself at Fort Niagara, and organized a regiment of Tories known 
as Butler's Rangers, and he and the Johnsons used all their influence to 
induce the Indians to attack the Americans. 

The Senecas held off for a while, but the prospect of both blood and 
pay was too much for them to withstand, and in 1777 they, in common 

so History of Erie County. 

with the Cayugas, Onondagas and Mohawks, made a treaty with the 
British at Oswego, agreeing to serve the king throughout the war. Mary 
Jemison, the celebrated " White Woman," then living among the Sene- 
cas on the Genesee, declares that at that treaty the British agents, after 
giving the Indians numerous presents, " promised a bounty on every scalp 
that should be brought in." 

The question whether a price was actually paid or promised for 
scalps has been widely debated. There is not sufficient evidence to 
prove that it was done, and the probabilities are that it was not. Mary 
Jemison was usually considered truthful, and had good means of know- 
ing what the Indians understood on the subject, but the latter were very 
ready to understand that they would be paid for taking scalps. An inci- 
dent on the American side, which will be narrated in the account of the 
War of 1 812, will illustrate this propensity of the savages. 

As formerly the Senecas, though favorable to the French, hesitated 
about attacking their brethren of the Long House, so now the Oneidas 
who were friendly to the Americans, did not go out to battle against the 
other Iroquois, but remained neutral throughout the contest. The league 
of the Hedonosaunee was weakened but not destroyed. 

From the autumn of 1777 forward, the Senecas, Cayugas, Onondagas 
and Mohawks were active in the British interest. Fort Niagara again 
became, as it had been during the French war, the key of all this region, 
and to it the Iroquois constantly looked for support and guidance. Their 
raids kept the whole frontier for hundreds of miles in a state of terror, 
and were attended by the usual horrors of savage warfare. 

Whether a bounty was paid for scalps or not, the Indians were cer- 
tainly employed to assail the inhabitants with constant marauding parties, 
notwithstanding their well-known and inveterate habit of slaughtering 
men, women and children whenever opportunity offered, or at least when- 
ever the freak happened to take them. In fact they were good for very 
little else, their desultory method of warfare making them almost entirely 
useless in assisting the regular operations of an army. 

The most active and most celebrated of the Iroquois chiefs in the 
Revolution was Joseph Brant, or Thayendenegea, a Mohawk who had 
received a moderate English education under the patronage of Sir 
William Johnson. He was most frequently intrusted with the command 
of detached parties by the British officers, but it does not appear that he 
had authority over all the tribes, and it is almost certain that the haughty 
Senecas, the most powerful tribe of the confederacy, to whom by ancient 
custom belonged both the principal war-chiefs of the league, would not 
have submitted and did not submit to the control of a Mohawk. 

Three of the chiefs of the Senecas during the Revolution are well 
known — "Farmer's Brother," " Cornplanter," and "Governor Black- 
snake f" but who was their chief-in-chief, if one may coin the expression. 

Sullivan's Expedition. 51 

is not certain. It is very probable that there was none, but that the 
leader of each expedition received his orders directly from the English 

W. L. Stone, author'of the " Life of Brant," says that at the battle of 
Wyoming in 1778, the leader of the Senecas, who formed the main part 
of the Indian force on that occasion, was Guiengwahtoh, supposed to be 
same as Guiyahgwahdoh, " the smoke-bearer." That was the official title 
of the Seneca afterwards known as " Young King," he being a kind of 
hereditary embassador, the bearer of the smoking brand from the great 
council-fire of the confederacy to light that of the Senecas. He was too 
young to have been at Wyoming, but his predecessor in office, (probably 
his maternal uncle,) might have been there. Brant was certainly not 

We have called that affair the "battle " instead of the ** massacre" 
of Wyoming, as it is usually termed. The facts seem to be that no 
quarter was given during the conflict and that after the Americans were 
routed, the Tories and Senecas pursued and killed all they could, but 
that those who reached the fort and afterwards surrendered were not 
harmed, nor were any of the non-combatants. The whole valley, how- 
ever, was devastated, and the houses burned. 

At Cherry Valley, the same year, the Senecas were present in force, 
together with a body of Mohawks under Brant, and of Tories under 
Captain Walter Butler, son of Colonel John Butler, and there then was 
an undoubted massacre. Nearly thirty women and children were killed, 
besides many men surprised helpless in their homes. 

These events, and other similar ones on a smaller scale, induced 
Congress and General Washington to set on foot an expedition in the 
spring of 1779 which, though carried on outside the bounds of Erie 
county, had a very strong influence on that county's subsequent history. 
We refer to the celebrated expedition of General Sullivan against the 
Six Nations. 

Having marched up the Susquehanna to Tioga Point, where he was 
joined by a brigade under General James Clinton, (father of De Witt 
Clinton,) Sullivan, with a total force of some four thousand men, moved 
up the Chemung to the site of Elmira. There Colonel Butler, with a 
small body of Indians and Tories, variously estimated at from six hun- 
dred to fifteen hundred men, had thrown up intrenchments, and a battle 
was fought. Butler was speedily defeated, retired with considerable 
loss, and made no further opposition. 

Sullivan advanced and destroyed all the Seneca villages on the Gen- 
esee and about Geneva, burning wigwams and cabins, cutting down 
orchards, cutting up growing corn, and utterly devastating the country. 
The Senecas fled in great dismay to Fort Niagara. The Onondaga vil- 
lages had in the meantime been destroyed by another force, but it is 

52 History of Erie County. 

plain that the Senecas were the ones who were chiefly feared, and against 
whom the vengeance of the Americans was chiefly directed. After 
thoroughly laying waste their country, the Americans returned to 
the East. 

Sullivan's expedition substantially destroyed the league which bound 
the Six Nations together. Its form remained, but it had lost its binding 
power. The Oneidas and Tuscaroras were encouraged to increase their 
separation from the other confederates. Those tribes whose possessions 
had been destroyed were thrown into more complete subservience to the 
British power, thereby weakening their inter-tribal relations, and the 
spirits of the Senecas, the most powerful and warlike of them all, were 
much broken by this disaster. 

It was a more serious matter than had been the destruction of their 
villages in earlier times, as they had adopted a more permanent mode of 
existence. They had learned to depend more on agriculture and less on 
the chase and possessed not only corn-fields, but gardens, orchards, and 
sometimes comfortable houses. In fact they had adopted many of the 
customs of civilized life, though without relinquishing their primitive 
pleasures, such as tomahawking prisoners and scalping the dead. 

They fled rn masse to Fort Niagara, and during the winter of 1 779-*8o, 
which was of extraordinary severity, were scantily sustained by rations 
which the British authorities with difficulty procured. As spring ap- 
proached, the English made earnest efforts to reduce the expense, by 
persuading the Indians to make new settlements and plant crops. The 
red men were naturally anxious to keep as far as practicable from the 
dreaded foes who had inflicted such heavy punishments the year before, 
and were unwilling to risk their families again at their ancient seats. 

At this time a considerable body of the Senecas, with a few Cay ugas 
and Onondagas, came up from Niagara and established themselves near 
Buffalo creek, about four miles above its mouth.* This was, so far as 
known, the first permanent settlement of the Senecas in Erie county. 
They probably had huts here to use while hunting and fishing, but no 
regjular villages. In fact this settlement in the spring of 1780, was proba- 
bly the first permanent occupation of the county since the destruction 
of the Neuter Nation, a hundred and thirty-five years before. 

The same spring another band located themselves at the mouth of 
the Cattaraugus. 

The Senecas who settled on Buffalo creek, were under the leadership 
of Siangarochti, or Sayengaraghta, an aged but influential chief, some- 
times called Old King, and said to be the head sachem of that tribe. 
They brought with them two or more members of the Gilbert family, 

• The Senecas chose a location south of the creek near the site of '* Martin's Comers," the 
Onoadagas made their home near where the southern village of Ebenezer is now situated, while the 
Cayugas erected their wigwams a little further north, near the banks of Cayuga creek. 

Settlement of Senegas in Erie County. 53 

quakers who had been captured on the borders of Pennsylvania, a month 
or two previous. After the war the family published a narrative of their 
captivity, which gives much valuable information regarding the period 
of our history. 

Immediately on their arrival, the squaws began to clear the ground 
and prepare it for corn, while the men built some log huts and then went 
out hunting. That summer the family ol Siangarochti alone raised 
seventy-five bushels of corn. 

In the beginning of the winter of i78o-*8i, two British officers, Cap- 
tain Powell and Lieutenant Johnson, or Johnston, came to the settle- 
ment on Bufifalo creek, and remained until toward spring. The}' wxre 
probably sent by the British authorities at Fort Niagara, to aid in put- 
ting the new settlement on a solid foundation. Possibly they were also 
doing some fur-trading on their own account. They made strenuous 
efforts to obtain the release of Rebecca and Benjamin, two of the younger 
members of the Gilbert family, but the Indians were unwilling to give 
them up. 

Captain Powell had married Jane Moore, a girl who, with her mother 
and others of the family, had been captured at Cherry Valley. The 
" Lieutenant Johnson " who accompanied him to Buffalo creek was most 
likely his half-brother, who afterwards located at Buffalo, and was known 
to the early settlers as Captain William Johnston. There seems to have 
been no ground whatever for the supposition which has been entertained 
by some that he was the half-breed son of Sir William Johnson. All the 
circumstances show that he was not. 

Lieutenant Johnston, who was probably an officer in Butler*s Rangers, 
was said by Mrs. Jemison, (the "white woman,") to have robbed Jane 
Moore of a ring at Cherry Valley, which he afterwards used to marry 
the lady he had despoiled. As Jane Moore married Captain Powell 
instead of Lieutenant Johnston, this romantic story has been entirely dis- 
credited ; but since it has been ascertained that Johnston was a half- 
brother of Powell, it is easy to see how Mrs. Jemison might have con- 
founded the two, and that Johnston might really have furnished the 
"confiscated" ring for his brother's wedding instead of his own. Cap- 
tain (afterwards Colonel) Powell is frequently and honorably mentioned, 
in several accounts, as doing everything in his power to ameliorate the 
condition of the captives among the Indians. 

It must have been about this time that Johnston took unto himself 
a Seneca wife ; for his son, John Johnston, was a young man when Buf- 
falo was laid out in 1803. 

Elizabeth Peart, wife of Thomas Peart, son of the elder Mrs. Gilbert 
by a former husband, was another of the captives who was brought to 
Buffalo creek. She had been adopted by a Seneca family, but that did 
not cause much kindness on their part, for they allowed her child, less 

54 History of Erie County. 

than a year old, to be taken from her and adopted by another family, 
living near Fort Niagara. She was permitted to keep it awhile after its 
" adoption," but when they went to the fort for provisions, they took her 
and her infant along and compelled her to give it up. 

Near the close of the winter of i78o-*8i, they were again compelled 
to go to Fort Niagara for provisions, and there she found her child, 
which had been bought by a white family from the Indians who had 
adopted it. By many artifices, and by the connivance of Captain Powell^ 
she finally escaped to Montreal with her husband and children. 

Others of the Gilbert family still remained in captivity. Thomas 
Peart, a brother of Benjamin, obtained his liberty in the spring of 1781, 
and was allowed to go to Buffalo creek with Captain Powell, who was 
sent to distribute provisions, hoes and other implements among the In- 
dians. At the distribution, the chiefs of every band came for shares, each 
having as many sticks as there were persons in his band, in order to insure 
a fair division. 

That spring still another body of Indians came to Buffalo creek, 
having with them Abner and Elizabeth Gilbert, the two youngest chil- 
dren of the family. But this band settled some distance from the main 
body, and the children were not allowed to visit each other. 

In July of that year, the family in which Abner Gilbert was, went to 
" Butlersburg," a little village opposite Fort Niagara, named after Colonel 
Butler. The Colonel negotiated with the woman who was the head of 
the family for Abner, and on receiving some presents she agreed to give 
him up at the end of twenty days. She took him badk to Buffalo creek, 
but returned with him before the stipulated day, and he and Elizabeth 
were sent to Montreal by the first ship. 

Meanwhile, the war had gone forward with varying fortunes. Guy 
Johnson and Colonel Butler kept the Indians as busy as possible, maraud- 
ing upon the frontier, but they had been so thoroughly 'broken up that 
they were unable to produce such devastation as at Wyoming and Cherry 

In October, 1781, Cornwallis surrendered, and thenceforth there 
were no more active hostilities. 

Rebecca Gilbert and Benjamin Gilbert, Jr., were released the next 
year. This appears to have been managed by Colonel Butler, who, to 
give him his due, always seemed willing to befriend the captives, though 
constantly sending out his savages to make new ones. Not until the 
arrangements were all made did the Indians inform Rebecca of her 
approaching freedom. With joyful heart she prepared for her journey, 
making bread and doing other needful work for her captors. Then, by 
canoe and on foot, she and her brother were taken to Niagara, and after 
a conference, the last two of the ill-fated family were released from cap- 
tivity in June, 1782. ^ 

Termination of British Rule. 55 

In the fall of 1783, peace was formally declared between Great Britain 
and the revolted colonies, henceforth to be acknowledged by all men as 
the United States of America. By the treaty, the boundary line was 
established along the center of Lake Ontario, Niagara river and Lake 
Erie. Although the forts held by the British on the American side of 
the line were not given up for manj^ years afterwards, and although they 
thus retained a strong influence over the Indians located on this side, yet 
the legal title was admitted to be in the United States. Thus the unques- 
tioned English authority over the territory of Erie county laste.d only 
from the treaty with France in 1763 to that with the United States in 
1783, a little over twenty years. 


FROM 17B3 TD 12BB. 

Treatment of the Six Nations — The Treaty of Fort Stanwix — The Western Boundary — Origin of 
the name of Buffalo — Miss Powell's Visit — ** Captain David " — Claims of New York and 
Massachusetts — How Settled — Sale to Phelps and Gorham — The Land Rings — A Council 

NO provision whatever was made in the treaty of peace for the 
Indian allies of Great Britain. The English authorities, however, 
offered them land in Canada, but all except the Mohawks preferred 
to remain in New York. 

The United States treated them with great moderation. Although 
the Iroquois had twice violated their pledges, and without provocation 
had plunged into the war against the colonies, they were readily admit- 
ted to the benefits of peace, and were even recognized as the owners of 
all the land in New York over which they had ranged before the Revo- 
lution. The property line, as it was called, previously drawn between 
the whites and Indians, ran along the eastern border of Broome and 
Chenango counties, and thence northwestward to a point seven miles 
west of Rome. 

In October, 1784, a treaty was made at Fort Stanwix (Rome) between 
three commissioners of the United States and the sachems of the Six 
Nations. The Marquis de LaFayette was present and made a speech, 
though not one of the commissioners. It is almost certain, however, 
that Red Jacket, then a young man, who afterwards claimed to have been 
there, did not really take any part in the council. Brant was not pres- 
ent, though he had been active in a couilcil with Governor Clinton, only 

56 History of Erie Countv'. 

a short time before. Complanter spoke on betialf of the Senecas, but 
Sayengeraghta or " Old King," was recognized as the principal Seneca 

The eastern boundary of the Indian lands does not seem to have been 
in dispute, but the United States wanted to extinguish whatever claim 
the Six Nations might have to Ohio and other western territory, and 
also to keep open the right of way around the Falls, which Sir William 
Johnson had obtained for the British. It was accordingly agreed that 
the western line of their lands should begin on Lake Ontario, four miles 
east of the Niagara, running thence southerly, in a direction always four 
miles east of the carrj-ing path, to the mouth of Tehoseroron (or Buffalo) 
creek, on Lake Erie ; thence south to the north boundary of the State of 
Pennsylvania ; *' thence west to the end of said north boundary ; thence 
south along the west boundary of the State to the river Ohio." 

This agreement fif it is correctly given above, and we think it is,) 
would have left the whole of Chatauqua county and a large part of Erie 
and Cattaraugus west of the line. It could hardly be called a treaty, as 
the Indians only agreed to it because they thought they were obliged to, 
and afterwards made so much complaint that its provisions were some- 
what modified. 

The treaty of Fort Stanwix was the first public document containing 
the name of Buffalo creek, as applied to the stream which empties at the 
foot of Lake Erie. The narrative of the Gilbert family published just 
after the war was the first appearance of the name in writing or printing. 

This is a proper time, therefore, to consider a question which has 
been often debated, viz., whether the original Indian name was " Buffalo" 
creek. This almost of necessity involves the further question whether 
the buffalo ever ranged on its banks ; for it is not to be presumed that 
the Indians would, in the first place, have adopted that name unless such 
had been the case. 

It is conceded that the Seneca name for the locality at the mouth of 
the creek was " To-se-o-way," otherwise rendered De-dyo-syo-oh, mean- 
ing "the place of basswoods." Te-ho-se-ro-ron is supposed to be the 
same word in the Mohawk dialect. It is therefore believed by some that 
the interpreter made a mistake in calling the stream " Buffalo creek " in 
the treaty of Fort Stanwix, and that the Senecas afterwards adopted the 
name, calling the creek " Tick-e-ack-gou " or Buffalo. 

In the second chapter the writer briefly indicated his reasons for 
believing that the buffalo once visited, at least occasionally, the shores of 
Buffalo creek. The first fact to be considered is the unquestioned exist- 
ence in Erie county of open plains of considerable extent, only seventy- 
five years ago. As they were then growing up with small timber, the 
presumption is that they were much larger previously, and old accounts 
coincide with the presumption. 

Evidences of the Buffalo in Erie County. 57 

Numerous early travelers and later hunters mention the existence of 
the buffalo in this vicinity or not far away. The strongest instance is 
the account of Chaumonot and Breboeuf, referred to in the sixth chapter, 
which declares that the Neuter Nation, who occupied this very county 
of Erie, as well as a portion of Canada, across the Niagara, were in the 
habit of hunting the buffalo, together with other animals. 

Mr. Ketchum, in his history of " Buffalo and the Senecas,** says that 
all the oldest Senecas in 1820, declared that buffalo bones had been found 
within their recollection at the salt licks near Sulphur Springs. The 
same author produces evidence that white men had killed buffaloes within 
the last hundred and twenty years, not only in Ohio but in Western 

Albert Gallatin, who was a surveyor in Western Virginia in 1784, 
declared, in a paper published by the American Ethnological Society, 
that they were at that time abundant in the Kanawha valley, and that he 
had for eight months lived principally on their flesh. This is positive 
proof, and the Kanawha valley is only three hundred miles from here, and 
only one hundred miles further west, and in as well wooded a country 
as this. Mr. Gallatin adds authentic evidence of their having previously 
penetrated west of the Alleghanies. 

The narrative of the Gilbert family is very strong evidence that 
from the first the Senecas applied the name of Buffalo to the stream in 
question. Although the book was not published until after the war, yet 
the knowledge then given to the public was acquired in 1780, *8i and '82. 
At least six of the Gilberts and Pearts were among the Senecas on Buf- 
falo creek. Some of them were captives for over two years, and must 
have acquired considerable knowledge of the language. It is utterly out 
of the question that they could all have been mistaken as to the name of 
the stream on which they lived, which must have been constantly referred 
to by all the Senecas in talking about their people domiciled there, as 
well as by the scores of British officers and soldiers with whom the 
Gilberts came in contact. 

If, then, the Neuter Nation hunted buffaloes on either side of the 
Niagara in 1640, if they were killed by the whites in Ohio and Pennsyl- 
vania within the last century and a quarter, if Albert Gallatin found them 
abundant on the Kanawha in 1784, if the old Senecas of 1820 declared 
they had found his bones at the salt lick, and if the Indians called the 
stream on which they settled in 1780 " Buffalo ** creek, there can be no 
reasonable doubt that the latter knew what they were about, and did so 
because that name came down from former times, when the monarch of the 
western prairie strayed over the plains of the county of Erie. 

In the year of the Fort Stanwix treaty (1784) the name of Try on 
county, of which Erie was nominally a part, was changed to Mont- 
gomery, in honor of the slain hero of Quebec. 

58 History of Erie County. 

In May, 1785, Miss Powell, probably a sister of the Captain Powell 
before mentioned, visited an Indian council on Buffalo creek, and has left 
an interesting description which is given in Mr. Ketchum's valuable 
repertory. After admiring the Falls, of which she writes in glowing 
terms, she and her party went in boats to Fort Erie, whence they crossed 
to this side. She was accompanied by Mrs. Powell (Jane Moore), and 
by several British officers. One of her companions, (who had also been 
an officer, though perhaps he was not then one,) was a young Irish noble- 
man whose name was soon to be raised to a mournful prominence, and 
whose fruitless valor and tragic fate are still the theme of ballad and story 
among the people of his native land. This was Lord Edward Fitzgerald, 
who manifested a great fondness for visiting among the Indians, and who 
found an especial charm in the society ot Brant. 

Before the council assembled, Miss Powell noticed several chiefs, 
gravely seated on the ground, preparing for it by painting their faces 
before small looking-glasses, which they held in their left hands. She 
declares there were two hundred chiefs present as delegates of the Six 
Nations, which, as there were not over two thousand warriors in all, was 
a very liberal allowance of officers. 

The chiefs of each tribe formed a circle in the shade of a tree, while 
their appointed speaker stood with his back against it. Then the old 
women came, one by one, with great solemnity and seated themselves 
behind the men. Miss Powell noted, with evident approval, that " on 
the banks of Lake Erie a woman becomes respectable as she grows old ;" 
and added that, though the ladies kept silent, nothing was decided with- 
out their approbation. 

Their fair visitor was wonderfully impressed by the manly appear- 
ance of the Iroquois warriors, and declared that "our beaux look quite 
insignificant beside them." She was especially pleased with one who was 
called "Captain David," of whom she gave a very full account. Indians 
wearing the old clothes of white men are common enough now, but a 
full-fledged Iroquois beau of the last century was an altogether different 
personage, and we will therefore transcribe the substance of the lady's 
glowing description. 

She declared that the Prince of Wales did not bow with more grace 
than " Captain David." He spoke English with propriety. His person 
was as tall and fine as it was possible to imagine ; his features handsome 
and regular, with a countenance of much softness ; his complexion not 
disagreeably dark, and, said Miss Powell, " I really believe he washes his 
face ;" the proof being that she saw no signs of paint forward of his ears. 

His hair was shaved off, except a little on top of his head, which, with 
his ears, was painted a glowing red. AroUnd his head was a fillet of 
silver, from which two strips of black velvet, covered with silver beads 
and broochps, hung over the left temple. A "fox-tail feather" in his 

Conflicting Claims of Massachusetts and New York. 59 

scalp lock, and a black one behind each ear, waved and nodded as he 
walked, while a pair of immense silver ear-rings hung down to his 

He wore a calico shirt, the neck and shoulders thickly covered with 
silver brooches, the sleeves confined above the elbows with broad silver 
bracelets, engraved with the arms of England, while four smaller ones 
adorned his wrists. Around his waist was a dark scarf lined with scarlet 
which hung to his feet, while his costume was completed by neatly fitting 
blue cloth leggins, fastened with an ornamental garter below the knee. 

Such was the most conspicuous gentleman of Erie county ninety- 
eight years ago, and Miss Powell enthusiastically declared that "Captain 
David made the finest appearance I ever saw in my life." 

Now and then some fair English maiden has been so smitten with 
the appearance of a native American warrior as to become his bride, and 
make her residence within his wigwam. Miss Powell, however, was not 
quite so much charmed by Captain David as that, since she returned to 
Fort Erie that evening on her way to Detroit, leaving Lord Edward Fitz- 
gerald and others to be entertained that night by the dancing of their 
dusky friends. 

As we stated in Chapter VIII, the colonies of Massachusetts and 
New York had charters under which the)' could both claim not only all 
Central and Western New York, but a strip of land running through to 
the Pacific ocean, or at least to the Mississippi. About the close of the 
Revolution, however, both Massachusetts and New York ceded to the 
United States all claim to the territory west of a line drawn south from 
the western extremity of Lake Ontario, being the present western 
boundary of Chatauqua county. 

After divers negotiations regarding the rest of the disputed territory, 
commissioners from the two States interested and from the general gov- 
ernment met at Hartford, in December, 1786, to endeavor to harmonize 
their claims. It was then and there agreed that Massachusetts should 
yield all claim to the land east of the present east line of Ontario and 
Steuben counties. Also that west of that line. New York should have 
the political jurisdiction and sovereignty, while Massachusetts should 
have the title, or fee-simple, of the land, subject to the Indian right of 

That is to say, the Indians could hold the land as long as they 
pleased, but were only allowed to sell to the State of Massachusetts or 
her assigns. This title, thus encumbered, was called the pre-emption 
right, literally the right of first purchasing. New York, however, 
reserved a tract a mile wide, along the eastern shore of the Niagara, 
from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie. As, by the treaty of Fort Stanwix,the 
lands of the Six Nations only came within four miles of the river, and 
did not extend west of a line running due south from the mouth of Buf- 

6o History of Erie County. 

falo creek, it is probable that the United States had since released the 
tract in New York west of that line, to the Indians, in response to their 
numerous complaints. 

While these events were transpiring a combination (a "ring" it 
would now be called) was formed by prominent men in New York and 
Canada, to get control of the Indian lands in this State. Two companies 
were organized : " The New York and Genesee Land Company," of 
which one John Livingston was the manager, and the " Niagara Genesee 
Company," composed principally of Canadians, with Colonel John Butler 
at the head. With him were associated Samuel Street, of Chippewa, 
Captain Powell, the friend of the captives, William Johnston, afterwards 
of Buffalo, and Benjamin Barton, of New Jersey. 

As the State constitution forbade the sale of Indian lands to indi- 
viduals, these companies, working together, sought to evade it by a 
lease. So great was the influence of Butler and his friends that in 1787, 
the Six Nations, or some chiefs claiming to act for them, gave the New 
York and Genesee Company a lease of all their lands (except some small 
reservations) for nine hundred and ninety-nine years. The considera- 
tion was to be twenty thousand dollars, and an annual rental of two 

The next winter the lessees applied to the legislature for a recogni- 
tion of their lease, but the intent to evade the law was too plain ; the 
petition was promptly rejected and the lease declared void. 

Many of the chiefs, whether trul)^ or not, declared this lease to have 
been made without authority. We may note, as confirming what has 
been said of the influence of the female sex among these savages, that in 
a letter sent by several chiefs from Buffalo creek, in the spring of 1788, 
they say the lease is void, " since not one sachem nor principal woman 
had given their consent." 

The lease having been declared void, the lessees next proposed to 
procure a conveyance by the Indians of all their lands to the State, pro- 
vided the State would re-imburse Livingston and his associates for all 
their expenses, and convey to them half the land. This specimen of 
" cheek " can hardly be exceeded even in thes« progessive days, consider- 
ering that, by this proposition, Livingston, Butler and company would 
have got some four or five million acres of the finest land in America as a 
free gift. However, the proposition was promptly rejected. 

In 1788, Massachusetts sold all her land in New York, about six 
million acres, to Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham acting on behalf 
of themselves and others, for one million dollars, in three equal annual 
installments, the purchasers being at liberty to pay in certain stocks of 
that State, then worth about twenty cents on the dollar. 

The purchase was subject of course to the Indian right of occu- 
pancy. Phelps, the active man of the firm, made an arrangement with 

The Council at Buffalo Creek— Brant. 6i 

Livingston, who agreed, doubtless for a consideration, to help him nego- 
tiate a treaty with the Indians. But meanwhile there was a dis- 
agreement between Livingston's and Butler's companies, and when 
Phelps arrived at Geneva, where a council was to have been held, he 
learned that Butler and Brant had assembled the Indians at Buffalo 
creek, and had persuaded them not to meet with either Livingston or 
Phelps. Finding that Butler and his friends had more influence over 
the savages than Livingston, Phelps went to Niagara, came to a satis- 
factory arrangement with them, and then procured the calling of a 
council at Buffalo creek. 

It assembled on the fifth of July. The proceedings were very quiet 
and harmonious, for Butler and Brant made everything move smoothly. 
There was little dispute, little excitement, and none of those impassioned 
bursts of eloquence for which Indian orators have become famous ; yet 
the noted men present at that council make it one of the most remarka- 
ble assemblages ever convened in the county of Erie. A separate chap- 
ter will therefore be devoted to it and them. 



Brant — Butler — Kirkland — Phelps — Fanner's Brother — Red Jacket — Cornplanter — The Mill 
seat — The Bargain — Butler's Pay. 

BY far the most celebrated personage present in the council on Buf- 
falo creek in July, 1788, was the Mohawk chieftain, called in his 
native tongue Thayendenegea, but denominated Joseph when he was 
taken under the patronage of Sir William Johnson, and known to fame 
throughout England and America by the name of Brant. A tall, spare, 
sinewy man of forty-five, with an intelligent but sinister countenance, in a 
gaudy apparel combining the garments of savage and civilized life, the vain 
but keen-witted Mohawk doubtless enjoyed himself as the observed of 
all observers, but at the same time kept a sharp lookout for the main 
chance ; having acquired a decidedly civilized relish for land and money.* 

*The *' Narrative of Captain Snyder by C. H. Dewitt," quoted by Keichum, thus describes 
Brant as he appeared at Fort Niagara about five years before the council at Buffalo creek: — 

'* He was a likely fellow of a fierce aspect, tall and rather spare, well spoken, and apparently about 
thirty [nearly about forty] years of age. He wore moccasins elegantly trimmed with beads, leggins 
and breech cloth of superfine blue, short, green coat with two epauletts, and a small laced round hat. 
By his side hung an elegant silver mounted cutlass, and his blanket of blue cloth, purposely dropped 
on the chair on which he sat to display his epauletts, was gorgeously decorated with a border of red." 

Miss Powell, whose visit to Buffalo creek in 1785 is described in the last chapter, saw Brant 
at Fort Niagara, and said of him : **I was by no means pleased with his looks.** As the lady's 
letter shows that she was extremely well pleased with most of the Indians, I have ventured to de- 
scribe Brant as having a sinister countenance. 


62 History of Erie County. 

Brant has acquired a terrible reputation as a bold and blood-thirsty 
leader of savages, but it would appear as if both his vices and his virtues 
were of the civilized — or semi-civilized — stamp. He had a mind which 
took easily to the instruction of the white man — though his education was 
only mediocre — and before the Revolution he had become a kind of 
private secretary to Colonel Guy Johnson ; a position that to a thorough- 
going Indian would have been irksome in the extreme. Even the Mo- 
hawks did not then look "up to him as a great warrior, and on the out- 
break of hostilities chose as their chief his nephew, Peter Johnson, son of 
Sir William by Brant's sister Molly. 

But the British found Brant the most intelligent of the Indians, and 
by using him they could most easily insure co-operation in their own 
plans. They therefore intrusted him with numerous expeditions, and 
the Mohawks readily yielded to his authority. So, too, perhaps, did 
some of the Cayugasand Onondagas, but the evidence is strong that the 
Senecas never obeyed him. After the war, however, he was looked up 
to by all the Indians, on account of his influence with the British officials. 

In the matter of cruelty, too, though perhaps not a very humane 
man according to our standard, he was much less savage than most of 
his countrymen, and there is abundant evidence of his having many times 
saved unfortunate prisoners from torture or death. Albeit there is also 
evidence of his having taken some lives needlessly, but never of his in- 
flicting torture. 

As he grew older he affected more and more the style of an English 
country gentleman at his hospitable residences at Brantford and Bur- 
lington Bay, and finally died, in 1807, in the odor of sanctity, a member 
of the Episcopal church and a translator of the scriptures in the Mohawk 

Another active participant in the council, with a reputation scarcely 
less extensive or less sinister, was Colonel John Butler, the leader ol "But- 
ler's Rangers," the commander at the far-famed *' Massacre of Wyoming," 
the terror of ten thousand families, the loyal gentleman of British records, 
the "infamous Butler" of border history. 

In this case, as in many others, probably the subject of partisan 
hatred was not as black as he has been painted, but his record was still a 
very dark one. The " Massacre of Wyoming," is perhaps hardly entitled 
to that name. But Colonel Butler was the most active agent in sending 
and leading the savages against the frontier, knowing that it was impos- 
sible at times to restrain them from the most horrible outrages. Again 
and again they murdered individuals and families in cold blood ; again 
and again they dragged women and children from their homes hundreds 
of miles through the snows of winter, often slaughtering those too feeble 
to travel ; and again and again John Butler, the great military authority 
of all this region, sent or led them to a repetition of similar scenes — and 

Colonel John Butler — Rev. Samuel Kirkland. 63 

they were good for little else — easily satisfying his conscience by some- 
times procuring the release of a prisoner. 

A native of Connecticut, a man of education and intelligence, in his 
youth an officer in the " French and Indian" war, afterwards a judge 
of the county of Tryon, then a bold, active and relentless partisan com- 
mander, cheering on his rangers and Senecas at Wyoming, sword in 
hand, without his uniform and with a red 'kerchief tied around his head. 
Butler was in 1788, an agreeable appearing gentlemen of fifty -five or sixty, 
stout and red-faced, in cocked hat and laced coat, with unbounded 
influence over the Indians, and determined to use it so as to make a good 
thing for himself out of the lands of Western New York. 

There, too, was the Rev. Samuel Kirkland, the agent of Massachu- 
setts, a man of noble character and varied experience. Twenty-three 
years before, then a young man just graduated from college, he had 
devoted himself to the missionary cause among the Indians, going at first 
among these same Senecas, and making many friends, though meeting 
with some very disheartening adventures. Then he had taken up his 
home with the Oneidas and labored among them with some intermissions 
nearly forty years, ever receiving their most earnest affection and respect. 
It had been largely owing to his influence that that tribe had remained 
neutral during the Revolution. Congress had employed him in various 
patriotic services throughout that struggle, and during Sullivan's cam- 
paign he had served as brigade chaplain. Fourteen years after the events 
we are now relating, he gained a new title to public gratitude by becom- 
ing the founder of Hamilton College, (though it then received only the 
modest title of Hamilton Oneida Academy,) giving it a liberal endow- 
ment out of lands granted him by the State for his services. 

On this occasion he acted not only as agent for Massachusetts but 
as one of the interpreters, there being three others, one of whom was 
William Johnston. This is the first positive appearance of one who was 
afterwards to exercise a powerful influence over the future of Buffalo — 
who in fact was almost able to decide whether there should be any cit}' 
of Buffalo or not. There is, however, little doubt that he was identical 
with the " Lieutenant Johnson," heretofore mentioned, who visited the 
Senecas in 1780, and also with the Lieutenant Johnson whom Mrs. Jemi- 
son mentions as taking part in the Cherry Valley raid. 

Shrewd, persistent, enterprising, a typical business man of the day, 
was Oliver Phelps, a Connecticut Yankee by birth, a son of the Bay 
State by adoption, a New Yorker by subsequent residence. He had 
been an active and influential participant in the Revolution, and was now, 
as the agent of an association of Massachusetts speculators, negotiating 
for the purchase of a principality. Removing soon after to Canandaigua 
and superintending there the sale of the vast domain which he and his 
associates had purchased, he was to the day of his death looked up to 

64 History of Erie County. 

with profound respect by the residents of " Phelps and Gorham's Pur- 
chase." But his keenness in a bargain is well illustrated by a transaction 
at this very council, narrated a little further on. 

Among the Indian owners of the land the roost eminent was Hona- 
yewus, who had for several years been recognized as principal war-chief 
of the Senecas, and who had lately received the name of " Farmer's 
Brother "from the lips of Washington. The latter, anxious to make agri- 
culture respectable among the Indians, declared himself a farmer in con- 
versation with Honayewus, and also saluted him as his brother. The 
chieftain, proud of the attention paid him by the great hero of the pale- 
faces, readily accepted the title of " Farmer's Brother," and ere long was 
universally known by that name among the whites. 

A strong, stalwart warrior, of gigantic frame and magnificent pro- 
portions, straight as an arrow, though nearly sixty years old, plainly 
attired in full Indian costume, with eagle eye, frank, open countenance, 
commanding port and dignified demeanor, Honayewus was, more than 
Brant, or Red Jacket, or Cornplanter, the beau ideal of an Iroquois chief. 
Though an eloquent orator, second only to Red Jacket in all the Six 
Nations, he was pre-eminently a warrior, and as such had been followed 
by the Senecas through many a carnival of blood. It is to be presumed, 
too, that he had had his share in scenes of cruelty, for, though a peacea- 
ble man in peace, he was a savage like his brethren, and, like a savage, he 
waged war to the knife. 

Thirty years before he had been one of the leaders in the terrible 
tragedy of the Devil's Hole, when nearly a hundred English soldiers 
were ambushed and slain, and flung down into the darksome gorge. He 
had borne his part in many a border foray throughout the Revolution, 
had led the fierce charge of the Senecas when they turned the scale of 
battle at Wyoming, and had perhaps been an actor in the more dreadful 
scenes of Cherry Valley. Now he had become the friend of peace, the 
foe of intemperance, the conservator of order; and wherever a Seneca 
village was found, on the banks of the Buffalo or the Cattaraugus, of the 
Genesee or the Alleghany, the presence of Farmer's Brother was greeted, 
the name of Honayewus was heard, with the respect due to valor, wisdom 
and integrity. 

There, too, was the more celebrated but less respected leader, who 
had lately been made a chief by the honorable name of Sagoyewatha, 
" The Keeper Awake," (literally, "he keeps them awake" — a tribute to 
his oratorical powers which many a Congressman might envy,) but who 
was generally known among the whites by the ridiculous appellation 
which he transmitted to his descendants, the far-famed Red Jacket. 

He, too, had been an actor in the border wars, but had gained no 
laurels in them. Brant and Cornplanter both hated him, declaring him 
to be both a coward and a traitor. They were%accustomed to tell of the 

Red Jacket. 65 

time when he made a glowing speech, urging the Senecas to battle, but, 
while the conflict was going on, was discovered cutting up the cow of 
another Indian, which he had killed. He was at that time frequently 
called " The Cow-Killer," and that name was inserted in two or three 
public documents, being afterwards crossed out and "Red Jacket" 

The treason with which he was charged seems to have consisted in 
making various efforts for peace, during Sullivan's campaign, without 
the sanction of the war-chiefs. At one time he is said to have clandes- 
tinely sent a runner to the American camp, inviting a flag of truce. 
Brant heard of the proceeding, and had the unlucky messenger inter- 
cepted and killed. Probably some of the stories regarding his timidity 
and treachery are false, but there are a good many of them, and they all 
point the same way. 

Notwithstanding all this, such was the charm of his eloquence, of 
which the Iroquois were always great admirers, and such the clearness 
of his intellect, that he was rapidly gaining in influence, and had been 
made a chief; that is, as we understand it, a civil chief, or counselor of 
the sachems. 

At the beginning of the Revolution he was a youth of about twenty. 
The British officers had been attracted by his intelligence, and had fre- 
quently employed him as a messenger, for which he was as well qualified 
by his fleetness of foot as by his shrewdness of mind. They had com- 
pensated him by a succession of red jackets, in which he took great pride, 
and from which he derived his name. 

Slender of form and subtle of face, clad in the most gorgeous of In- 
dian raiment. Sagoyewatha doubtless attracted the attention of the whites, 
but he had little opportunity to display his powers, for Brant and the 
omnipotent Butler had got everything arranged in the most satisfactor)' 

There, too, was Captain John 0*Bail, or Abeel, more widely known 
as Cornplanter. Half white by blood, but thoroughly Indian by nature, 
he had been one of the bravest and most successful chiefs of the Senecas 
during the war, but 'was now under a cloud among his people, because 
of his assent to the treaty of Fort Stanwix. He is said by Mrs. Jemison 
to have captured his own father, the old white trader, John Abeel, in one 
of his raids, but to have released him after taking him a few miles. 

Farmer's Brother and Red Jacket both lived on Buffalo creek, but 
Cornplanter's residence was on the Allegany in Pennsylvania, where a 
band of Senecas looked up to him as their leader. 

Sayengeraghta, " Old King," or " Old Smoke," as he was variously 
termed, was, if living, still the principal civil sachem of the Senecas, but 
his mildness and modesty prevented his taking a prominent part among 
so many great warriors and orators. 

66 History of Erie County. 

Besides all these there was a host of inferior chiefs, whose rank gave 
them a right to take part in the council, while close by were the other 
warriors of the tribes, painted and plumed, who had no vote in the pro- 
ceedings, but who, in the democratic system of the Six Nations, might 
have a potent influence if they chose to exercise it. 

A number of British officers from Forts Niagara and Erie added 
splendor to the scene, and last, not least, was a row of old squaws, mothers 
in Israel, seated in modest silence behind the chiefs, but prepared if need 
be to express an authoritative opinion on the merits of the case — a right 
which would have been recognized by all. 

Such was the varied scene, and such the actors in it, on the banks of 
Buffalo creek, a little over eighty-seven years ago. 

The council, as we have said, was very harmonious. The Indians 
were willing to sell a part of their land, and apparently were not very 
particular about the price. The only dispute was whether the west line 
of the territory sold should be along the Genesee river or, as Phelps 
desired, some distance this side. The Indians insisted that the Great 
Spirit had fixed on that stream as the boundary between them and the 

After several days* discussion, Phelps suggested that he wanted to 
build some mills at the falls of the Genesee, (now Rochester,) which 
would be very convenient for Indians as well as whites. Would his red 
brethren let him have a mill-seat, and land enough for convenience 
around it ? 

Oh, yes, certainly, mills would be a fine thing, and the white brother 
should have a mill-seat. How much land did he want for that purpose ? 

After due deliberation Phelps replied that he thought a strip about 
twelves miles wide, extending from Avon to the mouth of the river, 
twenty-eight miles, would be about right. 

The Indians thought that would be a pretty large mill-seat, but as 
they supposed the Yankees knew best what was necessary for the purpose, 
they let him have the land. As it contained something over 200,000 acres 
it was probably the largest mill-seat ever known. 

From Avon south, the west line of the purchase was to run along 
the Genesee to the mouth of the Canaseraga, and thence due south to 
the Pennsylvania line. This was " Phelps and Gorham's Purchase." It 
included about 2,600,000 acres, and the price was left by the complaisant 
aborigines to Colonel Butler, Joseph Brant and Elisha Lee, Mr. Kirk- 
land's assistant. They fixed the price at five thousand dollars in hand, 
and five hundred dollars annually, forever. This was about equal to 
twelve thousand dollars in cash, or half a cent an acre. 

Two weeks later we find Colonel Butler calling on Mr. Phelps by 
letter for a conveyance of twenty thousand acres of the land, in accord- 
ance with a previous arrangement. Phelps duly transferred the land to 

The First White Settler. 67 

the persons designated by Butler. Considering that the Colonel had 
been one of the referees to fix the price, this transfer looks as if some of 
the Indian operations of that era would not bear investigating any better 
than those of later date. 


FROM 17BB TD 17 37. 

•* Skendyoughwatti" — First White Resident — A Son of Africa — The Holland Purchase — Proc- 
tor's Visit — British Influence — Woman's Rights — Final Failure — The Indians Insolent — 
Wayne's Victory — Johnston. Middaugh and Lane — The Forts Surrendered — Asa Ransom 
— The Mother's Strategy — First White Child — The Indians Sell Out — Reservations. 

MR. KIRKLAND made another journey to Buffalo creek the next 
fall, seeking to pacify those Indians who were discontented 
regarding the sale just made by the Senecas, and also those 
made by other tribes to the State, of lands farther east. He mentions 
seeking the aid of the second man of influence among the Senecas on 
Buffalo creek, " Skendyoughwatti." This fearful-looking name we 
understand to be the same as that called " Conjockety " by the early 
settlers, and which their descendants have transmuted into Scajaquada. 

In returning, Kirkland says he lodged at " the Governor's village," 
on the Genesee, and adds : " The Governess had set out for Niagara near 
a week before. I had not her aid in the council." This " Governess " is 
mentioned in other accounts, and seems to have been a very important 
personage, but whether she was the wife of some head chief, (or " Gov- 
ernor,") or was invested with power in her own right, is one of the 
mysteries of local history. 

In 1789 the county of Ontario was erected from Montgomery, (to 
which name that of Tryon count}' has been changed,) including the 
whole of the Massachusetts land, or substantially all west of Seneca 
lake ;. a territory now comprising thirteen counties and two parts of 

About this time, certainly before 1791, and probably in 1789, the 
first white man took up his permanent residence in Erie county. This 
was Cornelius Winne, or Winney, a Hudson river Dutchman, who estab- 
lished a little log store for trading with the Indians on the site of Buffalo, 
at the foot of the hill which old residents still remember as existing at 
the Mansion House. This was four miles from the main Seneca village, 
but there were scattered huts all the way down the creek from that 

68 History of Erik Couxty. 

Yillage to Fanner's Point, where Farmer's Brother lived. Captain 
Powell had an interest in Winney's store. 

We call Winney the first white resident, for though William Johnston 
had spent much time among the Senecas as a kind of British agent, and 
had taken a Seneca wife, there is no evidence that he had then made his 
permanent abode among them. 

Almost as soon as the earliest white man — possibly preceding him — 
the irrepressible African made his advent in our county; for in 1792 we 
find " Black Joe," alias Joseph Hodge, established as an Indian trader on 
Cattaraugus creek, and from the way in which he is mentioned we infer 
that he had already been there a considerable time. 

Meanwhile the adoption of the Federal Constitution had caused a 
great rise in Massachusetts stocks, so that Phelps and Gorham were 
unable to make the payments they had agreed on. After much negotia- 
tion Massachusetts released them from their contract as to all the land 
except that to which they had extinguished the Indian title, to wit, 
** Phelps and Gorham's Purchase." Of that the State gave them a deed 
in full. 

Massachusetts at once sold the released land in five tracts to Robert 
Morris, the merchant prince of Philadelphia, and the celebrated financier 
of the Revolution. The easternmost of these tracts Mr. Mon-is sold out 
in small parcels. The remaining four constituted the " Holland Pur- 
chase." Mr. Morris sold it by four conveyances (not corresponding, 
however, to the four given by Massachusetts) made in 1792 and 93, to 
several Americans who held it in trust for a number of Hollanders, who 
being aliens could not hold it in their own name. As they did not begin 
the settlement of the county until several years later, it is unnecessary to 
say more of them here. 

In 1 79 1 there was great uneasiness among the Indians, even in this 
vicinity, and in the West they were constantly committing depredations. 
The British still held all the forts on the American side of the boundary 
line, in open violation of the treaty of peace, alleging that the Amer- 
icans had also failed to comply with its provisions. To what extent they 
encouraged the Indians to hostilities is not known, but in view of the 
protectorate which they openly assumed over the savages, and which 
the latter acknowledged, it cannot well be doubted that the English 
influence was hostile to the United States. 

In April, 1791, Colonel Thomas Proctor, a commissioner appointed 
by the War Department, came from Philadelphia to Cornplanter's vil- 
lages on the Allegany, thence, accompanied by that chief and many of 
his warriors, to the Cattaraugus settlement, and then down the beach of 
the lake to Buffalo creek. Horatio Jones, the celebrated captive and 
interpreter, was also of the party. Proctor's object was to persuade the 
Senecas to use their influence to stop the hostilities of the Western Indi- 

Visit of Colonel Thomas Proctor. 69 

ans, (against whom General St. Clair was then preparing to move,) and 
to that end to send a delegation of chiefs along with him on a mission 
to the Miamis. His journal is published by Ketchum, and gives much 
information regarding the condition of affairs in Erie county in 1791. 

He found the English influence very strong, the Indians obtaining 
supplies not only of clothing but of provisions from Forts Erie and 
Niagara. On the commissioner's arrival, "Young King,'* who could not 
have been over twenty-two or three years old, met him, apparelled in 
the full uniform of a British colonel, red, with blue facings and gold 
epaulets. The Senecas were also in possession of a two-pound swivel* 
which they fired in honor of the occasion, the gunner wisely standing 
inside the council house while he touched it off with a long pole passed 
between the logs. The charge was so heavy that it upset the gun and 
its carriage. 

At this time Red Jacket had risen to a high position, being men- 
tioned by Proctor as " the great speaker, and a prince of the Turtle tribe." 
In fact, however, he belonged to the Wolf clan. 

On Proctor's stating his object in the council. Red Jacket questioned 
his authority. This, as the colonel was informed by a French trader, 
was the result of the insinuations of Butler and Brant, who had been 
there a week before and had advised the Indians not to send a delegation 
to the Miamis. Proctor offered to present his credentials to any one in 
whom they had confidence, and they at once sent for the commandant 
at Fort Erie. The latter sent back Capt. Powell, who seems to have acted 
as a kind of guardian to the Indians during the proceedings. These were 
very deliberate, and were adjourned from day to day. 

Red Jacket was the spokesman of the Indians, and declared their 
determination to move the council to Niagara, insisting on the commis- 
sioners accompanying them the next day as far as Capt. Powell's house 
below Fort Erie. Proctor peremptorily declined. Then Red Jacket and 
Farmer's Brother addressed the council by turns, the result being that a 
runner was at once sent to Niagara to summon Col. Butler to the coun- 
cil. After two or three days' delay Butler came to Winney's store-house, 
and requested the sachems and head men to meet him there, but said 
nothing about Proctor. 

While waiting, the commissioner dined with ** Big Sky," head chief of 
the Onondagas, whose " castle " he describes as being three miles east from 
"Buffalo," meaning from the Seneca village. There were twenty-eight 
good cabins near it, and the inhabitants were well clothed, especially the 
women, some of whom, according to Colonel Powell, were richly dressed, 
"with silken stroud" and silver trappings worth not less thirty pounds 
($1 50) per suit. It seems, too, that they had advanced so far in civilization 
that the ladies were invited to the feast of the warriors, which consisted 
principally of young pigeons boiled and stewed. These were served up in 

70 History of Erie County. 

hanks of six, tied around the neck with deer's sinews, and were orna- 
mented with pin feathers. However, the colonel made a good meal. 

On the 4th of May the Indians repaired to the store-house to hold, 
council with Butler. The latter invited Proctor to dine with him and 
his officers, including Captains Powell and Johnston. They spoke the 
Seneca language fltently, and advised the chiefs not to go with the com- 
missioner then, but to wait for Brant, who had gone west. Red Jacket 
and Young King appear to have been working for Proctor. The latter at 
length resented the interference of the British and insisted on a speedy 
answer from the Indians. Every paper delivered to the chiefs was handed 
over to Butler, who went back to Fort Erie next day. 

On the 6th of May, embassador Red Jacket announced that there 
would be no council, as the honorable councilors were going out to hunt 
pigeons. Proctor makes special mention of the immense number of 
pigeons found — over a hundred nests on a tree with a pair of pigeons in 

On the 7th a private council was held, at which land was granted to 
Indians of other tribes who had fled from the Shawnees and Miamis. 
" Captain Smoke " and the Delawares under his charge were assigned to 
the Cattaraugus settlement, where their descendants dwell at the present 
day. Several Missisauga families had planting-grounds given them near 
the village of Buffalo creek. 

On the nth. Proctor declares that there was a universal drunk; 
"Cornplanter and some of the elder women excepted," from which the 
natural inference is that the young women indulged with the rest. 

Finally, on the 15th of May, the elders of the women repaired to the 
commissioner's hut, and declared that they had taken the matter into con- 
sideration, and that they should be listened to, for, said they : " We are 
the owners of this land, and it is ours ; " adding, as an excellent reason 
for the claim, " for it is we that plant it." They then requested Colonel 
Proctor to listen to a formal address from " the women's speaker," they 
having appointed Red Jacket for that purpose. 

The alarm-gun was fired, and the chiefs came together, the elder 
women being seated near them. Red Jacket arose, and after many florid 
preliminaries announced that the women had decided that the sachems 
and warriors must help the commissioner, and that a number of them 
would accompany him to the West. 

Colonel Proctor was overjoyed at this happy exemplification of 
woman's rights, and seems to have thought there would be no further 
difficulty. He forthwith dispatched a letter by the trusty hand of 
Horatio Jones to Colonel Gordon, the commandant at Niagara — who 
was located opposite the fort of that name— asking that himself and the 
Indians might take passage on some British merchant-vessel running up 
Lake Eric, since the chiefs refused to go in an open boat. (It is worth 

Failure of Colonel Proctor's Mission. 71 

noticing that even so late as 1791, Proctor spoke of Jones' crossing the 
" St. Lawrence," instead of the Niagara.) 

Gordon, in the usual spirit of English officials on the frontier at that 
time, refused the permission, and so the whole scheme fell through. It 
was just what was to have been expected, though Proctor does not seem 
to have expected it, and it is very likely the whole thing was well under- 
stood between the British and Indians. 

While it was supposed that Red Jacket and others would go with 
Proctor, that worthy had several requests to make. Firstly, the colonel 
was informed that his friends expected something to drink, as they were 
going to have a dance before leaving their women. This the commis- 
sioner responded to with a present of " eight gallons of the best spirits.*' 
Then Red Jacket remarked that his house needed a floor, and Proctor 
offered to have one made. Then he preferred a claim for a special allow- 
ance of rum for his wife and mother, and in fact — well — he wanted a little 
rum himself. So the colonel provided a gallon for the great orator and 
his wife and mother. Young King was not less importunate, but Corn- 
planter was modest and dignified, as became a veteran warrior. But the 
worthy commissioner made due provision for them all. 

The projected expedition having thus fallen through, Young King 
made a farewell speech, being aided by " Fish Carrier," a Cayuga chief, 
whose "keen gravity" put Proctor in mind of a Roman Senator, and 
who seems to have been a man of great importance, though never put- 
ting himself forward as a speech-maker. 

The Indians must have had a pretty good time during Proctor's stay, 
as his liquor bill at Cornelius Winney's was over a hundred and thirty 

A very curious item in the commissioner's diary is this : " Gave a 
white prisoner that lived with said Winney nine pounds four and a half 
pence." Who he was or to whom he could have been prisoner is a 
mystery, since the Indians certainly held no prisoners at that time, and 
Cornelius, the Dutch trader, could hardly have captured a white man, 
though the law would have allowed him to own a black one. 

All this counciling having come to naught. Colonel Proctor set out 
for Pittsburg on the 21st of May, having spent nearly a month in the 
very highest society of Erie county. 

A little later the successive defeats of Harmer and St. Clair by the 
Western Indians aroused all the worst passions of the Iroquois. Their 
manners toward the Americans became insolent in the extreme, and it is 
positively asserted that some of their warriors united with the hostile 
bands. There is little doubt that another severe disaster would have 
disposed a large part of them to rise in arms, and take revenge for the 
unforgotten though well-merited punishment inflicted by Sullivan. Yet 
they kept up negotiations with the United States ; in fact nothing 

72 History of Erie County. 

delighted the chiefs more than holding councils, making treaties and 
performing diplomatic pilgrimages. They felt that at such times they 
were indeed " big Indians.'' 

In 1792, Red Jacket and Farmer's Brother were two of fifty chiefs, 
who visited the seat of government, then at Philadelphia. 

The former then claimed to be in favor of civilization, and it was at 
this time that Washington gave him the celebrated medal which he 
afterwards wore on all great occasions. It was of silver, oval in form, 
about seven inches long by five wide, and represented a white man in a 
general's uniform, presenting the pipe of peace to an Indian scantily 
attired in palm leaves. The latter has flung down his tomahawk, which 
lies at his feet. Behind them is shown a house, a field, and a man plough- 

A characteristic anecdote is told of Red Jacket, by his biographer, 
regarding one of these visits. On his arrival at the seat of government. 
General Knox, then Secretary of War, presented the distinguished 
Seneca with the full uniform of a military officer, with cocked hat and 
all equipments complete. Red Jacket requested the bearer to tell Knox 
that he could not well wear military clothes, he being a civil sachem, not 
a war chief. If any such present was to be made him, he would prefer 
a suit of civilian's clothes, but would keep the first gift till the other was 
sent. In due time a handsome suit of citizen's clothes was brought to 
his lodging. The unsophisticated savage accepted it, and then remarked 
to the bearer that in time of war the sachems went out on the war-path 
with the rest, and he would keep the military suit for such an occasion. 
And keep it he did. 

In 1794 Mad Anthony Wayne went out to Ohio. He did not allow 
himself to be surprised, as his predecessors had been, and when he met 
the hordes of the Northwest, he struck them down with canister and 
bayonet, until they thought the angel of death himself was on their 
track. Said Joshua Fairbanks, of Lewiston, to a Miami Indian, who had 
fled from that terrible onslaught : — 

** What made you run away?" With gestures corresponding to his 
words, and endeavoring to represent the effect of the cannon, he replied : 
" Pop, pop, pop — boo, woo, woo — whish, whish — boo, woo — kill 
twenty Indians one time — no good, by damn." 

The Senecas had runners stationed near the scene of conflict, and 
when they brought back the news of the tremendous punishment inflicted 
on their western friends, all the Iroquois in Western New York resolved 
to be **good Indians:" and from that time forth they transgressed only 
by occasional ebullitions of passion or drunkenness. 

In September of that year (1794), another treaty was made at Canan- 
daigua, by which the United States contracted to give the New York 
Iroquois Sio,ooo worth of goods, and an annuity of §4,000 annually in 

Commencement of Settlement in Erie County. 73 

clothing, domestic animals, etc. It was also fully agreed that the Sene- 
cas should have all the land in New York west of Phelps and Gorham's 
Purchase, except the reservation a mile wide along the Niagara. 

This council at Canandaigua was the last one at which the United 
States treated with the Iroquois as a confederacy. William Johnston, so 
often mentioned before, came there, and was discovered haranguing 
some of the chiefs. It was believed that he was acting in behalf of the 
British, to prevent a treaty, and Colonel Pickering, the United States 
commissioner, compelled him to leave. 

About this time, or a little earlier, Johnston took up his permanent 
residence in a block-house which he built near Winney's store, at the 
mouth of Buffalo creek. His Indian friends gave him two square miles 
of land in the heart of the present city of Buffalo. His title would 
doubtless have been considered void in the courts of the pale-faces, but 
so long as the Senecas should retain their land Johnson would be allowed 
to use his magnificent domain at will. 

About the same time as Johnston, perhaps a little later, one Martin 
Middaugh, a Hudson river Dutchman, though recently from Canada, 
and his son-in-law, Ezekiel Lane, were allowed by Johnston to build a log 
house on his land, near his own residence. Middaugh was a cooper, and 
perhaps made some barrels for the Indians, but both he and Lane seem 
to have been dependents of Johnston. 

There had begun to be considerable travel through Erie county. 
There was emigration to Canada, which was rapidly settling up, and also 
to Ohio, a part of which was open for purchase. There were no roads 
but Indian trails, but some way or other people managed to flounder 
through. In 1794 or 95 the first tavern was opened in the county. 

In the latter year there came hither a French duke, bearing the 
ancient and stately name of De La Rochefoucauld Liaincourt, probably 
driven from France by the revolution, who was desirous of seeing the 
red man in his native wilds. On his way to the Seneca village he and 
his companions passed the night at •* Lake Erie,** the name applied to the 
cluster of log houses on Johnston's land. When men spoke of *' Buffalo," 
thev referred to the village of the Senecas. 

There was then something in the shape of an inn, but if the land- 
lord "kept tavern" he kept nothing else, "for," says the duke in his 
travels, "there was literally nothing in the house, neither furniture, rum, 
candles, nor milk." The absence of rum was certainly astonishing. 
Milk was at length procured " from the neighbors," and rum and candles 
from across the river. The name of this frugal pioneer landlord was 
supposed to have been Skinner, as a man of that name certainlj' kept 
there only a little later. 

On the 4th of July, 1796, Fort Niagara was surrendered by the 
British to the United States; Fort Ontario, at Oswego, being given up 

74 History of Erie County. 

ten days later. This strengthened the impression made on the Indians 
by Wayne's victory, and confirmed them in the disposition to cultivate 
friendly relations with the Americans. 

In that year, too, the little settlement of **Lake Erie" was increased 
by the arrival from Geneva ot Mr. Asa Ransom, a resolute and intelligent 
young man, a silversmith by trade, who built a log house, established 
himself there with his delicate young wife and infant daughter, and went 
to work making silver brooches, ear-rings, and other ornaments in which 
the soul of the red man and the red man's wife so greatly delighted. 
This was the first family that brought into Erie county the habits and 
refinements of civilized life. At this time and for several years afterward, 
the few settlers who wanted to get corn ground were obliged to take it 
over the river and down to Niagara, forty miles distant. 

In the autumn of 1797, the settlement received another addition by 
the arrival of a daughter in the Ransom lamih', being, so far as is known, 
the first white child born in Erie county, and the first in New York west 
of the Genesee river, outside of Fort Niagara. Some twenty-two years 
later this little stranger became Mrs. Frederick B. Merrill. 

We mentioned some pages back, the sale by Robert Morris to certain 
Holland gentlemen, (through their American friends,) of nearly all the 
land west of the Genesee: the seller agreeing to extinguish the Indian 
title. It was not until 1797 that this could be accomplished. In Sep- 
tember of that year a council was held at Geneseo, at which Morris 
bought the whole of the remaining Seneca lands in New York, except 
eleven reservations of various sizes, comprising in all about three hundred 
and thirty-eight square miles. 

Of these the Buffalo creek reservation, the largest of all, lay wholly 
in Erie county. By the terms of the treaty it was to contain a hundred 
and thirty square miles, lying on both sides of Buffalo creek, about seven 
miles wide from north to southland extending eastward from Lake Erie. 
The Cattaraugus reservation was to contain forty-two square miles, on 
both sides of Cattaraugus creek near its mouth, being in the present 
counties of Erie, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua. As finally surveyed 
about thirty-four square miles were in Erie countv. 

The Tonawanda reservation Avas to contain seventy square miles, 
Iving on both sides of Tonawanda creek, beginning *' about twenty-five 
miles" from its mouth, and running east •* about seven miles wide." Of 
this, as surveyed, some fifteen square miles were in Erie county. The 
other reservations, which were all small, were entirely outside of the 

As will have been seen, the amounts reserved were all definite, but 
the precise lines were left to be located afterwards, in order not to crowd 
any of the Indian villages. The tract bought, aside from the reserva- 
tions, contained about three millions three hundred thousand acres, for 

Survey and Settlement. 75 

which Morris paid ten thousand dollars, or less than a third of a cent 
per acre. 

Considering the complaints which Indians are all the time making 
about the loss of their lands, it certainly seems strange that they should 
throw them away by the million acres for a merely nominal price, as they 
have usually done. The sale to Phelps and Gorham was not so exces- 
sively strange because it involved no change in their mode of life. They 
still had vast hunting grounds west of the Genesee. But that to Morris 
at once destroyed all hope of living by the chase, and necessitated their 
adopting to a considerable extent the habits of the white man. They 
appear to have forgotten all about the Great Spirit's fixing the Genesee 
as their eastern boundary. Yet they showed no inclination to demand 
white men's prices for their land. 

Certainly such men as Red Jacket and Farmer's Brother, who had 
visited the eastern cities and had seen the wealth of the whites, must 
have known that a third of a cent per acre was a very poor price to pay 
for land. True, we may suppose they were bought, (which would accord 
with Red Jacket's character,) but one would imagine that, in the demo- 
cratic Iroquois system, the warriors of the tribe could easily have pre- 
vented a sale, and in view of their reiterated complaints over the Fort 
Stanwix treaty and the sale to Phelps and Gorham, it is strange they did 
not do so. They must have wanted whisky very badly. 



The Holland Company — Three Sets of Proprietors — Their System of Surveys — The State Reser- 
vation— The West Transit — The Founder of Buffalo — The First Road — Indian Trails — 
New Amsterdam — Hotel at Clarence— A Young Stranger — Ellicott Made Agent — First 
Wheat — The Office at Pine Grove— A Hard Problem — The First Purchase — Dubious 
Records — An Aboriginal Engineer — A Venerable Mansion — Chapin's Project — The First 

MUCH has been written, and more has been said, about the " Hol- 
land Company." When people wished to be especially precise, 
they called it the " Holland Land Company." It has been praised 
and denounced, blessed and cursed, besought for favors and assailed for 
refusal, almost as much as any institution in America. Not only in com- 
mon speech, in newspapers and in books, but in formal legal documents 
it has been again and again described as the " Holland Company," or the 
" Holland Land Company," according to the fancy of the writer. 

7"^ History of Erie Conrrr- 

Yet, legally, there never was acv such ihirg as the Hcllacd Coro- 
j>arj y, or the Holland Land Company. 

Certain merchants and others of the city of Aii:sierdani. placed 
funds in the bands of friends who were citizens of Acerica, to purchase 
vrveral tracts of land in the United States, which, being aliens, the Hol- 
landers could not hold in their own name at that time. One of these 
tracts, comprising what was afterwards known as the Holland Purchase, 
was Ix/ught from Robert Morris, as before stated. From their names wc 
infer that most of those who made the purchase for the Hollanders, were 
themselves of Holland birth, but had been naturalized in the United States. 

In the fore part of 1798, the Legislature of New York authorized 
thr/se aliens to hold land within the State, and in the latter part of that 
year, the American trustees conveyed the Holland Purchase to the real 
owners. It was transferred, however, to two sets of proprietors, and one 
of these sets was soon divided into two, making three in all. Each set 
held its tract as ''joint tenants," that is, the survivors took the whole; 
the shares could not be the subject of will nor sale, afld did not pass by 
inheritance, except in case of the last survivor. 

But there was no incorporation and no legal company. All deeds 
were made in the name of the individual proprietors. The three sets of 
owners appointed the same general and local agents, who, in their behalf, 
carried out one system in dealing with settlers, though apportioning the 
expenses among the thiee sets according to their respective interests, 
and paying to each the avails of their own lands. 

At the first transfer by the trustees, the whole tract, except 300,000 
acres, was conveyed to Wilhem Willink, Nicholas Van Staphorst, Pieter 
Van Heghen, Hendrick Vollenhoven,and Rutger Jan Schimmelpenninck. 
The 300,000 acres were conveyed to Wilhem Willink, Jan Willink, Wil- 
hem Willink, Jr., and Jan Willink, Jr. Two years later, the five proprie- 
tors of the main tract "transferred the title of about a million acres, so 
that it was vested in the original five, and also in Wilhem Willink, Jr., 
Jan Willink, Jr., Jan Gabriel Van Staphorst, Roelif Van Staphorst, Jr., 
(Cornelius Vollenhoven, and Hendrick Seye. Pieter Stadnitzki was also 
made a partner, though in some unknown manner. 

In the hands of these three sets of owners, the titles remained during 
tlic most active period of settlement, only, as men died, their shares 
passed to the survivors, and their names were dropped out of the deeds. 
Some twenty years later, new proprietors were brought in, but the three 
sets remained as before. It will be observed that Wilhem Willink was 
the head of each of the three sets, and as he outlived nearly all the rest, 
his name was the first in every deed. 

The same proprietors, or a portion of them, also held large bodies 
of land in Central New York and in Pennsylvania, all managed by the 
same general agent at Philadelphia. 


The Holland Land Company. ^7 

For convenience, however, all these owners will be described 
throughout this work, by the name to which every one in Erie county 
is accustomed, that of the ** Holland Company," and their tract in 
Western New York will be considered as distinctively the " Holland 
Purchase," though there were other bodies of land equally well entitled 
to the name. 

The first general agent of the Company was Theophilus Cazenove, 
a Hollander sent out from Europe for the purpose. Previous to the 
extinguishment of the Indian title to the Company's lands in New York, 
Cazenove had employed Joseph Ellicott to survey their tract in Penn- 
sylvania. He was a younger brother of Andrew A. Ellicott, then Sur- 
veyor-General of the United States, and had assisted him in laying out 
the city of Washington. 

As soon as the treaty was made with the Indians in the fall of 1797, 
Mr. Cazenove employed the same efficient person to survey the new 
tract. That same autumn he and Augustus Porter, the surveyor 
employed by Robert Morris, in order to ascertain the number of acres 
in the Purchase, took the necessary assistance, began at the northeast 
corner, traversed the northern bounds along Lake Ontario to the Niagara, 
thence up the river to Lake Erie, and thence along the lake shore to the 
western boundary of the State. 

No sooner had the keen eye of Joseph Ellicott rested on the loca- 
tion at the mouth of BufiFalo creek than he made up his mind that that 
was a most important position, and he ever after showed his belief by 
his acts. 

The next spring, (1798,) the grand surveying campaign began, with 
Ellicott as general-in-chief. He himself ran the east line of the Purchase, 
usually called the East Transit. Eleven other surveyors, each with his 
corps of axemen, chainmen, etc., went to work at diflFerent points, run- 
ning the lines of ranges, townships and reservations. All through the 
Purchase the deer were startled from their hiding-places, the wolves 
were driven growling from their lairs, by bands of men with compasses 
and theodolites, chains and flags, while the red occupants looked sullenly 
on at the rapid parceling out of their broad and fair domain. 

The survey system adopted by the Holland Company was substan- 
tially the same as that previously followed on Phelps and Gorham's Pur- 
chase, and was not greatly different from that now in use by the United 
States all over the West. The tract was first divided into ranges six 
miles wide, running from Pennsylvania to Lake Ontario, and numbered 
from east to west. The^e were subdivided into townships six miles 
square, numbered from south to north. 

The original intention was to divide every complete township into 
sixteen sections, each a mile and a half square ; subdividing these into 
lots, each three-quarters of a mile long and one-quarter wide, every one 


78 History of Erie County. 

containing just a hundred and twenty acres. This plan, however, was 
soon abandoned as inconvenient and complicated, and the townships 
were divided into lots three-fourths of a mile square, containing three 
hundred and sixty acres each. These were sold in parcels to suit pur- 
chasers. It was a common but not invariable rule to divide them into 
^* thirds" of a hundred and twenty acres each. 

Twenty-four townships had already been surveyed when the first 
plan was abandoned, three of which were in Erie county, being the pres* 
ent town of Lancaster and the southern part of Newstead and Clarence. 
Both systems diflFer from that of the United States, in that by the 
latter each township is divided into sections a mile square, and these 
into quarter-sections of a hundred and sixty acres each. 

It will be understood that various causes, such as the existence of 
lakes and rivers, the use of large streams as boundaries, the great fickle- 
ness of the magnetic needle, the interposition of reservation lines, etc., 
frequently produced a variation from the normal number of square miles 
in a township, or of acres in a lot. 

The surveys went briskly forward. EUicott, after running the east 
line of the Purchase, stayed at " Buffalo Creek" the greater part of the 
season, directing operations. By this name we now refer to the cluster 
of cabins near the mouth of the creek, previously called " Lake Erie ;" 
for on the opening of surveys that appellation was dropped, and the 
name ** Buffalo Creek" was speedily transferred thither from the Seneca 
village to which it had before pertained. 

In the fall Seth Pease ran the line of the State reservation along the 
Niagara river, or the " streights of Niagara," as that stream was then 
frequently termed. There was some difficulty in determining its bound- 
aries at the southern end, as the lake gradually narrowed so it was hard 
to tell where it ended and the river began. It was at length agreed 
between the State authorities and the company that the river should be 
considered to commence where the water was a mile wide. 

From the point on the eastern bank opposite this mile width of water, 
a boundary was drawn, consisting of numerous short lines, amounting 
substantially to the arc of a circle with a mile radius, giving to the State 
all the land within a mile of the river, whether east from its eastern bank 
or south from its head. 

Besides the East Transit, another standard meridian was run as a 
base of operations in the western part of the Purchase, and called the 
West Transit. It was the line between the sixth and seventh ranges, and 
is now the boundary between Clarence, Lancaster, Elma, Aurora and 
Colden on the east, and Amherst, Cheektowaga, West Seneca, East 
Hamburg and Boston on the west. 

A portion ot the 300,000 acres conveyed to the four Willinks, as before 
mentioned, lay in a strip nearly a mile and a half wide, (113 chains, 68 

The Founder of Buffalo. 79 

links.) just west of the West Transit, extending from Pennsylvania to 
Lake Ontario. The rest of the land belonging to that set of proprietors 
was in the southeast corner of the Purchase. 

All that part of Erie county west of the West Transit (except the 
pre-emption right to the reservations,) was included in the conveyance 
of a million acres to the larger set of proprietors, while that part east 
of the Transit was retained by the five original owners. The Transit, 
however, was not the line between the two sets throughout the whole 

The city of Buffalo was founded by Joseph Ellicott. He not 
only selected the site and laid out the town, but it was only through 
his good judgment and special exertions that there was any town 
there. All through the summer and fall of 1788, though only the super- 
intendent of surveys and in no way responsible for the future prosperity 
of the Purchase, he labored zealously to get room for a city at the foot 
of Lake Erie. He saw that the State reservation would come down to 
within a short distance of the cluster of cabins which he meant should 
be the nucleus of a great commercial emporium. He saw, too, that if 
the Buffalo Creek reservation, (which by the treaty with Morris was 
to be seven miles wide, lying on both sides of the creek), should be 
surveyed with straight lines, it would run square against the State 
reservation, and cut off the Holland Company entirely from the foot of 
the lake. 

The Indians were not particular about having the land at the mouth 
of the creek for themselves, but they had granted two square miles to 
their friend Johnston, and, though they could give no title, they could 
insist on the whole being included in their reserve, unless an arrangement 
should be made with him. They had also given him, substantially, a 
life lease of a mill seat and certain timbered lands on Scajaquada creek, six 
miles from the mouth of the Buffalo. 

Ellicott, after considerable bargaining, succeeded in makmg an 
agreement with Johnston, the latter persuaded the Indians to leave the 
town site out of the reservation, and the company deeded him a mile 
square, including his mill-seat and forty-five and one-half acres in the city. 
So, instead of the north boundary of the Buffalo Creek reservation run- 
ning due west to the State reservation, it was made to turn just east of 
what is now called East Buffalo, whence it ran southwest to the creek 
and down the center of the creek to the lake. 

The previous winter the legislature had authorized the laying out of 
a State road from Conewagus (Avon) to Buffalo creek, and another to 
Lewiston. The Company subscribed five thousand dollars for cutting 
them out. The first wagon track opened in Erie county was made under 
the direction of Mr. Ellicott, who, in the spring of 1798, employed men 
to improve the Indian trail from the East Transit to Buffalo. 

8o History of Erie County. 

This trail ran from the east, even from the valley of the Hudson, 
crossing the Genesee at Avon, running through Batavia, and down the 
north side of Tonawanda creek, crossing into Erie county at the Tona- 
wanda Indian village. Thence it ran over the site of Akron, through 
Clarence Hollow and Williamsville to Cold Spring, and thence follow- 
ing nearly the line of Main street to the creek. A branch turned off to 
Black Rock, where both Indians and whites were in the habit of crossing 
to Canada. Another branch diverged at Clarence, struck Cayuga creek 
near Lancaster, and ran down it to the Seneca village. 

Another principal trail ran from Little Beard's town, on the Genesee, 
entered Erie county near the southeast corner of the present town of 
Alden, struck the reservation at the southwest comer of that town, and 
ran thence westerly to the Seneca village. 

Besides, there were trails up the Ca^enove and Eighteen-Mile creeks, 
and between the Buffalo and Cattaraugus villages. 

In 1799, little was done except to push forward the surveys. It 
was determined that the city to be built on the ground secured by Mr. 
Ellicott should be called " New Amsterdam," and he began to date his 
letters to that address. 

In that year, the Company offered several lots, about ten miles apart, 
on the road from the East Transit to Buffalo, to any proper men who 
would build and keep open taverns upon them. The lots were not 
donated, but were to be sold at the Company's lowest price, on long 
time and without interest. This offer was accepted by Asa Ransom, 
the Buffalo silversmith, who located himself at what is now Clarence 
Hollow. This was the first settlement in Erie county made white-man 
fashion, that is, with a white man's view of obtaining legal title to the 
land. All previous settlement had been merely on sufferance of the 

One of the first strangers who applied for entertainment at the new 
hotel, was a young gentleman afterwards known as Colonel Harry B. 
Ransom. He arrived in November, 1799, and was in all probability the 
first white male child born in Erie county. 

In this year, a contract was granted, evidently by special favor, to 
Benjamin Ellicott (brother of Joseph) and John Thompson, two of the 
surveyors, for three hundred acres in township 12, range 7, (Amherst,) 
which was not yet subdivided into lots. There is some discrepancy in 
the description as recorded, but we are satisfied that the contract covered 
the site of Williamsville and the water-power there. The price was two 
dollars per acre. 

The same year, Timothy S. Hopkins, afterwards well-known as 
General Hopkins, came into the county and took charge of Johnston's 
saw-mill, the only one in the county, where he worked during the sea- 
son. Notwithstanding the absence of regular settlers, the numerous 

First Wheat Raised in Erie County. 8i 

camps of surveyors made •* brisk times," and any one who was willing 
to work could get good wages and prompt pay. 

Theophilus Cazenove, the general agent of the Company, returned 
to Europe in 1799. His name, given by Mr. Ellicott to one of the largest 
streams in Erie county, remains as a perpetual reminiscence of his con- 
nection with the Holland Purchase. His place as agent was supplied 
by Paul Busti, a native of Italy, who, until his death, twenty-four years 
later, faithfully discharged the duties of that position. 

In the year 1800, the laying off of the Purchase into townships was 
completed, and a number of townships were sub-divided into lots. Mr. 
Ellicott was appointed local agent for the sale of the land. While in the 
East, this season, he issued handbills, headed " Holland Company West 
Geneseo land/' apprising the public that they would soon be for sale, 
and stating that they were situated adjacent to " Lakes Erie and Onta- 
rio, and the straits of Niagara." 

Mr. Ransom raised some crops this year, and T. S. Hopkins and Otis 
Ingalls cleared a piece of land two miles east of Clarence Hollow, (in the 
edge of Newstead,) and raised wheat upon it, said to be the first raised 
on the Holland Purchase, and certainly the first in Erie county. When 
it was ready for grinding, Mr. Hopkins was obliged to take it to Street's 
mill at Chippewa, forty miles. He went with three yoke of cattle, by 
way of Black Rock, the whole population of which then consisted of an 
Irishman, named O'Niel, who kept the ferry. The ferriage each way was 
two dollars and a half, and the trip must have taken at least four days. 

In January, 1801, Mr. Ellicott returned from the East, stayed a few 
days at '* New Amsterdam," and then located his office at " Ransomville," 
or **Pine Grove." Sometimes he used one appellation in dating his 
letters, sometimes the other, apparently in doubt as to which was the 
more euphonious. He could hardly have anticipated that both these 
well-rounded names would finally be exchanged for "Clarence Hollow." 
Several townships were ready for sale on the Purchase, at least one of 
which was in Erie county. This was township 12, range 6, compris- 
ing the south part of the present town of Clarence. Though town- 
ship 12, range 5, (Newstead,) lay directly cast, no sales are recorded as 
made in it till the latter part of the year. 

Very^lowly at first, the settlement went forward. The land was 
offered at $2.75 per acre, ten per cent. down. But precisely there— on 
the ten percent. — was the sticking-point. Men with even a small amount 
of money were unwilling to undertake the task of clearing up the forests 
of Holland Purchase. Those who wished to buy had no money. 

In a letter to Mr. Busti, dated February 17, 1801, Mr. Ellicott says: 
" If some mode could be devised to grant land to actual settlers, who 
cannot pay in advance, and at the same time not destroy that part of the 
plan which requires some advance, I am convinced the most salutary 

S2 History of Erie County. 

results would follow." A rather difficult task, to dispense with the 
advance and yet retain the plan which required an advance. Mr. Elli- 
cott does not solve the problem, but he seems to have been authorized to 
set aside the plan, for the time, for we soon find him selling without receiv- 
ing the ten per cent, in advance. 

It may be doubted whether it would not have been better, both for 
the company and the settlers, if the general agent had insisted on the 
original system. Settlement would have been slower at first, but it must 
have come ere long and it would have had a firmer foundation. If a man 
cannot raise thirty or forty dollars to make a first payment on a farm, it is 
ver}' doubtful whether he will make the whole amount off from the land. 
Many did, but many failed. 

There was, however, competition in every direction.. There were 
large tracts yet unsold in the eastern and central parts of the State. 
" New Connecticut," now known as the Western Reserve, in Ohio, was 
in market at low rates, the same was the case with the territory 
around Presque Isle, (Erie, Pa.,) and in Canada the British government 
was granting lands at sixpence per acre. On the 26th of February, Mr. 
Ellicott notes in his diary that over forty people — men, women and chil- 
dren — lodged at Ransom's the night before, moving principally to New 
Connecticut and Presque Isle. 

Still some sales were made, especially in the present county of Gene- 
see, next to the older settlements on Phelps and Gorham's Purchase. 
Some immigrants had previously come to this section for the purpose 
of settling on the Holland Purchase, but finding the land not in market 
had temporarily located in Canada, while awaiting the completion of 
the surveys. Some of these now returned and others came in from 
the East. 

The first record of any person's purchasing a piece of land in Erie 
county in the regular course of settlement, and aside from the special 
grants before mentioned, is that ot Christopher Saddler, who took a 
contract, or " article," on the 12th of March, 1801, for 234 acres on lots 
I and 2, section 6, town 12, range 6; being about a mile east of Clarence 

And here we may say that there is no certain record of the coming of 
the first settlers to the various towns. The books of the Holland Company 
only show when men agreed to purchase land, not when they actually 
settled. After a short time an arrangement was made by which land was 
»* booked " to men who appeared to be reliable, for a dollar payment on 
each piece, when it would be kept for them a year before they were 
required to make their first payment and take an article. It soon became 
common for speculative persons to invest a httle money in that way, in 
the hope of selling at a profit. Sometimes, too, men came from the East, 
looked up land and purchased in good faith, but did not occupy it for a 

The Oldest Building in Erie County. 83 

year or two later. Once in a while, too, though this was more rare, a 
man located in the county without buying land. 

Consequently the records of the Holland Company do not show 
with any certainty when individuals actually located themselves on their 
respective lands, but they do give a fair idea of the general progress of 

The road along the old Indian trail, from Batavia to Buffalo, was not 
satisfactory to Mr. Ellicott. So in March he made an arrangement with 
an Indian whom he called ** White Seneca," but whom that Indian's son 
called " White Chief,'* to lay out and mark with his hatchet a new one 
on dryer land. He agreed to give ten dollars, and eight dollars for locat- 
ing a road in a similar manner from Eleven-Mile creek, (Williamsville,) 
via. the " mouth of the Tonnawanta " to " Old Fort Slosher." 

White Chief began on the 21st day of March, and on the 26th 
reported the completion of the survey of the first road. On the 28th Mr. 
Ellicott inspected a part of it, and appears to have been well pleased with 
the way in which the aboriginal engineer had followed the ridges and 
avoided the wet land. 

In the summer of 1801, the surveyor, John Thompson, put up a saw- 
mill at what is now Williamsville. He does not, however, seem to have 
done much with it, and perhaps did not get it into operation. If he did, 
it was soon abandoned. The same year he built a block-house for a 
dwelling. It was afterwards clapboarded, and a larger frame structure 
erected beside it, of which it formed the wing. The whole is still stand- 
ing, a venerable brown edifice, known as the " Evans house," and the 
wing is unquestionably the oldest building in Erie county. Only eighty- 
two years since it was built, and yet in this county of nearly a quarter of 
a million inhabitants it seems a very marvel of antiquity. 

By November, 1801, township 12, range 5, (Newstead,) was ready 
for sale, and on the third of that month Asa Chapman made the first con- 
tract for land in that town, covering lot 10, in section 8, at $2.75 per acre. 
If he settled there he remained but a short time, as not long after he was 
living near Buffalo. 

The same month, Peter Vandeventer took four lots in sections 
Eight and Nine, on which he settled almost immediately afterwards, and 
which was long known as the " Old Vandeventer Place."* 

The last month of 1801 witnessed the first appointment of a white 
official of any description, resident within the present county of Erie. 
In that month the pioneer silversmith, tavern-keeper and father, Asa 
Ransom, was commissioned a justice of the peace by Governor George 
Clinton, the necessary document being transmitted by De Witt Clinton, 
nephew and private secretary of the Governor. 

♦Two or three other purchases were made in Newstead in iSoi by men who settled there either 
that year or the next. 

84 History of Erie County. 



Formation of Genesee County — First Murder — First Town Meeting — Primitive Balloting — The 
Big Tree Road— Buffalo Surveyed — Dr. Chapin — Erastos Granger — The Pioneer of the 
South Town— A Hard Trip — Snow Shoes — Division of Batavia — Willink — Erie — 
Settlement of Boston — An Ancient Fort — Settlement of East Hamburg — Of Evans — Of 
Aurora — Of Lancaster — Le Couteulx and Pratt — First Post Office — Organization of 
Willink — Erie Town-Book — A Primitive Mill — Warren and Williams — A Tavern in 
Evans — A Grist Mill in Hamburg — A Four Days* Raising — First Meeting-house in the 
County — A Mill in Aurora — Settlement in Wales— First Methodist Society — A Traveling 
Ballot Box — First Erie County Lawyer — Chivalry at a Discount. 

DOWN to this time Ontario county had retained its original boun- 
daries, including all that part ot the State west of Seneca Lake, 
except that Steuben county had been taken off. The Holland 
Purchase w^as a part of the town of Northampton. 

In the spring of 1802, Mr. EUicott, by earnest personal solicitation 
at Albany, procured the passage of an act creating the county of Gen- 
esee, comprising the whole of the State west of the river of that name 
and of a line running south from the " Great Forks." By the same act, 
Northampton was divided into four towns, one of which, Batavia, con- 
sisted of the whole Holland Purchase and the State reservation along 
the Niagara. 

The county-seat was established at Batavia, where Mr. Ellicott had 
already laid out a village site, and whither he transferred his head-quar- 
ters that same spring. The new county was not to be organized by the 
appointment of officers until the next year. 

In July, 1802, the first recorded murder of a white man in Erie 
county, took place at Buffalo, where a man named John Hewitt was 
stabbed to death by an infuriated Indian, called by the whites " Stiff- 
armed George,*' under circumstances more fully narrated in the history 
of the city. It is worthy of notice, as showing the weakness of the 
whites in Western New York, that, although the criminal was duly tried 
at Canandaigua, and convicted of murder, he was pardoned by Governor 
George Clinton on condition of his leaving the State and remaining out 
of it during life, a condition which was faithfully complied with. The 
Governor evidently thought it would be prudent to wait until the frontier 
was more thickly populated before beginning to hang Indians, if the task 
could possibly be postponed. 

During 1802, immigrants came more freely than before. The list of 
land-owners in what is now Clarence was increased by ten names, most 

First Town Meeting. 85 

of whose bearers located permanently in that town, while several more 
established themselves in township 12, range 5, (now Newstead.) All the 
new comers thus far had settled either on or close to the old ** Buffalo 
road," laid out by " White Chief," which was the only line of communica- 
tion with the outside world. 

Peter Vandeventer this year built him a log cabin, cleared up half 
an acre of land, ("just enough " as another old settler said " to keep the 
trees from falling on his house,") and opened a tavern, the first in New- 

At that little log tavern, on the first day of March, 1803, occurred the 
first town-meeting on the Holland Purchase. Although it was a hundred 
miles to the farthest corner of the town of Batavia, yet the settlements 
were almost all on or near the " Buffalo road," the farthest being at New 
Amsterdam, twenty-two miles west, and at the East Transit, twenty-four 
miles cast. Vandeventer^s was evidently selected as a central location. 

A very interesting account of this, the first political transaction in 
Erie county, was furnished to the Buffalo Historical Society by the late 
Amzi Wright, of Attica, who was present. 

There was a general turn-out of voters, apparently stimulated by 
rivalry between the eastern and western parts of the town. The little 
tavern was soon overrun, and the polls were opened out of doors by 
Enos Kellogg, one of the commissioners to organize the town. He 
announced that Peter Vandeventer, the landlord, and Jotham Bemis, of 
Batavia village, were candidates for supervisor. 

The worthy commissioner then proceeded to take the vote by a 
method which, though it amounted to a " division of the house," was in 
some of its details rather peculiar. He placed the two candidates side 
by side in the middle of the road, facing southward, Vandeventer on the 
right and Bemis on the left. 

" Now," said he, " all you that are in favor of Peter Vandeventer 
for supervisor of the town of Batavia take your places in line on his 
right, and you that are in favor of Jotham Bemis take your places on 
his left." 

The voters obeyed Mr. Kellogg's directions, Bemis' line stretching 
out along the road to Batavia, and Vandeventer's toward Buffalo. The 
commissioner then counted them, finding seventy-four on Vandeventer*s 
right, and seventy on Bemis* left. Peter Vandeventer was then declared 
duly elected. A primitive method truly, but there was a poor chance 
for fraudulent voting. 

The men from east of Vandeventer's, who were considered as Bata- 
vians, then gathered in one cluster, and those from the west, who passed 
as Buffalonians, in another, and counted up the absentees. As in those 
times everybody knew everybody else within ten miles of him, this was 
not difficult. 

86 History of Erie County. 

It was found that but four were absent, Batavia way, and but five 
from the Buffalo crowd. So the whole number of voters on the Holland 
Purchase on the ist day of March, 1803, was one hundred and fifty-three, 
of whom a hundred and forty -four were present at town meeting. Cer- 
tainly a most creditable exhibition of attention to political duty. There 
were perhaps two or three voters in the vicinity of Fort Niagara who 
did not attend and were not counted, but these, although in the town of 
Batavia, were not on the Holland Purchase. 

The other officers were afterwards elected by uplifted hands. The 
following is the complete list : — 

Supervisor, Peter Vandeventer ; Town Clerk, David Cully ; Asses- 
sors, Enos Kellogg, Asa Ransom, Alexander Rea, Isaac Sutherland, and 
Suffrenus (or Sylvanus) May bee; Overseers of the Poor, David Cully 
and Benjamin Porter; Collector, Abel Rowe ; Constables, John Mudge, 
Levi Felton, Rufus Hart, Abel Rowe, Seymour Kellogg, and Hugh 
Howell; Overseers of Highways, (pathmasters,) Martin Middaugh, Tim- 
othy S. Hopkins, Orlando Hopkins, Benjamin Morgan, Rufus Hart, 
Lovell Churchill, Jabez Warren, William Blackman, Samuel Clark, Gid- 
eon Dunham, Jonathan Willard, Thomas Lay ton, Hugh Howell, Benja- 
min Porter, and William Walsworth. 

Of these, Vandeventer, Cully, Ransom, Maybee, Felton, Timothy 
and Orlando Hopkins, and Middaugh, and perhaps others, were resi- 
dents of Erie county. 

At this town meeting, as at most others in Western New York at 
that time, one of the most important subjects which claimed the atten- 
tion of the sovereigns was the wolf question. An ordinance was passed 
offering a bounty of five dollars for wolf-scalps, "whelps half price,'* 
while half a dollar each was the reward for slaughtered foxes and wild- 

The first State election on the Holland Purchase was also held at 
Vande venter's, in April following, (in which month elections were then 
held,) and in that short time the increase of population had been such 
that a hundred and eighty-nine votes were castfor Member of Assembly. 
In June, 1803, Jabez Warren, by contract with EUicott, surveyed the 
" Middle road " from near Geneseo to Lake Erie. Afterwards, during 
the same summer, he cut it out. It ran nearly due west, over hill and 
dale, keeping a mile south of the south line of the reservation, occasion- 
ally diverging a little in case of some extraordinary obstacle. 

It was called the " Middle road " by the Company, but as it started 
from the Big Tree reservation — that is, the one belonging to the band 
of Indians of which " Big Tree " was chief — ^it was almost universally 
called the " Big Tree road " by the inhabitants. 

Mr. Warren received $2.50 per mile for surveying it, and $10.00 for 
cutting it out. The latter seems astonishingly cheap, but " catting 

Buffalo Surveyed— Dr. Chapin. 87 

out '* a road on the Holland Purchase meant merely cutting away the 
underbrush and small trees from a space a rod wide, leaving the large 
trees standing, making a track barely passable for a wagon. 

In this year the village ol New Amsterdam was surveyed, (though 
not completed ready for sale,) by William Peacock. 

This year, too, the first ship was built in the county by Americans. 
It was the schooner " Contractor," built by a company having the con- 
tracts for supplying the western military posts, under the superintend- 
ence of Captain William Lee, who sailed the schooner for six years. 

The first physician who practiced in Erie county arrived at New 
Amsterdam with his family, but being unable to obtain a house, located 
himself temporarily on the west side of the Niagara, where he remained 
two years; practicing meanwhile on both sides of the river. This was 
Dr. Cy renins Chapin, a robust, broad-shouldered man of thirty, who 
throughout the pioneer period was probably its best known and influen- 
tial citizen. His practice extended to every part of the county, and far 
beyond its borders. We shall have occasion to mention him again and 
again, in connection with the history of Buffalo, of the War of 1812, and 
of the Medical Society, in relation to all of which he occupied a very 
conspicuous position. 

Another very important arrival of that year was Erastus Granger, 
a cousin of Gideon Granger, then Postmaster-General under President 
Jefferson. He was appointed superintendent of Indian affairs, and soon 
afterwards postmaster of Buffalo, and appears to have been intrusted* 
with the management of the politics of this section on behalf of the 
administration. He became the leader of the Republican * party on the 
Niagara frontier as Dr. Chapin was of the Federal party, and until the 
arrival of Peter B. Porter, several years later, there was no one to dis- 
pute the supremacy of either. 

Though New Amsterdam was not yet ready for sale, the adjoining 
land in that township was, and several purchases were made. The 
prices ranged from $3.50 to $5.00 per acre. 

Several sales were made in the autumn of 1803, in each of the present 
towns of Amherst, Clarence and Newstead, all being townships through 
which the " Buffalo road " ran. But the hardy pioneers soon bore farther 
south in their search for land. In November, i8o3» Alanson Eggleston 
became the first purchaser in township 11, range 6(aow Lancaster.) 
There the land was put down to $2 per acre, while in Amherst it was 
rated at from $3.26 to $3.50 per acre. Amos Woodward and William 
Sheldon also bought in Lancaster that month. 

All these purchases and settlements we have named were north of 

the Buffalo Creek reservation, which cut the present county of Erie com- 


*It will be remembered that the political organization which was then called ** Republican '' 
party afterwards named itself the ** Democratic" pany, which appellation it still bears. 

88 History of Erie County. 

pletely in twain. Several townships, however, were surveyed south of 
the reservation that year, and in the fall adventurous land-hunters found 
their way into the valley of Eighteen-Mile creek. 

On the 3d of October, Didymus C. Kinney purchased part of lot 
33, township 9, range 7, being now the southwest corner lot ot the 
town of East Hamburg. He immediately built him a cabin, and lived 
there with his family during the winter, being unquestionably the 
earliest pioneer of all Ecie county south of the reservation. Records 
and recollections agree on this point. 

Cotton Fletcher, who had surveyed the southern townships, pur- 
chased land in the same township as Kinney, but did not locate there till 
later; neither did John Cummings, who purchased the mill-site a mile 
and a half below Water Valley. 

In November, 1803, too, Charles and Oliver Johnson, two brothers, 
made a purchase in the present town of Boston, near the village of Boston 
Center. Samuel Eaton bought farther down the creek. The price was 
S2.25 per acre. Charles, with his family, lived with Kinney through the 
winter, and moved on to his own place the next spring. 

The Indians were frequently a resource of the early settlers who ran 
short of food. Charles Johnson, while at Kinney's, went to the Seneca 
village and bought six bushels of corn. He had snow-shoes for locomo- 
tion and a hand-sled for transportation. As a load of three hundred and 
forty pounds sank the sled too far into the deep snow, he slung part of it 
on his back, and thus weighted and freighted he trudged through the 
forest to his home. 

The snow-shoe was an important institution of that era. It consisted 
of a light, wooden frame, about two and a half feet long and fifteen inches 
wide, with bars across it, the intervening spaces being filled with tightly 
stretched green hide. With a pair of such articles strapped to his 
feet, the hunter or traveler strode defiantly over the deepest drifts, into 
which, without their support, he would have sunk to his waist at 
every step. Strange as it may seem, too, old hunters declare that these 
forest gun-boats did not seriously impede locomotion, and that the 
accustomed wearer could travel from three to four miles an hour with- 
out difficulty. 

Kinney and Johnson with their families, in that solitary cabin in the 
valley of the Eighteen-Mile, were the only residents of Erie county south 
of the reservation in the winter of i8o3-'04,and their nearest white neigh- 
bors were at " New Amsterdam," fourteen miles distant. 

The year 1804 was marked by a more decided advance than any pre- 
vious one. 

Turning first to municipal matters, we find that the town-meeting 
for Batavia was again held at Peter Vandeventer's, and that popular 
landlord was again chosen supervisor. 

Division of Batavia — An Ancient Fort. 89 

But at that session of the legislature a law was passed, (to take effect 
the next February,) dividing Batavia into four towns. The easternmost 
was Batavia, consisting of the first, second and third ranges of the Hol- 
land Purchase. Next came Willink, containing the fourth, fifth and sixth 
ranges. Then Erie, comprising the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth 
ranges, the State reservation and the adjacent waters. The rest of the 
Purchase constituted the town of Chautauqua. 

It will be seen that Willink, as thus organized, was eighteen miles 
wide and just about a hundred miles long, extending from Lake Ontario 
to Pennsylvania. It contained one range of townships east of Erie 
county, the eastern parts of Niagara and Cattaraugus counties, and the 
present towns of Clarence, Newstead, Lancaster, Alden, Elma, Marilla, 
Aurora, Wales, Colden, Holland, Sardinia and part of Concord. 

The West Transit was the line between Willink and " Erie,** which 
last town also stretched the whole width of the State. At its southern 
end it was twenty -four miles wide, but it was narrowed by the lake and 
the Canadian boundary, so that its northern half was only from ^if ht to 
twenty miles wide. It comprised one short range of townships in Chau- 
tauqua county, the western part of Niagara and Cattaraugus, and in Erie 
count)' the city of Buffalo and the towns of Grand Island, Tonawanda, 
Amherst, Cheektowaga, West Seneca, Hamburg, East Hamburg, Evans, 
Eden, Boston, Brant, North Collins, Collins, and the west part of Concord. 

This town of Erie has had a somewhat curious histor)% having been 
completely obliterated not only from the list ot political organizations, 
but from the memories of its own oldest inhabitants. The story of its 
early annihilation will be told in another chapter. 

Next to East Hamburg, Boston was the first town settled south of 
the reservation. In March, 1804, Charles Johnson having erected a cabin, 
left his friend Kinney's and moved four miles farther into the wilder- 
ness. His brother Oliver, Samuel Eaton and Samuel Beebe followed a 
little later. 

The Johnsons and some of their neighbors had less trouble clearing 
their land than most settlers in the south towns. Where they located, 
close to Boston Center, there was a prairie of fifty acres. Close by there 
was another which occupied thirty acres except a few trees, and there 
were some smaller ones. In the thirty-acre one there was an old fort, 
enclosing a space of about two and a half acres. It consisted of an embank- 
ment which even then was two feet high, with a ditch on the outside 
nearly two feet deep. There were a few trees growing on the embank- 
ment, one of them being a chestnut from two to two and a half feet in 

From this fort there was a narrow artificial road running southwest 
nearly to Hamburg village. On dry ground little work had been done, but 
on wet land the evidences that a road had been made were plain for a 

90 History of Erie County. 

long time. From Hamburg village to the lake there is a narrow natural 
ridge, suitable for a road, and on which one is actually laid out, called 
the " Ridge road/* 

It looks as if some band of Indians, (or of some other race,) had pre- 
ferred to reside on the lake shore for pleasure and convenience, but had 
constructed this fortress between the hills, with a road leading to it, as a 
place of safety from their foes. 

In this vicinity, as elsewhere throughout the county, were found large 
numbers of sharpened flint-stones, with which it was supposed the Indians 
skinned deer. The largest were six or seven inches long and two inches 
broad, the sides being oval and the edges sharpened. If the Indians had 
ever used them, as seems probable, they had thrown them aside as soon 
as knives were brought among them by the Europeans. 

We believe that John Cummings located himself this spring on his 
land below Water Valley, becoming the first settler in the present town 
of Hamburg. 

That same spring Deacon Ezekiel Smith came from Vermont with 
his two sons, Richard and Daniel, and bought a tract of land two miles 
southeast of Kinney *s, in what has since been known as the Newton 
neighborhood. A young man named David Eddy came with him and 
selected land near Potter's Corners. Smith returned for his family, leav- 
ing his sons to clear land. 

In September he came back, with his wife, several daughters, and 
two or three others, and five more sons, Amasa, Ezekiel, Zenas, Amiah 
and Almon. Such a family of itself was enough to start a pretty good 
settlement. Four of the seven sons were married. With them came 
another big Vermont family, headed by Amos Colvin, with his sons 
Jacob, George, Luther, Amos and Isaac. 

In June, 1804, Joel Harvey located at the mouth of the Eighteen- 
Mile creek, on the west side, being the first settler in the present town 
of Evans, and the farthest one up the lake in the county of Erie. 

Meanwhile another settlement had been commenced farther east. 
Jabez Warren, when cutting out the Big Tree road, must have been 
extremely well pleased with the land about Aurora, for on the 17th pf 
April, 1804, he took a contract for four entire lots, comprising the greater 
part of the site of the village of East Aurora, and a large territory adjoin- 
ing it on the north and west. The tract contained 1,743 acres, being the 
largest amount purchased in the county by one person at any one time. 
The price was $2 per acre. 

The same day Nathaniel Emerson, Henry Godfrey, (a son-in-law of 
Warren,) Nathaniel Walker, John Adams and Joel Adams took contracts 
covering the whole creek valley, for three miles above East Aurora, at 
$1.50 per acre. This was the cheapest that any land was sold in the 
county, though it included some of the best. In May, Rufus and Taber 
Earl located in the southeast corner of East Aurora village. 

First Postoffice — Organization of Willink. 91 

Four or five other persons made purchases during the summer, but 
out of the whole list, though most of them became permanent residents, 
only one, Joel Adams, remained with his family through the winter. 
Taber Earl, however, built him a house and moved into it immediately 
after buying his land. His wife was the pioneer woman of the county 
south of the reservation and east of the West Transit. But Earl with 
his family wintered in Buffalo. 

In connection with the first settlement of Aurora, it may be noted 
that there, as in so many other places, were found indications of ancient 
occupancy. A little north of the village of East Aurora, and close to the 
north line of the town, are several abrupt hills, almost surrounded by 
muddy ponds and by low grounds once undoubtedly covered with water. 
Two of these hills, thus conveniently situated for defense, were found 
fortified by circular breastworks, resembling those in Boston. 

There is also a tradition of bones of "giant size " being dug up there 
at an early day, but I am somewhat skeptical, not as to the bones, but 
the size. Exaggeration is extremely easy where there is no exact, scien- 
tific measurement. 

Numerous settlements were made north of the reservation, in 1804, 
and the woodman's axe resounded in every direction. Mr. James Clark, 
of Lancaster, informed the writer that he had ascertained that James and 
Amos Woodward were the first settlers in Lancaster, locating at Bow- 
man's Mills, and it was probably in 1804 that they came. Several new 
settlers also located themselves in the embryo metropolis at the mouth 
of Buffalo creek, the most prominent of whom were Louis Stephen Le 
Couteulx, a French gentleman who established the first drug store in 
the county, and Captain Samuel Pratt, who engaged largely in trade 
with both whites and Indians, and who brought his family to Buffalo in 
the first coach ever seen in all the region round about. 

The only other event it is necessary to notice in this year is the estab- 
lishment of a post-route and post-office. A law was passed in the spring, 
establishing a route from Canandaigua to Fort Niagara, by way of Buf- 
falo creek. In September following it was put in operation, and Erastus 
Granger was appointed the first postmaster in Erie county, his office 
being denominated " Buffalo Creek." Even Congress would not recog- 
nize the unfortunate name of New Amsterdam. 

The new postmaster's duties were not onerous. Once a week a 
solitary horseman came from Canandaigua, with a pair of saddle-bags 
and the trifling mail, and once a week he returned from Fort Niagara. 

During 1805, there is no record of any new townships being occu- 
pied, but the work of improvement progressed rapidly in and around 
the settlements already made. 

In accordance with the law of the previous year, the towns of Wil- 
link and Erie were organized in the spring of 1805. The first town 

92 History of Erie County. 

meeting in Willink was held at Vandeventer s, all the voters being north 
of the reservation, except Joel Adams in Aurora and Roswell Turner in 
Sheldon, Wyoming county. The following officers were elected: — 

Supervisor, Peter Vandeventer ; Town Clerk, Zerah Ensign ; As- 
sessors, Asa Ransom, Aaron Beard, John J. Brown ; Collector, Levi 
Felton ; Commissioners of Highways, Gad Warner, Charles Wilber, 
Samuel Hill, Jr. ; Constables, John Dunn, Julius Keyes ; Overseers of 
the Poor, Henry Ellsworth and Otis Ingalls. 

The first town meeting in the town of Erie was held at Crow's tav- 
ern, but the record of it was destroyed, with nearly all others pertaining 
to that town, in 1813. In fact, notwithstanding the law, it would be dif- 
ficult to establish the actual, organized existence of such a town, were it 
not for a rough little memorandum book, preserved among the treas- 
ures of the Buffalo Historical Society-. It is marked " Erie Town Book,*' 
but it does not show any of the usual town records except receipts from 
licenses to sell liquor. 

Five of these were recorded in 1805, three being to persons in the 
present county of Erie and two at Lewiston. There were two in Buffalo, 
two in Gillett, and one given to Nathaniel Titus on the lake shore in the 
present town of Hamburg. There must, however, have been others. The 
pjrice of licenses was five dollars each. Orlando Hopkins was collector 
of the town that year, and the whole general tax was a hundred and fifty 

The first resident of Erie count}' who had a right to the appellation 
of "Judge," was vSamuel Tupper, a gentleman then in charge of what 
was known as the ** Contractors' Store," in Buffalo, who was appointed 
an Associate Judge of the Court of Common Pleas for Genesee county 
in the autumn of 1805. The position of Associate Judge of the Common 
Pleas at that time corresponded closely to that of Justice of Sessions in 
later years, and the possession of the office, though with the title of 
judge, did not necessarily indicate any great amount of legal knowl- 

Asa Ransom erected a grist-mill at Clarence Hollow in either 1804 
or 1805. The accounts differ in that respect, but it was certainly the 
first mill for grinding wheat in the county, and was for several years the 
only one north of the reservation. 

In 1805, Daniel Smith put up a rude mill, for grinding corn only, on 
a little stream since called Hoag^s brook, two miles southwest of Potter's 
Corners, in the present town of East Hamburg, It was a log building 
about eighteen feet square, with wood gearing, and would grind five or 
six bushels a day. This was the first grist-mill (if it can be called by 
that name) in that part of the county south of the reservation. 

David Eddy, also of East Hamburg, built a saw-mill for the Indians 
the same year, by contract with Superintendent Granger, on Cazenove 

First Grist-Mill in Hamburg. 93 

creek, near what is now " Lower Ebenezer." It furnished the first 
boards for the inhabitants of the south towns. The cranks, saws, etc., 
had to be transported from Albany. 

Among numerous settlers of 1805, we can notice but two in this 
part of our history, leaving the others to be mentioned in the city or 
township records. One' was Jonas Williams, a clerk in the law office at 
Batavia, who had purchased the water power and an abandoned mill on 
EUicott's creek, and in the spring of 1805 began to rebuild the mill; 
becoming the founder of the village which still bears his name. The 
other was William Warren, afterwards better known as General Warren, 
then a youth of less than twenty-one years, though already married, who 
located himself the same year at the east end of the present village of 
East Aurora. 

The future general had an early predeliction for military affairs, had 
been an "ensign " of militia at his former home, and immediately after 
his arrival in Erie county was commissioned as captain. His district 
embraced all the south part of Erie and Wyoming counties. With his 
commission came an order to call his company together for organiza- 
tion. He did so, and nine men responded. 

In the year 1806, Joel Harvey, the first settler of Evans, began keep- 
ing tavern at his residence, at the mouth of Eighteen-Mile creek. There 
were some purchases made in that year near East Evans, and tempo- 
rary settlements, but according to Peter Barker, who furnished an 
interesting sketch of Evans to the Buffalo Historical Societ}^ the dis- 
couraged pioneers left, and no permanent settlements were made till 
several years later. Mr. Harvey's was the frontier house, yet it was a 
good location for a tavern, on account of the heavy travel that went up 
the beach of the lake to Chautauqua county and Ohio. 

It was in 1806, too, as near as can be ascertained, that the first reg- 
ular grist-mill was erected in the southwest part of the county, probably 
the first south of the reservation. It was built by John Cummings, on 
the Eighteen-Mile creek, at a place now called McClure's Mills, a mile 
or so below Water Valley, in the town of Hamburg. 

The raising of it was a grand affair. Old men still relate how from 
all the south part of the county the scattered settlers came with their 
teams, elated at the idea of having a grist-mill, and willing to make a 
week's journey if necessary to give it a start. Yet so few were they 
that their united strength was insufficient to put some of the great tim- 
bers in their places. The proprietor sent to the reservation and obtained 
a crowd of Indians to help in the work. One does not expect very hard 
lifting from an Indian, but he can lift, when there is a prospect of plenty 
of whiskey as a reward. It was only, however, after four days* work by 
white men and red men, that the raising of the big grist-mill was com- 

94 History of Erie County. 

Some of the society of " Friends/' or " Quakers," had been the earliest 
pioneers around what has since been known as " Potter's Corners," in 
East Hamburg, and in 1806 had become numerous enough to organize 
a " Friends Meeting," which was undoubtedly the first religious organi- 
zation in the county. The next year they built a log meeting-house in 
the same locality. This was not only the first church-building of any 
description in the county, but for more than ten years it was the only 

The Quakers were equally zealous in the cause of education, and as 
early as i8c6 built a log school-house — certainly the first one south of 
the reservation, and perhaps in the county. Henry Hibbard taught the 
first school. 

In 1806 or '07 the " Friends Yearly Meeting" of Philadelphia sent a 
mission to instruct the Indians of the Cattaraugus reserve, having 
bought three hundred acres adjoining the reservation. The mission was 
composed of several single gentlemen and ladies, who called themselves 
a family. The whole was under the management of Jacob Taylor. His 
nephew, Caleb Taylor, gave the names of Stephen Twining and Hannah 
Jackson as members of the family. 

They located at the place since known as Taylor's Hollow, a few 
rods from the reservation line, where they gave instruction in farming to 
all the Indians who would receive it, in housework to the squaws, and 
in reading, writing, etc., to the youth. Whatever the improvement 
made, the Quakers generally produced a favorable impression on the 
red men. Even the bitter Red Jacket spoke of them as friends — the 
only white friends the Indians had. 

With this exception the valley of the Cattaraugus, including all its 
tributaries in Erie county, remained an unbroken wilderness till the fall 
of 1807. At that time two hardy pioneers, Christopher Stone and John 
Albro, crossed the ridge, made their own roads through the forest, and 
finally located on a pleasant little stream running into the Cattaraugus 
from the north ; in fact on the site of Springville. There they and their 
families remained during the winter, their nearest neighbors being at 
least ten miles distant, in the valley of Eighteen-Mile creek. 

In 1807 (possibly 1806) Phineas Stephens built the first grist-mill in 
the southeastern part of the county, the material being hewn logs. 

In 1806 or early in 1807, he does not remember which, young Will- 
iam Warren hung out a sign before his log house, and became the first 
tavcrn-keej^er in the southeast part of the count}'. In the summer of the 
latter vcar the little cabin he had first lived in was converted into a 
schiH)l-house, where the first school in all that section was taught by 
Marv luldy, of Mast Hamburg. The next winter Warren himself kept 
scl\t)ol in the same house. That enterprising young pioneer was thus 
school-teacher, tavern-keeper and captain all at once. His second " com- 

First Settlement ix Wales. 95 

pany training" was held at Turner's Corners, in Sheldon, in 1806, when 
there were about sixty men present, instead of the nine of the year 
before. Asa Ransom had then been appointed Major-Commandant. 

In 1806 William Allen made the first settlement in Wales, locating 
where the Big Tree road then crossed Buffalo creek, about half a mile 
south of Wales Center. The road then made a half-mile curve to the 
south to avoid the long and steep hill east of Wales Center. The same 
fall Amos Clark and William Hoyt located a little east of Holmes' Hill. 

This locality received its name from two brothers, Ebenezer and 
John M. Holmes, whose arrival occurred in February, 1808, just before 
the formation of Niagara countv, when they located themselves on the 
top of the hill, close to the present west line of Wales. As both had 
large families — Ebenezer eight and John M. nine children — most of whom 
grew up and settled in that vicinity, it was natural that the name of 
"Holmes' Hill" should soon be adopted, and become permanent. 

It ma)- be observed, in passing, that vegetation was at that time 
almost as luxuriant on the hill-tops as in the valleys, and frequently 
deceived the keenest of the pioneers as to the value of the soil. 

In 1807 the first settlement was made in the present townoi Holland. 
Arthur Humphrey, (father of the Hon. James M. Humphrey,) Abner Cur- 
rier and Jared Scott began clearing farms on the creek flats, between 
South Wales and Holland village. Humprey settled that year on the 
farm where he lived till his death, fifty years later. Currier and Scott 
brought their families a year or so afterwards. 

In 1806 the first purchase was made in the present town of Alden, 
in the northwest corner, by Jonas Vanwey. According to all accounts, 
however, there was no settlement till some years later. 

Among other new comers to what is now the town of Newstead in 
1807 was Lemuel Osborn, whose widow stated in 1875 that a Methodist 
society was organized soon after their arrival, with twelve members; her 
father, Charles Knight, being the first class-leader. It was the first 
Methodist organization on the Holland Purchase, and probably the sec- 
ond religious society in Erie county, the Friends' Meeting in East Ham- 
burg being the first. It was organized by the Rev. Peter Van Ness, one 
of the two first Methodist missionaries who came upon the Purchase, 
the Rev. Amos Jenks being the other. Both were sent out in 1807, under 
the auspices of the Philadelphia conference. 

In 1806 or '07, too, Archibald S. Clarke started a store on his farm 
near Vandeventer's. This was the first store in the county, outside of 
Buffalo, and was hailed by all the people round about as marking a deci- 
sive epoch in the advance of civilization. 

Down to and including 1806, the elections and town meetings for the 
town of Willink were every year held at Peter Vandeventer's, and every 
year the worthy landlord was chosen supervisor. In 1807, however, the 

96 History of Erie County. 

town meeting was held at Clarence Hollow, and then Asa Ransom was 
elected supervisor. 

This time the scattering voters in Willink, south of the reservation, 
had to cross it to exercise the elective franchise. General elections, how- 
ever, in those times were held three days, and in April, 1807, the south- 
ern settlers got sight of a ballot-box. The election was held a day and 
a half north of the reservation, and on the afternoon of the second day 
the ** board " crossed the wilderness. The next forenoon they held open 
the polls at Warren's tavern in Aurora, and in the afternoon in Wales, 
at the house of Jacob Turner. 

The Commissioners of Excise of Willink for 1807 certified to the 
qualifications of no less than ten persons to keep hotels in that town. 
Doubtless all these, and perhaps more, actually kept tavern, but there 
was only a single store in town. 

In September, 1806, the earliest lawyer made his advent in Erie 
county. If any of the frontiersmen were disposed to look askance on a 
representative of the legal profession, as a probable provoker of disputes 
and disturber of society, they must soon have been disabused of their prej- 
udices, for Ebenezer Walden, the new comer, was of all men one of the 
most upright and most modest. He immediately commenced practice in 
Buffalo, and for a year or two was the only attorney west of Batavia. 

We will close this chapter with the description of an amusing scene 
which ocpurred in Buffalo in the fall of 1807, as related by General War- 
ren. Militia regiments in those days had no colonels, but were each 
organized with a lieutenant-colonel commanding, and two majors. In 
1807, the militia of the western part of Genesee county had been formed 
into a regiment, with Asa Ransom as Lieutenant-Colonel commanding, 
and T. S. Hopkins and Sylvanus Maybee as Majors, There had been 
several *' company trainings," but as yet no " general training." 

At the first " officer meeting " after the new appointments were made, 
a dispute arose between Colonel Ransom and Major Maybee, as to who 
should be recommended to the governor for the vacant captaincy of the 
Buffalo Company, in place of Maybee, promoted. 

The war of words grew more and more furious, until at length the 
doughty Major challenged his superior officer to fight a duel. For this 
infraction of military discipline Colonel Ransom put the Major under 
arrest, and reported his case to the higher authorities. In due time a 
court-martial was convened. Captain Warren being one of the witnesses, 
and Maybee was tried and cashiered. 

He must have taken his military misfortune very much to heart, for, 
though he had been a prominent man in Buffalo, he immediately disap- 
peared from its records, and undoubtedly left the village, apparently 
preferring the discomfort of making a new home to remaining where he 
could not enjoy the glory of a duel, nor the honors of a militia major. 
Thus sadly ended the first display of chivalry in Erie county. 

Re-arrangement of Town and County Boundaries, 97 



Division of Genesee County Necessary — Inconvenient Towns — Captain Berais* Strategy — Erec- 
tion of Niagara, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua Counties — Short Courts — Town Changes — 
Clarence — Willink — Destruction of the Town of Erie — Actual Beginning of Erie County 
— First Officers — Attorneys — Court House. 

IN the beginning of 1808, there was a re-organization of the counties and 
towns of the Holland Purchase, so thorough, and in some respects so 
peculiar, as to merit a brief chapter by itself. 

Hitherto the boundaries of Genesee county had remained as at first 
defined, except that Allegany had been taken off in 1806, but by 1808, the 
inhabitants felt that they were sufficiently numerous to justify a subdi- 
vision, and what was more important, Mr. EUicott became satisfied that 
the interests of the Holland Company would be promoted by such a 
change, even though they should have to erect the new county buildings. 

The towns, too, eighteen miles wide and a hundred miles long, 
which had done well enough when nearly all the settlers were scattered 
along the Buffalo road, were now found to be inconvenient in the 
extreme. Going from Fort Niagara to Buffalo, nearly forty miles, to 
town meeting, was a little too much, even for the ardent patriotism of 
the American voter. Scarcely less troublesome was it to cross the res- 
ervation for that purpose. Besides, there was already a settlement at 
Olean in the town of Willink, the inhabitants of which, if they ever went 
to election, which is doubtful, must have traversed a distance of sixty 
miles, and twenty miles further to town meeting, which was always held 
north of the reservation. 

A story was told the writer in Hamburg, which was quite in har- 
mony with the circumstances, to the effect that the Buffalonians were 
converted to the project of dividing .the town of Erie by a piece of strat- 
egy on the part of Captain Jotham Bemis, then resident near Abbott's 
Corners. They had opposed a division, as all the town business was 
done at their village, bringing them more or less trade, and making 
unnecessary, so far as they were concerned, the expense of new' towns. 

So, in the spring of 1807, Captain Bemis made arrangements for all 
the south part of the town of Erie to be fully represented at Buffalo, by 
men prepared to stay over night. It was then customary to fix the place 
of the next town-meeting in the afternoon, just before closing the polls. 

Accordingly, all the south-country people duly appeared at Buffalo, 
and every man of them remained. Most of those from north of the res- 
ervation started for home early, and the villagers alone were in the 

98 History of Erie County. 

minority. When the time came for appointing the next place of meeting, 
the gallant Captain rallied his men, and it was fixed at John Green's tav- 
ern, in the present town of East Hamburg. Then the Buffalo people 
were willing the town should be divided, and used their influence also in 
favor of a division of the county. 

Whether this story be true or not, certain it is that on the nth day 
of March, 1808, there was a complete municipal re-organization of the 
Holland Purchase. On that day a law was enacted by which all that 
part of the county of Genesee lying north of Cattaraugus creek, and west 
of the line between the fourth and fifth ranges of townships, should form 
the county of Niagara. The counties of Cattaraugus and Chautauqua 
were erected at the same time, with substantially the same limits as now, 
but it was provided that neither of them should be organized until it 
should have five hundred voters, and meanwhile both, for all county pur- 
poses, were attached to Niagara. 

It was also enacted that the county seat of the latter county should 
be at " Buffaloe or New Amsterdam," provided the Holland Company 
should in three years erect a suitable court house and jail, and should 
deed to the county at least half an acre of ground, on which they should 
stand. Three terms annually of the Court of Common Pleas and two of 
the Court of General Sessions were provided for, and in order to give 
time for the Court of Sessions it was enacted that two terms of the Com- 
mon Pleas, all of which were to be held on Tuesday, might be extended 
till the Saturday following. The first court was directed to be held at 
the tavern of Joseph Landon, in Buffalo. 

By the same act the town-lines of the Purchase were changed to a 
very remarkable extent. A tier of townships off from the east side of 
Willink had been left in Genesee county. This, together with old 
Batavia, was cut up into the three towns of Batavia, Warsaw and 

All that part of Niagara county north of the center of Tonawanda 
creek, being a part of the former towns of Willink and Erie, and cover- 
ing the same ground as the present county of Niagara, was formed into 
a town by the name of Cambria. All that part between Tonawanda 
creek and the center of the Buffalo Creek reservation, also comprising 
parts of both Willink and Erie, was formed into a town by the name of 
Clarence, which as will be seen mcluded the village of Buffalo. The first 
town-meeting was directed to be held at the house of Ehas Ransom, (near 
Eggertsville.) All that part of Niagara county south of the center of 
the reservation, being also a part of Willink and Erie, was formeij into a 
town which retained the name of Willink. 

In the new county of Cattaraugus a single town was erected named 
Olean, white Chautauqua county was divided into two towns, Chautauqua 
and Pomfret. 

Obliteration of the Town of Erie. 99 

It will be seen that by this act the town of Erie was completely 
obliterated from the map, while Willink, which had previously been 
eighteen miles wide and a hundred miles long, extending from Pennsyl- 
vania to Lake Ontario, was changed into a town bounded by the Buffalo 
reservation, Lake Erie, Cattaraugus creek, and the east line of the county, 
having an extreme width north and south of twenty-five miles, and an 
extreme length east and west of thirty-five. So great was the complica- 
tion caused by the destruction of the old town-lines, while retaining one 
of the town names, (as well as by the subsequent revival of " Erie " as a 
town name, as will be hereafter related,) that all the local historians and 
statisticians have got lost in trying to describe the early municipal organ- 
ization of this county. Even French's State Gazetteer, a book of much 
merit and very great labor, is entirely at fault in regard to nearly all the 
earlier town formations of Erie county. 

Although " Erie " was plainly laid down on a map of the Purchase 
made by Ellicott in 1804, the writer was half disposed for a while to 
regard it as a myth, and mentally designated it as " The Lost Town.*' 
The old town-book before referred to, however, gave him considerable 
faith in it, and at length an examination of the laws of 1804 and 1808, 
proved its existence and showed how completely the previous organiza^ 
tion was broken up by the statute creating Niagara county. 

It will have been seen that, by that law, there were but three towns 
in Niagara county, two of which were in the present county of Erie. 
As, however, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua were temporarily united with 
Niagara, the new board of supervisors which met in Buffalo must have 
been composed of six members, representing a territory a hundred miles 
long and from twenty to seventy-five miles wide. 

This was substantially the beginning of the present Erie county 
organization, although the name of Niagara was afterwards given to 
that part north of the Tonawanda. Erie county formed the principal 
part of old Niagara, both in territory and population ; the county seat of 
old Niagara was the same as that of Erie, and such of the old Niagara 
county records as are not destroyed are retained in Erie county. 

The governor appointed Augustus Porter, living near Niagara Falls, 
as "first judge" of the new Court of Common Pleas, having jurisdiction 
over Niagara, Cattaraugus and Chatauqua counties. His four associates 
were probably * Samuel Tupper and Erastus Granger of Buffalo, James 
Brooks of Cattaraugus county, and Zattu Cushing of Chautauqua county. 
Asa Ransom was appointed sheriff, Louis Le Couteulx county clerk, 
and Archibald S. Clarke surrogate. The latter gentleman was also 
elected the same year as member of assembly from the district com- 
posed of the three new counties. 

* Tupper and Granger we are very certain were two <4 the new judges, but are not quite so sure 
about Brooks and Gushing. The last named was certainly a judge within a short time afterwards. 

loo History of Erie County. 

In July, 1808, there were but four attorneys in Niagara county, as 
we learn from a letter of Juba Storrs, a young man bred to the law, who 
was preparing to go into practice at BuflFalo, but soon abandoned the 
intention. Of these Walden was one, and the others werfe probably 
Bates Cooke of Lewiston, knd John Root and Jonas Harrison of BuflFalo. 

Immediately after the formation of the new counties, the Holland 
Company began the erection of a frame court-house in the middle of 
Onondaga (now Washington) street BuflFalo, directly in front of the site 
of what this generation has known as the " Old Court House," which 
was built five or six years later. The company gave half an acre of land, 
lying in a circle around the new structure, to the county. It was finished 
in 1809. 

The first court was held in Landon's tavern in June, 1808. No record 
of the proceedings remains, but at the session in November, 1808, an 
indictment was presented which survived all the accidents of war and 
time, and was still on file in Erie county clerk's office, just previous to the 
latest removal of the records. It charged five men, described as "labor- 
ers of the town of Erie,*' with stealing a cow in 1806. As the " town of 
Erie *' had ceased to exist when the indictment was found, the descrip- 
tion must have referred to the time when the crime was committed. 

The document was commendably brief, containing only a hundred 
and one words. Peter Vandeventer was foreman of the grand jury. The 
district attorney was William Stewart, of one of the eastern counties, for 
the territory in charge of a single district attorney then extended more 
than half way to Albany. 



Poverty — An Aristocratic Mansion — A Horse Bedstead — Oxen — A Raising— Clearing Land — 
The Logging Bee — The Rail Fence — The Barn — The Well — The Sweep — Browse — 
Sheep and Wolves — Sugar-Making- Money Scarce — Wheat and Tea — Potaah — Social 
Life — Schools — The Husking Bee — Buffalo Society — Indians — Describing a Tavern — 
Old King and Young Smoke — Anecdotes of Red Jacket. 

WE have now shown the general course of events, as accurately as we 
could, down to a time when settlement had got pretty well started 
in Erie county. Still everything was in the rudest form, and the 
daily lives of the settlers was of the very hardest description. We have 
not gone into details to any great extent because the experiences of the 
various pioneers very closely resembled each other. 

Pioneer Life. ioi 

The object of this chapter is to consolidate those experiences and 
give a general idea of what pioneering was in Erie county in its earliest 

In the first place, it may be said roundly that all the early settlers of 
this county, as of the whole Holland Purchase, were extremely poor. 
The exceptions were of the rarest. Over and over again Mr. Ellicott 
mentions, in his letters to the general agent, the absolute necessity of 
making sales with little or no advance payment. Over and over again 
we find men buying from one to two hundred acres of laud, the amount 
paid down being twenty dollars, ten dollars, five dollars, and even a still 
smaller sum. 

The structures under which the earliest settlers sheltered them- 
selves and their families often hardly rose even to the dignity of log 
houses. They were frequently mere cabins of small logs, (there not 
being help enough to handle large ones,) covered with bark. Some- 
times there was a floor of split logs, or " puncheons," sometimes none. 
A log house sixteen feet square, with a shingle roof, a board floor, and a 
window containing six lights of glass, was a decidedly stylish residence, 
and its owner was in some danger of being disliked as a bloated aristo- 

The furniture was as primitive as the houses. Sometimes a feather- 
bed was brought on an ox-cart to the new home, sometimes not. Bed- 
steads were still rarer, and chairs pertained only to the higher classes. 
Substitutes for the latter were made by splitting a slab out of a log, 
boring four holes in the corners, and inserting four legs hewn out of 
the same tree. 

A bedstead was almost as easily constructed. Two poles were cut, 
one about six feet long and the other three. One end of each was 
inserted in an auger-hole, bored in a log at the proper distance from 
the corner of the house ; the other ends were fastened to a post which 
formed the corner of the structure. Other poles were fastened along 
the logs, and the frame was complete. Then, if the family was well oflf 
and owned a bed cord, it was strung upon the poles-; if not, its place was 
supplied by strips of bark from the nearest trees. This was called by 
some a " horse bedstead," and by some a " Holland Purchase bedstead." 

Usually the emigrant brought a small stock of provisions with him, 
for food he knew he must have. These, however, were frequently 
exhaused before he could raise a supply. Then he had to depend on 
the precarious resource of wild game, or on what his labor could obtain 
from his scarcely more fortunate neighbors. 

Even after a crop of corn had been raised, there still remained the 
extreme difficulty of getting it ground. But in this case, as in so many 
others, necessity was the mother of invention. A fire being built in the 
top of a stump, a hollow of the size of a half-bushel basket would be 

I02 History of Erie County. 

burned out and then scraped clean. Then the pioneer would hew out a 
rude wooden pestle, fasten it to a " spring-pole," and secure the latter to 
a neighboring tree. With this primeval grist-mill, corn could be reduced 
to a coarse meal. When there were several families in a neighborhood, 
one such machine would serve them all. It was sometimes called a 
" plumping mill." 

Another way was to flatten a beech log, hollow it out, fit a block 
into the hollow and turn the block with a lever. 

The clothes of both men and women for the first few years were 
such as they brought from their former homes. If these were plentiful, 
the owners were comfortable ; if scanty, they were patched till their 
original material was lost beneath the overlying amendments. 

When the emigrant was unmarried, he frequently came on foot and 
alone, with only an ax on his shoulder, selected a location miles away 
from the nearest settler, put him up the rudest kind of a cabin, and for 
awhile kept bachelor's hall, occasionally visiting some friendly matron 
to have his bread baked or his clothes repaired. 

When a family came it was almost invariably behind a yoke of oxen. 
These patient animals were the universal resource of the first pioneers 
of Western New York. Cheap, hardy, and far better adapted than 
horses to the terrible roads of those days, they possessed the further 
advantage of being always transmissible into beef, in case of accident to 
them or scarcity in the family. During the first few years of its settle- 
ment, probably not one family in ten came into Erie county with a span 
of horses. 

New comers were always warmly welcomed by their predecessors, 
partly doubtless from native kindness, and partly because each new arri- 
val helped to redeem the forest from its forbidding loneliness, and added 
to the improvements already made. 

If there were only two or three settlers in the locality, the emigrant's 
family was sheltered by one of them until a bark-covered cabin could be 
erected ; if there were eight or ten, preparations were made for a more 
substantial viansion, and ere long a notice was sent to all around of a 
house-raising on a specified day. On that day, perhaps only a dozen men 
would be collected from as many square miles, but all of them able to 
handle their axes as easily as the deftest clerk flourishes his pen. 

Suitable trees had already been felled, and logs cut, from twelve to 
sixteen feet long, according to the wealth and pretensions of the builder. 
These were drawn by oxen to the desired point, and four of the largest 
selected as a foundation. 

Four of the most active and expert men were designated to build 
the corners. They began by cutting a kind of saddle at the ends of two 
of the logs ; a space about a foot long being shaped like the roof of a 
house. Notches to fit these saddles were cut in the other logs and then 

Raisings— Clearing Land. 103 

thej' were laid upon the first ones. The operation was repeated again 
and again, the four axemen rising with the building, and shaping the 
logs handed up to them by their comrades. 

Arrived at a height of six or eight feet, rafters made of poles from 
the forest were placed in position, and if a supply of ash *' shakes/' (^^^S^ 
shingles three feet long,) had been provided, the roof was at once con- 
structed, the gable^nds being formed of logs, successively shortened to 
the pinnacle. Then a place for a door was sawed out and another for a 
window, (if the proprietor aspired 10 such a convenience,) and the prin- 
cipal work of the architects was done. 

They were usually cheered in their labors and rewarded at the close 
of them by the contents of a whisky jug ; for it must have been a very 
poor neighborhood indeed in which a few quarts of that article could 
not be obtained on great occasions. Sometimes the proprietor obtained 
rough boards and made a door, but often a blanket served that purpose 
during the first summer. There being no brick, he built a fire-place of 
stone, finishing it with a chimney composed of sticks, laid up cob-house 
fashion, and well plastered with mud. 

The finishing touches were given by the owner himself; then, if the 
family had brought a few pots and kettles with them they were ready to 
commence house-keeping. 

The next task was to clear a piece of land. If the pioneer had 
arrived very early in the season, he might possibly get half an acre of 
woods out of the way so as to plant a little corn the same spring.' 
Usually, however, his ambition was limited to getting three or four acres 
ready for winter wheat by the first of September. To do this he worked 
early and late, fortunate if he was not interrupted by the ague or some 
other sickness. 

The first thing of course was to fell the trees, but even this was a 
work of science. It was the part of the expert woodsman to make them 
all lie in one direction, so they could be easily rolled together. Then 
they were cut into logs from fourteen to eighteen feet long, and the 
brush was cut up and piled. When the latter had become dry it was 
fired, and the land quickly burned over, leaving the blackened ground 
and charred logs. 

Next came the logging. When the piece small the pioneer 
would probably take his oxen, change works so as to obtain a couple of 
helpers, and the three would log an acre a day, one driving a team and 
two using handspikes, and thus dragging and rolling the logs into piles 
convenient for burning. The first dry weather these, too, were fired, 
the brands watched and heaped together, and when all were consumed 
the land was ready for the plough. 

Even an ordinary day in the logging field was a sufficiently sooty 
and disagreeable experience, but was as nothing compared with a " log- 

I04 History of Erie County. 

ging bee.** When a large tract was to be logged, the neighbors were 
invited from far and near to a bee. Those who had oxen brought them, 
the others provided themselves with cant-hooks and hand-spikes. The 
officer of the day, otherwise the " boss,** who was usually the owner of 
the land, gave the necessary directions, designating the location of the 
different heaps, and the work began. The charred and blackened logs 
were rapidly drawn, (or " snaked,** as the term was,) alongside the 
heap, and then the hand-spike brigade quickly rolled them on top of it. 
Another and another was dragged up in rapid succession, the handspike- 
men being always ready to put it right if it caught against an obstacle. 
As it tore along the ground, the black dust flew up in every direction, 
and when a collision occurred, the sooty zephyrs arose in treble volume. 

Soon every man was covered with a thick coat of black, involving 
clothes, hands and face in darkness which no mourning garb ever 
equalled. But the work went on with increasing speed. The different 
gangs caught the spirit of rivalry, and each trio or quartette strove to 
make the quickest trips and the highest pile. It is even said by old 
loggers that the oxen would get as excited as the men, and would " snake " 
their loads into place with ever-increasing energy. 

Teams that understood their business would stand quiet while the 
chain was being hitched, then spring with all their might, taking a bee- 
line to the log-heap, and halt as soon as they came abreast of it. They 
had not the benefit, either, of the stimulus applied to the men, for the 
whisky jug was in frequent circulation. 

Faster and faster sped the men and teams to and fro, harder strained 
the handspike heroes to increase the pile, higher flew the clouds of dust' 
and soot. Reckless of danger, men sprang in front of rolling logs, or 
bounded over them as they went whirling among the stumps. Acci- 
dents sometimes happened, but those who have been on the scene ex- 
press wonder that half the necks present were not broken. 

As the day draws to a close a thick cloud covers the field, through 
which are seen a host of sooty forms, four-legged ones with horns and 
two-legged ones with handspikes, pulling, running, lifting, shouting, 
screaming, giving the most vivid idea of pandemonium that a farmer's 
life ever offers, until night descends, and the tired yet still excited labor- 
ers return to their homes, clothed in blackness, and the terror of even 
the most careless of housewives. But the work is done. 

To sow the land with winter wheat was, in most cases, the next 
move. A patch might be reserved for corn and potatoes, but spring 
wheat was a very rare crop. 

The next absolute necessity was a fence. The modern system of 
dispensing with that protection was unknown and undreamed of. Prob- 
ably the records of every town organized in the Holland Purchase, down 
to '1850, would show that at its first town meeting an ordinance was 

The Rail Fence— The Barn. 105 

passed, providing that horses and horned cattle should be free common- 
ers. Hogs, it was usually voted, should not be free commoners, while 
sheep held an intermediate position, being sometimes allowed the liberty 
of the road, and sometimes doomed to the seclusion of the pasture. 

Occasionally, a temporary fence was constructed by piling large 
brush along the outside of the clearing, but this was a poor defense 
against a steer that was really in earnest, and was held in general disfavor 
as a sign of " shiftlessness," that first of sins to the Yankee mind. 

The universal reliance, and the pride of the pioneer's heart, was the 
old-fashioned " Virginia rail fence." Not long ago it would have been 
an absurdity for an Erie county writer to say anything in the way of 
description about an institution so well known as that. It might per- 
haps do to omit any mention of it now. But if any copies of this 
book should last for thirty years, the readers of that day will all want to 
know why the author failed to describe that curious crooked fence, made 
of split logs, which they will have heard of but never seen. Even now 
it is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, under the combined influences 
of cattle-restraini^ng laws and the high price of timber. 

One of the most important things which the emigrant looked out for 
in selecting a farm was an ample supply of oak, elm, ash, or walnut, for 
rail-making purposes. Then, when winter had put an end to other work, 
laden with axe, and beetle, and iron wedge, and wooden wedge, he 
tramped through the snow to the big trees, and perhaps for months did 
little else than convert them into great, three-cornered rails, twelve feet 
long, and facing six or eight inches on each side. 

In the spring these were laid in fence, the biggest at the bottom, 
one end of each rail below and the other above, and each *Mength " of 
fence forming an obtuse angle with that on either side. Four and a half 
feet was the usual height prescribed by the town ordinances, but the 
farmer's standard of efficiency was an *' eight-rail fence, staked and rid- 
ered." The last two adjectives denoted that two stout stakes were 
driven into the ground and crossed above the eighth rail, at each corner, 
while on the crotch thus formed was laid the biggest kind of arail,serv. 
ing at once to add to the height and to keep the others in place. Such 
a fence would often reach the height of seven feet, and prove an invinci- 
ble obstacle to the hungry horse, the breachy ox, and even to the wild 
and wandering bull. 

After the pioneer had got his log house, his piece of clearing and his 
fence, the next thing was a barn. An open shed was generally made to 
suffice for the cattle, which were expected to stand cold as well as a sala- 
mander is said to endure fire. But with the gathering of harvests came the 
necessity for barns, and, though log ones were sometimes erected, it was 
so difficult to make them large enough that frame barns were built as 
soon as circumstances would possibly permit, and long before frame 
houses were aught but distant possibilities. 

io6 History of Erie County. 

All were of substantially the same pattern, differing only in size. 
The frame of the convenient forest timber, scored and hewed by the 
ready hands of the pioneer himself, and roughly fitted by some frontier 
carpenter, the sides enclosed with pine boards without battening, the top 
covered with shingles, a threshing flioor and drive-way in the center, 
with a bay for hay on one side, and a little stable room on the other, sur- 
mounted by a scaffold for grain — such was the Erie county barn in 1808, 
and it has changed less than any other adjunct of the farm, though bat- 
tened and painted sides, and basement stables, are becoming more com- 
mon every year. 

Generally preceding the barn if there was no spring convenient, but 
otherwise slightly succeeding it, was the well. The digging of this, like 
almost everything else, was done b)' the proprietor himself, with the aid 
of his boys, if he had any large enough, or of a neighbor to haul up the 
dirt. Its depth of course depended on the location of water, but that 
was generally to be found in abundant quantity and of good quality at 
from ten to twenty feet. 

Excellent round stone was also abundant, and the settlers were never 
reduced to the condition of those western pioneers who are obliged, (to 
use their own expression,") to stone up their wells with cotton-wood plank. 
The well being dug and stoned up, it was completed for use by a 
superstructure which was then universal, but is now almost utterly a 
thing of the past. A post ten or twelve inches in diameter and some ten 
feet high, with a crotched top. was set in the ground a few feet from the 
well. On a stout pin, running through both arms of the crotch, was 
hung a heavy pole or ** sweep," often twenty feet long, the larger end 
resting on the ground, the smaller one rising in air directly over the 
well. To this was attached a smaller i>ole, reaching to the top of the 
well. At the lower end of this pole hung the bucket, the veritable "old 
oaken bucket, that hung in the well," and the process of drawing water 
consisted in pulling down the small end of the sweep till the bucket was 
filled, and then letting the butt end pull it out, with some help. If the 
pioneer had several small children, as he generally had, a board curb, 
about three feet square and two and a half high, usually ensured their 

The whole formed, for a long time, a picturesque and far-seen addi- 
tion to nearly every door-yard in Erie county. Once in a great while 
some wealthy citizen would have a windlass for raising water, but for 
over a quarter of a century after the first settlements a farmer no more 
thought of having a pump than of buying a steam engine. 

It took longer for the pioneer to get a meadow started than to raise 
a crop of grain. Until this was done, the chief support of his cattle in 
winter was " browse," and for a long time after it was their partial 
dependence. Day after day he went into the woods, felled trees — beech, 

Food — Early Products of the Farm. 107 

maple, birch, etc. — and drove his cattle thither to feed on the tender 
twigs. Cattle have been kept through the whole winter with no other 
food. Even in a much more advanced state of settlement, "browse" 
was a frequent resource to eke out slender stores, or supply an unex- 
pected deficiency. 

In the house the food consisted of corn.bread or wheat-bread, accord- 
ing to the circumstances of the householder, with pork as the meat of all 
classes. Beef was an occasional luxury. 

Wild animals were not so abundant near the reservations as else- 
where. They were most numerous in the southern part of the county. 
The Indians kept tliem pretty well hunted down in their neighborhood, 
though they had a rule among themselves forbidding the young men 
from hunting within several miles of their village, in order to give the 
old men a chance. 

Venison was frequently obtained in winter, but the settlers of Erie 
county were generally too earnestly engaged in opening farms to be very 
good hunters. Sometimes, too, a good fat bear was knocked over, but pork 
was the universal stand by. Nobody talked about trichinoe spiralis then. 

Nearly everybody above the very poorest grade brought with him 
a few sheep and a cow. The latter was an invaluable resource, furnish- 
ing the only cheap luxuries the family enjoyed, while the sheep were 
destined to supply their clothing. But the keeping of these was up-hill 
work. Enemies lurked in every hillside, and often after bringing a little 
flock for hundreds of miles, and protecting them through the storms of 
winter, the pioneer would learn from their mangled remains that the 
wolves had taken advantage of one incautious night to destroy them all. 
Wolves were the foes of sheep, and bears of hogs. The latter enemies, 
however, could generally be defeated by keeping their prey in a good, 
stout pen, near the house. But sheep must be let out to feed, and would 
sometimes stray so far as to be left out over night ; and then woe to the 
captured. Occasional panthers, too, roamed through the forest, but they 
seldom did any damage to the stock, and only served to render traveling 
at night a little dangerous. 

Despite of wolves, however, the pioneers managed to keep sheep, 
and as soon as one obtained a few pounds of wool his wife and daughters 
went to carding it into rolls with hand-cards, then to spinning it, and 
then they either wove it or took it to a neighbor's to be woven, paying 
for its manufacture with a share of the cloth or with some farm products. 
Everything was done at home and almost everything by hand. There 
was not at this period, (the beginning of 1808,) even a carding-mill or 
cloth dressing establishment on the whole Holland Purchase, though one 
was built the succeeding summer at Bushville, Genesee county. 

As soon as flax could be raised, too, the " little wheels *' of the house- 
•wives were set in motion, and coarse linen or tow-cloth was manufac- 

io8 History of Erie County. 

tured, which served for dresses for the girls and summer clothing for the 

Tea and coffee were scarce, but one article, which in many coun- 
tries is considered a luxury — sugar — was reasonably abundant. All over 
the county grew the sugar maple, and there was hardly a Ipt large 
enough for a farm on which there was not a "sugar bush." 

One of the earliest moves of the pioneer was to provide himself with 
a few buckets and a big kettle. Then, when the sap began to stir in 
earl}' spring, trees were tapped — more or less in number according to 
the facilities at command — sap was gathered and boiled, and in due time 
made into sugar. New beginners, or poor people who were scant of 
buckets and kettles, would content themselves with making a small 
amount, to be carefully hoarded through the year. 

But the glory of sugar-making was in the great bush where hun- 
dreds of trees were tapped, where a shanty was erected in which the 
sugar-makers lodged, where the sap was gathered in barrels on ox-sleds 
and brought to the central fire, where cauldron kettles boiled and bubbled 
day and night, where bo\-s and girls, young men and maidens, watched 
and tasted, and tasted and watched, and where, when the cautious hours 
of manufacture were over, the great cakes of solidified sweetness were 
turned out by the hundred weight. 

Money was scarce beyond the imagination of this age. Even after 
produce was raised, there was almost no market for it except during the 
war, and if it could be sold at all, after dragging it over the terrific roads 
to Batavia or some point farther east, the mere cost of traveling to and fro 
would nearly eat up the price. Wheat at one time was but twenty-five 
cents a bushel, and it is reported of a family in the north part of the coun- 
ty, in which the good woman felt that she must have her tea, that eight 
bushels of wheat were sold to buy a pound of tea; the price of wheat 
being twenty-five cents a bushel and that of tea two dollars a pound. 

A little relief was obtained by the sale of ** black salts." At a verj- 
early period asherics were established in various parts of the county, 
wlicre black salts were bought and converted into potash. These salts 
were the residuum from boiling down the lye of common wood-ashes. As 
there was an immense quantity of wood which needed to be burned in 
order to work the land, it was but little extra trouble to leach the ashes 
and boil the lye. 

These salts were brought to the asheriesand sold. There they were 
agaui boiled and converted into potash. As that could be sent East 
without costing more than it was worth for transportation, a little money 
was brought into the country in exchange for it. In 1808 there were a 
few asherics, and they afterwards became numerous. 

Social life was of course of the rudest kind. Still, there were visit- 
ings to and fro, and sleighing parties on ox-sleds, and other similar 

Early Schools — Husking Bees. 109 

recreations. As yet there were hardly any but long taverns, and hardly 
a room that even by courtesy could be called a ball-room. Yet dances 
were not infrequently improvised on the rough floor of a contracted 
room, to the sound of a solitary fiddle in the hands of some backwoods 
devotee of Apollo. 

There was not, as has been seen, a church-building in the county, 
except the log meeting-house of the Quakers, at East Hamburg, and not 
an organized church, excepting the ** Friends* Meeting,** if they called it 
a church, at that place, and the little Methodist society in Newstead. 
Even Buffalo had no church in 1808. Meetings were, however, held at 
rare intervals in school-houses, or in the houses of citizens, and fre- 
quently, when no minister was to be had, some layman would read a 
sermon and conduct the services. 

Nearly every neighborhood managed to have a school as soon as 
there were children enough to form one — which was not long alter the 
first settlement. The universal testimony is that log houses are favora- 
ble to the increase of population ; at least that in the log-house era chil- 
dren multiplied and flourished to an extent unheard of in these degener- 
ate days. It may be taken for granted, even when there is no evidence 
on the subject, that a school was kept within a very few years after the 
first pioneer located himself in any given neighborhood, and generally a 
log school-house was soon erected by the people. 

There was, at the time of the organization of Niagara county, only 
the single store of A. S. Clarke, outside of Buffalo, in what is now Erie 
county. Taverns, however, were abundant. Along every road men 
with their families were pushing forward to new homes, others were 
going back after their families, others were wending their way to distant 
localities with grain to be ground, with wool to be carded, sometimes 
even with crops to be sold. Consequently, on every road those who 
could provide beds, food and liquor for the travelers were apt to put up 
signs to announce their willingness to do so. 

One of the principal occasions for a jollification in the country was 
the husking-bee. Corn was abundant, and it had to be husked. So, 
instead of each man's gloomily sitting down by himself and doing his 
own work, the farmers, one after the other, invited the young people of 
the neighborhood to husking-bees ; the " neighborhood " frequently 
extending over several square miles. 

They came in the early evening, young men and women, all with ox 
teams, save where some scion of one of the first families brought his fair 
friends on a lumber wagon or sleigh, behind a pair of horses, the envy 
and admiration of less fortunate swains. After disposing of their teams 
as well as circumstances permitted, and after a brief warming at the 
house, all adjourned to the barn, where the great pile of ears of corn 
awaited their arrival. 


no History of Erie County. 

It was cold, but they were expected to keep warm by work. So at 
work they went, stripping the husks from the big ears and flinging them 
into piles, each husker and huskress striving to make the largest pile, 
and the warm blood that coursed rapidly through their veins under the 
spur of exercise, bid defiance to the state of the temperature. 

This warmth of blood was also occasionally increased by a " red ear" 
episode. It was the law of all well-regulated husking-bees, dating from 
time immemorial, that the young man to whose lot fell a red ear should 
have the privilege of kissing every young woman present. Some laws 
fail because they were not enforced, but this was not one of that kind. 
It has even been suspected, so eager were the youth of that period to 
support the law, that the same red ear would be found more than once 
during the same evening, and the statute duly enforced on each occasion. 

A vast pile of unhusked ears was soon by many hands, transferred 
into shining heaps of husked ones, and then the company adjourned to 
the house, where a huge supply of doughnuts and other simple luxuries 
rewarded their labors. Possibly a bushel of apples might have been 
imported from lands beyond the Genesee, and if the host had also 
obtained a few gallons of cider to grace the occasion he was looked on 
as an Amphitryon of the highest order. 

Perchance some frontier fiddler was present with his instrument, 
when, if the rude floor afforded a space of ten feet by fifteen, clear of fire- 
place and table, a dance was arranged in which there was an abundance of 
enjoyment and energy, if not of grace, and in which the young men were 
only prevented from bounding eight feet from the floor by the fact that 
the ceiling was but six and a half feet high. 

In Buffalo there was a little closer resemblance to the society of older 
localities, but only a little. Down to the beginning of the War of 1812, 
the greater part of the society enjoyed by the Buffalonians was furnished 
by Canada. The west side of the Niagara had been settled much earlier 
than the east, and naturall}' a much larger proportion of the people had 
attained a reasonable degree of comfort. 

The Indians of course had their permanent homes on the various 
reservations, but they were free commoners throughout the county, often 
appearing at some lonely cabin with a suddenness which terribly tried 
the nerves of the inmates, especially if the head of the house was absent. 
Occasionally, too, when excited with liquor, they were disposed to be 
quarrelsome, and sometimes they sought to frighten children with brand- 
ished tomahawk and gleaming knife. Still more rarely they were guilty 
of petty thefts. 

Generally, however, the Indians were peaceable and well behaved. 
Farmer's Brother resided at Farmer's Point, on Buffalo creek, in the first 
cabin outside the line of New Amsterdam, on the reservation. A mile 
or more above was the old council house, a block building where the 

The Seneca Chiefs. hi 

chiefs were very fond of meeting in legislative session. Near it lived 
" White Seneca," his son •* Seneca White" and others. Still farther out was 
the main Indian village, where Red Jacket resided, and which was scat^ 
tered over a considerable space on both sides of the Aurora road, west 
of the present village of Ebenezer, and on the flats south of that village. 

At this time the usual Indian residences were log cabins, of various 
dimensions and pretensions, but not differing greatly from those of the 

Apropos of Indians and log-cabins, a story is told of Farmer's Brother 
in Stone's Life of Red Jacket, which illustrates the difficulty of express- 
ing a new idea in the Indian dialects, except by the most elaborate descrip- 
tion. At a very early day, he with other chiefs went from Buffalo creek 
to Elmira, to meet some white commissioners. On their way they stopped 
one night at a log-tavern, newly erected in the wilderness. In describing 
their journey to the whites, he said they stayed at "a house put together 
with parts of trees piled on each other, to which a pole was attached, to 
which a board was tied, on which was written *rum is sold here.' " 

In 1808, Farmer's Brother was recognized as the principal man among 
the Indians, all things considered, though Red Jacket was put forward 
whenever they wanted to make a display in the eyes of the whites. He 
seems, too, to have been accorded by general consent the rank, so far as 
there was any s^uch rank, of principal sachem, or civil chief, of the Senecas. 
Farmer's Brother was a war-chief. 

Many of the whites attributed a supremacy of some kind to Guien- 
guatob, commonly called "Young King," and sometimes "Young 
Smoke." He was said to be the son of Sayengeraghta, otherwise " Old 
King," otherwise " Old Smoke," who was undoubtedly up to the time of 
his death principal civil sachem of the Senecas. 

Rev. Asher Wright, of the Cattaraugus mission, explained while liv- 
ing that Guienguatoh meant in substance " the Smoke Bearer," that is, 
the hereditary bearer of the smoking brand from the central council-fire 
of the Iroquois confederacy to that of the Seneca nation. As near as we 
can make out, the whites got the two names intermingled, by thinking 
that father and son must both have the same name or title ; whereas the 
only thing certain about Indian nomenclature was that they would not 
have the same name or title. 

We presume that the true designations were " Old King" and " Young 
Smoke." That is to say, Sayengeraghta, being an aged head-sachem, 
might fairly be called " Old King," while his son, who inherited from his 
maternal uncle the position of brand-bearer, could properly be termed 
" Young Smoke." But the whites, thinking that the son of "Old King" 
must certainly be ** Young King," applied that title to the younger man, 
which he was not unwilling to wear. They also gave the son's appella- 
tion to the father, sometimes calling him " Old Smoke," and I understand 
that it was from the old man that Smoke's creek derived its name. 

112 History of Erie County. 

If Red Jacket was sincere when he professed to Washington his 
desire for improvement, he soon changed his mind, and from early in 
this century to the time of his death was the inveterate enemy of civiliza- 
tion, Christianity and education. Although he understood English when 
he heard it, he generally pretended to the contrary, and would pay no 
attention to what was said to him in that language. He could only speak 
a few words of English, and would not learn it, though he could easily 
have done so. He was never weary of holding councils with the whites, 
and rarely failed to repeat the story of the wrongs their countrymen had 
done to the Indians. 

Numerous are the anecdotes told of his opposition to his people's 
learning anything from the whites. More than once he said to the mis- 
sionaries who sought to convert him : — 

** Go, preach to the people of Buffalo ; if you can make them decent 
and sober, and learn them not to cheat the Indians and each other, we 
will believe in your religion." 

He declared that the educated Indians learned useless art and arti- 
ficial wants. Said he: — 

" They become discouraged and dissipated ; despised by the Indians, 
neglected by the whites, and without value to either; less honest than 
the former and perhaps more knavish than the latter." 

Again he said to some missionaries, in sarcastic rejection of their 
offers : — 

" We pity you, and wish you to bear to our good friends in the East 
our best wishes. Inform them that, in compassion toward them, we 
are willing to send them missionaries to teach them our religion, habits 
and customs." 

He was sarcastic, too, on another point : — 

"Before the whites came," said he, **the papooses were all black- 
eyed and dark-skinned ; now their eyes are turning blue and their skins 
are fading out." 

Professor Ellicott Evans, grand-nephew of Joseph Ellicott, relates 
an anecdote which he saNs he had from the lips of his grand-uncle, con- 
cerning himself and Red Jacket. It is substantiall}' as follows: — 

*' The two having met in Tonawanda swamp, they sat down on a log 
which happened to be convenient, both being near the middle. Presently 
Red Jacket said, in his ahnost unintelligible English : 

" * Move alono^, Jo.' Ellicott did so and tne sachem moved up to 
him. In a few minutes came another request : 

"*Move along, Jo;' and again the agent complied, and the chieftain 
followed. Scarcely had this been done when Red Jacket again said: 

*'*Movc along, Jo I' Much annoyed, but willing to humor him, and 
not scein^: what he was driving at, Ellicott complied, this time reaching 
the end o^ the log. But that was not sufficient, and presently the request 
was repeated for the third time : 

'* ' Move along, Jo I' 

*' * Why, man,' angrih- replied the agent, ' I can't move any farther 
without getting off from the log into the mud.' 

Anecdotes of Red Jacket. 113 

" * Ugh ! Just so white man. Want Indian move along — move along. 
Can't go no farther, but he say — move along ! ' " 

The sachem had become extremely dissipated, and his Washington 
medal was frequently pawned in Buffalo for whisky. He always managed 
to recover it, however, for, though he opposed all white teachings, his 
vanity led him to cherish this memento of the great white chieftain's favor. 

He was disposed to stand much on his dignity, and sometime s to be 
very captious. He once went, attended by his interpreter, Major Jack 
Berry, and requested David Reese, the blacksmith for the Indians, to 
make him a tomahawk, at the same time giving directions as to the kind 
of weapon he wanted. Reese made it, as near as he could, according to 
order, but when Red Jacket returned he was much dissatisfied. 

Again he gave his orders, and again Reese strove to fulfill them, but 
the sachem was more dissatisfied than before. So he went to work and with 
much labor whittled out a wooden pattern of a tomahawk, declaring that 
if the blacksmith would make one exactly like that he would be satisfied. 

"All right," said Reese, who had by this time got out of patience 
with what he considered the chieftain's whims. 

In due time Red Jacket came to get his tomahawk. It was ready, and 
was precisely like the model. But, after looking at it and then at the model 
for a moment, he flung it down with an angry " Ugh," and left the shop. 
It was exactly like the model, but the model had no hole in it for a handle. 



Organizalion of Clarence — Settlement of Cheektowaga — Settlement on Cayuga Creek— Progress 
in the Towns — A Pioneer Funeral — Glezen Fillmore — Porter, Barton ^: Co. — '* T he Horn 
Breeze" — Census of iSio — Town of '* Bufifaloe " — New Militia Regiments — Peter B. 
Porter — The Ogden Company — Settlement of Alden — The '* Beavei's " Cannon — Settle- 
ment of Colden — First Settler of Gowanda — The Buffalo Gazette — Feminine Names — 
Old-time Books — An Erudite Captain — Advertisements for Workmen — "A Delinquent 
and a Villain *' — Morals and Lotteries — The Medical Societies — A Federal Committee — 
Division of Willink — Hamburg, Eden and Concord — Approach of War — Militia Officers 
— An Indian Council — A Vessel Captured — The War Begun. 

VE now return to our record of current events, beginning immedi- 
atelv after the organization of Niagara county, in the spring of 
1808. The selection of Buffalo as the county seat of Niagara 
county, of course increased the immigration to that village and the im- 
mediate vicinity, and there were more lots bought there in 1808 than in 
any previous year. In the same year, Henry Anguish made the first 
settlement in the beginning of Tonawanda village. 

114 History of Erie County. 

The first town meeting in Clarence, which it will be remembered in- 
cluded the whole north part of the present county of Erie, was held in 
the spring of 1808, at Elias Ransom's tavern, two miles west of Williams- 
ville, in the present town of Amherst. The town book has been pre- 
served from that time to this, and is now in the town clerk's office at 
Clarence Center, being the oldest record in the county pertaining to any 
town now in existence. The officers then elected (aside from postmas- 
ters) were the following : — 

Jonas Williams, Supervisor ; Samuel Hill, Jr., Town Clerk ; Timo- 
thy S. Hopkins, Aaron Beard and Levi Felton, Assessors ; Otis R. Hop- 
kins, Collector; Otis R. Hopkins, Francis B. Drake and Henry B. Anna- 
bill, Constables ; Samuel Hill, Jr., Asa Harris and Asa Chapman, Com- 
missioners of Highways; and James Cronk, Poormaster. 

There must have been a combination against the Buffalonians, for 
not one of those above named resided in the new county seat, except, 
possibly. Constable Annabill. One of the town ordinances of that year 
offered a bounty of five dollars for wolves, and another declared that 
fences should be five feet high, and not more than two inches between the 
rails. They must have made very small rails in Clarence. 

Licenses to sell liquor were granted to Joseph Landon, Zenas Bar- 
ker, Frederick Miller, Elias Ransom, Samuel McConnell, Asa Harris, 
Levi Felton, Peter Vandeventer and Asa Chapman. According to Gen- 
eral Warren's recollection, Joseph Yaw was elected Supervisor of Wil- 
link in both 1808 and 1809. The Willink records were burned with those 
of Aurora in 1 831, so it is not certain. 

In this year, (1808) the first permanent settlement was made in what 
is now Cheektowaga (except possibly on the northern edge) by ApoUos 
Hitchcock, on the land still or lately occupied by his descendants. The 
first grain they raised was carried on horseback across the reservation 
to Stephens' mill. Ransom's was a little nearer, but was sometimes 
scant of water. 

Settlements were also made in the eastern part of the present town 
of Lancaster, that year, and we have been informed by an old resident 
that there were then just twelve houses between Buffalo and the east line 
of the county, on the road which ran through the center of Lancaster. 

The pioneers of Lancaster found on the north side of Little Buffalo 
creek, in that township, an ancient fortification enclosing an acre of 
ground, and said by Turner, in his history of the Holland Purchase, 
to have been, when first discovered, as high as a man's breast. There 
were five gateways, in one of which grew a pine tree, believed by 
lumbermen to be five hundred years old. There is ample evidence that 
a long time ago, men who built breast-works dwelt in Erie county, but 
very little evidence that they were radically different from the American 

First Settlement in Eden and Evans. 115 

The Quakers had increased so that, in 1808, they held " monthly 
meetings " at their meeting-house at East Hamburg. 

New comers located themselves that year in all the townships in the 
county which were already settled, but there were still two or three 
townships in which the woodman's axe had not been heard. 

When the wife of Mr. Albro, one of the only two residents in the 
present town of Concord, died, during the summer of 1808, word was 
sent to "neighbors " twelve miles distant, in the present town of Boston, 
to come and attend the funeral. The only route to Springville from the 
East, then, was first to Buffalo, then up the beach to the " Titus stand,** 
then up the Eighteen-Mile to the farthest settlements in its valley, and 
then across the ridge. Two or three new families settled in Concord the 
latter part of that year. 

Jacob Taylor, as chief of the Quaker mission, built a saw-mill at 
Taylor's Hollow, in Collins, and also a grist-mill about 1809. Perhaps 
it was this that induced Abraham Tucker and others, with their families, 
to settle near there in that year. Tucker located in the edge of North 
Collins, where he built him a cabin, covered it with bark and remained 
with his family. 

In that year, too, George Richmond, with his sons, George and Fred- 
erick, located himself three miles east of Springville, near the southeast 
corner of the present town of Sardinia, where he soon opened a tavern. 
The same summer, Ezra Nott, afterwards well-known as General Nott, 
settled between what is now called Rice's Corners and Colegrove's Cor- 
ners. Richmond and Nott were the pioneers of Sardinia. 

The first settlement in the present town of Eden was also made this 
year. Elisha Welch and Deacon Samuel Tubbs located at what is now 
known as Eden Valley, but which for a long time bore the less romantic 
appellation of Tubbs' Hollow. 

In this year, too, Aaron Salisbury and William Cash made the first 
permanent settlement in the present town of Evans, west of Harvey's 
tavern at the mouth of the Eighteen-Mile. Several others came not long 
after, and all settled near the lake shore, where the only road ran. 

One of the new comers into Clarence was destined to wield a strong 
influence throughout not only Erie county but Western New York. 
We refer to the Rev. Glezen Fillmore, a cousin of the Hon. Millard Fill- 
more. He was then a bright, pleasant, yet earnest youth of nineteen, 
with the well-known, strong Fillmore features, and stalwart Fillmore 

Having been licensed in March, 1809, as a Methodist exhorter, the 
youthful champion of the cross immediately set forth from his home in 
Oneida county, on foot, with knapsack on his back, traveling two hun- 
dred miles through the snow and mud of early spring, to begin his labors 
in the wilderness of the Holland Purchase. 

ii6 History of Erie County. 

Arriving in the neighborhood where his uncle Calvin resided, he at 
once went to work. His first preaching was at the house of David Ham- 
lin. A man named Maltby and his wife were the only listeners except 
Hamlin's family, but the young exhorter bravely went through with the 
entire services, including class-meeting. It is to be presumed that he 
felt rewarded when, in after years, he learned that four of Maltby*s sons 
had become Methodist ministers. 

Young Fillmore procured land, and throughout his life made his 
home at Clarence Hollow, though spending many years at a distance, on 
whatever service might be allotted to him. 

Shortly before this period Augustus Porter, the new First Judge of 
Niagara county, his brother, Peter B. Porter, then of Canandaigua, and 
recently elected to Congress from the vast district of Western New 
York, and Mr. Benjamin Barton, Jr., had formed a partnership under the 
name of Porter, Barton & Co., and were the principal forwarders of 
Eastern goods to the West. Their route was by way of Oneida lake, 
Oswego and Ontario, to Lewiston ; thence by land-carriage around the 
Falls and by vessel up Lake Erie. Of the few sail-vessels then running 
on Lake Erie, owned on the American side, probably more than half 
were owned by Porter, Barton & Co. 

Their ships had the same difficulty in ascending the rapids that had 
beset the Griffin a hundred and thirty years before. To overcome it 
they provided a number of yoke of oxen to drag vessels up the rapids. 
The sailors dubbed these auxiliaries the " Horn Breeze." 

As to Buffalo creek, all agreed that it was worthless for a harbor, on 
account of the bar at the mouth. All sail vessels stopped at Black Rock, 
and only a few open boats came into the creek. 

In the year 1810 a United States census was taken, and the popula- 
tion of Niagara county was found to be 6,132. Of these just two-thirds 
were in the present county of Erie. 

In that year, too, the name of "Buffalo," or " Buffaloe," was first 
legally applied to a definite tract of territory. On the loth day of F^eb- 
ruary, a law was passed erecting the town of ''Buffaloe," comprising all 
that part of Clarence west of the West Transit. In other words, it com- 
prised the present city of Buffalo, the towns of Grand Island, Tonawanda, 
Amherst and Cheektowaga, and the north part of West Seneca; being 
about eighteen miles long north and south, and from eight to sixteen 
miles wide east and west. 

/Another event considered of much importance in those days was the 
formation of new militia regiments. 

The appointment of Asa Ransom as sheriff in 1808 had compelled 
him to resign his lieutenant-colonelcy, and Timothy S. Hopkins was 
appointed in his place. This, with the cashiering of Maybee previously 
mentioned, left both majors' positions vacant. Captain William Warren 

Sale of the Pre-emtion Rights of the Holland Company. 117 

not then twenty-four, was made First Major, and Asa Chapman Second 
Major. The men subject to mihtary duty in Buffalo and Clarence were 
constituted a regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Asa Chapman, then 
living near Buflfalo. Samuel Hill, Jr., of Newstead, was one of his majors. 
The men of Willink formed another regiment, and young Major Warren 
was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding. His majors were 
William C. Dudley, of Evans, and Benjamin Whaley, who was or had 
been a resident of Boston. There was also a regiment in Cambria, and 
one in Chautauqua county, and the whole was under the command of 
Brigadier-General Timothy S. Hopkins. 

The most influential new-comer in the county during the period 
under consideration in this chapter was Peter B. Porter, who, after being 
re-elected to Congress in the spring of 1810, removed from Canandaigua 
to Black Rock. He was then thirty-seven years old, unmarried, a hand- 
some, portly gentleman of the old school, ol smooth address, fluent 
speech, and dignified demeanor. At Canandaigua he had practiced at 
the Bar, but after his removal he devoted himself to his commercial for- 
tunes as a member of the firm of Porter, Barton & Co., save when attend- 
ing to his political duties. Mr. Porter was the first citizen of Erie county 
who exercised a wide political influence. 

The same year the Holland Company (that is, the group of Holland- 
ers commonly so-called) sold their pre-emption right in all the Indian 
reservations on the Holland Purchase to David A. Ogden. He was act- 
ing in behalf of other parties, joined with himself, in the speculation, 
and the owners were generally called the Ogden Company. The whole 
amount ol territory was about 196,000 acres, and the purchase price 
$98,000. That is to say, Ogden and his friends gave fifty cents an acre 
for the sole right of buying out the Indians whenever they should wish 
to sell. 

Moses Fenno, who moved into the present town of Alden in the 
spring of 18 10, is usually considered there as the first settler of that town, 
though Zophar Beach, Samuel Huntington and James C. Rowan had 
previously purchased land on its western edge, and it is quite likely some 
of them had settled there. 

It is certain, however, that Fenno was the beginner of improvement 
in the vicinity of Alden village, and raised the first crops there, in the 
year mentioned. The same year came Joseph Freeman, afterwards 
known as Judge Freeman, William Snow and Arunah Hibbard. 

About this time, perhaps earlier, the Messrs. IngersoU located on 
the lake shore, in Hamburg, just below the mouth of Eighteen-Mile 
creek. Shortly after their arrival they discovered on the summit of the 
high bank seven or eight hundred pounds of wrought iron, apparently 
taken off from a vessel. It was much eaten with rust, and there were 
trees growing from it ten to twelve inches in diameter. 

ii8 History of Erie County. 

A few years before, as related by David Eddy, of East Hamburg, a 
fine anchor had been found imbedded in sand on the Hamburg lake 
shore. Ten or twelve years later two cannon were discovered on the 
beach near where the iron was found. The late James W. Peters, of 
East Evans, in a communication to the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser 
reproduced in Turner's " Holland Purchase," stated that he saw them 
immediately after their discovery, and cleaned away enough of the rust 
to lay bare a number of words on the breech of one of them, which 
were found to be French ; he did not say b)' whomor what they were. 

From these data, Turner and others have inferred that the Griffin 
was wrecked at the mouth of Eighteen-Mile creek; that such of the crew 
as escaped intrenched themselves there to resist the Indians, but were 
finally overpowered and slain. Mr. O. H. Marshall has, however, very 
clearly shown in a paper read before the Buffalo Historical Society, that 
the evidences of shipwreck found on the lake shore were due to the loss 
of the Beaver, (a British vessel loaded with supplies for the upper lake 
garrisons,) which occurred near that locality about 1765. 

The French words on the cannon (if they were French) are of little 
consequence, since many English mottoes (such as ** Dieu et mon droit,'* 
** Houi soit qui mal y pense,') are of French origin.* 

Down to this time no settlement had been made in the present town 
of Colden, but in 18 10 Richard Buffum became its pioneer. He was a 
Rhode Islander of some property, and being desirous of emigrating 
westward he was requested by a number of his neighbors to go into an 
entirely new district and purchase a place where he could build mills, 
when they would settle around him. 

Accordingly he came to the Holland Purchase, and located on the 
site of Colden village. His son, Thomas Buffum, then seven years old, 
informed the writer that his father cut his own road six or eight miles, 
and then built him a log house forty feet long. This is the largest log 
dwelling of which we have heard in all our researches, and is entitled to 
special mention. The same fall he put up a saw-mill. Various causes 
prevented the coming of the neighbors he had calculated on, and for a 
good while Mr. Buffum was very much isolated. The first year no one 
came except men whom he had hired. As, however, he had eleven chil- 
dren, he was probably not very lonesome. 

In the spring or summer of 18 10, Turner Aldrich and his family 
came up the Cattaraugus creek from the lake beach, and let their wagons 
down the " breakers " into the Gowanda flats by means of ropes hitched 
to the hind axle and payed out from around trees. They located on the 
site of Gowanda, and were the first family in Collins, except those near 
Taylor's Hollow. 

♦There was another Bearer wrecked in early times on Lake Erie. This was a schooner 
belonging to the Northwestern Fur Company, which went ashore late in the autumn of 1786, on the 
site of Cleveland, where the crew remained through the winter. 

The First Newspaper. 119 

From this until the beginning of the war with Great Britain the 
history of the county consisted chiefly of a constant flow of emigration 
into all the townships outside the reservations, the details of which may 
properly be left to the various town histories. 

In the forepart of this year the President, being authorized by Con- 
gress, located the port of entry for the district of Buffalo Creek at Black 
Rock, from the first of April to the first of December in each year, and 
at " Buffaloe " the rest of the time. It is difficult to see why the office 
should have been moved twice a year merely to make " Buffaloe " a port 
of entry during the four months when there were no entries. 

The year 181 1 was also marked by the establishment of Mr. Jabez B. 
Hyde as the first school-teacher among the Senecas. He was sent by 
the New York Missionary Society. A minister of the gospel was sent 
at the same time, but was rejected by the chiefs, while the teacher was 
invited to remain. 

But the most important event in the eye of the historian was the 
establishment of the first newspaper in Erie county, the Buffalo Gazette ; 
the initial number of which was issued on the third day of October, 
181 1, by Messrs. Smith H. and Hezekiah A. Salisbury. The former was 
the editor. 

For the time previous to its appearance the student of local history 
must depend on the memory of a few aged persons, eked out by a very 
small number of scattering records. But, fortunately, a tolerably com- 
plete file of the Gazette has been preserved through all the vicissitudes 
of sixty.five years, and is now in the possession of the Young Men's 
Association of Buffalo. By carefully studying its columns, especially 
the advertisements, one can form a very fair idea of the progress of the 
county. The first number has been stolen from the files ; the second, 
dated October 10, 1811, remains, the earliest specimen of Erie county 

A rough-looking little sheet was this pioneer newspaper of Erie 
county, printed on coarse, brownish paper, each of the four pages being 
about twelve inches by twenty. Its price was $2.50 per year if left weekly 
at doors; $2.00 if taken at the office or sent by mail. The price seems 
large for a sheet of those dimensions, but the advertising rates were 
certainly low enough. A '* square " was inserted three weeks for $1.00, 
and twenty-five cents was charged for each subsequent insertion. 

The Gazette will be duly described in the chapter on the Press, in 
this work, but we reproduce here some items from its pages as throwing 
a light on the situation of the county before the War of 18 12. 

There must have been a large mail business done in this region or 
a very slow deliver)- ; as the first number of the Gazette contained an 
advertisement of a hundred and fifty-seven letters remaining in the post- 
office at Buffalo Creek. Five of them were directed to women, whose 

I20 History of Erie County. 

names we give as specimens of the feminine nomenclature of that day : 
Susan Davenport, Sarah Goosbeck, Susannah McConnel, Nancy Tuck, 
Lucinda Olmsted. Not one ending in ** ie." 

With their printing office the Salisburys carried on the first book- 
store in the county, and kept a catalogue of their books constantly dis- 
played in their paper. It may give an idea of the literar}' taste 6f that 
era to observe that one of those lists contained the names of seventeen 
books on law, fourteen on medicine, fifty-four on religious subjects, fifty- 
four on history, poetry and philosophy, and only eleven novels ! 

One of the first numbers chronicles the arrival of the schooner Salina, 
Daniel Robbins master, with a cargo of " Furr " estimated at a hundred 
and fifty thousand dollars — an estimate which we fear did not hold out. 
Another contained an advertisement stating that the new sloop " Friends* 
Goodwill, of Black Rock," would carry passengers to Detroit for twelve 
dollars each, and goods for a dollar and a half a barrel. 

Militia affairs evidently received considerable attention, as the only 
advertisement of blanks was one of Sergeants' Warrants, Captains* Or- 
ders to Sergeants, Notices to Warn Men to Parade," &c., &c. Captains 
were numerous, and were not always blessed with high scholastic acquire- 
ments, as is shown by the following communication from one gallant 
chieftain to another, which somehow found its way into the Gazette, 
minus the names : — 

WiLLiNK, November the lo, 1811. 

** Capt. , Sir this day Mr. inform mee that he was not 

able to do militerry duty, ana wish you not to fleet a fine on him ef I 
had a non his sittuation i shod not returned him this is from yr frend. 

, Capt." 

" Willink," gives but a slight idea of the locality, as the whole south 
part of the county was still called b)' that name. 

Municipal towns were so large that survey townships were fre- 
quently used for description. Thus Daniel Wood advertised a watch 
left at his house "in the 6th Town, 8th Range;" that is in the present 
town of Collins. 

Failures in business seem to have been rather common in propor- 
tion to the amount done; as one paper contains three, and another four 
notices for insolvent debtors to show cause why they should not be 
declared bankrupts. Yet it is plain that business was generally flourish- 
ing. There were no advertisements for work, but many for workmen. 
In the course of a few weeks in the fall of 181 1, there were advertise- 
ments published calling for journeymen tailors, a journeyman shoemaker, 
a tailor's apprentice, journeymen hatters, and two or three journeymen 

The Patent Medicine Man was already an established institution, and 
M. Daley advertised several unfailing panaceas, their value being attested 
by certificates as ample, (and as truthful,) as those of the present day. 

Division of Willink. 121 

Even in those good old times, officials were sometimes guilty of 
" irregularities," and one of the few local items in the Gazette, under the 
head, " A delinquent and a villain," gave notice that Joseph Alward, who 
wore the double honors of constable of Willink and'carrier of news, had 
" cleared out for Canada," taking two horses, eight or ten watches and 
other property. A news-carrier was an important functionary ; he was 
the sole reliance of most of the inhabitants for papers and letters — there 
being but one post-office in the county out of BuflFalo, and none south of 
the reservation. The next week after the disappearance of the "delin- 
quent and villain," David Leroy gave notice that he had taken Alward's 
route, but he soon gave it up for lack- of business. Another notice 
informed the people that a carrier named Paul Drinkwater had judiciously 
selected one route down the river and another up the lake. 

A. S. Clarke, postmaster at Clarence, (his store it will be remem- 
bered was in the present town of Newstead,) advertised seven letters 
detained at his office for Clarence, and fifty for Willink. These latter 
had to be sent from fifteen to fifty miles by private conveyance. 

There was still no regular preaching of the gospel in the county. 
Some steps were taken to that end, but nothing was accomplished until 
after the war. 

Some schemes were publicly tolerated, which would now be looked 
on with general disfavor. A memorial was presented to the legislature, 
signed by many of the principal citizens of Niagara county asking for 
$15,000 to build a road from the Genesee river to Buffalo, the State to be 
reimbursed by a lottery. The project was warmly endorsed by the 
Gazette. At the present day we should at least have morality enough 
to call the proposed proceeding a gift-enterprise. The memorial does 
not appear to have been adopted. 

There were already two medical societies, each calling itself ** The 
Medical Society of Niagara County." A description of these and their 
bitter war will be found in the chapter devoted to the Erie County 
Medical Society. 

On the 20th day of March, 1812, the gigantic town of Willink was 
seriously reduced by a law erecting the towns of Hamburg, Eden and 
Concord. Hamburg contained the present towns of Hamburg and East 
Hamburg. Eden was composed of what is now Boston, Eden, Evans, 
and part of Brant, and Concord comprised the whole tract afterwards 
divided into Sardinia, Concord, Colhns and North Collins — leaving Wil- 
link only twelves mile square, embracing Aurora, Wales, Holland and 
Colden. Besides, Willink and Hamburg nominally extended to the mid- 
dle of the Buffalo reservation, and Collins covered that part of the Cat- 
taraugus reservation situated in Niagara county. 

During all this time there was a constant and increasing ferment 
regarding war and politics. The growing dissatisfaction of the govern- 

122 History of Erie County. 

ment and a majority of the people of the United States with the govern- 
ment of Great Britain, on account of her disregard of neutral rights in 
the contest with Napoleon, had at length reached the verge of war, and 
the denunciations of that power in Congress, in State Legislatures, in 
the press and the. public meetings, were constantly becoming more bitter. 
While this was the sentiment of the ruling party (that is, the Democratic 
or Republican, for it went by both names), the Federalists, who consti- 
tuted a large and influential minority, opposed a war with England, asked 
for further negotiations, and met the Democratic denunciations of that 
country with still more bitter attacks on Napoleon, whom they accused 
the Republicans of favoring. 

In February, 1812, Congress passed a law to organize an army of 
twenty-five thousand men. Shortly after, Daniel D. Tompkins, the 
Republican governor of New York, made a speech to the Legislature, 
advising that the State prepare for the coming contest. 

This county down to that time had been decidedly Federal. Ebe- 
nezer Walden was the Federal member of assembly for the counties of 
Niagara, Cattaraugus and Chautuaqua. In April, Abel M. Grosvenor 
was nominated for the assembly by a meeting of the Federalists, or as 
they termed themselves, " Federal RepubHcans." At the same meeting, 
a large committee was appointed, and, as it is to be presumed that the 
men selected were somewhat influential members of their party in that 
day, we transcribe a list of those residing in the present county of Erie : — 

Town of Buffalo, — Nathaniel Sill, Joshua Gillett, Benjamin Caryl, 
James Beard, Gilman Folsom, William B. Grant, John Russell, Daniel 
Lewis, Rowland Cotton, David Reese, Elisha Ensign, S. H. Salisbury, 
Ransom Harmon, Frederick House, Guy J. Atkins, Samuel Lasuer, John 
Duer, John Watkins, R. Grosvenor Wheeler, Fred Buck, Henry Anguish, 
Nehemiah Seeley, Henry Doney, Solomon Eldridge, Holden Allen. 

Clarence, — Henry Johnson, Asa Fields, James Powers, James S. 
Youngs, William Baker, Archibald Black, John Stranahan, Josiah 
Wheeler, G. Stranahan, Benjamin O. Bivins, John Peck, Jonathan Barrett. 

Willink. — Abel Fuller, Ebenezer Holmes, John McKeen, Sanford G. 
Colvin, Levi Blake, Ephraim Woodruff, Daniel Haskell, Samuel Mer- 
riam. Dr. John Watson, John Gaylord, Jr. 

Hamburg, — Seth Abbott, Joseph Browning, William Coltrin, Ebene- 
zer Goodrich, Cotton Fletcher, John Green, Samuel Abbott, Benjamin 
Enos, Pardon Pierce. 

E(le7i, — Charles Johnson, Luther Hibbard, Dorastus Hatch, Dr. John 
March, Job Palmer, Samuel Tubbs. 

Concord. — Joseph Hanchett, Solomon Fields, Samuel Cooper, Stephen 
Lapham, Gideon Lapham, Gideon Parsons, William S. Sweet. 

As a companion to the Federal Committee, we insert here the names 
of the members of a similar one, composed of Democratic Republicans, 
though not appointed till a year or so later. They were as follows: — 

'Buffalo, — Nathaniel Henshaw, Ebenezer Johnson, Pliny A. Field, 
William Best, Louis Le Couteulx, John Sample. 


Preparations for War. 123 

Clarence, — Otis R. Hopkins, Samuel Hill, Jr., Daniel Rawson, James 
Baldwin, Daniel McCleary, Oliver Standard, Moses Fenno. 

Hamburg, — David Eddy, Richard Smith, Samuel Hawkins, Giles 
Sage, William Winner, Joseph Albert, Zenas Smith. 

Willink, — Elias Osborn, Israel Phelps, Jr., Daniel Thurston, Jr., 
William Warren, James M. Stevens, John Carpenter, Joshua Henshaw. 

Eden, — Christopher Stone, Benjamin Tubbs, Gideon Dudle}', Amos 
Smith, Joseph Thorn. 

Concord, — Rufus Eaton, Frederick Richmond, Allen King, Benjamin 
Gardner, Isaac Knox. 

Jonas Williams, the founder of Williamsville, was the Republican 
candidate for the Assembly. 

Already there were fears of Indian assault. It was reported that a 
body of British and Indians were assembled at Newark, to make a 
descent on the people on this side. A public meeting was held at Cook's 
tavern, in Buffalo, at which the statement was declared untrue. 

Early in May a Lieutenant of the United States army advertised for 
recruits at Buffalo, offering those who enlisted for five years a hundred 
and sixty acres of land, three months' extra pa}', and a bount}- of sixteen 
dollars. The amount of bounty will not seem extravagant to modern 

An election was held on the 12th of May, and the approach of war 
had evidently caused a great change in the strength of the two parties. 
The votes for Member of Assembly show at once the ascendency sud- 
denly gained by the Democrats, and the comparative population of the 
several towns. For Grosvenor, Federal, Willink gave 71 votes, Ham- 
burg 47, Eden 41, Concord 33, Clarence 72, Buffalo 123 ; total, 387. For 
Williams, Republican, Willink gave 114, Hamburg no, Eden 46, Con- 
cord 50, Clarence 177, Buffalo 112 ; total, 609. Archibald S. Clarke was 
elected State Senator, being the first citizen of Erie county to hold that 
office, as he had been the first Assemblyman and first Surrogate. The 
Congressmen chosen for this district were both outside of Niagara 

The militia were being prepared for war, at least to the extent of 
being amply provided with officers. In Lieutenant-Colonel Chapman's 
regiment, Dr. Ebenezer Johnson was appointed ** surgeon's mate," (assist- 
ant surgeon he would now be called ;) Abiel Gardner and Ezekiel Shel- 
don, Lieutenants; Oziel Smith, Paymaster; John Hersey and Samuel 
Edsall, Ensigns. 

In Lieutenant-Colonel Warren's regiment, Adoniram Eldridge, 
Charles Johnson, John Coon, Daniel Haskill, Benjamin Gardner and John 
Russell were appointed Captains ; Innis B. Palmer, Isaac Phelps, Timo- 
thy Fuller, Benjamin I. Clough, Gideon Person, Jr., Frederick Richmond 
and Varnum Kenyon, Lieutenants ; William Warriner, Surgeon ; Stephen 
Kinney, Paymaster; Elihu Rice, Samuel Cochrane, Benjamin Douglass, 
Lyman Blackmar and Oliver Blezeo, Ensigns. 

124 History of Erie County. 

Scarely a day passed that rumors of Indian outrages did not startle 
the inhabitants of Niagara county, who looked with anxious eyes on the 
half-tamed Iroquois in their midst, many of whom had once bathed their 
hands in American blood. The rumors were all false, but the terror 
they inspired was none the less real. 

Congress passed an act calling out a hundred thousand militia, (thir- 
teen thousand five hundred of whom were from New York,) and the 
news was followed quickl}' by an order detailing two hundred and forty 
men from Hopkins' brigade, for immediate service. On the 17th of May, 
Colonel Swift, of Ontario county, arrived at BufiFalo to assume command 
on the frontier. On the i8th, the first detachment of militia marched 
through that village on their way to Lewiston. They were from the 
south towns, and were commanded by Major Benjamin Whaley. 

On the 26th, Superintendent Granger, with the interpreters Jones 
and Parrish, held a council with the chiefs of the Six Nations in the United 
States. 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 their 
brethren in Canada. Meanwhile, the declaration of war was under 
earnest discussion in Congress. 

On the 23d of June, Colonel Swift, whose headquarters were at Black 
Rock, was in command of six hundred militia, besides which there was 
a small garrison of regulars ^t Fort Niagara. There was no artillery, 
except at the fort. 

The preparations for war on the other side were somewhat better, 
there being six or seven hundred British regulars along the Niagara, 
and a hundred pieces of artillery. The excitement grew more intense 
every hour. Reckless men on either shore fired across the river " for 
fun," their shots were returned, and the seething materials almost sprang 
into flame by spontaneous combustion. 

The morning of the 26th of June came. A small vessel, loaded with 
salt, which had just left Black Rock, was noticed entering Lake Erie by 
some of the citizens of Buffalo, and presently a British armed vessel from 
Fort Erie was seen making its way toward the American ship. The lat- 
ter was soon overtaken and boarded, and then both vessels turned their 
prows toward the British stronghold. 

There could be but one explanation of this — the vessel was captured 
— and the news of war spread with lightning-like rapidity among the 
inhabitants of the little frontier village. All doubt was dispelled a few 
hours later by an express rider from the East, bearing the President's 
proclamation of war. The Canadians had received the earliest news by 
reason of John Jacob Astor's sending a fast express to Queenston, twelve 
hours ahead of tjie government riders, to warn his agents there. 

The War of 181 2 had begun. 

Declaration of War. 125 



Confusion — "SUvcr Greys " — The ** Queen Charlotte " — •• The Charlotte Taken " — Fear of 
Indians^ Red Jacket's Logic — Iroquois Declaration of War— Capture of Two British 
Vessels — The First Victim of War— Black Rock Bombarded — The Queenston Failure — 
Smyth's Proclamation — A Gallant Vanguard — A Vacillating General — Invasion Relin- 
quished — An Erie County Duel — A Riot Among the Soldiers — Political Matters -* Quiet. 

THE news of the declaration of war was disseminated with almost 
telegraphic rapidity, flying off from the main roads pursued by 
the express-riders, and speeding from one scattered settlement to 
another throughout Western New York. 

Dire was the confusion created. In almost every locality divers 
counsels prevailed. Some were organizing as militia or volunteers ; 
others, alarmed by the reports of instant invasion and by the ever horri- 
ble tale of Indian massacre, made a hasty retreat with their families 
toward the Genesee. Sometimes the fleeing citizens were met by emi- 
grants who were pressing forward to make new homes in the wilder- 
ness, unchecked by the dangers of the day. 

So great was the dismay that Mr. Ellicott issued an address to the 
settlers on the Holland Purchase, assuring them that the lines were well 
guarded and the country safe from invasion. The alarm is said to have 
been equally great on the other side, and the flight from the lines per- 
haps greater, as there were more people there to flee. 

By the fourth of July three thousand American militia were assem- 
bled on the Niagara frontier, General William Wads worth being in 
command. This looked like efficient action, and ere long the men who 
remained at home were working as steadily as usual, many families who 
had fled returned, and affairs resumed their ordinary course, save where 
along the Niagara, the raw recruits marched, and countermarched, and 
panted for the chance to distinguish themselves which came to them all 
too soon. 

Besides the ordinary militia, several companies were organized, 
composed of men too old to be called on for military duty. They were 
commonly called " Silver Greys." One such company was formed in 
Willink, of which Phineas Stephens was Captain, Ephraim Woodruff, 
Lieutenant, and Oliver Pattengill, Ensign. Another was organized in 
Hamburg under Captain Jotham Bemis. 

Immediately on learning of the declaration of war, General Isaac 
Brock, a commander-in-chief of the British forces in Upper Canada, and 
Acting Governor, took personal command on the Niagara frontier, and 

126 History of Erie County. 

g^ve his attention to its defenses. Fort Erie was strengthened and a 
redoubt several rods long was erected opposite the residence of Con- 
gressman Porter, now the foot of Breckenridge street. Earthworks 
were also thrown up at Chippewa, Queenston and other points. The 
American side was similarly strengthened. 

There was constant watchfulness for spies on both sides of the line, 
and many arrests were made. 

The superiority of the British on the lake was a source of constant 
annoyance to the people on this side. At the beginning of the war there 
was not a single armed American vessel afloat, while the British had 
three — the Queen Charlotte, of twenty-two guns, the Hunter, of twelve 
guns, and a small schooner lately built. 

The Queen Charlotte, in particular, kept the people of Hamburg 
and Evans in constant alarm. Riding off the shore, her boats would be 
sent to land to seize on whatever could be found, especially in the way 
of eatables and live stock. The men of the scattered settlements, too, 
were often taken on board as prisoners, kept a few days and then liberated. 
When the men were absent in the militia, some of the women did not 
take off their clothes for weeks together ; keeping themselves always 
ready for instant flight. 

It must have been, then, with feelings of decided gratification that 
Erie county people read the head-line in large capitals, of a notice in the 
Gazette, entitled, "The Charlotte Taken." But the ensuing lines, though 
pleasant enough, only announced the marriage in Hamburg, by " Hon. 
D. Eddy, Esq.," of Mr. Jared Canfield, "a sergeant in Captain McClure's 
volunteer company," to Miss Charlotte King, daughter of Mr. N. King, 
of Concord. 

As has been said, the most intense anxiety was felt by the Ameri- 
cans regarding the Indians on both sides of the line. The British, in 
accordance with their ancient policy, made immediate arrangements on 
the outbreak of war to enlist the Mohawks, and other Canadian Indians, 
in their service. These sent emissaries to the Six Nations in New York, 
to persuade them to engage on the same side. The settlers on the Hol- 
land Purchase, and especially in the county of Niagara, were not only 
alarmed at the prospect of invasion by savage enemies, but also lest the 
Senecas and others on this side should allow their ancient animosities to 
be rekindled, and break out into open rebellion. It must be confessed 
the danger was not slight, for there was good ground for believing that 
some at least of the Seneca warriors had been engaged against the United 
States at (he battle of Tippecanoe, only the year before. 

Mr. Granger was active in adverting the danger, and on the 6th of 
July he convened a council of the Six Nations in the United States, on 
the Buffalo reservation. It was opened, as a matter of course, bv Red 
Jacket, and Mr. Granger, in a long speech, set forth the cause of tue war 

Council with the Senegas, 127 

from the American point of view, urging the Indians to have nothing to 
do with the quarrels of the whites, but to remain quietly at home during 
the war. 

He said, however, that he was aware that many of their young 
braves were anxious to engage in the fight, and if they must do so, he 
preferred it should be on the side of the United States. If, therefore, 
they were determined to see something of the war, perhaps a hundred 
and fifty or two hundred of their warriors would be accepted by the 

At the next meeting of the council Red Jacket replied, declaring in 
favor of neutrality, saying that he hoped no warriors would be accepted 
by the government without permission of the great council, and asking 
leave to make another effort to persuade the Mohawks to abandon the 
war-path. This was granted, and a deputation of five chiefs, with con- 
siderable difficulty, obtained permission from General Brock to visit 
thfeir Mohawk brethren. The effort, however, was useless, as the Can- 
adian Indians were fully determined to " dig up the hatchet." 

The neutrality of the Senecas, Cayugas, etc., continued for only 
a brief time. In fact, the excitement of war was so infectious, not 
only to the "young braves," but to many of those who considered 
themselves the cautious guardians of their people, that they were quite 
willing to seize the first excuse for numbering themselves among the 

In this same month of July a njmor got afloat that the British had 
taken possession of Grand Island, which was under the jurisdiction of 
the United States, but the title of which was in the Senecas. It seems, 
according to a statement made in 1875 by Mr. John Simpson, of Tona- 
wanda, that several hundred British Indians appeared on the shores of 
Grand Island, opposite that village. There were then sixteen soldiers in 
the guard-house there. They had been notified of the approach of the 
Indians, and all the citizens around had been called in. These were fur- 
nished with the extra uniforms of the soldiers, to increase the apparent 
number. They were also, after being paraded, marched into view with 
all their coats turned wrong side out, giving at that distance the appear- 
ance of a new corps with different uniforms. The enemy made no 
attempt to cross. Red Jacket convoked a council, and asked permission 
of Superintendent Granger to drive away the intruders, using the fol- 
lowing shrewd logic in support of his request. Said he: — 

" Our property is taken possession of by the British and their Indian 
friends. It is necessary now for us to take uj) the business, defend our 
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 principles ; because you will have 
taken it from the British." 

128 History of Erie County. 

Permission being granted, another council was held shortly after, at 
which a formal declaration of war was adopted, and reduced to writing 
by the interpreter. As this was probably the first — perhaps the only — 
declaration of war ever published by an Indian nation or confederacy in 
writing, and as its language was commendably brief, it is transcribed 
entire, as follows : — 

'* We, the chiefs and counselors of the Six Nations of Indians, resid- 
ing in the State of New York, do hereby proclaim to all the War-chiefs 
and warriors of the Six Nations that war is declared on our part against 
the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada. Therefore, we command 
and advise all the war-chiefs and warriors of the Six Nations to call 
forth immediately the warriors under them, and put them in motion to 
protect their rights and liberties." 

Notwithstanding this declaration, however, no Indians, (at least no 
considerable number of them,) took the field on our side that year. It 
was soon ascertained that the occupation of Grand Island was not per- 
manent, and there were many of the older chiefs, with Red Jacket at their 
head, who were really desirous that their people should remain neutral. 
But more potent, probably, than the restraining voice of their sachems, 
were the quick-coming disasters to the American arms. 

The mihtia kept marching to the frontier. There was no lack of 
numbers, nor of apparent enthusiasm. They were all anxious to capture 
Canada the next day after their arrival. But they were utterly ignorant 
of actual war, and the first touch of reality chilled them to the marrow. 

They were not called out en masse^ nor were specified regiments 
ordered to the field. Details were made of the number required from 
each brigade, and these were collected by details from the different 
regiments and companies. Temporary companies and regiments were 
thus formed, to endure only through a few weeks of active service. Of 
course oflBcers and men were unused to each other, the organization was 
unfamiliar to both, and the efficiency of the command was in the very 
lowest state. V 

Lieutenant-Colonel Chapman, commander of the Buffalo and Clar- 
ence regiment, moved away about the beginning of the war, and no one 
was appointed in his place until after its close. Major Samuel Hill, Jr., 
was the senior officer. Most of the Buffalonians seem to have formed 
themselves into independent companies, and Hill's command was left so 
small that whenever the militia was called out en masse it was joined 
with Lieutenant-Colonel Warren's regiment. 

General Amos Hall, of Ontario county, Major-General of this divi- 
sion of the State militia, was in command on the frontier for a short 
time, succeeding General Wadsworth. On the nth of July he was 
superseded by Major-General Stephen Van Rensselaer, also of the mili- 
tia, but who established his headquarters and assembled his principal 
force at Lewiston. 

Capture of the "Adams" and "Caledonia." 129 

On the 27th of that month an extra Gazette announced the surrender 
by General Hull of Detroit and his whole army, to an inferior force of 
British and Indians. Terrible was the disappointment of the people, as 
well it might be, over that, disgraceful affair, and dire were the fulmina- 
tions of the press. But denunciation was all too late, and public atten- 
tion in this vicinity was soon turned toward events nearer home. 

The fires of faction burned as fiercely then as in any later days. 
There was bitter opposition to the war among the Federals of many 
States, opposition which hardly confined itself to legitimate discussion — 
while on the Democratic side mob violence, reaching even to murder, 
was sometimes resorted to to silence their opponents. 

In September, a convention was held at Albany, which denounced 
the war, and shortly afterwards a meeting of the friends of " Peace, Lib- 
erty and Commerce " was called at " Pomeroy's Long Hall," in Buffalo, 
for the same purpose. Dr. Cyrenius Chapin, however, had entered with 
great zeal into all measures looking toward vigorous work on this fron- 
tier, and as he was the most prominent and most ardent Federalist of 
Niagara county, his example was generally followed by his partisan 

On the 8th of October, a detachment of sailors arrived on the frontier 
from New York, and were placed under the command of Lieutenant 
Jesse D. Elliott, stationed at Black Rock. Their march had been has- 
tened by a dispatch from Lieutenant Elliott, who had conceived a bold 
plan for cutting out two British armed vessels which had just come 
down the lake, and were lying at anchor near Fort Erie. One was the 
brig Detroit, of six guns, lately captured from the United States, and 
generally called by its former name, the Adams \ the other was the 
schooner Caledonia, of two guns; 

The succeeding enterprise was the first hostile movement which 
took place in, or started from, Erie county, during the War of 181 2. 

The seamen on their arrival were found almost without weapons, 
but Generals Smyth and Hall, of the regulars and militia, furnished 
some arms, and the former detailed fifty men under Captain Towson, to 
accompany the expedition. Dr. Chapin and a few other Buffalo volun- 
teers also entered into the scheme. 

About one o'clock on the morning of the 9th of October; three boats 
put out from the American shore, with their prows directed toward Fort 
Erie. The first contained fifty men under Lieutenant Elliott in person, 
the second forty-seven under Sailing-Master Watts, while the third was 
manned by six Buffalonians under Dr. Chapin. 

The boats moved stealthily across the river and the darkness of the 
night favored the project. Arriving at the side of their prey, the three 
crews boarded both vessels almost at the same time. The men on board 
the latter made a vigorous resistance, and a sharp but brief conflict 

I30 History of Erie County. 

ensued, in which two of the assailants were^^killed and five wounded. In 
ten minutes, however, the enemy was overpowered, the cables cut, and 
the vessels on their way down the river. The Caledonia was brought to 
anchor near Black Rock, but the Adams was carried by the current on 
the west side of Squaw Island, and ran aground. 

The prisoners taken by the Americans in this gallant achievement 
numbered seventy-one officers and men, part of whom, however, were 
Canadian voyageurs. Besides these the captors released about forty 
American prisoners, captured at the River Raisin and on their way to 

As the two vessels passed Black Rock a heavy cannonade was opened 
from the Canadian shore, and returned from the ships. After the Adams 
ran aground the fire was so heavy that the vessel was abandoned, the 
men safely reaching the shore. Shortly afterwards the enemy took pos- 
session of it, but were in turn soon driven away by the firing from the 
island and mainland. Believing it would be impracticable to keep pos- 
session of it, the Americans set it on fire and burned it to the water's 

The first shot from the British batteries instantly killed Major Will- 
iam Howe Cuyler, of Palmyra, principal aide-de-camp of General Hall, 
as he was galloping with orders along the river road, between four and 
five o'clock in the morning. His death was the first one caused by the 
war within the present county of Erie, and as he was a highly connected 
and highly esteemed young officer, his sudden taking off caused a pro- 
found sensation. It was felt that war had really come. 

Some three hundred shots were fired from the British batteries, sev- 
eral of which passed through buildings at Black Rock. In fact, Black 
Rock must have been a very unpleasant place of residence throughout the 
war. Inmates of its houses were often startled by a cannon ball crashing 
through the roof, and not infrequently a breakfast or dinner was sud- 
denly interrupted by one of these unwelcome messengers. 

If the people of this vicinity were slightly cheered by the achieve- 
ment of Lieutenant Elliott and his command, they were at once cast 
down again by the news of the defeat of General Van Rensselaer at 
Queenston, where a few hundred gallant men, who had crossed the 
Niagara, were left to be slaughtered and captured through the cowardice 
of an ample force which stood on the American shore, unheeding all ap- 
peals to aid their comrades. 

The news reached Buffalo on the 1 3th of October, accompanied with 
notice of a week's armistice. The Americans were engaged in getting 
the guns out of the hulk of the Adams, The commander at Fort Erie 
required them to desist on account of the armistice, but the Americans 
insisted that, as the Adams had already been brought on their side of the 
line, they Had a right to move her guns wherever they pleased, so long 

Preparations for the Invasion of Canada. 131 

as they made no attack on the British. The latter opened fire on the 
troops aboard the hulk, but did no damage, and at night the ever-enter- 
prising Chapin went on board with a party and brought away a twelve 
pounder, as did also Lieutenant Watts afterwards. 

General Van Rensselaer being relieved from duty, Brigadier-Gen- 
eral Alexander Smyth, of the regular army, who had been on the lines a 
short time as Inspector-General, was assigned to the command of the 
Niagara frontier immediately after the conclusion of the armistice. Gen- 
eral Smyth was a Virginian, who, in 1808, had abandoned his profession 
and resigned a seat in the Legislature of his State to accept a colonelcy 
in the army, and who had lately been promoted to a brigadiership. Im- 
mediately on taking command he began concentrating troops at Buffalo 
and Black Rock, preparatory to an invasion of Canada. Thus far he 
certainly showed better judgment than his predecessors, as it was a much 
more feasible project to land an army on the gentle slopes below Fort 
Erie, than to scale the precipitous heights of Queenston. 

He also had scows constructed to transport the artillery, and 
collected boats for the infantry. Eight or nine hundred regulars were 
got together under Colonel Moses Porter, Colonel Winder, Lieutenant- 
Colonel Boerstler, and other officers. 

On the 1 2th of November, General Smyth issued a flaming address 
from his " Camp near Buffalo *' to the men of New York, calling for their 
services, and declaring that in a few days the troops under his command 
would plant the American standard in Canada. Said he: "They will 
conquer or they will die." 

On the 17th, he sent forth a still more bombastic proclamation, clos- 
ing with the pompous call, " Come on, my heroes ! *' 

A considerable force came to Buffalo. A brigade of militia, nearly 
two thousand strong, arrived from Pennsylvania. Three or four hun- 
dred New York volunteers reported themselves, including the two 
companies of " Silver Greys " before mentioned. Peter B. Porter, who 
then, or shortly after, was appointed Quartermaster-General of the State 
militia, was assigned to the command of these New York volunteers, 
and was ever after known as General Porter. Under him was Colonel 
Swift, of Ontario county. Smyth deemed that the time had come to 
" conquer or die." 

On the 27th of November, the General commanding issued orders 
to cross the river the next day. There were then over four thousand 
men at and near Black Rock, but as a large portion of them were militia, 
it is not exactly certain how many he could have counted on for a move- 
ment into the enemy's country. He, however, admitted that there were 
seventeen hundred, including the regulars and the twelve-months' vol- 
unteers, who were ready, and General Porter claimed that nearly the 
whole force was available. There were boats sufficient to carry at 
least three thousand men. 

132 History of Erie County. 

A little after midnight the next morning detachments were sent 
across the river, one under Lieutenant-Colonel Boerstler, and the other 
under Captain King, with whom was Lieutenant Angus of the navy and 
fifty or sixty seamen. The first named force was intended to capture a 
guard and destroy a bridge about five miles below Fort Erie, while King 
and Angus were to take and spike the enemy's cannon opposite Black 
Rock. Boerstler returned without accomplishing anything of conse- 
quence, but the force under King and Angus behaved with great gal- 
lantry, and materially smoothed the way for those who should have fol- 

They landed at three o'clock in the morning. Angus, with his sail- 
ors and a few soldiers, attacked and dispersed a force of the enemy sta- 
tioned at what was called " the red house," spiking two field pieces and 
throwing them into the river. Nine out of the twelve naval officers 
engaged, and twenty-two of the men, were killed or wounded in this 
brilliant little feat. The sailors and some of the soldiers then returned, 
bringing a number of prisoners, but through some blunder no boats 
were left to bring over Captain King, who with sixty men remained 

King and his men then attacked and captured two batteries, spiked 
their guns, and took thirty-four prisoners. Having found two boats 
capable of holding about sixty men, the gallant captain sent over his 
prisoners, half his men and all his officers, remaining behind himself 
with thirty men. He doubtless expected Smyth's whole army in an 
hour or two, and thought he could take care of himself until that time. 

Soon after the return of these detachments, Colonel Winder, mis- 
takenly supposing that Boerstler was cut oflf, crossed the river with two 
hundred and fifty men to rescue him. He reached the opposite shore a 
considerable distance down the river, where he was attacked at the 
water's edge by a body of infantry and a piece of artillery, and com- 
pelled to return with the loss of six men killed and nineteen wounded. 
Boerstler's command returned without loss. 

The general embarkation then commenced, but went on very slowly. 
About one o'clock in the afternoon the regulars, .the twelve-months' 
volunteers and a body of militia, the whole making a force variously 
estimated at from fourteen hundred to two thousand men, were in boats 
at the navy yard, at the mouth of Scajaquada creek. 

" Then," says Smyth in his account of the affair, with ludicrous sol- 
emnity, " the troops moved up the stream to Black Rock without loss." 
This tremendous feat having been accomplished, the General, (still fol- 
lowing his own account,) ordered them to disembark and dine. And 
then he called a council of war to see whether he had better cross the 
river. It is not surprising that, with such a commander, several of the 
officers consulted were opposed to making the attempt. It was at length 

Cowardice of General Smyth. 133 

decided to postpone the invasion a day or two, until more boats could 
be made ready. Late in the afternoon the troops were ordered to their 
quarters. Of course they were disgusted with such a ridiculous failure, 
and demoralization spread rapidly on all sides. General Smyth at the 
time did not pretend that the most vigilant observation could discover 
more than five hundred men on the opposite shore. They were drawn 
up in line about half a mile from the water's edge. 

Meanwhile the gallant Captain King \yas left to his fate, and was 
taken prisoner with all his men. 

The next day was spent in preparation. On Sunday, the 30th, the 
troops were ordered to be ready to embark at nine o'clock the following 
morning. By this time the enemy had remounted his guns, so that it 
would have been very difficult to cross above Squaw Island. On the 
shore below it were stationed his infantry and some artillery, every 
man having been obtained that possibly could be from the surrounding 
country. The current there was rapid and the banks abrupt. 

General Porter objected to attempting a landing there, and made 
another proposition. He advocated postponing the expedition till Mon- 
day night, when the troops should embark in the darkness, and should 
put oflF an hour and a half before daylight. They could then pass the 
enemy in the dark, and land about five miles below the navy yard, where 
the stream and the banks were favorable. These views were seconded 
by Colonel Winder and adopted by General Smyth, his intention being 
to assault Chippewa, and if successful march through Queenston to Fort 

Then it was found that the Quartermaster had not rations enough 
for two thousand five hundred men for four days. 

Nevertheless the embarkation commenced at three o'clock on the 
morning of Tuesday, the first of December. Again sortie fifteen hun- 
dred men were placed in boats. It was arranged that General Porter 
was to lead the van and direct the landing, on account of his knowledge 
of the river and the farther shore. He was attended in the leading boat 
by Majors Chapin and McComb, Captain Mills, Adjutant Chase, Quar- 
termaster Chaplin, and some twenty-five volunteers from Buffalo, under 
Lieutenant Haynes. 

But the embarkation of the regulars was greatly delayed, and day- 
light appeared before the flotilla was under way. Then the redoubtable 
Smyth called another council of war, composed of four regular officers, 
to decide whether Canada should be invaded that season. They unani- 
mously decided it should not. So the troops were again ordered ashore, 
the militia and most of the volunteers sent home, and the regulars put 
into winter quarters. 

The breaking up of the command was attended by scenes of the 
wildest confusion — ^four thousand men firing off their guns, cursing 

134 History of Erie County. 

General Smyth, their officers, the service and everything connected with 
their military experience. 

The disgust of the public was equally great. Smyth became the 
object, of universal derision. His bombastic addresses were republished 
in doggerel rhyme, and the press teemed with denunciation and ridicule 
of the pompous Virginian. 

Men unacquainted with military matters frequently cast blame on 
unsuccessful generals, which the facts if fully known would not justify ; 
but in this case General Smyth's own statement, published a few days 
after his failure, proves beyond doubt that he was either demoralized by 
sheer cowardice, or else that his mind was vacillating to a degree which 
utterly unfitted him for military command. The mere fact of his twice 
waiting till his men were in boats for the purpose of invading Canada, 
before calling a council of war to decide whether Canada should be 
invaded, showed him to be entirely deficient in the qualifications of a 

There can be little doubt that if the forces had promptly crossed 
and been resolutely led, on the morning of the 28th of November, they 
would have effected a landing, and for the time at least could have held 
the opposite shore. The enterprise of Captain King and Lieutenant 
Angus had been well planned and gallantly executed, giving substantially 
a clear field to the American army. Whether if they had crossed they 
could have effected any lasting results at that season, is a matter of more 

General Porter published a card in the Buffalo Gazette of December 
8th, in which he plumply charged General Smith with cowardice, 'declar- 
ing that the regular officers decided against crossing because of the 
demoralized condition of their commander. According to the opinions 
then in vogue it was impossible under such circumstances for Smyth to 
avoid sending a challenge, and he did so immediately. General Porter 
accepted, and selected Lieutenant Angus as his second, while Colonel 
Winder acted on behalf of General Smyth. 

It seems curious to think of a duel having been fought within the 
borders of law-abiding Erie, but such was nevertheless the fact. On the 
afternoon of the 14th, the two Generals, with their friends and surgeons, 
met at " Dayton's tavern," below Black Rock, and crossed to the head 
of Grand Island, in accordance with previous arrangements. Arriving 
at the ground selected, one shot was fired by each of the principals, 
according to the official statement of the seconds '* in as intrepid and 
firm a manner as possible," but without effect. Colonel Winder then 
represented that General Porter must now be satisfied that the charge 
of cowardice was unfounded, and after divers explanations that charge 
was retracted. Then General Smyth withdrew sundry uncomplimentary 
expressions i*hich he had used regarding Porter, and then "the hand of 

The Elections of 1812- 13. 135 

reconciliation was extended and received/' and all the gentlemen returned 
to Buffalo. It does not appear that there was any great desire for blood 
on either side. 

Soon afterwards General Porter published a statement of the facts 
concerning the embarkation which came within his knowledge, but with- 
out indulging in any animadversions. 

Doctor (or Major) Chapin was more furious than Porter, and also 
came out in a statement, bitterly denunciatory of Smyth. In January, 
after Smyth had left the frontier, he published still another statement, 
but he could not alter the ugly facts of the case. The account hereto- 
fore given is deduced from a careful comparison of the various publica- 
tions just mentioned, and of the official reports of subordinate officers. 

Many even of the soldiers who remained were under very poor dis- 
cipline, and soon after the Smyth failure some of them inaugurated a 
serious riot at Buffalo which threatened the demolition of that village, 
but which was fortunately suppressed. A more full account of it is 
given in the History of the city. 

An epidemic, the nature of which was unknown, prevailed that winter 
on the frontier, carrying off many, both soldiers and citizens. Doctor 
Chapin and a Doctor Wilson called a meeting of physicians to endeavor 
to counteract it. It did not much abate till the last of January, 181 3. 

In the middle of December an election was held for members of 
Congress. The Republicans (Democrats) renominated General Porter, 
but he declined, and Messrs. Bates and Loomis were voted for by them 
in this congressional district. The Federalists supported Messrs. Howell 
and Hopkins, who were elected. The latter received sixty-one votes in 
the town of Buffalo, thirty-six in Hamburg, forty-one in Clarence, and 
thirty-seven in " Edon." The Republican candidates received thirty-four 
in Buffalo, eighty-one in Hamburg, ninety-two in Clarence, and fourteen 
in Eden. It was a light vote, but it will be seen that Buffalo and Eden 
were decidedly Federal, while Hamburg and Clarence were as decidedly 

Says the next Gazette : " We understand " that no election was held 
in Willink and Concord. Their understanding was correct, but it is 
remarkable not only that no election was held, but also that a newspaper 
at the county-seat should not have been fully informed as to whether 
there was one or not. 

Tompkins, who was personally popular, was elected governor by the 
Democrats, but the disasters of the summer, under a Democratic admin- 
istration, had so aided the Federalists that nineteen out of the twenty- 
seven congressmen chosen in this State, and the majority of the assembly, 
belonged to the latter party. The State senate, however, was largely 
Democratic. In the nation at large, Madison was re-elected President 
by a decided majority over DeWitt Clinton, who had been a Democrat, 

136 History of Erie County. 

but was an independent opposition candidate. He received the Federal 
vote, but declared himself in favor of a more vigorous prosecution of 
the war. 

There can be little doubt but that if that energetic leader had become 
President instead of the plausible but inefficient Madison, the war would 
not have been the wretched, milk-and-water affair that it was. One side 
or the other would h^ve been soundly whipped. 

On the 22d of December the immortal Smyth resigned his command 
to Colonel Moses Porter, and retired to Virginia on leave of absence. 
Before his leave expired Congress legislated him out of office, and the 
country received no further benefit from his military genius. 

For several months after the election, there was a general quiet on 
this part of the frontier, relieved only by occasional " statements " on the 
part of some of the heroes of the latest and most remarkable invasion of 



The Young Commodore — Officers and Committeemen — Hunters Caught — Canada Invaded — 
Transition Period of Our Military System — Surrender at Beaver Dams — Chapin's Exploit 
— Indians Enrolled — Farmer's Brother and the Marauders — A Raid and its Repulse — 
Skirmishing at Fort George — Perry's Victory — More Skirmishing — Burning of Newark — 
McClure Runs Away — Fort Niagara Captured — Danger Impending. 

EARLY in March, while all was still quiet among the land forces, a 
young man of twenty-six, with curling locks, bold, handsome fea- 
tures and gallant bearing, wearing the uniform of a captain 
in the United States navy, arrived at Buffalo from the East, and after a 
brief stay went forward to Erie. His brilliant yet manly appearance 
was well calculated to m^ke a favorable impression, yet to many thought- 
ful men he seemed too young, and possibly too gay, for the arduous and 
responsible position to which he had been appointed. But a few months 
were to demonstrate that for once the government had made an admira- 
ble selection, for the youthful stranger was Oliver Hazard Perry, then 
on his way to superintend the fitting out of a naval armament at Erie. 

During the winter the government had purchased a number of mer- 
chant vessels, for the purpose of converting them into men-of-war, and 
the construction of several new ones had been begun. Erie, from its 
comparatively secure harbor, had been wisely selected as the naval head- 
quarters. Five vessels, however, were fitted out in Scajaquada creek, 

The Campaign of 1813. 137 

and for several months Perry flitted back and forth between the two 
places, urging on the work with all the energy of his nature. 

Until April, the war was apparently frozen up. Early in that month 
the BufiFalonians were sharply reminded that they must be o^reful where 
they strayed. Lieutenant Dudley of the navy, Dr. Trowbridge, Mr. 
Frederick B. Merrill, and three seamen, while hunting on Strawberry 
Island, were discovered from the Canadian shore, ^a squad of men was 
sent across, and all were captured. The two civilians were releasee!, but 
the lieutenant and his men were of course retained. The ever-active Dr. 
Chapift was about this time appointed by the governor a " Lieutenant- 
Colonel by brevet," under which commission he subsequently acted in 
bis operations on the frontier, but in much the same independent fashion 
as before. 

Ere long, soldiers began to arrive on the frontier, besides those who 
had remained during the winter. On the I7tk of April, Major-General 
Lewis and Brigadier-General Boyd arrived in Buffalo, to assume com- 
mand according to their respective ranks. General Dearborn took com- 
mand on the whole northern frontier. The British force on the other 
side of the Niagara was very weak. 

The campaign in the North was commenced by an expedition from 
Sackett's Harbor, under General Dearborn and Commodore Chauncey, 
by which York (now Toronto) was captured by a dashing attack, the 
gallant General Pike being killed by the explosion of the enemy's maga- 
zine. This triumph prevented the sending of re-enforcements to the 
British forts on the Niagara, and when our fleet appeared off Fort 
George, about the 25th of May, it was immediately evacuated. 

The Americans under General Lewis crossed and occupied it. Gen- 
eral Porter acted as volunteer aide-de-camp to General Lewis, and the 
Buffalo Gazette took pains to state that " Dr. C. Chapin, of this village, 
was in the vanguard." The British retreated toward the head of Lake 

The same day, the commandant at Fort Erie, who held that post 
with a body of militia, received orders under which he kept up a heavy 
cannonade on Black Rock until the following morning, when be bursted 
his guns, blew up his magazines, destroyed his stores and dismissed his 
men. All the other public stores, barracks and magazines, from Chip- 
pewa to Point Abino, were likewise destroyed; Lieutenant>Colonel 
Preston, tLe commandant at Black Rock, immediately crossed and took 

So, at length, the Americans had obtained possession of the Cana^ 
dian side of the Niagara, and it would seem that it need not have been 
difficult to retain it. But the blundering of the government, the weak- 
ness of commanders, and the general apathy of the people during a great 
part of that war were alike astonishing. 

138 History of Erie County. 

The greatest difficulty was that of obtaining a permanent force. 
The whole military system of the country was in a transition state. 
During the Revolution, the reliance of the nation was on the regular 
** Continental" army with occasional assistance from the militia. But 
thirty years of free government had made Americans extremely unwill- 
ing to subject themselves to the supposed despotic discipline of the reg- 
ular service. On the other hand, the system of organizing volunteers, 
which has since been found so eflfective, was then in its infancy. 

Frequent attempts were made in that direction, but they were gen- 
erally managed by the State authorities, the discipline was of the most 
lax description, and the terms of service were excessively short. In 
Smyth's command, as we have seen, were a few " Federal volunteers," 
enlisted for twelve months, but they were composed of six independent 
companies, from different States, temporarily aggregated in a battalion. 

There was not a single organization corresponding to the present 
definition of a volunteer regiment — a body of intelligent freemen, enlisted 
for a long term of service, officered by the State authorities, but otherwise 
controlled entirely by those of the nation, and subject to the same rules 
as the regulars, and necessarily modified in their application by the char- 
acter of the force. 

As a general rule, if a volunteer of 181 2 stayed on the line three 
months, he thought he had done something wonderful. 

Moreover, ther6 were at first almost no officers. Those who had 
fought in the Revolution were generally too old for active service, and 
West Point had. not yet furnished a body of men whose thorough instruc- 
tion supplies to a great extent the lack of experience. A little knowledge 
of the history of the War of 18 12 ought to satisfy the most frantic 
reformer of the overwhelming necessity of maintaining the National Mil- 
itary Academy in the most efficient condition. 

Add to these causes of weakness a timid, vacillating President and a 
possible unwillingness of the then dominant South to strengthen the 
North by the acquisition of Canada, and there are sufficient reasons for 
the feebleness characterizing the prosecution of the War of 18 12, 

Yet many rude efforts were made to provide against possible disas- 
ter, and several stockades and block-houses were erected in various parts 
of the county, deemed to be sufficiently strong to resist the attack of 
Indians, or even of white men unprovided with artillery. 

Decidedly the most active partisan commander on the Niagara front- 
ier was Colonel Chapin, though there may be some doubts as to the use- 
fulness of his efforts, so irregular and desultory were they. In June he 
organized a company of mounted riflemen, for the purpose of clearing 
the country along the other side of the river, of scattered bands of foes. 

They proceeded to Fort George, and on the 23d of June a force 
started up the river from that point. It consisted of four or five hundred 

Surrender at Beaver Dams. 139 

regular infantry, twenty regular dragoons, and Chapin's company of 
forty-four mounted riflemen, the whole under tieutenant-Colonel Boerst- 
ler. On the 24th, when nine miles west of Queenston, at a place called 
Beaver Dams, it was attacked by a force of British and Indians. After 
some skirmishing and marching, accompanied with slight loss, the assail- 
ants sent a flag to Colonel Boerstler, and on the .mere statement of the 
bearer that the British regular force was double the Americans, besides 
seven hundred Indians, that officer surrendered his whole command. 

Chapin and his Erie county volunteers were sent to the heaci of Lake 
Ontario, (now Hamilton,) whence the Colonel, two officew and twenty- 
six privates were ordered to Kingston, by water, under guard of a Lieu- 
tenant and fifteen men. They were all in two boats; one containing the 
British Lieutenant and thirteen men and the three American officers — 
the second filled with the other twenty-six prisoners, a British Sergeant 
and one soldier. Before starting, the Colonel managed to arrange with 
his men a signal for changing the programme. When about twenty 
miles out on Lake Ontario, Chapin gave the signal and his men ran their 
boat alongside of the one he was in. The British Lieutenant ordered 
them to drop back, and Chapin ordered them on board. The former 
attempted to draw his sword, when the Colonel, a large, powerful man, 
seized him by the neck and flung him on his back. Two of the soldiers 
drew their bayonets, but he seized one in each hand, and at the same 
time his men swarmed into the boat and wrested their arms from the 
guard, who were unable, in their contracted quarters, to fire a shot or 
use a bayonet. 

The victors then headed for Fort George, where, after rowing nearly 
all night, they arrived a little before daylight and turned over their late 
guard to the commandant as prisoners. It was a gallant little exploit, 
and eflfectually refuted the charge of cowardice which some had brought 
against Colonel Chapin. 

The British men-of-war still commanded the lake, though Perry's 
fleet was fast preparing to dispute their supremacy. About the 15th of 
June, the five vessels which had been fitted up in Scajaquada creek stole 
out of Black Rock and joined Perry at Erie. 

The Queen Charlotte and other British vessels this year, as last, hov- 
ered along the lake shore and occasionally sent a boat's crew ashore to 
depredate on the inhabitants of Hamburg and Evans. One day we read 
of their chasing a boat into the mouth of the Cattaraugus ; at another time 
a boat's crew landed and plundered IngersoU's tavern at the mouth of 
Eighteen-Mile creek. 

Down to the present period, no Indians had been taken into the ser- 
vice of the United States. In the spring General Lewis invited the war- 
riors of the Six Nations to come to his camp, and three or four hundred 
of them did come, under the lead of the veteran Farmer's Brother. On 

I40 History of Erie County. 

their arrival they were requested to take no part for the time, but to 
send a deputation to the Mohawks to induce them to withdraw from the 
British service, in which case the Senecas and their associates were also 
to return. 

Many appeared disappointed on finding they were not to fight, but 
were merely to be used to keep others from fighting, though this was 
the policy that Red Jacket favored throughout. But the Mohawks and 
other British Indians showed no disposition to withdraw from the field, 
and as we have seen took a prominent part in the capture of Colonels 
Boerstler and Chapin. 

In the early part of July, too, a skirmish took place near Fort 
George, in which an American Lieutenant and ten men were captured, 
who were never heard of more, and were supposed to have been slain by 
the savages. 

Then, at length, General Boyd accepted the services of the warriors 
of the Six Nations. Those then enrolled numbered four hundred, and 
there were never over five hundred and fifty in the service. 

It is difficult to say who was their leader. One account says it was 
Farmer's Brother, and another designates Henry G'Bail (the Young 
Cornplanter) as holding that position. Still another will have it that 
Young King was their principal war-chief, while Captain Pollard undoubt- 
edly acted as such the next year, at the battle of Chippewa. 

The truth seems to have been that the designation of general 
issimo, like most Indian arrangements, was decidedly indefinite. There 
was a considerable number of undoubted war-chiefs, but no one who was 
unquestionably entitled to the principal command. Farmer's Brother 
was generally recognized, both by Indians and whites, as the greatest 
of the war-chiefs, and was allowed a kind of primacy among them, but 
he was very old, and we cannot gather that he held any definite rank 
above the rest. Leaders for active service seem to have been chosen from 
time to time, either by actual election or by general consent. 

After their enrollment by General Boyd, the Indians remained in 
service but a short time, and then returned home. 

Meanwhile General Dearborn had withdrawn all the regular soldiers 
from Buffalo and Black Rock, leaving a large amount of public stores 
entirely undefended. Being advised, however, of the danger of a raid, 
he ordered ten artillerists to be stationed at the block-house at Black 
Rock, and called for five hundred militia from the neighboring counties. 
Between a hundred and fifty and two hundred of these arrived at the 
threatened point early in July, and were stationed at the warehouses at 
Black Rock, being under the command of Major Parmenio Adams, of 
Genesee county. They had three pieces of field artillery, and near by 
was a battery of four heavy guns. Nearly a hundred recruits for the 
regular infantry and dragoons, on their way to Dearborn's headquarters, 

Raid of the British. 141 

under the command of Captain Cummings, were ordered to stop at 
Buffalo; Judge Granger was directed to engage as many Seneca war- 
riors as he could, and General Porter, who was then staging at his resi- 
dence at Black Rock, was requested to take command of the whole. 

The episode about to be narrated is one of the most exciting in the 
annals of this county. Except the burning of Buffalo, no other affair of 
so much importance took place within the limits of the county during 
the War of 1812; and it was, on the whole, decidedly creditable to the 
American arms ; yet it is almost utterly unknown to the citizens of Erie 
county, and is rarely mentioned in the annals of that era. Other events 
of greater magnitude distracted public attention at the time, and the burn- 
ning of Buffalo, a few months later, obliterated from the minds of men 
all memory of less terrible transactions. 

There is a brief mention of it in Ketchum's " Buffalo and the Sene- 
cas," but the only extended account we have seen is in Stone's " Life of 
Red Jacket.** The following narrative is derived from a careful exami- 
nation of that account (which was furnished by General Porter,) of the 
original description in the Buffalo Gazette, of a letter from Judge Gran- 
ger, published by Ketchum, and of personal reminiscences furnished to 
the Historical Society by Benjamin Hodge, Daniel Brayman, James 
Aigin and Mrs. Jane Bidwell. 

By the loth of July,Judge Granger had received such positive infor- 
mation of an immediate attack, accompanied by special threats against 
himself, that he invited some Indians to come to his house, north of the 
Scajaquada. Thirty-seven of them arrived at eleven o'clock that (Satur- 
day) night, under the lead of Farmer s Brother. As they were not all 
armed, and as the Judge was confident that the enemy would be over the 
next day, he sent to the village and got a full supply of arms and ammu- 
nition for his braves that same night. 

The British headquarters were at Lundy's Lane, close by the Falls, 
where their expedition was fitted out. The commander was Lieutenant- 
Colonel Bishop, a brave and enterprising officer, the same to whom 
Colonels Boerstler and Chapin had surrendered at Beaver Dams. He 
had under him a part of the 41st Regiment of the British army, and a 
detachment of Canadian militia commanded by Colonel Clark. 

They took boat at Chippewa on the night of the loth, and, after row- 
ing against the current in the darkness several hours, landed just after 
daylight a mile below the mouth of the Scajaquada. Forming his men,. 
Colonel Bishop led them rapidly up the river bank. There was a single 
sentinel at the Scajaquada bridge, but on the sudden appearance of the 
red-coats, he flung away his musket, dodged into the woods and took a 
bee-line, as near as he could calculate, for Williamsville, A few men were 
asleep in the block-house, but the British column swept silently by with- 
out disturbing them, and quickly approached the encampment of Major 

142 History of Erie County. 

Adams. His men must have been aroused a little before the enemy 
reached them, for they all made their escape, but they attempted no re- 
sistance and fled without even spiking the cannon in their charge. 
A detachment of the invaders went to the house of General Porter, 
who had barely time to escape, fleeing without his arms, and some say 
with only a single garment. At first he attempted to reach Major 
Adam's encampment, but finding this impossible, he turned toward 

Thus far the affair had been after the usual pattern of operations in 
the early part of that war, and highly discreditable to the Americans. 
The victors supposed all resistance at an end. Some of them were set to 
work burning the block-house and barracks, others spiked the heavy 
guns in the battery and took away the field-pieces, and others went 
through the village capturing and taking across the river four or five 
principal citizens, while the officers, so secure did they feel, ordered 
breakfast at General Porter's. At the same time considerable reinforce- 
ments of provincial militia crossed the river in boats, to share the fruits 
of the easy victory. 

But a storm was gathering. When the militia first began its retreat, 
a messenger was sent to Buffalo, on whose arrival Captain Cummings 
mustered his recruits and marched toward the scene of action. On his 
way he met General Porter, who ordered him to proceed to a piece of 
open ground not far from where the reservoir of the Buffalo water-works 
is now situated, on Niagara street, and await re-inforcements. 

Taking a horse, sword and other equipments from one of Cummings' 
dragoons, the general galloped down to the village, where he found 
everything in confusion, the women and children in a state of terror, and 
the men in the streets with arms in their hands, but doubtful whether to 
fight or flee. Being assured that there was a chance of success, forty 
or fifty of them formed ranks under Captain Bull, the commander of a 
Buffalo volunteer company, and marched to join Cummings. 

Of the retreating militia some had fled into the woods and never 
stopped till they reached home ; but about a hundred had been kept 
together by Lieutenant Phineas Staunton, the adjutant of the battalion, 
a resolute young officer, who was allowed to assume entire command by 
his major. The supineness of the latter is excused by General Porter on 
the ground of ill health. Staunton and his men, who had retreated up 
the beach of the river, left it and took post near the Buffalo road. 

Meanwhile Major King of the regular army, who was accidentally 
at Black Rock, on seeing the sudden retreat of the militia, hurried through 
the woods to Judge Granger's, whence the alarm was speedily carried 
to the scattered inhabitants of " Buffalo Plains." Farmer's Brother at 
once gathered his warriors and made them a little speech telling them 
that they must now go and fight the red-coats ; that their country was 

Their Repulse by the Americans. 143 

invaded; that they had a common interest with the people of the United 
States, and that they must show their friendship for their American 
brethren by deeds, not words. The octogenarian chieftain then led his 
little band to join his friend Conashustah, (the Indian name of General 

Volunteers, too, came hurrying to the village from the Plains and 
Cold Spring, until about thirty were gathered, who were placed under 
the command of Captain William Hull, of the militia. General Porter 
now felt able to cope with the enemy. Bringing together his forces, 
numbering but about three hundred all told, at the open ground before 
mentioned, he made his dispositions for an attack. As the foe held a 
strong position at Major Adams* encampment. Porter determined to attack 
him on three sides at once, to prevent the destructive use of artillery on 
a column massed in front. 

The regulars and Captain Bull's Buffalo volunteers formed the center. 
The Genesee militia, under Staunton, were on the left, nearest the river, 
while Captain Hull's men were directed to co-operate with the Indians, 
who had gathered in the woods on the right front. Farmer's Brother 
prepared for action, and his braves followed ; each dusky warrior strip- 
ping to the skin, all save his breech clout and a plaited cord around the 
waist, (called a maturnip,) which sustained his powder horn, tomahawk 
and knife, and which could be used to bind prisoners if any were taken. 
Then grasping their rifles, the stalwart Senecas quickly ranged them- 
selves in line, with their chiefs a few rods in front. 

At eight o'clock the signal for attack was given. Just as the three 
detachments moved forward, however, Major King arrived on the ground 
and claimed the command of the regulars from Captain Cummings. A 
slight delay ensued ere the command was transferred, and then the Major 
did not fully understand the General's orders. Consequently the central 
detachment was detained a few moments, and meanwhile the militia, 
gallantly led on by Staunton and ashamed of their recent flight, dashed 
forward against the enemy. 

A fight of some fifteen or twenty minutes ensued, in which the militia 
stood up against the British regulars without flinching, though three of 
their men were killed and five wounded, no slight loss out of a hundred 
in so short a time. The right flank of the Americans came up, the 
Indians raised the war-whoop and opened fire, and it has often been 
found that the capacity of these painted warriors for inspiring fear is 
much greater than the actual injury they inflict. Colonel Bishop, who 
had obtained a mount on this side, was severely though not fatally 
wounded, and fell from his horse. His men became demoralized, and 
when the regulars appeared in front, the enemy fled toward the water's 
edge with great precipitation, before Major King's command had time 
to take part in the fight. 

144 History of Erie County. 

The whole American force then pressed forward together, the Indians 
making the forest resound with savage yells. The chief, Young King, 
and another warrior were wounded. Part of the British wounded were 
carried oflF, but part were left on the field. A sergeant, shot in the leg, lay 
under the bank, near the present residence of L. F. Allen, on Niagara street. 
A Seneca warrior jumped down and stopped to load his rifle a short 
distance from him. The sergeant sat up and snapped his musket at him, 
but it missed fire. Without waiting to finish loading, the Indian sprang 
upon his enemy, snatched away his gun, and at one blow knocked out his 
brains, at the same time breaking the musket short off at the breech. 

At the Black Rock landing the British rallied, but on the approach 
of the Americans, hastily retreated into some boats which they found 
there, leaving fifteen prisoners in the hands of their pursuers. Many 
were killed and wounded after entering the boats, but the chief loss fell 
on the last one. It contained sixty men and most of the officers, includ- 
ing Colonel Bishop, who, notwithstanding his wound, had insisted on 
remaining to the last. The whole American force came up to the bank 
and opened fire on this boat, inflicting terrible injury. Two or three 
Indians even sprang into the water, seized the boat by the gunwale and 
endeavored to direct it ashore, but were compelled to desist by the fire 
of their friends in the rear. 

Captain Saunders, of the British 41st, was severely wounded at 
the water's edge and left a prisoner. Colonel Bishop was pierced 
with several bullets, receiving wounds of which he soon died, and several 
other officers were killed or wounded. Presently the men dropped their 
oars and made signals of surrender. The firing ceased and the boat 
dropped down the river, followed along the bank by some of the Amer- 
icans, who ordered the occupants to come ashore, which they declared 
themselves willing to do, but so disabled they could not. 

Meanwhile, however, our Indians had begun stripping the dead and 
prisoners. They seized on Captain Saunder*s sword, belt and epaulets, 
and perhaps some of his garments. The men in the boat thought, or 
claimed they thought, that the warriors were tomahawking and scalping 
him. Either actually believing this or using it as an excuse, they would 
not come ashore in accordance with their surrender, but after dropping 
down to the head of Squaw Island, suddenly seized their oars and by 
desperate exertions got under its shelter, though not without again suf- 
fering severely from the bullets of the Americans. In fact, however, 
Captain Saunders, though badly wounded by balls, bore no mark of tom- 
ahawk or knife, and, after being carefully tended for several weeks at 
General Porter's residence, finally recovered and was for more than thirty 
years a British pensioner. 

The enemy left eight killed and seven wounded on the field, besides 
a number carried into the boats and a still larger number hit after the 

British Loss in Killed, Wounded and Prisoners. 145 

embarkation. They were said at the time to have acknowledged a total 
loss in killed, wounded and prisoners of nearly a hundred. The Ameri- 
cans lost only the three killed and seven wounded already mentioned, 
who all, except the two Indians, belonged to that same body of militia 
that had fled so ingloriously in the early morning. They were in the 
front of the fray throughout, and gallantly retrieved their tarnished rep- 
utation. Their good conduct was doubtless due largely to the example 
of Adjutant Staunton, whom major and captains allowed to take full 
command, who also distinguished himself on several other occasions in 
the War of 18 12, and whose soldierly qualities were transmitted to his 
son, Phineas Staunton, the gallant First Lieutenant-Colonel of the looth 
New York Volunteers in the War for the Union. 

All the accounts speak in high terms of the conduct of the Seneca 
warriors. They fought well and were not especially savage. They 
stripped their dead enemies, however, of all their clothing, and a young 
man named Algin, who went upon the field after the fight, relates having 
seen the whole eight bodies lying together, thus stark and white, in the 

Although the numbers engaged in this affair were not large, it was 
a very exciting conflict for Erie county, and is of importance as showing 
the value of one or two resolute officers in rallying and inspiratinga body 
of raw troops, utterly demoralized by less efficient leadership. 

General Dearborn had resigned the command of the northern fron- 
tier just before this event, and a little after it General Wilkinson added 
another to the long list of occupants of that unfortunate position. 

Colonel Chapin having returned, General Porter and he gathered up 
another body of volunteers, and went down to Fort George, taking a 
hundred or so Indians with them. " Being," according to General Boyd's 
report, "very impatient to engage the enemy," that officer kindly got up 
an expedition to accommodate them. A plan was concerted to cut off 
one of the enemy's pickets on the morning of the 17th of August. 

Chapin was sent out west from Fort George for the purpose, with 
about three hundred volunteers and Indians, supported by two hundred 
regulars under Major Cumniings. Porter volunteered in the affair and 
probably commanded the whole, though the report does not definitely 
say so. A heavy rain retarded their progress, so the picket was not 
captured, but a fight ensued in which the volunteers and Indians cap- 
tured sixteen prisoners, and killed a considerable number of the enemy 
who were left on the field; one account says seventy-five, but this is 
doubtful. The principal chiefs who took part in this affair were Farmer's 
Brother, Red Jacket, Little Billy, Captain Pollard, Black Snake, Hank 
Johnson (the white man), Silver Heels, Captain Halftown, Major Henry 
O'Bail (Young Cornplanter), and Captain Cold (an Onondaga chief), who 
was wounded. 

146 History of Erie County. 

Chapin and his volunteers and most of the Indians, continued to 
operate in the vicinity of Fort George until the 7th of September, when 
they returned to Buffalo. 

A few days later came news of a battle which, though fought a hun- 
dred and fifty miles away, has always been contemplated with feelings 
of especial interest and sympathy by the people of Erie county, since it 
decided the supremacy oi the great lake from which that county is 
named, whose waters wash its shores and whose commerce passes along 
its borders. We refer of course to " Perry's Victory." Glad were the 
hearts of our people and great were their rejoicings, when they learned 
that after a desperate contest the gallant Perry, with a force inferior 
both in men and guns, had captured or destroyed the whole British fleet. 

Immediately succeeding Perry's victory came that of Harrison over 
Proctor, and the death of Tecumseh. It being supposed that the Upper 
Peninsula was pretty well cleared of foes. General Wilkinson's forces 
were nearly all withdrawn to the lower end of Lake Ontario. 

Just before he left, a correspondence took place, which shows how 
little comprehension even the most public-spirited men had of the needs of 
the military service. Porter, Chapin and Colonel Joseph McClure wrote 
to Wilkinson from Black Rock, stating that in expectation of a decisive 
movement they had repaired to Fort George, with five hundred men — 
militia, volunteers and Indians. " Most of us," said the writers, ** re- 
mained there twelve or fourteen days, but our hopes not being realized, 
the men continually dispersed and went home." 

The three gentlemen then offered to raise a thousand or twelve hun- 
dred men, either to aid Wilkinson in a sally from Fort George, or, on 
being furnished with a battery of artillery, "to invade the enemy's 
country," with a view to dispersing his forces before Wilkinson should 

The most disastrous experience had not yet convinced our ablest 
men of the impossibility of making an effective aggressive movement 
with a crowd of undisciplined, ungoverned men, who would leave camp 
if they could not have a fight in fourteen days. Wilkinson forwarded 
the proposition to the Secretary of War, who did not accept it. 

The force left behind by Wilkinson was under the command of Gen- 
eral George McClure, of Steuben county, a brigadier-general of the New 
York militia, who made his headquarters at Fort George, and immedi- 
ately issued several flaming proclamations. 

On the 6th of October, Colonel Chapin, with one of those hetero- 
geneous collections of men so common at that time, had an all-day skirm- 
ish with some British outposts, near Fort George. He claimed to have 
killed eighteen of the enemy, while but three of his own men were slain. 
Doubtful. He had with him "Crosby's and Sackriders companies" of 
militia, a few other men and some Indians. 

Inefficiency of General McClure. 147 

On the 24th of October, Harrison and Perry, with their victorious 
army and fleet, came down the lake to Buffalo. The next day, the Gen- 
eral and his army crossed the river and went down to Fort George, and 
thence in a short time to Sackett's Harbor, while the Commodore, with 
his fleet, soon returned up the lake. 

General McClure was thus left with about a thousand militia, two 
hundred and fifty Indians, and sixty regulars. The terms of the militia 
were fast expiring, and they would not stay a day beyond them. An- 
other draft was accordingly ordered, about the middle of November, of 
six hundred men from Hopkins* brigade, under Lieutenant-Colonel 
Warren. These marched to Fort George and remained nearly a month. 

On the 7th of December, General McClure sent out an expedition 
along the south shore of Lake Ontario. LieutenantColonel Chapin was 
in command of the advance. He afterwards declared that McClure had 
not only left him unsupported, but had expressed his desire that Chapin 
should be captured. A very bitter feeling had certainly grown up 
between them, and it is evident that Chapin had a peculiar faculty of 
getting into trouble. He issued as many statements as any of the Gen- 
erals, and denounced without stint those whom he did not admire. 

When the term of Colonel Warren's regiment of militia was about to 
expire, McClure determined to abandon Fort George. In this he was 
unquestionably justifiable, as his remaining force would have been entirely 
inadequate to defend it. But he at the same time took a step cruel in itself, 
and fraught with woe to the American frontier. He ordered the burning 
of the flourishing village of Newark, situated close to the fort, and contain- 
ing about a hundred and fifty houses. The inhabitants wefe turned out 
into the snow, and the torch applied to every building in the place. 

McClure claimed that he acted under orders from the Secretary of 
War, but he produced no such orders, and it appears that there were none, 
except that the General was authorized to burn Newark if necessary to 
defend the fort. As he had already decided to abandon the fort, of course 
those orders could not apply. Chapin and the General had another bit- 
ter quarrel, the former roundly denouncing the destruction of the village. 
Soon after, Chapin resigned his command. 

McClure moved the remnant of his force across the river, closely 
pressed by the enraged British. Leaving Fort Niagara defended by a 
hundred and fifty regulars, he called two hundred others from Canan- 
daigua to Buffalo. 

On the morning of December 19th, Fort Niagara was surprised and 
captured by a small British force, through the criminal negligence of its 
commander, who was at his residence four miles away. McClure was not 
to blame for the transaction, but nevertheless he, more than any other one 
man, was responsible for the burning of Buffalo, and the devastation of 
the whole frontier. He needlessly destroyed Newark, which of course 

148 History of Erie County. 

provoked retaliation, and then ran away. As soon as Niagara was cap- 
tured he took his two hundred regulars and retreated to Batavia, against 
the earnest protest of the citizens of Buffalo. Had they remained as a 
nucleus for ^he gathering militia, the result might have been entirely 

Affidavits were afterwards published, showing that McClure said in 
his anger that he hoped Buffalo would be burned ; that he would remain 
and defend it provided the citizens would catch '' that damned rascal, 
Chapin," and deliver him bound into his (McClure's) hands. Several of 
his staff officers, also, were proven to have indulged in similar disgraceful 
language in his presence, unrebuked ; expressing their entire willingness 
that the village should be burned. In a properly disciplined army Gen- 
eral McClure would have been shot. 

Before leaving Buffalo McClure called out the men of Genesee, 
Niagara and Chautauqua counties en masse^ and on arriving at Batavia, 
on the 22d of December, he turned over the command to Major-General 
Hall, the commander of this division of militia. That officer, who mani- 
fested no lack of zeal, sent forward all the troops he could raise, and pro- 
ceeded to Buffalo himself on the 25th, leaving McClure to organize and 
forward re-inforcements. Hall, however, assumed no command over the 
regulars, and there seems to have been a bitterness of feeling on the part 
of their officers which would, perhaps, in the demoralized state of affairs, 
have made it impracticable for him to do so. 

The events of the following week form so important a portion of the 
history of Erie county that they will be made the subject of a separate 
chapter. * 



Number of Troops — The Enemy's Approach — Movements in Defense — Chapin's Wrath — Attack 
and Repulse — Another with same Result — Blakeshe's Advance— Battle of Black Rock — 
The Retreat — The Flight — Universal Confusion — " The Indians ! the Indians !" — 
Attempt at Defense — Chapin's Negotiation — The Village in Flames — Murder of Mrs. 
Lovejoy— The Enemy Retire — The Slain — McClure to Blame — The Flight in the Coun- 
try — The Buffalo Boad— The Big Tree Road — Successive Vacancies — Exaggerated Re- 
ports — Return of the British — More Burning — The Enemy at Hodge's and Cold Spring — 
The Scene at Shop Reese's — Harris Hill — Relief. 

ON the 27th of December General Hall reviewed the forces at Buffalo 
and Black Rock, which were thus described in his report: At Buf- 
falo there were a hundred and twenty-nine mounted volunteers 
under Lieutenant-Colonel Seymour Boughton, of Ontario county ; 
four hundred and thirty-three Ontario county volunteers under Lieu- 

Preparations for the Defense of Buffalo. 149 

» ■ 

tenant-Colonel Blakeslie ; a hundred and thirty-six " Buffalo militia " 
under Lieutenant-Colonel Chapin ; ninety-seven Canadian volunteers 
under Lieutenant-Colonel Mallory,* and three hundred and eighty-two 
Genesee county militia under Major Adams, 

At Black Rock, under Brigadier-General Hopkins, were three hun- 
dred and eighty-two effective men in the corps of Lieutenant-Colonels 
Warren and Churchill ; thirty-seven mounted men under Captain Ran- 
som ; eighty-three Indians under " Lieutenant-Colonel Granger," and one 
piece of field artillery, with twenty-five men, under Lieutenant Seeley. 
The aggregate force at both places on the 27th, according to the report, 
was seventeen hundred and eleven. C6lonel Churchill, above mentioned, 
commanded a detachment from Genesee county. The remainder of the 
main body at Black Rock, under Colonel Warren, was composed of men 
of his own regiment from the south towns of Erie county, and Major 
Hill's detachment from Clarence, still temporarily consolidated with it. 
The Buffalo militia, which properly belonged in Hill's regiment, seem to 
have acted independently under Chapin. 

About this time a body of the enemy came up the river from Fort 
Niagara as far as Tonawanda, or farther, burning everything along the 
river shore. At Tonawanda they burned the guard-house, and what few 
dwellings there were in the vicinity with one exception. 

On the 27th, General Hall received information which made him cer- 
tain that the enemy intended to cross. The 28th passed quietly away. 
On the 29th there arrived a regiment of Chautauqua county militia, 
under Lieutenant-Colonel McMahan, numbering about three hundred 
men^ bringing the aggregate force to a trifle over two thousand. 

Besides Seeley's field-piece there were seven other cannon at the 
two villages, but none of them mounted on carriages. Several of them 
were in a battery at the top of the hill overlooking Black Rock, and 
with them was Major Dudley, with a part of Warren's regiment. The 
rest, with Churchill's detachment, were in the village of Black Rock. 
As near as can be estimated, from the official report and General War- 
ren's statement, Dudley then had about a hundred men, Warren a hun- 
dred and fifty, and Churchill also a hundred and fifty. 

Captain John G. Camp was Quartermaster-General of the whole 

Patrols were constantly kept out. The excitement among the people 
was of course intense, yet few believed that an attack would be success- 
ful, looking on the two thousand defenders now assembled, and remem- 
bering that three hundred men had driven back a considerable body of 
assailants the summer before. 

* There were many Canadians who looked on themselves only as citizens of Canada, not as 
subjects of Great Britain, and who in the pending contest between th^ United States and England, 
sympathized with the former country. A considerable number of these had joined our army, either 
-as individuals or as members of Canadian corps. 

ISO History of Erie County. 

Near midnight of the 29th, a detachment of the enemy landed a little 
below Scajaquada creek. Immediately afterwards a horse-patrol discov- 
ered them, was fired on, and retreated. The news was at once carried to 
Colonels Warren an4 Churchill, at Black Rock, and then to General 
Hall, at Buffalo. The latter ordered out his men, but, fearing that the 
enemy's movement was a feint, and that he would land in force above 
Buffalo and march down, he did not at first send any considerable force 
down the river. 

Meanwhile, General Hopkins being absent in Clarence, on business, 
the two Colonels at Black Rock turned out their men and consulted as 
to what should be done. Though Warren was the senior in rank, he 
seems not to have been formally invested with the command at Black 
Rock, another evidence of the loose way in which everything was done. 
However, the two officers agreed that they would endeavor to reach 
Scajaquada creek before the invaders, and hold it against them. 

Warren's command being ready first, he set out in advance. After 
marching about half-way, he sent two scouts ahead. In a short time he 
heard firing at the creek, and as they did not return he naturally conclud- 
ed they were killed or taken. In fact, both were taken. Presently Cap- 
tain Millard (afterward General Millard, of Lockport,) aid to General 
Hall, galloped past, also in search of information. He, too, was saluted 
with a shower of bullets at the bridge, and captured. 

Warren halted till Churchill came up, when they agreed that, as the 
enemy had evidently got possession of the Scajaquada bridge, and of 
what was called the "Sailors' Battery," situated there, it would be 
impracticable to dislodge him in the darkness. They determined to take 
a position at a small run, a little way below the village of Black Rock, and 
there oppose the further advance of the British. Thither they accord- 
ingly returned, placed their single piece of artillery in the road, with 
one of their skeleton regiments on each side, and awaited developments. 

The enemy did not advance, but in the course of an hour or so, 
Colonel Chapin arrived with a body of mounted men. His force is not 
described as mounted in Hall's report, but he must have obtained horses 
for at least a part of Captain Bull's company. General Warren is posi- 
tive that the force with which Chapin came to Black Rock was mounted,, 
and Bull was certainly present in the reconnoissance which followed. 

The irascible doctor furiously damned the two Colonels and their 
men for not having driven away the British, and delivered General Hall's 
order that they should immediately make an attack. They replied with 
equal anger, and declared themselves as ready as he to meet the British. 
Chapin then led the way with his mounted men, in " column of twos ; "^ 
Warren followed with his battalion, and then Churchill with his. 

The men under Chapin and Bull advanced nearly to Scajaquada 
creek, w^ithout receiving any warning of the whereabouts of the caemy. 

Flight of Buffalo's Defenders. 151 

All was silent as death. Suddenly from the darkness flashed a volley of 
musketry, almost in the faces of the head of the column. UndiscjpHned 
cavalry are notoriously the poorest of all troops, and Chapin's men prob- 
ably acted precisely as any other mounted militia would have done, if 
led in column^ in the darkness, against an unknown force of hostile 
infantry. They instantly broke and fled, rushing back through the ranks 
of Warren's footmen, who became utterly demoralized by the onslaught 
without receiving a shot. As the horsemen stampeded through them, 
they broke up, some scattering into the woods and some retreating 
toward Buffalo. Finding himself almost without men, Warren retired 
to the main battery, to endeavor to rally some of the fugitives. Churchill, 
with at least a part of his men, remained below the village. 

When General Hall received news of this failure, he ordered Major 
Adams with his Genesee militia, and Chapin with such force as he could 
rally, to march against the enemy. This movement was equally futile ; 
in fact it is doubtful if the force got within reach of the enemy's guns. 

The General then ordered Colonel Blakeslie, with his Ontario county 
militia, to advance to the attack. This sending of successive small 
detachments to assail an unknown force in the darkness, instead of con- 
centrating his forces in some good defensive position, shows clearly 
enough that General Hall had little idea of the proper course to be taken, 
but he seems to have labored zealously according to the best light he had. 

On the departure of Blakeslie, Hall gathered his remaining forces, 
of which McMahan's Chautauqua regiment constituted the main part, and 
took the hill road (Niagara street) for Black Rock. As he approached 
that village the day began to dawn, and he discovered the enemy's boats 
crossing the river in the direction of General Porter's house. A smaller 
number were crossing further south, opposite the main battery. 

Blakeslie's command was ordered to meet the approaching force at 
the water's edge. That force consisted of the Royal Scots under Colonel 
Gordon, and was estimated at four hundred men. The invasion was under 
the general superintendence of Lieutenant-General Drummond, but the 
troops were under the immediate command of Major-General Riall. 
The artillery in the battery fired on them as they advanced, and Blakeslie's 
men opened fire when they landed. They returned it, and a battery on 
the other side sent shells and balls over their heads among the Americans. 

For half an hour the forest and riverside re-echoed with the thunder 
of artillery and ceaseless rattle of small arms. All accounts agree that 
Blakeslie's men did the most of the fighting, and sustained the attack of 
the Royal Scots with considerable firmness. Had all the regiments been 
kept together and met the enemy at his landing, the result might have 
been far different. 

A portion of the Chautauqua county regiment took part in the fight, 
and Colonel Warren, having rallied part of his men at the battery, moved 

152 History of Erie County. 

them down to the left of Blakeslie's command. Major Dudley was killed 
during the combat, and probably at this point. Besides the regiments 
just named, there were squads and single individuals in the fight from all 
the different organizations. Regfiments and companies had to a great 
extent dissolved, and the men who had not run away fought "on their 
own hook." 

Meanwhile the hostile force at Scajaquada creek, consisting of regu- 
lars and Indians, moved up the river, easily dispersing Churchill's meagre 
force, and marched against Blakeslie's right. It is not believed there 
were then over six hundred men in our ranks, and these, thus assailed on 
two sides, were entirely unable to maintain their ground. Large numbers 
were already scattering through the woods toward home, when General 
Hall ordered a retreat, hoping to make another stand at the edge of 

This, as might be supposed, was utterly hopeless ; once the men got 
to running, there were few that thought of anything else. In a few 
moments all were in utter rout. A part hurried toward Buffalo, others 
rushed along the " Guide-board road " (now North street) to Main street, 
and then made all possible speed toward the Williamsville road, while 
many fled through the woods without regard to roads of any kind. 
If the officers made any attempt to rally their men, they were entirely 
unsuccessful, and there was nothing for them to do but join in the 
general retreat. 

Meanwhile, in Buffalo the women and children remained in a feeling 
of comparative security ; believing that the foe would surely be beaten 
back, as he had been before. Many, however, had packed up their scanty 
stores in preparation for a flight if necessary, and all had been anxiously 
listening to the fateful sounds of battle. All the while scattering fugitives 
were constantly rushing through the village, and striking out for Will, 
iamsville, Wilhnk or Hamburg. 

Then the noise of battle ceased, and the scattering runaways in- 
creased to a crowd. The Buffalonians of Hull's and Bull's companies 
came hurrying up to take care of their families. They declared that the 
Americans were whipped, that the British were marching on the town, 
and most terrible of all that the Indians, the Indians, the Indians were 

Then all was confusion and dismay. Teams were at a premium. 
Horses, oxen, sleighs, sleds, wagons, carts — nearly everything that had 
feet, wheels or runners — were pressed into service. Some loaded up 
furniture, some contented themselves with saving their scanty store of 
silverware and similar valuables; most took care to secure some provi- 
sions and bedding, threw them promiscuously into whatever vehicles 
they could obtain, and started. Children were half-smothericd with 
feather beds, babies alternated with loaves of bread. Many, who neither 

Incidents of the Flight. 153 

had nor could obtain teams, set forth on foot. Men, women and children 
by the score were seen hastening through the light snow and half-frozen 
mud, in the bitter morning air, up Main street or out Seneca, or toward 
"Pratt's Ferry." Numerous incidents, tragic, pathetic and comic, oc- 
curred, some of which are narrated in the History of Buffalo, forming the 
second volume of this work. 

Confusion was every moment worse confounded. "The Indians, 
the Indians ! " was on every tongue. A crowd of teams and footmen — 
and footwomen too — were hurrying up Main street, when suddenly the 
head of the column stopped and surged back on the rear. 

"The Indians!" was the cry from the front; "they are coming up 
the Guide-board road ; they are out at Hodge's." Back down Main 
street rolled the tide. Horses were urged to their utmost speed ; peo- 
ple on foot did their best to keep up, and even the oxen, under the per- 
sistent application of the lash, broke into an unwilling gallop, stumbling 
along, shaking their horns and wondering what strange frenzy had 
seized upon the people. 

Turning up Seneca street the crowd sped onward, some going 
straight to the Indian village, and thence across the reservation to Wil- 
link, others making for Pratt's ferry, and thence up the beach to Ham- 

There was good reason for the sudden retreat of the Main street 
fugitives. While the main body of the enemy marched down Niagara 
street, the Indians on the left flank pressed up the " Guide-board road," 
occasionally annoyed by scattering shots from some of the more resolute 
militiamen and citizens. The savages, however, soon fell back and 
closed in on the main body. 

For, meanwhile, events had come crowding thick and fast in the 
lower part of the town. As the enemy approached, some twenty or 
thirty men, apparently without any organization, manned an old twelve- 
pounder mounted on a pair of truck-wheels, at the junction of Main and 
Niagara streets. Soon the foe was seen emerging from the forest, on 
the latter street, less than a quarter of a mile away — a long column of 
disciplined soldiers, marching shoulder to shoulder, the rising sun bath- 
ing them in its golden light and tipping their bayonets with fire. 

Colonel Chapin by general consent exercised whatever authority 
any one could exercise, which was very little. Two or three shots were 
fired from the old twelve-pounder, and then it was dismounted. Chapin 
then went forward with a white handkerchief tied to his cane as a flag 
of truce, asked a halt, which was granted, and began a parley. It was 
probably about this time that the Indians were called in from the Guide- 
board road. One account has it that Chapin succeeded in arranging 
some kind of a capitulation ; but this must be rejected, for, in a state- 
ment published by himself shortly after, he only speaks of " attempting 

154 History of Erie County. 

a negotiation," claiming that while this was going on the people had a 
chance to escape ; which was probably true. 

Just about the time the cannon was dismounted some of our retreat- 
ing soldiers had reached Pomeroy's tavern, at the corner of Main and 
Seneca streets. Half famished after the fatigues of the night, they 
besought the landlorJl for something to eat. He told them there was 
plenty of bread in the kitchen and they rushed in, provided themselves, 
and pursued their retreat, each with a piece of bread in one hand and 
his musket in the other. 

Presently they heard a cry from those ahead, " Run, boys, run." 
Looking northward they saw a long line of Indians, with red bands on 
their heads, coming in single file at a rapid "jog-trot" down Washington 
street. It is needless to say that the injunction, " Run boys," was strictl)' 
obeyed. The warriors, however, never swerved to the right nor the left, 
but kept on down to the Little Buffalo. Doubtless they had orders to 
surround the town. 

The Indians came to Main street first, a considerable time before the 
troops, which were drawn up near the corner of Morgan, Mohawk and 
Niagara streets. The savages had apparently full license to do what 
they pleased in the way of plundering, though some British officers 
went ahead and had the casks of liquor stove in, to prevent their red 
allies from getting beyond control. There were some squaws with the 
Indians, and these v/ere delighted beyond measure with the gay dresses, 
the shawls, and most of all with the looking-glasses, still to be found in 
some of the houses. 

Ere long, detachments moved forward from the main body, and 
squads of men were sent through the village to apply the torch to 
nearly every building. About ten o'clock. Lieutenant Riddle, of the 
United States regular army, with some forty convalescents from the 
Williamsville hospital, and a six-pounder gun, came marching down 
Main street to 'drive out the enemy. Mr. Walden went to meet him, 
convinced him of the hopelessness of such a course, and pursuaded 
him to retire rather than needlessly exasperate the foe and his savage 

Meanwhile the burning went rapidly forward ; the flames quickly 
devouring the frail wooden tenements of which the embryo city was 
almost entirely composed. One woman, Mrs. Joshua Lovejoy, was 
murdered by the Indians while endeavoring to prevent them from plun- 
dering her house. Her corpse was left lying in the yard, and when the 
squad of burners saw it they left her house standing. Two houses 
were also spared which belonged to Mrs. Gamaliel St. John, a widow 
lady, who applied to the officer commanding the Indians. A few other 
buildings were also left standing on that day. Dr. Chapin and several 
other citizens were captured and taken to Canada. 

The Burning of Buffalo. 155 

By three o'clock in the afternoon all of the lately flourishing village 
of Buffalo, save some six or eight structures, was smouldering in ashes. 
What few houses there were at Black Rock were likewise destroyed, 
and the enemy then retired across the river. After they left, Mr. Wal- 
den and the St. John girls carried Mrs. Lovejoy's corpse back into her 
house, and laid it on the bed. 

The foe took with them about ninety pris(iners, of whom eleven 
were wounded. Forty of the ninety were from Blakeslie's regiment. 
Besides these, a considerable number of American wounded were able 
to escape — probably fifty or sixty. 

Forty or fifty were killed. Most of these lay on the field of battle, 
but some were scattered through the upper part of the village. They 
were stripped of their clothing, and lay all ghastly and white on the 
snow. On most of them the tomahawk and scalping-knife had supple- 
mented the work of the bullet. 

Among the slain the officer of highest rank was Lieutenant-Colonel 
Boughton,of Avon. In Erie county, reckoning according to the present 
division of towns, the killed were Job Hoysington, John Roop, Samuel 
Holmes, John Trisket, James Nesbit, Robert Franklin, (colored), Mr. 
Myers, Robert Hilland, and Adam Lawfer, of Buffalo ; Jacob Vantine, Jr., 
of Clarence; Moses Fenno, of Alden ; Israel Reed, of Aurora; Newman 
Baker, Parley Moffat and William Cheeseman, of Hamburg and East 
Hamburg; Major William C. Dudley, and probably Peter Hoffman, of 
Evans ; and Calvin Cary, of Boston. 

All the heavy guns of course fell into the hands of the enemy, as 
well as a considerable quantity of public stores. A few small vessels 
lying near Black Rock, were also captured. 

The force by which all this injury was accomplished, according to the 
British official report, consisted of about a thousand men, detached from 
the Royal Scots regiment, the Eighth (or King's) regiment, the Forty- 
first, the Eighty-ninth, and the One Hundredth, besides from one to two 
hundred Indians. The enemy suffered a loss of about thirty men killed 
and sixty wounded. Only two of his officers were wounded and none 

That a thousand veteran soldiers should whip two thousand raw 
militia is not really very strange, yet there have been times when militia, 
acting on the defensive, have done much better than that. The repulse 
of three or four hundred invaders the previous summer, by a force of 
militia and recruits hardly their equal in number, shows what may be 
done under favorable circumstances and resolute leadership. 

General Hall, on reaching Williamsville, rallied two or three hun- 
dred of the fugitives, and collected reinforcements as rapidly as possible. 
There was, however, no further conflict with the enemy. Throughout 
► this dismal epoch, the General seems to have acted with all possible 

I $6 History of Erie County. 

devotion and energy, and to have failed only through the defection of 
his men and his own ignorance of the military art. He did the best that 
in him lay. 

General McClure, on the other hand, did the worst that in him lay, 
and when he retired to his home was justly followed by the hatred and 
contempt of thousands. The destruction of the Niagara frontier, is 
chargeable chiefly to the cruelty and cowardice of George McClure. 

The news of the disaster fled fast and far. The chief avenue of 
escape was up the Main street road to Williamsville and Batavia. Next 
to that was the road up the beach to Hamburg. This was still the usual 
route, for teams, to all that part of the county south of the Buffalo 

On this occasion, however, many went on foot or horseback to the 
Indian village, and thence through the woods to the Big Tree road. 

During all that day (the 30th) the road through Williamsville and 
Clarence was crowded with a hurrying and heterogeneous multitude — 
bands of militiamen, families in sleighs, women driving ox-sleds, men in 
wagons, cavalrymen on horseback, women on foot, bearing infants in 
their arms and attended by crying children — all animated by a single 
thought, to escape from the foe, and especially Irom the dreaded Indians. 

On the Big Tree road the scene was still more diversified, for in 
addition to a similar multitude of white citizens, there was the whole 
tribe of Senecas from the Buffalo reservation. The author of the history 
of the Holland Purchase, then a youth residing in Sheldon, Wyoming 
county, gives a vivid picture of the scene from personal recollection : — 

** An ox-sled would come along bearing wounded soldiers, whose 
companions had perhaps pressed the slow team into their service ; another 
with the family of a settler, a few household g^oods that had been hustled 
upon it, and one, two or three wearied families from Buffalo, who had 
begged the privilege of a ride and the rest that it afforded : then a rem- 
nant of some dispersed corps of militia, hugging as booty, as spoils of the 
vanquished, the arms they had neglected to use; then squads and families 
of Indians, on foot and on ponies, the squaw with her papoose upon her 
back, and a bevy of juvenile Senecas in her train ; and all this is but a 
stinted programme of the scene that was presented. Bread, meats and 
drinks soon vanished from the log taverns on the routes, and fleeing set- 
tlers divided their scanty stores with the almost famished that came from 
the frontiers." 

The news flew, apparently on the wings of the wind and as it flew 
people hitched up their horse or ox teams and started eastward. Again 
and again it happened that a party of tired travelers from Buffalo or 
vicinity would at nightfall find a deserted house, with plenty of furniture 
and provisions, somewhere in Aurora, or Wales, or Newstead,and would 
go to keeping house in it. The owners had perhaps gone on, another 
day's journey, and had found near Batavia or Warsaw another abandoned 
residence, whose late occupants had determined to put the Gvnesee 

f/^^<r-t4A^ /d^yt./!^ 

Second Appearance of the British. 157 

river between them and the foe. Everybody wanted to get one stage 
farther east. 

Sometimes a horseman would take up two or three children ; some- 
times a gallant cavalier would be seen with some weary woman seated 
behind him, and a child on the pommel of his saddle. 

The fleeing Senecas added to the dreadful rumors. During the war 
they kept runners going almost constantly between the Buffalo reserva- 
tion and those of Cattaraugus and Allegany. These when they could 
talk a little English, frequently enlivened the minds of the inhabitants 
along the route by terrible tales of the ** British Indians.'' But after the 
burning of Buffalo they let loose all their powers of description. 

" Whoop ! " cried the dusky runner, as he paused for an instant before 
the door of some log cabin, where stood a trembHng matron surrounded 
by tow-headed children ; " Whoop I Buffalo all burned up I British 
Indians coming ! Kill white squaw ! Kill papoose ! Scalp 'em all ! Burn 
up everything ! Whoop !" and away he bounded through the forest, leav- 
ing dismay and wailing in his track. 

Still, when it was found that the enemy had retired, curiosity induced 
many men from the nearest towns to visit the ruins. Others went to ren- 
der what assistance they could, and still others, alas, to take advantage 
of the universal confusion and purloin whatever might have been left by 
the invader. A few went on the 31st of December, more on the ist of 

On the former day everything was quiet. On the latter, as the few 
remaining citizens and Some from the country were staring at the ghastly 
ruins, a detachment of the enemy suddenly appeared, making prisoners 
of most of them. 

They then fired all the remaining buildings, except the jail, which 
would not burn, Reese's blacksmith shop, and the cottage in which 
Mrs. St. John lived. A large hotel belonging to her was destroyed 
with the rest. 

As the detachment was about to depart, the commandant was in- 
formed that there were public stores at Hodge's tavern, on Main street, 
and on the hill south of Cold Spring. There were no public stores there 
but the building was burned, a citizen named Keep was killed ; also 
Adjutant Tottman, in command of a squad of mounted Canadian volun- 
teers, who attempted to pursue the destroyers when they retreated. 

At this same time, a squad of Indians went to Major Miller's tavern, 
at Cold Spring, but fled to the woods on the appearance of the horse- 
men just mentioned. This was the farthest that any of the enemy pene- 
trated into the country. 

A day or two after the second raid the people assembled and picked 
up the dead bodies, and brought them to Reese's blacksmith shop. The 
number is variously stated, but the most careful account makes it forty- 


158 History of Erie County. 

two killed, besides some who were not found till later, and some prom- 
inent persons like Colonel Boughton, who were taken care of earlier. At 
the shop they were laid in rows, a ghastly display, all being frozen stiff, 
and most of them stripped, tomahawked and scalped. After those 
belonging in the vicinity had been taken away by their friends, the rest 
were deposited in a single large grave, in the old burying ground on 
Franklin Square, covered only with boards, so they could be easily ex- 
amined and removed. 

Then quiet settled down on the destroyed village and almost desert- 
ed county. Even Mrs. St. John left, and when a few days after the burn- 
ing, Samuel Wilkeson and another gentleman, came down the lake shore, 
the only living thing which they saw between Pratt's Ferry and Cold 
Spring, was a solitary cat wandering amid the blackened ruins. 

But the pioneers had plenty of energy and resolution, even if they 
were not very good soldiers. Within a week some of them were back, 
beginning the erection of new houses. 

Soldiers were stationed in the village — a detachment of regulars, we 
believe — and as time wore on people began to feel more safe. But the 
winter was one of intense excitement and distress. Scarce a night passed 
without a rumor of an attack. Many times some of the inhabitants 
packed up their goods, ready to flee. Twice during the winter small 
squads of the enemy crossed the river, but were driven back by the 
soldiers and citizens without much fighting. Most of the people who 
came back had nothing to live on, save what was issued to them by the 
commissary department of the army. 

The rest of the county was hardl)- less disturbed. There were houses 
to live in, and generall)' plenty to eat, but every blast that whistled mourn- 
fully through the forest reminded the excited people of the death-yell of 
the savage, and fast succeeding rumors of invasion kept the whole pop- 
ulation in a state of spasmodic terror. 

The Salisburys evidently made good their escape with their type as 
soon as they heard of the capture of Fort Niagara. On the i8th of Jan- 
uary, they issued their paper at Harris* Hill. 

That point became a kind of rendezvous for business men. Root & 
Boardman opened a law office there, locating, according to their adver- 
tisement, *' next door east of Harris* tavern and fourteen miles from Buf- 
falo ruins." LeCouteulx went east after the destruction of his propert)-, 
and Zenas Barker was appointed county clerk, establishing his office at 
Harris' Hill. The nearest postoffice, however, was at Williamsville. 

The suffering would have been even greater than it was, had not 
prompt measures of relief been taken b)- the public authorities and the 
citizens of more fortunate localities. The Legislature voted $40,000 in aid 
of the devastated district, besides $5,000 to the Tuscarora Indians, and 
$5,000 to residents of Canada driven out on account of their friendship 

The Campaign of 1814. 159 

for the United States. The city of Albany voted a thousand dollars, and 
the city of New York three thousand. The citizens of Canandaigua 
appointed a committee of relief, who raised a considerable amount there, 
and sent communications soliciting aid to all the country eastward. They 
were promptly responded to, and liberal contributions 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 that woeful winter. 



Mars and Hymen — Scott and Brown — Elections and Appointments — Discipline at Buffalo — The 
Death Penalty — The Advance — Capture of Fort Erie — Approaching Chippewa — An 
Indian Battle — A Retreat — A Dismounted Young Brave — Victory — Scalps — "Hard 
Times" — Advance to Fort George — Return — Lundy's Lane — The Romance of War — 
Retreat to Fort Erie — ** Battle of Conjockety Creek " — Assault on Fort Erie — The Explo- 
sion — Call for Volunteers — The Response — The Track through the Forest — The Sortie 
— Gallantry of the Volunteers — General Porter — Quiet — Peace. 

AS spring approached, the frontier began to revive. More troops 
appeared, and their presence caused the paying out of considerable 
sums of money among the inhabitants. There was a ready market 
for produce at large prices. 

By March the people had sufficiently recovered from their fright to 
go to getting married. One number of the Gazette contained notices of 
two weddings at Williamsville, one at Harris' Hill, one in Clarence, one 
in Willink, and one in Concord— the longest list which had yet appeared 
in that paper. 

Williamsville was the rendezvous for the troops. There was a long 
row of barracks, parallel with the main street of that village and a short 
distance north of it, and others used as a hospital, a mile or so up the 
Eleven-Mile creek. Buffalo began to rise from its ashes and by the first 
of April there were thirty or forty houses erected or under contract. 
On the loth of April there arrived on the frontier a stately young war- 
rior, whose presence was already considered a harbinger of victory, and 
whose shoulders had lately been adorned by the epaulets of a Brigadier- 
General. This was Winfield Scott, then thirty years old, and the beau- 
ideal of a gallant soldier. Immediately afterwards came his superior 
officer Major-General Brown, who had been rapidly advanced to the 

i6o History of Erie County. 

highest rank, on the strength of the vigor and skill he had shown as a 
commander at the foot of Lake Ontario. 

An election was held in this month, at which General Porter was 
again chosen to Congress on the Democratic ticket. Clarence cast two 
hundred and twenty-three votes, while the whole town of Buffalo only 
furnished a hundred and forty-seven. It had only been a year and four 
months since the last Congressional election, which was doubtless owing 
to some change in the law regarding the time of holding. 

Many changes were taking place among the military men of the 
county. A new commission, announcing promotions and appointments 
in Lieutenant-Colonel Warren's regiment, (the 48th New York Infantry,) 
designated EzekielCook as First Major, and Ezra Nott as Second ; Lyman 
Blackmar, Peter Lewis, Frederick Richmond, Luther Colvin, Benjamin 
1. Clough, Timothy Fuller and James M. Stevens as Captains; Thomas 
Hohucs, Aaron Salisbury, Dennis Riley, Moses Baker, William Austin, 
Oliver Alger, Micah B. Crook and Elihu Rice as Lieutenants; and 
Jolin M. Holmes, Otis Wheelock, Lathrop Francis, Sumner Warren, 
George Hamilton, Calvin Doolittle, Giles Briggs and Asa Warren as 

Bodies of regular troops and some vohmteers continued to concen- 
trate at Williamsville and Buffalo. Scott removed his headquarters to 
the latter place toward the last of May, where the troops were encamped 
amid the ruins. Great efforts were made to introduce rigid discipline. 
The men were under constant drill, and desertion was mercilessly 

The work of preparation went forward, though not very rapidly. 
On the 28th of June a statement appeared in the Gazette that the rumors 
of an immediate advance which had been in circulation were not true, 
and that the transportation of the army was not ready. This was no 
doubt inserted by order, for on the 3d of July the advance began. 

Brown's force consisted of two brigades of regulars under Generals 
Scott and Ripley, and one of volunteers under General Porter. This 
was composed of five hundred Pennsylvanians, six hundred New York 
volunteers, all of whom had not arrived when the movement began, and 
nearlv six hundred Indians. 

Six hundred was ahuost the entire strength of the Six Nations, and 
these had been gathered from all the reservations in Western New York. 
We find no mention of Farmer's Brother among them, and probably his 
great age prevented him from crossing. Acting as a private in the ranks 
was Red Jacket, the principal civil leader of the Six Nations, who, not- 
withstanding the timidity usually attributed to him, was unwilling to 
stay behind while his countrymen were winning glory on the field of 
carnage. Colonel Robert Fleming was Quartermaster of this peculiar 

Capture of Fort EKih. i6i 

Fort Erie was garrisoned by a hundred and sevent)' British soldiers. 
The main body of the enemy was at Chippewa, two miles above the 
Falls, and eighteen miles below the fort. 

On the 2d of July, Brown, Scott and Porter reconnoitred Fort Erie 
and concerted the plan of attack. Ripley, with part of his brigade, was 
to embark in boats at Buffalo in the night, and land a mile up the lake 
from the fort. Scott's brigade was to cross from Black Rock, and land 
a mile below Fort Erie, which, in the morning, both brigades were to 
invest and capture. 

Scott and Ripley both started at the time appointed, but as in most 
militar)' operations depending on concert of action between separate 
corps, there was a difficulty not foreseen. Ripley's pilot was misled by 
a fog on the lake, and his command did not land until several hours past 
the desigpiated hour. Scott, however, crossed promptly, and was able 
to invest the fort with his brigade alone. At sunrise the artillery and 
Indians crossed at the ferry, and after some parleying the fort surren- 
dered, without awaiting an attack. 

The campaign along the Niagara, which followed, was outside 
the bounds of Erie county. I shall, however, give a sketch of it for sev- 
eral reasons. It was participated in by many soldiers of Erie county, 
in the ranks of the New York volunteers, though we cannot ascertain 
whether they had any separate organization. Most of the Indians who 
took part in it on our side certainly belonged to the " oldest families '* of 
Erie count}-. One of Brown's three brigades was commanded by the Erie 
County General, Peter B. Porter. And besides, our readers must be dis- 
gusted by the poor fighting done by the Americans on the Niagara during 
the previous years, and we want to take the taste out of their mouths. 

The afternoon of the 3d, Scott marched several miles down the 
Niagara, and on the morning of the 4th, drove in the enemy's advanced 
posts. He was followed by Brown and Ripley, and both brigades estab- 
lished themselves on the south side of Street's creek, two miles south of 

On their left, three-fourths of a mile from the Niagara, was a dense 
and somewhat swampy forest on both sides of Street's creek, extending 
to within three-fourths of a mile of Chippewa creek, which was bordered 
for that distance by a level, cleared plain. On the north side of that 
creek the British army lay intrenched. The two armies were concealed 
from each other's sight by a narrow strip of woodland, reaching from 
the main forest to within a hundred yards of the river bank. 

During the night of the 4th, the Americans were much annoyed b}' 
Indians and Canadians lurking in the forest, who drove in their pickets 
and threatened their flanks. 

Late that night General Porter crossed the river with his Indians 
and Pennsylvanians, and in the morning marched toward Chippewa. 

i62 History of Erie County. 

He was met on the road by Cieneral Brown, who spoke "' the manner 
in which he had been annoyed by lurkers in the forest, and proposed 
that Porter should drive them out, declaring conhdently that there 
would be no British regulars south of the Chippewa that day. Still, he 
said he would order Scott to occupy the open ground beyond Street's 
creek, in support of Porter. The latter accepted the proposition of his 
chief, and at three o'clock started to put it in execution. 

The Indians assumed their usual full battle-dress — of maturnip-line, 
breech-clout, moccasins, feathers and paint — and the war-chiefs then pro- 
ceeded to elect a leader. Their choice fell on Captain Pollard, a veteran 
of Wyoming and many other fights. 

Porter left two hundred of his Pennsylvanians in camp, thinking 
their presence needless, and formed the other three hundred in one rank, 
on the open ground, half a mile south of Street's creek, their left resting 
on the forest. The whole five or six hundred Indians were also formed 
in one rank in the woods, their right reaching to the left of the whites. 
General Porter stationed himself between the two wings of his command, 
with Captain Pollard on his left. He was also attended by two or three 
staff officers, by Hank Johnson, the interpreter, and by several regular 
officers, who had volunteered to see the fun. Red Jacket was on the 
extreme left of the Indian line. A company of regular infantry followed 
as a reserve. The war-chiefs took their places twenty yards in front of 
their braves, and a few scouts were sent still farther in advance. 

Then, at a given signal, the whole hne moved forward, the whites 
marching steadily with shouldered arms on the plain, the naked Indians 
gliding through the forest with cat-like tread, their bodies bent forward, 
their rifles held ready for instant use, their feathers nodding at every 
step, their fierce eyes flashing in every direction. Suddenly one of the 
chiefs made a signal, and the whole line of painted warriors sank to the 
ground, as quickly and as noiselessly as the sons of Clan Alpine at the 
command of Roderick Dhu. This maneuver was a part of their primi- 
tive tactics, and the chiefs rapidly assembled to consult over some report 
brought back by a scout. 

At another signal the warriors sprang up, and the feather-crested 
line again moved through the forest. The maneuver was repeated when 
the scouts brought word that the enemy was awaiting them on the north 
bank of Street's creek. General Porter was informed of this fact, and 
made some slight changes in his arrangements, and again the line 
advanced with increased speed. 

As the Indians approached the creek, they received the fire of a 
force of British Indians and Canadians stationed there. They instantly 
raised a war-whoop that resounded far over the Niagara, and charged 
at the top of their speed. The foe at once fled. The Iroquois d ished 
through the little stream and bounded after them, whooping, y.Iling, 

The Battle of Chippewa. 163 

shooting, cleaving skulls and tearing off scalps like so many demons. 
Many were overtaken, but few captured. Occasionally, however, a 
Seneca or Cayuga would seize an enemy, unwind his maturnip-line, bind 
him with surprising quickness, and then go trotting back to the rear, hold- 
ing one end of the maturnip, as a man might lead a horse by the halter. 

Such speed and bottom were displayed by the Indians that neither 
the regulars nor volunteers were able to keep up with them. For more 
than a mile the pursuit was maintained, in the words of General Porter, 
" through scenes of frightful havoc." At length the Indians, who had 
got considerably in advance, emerged upon the open ground three- 
quarters of a mile from Chippewa creek, when they were received with 
a tremendous fire from the greater part of the British regular army, 
drawn in line of battle on the plain. 

It appears as if General Riall had determined to attack the Ameri- 
cans, and had sent forward his light troops to bring on a battle, expect- 
ing probably that the whole American force would get exhausted in 
pursuit, and become an easy prey to his fresh battalions. The fact that 
the pursuit was carried on by the American light troops and Indians 
alone, broke up, and in fact reversed this programme. 

The warriors quickly fled from the destructive fire in front. Gen- 
eral Porter supposing that it came from the force they had been pursu- 
ing, rallied the greater part of them, formed them again on the left of 
his volunteers and moved forward to the edge of the wood. Again the 
long, red-coated battalions opened fire. The volunteers stood and 
exchanged two or three volleys with them, but when the enemy dashed 
forward with the bayonet. Porter, seeing nothing of Scott with the sup- 
ports, gave the order to retreat. Both whites and Indians fled in the 
greatest confusion. 

On came the red-coats at their utmost speed, supposing they had 
gained another easy victory, and that all that was necessary was to catch 
the runaways. The Indians, being the best runners and unencumbered 
with clothing, got ahead in the retreat as they had in the advance, but 
the whites did their best to keep up with them. The flight continued for 
a mile, pursuers as well as pursued becoming greatly disorganized, and 
the speed of the fugitives being accelerated by the constant bursting of 
shells from the enemy's artillery. 

Approaching Street's creek, Scott's brigade was found just crossing 
the bridge and forming line. They took up their position with the 
greatest coolness under the fire of the British artillery, but Porter 
claimed that, through the fault of either Scott or Brown, they were 
very much behind time. The former General was always celebrated for 
his promptness, and the fault, if there was one, could hardly have been 
his. Perhaps neither he nor Brown expected Porter's men to run so fast, 
either going or coming. 

i64 History of Erie County. 

The result, however, was as satisfactory as if this precipitate retreat 
had been planned to draw forward the foe. Ripley's brigade was at once 
sent off to the left, through the woods, to flank the enemy. The fugitives, 
as they ran, also bore to the westward, and Scott's fresh battalions came 
into line in perfect order, making somewhat merry over the haste of their 
red and white comrades. 

Some of the Indians had taken their sons, from 12 to 16 years old, 
into battle to initiate them in the business of war. One of these care- 
ful fathers was now seen running at his best speed, with his son on his 
shoulders. Just as he passed the left flank of Scott's brigade, near where 
the general and his staff sat on their horses, superintending the format 
tion of the line, a shell burst directly over the head of the panting war- 
rior. •' Ugh," he exclaimed in a voice of terror, bounding half his height 
from the ground. As he came down he fell to the earth, and the lad 
tumbled off. Springing up, the older Indian ran on at still greater speed 
than before, leaving the youngster to pick himself up and scamper away 
as best he might. The scene was greeted with a roar of laughter by the 
young officers around Scott, who rebuked them sharply for their levity. 
In a few moments they had plenty of serious work to occupy their 

The Americans reserved their fire till the enemy was within fifty 
yards, when they poured in so deadly a volley that the British instantly 
fell back. They were quickly rallied and led to the attack, but were again 
met with a terrific fire, under which they retreated in hopeless disorder. 
Scott pursued them beyond the strip of woods before mentioned, when 
they fled across the Chippewa into their intrenchments, and tore up the 
bridge. Scott's Brigade then lay down on the open plain north of the 
woods. The battle, so far as the regulars were concerned, lasted only a 
few moments, but was one of the most decisive of the whole war. 

By order of General Brown, who was in the midst of the fight. Por- 
ter took his two hundred reserve Pennsylvanians to the left of Scott's 
Brigade, where they, too, lay down under the fire of the British artillery. 
After awhile Ripley's Brigade came out of the woods covered with niud, 
having had their march for nothing, as the enemy they had attempted to 
flank had run away before their flank could be reached. It not being 
deemed best to attack the foe in his intrenchments, directly in front, the 
Americans returned at nightfall to their encampment. 

The battle of Chippewa was the first, during the War of i8i2,in 
which a large body of British regulars were defeated in the open field, 
and the Americans were immensely encouraged by it. Enlistment was 
thereafter much more rapid than before. 

The total British loss,as officially reported, was five hundred and four- 
teen, of whom between one and two hundred were found dead on the 
field by the victors. About two hundred and fifty were taken prisoners. 

The Indians at Chippewa. 165 

mostly wounded. The Americans had about fifty killed, a hundred and 
forty wounded, and a few taken prisoners. The number of American 
regulars engaged was thirteen hundred. General Porter estimated the 
British regulars in the fight at seventeen hundred, but we know not on 
what grounds, nor how correctly. 

It will be noticed that we frequently refer to General Porter as 
authority. In fact it is from his statement, in Stone's '* Life of Red 
Jacket," that this description of the battle of Chij)pewa is principally 

There was a somewhat amusing dispute as to whether the American 
or British Indians ran the fastest and farthest. It was asserted that our 
braves never stopped till they reached the Buffalo reservation. This 
Porter declared to be a slander, insisting that the only reason why the 
Indians reached the rear before the Pennsylvanians was because they 
could run faster. It is certain that the main body of them remained 
with the arm)' some two weeks after the battle. The Canadian Indians 
were so roughly handled that they fled at once to the head of Lake 
Ontario, and never after took any part in the war. 

The next morning General Porter was horrified by the appearance 
at his tent of some twenty chiefs, each attended by a warrior of his band, 
bearing the bloody scalps they had stripped from their fallen foes. They 
had been informed that a bounty would be paid them for every scalp they 
produced. The startled General told them that nothing of the kind 
would be done, whereupon the ghastly trophies were burned or flung 
into the Niagara. The story that they were to be paid for scalps was 
in direct contravention of the agreement under which they had entered 
the American service, yet it found ready credence among the Indians. 
This tends to show that the stories of the British paying a bounty for 
scalps in the Revolution may have been without foundation, even though 
believed by the savages themselves. 

After this grim episode, the chiefs obtained permission to visit the 
field and bring off their own dead. They brought in fifteen warriors, 
who were buried with the honors of war. 

They also found three of their enemies mortally wounded but not 
yet dead. They cut the throats of two of these, but, recognizing the 
third as an old acquaintance, they furnished him with a canteen of water 
and left him to die in peace. On their relating what they had done, an 
officer angrily reproached Cattaraugus Hank for this brutality. 

** Well, Colonel," said Hank, casting down his eyes, and speaking 
with appearance of contrition, "it does seem rather hard to kill men in 
that way, but then you must remember these are very hard times." 

Red Jacket is said to have plaj-ed his part at Chippewa as well as 
any of his brethren. Yet even his admirers used to rally him about his 
timidity. One of them was heard chaffing him, declaring that he had 

i66 History of Erie County. 

given the sachem a scalp in order that he, too, might have a trophy to 
show, but that the latter was afraid to carry it. 

On the 7th of July, the six hundred volunteers from Western New 
York joined Porter's Brigade. We have found no account of how they 
were organized, nor of the localities from which they came. 

On the 8th, Ripley's Brigade and these New York volunteers forced 
a passage of the Chippewa, three miles up, quickly driving back the force 
stationed there. General Rial), finding himself flanked, destroyed his 
works and retreated rapidly to Queenston, and then to Fort George.- 
Brown pursued and took up his quarters at Queenston, but did not deem 
his force sufficient either to assault or besiege the fortress. 

On the i6th, Porter's Brigade skirmished around the fort, to give 
the engineers a chance to reconnoitre, but nothing came of it. 

At this time Red Jacket, who had all along opposed his country- 
men's taking part in the war, proposed that messengers should be sent 
to the Mohawks, to concert a withdrawal of the Indians on both sides. 
General Brown consented, and two young chiefs were dispatched on a 
secret mission for that purpose. They were favorably received by some 
of the chiefs, but no formal arrangement was made. 

Meanwhile the British received re-inforcements, and Brown deter- 
mined to return to Fort Erie. Riall followed. Before arriving at the 
Falls most of the Indians, through the management of Red Jacket, 
obtained permission to retire to their homes, agreeing to return if the 
British Indians should again take the field. But the latter were perfectly 
satisfied with that terrible drubbing in the Chippewa woods, and never 
again appeared in arms against the Americans. Nevertheless, some forty 
or fifty of our Indians remained with the army throughout the campaign. 

On the 25th of July, Brown's arm)^ encamped near Chippewa creek. 
Riall was pressing so closely on the x\merican rear that Brown sent back 
Scott's brigade to check him. Scott met the enemy near Bridgewater, 
below the Falls. Sending back word to his superior, the impetuous Vir- 
ginian led his columns to ihe attack. For an hour a desperate battle 
raged between Scott's single brigade and Riall's army, neither gaining 
any decided advantage, though the British were slowly pressed backward. 

At the end of that time, and but a little before night. Brown arrived 
with the Brigades of Ripley and Porter. Determining to interpose a new 
line and disengage Scott's exhausted men, he ordered forward the two 
fresh brigades. The enemy's line was then near ** Lundy's Lane," a road 
running at right angles with the river. His artillery was on a piece of 
rising ground, which was the key of the position. Colonel Miller, com- 
manding a regiment of infantry, was ordered by Brown to capture it. 
" I will try, sir," was the memorable response of the gallant officer.* 

• It has been disputed whether Brown or Scott gave the order in question. But Miller himself 
in a letter to his wife (according to the historian Lossing) stated that he received the orde • directly 
from Brown. 

Battle of Luxdv^s Lane. 167 

Though the regiment which should have supported Miller's gave 
way, yet the latter moved steadily up the hill. Increasing its pace it 
swept forward, while its ranks were depleted at every step, and after a 
brief but desperate struggle carried the heights, and captured the hostile 
cannon at the point of the bayonet. At the same time Major Jessup's 
regiment drove back a part of the enemy's infantry, capturing Major- 
General Riall. their commander, and when General Ripley led forward 
his reserve regiment the British fell back and disappeared from the field. 

It was now eight o'clock and entirely dark. In a short time the 
enemy rallied and attempted to regain his lost artillery. Seldom in all 
the annals of war has a conflict been fought under more strange and roman- 
tic circumstances. The darkness of night was over all the combatants. 
A little way to the northeastward rolled and roared the greatest cataract 
in the world, the wonderful Niagara. Its thunders, subdued yet distinct, 
could be heard whenever the cannon were silent. And there, in the dark- 
ness, upon that solitary hillside, within sound of that mighty avalanche of 
waters, the soldiers of the 30ung republic, flushed with the triumph 
which had given them their enemy's battle-ground, and cannon, and com- 
mander, calmly awaited the onslaught of England's defeated but not dis- 
heartened veterans. 

At half-past eight the Americans saw the darkness turning red far 
down the slope, and soon in the gloom were dimly outlined the advancing 
battalions of the foe. The red line came swiftly, silently, and gallantly 
up the hill, beneath the swaying banners of St. George, and all the while 
the subdued roar of Niagara was rolling gently over the field. 

Suddenly the American cannon and small-arms lighted up the scene 
with their angry glare, their voices drowning the noise of the cataract. 
The red battalions were torn asunder, and the hillside strewed with dead 
and dying men, but the line closed up and advanced still more rapidly, 
their fire rivaling that of the Americans, and both turning the night into 
deadly day. 

Presently the assailants ceased firing, and then with thundering 
cheers and leveled bayonets rushed forward to the charge. But the 
American grape and canister made terrible havoc in their ranks, the mus- 
ketry of Scott and Ripley mowed them down by the score, and the sharp- 
cracking rifles of Porter's volunteers did their work with deadly discrim- 
ination. More and more the assailants wavered, and when the Americans 
in turn charged bayonets the whole British line fled at their utmost speed. 

The regulars followed but a short distance, being held in hand by 
their officers, who had no idea of plunging through the darkness against 
a possible reserve. But the volunteers chased the enemy down the slope, 
and captured a considerable number of prisoners. Then the Americans 
reformed their lines, and again the murmur of the cataract held sway 
over the field. 

i68 Htstorv of Erie Couxtv. 

Twice within the next hour the British attempted to retake their 
cannon, and both times the result was the same as that of the first effort. 
For two hours afterwards the Americans remained in line, awaiting 
another onslaught of the foe, but the latter made no further attempt. 

Having no extra teams, the victors were unable to take away the 
captured guns, with one exception. Accordingly, with this single trophy, 
with their own wounded, and with a hundred and sixty-nine prisoners, 
including General Riall, the Americans at midnight returned to their 
encampment on the Chij^pewa. Their loss was a hundred and seventy- 
one killed, four hundred and forty-nine wounded, and a hundred and 
seventeen missing. Both Brown and Scott were wounded, the latter 
severely, and both were removed to Buffalo. 

One or two British writers have claimed a technical victory at Lun- 
dy's Lane, because the Americans finally left the field at midnight, but 
they do n(jt dispute the facts above set forth, which were vouched for by 
Generals Brown, Porter and Ripley, in a public declaration, viz., the 
capture of the English cannc^n, the attempt to recapture them, the 
utter failure, and the two hours' peaceable possession of the field bv the 
Americans, before leaving it. 

The real condition of the two armies was plainly shown by the fact 
that the next day the enemy allowed Ripley to burn the mills, barracks and 
bridge at Bridgewater, without molestation. The Americans then pur- 
sued their untroubled march to Fort Erie. 

On their arrival, the most of the volunteers went home, having 
served the remarkably long time of three or four months. Nevertheless 
they had done good service, and were entitled to a rest according to the 
views of volunteering then in vogue. The regulars had been reduced 
by various casualties to some fifteen hundred men. The British on the 
other hand had received re-inforcements, and felt themselves strong 
enough to besiege the fort, if fort it may be called, which was rather a 
partially intrenched encampment. 

General Drummond'sarmy for two weeks steadily worked their way 
toward the American defenses. These consisted principally of two stone 
mess-houses, and a bastion, known as " Old Fort Erie," a short distance 
cast of the river bank, and a natural mound, half a mile farther south and 
near the lake, which was surmounted with breastworks and cannon and 
called "Towson's Battery." Between the old fort and the battery ran a 
parapet, and another from the old fort eastward to the river. On both 
the north and west a dense forest came within sixty rods of the American 
works. The British erected batteries in the woods on the north, each 
one farther south than its predecessor, and then in the night chopped 
out openings through which their cannon could play on our works. 

At this time the commander at Fort Erie was in the habit of sending 
across a battalion of regular riflemen every night, to guard the Ijridge 

Battle of Conjockety Creek. 169 

over Scajaquada creek, who returned each morning to the fort. About 
the loth of August a heavy British force crossed the river at night, at 
some point below the Scajaquada, and just before daylight they attempted 
to force their way across the latter stream. Their objective point was 
doubtless the public stores at Black Rock and Buffalo. 

Being opposed by the riflemen above mentioned, under Major Lodo- 
wick Morgan, there ensued a fight of some importance, known as the 
" Battle of Conjockety Creek." Strangely enough there was no account 
of it in the Buffalo Gazette^ though it afterwards alluded to Major Mor- 
gan as the " hero of Conjockety.*' 

The planks of the bridge had been taken up, and the riflemen lay in 
wait on the south side. When the enemy's column came up, Morgan's 
men opened a destructive fire. The English pressed forward so boldly 
that some of them, when shot, fell into the creek and were swept 
down the Niagara. They were compelled to fall back, but again 
and again they repeated the attempt, and every time they were repulsed 
with loss. 

A body of militia, under Colonels Swift and Warren, were placed on 
the right of the regulars, and prevented the enemy from crossing farther 
up the creek. Several deserters came over to our forces, having thrown 
away their weapons and taken oflF their red coats, which they carried 
rolled up under their arms. They reported the enemy's force at seven- 
teen hundred, but that was probably an exaggeration. 

After a conflict lasting several hours the enemy retreated, having 
suffered severely in the fight. The Americans had eight men wounded. 

Early in the morning of the 15th of August, 1814, the English at- 
tempted to carry Fort Erie by storm, under cover of the darkness. At 
half-past two o'clock, a column of a thousand to fifteen hundred men 
moved from the woods on the west against Towson's battery. Though 
received with a terrific fire they pressed forward, but were at length 
stopped within a few yards of the American lines. They retreated in 
confusion, and no further attempt was made at that point. 

Notwithstanding the strength of this attack, it was perhaps partly 
in the nature of a feint, for immediately afterwards two other columns 
issued from the forest on the north. One sought to force its way up 
along the river bank, but was easily repulsed. The other, led by Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Drummond, advanced against the main bastion. It was 
defended by several heavy guns and field-pieces, by the Ninth United 
States infantry, and by one company each of New York and Pennsyl- 
vania volunteers. Received with a withering discharge of cannon and 
musketry, Drummond's right and left were driven back. His center, 
however, ascended the parapet, but were finally repulsed with dreadful 
carnage. Again Drummond led his men to the charge and again they 
were repulsed. 

I/O History of Erie County. 


A third time the undaunted Englishmen advanced over ground 
strewn thick with the bodies of their brethren, in the face of a sheet of 
flame from the walls of the bastion, and a third time they were driven 
back with terrible loss. This would have satisfied most men of any 
nation, and one cannot refrain from a tribute to English valor of the most 
desperate kind, when he learns that Drummond again rallied his men, led 
them a fourth time over that pathway of death, mounted the parapet in 
spite of the volleying flames which enveloped it, and actually captured 
the bastion at the point of the bayonet. 

Many American officers were killed in this terrible struggle. Di*um- 
mond was as fierce as he was brave, and was frequently heard crying to 
his men, "Give the damned Yankees no quarters." But even in the 
moment of apparent victory he met his fate — a shot from one of the last 
of the retreating Americans laying him dead upon the ground. 

Re-inforcements were promptly sent to the endangered locality by 
Generals Ripley and Porter. A detachment of riflemen attacked the 
British in the bastion, but were repulsed. Another and larger force 
repeated the attack, but also failed. 

The Americans prepared for a third charge, and two batteries of 
artillery were playing upon the heroic band of Britons, Suddenly the 
whole scene was lighted up by a vast column of flame, the earth shook 
to the water's edge, the ear was deafened by a fearful sound which 
re-echoed far over the river. A large amount of cartridges, stored in 
one of the mess-houses adjoining the bastion, had been reached by a can- 
non-ball and exploded. One instant the fortress, the forest, the river, the 
dead, the dying and the maddened living, were revealed by that fearful 
glare — the next all was enveloped in darkness, while the shrieks of hun- 
dreds of Britons, in more terrible agony than even the soldier often suf- 
fers, pierced the murky and sulphurous air. 

The Americans saw their opportunity and redoubled the fire of 
their artillery. For a few moments the conquerors of the bastion main- 
tained their position, but half their number, including most of their 
officers, were killed or wounded, their commander was slain, and they 
were dazed and overwhelmed by the calamity that had so unexpectedly 
befallen them. After a few volleys they fled in utter confusion to the 
friendly forest. 

As they went out of the bastion the Americans dashed in, snatching 
a hundred and eighty-six prisoners from the rear of the flying foe. 
Besides these there remained on the ground they had so valiantly con- 
tested two hundred and twenty-one English dead, and a hundred and 
seventy-four wounded, nearly all in and around that single bastion. 
Besides, there were the wounded who were carried away by their com- 
rades, including nearly all who fell in the other two columns. The 
Ameril:ans had twenty-six killed and ninety-two wounded. Seldoia has 
there been a more gallant attack, and seldom a more disastrous repulse. 

Attack ox Fort Erie. 171 

During the fight the most intense anxiety prevailed on this side. The 
tremendous cannonade a little after midnight told plainly enough that an 
attack was being made. Nearly every human being who resided among 
the ruins of Buffalo and Black Rock, and man}* of the country around, were 
up and watching. All expected that if the fort should be captured the 
enemy would immediately cross, and the horrors of the previous winter 
would be repeated. Many packed up and prepared for instant flight. 

When the explosion came, the shock startled even the war-seasoned 
inhabitants of Buffalo. Some thought the British had captured the fcA*t 
and blown it up, others imagined that the Americans had penetrated to 
the British camp and blown that up : and all awaited the coming of morn 
with nerves strung to their utmost tension. It was soon daylight, when 
boats crossed the river from the fort, and the news of another American 
victory was soon scattered far and wide through the country. 

A day or two afterwards the wounded prisoners were sent to the 
hospital at Williamsville, and the un wounded to the depot of prisoners 
near Albany. Many of the prisoners were Highlanders, of the Glen- 
garry Regiment. 

Having failed to carry the fort by assault, the British settled down 
to a regular siege. Closer and closer their lines were drawn and their 
batteries erected, the dense forest affording every facility for uninter- 
rupted approach. Re-inforcements constantly arrived at the English 
camp, while not a solitary regular soldier was added to the constantly 
diminishing force of the Americans. By the latter part of August their 
case had become so desperate that Governor Tompkins called out all 
the militia west of the Genesee, en masse, and ordered them to Buffalo. 
They are said by Turner to have responded with great alacrity. 

Arriving at Buffalo, the officers were first assembled, and General 
Porter called on them to volunteer to cross the river. There was con- 
siderable hanging back, but the General made another speech, and under 
his stinging words most of the officers volunteered. The men were then 
called on to follow their example, and a force of about fifteen hundred 
was raised. The 48th Regiment furnished one company. Colonel War- 
ren volunteered and crossed the river, but was sent back with other 
supernumerary officers, and was placed in command of the militia 
remaining at Buffalo. 

The volunteers were conveyed across the river at night, about the 
loth of September, and encamped on the lake shore above Towson's 
battery, behind a sod breast-work hastily erected by themselves. They 
were commanded by General Porter, who bivouaced in their midst, 
under whom was General Daniel Davis, of Le Roy. General Brown 
had resumed command of the whole American force. 

At this time the enemy was divided into three brigades of fourteen 
or fifteen hundred men each, one of which was kept on duty in their 

172 History of Erie County. 

batteries every three days, while the other two remained at the main 
camp, on a farm a mile and a half west of the fort. 

Immediately after the arrival of the volunteers, a plan was concerted 
to break in on the enemy's operations by a sortie. The British had 
opened two batteries, and were nearly ready to unmask another, still 
nearer and in a more dangerous position. This was called ** Battery No. 
Three," the one next north **No. Two," and the farthest one " No. One." 
It was determined to make an attack on the 17th of September, before 
Battery No. Three could be completed. 

On the 1 6th, Majors Fraser and Riddle, both officers of the regular 
army acting as aids to General Porter, each followed by a hundred men, 
fifty of each party being armed and fifty provided with axes, proceeded 
from the camp of the volunteers, by a circuitous route through the 
woods, to within a short distance of Battery No. Three. Thence each 
detachment cut out the underbrush so as to make a track back to camp 
over the swampy ground, curving where necessary to avoid the most 
miry places. The work was accomplished without the British having 
the slightest suspicion of what was going on. This was the most diffi- 
cult part of the whole enterprise, and its being accomplished without 
the enemy's hearing it must be partly attributed to good fortune. 

In the forenoon of the 17th the whole of the volunteers were paraded, 
the enterprise was revealed to them, and a hand-bill was read, announcing 
glorious victories won on Lake Champlain and at Plattsburgh a few days 
before. The news was joyfully received and the sortie enthusiastically 
welcomed. The volunteers not being uniformed, every one was required 
to lay aside his hat or cap and wear on his head a red handkerchief or a 
piece of red cloth which was furnished. Not an officer nor man wore 
any other head-gear, except General Porter. 

At noon that commander led forth the principal attacking body from 
the volunteer camp. The advance consisted of two hundred volunteers 
under Colonel Gibson. Behind them came the column designed for 
storming the batteries, composed of four hundred regulars followed by 
five hundred volunteers, all commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Wood. 
These took the right hand track cut out the day before. Another column, 
of nearly the same strength, mostly volunteers, under General Davis, 
intended to hold the enemy's re-inforcements in check and co-operate in 
the attack, took the left-hand road. 

At the same time a body of regulars, under General Miller, was con- 
cealed in a ravine near the northwest corner of the intrenchments, pre- 
pared to attack in front at the proper time. The rest of the troops were 
held in reserve under General Ripley. 

Just after the main column started it began to rain, and continued to 
do so throughout the afternoon. The march was necessarily slow along 
the swampy, winding pathway, and had it not been for the underbrjshed 

The Relief of Fort Erie. 173 

tracks the columns would probably have lost their way or been delayed 
till nightfall. 

At nearly three o'clock Porter's command arrived at the end of the 
track, within a few rods of Battery No. Three, entirely unsuspected by 
its occupants. The final arrangements being made, they moved on, and 
in a few moments emerged upiMi the astonished workers and their guard. 
With a tremendous cheer, which was distinctlv heard across the river, 
the men rushed forward, and the whole force in the battery, thoroughly 
surprised and overwhelmed by numbers, at once surrendered, without 
hardly firing a shot. 

This attack was the signal iov the advance of Miller's regulars, who 
sprang out of their ravine and hurried forward, directing their steps 
toward Battery No. Two. Leaving a detachment to spike and dismount 
the captured cannon, both of Porter's columns dashed fcn"ward toward 
the same object. General Davis leading his volunteers and co-operating 
closely with Wood. They arrived at the same time as Miller. They were 
received with a heavy fire, but the three commands combined and carried 
the battery at the point of the bayonet. 

Leaving another party to spike and dismount cannon, the united force 
pressed forward toward Battery No. One. But by this time the whole 
British armj^ was alarmed, and re-inforccments were rapidly arriving. 
Nevertheless the Americans attacked and captured Battery No. One, 
after a severe cimflict. 

How gallantly the}* were led is shown by the fact that all of Porter s 
principal commanders were shot down — Gibson at Battery No. Two, 
Wood while approaching No. One, and Davis while gallantly mounting 
a parapet between the two batteries at the head of his men. In the last 
struggle, too. General Porter himself was slightly wounded by a sword- 
cut on the hand, and temporarily taken prisoner, but was immediately 
rescued by his own men. Of course, in a sortie the as^ilants are not 
expected to hold the conquered ground. The work in this case had 
been as completely done as in any sortie ever made, and after Battery 
No. One had been captured a retreat was ordered to the fort, where 
the victorious troops arrived just before sunset. 

The loss of the Americans was seventy-nine killed and two hundred 
and fourteen wounded ; very few, if any, captured. Four hundred 
British were taken prisoners, a large number killed and wounded, and 
what was far more important all the results of nearly two months* labor 
were entirely destroyed. So completely were his plans frustrated by 
this brilliant assault that only four days afterwards General Drummond 
raised the siege, and retired down the Niagara. 

After the enemy retreated the volunteers were dismissed with the 
thanks of their commanders, having saved the American army from losing 
its last hold on the western side of the Niagara. 

174 History of Erie County. 

The relief of Fort Erie was one of the most skillfully planned and 
gallantly executed sorties ever made. General Napier, the celebrated 
British soldier and military historian, mentioned it as one of the very few- 
cases in which a single sortie had compelled the raising of a siege. 

Very high credit was given to General Porter, both for his eloquence 
in engaging the volunteers and his skill and valor in leading them. The 
press sounded his praises, the citizens of Batavia tendered him a dinner, 
the Governor breveted him a Major-General, and Congress voted him a 
gold medal. These guerdons were justly his due on account of the dis-' 
tinguished services then known to the public. In addition, there is little 
doubt that he is entitled to the credit of originating and planning the 
sortie of Fort Erie. For several days previous he had been holding fre- 
quent interviews with General Brown, and also with two officers of engi- 
neers, the object of which was concealed from his staff. He afterwards 
informed Colonel William A. Bird that the secret interviews with Gen- 
eral Brown and the engineer officers were for the purpose of planning 
the sortie, and that Brown hesitated and requested Porter to draw a plan 
in writing, which he did, leaving the paper with Brown. 

It is certain that it was Porter's aids who superintended the cutting 
out of the roads over which the main columns of attack passed, and it 
was Porter who was chosen to command that force, though composed of 
both regulars and volunteers, and though there were two or more regu- 
lar generals under Brown at the fort. There was no probable reason 
why he should have been charged with the execution of the attack, except 
because he had planned it. Of course it was sanctioned by Brown, and 
the latter is fairly entitled to the credit belonging to every commander 
under whose orders a successful movement is carried out, but there is 
also especial credit due to the originator of a good plan, and we have 
little doubt that in this case that honor belongs to Peter B. Porter. 

The raising of the siege of Fort Erie was substantially the close of the 
war on the Niagara frontier. A few unimportant skirmishes took place, 
but nothing that need be recorded here. All the troops, except a small 
guard were withdrawn from Fort Erie to Buffalo. It was known during 
the winter that commissioners were trying to negotiate a peace at Ghent, 
and there was a universal desire for their success. In this vicinity, at 
least, the people had had enough of the glories of war. 

On the 15th of January, 181 5, the news of the victory of New Orleans 
was announced in an extra of the Buffalo Gazette, but although it occa- 
sioned general rejoicing, yet the delight was by no means so great as 
when, a week later, the pieople of the ravaged frontier were informed of 
the signing of the treaty of Ghent. Post-riders as they delivered letters, 
doctors as they visited their patients, ministers as they journeyed to 
meet their backwoods congregations, spread everywhere the welcome 
news of peace. 

Announxement of Peace. 175 

General Noit, in his reminiscences, relates that the first sermon in 
Sardinia was preached at his house by "Father Spencer," early in 181 5. 
There was a large gathering. The people had heard that the good mis- 
sionary had a newspaper announcing the conclusion of peace, and they 
were most of them, probably more anxious to have their hopes in that 
respect confirmed than for aught else. Father Spencer was not disposed 
to tantalize them, and immediately on rising to begin the services he took 
the paper from his pocket, saying, " I bring you news of peace." He 
then read the official announcement, and it may be presumed that the 
gratified congregation afterwards listened all the more earnestly to the 
news of divine peace which it was the minister's especial province to 

In a very brief time the glad tidings penetrated to the most secluded 
cabins in the county, and all the people turned with joyful anticipations 
to the half-suspended pursuits of peaceful life. 



The Situation — Red Jacket's Speech — General Porter — Tracy and Wilkeson — Another News- 
paper —First Murder Trial — The Old Court House — Scarce Money — First Bank — The 
Cold Summer — Marshal Grouchy and Red Jacket — Senecas in England — A President's 
Visit — Terrible Roads — Indian Sufferers — Religious Improvement — Father Spencer — 
The Erie Canal — Political Factions — First Steamboat — First Framed Church-Edifice — 
The Boundary Commission — Attempt to Buy the Reservations — Red Jacket's Opposition — 
The Second Execution — The Grand Island War — Clintonians and Bucktails — Slavery in 
Erie County — Census of 1820 — Divi«iion of Towns. 

IT is needless to give a description of the condition of Erie county at 
the close of the War of 1 812. It was just where it was at the begin- 
ning of that contest, except that Buffalo and Black Rock had been 
burned, and that here and there a pioneer had abandoned his little clear- 
ing. No new business had been developed anywhere, hardly a solitary 
new settler had taken up his abode in the county, and those already 
there had been so harrassed by Indian alarms and militia drafts that 
they had extended but very little the clearings which existed at the 
beginning of the war. 

Immediately after the conclusion of peace, however, the long 
restrained tide again flowed westward, and for awhile immigrants poured 
on to the Holland Purchase more rapidly than ever. 

176 History of Erie County. 

Williamsville and Clarence Hollow were the only places, outside of 
Buffalo and its afterward-absorbed rival, Black Rock, which had advanced 
far enough to have a grist-mill, saw-mill, tavern, and store all at once. 
The acquisition of the last-named institution, in addition to the other 
three, might fairly be considered as marking the beginning of a village. 
Taverns could be started anywhere. A man bought a few gallons of 
whisky, put up a sign in front of his log house, and forthwith became a 

Saw-mills were not very expensive, and were soon scattered along 
the numerous streams wherever there was the necessary fall. Grist- 
mills were more costly, and he was a heavy capitalist, who could build 
one ; still they were so absolutely necessary that they were frequently 
erected very early in the course of settlement, and while residences 
were still widely scattered. 

But a store, a place where a real merchant dispensed calico, tea, nails, 
molasses, ribbons and salt, marked a decided advance in civilization, and 
almost always was the nucleus of a hamlet which has since developed 
into a thriving village. 

A little before the close of the war, a mail-route had been established 
through Willink and Hamburgh, from east to west, running near the 
center of the present towns of Wales, Aurora, and East Hamburg. 
There was a post-office called Willink, at Blakely's Corners, two miles 
south of Aurora village, and we believe one called Hamburg, at " John 
Green's tavern." 

A considerable body of troops remained at Buffalo during the win- 
ter, but all were sent away in the spring. 

With one of the officers. Colonel Snelling, Red Jacket had formed 
a special intimacy. On his being ordered to Governor's Island, in the 
harbor of New York, the sachem made him the following little speech, 
as published by a relative of the Colonel : — 

" Brother— I hear you are going to a place called Governor's Island. 
I hope you will be a Governor yourself. I understand that you white 
people think children a blessing. I hope you may have a thousand. And 
above all, wherever you go, I hope you may never find whisky above two 
shillings a quart." 

In March, General Porter was appointed Secretary of State of New 
York, by Governor Tompkins, and resigned his seat in Congress. His new 
position, and the one which he subsequently accepted, of United States 
Commissioner to settle the northern boundary, seem to have had an ob- 
scuring effect on his fame ; for whereas, not only during but before the 
war, he had been one of the foremost men of the State, and almost of the 
Nation, yet immediately afterwards he nearly disappeared from public 
sight. Nor did he ever regain the pre-eminent position he occupied at 
the close of the war, though he afterward for a brief period,held a 
cabinet office. 

<^^Z^a^^'^^cc^ /^^e/^^€^J<?'ru 

First Murder Trial. 177 

A young man, destined in a very brief time to acquire a large part 
of the influence previously wielded by Porter, opened a law office in Buf- 
falo, in the spring of 181 5. This was Albert H. Tracy, then twenty-two 
years old, a tall, erect, vigorous young man, of brilliant intellect and 
thorough culture, a clear-headed lawyer, and a skillful manager of the 
political chariot. Samuel Wilkeson, who located in Buffalo, was a man 
of perhaps equal power, but his exertions were chiefly confined to the 
city, in the history of which he will be duly mentioned. 

In April, 181 5, another newspaper, called the Niagara /^wr«tf/, was 
established in Buffalo. The Gazette had leaned toward Federalism ; the 
Journal was Democratic. 

The Assembly district composed of Niagara, Cattaraugus and Chau- 
tauqua counties was now awarded two members, the first ones chosen 
being Daniel McCleary, of Buffalo, and Elias Osborn, of Clarence. 

In June, 18 15, there occurred the first murder trial in the present 
county of Erie, when Charles Thompson and James Peters were con- 
victed of the murder of James Burba. They had both been soldiers in 
the regular army, and during the war had been sent on a scout with a 
companion, another soldier, a mile and a half below Scajaquada creek. 
They had gone three miles below the creek to Burba's residence, com- 
mitted some depredations, got into a quarrel with the owner, and finally 
killed him. Their comrade escaped. 

In August the two men were executed in public, as was the rule in 
that day. The prisoners and scaffold were guarded by several compa- 
nies of militia, under General Warren. Glezen Fillmore, the young 
Methodist minister of Clarence, preached the funeral sermon, and was 
assisted in the last rites to the condemned by Rev. Miles P. Squier, who 
had just settled in Buffalo as the pastor of the Presbyterian church. 

In the spring of 1816 a new court house was begun in Buffalo, and 
the walls erected during the summer. Instead of being placed in the 
middle of Onondaga (Washington) street, with a circular plat around it, 
as before, it was built on the east side of that street, and a small park 
laid out in front of it. The building then erected was the only court 
house in the county until 1850, and was torn down in 1876. 

There was a severe financial crisis soon after the war, and money 
became more scarce than ever. Mr. D. S. Warner, of South Wales, in 
speaking of that period, says he does not believe there was five dollars of 
current money between Aurora and Holland. " Shinplastcrs," issued by 
private firms, were in use in many parts of the country, which, as Mr. 
Warner says, " were good from one tlirnpike gate to another." 

In July, 1 8 16, an effort was made to remedy this evil and the first 
bank in Erie county was organized, under the name of the Bank of Niag- 
ara. The whole capital was the immense sum (for those times) of five 
hundred thousand dollars, but the amount required to be paid down was 

178 History of Erie County. 

modest enough, being only six dollars and twenty-five cents on each 
share of a hundred dollars. Although located in Buffalo, the new bank 
drew on the resources of a wide region, the directors being Augustus 
Porter, of Niagara Falls ; James Brisbane, of Batavia ; A. S. Clarke, of 
Clarence; Jonas Williams and Benjamin Caryl, of Williamsville; Isaac 
Kibbe, of Hamburg ; Martin Prendergast, of Chautauqua county ; Samuel 
Russell and Chauncey Loomis (exact residence unknown,) and Ebenezer 
F. Norton, Jonas Harrison, Ebenezer Walden and John G. Camp, of 
Buffalo. Isaac Kibbe was the first president, and Isaac Q. Leake the 
first cashier. 

Among the farmers, the peculiar characteristics of 1816 was that it 
was the year of the " cold summer." Though nearly seventy years have 
passed away, the memory of the " cold summer" is still vividly impressed 
on the minds of the surviving pioneers. 

Snow fell late in May, there was a heavy frost on the 9th of June, 
and all through the summer the weather was terribly unpropitious to 
the crops of the struggling settlers. There had been a large emigration 
in the spring, just about time enough having elapsed since the war for 
people to make up their minds to go West. Forty families came into 
the present town of Holland alone, and elsewhere the tide was nearly 
as great. 

An overflowing population and an extremely short crop, with no 
reserves in the granaries to fall back on, soon made provisions of all 
kinds extremely high and dear. The fact that there is little or no grain 
in store always makes a failure of the crop fall with terrible severity on 
a new country, as has been seen in the case of drouth in Kansas and grass- 
hoppers in Nebraska. How closely the reserve was worked up in this 
section may be seen by the fact that on the 17th of August, 18 16, just 
before the new crop was ground, flour sold in Buffalo for $15.00 a barrel, 
and on the 19th there was not a barrel on sale in the village. 

The new crop relieved the pressure for a while, but this was very 
small and ran low early in the winter, and then came scenes of great suf- 
fering for the poorer class of settlers. In many cases the hunter's skill 
furnished his family with meat, but in a large part of the county there 
had been just enough settlement to scare away the game. There is no 
proof that any of the people actually starved to death, but there can be 
no doubt that the weakening from long privation caused many a prema- 
ture death. 

At one time during the summer the Indians tried to produce a 
change in the weather by pagan sacrifices. Major Jack Berry, Red 
Jacket's interpreter, a fat chief who usually went about in summer with 
a bunch of flowers in his hat, said that to avert the cold weather his 
countrymen burnt a white dog and a deer, and held a grand pow-wow 
under the direction of the medicine men — but the next morning there 
was a harder frost than ever before. 

Visit of Marshal Grouchy. 179 

Probably the event had not much effect on the fortunes of Erie 
county, yet it seems worth mentioning that in November, 18 16, Marshal 
Grouchy and suite, returning from Niagara Falls, came to Buffalo and 
then visited the Seneca Indian village. It is interesting to pause a 
moment from chronicling the erection of towns and the laying out of 
post-roads to contemplate the war-worn French marshal, (the hero of a 
score of battles, jet half-believed a traitor because he failed to intercept 
the march of Blucher to support Wellington at Waterloo,) soothing his 
vexed spirit with a visit to the greatest of natural wonders, and then 
coming to seek wisdom at aboriginal sources, and exchange compliments 
with Red Jacket and Little Billy. 

Doubtless the renowned Seneca orator arrayed himself in his most 
becoming apparel, and assumed his stateliest demeanor to welcome the 
great war-chief from over the sea, and doubtless he felt that it was he, 
Sagoyewatha. who was confering honor b)' the interview. An anecdote 
related by Stone shows how proudly the sachem was accustomed to 
maintain his dignity. 

A young French count came to Buffalo, and hearing that Red Jacket 
was one of the lions of the Western world, sent a messenger inviting the 
sachem to visit him at his hotel. Sagoyewatha sent back word that if 
the young stranger wished to see the old chief, he would be welcome at 
his cabin. The count again sent a message, saying that he was much 
fatigued with his long journey of four thousand miles; that he had come 
all that distance to see the celebrated orator. Red Jacket, and he thought 
it strange that the latter would not come five miles to meet him. But 
the chief, as wily as he was proud, returned answer that it was still more 
strange that, after the count had traveled all that immense distance for 
such a purpose, he should halt only a few miles from the home of the 
man he had come so far to see. Finally the young nobleman gave up, 
visited the sachem at his home, and was delighted with the eloquence, 
wisdom and dignity of the savage. Then the claims of etiquette having 
been satisfied, the punctilious chieftain accepted an invitation to dine 
with his titled visitor at his hotel. 

The same year, several Senecas were taken to Europe to be shown, 
by a speculator called Captain Hale. The principal ones were the Chief 
So-onongise, commonly called by the whites Tommy Jemmy, his son. 
Little Bear, and a handsome Indian called " I Like You." Th^ specula- 
tion seems not to have been a success, and Hale ran away. An English 
lady, said to have been of good family and refined manners, fell des- 
perately in love with " I Like You," and was with difficulty prevented 
from linking her fortunes to his. After his return the enamored lady sent 
her portrait across the ocean to her dusky lover. There have been many 
such cases, and sometimes the woman has actually wedded her copper- 
colored Othello, and taken up her residence in his wigwam or cabin. 

i8o History of Erie County. 

The town of Boston, with its present boundaries, was formed from 
Eden on the 5th day of April, 1817. It comprised the whole of Town- 
ship 8, Range 7, except the western tier of lots, which was left attached 
to Eden. It was organized the next year. 

Cattaraugus county was separately organized in the summer of 1817. 
A notable event for this frontier county was the first visit of a President 
of the United States. President Monroe, having spent a day at the 
Falls, came up the river on the 9th of August, accompanied by General 
Jacob Brown, Commander-in-Chief of the Army. He was met below- 
Black Rock by a committee of eminent citizens, and escorted to Lon- 
don's hotel. There was an address by the committee, a brief extempo- 
raneous reply by the illustrious guest, the usual hand-shake accorded to 
our patient statesmen, and then the President embarked the same even- 
ing for Detroit. It was noticed by the press that the President had then 
"already been more than two months away from Washington," and his 
western trip and return must have consumed nearly a month more. 

Even at this period there was only a tri-weekly mail from and to the 
East, the stage leaving Buffalo Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 5 
o'clock a. m. These were the days of terrible roads, in both spring and 
fall. In summer the big coaches bowled along easily enough over hill 
and dale, the closely-packed passengers beguiling the time with many a 
pleasant tale, until " stage-coach stories " have become famous for their 
wit and jollity. But woe to the unlucky traveler, doomed to a stage- 
coach experience in spring or fall. That he should be required to go on 
foot half the time was the least of his troubles. His services were fre- 
quently demanded to pry the coach from some fearful mud-hole, in which 
it had sunk to the axle, with a rail abstracted from a neighboring fence, 
and through pieces of wood it was often thought best to take a rail along. 
" To go on foot and carry a rajl," and pay for the privilege besides, was 
a method of stage-riding as celebrated as it was unpleasant. 

Erie county had something more than its full share of such highways, 
as the reservations in it had no roads that were even tolerable. Frequent 
were the complaints of the Cayuga Creek road, the Buffalo road, the Big 
Tree road, etc., but the climax of despair was only reached at the " Four- 
Mile Woods," on the lake shore, a little this side of Cattaraugus creek. 

Old settlers tell wonderful stories of the Plutonian depths to which 
the mud reached in that dreadful locality. The historian of Evans insists 
that it was there and nowhere else that the story originated of the trav- 
eler who, while passing over a horrible road, descried a good-looking hat 
just at the top of the mud. Picking it up, he was surprised at being 
denounced by some one underneath, for taking a gentleman's hat off his 
head without leave. On offering to help the submerged individual out, 
he was still more astonished when the latter declined on the ground that 
he couldn't leave the horse he was riding, which was traveling oi. hard 

Suffering Caused by the Cold Summer. i8i 

ground. All agree that this event ought to have happened in the " Four- 
Mile Woods," whether it did or not. 

The Indians on the various reservations had suffered quite as severely 
as any one from the effects of the " cold summer." Their game had been 
largely driven away by settlement around them, their own small crops 
had been destroyed by frost, and even their annuities were reduced in 
actual value by the high price of provisions. The schoolmaster, Mr. 
Hyde, made a public appeal for help, declaring that there was great 
actual want. 

At this time the few Onondagas received about six dollars each, while 
the Senecas, numbering seven hundred, received about two dollars and a 
half to each individual. Part of this came from an annuity of five hun- 
dred dollars a year, being the principal consideration for Grand Island, 
their claim to which they had sold to the State a short time previous. 

Some of the Indians cut wood for the Buffalo market, receiving a 
trifling pay in flour and pork. Some of them obtained credit for pro- 
visions, and Mr. Hyde declared that they were honest and punctual in 
paying their debts. He said that after doing so they would have just 
about enough left of their annuities to buy their seed. He got little help 
from the people, who had slight patience with Indian peculiarities. The 
Presbyterian synod of Geneva, however, furnished some aid, and some 
way or other the Indians worried through. 

At this time the Presbyterians, including the Congregationalists, 
with whom they were united for church work, were the leading denom- 
ination of the county, so far as any could be said to lead, though the 
Methodists, led by that enthusiastic young preacher, Glezen Fillmore, 
were rapidly gaining upon them. We have before spoken of " Father 
Spencer," who was a Congregational minister acting under the Pres- 
byterian synod. We find his traces everywhere, especially south of 
the Buffalo reservation. Almost every old settler, whatever his religious 
proclivities, has a story to tell of Father Spencer, a short, sturdy man, 
on a big, bob-tailed horse, riding from one scattered neighborhood to 
another, summer and winter, preaching, praying, organizing churches, 
burying the dead and marrying the living ; a man full of zeal in his 
Master's cause, but full also of life and mirth, ready to answer every jest 
with another, and a universal favorite among the hardy pioneers. 

He himself would not admit being thoroughly beaten in jest, save in 
a single instance. His big horse was almost as noted as himself. One- 
day, when the roads were terrible, he was resting the animal by going 
on foot ahead, leading him by the bridle. The little man trudged 
sturdily along, but the horse, being old and stiff, hung back the full 
length of the reins. Passing through a little village, a pert young* man 
suddenly called out, " See here, old gentleman, you ought to trade that 
horse off for a hand-sled ; you could draw it a great deal easier." 

1 82 History of Erie County. 

Father Spencer thought so too, and made no reply, but he kept 
the big horse, and used to tell the story on himself with great zest. 
This proves that there were some saucy young men in those days, 
and also that people could get a great deal of enjoyment out of a very 
moderate joke. 

In 1817, we find the first account of anything resembling a revival 
of religion. On one Sunday eight members were admitted into the 
Presbyterian church in Buffalo, and a writer congratulates the public, 
that " through this section of this lately heathen country the spirit of 
the Lord and the spirit of the Gospel are extending far and wide." The 
same writer is delighted with similar results attained in " the towns of 
Willink, Hamburg and Edon, where lately the spirits of the evil one 
enchained the hearts of many." 

The year 1817 was notable in the history of the State for a measure 
deeply affecting the interests of Erie county, viz. : the passage of a law 
actually directing the construction of a canal from the Hudson to Lake 
Erie. Previously, all had been uncertain ; now the work was made as 
sure as Legislative enactment could make it. The first ground was 
broken near Rome, on the 4th of July of that year. 

Like almost everything in this county, the canal question found its 
way into politics. Candidates were interrogated as to their position, 
and in this part of the State a charge of infidelity to the " Grand Canal" 
was the most damaging that could be brought. 

A full account of the numerous movements, legislative, financial, 
scientific and Hibernian, which have been necessary in order to produce 
the Erie Canal of to-day, will be given in a subsequent chapter. At 
present, we need only note that the passage of the law just mentioned 
caused strong hopes of financial prosperity to spring up in the hearts of 
the depressed people of Erie county, and also caused a very livelj' con- 
test between the rival villages of Buffalo and Black Rock as to which 
should be the western terminus of the canal. 

The year 1818 was distinguished by the creation of four new towns, 
and the annihilation of the oldest one in the county. On the loth day 
of April, an act was passed forming the town of Amherst out of Buffalo. 
It comprised the present towns of Amherst and Cheektowaga, and nom- 
inally extended to the center of the reservation. 

Five days later the town of Willink, the organization of which dated 
back to 1804, was stricken from existence. From its former magnificent 
proportions, rivaling those of a German principality, comprising at one 
time a strip eighteen miles wide by a hundred long, at another a space 
twenty-seven miles by thirty-five, it had been reduced to a block twelve 
mile^ square, and was now about to suffer annihilation. 

Whether the settlers had some special grudge against the worthy 
Amsterdam burgher, who was the recognized head of the so-callec' Hoi- 

The Town of Willink Abolished. 183 

land Land Company, or whether they thought his name lacking in 
euphony, we know not, but they determined, as far as they could, to get 
rid of " Willink." Petitions were sent to the Legislature, and on the 15th 
of April, the necessary law was passed. 

Township 8, in Range 5, and Township 8, in Range 6,were formed into 
a new town named Holland, comprising the present towns of Holland 
and Colden. It could hardly have been dislike of the Holland Com- 
pany that led to the casting off of the name of ** Willink,*' for Holland 
must have received its appellation purel)- out of compliment to that Com- 
pany. Nothing could have been well more unlike the half-submerged 
plains at the mouth of the Rhine, than the narrow valley, precipitous hill- 
sides, and lofty table-lands of the new town. 

There was more propriety in the name of " Wales," which was given 
to another new town, composed of Township 9, Range 5, with the nominal 
addition of half the reservation-land opposite. Its hills, though not lofty, 
were numerous enough to give it a strong resemblance to the little prin- 
cipality which overlooks the Irish channel. 

Finally, by the same act, the remainder of Willink (viz., the 9th 
Township in the 9th Range, and the adjoining reservation-land,) was 
formed into a town by the name of Aurora. As it contained a larger 
population than either of the others, it has usually been considered as the 
lineal successor of Willink, but the law simply annihilated the latter town 
and created three new ones. 

This was during what has been termed the " era of good feeling," 
when the Federal party had almost entirely disappeared, and no new one 
had taken its place. l*he Republican, or Democratic* party, was in full 
possession of the National field, but in local matters it frequently split 
into factions, which waged war with a fury indicating but little of the 
"good feeling" commonly supposed to have prevailed. 

In this Congressional District, in 181 8, the regular Republican Con- 
vention nominated Nathaniel Allen, from an eastern part of the county, 
and Albert H. Tracy, the young lawyer of Buffalo. Isaac Phelps, Jr., of 
Aurora, was re-nominated to the Assembly, along with Philo Orton, of 
Chautauqua county. Forthwith a large portion of the party declared 
war against the nominees. The cause is hard to discover, but there was 
a vast amount of denunciation of the " Kremlin Junta." By this it is 
evident that the original "Kremlin block" was already in existence, 
having doubtless been thus named because built among the ruins of 
Buffalo, as the Kremlin was re-built over the ashes of Moscow. It was 
there that the "Junta," consisting of Mr. Tracy, Dr. Marshall, James 
Sheldon and a few others, were supposed to meet and concoct the most 
direful plans. 

♦By that time the party in question was usually called •* Democratic," in conversation, but its 
official proclamations generally retained the older name of "Republican.'* A little later it was 
officially designated as ''Democratic Republican." 

1 84 History of Erie County. 

Ex-Congressman Clarke was the leader of the opposing faction. 
Ere long an independent convention nominated Judge Elias Osborne, 
of Clarence, for the Assembly, against Phelps, but seems to have been 
unable to find candidates for Congress. The old members, John C. 
Spencer and Benjamin Ellicott, declined a re-nomination, but were voted 
for by many members of the anti-Kremlin party. The Buffalo Patriot^ 
to which name that of the old Gazette had lately been changed, was the 
organ of the Clarke-Osborne faction, while a new paper, called the Buf- 
falo Journal, fought for Tracy and Phelps. Dire were the epithets . 
hurled on either side. No political conflict, over the most important 
issues of the present day, has been more bitter than this little unpleasant- 
ness during the "era of good feeling." At the election in April, Tracy 
was chosen by a large majority, and Phelps by twenty-three. The for- 
mer was then but twenty-five years of age, barely old enough to be 
legally eligible to Congress, and considerably the youngest member who 
has ever been elected in this county. 

A law was passed that year abolishing the office of ^sistant-justice, 
restricting the number of Associate Judges to four, and requiring a Dis- 
trict Attorney in every county. Under this statute Charles G.Olmsted 
was the first District Attorney of Niagara county. 

A hundred and thirty-nine years after LaSalle entered Lake Erie 
with the pioneer sail-vessel, the first steamboat plowed these waters 
on the 23d day of August, 181 8. This was the celebrated "Walk- 
in-t he-water,'* which had been constructed at Black Rock during the 
previous nine months. There was still but little commerce on the lakes, 
what there was being carried on by thirty or forty schooners, and one- 
fourth as many sloops, with a few open boats. The greater part of the 
freight was westward bound, consisting of supplies for garrisons, trad- 
ing posts, and. emigrants up the lakes. Half the returning vessels came 
in ballast. If loaded, their most valuable cargoes were composed of 
furs. The great trade in breadstuffs frohi the West, was almost unknown ; 
the first mention made of it in the newspapers being in 18 17, when an 
open boat brought down a little flour from Cleveland. 

Notwithstanding the large and growing population of the county, 
there was not a solitary church-building within its limits in 1818, except- 
ing the log meeting-house of the Quakers at East Hamburg. In that 
year, however, that energetic young servant of Christ, Glezen Fillmore, 
after serving nine years as a local preacher, was regularly ordained as a 
Methodist minister, at the age of twenty-eight, and appointed to a cir- 
cuit comprising Buffalo and Black Rock, and a wide region northward 
from those villages. 

On arriving at Buffalo he found just four Methodist brethren. The 
court house and school house being occupied by other denominations, the 
Methodists began the erection at Buffalo of a frame building, thirty-five 


The Boundary Commission. 185 

feet by twenty-five, on the 8th day of December, 181 8, and dedicated it 
forty-seven days afterwards. 

At the same time improvements were taking place in every direc- 
tion. The forest was being constantly swept away, and every little while 
a new grist-mill or store marked another step toward the condition of 
older communities. Yet the fierce denizens of the forest still prowled in 
large numbers around the frontier cabins. 

Numerous combats took place between them and their human antag- 
onists, the most celebrated of which was one which occurred in 1818. in 
the present town of North Collins, when John Turkey, an Indian of the 
Cattaraugus reservation, slew three panthers in a single combat. 

In the forepart of 1819 the boundary commission, coming from the 
East, established the line between the United States and Canada along 
the Niagara, and in July passed on to the west end of Lake Erie. Gen- 
eral Porter was the American, and Colonel Ogilvie the English commis- 
sioner. The principal surveyor on the part of the Americans was Will- 
iam A. Bird, (the well-known Colonel Bird, of Black Rock,) who had 
just succeeded to that post, having previously been^n assistant. 

The sovereignty of Grand Island was first decisively settled by this 
commission, though previously claimed by the United States. It was 
found by actual measurement of depth, width and velocity that the main 
channel of the river was on the Canadian side. There passed on that 
side 12,802,750 cubic feet of water per minute; on the American side 
8,540,080 cubic feet rolled by in the same time. To prove the accuracy 
of these measurements, the quantity passing Black Rock per minute was 
calculated by the same method, and found to be 21,549,590 cubic feet, or 
substantially the same as the sum of the amounts at Grand Island. 

As, however, the determination of the " main channel " was held by 
some to involve other considerations than the amount of water, it is pos- 
sible that Grand Island would not have fallen to the Americans had not 
a large island in the St. Lawrence just been awarded to Canada. All the 
small islands in the Niagara were also, on account of their location, 
assigned to the Americans, except Navy island, which fell to Canada. 

In the summer of 1819 a strong effort was made by the pre-emption 
owners to induce the Indians to sell a part or the whole of their lands. 
A council was held on the Buffalo reserve, at which were present a com- 
missioner on the part of the United States, one on the part of Massachu- 
setts, Colonel Ogden and some of his associates, and all the principal 
chiefs of the Senecas, Cayugas and Onondagas; 

After the United States commissioner had explained the object of 
the council, and had submitted two propositions, both looking to the sale 
of the Buffalo Creek reservation, Red Jacket, on the 9th of July, " rekin- 
died the council fire'* and made a long speech. As .usual he went over 
the whole ground of the intercourse between the white men and the red 

1 86 History of Erie County. 

men, and declared roost emphatically as the voice of his people that they 
would not sell their lands, no not one foot of them. Warming with his 
subject, the indignant orator declared that they would not have a single 
white man on their reservations — neither workman, school-master or 
preacher. Those Indians who wished could send their children to schools 
outside, and those who desired to attend church could go outside the 
reservation to do so. 

He added bitterly that if Colonel Ogden had come down from heaven 
clothed in flesh and blood, and had proved that the Great Spirit had said 
he should have their lands, then, and then only, they would have yielded. 

Afterwards Captain Pollard and thirteen other chiefs apologized to 
the commissioner for the language of Red Jacket. Captain Pollard 
declared that he saw nothing to admire in the old ways of his people, 
and wished for civilization and Christianity. But all were united in 
opposing the sale of any of their lands, and nothing was effected to 
that end. 

By this time two distinct parties had been developed among the 
Indians. One favored Christianity and improvement, among whom Cap- 
tain Pollard was the most prominent. Captain Strong, a distinguished 
chief on the Cattaraugus reservation, also announced himself a Christian. 
The other faction was devoted to paganism, and resisted every attempt 
at change, of whom Red Jacket was the unquestioned leader. 

The great orator had become more and more bitter against every- 
thing in anywise pertaining to the white race — except whisky. He was 
doubtless sincere in the belief that the adoption of white customs would 
work the destruction of his people, and he fought them at every step. 
He could see the evil wrought through the excessive use of liquor, of 
which he was himself a most conspicuous example; he could see that 
since the arrival of the whites the once mighty Iroquois had dwindled to 
a few feeble bands dependent on the forbearance of their conquerors, and 
he could not, or would not, see anything else. 

Even in minor matters he detested the laws of the whites, and 
derided their justice. Not far from the time of which I am speaking, 
an Indian was indicted at Batavia for burglary, in entering Joseph Elli- 
cott's house and stealing some trifling article. Red Jacket and other 
Indians attended the trial, and the latter obtained permission to address 
the jury on behalf of the prisoner (of course through an interpreter.) He 
boldly questioned the jurisdiction of the court, declared that the Senecas 
were allies, not subjects, of the United States, and said that Indians who 
committed offences should be tried by their own laws; asserting that if 
accused persons should be delivered to them they would be so tried and, 
if guilty, duly punished. 

The culprit was, however, convicted and sentenced to imprisonment 
for life, whirh was then the penalty for burglary. At the same a 

Second Execution in Erie County. 187 

white man who had stolen a larger amount than the Indian, but without 
the accompaniment of burglary, was*sentenced to only a few years impris- 
onment. This was a new cause of disgust to the chieftain, who in his 
youth had lived in a wigwam, to whom a house had none of the sacred- 
ness that it has to a white man, and in whose mind, consequently, the 
crime of theft was not enhanced by that of burglary. 

Going from the court-house to the tavern, after the session, in 
company with some lawyers, the old sachem observed the State coat- 
of-arms painted over the door of a newspaper office. Pointing to the 
representation of Liberty, he mustered his little stock of broken English 
and inquired: — 

"What— him— call?" 

" Liberty," replied one of the legal gentlemen. 

" Ugh ! " exclaimed the chieftain, in a tone of derision. Then he 
pointed to the other figure on the coat-of-arms and again asked : 

"What— him— call?" 

"Justice," was the reply. 

Red Jacket's eye flashed and his lip curled, as he slowly asked, in a 
tone of mingled inquiry and sarcasm : 

" Where — him — live — now ? " 

Very likely the sachem knew as well as his companions what the 
figures represented, and asked the questions merely to make a point. 

In December, 18 19, the second execution for murder took place in 
the present county of Erie, The crime, however, was committed out- 
side its limits, having been the murder of a soldier of the garrison of Fort 
Niagara, by Corporal John Godfrey, who was impatient at his dilatory 

Again the people assembled in throngs, again the militia companies 
guarded the prisoner, and again the sonorous tones of Glezen Fillmore 
rolled out deep and strong, as he preached the funeral sermon of the 
doomed man. 

But probably the most important event of the year occurred on 
Grand Island. The stave-cutting squatters, heretofore mentioned, had 
been so little disturbed by the civil authorities, (partly because of the 
difliculty of reaching them, and partly because it had not been quite 
determined whether the island belonged to the United States or 
Canada,) that they had grown to consider themselves a kind of inde- 
pendent nation. 

They set up a sort of government of their own, under which they 
settled whatever difficulties may have arisen among themselves, but bade 
defiance to the authorities on both sides of the riv«r. A Mr. Pendleton 
Clark, one of the squatters, was recognized as " governor " by his fellows, 
justices of the peace were elected, and precepts were actually issued " in 
the name of the people of Grand Island." 

i88 History of Erie Countv. 

On one occasion a constable crossed to the island to arrest one of 
these squatter-sovereigns, when several friends of the culprit assembled, 
put the officer back in his boat, took away his oars and set him adrift on 
the river. He might very likely have been carried over the Falls, had 
he not been rescued b}' a more humane outlaw, living farther down the 
stream, and taken to the American side. 

Then the authorities of the State, to which all the land belonged, 
thought it was time to clear out this nest of offenders. In April, 1819, 
an act was passed requiring them to leave the island, and in case they* 
did not the Governor was authorized to remove them by force. To this 
they paid no attention. 

In the fall the Governor sent orders to remove the intruders, to 
Sheriff Cronk. That official transmitted the orders to the transgressors, 
with directions to leave by a specified day. Some obeyed, but over 
many cabins the smoke continued to curl as saucily as before. 

The sheriff then called out a detachment of thirty militia, under 
Lieutenant ^afterwards Colonel) Benjamin Hodge, and on the gih of 
December the little command marched down the river from Buffalo to 
a point opposite the head of the island, to which they crossed by boats, 
landing about 5 o'clock P. M. The First Sergeant of the company was 
Nathaniel Wilgus, who wrote an account of the expedition for the 
Buffalo Historical Society. Rumors of resistance having been rife, 
muskets were loaded with ball-cartridges, and guards and pickets duly 
stationed ere the men encamped for the night. No resistance was 
actually made, however, and no less than five days were occupied in 
removing the scjuatters by boat to Canada, (where all but one of them 
preferred to be taken.) and in destroying their buildings. One hundred 
and fifty-five men, women and children were thus removed. This brief 
and bloodless campaign comprises the only civil war ever known in 
Erie count)'. 

By the beginning of 1820, the Clintonian and Bucktail parties were 
in full blast all over the State. Clinton was of course the leader and 
candidate of the former, which claimed, and generally received, the 
benefit of the strong canal feeling which prevailed. The latter had to 
some extent the benefit of the regular Republican organization, and 
nominated Vice-President Tompkins for Governor. 

Clinton was elected by a large majority, though his opponent had 
a few years before been the most popular man in the State. In the 
present county of Erie, Clinton received seven hundred and thirty-seven 
votes, to three hundred and ten for Tompkins. Boston gave thirty-five 
votes for Clinton, to one for Tompkins; Aurora a hundred and sixty- 
four for Clinton, to twenty for Tompkins ; Wales a hundred and twenty- 
six for Clinton, to twenty-seven for Tompkins; and Concord a hundred 
and twenty-eight for Clinton, to twenty for Tompkins. 

Slavery in Erie County. 189 

The Patriot was the organ of the Bucktails, the Journal of the Clin- 
tonians. It should be remembered that there was still a property quali- 
fication, which accounts for the small vote. It seems, too, that fraudu- 
lent voting was not an unheard of offense in those days, for the Patriot 
charged that neither Aurora nor Wales had a hundred legal voters, 
although the former polled a hundred and eighty-four votes, and the 
latter a hundred and forty-seven. 

One hardly ever thinks of slavery as having existed in Erie county, 
and in fact slaves were extremely rare there, even when the institution 
was tolerated by law. Yet we think there had been two or three colored 
people permanently held in bondage, besides those brought here by offi- 
cers during the war. The law of 181 8 decreed the gradual abolition of 
slavery, providing that males under twenty-eight and females under 
twenty-five should remain slaves until those ages, and allowing none but 
young slaves to be brought from other States ; in which case the owner 
was obliged to file an affidavit that they were only to be kept till those 
ages, respectively. The only case in this county under the law, of which 
we are aware, occurred in 1820. General Porter married a Mrs. Gray- 
son, of Kentucky, daughter of Hon. John Breckenridge, Attorney-Gen- 
eral of the United States under Jefferson, and aunt ol the late John C. 
Breckenridge. She brought five young slaves to Black Rock, and a 
certified copy of the affidavit of herself and husband, under the above 
mentioned law, is now on file in the old town-book of Buffalo. It is sur- 
rounded on all sides by records of town elections, stray heifers and 
sheep's ear-marks, among which this solitary memento of a powerful but 
fallen institution has a curious and almost startling appearance. 

In the spring of 1820, a new mail route was established, running 
from Buffalo to Olean, with three new offices in this county — one at 
" Smithville,** more commonly called Smithes Mills (now Hamburg), one 
at ** Boston," generally known as Torrey's Corners, and one at ** Spring 
ville," in common parlance called Fiddler's Green. The same year the 
first daily mail was established between Buffalo and Albany. 

The year was also noteworthy for the holding of the first agricul- 
tural fair, an important event in those days. It was under the manage- 
ment of the Niagara Count}^ Agricultural Society, which had been 
organized the fall before, with Dr. Cyrenius Chapin as its first president. 
A more full account of the event will be given in the chapter devoted 
to that society. 

By the census of 1820, the population of the whole of Niagara county 
was 23,313, of which 15,668 were in the present county of Erie. These 
numbers were considered sufficient to justify a division, and the north- 
ern part of the county was anxious to have its business transacted nearer 
home than Buffalo; a desire which was gratified by the Legislature 
of 1821. 


\go History of Erie County. 

Just before the division of the county, three new towns were created. 
By a law of the i6th of March, 1821, all that part of Eden comprised in 
Township 8, Range 9, was formed into a new town named Evans. This 
was a little larger than an ordinary township, being nearly nine miles 
east and west on its southern boundary, and thence narrowed by the 
lake to about four miles and a half on its northern boundary. 

By the same law the excessively long town of Concord was sub- 
divided into three towns. That part comprised in Townships 6 and 7^ 
Range 8, and in three tiers of lots on the west side of Townships 6 and ■ 
7, Range 7, was formed into a new town named Collins. That part 
comprised in Township 7, Range 5, and three tiers of lots on the east 
side of Township 7, Range 6, and in the portion of Township 6, Range 
6, north of Cattaraugus creek, was formed into a new town named 



The New County — Niagara Perpetuated — Change of Characteristics — Towns and Post Offices — 
Wolves and Hunters — A Supine Cleopatra — Pigeons — Buffalo and Black Rock — So-on- 
ongise and Kauquatnu — A Crime of Suoerstition — A Remarkable Trial — Resignation of 
Ellicott — Beginning the Canal — New Constitution — A Future President — Alden and 
Erie — Paying for Land in Produce — The Three Thayers — LaFayette's Visit — Noah and 
Ararat — Completion of the Canal — Purchase of Part of the Reservations — The Morgan 
Excitement — Shooting Niagara — Impeachment of Red Jacket — An Erie County Cabinet 
Ofhcer — Anti-Masonry — Census of 1S30 — Post Offices — General Appearance — Death 
of Red Jacket. 

ON the second day of April, 1821, a law was passed, enacting that all 
that part of the county of Niagara north of the center of Tona- 
wanda creek should be a separate county, by the name of Niagara, 
while the remainder shouM thenceforth be known as Erie. 

Thus at length was formed and named the great county, the annals 
of which we have the honor to record. It had the boundai'ies specified in 
the first chapter, and those boundaries it has ever since retained. 

As stated in Chapter XI II, the old county of Niagara was per- 
petuated in most respects in the countv of Erie rather than in the one 
that bore the ancient name, since Erie retained more than half the area, 
two-thirds of the population, the county scat, the county records and 
most of the county officers. In every respect except the name, Erie 
is a continuation of old Niagara, organized in 1808, while the present 
Niagara is a new county, organized in 1821. 

Formation of Erie County. 191 

Doubtless the reason for giving the old name for the smaller and less 
important county was because the great cataract, which makes Niagara's 
name renowned, was on its borders, and it was felt that there would be 
an incongruity in conferring the name on a county which, at its nearest 
point, was three miles distant from the famous Falls. (Even this is prob- 
ably nearer than most people suppose, but it is a trifle less than three 
miles from the cataract to the lower end of Buckhorn island.) 

The reader and the author have now arrived at a turning point in 
the history of the county. Not only was its name changed, but it so 
happens that that change is very closely identical in time with an 
important change in its general character. Hitherto it had been a pio- 
neer county. Henceforth it might fairly be called a farming county. 

There was no particular year that could be selected as the epoch of 
change, but 1821 comes very close to the time. Previously the principal 
business had been to clear up land. As a general rule, there was little 
money with which to build comfortable houses, little time even to raise 
large crops, except in a few localities. After a time not far from 1821, 
although there was still a great deal of land-clearing done, yet it could 
not be called the principal business of the county. 

The raising of cattle and grain for market assumed greater impor- 
tance, and in fact, from that time forward, the county taken as a whole, 
though still a newish country, would hardly be called a wric country. Yet 
there were a few townships almost entirely covered with forest, and 
everywhere the characteristics of the pioneer era were closely inter- 
mingled with those of a more advanced period. 

Probably the most conspicuous manner in which the change was 
manifested to the eye was by the material of the houses. Hitherto, log 
houses had been the dwelling-places of nearly all the people outside of 
the village of Buffalo. Even the little villages, which had sprung up in 
almost every township, were largely composed of those specimens of 
primeval architecture. 

But with improved circumstances came improved buildings. After 
the time in question, a majority of the new houses erected in the county 
were frames, and every year saw a rapid increase in the proportion of 
that class of buildings over the log edifices of earlier days. 

When Erie county was named it contained thirteen towns. At that 
time there were but ten post-offices in it, but there were several others 
established a little later. The ten were situated at Buffalo, Black Rock, 
VVilliamsville, Clarence, Willink, Smithville, Barkersville, Boston, Spring- 
ville, and Eden. The Eden post-office, as has been said, was in Evans, on 
the lake shore. That of ** Barkersville,*' was at the old Barker stand in 
Hamburg, at the "head of the turnpike." ** Willink" was at Aurora 
village. Besides these there had been one, and probably there was still 
one, called " Hamburg," at John Green's tavern. 

192 History of Erie County. 

There was also the nuclei of villages, but without post-offices, at 
" Cayuga Creek " (Lancaster), Alden, Hall's Mills (or Hall's Hollow), 
Holland, Griffin's Mills, East Hamburg and Gowanda. 

Notwithstanding these signs of improvement, and the general trans- 
formation of the county from a land-clearing to a land-tilling district, the 
farmers met with incessant discouragement. Keeping sheep was their 
especial difficulty, yet sheep must be kept, for there was no money to 
buy clothes. The wolves were almost as troublesome in peace as the 
Indians in war. 

Besides the gray-backed prowlers, an occasional bold, black wolf 
was seen, though very rarely. The bounty varied in the dififerent 
towns ; ranging from ten dollars to ninety dollars per wolf — whelps half 
price. An Indian is reported to have made $360 in one forenoon, catch- 
ing young wolves. It was generally supposed that many hunters, both 
Indians and whites, were in the habit of letting old she-wolves escape — 
in fact of guarding against their discovery by others — in order to get an 
annual revenue from the whelps. In this case it was the wolf that laid 
the golden eggs. 

On several occasions the citizens in different parts of the county 
got up grand wolf-hunts, forming long lines and beating the woods for 
miles, or trying to enclose them in circles, but few or none that were 
successful. The "Anaconda System" did not work any better then 
than in later years. The wily marauders almost always found a loop- 
hole for escape. 

The most remarkable of these primitive raiders was an old she-wolf 
which ranged chiefly through the territory of Collins and North Collins, 
and whose exploits gave her a reputation which still endures through- 
out all the southwestern part of the county. She seduced into complic- 
ity with her evil deeds half of the large dogs of that section, whipped 
the rest, evaded all attempts to shoot or entrap her, destroyed her 
victims by the hundred, and reigned the female Napoleon of farm and 
forest. When she was at last entrapped, men assembled from far and 
near to witness and rejoice over her death. 

Besides the four-footed wild game, pigeons were a frequent resource 
in their season, especially for the Indians. Not merely the few that can 
be shot as they fly, but the vast numbers that can be obtained from their 
nestb. The banks of the Cattaraugus were celebrated as their resorts, 
and a little west of Springville, on both sides of the creek, there were 
millioos of nests. The whole tribe used to go out from Buffalo creek to 
get a supply. The pigeons were obtained by cutting down the trees, and 
of this, as of all other work, the squaws at that time did the greater 
part. Sometimes they would cut down trees from two to three feet 
through, getting fifty or sixty nests from one tree. Each nest contained 
a single " squab," that is a fat young pigeon, big enough to eat, but not 


big enough to fly. Occasionally! but very rarely, there were two in a 
nest These were scalded, salted and dried by the thousand, furnishing 
food most acceptable to the Indians, and not despised by the whites. 

While the cpuntry was thus divided between raising crops, starting 
villages and hunting game, the embryo aty at the head of the Niagara 
was beginning to make rapid progress. At the lime of the formation of 
Erie county it had nearly two thousand inhabitants. 

Black Rock, too, which had long remained an insignificant hamlet, 
was now rapidly advancing, and was making desperate efforts to secure 
the termination of the grand canal. General Porter had returned home 
from his work of locating the intematioilal boundary, had resumed a 
portion of his former influence, and wu the leader of the Black Rock 
forces in their contest with Buffalo* As that village still had the only 
harbor in the vicinity, as not a ship was built at, nor sailed from, any 
other American port within a hundred miles, its chances of success 
appeared good, and it grew even faster than Buffalo. 

Scarcely had the county of Erie entered on its separate career, 
when there occurred within its limits a series nf events of startling and 
dramatic character, which show as vividly as anything in American his** 
tory how closely civilization treads upon the footstep^ of barbarism — 
how narrow in our country is the space which separates the bloody 
rites of the savage council from the stately deliberations of the Anglo- 
Saxon tribunal. The facts in the case are derived from Stone's Life 
of Red Jacket, the papers of the period, and the reminiscences of Mr. 
James Aigin. 

In the spring of 1831, a Seneca Indian died of some lingering dis- 
ease, the nature of which was incomprehensible by the medicine-men. 
They accordingly attributed it to sorcery^ and designated as the culprit 
a squaw nan^ed Kauquatau, who had nursed the deceased* during his 
sickness. A council was assembled, and, after such /evidence as the case 
admitted of, Kauquatau was solemnly pronounced gnilty,' and sentenced 
to death. The frightened woman fled to Canada. T^e Indians were 
shrewd enough not to attempt her execution there, nor even in the 
United States, off from their own reservation. Some of them followed 
her to Canada, and by some means, doubtless by false promises of 
security, persuaded her to re-cross the Niagara. 

Among her betrayers was the chief, Saonongise, commonly called 
by thie whites Tommy Jimmy, who had been secretly appointed herexe- 
cutionr. On the second day of May, Mr. Aigin states that he saw 
Tommy Jimmy treating Kauquatau from a bottle of wtiiskey» in the 
streets of. Buffalo, The blandishments of the c^iieftain and the quality of his 
liquor were too much for poor Kauquatau, and toward night she accom« 
panied her pretended friend across the -eservation Une» which ran close 
to the village. 

194 History of Erie County. 

No sooner had she done so than the friend disappeared and the exe- 
cutioner showed himself. Drawing his knife, Tommy Jimmy seized the 
wretched woman and cut her throat, killing her on the instant. Then, 
leaving her on the ground where he had slain her, making no attempt to 
conceal the body, he strode off to the Indian village, doubtless feeling 
that he had done his country good service. 

The next morning she was found by the whites, lying near Buffalo 
creek, only a short distance above Pratt's ferry. A coroner's inquest was 
held, and as the Indians made no concealment, it was easily ascertained 
that Tommy Jimmy was the murderer. It appears to have been the first 
event of the kind which had become known in Erie county, though Mary 
Jemison says there was scarcely a year passed, while the tribe lived on 
the Genesee, that one or more persons (generally women) were not killed 
as witches. The .claim of sovereignty over the reservation, set up by 
the Indians, did not reconcile the whites to the shocking occurrence, and 
it was determined to bring the slayer to trial. 

Stephen G. Austin, then a young lawyer and justice of the peace in 
Buffalo, issued a warrant. The constable to whom it was first given 
objected to going out among a tribe of savages to arrest one of their 
most popular chiefs, and Pascal P. Pratt, uncle of the gentleman who 
now bears that name, was deputized for the purpose. He was well 
acquainted with Tommy Jimmy and was a particular friend of Red 

Pratt found the culprit at the house of the orator. Making known 
his mission, he advised them to yield peacefully, and make whatever 
defense they might have, before the courts. Red Jacket pledged himself 
that Tommy Jimmy should appear before Austin the next day, and Pratt 
departed, perfectly satisfied that he would come. 

Punctually at the hour appointed, Sagoyewatha and So-onongise 
came before the young justice of the peace, accompanied by a crowd of 
other Indians. The whites also gathered in numbers, and as Austin's 
office was small, he held his court on a pile of timber across the road 
from it. The slaying was admitted, the jurisdiction of the whites denied, 
and the victim declared to be a witch, executed in accordance with 
Indian law. Austin, however, committed the slayer to jail, to take his 
trial in a higher court. 

So-onongise, aiins Tommy Jimmy, was duly indicted for murder. 
The Indians obtained the assistance of able counsel, who put in a plea to 
the jurisdiction of the court, claiming that Kauquatau was executed in 
accordance with Indian law, on Indian land. This was denied by the 
District Attorney, and the question was sent to a jury for trial. 

Thus it was that at the Erie county Oyer and Terminer, in June, 
i»2i, there occurred one of the most singular trials recorded in legal 
annals. The court-house was crowded by a motley throng of red uk n and 

A Remarkable Trial. 195 

white men, the latter drawn by curiosity, the former by intense interest 
in the fate of their brother, and intense anxiety regarding their own priv- 
ileges. All the lights of the Buffalo Bar were there, eager to know how 
this curious legal complication would result. 

Tommy Jimmy, a middle-aged and fairly intelligent Indian, though 
the center of observation, sat perfectly unmoved, and doubtless consid- 
ered himself a martyr. By his side was Red Jacket, acting as amateur 
counsel, and wearing his stateliest demeanor. He still had sufficient self- 
control to force himself into a few days* sobriety on great occasions, and 
was in full possession of his faculties. When the jurors were called he 
scanned every man with his piercing eye, formed his opinion as to his 
bias, and communicated to the regular counsel his decision in favor of 
acceptance or rejection. 

After several other witnesses had been sworn. Red Jacket was put on 
the stand by the counsel for the accused. The prosecuting attorney 
sought to exclude him by inquiring if he believed in a God. 

*' More truly than one who could ask me such a question," was his 
haughty reply. 

When asked what rank he held in his nation, he answered con- 
temptuously : — 

" Look at the papers which the white people keep the most carefully ; 
they will tell you what I am." He referred to the treaties which ceded 
the Indian lands to the whites. 

Like the other Indians he testified that the woman had been con- 
demned by a regular council, in accordance with immemorial law, and 
that So-onongise had been duly authorized to execute the decree. Seeing, 
or imagining, that some of the lawyers were disposed to ridicule his 
views of witchcraft, he broke out in a fierce philippic, which, as inter- 
preted, was thus published in the Alba?iy Argus, one of whose editors 
was present : — 

"Whati Do you denounce us fools and bijgots because we still 
believe what you yourselves believed two centuries ago ? Your black- 
coats thundered this doctrine from the pulpit, your judges pronounced 
it from the bench, and sanctioned it with the formalities of law ; and 
would you now punish our unfortunate brother for adhering to the faith 
of his fathers ana of yours ? Go to Salem I Look at the records of your 
own government, and you will find that thousands have been executed 
for the very crime which has called forth the sentence of condemnation 
against this woman, and drawn down upon her the arm of vengeance. 
What have our brothers done more than the rulers of your people ? And 
what crime has this man committed, by executing in a summary way the 
laws of his country and the command of the Great Spirit?" 

As Red Jacket had certainly not read the story of Salem witchcraft 
he must have informed himself by conversation before the trial, doubtless 
for the express purpose of making a well-studied point against the pale- 
faces. His appearance as he delivered his philippic, his tall form drawn 

196 History of Erie County. 

up to its utmost height, his head erect and his black eye flashing with 
ire, is said to have been impressive in the extreme. 

On the question of fact submitted to them, the jury found that Kau- 
quatau was really executed in accordance with Indian law. The legal 
question still remained as to whether this would exempt him from pun- 
ishment. The case was removed by certiorari to the Supreme Court, 
where it was argued the ensuing August. The result was a most lame 
and impotent conclusion of so dramatic a trial. No judgment was ren- 
dered. The court, being unable to deny that the Indians had from the 
beginning been recognized to a certain extent as independent peoples, 
and yet unwilling to decide that they had absolute authority to commit 
murder, permitted the discharge of the prisoner by the consent of the 

Laws were afterwards passed, subjecting the Indians even when on 
their reservations, to the same penalties for crimes as were inflicted on 
the whites. 

Tommy Jimmy was afterwards in the habit of recounting his great 
exploit to the whites, especially to children, imitating at the same time 
the gurgling sound made by his victim's blood when it rushed forth 
beneath his murderous knife. 

In the autumn of 1821 Joseph Ellicott, the founder of Buffalo, 
resigned the local agency of the Holland Company, which he had held 
for twenty-one years. There had been considerable dissatisfaction on 
the part of the settlers, during the latter years of his administration, but 
it principally originated in the difficulty of keeping up the payments on 
their lands, in the hard times succeeding the war. Probably the chief 
fault of the company and its agents was in permitting men to buy large 
tracts without any substantial payment in advance, and in letting the 
occupants get so far in arrears as they did during the first ten or fifteen 
years. There is nothing like a steady, gentle pressure to stimulate indus- 
try and compel frugality. Mr. Ellicott's mind was still clear, but he had 
already developed that tendency toward hypochondria which, after five 
years of inaction, led to the insanity and final suicide of one who had been 
for two decades the most influential man in Western New York. Jacob 
S. Otto, of Philadelphia, took his place as local agent. 

In the fore part of 1822, Buffalo at last succeeded in providing her- 
self with a passable harbor, and in 1823, the long contest between Buffalo 
and Black Rock for the western terminus ol the " Grand Canal *' was 
decided in favor of the former village. The first work on the canal in 
Erie county was performed in Buffalo, accompanied by an enthusiastic 
celebration, on the 23d of August, 1823. 

During the summer of 1822, a new State constitution was formed, 
and adopted by the people. By its provisions, sheriffs and county clerks 
were to be elected by the people instead of appointed — each holdnig for 

Millard Fillmore. 197 

three years. Justices of the Peace and District Attorneys were ap- 
pointed by the Judges of the Common Pleas and the Board of Super- 
visors, acting conjointly. All other judicial officers were appointed by 
the Governor and Senate. Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua 
counties became the Thirtieth Congressional District, entitled to one 
member. At this time, too, the date of holding elections was changed 
from April to November. 

In the autumn of 1821, a tall young man, of stalwart form, open 
countenance and pleasing demeanor, came from Cayuga county to the 
little village of Aurora, where he taught the district school during the 
succeeding winter. The next spring he entered a law office in Buffalo. 
This was Millard Fillmore, the future President of the United States. 
Born in Cayuga coimty, at the very beginning of the century, he had 
passed his boyhood amid the privations of a backwoods farm, and had 
in early youth learned the trade of a clothier. Approaching man's 
estate, his aspiring mind had sought more congenial employment in the 
study of the law. A lawyer who aj)preciated his abilities gave him some 
assistance, and the young man supported himself partly by working at 
his trade, and partly by teaching a country school. Meanwhile his 
father, Nathaniel Fillmore, had emigrated to Aurora, in this county, 
whither Millard followed him. In the spring of 1823, the latter was ad- 
mitted to practice in the county court, and immediately opened an office 
at Aurora, where hct remained seven years. 

All the elder Fillmores were men of powerful frame, and all had 
considerable local prominence, such as is often gained in country towns, 
by sensible though not highly educated men. Nathaniel's brother, 
Simeon, was Supervisor of Clarence several years. His brother Calvin 
was a prominent local politician, a Colonel of militia, and at one time a 
Member of Assembly. Millard's father, Nathaniel, was less noted, but 
was for several years a Justice of the Peace, and was generally recog- 
nized as a man of unblemished integrity and sound judgment. 

Early in that year, the Legislature erected two new towns from 
Clarence — Alden and Erie. The former occupied the same territory as 
now, with the nominal addition of part of the reservation opposite. The 
name of the latter was afterwards changed to Newstead, and the exist- 
ence of the previous town of Erie, which was formed in 1804 and obliter- 
ated in 1808, has caused remarkable confusion among the statisticians. 
All the gazetteers, civil-lists, etc., state that the town of Newstead was 
''formed as Erie, in 1804," whereas the town of Erie, which was formed 
in 1804, had ceased to exist for fifteen years when the town of Erie, which 
afterwards became Newstead, was erected, and the two " Eries " were 
six miles apart at the nearest point. 

Clarence, after the division, still included the present Lancaster, 
making a town six miles wide and nearly twenty long. 

198 History of Erie County. 

The year 1824 was not an eventful one in Erie county. The canal 
was nearly finished within the county limits, and only awaited the com- 
pletion of the great cut through the mountain ridge at Lockport, and 
some work of less importance on either side. While it was thus in prog- 
ress, its great advo'cate, DeWitt Clinton, who, after being Governor 
many years was then serving as Canal Commissioner, was removed from 
that humble but important office through partisan hostility. This 
ungrateful act roused the intense resentment of a large portion of the 
people, and in the fall he received an independent nomination for Gov- 
ernor, and was triumphantly elected. Erie county remembered her 
benefactor and gave him a handsome majority. 

Not far from the time under consideration, certainly, during the 
administration of Mr. Otto as local agent, the Holland Company adopted 
a system of receiving from the settlers the products of their farms, in 
payment for land. Agents yearly received cattle at certain advertised 
points, and endorsed the value thereof on the contracts. Turner states 
that, while the measure was highly beneficial to the settlers, the company, 
by reason of the expense of agencies, etc., lost largely by the new system. 

The quiet of 1824 was more than compensated by the excitements 
of 1825. Since the close of the war no such eventful twelvemonth had 
passed over the count3' of Erie. 

Early in the year the public first learned of a tragedy which became 
celebrated throughout the country, and to which old residents of West- 
ern New York still look back as the event most deeply branded on their 
memories. This was the celebrated tragedy of the ** Three Thayers." 
An account of the crime, (the murder of John Love), committed by 
them will be found in the history of the town of Boston. Suffice it to 
say here that the body of Love was found and the Thayers were arrested 
in the latter part of February, 1825. 

They were tried at the Erie county Oyer and Terminer, on the 19th 
and 2oth of April. Reuben H. Walworth, Judge of the Fourth District 
and afterwards Chancellor of the State, presided, while on the bench 
with him sat Ebenezer Walden, First Judge of the Common Pleas, 
and Associate-Judges Russell, Douglass and Camp. District Attorney 
Potter appeared for the people, assisted by Sheldon Smith and Henry 
B. White, both young lawyers, lately admitted. The prisoners were 
defended by Thomas C. Love, Ebenezer Griffin and Ethan B. Allen. 

The evidence was too plain for serious contest, and all three were 
found guilty and sentenced to death. 

On the 7th of June, 1825, was seen the remarkable spectacle of three 
brothers led to execution for murder. It was this circumstance which 
made the crime famous, and which drew an enormous crowd to the 
scene of doom. When executions were public every one attracted a 
throng— but three executions at once had a fascination which hardly 

Execution of the Three Thayers. 199 

any one could resist. Even the day before the last tragedy, many bent 
their way toward Buffalo, and on the morning of the execution, every 
road was crowded with people — men, women and children — hurrying 
forward in every kind of vehicle, on horseback and on foot. Never had 
there been seen such thronging numbers since that dismal day in Decem- 
ber, 1813, when all the people fled, not to, but from, the execution which 
they feared at the hands of savage invaders. 

There was, however, one notable exception. As Judge Walden was 
entering the village from his farm in Hamburg, he met the veteran Red 
Jacket, striding alone toward his home at the Seneca village. 

" Why, how is this," said the Judge, ** why do you not go to see the 
execution, like the rest ? ** 

•* Ugh," growled the old chieftain contemptuously, " fools enough 
there now — battle is the place to see men die ; " and with this aphorism 
he haughtily pursued his way. 

A mass of people, estimated at from twenty to thirty thousand, but 
probably not half so large, was gathered about Niagara Square, near the 
west side of which the gallows was situated. Again, as twice before. 
Elder Glezen Fillmore was chosen to preach the customary sermon, and 
the survivors of the scene still remember the solemn impression which 
he made, as his mighty voice rolled out over the heads of the hushed 

Between the trial and the execution of the three Thayers, General 
LaFayette, then the guest of the Nation, visited Buffalo on his return 
trip from a western tour,. and passed onward to the Falls; an event of a 
transient nature, but causing the deepest interest throughout the county. 

A very amusing incident, which will be described elsewhere, occurred 
on the isth of September, 1825, when Major Mordecai M. Noah, a prom- 
inent editor and politician of the city of New York, of Hebrew blood 
and faith, "laid the corner stone" (on the communion table of the Epis- 
copal church of Buffalo,) of a city called Ararat, which was to be erected 
on Grand Island as a refuge for the Hebrews of the whole world. 

But the great event of the 3'ear, so far as the prosperity of Erie 
county was concerned, was the completion of the Erie canal, or the 
"Grand Canal" as it was generally termed at that time. It was 
finished on the 24th of October, 1825, and on the 26th, in accordance 
with previous arrangements, a grand celebration was held all along the 
line, in which Buffalo took a leading part. It will be more fully men- 
tioned in the Chapter on the Erie canal. 

The State census was taken in June of this year, and showed the 
population of Erie county to be twenty-four thousand three hundred 
and sixteen. Buffalo numbered two thousand four hundred and twelve 
inhabitants — only one-tenth of the whole population of the county. By 
this census Erie county became entitled to two members of the Assembly. 

200 History of Erie County. 

The construction of the canal was not, at first, rewarded by the 
immense business which its sanguine supporters expected. But little 
grain, as yet, found its way down the lake, and for several years loads 
were light. A large part of the business of the canal was the carrying 
of passengers in packet 'boats, a business which became quite extensive, 
yet did not prevent an immense amount of travel by stage-coach. 

During the succeeding year the efforts of the pre-emption owners 
to purchase Indian lands were at length rewarded with a partial success. 
A council was held the last of August, 1826, and, notwithstanding 
the remonstrances of Red Jacket and his supporters, a treaty was 
made by which the Indians ceded to the Ogden Company 33,637 acres 
of the Buffalo reservation, 33,409 of the Tonawanda reservation, and 
5,120 of the Cattaraugus reservation, besides some 1,500 acres in the 
Genesee valley. 

All of the Tonawanda reservation in Erie county was thus ceded, 
except a strip about a mile and a half wide, and two miles and a half 
long, in the northeast corner of the town of Erie or Newstead. The 
thriving village of Akron is on the land then purchased, near its south- 
west corner. 

From the Buffalo Creek reservation a strip a mile and a half wide 
was sold off on the south side, running from a point in the present town 
of Cheektowaga, a mile and a half east of Cayuga creek to the east end 
of the reservation. Also a strip about three miles wide from the east 
end, (including all east of the " two-rod road " in Marilla), and finally a 
tract a mile wide, commonly called the " mile-strip," extending along 
the whole south side of the reservation. 

Of the Cattaraugus reservation, besides a mile square in Chautauqua 
county, there was ceded in Erie count)^ a strip a mile wide along the 
north side of the reservation, for six miles from the northeast corner, 
also called in that section the " mile-strip," and a tract a mile square, 
known as the " mile-block," south of the east end of that strip. Both 
are in the present town of Brant, the north edge of that " mile-strip " 
being about half a mile south of Brant Center. 

Red Jacket's influence was evidently waning, but he still clung to 
the semblance of his former greatness. After the treaty was agreed to 
by the greater part of the chiefs, the agent of the Ogden Company told 
the veteran orator that as he had opposed its adoption he need not sign 
it. But no, the name of Sagoyewatha had been affixed to every treaty 
made by his people for nearly forty years, and must not now be omitted. 
His opposition to Christianity and civilization was yearly growing more 
bitter, and the breach between his pagan adherents and that large part 
of the Indians who favored progressive doctrines, was all the while 
becoming wider. Although his vanity prompted him to have his name 
in its usual prominent position, yet he afterwards tried to have the treaty 

The Morgan Excitement. 201 

set aside as fraudulent. On examination, however, the negotiations 
appeared to have been conducted with entire fairness. 

As soon as practicable, the land thus purchased was divided among 
several individuals who were collectively called the Ogden Company, 
and most of it was put in market. 

In the winter of i826-'27, intense excitement manifested itself in Erie 
county, in common with the whole of western New York, over the 
abduction and supposed murder, in the previous September, of the cele- 
brated William Morgan, of Batavia, when he was on the eve of publish- 
ing an expose of the secrets of Masonry. 

As time passed, and Morgan could not be found, the people became 
still more angry. Meetings were held, and committees of investigation 
appointed, and bitter language toward all Masons became common. At 
length it was discovered that the unfortunate man had been taken from 
Canandaigua to Fort Niagara, thence across the river to Canada, and 
thence back to the fort, in the magazine of which he was kept until about 
the 29th of September, when all traces of him disappeared forever. 
Plentiful inferences have been drawn, but his precise fate is still unknown. 
Some of his first abductors were discovered and indicted, but they 
pleaded guilty of the abduction in January, 1827, leaving the main ques- 
tion undecided. The feehng grew stronger and spread wider, and 
nowhere was it stronger than in Erie county, except perhaps in Genesee. 
Many Masons abandoned the connection. 

As the town election approached, in the spring of 1827, the preva- 
lent excitement showed itself in politics. In many towns meetings were 
held, at which resolutions were adopted that no adhering Mason should 
be supported for any office. 

During the year many Masonic lodges in Western New York gave 
up their charters, and distrust of the institution extended to other parts 
of the country. Parties were in a chaotic state, nearly all men claiming 
to be Democrats. The most definite division was into supporters of the 
Adams-Clay administration, on the one hand, and of Jackson's aspirations 
to the succession on the other. Neither of these parties would consent 
to the exclusion of Masons from office, so the ardent Anti-Masons advo- 
cated the policy of separate nominations. Some of the counties were 
carried by an Anti-Masonic ticket in the fall of 1827. 

In Erie, however, that question was complicated with that of opposi- 
tion to the Holland Land Company. Notwithstanding the reception of 
produce by the company, there was still a large indebtedness, with poor 
prospects of payment. When, added to this, came rumors that the com- 
pany was about to raise the price of land on which the time of payment 
had passed, there was a general desire for legislative relief. Doubts 
were started as to the title of the company, and the proposition that in 
some way its property should be subjected to very heavy taxation was 

202 History of Erie County. 

received with favor. David E. Evans had succeeded Mr. Otto as agent, 
and during his administration the contracts were somewhat modified in 
favor of the settlers. 

At this time the veteran soldier and statesman, Peter B. Porter, again 
came to the surface of political affairs. He was almost unanimously 
elected to the Assembly, representing a mingled feeling of opposition to 
Masonry and to the Holland Company. 

In the fall, the Masons charged with the murder of Morgan were 
brought to trial in Niagara county, the trials resulting in disagreement of 
the juries, which only increased the popular excitement. The principles 
of the Anti-Masons were vigorously supported by the Buffalo Patriot^ 
while the Journal defended Masonry. It defended it very moderately, 
however, for the feeling in opposition was too strong to be rudely 
dealt with. 

Church buildings were extremely rare anywhere in the county. 
We cannot learn of one, out of Buffalo, in the beginning of 1827, except 
the Friends' meeting house at East Hamburg. In that year the Baptist 
and Presbyterian churches in Aurora combined, and built a good-sized 
frame church. The Methodists there erected one about the same time, and 
thenceforth white spires began to rise in all parts of the county. 

There were already several steamers on the lake, and a large fleet of 
sail vessels. Two or three small steamers had also been built to run 
on the Niagara. A curious exhibition was seen on that river in Septeni- 
ber, 1827. The schooner Michigan, which was found to be too large to 
enter the lake harbors, and had besides become partially unseaworthy, 
was purchased by several hotel owners and others, and public notice 
given that on a certain day it would be sent over the Falls. The novel 
exhibition drew immensely. Strangers came for days beforehand, and 
at the time appointed the number of people on Goat Island and the neigh- 
boring shores was estimated all the way from ten to thirty thousand. 
Five steamers, all there were on both lake and river except the Superior, 
went down from Buffalo loaded with passengers, besides thousands who 
took land conveyance. 

The Michigan was towed by one of the steamers to Yale's landing, 
three miles above the Falls, on the Canadian side. In the afternoon it 
was taken in charge by Captain Rough, the oldest captain on the lake, 
who with a yawl and five oarsmen undertook to pilot the doomed vessel 
as near the rapids as was possible. The Michigan had been provided 
with a crew, for that voyage only, consisting of a buffalo, three bears, 
two foxes, a raccoon, a dog, a cat and four geese. It had also been 
officered with effigies of General Jackson and other prominent men of 
the day. 

Captain Rough took the schooner to a point within a quarter of a 
mile of the first rapids, and but little ov'er half a mile from the Horst-shoe 

Impeachment of Red Jacket. 203 

Fall: Then it was cut adrift, and the oarsmen had to pull for their lives, 
but succeeded in insuring their safety. Both shores were lined with 
immense crowds, eagerly watching this curious proceeding. 

With the American ensign flying from her bowsprit, and the British 
jack at her stern, the Michigan went straight down the center of the 
stream, keeping the course the best pilot would have pursued, and was 
soon dashing over the first rapids. Then there was trouble among the 
amateur crew. One of the bears was seen climbing a mast. The foxes, 
the coon, the dog and the cat were scampering up and down, apparently 
snuffing mischief in the air, but not knowing how to avoid it. Two of 
the bears plunged into the seething rapids and swam to the Canadian 
shore. The poor buffalo was inclosed in a pen, and could do nothing but 
meet his fate in dignified silence. 

Passing the first rapids uninjured, the schooner shipped a sea, but 
came up and entered the second, still ** head on.** There its masts both 
went by the board. Then it swung around, entered the third rapid stern 
foremost, and the next instant plunged over the Horse-shoe [Fall. Of 
course it was shivered into ten thousand pieces, many of the largest tim- 
bers being broken into atoms. Two of the geese survived the tremen- 
dous plunge and swam ashore, being the only animals, except fish, ever 
known to have descended alive over that fearful precipice. Their com- 
pagnons de voyage all disappeared ; even the buffalo was never heard of 
rfiore. Of the effigies. General Jackson's alone passed uninjured over the 
cataract, and was seen with head, arms and legs complete, riding tri- 
umphantly around one of the eddies — which was doubtless considered by 
the friends of the real General as an omen of success at the next Presi- 
dential election. 

About the same time that this singular pageant was attracting a mul- 
titude of spectators, the old orator of the Senecas was being metaphori- 
cally sent over the Falls, as an unseaworthy hulk, by his countrymen. 
The school at the Seneca village was then in a forward condition, and 
many of the most promment Indians began to profess their belief in 
Christianity. Red Jacket's opposition became more bitter than ever, 
while his personal habits were those of a perfect sot. 

His wife had lately joined the Christians, whereupon the angry old 
pagan abandoned her, and lived for several months with another woman 
on the Tonawanda reservation. At the end of that time, however, he 
returned to his wife, and afterwards manifested no opposition to her 
attending church. 

Twenty-five of the chiefs determined to depose him from his sachem- 
ship. They accordingly had a written deposition drawn up, which they 
all signed. The list was headed by "Gayanquiaton," or Young King, 
followed by the veteran Captain Pollard, White Seneca, Seneca White, 
Captain Strong and the rest. 

204 History of Erie County. 

This singular document was directly addressed to him, saying, " You, 
Sagoyowatha," have committed such and such offences ; accusing him of 
sending false stories to the President, of opposing improvement, of dis- 
couraging children from attending school, of leaving his wife, of betray- 
ing the United States in the War of 1812, of appropriating annuity goods 
to his own use, and of hiding a deer he had killed, while his people were 
starving. His accusers closed by renouncing him as chief, and forbidding 
him to act as such. 

These charges extended over a long time, and as to many of them 
there are no means of ascertaining their correctness. Those relating to 
his opposition to "improvement," etc., were doubtless true, but were 
hardly proper subjects of impeachment. As to the accusation of betray- 
ing the United States in the war, it was generally repudiated by Ameri- 
can officers, who doubted Red Jacket's courage, but not his fidelity. He 
sought, indeed, to keep his people out of the fight entirely, but his right 
to do this can hardly be questioned. It will be observed that his accus- 
ers say nothing about the gross drunkenness which really unfitted him 
for performing any duties which may have attached to his rank. Proba- 
bly a good many of them thought it not best, on their own account, to 
meddle with that subject. 

Chiefs were so numerous among the Indians that twenty -five was a 
minority of those who could claim that dignity ; and the action of that 
number could not be considered the voice of the Nation. Red Jacket, 
however, was deeply cut by it. He made a visit to Washington in 1827 
or '28, and the Commissioner of Indian Affairs advised him to return and 
offer his opponents to bury the hatchet. He came back and called a 
council. Much indignation was unquestionably felt among the Indians 
that their greatest man should have been treated with such indignity. 
He exerted his waning powers to the utmost, and made a most eloquent 
speech. The council agreed to restore him to his rank, and it is reported 
that it was done by a unanimous vote, his opponents being awed into 
silence by the popular feeling. - But this was the last effort of that brilliant 
mind. He sank rapidlj' into comparative imbecility and utter sottishness. 

In 1828, a vacancy having occurred in the office of Secretary of War, 
President Adams selected General Peter B. Porter for that position. He 
was the first cabinet officer from Western New York, General Porter 
discharged with credit the duties of his office during the remainder of 
Mr. Adams' term, and then retired permanently from public life. Still 
later he removed to Niagara Falls, where he died in 1844. His only son 
was the late Colonel Peter A. Porter, (a native of Erie county, though 
long a resident of Niagara,) who inherited the valor of the early volun- 
teer, and fell at the head of his regiment in the war for the Union. 

Although the feeling against Masonry was very strong in this section, 
and constantly growing more so, yet the lodges at Buffalo and Black 

Political Events of 1828-30. 205 

Rock continued to meet throughout 1828. As the fall elections ap- 
proached, the combat grew more intense. Charges of murder and of 
abetting "murder were freely used on the one hand, and were met by 
accusations that the leading Anti-Masons were merely stirring up strife 
for the purpose of obtaining office. 

This was also the autumn of the first election of Jackson, and the 
contest was exceedingly bitter throughout the country, between his sup- 
porters (who by this time were generally recognized as the actual Dem- 
ocratic party) and those of the Adams-Clay administration. In Western 
New York, the lines were pretty closely drawn between the Jackson 
Democrats on the one hand, and the Anti-Masons on the other, the latter 
having a large majority. 

It was at this time that Millard Fillmore, then twenty-six years old 
and a practicing lawyer at Aurora, first entered public hfe; being then 
elected by the Anti-Masons as a member of the State Assembly. 

The Anti-Masons continued to hold sway throughout 1829, and the 
adhering Masons gradually decreased in numbers. Then, or not long 
afterwards, the Erie county lodges gave up their charters. In the fall 
of 1829, Albert H. Tracy again entered political life, being elected State 
Senator by the Anti- Masons, by a majority of over seven thousand in* the 
Eighth Senatorial District. At the same time Mr. Fillmore was re-elected 
to the Assembly, in which he had taken high rank by his industry and 
talents. By 1830, the opponents of Jackson's administration throughout 
the country had generall)' assumed the name of National Republicans, 
but in Western New York the Anti-Masons still absorbed nearly all the 
elements of opposition. 

Most of the present town of Marilla was included in the tract 
bought of the Indians. Its excellent soil caused it to be quickly settled 
as soon as the land was for sale. Jeremiah and G. W. Carpenter opened 
farms near the site of Marilla village in 1829 and '30. Jesse Bartoo had 
settled still earlier, near what is now Porterville, but was long called 
Bartoo's Mills. 

The large tract purchased in Erie (Newstead) was also rapidly filling 
up. The Erie postoffice was on the old Buffalo road but business had 
already begun to be drawn toward what is now the village of Akron, 
and in 1828 or '29, Jonathan Russell opened a store there. 

By the census of 1830, the population of the county was 35,719; 
showing an increase of 11413, or forty-seven per cent., in five years. The 
population of Buffalo was 8,668. 

From a register of that year, we learn that there were then twenty- 
seven postoffices in the county. We have been able to give the exact 
year of establishing many of them ; the others had all been established 
between 1825 and 1830. Nine of the sixteen towns had one office each, 
viz. : Alden, Amherst, Boston, Eden, Erie, Colden, Concord, Holland, 

2o6 History of Erie County. 

and Sardinia. Each bore the same name as the town, except those in 
Amherst and Concord, which were named respectively Williamsville and 
Springville. Four towns had two offices each : Aurora having" Willink 
and Griffin's Mills ; Clarence having Clarence and Cayuga Creek ; Evans 
having Evans and East Evans; and Wales having Wales and South 
Wales. Two towns had three offices each : Buffalo, with Buffalo, Black 
Rock and Tonawanda ; and Hamburg, with Hamburg, East Hamburg 
and Hamburg-on-the-Lake. Finally, the fertile fields of Collins must 
have attracted a very large emigration, or else its people were especially 
given to letters, as that town had four postoffices in 1830 — Collins, 
Angola, Collins Center and Zoar. 

The country towns had then begun to assume something of their 
present appearance. Nearly all the villages now existing were then in 
being, and many of them were nearly as large as now. The buildings in 
them, however, were by no means as large or expensive as at the present 
day. There was probably not a three-story building in the county except 
in Buffalo. Log houses were frequently seen, even on the main roads, 
and on the back roads were still in the majority. Few new ones, how- 
ever, were built. Of the frame houses the common ones retained their 
original wood-color, but the aristocracy covered theirs with a coat of glow- 
ing red. The old well-sweep still held its own, or was replaced by a wind- 
lass ; the pump was still an institution seldom affected by the farmer. 

The animals of the forest were still often seen, though in decreasing 
numbers every year. Along the Cattaraugus the bears lasted longer 
than the wolves, and were still frequent in 1830. 

On the 20th of January, 1830, the renowned orator. Red Jacket, died 
at his log cabin near the Mission church, on the Buffalo reservation. 
He had sunk very low since the time of his great struggle over the ques- 
tion of his rank, even hiring himself to keepers of museums to be exhib- 
ited for money. Having returned home, and being satisfied that death 
was approaching, he raUied his waning powers to give counsel to his 
people. He visited his friends at their cabins, conversed with them on 
the wrongs of the Indians, and urged them when he was gone to heed 
his counsels, to retain their lands, and to resist all efforts to convert them 
to the habits of the white man. According to McKenney's " Indian 
Biography/' he was anxious that his funeral should be celebrated in the 
Indian manner. 

*^ Bury me," he said " by the side of my former wife ; and let my 
funeral be according to the custom of our nation. Let me be dressed 
and equipped as my fathers were, that their spirits may rejoice at my 
coming. Be sure that my grave be not made by a white man ; let them 
not pursue me there." 

Nevertheless, while thus earnest, he was not so bitter as he had 
formerly been. Almost at the last he convened a council of his people, 

Death of Red Jacket. 207 

both Christians and pagans, and advised them to live in harmony, 
leaving every one to choose his religion without interference. He 
was taken mortally sick (with cholera morbus) during the council, but 
a resolution was adopted in accordance with his wishes, at which he 
was much pleased. 

He said he knew the attack was fatal, and refused all medical aid. 
One of his last requests was that, when she saw him nearing his end, his 
wife should place in his hand a certain vial of water, to keep the devil 
from taking his soul. Thus, enveloped in the superstitions of his race, 
passed away the last of the Iroquois orators, the renowned Red Jacket. 
His precise age was unknown, but he was probably about seventy-five. 
His sons had all died before him, and but one or two daughters remained 
of a large family, who mostly fell victims to consumption. 

Notwithstanding his wishes, as the members of the Wolf clan, to 
which he belonged, were largely Christian, as well as his wife and her 
family, he was buried according to the rites of the Christian Church. 

The remains of Red Jacket had a strange fate, though one not incon- 
sistent with his own hapless career. For many years his grave remained 
unmarked. In 1839, however, a subscription was set on foot under the 
auspices of the actor, Henry Placide, and a marble slab with a suitable 
inscription placed over his grave. Long after the Senecas had removed 
to the Cattaraugus reservation, some admirers of the orator, perhaps 
fearing that his grave would be ploughed up, took up his bones and put 
them in a lead coffin, intending to remove them to Forest Lawn. His 
Indian friends, however, heard of the project with strong dislike, and 
immediately came from Cattaraugus, and demanded and obtained the 
precious relics. The monument was afterwards transferred to the rooms 
of the Buffalo Historical Society, where it still remains. 

The most singular part of the matter is that the bones have never 
as yet been re-buried. When visiting the Cattaraugus reservation some 
time since, the writer was informed that the mortal remains of the most 
celebrated orator produced by the aborigines of America were pre- 
served in a bag, under the bed of an old Indian woman who had consti- 
tuted herself their custodian. Since then the bones have come into the 
possession of William C. Bryant, Esq., and will be buried at Forest 
Lawn as soon as some necessary arrangements can be made by him and 
his associates regarding a lot to be used as a resting place for Red 
Jacket and other Indians. 

2o8 History of Erie County. 


FROM 1B31 TD 1B4D. 

" The Year that Holt was Hung " — Eric and Newstead — German Immigrants — Mary Jemison — 
Incorporation of Buffalo — Politics — The Cholera — Commercial Prosperity — Inflation — 
Speculative Collapse — Formation of Tonawanda — General Gloom — An '* Agrarian Conven- 
tion" — Opposition to the Holland Company — The Patriot War — Camp on Navy Island — 
Destruction of the Caroline — Militia Called Out -r Scott on the Frontier — Dispersion of the 
Patriots — An Expedition to Erie — North and the Volunteers — Patriotism on Ice ^Captur- 
ing Cannon — Final Dispersion — Bargaining for the Reservations— Dubious Proceedings — 
Formation of Brant and Black Rock— The Harrison Campaign ^ Population in 1840. 

THE first year of the new decade passed almost eventless away. The 
circumstance which most strongly marks it on the memories of old 
settlers is that it was " the year that Holt was hung." Murders had 
not yet become so common in the county as to be flung aside with the 
morning paper. Nearly seven years had passed since the last one, and 
a still longer time was to elapse before there should be another; so, 
although the execution of the wretch who slew his wife with a hammer, 
in Buffalo, obtained no such celebrity as the awful doom of the three 
brothers in 1825, still it formed an era to which local events are often 
referred by the men of that day. The crime was quickly punished ; it 
was committed in October, Holt pleaded guilty the same month, and he 
was executed on the 22d of November. 

In April, 1831, the name of the town of Erie was changed to " New- 
stead," on account of the confusion and difficulty caused by the letters, 
etc., of the inhabitants going to Erie, Pa. 

Ever since 1823, when the first person of German birth arrived in 
Buffalo, there had been occasional accessions of Germans to the popula- 
tion of that village, until in 183 1 there were perhaps a hundred families 
there. About 1831 or 1832, the first settlements by men of that nation- 
ality were made in Erie county outside of Buffalo. The new comers 
located themselves in and about the village of White's Comers, now 
Hamburg, and some found their way into Eden. Since then there has 
been a constant and constantly increasing tide of German immigration 
into both city and country, until the Germans and their children now 
number fully one-third of the population of the county. 

In the year 1831, there came to make her home in the county of Erie 
one whose life had been of the most strange and romantic character — 
albeit the romance was of such a kind that few would wish to undergo 
her experience. Born on the Atlantic in 1743, while her* parents were 
migrating from the Old World to the New, the restless billows of Mary 

Mary Jemison. 209 

Jemison's birthplace well typified the ever-changing vicissitudes of her 
long career. 

At the age of twelve she saw her home on the frontier of Pennsyl- 
vania destroyed by a band of savages, and all its inmates save herself — 
father, mother, brothers and sisters — all slain by the same ruthless foes. 
But the caprice so often manifested by the Indians toward their captives 
induced them to spare her alone, and to take her to Fort Du Quesne. 
There she was adopted by two Indian sisters, who treated her with the 
greatest kindness and gave her the name of Dehhewamis. 

Ere she had hardly attained to womanhood she was required to wed 
a young Delaware brave, and, though she became the bride of an Indian 
with great reluctance, yet, as she always declared, his unvarying kind- 
ness was such as to gain her affection. " Strange as it may seem," she 
said, " I loved him." For some unknown reason she went (on foot, with 
her children on her b^ck) several hundred miles from her home on the 
Ohio, to take up her residence among the Senecas on the Genesee, where 
her husband was to join her. He died, however, before doing so. This 
is the most curious part of her story, and it looks as if there was some- 
thing hidden about that portion of her life. 

She soon married a Seneca, a monster of cruelty toward his enemies, 
but kind to her. By this time she had become so fully reconciled to her 
savage surroundings that she declined the opportunity to return to the 
whites afforded by the peace between England and France, and when an 
old chief sought to take her to Fort Niagara by force, to obtain the 
reward offered for prisoners thus delivered up, she used every means to 
bafile his efforts, and finally succeeded in doing so. 

She remained among the Senecas during the Revolution, her cabin 
being the habitual stopping place for Butler, Brant and other leaders, 
while going on or returning from their raids against the wretched inhab- 
itants of the frontier. When Sullivan came on his mission of vengeance, 
her cabin and crops were destroyed with the others. We say " her," for 
she seems to have been the principal personage in the household, as well 
of her second as of her first husband. With her two youngest children 
on her back and three others following after, she hunted up a couple of 
runaway negroes living with the Senecas, whose crop had escaped 
destruction, and by husking their corn on shares obtained enough to feed 
herself and children through the winter. 

She remained near her old haunts when most of the Senecas came 
West, and when they sold to Phelps and Gorham, she managed to pro- 
cure for herself a reservation of near thirty square miles. This might 
have afforded her an ample fortune, and she did draw considerable revenue 
from it. But she showed little desire for the comforts of civihzed life, 
and retained to a great extent the dress, appearance and habits of a squaw. 
She was commonly called " The White Woman " by the Indians, and 
even those of her own race generally adopted this curious appellation. 

2IO History of Erie County. 

In time her second husband died, leaving his savage characteristics 
to his eldest son, who developed a nature of the deepest malignity, 
inflamed by drunkenness, who in different quarrels slew his only two 
brothers, and who was finally murdered himself in a drunken brawl. Sad 
indeed were the latter days of the old " White Woman," and they were 
made still more so by the progress of settlement, which shut her off from 
the wild companions of so many years. 

At length she determined to spend her remaining days with her old 
friends, and in 1831, at the age of eighty-eight, she disposed of her remain- 
ing interest on the Genesee and came to make her last home on the Buf- 
falo Creek reservation. There, among the barbaric customs which had 
so strangely fascinated her, she- survived for two more years ; and then 
Mary Jemison, Dehhewamis, "The White Woman," found rest in the 
grave, after nine decades of a tempest-tossed life. 

In 1832 Buffalo was incorporated as a city, with five wards, and a 
population of about ten thousand. 

In the fall (which, as will be remembered, was the time of Jackson's 
second election) Millard Fillmore was chosen to represent the thirtieth 
district of New York in Congress. 

To achieve such a success at the age of thirty-two is most creditable 
to the abilities of any man ; and was all the more so in this case, the 
young Congressman having had absolutely no aid from extraneous 
sources, and having achieved his entrance into the National Legislature 
only nine years after commencing life in a country village, as an attorney 
in the Common Pleas. 

It will be understood that the only difficulty was in regard to the 
nomination ; the Anti-Masonic National Republican opposition to Jack- 
son's administration, had an overwhelming majority in the county, and the 
election of their candidate was a foregone conclusion. The strength of 
the feeling is shown by the fact that in this county William L. Marcy, the 
Democratic candidate for Governor, received but 1,743 votes, while 4,356 
votes were cast for Francis Granger, the opposition nominee. 

It was in 1832 that the cholera made its first visit to the shores of Amer- 
ica. Passing along the main thoroughfares, it inflicted a heavy blow upon 
Buffalo, but it did not spread into the country. Yet none knew what 
track the destroyer might take, and for many weeks every village waited 
with fear and trembling the appearance of this hitherto unknown scourge. 
There had been no new towns formed since the creation of Colden, in 
1827. Though Clarence was about 17 miles long, (besides the part 
included in the reservation,) the steady-going Pennsylvania Germans who 
formed a large part of its population were in no haste to create a new set 
of officers, at length, however, the numbers in the southern part of the 
town became so large that a division was almost imperative, and on the 
20th ot March, 1833, a new town was formed, comprising Township 11, 

Formation of Lancaster. 211 

Range 6, of the Holland Company's survey, and that part of the mile- 
and-a-half-strip, sold in 1826, which lay opposite that township — besides 
a nominal jurisdiction over the unsold Indian land, to the center of the 
reservation. As Clarence had been named after one English dukedom, 
that of another was selected for the new town, which received the appell- 
ation of Lancaster. 

We have now reached the time when the tide of commerce began 
to roll steadily through the county of Erie. The fertile lands of Michi- 
gan, Northern Indiana, Northern Illinois, and other parts of the West 
were opened to settlement, and their products found their way into 
the Erie canal. Its boats went loaded to the sea coast, and brought back 
crowds of German and Irish immigrants, most of whom went farther 
west, but many of whom sought the companionship of their countrymen 
in and around Buffalo. 

Almost at the same time, the closing of the United States Bank, 
caused the chartering of a large number of State banks, which issued an 
immense amount of paper money. Frequently the guarantees required 
by the States were wretchedly inadequate, especially in the West and 
South, so that the new money had no better foundation than the faith 
of the people. 

From these two causes, the increase of Western production and the 
increase of money, the former real and the latter fictitious, there followed 
a general inflation of business and advance of prices. This inflation 
extended throughout the United States, but nowhere else was it quite so 
balloon-like in its growth and collapse as along the line of the great lakes, 
where both the causes above mentioned were in their fullest vigor. 

A slight advance of prices began to be observed in 1833. They 
increased through 1834, and in 1835 the great speculation was under full 
headway. It of course ran highest in Buffalo, but was strongly felt 
throughout the county. All up the lakes, too, wherever there was a 
possibility of a harbor, and sometimes where there was not even a 
possibility, a city was laid out, a magnificent name was given it, and its 
proprietors became Rothschilds and Astors — on paper. That there was 
some ground for the advance in this county, is shown by the fact that the 
population had increased from 8,653 in 1830, to 15,661 in 1835, or more 
than eighty-one' per cent. A more remarkable fact is that the population 
of the whole county in 1835, was 57,594, to 35,719 in 1830, an increase of 
over sixty-one per cent. 

Never did the fever of speculation rage more fiercely anywhere than 
it did in Erie county, and especially in Buffalo, in 1835 ^"^ 1836. Some 
incidents of the infatuation of the people will be mentioned in the history 
of that city in the second volume. The financial catastrophy impending 
over the whole county, was hastened, so far as this and the adjoining 
counties were concerned, by the exposure, in August, 1836, of the for- 

212 History of Erie County. 

geries of Benjamin Rathbun, then the leading business man of Buffalo. 
Consternation seized upon the public, prices went rapidly down, and 
many a man who had supposed himself a millionaire, soon found himself 
reduced to absolute poverty. 

Amid the general dismay, the Presidential election probably drew 
less attention than any other that ever occurred in the county. While 
Van Burenwas elected President, and Marcy, Governor, Erie county as 
usual went heavily for the opposition, which had now assumed the name 
of the Whig party throughout the country. Anti-Masonry had ceased to ■ 
exist as a political organization, or as a source of present excitement, but 
its results were seen in the large Whig majorities which Western New 
York gave throughout the existence of that party. Masonry, too, was 
utterly extinct in this section, and any attempt to revive it at that time 
would undoubtedly have caused a renewal of the old excitement. Mill- 
ard Fillmore, after two years' retirement, was again elected to Congress. 
The increase of population shown by the census of 1835, entitled Erie 
county to three Members of Assembly. 

The town of Tonawanda was formed from BufiFalo April 16, 1836, 
comprising the present towns of Tonawanda and Grand Island. 

The year closed in gloom and anxiety, though the depression had not 
yet reached its lowest point. Nevertheless, it was during this year that 
the first railroad was completed in Erie county, that from Buffalo to 
Niagara Falls. 

Steadily prices went down, down, down, all through 1837. Through- 
out the country failure, bankruptcj' and disaster were the order of the 
day. Banks failed everywhere, and the wretched paper money of the 
country became more worthless than before. As speculation had proba- 
bly reached its climax in Buffalo, so there the universal reaction was 
most strongly felt. Fortunes disappeared almost in a night. Mortgages 
were foreclosed on every hand, and property which but yesterday had 
been sold for thirty, forty, fifty dollars per foot would now hardly bring 
as many per acre. 

Even in the country towns the re-action, though of course less than 
in the city, produced great distress, and some who had deemed themselves 
rich suffered for the necessaries of life. 

In the course of 1837, matters probably got about as bad as they 
could be, so that after that they did not grow any worse ; but it was sev- 
eral years before there was any sensible recovery from the " Hard Times," 
as that era was universally called. Unquestionably the designation was 
a correct one ; for never has the country, and especially this part of it, 
known so disastrous a financial crisis. The " hard times " inaugurated in 
the fall of 1873 were mere child's play in comparison. 

Even before the crash there had been a steadily growing opposition 
to the Holland Company, throughout the Holland Purchase, and an 

The "Agrarian" Convention. 213 

increasing desire, on the part of the possessors of lands not paid for, to 
lighten what they felt to be an intolerable burden, the long arrears of 
interest then due. When to these was added the weight of general finan- 
cial distress, the discontent rose to still greater heights. 

Meetings were held in many towns, denouncing the company, de- 
manding a modification of terms, requesting the Legislature to interfere, 
and asking the Attorney-General to contest the company's title. In Feb- 
ruary, 1837, there assembled at Aurora a meeting at which the counties 
of Erie, Genesee, Niagara and Chautauqua were represented, and which 
boldly assumed the name of an " Agrarian Convention." Dyer Tilling- 
hast, of Buffalo, was president ; Charles Richardson, of Java, Genesee 
county, (now Wyoming,) and Hawxhurst Addington, of Aurora, were 
vice-presidents ; and A. M. Clapp, of Aurora, and H. N. A. Holmes, of 
Wales, were secretaries. Resolutions were passed denouncing the 
"Judases" who sided with the company, and requesting the Attorney- 
General to contest its title. 

In some localities the people did not confine themselves to resolu- 
tions. Without any very decided acts of violence, they made every agent 
of the company who came among them feel that there was danger in the 
air. Whenever an attempt was made to take possession of a place of 
which its holder was in arrears, armed men gathered on the hillsides, 
threatening notices were sent, and a state of terror was kept up until the 
company's representatives became demoralized and abandoned the field. 
There was no chance for contesting the company's original title, and the 
Legislature refused to interfere. In most of the towns the settlers, in 
the course of many weary years, paid up and took deeds of their lands. 
In a few localities, however, they made so stubborn a resistance, and the 
company was so long in enforcing its claims, that many of the occupants 
acquired a title by " adverse possession," which the courts sustained. 

In 1837, a company was chartered to build a macadam road from 
Buffalo to Williamsville, and actually did build it within a year or two 
afterwards. This was nearly, or quite, the first successful attempt to re- 
place one of our time-honored mud roads by a track passable at all seasons. 

In the fall of that year William A. Mosely, of Buffalo, was elected 
'State Senator in place of Albert H. Tracv, who then finally retired from 
public life, at the early age of forty-four, after a twenty-years* career of 
remarkable brilliancy. 

As the winter of i837-'38 approached, the people of Erie county, 
with those of the rest of the Northern frontier, were at least furnished 
with something else than their own misfortunes to talk about. 

For several years there had been a growing discontent in the Cana- 
dian provinces with the government of Great Britain. Among the 
French population of Lower Canada it was quite strong, and at length 
it broke out in armed rebellion, which was only suppressed at consider- 
able cost of blood and treasure. 

214 History of Erie County. 

After the outbreak there was put down, there were some small 
uprisings in Upper Canada. But whatever political opposition there 
might have been in that section to the home government, there was 
little disposition to seek the arbitrament of battle, and very few appeared 
in arms. 

Those who did so sought a position close to the American line in 
order that they might receive all possible aid from their sympathizers 
on this side. For it was impossible that anything in the shape of a revolt 
against British power, whatever the cause, or whatever its strength, 
should not awaken interest and sympathy on the part of Americans. The 
two contests in which we had been engaged with that country, and the 
fact that we owed our National existence to a successful revolt against 
monarchial government, combined to produce such a result. Secret 
lodges of " hunters," as they were called, were formed along the frontier 
for the purpose of affording aid to the " patriots," which was the desig- 
nation generally given to the insurgents, and some armed men crossed 
the line. 

William Lyon Mackenzie, an ex-member of the Provincial Parlia- 
ment, and the leader of the rebellion in Upper Canada, after a slight and 
unsuccessful outbreak north of Toronto, fled to Buffalo in the fore part 
of December, 1837. Meetings were held, and addresses made by Mac- 
kenzie, by one T. J. Sutherland, who was called General, and by several 
Buffalonians. About the middle of the month, there was still greater 
excitement along the Niagara frontier, for it was learned that the main 
force of the "patriots" had established themselves on ^lavy Island. 

This was closer to American territory than any other British soil in 
this vicinity. Between it and Grand Island, the channel is less than a 
quarter of a mile wide, and it was, besides, convenient of access from the 
old landing-place at Schlosser. 

There were perhaps three or four hundred men on the island. Of 
these a considerable proportion were Americans, and their commander 
was General Rensselaer Van Rensselaer, a son of the gallant Colonel 
Solomon Van Rensselaer, who was wounded on Queenston Heights. 

Days passed on. Most of the people were in a fever to do something 
for the " patriots." The United States Marshal appointed thirty deputies 
from among the most prominent citizens of Buffalo, to prevent violations 
of neutrality. The winter was one of unexampled mildness, and vessels 
still continued to run on both lake and river. On the 29th of December, 
the little steamer Caroline, belonging to William Wells, Esq., of Buffalo, 
went down to Navy Island, the intention being that she should run back 
and forth between the camp of the insurgents and Schlosser, carrying 
men and supplies. After discharging freight at the island, she made two 
trips to and from Schlosser that afternoon, and then tied to the wharf at 
the latter place. 

The Patriot War — Destruction of the Caroline. 215 

Early the next morning, hurrying messengers reached Buffalo with 
the news that a British force had crossed the river, cut out the Caroline, 
killed fifteen or twenty men, and then set her on fire and sent her over 
the Falls. 

As may be imagined, the excitement was intense. Rumors of every 
kind flew about the streets. The British had invaded Grand Island. 
They had threatened to attack Buffalo. They had killed ever3'body on 
board the Caroline and some on shore — etc., etc. Further news, while 
it refuted some of these stories, confirmed the main statement. The 
Caroline had certainly been cut loose from the Schlosser wharf by a 
British force, set on fire, and sent over the Falls. 

A man named Durfee was found dead on the wharf the morning after 
the attack, shot through the brain. His body was brought to Buffalo 
and buried, the funeral being attended by a vast and excited crowd, after 
which a speech of extraordinary eloquence and power was made in the 
park by that fier}' young advocate, Henry K. Smith. For a long time it 
was asserted that from ten to twenty men had been slaughtered on board 
the Caroline, and even the English official report stated that five or six 
had been killed. But after thorough investigation, it was found that no 
one was slain except Durfee, though two or three others were wounded. 

It soon transpired that the assailing expedition was sent over by Sir 
Allan McNab, commanding the British forces on the frontier, under an 
officer of the Royal Navy, whose proceedings were fully endorsed by Sir 
Allan, and by the Governor-General of Canada. It was as clear a viola- 
tion of American sovereignty as it would have been of English sovereignty 
if a successful blockade-runner, during the Rebellion, had been attacked 
and burned in an English port by an American man-of-war. But there was 
some palliation in the fact that so many of the insurgents were Ameri- 
cans, and Mr. VanBuren, who was then President, was a very pacific 
personage. So, notwithstanding a long diplomatic contest, no redress 
was ever obtained. 

Sir Allan McNab claimed that the Caroline had been bought by the 
Navy-Islanders. This, however, was denied under oath by Mr. Wells, 
and the denial was undoubtedly true ; for the whole treasury of the 
" patriots " would have been hardly sufficient to buy a canoe. 

The officers and crew of the Caroline numbered ten men, and twenty- 
five more went on board at Schlosser, on account, as was alleged, of the 
lack of hotel accommodations at that place, but probably for the purpose, 
of crossing to Navy island the next morning. It was stoutl}' asserted 
that none of the crew or passengers were armed, but as three of the 
attacking party were wounded, this looks improbable. It was claimed 
by some that they wounded each other in the darkness. 

Over these, and a hundred other controverted points, the Buffalo 
Daily Star, and the Daily Commercial long kept up a heated controversy, 

2i6 History of Erie County. 

the former accusing the latter of being in the interest of the British, and 
opposed to the patriots who were striving to throw off the yoke of a 
foreign tyranny, etc., while the Commercial retaliated by charging the Star 
with abetting unlawful operations, fomenting war, etc. 

Meanwhile the American authorities were taking vigorous measures 
both to prevent armed expeditions from going from this side, and to repel 
further invasion from the other. A company was organized in Buffalo, 
called the City Guard, under Captain James McKay. By order of Gov- 
ernor Marcy, General David Burt called out the 47th Brigade of Militia, 
(infantry,) the larger part of whom responded, and rendezvoused at Buf- 
falo. Randall's Brigade of artillery was also called out, and all of its 
companies marched to the same point. The 47th Brigade of infantry 
was entirely from Erie county, and every town furnished its quota. 
Among the officers were Colonel Orange T. Brown, of Aurora, and 
Colonel Harry B. Ransom, of Clarence. Randall's Brigade of artillery 
covered a much larger district. 

On the 5th of January, 1838, the President issued a proclanlation, 
and sent General Scott to the frontier. He was accompanied by Colonel 
William J. Worth, as aid and chief of staff. Scarcely had he arrived, 
when rumors came that the British were about to cross and attack 
Schlosser. The troops, regulars and militia, were ordered out and 
marched to that point. No attack took place and they returned. 

A day or two afterward it was reported that three English armed 
schooners, lying opposite Lower Black Rock, were about to fire on the 
steamer Barcelonay which was plying between Buffalo and Navy island. 
To Lower Black Rock the troops were accordingly marched, and there, 
sure enough, were seen the three British schooners, lying nearly in line, 
awaiting the Barcelona^ one of them being in American waters and not 
far from the shore. Scott formed his infantry along the bank, and posted 
his artillery on the high ground in the rear. Then the veteran General 
rode down to the water's edge, hailed the nearest schooner, and ordered 
her to draw out of American waters, and not to molest the Barcelona^ 
which could then be seen steaming up the river, close along the Ameri- 
can shore. After some hesitation, the schooner lifted her anchor and 
drew off across the line, and the Barcelona passed safely by. 

But the " revolution" could not be kept up much longer. The Brit- 
ish regulars and Canadian militia concentrated opposite Navy island, 
fiercely cannonaded the forest which covered it and prepared to cross the 
channel. Rensselaer Van Rensselaer was brave enough, but his exchequer 
was low, his followers were few, and the hope of re-inforcements was cut 
off by the vigilance of Scott. So, on the 15th of January, his army fled 
to the American mainland and dispersed in every direction. 

Their stolen cannon they abandoned to the State authorities. Soon 
after, however, another attempt was made to furnish the disorganized 

Expedition to Erie. 217 

" patriot " army with artillery. Five of these same cannon were in charge 
of a body of militia, at Tonawanda, under Colonel Harry B. Ransom. 
To him came a squad of men, whose acting commandant presented 
an order for the delivery of the five guns, sigpied by Winfield Scott, 
Major-General commanding. Ransom hesitated, but a prominent citizen 
came forward, declared that he knew Scott's handtv^riting, and that the 
signature was genuine. So the cannon were delivered — on a forged 
order. But the " patriots " were obliged to scatter for fear of the United 
States Marshal, and the guns were again recovered by the State. 

Meanwhile Brigadier-General Thomas Jefferson Sutherland had gone 
to the other end of Lake Erie, gathered a few men, and begun issuing 
proclamations preparatory to an invasion of Canada across the Detroit 
river. A body of United States regulars was forthwith sent to put a 
stop to unlawful proceedings in that quarter. It was desired to send 
with them a small detachment of militia as far as Erie, Pa., to watch 
movements there. Twenty volunteers were called for, and twenty men 
responded from the Aurora company, commanded by Captain Almon M. 
Clapp, then editor of the Aurora Standard. 

The regulars and Captain Clapp's detachment went up the lake under 
the command of Colonel Worth, on the steamboat Robert Fulton. An 
incident which occurred on the steamer illustrates the character of that 
gallant officer. Soon after leaving Buffalo, the regular commissary 
brought the rations for both regulars and volunteers, and flung them 
down on the lower deck. The volunteers demurred. They said they 
were not used to taking their victuals off from the floor, and did not pro- 
pose to begin then. The commissary roughly told them they might go 
without. They made known their dissatisfaction to Captain Clapp, who 
was in the cabin with the regular officers. He at once appealed to 
Colonel Worth, declaring that his men were accustomed to as decent 
treatment as himself, and did not relish such conduct. 

"Certainly not, certainly not," said Worth; "bring your men into 
the cabin here and let them have their breakfast." 

So the cooks were set at work, and in a short time the squad of vol- 
unteers sat down to an excellent breakfast, and did not have to take it off 
from the deck, either. 

Stopping at Dunkirk, the troops went to Fredonia, took two or three 
hundred stand of arms stored there by the " patriots," and proceeded by 
steamer to Erie. A vessel on Lake Erie in January is a sight seldom 
seen, and the presence of one in the first month of 1838, marks the mildest 
winter of which there is any record as visiting this county since its 
settlement. But when the Fulton reached Erie the ice was rapidly form- 
ing, so that it was difficult to enter the harbor, and the planking of the 
boat was badly injured by it. The volunteers remained there eleven 
days and returned by land. 

21 8 History of Erie County. 

By this time it was thought the danger of trouble in this vicinity 
was nearly over, and Burt's infantry and Randall's artillery were both 

The ice rapidly closed over the whole lake, and this circumstance 
was taken advantage of by bands of sympathizers to project another inva- 
sion of Canada. A company of the Buffalo City Guard and Clapp's vol- 
unteers were sent, one cold winter night, in sleighs, to the " head of the 
turnpike," in Hamburg, and thence three or four miles on the ice, toward 
the middle of the lake. There they found a most remarkable scene. 
Thirty or forty men had established themselves there on the ice, built 
shanties, procured a plentiful allowance of hemlock boughs to sleep on, 
and were awaiting re-inforcements to liberate Canada. 

They readily surrendered on the appearance of the troops. Only a 
part of them had fire-arms, but there were a large number of rude pikes, 
each consisting of a strong pole with a spear several inches long, and a 
hook of proportionate size. The shanties were torn down, the arms 
seized and the would-be heroes dispersed. 

One part of their preparations was peculiar enough to deserve especial 
mention. Extending from their camp, in a straight line, nearly to the 
Canada shore, was a row of hemlock bushes, waving over the vast field 
of ice. It was intended that the liberating army should march over in 
the night. But if they did so there was danger that in the middle of the 
lake, with an unbroken plain of ice extending in every direction, they 
might lose their way and perhaps perish with the cold, for the part of 
the shore where they intended to land was uninhabited, and there would 
be no lights to steer by. So they put up that line of hemlock boughs to 
guide them on their conquering way, making holes in the ice with their 
pikes, planting the bushes, and pouring on water, which soon froze solid 
around them. 

While some of the people, organized in militia companies, were faith- 
fully at work to prevent the violation of the neutrality laws, their friends 
and neighbors were willing to run a good deal of risk to aid the insur- 
gents. One of the companies of Randall's artillery-brigade, belonging in 
Allegany county, had returned home b}- way of Aurora and Holland, but, 
owing to the badness of the roads, had been obliged to leave one of their 
pieces at the latter place. It was stored in a barn to await better travel- 
ing. Some of the sympathizers at Aurora determined to secure it for the 
use of a body of liberators, who were expected to make another effort to 
cross the lake on the ice. A'ccordingly, the first sleighing that came, two 
good teams were hitched to sleighs, which with several men in each, 
started just after nightfall for Holland. Passing rapidly over the inter- 
vening ten miles, they arrived at that village, drove to the barn where 
the cannon was kept, loaded it into one of the sleighs, put the ceisson 
into the other, and had the horses going down the creek-road ac full 

Bargaining for the Reservation. 219 

speed ere any one else knew what was going on. It is not likely, how- 
ever, that any one would have interfered, even if they had known, for the 
feeling of friendship for the insurgents was so general that few cared to 
oppose it, save when compelled by official duty. The stolen gun was for- 
warded through Hamburg to the lake shore. 

Getting possession of another piece of artillery, the "patriots" 
assembled to the number of three or four hundred near Comstock's tavern, 
in Hamburg. But on the 24th of February a detachment of regulars and 
volunteers, and the crew of a revenue cutter, all under the command of 
Colonel Worth, who had returned from the West, marched out from Buf- 
falo, surprised the camp of the four hundred " patriots," dispersed them, 
and captured their cannon. This was the last attempt to invade Canada 
from within the borders of Erie county, until the Fenian effort of 1867. 
For this, as is not unfrequently the case, they blamed the administration and 
the party in power, and already murmurs, deep and far extending, fore- 
boded that party's temporary overthrow. There was no need of such 
aid to the Whigs of Erie county, as they already had an overwhelming 
majority, but even that majority was doubtless increased by the prevail- 
ing discontent. 

In 1837 and 1838 a most strenuous attempt was made (which was 
kept up for several years,) to obtain possession of all the Indian lands in 
this and the adjoining counties. A treaty was sanctioned by the execu- 
tive department of the government by which the government agreed 
to give the New York Indians, mostly Senecas, 1,820,000 acres of land 
in Kansas, and build mills, shops, churches, schools, etc. A council of 
chiefs was called at the council house on the Buffalo Creek reservation, 
in January, 1838. The treaty was laid before them, and also a deed by 
which they agreed to cede to the Ogden Company all their reservations, 
for two hundred and two thousand dollars; a hundred thousand for 
the land, and a hundred and two thousand for the improvements. 
Both documents received forty -five signatures of chiefs, either actual 
or pretended, for it was always difficult to tell who were and who were 
not chiefs. 

The treaty was sent to the Senate, who declared it so defective in 
many respects that it could not be sanctioned, and who also amended it 
by striking out the various appropriations for mills, schools, etc., and 
inserting the sum of four hundred thousand dollars. Mr. Gillett, United 
States Commissioner, again called the chiefs together on the Buffalo 
reservation to ratify the treaty. By this time there was an intense feel- 
ing aroused in the tribe against both treaty and deed. The Commis- 
sioner directed a council-house to be built on purpose for the coming 
council, which assembled there on the 7th of August, 1838. Many chiefs 
being absent the council was adjourned three days. During the interval 
the council-house was burned to the ground, doubtless by some of the 

220 History of Erie County. 

opponents of the treaty. The Commissioner had a new one built, and 
the council again met. Mr. Gillett declared that the deed to Ogden & 
Company was good even if the treaty was not ratified, but General 
Dearborn, the Commissioner for Massachusetts, insisted that it was not.* 
In the council the amended treaty was signed by only sixteen chiefs, 
while sixty-three, the rank of forty-eight of which was undisputed, signed 
a remonstrance against it. 

The agents of the Ogden Company, however, declared that this 
result was obtained by intimidation on the part of the Indians hostile to 
the treaty, and this was probably, to some extent, true. The Commis- 
sioner accordingly announced that those chiefs who desired might sign 
the treaty at his rooms at a hotel in Buffalo. Twenty-six more did so 
sign ; their signatures being witnessed by General Dearborn. Of the 
forty-two names thus obtained, only twenty-nine were those of undis- 
puted chiefs, while there were in the Seneca tribe seventy-five chiefs 
whose title was not disputed. The list of all those claimed to be chiefs 
on both sides numbered ninety-seven. Yet by counting only those 
present at the council, while allowing them to sign out of the council 
and off from the reservation, the Commissioner managed to figure out a 

It afterwards transpired that written contracts had been entered 
into by which the agents of the Ogden Company agreed to pay certain 
chiefs considerable sums of money, besides giving them life-leases of 
their improvements, on condition of their not only doing their best to 
help forward the treaty and sale, but of their voting in favor of them. 
These payments were to be in addition to the pay for improvements 
which those chiefs would receive in common with their brethren, and 
were simply bribes.t Notwithstanding the defective number of signa- 
tures, and the means used to obtain them, the treaty was ratified by the 
Senate. Yet the facts brought to light caused so much popular feeling, 
and the determination of the Indians was so strong not to go West, that 
the company were unwilling to proceed to extremities. The manner in 
which the difficulty was finally settled will be described in the next 

In March, 1839, three new towns were created. On the 22d of that 
month the south part of Amherst was cut off and called Cheektowaga. 
Amherst was the last of the very large towns of Erie county. Before 

* By the agreement between Massachusetts and New York regarding the title to the western part 
of the latter State, Massachusetts reserved the right to protect the Indians by sending a Commissioner 
to every council held with them. 

f The Quakers, who were the steadfast friends of the Indians throughout the series of transac- 
tions under consideration, procured and published several of these contracts, by which eight chiefs 
were to receive over $20,000, besides pay for their improvements. These payments were not like 
the allowances previously made to Complanter, Farmer's Brother, because the former were secret, 
while the latter were public, and were acquiesced in by the tribes. 

Formation of Braxt. 221 

its division it was eighteen miles long, besides the part on the reserva- 
tion. Afterwards, there was no town over eleven miles in length. 

On the 25th of that month, too, the town of Brant was formed by 
the Legislature out of the south part of Evans, and a part of the Catta- 
raugus reservation, nominally belonging to Collins. It included the 
** mile-strip " and "mile-block" sold off from that reservation in 1826. It 
was doubtless expected when the town was formed, that the sale of the 
whole reservation would soon be consummated, in accordance with the 
"treaty" of 1838, and that Brant would thereby become a town of the 
ordinary size. This expectation, however, was disappointed and the 
space outside of Indian territory is smaller than the area of any other 
town in the county. 

The same spring, all that part of the town of Buffalo outside of 
the city was formed into the town of Black Rock. It extended clear 
around the city from Black Rock village to the lake shore. About the 
same time a law was passed allowing Buffalo a supervisor for each of 
its five wards. 

There was little or no change for the better in the financial situation 
during the last two years of the decade, and the country grew more 
and more Whiggish. The next year came the great excitement of the 
Harrison campaign. Erie county was one of the strongest fortresses 
of Whiggery in the United States, and probably developed more than 
the average amount of the enthusiasm then so prevalent. Nowhere 
were there more log cabins erected, more hard cider drank or more 
coon skins displayed, and nowhere were there louder shouts for "Tippe- 
canoe and Tyler too.** 

When election day came the Harrison electoral ticket received 
nearly two to one in this county, and was triumphantly elected in the 
nation. For the fourth time Millard Fillmore was chosen as representa- 
tive in Congress, that being once more than any other citizen of Erie 
county has ever been elected to that office. 

The general depression is shown by the fact that the population of 
Buffalo in 1840 had only increased about nine and nine-tenths per cent, 
over that of 1835, having reached the number of 18,213. The population 
of the whole county was 62,465, an increase of ten and a fifth per cent, 
over 1835. This is the only instance of the county's increasing faster 
than the city. 


222 History of Erie County. 



Slow Recovery — First Railroad — The Indian Treaty Confirmed — A Compromise — Buffalo Creek 
Reservation Surrendered — Cattaraugus and Allegany Reservations Retained — Tonawanda 
Reservation bought and given to Indians — New Settlements — Mr. Fillmore a Candidate for 
Governor — General Prosperity — New Constitution — The Buffalo Convention — Mr. Fill- 
more Elected Vice-President — He succeeds to the Presidency — Census of 1850 — The Eben- 
ezer Society — German Immigrants — Increased Prosperity — Formation of West Seneca — 
Extension of Buffalo — Formation of Collins, Manila and Grand Island — Political Changes 
— The Census of 1857 — Formation of Elma — Campaign of i860. 

THE county recovered very slowly from the terrible financial crisis 
heretofore described, and it was not till near 1845 that it could be 
considered to have full}' regained a healthy condition, by which 
time moderate prosperity was the rule throughout its borders, as dis- 
tinguished from the feverish fortune-making of ten years before. 

In 1842, the Buffalo and Attica railroad was completed, giving the 
former place its first railroad connection with the East. Travel west- 
ward was still by boat' in summer, and by stage in winter. This was a 
fine time for Buffalo hotels. Every traveler had to stay in town for at 
least one meal, generally over night, and frequently in spring and fall, for 
several days. 

As stated in the last chapter, the Senate of the United States, after 
much debate and many unsavory disclosures, finally confirmed the 
treat}'^ of 1838 with the Senecas. But a majority of the latter insisted 
that it had never been really confirmed by them or even by their chiefs. 
If so, the courts might still refuse to sanction their removal, and their 
friends, the Quakers, were disposed to aid them in an appeal to the 
courts. Such a proceeding, however, would be long and costly and both 
parties were evidently afraid of the result. Accordingly a compromise 
was resorted to. 

In May, 1842, a new agreement was made, by which the Ogden 
Company allowed the Senecas to retain the Cattaraugus and Allegany 
reservations, (subject to the Company's pre-emption right) and the 
Indians gave up the Buffalo Creek and Tonawanda tracts, on condition 
of receiving their proportionate value. That is to say, the value of all 
four of the reservations was estimated as before at $100,000, and the 
value of the improvements at $102,000, and the Company agreed to pay 
the proportion of $100,000 which, according to the decision of arbitra- 
tors, the value of the Buffalo Creek and Tonawanda reservations bore to 
the value of the whole, and the proportion of $102,000 which the improve- 

Sale of the Buffalo Creek Reservation. 223 

ments on those reservations bore to the improvements on the whole. 
The occupants of those reservations were to have the privilege of set- 
tling on the Cattaraugus and Allegany tracts. This was satisfactory to 
the Buffalo Creek Indians, but not to the Tonawandians. 

Arbitrators duly chosen decided that the proportionate value of the 
Indian title of those two reservations was $75,000, and that of the im- 
provements on them $59,000. The)' also awarded the portion of the 
$59,000 due to each Indian on the Buffalo reservation, but could not do 
it on the Tonawanda tract, because the inhabitants of the latter refused 
to let them come on the reservation to make an appraisal. After some 
two years, one of the claimants undertook to expel one of the Tonawanda 
Indians by force, whereupon the Indian sued and recovered judgment ; 
• the courts deciding that the proper steps had not been taken to justify 
the claimant's action. Finally, to end the controversy, the United States 
opened its purse, as it has so often done before and since to help indi- 
viduals. The Government bought the entire claim of the Ogden Com- 
pany to the Tonawanda reservation, and presented it to the Indians re- 
siding there. Consequently they now own the " fee-simple " of the land 
as well as the possessory right. That is, they hold it by the same title 
by which white men own their lands, except that the fee is in the whole 
tribe, and not in the individual members. 

Meanwhile the Buffalo Indians quietly received the money allotted 
to them, and, after a year or two allowed for preparation, they, in 1843 
and *44, abandoned the home where they had dwelt for over sixty years, 
and which had been a favorite rendezvous of their nation for nearly two 
centuries. Most of them joined their brethren on the Cattaraugus reser- 
vation, some went to that on the Allegany, and a few removed to lands 
allotted them in the Indian Territory, now Kansas. 

The company immediately had the land surveyed and divided among 
the members, who began selling it. Settlers began to occupy Elma and 
that part of Marilla not included in the purchase of 1826. A few Indians 
remained until 1846 or 1847, when they departed, and their clearings 
were occupied by white men. 

New clearings, too, were made here and there, log houses were 
erected, and all over the reservation the traveler witnessed ^ reproduc- 
tion of the scenes of pioneer life. The old towns, it will be remembered, 
still ran to the center of the reservation, so that the newly opened terri- 
tory belonged to Black Rock, Cheektowaga, Lancaster and Alden, on 
the north, and to Hamburg, Aurora and Wales on the south. 

The increase by the settlement of this new territory was but slight 
before 1845, ^"d the county had but partially recovered from the great 
downfall of 1837, yet the census of 1845 found us with a population of 
78,635, against 62,465 in 1840. Buffalo had 29,773 in 1845, to 18,213 in 
1840. Though still strongly Whig, the county was not so overwhelm- 

224 History of Erie County. 

ingly so as in the previous years. The old Anti-Masonic feeling was pass- 
ing away, new settlers of various politics were coming in, even among 
the Americans, and the immigrants of foreign birth were very largely 

In 1842, Mr. Fillmore declined a re-election to the office which he 
had so long and so creditably filled, and William A. Mosely was elected 
in his place. During the last two years of Mr. Fillmore's service, he was 
Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, the most important 
post in the House of Representatives next to that of Speaker, and dis- 
charged its duties with marked ability and fidelity. In 1844, when Henry 
Clay was nominated for President by the Whig National Convention, 
Mr. Fillmore's name was presented by the delegates from New York, 
and from some of the Western States, for the second place on the ticket. 
Mr. Frelinghuysen was, however, selected, and then the Whigs, with 
hardly a division, chose Mr. Fillmore as their candidate for Governor. 
The State, however, as well as the Nation, went for Polk, and Silas 
Wright was elected Governor. 

After 1845, we find the subject of this history in a condition of decid- 
ed prosperity. Money was reasonably plenty, without being so abund- 
ant as to cause fears of another crash. After long years of labor, most of 
the farmers had their land paid for, or so nearly as to be able to see their 
way through. On all the back roads handsome farm-houses were being 
erected in place of the log structures of primeval times. New churches 
sent up their spires in almost every hamlet, and the old log or red frame 
school-house was frequently replaced by a neat, white building, the 
typical American school-house of the present day. 

The villages showed less improvement than the farming country ; 
for Buffalo more and more absorbed the trade of all the country around. 
That city was again on the high tide of success. No financial depression 
could long hinder the growth of the mighty West, and, as there were 
no through lines of railway, its produce must be poured through the 
Erie canal. Great fleets transferred their cargoes of grain from the lake 
to the canal, at Buffalo, and the vicinity of the harbor swarmed with 
thousands of laborers. 

In 1846, a new State constitution was formed, being, except as to 
some amendments, the same under which we now live. By its provisions, 
judges, district-attorneys and nearly all other officers were to be elected 
by the people. It also provided that senators should hold but for two 
years, and that there should be a senatorial district for every senator, 
and an assembly district for every assemblyman. The court of Com- 
mon Pleas was exchanged for a county court, presided over by a county 
judge. There were no associate judges, but in criminal cases he was to 
be assisted by two justices of sessions. The State was also divided into 
eight judicial districts, each of which elected four justices of the Supreme 

The Buffalo Convention. 225 

Court, Erie county being in the eighth district. The new constitution 
was ratified by the people in 1846, but no officers were elected under it 
until the next year. 

A special election was held in June, 1847, to choose judicial officers 
and district-attorneys, as directed by the new constitution. The eighth 
judicial district being overwhelmingly Whig, four Whig Justices of the 
Supreme Court were elected, among whom were Seth E. Sill, of Buffalo, 
and James Mullett of Chautauqua county, who also kept an office in Buf- 
falo. In this county, however, owing to a defection among the Whigs, 
all their candidates were defeated — for the first time since the organiza- 
tion of the party. 

In the succeeding autumn the first State officers were chosen under 
the new constitution. Millard Fillmore was nominated by the Whigs 
for comptroller. The fight between the " Hunker " and " Barnburner" 
wings of the Democracy was then in full blast, and Mr. Fillmore and his 
associates were elected by a large majority. 

In June, 1848, after General Taylor had been nominated for the 
Presidency by the Whig National Convention at Philadelphia, Mr. Fill- 
more was selected for the second place on the ticket. The Democratic 
National Convention nominated Cass and Butler for President and Vice- 
President, but the contest was not confined to the two tickets just named. 
The " Barnburners," or Radical Democrats, had espoused the cause of 
the Wilmot Proviso, which was intended to exclude slavery from the 
territory lately acquired from Mexico, The proceedings of the Demo- 
cratic convention at Baltimore not having been satisfactory to them, the 
Radicals met in convention at Utica, and nominated Martin Van Buren 
for President, with a Vice-Presidential candidate from the West, who 
declined the honor. 

As it was desired, however, to unite as many as possible of the oppon- 
ents of slavery-extension thrcrughout the country, the celebrated Buffalo 
convention was called to meet in that city. Thus it was that on the 
ninth day of August, 1848, the Queen City of the Lakes was crowded 
with distinguished strangers, and with numerous residents of the vicinity, 
about to take part in the most important assemblage which has ever met 
within the limits of Erie county. 

It was a mass convention, attended by men from every Northern 
State, and also from Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. A great tent 
had been erected in the court house park, and at noon the multitude 
assembled beneath it was called to order. Nathaniel Sawyer, of Ohio, 
was elected temporary chairman and a committee on permanent organi- 
zation was appointed, consisting of one from each State represented. 

At the beginning of the afternoon session the park was filled with an 
eager throng, and large numbers congregated in the adjacent streets. 
The committee on organization, through their chairman Preston King, 

226 History of Erie County. 

reported the name of Charles Francis Adams, of Massachusetts, as presi- 
dent of the convention, who was forthwith elected. Thereupon a com- 
mittee of two escorted to the chair a small, unpretending man, scarcely 
forty years of age, but looking somewhat older from partial baldness, 
who then for the first time became propiinent before the nation, but who 
has since been a leader among its statesmen, has fulfilled its most import- 
ant diplomatic trusts with consummate skill, and now remains almost the 
only survivor of the then eminent members of the convention, over which 
he presided twenty-eight years ago. 

One of the committee who attended him to the chair was a robust, 
broad-shouldered man, about thirty-eight years old, with a bold, high for- 
head, a compressed mouth, and a face written all over with the evidence 
of courage and determination. This was Salmon P. Chase, of Ohio, then 
just entering on his brilliant and useful National career. 

A committee on resolutions was appointed, of which Benjamin F. 
Butler was chairman. That gentleman has been obliterated, as it were, 
by another political luminary bearing the same name, but in his day 
Benjamin F. Butler, of New York, was a power in the land, being the 
right-hand man of Mr. Van Buren in his political contests, and Attorney- 
General of the United States during his friend's Presidency. 

For the purpose of equalizing the representation a committee of con- 
ference, consisting of six conferees-at-large from each State, and three 
from each congressional district, was appointed by the delegates of the 
respective States, to whom was referrred the nomination of candidates. 
While awaiting the action of these committees several gentlemen ad- 
dressed the convention, and members of the celebrated Hutchinson 
family sang their inspiring songs of freedom. Among the speakers none 
attracted more attention than a tall, white-haired old man, whose bold 
and vehement denunciations of slavery were cheered to the echo by the 
multitude. This was Joshua R. Giddings, of Ohio, long known as the 
Nestor of the anti-slavery contest. 

The committee of conference met at the court house in the evening, 
and appointed Salmon P. Chase, chairman, but declined to nominate 
candidates until the convention should have adopted a platform of 

The next morning the proper committee reported a series of resolu- 
tions, embodying the creed of the free-soilers, which was substantially 
the same as that afterwards promulgated by the Republican party. 
While repudiating all claim on the part of the Federal government to 
interfere with slavery in the States, they declared that that institution 
should be prohibited in all the territory subject to the jurisdiction of 
Congress. " No more slave States and no slave territories," was the 
summing up of the whole. Of course they were enthusiastically adopted. 
On this action being reported to the committee of conference, which 

President Fillmore. 227 

had met in the Second Universalist church, they proceeded to the nomi- 
nation of candidates. The selection was by no means a foregone conclu- 
sion. Although they were entering on an utterly hopeless contest, and 
although Mr. Van Buren had been nominated by a convention of Free- 
Soil Democrats of New York, who constituted the bulk of the new party, 
yet there was a strong feeling among the thorough-going anti-slavery 
men in favor of selecting Hon. John P. Hale, of New Hampshire. 

Mr. Butler was called on by the committee of conference to explain 
the position of Mr. Van Buren, and did so at considerable length. When 
the informal ballot was taken Martin Van Buren had 244 votes and John 
P. Hale 181, while 41 were reported as scattering. Mr. Van Buren had 
only 22 majority over all others. However, the vote was at once made 

On consultation, the feeling in regard to the choice for Vice-Presi- 
dent was found to be so strong in one direction that all other names were 
withdrawn, and Charles Francis Adams was unanimously nominated. 
It was not until the evening of that day that the names adopted by 
the committee were reported to the mass convention. Mr. Adams, 
being one of the nominees, called Mr. Chase to the chair, who submitted 
the nominations to the assemblage. The multitude, which filled the 
great tent to its utmost capacity, responded with tumultuous cheers, and 
Martin Van Buren and Charles Francis Adams were made the standard- 
bearers of the " Free Democratic " party in the coming campaign. 

David Dudley Field then read a letter from Mr. Van Buren, several 
short but vigorous speeches were made, and it was eleven o'clock ere an 
adjournment was carried, and the Buffalo Convention became a thing of 
the past. Although its nominees did not carry a single State, yet its 
action had a strong influence in strengthening the growing opposition 
to slavery propagandism, which at length resulted in the entire over- 
throw of the institution. 

Its only apparent result that year, however, was to give the State of 
New York to the Whigs, and cause the election of Gen. Taylor and Mr. 
Fillmore. At the same time, Elbridge G. Spaulding was chosen as 
Member of Congress from Erie county. 

The next spring a citizen of Erie county was installed in the second 
office of the Republic. As Vice-President, Mr. Fillmore's only duty was 
to preside over the Senate, a duty for which his equable temperament 
and judicial turn of mind peculiarly fitted him. 

On the 9th day of July, 1850, General Taylor died, and Millard Fill- 
more became President of the United States. He was then fifty years 
of age; it was twenty -one years since he had. entered public life as a 
Memberof the Assembly, twenty-seven years since he had commenced 
the practice of law in Aurora, and thirty-one years since he had been a 
clothier's apprentice. 

228 History of Erie County. 

His first task was of course the formation of his cabinet In select- 
ing its members, after making Daniel Webster Secretary of State, Thomas 
Corwin Secretary of the Treasury, and John J. Crittenden Attorney- 
General, he called his former student and partner, Nathan K. Hall, who 
had been a Member of Congress but a single term, to the office of Post- 
master-General. The seeming favoritism occasioned some comment, but 
Mr. Hall's unquestioned integrity, sound judgment and laborious devo- 
tion to duty, well fitted him for the post to which he was called, and it 
is doubtful if it has ever been more worthily filled. 

Congress was still in session when Mr. Fillmore became President, 
and all through the hot summer months it continued to wrestle with 
problems caused, and passions aroused, by the same question of slavery 
which ten years later came to a bloody arbitrament. Both houses at 
length passed the celebrated "Compromise Measures" embodied in five 
acts, which provided for the admission of California, the organization of 
the territories of New Mexico and Utah, without any prohibition of 
slavery, the abolition of the slave-trade in the District of Columbia, and 
the summary return of fugitive slaves, claimed to have escaped from one 
State to another. The President signed them all. The last named act, 
commonly called the Fugitive Slave Law, was strongly denounced by a 
large portion of the Whig party, as well as by a considerable number of 
the Northern Democrats. It is not necessary here to discuss the merits or 
demerits of that law, nor of the compromise measures generally. Not- 
withstanding the opposition just referred to, all those measures were 
sanctioned by a majority of both parties, and for a short time the excite- 
ment regarding slavery sank to comparative quiet. 

Mr. Fillmore's friends were naturally desirous that his own county 
should be represented by some one who approved his course, and it was 
probably for that reason that Solomon G. Haven, the third member of 
the renowned firm of Fillmore, Hall & Haven, was brought forward as a 
candidate for Congress. There was a very earnest contest for the Whig 
nomination, but Mr. Haven carried the Convention, and was duly elected 
in November. 

By the census of 1850, the population of the count}- was 100,993, an 
increase of 22,358 in five years, while that of Buffalo was 42,261, an addi- 
tion of 12,488 to the number in 1845. 

On the 15th of October, 1850, Hamburg, which had stood unchanged 
since 1812, was divided by the Board of Supervisors, who were then 
intrusted with the necessary power. All but the two western tiers of 
lots in Township 9, Range 7, were included in the new town, which 
received the name of EUicott. It was organized by the election of offi- 
cers the next spring. The name was soon changed to East Hamburg. 

Probably the most noticeable locality in the county, at this period, 
was that occupied by the " Ebenezer Society." This Association 01 Ger- 


The Ebenezer Society. 229 

mans, mostly from Rhenish Prussia and Hesse, soon after the final sale of 
the BuflFalo Creek Reservation, had bought of the Ogden Company some 
ten thousand acres of land, embracing the old Indian village, and situated 
in the present town of West Seneca, in the history of which its internal 
structure will be described ; the land being owned in common and con- 
trolled by a board of managers. 

Their residences, which were large, substantial frame buildings, 
capable of holding two or more families, were grouped in two villages, 
and two or three smaller clusters. What most attracted the attention of 
their American neighbors was their method of working. The sight of 
great gangs of men and women, fifty to a hundred in number, engaged 
in the ordinary avocations of a farm, was something entirely new to the 
eyes of Erie county people. Especially striking was it to see in harvest 
time on the rich flats of the Cazenove, a row, half a mile long, of women, 
a few yards apart, reaping with sickles the grain of the community. 
Another curiosity to Yankee eyes was the shepherd, with his little port- 
able residence and his watchful dogs, pasturing his sheep by the road- 
side, and on the grass-bordered paths leading through the grain. By this 
means every spear of grass was saved, and not a spear of grain was lost. 
During the period between 1857 and 1863, the Society sold their land 
in Erie county and moved to Iowa. 

Meanwhile the German element had increased largely in both city 
and country. After the disturbances in Europe in 1848, a fresh impetus 
was given to German emigration. Some brought capital; nearly all 
brought habits of industry, frugality and order which were certain to 
bring them at least a moderate degree of success. Many were added to 
the German settlements in Collins, Eden, Hamburg, Cheektowaga and 
Lancaster, and still larger numbers filled up Batavia and Genesee streets, 
and began to spread over all the northeastern part of Buffalo. 

During the first seven years of the sixth decade of its occupation by 
the whites (1850 to 1857) Erie county enjoyed great general prosperity. 
The farmers, now mostly out of debt, still further improved their property, 
and even the back roads showed hundreds of neat, white houses, with 
outbuildings to correspond. Before their front yards handsome board 
or picket fences superseded the crooked barrier of rails, which still did 
duty around the rest of the farm. As the old well-sweep had been super- 
seded by the windlass, so the latter was now replaced by the still more 
convenient pump. 

It was about this time that the farmers in the pine districts began to 
rid themselves of their veteran stumps. The hard-wood stumps rotted 
down in a few years after the trees were cut, but the pines remained in- 
tact after twenty, thirty, or even forty years of lifelessness, and seemed 
likely to defy the attack of centuries. Machines of various kinds were 
invented, and ere long the business of pulling stumps became an impor- 

230 History of Erie County. 

tant part of the industry of the pine regions. These, when pulled, were 
generally placed in the road-fence, the bottoms of their roots facing out- 
ward, forming one of the most durable, though also one of the homeliest 
enclosures ever known. Notwithstanding the general improvement in 
the rural districts, the amount of grain raised did not increase, as the 
farmers engaged more and more in the dairy business, and in raiding hay, 
potatoes, etc., for the Buffalo market. As a rule the villages remained 
nearly dormant, though a few exceptions were seen. 

On the i6th of October, 185 1, a new town was formed, called "Sen- 
eca." It was entirely a part of the Buffalo Creek reservation, and com- 
prised almost all that part of it previously embraced in the towns of 
Black Rock, Cheektowaga, Hamburg and East Hamburg. The Eben- 
ezer colony comprised the greater part of its inhabitants. As its name 
clashed with one somewhere else in the State, it was changed the next 
spring to " West Seneca." There had been an attempt, two years before, 
by the Board of Supervisors, to organize a town with substantially the 
same boundaries, by the appropriate name of Red Jacket, but it failed, 
and though it seems appropriate that the great orator's home should be 
called after his name, yet we presume the people did not relish the idea 
of being " Red Jackcters." 

Buffalo continued to engulf the business of the county ; its streets 
pushing out in every direction, and its houses overflowing the old city 
line into the town of Black Rock. At length it was determined to extend 
the municipal boundaries, and, as the population was then rapidly increas- 
ing, it was thought best to make the city large enough for all exigencies. 
Accordingly, by a new charter, granted in April, 1853, the whole town 
of Black Rock was included in the city of Buffalo. The new metropolis 
was nine miles long, north and south, by from three to six miles wide, 
with an area of about forty square miles. This magnificent municipal 
domain was divided into thirteen wards, which still remains the number. 

Ever since the division of Amherst, Collinshad been the largest town 
in the county. On the 24th of November, 1852, that part of it north of 
the line between Townships 7 and 8 (except the southernmost tier 
of lots) was formed into a new town called Shirley, the name being 
derived from a little hamlet and post-office two miles southwest of Kerr's 
Corners. But, as in the case of East Hamburg, the inhabitants soon 
became tired of any name which did not remind them of the old town in 
which they had so long resided, and the next spring " Shirley " was 
changed to ** North Collins." 

That same autumn, on the 19th of October, Grand Island was organ- 
ized as a town. Thus, at length, the locality which had been the seat of 
"Governor" Clark's independent nationality, and of Major Noah's 
Hebrew-judge government, was supplied with the more humble, but more 
appropriate, organization of an American town, The population was 

The Town of Marilla Formed. 231 

still sparse, and mostly distributed along the shores of the Island, but 
their isolated position made a separation seem desirable. 

On the 2d day of December, 1853, ^ ^^^ town was formed, called 
Marilla. It comprised all of the old Buffalo Creek reservation within the 
limits of Wales and Alden, except the mile-and-a-half-strip on the north 
side, first sold off. A strip about a mile and a quarter wide, within the 
limits of the survey township, (Township 10, Range 5,) but lying out- 
side and east of the reservation, had for convenience been left in Genesee 
county at the original division, in 1808, so that Marilla is only about four 
and three-fourths miles wide by five and a half long. 

President Fillmore's course, after the passage of the compromise 
acts, was in harmony with his party, and his administration of the 
government was creditable both to his ability and integrity. He was, 
however, considered the leader of the conservative portion of the party, 
and when the Whig National Convention assembled, in 1852, he was 
opposed by all those who considered themselves more progressive, 
especially in regard to slavery. The convention nominated General 
Scott, over both Mr. Fillmore and Mr. Webster. Though his selection 
was looked on as a defeat of the conservatives, yet the " platform '* was 
as decidedly in favor of the compromise measures as Mr. Fillmore him- 
self could have desired. As it turned out, it made but little difference 
who received the nomination, since the Whig party was overwhelmingly 
defeated, and probably would have been with any candidate it could 
have selected, Hon. S. G. Haven was re-elected to Congress. 

Down to this time the Whig party had, during it whole existence, 
maintained complete control of the county, electing every member of 
Congress, every State Senator, nearly every Assemblyman, and all the 
county officers except at the special election in 1847. when there was a 
temporary defection. At each election the result could be predicted 
with almost infallible certainty. But in 1854 came the repeal of the 
Missouri compromise, followed by the general indignation of the North, 
and the taking of steps to organize a new anti-slavery party. Almost at 
the same time the American, or " Know-Nothing," party began its exist- 
ence in secret lodges, which soon spread rapidly over a large portion of 
the country. Its creed of opposition to foreign and papal influence 
found many supporters, but its chief strength was received from the 
conservative members of the Whig party, who saw the time had come 
for abandoning that organization, but were unwilling to join either the 
Democrats or the Anti-Slavery men. The new party made a full set of 
nominations in this State, their candidate for Lieutenant-Governor being 
General Gustavus A. Scroggs, of Buffalo. The Whigs, however, main- 
tained their organization till the fall election, and carried the State. In 
this county, Mr. Haven, who had voted against the Nebraska bill, was 
elected to Congress for the third and last time. 

232 History of Erie County. 

In 1855 the Republican party was organized, and received into its 
ranks a large proportion of the voters of Erie county, but not a majority, 
nor even a plurality. Three tickets were nominated, and for the first 
time in over a quarter of a century, the Democrats carried the county 
at a regular election. 

The next year came the exciting triangular contest between the 
Democrats, Republicans and Americans, the three parties being more 
nearly equal in strength in Erie county than in almost any other in the 
Union. In February, the National American Convention nominated 
Millard Fillmore for the Presidency, with A. J. Donelson, of Tennessee, 
as the Vice-Presidential candidate. But that party, after a few spasmodic 
successes, was already on the wane. In some parts of the country it 
had almost entirely disappeared. Probably Mr. Fillmore's candidacy 
helped to keep it alive in this county and caused the comparative equal- 
ity, just mentioned, between the three parties. Notwithstanding, how- 
ever, all local pride as to the candidate, and notwithstanding the eloquence 
of Solomon G. Haven, who again acted as Mr. Fillmore's lieutenant, 
and was for the fourth time a candidate for Congress, the American 
party was third in the race, even in Erie county, and Israel T. Hatch, 
Democrat, was elected to Congress. 

This was the last appearance of our Erie county President in the 
political field. The remainder of his hfc was passed in quiet and digni- 
fied retirement, mostly at his residence in Buffalo. 

The tide of prosperity', which in the middle of this decade had been 
growing and swelling for ten or twelve years, maintained its onward 
course until the autumn of 1857. The commerce of the West continued 
to roll through Buffalo, leaving golden deposits as it passed. The 
county had a ready market for its produce, and the numerous plank- 
roads teemed with wagons in summer and sleighs in winter, laden with 
hay, grain, potatoes, and other products of the farm. Similar prosperity 
was seen throughout the country, though it was more marked here, in 
consequence of the nearness of a great commercial city. But, as has so 
often been the case, prosperity brought recklessness and over-trading. 
The banks inflated the currency beyond what was necessary for business 
purposes, and again, as in 1837, inflation was followed by disaster. The 
crisis came in the fall of 1857. 

It was not, however, by any means as injurious in its results in this 
section as that of 1 837, both because the preceding speculation and inflation 
.had been less reckless, and because the people were far better prepared to 
meet it. Their farms were paid for, and their houses were seldom 
covered with second and third mortguages, as in the time of the great 
wreck of 1837. There was a good reserve of crops on hand, of valuable 
improvements, and of other actual property, to resist the shock of 
financial disaster. In some parts of the Far West, where there v as no 

Formation of Elma. 233 

such reserve, the hard times which followed the panic of 1857 bore a 
strong resemblance to those consequent on the disaster of 1837, in the 
East. Still, compared with previous prosperity, the times were " hard *' 
throughout 1858 and '59, and had only just begun to be ameliorated 
when the alarm of war gave notice of still severer troubles. 

On the 4th of December, 1857, a new town was formed from that 
part of the Buffalo Creek reservation within the limits of Aurora and 
and Lancaster. As in the case of Marilla, it included the mile-strip on 
the south side, but left the mile-and-a-half-strip, on the north side, in 
Lancaster. It received the name of Elma, in commemoration of a grand 
old elm, near the village of that name. Some cynic, who thought the 
names of Marilla and Elma rather " soft," said that the next new town 
had better be called " Miss Nancy." To the writer, however, " Elma " 
sounds like a very appropriate and euphonious appellation. At all events 
there has been as yet no opportunity to put the suggestion in practice, 
for no town has been formed since that time, and Elma is still the muni- 
cipal baby of the county. 

By 1858 the American party had become so feeble that it was clearly 
seen that its continued existence could be of no practical use. In this 
county it dissolved, some of its members joining the Republicans, some 
the Democrats, and some endeavoring to stand aloof from the constantly 
deepening strife. A combination was formed between the Republicans 
and a portion of the Americans, by which Elbridge G. Spaulding was 
elected Member of Congress. 

The next year the line was pretty closely drawn between Repub- 
licans and Democrats, the former carrying the county, and the " Ameri- 
cans " disappearing from the field. 

The census of i860 showed a population of 141,971 in Erie county, 
of which 81,129 were in the city of Buffalo. It will be seen that there 
were then a trifle over 60,000, outside the city. In 1850 there were 51- 
224 in the country towns, aside from Black Rock, which had since been 
absorbed in Buffalo. The rate of increase in the city, (including Black 
Rock,) was sixty-three percent.; that of the country, sixteen. 

In i860 came the great Presidential contest, the most important since 
the formation of the government. Of the four presidential tickets in the 
field, that headed by Mr. Breckenridge received almost no votes in Erie 
county, and that by Mr. Bell very few. The vote of the county was 
substantially divided between Lincoln and Douglass, the former having 
a majority. Mr. Spaulding was reelected to Congress. 

Scarcely had the rejoicings of the triumphant party ceased, ere there 
came from the South murmurs of discontent and anger. How they 
swelled and increased through all that fateful winter, how State alter 
State fell away from its allegiance, how the whole South resounded with 
preparations for war, need not be recounted here. It is a part of the 

234 History of Erie County. 

Nation's history. Here, as elsewhere throughout the North, men looked 
on in amazement, hoping even to the last for peace, deeming it impos- 
sible that the lunacy of session could ever ripen into the open madness of 
armed rebellion. Few made any preparation for the event, yet nearly 
all were in that angry and excited condition which needs but a word to 
develope into the most determined action. 



The Outbreak — The First Company — The Militia — First Erie County Regiment — Other Organ- 
izations — Erie County in Congress — Origin of the ** Greenbacks " — Another Regiment in 
1862 — Changes in the Board of Supervisors — Events of 1864 — Close of the War — Numer- 
ous Political Changes — The Commercial Barometer — Conclusion of Continuous History. 

ON the 15th of April, 1861, the spark came. The Buffalo morning 
papers contained the news of the bombardment and surrender of 
Fort Sumter. Everywhere men were seen scanning the fateful lines 
with eager gaze, and denouncing to each other the inexcusable treason. 
All business was at a stand-still, save at the printing offices, which every 
hour sent out new editions containing the latest details, which were in- 
stantly purchased by the excited crowd. 

Soon there appeared a call for a meeting at the old court house, at 
half-past seven o*clock that evening, to organize a body of " Minute-men " 
for immediate service. Early in the evening great numbers came hurry- 
ing toward the venerable temple of justice. The court-room was soon 
filled, and Eli Cook was elected Chairman of the meeting. In an eloquent 
speech he declared that the time for discussion had passed, and that all 
must now work together to save their imperiled country. But the peo- 
ple came surging in, in such numbers that it was found necessary to 
adjourn to Kremlin Hall, and still again to the street, in front of the 
American Hotel. After fiery speech(^s had been made by prominent 
men, it was announced that a roll was at the old court house, ready for 
the signatures of volunteers. Away rushed the crowd, and so great was 
the press that it was with difficulty men could get to the table to sign. 
A hundred and two names were taken that evening. 

On the succeeding days there were similar scenes of excitement, 
meetings of citizens, and enrolling of volunteers. On the i8th, General 
Scroggs called a meeting of those who had enrolled their names. A 
portion of them were then organized into the first volunteer company of 

The War of the Rebellion — First Volunteer Regiment. 235 

Erie county. They elected William H. Drew as Captain, R. P. Gardner 
as First Lieutenant, and E. R. P. Shurley as Second Lieutenant. 

In subsequent chapters we shall furnish brief sketches of the gallant 
part acted by the various regiments and batteries, wholly or partially 
raised in Erie county. In this chapter we merely give an outline of 
events connected with Erie county, but outside of the army. 

Meanwhile the news flew into every village and hamlet and farm- 
house in the county, and everywhere awakened the same feelings of 
indignation and patriotism. Owing, however, to the predominant influ- 
ence in the affairs of Erie county, naturally obtained by the great city 
within its borders, separate action was not at first generally taken by the 
towns in organizing volunteers, but their young men began hurrying 
toward Buffalo to enroll themselves as soldiers of the Union. 

The militia regiment also began to prepare for whatever exigencies 
might arise. In response to an inquiry of the Governor, Colonel Chaun- 
cey Abbott, of the 67th, reported two hundred and fifty men ready for 
duty. The 74th and 65th militia regiments established recruiting offices 
in the city. 

On the 3d of May, four companies set out for Elmira, being the first 
soldiers who left the county to defend the Nation's life. On the nth, 
six more companies, principally recruited from the 74th militia, pro- 
ceeded to the same rendezvous, where the ten companies were organized 
into the 21st New York Volunteer Infantry — the first Erie county regi- 
ment — under Colonel William F. Rogers. 

Through the summer, the citizens of the count}- watched the surging 
tide of events with unabated interest, and in July, Major Daniel D. Bidwell, 
of Buffalo, obtained authority to raise another regiment. This was filled 
up principall}'^ from Erie and Chautauqua counties, and went forward in 
September, becoming the 49th New York Infantry. 

Battery I, of the ist New York Artillery, was formed in August 
and September, under Captain Michael Medrich,and went to the front in 
October, besides numerous detachments raised for outside regiments. 
Still another regiment began its career in Erie county, in September. 
This was not filled up until February, 1862, when it was ordered to the 
seat of war as the looth New York Infantry. 

Oddly enough, notwithstanding the Republicans swept the State in 
the autumn of 1861 by over a hundred thousand majority, and although 
they had carried the county the two previous years, yet this time the 
Democrats were at least partially successful, electing both the State Sen- 
ator and Sheriff. 

On the assembling of Congress in December, the member from Erie 
county, Mr. Elbridge G. Spaulding, was placed on the most important 
committee of the house, that of Wa}-^ and Means, of which Thaddeus 
Stevens was Chairman. That Committee soon constituted two sub- 

236 History of Erie County. 

Committees from among its members, to one of which all subjects 
were referred relating to the making of loans, the issuing of Treasury 
notes, and the creation of a currency. Of the latter, Mr. Spaulding 
was Chairman. 

The Secretary of the Treasury had, in his report, opposed the issu- 
ing of Treasury notes, and had recommended that the entire money of 
the country, aside from coin, should be furnished by National banks. At 
the request of the Secretary, Mr. Spaulding drew up a bill embodying 
these views, but, while doing so, became convinced that such a currency 
could not be made available quick enough to meet the enormous and 
pressing demand for money. He therefore drafted a legal-tender, treas- 
ury-note section, which the urgency of the case soon caused him to 
change into a separate bill, which he introduced into the House of Rep^ 
resentatives on his own motion, on the 30th of December, 1861. It pro- 
vided that, for temporar)' purposes, the Secretary of the Treasury was 
authorized to issue $50,000,000 of Treasury -notes, payable on demand, of 
denominations not less than five dollars, which should be a legal-tender 
for all debts public or private, and which should be exchangeable for the 
bonds of the Government at par. This was the germ of the vast " green- 
back " currency of the United States. 

The Committee of Ways and Means was about equally divided in 
regard to it, and it was severely criticised by some financiers. To such 
critics Mr. Spaulding had, in substance, but one reply : — 

" Show us a better way. We shall be out of money in a very brief 
period. Taxes cannot be raised in time. A National-bank act cannot be 
put in operation in time. What is to be done ? ** 

Most of those who were in earnest in support of the Government, 
either favored the bill from the first, or were convinced by Mr. Spauld- 
ing's cogent statement of the case. After considerable hesitation, the 
Secretary of the Treasury gave his assent to it, and a majority of the 
Committee of Ways and Means reported it to the House. There it was 
strongly opposed, not only by leading Democrats, but by a few Republi- 
cans. While it was under discussion. Secretary Chase became urgent in 
its favor, as he found he had no other means to carry on the Govern- 
ment. The amount of currency provided for was changed to $150,000,- 
000, and a section was added providing for §500,000,000 of United States 
bonds, in which these legal-tender notes should be fundable. 

In this shape the bill was passed by the House. The Senate amend- 
ed it so as to provide for the payment of the interest on the bonds in 
coin, which occasioned another hot debate in the House. Mr. Spauld- 
ing and other leaders believed that the coin could not be obtained with- 
out a ruinous sacrifice. Finally the expedient was hit on of providing 
for the payment of the interest in coin, by making the duties on imports 
also payable in coin. In this form, (for the other changes were o< minor 




The Close of the War. 237 

importance) the bill was passed by both Houses, and on the 25th of Feb- 
ruary, 1862, was approved by the President. The Bank Act was not 
passed until a year later, and by that time the " greenbacks " authorized 
by Mr. Spaulding*s bill had become the principal currency of the country, 
and remained so throughout the war. 

After the disasters of the Virginia Peninsula, and the subsequent call 
of the President for 300,000 more volunteers, Governor Morgan divided 
this State into regimental districts, of which Erie county was one, 
appointed a committee of prominent men in each district, to supervise 
the formation of a new regiment. In this county it was pushed rapidly 
forward, and on the 5th of September, the ii6tfi Regiment, under Colonel 
Edward P. Chapin, set out for the front; nearly, or quite every man 
being a citizen of the county of Erie. 

The summer's disasters naturally strengthened the opposition to the 
administration, and at the fall election the county went for the Demo- 
cratic party ; the Hon. John Ganson being elected to Congress by about 
three thousand majority. 

By a law passed in 1862, the representation of Buffalo in the Board 
of Supervisors was increased to three each in the ist, 2d, 4th, 5th and 
6th wards; two each in the 3d, 8th, 9th, loth, nth and 12th wards; and 
one in the 13th ward ; giving a total of thirty-one city members to twenty- 
five country members. This caused general distrust in the towns, and 
the next year the law was again changed so as to give two supervisors to 
each ward of Buffalo except the thirteenth, which was allowed one. By 
this arrangement the city had twenty-five members of the board, being 
the same number which represented the towns — thus preventing any 
unfair advantage on the part of either urban or rural portion of the 
county, although at the expense of an occasional deadlock. This balance 
of power has ever since been retained. 

During 1864, the intense public interest regarding the success of the 
armies in the field and the task of recruiting and supplying them was 
increased to still greater heat by a most exciting presidential election, on 
the result of which in the opinion of a large majority of the Northern 
people the very existence of the Republic depended. In this county, for 
the fourth time the Democratic party was successful, the Hon. James 
M. Humphrey being elected to Congress. 

The next spring saw the close of the great war, and the restoration 
of the National power. During the summer of 1865, the gallant bands of 
Erie county soldiers who had gone forth to defend the Nation's life 
(except the 21st infantry, which had been mustered out on the expira- 
tion of its two years' service in 1863,) came back from fields of carnage 
to lay down their arms and to engage almost instantly in the pursuits 
and labors of peace. Since that time there have been few events in Erie 
county requiring a record here. Human nature is so constituted that 


238 History of Erie County. 

while the story of conflict is almost always perused with eager eye, the 
story of labor needs the mystic touch of time to give it zest. The 
details of the progress of city and towns will be given in the separate 
histories of each, and the wonderful development of railroads around 
the foot of Lake Erie, will be told in the chapter particularly devoted 
to those enterprises ; so there is little left for this continuous record. 

Yet the political changes in Erie county during the last eighteen 
years have been so numerous and so violent as to furnish something of a 
study to those who take an interest in partisan warfare. At the election 
succeeding the close of the war, the Republicans at last obtained a ma- 
jority in Erie county, but Ihe very next year they were dispossessed by 
the Democrats and Hon. James M. Humphrey was re-elected to Congress. 
In 1867 the last-named party retained power, but in 1868 the county went 
over with a rush to the Republican side ; the Grant electoral ticket and 
Hon. David S. Bennett, the Republican candidate for Congress being 
elected by over two thousand majority. 

In 1869 the Republicans still held possession, but the next year the 
Democrats captured all the prizes, the Hon. William Williams being 
elected to Congress. In 1871, the Republicans took their turn, and in 
1872, the year of the Grant and Greeley campaign, the bird of triumph 
seemed to have come to that side to stay ; Hon. Lyman K. Bass, the Re- 
publican nominee for Congress, with all his associates being elected by 
over five thousand majority. Yet the very next year there was a mixed 
result, the Democrats electing one of the candidates for the three leading 
officers, and the Republicans two. With one more turn of the wheel 
(1874,) the Democrats had a majority in everything but Congressman, 
Mr. Bass being re-elected to the National Legislature. The next year 
the Republicans were ahead by three thousand five hundred majority. In 
the Presidential election of 1876, the results were divided; the Hon. 
Daniel N. Lockwood being elected to Congress by the Democrats by a 
small majority. 

In 1877 the Repblicans were decidedly in the advance and again in 
1878, when Hon. Ray V. Pierce was the successful Republican candidate 
for Congress. The next year they still maintained their ascendency. In 
1880, while the Republicans gave a handsome majority for General Gar- 
field and their nominees for the county offices, the Democratic candidate 
for Congress, Hon. Jonathan Scoville, was the winner by a small major- 
ity. Next year the Republican State ticket had a majority in the county, 
while the local candidates of that party were badly defeated. In 1882 
the case was exactly reversed ; the Republicans electing most of their 
local candidates (although General William F. Rogers was successful 
as the Deipocratic nominee for Congress) while their State ticket was 
buried under an enormous adverse vote. The Democratic candidate 
for Governor, Hon. Grover Cleveland, was the first citizen 01 Erie 

Commercial Position of Erie County. 239 

county ever elected Governor of New York, and had the largest majority 
ever cast for Governor in any State of the Union. 

The commercial barometer, during the eighteen years since the 
war, has not changed so often nor aa freakishly as the political, but it 
has been sufficiently variable to fill the votaries of commerce with the 
wildest hopes and the gloomiest fears, to cause the upbuilding of many 
fortunes and the wreck of many others, and to sweep through three 
broad phases of financial experience, most deeply affecting the welfare of 
the Nation. 

In fact, this is a matter more of National than of local history, for 
Erie county has been chiefly affected by the same causes which have 
elevated or depressed the financial fortunes of the country at large, yet 
with a difference. Like the rest of the country it rode on the tide of 
apparent prosperity, when an inflated currency gave fictitious value to 
every description of property ; like the country at large it sank into 
five years of depression, when the bubble burst in 1873 — a depression 
by no means so disastrous as the celebrated "Hard Times" of 1837, 
but more serious than the financial crisis of 1857 — and like the country 
at large it regained and has retained prosperity during 1879 ^^^ ^^^ 
succeeding years. 

But regarding this last phase there seem to be elements of larger 
increase and greater permanence than are elsewhere observed, at least in 
the Eastern States. The commercial value of the position at the foot of 
Lake Erie seems never before to have been so thoroughly appreciated 
as now. Railroads are centering here from every direction, and now 
more plainly than ever before the county of Erie is seen to be the 
great natural gateway between the East and West. It is the gateway 
through which the warriors of the " Long House" sped on their errands 
of slaughter; through which the French explorers, traders, priests and 
soldiers passed on their various missions of peace and war, through 
which the red-coated English marched to dispossess both their Indians 
and Gallic foes, through which passed a little later a host of American 
farmers and mechanics, superseding the adventurers of all nations and 
seizing fast hold of the soil itself, the source of all National greatness 
and endurance, through which for more than fifty years has swept a 
vast tide of emigration from other lands into the fertile regions of 
the mighty West, and through which now rolls an ever-increasing tide 
of commerce, never surpassed, in one narrow channel, in the history 
of the world. 

240 History of Erie County. 



The First Company — Four Companies go to Elmira— The Rest Follow — Organisation of the 
Regiment— Roster of OflScers — Dispute about Length of Term— Men Imprisoned — 
Off to Washington— In Garrison at Fort Runyon — Bull's Run — In Wadsworth's Brigade — 
At Upton Hill through the Winter — Fort Buffalo — Parting with Wadsworth — Operations 
in the Spring — The Twenty-First at Fredericksburg — Its Farthest Southern Point — Weary 
Marches— Conflict of July 28th — Second Bull Run — Hard Fighting — Attacking a 
Railroad Embankment — Men Falling Fast— The Attack Repulsed — Fight Continued — 
Pope's Army Defeated — Heavy Losses of the Twent-First — Sufferings of the Wounded 

— The Twenty-First at South Mountain — At Antietam — Driving the Enemy — The 
Campaign of Fredericksburg — Provost Duty — Return Home and Discharge — Changes 
Among Officers— Final Roster — Thirty-Third Infantry — Richmond Guards— In Virginia 

— Brigaded with the Forty-Ninth — The Thirty-Third at Yorktown— At Golden's Farm — 
At Mary's Heights— Discharge — Forty-Fourth Infantry — Company A — Battles of the 
Regiment — Changes Among Officers of Company A. 

Twenty-First Infantry. 

AS stated in the last chapter, the first company of Erie county vol- 
unteers was organized at Buffalo by the election of officers on the 
1 8th day of April 1861, but probably the ranks were not then full, 
as the muster-in rolls showed that the company was not legally organiz- 
ed until the first day of May. By the 3d of May, three more companies 
had been formed, (though these two were not legally organized until 
somewhat later,) and all four set out from Buffalo for Elmira, which had 
been designated as the rendezvous for the volunteers of Western New 
York. An immense number of people witnessed their departure. They 
were escorted to the Erie railroad depot by the '* Union Continentals," a 
body of elderly citizens, who had donned the old " Continental " Uniform 
and organized themselves into a company, with ex-President Fillmore as 
Captain, to encourage warlike spirit among the more youthful part of the 
community. At Niag^ara Square a short halt was made, and a handsome 
flag was presented to the volunteers, by the young ladies of the Central 
School, represented by Miss Julia Paddock. On arriving at Elmira, the 
four companies went into camp and awaited the arrival of the other six. 

These were rapidly formed, several companies of the 74th Militia 
being used as puclei of the new organizations. On the nth of May, the 
remaining six companies proceeded to Elmira, where the wliole ten were 
speedily organized into a regiment which took the name of the Twenty- 
first New York Volunteer Infantry. The line officers were elected by 

The Twenty-First New York Volunteers. 241 

the men of their respective companies, and the former then chose 
the field officers. The following is the first roster of the officers, 
with the total number 61 officers and men in each company, and the 
time it was organized, according to the muster rolls officially published 
by the State :— 

FtWd and Staff. — Colonel, William F. Rogers ; Lieutenant-Colonel, 
Adrian R. Root ; Major, William H. Drew ; Adjutant, C. W. Sternberg ; 
Surgeon, H. P. Clinton; Assistant-Surgeon, J. A. Peters; Chaplam, 
John E. Robie. 

Company A. — Captain, Robert P. Gardner; Lieutenants, Levi Vallier 
and Charles S. McBeau; organized May i, 1861; seventy-seven officers 
and men. 

Company B. — Captain, Henry M. Gaylord ; Lieutenants, Algar M. 
Wheeler and James J. McLeish ; organized May 10, 1861 ; seventy-seven 
officers and men. 

Company C. — Captain, J. P. Washburn; Lieutenants, Allen M. Adams 
and John H. Canfieid; organized May 18, 1861 ; seventy-seven officers 
and men. 

Company D. — Captain, William C. Alberger ; Lieutenants, George 
M. Baker and William F. Wheeler; organized May 8, 1861 ; seventy-seven 
officers and men. 

Company E. — Captain, James C. Strong ; Lieutenants, Charles E. 
Efner and Thomas Sloan; organized May 7, 1861 ; sixty-six officers 
and men. 

Company F. — Captain, George DeWitt Clinton ; Lieutenants, Thomas 
B. Wright and Charles B. Darrow ; organized May 7, 1861 ; seventy-seven 
officers and men. 

Company G. — Captain, Edward L. Lee ; Lieutenants, Daniel Meyers, 
Jr., and J. E. Bergtold ; organized May 12, 1861 ; seventy-seven officers 
and men. 

Company H. — Captain, Elisha L. Hay ward; Lieutenants, Samuel 
Wilkesonand Hugh Johnson ; organized May i, 1861 ; seventy-one officers 
and men. 

Company /. — Captain, Horace G. Thomas; Lieutenants, Abbott C. 
Calkins and William O. Brown, Jr.; organized May i, 1861 ; seventy- 
four officers and men. 

Company K. — Captain, John M. Layton ; Lieutenants, Augustus N. 
Gillett and John Nicholson; organized May 18, 1861 ; (accepted April 
23d) ; seventy-four officers and men. 

These, with the seven field and staff officers and the f6ur non-com- 
missioned staff officers, shown on the roll, make an aggregate of seven 
hundred and forty-one officers and men in the regiment when it was 
sworn into the United States service. All were from Erie county, and 
nearly all were from Buffalo. 

The men had enlisted at Buffalo for two years, but through some 
blunder they were mustered into the United States service for only three 
months. The mistake was one of the many caused by the organization 
of a large army almost at a moment's notice. At the end of the three 
months a part of the men demanded their release, though the majority 
were willing to serve during the time originally agreed upon. Those 

242 History of Erie County. 

who had had enough of war declared that, though they might be held 
to two years' service by the State of New York, they could not be 
retained beyond three months by the United States. Governor Morgan 
sought to avoid this difficulty by transferring the State's authorit}' over 
them to the United States. The legality of this proceeding was dispu- 
ted, but after considerable trouble all but forty-one men agreed to per- 
form service during the remainder of the two years. The forty-one who 
positively refused to do so were confined in Fortress Monroe, but were 
subsequently released on their promising to do duty, and serve out their 
time in another regiment. 

On the i8th of June, the Twenty-first proceeded by rail from Elmira 
to Washington, where it remained until the fore part of July. It was 
then moved across the Potomac, being stationed at Fort Runyon, about 
two miles west of the Virginia end of the famous ** Long Bridge." One 
company, however, was stationed directly at the bridge, and one at the 
Navy yard in Washington. Here the regiment remained nearly two 
months, acquiring the elements of soldiership, and drilling not only as 
infantry, but as artillery ; so as to be able to repel an assault, if one should 
be made upon the fort. 

Here, early in the morning of Monday, the next day after the 
battle of Bull Run, the men of the Twenty-first saw the first fugitives 
from the beaten army come straggling back from the fatal field, and all 
day they watched the demoralized throng containing hardly a single 
regiment that was not utterly broken up, come surging back toward 
the Long Bridge. At first the runaways were allowed to pass, but 
ere long the Twenty-first was ordered to stop them, in order that 
they might be re-organized on the west side of the river. Near night 
two companies of the regiment were sent out as skirmishers, remain- 
ing on the skirmish line two or three days. There they saw their first 
armed rebels, being some cavalry who rode up, took a look at them 
and rode away. 

It was not until the latter part of August, 1861, that the regiment 
was assigned to a brigade, at which time it was made a part of the one 
commanded by the lamented General James S. Wadsworth, of Geneseo. 
Some time was spent near Arlington Heights, where a part of a fort was 
built by the regiment, but ere long it was removed to Upton Hill, located 
five or six miles a little north of west from Fort Runyon. This was its 
abiding place during the winter of 1861 and *62, being engaged in drill and 
other routine duties, with an occasional reconnoisance. While there, also, 
the men erected a fort a little westward of Upton Hill, on high ground, 
overlooking the valley in which Falls church is situated. To this, in 
honor of the city where they were organized, the name of " Fort 
Buffalo " was given. It remained throughout the war one of the 
prominent defenses of Washington. 

In Wadsworth's Brigade. 243 

In March, 1862, Wads worth's brigade advanced to Centerville. 
While there the General was relieved of the command and ordered to 
Washington, and the action of the brigade shows the feeling which 
always prevailed on the part of the men under his command toward that 
kindly gentleman, true patriot, and gallant soldier. His removal from 
the command was known in the brigade less than an hour before his de- 
parture, but by a spontaneous movement all the men not on duty hastened 
to his quarters, and when he mounted his horse to go he found them 
ranged on either side of the road ready to greet him with the warmest and 
most heartfelt cheers. The old General, who though long past middle 
age had left a luxurious home to aid his stricken country, was deeply 
touched by the devotion of his soldiers, and after thanking them, with 
the tears standing in his eyes, he promised never to forget them ; and in 
fact, as long as the brigade existed he never came into its vicinity with- 
out visiting it. He was succeeded by General Marsena R. Patrick, a 
strict disciplinarian, at first not much admired by the volunteers, but 
afterwards well liked on account of his thorough impartiality, his bravery 
in battle, and his zealous care for the welfare of his men. 

Soon afterwards, the brigade moved back to Alexandria. After Gen- 
eral McClellan removed to the Peninsula with his main army, Patrick's 
brigade, as a part of McDowell's corps, marched to Fairfax Court House 
and other points, and finally arrived at Fredericksburg, where it camped 
on the north side of the Rappahannock. Here the Twenty-first remained 
until the middle of the summer, except for a short time when it marched 
to re-enforce General Banks. During most of this period, Company C 
was headquarter guard for General McDowell. 

After the regiment returned from Banks' army, it was encamped on 
the south side of the Rappahannock, on the heights south of Fredericks- 
burg. While there, two companies, acting as guard for a train, had a 
skirmish with some Confederate cavalry, which they easily repelled, on 
a branch of the Mattapony river. This, we believe, was the farthest 
southern point reached by any of the Twenty-first New York. 

A week or two later, McClellan's army began to arrive at Freder- 
icksburg, after the disastrous campaign of the Peninsula. All the Union 
forces in Virginia were placed under the command of General Pope. 
Then came long and weary marches in rapid succession. The Twenty- 
first moved to Cedar Mountain to aid Banks, but arrived there after he 
had been defeated. He and his opponents were both gone, and the 
Twenty-first encamped on the side of the mountain. A day or two later 
it retreated to Culpepper Court House, whence it moved to Rappahan- 
nock Station. From there it marched up the Rappahannock toward the 
enemy, coming in conflict with some of the rebel troops at long range, 
but suffering no loss, although cannon balls and sharp-shooters' bullets 
frequently fell in unpleasant proximity. 

244 History of Erie County. 

At length Patrick's Brigade reached Warrenton Springs, and the 
signs of impending conflict grew more numerous. Clouds of dust were 
seen rising in various directions where Union and Confederate columns 
were moving to secure what their Generals considered the most desir- 
able positions. The next march was to Gainesville, where the men 
bivouacked, with their arms by their sides. The following day Patrick's 
Brigade moved out toward the enemy on the Warrenton turnpike. A 
Wisconsin brigade was posted just in advance of it, and became warmly 
engaged with the rebels. Both parties held their position until dark. 
Late in the afternoon the Twenty-first was placed in the skirmish line 
on the left of the Wisconsin brigade, and at dark was moved past that 
brigade into the same wood in which the rebels were posted, where it 
remained during the night. 

The following day, August 29th, the Brigade marched to the point 
where the Warrenton turnpike crosses a branch of Bull Run. On its way 
it passed General Fitz John Porter's Corps, at the time and place where 
he was charged with refusing to attack the enemy according to orders. 
Before King's Division, which included Patrick's Brigade, reached Bull 
Run, the troops of Kearney, Hooker, and other Generals had driven 
back the rebels, and the men of the Twenty-first again bivouacked by 
the side of their arms.* 

On the 30th the Brigade was driven from its position by Rebel shells, 
but moved only a short distance back. Until 3 o'clock the Union troops 
were concentrating from right and left to meet the expected foe. At 
that hour the conflict known as the Second Battle of Bull Run, began. 
At first Patrick's Brigade was in the second line of battle, with another, 
under General Hatch, in a piece of woods in front of it. Then the last 
mentioned force was moved to the right, and Patrick's Brigade marched 
into line on its left. As it emerged from the woods on the farther side, 
the rebels opened with artillery and musketry from a railroad embank- 
ment held by them. The Twenty-first knelt down behind a rail fence, 
and steadily returned the fire. 

Presently advance was ordered, the men sprang over the fence and 
moved rapidly toward the embankment. The bullets flew thick among 
them, and men fell fast all along the line. Sergeant Bishop fell with the 
flag only a few steps from the fence. Corporal Sheldon raised it and fell 
dead a moment later. But others quickly raised it again, and bore it 
onward. Nearly every man of the Color Guard was killed or wounded, 
and scores of others fell on either side. 

It was found impossible to seize the embankment, and the men were 
ordered to shelter themselves as best they could in a dry ditch about half 
way between the fence from whence they had started and the railroad. 
An active fire was kept up between the ditch and the embankment. Col- 
onel Rogers walking along the edge of the ditch and steadily directing 

The Second Battle of Bull Run. 245 

the men. At length the enemy turned the right of the line, and the 
shattered remnant of the Twenty-first was ordered to rally around its 
colors and move slowly back to the wood. As is well known, Pope's 
army was entirely defeated, and compelled to retire toward Washington, 
though not in such wild disorder as marked the retreat from the same 
ground a year before. 

Of the four hundred officers and men, (or a little over) of the Twenty- 
first who made that attack on the embankment, fifty were killed and a 
hundred and thirteen seriously wounded, besides many others slightly 
wounded. Eleven officers were killed or wounded. Captain Washburn 
and Lieutenant Whiting were killed and Lieutenant Mulligan was mor- 
tally wounded. Colonel Rogers was slightly and Major Thomas severely 
wounded. Captains Lee, Canfield and Wheeler and Lieutenants Efner, 
Barney and Myers were also wounded. 

When the Union troops retired, the Confederates swept over the field, 
found many wounded, and some it must be admitted who were unhurt. 
When the order was given to " rally on the colors " these preferred stay- 
ing in the ditch. These the rebels took with them in their hurried march. 
To the badly wounded they merely said " You are prisoners," and passed 
rapidly on. 

This was Saturday, and it was not until the next Saturday, a full 
week later that all of the wounded were removed from the battle ground. 
For a day or two the triumphant rebels refused to allow ambulance 
trains to pass from Washington. This, however, they permitted' by 
Monday, when some Confederate officers came upon the field and an 
arrangement was made by which the wounded prisoners were paroled or 
exchanged where they lay. Surgeons came out from Washington and 
men were sent over the battle-field — or fields, for that whole region had 
been fought over for several days — with stretchers and ambulances, to 
bring the wounded men together at a central point, where some of the 
most necessary surgical operations were performed. Surgeons and assis- 
tants were alike overwhelmed with labor, and it was not until Wednes- 
day or Thursday that all were even brought together. Many suffered 
for lack of food and more from lack of attendance. Even after they were 
collected at one point they lay, with little food, under the open sky, and 
as before said it was not until Saturday that all were removed to the 
hospitals at Washington. 

Meanwhile the Twenty-first, or what was left of it, with its comrade 
regiments, marched, sad and dispirited, to Germantown and Upton Hill, 
and finally to Washington. McClellan being restored to the command 
of the army, it moved northward to meet the enemy, who had crossed 
into Maryland. On the 14th day of September, Hooker's corps, pre- 
viously commanded by McDowell, came in contact with the Confeder- 
ates on the slopes of South Mountain. With the Twenty-first and Thirty. 

246 History of Erie County. 

fifth New York, covering the front as skirmishers, the corps moved 
steadily up the mountain, driving back the enemy's skirmishers and then 
his main line. The Twenty-first secured a well-protected position, so 
located that the Confederates were obliged to drive it away or retire 
themselves from its front. They made a gallant attempt to dislodge it, 
but were driven back with heavy loss, falling in large numbers all along 
the front of the Erie county regiment. So well were the latter sheltered 
that their whole loss consisted of four men wounded, one mortally. 

South Mountain being firmly secured by the Union army without 
serious difficulty, that army pressed forward to the banks of Antietam 
creek, and on the i6th of September the battle of Antietam was fought 
between the armies of McClellan and Lee. The Twenty-first was hotly 
engaged. After a long and steady interchange of musketry with the 
Confederates in its front, a test which the men bore like veterans, they 
fixed bayonets, charged fiercely on the foe and drove him in hot haste 
from what he had considered a secure position. In fact, in their enthu- 
siasm they got so far in advance of their brigade that General Patrick 
ordered them back into line. The rebels seemed to think they were giv- 
ing way and came yelling in their rear, but the Erie county men again 
faced about, charged, and drove them back again with severe loss. 

Meanwhile, the battle raged fiercely over a wide field. The enemy 
was slowly pressed back, and though not entirely routed was so severely 
punished that the next day he gave up the contest and retreated toward 
the Potomac. In the Twenty-first seventeen men were killed, while 
Captain Gardner, Lieutenants Vallier and Hickcy and fifty-three men 
were wounded. As there were but few over two hundred men in the 
ranks at the beginning of the battle, this was proportionately a very 
severe loss. 

The army followed the rebels across the Potomac, and again took up 
its position in Northern Virginia. A general advance was expected, but 
General McClellan declared it impracticable, and at length he was 
removed from the command, which was transferred to General Burnside. 
General Paul was placed at the head of the brigade previously com- 
manded by General Patrick. 

After several weeks of preparation, and much marching in the cold 
and mud of late autumn, General Burnside led his army against the Con- 
federates, well posted and well intrenched, behind the Rappahannock, at 
Fredericksburg. The result, as is well known, was the severe defeat of 
the Union arms at that place on the 12th of December, 1862. Fortunately 
for the decimated Twenty-first it was kept in reserve on the north side 
of the Rappahannock, and suffered but little loss, although on the 13th it 
had one man killed and three wounded by the Confederate artillery 
firing across the river. 

The men suffered greatly however from cold, and rain, and snow, 
both at the time of the fight and during the subsequent retreat. From 

Muster Out of the Twenty-First. 247 

these discomforts it was relieved, to a great degree, before the end of the 
year, as, on account of its hard service and weak numbers, it was trans- 
ferred to its old commander, General Patrick, then acting as Provost- 
Marshal of the Army of the Potomac. The regiment was retained on 
the comparatively easy duty of provost-guard until the end of its term. 
It was ordered home the last of April. When all its members were 
recalled from hospital and special duty it had four hundred and ninety- 
five officers and men. These proceeded by rail to Buffalo, where a grand 
ovation was tendered them, as they formed the first regiment which had 
returned to Erie county from the seat of war. Besides the decrease in 
the number of men, numerous changes had taken place among the offi- 
cers. Lieutenant-Colonel Root had been made Colonel of the Ninety- 
fourth New York, and Captain Strong, Lieutenant-Colonel of the Thirty- 
eighth New York ; both of these officers subsequently becoming Briga- 
dier-Generals. Captain Alberger became Lieutenant-Colonel of the Forty- 
ninth New York in the summer of 1861. Major Drew had been com- 
missioned as Lieutenant-Colonel in place of Alberger, but had resigned in 
September, 1862. Captain Thomas had been promoted to Major, but 
had also resigned. Adjutant Sternberg had been promoted to Major in 
September, 1862, and to Lieutenant-Colonel in December, 1862. Cap- 
tain Lee had succeeded him as Major. The following were the officers 
of the Twenty-first when it was mustered out of service, according to 
the report of the Adjutant-General of the State : — 

Field and Staff. — Colonel, William F. Rogers, (Brevet Brigadier- 
General); Lieutenant-Colonel, Chester W. Sternberg; Major. Edward 
F. Lee ; Adjutant, Samuel P. Gail; Quartermaster, Albert F. Ransom ; 
Surgeon, Seth French ; Assistant Surgeons, Thomas W. Johnson and 
Charles B. Fry ; Chaplain, John E. Robie. 

Captains, — Robert P. Gardner, Algar M. Wheeler, George L. Rem- 
ington, Byron Schermerhorn, Allen M. Adams, George De Witt Clinton, 
Daniel Myers, Jr., Levi Vallier, Peter C. Doyle, (Brevet-Major), and 
John M. Layton. 

First-Lieutenants, — ^John E. Ransom, James J. McLeish, George 
Hurst, Henry C. Beebe, Charles E. Efner, Frederick Minery, Samuel 
McMurray, Jacob E. Bergtold, Henry H. Halsey and James S. 

Second-Lieutenants, — John W. Davock, Francis Myers, Daniel Blatch- 
ford, James S. Go wans, Harmanus H. Bridges, Wilham B. Jewett, John 
McCabe, Gayer Gardner and George T. Cook. 

Immediately after its arrival in Buffalo the regiment was disbanded, 
but a large mumber of its members subsequently re-entered the serviqe 
and continued battling to the end of the war for the existence and wel- 
fare of their country. 

Thirty-Third Infantry. 

Soon after the fall of Fort Sumter, Theodore B. Hamilton, of Buf- 
falo, raised a company of Infantry, which for a time was called the Rich- 

248 History of Erie County. 

mend Guards, in honor of the late Dean Richmond. Its ranks were 
speedily filled, when it proceeded to Elmira under the following officers : 
Captain, Theodore B. Hamilton ; First-Lieutenant, Alexis E. Ensta- 
phieve ; Second Lieutenant, Ira V. Germain. 

There it united with other companies (from Ontario and ad- 
joining counties) to form the Thirty-third New York Infantry, which 
was organized on the 2ist day of May, 1861, although it was only mus- 
tered into service (for two years from the date of organization) on the 
3d day of July following ; the Richmond Guards ^became Company G. 
Five days later the Regiment set out for Washington, and after remain- 
ing two months in and near that city, it crossed into Virginia. It con- 
structed Fort Ethan Allen, about six miles northwest of Washington, 
and remained in that vicinity until the following spring, having occa- 
sionally slight skirmishes with a rebel scouting party. 

During this time it was made a part of the Third brigade of Gen- 
eral W. F. Smith's division, along with the Forty-ninth and Seventy- 
seventh New York, and Seventh Maine, and remained in that brigade 
till it was mustered out. A g(*.neral idea of its services can therefore be 
gained by reading the sketch of the Forty-ninth New York, down to 
the battle of Chancellorsville, and as the Thirty-third contained but one 
Erie county company, we will refer the reader to that sketch. 

On two or three occasions, however, the last named regiment hap- 
pened to be more warmly engaged than the Forty -ninth. On the 6th 
of April the Thirty-third had a sharp skirmish near Yorktown, in which 
St. Gale and several privates of Company G were wounded. 

On the 28th of June, while the Thirty-third, with two companies of 
a Pennsylvania regiment, was holding the picket line near Golden's 
farm, they were furiously attacked by two full Confederate regiments, 
who drove them back a short distance, capturing Captain Hamilton of 
Company G, and several of his men. The New Yorkers and Pennsyl- 
vanians then made a stand, reserving their fire until the enemy was 
close at hand, when they poured in a murderous volley, and the Confed- 
erates fled in great confusion. The latter again charged and were again 
repulsed. Colonel Lamar^ of the Eighth Georgia, called them forward 
once more, but fell dangerously wounded and was taken prisoner, when 
the rebels finally fled, leaving ninety -one dead on the field, and many 
wounded. Captain Hamilton was soon exchanged. 

On the 3d day of May, 1863, the Thirty-third was one of twenty- 
four regiments selected to storm Mary's Heights, south of Fredericks- 
burg, and most gallantly did it perform that duty. While leading a 
charge' against a heavy battery it had six color-bearers shot down in a 
few moments, and seventy men killed and wounded, but in spite of this 
the colors were still borne aloft, the Regiment still swept forwaid, and 
the battery was captured. 

Thirty-Third Infantry — Forty-Fourth Infantry. 249 

Then, as related in the sketch of the Forty-ninth, Sedgwick's com- 
mand pushed toward Chancellorsville, but was attacked from the left at 
Salem Heights, and compelled to re-cross the Rappahannock. In this 
conflict the Thirty-third suffered stilf more severely than before, and it is 
estimated that it had two hundred and fifty men killed, wounded and 
captured in the Chancellorsville campaign. 

During its term Captain Hamilton, of Company G, had been pro- 
moted to Lieutenant-Colonel of the Sixty-second New York Infantry. 
At the muster-out the officers of Company G, were Captain George A. 
Gale, promoted from First Sergeant ; First Lieutenant George W. Mar- 
shall, promoted from Sergeant, and Second Lieutenant Byron F. Crain, 
promoted from Corporal. 

Forty-Fourth Infantry. 

The Forty-fourth New York Infantry, commonly known as the 
Ellsworth Regiment, was raised in various parts of the State during the 
summer of 1861, and was mustered into the United States' service from 
the 30th of August till the 15th of October in that year. Company A 
was raised in Erie county, its first officers being Edward P. Chapin, 
Captain; George M. LovCj First Lieutenant ; and Benjamin K. Kimberly, 
Second "Lieutenant. 

The regiment soon joined the Army of the Potomac, and remained in 
it till the close of the war, taking part in the conflicts at Yorktown, 
Hanover Court House, Gaines* Mill, Malvern Hill, Second Bull Run, 
Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Jones' Cross 
Roads, Rappahannock Station, Mine Run, Wilderness, Spottsylvania, 
North Anna, Bethesda Church, Weldon Railroad and Siege of Peters- 
burg. It was mustered out of service on the nth of October, 1864; 
the re-enlisted veterans and the recruits being transferred to the One 
Hundred and Fortieth and One Hundred and Forty-sixth New York 

Captain Chapin was promoted to Major in January, 1862, and in 
August following was discharged to accept the Colonelcy of the One 
Hundred and Sixteenth New York. Lieutenant Love was promoted to 
Captain in place of Chapin, and was likewise discharged in August, 1863, 
being appointed Major of the One Hundred and Sixteenth. Lieutenant 
Kimberly was promoted to First Lieutenant in January, 1863, and to 
Captain in May, 1863. He was mustered out with the regiment. 

2SO History of Erie County. 



Organization of the 49ih — Roster of Officers — To New York and Washington — Preparation — 
Movement to the Peninsula — Williamsburg — Gallantry of the 49th — Mechanicsville — 
The Retreat — Return to Alexandria — Too Late for Second Bull Run — Antietam — Fred- 
ericksburg — Chancellorsville — Capture of Mary's Heights — Re-crossing the Rappahan- 
nock — Accession from the 33rd — Extraordinary March — Gettysbui^ — Winter Quarters — 
The Great Campai^ — Wilderness — Spottsylvania — Cold Harbor — Heavy Losses — 
Fort Stevens — On the Shenandoah — Opequan Creek — Discharge of Non-Veterans — 
Consolidation into a Battalion — Cedar Creek — Death of Bidwell — Back to Petersburg — 
Capture of the Last Stronghold — Return and Discharge — Roster of Officers at Muster-out 

— List of Battles — Sixty-Fourth Infantry — Company A, from Erie County — Its Battles 

— Various Officers — Seventy-Eighth Infantry — One Company from Erie County — Its 
Battles, etc. 

FoRTY-NiNTH Infantry. 

ON the 25th day of July, 1861, Governor Morgan issued a proclama- 
tion, calling for twenty-five thousand more volunteers from the State 
of New York, to serve three years, or during the war ; their ren- 
dezvous being established at New York, Albany and Elmira. The details 
of organization were set forth in an order from the office of the Adju- 
tant-General of the State, issued five days later. 

On the 25th of July, there was a meeting of the Buffalo Committee 
on the Defense of the Union, at which were present Major F. A. Alber- 
ger, Messrs. H. W. Rogers and Jason Sexton, of the citizen's branch 
of the committee, and Aldermen A. S. Bemis, E. P. Dorr, James Adams, 
Edward Storck, A. A. Howard and C. C. Felton, of the Common Coun- 
cil. The committee adopted a resolution to furnish subsistence and 
other aid in raising another regiment of infantry, and requested Major 
Daniel D. Bidwell to superintend its formation. Major Bidwell ac- 
cepted the task thus offered, with the understanding on all sides that he 
was to be the Colonel of the regiment, though this of course could not 
be finally determined until it was organized. He was then about forty- 
five years old, and was a son of Buffalo's pioneer ship-builder, Benjamin 
Bidwell. He had long been a zealous officer of militia, and had gained 
considerable celebrity as the commander of " Company D," an organiza- 
tion unsurpassed as to drill or discipline in the State. 

On the 30th of July, Colonel Bidwell issued his first recruiting com- 
missions. These were speedily followed by others, several being sent 
to citizens of Chautauqua county, and the work of raising the new regi- 

Roster of Officers. 251 

ment was pushed rapidly forward. In the fore part of September, the 
various companies and detachments were assembled at Buffalo, and on 
the i6th, the regiment, though not quite full, set out for New York. 
There several detachments were consolidated, a compan)^ from West- 
chester count}' was added, the officers were commissioned and the regi- 
ment received the name of the Forty-ninth New York Volunteer Infan- 
try. The following is a roster of the officers, with the number of officers 
and men in each company and the locality where it was raised, accord- 
ing to the muster-rolls published by the State : — 

Field and Staff, — Colonel, Daniel D. Bid well ; Lieutenant-Colonel, 
William C. Alberger : Major, George W. Johnson ; Adjutant, William 
D. Bullymore ; Quartermaster, Henry D. Tillinghast ; Surgeon, James 
A. Hall; Assistant-Surgeon, William W. Potter; Chaplain, Rev. John 

Company A. — Captain, Henry N. Marsh : Lieutenants, Philip S. 
Cottle and Thomas F. Cluney ; ninet)--five officers and men; raised at 
and near Fredonia, Chautauqua county. 

Comyany B. — Captain, John F. E. Plogsted : Lieutenants, Frederick 
Von Gayl and William Wuerz ; seventj-five officers and men ; raised at 

Company C — Captain, Charles H. Palmer ; Lieutenants, Gilbert J. 
Greene and William T. Wiggins; ninety-five officers and men ; raised at 
and near Port Chester, Westchester count}-, and in the city of New 

Company D, — Captain, William F. Wheeler ; Lieutenants, George 
H. Selkirk and Peter A. Taylor ; ninet)' officers and men ; raised at 

Company E. — Captain, Reuben B. Heacock; Lieutenants, George 
W. Gilman and William Ellis ; one hundred and six officers and men ; 
raised at Buffalo. 

Company F. — Captain, Erasmus W. Haines ; Lieutenants, Charles 
H. Bidwell and Clarence A. Hickmott ; seventy-nine officers and men ; 
raised at Buffalo. 

Company G, — Captain, Jeremiah C. Drake ; Lieutenants, Philip 
Stevens and Justin G. Thompson ; ninety-one officers and men ; raised 
in Chautauqua county. 

Company H- — Captain, Charles H. Moss ; Lieutenants, Andrew W. 
Brazee and Henry D. Hall; ninety-three officers and men; raised in 
Niagara county. 

Company /. — Captain, Erastus D. Holt ; First-Lieutenant, James A. 
Boyd; Second-Lieutenant not then mustered; sixty-seven officers and 
men ; raised in Chautauqua county. 

Company K. — Captain, Alonzo M. Marsh ; Lieutenants, Andrew J. 
Bowen and Elial F. Carpenter ; ninety-one officers and men ; raised in 
Chautauqua county. 

The Forty-ninth proceeded from New York to Washington on the 
2ist of September. It was ere long assigned to the Third Brigade in the 
division commanded by General W. F. Smith, and remained in it 
throughout its term of service. Its comrade regiments in the beginning 
were the Thirty-third and Seventy-seventh New York and the Seventh 

252 History of Erie County. 

Maine. Through the autumn and winter the regiment, with its brigade 
was encamped a short distance from Washington, on the Virginia side 
of the Potomac, engaged in drilhng and other duties preparatory to the 
more active scenes of a soldier's life. While there it took part in the bat- 
tle of Duanesville, but without suffering much loss. 

In Marchj 1862, the regiment proceeded with the army of the Poto- 
mac to Fortress Monroe. It participated in the siege of Yorktown, and 
then marched with the army up the peninsula toward Richmond ; the 
Third Brigade being then commanded by General Davidson. At the 
battle of Williamsburg that brigade and Hancock's, both under the com- 
mand of that General, were ordered to turn the enemy's right. They 
succeeded in gaining a desirable position, and then a brisk interchange 
of musketry took place. Ere long the rebels made a gallant charge on 
the two brigades. The latter made a countercharge and after a short 
but desperate fight the Confederates were defeated, and this decided the 
whole battle in favor of the Union army. General McCIellan personally 
thanked the regiments of the two brigades mentioned, declaring that 
while others had done well, they had won the fight. In May the brigade 
was transferred to the Sixth Corps, in which it remained throughout 
the war. 

The Forty-ninth, %vith its brigade, was also in a sharp fight at 
Mechanicsville, on the 23d of May, driving back the enemy without 
difficulty, and capturing the town. The brigade then marched back to 
Gaines* Mill, on the east bank of the Chickahominy, where it was stationed 
during the battle of Fair Oaks. On the 5th of June it crossed the Chicka- 
hominy to Golden's Farm, where it remained three weeks. On the 27th 
of June occurred the battle of Gaines' Mill, or Gaines' Farm, just across 
the Chickahominy. General McCIellan then, if not before, determined 
to retreat to the James River. That night all the troops on the east side 
crossed the Cnickahominy. • On the 28th the enemy made a fierce attack 
at Golden's farm. They did not succeed in driving the Union troops 
away, but they inflicted severe loss, and made a retreat more imperative 
than before. Then followed the wearisome retreat to Malvern Hill, 
Smith's Division, of which the Forty-ninth formed a part, was not very 
seriously engaged during the retreat, although it was under fire at Savage 
Station, and was subjected to a heavy cannonade at White Oak Swamps 
on the 30th of June. 

After the battle of Malvern Hill, the Fort)'-ninth retreated down the 
James river, with the rest of the Army, to Harrison's Landing. There 
it remained six weeks, during which time the brigade built a large fort. 
About the middle of August the Sixth corps marched to Hampton where 
it embarked'on shipboard, reaching Alexandria on the 23d, and going 
into camp at Fort Ellsworth. On the 30th of August the Sixth corps, 
commanded by General W. B. Franklin, was moving leisurely toward. 

The Forty-Ninth at Antietam — Chancellorsville. 253 

Bull Run, where Pope was being defeated by Lee and Jackson, but did 
not reach the field in time to render any assistance. 

The army then fell back on Washington and moved thence north- 
wardly, under the command of General McClellan, to stop Lee's invasion 
of Maryland. On the 14th of September, the Forty-ninth took part in 
the capture of Crampton's Pass ; on the i6th it engaged in the skirmish 
work preliminarv to the battle of Antietam, and on the 17th it was hotly 
engaged in that great conflict. With the rest of Franklin's corps it 
attacked the Confederates when the latter were pressing back the 
Unionists and in turn compelled the rebels to flee. Lieutenant-Colonel 
Alberger was severely wounded in this battle and the regiment suffered 
heavily in killed and wounded. That officer resigning on account of his 
wounds, Major Johnson was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel, and Captain 
Ellis, who had gone to the front as Second Lieutenant, was made Major 

The next day alter Antietam, the defeated enemy fell back toward the 
Potomac, and two days later Smith's division moved to Williamsport, 
Md. After several changes of location in that State and Northern Vir- 
ginia, the Army of the Potomac, then under the command of General 
Burnside, set out on the 15th of November, 1862, for Fredericksburgh. 
At Falmouth, a short distance above Fredericksburg, on the opposite 
side of the Rappahannock, there was another long delay, but on the 12th 
of December the army crossed the river and, as is well known, was cono- 
pletely defeated. The Forty-ninth was so stationed that it was not 
seriously engaged. 

On the 19th of December the Forty-ninth moved with its brigfadeto 
White Oak Church, a short distance from Falmouth, and built cabins 
where, except during a few days in January, 1863, (known as the period 
of the " mud campaign,") it remained until the 27th of April, 1863. 

When the Army of the Potomac, commanded by General Hooker, 
moved against the enemy at Chancellorsville, the left wing, (of which the 
Forty-ninth was a part), under General Sedgwick, crossed the Rappa- 
hannock at Fredericksburg, while the main army passed over several 
miles above. The regiment took part in the capture of Marye's Heights, 
a strongly intrenched position back of Fredericksburg. Then Sedgwick's 
command pushed on toward Chancellorsville to join Hooker, but was 
attacked on the left flank and driven to the river, which it re-crossed. 
The Forty-ninth was so stationed that it did not suffer serious loss. 

A few days later the Thirty-third New York, a two years' regiment 
in the same brigade, was ordered home to be mustered out. One hun- 
dred and sixty-three of its men had still a considerable time to serve ; 
these were formed into one company, under Captain Henry J. Gifford, 
and transferred to the Forty-ninth. 

Lee's Army having been victorious at Chancellorsville, that General 
soon marched it northward to invade Pennsylvania. The Army of the 

254 History of Erie County. 

Potomac moved in a course nearly parallel with that of the Confederates 
on their right rear, watching their action. The Sixth corps was far 
in the rear of the rest of the army and when the enemy's object was 
ascertained and the union tr6ops were concentrated for battle the 
marching powers of that corps were tried to the utmost. It accom- 
plished the tremendous task of marching two hundred and fifty miles 
in seven days, carrying arms, accoutrements, ammunition and rations, 
arriving on the field of Gettysburg at 5 P. M., on the 2d day of July. 
The Forty-ninth, however, was held in reserve during the remainder of ' 
the battle. 

Through the rest of the season it was engaged in those marches and 
counter-marches in Northeastern Virginia which formed so large a part 
of the duties of the Army of the Potomac. Early in December it went 
into winter quarters near Brandy station. Just at the close of the year 
one hundred and forty-nine men of the regiment re-enlisted for another 
term of three years, which, by the terms of the '* veterans" order was to 
begirt at once, without waiting for the close of the old one. 

The Forty-ninth remained in comparative quiet until the beginning 
of May, 1864. Down to this time, though responding readily to every 
call of dut)% it had been extremely fortunate in escaping serious loss in 
battle ; not an officer had been killed and but few of the men. From 
the various casualties of war, however, its numbers had been reduced to 
three hundred and eighty-four enlisted men on duty with the colors, and 
about twenty-five 'officers. Colonel Bidwell was in command of the 
brigade ; Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson and Major Ellis were with the 
regiment. The metal of the little band was now to be subjected to the 
severest tests. 

On the 4th of May, 1864, the Forty-ninth moved forward with the 
rest of the Sixth corps, toward Richmond. On the 5th, the army struck 
the enemy in the Wilderness, and during the fierce conflict of that and 
the following day the Forty-ninth was in the hottest of the fray. In 
those two days Captains J. F. E. Plogsted, William T. Wiggins and Clar- 
ence H. Hickmott, and Lieutenants Henry C. Valentine and Reuben F. 
Preston were killed or mortally wounded. 

Marching forward with depleted ranks the gallant little band again 
met the foe at the battle of Spottsylvania. There Captain Seward H. 
Terry and Lieutenants M. S. V. Tyler and Herman Haas were killed. 
Major Ellis was wounded, too, by a rapirod flung from some rebel gun 
which pierced his arm and bruised his chest, but was not then supposed 
to have done serious injury, though the wound finally proved mortal. 

Again the army moved forward, operating all the time against the 
left flank of the enemy, and soon engaged in the terrific conflict of Cold 
Harbor. There, at the "death angle " fell Captain Reuben B. Hezcock 
and Lieutenants J. P. McVean and Charles A. Sayer. 

Heavy Losses of the Forty-Ninth. 255 

Thus, in these four conflicts, occurring within two weeks, twelve 
officers, including a major and five captains, had been killed or mortally 
wounded, being full half the number present with the regiment. Besides 
these, several were seriously wounded, though the number was less than 
that of the killed. The proportion of deaths was not so great among the 
enlisted men, but still the roll of killed and wounded was very long. In 
those two weeks, out of the three hundred and eighty-four men with 
which the regiment left Brandy Station, sixty-one had been killed and 
a hundred and fifty-five wounded, while thirty were reported missing. 
Of the latter some were undoubtedly killed, (their fate not having been 
ascertained) while more were wounded and taken prisoners. Certainly, 
not less than two hundred and forty officers and men had been killed or 
wounded, or three-fifths of the total strength. Many of the wounded, 
however, soon returned to duty, and the ranks received some recruits. 

The Sixth Corps then advanced with the army, to the lines before 
Petersburg, but about the first of July it w^as ordered back to Washing- 
ton, by boat, to defend that city from a threatened attack by General 
Early. Scarcely had it arrived, when on the 12th of July, it was engaged 
in a short but sharp conflict with the enemy, who attempted to capture 
Fort Stevens, situated in the District of Columbia, about five miles north 
of the Capitol, and two miles from the Soldiers* Home. President Lin- 
coln was present, and saw Colonel BidwelKs Brigade charge up a hill 
and drive back the foe. The Forty-ninth had twenty-one killed and 
wounded, among the former being its commander, Lieutenant-Colonel 
George W. Johnson, and Lieutenant David Lambert. The President was 
so well pleased with the valor and vigor displa)'ed by Colonel Bidwell, 
that he appointed the latter a Brigadier-General immediately afterward. 
As the Senate was not in session, the appointment could not then be 
confirmed, and, as we understand the matter, General Bidwell remained 
legally the Colonel of the Forty-ninth New York Volunteers. On the 
3d of August, Major Ellis died of the wound received at Spottsylvania, 
a splinter from a fractured bone having entered his heart. Captains Holt 
and Brazee, the former of Chautauqua county, and the latter of Niagara, 
were appointed Lieutenant-Colonel and Major. 

The Sixth Corps was made a part of the command of General Sher- 
idan, and proceeded to operate against General Early, in the valley of the 
Shenandoah. After numerous marches and counter-marches, the Forty- 
ninth took part in the battle of Opequan Creek, on the 19th of Septem- 
ber. The men had th^ pleasure of seeing the enemy defeated, with but 
slight loss to their own thrice decimated ranks. They had eight men 
killed and wounded. 

Two days before the battle, eighty-nine men, all that,were left of the 
original regiment, who had not re-enlisted, were sent back to Buffalo 
under Major Brazee, and there discharged. 

256 History of Erie County. 

Immediately after the fight the rolls were examined and it was found 
that there had been in all about one thousand five hundred and fifty names 
upon them. There were then four hundred and ten men in the field. 
These were consolidated into a battalion of five companies under Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Holt, still retaining the appellation of the " Forty-ninth ;** 
Captain George H. Selkirk, of Buffalo, received a commission as Major. 

After Opequan General Sheridan pushed rapidly on in pursuit of the 
retreating Early, and at Fisher's Hill inflicted a very severe defeat. 
Bid well's brigade captured the first five cannon taken from the enemy, 
and fortunately without serious loss to itself. 

On the 19th of October, occurred the battle of Cedar Creek, when the 
Eighth corps was surprised and defeated during Sheridan's absence, and 
when the sudden return of that General, as has so often been described, 
turned the tide of war, and gave the Union army a complete victory, won 
by the Sixth and Nineteenth corps. Bidwell's brigade was, as usual, at 
the front, and the Forty-ninth suffered a loss of thirty-seven, all told. 
Here, too, the gallant Bidwell, the only Colonel of that regiment, while 
bravely leading his brigade, was mortally stricken down by the bullet of 
the foe. He was taken to a house not far distant, and expired a few 
hours later. Mr. Jerome B. Stillson, of Buffalo, one of the most promi- 
nent of the correspondents who recorded the deeds of the armies in the 
field, visited him there, and found him aware that death was upon him, 
but as ready to meet it then as he had ever been in the field. 

Thus, in less than six months, every one of the three field-officers 
of the Forty-ninth, who had turned their horses' heads southward in 
the beginning of May, had been killed, besides five Captains and seven 
Lieutenants. It is doubtful if another regiment in the service suffered 
such a loss of officers in so short a time. Thus, too, of the three three- 
years' regiments of infantry, principally raised in Erie county, every 
one of the Colonels had been killed in action. " The paths of glory 
lead but to the grave." 

In December the battalion, with the rest of the Sixth corps, returned 
to the vicinity of Richmond and Petersburg, and was on hard service in 
the entrenchments during the remainder of the winter, but without being 
in any important battle. 

On the 2d of April the little battalion took the lead in attacking the 
last stronghold of rebellion. The Forty-ninth and Seventy-seventh New 
York formed the front center of the column which assaulted the Confed- 
erate works on the. South Side railroad, and the flag of" the Forty-ninth 
was the first Union color planted upon them. The battalion suffered 
severely considering its small numbers, and its commander, Lieutenant- 
Colonel Erastus D. Holt, was mortally wounded, dying on the 7th of 
the same month. Major Selkirk was promoted to fill his place, and was 
mustered in as Lieutenant-Colonel. He also received a commission 

The Sixty-Fourth Infantry. 257 

as Colonel from the Governor of New York, but had not enough men 
under his command to muster with that rank. . The battalion was on 
easy duty during the remainder of its service. It was mustered out on 
the 27th of June ; speedily set out for home and arrived at Buffalo on 
the 3d day of July. 

Eighteen officers and two hundred and seventy-four men out of over 
fifteen hundred whose names had been borne on the rolls, were mustered 
out with the regiment. Sixteen officers (whose names have been given) 
had been killed or mortally wounded in action and a somewhat smaller 
proportion of the enlisted men. Captain Charles H. Morse, Captain 
Rasselas Dickinson, Adjutant William Bullymore, Quartermaster Henry 
D. Tillinghast and Lieutenant Frederick Von Gayl had died of disease. 

The following officers were mustered out with the battalion : Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel, George H. Selkirk, (commissioned as colonel) ; Surgeon, 
John Jenkins; Quartermaster, Lewis C. Richards; Captains, Thomas F. 
Cluney (commissioned as lieutenant-colonel), S. W. Russell (brevet ma- 
jor and commissioned as major), William J. Kaiser, Henry J. Gifford 
(brevet major) and Walter D. Wilder (brevet major); First Lieutenants, 
French W. Fisher (brevet captain), Augustus B. Meyer, Joseph Conradt, 
John C. White and Hamilton Disbrow ; Second Lieutenants, Otis B. 
Hayes, JuKus Smith, Sylvester Churchwell, Jacob Vosburg and Henry 
Handy. Of these names only two were to be found on the original ros- 
ter — Lieutenant-Colonel Selkirk, who was a first lieutenant at the organ- 
ization of the regiment, and Captain Cluney, who at the same time was 
a second lieutenant. 

We will close this sketch with a list of the battles of the Forty-ninth 
New York Volunteer Infantry as officially pubHshed by the Adjutant- 
General of this State : Drainesville, Yorktown, Williamsburg, Golden's 
Farm, Savage Station, White Oak Swamp, Malvern Hill, Crampton's 
Gap, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Marye's Heights, Salem Heights, Get- 
tysburg, Rappahannock Station, Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Cold Har- 
bor, Petersburg, Fort Stevens, Opequan, Fisher's Hill, Cedar Creek, to 
which South Side Railroad should be added. 

Sixty-Fourth Infantry. 

Company A of this regiment, was raised in Collins, Erie county, 
and Persia, Cattaraugus county, principally in the former town. Its first 
officers were: Rufus P. Washburn, Captain; Albert Darby, First Lieu- 
tenant; and James M. Pettit, Second Lieutenant. The regiment was 
mustered into the service for three years, at various times between the 
7th day of September and the loth day of December, 1861. 

The Sixty-fourth fought at Yorktown, Fair Oaks, Gaines* Mill, 
Savage Station, White Oak Swamp, Glendale, Malvern Hill, Antietam, 
Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Bristow Station, Mine 

258 History of Erie County. 

Run, Wilderness, Po River, Spottsylvania, North Anna, Totopotomy, 
Cold Harbor, Siege of Petersburg, Strawberry Plains, Deep Bottom, 
Ream's Station. The original members who had not re-enlisted were 
mustered out at the end of three years from their enlistment, but the 
regiment retained its organization until the end of the war, being finally 
mustered out on the 14th of July, 1865. 

Captain Washburn was discharged in June, 1863. Theodore Tyrer, 
of Bufifalo, was appointed Captain in the regiment in May, 1864; was 
promoted to Major in December, 1864; was commissioned as Lieutenant- 
Colonel in January, 1865 ; and was mustered out of service with the 
regiment. Lieutenant Albert Darby was promoted to Captain in Decem- 
ber, 1862, and resigned in July, 1863. James B. Morrow,' of Aurora, 
Erie county, was appointed Second Lieutenant in March, 1863, and First 
Lieutenant in July, 1863. 

Seventy-Eighth Infantry. 

The Seventy-eighth contained one company from Erie county, the 
first officers of which were William H. Randall, Captain ; Levi Metz, 
First Lieutenant; and John Blocher, Second Lieutenant. The regiment 
was mustered into service by companies or detachments from October, 
1861, to April, 1862. It chanced not to be engaged in any important bat- 
tle until it was sent as a part of General Hooker's command to join the 
Western army in 1863. It then took part in the battles of Manhatchie, 
Lookout Mountain, Resaca, Dallas, Lost Mountain, Pine Knob, Kenesavv 
Mountain, Peach Tree Creek, and Atlanta. It lost heavily in those con- 
flicts, and was consolidated with the One Hundred and Second Infantry 
on the 29th day of June, 1864. 

Captain Randall was promoted to Major in May, 1863, and resigned 
in March, 1864; Lieutenant Metz was promoted to Captain in July, 1863, 
and was mustered out on account of the consolidation before mentioned 
in June, 1864. 

The Oxe Hundredth Infantry. 259 



A New Regiment Authorized — Recruiting Commissioners — Camp Morgan — Colonel Brown — 
Rosier of Officers — Homes of the Men — Off to Washington — On the Peninsula — Will- 
iamsburg — Battle of Fair Oaks — Colonel Brown*k Coolness — Chaiige — The One Hun- 
dredth — Deadly Conflict — Death of Brown —Other Losses — Valor of Casey's Division — 
Retreat of ihe Enemy — March to the James River — Malvern Hills — The Regiment 
Adopted by the Board of Trade — To Gloucester Point — Colonel Dandy — Removal to 
North Carolina — To South Carolina — Charleston Harbor — Folly Island — Capture of 
Part of Morris Island — Assault on Fort Wagner — Second Assault — Valor of the One Hun- 
dredth — Desperate Fighting — Repulse — Heavy Losses — The Siege — Captain Payne's 
Ser\ices — Capture of Wagner — Thiough the Winter — Return North — In the "Army of 
the James" — Surprised and Driven Back — ** Ware Bottom Church" — North of the James 
— Capturing a Battery — Before Petersburg — Across the James Again — Winter Quarters — 
Again Before Petersburg — Capture of Fort Gr^g— Final Victory — OfHcial Changes — 
Consolidation — Discharge — Final Roster. 

ON the 22d day of August, 1861, General Gustavus A. Scroggs, of Buf- 
falo, received an order from the War Department, dated three days 
previously, authorizing him to raise and organize a brigade of four 
regiments of three years' volunteers. He accepted the charge thus 
imposed upon him, and determined to raise one regiment in Erie and the 
adjoining counties, with headquarters at Buffalo, and the other three in 
the eastern part of the State.* After some needful preparations, the first 
authority to raise a company for the new regiment was issued by Gen- 
eral Scroggs to Captain Walter B. Moore, of Le Roy, Genesee county, 
on the 2d day of September, 1861. This was followed on the i8th day 
of the same month by recruiting orders to Captain Daniel D; Nash, of 
Springville, and to Captains John Nicholson, Charles E. Morse and 
Michael Bailey, of Buffalo; on the 21st to Captain P. Edwin Dye, of 
Buffalo ; on the 24th to Captain Charles H. Henshaw, of Buffalo ; on the 
26th to Captain George Hinson, of Buffalo ; on the 9th of October to 
Captain Lewis S. Payne, of Tonawanda ; and on the 19th of the same 
month to Captain Charles E. Rauert, of Buffalo. 

All these began recruiting for their respective companies. In most 
cases this was slow work. An immense number of the young men of 

* It was expected that the regiments to be thus raised would form one body to be known as the 
" Eagle Brigade," and to be commanded by General Scroggs as Brigadier-General. Owing, however, 
to the constant demand for troops, commands were consolidated and hurried to the front as speedily 
as possible, so that the ** Eagle Brigade " never came into existence. General Scroggs was nominated 
for Brigadier-General in July, 1862, but, as the number of Brigadiers then allowed by law had 
already been appointed, the nomination was not confirmed by the Senate. 

26o History of Erie County. 

the country had already entered the service, and no large bounties had 
been offered to stimulate the patriotism of the more cautious class. Cap- 
tain D. D. Nash, however, the dashing young commander of the Spring- 
ville company, speedily filled its ranks from Concord and the adjoining 
towns, so that when he received his commission it gave him rank from 
October i, 1861, he being the senior captain of the regiment and his 
command being designated as "Company A." 

As soon as Company A appeared at Buffalo, General Scroggs 
established a camp at Fort Porter, named it Camp Morgan, in honor of 
Hon. Edwin D. Morgan, then governor of the State, erected barracks 
and obtained rations for the newly enrolled soldiers. Company after 
company, with ranks more or less full, established themselves at Camp 
Morgan, an* the work of recruiting was continued with varying success. 
In the fore part of November there appeared at Camp Morgan a stern- 
looking, square-built man of thirty-six, with iron resolution written all 
over his face, who proceeded to take command of the regiment. This 
was James Malcolm Brown, a Scotchman by birth, an Assistant-Surgeon 
in the Mexican war, then a lawyer at Jamestown, Chautauqua county, 
and after the breaking out of the Rebellion a Captain in the Seventy- 
second New York Infantry, whom General Scroggs had selected for the 
new regiment. The other field-officers, chosen by the same authority, 
Were Phineas Staunton, at the opening of the war, an artist of New York, 
and a son of an eminent officer in the War of 1812 previously mentioned 
in this work, who was to be the Lieutenant-Colonel, and Calvin N. Otis, 
an architect of Buffalo, who was to fill the post of Major. 

Colonel Brown was a strict disciplinarian and soon established com- 
plete order among the bands of recruits (for the companies were of course 
nothing else) under his charge. The camp was occasionally enlivened 
by presentations of military equipments to officers by admiring friends, 
and with humbler gifts of socks, mittens, etc., to the soldiers. On the 
19th of January, 1862, the new regiment was first designated as the looth 
New York Volunteer Infantry. It was not until the 7th of February, 
1862, that the regiment was sufficiently full, so that the officers re- 
ceived their commissions, those of the field officers giving them rank 
from the loth of January, and those of the line officers from various 
dates during the preceding autumn. The following is the roster of 
officers, with the number of men in their respective companies, when the 
regiment was mustered into the United States service : — 

Field and Staff, — Colonel, James M. Brown ; Lieutenant-Colonel, 
Phineas Staunton ; Major, Calvin N. Otis ; Adjutant, Peter R. Chadwick ; 
Quartermaster, Samuel M. Chamberlain ; Surgeon, Martin S. Kittenger ; 
Assistant Surgeon, William D. Murray. 

Company A, — Captain, Daniel D. Nash; Lieutenants, William L. 
Mayo arid Charles S. Farnham ; eighty-seven officers and men. 

Company B. — Captain, Walter B. Moore ; Lieutenants, M. H. Topping 
and Martin S. Bogart ; eighty -four officers and men. 

Roster of Officers. 261 

Company C. — Captain, John Nichols ; Lieutenants, Unike C. Mackay 
and William Noble ; eighty-eight officers and men. 

Company D. — Captain, Lewis S. Payne ; First Lieutenant, Augustus 
Newell ; [Second Lieutenant not then mustered ;] ninety-one officers 
and men. 

Company E. — Captain, Michael Bailey ; Lieutenants, William Brown 
and Tiniothy Lynch ; eighty-four officers and men. 

Company F. — Captain, Charles H. Rauert ; Lieutenants, Charles F. 
Gardner and Charles E. Claussen ; ninety officers and men. 

Company G. — Captain, Georgfe Hinson ; Lieutenants, Samuel S. 
Kellogg and Jacob L. Barnes; one hundred and eight officers and men. 

Company H. — Captain, P. Edward Dye ; Lieutenants, Rodney B. 
Smith, Jr., and Charles E. Walbridge ; eierhty-four officers and men. 

Company L — Captain, Charles E. Morse ; Lieutenants, Frank C. 
Bninck ancf Herbert H. Haddock ; ninety-four officers and men. 

Company K. — Captain, Charles H. Henshaw ; Lieutenants, John 
Wilkeson, Jr., and Warren Granger, Jr. ; eighty-five officers and men. 

The above numbers make a total of nine hundred and two officers 
and men at the muster-in. Nearly all of these were from Erie county. 
A part of Company B were from Genesee and Monroe counties ; a 
small^mrt of Company D were from Niagara county, in the vicinity of 
Tonawanda, and the majority of Company H were from Chautauqua 
county. Of the remainder nearly all were enrolled in Buffalo, and the 
majority were probably residents of that city, but a large proportion 
were from the various towns of Erie county. Company A, as has been 
said, came from Concord and the adjoining towns; Company D, was 
^principally enlisted in Tonawanda and Grand Island, while nearly every 
'one of the other towns of the county had ten or a dozen representatives 
in the One Hundredth New York Infantry. 

On the 7th day of March, 1862, the tedium of barrack life was 
broken up and the regiment, with full ranks, but without arms, left 
Buffalo on the New York Central Railroad. The next day they reached 
New York and on the 9th were supplied with Enfield Rifles, accoutre- 
ments and camp equipage. On the loth they proceeded on their way, 
and on the 12th arrived at the capital of the Nation, and the following 
day went into camp on " Meridian Hill." Here they were soon assigned 
to the First brigade of Casey's division, commanded by Coloriel W. W. 
H. Davis, of the One Hundred and Fourth Pennsylvania Infantry. On 
the 29th of March, Casey's division proceeded to Alexandria, Virginia, 
where they embarked on transports, and landed at Newport News on 
the I St day of April. 

At length the One Hundreth was in the immediate vicinity of the 
enemy. But for a time their chief foes seemed to be the wretched cold 
and rain and mud of a Virginia spring. About the middle of April 
Casey's division moved to the lines of Yorktown, in the siege of which 
it was engaged until the 4th of May, when the enemy abandoned his 
works and marched up the peninsula. McClellan's army followed, the 

262 History of Erie County. 

troops exchanging cold, rain and mud for mud, rain and cold. Neai 
Williamsburg the command of General Naglee, who had taken the place 
of Colonel Davis as brigade-commander, was ordered swiftly forward to 
the music of musketry in front, arriving too late to take part in the con- 
flict (a skirmish) and bivouacing in the cold rain without equipage of 
any kind, undergoing sufferings during the night which the surviving 
soldiers of the One Hundredth remember as the worst they knew in 
all their long and severe service. The next day the battle of Williams- 
burg was fought, in which Naglee's (late Davis') brigade closely and 
gallantly sustained that of General Hancock when the latter made the 
famous charge which won the day, but was not itself actively engaged 
with the enemy. 

On the 9th of May, the One Hundredth, with the rest of McClellan's 
army, moved forward toward Richmond. Its movements were slow, but 
on the 24th it crossed Bottom's Bridge, and on the 2Sth had a short 
skirmish with the enemy. Light skirmishing continued several days, the 
One Hundredth suffering no loss from the enemy's bullets, but having 
many of its officers and men stricken down by malarial fever. On the 
30th of May, there were six hundred and forty-six men fit for duty. 

During the night of the 30th, there was a terrific rain storm, the 
Chickahominy rose rapidly, and the two wings of the Union army were 
to a great extent cut off from each other. The enemy moved forward 
with a heavy force to crush -the nearest wing before the other could 
aid it. The battle of " Seven Pines," or " Fair Oaks," followed— the first 
battle of the One Hundredth New York Infantry. 

Nearly'the whole force of the foe was fjung upon Casey's division 
and a fierce conflict ensued. Naglee's brigade was stationed on the 
Richmond road, the One Hundredth being on the left of that road. Com- 
panies D, E, and F were on picket so that there were less than four hun- 
dred men with the colors. The brigade was advanced in front of the 
defensive works which had been erected, and at length the One Hun- 
dredth stood in the midst of a tract of " slashing " or trees cut down at 
random. The enemy approached and his bullets and cannon-ball flew 
thick and fast over and among the unseasoned soldiers. Colonel Brown 
sat on his horse, just in rear of the line, calmly smoking his pipe, but 
keenly watching the fray. As the fight grew hotter he rode up and 
down the line encouraging his men in tones which often rang above the 
din of battle. 

At length an order came from Naglee's brigade to charge the enemy. 
It was repeated to Colonel Brown, who was very unfavorably impressed 
with the idea of charging through slashing against an overwhelming foe, 
and muttered an angry denunciation of the order, but the next moment 
he thundered forth the command " Charge ! the One Hundredth," and 
led forward the men into the deadly hail. The enemy was temporarily 

Battle of Fair Oaks — Severe Losses. 263 

driven back by Naglee's brigade, but having several divisions within 
easy reach, he pushed forward and utterly overwhelmed Casey's Divis- 
ion before aid could, or at least before it did, reach him. 

In the slashing the One Hundredth was badly broken up, and when 
at length the reluctant order to retreat was given, it suffered very severely. 
Colonel Brown was seen vainly endeavoring to rally his men, and then 
suddenly disappeared. Strange to say, no absolute knowledge of his fate 
was ever obtained. Stricken down in the deadly conflict, he was doubt- 
less either instantly slain, or so severely wounded that he died before his 
name and rank could be ascertained by the Confederates who swept over 
the field. Perhaps when wounded he dragged himself into some thicket, 
hoping to be able to i.ejoin the Union troops, and there died unseen by 
friend or foe. At all events, when after the battle, a detail was sent in 
the field to bury the dead. Colonel Brown could not be found, and when 
inquiry was made of the Confederate Commander, by means of a flag of 
truce, the reply was that nothing whatever was known of his fate. 

In the same locality Lieutenant Kellogg, of Company G, and Lieu- 
tenant Wilkeson of Company K, were killed, while Captain Nash and 
Lieutenant Mayo, both of Company A, and Lieutenant Brown of Com- 
pany E, fell seriously wounded. Lieutenant-Colonel Staunton was slightly 
wounded. The regiment reported a loss of one hundred and sixteen 
killed, wounded and missing out of less than four hundred who took part 
in the fight. Very few of these were taken prisoners, but Captain Bailey, 
Lieutenants Lynch and Newell and twelve men were cut oflF and cap- 
tured while on picket. 

General McClellan at'first censured Casey's Division for retreating, 
but afterward withdrew his censure, for he learned that that division 
really sustained the brunt of the fight ; having seventeen hundred men 
killed, wounded and missing — nearly one-third of all the casualties in the 
army on that day. General Keyes' corps, consisting of Casey's and 
Couch's divisions, lost three thousand one hundred and twenty officers 
and men, while all the rest of the army lost but two thousand six hundred 
and seventeen. Severe as was the punishment inflicted on Naglee's Bri- 
gade, its desperate charge helped to check the onslaught of the enemy 
until Heintzelman's Corps arrived at 5 P. M., to turn the tide of battle. 
The Confederates fell back into Richmond, leaving the battle-field in the 
possession of the Union soldiers. If the object of the rebel commander 
was merely to inflict heavy loss on the Union army, he was successful. 
If, as seems probable, he intended to defeat it and drive it permanently 
from the position it had assumed, he failed, and his failure was principally 
due to the gallant resistance made by Casey's division against overwhelm- 
ing numbers. 

AJ^few days later Casey's division was moved back to the rear of the 
anriy, near Bottom's Bridge, where it remained during that rain-laden 

204 History of Erie County. 

month of June, with the country spreading in a swamp around^it and the 
roads seeming like long mortar beds, being almost impassable for wagons 
and artillery. On the 28th of June came the battle of Mechanicsville, on 
the extreme right of the Union army, in which Casey's division did not 
take part. This was followed by the movement of the National troops 
toward the James river. During that movement Naglee's Brigade was 
selected as the rear guard of one of the retreating columns, but though in 
sight of the enemy was not actively engaged. 

General McClellan directed that all the sick and wounded, who 
were unable to march, should remain at Savage's Station. Surgeon Kit- 
tenger, of the One Hundredth, established a temporarj'^ hospital, where 
over two hundred wounded were received, who, with the devoted sur- 
geon, were all captured by the advancing foe. When Naglee's Brigade 
moved forward as the rear guard, a part of the One Hundredth NewjYork, 
with two other regiments, were accidentally left behind on picket, and 
were not notified of the movement until four hours later, at two o'clock 
A. M., on the I St of July. They then followed the retreating troops and 
reached Malvern Hills without serious misadventure where the two por- 
tions of the regiment were re-united. 

First Lieutenant Rodney B. Smith, Jr., of Company H, who was 
sick at the time, was last seen at Savage Station. It is supposed that 
he attempted to walk to Malvern Hills, and died from fatigue and dis- 
ease, or was perhaps slain by some random bullet of the foe. Second 
Lieutenant Farnham, of Company A, had died a few weeks before, and 
it is remarkable that, out of all the officers who served in the One Hun- 
dredth New York, only these two (perhaps only one of them) died of 
disease during nearly four years of hard campaigning. From the 2d of 
July, 1862, to the muster out of the regiment, in August, 1865, not an 
officer died except by the bullets of the foe. 

At Malvern Hills the One Hundredth stood steadily in line, though 
not under severe fire, and saw the legions of Lee, flushed with triumph 
and confident of further victory, driven back with terrific loss by the 
wearied, decimated, but not demoralized army of the Potomac. Then 
followed the retreat to Harrison's Landing, where the army remained 
until the middle of August. 

On the last day of July, the strength of the One Hundredth had 
been reduced by battle and disease to four hundred and thirty-six officers 
and men, less than half the number which had left Buffalo in the pre- 
vious March. The news of this great reduction had already reached 
Buffalo, fears were aroused lest the organization should be consoli- 
dated with some other command and its identity destroj'ed. On the 
29th of July, the Buffalo Board of Trade formally adopted the regiment 
as its especial charge, and at once set about recruiting for it with con- 
siderable success. 

The One Hundredth near Charleston. 265 

On the 1 5th of August, the One Hundredth, with the rest of the army, 
set out on its march down the James river, that regiment reaching York- 
town on the 20th, and moving thence to Gloucester Point on the 23d, 
while in the meantime the greater part of the army sailed back to North- 
ern Virginia to defend the threatened capital of the Nation. 

The One Hundredth remained at Gloucester Point until the 26th of 
December, in a well-arranged camp and in circumstances which might 
be called pleasant as compared with the sufferings of the Peninsular 
campaign. Between the first of August and the first of October there 
were recruited and sent forward, principally through the efforts of the 
Buffalo Board of Trade, no less than three hundred and forty-five men, 
swelling the depleted ranks to the number of nearly eight hundred. During 
that time, too, (in August), George B. Dandy, of the regular army, was 
commissioned as Colonel of the regiment, and on the 15th of September, 
assumed command. Lieutenant-Colonel Staunton was greatly disgusted 
by this proceeding, and forthwith resigned his -commission and retired 
from the army after eight or nine months of active service and one 
battle. Civilians turned soldiers acquire opinions regarding their own 
indefeasible right lo promotion quicker than any other military ideas. 
Colonel Staunton afterward joined a scientific expedition to the Andes, 
and died at Quito, on the slopes of those mountains, in September, 1867. 
Major Otis was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and Captain Daniel D. 
Nash, of Company A, to Major. 

On the 26th of December, Naglee's Brigade, with other troops, went 
on board ship and proceeded to Carolina City, North Carolina, whence, 
after a stay of three weeks, it continued its course to Port Royal bay, 
South Carolina, arriving there on the 31st day of January, 1863, but not 
disembarking until the loth of February, where it landed on the island 
of St. Helena. Here it remained until the 23d of March, during which 
time General Naglee was ordered North and was succeeded in the com- 
mand of the brigade by its first chief, Colonel W. W. H. Davis. 

On the day last named the One Hundredth again embarked, and 
after much steaming to and fro reached Charleston harbor, landing on 
Cole Island on the 26th. The regiment had been selected to lead the 
movement against Charleston, having been transferred from Davis* 
Brigade to Howell's for that purpose. The whole force consisted of 
three divisions of infantry, a brigade of artillery, a light battery and a 
battalion of engineers. 

On the 3d of April the One Hundreth, again in the advance, went 
on shipboard and landed on the south end of Folly Island in the same 
harbor, whence, on the 7th, its officers and men witnessed the splendid 
but fruitless bombardment of Fort Sumter by the fleet under Admiral 
Dupont. Soon afterward the regiment established its permanent camp on 
Folly Island. It remained there in comparative quiet until the middle 

266 History of Erie County. 

of June, when General Gilmore superseded General Hunter in command 
of the force operating against Charleston. 

Immediately afterward, works were erected on the extreme north 
end of Folly Island by the One Hundreth, and other regiments, much of 
the time under the fire of the enemy. Disease and hardship now became 
enemies as much to be dreaded as the rebels. At this time Lieutenant- 
Colonel Otis resigned and went North, as did several line officers. The 
romance of war was evidently passing away. The work of erecting 
batteries was extremely tedious, but by the 3d of July they were subu. 
stantially finished. 

On the loth a tremendous cannonade was opened against the rebel 
works on Morris Island. Two hours later a brigade of troops moved in 
boats to Morris Island piloted by Captain Payne of the One Hundredth 
who made himself thoroughly acquainted^ with both land and water, by 
constant scouting since the arrival of his army in the harbor. After a 
short fight the Confederate works were captured with eleven pieces of 
artillery. The One Hundredth passed over immediately afterward. 
The next morning Fort Wagner, situated further north on the same 
island, was assaulted by seven regiments including the One Hundreth 
New York, but that regiment seems not to have been stationed far enough 
in the advance to suffer much loss. The leading regiments under a 
heavy fire crossed the ditch and mounted the parapet, but were then 
obliged to retire, leaving their killed and wounded where they fell. 

Intrenchments were then thrown up and more careful preparations 
made for a second assault, which took place in the night of the i8th of 
July. It was heralded by a tremendous bombardment during the day 
from our ironclads and batteries, the guns of Fort Wagner being silenced 
at 4 P. iM. 

After dark the brigades of General Strong, Colonel Putnam and 
General Seymour moved to the assault in the order named, the One 
Hundredth New York being in Putnam's Brigade. General Stephen- 
son's Brigade was held in support. At the head of Strong's Brigade, in the 
advance of the whole column, was the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts (col- 
ored) commanded by the gallant Colonel Shaw, of Boston. The enemy 
was expecting an attack, and as the assailants approached, ball, shell and 
canister came crashing through the foremost lines with deadly effect. 
Still Shaw led forward his dark battalion, followed closely by the rest of 
Strong's Brigade. They reached the parapet, where a terrific conflict 
took place, the slope being thickly covered with white men and black 
lying side by side in the brotherhood of death. Colonel Shaw was 
killed. General Strong was wounded and his brigade was driven back 
from the parapet at the same time that Colonel Putnam's command, in 
which was the One Hundredth New York led by Colonel Dandy and 
Major Nash, came rushing up to take their places. Another fierce con- 

The Attack on Fort Wagner. 267 

flict ensued, and a part of the brigade clambered over the parapet into a 
comer of the fort, which, however, was swept by grape, canister and 
musketry. Seymour's Brigade supported Putnam's, but Seymour was 
soon wounded, and his men were unable to effect a lodgement. Stephen- 
son's reserve was ordered forward, but ere it arrived Colonel Putnam, 
the only remaining brigade commander in the fight, was killed on 
the parapet and the assailants gave up the contest, leaving their killed 
and wounded behind, to whose number scores were added at every 
step of the swilt retreat. Stephenson's Brigade was consequently 
ordered back. 

The total loss in the three brigades which made the assault was over 
fifteen hundred officers and men. In the One Hundredth New York, 
Adjutant Haddock and Lieutenant Runckle were killed and Lieutenant 
Brown was mortally wounded. Major Nash, Captains Ranert and 
Granger, and Lieutenants McMann and Friday were wounded. Ser- 
geant Flanders, of Company A, was killed while defending the colors 
which he had planted on the parapet, and eleven other Sergeants, Pratt, 
Davy, Whaples, Hughson, Morgan, Everts, Emery, Rustin, Gaylord, 
Lynch and Grebler were wounded, the first five severely. 

On the 25th of July the engineers began work for the regular reduc- 
tion of Fort Wagner by siege. These were pressed forward as rapidly 
as possible, under almost constant fire from Forts Sumter and Wagner. 
The sick list was large throughout the army, but the One Hundredth, 
composed of hardy men and cared for by a good surgeon, escaped with 
less suffering from that cause than any other regiment in the vicinity. 

Both before and after the capture of Morris Island, Captain L. S. 
Payne had been acting as scout, and sometimes as commander of pickets 
of the army. Night alter night he patrolled the waters of Charleston 
harbor, with a boat-load of men, gathering important mformation regard- 
ing the position and movements of the enemy, on which the Union Gen- 
erals justly placed implicit reliance. General Gilmore gave him a writ- 
ten order to call on the Adjutant-General of the Department, for what- 
ever men he needed, and made him the practical Commander of the 
whole picket line. On the resignation of Lieutenant-Colonel Otis, Gen- 
eral Gilmore recommended Captain Payne to the Governor of New 
York, for Lieutenant-Colonel of the One Hundredth, and after some 
delay, he was dul}- commissioned to that office. But in the meantime, on 
one of his nocturnal excursions, on the 3d of August, 1863, he and his 
crew were assailed by a large force of the enemy, (who were probably 
watching for him, as he had greatly annoyed them,) and after a hard fight 
they were all captured. He was imprisoned until near the close of the 
war, and in consequence never mustered as Lieutenant-Colonel. 

The siege of Fort Wagner lasted from the 25th of July till the 7th 
of September, the troops erecting parallels and zigzag approaches under 

268 History of Erie County. 

the direction of the engineers, and steadily working their way up to the 
walls of the fort. Sickness was prevalent and the balls and shells of the 
enemy were constantly dropping among the workmen. The One 
Hundredth had a hundred and four men killed and wounded during the 
siege. A thin assault was ordered for the day last mentioned, but when 
the troops advanced, it was found that the rebels had evacuated Fort 
Wagner, and also Fort Gi'egg, situated in its rear, although they did not 
retire from the latter quick enough, so but that seventy prisoners were 
captured within its walls by the victorious Yankees. 

TtTe forts were re-built and furnished with the heaviest guns known, 
which were constantly employed against Fort Sumter and Charleston. 
The people were driven out of the lower part of the city, but neither 
Sumter nor Charleston was captured until the appearance of Sherman's 
army in the rear compelled their evacuation in February, 1865. 

The One Hundredth remained on Morris Island through the autumn 
of 1863, and the succeeding winter, and as no assault was made on the 
rest of the enemy's works, and sickness decreased as the weather became 
cooler, the period was passed in what seemed like comfort, after the 
hardships and dangers of the summer. Colonel Dandy and other officers 
were absent on recruiting service during the winter, the regiment being 
commanded by Major Nash. 

In April, 1864, the One Hundredth New York, with other troops in 
General Gilmore's department, were ordered north to re-inforce the armies 
operating against Richmond, and after an uneventful voyage, landed 
once more at Gloucester Point. Here it was rejoined by Colonel Dandy, 
a number of Officers and men, and was assigned to the Third Brigade 
(commanded by Colonel Plaisted of Maine) of Terry's Division, Tenth 
Corps in General Butler s " Army of the James." On the 6th of May, 
that army landed at Bermuda Hundred, on the Appomattox river, and the 
next day the One Hundredth was engaged in a brisk fight with the 
enemy at Walthal Junction. Lieutenants Adriance and Richardson, were 
wounded. This was the opening of a campaign of the greatest hardship 
and danger, and one requiring such constant movement on the part of 
the regiment of which we are writing, that it will be very difficult to 
give even an outline of its operations in the space we can spare. 

On the 13th of May, it took part in the capture of Fort Darling. 
The next day it was in a hand-fight just in front of that Fort, in which 
Lieutenant A. H. Hoyt, was killed, and Lieutenant Edward Pratt 
severely wounded. 

On the morning of the i6th, favored by a dense fog, General Beau- 
regard with a large force suddenly and fiercely attacked the right flank 
of the Army of the James, at Drury's Bluff, inflicting heavy loss. The 
One Hundredth moved slowly forward in the fog, and in a short time 
was directed to lie down in line of battle and await further orders. But 

Tee Advance on Richmond. 269 

the messengers subsequently sent were wounded, and no orders came. 
Suddenly the men were surprised by long lines of rebels advancing 
rapidly through the fog, and only a few rods distant, who poured tre- 
mendous volleys in quick succession among the prostrate and astonished 
Unionists. The right wing of the latter sprang into a line of rifle pits a 
little in front of them and checked for a time the progress of the enemy. 
Others surrendered where they lay, but the main body of the regiment 
was driven rapidly back to the protection of the reserves. Lieutenant 
French was mortally wounded ; Lieutenant Babbitt was also wounded 
and Lieutenant Pierson was taken prisoner. Over two hundred men 
were killed, wounded, and captured out of the seven hundred who com- 
posed the One Hundredth New York, on the 13th, 14th, and i6th of May. 

On the 2 1 St the One Hundredth was fiercely attacked by the rebel 
General Walker, but his men were repulsed and he himself was wounded 
and captured. A sharp conflict ensued, known as the battle of "Ware 
Bottom Church,*' but the Unionists held their ground. A similar attack 
failed on the succeeding day. The lines on both sides were well in- 
trenched and it was no slight task to break through them. About the 
last of May two-thirds of Butler's army was sent to reinforce Grant, 
who was slowly fighting his way down from the northward, thus 
doubling the duties of those who remained. 

During the night of the 15th of June, the Confederates abandoned 
their lines to move to the defense of Petersburg, then threatened by 
Grant, and the Unionists occupied them. On the 17th, Company K, of 
the One Hundredth, under Lieutenant Stowitts, was again engaged, not 
far from Ware Bottom Church. 

On the 20th of June the Third Brigade, then commanded by General 
Foster, moved to "Deep Bottom," ten miles down the James river from 
Richmond, where the men laid a pontoon bridge on which troops passed 
to the north side of the James. The One Hundredth was soon engaged 
in almost daily skirmishing with the enemy, both sides being as 
usual heavily intrenched. Regular forts were built by the Union troops 
and their labors were all that could have been borne. On the 27th of 
July, Hancock's corps and Sheridan's cavalry crossed to the north side 
of the James and a battle was fought, resulting in a slight advance of the 
Union forces. Captain Richardson, of the One Hundredth, was mortally 
wounded while on duty on the picket line, and died soon afterward. 

Near the middle of August a still larger force joined the Unionists 
at Deep Bottom, and an advance was made toward Richmond, under the 
direction of General Grant himself. On the 14th of that month Foster's 
Brigade including the One Hundredth New York, took an active part, 
the latter regiment advancing under heavy musketry fire and capturing 
thirty, prisoners. A little later the same regiment, supported by the 
Sixth Connecticut, and led by Colonel Dandy and Major Nash, dashed 


270 History of Erie County. 

through a ravine and charged and captured a four-gun battery, under 
the eye of General Grant. Lieutenant McMann was wounded, and about 
thirty men were killed or injured. The heat was terrific and many men 
suffered from sun-stroke. 

On the i6th of August, the One Hundredth was again in the advance, 
and twice charged an intrenched line of the enemy, but were both times 
driven back; Captain Granger and several men were captured. Sergeant 
Kuhns and others of Company A, were killed. The Union troops, how- 
ever, held their ground and constructed intrenchments close to the Con- 
federate lines. On the i8th the rebels drove in the Union pickets and 
attacked the fortified lines behind them, but the One Hundredth with 
other regiments repulsed the assailants with heavy loss. Such, in fact, 
was the course of events throughout the war ; the party which attacked the 
intrenchments of the other was almost invariably beaten. The advantage 
given by even slight breastworks is enormous, and with troops of equal 
quality a very great superiority is necessary on the part of the assailants 
to insure success. During the attack just mentioned Sergeant Scott, of 
Company D, was killed and three men were wounded by a shot from a 
Union battery stationed in rear of the One Hundredth. That night the 
lines were moved back ; Lieutenant Stowitt's and the pickets under his 
command being forgotten and left at their stations. Fortunately, how- 
ever, they were remembered in time and were with some difficulty 
extricated from a situation of the greatest danger. Then the whole 
force north of the James was withdrawn to Deep Bottom, the previous 
movement being called a "reconnoisance in force.'* 

On the night of the 26th of August, the Tenth corps, then com- 
manded by General Birney, moved from Deep Bottom to the front of 
Petersburgh, almost opposite the point where Burnside's celebrated mine 
had been exploded. Lieutenant Hughson, was severely wounded, while 
^standing between Captain Brunck and Lieutenant Stowitts, soon after 
the arrival of the regiment. Colonel Plaisted was again in command of 
the brigade, Qeneral Foster being assigned to that of the division. 

After a month in the trenches, (three or four days in and two out,) 
the Tenth corps suddenly marched back to Deep Bottom, crossed the 
James, joined Ord's Eighteenth corps, (both being commanded by General 
Butler) and advanced towards Richmond, which was supposed to be 
feebly guarded. The Eighteenth corps captured important intrenchments 
and the Tenth marched within three and a half miles of Richmond, but 
Fort Gilmer repulsed the Union troops and the rebel capital could not 
be captured. 

The National forces intrenched close to the confederate fortifications, 
and about the 5th of October the rebels made a desperate attack which 
was repulsed by the One Hundredth and other regiments. Adjutant 
Peck was very severely wounded. Soon afterward Major Nas.i hav- 

The Assault on Fort Greig. 271 

ing served three years, retired from the army. He was succeeded by 
Captain James H. Dandy, a brother of the Colonel. 

On the 27th of October Butler's army made a feint against Richmond, 
to cover movements on the south side of the James, but without impor- 
tant results. During the day's fighting Lieutenant Stowitts then As- 
sistant-Adjutant-General on the brigade staff, was ordered to advance 
on the skirmish line and move it nearer to the enemy, but was severely 
wounded on the way. At night the corps fell back into its intrench- 
mcnts,and soon established itself there in winter-quarters. 

Soon afterward a hundred and seventy-four officers and men, who 
had served three years and did not wish to remain longer were mustered 
out and sent home. After this the regiment was substantially a new 
one, there being only about fifty re-enlisted veterans among the enlisted 
men of the regiment. The line officers, however, with very few excep- 
tions were original old soldiers who had been non-commissioned officers 
or privates at the muster-in of the regiment. 

After this the One Hundredth remained in front of Richmond until the 
latter part of March 1865, and seems to have been required to do but little 
fighting, and to have enjoyed comparative comfort. On the evening of 
the day last named the Third brigade commanded by Colonel Dandy, 
the One Hundredth being commanded by his brother, Major Dandy, left 
its quarters, with the rest of its corps, marched all night, crossed the 
James and Appomattox rivers, and on the morning of the 29th took up a 
position to the southward of Petersburg. 

On the 30th of March Foster's division, in which the One Hundredth 
was still included, drove in the rebel pickets. The next'day there was 
considerable fighting, and about 3 A. M., April ist, the rebels made a des- 
perate charge on the One Hundredth and the rest of the Third brigade, 
which repulsed them with heavy loss. 

The following day (Sunday, April 2d,) the division moved forward 
to the assault of Forts Greig and Alexander, two of the last of the rebel 
strongholds. The One Hundredth, with other regiments, was launched 
against Fort Greig. It was defended by only two hundred and fifty 
Mississippians, but these, desperate to the last degree, had sworn never 
to surrender, and the fort was extremely strong. The assailants were 
probably six or eight times as numerous as the defenders, but the latter 
were able to hold them at bay for nearly half an hour. Then the Union 
columns dashed through and over all obstacles, the One Hundredth 
New York leading the way and planting its flag, first of all, on the para- 
pet of the fort. Scarcely was this done when the color-bearer was shot 
and fell dead beside his flag. Major Dandy sprang forward to raise the 
fallen banner when he, too, was instantly killed. But the Union soldiers 
swarmed into the fort on all sides, and in a few moments the survivors 
surrendered. Yet they had come as near keeping their oath as could 
well be expected, for all but thirty had been killed or wounded. 

2/2 History of Erie County. 

The next day and the next, the corps followed hard after Lee's re- 
treating army, reaching Burkesville Tuesday night. There the One 
Hundredth was detailed to guard the wagon train, and was not farther 
engaged with the enemy. The remainder of the Third brigade, how- 
ever, of which Colonel Dandy was commander, and Captain Stowitts As- 
sistant-Adjutant-General, was in the very last combat, four days after 
the battle of Appomattox, when General Lee, finding his path diirectly 
blocked by a portion of the Union soldiers, sadly decided that the gal- 
lant Confederate army of Northern Virginia must lay down its "arms. 

The One Hundredth returned at once to Richmond, at or near 
which it remained until the 28th of August on easy duty. Lieutenant- 
Colonel Payne, on his release from imprisonment by exchange, having 
retired from the army in March, (without mustering as Lieutenant-Col- 
onel) Captain Warren Granger, Jr., was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel, 
and was also brevetted Colonel. Colonel Dandy was brevetted Brigadier- 
General of volunteers. Captain Stowitts was commissioned as Major, 
but, the fighting being over, retired from the service without mustering 
into that office. Captain C. E. Walbridge, who had been detailed on 
important service in the Quartermasters department, had acquired 
there the special rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Captains Cook and Coury 
received brevet commissions as Majors. In July, the remnants of the 
One Hundred and Forty-eighth and One Hundred and Fifty-eighth 
New York Infantry were consolidated with the One Hundredth. Fred- 
erick A. Sawyer mustered as Major of the combined corps. After the 
consolidation the regiment numbered about seven hundred and forty men. 
It was mustered out at Richmond on the 28th of August, 1865, and was 
transported thence to Albany for its final discharge. 

Numerous changes had been continually taking place among the 
officers, besides those named in this sketch. Lieutenant-Colonel Gran- 
ger, who was Second Lieutenant when the regiment was mustered in, 
was the only remaining officer of those on the first roster. Ten had 
been killed or mortally wounded in action, viz. : Colonel James M. 
Brown, Major James H. Dandy, Captain William Richardson, Lieuten- 
ants Samuel S. Kellogg, John Wilkeson, Jr., Herbert H. Haddock, 
Charles H. Runckle. James H. French, Azor H. Hoyt, and Cyrus 
Brown. One had died, Lieutenant Charles S. Farnham. One had either 
died or been killed, Lieutenant Rodne}^ B. Smith, Jr. Of the others, 
some had been discharged for disability, some had resigned early in the 
war, some had been discharged after three years* service. The follow- 
ing is the roster of officers at the final muster out : — 

Field and Staff— Qo\om\, (Brevet Brigadier-General) George B. 
Dandy ; Lieutenant-Colonel, (Brevet Colonel) Warren Granger, Jr.; 
Major, Frederick A. Sawyer; Surgeon, (Brevet Lieutenant Colonel) 
Norris M. Carter; Assistant Surgeon, Edwin Schofield ; Quartermi ster, 
George G. Barnum. 

Roster of Officers at the Muster-Out. 273 

Company A. — First Lieutenant, Henry Heinz ; Second Lieutenant, 
Peter Kelly. 

Company B. — Captain, Jonathan E. Head ; First Lieutenant, Joseph 

Company C. — Captain Edwin Nichols ; First Lieutenant, Wayne 

Company /?. — Captain, Samuel Ely. 

Company E. — Captain, Edward Pratt. 

Company F. — Captain (Brevet Major), Edward L. Cook ; First Lieu- 
tenant, Henry Jones. 

Company G. — Captain, Jacob S. Kittle ; First Lieutenant, John S. 

Company H. — Captain (Brevet Major), Henry W. Conry ; First Lieu- 
tenant, John Gordon. 

Company L — Captain, Patrick Connolly. 

Company K. — First Lieutenant, Charles H. Waite. 




Committee to Raise a New R^ment — Major Chapin Appointed Colonel — Rapid Recruiting — 
Muster In — Roster of OflSccrs — To the Front — At Sea— Ship Island — Carrollton — 
Baton Rouge — Demonstration against Port Hudson — ''Camp Niagara"— Forward Again 

— Battle of " Plain Store " — The Charge of the One Hundred and Sixteenth — Assault on 
Port Hudson — Death of Chapin — Siege of Port Hudson— The Surrender — Down the 
River — "Cox's Plantation — At Fort Williams — Officers Furnished the "Corps d' Afrique" 

— To Sabine Pass and Back — Western Louisiana — "Camp Emory"— The Red River 
Expedition — Sabine Cross-Roads — Battle of Pleasant Hill — Return to Alexandria — To 
Morganza — At Sea Again — At Washington — In the Shenandoah Valley — Victory at 
Opequan .Creek — At Fisher's Hill — The Army Surprised at Cedar Creek — Sheridan 
Restores the Battle — The One Hundred and Sixteenth Plants its Flag on the Intrenchments 

— Through the Winter— ** The Best Regiment in the Nintccnth Corps" —At Wasliington 

— Mustered Out — Reception at Buffalo — The Last Roster of Officers — Concluding 
Remarks — The One Hundred and Fifty-Fifth Infantry— Two Companies from Buffalo — 
Services in Virginia — Promotions and Changes — One Hundred and Sixty-Fourth Infantry 

— Two Buffalo Companies — Officers' Names — Its Battles — Its Losses — One Hundred 
and Eighty-Seventh Infantry — Roster of Officers— Services — Discharge. 

One Hundred and Sixteenth Infantry. 

ON the 7th day of July, 1862, Governor Morgan issued an order direct- 
ing a new regiment to be raised in each of the thirty-two Senatorial 
districts of New York, to aid in filling the State's quota under the 
recent call of the President for three hundred thousand more volunteers. 
Erie county was constituted the thirty-first regimental district, and the 

274 History of Erie County. 

following committee was appointed to supervise the recruiting and 
organization of the new regiment : Henry M. Lansing, (Brigadier-Gen- 
eral State Militia) Hon. George W. Clinton, Hon. Nathan K. Hall, Hon. 
William G. Fargo, Hon. John Ganson, Jacob Beyer, Henry M. Kinne, 
John G. Deshler, Philip Dorsheimer, Asaph S. Bemis, E. S. Warren, S. 
G. Austin and Alexander W. Harvey. General Lansing was elected 
chairman, and Mr. Harvey, secretary. 

After tendering the colonelcy of the new regiment successively to 
Messrs. John Wilkeson and Henry W. Rogers, who declined, (though 
the latter offered to act if no younger or more experienced man could 
be agreed upon), the committee offered the position at Mr. Rogers' sug- 
gestion to Major Edward P. Chapin, of the Forty-fourth New York In- 
fantry, then in Buffalo on recruiting service, by whom it was promptly 
accepted.* He took command of Camp Morgan, at Fort Porter, the 
rendezvous of all Erie county recruits, and authority was speedily 
given to men throughout the county to raise recruits. There was some 
difficulty with the authorities at Washington about Colonel Chapin's 
leave of absence from the Forty-fourth, but after a short interval of 
absence he re-assumed command of Camp Morgan on the i6th of 
August, with a commission from the Governor as Colonel of the One 
Hundred and Sixteenth New York Volunteer Infantry. 

At this time five hundred and seven men had already been mustered 
in by Lieutenant John B. Weber, formerly of the Forty-fourth, who had 
been appointed adjutant of the regiment and camp at Colonel Chapin's 
request. Notwithstanding the fact that at least three full regiments had 
been raised in Erie during the previous )'ear, taking away a large part 
of the young men available for military service, notwithstanding the 
discouraging disasters to the National arms during the summer of 1862, 
and in spite of the fact that all the old regiments were seeking recruits, 
and that the Buffalo Board of Trade was obtaining a largQ number for 
the One Hundredth New York, yet the filling up of the new regiment 
proceeded with great rapidity, and on the third day of September, less 
than eight weeks after the first meeting of the committee, and about 
seven weeks after the commencement of recruiting, .it contained nine 
hundred and twenty-nine men. 

On that day it was mustered into the United States service by compa- 
nies by Lieutenant Sturgeon of the regular army. Some sixty or seventy 
persons had been authorized to recruit for volunteers, and as it was found 
impracticable to harmonize their various claims in the necessary time, 

♦Colonel Chapin, a native of Seneca county. N. Y., though a little under thirty years old 
at the outbreak of the war, had then been practicing .law in Buffalo almost nine years. Very 
soon afterward he raised Company A, of the Forty-fourth New York, or *' Ellsworth " regiment, 
serving a short time as Captain and being then promoted to Major. His being at Buffalo at the time 
mentioned in the text was caused by his having been severely >^<5unded at Hanover Court House, 
in May, 1862. 

The One Hundred and Sixteenth — Roster of Officers. 275 

Colonel Chapin recommended those he thought best, to the Governor, 
who promptly commissioned them. The following is the first roster of 
the commissioned officers and non-commissioned staff of the One Hun- 
dred and Sixteenth, with the number of officers and men in each Com- 
pany, and the locality in which it was enrolled, so far as shown by the 
published muster-rolls : — 

Field and Staff, — Colonel, Edward P. Chapin ; Lieutenant-Colonel, 
Robert Cottter ; Major, George M. Love ; AcJjutant, John B. Weber ; 
Surgeon, C. B. Hutchins ; First Assistant-Surgeon, Uri C. Lynde ; 
Second Assistant-Surgeon, Carey W. Howe ; Quartermaster, James 
Adams ; Chaplain, Welton M. Moddesit. 

Non-Commissioned Staff — Sergeant-Major, Orton S. Clark ; Quarter- 
master-Sergeant, Alexander Gosfin ; Commissary-Sergeant, J. L. Clag- 
horn ; Hospital Steward, C. F. A. Nichell. 

Company A. — Captain, Ira Ayer; Lieutenants, J. C. Thompson, and 
Warren T. Ferris; ninety-eieht officers and men enrolled in Evans, 
Eden, Brant, Hamburg, East Hamburg, and a few in Buffalo and Aurora. 

Company B. — Captain, Albert J. Barnard ; Lieutenants, Leander 
Willis and Daniel Corbett ; one hundred and one officers and men, 
enrolled in Clarence, Newstead, Lancaster, Alden, Cheektowaga, Elma, 
and Aurora. 

Company C — Captain, David W. Tuttle ; Lieutenants, Robert F. 
Atkins and Edward J. Cornwell ; ninety officers and men enrolled prin- 
cipally in Buffalo, with a few in Cheektowaga, Alden, Eden and Saraina. 

Company D. — Captain, John Higgins ; Lieutenants, Charles F. Wads- 
worth and Elisha W. Seymour ; one hundred officers and men enrolled 
mostly in Buffalo, with some from Newstead, West Seneca, Aurora and 

Company E. — Captain, Richard C. Kinney ; Lieutenants, James Mc- 
Gowan and Thomas Notter ; ninety officers and men enrolled princi- 
pally in Buffalo, with a few in Amherst. 

Company F. — Captain, George G. Stanbro ; Lieutenants, Wilson H. 
Grey and Clinton Hammond ; eighty-four officers and men enrolled in 
Concord, Sardinia, Boston and Collins. 

Company G. — Captain, John M. Sizer ; Lieutenants, Timothy Lina- 
han and George Peterson ; ninety officers and men enrolled in Buffalo. 

Company rl. — Captain, William Wuerz; Lieutenants, David Jones 
and Frederick Sommers ; eighty-nine officers and men ; fifty-seven 
enrolled in Buffalo, the rest in Aurora, Amherst, Clarence, Brant, Ham- 
burg and West Seneca. 

Company /. — Captain, Jefferson Stover; Lieutenants, George W. 
Carpenter and Edward Irwin ; ninety officers and men ; twenty-two 
enrolled in Marilla, the rest in Buffalo, Wales, Holland, Lancaster, Sar- 
dinia and Elma. 

Company K. — Captain, James Ayer ; Lieutenants, Philip W. Gould 
and John W. Grannis; eighty-four officers and men enrolled princi- 
pally in Evans, with some from Hamburg, Brant and North Collins. 

Total, nine hundred and thirty-one officers and men, all residents of 
Erie county. 

Only two days later the One Hundred and Sixteenth (except Com- 
pany K., which receivecf a short furlough to enable its members to settle 

276 History of Erie County. 

their business at home) set out for the front, receiving ere they left, a 
handsome stand of colors, presented by the citizens of Buflfalo through 
the Hon. Henry W. Rogers. The regiment received its arms and equip- 
ments in bulk at Elmira,and then sped on through Pennsylvania to Balti- 
more, which it reached on the 7th of September. It encamped near that city 
and remained there, except during a few days' absence in Pennsylvania, 
until the 5th of November,-being thoroughly drilled and carefully in- 
structed in all soldierly duties by Colonel Chapin and the few experi- 
enced officers under him. 

On the day last mentioned, the One Hundred and Sixteenth, with 
five other regiments, all forming a brigade commanded by General Will- 
iam H. Emory, took boat for Fortress Monroe. Here they remained 
three weeks, but on the 4th of December, they again set sail together with 
the rest of a large force known as the Banks Expedition, but then com- 
manded by General Emory. After nine days more on shipboard, the 
expedition reached Ship Island, off the southern coast of Mississippi, on 
the 13th of December. Sixteen days more were spent there in drill and 
other preparations, and then the One Hundred and Sixteenth proceeded 
by ship to Carrollton, near New Orleans, where its Colonel again re- 
ported to General Emory. 

Here another month was spent, Colonel Chapin utilizing every day 
in preparation for active ser\'ice. General Banks' command was at this 
time organized as the Nineteenth army corps, with this regiment in the 
Third Brigade of the First (Emory's) Division. In the fore part of Feb- 
ruary, the One Hundred and Sixteenth was transferred to Baton Rouge 
and made a part of the First brigade of the Third (Augur's) division, 
probably to secure the services of Colonel Chapin as brigade commander, 
as the other colonels of his brigade at Carrollton out-ranked him, while 
he out-ranked those with whom he was brigaded at Baton Rouge. At 
all events he was placed in command of his new brigade, all the regi- 
ments except his own being composed of nine months* men. 

On the 9th of March, 1863, the regiment was supplied with shelter 
tents in place of the " A " tents previously used, and on the 14th it took 
the road, with the rest of the army, for Port Hudson, sixteen miles up 
the river. The command bivouaced only a few miles from that cele- 
brated stronghold, but the movement seems to have been intended only 
as a demonstration to aid Admiral Farragut's fleet in sailing up the river, 
past the fortress. After this was accomplished the troops returned to 
Baton Rouge, although the One Hundred and Sixteenth spent a few 
days at Winter's plantation, nearly opposite Port Hudson. The greater 
part of Banks' army soon returned down the river, leaving Augur's divi- 
sion at Baton Rouge. For two months the One Hundred and Sixteenth 
occupied a camp at the latter place, which the men called ** Camp 

Gallantry of the Regiment at " Plain Store." 277 

In the meanwhile General Banks, with the rest of his forces had 
made a long circuit through Western Louisiana, had come down the Red 
river and had crossed the Mississippi, so as to approach Port Hudson 
from the north. On the 20th of May, Colonel Chapin's brigade moved 
to Merritt*s plantation, only five miles from Port Hudson, where it joined 
other troops of Augur's division, and where that General took command 
of the whole. The next day the command advanced on the Bayou Sara 
road, which runs four miles in rear of Port Hudson, being intersected by 
a road from that place at a collection of a few houses known as " Plain 
Store," where General Augur was directed to await the arrival of Gen- 
eral Banks. As the advance approached that point about ten o*clock on 
the morning of the 21st of May, 1863, it was checked by the fire of Con- 
federate artillery. This was promptly replied to and a brisk artillery 
fight took place while the advance brigade (Colonel Dudley's) was de- 
ployed into line and Chapin's Brigade was massed in support of the 
Union batteries. 

The enemy at length retired, but ere long the fight re-commenced, 
and Colonel Chapin was ordered to send two of his best regiments to 
report to General Augur in person. He sent the One Hundred and 
Sixteenth New York and the Forty-ninth Massachusetts, which moved 
to the left toward the location of our artillery on the Port Hudson road, 
west of Plain Store. As the two regiments approached that point their 
cars was saluted by heavy musketry fire, and a part of the Forty-eighth 
Massachusetts came rushing back in great haste, seriously demoralizing 
the Forty-ninth. The One Hundred and Sixteenth, however, under the 
command of Major Love, moved steadily forward without a man break- 
ing ranks. 

Meeting General Augur, the regiment formed line by his order, but 
had scarcely done so when the enemy poured a heavy volley of musketry 
into it almost directly from its rear. The men were at once faced about 
as there was no time for any other maneuver, and promptly returned the 
fire. After twenty or thirty rounds had been exchanged General Augur 
asked Major Love if his regiment could make a charge. His reply was 
" The One Hundred and Sixteenth will do anything you order them 
to do " — a somewhat risk}' statement to make of any body of men — but 
perhaps a natural one for a young and confident soldier. 

The General gave the order, the Major rode down the line and in. 
formed the company commanders and then led the way toward the 
enemy, twenty paces ahead of the line. The regiment rushed forward 
with a yell and the enemy broke at once and fled through an open field 
to another belt of woodland, where they were rallied and again opened 
fire. The One Hundred and Sixteenth returned it a few moments, 
when General Augur ordered another charge, before which the enemy 
again fled, and this time did not attempt to rally. 

278 History of Erie County. 

Although the battle of Plain Store will not rank as one of the great 
conflicts of history it was a very sharp fight while it lasted, and as all the 
real fighting was done by the One-Hundred and Sixteenth New York, 
which then met the enemy for the first time, that regiment was fairly en- 
titled to plume itself on the gallantry and energy which it then displayed. 

General Augur congfiatulated Colonel Chapin warmly on the vic- 
tory, which the former officer justly attributed to the regiment which 
the latter had trained. During the short time the One Hundred and 
Sixteenth was engaged, it had thirteen men killed and forty -four wound- 
ed, including Lieutenant Charles Boniski, who died soon after. 

On the 24th General Banks' army having arrived from Bayou Sara 
and General W. T. Sherman's division from New Orleans, the whole com- 
mand of twenty thousand men advanced and invested Port Hudson. A 
council of war determined to assault the fortress, the brigade commanders 
were directed to form storming parties of special volunteers to lead the 
attack in front of their respective brigades. Colonel Chapin called for 
eleven officers and two hundred enlisted men from his brigade, the pro- 
portion of the One Hundred and Sixteenth being about three officers and 
fifty men. From that regiment alone nine officers, (Major Love, Captains 
Higgins, Kinney and Wadsworth, and Lieutenants McGowan, Grey, 
Ferris, Morgan and Dobbins,) and sixty-five enlisted men promptly re- 
sponded to the call. 

At noon on the 27th of May, 1863, Colonel Chapin's Brigade was 
moved forward to a position just in rear of the skirmish line already 
held by Companies B and G of the One Hundred and Sixteenth. The 
brigade storming party was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel James 
O'Brian, of the Forty-eighth Massachusetts, while Lieutenant William J. 
Morgan was selected to lead the detachment from the One Hundred and 
Sixteenth. Between one and two o'clock the command was given and 
the various brigades, led by their respective storming parties, rushed 
forward toward the coveted fortress, though not with the unity of 
movement which the circumstances required. Colonel Chapin led the 
stormers of his brigade out of the wood where they had stood, by the 
side of Colonel O'Brian, directed him in his course and then turned to 
lead his brigade. 

But the enemy was well intrenched at the edge of a high table- 
land, the approach to which was through wild ravines and over steep 
and broken ground, made still more impassable by large tracts of 
" slashing," skillfully disposed beforehand. Both brigade and storming 
party were speedily disorganized by these obstacles, even more than by 
the terrific hail of round-shot, shell, and bullets, which came crashing 
among them. Colonel Chapin, while most gallantly leading his men 
was wounded in the knee very early in the fight, but kept on his course 
and a few moments later was instantly killed by a ball through the head. 

Before Port Hudson. 279 

Lieutenant-Colonel O'Brian at the head of the storming party pushed 
forward as near the works as man could go, when he, too, was instantly 
killed. The loss of these two gallant'commanders added to the difficul- 
ties caused by natural and artificial obstacles, and the men, utterly un- 
able to keep in line or act together, could only shelter themselves behind 
stumps and trees, and maintain an active fire against their almost unseen 
enemies. The brigades which attacked on the right and left and all 
along the line only attained a similar result, and after a fruitless fusilade 
of several hours the troops were withdrawn into the woods from 
which they had started. The One Hundred and Sixteenth had a hun- 
dred and six officers and men killed and wounded, including Colonel 
Chapin killed. Lieutenant Jones mortally wounded, and Major Love and 
Lieutenants Grey and Morgan wounded. 

Just after the battle, Lieutenant-Colonel Cottier, who had sent in 
his resignation before leaving Baton Rouge, left the army to return 
home. Major Love being disabled. General Augur selected Captains 
John Higgins and John M. Sizer as acting field officers. The brigade 
passed under the command of Colonel Charles J. Paine, a Massachusetts 
officer then in command of the Second Louisiana (white) Volunteers. 

Regular siege was then laid to Port Hudson, and digging intrench- 
ments and erecting batteries became the order of the day. Early in the 
morning of the 13th of June, the regiment took part in a feigned attack 
on the enemy's center, intended to cover more zealous assaults on the 
right and left. During the skirmish fire which the One Hundred and 
Sixteenth kept up for several hours, Lieutenant Timothy Linahan was 
killed and twenty-seven enlisted men were killed and wounded. The 
assailing forces on either side failed to gain an entrance, but in some 
places the intrenched lines were advanced to within fifty yards of the 
rebel works. 

From the nearest point a mine was then run under the enemy's in- 
trenchments, while in the center the One Hundred and Sixteenth was 
kept busily at work, supporting batteries and sharp-shooting with the 
watchful foe. The mine before mentioned being well advanced, volun- 
teers were again called for, on the 24th of June, to form one storming 
party for the whole command, intended to lead the wa)' into the fortress 
when the mine was exploded, and, notwithstanding the defeats previously 
suffered, twenty-four men of the One Hundred and Sixteenth responded 
to the call. All the stormers were assembled and drilled in a separate 
body, but before it was deemed time to act, the news came on the 6th of 
July, that Pemberton had surrendered Vicksburg, and immediately after- 
ward General Gardner, the Commander of Port Hudson, yielded it to 
General Banks. 

It was decided that only a part of our troops should enter the for- 
tress at the time of the surrender, and each Division-Commander was 

28o History of Erie County. 

directed to select his two best regiments for that purpose. General 
Augur selected the One Hundred and Sixteenth New York, and the 
Second Louisiana (white) for the post of honor. On the 9th of July, the 
chosen regiments marched in and received the surrender of over six 
thousand rebels. The sapie day the One Hundred and Sixteenth took 
boat and went down the river to Donaldsonville. 

On the 13th, the regiment, with other troops, was ordered out to 
meet the forces of General Richard Taylor, who was operating in the 
vicinity. Colonel Paine*s brigade was stationed in a ditch with a fence 
in front of it, and when the rebel line approached, the brigade rose and 
poured in volley after volley, which sent the assailants to the right-about 
in very brief time. They took refuge in the numerous buildings of 
" Cox's Plantation," and a desultory fire ensued between the hostile 
parties. Finally a Union brigade on the other side of a bayou on the 
right, needlessly retreated, thus uncovering the flank of Paine's brigade, 
when General Weitzel, the commander of all the Union troops, ordered 
them back to Donaldsonville. The commander of the brigade which 
first retreated, was court-martialed and dismissed the service. Captain 
David W. Tuttle, of the One Hundred and Sixteenth, was killed, as were 
four enlisted men, besides Lieutenant Orton S. Clark, and twenty-two 
men wounded, and twenty-one men captured ; aggregate of casualties, 
forty-nine. The fight was known as the Battle of Cox's Plantation. 

General Taylor did not farther molest our troops, and soon retired 
from the vicinity. The One Hundred and Sixteenth remained at Don- 
aldsonville until the ist of August, and in the meantime Major Love was 
commissioned as Colonel, Captain Sizer as Major, and ere long Captain 
Higgins as Lieutenant-Colonel. 

On the first of August, the regiment returned to Baton Rouge, and 
two weeks later was put in garrison at Fort Williams, the principal 
defense of that place ; being at the same time made a part of the First 
brigade, First division of Bank's army. 

During that summer General Banks was forming a body of colored 
soldiers, called the " Corps d'Afrique," and in July, Adjutant John B. 
Weber, was selected to raise and command one of the regiments, after- 
wards called the Eighty-ninth United States Colored Infantry. He 
naturally selected many of his officers from among his comrades of the 
One Hundred and Sixteenth, and the following were in time duly com- 
missioned to the respective positions named : Adjutant John B. Weber, 
as Colonel ; Captain Robert F. Atkins, as Lieutenant-Colonel ; Sergeant- 
Major Richard M. Hair, as Adjutant ; Commissary-Sergeant, J. L. Clag- 
horn, as Quartermaster ; Second-Lieutenants, Philip J.Webber and Oscar 
F. Tiffany and Sergeants John W. Tuttle and Rollin C. Hubbard, as Cap- 
tains ; Sergeants John L. Carmer and Willard S. Berry, as First-Lieuten- 
ants ; and Corporal Charles Faul, as Second-Lieutenant. After the regi- 

The Red River Expedition. 281 

ment was nearly filled, however, most of his men were transferred to 
another, and in the summer of 1864, it was consolidated with other com- 
mands ; its Colonel resigned, and most of its officers were mustered out. 
During its existence, Colonel Weber was nearly all of the time in com- 
mand of a brigade. 

On the 27th of August the One Hundred and Sixteenth was ordered 
to New Orleans, and sailed thence with General Franklin's Nineteenth 
corps to Sabine Pass, on the coast of Texas. Three gun-boats had a 
brief fight with a Confederate fort, two of them being disabled and cap- 
tured, when General Franklin immediately took his army and fleet back 
to New Orleans. 

Three days later the One Hundred and Sixteenth moved west by 
rail to Brashear City, where there was assembled an army consisting of 
the Thirteenth and Nineteenth Corps. This army marched slowly, with 
long rests, to the western part of Louisiana, without the occurrence of 
any important event, and on the ist of November turned back. On the 
night of the 2d, a division of the Thirteenth Corps, under General Bur- 
bridge, while encamped several miles from the main army, was surprised 
and badly cut up by a Confederate force. The Nineteenth Corps has- 
tened to their aid, but the enemy was gone. 

After staying two weeks at Vermillion Bayou, the regiment removed 
to New Iberia, where it remained until the 7th of January, 1864, when it 
marched to Franklin. This was its home until the 15th of March, and its 
camp ("Camp Emory") became famous for its fine appearance and the 
numerous ornaments, such as miniature fortresses, elegant arbors, etc., 
erected by the various companies. 

On the day last named, the One Hundred and Sixteenth set out on 
the famous " Red River Expedition;** Colonel Love being in command 
of the brigade and Lieutenant-Colonel Higgins at the head of the regi- 
ment. At this time, owing to deaths, resignations, absence, detachment 
on special service, etc., eight companies had only one commissioned 
officer each, on duty with them ; the others having two each. 

The army marched westward by easy stages, along the road trav- 
ersed the previous fall, to Bayou Grand Coteau, and thence northwest- 
ward to Alexandria on the Red River. Then General Banks took com- 
mand, and in the latter part of March his army supposed to be thirty-five 
thousand strong (Grover s division of Franklin's corps being left at Alex- 
andria) moved up the river toward Shreveport; the One Hundred and 
Sixteenth being in Dwight's brigade, Emory's division of Franklin's (Nine- 
teenth) corps. At noon on the 8th of April, the force being then eight miles 
above the village of Pleasant Hill, heavy cannonading was heard, and it 
was soon learned that the cavalry, eight miles further in advance, was 
being rapidly driven back. The Thirteenth corps went to their aid, and 
Emory's division, all of the Nineteenth corps present, followed, while 
the Sixteenth corps was eight miles back of that. 

282 History of Erie County. 

At Sabine Cross-roads, the division went into line ; the One Hun- 
dred and Sixteenth being on the extreme right, behind a rail fence, with 
an open field in front. Another regiment sent in advance to check the 
enemy, fell slowly back through the line, but the division steadily held its 
fire until the rebels were within a few paces, when the boys in blue poured 
in several rapid volleys, driving them out of sight in less than double- 
quick. The Nineteenth corps remained there until midnight, when it 
retreated to Pleasant Hill. 

The next day preparations were made against an expected attack, 
and when the enemy approached at 4 P. M., the One Hundred and Six- 
teenth again found itself on the right of the line, with a sort of breast- 
work of rails in front of it, behind which it lay down. The rebels 
charged the line five times but were defeated ever)' time, as was also an 
attempt to turn the flank of the regiment. Then an advance was made 
along the whole Confederate line, outflanking and driving back one brig- 
ade on the left, but being in turn routed and driven back more than a 
mile by the bullets and bayonets of the Sixteenth corps. But notwith- 
standing its victory the army had no rations, (though it might have 
had) and General Banks had become as thoroughly alarmed as he had 
before been overconfident ; so, early the next morning it started back 
down the river. The losses of the One Hundred and Sixteenth were 
comparatively light, doubtless owing to l^their protected positions ; only 
twenty-one men being killed and wounded at Sabine Cross-roads and 
twelve officers and men at Pleasant Hill. 

The retreat continued to Merritt's Blufl^, where there was a sharp 
fight, but where the One Hundred and Sixteenth was only slightl)' 
engaged, and thence to Alexandria, which the army reached on the 25th 
of April. Here it remained until the 13th of May; the One Hundred 
and Sixteenth taking an active part in building the famous wing-dams 
which enabled the gunboats to get over the falls at that place. From 
there the army proceeded, uninterrupted except by an artillery fight at 
Mansura Plains, to Morganza on the Mississippi, which it reached on the 
2 1 St of May. 

On the 2d of July, 1864, the One Hundred and Sixteenth — again, 
after various changes, in the First brigade, (commanded by Colonel Love,) 
of Emory's division— took boat at Morganza, and re-shipped at New 
Orleans under sealed orders, which were opened in the Gulf of Mexico, 
when officers and men were astonished to find themselves on their way 
to Fortress Monroe. Reaching that place on the 12th of July, the Nine- 
teenth corps proceeded to Washington without disembarking, landed 
there on the 13th, and the next day marched out to check the rebel forces 
hovering around the capital. 

After numerous inexplicable marchings to and fro in Maryland and 
Northeastern Virginia, the Nineteenth corps found itself on the loth of 

In the Shenandoah Valley. 283 

August, 1864, located near Harper's Ferry, and just entering, with other 
troops, in the " Campaign of the Shenandoah ;" all being under the orders 
of a man then almost unknown, who had assumed command but a day or 
two before — General Philip H. Sheridan. The troops at once moved up 
the valley, and on the 13th drove the rebels easily from the line of Cedar 
Creek. Three days later they again moved down the river and lor a 
month the armies of Sheridan maneuvered in the lower valley of the 

On the 19th of September, the Union cavalry found a rebel force 
strongly posted on Opequan creek. The horsemen drove it away, when 
Sheridan's army crossed the creek, moved through a narrow gorge, 
(which it would seem as if Early should have tried to hold) and formed 
on the open ground beyond. Grover's division, in the advance of the 
Nineteenth corps, was furiously attacked and driven back, but rather by 
the side of Dwight's division, to which the One Hundred and Sixteenth 
belonged. After two or three hours' firing with comparatively slight 
results, the Eighth corps came up fresh from the rear, and led in a de- 
termined charge of the whole army which drove the rebels in headlong 
flight, capturing five pieces of artillery, fifteen battle-flags and numerous 
prisoners. In the battle (sometimes called ** Opequan Creek "and some- 
times '* Sheridan's Winchester,") the One Hundred and Sixteenth had 
nine men killed and forty wounded. 

The victory was promptly followed up, and on the 22d of Septem- 
ber, our army was in front of Early's, which was thoroughly fortified at 
the extremely strong natural position of Fisher's Hill. The Sixth and 
Nineteenth corps made a great parade of intrenching and fighting, while 
the Eighth corps made a long march, and then a fierce attack on the 
enemy's flank. The other two corps joined in the assault, but the enemy 
was defeated before they were fairly engaged. The chief work of the 
One Hundred and Sixteenth was to drive a rebel force from a line of 
rail pens, which was so quickly done by a gallant charge that the regi- 
ment had but ten men killed and wounded. Early's army was thor- 
oughly defeated, losing two thousand prisoners, twenty-one pieces of 
artillery, and nearly all the battle-flags there were left. 

Sheridan drove Early up the valley three days more in hot haste, 
but rested when he reached Harrisonburg. After some operations at 
or near Staunton, the army moved back from Harrisonburg on the 6th 
of October, and on the loth, encamped at Cedar Creek. 

At daylight on the 1 8th, while General Sheridan was absent,(being then 
on his return from a trip to Washington on official business,) General 
Early, who had been re-inforced by Longstreet's corps from Richmond, 
outflanked, surprised and utterly defeated the Eighth corps. Following up 
his victory, he compelled the Nineteenth corps to abandon its works, 
and half-face to the rear, and in the fighting which ensued the One Hun- 

284 History of Erie County. 

dred and Sixteenth suffered considerable loss. Soon the whole army 
retreated, though in less confusion than before, with a loss of two thou- 
sand prisoners and twenty-four pieces of artillery. 

But ere long tremendous cheers were heard rolling along the col- 
umn, and it was soon learned that "Little Phir* had returned. He 
speedily put the army in line, facing the enemy, who was not pressing 
as urgently as before, and ordered the men to get dinner. After this, at 
three P. M., the line moved forward. The First brigade coming under a 
heavy fire, its commander. Colonel Davis, ordered a charge, which was 
gallantly made; Colonel Love leading the One Hundred and Sixteenth 
against a line of rebels behind a stone wall, which was captured at a 
dash with little loss. This was the first brigade to burst through the 
enemy's line, and General Sheridan at once ordered re-enforcements to 
be sent to it. 

Another charge by the same brigade and the rest of the division 
broke the Confederate line again, when Early's whole army at once 
retreated in great confusion, closely followed by the Union infantry, and 
repeatedly charged in flank by Custer's Cavalry. Colonel Love in 
person captured the battle-flag of the Second South Carolina regiment, 
and the One Hundred and Sixteenth, first of all the army, planted its 
flags on the fortifications at Cedar Creek, so hastily abandoned in the 
morning. The cavalry captured more prisoners than they could take 
care of, and General Emory sent his first brigade to help bring them in. 
Afterward the First Brigade, with the rest of the army resumed its place 
in the fortifications at Cedar Creek. The One Hundred and Sixteenth 
had fifty-one men killed and wounded during the fighting of the day, 
including Captains George W. Carpenter, Charles S. Crary, and John 
H. Rohan, wounded. 

On the 9th of November the power of the enemy in the Shenandoah 
being effectually broken, the army moved down to Newtown. The 
Sixth and Eighth corps, were sent away, leaving that region held only 
by the Nineteenth corj)S and the cavalry. On the 30th of December, 
the corps moved to Stevenson's Depot, near which it remained until the 
4th of April, 1865. While the corps lay there, General Emory, being 
requested by the Ordnance Department to furnish some new fashioned 
gun-cappers to the best regiment in his corps, sent them to the One 
Hundred and Sixteenth New York, and when they were voted worth- 
less, General Sheridan endorsed the Colonel's report, saying: — 

" The regiment of Colonel Love enjoys the reputation of being the 
best in the Nineteenth Army Corps. ****** 

P. H. Sheridan, Major-General Commanding." 

While there, too, the Nineteenth Army corps, with which the One 
Hundred and Sixteenth New York had long been identified, was broken 
up and Lieutenant-Colonel Sizer (Lieutenant-Colonel Higgins h d re- 

Return of the One Hundred and Sixteenth. 285 

signed) who had been on General Emory's staff a year, returned and 
took command of the regiment, Colonel Love being again in command 
of a brigade and being brevetted a brigadier-general. Captain George 
W. Carpenter had been appointed major. 

On the 4th of April the One Hundred and Sixteenth broke camp, and 
after spending two or three weeks more at various points in the valley, 
proceeded by rail to Washington. Here it was soon detailed as provost 
guard, and continued on that duty until the 8th of June, when it was 
mustered out of the United States service. Three days later the regi- 
ment took the cars for Buffalo, which it reached at 3 o'clock in the after- 
noon of the 13th of June. 

Great preparations had been made to do honor to the returning 
heroes, and a vast throng had assembled at the depot. Slowly the 
veterans made their way through thousands of friends, formed in line, 
and moved along Exchange street, under the escort of the Seventy -fourth 
regiment of the National guard, the veterans of the Twenty-first volun- 
teers, and numerous other bodies. The men of the One Hundred and 
Sixteenth wore their dress coats and shoulder-scales, and were in " spick 
and span" order in every respect, and their marching* and wheeling 
well displayed the effects of their three years' training. Their whole 
route to Fort Porter was gay with banners and decorations, and lined 
with thousands upon thousands of applauding people. After being wel- 
comed at Fort Porter by Judge Clinton, they were given a short fur- 
lough to await the arrival of the paymaster, and it was not until the 
26th of June, that the officers and men of the One Hundred and Six- 
teenth New York Volunteers were finally paid off, received their dis- 
charges and re-entered civil life. 

Numerous changes had taken place among the officers. We have 
noticed those among the field-officers as they occurred, and the names of 
those killed in action. Besides these Captain James Ayer and Lieutenant 
Elisha B. Cottier died in the service. The following is a roster of the 
commissioned officers and non-commissioned staff at the muster-out, with 
the number of officers and men in each company : — 

Field and Staff, — Colonel, George M. Love, (Brevet Brigadier- 
General); Lieutenant-Colonel. John M. Sizer; Major, George W. Car- 
pentcr ; Adjutant, John C. Nial ; Quartermaster, George vV. Miller ; 
Surgeon, Chauncey B. Hutchins ; Assistant-Surgeon M. Eugene Shaw ; 
Chaplain Hiram J. Gordon. 

Non-Commissioned Staff — Sergeant-Major, Oloff W. Stadin ; Quarter- 
master-Sergeant, Michael Danner, Jr.; Commissary-Sergeant, William H. 
Matthewson ; Hospital-Steward, Charles F. A. Nichell; Principal Musi- 
cians, John Martin and Julius S. Knapp. 

Company A. — Captain, George H. Shepard; First-Lieutenant, John 
G. Dayton ; forty-three officers and men. 

Company B, — Captain, John G. Woehnert ; First-Lieutenant, Wm. F. 
Feldhani; Second-Lieutenant, Sam'l Leonard ; forty-four officers and men. 


286 History of Erie County. 

Catnpany C\ — Captain, William J. Morgan ; twenty-six officers and 

Company D. — Captain, Elisha W. Sej'mour ; forty-seven officers and 

Company E. — First-Lieutenant, Henry A. C. Swarz ; Second Lieuten- 
ant, William Kelso ; thirty-five officers and men. 

Company F. — Captain, Charles S. Crary ; First-Lieutenant, William 
W. Grace; thirty-eight officers and men. 

Company G. — Captain, John H. Rohan ; First-Lieutenant, William 
Holden ; fifty-seven officers and men. 

Company H, — Captain, Orton S. Clark ; First-Lieutenant, Charles D. 
Ballard ; forty-three officers and men. 

Company I, — Captain, William Tibbitts; First-Lieutenant, Charles H. 
Curry ; twenty-seven officers and men. 

Company K. — Captain, Warren T. Ferris ; First-Lieutenant, John H. 
Dingman ; fifty-one officers and men. 

Total in regiment at muster-out, four hundred and forty-three officers 
and men. 

The One Hundred and Sixteenth did not suffer as much in battle as 
some of the regiments which fought in the Army of the Potomac, yet 
eighty-nine of its officers and men were killed or mortally wounded dur- 
ing its two and a half years of active service. Eighty-four died of disease, 
which is much less than might have been expected, considering that the 
regiment spent a year and a half in the malarial swamps of Louisiana. 
Two hundred and three officers and men were wounded in action — aside 
from those mortally wounded. There were only twenty-seven deserters 
from the regiment during its whole term of service, which was certainly 
much less than the average, and is very creditable to the character of 
the men. Of the nine hundred and thirty-one officers and men who 
were mustered into the United States service on the 3d of September, 
1862, those not recorded as dead, deserted, nor mustered out with the 
regiment were nearly all discharged on account of disability, resulting 
from wounds or disease, though a few were promoted out of the regi- 
ment and a few were transferred to a Louisiana cavalry regiment. There 
were also a few recruits who joined the One Hundred and Sixteenth 
after it returned North, and who were transferred to another regiment 
when the former was mustered out. Substantially, however, it was the 
same body throughout, composed of the ever decreasing number of 
those who entered its ranks between the loth of July and the 3d of Sep- 
tember, 1862. 

One Hundred and Fifty-Fifth Infantry. 

In the autumn of 1862 several companies were raised in Buffalo and 
vicinity, with the expectation that they would be formed into a new 
Erie- County regiment, but this was found impracticable, and the men 
were assigned to various organizations. Two companies went into the 
One Hundred and Fifty-fifth Infantry. This regiment was organized at 

The One Hundred and Sixty-Fourth. 287 

New York, and was mostly raised in that city. It was mustered into the 
United States service for three years on the i8th day of November, 1862, 
the two Erie county companies being designated as " I *' and " K. " The 
oflficers of the former at the muster-in, were Captain, John Byrne ; First 
Lieutenant, James Worthington ; and Second Lieutenant, Hugh Mooney. 
Those of the latter were Captain, James McConvey ; First Lieutenant, 
John McNally ; and Second Lieutenant, John Ternan. 

The regiment joined the forces stationed near the mouth of the 
James river, in Virginia. There its onl)- serious conflict with the rebels 
was at the battle of Suffolk and it had the fortune to escape from any 
other severe engagements during the whole of the year 1863. In the 
spring of 1864, however, it moved forward as a part of the Army of the 
Potomac, and it soon had fighting enough on its hands to make up for 
any lost time. It was engaged in the desperate battle of Spottsylvania 
Court House and again at North Anna and Totopotomy. Moving south- 
ward with the army, it took part in the deadly and disastrous assault upon 
the impregnable intrenchments of Cold Harbor. Thence it moved 
across the James river, and took active part in the long, wearisome and 
often dangerous siege of Petersburg. During the death-struggle around 
Petersburg and Richmond, the One Hundred and Fifty-fifth participated 
in the conflicts at Strawberry Plains, Deep Bottom, Ream's Station, and 
Boydton Road. After its efforts were crowned with success by the cap- 
ture of the rebel Capital and army, the regiment was soon granted a 
release from the restraints of military life; being mustered out of service 
on the 15th day of July, 1865. 

During its term, one of the two Buffalo Captains who went to the 
front with the regiment, John Byrne, was promoted to Major, and then 
to Lieutenant-Colonel, and was finally commissioned as Colonel although, 
owing to the reduced members of the regiment, he was not mustered 
into service in that capacity. The other Buffalo Captain, James Mc- 
Convey, was also promoted to Major, but for the same reason was not 
mustered as such. Second Lieutenant, Hugh Mooney, was promoted 
to Captain. All these were mustered out with the regiment. 

The One Hundred and Fifty-fifth, both as to officers and men, 
was mostly composed of men of Irish birth or parentage, and well 
sustained the reputation for impetuous valor borne by those of that 

One Hundred and Sixty-Fourth Infantry. 

The next day after the One Hundred and Fifty-fifth New York 
Infantry was mustered into the United States service, viz. : on the 19th 
of November, 1862, the One Hundred and Sixty-fourth New York was 
in a similar manner made a part of the great National army organized to 
subdue the Slave-holders' rebellion. This regiment was also principally 

288 History of Erie County. 

raised in the city of New York, and also contained two companies from 
Buflfalo and vicinity, officered as follows : — 

Company C. — Captain, Timothy W. Kelly; First Lieutenant, William 
T. Sizer ; Second Lieutenant, Micnael G. Stapleton. 

Company D, — Captain, Christopher Graham ; First Lieutenant, Chas. 
Waters ; Second Lieutenant, Michael Riley. 

Among the field, staff and non-commissioned staff officers from Buf- 
falo, were the Colonel, John E. McMahon ; the Quartermaster, Maurice 
Courtney ; the Surgeon, Matthew F. Regan ; the Assistant Surgeon, 
John C. Wall ; the Quartermaster-Sergeant, Stephen A. Callanan ; th6 
Commissary Sergeant, William Bryan ; and the Hospital Steward, James 
W. Kinslen 

The One Hundred and Sixty-fourth, which came within one day of 
being the twin sister of the One Hundred and Fifty-fifth, was also its 
almost constant comrade in service. Like that regiment it proceeded to 
the mouth of the James river, and took part in the battle of Suffolk, and 
in addition participated in the fight at Blackwater. Like the regiment, 
too, it chanced not to be engaged in the great battles of the war until the 
campaign of i864-*65, when it repeatedly participated in the most deadly 
conflicts, suffering very heavy loss in killed and wounded. It fought at 
Spottsylvania, at Cold Harbor, at Strawberry Plains, at Deep Bottom, 
and at Ream's Station ; it braved the dangers and suffered the hardships 
incident to the siege at Petersburg, and finall}- took part in the battle of 
Boydton Road, one of the closing conflicts which overthrew the totter- 
ing fabric of the Southern Confederacy. 

Ten officers and a corresponding number of men were killed or 
mortally wounded in action, besides a large number of officers and men 
who were wounded, though not fatally. The first Colonel, John E. 
McMahon, died of disease in March, 1863. His successor, Colonel James 
P. McMahon, was killed at the head of his regiment, during the assault 
on Cold Harbor.* First Lieutenant Waters, of Buflfalo, was killed at 
Spottsylvania. Lieutenant Stapleton, after being appointed Quarter- 
master of the regiment, died ot disease in March, 1863. Quartermaster- 
Sergeant Callanan was promoted to Lieutenant and then to Captain, and 
was mustered out with the regiment. Hospital Steward Kinsler was 
promoted to Assistant-Surgeon, and was mustered out with the regiment. 

One Hundred and Eighty-Seventh Infantry. 

In the autumn ot 1864, strenuous efforts were made to raise still an- 
other Erie county regiment, composed principally of men of German birth 

* General Humphreys, in his work entitled ** The Virginia Campaign of '64 and *65,** speaking^ 
of the attack made by Gibbon's division of the Second Corps at Cold Harbor, says :— 

** Colonel McMahon, One Hundred and Sixty-fourth New York, forming the left of McKeon's 
brigade, but separated from it by the swamps, gained the breast-works with a portion of his regi- 
ment, and whijst along side of his colors cheering on his men. fell, with many wounds, dyirpj in the 
enemy's hands, they captured his colors and the men with them. 

The One Hundred and Eighty-Seventh. 289 

or parentage. Many were enlisted who had been members of the Sixty- 
fifth New York State Militia. It was found impracticable, however 
to fill up the regiment, and in October six companies were mustered into 
the United States service for two years, the organization being desig- 
nated as the One Hundred and Eighty. seventh New York Infantry, and 
being under the command of a lieutenant-colonel and major. The fol- 
lowing is a list of the commissioned officers at the muster-in with some 
facts regarding the companies : — 

Field and Staff, — Lieutenant-Colonel, Daniel Meyers ; Major, Conrad 
Sieber; Adjutant, Carl Zeny ; Surgeon, Peter L. Sonnick : Assistant- 
Surgeon, E. William Wachter. 

Company A, — Captain, Frederick Frankle ; Lieutenants, Frank Schaf- 
fer and Johnson D. Ensign ; eighty-three officers and men, from Bufifalo, 
and nearly all of the towns of Erie county, with a few from Cattaraugus 

Company C. — Captain, Charles Gayer ; Lieutenants, Valentine 
Hoffman and Charles Bartholomy ; seventy-seven officers and men, prin- 
cfpally from Buffalo and the northern towns of Erie county, with some 
from Cattaraugus county. 

Company D. — Captain, John C. Beckwith ; Lieutenants not recorded ; 
eighty-four officers and men, from Buffalo, the towns of Erie county and 
OHttaraugus county. 

Company E, — Captain, Philip H. Wagner ; First Lieutenant, Albert 
Schoenwald ; ninety-two officers and men, from Buffalo and the towns 
of Erie county. 

Company G. — Captain Frank Mauerman ; First Lieutenant, George 
H. Hodges; eighty-six officers and men, from Erie, Wyoming and 
Niagara counties. 

Company /. — Captain, Daniel Loeb ; Lieutenants, Frederick C. Hyde 
and Henry Tyler ; eighty-six officers and men, from Chautauqua and 
Cattaraugus counties. 

The One Hundred and Eighty-seventh joined the army before 
Petersburg, and took an active part in the subsequent operations which 
resulted in the capture of that city and Richmond. At the battle of 
Hatcher's Run it had about sixty men killed and wounded, and it pah- 
ticipated in numerous minor engagements. The regiment (or more 
properly battalion) was mustered out on the ist day of July, 1865. The 
following were the officers mustered out at that time according, to the 
report of the Adjutant-General of New York: — 

Lieutenant-Colonel, Daniel Meyers; Major, Conrad Sieber; Sur- 

feon, P. L. Sonnick; Assistant-Surgeon, E. W. Wachter; Adjutant, 
lenry Tyler : Captains, Frederick Frankle, John C. Beckwith, Philip 
H. Wagner, Franlc Mauerman, Daniel Loeb and Frank Schaffer ; First 
Lieutenants, Valentine Hoffman and Albert Schoenwald. 

290 History of Erie County. 



Tenth Cavalry — Four Erie County Companies — Their Officers — Hard Senrice — Battles — 
Consolidation — Master Out— Promotion, Etc. — Eleventh Cavalry — Company M — Its 
Services — Twelfth Cavalry — Companies K and M — Services — Muster-Out — Fourteenth 
Cavalry — Metcalfs Company — lU Services — Consolidation, Etc. — Sixteenth Cavalry — 
Four Eric County Companies — Services — Consolidation, Etc. — Twenty-Fourth Cavalry — 
Three Erie County Companies — Their Officers — Battles of the Regiment — Muster Out 
— Second Mounted Rifles — Three Erie County Companies — Officers — Battles, Etc.— 
Wiedrich's Battery— Its Organisation — Battle of Cross Keys — Second Bull Run — Chan- 
cellorsville — Gettysburgh — Lookout Mountain — The Atlanta Campaign — Final Grand 
March — Twenty-Seventh Light Battery — Services and Officers — Third Light Battery. 

Tenth Cavalry. 

FOUR companies of this regiment, sometimes called the Porter Guard 
were wholly or principally raised in Erie county. They were 
not designated by letters when mustered, but were distinguished as 
the First, Second, Fourth and Fifth companies of the regiment. The First 
contained ninety-five men, under Captain Albert H. Jarvis and Lieuten- 
ants Henry Field and John C. Hart. The Second contained ninety-three 
men, under Captain John Ordner and Lieutenants Barney L. Luther and 
John Werick. The Fourth contained ninety-five men under Captain 
Norris Morey, and Lieutenants Layton T. Baldwin and William A. 
Snyder. The Fifth company contained ninety-two men under Captain 
Wilkinson W. Paige and First Lieutenant William H. Whitney. The 
regiment was mustered into the service at Elmira, for three years, between 
the 27th of September and the 23d of December, 1861. 

As a rule, throughout the war, the cavalry, though constantly on 
hard service and frequently under fire, was seldom engaged in very hard 
fighting. Even in European regular armies the cavalry is rarely called 
on to do as severe fighting as the infantry, a\id the difference between 
the two arms of the service was increased in America by the nature of 
the Southern country, largely covered with dense timber, and by the 
great ease with which hastily levied soldiers can acquire a knowledge of 
the infantry service. But the Tenth New York Cavalry was again and 
again engaged in as severe fighting as was known by most of the infantry. 
It had eight officers killed in action, which was full as many as fell in the 
average of the infantry regiments, and more than in many. The companies 
before mentioned were largely recruited in the southern towns of Erie 
county, and we have been informed that more than one family in those 
towns has lost three members each in the Tenth Cavalry. 

The Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Cavalry. 291 

The list of its battle-fields included Leesburg, Brandy Station, Mid- 
dleburg (where there was a severe fight, three officers and many, men 
being killed, and a proportionate number wounded) Gettysburg, Shep- 
hardstown. Sulphur Springs, Todd's Tavern, Fortifications of Richmond, 
Hawts* Shop, St. Mary's Church, Charles City, Cross Roads, Ream's 
Station,Vaughan Road and Boydton Road. It chanced that some of these 
presented more open ground than was usually found in the South, and 
the sabers of the Tenth Cavalry frequently clashed fiercely against those 
of J. E. B. Stuart's and Fitzhugh Lee's horsemen, when the Northmen 
gave a most excellent account of themselves in what might be considered 
the favorite fighting-method of the Southern chivalry. 

This regiment was consolidated with the Twenty-fourth New York 
Cavalry, on the 17th of June, 1865 ; forming the First Provisional Cavalry, 
which was soon afterward mustered out of the service. Among the offi- 
cers of the Erie county companies. Captain John Ordner and Captain 
Wilkinson W. Paige were both killed at the battle of St. Mary's Church, 
on the 24th of June, 1864. Lieutenant Elijah Hartwell was promoted to 
Captain in January, 1865, and was subsequently brevetted Major for gal- 
lant conduct. He was transferred to the First Provisional Cavalry at 
the time of the consolidation before mentioned, and was mustered out of 
service with that regiment. Edgar S. Hinkley was promoted to Lieu- 
tenant in July, 1863, and was mustered out at the end of his term of ser- 
vice, in October, 1864. 

Eleventh Cavalry. 

Company M, of the Eleventh New York Cavalry, which regiment 
was at first usually known as " Scott's Nine Hundred," was raised in 
Buffalo. Its first officers were : Captain, John Norris ; First Lieuten- 
ant, Ira W. Allen ; and Second Lieutenant, James S. Bennett. The 
company was more than full, containing one hundred and four officers 
and men. The regiment was mustered into the service in the winter of 
1861 and '62. It served principally in Louisiana, its most important con- 
flict being that of New River. Samuel H. Wilkeson was appointed 
Lieutenant-Colonel with rank from December, 1862. He was subse- 
quently commissioned as Colonel, but was not mustered as such. He 
was mustered out of service at the expiration of his term of three years, 
in March, 1865. Captain Norris resigned in February, 1863,' and Lieuten- 
ant Bennett in January, 1865. Thomas Mitchell Was commissioned as 
Second Lieutenant in March, 1865, and the company came home under 
his command. 

Twelfth Cavalry. 

This regiment, sometimes called the "Third Ira Harris Guard," 
was mustered into service, by companies and detachments, at various 

292 History of Erie County. 

times from November 10, 1862, to September 25, 1863. Companies K 
and M were raised in Erie county. The former, at the time of muster- 
in, was commanded by Second Lieutenant Andrew T. Pierson ; the lat- 
ter by First Lieutenant William H. Ashford and Second Lieutenant 
Edward M. Ketchum. 

Before all the detachments were mustered in, the regiment was des- 
patched to North Carolina, where it was engaged in a sharp fight at 
Tarboro, on the 2d day of July, 1863. It served in that State during 
the greater part of its term, being again engaged in battle at Wise's 
Ford, on the 8th day of March, 1865, besides numerous minor skirmishes. 
It was mustered out on the 9th day of July, 1865. Second Lieutenants 
Pierson and Ketchum were promoted to First Lieutenants, and were 
mustered out as such with the regiment. 

Fourteenth Cavalry. 

The companies of this regiment were mustered into service at vari- 
ous periods between November, 1862, and July, 1863. Among them was 
one raised in Erie county. It was commanded by Captain Albert W. 
Metcalf, and contained, at the muster-in, eighty-seven men. The regi- 
ment served principally in Louisiana. In August, 1863, it was consoli- 
dated into a battalion of six companies. This battalion was consolidated 
with the Eighteenth New York Cavalry in June, 1865, with which it was 
mustered out in May, 1866. Captain Metcalf was discharged in May, 
1863, but was again 'commissioned in June, 1864. Dyer D. Lum, who 
was mustered as First Sergeant of the Erie county company, was com- 
missioned as Adjutant of the regiment February 17, 1864. He was 
commissioned as Captain, October 31, 1864, and was discharged April 
24, 1865. 

Sixteenth Cavalry. 

Of the Sixteenth New York Cavalry, four companies were raised in 
Erie county. The regiment was mustered into the service at various 
times, from June until October, 1863. The Erie County companies were: 
Company B, which at the time of muster contained one hundred and 
nine officers and men, the officers being Captain, John Nicholson and 
First Lieutenant, William J. Keays ; Company C, with eighty-five officers 
aud men, commanded by Captain Joseph Schneider, First Lieutenant 
Francis M. Baker, and Second Lieutenant Julius Winsperger; Com- 
pany D, with eighty-eight men, under Captain A. L. Washburn and First 
Lieutenant G. H. Grosvenor, and Company E, with eighty-six men, under 
Captain Charles E. Morse, and First Lieutenant W. H. Wells. 

The regiment served principally in North Cai ^lina. It was consol- 
idated with the Thirteenth New York Cavalry, on the 23d of June, 1865 ; 
the two becoming the Third Provisional Cavalry, which was mustered 
out on thd 2 1st day of September, 1865. 

The Twenty-Fourth Cavalry— Second Mounted Rifles. 293 

Captain Nicholson was promoted to Major, Februar)- 4, 1865, and 
was discharged when the consolidation took place. Samuel P. Gail was 
commissioned as Adjutant, in the forepart of 1864; was promoted to 
Captain, in November, 1864; was transferred to the Third Provisional 
Cavalry on the consolidation, and was mustered out with that regiment. 
Lieutenants Francis M. Baker, William J. Keays, Julius Winsperger, were 
promoted to Captains, were transferred to the Third Provisional, and 
were mustered out with it. 

Twenty-Fourth Cavalry. 

This regiment was raised in Erie and several Eastern counties, being 
mustered into service in January, 1864. Three companies were princi- 
pally raised in Erie county. The officers of the first of these three at 
the time of muster-in, were Leland L. D'oolittle, Captain, and Willard S. 
Silliman, First-Lieutenant ; those of the second were Charles B. Cov- 
entry, Captain, and Benjamin F. Street, First-Lieutenant ; those of the 
third were Morris H. Alberger, Captain, H. J. Tucker, First-Lieutenant, 
and William W. Cook, Second-Lieutenant. 

The regiment soon joined the Army of the Potomac, and took an 
active part in the great campaign of 1864 and '65, which closed the 
rebellion. The official report of the Adjutant-General of this State, 
shows it to have taken part in the battles of the Wilderness, Spottsyl- 
vania. North Anna, Totopotomy, Bethesda Church, Cold Harbor, Siege 
of Petersburg, Cemetery Hill, Weldon Railroad, Ream's Station, Peebles* 
Farm and Vaughan Road. 

Captain Alberger was appointed Assistant-Quartermaster, with the 
rank of Captain, in December, 1864, and was subsequently brevetted 
Lieutenant-Colonel. Captain Doolittle was appointed Surgeon in Feb- 
ruary, 1864, and resigned in July following. First Lieutenant Abram 
Tucker, was promoted to Captain, in December, 1864, and was dis- 
charged when this regiment was consolidated with the Tenth Calvary, 
forming the First Provisional Calvary, which event took place on the 
17th day of June, 1865. 

Second Mounted Rifles. 

This regiment was organized at Buffalo, in the summer and autumn 
of 1862, having been raised in Erie and other counties in the western 
part of the State. Three of its companies, D, H and K were principally 
recruited in Erie county. The first officers of Company D were Henry 
Wells, Captain, and Augustus Budd and Franklin Rogers, Lieutenants. 
Those of Company H were James T. Hall, Captain, and Harlan J. Swift, 
Second Lieutenants. Those of Company K were Samuel D. Stevenson, 
Captain, and John V. Bedell and John F. Numan, Lieutenants. 

294 History of Erie County. 

The regiment joined the Army of the Potomac, and fought at Cold 
Harbor, Petersburg, Bethesda Church, Weldon Railroad, Pegram's 
Farm, Hatcher's Run and Poplar Spring Church. 

Captain Stevenson was mustered out with the regiment. First 
Lieutenant Budd was promoted to Captain in August, 1864, and was 
mustered out with the regiment as such. Second Lieutenant Swift was 
promoted to First Lieutenant in September, 1864, and Captain in June, 
1866, being mustered out with the regiment as such. Second Lieutenant 
Rogers was promoted to First Lieutenant in August, 1 864, and to Adjutant 
in September following, being subsequently brevetted Captain and mus- 
tered out with the regiment. First Lieutenant Bedell was mortally 
wounded before Petersburg, and died on the 8th of July, 1864. Second 
Lieutenant Numan was killed at Hatcher's Run, December 9, 1864. 

WiEDRicH's Battery. 

One of the most famous of Erie county organizations was " Wied- 
rich's Battery." It was formed in August, 1861, as Battery I, of the 
First New York Artillery, but acted as a separate organization, during 
the greater part of the war. It had at its organization a hundred and 
forty men and the following officers: Captain, Michael Wiedrich; First 
Lieutenants Nicholas Sahm and Diedrich Erdmann ; Second Lieutenants, 
Christopher Schmidt and Jacob Schenkclberger. It was composed entire- 
ly of men of German birth or parentage, and on many a hard-fought field 
well maintained the reputation of the Teutonic race for stubborn, un- 
flinching courage. The battery left Buffalo for the front on the i6th of 
October. Arriving in Virginia it was attached to Blenker's Division, 
but remained mostly in camp during the winter of i86i-'62. 

Wiedrich *s Battery fought bravely and suffered severely during the 
campaign of 1862. On the 8th of June it was at Cross Keys, under 
Fremont, where six of its men were wounded, two mortally. On the 
22d of August it took part in the battle of Freeman's Ford, where it had 
one man killed and five wounded. At the second battle of Bull Run the 
gallant Germans were in the thickest of the fight ; Lieutenant Schenkcl- 
berger and thirteen men being wounded, out of a little over a hundred 
engaged. Five of the six guns belonging to the battery were disabled 
and two of the carriages had to be left on the field, but by desperate 
exertions the men saved the pieces. The battery was only in some 
minor engagements during the remainder of the year. 

Its first severe battle in 1863 was at Chancellorsville. When Hooker 
fell back from that fatal field. Captain Wiedrich was obliged to leave 
two of his pieces — at one of them all the men but one were shot down ; 
at the other four horses were killed. In all, four men were killed and 
fourteen wounded. After many a wearisome march, the batteiy was 
again in the thickest of the fight, at Gettysburg. In fact it seemed never 

Wiedrich's Battery— Twenty-Seventh Light Battery. 295 

to miss a battle. In that glorious triumph of the Union Arms, Wiedrich's 
battery had three men killed and Lieutenants Palen and Stock, and 
seventeen men wounded. In September it was sent to Nashville, and 
thence to the vicinity of Chattanooga. In November it was present at 
the battles of Lookout Mountain and Mission Ridge, but fortunately 
escaped loss in both conflicts and during the rest of the year. 

Early in February the gallant Captain was promoted to Lieutenant- 
Colonel of the Fifteenth New York artillery. Lieutenant Sahm was pro- 
moted to Captain, but soon after died, and Captain Winegar took com- 
mand. Sixty of the men re-enlisted as veterans, being more than half of 
the original members. The battery went through with Sherman to At- 
lanta, and thence to the sea, and participated in nearly every battle on 
the route. It did not suffer as severely in any one fight as in some of its 
eastern conflicts, but wherever the foe made a stand it was brought to 
the front, and generally some of its men were killed or wounded. At Lost 
Mountain, June 4th, two men were wounded ; at Ackworth Station one 
man was killed ; at Kenesaw Mountain, one was killed and one wounded ; 
at Peach Tree Creek, July 20th, one was killed and five were wounded ; 
and at the siege of Atlanta, Lieutenant Aenchen was killed and two 
men were mortally wounded. The battery accompanied Sherman to 
the sea, and thence on his triumphal march northward, but was not 
in any other serious engagement, and in 1865 was mustered out with 
the rest of the victorious Arnfiy of the Republic. 

Twenty-Seventh Light Battery. 

This battery was raised in Erie county, and was mustered into the 
United States service for three years on the 17th day of December, 1862. 
Its Captain was John B. Eaton, its First Lieutenant was William A. Bird, 
Jr., and its Second Lieutenant, Charles A. Clark. It joined the Army 
of the Potomac and fought at the battle of the Wilderness, at Cold 
Harbor and at Petersburg. It was mustered out of the service on the 
22d day of June, 1865. 

Captain Eaton was brevetted Lieutenant-Colonel, and was mustered 
out with the battery. Second Lieutenant Clark, was promoted to First 
Lieutenant, in February, 1863, and to Captain of the Twelfth New York 
Light Battery, in January, 1865. Peter L. Moore was appointed Second 
Lieutenant, in January, 1863, and First Lieutenant, in March, 1864, and 
was mustered out with the battery. John J. Teller, Jr., was appointed 
Second Lieutenant, in March, 1864, and First Lieutenant, in January, 
1865, and was mustered out with the battery. Orville S. Dewey was 
appointed Second Lieutenant in January, 1863, and was transferred to the 
Thirty-third Light Battery, in November, 1863. Henry Phillips was 
appointed Second Lieutenant in January, 1865, and was mustered out 
with the battery. William M. Church was appointed Second Lieuten- 

296 History of Erie County. 

ant in March, 1864, and First Lieutenant of the Thirty-third Light Bat- 
tery in March, 1865. William R. Scott was appointed Second Lieuten- 
ant in March, 1865, and was mustered out with the battery. 

THiRTv-TiHiRD Light Battery. 

The Thirty-third New York Battery of Light Artillery was raised 
in Erie, Niagara and Chautauqua counties. Its first officers were Algar 
M.' Wheeler, Captain ; J. D. Woods and Orville S. Dewey, First Lieuten- 
ants; and Otis S. Drake and William G. Burt, Second Lieutenants ; under 
whom it was mustered into service on the 31st day of August, 1863. 
The battery served principally in the defence of Washington, and in 

Captain Wheeler was brevetted Major and mustered out with the 
battery. Thomas E. Berry was appointed Second Lieutenant in Octo- 
ber, 1864, and subsequently promoted to First Lieutenant. Otis L. 
Drake was promoted to First Lieutenant in May, 1864. William M. 
Church was appointed First Lieutenant m March, 1865, and was mus- 
tered out with the battery. Lieutenant Burt died at Camp Barry, D. 
C, in April, 1864. E. G. Fenton was appointed Second Lieutenant in 
October, 1864. William P. Northrup was appointed Second Lieutenant 
in May, 1864, and was mustered out with the battery. 



The Early Militia — "General Trainings " — Early Organisation — Changes in 1 8 16 — Numerous 
Successive Changes — A Strange Looking Inspector — A Court-Martial— A Roster of i8a8 

— The Militia in the Patriot War— Prompt Tum-Out — Buffalo City Guard— The Two 
Hundred and Eighth Infantiy — Re-organization of the Militia — The Uniformed Regiments 

— The Sixty-Seventh Regiment — Its Services —The Ninety-Eighth Regiment — Its Services 

— Sketch of the Sixty-Fifth Regiment — Sketch of the Seventy-Fourth Regiment — The 
Seventh Battery. 

AS soon as the first settlers began making their homes in what is now 
the county of Erie, commissioners were sent to some of the more 
prominent ones with instructions to organize companies of militia. 
These were soon formed into a regiment, which was ere long divided into 
two. Mention of the part taken by these in the War of 18 12 has been 
made in the chapters devoted to that war. 

Beginning at its close we will glance at a few of the characteristics 
of the old militia, though the means of information, so far as organiza- 

The Early Militia of Erie County. 297 

tions are concerned, are very meager. The older citizens of the county 
however, all remember the "general trainings" of early days, when all 
the rank and file wore their ordinary clothes, the officers alone being 
supplied with apparel more or less resembling the uniform prescribed 
by the regulations ; and when some of the men carried rifles, others shot- 
guns, others old muskets, while many by the indulgence of their officers 
went through the drill with sticks or canes. The writer remembers 
seeing a ** company training " as late as 1846, where the Captain ordered 
the few men who had fire-arms to lay them aside and get sticks, so that 
the company would be uniformly armed. 

In the early part of the century, both before and after the War of 
1812, each militia regiment was commanded by a Lieutenant-Colonel, 
assisted by two Majors. At the close of that war, General Timothy S. 
Hopkins of Williamsville, who had been Brigadier-General, surrendered 
his commission, and Lieutenant-Colonel William .Warren, of Willink, 
was made Brigadier in his place. William W. Chapin became Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel commanding the regiment between the reservation and Ton- 
awanda Creek, with James Cronk and Joseph Wells as Majors. Ezekiel 
Cook was made Lieutenant-Colonel commanding the regiment in the 
southern town of the county, its Majors being Ezra Nott and Sumner 

In the spring of 1816, another regiment was formed ; Lieutenant- 
Colonels Chapin and Cook disappear from the record, and a commission 
was issued making Sumner Warren, of Willink, (Aurora,) James Cronk, 
of Clarence, (Newstead,) and Ezra Nott, of Concord, (Sardinia,) Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel commanding ; Joseph Wells, of Buffalo, and Luther Col- 
vin, of Hamburg, (East Hamburg,) First-Majors; and Calvin Fillmore, 
of Clarence, (Lancaster,) Frederick Richmond, of Concord, and Benja- 
min I. Clough, of Hamburg, Second-Majors. 

Two years later Brigadier-General Warren was appointed Major- 
General of the Twenty-fourth division of the New York Militia, Colonel 
Ezra Nott becoming Brigadier in his stead, over the Forty-seventh brigade. 
By this time at least four regiments of Infantry had been organized within 
the present county of Erie, and as the law had recently been changed, each 
had a Colonel, Lieutenant-Colonel and a Major. The field-officers of the 
Seventeenth regiment, north of the reservation, were James Cronk, 
Colonel; Calvin Fillmore, Lieutenant-Colonel; and Arnnah Hibbard, 
Major. Those of the One Hundred and Seventieth regiment, apparently 
comprising only the old town of Willink, (now Aurora, Wales, Holland 
and Colden,) were Sumner Warren, Colonel; Lyman Blackmar, Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel ; and Abner Currier, Major. Of the Forty-eighth regi- 
ment, in the towns farther west, Charles Johnson was Colonel ; Asa 
Warren was Lieutenant-Colonel ; and Silas Whiting was Major. Far- 
ther south was the One Hundred and Eighty-first regiment, of which 

298 History of Erie County. 

Frederick Richmond was Colonel, Truman White, Lieutenant-Colonel, 
and Benjamin Fay, Major. Besides these in the Twelfth regiment of Cav- 
alry and the Seventh regiment of Infantry, we find mention in the 
journals of the day, of Hawxhurst Addington, of Aurora, as a Captain 
in the former, and of Reuben B. Heacock, of Buffalo, as a Captain in the 
latter. This was a very military community in those days. 

Occasional notices in the newspapers are nearly the only source of 
information regarding the warriors of that period. From a military 
commission published in 1821, one learns that at that time, Abner Cur- 
rier, of Holland, was made Colonel, and Josiah Emery, Lieutenant- 
Colonel of the One Hundred and Seventieth regiment, while Hiram 
Yaw, of Boston, became Colonel of the Forty-eighth regiment, and 
Robert Kerr, Lieutenant-Colonel; the latter, we believe, taking the place 
of Lieutenant-Colonel Truman Cary. The old militia, though far inferior 
to the present National Guard,was like it, in the fact that the higher officers 
seldom retained their positions for a verj' long period. After a man 
became Major or Lieutenant-Colonel, if he was not promoted in a few 
years, he usually resigned. The honors were too expensive for long 
maintenance. Some held on until they became Brigadier-Generals and 
Major-Generals, and then they, too, speedily gave way. 

In 1822, S. K. Grosvenor was appointed Colonel of the Seventeenth 
regiment of cavalry, Daniel S. Conkey, Lieutenant-Colonel, and Lucius 
Storrs, Major. From the names of its officers this regiment was evidently 
located in and around Buffalo. Major Storrs subsequently became a 
Major-General. A little later Heman B. Potter was commissioned as 
Colonel, and as such commanded a regiment of infantry at the execution 
of the three Thayers in 1825, on which occasion we also find mention 
of Captains Matthews' and Vosburgh's troops of horse, and Captain 
Crary*s artillery. Captain Lyman Rathbun's " Frontier Guard " was 
also an organization of that day which appeared at the reception of 
LaFayette the same summer. 

James M. Stevens, of Aurora, commonly known as "Jim" Stevens, 
was a prominent military character of that day. A man of considerable 
ability, though of invincible indolence, he had obtained an appointment 
as brigade inspector, the only office to which a salary was attached. He 
was entirely competent to perform the duties of the position, but for an 
inspector, he set an especially bad example by appearing at parade on a 
scraggy Indian pony, in ragged, homespun clothes, surmounted by an 
old straw hat, and sometimes, it is said, without shoes or stockings. At 
length, on his committing some especially flagrant outrage against the 
military proprieties (tradition says that he appeared on parade bare- 
headed,) General Warren lost patience and ordered the recusant before 
a court-martial. The court met at the lower village of Aurora, Colonel 
Potter and several other military magnates being members. It lasted 

Various Commanding Officers of the Militia. 299 

several days, and concluded with a sentence of guilty ; the sentence 
being that the redoubtable inspector should be reprimanded by the 
General Commanding. The latter was so disgusted by this lame and 
impotent conclusion, and was so certain that the irrepressible " Jim " 
would care no more for a reprimand than for a summer breeze, that he 
at once disapproved the proceedings, dissolved the court and left the 
bareheaded inspector master of the field. Nevertheless, the latter seems 
to have been somewhat impressed with the proceedings, for at the next 
parade he appeared m all the glory of full '' regimentals,*' with chapeau, 
sword and boots complete, and mounted on a handsome steed in place of 
the scraggy Indian pony. 

A little later General Wan*en resigned, when Brigadier-General 
Nott was promoted to the vacant Major-Generalship. Colonels Rich- 
mond and Potter both became Brigadiers about this time. As near as 
we can learn, Colonel Richmond (Frederick Richmond, of Springville,) 
was first promoted, held the position a short time, and then gave way to 
Colonel Potter. At all events the latter was Brigadier-General of the 
Forty-seventh brigade of infantry about 1828, with the following as the 
principal officers of his brigade : Brigadier-General, Heman B. Potter, 
of Buffalo; Colonels, David Burt, of Buffalo, Harry B. Ransom, of 
Clarence, Jonathan Colby, of Holland, and Uriel Torrey, of Boston ; 
Lieutenant-Colonels, Lyman Rathbun, of Buffalo, Alanson Fox ot Clar- 
ence, Nathan M. Mann, of Wales, and Perry G. Jenks, of Boston ; 
Majors, Alanson Palmer, of Buffalo, Ansel Badger, of Alden, Edward 
H. Nye, of Aurora, and Whitman Stone, of Eden. The brigade staff 
was composed of the following officers : Hospital Surgeon, John E. 
Marshall ; Judge- Advocate, Philander Bennett: Brigade-Quartermaster, 
James W. Higgins ; Aid-de-Camp, George Hodge ; Brigade-Major and 
Inspector, Millard Fillmore. Major Fillmore's professional and political 
duties soon withdrew him from military life. 

By the time of the " Patriot War,' in 1837, numerous changes had 
taken place among the officers, although the regimental organizations 
remained substantially the same. General Potter had resigned and had 
been succeeded by Colonel David Burt ; the latter having been succeeded 
by Lieutenant-Colonel Lyman Rathbun, and the latter again by Major 
Alanson Palmer. Colonel Colby and Lieutenant-Colonel Mann of the 
One Hundred and Seventieth regiment had resigned, and Major Nye 
had died. The new Colonel and Lieutenant-Colonel were Orange T. 
Brown and Aaron Riley, both of Aurora. Doubtless there were many 
other changes of which we have met no record. Colonel Harry B. 
Ransom, however, was still at the head of his regiment, of which he was 
the commander at least ten years. 

Of some of the operations of the militia, we have spoken in the chap- 
ter which describes the " Patriot War." We may state here, however, 

300 History, of Erie County. 

that the militia responded with the greatest promptness when called 
into service. General Aaron Riley, then Lieutenant-Colonel of the One 
Hundred and Seventieth regiment, gives a vivid account of the excitement 
felt throughout the county immediately after the burning of the Caroline 
and the killing of Durfee. He was then employed in the Sheriff's office in 
Buffalo, under Sheriff Charles P. Persons of Aurora, and as Colonel, Brown 
the commander of that regiment was absent. Colonel Riley was ordered 
to call it into the field. Returning home at evening he issued the necessary 
orders to the company commanders and despatched them by trusty mes- 
sengers the same night. He allowed the commanders of companies but 
twenty-four hours from the coming morning to assemble their men at 
Aurora and East Hamburg in order to march to Buffalo. The men 
turned out without delay, and at the appointed time the companies 
marched to the rendezvous with nearly full ranks. Thence the regiment 
proceeded to Buffalo, but, perhaps fortunately, their ardor was not sub- 
ject to the strain of combat. 

The excitement arising from the '* Patriot War," was substantially 
the origin of the uniformed militia of Buffalo. There had been two or 
three uniformed companies at an earlier date, but these had become almost 
or quite defunct, and there was then substantially no force of citizen 
soldiery in the city except the old-fashioned militia, armed, equipped 
and clad, not as ** the law directs," but as indolence, apathy or chance 
might decide. 

Immediately after the affair of the Caroline, the " City Guard" was 
formed under Captain James McKay. Other Companies followed, and 
in the course ot the year they were organized as a regiment, all retain- 
ing the name of the " City Guard "—certainly the first regiment of uni- 
formed militia in Buffalo — with James McKay as Colonel, Dr. Ebenezer 
Johnson as Lieutenant-Colonel and George P. Barker as Major. It was 
not a ver}^ numerous corps, for in 1839 it had but five companies, A, B, C, 
D and E. At that time McKa)- was Colonel, Barker Lieutenant-Colonel, 
and H. H. Sizer, Major. It was designated as the Thirty-seventh regi- 
ment of artillery, but in fact, most or all of the companies were armed 
and drilled as infantry. 

In 1839, there was also an old-style regiment of infantry (the Two 
Hundred and Eighth") in the city and vicinity, of which Squire S. Case 
was Colonel and Timothy A. Hopkins of Williamsville, was Lieutenant- 
Colonel. There were also several separate companies described as the 
Lafayette Guards, the Washington Guards, the Rifle Company, etc. 
These were largely or wholly composed of Germans. 

In 1840, the Lieutenant-Colonel and Major of the Two Hundred and 
Eighth were Joseph Faxon and Alfred demons. Colonel Case remaining 
in command. George P. Barker had become Brigadier-General of 
the Eighth brigade of artillery, while the Thirty -seventh regiment of 

Organization of the Different Military Regiments. 301 

artillery was commanded by Colonel H. H. Sizer, Lieutenant-Colonel M. 
S. Faulkner and Major John J. Fay. A company of cavalry had been 
added to the fourth or fifth companies of infantry which constituted this 
regiment of artillery. 

In 1844 the organizations remained about the same ; Volncy Randall 
being Brigadier-General of the Eighth brigade of artillery, and David 
Burt of the Forty-seventh brigade of infantry. The Thirty-seventh 
artillery (still called the Buffalo City Guard) was commanded by 
Colonel Fay, Lieutenant-Colonel Brown, and Major Charles Winne. 
The Buffalo Light Artillery corps was composed of the officers of the 
regiment, with Fay as Captain, and Brown as Lieutenant. The Two 
Hundred and Eighth Infantry was commanded by Colonel Alfred 
demons. There was also a German battalion commanded by Major 
Daniel Devening, Jr., containing the Lafayette Guard, Steuben Guard, 
Jefferson Guard, Buffalo Plains Guard and Lancaster Guard, all uni- 
formed companies. 

In 1848, the Sixty -fifth regiment of infantry was organized with nine 
companies, being the first uniformed regiment which was officially desig- 
nated as infantry. A sketch of this regiment is given a little further on. 
It absorbed the greater part of the Thirty-seventh artillery and of the 
German battalion before mentioned. At this period and for several 
years later Nelson Randall was Major-General of the Fourth division 
of Infantry, and Volney Randall was Brigadier-General of the Eighth 
brigade of artillery. 

During these years the old un-uniformed militia had been gradually 
losing its efficiency throughout the State and in 1847 ^ l^^ ^^^ passed 
providing for its disbandment and for the organization of a smaller 
number of uniformed regiments. The Sixty-fifth was retained and in 
1854, the Seventy-fourth (of whichasketch is given later,) was organized, 
making a small brigade in Buffalo, commanded by Brigadier-General Gus- 
tavus A. Scroggs. Lieutenant-Colonel Aaron Riley, previously of the One 
Hundred and Seventieth, was commissioned as Colonel and authorized 
to organize the Sixty-seventh regiment of uniformed militia in that part 
of Erie county outside of the city. In the course of two or three years, 
he formed a regiment comprising six companies of infantry, one of cav- 
alry and one of artillery. Before the work was completed, however, Col- 
onel Riley was appointed Brigadier-General of a brigade embracing the 
Sixty-seventh regiment, another regiment in Wyoming county and 
another in Chautauqua. The command of the Sixty-seventh devolved 
on Colonel Chauncey Abbott, Lieutenant-Colonel Clough and Major 
John A. Case. For several years the Sixty-seventh retained a high 
degree of efficiency. In 1863, when the rebels invaded Pennsylvania, 
the Sixty -fifth commanded by Colonel Chauncey Abbott and Lieutenant- 
Colonel Clough, went to Harrisburg, where it was held, with other 


302 History of Erie County. 

forces about thirty days, to prevent a possible irruption of the enemy 
in that direction.* 

In the latter part of 1863, Dr. George Abbott, who had been out as 
surgeon of the Sixty-seventh, raised a new regiment of militia, the Nine- 
ty-eighth, in the Fourth Assembly District, comprising the southern and 
central parts of the county, and nearly corresponding with the present 
Fifth District. The' first field-officers were George Abbott, Colonel, 
and William B. Church, Major ; the Lieutenant-Colonelcy being left 
vacant. In July, 1864, the regiment was called out for a hundred days, 
and was mustered into service at Elmira with nine companies, with the 
field-officers before mentioned ; Captain C. C. Smith being mustered 
for that term of service only, as Lieutenant-Colonel. It acted as a 
part of the guard of the great camp of rebel prisoners at Elmira, and 
numerous detachments went forward as far as Petersburg in charge of 
squads of recruits, who had volunteered principally on account of the 
large bounties, and were thought to need watching. The regiment was 
kept under excellent discipline, and the authorities at Elmira were very 
loth to part with them, holding them about a month beyond the time 
for Avhich they were mustered. 

The next year, 1865, the Sixty-seventh regiment was consolidated 
with the Ninety-eighth, the latter retaining its number and commander. 
Lieutenant-Colonel D. C. Corbin and Major William H. Candee, of the 
Sixty-seventh, were made Lieutenant-Colonel and Major of the Ninety- 
eighth. The latter thus became a ten-company regiment with full ranks, 
embracing all of Erie county outside of Buffalo. It retained its organi- 
zation until 1869, when it was disbanded; the National guard of the 
State being at that time reduced about two-thirds. 

Having now given an outline of the militia forces which have passed 
away, we will close with brief sketches of those organizations which are 
still in existence. 

The SixTV-FfFTH New York Regiment. 

The Sixty-fifth regiment was organized in 1848, with the following 
officers : — 

Field and Staff— QoXowfX, Henry K. A'iele ; Lieutenant-Colonel, Otis 
A'aughn ; Major, Jacob Krettner; Adjutant, Martin Buck; Quarter- 
master, Henry B. Woodbridge; Engineer, John J. HoUister; Paymaster, 
Edward F. Cronyu; Surgeon, John S. Trowbridge; Assistant-Surgeon, 
B. K. Hosnier; Chaplain, George \V. Haskins. 

Line Offecrs. — Captains, William Stone, Henry D. Huff, John F. 
E. Flogstcd, Benjamin Burdett, Lewis Weber, Christian Zink, Henry 

* During the previous year, (April 23, 1S62), the uniformed militia of the Stale had been 
designated by law as the ** National Guard, " while those citizens liable to military duty, who were 
not uniformed nor enrolled, retained the name of militia — though they were not to be cn'led out 
except on extraordinary occasions. 

Officers of the SiXTY-Firrn. 303 

Mochel, John P. Kline, Lysander R. Smith ; First Lieutenants, James 
E. Slocum, Daniel D. Bidwell, John Galligan, Alexander Sloan, Martin 
Hottinger, Michael Kuntz, Aloeis Bohmer, Solomon Scheu ; Second 
Lieutenants, Benjamin F. Salisbury, Sylvanus Marvin, John Chapin, 
John Schenacker, George H. Stewart, John Walsh, Michael Weidnch, 
James Peet. 

The gallant General Daniel D. Bidwell was one of the organizers of 
the regiment, and General William F. Rogers entered it as Second 
Lieutenant, in 1849. The commanding officers have been as follows: — 

Colonels. — Henry K. Viele, from 1848 to 185 1 ; Gustavus Il.Scrog^, 
from 1851 to 1854; Jacob Krettner, from 1854 to 1863: William F. 
Berens, from 1863 to 1865 ; Richard Flach, from 1865 to 1879; J<^hn C. 
Graves from 1879 ^^ '881 ; Thomas S. Waud, from 1881. 

This regiment has been called out for active duty as follows: — 
In January, 1849, ^^ quell a riot. The disturbance was quelled only 
after a hard struggle between the troops and rioters. On the 19th of 
June, 1863, the regiment was ordered to the front to assist in repelling 
the rebels in Pennsylvania. It took three hundred and eighty-two men 
and participated in a laborious campaign. On the 15th of July, 1863, 
while still at the front, the regiment was ordered to New York City to 
assist in quelling the riot there, and performed four days of severe and 
meritorious service. On the 20th of July, 1863, it was ordered back to 
Buffalo, where it remained under arms until the 30th of July, when it 
was mustered out of the United States service. It was also ordered out 
for service in the city of Buffalo in 1877 during the labor riots and 
acquitted itself with credit. 

The Sixty-fifth has been in camp three times : In 1848, in Buffalo; 
in 1850, at Niagara Falls; and in 1883, at the State Camp at Peekskill. 
It now numbers about five hundred officers and men, and is in excellent 
condition as to both drill and discipline. The present officers ol the 
Sixty-fifth are as follows : — 

Field and Staff, — Colonel Thomas S. Waud ; Lieutenant-Colonel, 
Samuel M. Welch, Jr; Major, John E. Robie; Adjutant, Edward Mulligan; 
Quartermaster, G. J. Metzger; Commissary, O. G. Nichols; Inspector 
of Rifle Practice, Henry A. Menker; Surgeon, A. H. Briggs; Assistant 
Surgeon, G. W. Pattison ; Chaplain, Rev. Charles H. Smith. 

Company A, — Captain, James C. Fullerton ; First Lieutenant, George 
Williams ; Second Lieutenant, Sidney^G. Cluxton. 

Company C — Captain, George H. Howard. 

Company F, — Captain, William T. Parsons; First Lieutenant, Willis 
K. Jackson ; Second Lieutenant, James Sheldon, Jr. 

Company G. — Captain, Robert H. Montgomery ; First Lieutenant, 
William E. De Laney ; Second Lieutenant, H. S. Bellsmith. 

Company H. — Captain, Otto F. Langenbach ; Second Lieutenant, 
Frederick B. Wall. 

Compatiy I. — Captain, Angelo C. Lewis ; First Lieutenant, D. W. 
Collins; Second Lieutenant, William J. Archer. 

304 History of Erie County. 

Seventy-Fourth Regiment, N. G., S. N. Y. 

This regiment was organized in 1854, with "Company D" as 
nucleus, and with the following field and staff officers : J. W. Griflith, 
Colonel; John A. Bliss, Lieutenant-Colonel; Watson A. Fox, Major; 
Captain W. F. Rogers, Acting Adjutant ; Harvey M. Wilcox, Engineer ; 
Charles Rosseel, Quartermaster ; Thomas F. Rochester, Surgeon ; M. L. 
li. P. Thompson, Chaplain. Company B, " Spaulding Guards," previ- 
ously a company of cadets, was mustered into the regiment in the 
summer of 1856. The following have been the field officers of the 
regiment : — 

Colonels.—], W. Griffith, Watson A. Fox, Walter G. Seeley, William 
F. Rogers, George M. Baker, Charles J. Wing, Lewis M. Evans, Louis 
P. Reichert, William M. Bloomer. 

Lieutenant-Colonels. — John A. Bliss, Watson A. Fox, Walter G. Seeley, 
John McManus, Thomas J. Hines, James A. Gault, Charles J. Wing, 
Lewis M. Evans, William B. Sirrett, Louis P. Reichert, Edgar B. Jewett, 
Charles D. Zacher, Usual S. Johnson. 

Majors. — Watson A. Fox, Walter G. Seeley, Charles J. Wing, James 
A. Gault, Lewis M. Evans, Alfred Lythe, William B. Sirrett, John M. 
Kelley, Samuel M. Pooley, John A. Holloway, Usual S. Johnson. 

When the Rebellion broke out nearly the whole regiment volun- 
teered for three months' service, and was ordered to Elmira. The order 
was countermanded, however, and then a large proportion of the officers 
and men volunteered for two years in the Twenty-first Volunteer Infan- 
try, commanded by Colonel W. F. Rogers, who had been Captain of Com- 
pany C, in the Seventy -fourth. An outline of their gallant services has 
previously been given. Many others took service in other volunteer 
regiments. J. A. Jewell became Adjutant, Major, Lieutenant-Colonel 
and Brevet-Colonel of the One Hundred and Fifty-first New York Vol- 
unteers. E. J. Faxon raised a company for the Thirty-sixth New York, 
was promoted to Major, and was killed at the battle of Fredericksburg. 
George W. Johnson, the Adjutant of the Seventy-fourth at the begin- 
ning of the war, became Major and Lieutenant-Colonel of the Forty- 
ninth New York Volunteers, and was killed at the head of his regiment 
at the battle of Fort Stevens. The services and fate of the gallant Bid- 
well scarcely need mention here. Generals A. R. Root and George M. 
Love were both graduates of the Seventy-fourth. A host of other officers 
and soldiers were trained for the work of real war in the ranks of the 
Seventy-fourth and with hardly a single exception did honor to their 

When Lee's army invaded Pennsylvania in the summer of 1863, the 
Seventy-fourth was at once called into active service. It left Buffalo on 
the 19th of July, 1863, proceeded to Harrisburgh, and thence to Clear 
Springs, on the Potomac, where it held a fort for two days, to prevent 
the crossing of the Rebel General, Imboden. From there the regiment 

Officers of the Seventy-Fourth. 305 

proceeded to Loudon, and thence to New York, where it was on duty 
several days, engaged in suppressing the riots in that city. It arrived at 
Buffalo on the 23d of July, 1863. 

During the celebrated riots of 1877, the Seventy-fourth was twice 
called into active service. It had a brief tour of duty at Buffalo from 
June 29th to July ist. On the 20th of July, it was again ordered out 
and on the 22d it was sent to Hornellsville, where it rendered valuable 
service in preventing violence and the destruction of property. It 
returned to Buffalo on the 26th, and was dismissed on the 27th. Since 
then it has not been called on for dangerous service, but has kept itself 
well prepared by careful drilling and rifle shooting, and by general good 
conduct for whatever duties may be required of it. The following are 
the present officers of the Seventy-fourth : — 

Field and Staff, — Colonel, William M. Bloomer; Lieutenant-Colonel, 
Usual S. Johnson ; Adjutant, William H. Chapin ; Inspector of Rifle 
Practice, William Franklin; Quartermaster, Henry R. Clark; Commis- 
sary, William J. Sloan ; Chaplain, Rev. Walter North ; Surgeon, Charles 
G. Stockton ; Assistant-Surgeon, George W. York. 

Company A, — Captain, William N. Smith ; First Lieutenant, William 
E. Kingston. 

Company B, — Captain, Frank T. feloomer ; First Lieutenant, William 
H. Bradish ; Second Lieutenant, Walter E. Mason. 

Company C. — Captain, C. Lee Abell ; Second Lieutenant, Frederick 
E. Fowler. 

Company D. — Captain, Thomas H. Windsor; First Lieutenant, Albert 
J. Danc^. 

Company F. — Captain, George C. Fox ; First Lieutenant, P. Curtis 
Dening ; Second Lieutenant, Charles W. Wells. 
Company G. — Captain, Peter Paulus. 

The SevexXth Battery N. G., S. N. Y. 

This organization was formed on the ist day of October, 1875, as 
Battery A, of the Thirty-first brigade, with one hundred and twenty 
enlisted men and the following officers : Captain, Henry W. Linderman ; 
First Lieutenants, Louis Shautol and Julius Heffner ; and Second Lieu- 
tenant, Charles Kibler. 

In January, 1878, its description was changed to Battery M, of the 
Fourteenth brigade. In January, 1882, it was again changed to the 
Seventh battery, Fourth division, its commander reporting directly to 
the commander of the division. 

Captain Linderman has been in command from the organization to 
the present time. The other officers at this time are First Lieutenants, 
Garrett Breier and G. P. Meister; and Second Lieutenant, W. M. Weis- 
beck. There are now between seventy and eighty enlisted men, with 
four three-inch guns and one ten-barrel Gatling gun. 

3o6 History of Erie County. 

General and Staff Officers. 

To these sketches of the National Guard we append the following 
names of Erie county officers who have been on the stafiFs of various 
governors, and of the present Generals and staff officers of the Fourth 
division and Eighth brigade : — 

Inspector-General. — W. L. G. Smith ; from May 7, 1853, to January 
I, 1855. 

Commissary-General of Ordnance. — Benjamin Welch, Jr.; from Feb- 
ruary 20, 1850, to April 25, 1863. 

Judge-Advocate General. — Alexander W. Harvey, from January, 1865, 
to January, 1867. 

Paymaster-General. — G. Barrett Rich, from January i, 1883. 

Engineer. — Brigadier-General George S. Fields, from January i, 1883. 

Fourth Z>iVi>fV7«.^Major-General William F. Rogers, commanding; 
Colonel E. A. Rockwood, Assistant Adjutant-General; Lieutenant- 
Colonel John A. Holloway, Inspector; Lieutenant-Colonel Pascal P. 
Beals, Inspector of Rifle Practice; Lieutenaut-Colonel Louis H. Knapp, 
Engineer; Lieutenant-Colonel Henry H. Seymour, Judge- Advocate ; 
Lieutenant-Colonel Charles N. Palmer, Surgeon ; Lieutenant-Colonel 
Abram B. Lawrence, Ordnance Officer ; Lieutenant-Colonel Charles A. 
DeLaney, Quartermaster; Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel Sourwine, Com- 
missary ; Majors Charles R. Wheeler, Allen G. Bigelow, and Frank T. 
Moulton, Aids. 

Eighth Brigade. — Brigadier-General John C. Graves, commanding ; 
Lieutenant-Colonel Edgar B. Jewett, Assistant Adjutant-General ; Major 
William W. Lyon, Inspector ; Major Edward H. Rounds, Inspector of 
Rifle Practice ; Major Harvey J. Hurd, Engineer; Major Robert C. Titus, 
Judge-Advocate; Major James S. Smith, Surgeon; Major Harlow C. 
Palmer, Ordnance Officer; Major Charles Clifton, Quartermaster ; Major 
Leonard H. Best, Commissary ; Captains Edward S. Warren and Fred- 
erick A. Jewett, Aids. 


Its First Advocate, Jesse Hawley — Gouveraeur Morris — Hawley's Essays — Western Inland Lock 
Navijration Company — Judge Forman's Resolution — Survey Ordered — Commissioners 
Appointed — The Inland Route Adopted — Law Authorizing Canal — Law Repealed During 
Year of x8i2 — DeWitt Clinton — Canal Law of 1817— Ground Broken — Contest Between 
Black Rock and Buffalo — Decision in Favor of Buffalo— First Work in Erie County — 
Breaking Ground at Buffalo— The Canal Completed —Grand Celebration— Telegraphing 
by Cannon — The Wedding of Waters — Description of the Canal — Immense Business 
— Enlargement Authorized — Work on it Stopped — Political Conflict — The Enlargement 
Carried Through — Description of the Enlarged Canal — Its Cost — Preparations to Sel Jthe 
Canals— The Canals Relieved of Tolls. 

THE first person who definitely and publicly advocated the construc- 
tion of a canal from the Hudson river to Lake Erie, was Jesse 
Hawley, a native of Connecticut, but from early youth a citizen of 
New York, who on the 14th day of January, 1807, while temporarily 

The Erie Canal First Advocated. 307 

residing at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, published in the Pittsburg Common- 
wealth, an essay, signed " Hercules/' in favor of such a work. Before 
this no one had printed a word, no one had spoken a word in public on 
that subject. So far as the public is concerned, therefore, Jesse Hawley 
is fairly entitled to be called the originator of the Erie canal. 

According to the statement of Simeon DeWitt, the Surveyor- 
General of the State, a similar plan was suggested to him in private con- 
versation, by the celebrated statesman, Gouverneur Morris, in 1803. If 
this be true, however, it gives Mr. Morris but slight claim to especial 
honor in this respect, for not only was the suggestion not brought before 
the public, but it was not even a permanent idea in his own mind ; there 
is ample evidence that most of his efforts in regard to internal navigation 
pointed to an improvement of the old route from the Hudson, by way of 
the Mohawk river, Oneida lake and Oswego river, to Lake Ontario, or 
some similar scheme.* 

Still less consideration need we give to the sayings attributed to 
Cad wallader Golden, General Washington, General Schuyler and others; 
they were merely fugitive expressions, which, even if uttered, were so 
vague that few would have deemed either of them to refer to a canal be- 
tween the Hudson river and Lake Erie, had not such a canal been subse- 
quently constructed. 

Mr Hawley, on the other hand, not only published the article before 
mentioned at Pittsburg, but on his return to his previous residence in 
Ontario county published a series of elaborate essays on the same sub- 
ject, under the same signature of " Hercules," in the Ontario Messenger, •\ 
a paper issued at Canandaigua. There were fourteen in the series ; the 
publication beginning in October, 1807, and closing in April 1808. In 
these he discussed the subject in every light, set forth the advantages of 
such a work, described the canals of Europe, compared his project with 
the established facts of the old world, and carefully estimated the cost, 
coming very close to the actual expense of the canal as afterwards built. 
The only important particular in which Mr. Hawley *s plan differed from 
the subsequent reality was this : he recommended that the canal should 
be built by the United States, while in fact it was built by the State 
of New York. In every other important respect the views of Jesse 
Hawley, published in 1807 and 1808, were realized in the Erie canal com- 
pleted in 1825. 

♦ In fact, Mr. Morris' diary, under date of September 12, 1803, goes far to prove positively that 
he had no idea of any canal running farther west than the Onondaga creek. But such a canal would 
interest the people of Onondaga county almost as much as one to Lake Erie, and there is strong 
proof that James Geddes, an engineer, and Judge Joshua Forman, both of that county, look a very 
active part in awakening public opinion on such a canal, and that Judge Forman was elected to the 
Assembly on a *' canal ticket " in the spring of 1807, in order to promote the construction of such 
a work. 

t Or Genesee Messenger, for the name is given both ways, 

3o8 History of Erie County. 

So much for ideas. The practical forerunner of the Erie canal was 
the work done by the " Western Inland Lock Navigation Company," in- 
corporated in 1 792, with General Philip Schuyler as president, for the 
purpose of improving the ancient route through Oneida lake to Oswego> 
pursued by the Dutch and .English traders with the Indians long ):>efore 
the Revolution. A part of the scheme was the construction of a ship 
canal around Niagara Falls, thus forming a continuous, though circuitous 
and inconvenient water route from New York to the upper lakes. Noth- 
ing was done toward carrying out that part of the scheme, but the east- 
ern portion of the route was somewhat (though not greatly) improved 
by the " Inland " company. 

The Lake Ontario route, however, was found entirely inadequate 
to the demands of commerce as well as to the development of the State, 
and when Mr. Hawley's clear and forcible essays were published, they 
awakened very general interest. True, they were ridiculed by some, 
but far-seeing men were greatly attracted by them. In that same year, 
1808, Judge Forman already, if our previous suggestion is correct, 
elected to the Assembly in order to promote the construction of a canal 
to the Onondaga creek, introduced a resolution into that body, providing 
for a joint-committee of the Senate and Assembly to consider the subject 
of "a canal between Hudson river and Lake Erie," and made a most 
vigorous and convincing speech, which was followed by the adoption 
of the resolution. This was the first action of any legislative body 
tending toward the construction of the Erie canal. Judge Forman and 
Mr. Geddes were afterward two of the most zealous promoters of the 
great work. 

On the recommendation of the joint-committee another resolution 
was adopted, directing the Surveyor-General to survey the waters in 
the " usual route *' and such other route as he might see fit. The " usual 
route " was the one through lakes Oneida and Ontario, and it is evident 
that the inland line was still considered ver}- chimerical. Like Mr. Haw- 
ley, the Legislature looked to Congress to do the work, whichever route 
should be chosen. 

The small appropriation made under the last resolution was speedily 
expended, in exploring the Ontario route. Mr. Geddes made a cursory 
examination of the inland route at his own expense and nothing more 
was done until 1810, when the Legislature appointed Gouverneur Morris, 
Stephen Van Rensselaer, DeWitt Clinton, Simeon De Witt, William 
North, Th^vnas Eddy and Peter B. Porter, commissioners to explore the 
routes from the Hudson to Lakes Ontario and Erie. They did so during 
the summer of 1810, and reported to the next Legislature in favor of the 
inland route, subsequently adopted. 

All efforts to obtain assistance from the general government failed, 
and in March, 1812, DeWitt Clinton and Gouverneur Morris, the com- 

Commencement of the Erie Canal. 309 

missioners appointed to secure such aid, reported their failure and recom- 
mended the construction of the canal by the State. In June following 
the Legislature authorized the borrowing of $5,000,000, with which to 
construct the canal, but the war with Britain stopped all such efforts 
and in 18 14 the law was repealed. 

Soon after the close of the war, Mr. Clinton, particularly assisted by 
Jonas Piatt and Thomas Eddy, again began to agitate for the construc- 
tion of the canal, and Clinton drew up a most exhaustive memorial to the 
Legislature, which was signed by many leading citizens, and exercised 
great influence in favor of the work.* In April, 18 16, the Legislature 
passed a law appointing a new commission, consisting of DeWitt Clinton, 
Stephen Van Rensselaer, Joseph Ellicott, Samuel Young and Myron 
Holley, to make further surveys and estimates. Mr. Clinton was chosen 
President, Mr. Young, Secretary, and Mr. Holly, Treasurer. The com- 
missioners discharged the duties assigned them, and reported to the suc- 
ceeding Legislature. 

In that Legislature, the measure was discussed in all its bearings, 
and on the 15th day of April, 18 17, a law was finally passed authorizing 
the construction of the Erie canal.f The same commissioners remained 
in charge of the work ; they proceeded at once to raise funds, employ 
engineers and let contracts, and on the 4th of July, 18 17, ground was 
broken at Rome, Oneida county. In the following autumn the people 
of the State proved their anxiety for the canal by electing DeWitt 
Clinton Governor by an overwhelming majority. 

From that time the great work was pushed forward with all prac- 
ticable speed. The middle section, from Utica to Montezuma, which 
was the one first built, was completed in July, 1820. The part east of 
Utica was finished in October, 1823. The western section was begun 
later than either of the others. It extended from Montezuma westward 
to — well, the location of the western terminus of the "Grand Canal" 
was a question long and anxiously discussed. The contestants were the 
rival villages of Buffalo and Black Rock, and most vigorous was the 
war waged with tongue and pen in behalf of their respective claims. 
Much depended on the question which locality could offer the best 
harbor, and some very vigorous harbor-building was the result. At this 
time, Mr. Clinton's term ot office as Governor had expired, and he was 
again chairman of the Board of Canal Commissioners. He and his 
associates finally decided in favor of Buffalo, chiefly on the ground that 
the water could be taken out of the lake at a higher elevation than out 
of the river at Black Rock, thus saving a large amount of excavation 
along the whole Lake Erie level. 

* Thenceforward DeWitt Clinton was recognized throughout the State as the leader of the 
friends of the canal. 

f That name, however, was not generally given to it until many years later During the period 
of Us construction it was generally called the *' Grand Canal." 

3IO History of Erie County. 

The first work done on the canal in Erie county was at Tonawanda, 
or rather at the point where Tonawanda now stands, for that village is 
entirely an outgrowth of the canal. The commissioners, having deter- 
mined to use a portion of Tonawanda creek as a part of the canal, con- 
tracted in the winter of i822-*23 with Judge Samuel Wilkeson and Dr. 
Ebenezer Johnson to build *a dam across that stream, near its mbuth. 
Work was soon begun and was continued through the summer of 1823. 

On the 9th day of August, 1823, the work of actual canal-digging in 
Erie county was formally opened ; ground being broken near the Com- 
mercial Street bridge, in Buffalo. The people of that struggling village 
were intensely interested, and turned out fn masse to celebrate the event. 

The second of the other two sections being finished, as already 
stated, two months later, the authorities were able to direct all their 
efforts to the western portion. So zealously was the work pushed for- 
ward that in September, 1825, all was completed except where the canal 
cut through the "mountain ridge** at the little village of Lockport. It 
was officially announced that the whole canal would be ready for the 
passage of boats on the 26th of October. 

A grand celebration was resolved on, and the people all along the 
line entered into the project with the greatest enthusiasm. Committees 
were appointed in every city and village on the canal, the city of New 
York took an active part, and every distinguished man in the State was 
invited to participate. As the appointed day approached, the force at 
Lockport was largely increased, and was thus enabled to complete the 
work in time. In the evening of the 24th of October, the filling of the 
Lake Erie level was begun, and in twenty-four hours, the whole canal 
was ready for use. 

DcVVitt Clinton was again Governor of the State. His political 
opponents,* when in power, had removed him from the office of Canal 
Commissioner. As every one knew that Mr. Clinton had almost created 
the canal-system of the State, the act aroused the generous indignation 
of the people, who in the autumn of 1824, again elected him Governor 
by a handsome majority. On the evening of the 25th of October, 1825, 
Governor Clinton, and other distinguished gentlemen from Albany 
and New York, arrived at Buffalo, where everything was ready for a 
grand ovation. 

The next morning was ushered in by an artillery salute, and the vil- 
lage was soon in a fervid state of enthusiastic excitement- At 9 o'clock 
a procession moved from the park down Main street in which nearly 
every citizen took part, with a band of music and Captain Rathbun's 
rifle company at its head, followed by a body of canal-diggers with spades, 

*That is the "regular" Democrats, sometimes called ** Bucktails." There was no organized 
opposition to the Democratic party in the country at that time, but Clinton was at the head of an 
independent wing in this Stale, distinctively known as ''Clintonians," and distinguished by their 
friendship for the canal system. 

Opening of the Erie Canal. 311 

sailors under their officers, mechanics of every trade, militia officers in 
uniform, etc., etc., the rear being brought up by a carriage containing 
Governor Clinton, then unquestionably the foremost man of the Em- 
pire State not only in political position, but in ability and influence.* 

The procession marched to the Canal basin, where the Governor 
and other eminent gentlemen went on board the canal-boat "Seneca 
Chief." Jesse Hawley the first public advocate, and in all probability 
the actual originator of the Erie canal, made a brief speech on behalf of 
a committee from Rochester, which was replied to by Judge Oliver 
Forward on the part of the Buffalo committee. At 10 o'clock the 
attached horse-power was put in motion and the "Seneca Chief" set out 
on its journey to the Hudson, amid the wild cheers of the assembled 
people. Its departure was announced by the firing of a 32-pound cannon 
on the bank. Other cannon were stationed at convenient intervals along 
the canal, which one after the other repeated the shots, and thus the 
news of the departure of the "Seneca Chief" was carried to Albany, 
two hundred and eighty miles distant in one hour and forty minutes. 
So far as we are aware this transmission of news over so long a distance 
in so short a period had at that time never been equaled. 

The procession then returned to the court house, where an eloquent 
oration on the benefits to be derived from the canal was delivered by 
Sheldon Smith a prominent Buffalo lawyer of that day. Then there 
were public dinners at " Rathbun's Eagle Hotel," and " Landen's Man- 
sion House ;" the festivities of the occasion closing with a grand ball at 
the former place. 

A committee of Buffalonians, headed by Judge Samuel Wilkeson, 
went through by canal and river to New York, where they obtained a 
keg of ocean water, which they brought back to Buffalo. This was taken 
on board a vessel and carried a short distance but on the lake by the 
committee, accompanied by many prominent citizens. Then, after the 
inevitable speech-making, the water of the Atlantic was mingled with 
that of Lake Erie, a poetic and appropriate closing of the ceremonies 
attendant on the completion of t-he Erie canal. 

This great work, the longest canal in the world except that of China, 
was, as then constructed, three hundred and sixty-three miles long, forty 
feet wide at the surface and twenty-eight feet at the bottom, with only 
four feet depth of water. It had eighty-three locks, each ninety feet 
long between the "quoins " and fifteen feet wide in the clear; the total 
amount of lockage being six hundred and fifty-five feet. The water fell 
to the east in all the locks, except for twenty-seven miles in the vicinity 
of Syracuse, where it fell forty-six feet to the westward ; leaving the 
actual descent from Buffalo to Albany five hundred and sixty-three feet. 

* It may be doubted, too, whether in the qualities of a statesman he had his equal in the Nation, 
though others were more plausible and skillful in working their way into high places. 

312 History of Erie County. 

The largest boats then used were of seventy-six tons burden, and the 
average ones of seventy tons. The original canal cost $7,600,000. 

All know how largely the Erie canal aided in the development not 
only of the great State which had constructed it, but of the whole vast 
Northwest, which thus found a better outlet to market for its ever-in- 
creasing surplus of products than could be obtained by any other route.* 
Buffalo, being the point where the freight and passenger traffic of the 
lake was transferred to the canal, increased with greater rapidity than 
any other town on the line, and Erie county to a considerable extent 
shared in its prosperity. 

By 1835 the traffic had become so great that an enlargement was 
authorized by the Legislature and begun by the Canal Commissioners, 
which would more than treble the capacity of the canal. The great 
panic of 1837, however, seriously injured the financial ability of the State, 
and after several years of embarrassment, work was stopped when the 
Democratic party came into power in 1843. By the Constitution of 
1846, the Legislature was forbidden to incur a debt of more than a million 
of dollars. When the Whigs returned to power a little later, they 
sought to continue the enlargement, .and to avoid the constitutional re- 
striction by selling or pledging the income of the canal in advance, claim- 
ing that this was not the incurrence of a debt. A heated contest ensued 
in the Legislature, and most of the Democratic Senators resigned in order 
to deprive the Senate of a quorum. At the special election called to fill 
their places, the majority of the resigned Senators were repudiated by 
their constituents, and the proposed law was duly enacted, only, how- 
ever, to be declared unconstitutional by the Court of Appeals. 

But the people were as determined to have the canal enlarged as 
they had originally been to have it constructed, and when a constitu- 
tional amendment was submitted to them, permitting an increase of debt 
in order to complete the work, it was adopted by a large majority. Prog- 
ress was slow, however, being retarded by the necessity of allowing 
the canal to be used during the proper season, and it was not until 1862 
that the enlargement was completed. 

By cutting off some needless portions the length had been decreased 
to three hundred and fifty and a half miles. The width at the surface 
along most of its length, is seventy feet, and at the bottom is fifty-six 
feet ; the debt of water being seven feet.f By a little calculation, it 
will be found that a cross-section of the old canal had an area of one 
hundred and thirty-six square feet, while the area of a cross-section of the 
enlarged canal is four hundred and forty-one square feet ; the latter being 
nearly three and a fourth times as large as the former. The capacity of 

* Lines of packets were handsomely fitted up for the carriage of passengers, and during the 
season when the canal was open, largely superseded the stages of an earlier day. 

t On the Lake Erie level, reaching from Buffalo to Lockport, the canal is seventy-two f ?et wide 
at the top, and sixty feet at the bottom, with nine feet of water. 

Enlargement of the Erie Canal. 313 

the boats has increased in a corresponding ratio ; the average burden 
being now two hundred and ten tons, and the maximum burden two 
hundred and forty tons. The number of locks smce the enlargement 
is seventy-two, each one hundred and ten feet long and eighteen feet 

The enlargement had been far more expensive than the original 
canal ; so that down to 1866, the construction, enlargement and improve- 
ment of the Erie and Champlain canals, (the latter requiring but a small 
part of the whole amount,; had cost no less than $46,018,234. The repairs 
and maintenance had cost $12,900,333 ; making the total expense of those 
canajs $58,918,567. On the other hand, the receipts for tolls on the Erie 
and Champlain, had then amounted to $81,057,168; leaving a balance in 
favor of those canals of $22,138,601. The cost of other canals reduced 
the direct profit on the canal system of the State to a trifle, although the 
indirect benefits had been enormous. 

But the canal system had reached its climax. As early as the con- 
stitutional convention of 1867, some members favored the sale of all 
canals to private parties. This proposition was rejected, though the 
unprofitable lateral canals were disposed of. Still the railroads steadily 
drew away the business, although the tolls were made as-low as was pos- 
sible under the requirements of the constitutic^n, which declared that 
the canals must pay for their own repairs and maintenance. At length 
it became evident that this could no longer be done ; that in fact the 
canals must be made free of tolls or must be given up entirely. Believing 
that they were still valuable in drawing business into the State, and 
especially as a regulator of railroad freights, the people favored the for- 
mer proposition and, when the question was submitted to them in the 
autumn of 1882, they voted by a large majority in favor of amending 
the constitution so that the canals would be relieved of all tolls and 
would be maintained at the expense of the State. This measure has 
already resulted in a considerable accession to the business of the canals, 
and the friends of those great works are encouraged to believe that 
they will continue through a long and prosperous future to confer far 
greater benefits than they impose expense on the people of the Empire 

314 History of Erie County. 



Charter of Bttfialo & Anioim Railroad Company — First Railroad Bnilt— Buffalo ft Niagara Falls 
Railroad — Other Eoterprisa — Completion of the Buffalo & Attica Road — The Lake Shore 
— The Buffalo & Rochester — The Buffalo & New York City Company ~ Road to Batavia 
Taken Up ~- The Buffalo & Brantford Road— Formation of the New York Central — The 
Buffalo & Pittsburg — The Buffak) & Allegany Valley — The Canandaigua & Falls Road — 
Purchase of the Buffalo ft Niagara Falls Road by the Central — The Buffalo ft Washington — 
Consolidation with the Buffalo ft Allegany Valley — Name changed to Buffalo, New York & 
Philadelphia — Slow Construction — The Canada Southern — The ' ' Air Line ** — Consolida- 
tion of the Grand Trunk ft Great Western — Suspension Bridge & Erie Junction Railroad — 
The Buffalo & Jamestown — Changed to Buffalo & Southwestern— New York, Chicago & St. 
Louis Railroad — Buffalo, Pittsburg ft Western — Consolidation with the Buffalo, New York 
& Philadelphia — Leased Lines of the Latter — Other Property — Assumed Business — New 
York, Lackawanna ft Western Railroad — Rochester & Pittsburg — New York, West Shore 
& Buffalo — The Lehigh Valley Railroad— General View. 

THE first incorporation of a company to build a railroad in Erie 
county, took place on the 14th day of April, 1832, when the Legis- 
lature incorporated two companies. One was the Buffalo & Erie 
Railroad Company, whose road was to run from Buffalo through Chau- 
tauqua county to the State line. The corporators were all residents of 
Chautauqua county. The movements had no practical results. The other 
was the Aurora & Buffalo Railroad Company. Its road was designed to 
run from Buffalo to the village of Aurora, now known as East Aurora, 
seventeen miles southeast of the former place.* Considerable stock was 
subscribed, and the line was carefully laid out by Mr. William Wallace, 
who, after a long life spent in his profession in this vicinity, is now a 
resident of East Aurora. For several years the people of Aurora had 
lively hopes of the speedy construction of a railroad to their village, and 
it was not until 1837, that the panic of that year crushed, for the time, 
their ardent ambition. 

The first railroad actually built in the county was the Buffalo & 
Black Rock Railroad, about three miles long — at least it was called a 
railroad then, although more like a modern street-railroad, for the cars 
were drawn by horses. This road was in working order as early as 1834. 

The first railroad operated by steam power in Erie county was the 
Buffalo & Niagara Falls. In the spring of 1836, it was in the course of 
rapid construction. On the 26th of August, in that year, the first loco- 

♦Thc Corporators were Joseph Howard, Jr., Edward Paine, Joseph Riley, Robert Person, Cal- 
vin Fillmore, Deloss Warren and Aaron Riley, all residents of Aurora. 

First Locomotive in Erie County. 315 

motive was put on the road at Black Rock, and ran from that place to 
Tonawanda, at the rate of fifteen or twenty miles per hour. On the 6th 
of the next month, the locomotive ran from Buffalo to Tonawanda, and 
on the 5th of November, 1836, trains began running regularly from Buf- 
falo to Niagara Falls. 

The Niagara Falls road was built just in time for the great financial 
crisis, which occurred immediately afterward and put a sudden stop to 
all enterprises of that kind in this region. The Aurora road, as we have 
stated, was crushed by it. In July, 1836, directors of the Buffalo &. Erie 
(Pa.) Railroad Company were elected, but no road was built on that line 
for over fifteen years. In August, subscriptions to the stock of the Buf- 
falo & Attica Railroad Company were opened, but this enterprise, too, 
was submerged by the wave of financial disaster, and did not re-appear 
until several years later. 

It was, however, the first, after the Niagara Falls road, to be com- 
pleted, being opened for travel on the 8th day of January, 1843. The 
work of railroad-building was then slow in comparison with later achieve- 
ments, and though the Attica road formed a connection with others, 
afterward consolidated with it into the New York Central, and though 
the New York & Erie was creeping slowly in this direction, yet the next 
road actualh' constructed in this county was the Buffalo & State Line 
(now a part of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern), which was opened 
for travel from Buffalo to Dunkirk on the 22d day of February, 1852, 
having been already opened from Dunkirk to the State Line, on the ist 
of the previous month. 

The same year the Buffalo & Rochester Railroad Company, (which 
had been formed in 1850, by the consolidation of the Buffalo & Attica 
Company with the "Tonawanda** Company — whose road ran from 
Attica to Rochester,) opened a new direct line from Buffalo to Batavia, 
and sold its line from Buffalo to Attica, thirty miles, to the New York 
City Railroad Company. The latter leased this line to the New York & 
Erie Company, which built a branch sixty miles long, from Hornellsville 
to Attica, thus forming a continuous line from Buffalo to New York, 
which was opened in 1852. 

In 1852, also, the Buffalo & New York City Company opened a line 
from Buffalo to Batavia, (a short distance from the Central track) thence 
eastward to Avon, and thence southeastward to Corning. In a short 
time, however, the track from Buffalo to Batavia was taken up, and the 
road-bed has remained unoccupied to the present time. The line beyond 
Batavia is operated by the " Erie " Company.* 

• The name of the Buffalo & New York City Company was changed to Buffalo, New York & Erie 
in 1857. Ii owns a continuous road from Buffalo by way of Attica, Batavia, LeRoy, Avon and 
Bath to Corning. All of it is leased to the ** Erie,'' but the section from Buffalo to Attica forms a 
part of that company's continuous line, while the remainder is operated as a branch. 

3i6 HmoRY OF EuE^ Couirrv^ 

This wa3 an era of nulroad-buildin^. The Buffalo & Brantfbrd road 
was begun in 1851 or 1852, and was completed to Brantford, Ontario, by 
1854. -^ extension was planned to Goderich, on Lake Huron, and the 
name was changed to the Buffalo, Brantford & Goderich Railway. It 
was not opened to Goderich until Ju le 28, 1858. The name was again 
changed to the Bu&lo A Lake Huron Railway, and on the ist of July, 
1868, it was leased in perpetuity to the Grand Trunk Railway Company, 
and it is now operated as a part of the Grand Trunk system.* 

In i8S3, a strenuous effort was made — ^in fact two efforts were made 
-*-to build a railroad from Buffialo through Aurora and the southeastern 
part of th<; county. In. the fore part of that year the Buffalo & Pitts- 
burgh Railroad Company was chartered under the presidency of the 
late Orlando Allen. It selected a line running near the village of Wil- 
link (now the west end of the village, of East Aurora) and thence up the 
valley of Cazenove creek ; the design being to meet the coal-fields of 
Pennsylvania, and to connect either. directly or indirectly with Pittsburg. 

Owing ta dissatisfaction with the route selected, the Buffalo & Alle- 
gany Valley Railroad Company was formed, and began work on a road 
designed to run from Buffalo through the east part of the village of East 
Aurora, and thente up. the Cazenove valley to a point near Arcade, 
where it was to connect with the "Allegany Valley" road running 
south from Attica to the Pennsylvania line. Both the companies thus 
organized did considerable work in the vicinity of Aurora, in the year 
1853, but neither had sufficient financial resources to accomplish the task 
it had undertaken. The Buffalo & Allegany Valley Company first suc- 
cumbed and stopped work, but did not abandon its organization. The 
Buffalo & Pittstnirg Company also stopped work, and at length gave up 
its organization ; nothing more was done on either line until after the war. 

The Canandaigua & Niagara Falls Railroad Company was organ- 
ized in i8si» and its road wa$ completed in 1854; running from the Sus- 
pension Bridge to Tonawanda, and thence eastward through the north- 
em towns of Erie county— continuing in an eastern course to Canan- 
daigua. The name was changed to the Niagara Bridge & Canandaigua 
Railroad, and in 1858 it was leased to the New York Central Company, 
by which it is still operated. 

In 1855 the Buffalo^ Niagara Palls railroad was purchased by the New 
York Central Company, and the former road made a part of the latter. 

The financial crisis of 1857 and the war which broke out in 1861 caused 
a long blank in railway-building in Erie county. Even before the close 
of the Rebellion, however, when peace was seen to be approaching, prep- 

* In Maji 1853, the Tmriods ihort ixMds between BoIIaIo tad Atbnny were consolidated under 
the name of the New York Centnl Railrond, and Buffalo thut becune the western tenninus of one 
of the most important nulroads in the world. In November, 1869, ha importance was still further 
increased by its union with the Hodaon Ritcr toad, forming the New York Centnl ft Hudson River 

Various New Railroads Completed. 317 

arations were made for a renewal of railroad work. On the loth of 
December, 1864, Mr. Wallace, the engineer already mentioned, having 
projected a route from Buffalo to Olean and thence up the Allegany 
river, (instead of down that stream, where previous routes had run), 
obtained the subscription of six leading citizens of Olean to the stock of 
the Buffalo & Washington Railroad Company. On the 4th of February, 
1865, the company was organized, and on the 14th. day of April in that 
year, it was consolidated with the Buffalo & Allegany Valley Railroad 
Company, (of which Perry G. Parker was then President, and General 
Aaron Riley, Secretary,) and with the Sinnemahoning & Portage Rail- 
road Company, the whole taking the name of the Buffalo & Washington. 
This name was ere long changed to the Buffalo, New York & Philadel- 
phia, which has fortunately been spared from further transmutations. 

The company selected substantially the line of the old Buffalo & 
Allegany Valley Road through Erie county, and slowly carried forward 
the work of construction. It was not until December 22, 1867, that the 
road was completed to East Aurora, seventeen miles from Buffalo, where 
it made a long halt. Then it was built to South Wales, five miles further 
south, where there was another halt until the latter part of 1870. It was 
then pushed forward with more vigor, so that in July, 1872, it was opened 
to Olean, and on the ist of January, 1873, it was completed to its 
terminus, at Emporium, Pa. 

The same year saw the completion of another road terminating in 
Buffalo, the Canada Southern, which had been chartered on the 28th of 
February, 1868, and begun soon after, and which was opened for traffic 
November 15, 1873. It extended from the Niagara river to Amherst- 
burg, Ontario, near the mouth of Detroit river, two hundred and twenty- 
nine miles distant. In 1878 the ownership of the road passed into the 
hands of a new company, organized in the interest of the New York 
Central Railroad Company, which guaranteed the interest on the bonds 
of its Canadian associate. During the past year the road has been 
leased to the Michigan Central Railroad Company, another branch of 
the same great combination. 

The year 1873 was also distinguished by the completion of the "Air 
Line," or " Loop Line " branch of the Great Western Railway, from 
Fort Erie to Glencoe, on the main line of that road, one hundred and forty- 
five miles westward. This branch was begun by the Canada Air Line 
Company, chartered in December, 1867, but subsequently became the 
property of the Great Western Company. During the winter of i882-'83 
the Great Western & Grand Trunk Railroad Companies were consoli- 
dated under the latter name, and the Grand Trunk Railroad conse- 
quently has two important branches, (the old Buffalo & Lake Huron, and 
the Air Line) practically terminating in Buffalo, with which they com- 
municate by the International Bridge across the Niagara. 

3i8 History of Erie County. 

A little before the completion of these works a road had been built 
from Buffalo to the Suspension Bridge by a company organized under 
the auspices of the "Erie" company, in October, 1868. The road was 
completed in December, 1870, under the name of the " Suspension Bridge 
& Erie Junction" railroad, but was immediately leased to the Erie* 
company and has been known as the Niagara Falls branch of that road. 

The next Erie county railroad enterprise was the Buffalo & James- 
town. This company was organized March 25, 1872. The road was 
completed from Buffalo to Jamestown, Chautauqua county, in 1875, run- 
ning almost due south from Buffalo, through the towns of West Seneca, 
Hamburg, Eden, North Collins, and Collins, and crossing Cattaraugus 
creek at the village of Gowanda. The company was re-organized in 
1877, after a foreclosure, under the name of the Buffalo & Southwest- 
tern, and on the ist of August, 1881, it leased the road to the New York, 
Lake Erie & Western Railroad Company, by whom it is now operated 
as the Buffalo & South-Western division of that road. 

Since the revival of business in 1879, after the long depression, there 
has been apparently a rage for railroad building throughout the country, 
and, owing to its position at the foot of Lake Erie, this county has been 
the scene of even more than the usual activity of capitalists, engineers 
and contractors. The first of the new roads to be completed was the 
New York, Chicago and St Louis, running from Buffalo to Chicago, by 
way of Fort Wayne, Indiana. The company was organized — in this 
State — on the 13th of April, 1881. Work was begun soon after, and 
the track was completed (522 miles) in the latter part of 1882— about a 
)'ear and eight months after its commencement, — a fact almost, if not 
quite, unequaled in the history of railroad building. It was constructed 
by a syndicate of New York capitalists who, during the winter of 1882- 
'83, sold it to William H. Vanderbilt and other owners of the Lake Shore 
Railroad, but the New York, Chicago & St. Louis is managed as a special 
route, although, of course, in close harmony with the Lake Shore. 

From Buffalo westward to Brocton, Chautauqua count}^ the track 
occupied by the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Company was built 
jointly by that company and the Buffalo, Pittsburgh & Western. This 
was the first appearance in Erie county of the tracks of the last-named 
company though they had previously run trains from Brocton to Buffalo, 
over the track of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad. The 
Buffalo, Pittsburg & Western Railroad Company was formed on the 20th 
day of January, 1 881, by a consolidation of the Buffalo & Pittsburg Rail- 
road Company (organized September 29, 1880, to build a road from Buf- 

* The New York & Erie Railroad Company was reorganized as the Erie Railroad Company in 
June, 1S61, after the road had been two years in the hands of a receiver, on account of non-payment 
of interest. The road again went under the control of a receiver in May, 1875, and in June, 1878, 
it passed into the hands of the New York, Lake Erie & Western Com|)any, by which name the 
road is now known. 

Various New Railroads Completed. 319 

falo to Portland, near Brocton,) with several roads, principally in Penn- 
sylvania.* On the 14th of February, 1883, the road in question, together 
with the Oil City & Chicago and the Olean & Salamanca Railroads 
were consolidated with the Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia, taking 
the name of the last named road. 

The Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia Company is the only one 
of the great companies described which has its headquarters in Buffalo, 
and we give it a little more extended description on that account. Besides 
the roads consolidated with its own, as already mentioned, it controls the 
following leased railroads: The Genesee Valley Canal Railroad; the 
Rochester, New York & Pennsylvania; the McKean & Buffalo; the 
Kendall & Eldred; the Olean & Bradford: and the Mayville Exten- 
sion Railroad. The total number of miles of railroad owned and con- 
trolled by the company is seven hundred and eighteen. 

In addition to its railroad property the company controls extensive 
coal mines and coal lands in Pennsylvania, from which it can furnish its 
roads with an apparently unlimited amount of coal traffic, which cannot 
be diverted from them. It also controls most of the passenger and freight 
business of Chautauqua lake, on which it has a fleet of five large steam- 
ers. Its branch roads also reach to Bradford, the center of the principal 
oil producing territory, to Clermont, the seat of the coal mines just men- 
tioned and to other points, whence comes a large and constantly increas- 
ing business in the carriage of coal (anthracite and bituminous,) oil, lum- 
ber, bark, grain, and numerous other articles. 

The New York, Lackawanna & Western Railway Company was 
chartered on the 24th of August. 1880, for the purpose of construct- 
ing an extension ol the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad, from 
Binghamton to Buffalo, a distance of two hundred miles. The work was 
pushed rapidly forward and the track was completed in 1883. This com- 
pany, however, like some of the others, has still a vast amount of work to 
do in constructing sidetracks, building depots, obtaining facilities on the 
water-front, etc., etc., in and around Buffalo. 

The Rochester & Pittsburg Railroad Company which, as the succes- 
sor of the Rochester & State Line Company, is the owner of a road from 
Rochester to Salamanca, Cattaraugus county, deterniined in the year 
1882, to build a branch from Ashford, Cattaraugus county' to Buffalo. 
Surveys were made on various lines, and in August of that year a 
contract was let for the construction of the road by way of East Ham- 
burg, West Falls, Colden and Springville. The work was completed in 
August, 1883. As the company is also extending its road into the coal 
and lumber fields of Pennsylvania, it furnishes another important feeder 
to the manufactures and other interests of Buffalo. 

* In April following, Uie company purchased the New Castle & Franklin Road, which it re-organ- 
ized first as the New Castle & Oil City, and then as the Oil City & Chicago, so that there is now a 
continuous line from Buffalo to New Castle, with branches into important coal -bearing tracts. 

320 History of Erie County. 

Last of all in date of completion is the New York, West Shore & 
Buffalo Railroad, the company owning which was organized on the i8th 
of February, 1880. This great work was completed to Syracuse at 
the time of the printing of this history, and was to be constructed to 
Buffalo with the utmost possible speed. It is the most important of any 
of the new roads through Erie county, having a first-class, double-track 
line from Weehawken, New Jersey, opposite New York, along the west 
shore of the Hudson river nearly to Albany and thence westward, 
almost parallel to and but a short distance from the Central railroad, to 
Buffalo, a total distance of four hundred and twenty -five miles. It was 
evidently intended to be a formidable rival of the Central Railroad, but 
its business achievements are still in the future. 

Although the Lehigh Valley Railroad has no track through Erie 
county, yet the company sends its coal-laden cars hither over the tracks 
of the New York, Lake Erie & Western, and has acquired vast facilities 
in the southern part of Buffalo for the purpose of transhipping its coal 
and sending it up Lake Erie and over other roads. So far as the coal 
trade is concerned, Buffalo is the western terminus of the Lehigh Valley 

It will be observed that in regard to every road mentioned, Buffalo 
is the terminus of either a main line or a branch. Not a single road runs 
through Buffalo. It is the western terminus of the New York Central 
& Hudson River Railroad, of the New York, West Shore & Buffalo, 
and the New York, Lackawanna & Western ; also of what is practically 
the main line of the New York, Lake Erie & Western, besides being the 
freight terminus of the Lehigh Valley Road. It is the southern terminus 
of the Niagara Falls branch of the Central, and the Niagara Falls branch 
of the Erie. It is the northern terminus of the two great divisions of 
the Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia, whose tributary roads spread far 
and wide through the coal fields, the oil fields, and the lumber fields of 
Pennsylvania. It is also the northern terminus of what is likely to be the 
main line of the Rochester & Pittsburg, which is advancing in the same 
direction, and of the Buffalo & Southwestern branch of the Erie. It is 
the eastern terminus of three great roads, the New York, Chicago & St. 
Louis, the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, and the Michigan Central, 
(as the lessee of the Canada Southern,) each of which reaches out over 
500 miles, to the great city of the West, Chicago. Finally it is the east- 
ern terminus of one great branch, and the southeastern terminus of 
another, belonging to the Grand Trunk system of Canada, which stretches 
its mighty arms from the western shore of Lake Michigan to the chief 
city of Maine, on the coast of the North Atlantic. 

In short, a person can travel more than nine thousand miles over the 
various railroads centering at Buffalo, and their branches, without repeat- 
ing his journey over a single mile. 

The Erie County Agricultural Society. 321 



Niagara County Agricultural Society — Officers and Town Managers— First Fair— Dr. Chapin's 
Efforts — Success under Difficulties — Change of Name — Decease of the Society — Revival 
in 1841 — First Fair of the New Society — The Cattle of that Period — Second Fair — 
** Hamburg Cheese " — Report for 1843— For 1845 — 1846 and 1847 — The Fairs Deterio- 
rating — The State Fair of 1848 — Great Success — Distinguished Visitors — Another County 
Fair at Buffalo— First County Fair in the Country Towns held at Aurora — Great Improvement 

— At Lancaster in 1851 — At East Hamburg in 1852 — Large Crops — At Cold Spring in 1853 

— At Aurora in 1854 — At East Hamburg in 1855 — First Charge for Admission — Horace 
Greeley's Address — Re-organization in 1856 — Ground leased Near the Indian Church — 
Fairs Held There Nine Years— At Cold Spring in 1865 — At Springville in 1866 and 1867 

— At Hamburg in i868 — It Continues There — Officers for Successive Years — Efforts to 
Change Location — Fair Extended to Four Days in 1876 — Increase of Funds — Purchase of 
Land — Clean Purchase — Large Receipts — Value of the Property — The Grounds. 

THE first Agricultural Society organized within the present limits 
of Erie county was formed previous to the division of Niagara 
county, in the latter part of 1819, or beginning of 1820 — under the 
name of the Niagara County Agricultural Society. Its headquarters 
were in Buffalo, and that energetic pioneer, Dr. Cyrenius Chapin, was its 
first president The secretary was Joseph M. Moulton, the treasurer, 
Reuben B. Heacock, and the auditor, Heman B. Potter, all of Buffalo ; 
the vice-presidents being Arthur Humphrey, Asher Saxton, Ebenezer 
Goodrich, Ebenezer Walden and James Cronk. A Board of Town 
Managers was also appointed, doubtless composed principally of some 
of the leading farmers of their respective towns. Those in that part of 
Niagara county, which is now Erie so far as recorded, were : Elias 
Ransom, Adiel Sherwood, and Elijah Leach, of Buffalo; William W. 
Morseman, Abner Wilson and David Eddy, of Hamburg; Isaac Phelps, 
Jr., Jonathan Bowen and Ephraim Woodruff, of Aurora; Richard 
Buffum, Asa Cronk and Samuel Corliss, of Holland ; Ethan Allen, 
Ebenezer Holmes and Henry B. Stevens, oi Wales; John Hill, Benjamin 
Bowen and John March, of Eden ; Belden Slosson, Alexander Hitchcock 
and Abram Miller, of Amherst ; S. Parmely, M. Cary and Daniel Swain^ 
of Boston. 

In the summer of 1820, preparations were made to hold the first fair 
of the society. It was very difficult to arouse much interest in a new 
scheme, involving considerable labor and expense, for the farmers of 
Erie county were then nearly all poor and a large majority of them in 
debt But Dr. Chapin, then one of the most influential men in the 

322 History of Erie County. 

county, was determined that the fair should succeed, and the Doctor was 
accustomed to achieve success whenever it could be brought by 
unequaled energy and liberality. Owning five farms in various parts of 
the county, on which he kept a large amount of stock, then considered 
as first-class, he was able to give considerable aid to the fair from his 
own resources. 

In the sketch of the life of the late Orlando Allen, by William C. 
Bryant, Esq., published among the papers of the- Buffalo Historical 
Society, there is an interesting and somewhat amusing account of the 
successful efforts to get together stock for the fair, made in the face of 
adverse circumstances, by Mr. Allen, then an active youth of seventeen, 
nominally a student of medicine with Dr. Chapin, but principally occupied 
as general manager of that gentleman's numerous interests. The Doctor 
had arranged that the men living on his farms should each bring in certain 
stock (especially sheep) to Buffalo the day before the fair. Fearing fail- 
ure, however, he sent young Allen with a boy, both on horseback, the 
morning before the fair, to his farm in Hamburg, lately known as the 
Deuel Place, a mile south of " Orchard Park." On arriving there he 
found, as the Doctor had feared, that no movement had been made 
toward bringing the stock. He and the boy undertook to drive it to the 
city, except a fine Merino ram, which the farmer was to lead. The road 
lay most of the distance through the unfenced forests and moors of the 
Indian reservation, but Allen and his still more useful assistant drove 
the twenty head of cattle and sheep safely through, though with much 
diflticulty, arriving about three o'clock P. M. Scarcely had he done so 
when the farmer came in, announcing that he couldn't lead the ram, and, 
having no way to carry him, had been compelled to leave him. Seeing 
the Doctor's great disappointment, his nephew, Gorham Chapin, took a 
horse and light wagon, drove to Hamburg and brought the ram in. 

Meanwhile, finding that nothing had been heard of the sheep 
expected from the Doctor's farms in Clarence, young Allen volunteered 
to see about them, mounted a fresh horse and set out, still accompanied 
by his boyish aid-de-camp. Arriving at the principal farm, near " Harris 
Hill," at dark, he found that here, too, nothing had been done. The farmer 
was pressed into the service rather against his will, and the three went 
to the pasture, a half-mile distant, with lanterns, and drove the sheep to 
the barn, where Allen selected forty of the best, and with his assistants 
began the weary journey toward Buffalo. It was near daylight when 
the sheep were driven into Dr. Chapin's yard in that village. 

Then Allen learned that there was still one fine ram missing, which 
was on Major Miller's farm, eight miles distant on the road just traversed. 
The indefatigable Orlando hitched another horse to the wagon, drove out 
there, had a battle with the ram, finally conquered and bound him, and 
drove back tq Buffalo, arriving a little after breakfast time. Certainly 
this was getting up a fair under difficulties. 


The First County Fair. 323 

Dr. Chapin was determined that all of his family should appear at 
the fair in clothes of domestic manufacture, and besides flannels, linens, 
etc., he had a piece of black cloth made for the male members and one 
of pressed woolen cloth for the lemales. 

Young Allen had a " brand new suit " of the former fabric and, not- 
withstanding labors through the previous night, enjoyed himself greatly 
at the ball which closed the grand event. Of the fair he says : ** The day 
was fine, the entries quite numerous and everything passed off to the 
satisfaction of all concerned." 

When the greater part of Niagara county became Erie county the 
name of the agricultural society suffered a corresponding change. But 
the general interest in the institution was weak, the difficulties, especially 
of transportation, were great, the exhibits dwindled away and it was 
found impracticable for a few zealous men to bear the whole burden of 
keeping up the society ; so after two or three years it was given up. 

It was not until 1841, that another Erie County Agricultural Society 
was organized, with Lewis F. Allen, of Buffalo, well-known for his active 
interest in agricultural matters, as its first President. The first fair of 
the new society was held at Buffalo in October of that year, and as it 
was again a new thing there was a very creditable exhibition. The 
Commercial Advertiser of the following day, said : — 

" Some remarkably fine animals were present, and a very choice 
lot of vegetables. The specimens of domestic manufacture, though few, 
were very superior. A spirited and practical address was delivered by 
L. F. Allen, Esq., President of the society, which was listened to with 
much gratification by a crowded auditory. On the whole, for an exhi- 
bition got up on only six weeks' notice, it surpassed all reasonable 
expectations. * 

There were at that time almost none but native cattle in the county. 
Mr. Allen had introduced the first thorough-breds — Short-horns and 
Devons — into the county in 1833, of which he has bred some hundreds 
in number, and sold in this and other States down to the present day. 
Mr. Sweetapple, of Golden, had brought in a short-horn bull and cow 
about 1840. These and their descendants, with possibly a few others, 
were all the cattle of improved breeds to be seen in Erie county at the 
time of the first fair of the new society. 

Of the proceedings of that year, there is no record, save the inci- 
dental newspaper mention already quoted, but from, and including 1842 
down to the present time, a fairly accurate account of the Erie County 
Agricultural Society can be compiled from the reports annually made 
to the State Society, and published by it, and from the records of the 
County Society, which have been preserved since 1856. 

The second fair was held at Buffalo, on the 5th and 6th of October, 
1842. Premiums to the amount of nearly $500 were offered, and over 
$400 were actually awarded. The Report to the State Society says : — 

324 History of Erie County. 

" The number of fine horses, superior specimens of fine sheep and 
swine, and the great variety of farm products, domestic manufactures, 
vegetables, fruits, etc., have rarel}' been excelled in any part of the State." 

The committee on cheese gave especial praise to the specimens of 
that article exhibited. They awarded the first premium on cheese to H. 
Arnold & Son, of Hamburg, and the second to Truman Austin, of the 
same town. The reputation of " Hamburg cheese *' was already well 
established. No better cheese than the many years' celebrated " Ham- 
burg" was ever made in the United States; but since the cheese facto- 
ries have usurped that important industry, the " Hamburg " proper has 
retired from the field of production, yielding to the inferior quality of 
its successor. The premium crop of Indian corn yielded fifty-seven 
bushels per acre ; of oats, sixty-seven ; of barley, forty-two. 

During the third year of the existence of the association, Hon. 
Thomas C. Love, of Buffalo, ex-Member of Congress from this district, 
was the President, and Warren Bryant, Esq., was the Secretary. The 
sum of $3*6 was awarded in premiums. The address was delivered by 
Dr. Daniel Lee. 

For 1844 there is no report from Erie county. 

In 1845 the President was Robert McPherson, of Black Rock; the 
Vice-Presidents were R. L. Allen, of Buffalo, James Wood, of Wales, 
Benjamin Hodge, of Black Rock, O. Mansfield, of Clarence, N. G. Steb- 
bins, of Cheektowaga, and William S. Rees, of Evans. 

For 1846 there was a brief report showing that the President was 
Robert McPherson and the Secretary, Robert Hadfield. The premiums 
offered amounted to S470. 

The officers in 1847, were as follows : President, Orlando Allen, of 
Buffalo ; Vice-Presidents, A. McArthur of Buffalo, Augustus Raynor of 
Clarence, W. S. Rees, of Evans, J. W. Hamlin, of Aurora, and James 
Wood, of Wales ; Secretar)-, Robert Hadfield, of Buffalo. 

The Address was delivered by George W. Clinton, Esq., of Buffalo. 
The report for this shows that the exhibition did not equal those pre- 
viously held. Buffalo was rapidly becoming a city in size as well as 
name, farmers did not care to go there to attend a farmers' show, and 
the zeal of Buffalonians which had supported the first two or three fairs 
had begun to wane. 

In 1848, the officers were Augustus Raynor, President; Robert 
Hadfield, Secretary, and Arthur McArthur, Treasurer. 

This year the interest of the agriculturists of Erie county was ab- 
sorbed in the State fair, which for the first time was held at Buffalo, 
under the presidency of the Hon. Lewis F. Allen, near the point pre- 
viously occupied by the Barracks, on Delaware Avenue. 

The report of the Secretary, Benjamin P. Johnson, of Albany, 
declared it to have been " successful beyond the highest hope o.f the soci- 

The County Fair First Held at Aurora. 325 

ety. " . The Governors of New York and Michigan were present, Messrs. 
Holmes and Barnwell of South Carolina, Hon. W. A. Graham of North 
Carolina, the Hon. William Stanley, son of the then Earl of Derby of 
England, and other distinguished gentlemen from this and other States. 
The weather was fine and the attendance was immense. The hall for 
agricultural implements was a hundred and fift)' feet by seventy, and 
the dairy hall was one hundred and fifty feet by sixty. The exhibition 
of cheese received the especial praise from the authorities of the State 
society. The oration was delivered by the distinguished Hon. John 
C. Spencer. 

The county fair for 1849 ^^'^s again held at Buffalo ; the amount of 
premiums paid was$i22.i9. The report shows a good exhibition of cattle, 
especially of grades. There were also a few Shorthorns and Devons, 
and a large number of Herefords. But the interest was steadily decreas- 
ing from causes already mentioned and it was determined that the next 
fair should be held in the country. 

The point selected in 1850 was Aurora, the officers being Robert 
Person, president; Aaron Riley, secretarj- ; and D. D. Stiles, treasurer. 
The result showed the wisdom of the change, the exhibition being better 
than at any previous Erie count)' fair. One hundred and thirty-three 
head of cattle were entered for premiums, eighty -nine horses, seventy- 
three sheep, many swine, etc. ; besides a large number present but 
not entered. Farm products were shown in great abundance, and the 
ladies* department was fully represented. Eight thousand persons were 
estimated to be present. Premiums to the amount of §345, were 
awarded, besides numerous volumes of transactions of the State Societ)', 
diplomas, etc. 

The following year the fair was held at Lancaster ; the officers being 
ApoUos Hitchcock, president; Henry A. Bingham, secretary; and 
Henry Atwood, treasurer. The show was much smaller than the year 

At Ea3t Hamburg, in 1852, there was a moderate attendance, on 
account of the rain, but the show of fruits and vegetables was better 
than ever before. Truman Pattengill, of Wales, made oath to raising 
fifty-two bushels of wheat on one acre of ground " by weight and meas- 
urement." John Woodruff, of Aurora, exhibited specimens of Indian corn, 
which he stated had yielded seventy bushels per acre. 

The next fair was held at Cold Spring, Buffalo. Warren Granger 
was the president; the other officers not being recorded. In spite of 
bad weather there was a fine display of horses, some thorough-bred 
stock and the best show of poultry ever known in the State. The address 
was by Hon. G. W. Clinton. 

In 1854, the fair was again held at Aurora, the officers being John 
W. Hamlin, president ; Nathaniel A. Turner, secretary ; and H. Z. Per- 

326 History of Erie County. 

son treasurer. The report was brief, showing a fine exhibition of horses, 
and numerous entries of all kinds from Aurora and the adjoining towns, 
but comparatively few from other parts of the county. 

The year 1855 was distinguished by two important circumstances in 
the history of the Agricultural Society of Erie county. First — it was 
then for the first time, that an admission fee, twelve and a half cents, 
was charged to the grounds; second — it was the year in which Horace 
Greeley delivered the address. This was a practical talk, largely relating 
to drainage and the use of tile, with some remarks favorable to canned 
fruit, then just coming into use. The presence of this distinguished 
gentleman drew a large number of visitors, relying on which the officers 
went to considerable expense in fitting up the grounds and building a 
temporary hall, one hundred feet by twenty, for the display of domestic 
manufactures, fruits, flowers, etc., which was filled to overflowing. 
The show of stock was creditable; that of grain and root crops still 
better. Benjamin Maltby exhibited samples of winter wheat which 
had yielded thirty-nine bushels per acre, and William Hambleton showed 
corn forming part of a crop of nearly one hundred bushels per acre. 
The receipts were the largest known in the history of the association; 
being, aside from the State appropriation, $682.00. The expenses were 
§555.00. The officers were Allen Potter, president; Myron H. Stillwell, 
secretary ; and Amos Chilcott, treasurer. 

An act of the Legislature having been passed in April, 1855, provid- 
ing for the more thorough organization of Agricultural Societies, a special 
meeting of the members of the Erie County Society was called at the 
court-house in Buffalo, on the 4th of June, 1856, to consider the ques- 
tion of re-organization linder that law. At that meeting it was unani- 
mously resolved that the Erie County Agricultural Society as it then 
existed should be dissolved and it should be, and was, thereby re-organ- 
ized under the act of April 13, 1855. 

A certificate declaring that the signers organized themselves as the 
Erie County Agricultural Society, and naming the first directors, was 
duly signed and acknowledged by the following persons : George W. 
Scott, Erastus Wallis, Benjamin Baker, A. K. Humphrey, James Wood, 
Austin Kimball, George C. Bull, Hiram C. White, William Hambleton, 
John S. King, Aaron Riley, J. M. Paine, Myron Stilwell. Subsequently 
a constitution was adopted which provided for the election of a presi- 
dent, two vice-presidents, a secretary, a treasurer and six directors; the 
first five officers to be chosen yearly at the annual meeting* of the society, 
and the directors to be elected for three years, two each year. 

The eleven officers named were to constitute a board of managers, 
having the general direction of the affairs of the society. Any resident of 

* By the original consliiuiion this meeting was lo be held on the Second Wednesday of Jinuary, 
but the date was changed, in 1870, to the Third Wednesday. 

Re-organization of the Society. 327 

Erie county could become a member for a year on payment of $1, and a 
life member on payment of §10.00. 

The following were the officers for 1856 :* president, George W. Tifft ; 
vice-presidents, John S. King and William Hambleton; secretary, H. 
C. White ; treasurer, George W. Scott. The president, secretary and 
treasurer were the same who had been elected the previous autumn b}^ 
the old organization. 

Arrangements were made to hold the fairs on ground leased for ten 
years near the Indian church in the town of West Seneca, although in 
fact they were not held there but nine years. The fair was more suc- 
cessful than before ; the receipts being about Ssoo. 

From this time forward we follow the secretary's book, the same 
one having been used from 1856 to the present time. The records relate 
principally to the election of officers, with occasional statements of the 
financial situation, but from the last a tolerably good idea can be obtained 
of the progress of the society. The records date from the re-organiza- 
tion, and the fair held in 1856 is considered the first one of the society ; 
consequently that of 1883 is numbered the twenty-eighth, although there 
have been forty-three consecutive annual fairs held in Erie county by a 
•body called the Erie County Agricultural Society. 

In 1857 the officers (aside from directors) were as follows : president, 
Erastus Wallis; vice-presidents, William Hambleton and E. S. Ely; 
secretary, James M. Paine ; treasurer, George W. Scott. 

At the annual election in 1858 the following officers were elected: 
president, William Hambleton ; vice-presidents. Warren Granger and 
William B. Hart ; secretary, Amos Freeman ; treasurer, George W. 
Scott. One of the first results of the new organization seems to have 
been to increase the expenses ; for at this meeting outstanding liabilities 
were reported for the first time amounting to $151.83. At subsequent 
meetings of the board of managers, the superintendent of cattle at the 
coming fair was instructed to examine particularly in regard to all cattle 
presented as thorough-breds, and see that none were entered for pre- 
miums without an undeniable pedigree. The superintendent of horses 
was directed to form two classes, putting the " Black Hawks " and " Mor- 
gans " in one, and all belonging to other breeds in the other. 

When the officers settled the accounts after the fair it was found 
that the expenses were as follows: Premiums left unpaid from 1857, 
$77.00; premiums awarded in 1858, $803.00; erection of buildings and 
holding fairs, $926.00; total $1,806.00. To meet these demands the re- 
ceipts were, from members' tickets $640.00; gate tickets $285.00; 

$100.00; State appropriation, $186.00; other sources, $33.25 ; total, 

$1,244.24; leaving a debt of $561.76. To meet this the sum of $600.00 
was borrowed by the society from William Hambleton. 

The officers for 1859 were a^ follows : president, William Hamble- 
ton; vice-presidents, Charles Rogers and D. D. Stiles; secretary, 

328 History of Erie County. 

Amos Freeman ; treasurer, George W. Scott. This year the price of 
gate tickets was raised from ten to fifteen cents. 

In i860 the officers elected were: president, William Hambleton; 
vice-presidents, D. D. Stiles and H. C. White; secretary, Ellis Webster. 
A committee was appointed to obtain subscriptions to establish a trotting 
course. The period of holding the fair was for the first time extended 
to three days. Provision was also made for obtaining silver medals to 
distribute as premiums, but this was not popular and was not continued 
after the year in question. At this time two classes were appropriated 
to horses, seven to cattle, four to sheep, and one each to swine, poultry, 
fruits, plants and flowers, grain and roots, vegetables, farm implements, 
domestic articles. E. W. Stewart delivered the address. 

In 1861 the officers elected were: president, Z. Bonney; vice- 
presidents, D. D. Stiles and G. W. Paine; secretary, Ellis Webster; 
treasurer, George W. Scott. 

In 1862 they were the same except that Warren Granger was secre- 
tary. In the latter year the treasurer reported the number of family 
tickets sold at two hundred and seventy-eight and that of the gate tickets 
at two hundred and seventy-two. The total number of entries in all classes 
was four hundred and twenty-eight, against three hundred and eighty- 
five the previous year. 

In 1863 the officers elected were: president, Z. Bonney; vice- 
presidents, D. D. Stiles and Christopher Hambleton; secretary, Warren 
Granger; treasurer, G. W. Scott. 

In 1864 the officers elected were: president, George A. Moore; 
vice-presidents, Jason Sexton and Christopher Hambleton ; secretary, 
Warren Granger ; treasurer, G. W. Scott. The amount paid for pre- 
miums and current expenses in that year was $1,112.16; the amount 
received from all sources was $1,063.75 ; leaving a balance due the treas- 
urer from the society of $48.41. 

In 1865 the officers elected were: president, George A. Moore; 
vice-presidents, Jason Sexton and Christopher Hambleton ; secretary, 
Hiram C. White; treasurer, George W. Scott. The amount paid for 
premiums and expenses was $1,326.25. The total indebtedness of the 
society, was $433.00. The fair this year was held on the race ground at 
Cold Spring, Buffalo. 

At the Annual meeting, in 1866, a ballot was taken to determine the 
location of the next fair, resulting in thirty-eight votes for Springville, 
and thirteen for Aurora ; which choice was confirmed by the board of 
managers. The officers elected were : president, Edwin Wright ; vice- 
presidents, John W. Hamlin and James Hopkins; secretary, Bertrand 
Chaffee ; treasurer, Plinj^ Smith. The fair was held on the grounds of 
of the Union Agricultural Society, at Springville. 

At the annual meeting, in 1867, vote was again taken on location, 
when Springville received thirty-eight ballots, and Aurora thirty-one. 

Prosperous Growth of the Society. 329 

This vote was confirmed, and the fair was held on the same ground as in 
1866. The officers elected were: president, L. C. P. Vaughn; vice- 
presidents, Allen Potter and James Hopkins ; secretary, Bertrand Chaf- 
fee; treasurer, Pliny Smith. 

At the next annual meeting, in 1868, the treasurer's report sHbwed 
that the indebtedness from that fair, besides old debt, was $108.28, which 
it was stated would be more than covered by the State appropriation. 
Luther Titus, on behalf of the Hamburg Driving Park Association, 
offered the free use of the track, grounds, buildings, etc., of the Associ- 
ation, for the purpose of holding the fair. A ballot was taken at which 
Hamburg received eighteen votes, and Springville, seventeen. Oddly 
enough, the choice made by this narrow majority was the one which 
became a permanent location. Although for many years the society had 
no permanent interest at Hamburg, yet every year it was voted to hold 
the fair there, and finally, with the purchase of real estate at that point, 
rival localities seem to have given up all the honors and emoluments of 
the annual exhibition. After making the location at the meeting men- 
tioned the following officers were elected: president, P. W. Powers; 
vice-presidents, L. C. P. Vaughn and Allen K. Dart ; secretary, Robert 
C. Titus: treasurer, Robert B. Foote. At a subsequent meeting of the 
board ol ii anagers, the price of single tickets was raised to twenty-five 
cents. Member tickets remained at one dollar. Single teams were 
charged twenty-five cents, and double teams thirty -five cents. An effort 
was made tr» secure the services of Horace Greeley, to address the peo- 
ple, but without success. 

In 1869 the officers elected were: president, P. W. Powers; vice- 
presidents, Allen K. Dart and V. R. Cary; secretary, R. C. Titus; 
treasurer, R. B. Foote. The balance reported unexpended in the treas- 
urer's hands, was $129.82, but there was still an old debt of several hun- 
dred dollars. 

In 1870 the officers elected were: president, P. W. Powers; vice- 
presidents, Allen Potter and V. R. Cary ; secretary, R. C. Titus ; treas- 
urer, R. B. Foote. The balance in the treasurer's hands was $361.61, of 
which $50.00 was applied to the payment of the old debt. The time of 
holding the annual meeting was changed from the second to the third 
Wednesday of January. 

In 1 87 1 the officers were the same as the previous year. 

In 1872 the officers were the same as the previous year. The balance 
outstanding against the society was $143.34. 

In 1873 the officers elected were : president, P. W. Powers; vice- 
presidents, V. R. Cary and Adam Pierce ; secretary, R. C. Titus ; treas- 
urer, Moses Clark. 

In 1874 the officers elected were: president, V. R. Cary; vice- 
presidents, Isaac Russell and Adam Pierce ; secretary, Thomas J. 
Powers; treasurer, Moses Clark. 

330 History of Erie County. 

The officers elected at the annua] meeting in 1875 Were the same as 
those chosen the previous year, but during the succeeding spring, Mr. 
Adam Pierce died, and Mr. George M. Pierce was elected second-vice- 
presi4ent in his place. There were efforts made at nearly every annual 
meeting to procure the location of the fair at some other place than 
Hamburg, Aurora being the one most frequently mentioned, but all were 
unsuccessful. In 1875 the board of managers voted to contract with 
the Hamburg Driving Park Association to pay that body $50.00 a year 
for the use of the grounds during the life of the lease held by it. A 
barn was also erected costing $330.22, of which the Agricultural Society 
owned thirty sixty-sixths ; the remainder being owned by the Driving 
Park Association aed Mr. Frederick Thompson. The tendency of the 
Society was evidently toward a permanent location at Hamburg. 

In 1876 the officers elected were : president, V. R. Gary ; vice- 
presidents, Isaac Russell and George W. Pierce ; secretary, Thomas J. 
Powers ; treasurer, Moses Clark. This year, for the first time, the 
period of holding the fair was extended to four days. It was also 
declared that a family ticket should admit the husband and wife and 
three minor children over ten years old; those under ten being 
admitted free. 

In 1877 the officers elected were: president, V. R. Gary; vice- 
presidents, Isaac Russell and George W. Pierce ; secretary, Amos H. 
Baker; treasurer, Moses Gl ark. The first article of the constitution 
was changed so that any person, whether a resident of Erie county or 
not could become either an annual or a life member by paying the 
amount designated by the board of managers. The price of life tickets 
was fixed at $10. It was also voted a family ticket should admit only 
one minor over ten years old. The price of single tickets was fixed at 
twenty cents ; that of single-team tickets at the same sum, and that of 
double-team tickets at twenty-five cents. 

The officers elected in 1878 were : president, V. R. Gary ; vice-presi- 
dents, Seth Fenner and Isaac Russell; secretary, A. H. Baker; treas- 
urer, William S. Newton ; one honorary vice-president was also elected 
for each town not otherwise represented, who was expected to make a 
special effort to promote the interests of the society in that town. The 
price of single tickets and single-team tickets was raised to twenty-five 
cents each ; those of double-team tickets to thirty cents. A resolution 
was adopted to hold the next fair at East Aurora, if the people there 
would erect the necessary buildings. Nothing came of this proposition 
however, and the fairs continued to be held at Hamburg. 

In 1879 ^^^ officers elected were: president, Isaac Russell; vice- 
presidents, John Kraus and H. W. White ; secretary, A. H. Baker ; 
treasurer, William S. Newton. The amount in the treasurer's hands 
was $949.15. 

Present Officers. 331 

In 1880 the officers elected were: president, Isaac Russell; vice- 
presidents, John Kraus and H. W. White ; secretary, H. K. Williams ; 
treasurer, W. S. Newton. The treasurer's report showed the sum of 
$1,614.27 in his hands. Encouraged by this proof of prosperity, a com- 
mittee was appointed with authority to purchase land for a permanent 
location. Accordingly twelve and two-hundredths acres situated where 
the previous fairs had been held, were purchased for $200.00 per acre. 
The receipts during that year, including the amount on hand in the begin- 
ning, reached the very handsome sum of S5»768.49. The premiums paid 
amounted to $1,309.90, and the running expenses to $1,524.50, making the 
total current expenses $2,834.46. This left a balance of $2,934.03 out of 
which there was paid for the land first mentioned the sum of $2,404.00. 

In 1881 the officers elected were: president, George W. Pierce; 
vice-presidents, H. W. White and John Kraus ; secretary, H. K. Will- 
iams ; treasurer, W. S. Newton. The society purchased twelve and six- 
hundredths acres of land of George M. Pierce, for which it gave a bond 
and mortgage. The receipts this year, including the balance brought 
from 1880, amounted to $4,686.38. The premiums amounted to $1,459.65, 
and the current expenses to $551.53; the total being $2,011.18. This 
left a balance of $2,675.20, which was applied on permanent improve- 
ments, buildings, etc. 

In 1882 the officers elected were: president, George W. Pierce; 
vice-presidents, John Kraus and Alonzo Richmond; secretary, Oscar 
Wheelock; treasurer, W. S. Newton. The receipts this year amounted 
to $3,955.65. The expenses including $305.67 paid for the erection of 
building and $571.25 used to cancel the floating debt and interest were 
$3,044.00, leaving $91 1.25. 

At the last annual election which this work can record, 1883, the fol- 
lowing officers were elected : president, John Kraus ; vice-presidents, 
H. P. Hopkins and A. H. Baker; secretary, H. W. White; treasurer, 
William S. Newton. A. H. Baker subsequently resigned and E. H. 
Hubbard was elected second vice-president by the board. The report 
of the treasurer, which covered the five years of his stewardship, set 
forth the financial improvement of the society during that time as shown 
in the past few paragraphs, and farther stated that out of the $91 1.25 just 
mentioned, he had paid $500.00 principal and $101.00 interest to George 
W. Pierce, leaving in the treasury on the 17th of January, 1883, the 
sum of $202.06. The same report showed that the total value of the 
property and cash of the society at that time was $7,146.29, and the 
amount due on the bond and mortgage to George M. Pierce was $706.00, 
leaving the actual value of the property $6,440.29. 

The grounds, located about midway between the village of Ham- 
burg and that of Abbott's Corners, are furnished with ample buildings 
and are extremely pleasant in every respect ; the northern part being 

332 History of Erie County. 

shaded by trees, while in a beautiful glen is to be seen one of the finest 
springs of living water in the State, the unfailing flow of which keeps a 
pipe two inches in diameter constantly filled, although a considerable 
amount escapes and ripples over the ground beneath. 

The increased wealth and vitality of the society is largely represent- 
ative of the increased prosperity and higher development of agriculture 
in Erie county. Not only has there been a complete transformation in the 
character of the county since the pioneer period of seventy years ago, 
but there has been an immense change during the last forty years. Forty 
years ago the cultivated portion of the county was almost entirely 
devoted to the raising of crops and the dairy interest. The raising of 
stock was considered of comparatively little importance. The cattle 
were substantially all of the native breeds, dairying for market was in its 
infancy, and money could be obtained from any considerable number of 
cattle only by a long and weary drive across the country to New York 
or Philadelphia. 

Moreover, the Indian reservation, seven miles wide, stretched the 
whole width of the county. Here the roads were almost always in an 
extremely bad condition, and the access of the farmers in the southern 
part of the county to Buffalo was rendered especially difficult. A 
majority <A the people had not yet paid all the purchase money of their 
farms, (jr at least had not been out of debt long enough to erect good 
buildinjfs and thoroughly improve their farms. This condition related 
to the towns in the south part of the county. The northern or upper 
part, above the '* reservation," was a limestone formation of soil well 
adaj^ted to the production of the various grains of the climate and cul- 
tivated by industrious farmers, free from the road impediments of the 
other section, and its agricultural crops were in easier access to market; 
hence it was, in improvement, superior to it. 

About forty years ago, however, the reservation was open to settle- 
ment, and this was followed by the construction of comparatively good 
roads through it thus uniting the previously divided portions of the 
county. Near the same time continuous connection by railroad, east 
and west, was made with the city. The market for butter and cheese 
improved *^rcatly, and this again stimulated their production. Within 
the past twenty-five years, cheese factories have sprung up in large num- 
bers through the count3% and the production of cheese has become one 
of its principal industries. With increased profit from stock has come 
increased attention to this industry. Comfortable barns have been 
erected for cattle which (uicc shivered through the winter as best they 
could, and improved breeds have been largely introduced. As before 
stated, Hon. L. F. Allen, of Buffalo, took the lead in this important work. 
Of late much has been done in this respect by wealthy men, residents 
of Buffalo,' and others, such as Henrj- C. and Josiah Jewett, who own 

Fine Herds of Thorouhgbred Stock. 333 

probably as fine a stud of horses — over one hundred in number — of as 
select breed as the State can show, besides a number of choice Holstein 
cattle at their large farm near East Aurora ; also C. J. Hamlin, who has 
an equal number of fine horses which he keeps and breeds on his farm at 
East Aurora; and also J. D. Yeoman, who has fine horses and choice 
breeds of cattle on an extensive farm near the same village. 

In Short-horn cattle, Bronson C. Rumsey has a large herd which, in 
both quantity and pedigree, is not excelled by any others either in Eng- 
land or America, a large majority of the animals being selected and 
imported by himself and his agents in England, at unlimited expense. To 
them he is annually adding by their breeding — all kept on his large farm 
adjoining the great park within the city boundaries of Buffalo. Lewis 
F. Allen has a few^ Short-horn and Guernsey cattle on his Grand Island 
farm. S. D. Cornell, of Buffalo, has a choice herd of Short-horns at his 
farm on Grand Island. Hon. E. G. Spaulding has a large herd of thor- 
ough-bred Holstein, Jersey, Short-horn and other grades of those breeds 
at his " River Lawn," Grand Island farm, adjoining that of Mr. Allen. 
Carl Adam also has some Short-horns and their high grades on his Grand 
Island estate. Charles E. West, LL. D., now residing at Brooklyn, N. 
Y., has a fine herd of a few Short-horns and Jerseys, with their grade- 
descendants for dairy stock, at his considerable farm within the limits of 
Buffalo. C. J. Hamlin has a few good Short-horn cattle at his East 
Aurora farm. Jewett M. and Alonzo Richmond, together with Hiram 
P. Hopkins and R. L. Howard, all of BuflFalo, have choice herds of 
Jerseys at their several farms in Hamburg. George L. Williams, of 
Buffalo, has a choice herd of Jerseys at his farm near Lockport. A. P. 
Wright of Buffalo, has as fine imported "Percheron" horses and Hol- 
stein cattle on his farm also near Lockport. E. W. Stewart, at Lake 
View, has a herd of Jerseys and their grades at his dairy farm, and a 
considerable herd of Holstein cattle were recently imported intcSpring- 
ville, in this county, Burt Chaffee has a large herd of Holstein cattle 
at Concord. Many other farmers in this county are also improving their 
heads of dairj' cows by infusion of the blood of the above mentioned 
breeds into their dairy herds. Choice breeds of sheep and swine are 
also bred by many parties in the county. So that taken togjether, prob- 
ably no one county in the State excels that of Erie in the possession 
and numbers of choice farm stock. 

Handsome, even elegant, commodious houses, with their outbuild- 
ings too, smooth fields, gardens, orchards and good fences, have taken 
the places of the rude structures and stump-disfigured tracts of forty years 
ago, and few more pleasant scenes can be found than are revealed by a 
drive through almost any town in this great and prosperous county, 
whose agricultural advancement has been mainly achieved within the 
last forty years. 

334 History of Erie County. 



First Court House— A CircuUr PUt ^ First Jail ~ Destruction of the Court House — Another 
Erected — The Second Jail — Erie County Penitentiary — The Third Court House — Erie 
County Alms House —Movement for a County and City Hall — Law Aslhorizing It — 
Commissioners Appointed — Franklin Square Selected — Ground Broken — Laying the 
Comer Stone — Changes of Material — The Work Completed — Celebntion of the Event 
— Description of the Building — The New Jail. 

THE first court house in the present county of Erie was erected for 
the use of Niagara county by the association known as the Holland 
Company in the year 1806 and 1809. It was a frame building 
located in the centre of a half acre of land, laid out in the form of a 
circle, the centre of the circle being in the middle of North Onondaga, 
(now Washington) street, in the village of Buffalo, just east of Lafayette 
Square, and immediately in front of the site of the new court house — 
the one used from 18 17 to 1876. The erection of the court house and 
jail was made incumbent on the Holland Company by the Legislature 
as a condition of the formation of the county of Niagara. It does not 
appear to have been accepted by the Judges of the County Court, in 
accordance with the law until 18 10 — at all events the deed of the lot 
before mentioned (which recites the acceptance of the building) was not 
executed until the 21st of November in that year. Even then it was 
not completed, for it was mentioned the next year as ** an unfinished 
wooden court house." 

The jail, which the Holland Company was also required to build 
was of stone, and was situated on the site of the ** Darrow block," on the 
east side of Onondaga (Washington) street, between where Clinton and 
Eagle streets are now located. 

On the 30th of December, 1 813, as already related, the village of 
Buffalo was burned by the British and Indians. The wooden courthouse 
was destroyed without difficulty, but the jail was harder to conquer. A 
fire was built in it, and the wood-work was somewhat injured, but the 
building as a whole, was not seriously damaged. It was repaired soon 
after the war, and remained in use as a jail nearly twenty years. 

Scarcely had the news of the conclusion of the treaty of peace 
been received, when the Legislature, in March, 1816, passed an act 
authorizing the supervisors of Niagara county, to raise four thousand 
dollars wjth which to build a new court house. This act was not car- 
ried into effect, apparently for the reason that the supervisors thought 

Erection of County Buildings. 335 

the people could not stand so heavy a tax ; for on the 17th of April, 1816, 
the Legislature passed an act loaning five thousand dollars to the county 
of Niagara, with which to build a court house, and appointing Samuel 
Tupper and Joseph Landon, of Buffalo, and Jonas Williams, of Williams- 
ville, as commissioners to direct its construction. 

Joseph Ellicott's plan of having the court house in the midst of a 
circular tract, which should cut Onondaga street in two parts, was set 
aside, the street was made continuous, and the west part of the block 
lying just east of the old site was acquired by the county for the new 
structure. In the spring of 1816 werk was begun, and the building was 
so far advanced as to be occupied early in the year of 1817. It was built 
of brick, two stories high, with a porch in front, ornamented with white 
pillars running up to the cornice. A portion of the first floor was occu- 
pied as a County Clerk's office. It was considered and probably was 
the largest and finest building in Western New York. 

This was the only court house in Erie county until 1850. It was 
increased in size, however, by an extension to the rear, and other 
improvements were made in 1826. The old jail was also given up in 1833, 
or '34, the east part of the court house block was acquired by the county, 
and a new jail built upon it. 

In 1846 a law was passed authorizing the supervisors of Erie county 
to erect a penitentiary or work house for the occupation of prisoners 
under sentence for minor offences, for whom there was neither room nor 
labor at the jail, and whom it was not desirable to send to a State prison. 
It was erected in 1847, being substantially built of stone and located on 
Fifth street, between Pennsylvania and Root streets, Buffalo. 

In 1850, the old court house having become entirely inadequate to 
the business of the county, a new one was erected on the southeast 
corner of the same lot, facing on Clinton street. This was a square 
building of brick, three stories high, and built in the plainest manner, as 
may be seen on inspection, it being the structure now occupied by the 
Young Men's Christian Association. It cost about $17,000.00. It was 
used for twenty-five years jointly with the older building — courts being 
held in one or the other as was convenient. 

In 185 1 and 1852, the previous arrangements for the poor proving 
insufficient, a new alms-house was erected on a tract of one hundred and 
fifty-three acres of land located in what was then the town of Black 
Rock, but is now just inside the city of Buffalo on Main street, or, as that 
part of the street was then called, the Williamsville road. The first cost 
of this structure was $20,000. The main building was destroyed by fire 
on the 2ist of February, 1855, and was rebuilt the same year. 

But little change or effort for change was made in regard to the build- 
ings belonging to the county until the winter of 1870 and '71 > when the 
Common Council of Buffalo and many leading citizens took steps to bring 

336 History of Erie County. 

about the erection of a large structure sufficient for the use of both 
county and city. On the 21st of April, 1871, the Legislature passed an 
act providing for the erection of such a building. Commissioners* were 
duly appointed by the Governor, who, after examining various proposed 
sites, selected Franklin square, between Delaware avenue and Franklin 
streets, Buffalo, as the most desirable location. The first estimate of the 
Commissioners placed the cost of the building at $772,000. In July, 
1871, the Commissioners employed a superintendent f and accepted 
proposals for furnishing foundation stones, and ground was broken on 
the 2 1 St of August, 1871. 

In April, 1872, A. J. Warren was employed as architect and his 
plan of the building adopted.ij 

In October, 1873, an amended estimate was adopted, providing for 
the use of granite in place of a softer stone, for the use of black walnut 
or other hard wood in place of pine, and for various other improvements, 
making the total cost $1,207,234. This change was sactioned by the 
Legislature and by an act which declared that the total cost should not 
exceed $1,400,000. 

The work was carried forward through the years 1874 and 1875. 
Early in 1876 the building wasannounced to be read)' for occupation, and 
on the 13th of March it was formally taken possession of by the Judges 
the Bar and the various county and city officers. A meeting of the Bar 
was held at the old (that is the oldest) court house on the preceding 
Saturday, at which a valuable and interesting paper was read by Hon. 
James Sheldon, giving a history of that court house, and of its prede- 
cessor, destroyed in 18 13, and another by Hon, George R. Babcock, 
filled with reminiscences of the judges and lawyers who had there dis- 
played their judicial dignity and legal acumen — with brief addresses by 
Hon. George W. Clinton and Hon. James M. Smith. On the 13th, the 
Judges, the Bar and others met again at the old court house, and 
marched in procession to the new, where addresses were delivered by 
Hon. S. S. Rogers, Hon. A. P. Nichols and Hon. E. C. Sprague. 

The Common Council chamber was formally taken possession of on 
the afternoon of the same day, when addresses were delivered by Hon. 

•The first Board of Commissioners consisted of James M. Smith, Dennis Bowen and Albert P. 
Laning, of Buffalo ; Jasper B. Youngs, of Williamsville. and Allen Potter, of East Hamburg. In 
May, 1872, by authority of an act of the - Legislature, James Adams, Philip Becker and George S. 
Wardwell. of Buffalo ; and John Nice, of Tonawanda. James M. Smith was chosen chairman. In 
May, 1872. he resigned his place as commissioner on account of his appointment as Judge of the 
Superior Court. George W. 11 ay ward, of Buffalo, was made commissioner in his place, and Mr. 
Wardwell was chosen chairman. 

tThc first Superintendent was Samuel H. Fields; he was succeeded in October, 1873, byCooley 
S. Chapin, who remained in charge until the completion of the building. 

tThc cornerstone of the - County and City Hall" as the structure was named, was laid on the 
a4lhof June, 1872, with Masonic ceremonies by Christopher G. Fox, Grand Master of Masons in 
the Stale of New York, after an imposing procession through the streets, and an eloquent oration by 
Hon. Geo. W. CUnton. ^ ^ 

The Present Court House and City Hall. 337 

Philip Becker, Mayor of BufiFalo;.by A. S. Bemis, Esq., President of the 
Common Council, and by Hon. George W. Clinton, Judge of the 
Superior Court, with short speeches by Aldermen Simons, Lothridge, 
Ambrose and Ferris. 

Of the building thus dedicated, in its completed form, we need say 
but little. This work is intended for the citizens of Erie county, and 
there are and will be few citizens of that county who have not gained or 
will not gain from actual observation, a better idea of the county and 
City Hall, than can be conveyed by printed words. Nevertheless, for 
convenience of reference, we will give some facts regarding it. 

The building is a double cross in form, having its main front on 
Franklin street, with a total length, parallel to that street, of two hun- 
dred and fifty-five feet — its greatest width, (through the arm of the cross, 
being one hundred and fifty-eight feet.) In other words, it may be 
described as a rectangle, one hundred and fourteen feet wide and two 
hundred and fifty-five feet long, with six projections, one at each end 
and two on each side ; each projection beiing fifty-two feet broad, and 
running out twenty feet from the main part. The area on the ground i§ 
thus thirty-five thousand three hundred and ten square feet — or five 
hundred and sixty-two feet more than four-fiflhs of *an acre. 

It has three stories above the basement; the first being finished 
on the outside in rough granite ; the two higher ones in dressed granite. 
The parapet of the cornice is seventy-four feet high, while the highest 
parts of the slate roofs are one hundred and five feet high. The whole 
is surmounted by a large, square, central tower, containing in its lower 
part an immense clock, with four dials, each nine feet in diameter, while 
at the extreme top is an observatory two hundred feet above the earth. 
On turrets, situated at the four corners of the tower, stand statues sixteen 
feet high, representing, the one at the northeast corner, "Justice ; " at the 
northwest, " Mechanic Arts ; " at the southeast " Agriculture ; " at the 
southwest, " Commerce." 

The general system of the interior is such that the coilnty offices, 
court room, etc., shall be on the north side, while the city officials shall 
transact their business on the south side, although there are necessarily 
two or three exceptions to the rule. It is farther arranged so that those 
offices most used by the people, such as the County Clerk's, County 
Treasurer's, City Treasurer's, etc., shall be on the first floor ; the Court 
rooms principally on the second floor, and the Common Council chamber, 
Supervisors* room, etc., on the third floor. The Common Council cham- 
ber occupies the whole south end of the third story, ahd is furnished in 
a style of remarkable, if not superfluous splendor. Two or three Court 
rooms, however, are on the third floor. The center, from top to bottomt 
is occupied by a large open space, with corridors extending north and 
south, while three apertures through the two upper floors, provide for 
ample ventilation. 

338 History of Erie County. 

The floors of the hall and corridors, and of the uncarpeted portions 
of the rooms, are of marble ; the exposed wood-work is of black walnut, 
and the metal-work, of which there is considerable, is composed of or 
finished in bronze. In the basement are furnaces, together with engines 
and appliances for supplying all parts of the building with either warm 
or cold air, according to the season. 

As a whole, the County and City Hall, as to both its interior and its 
exterior, impresses the spectator with the idea of solid construction, con- 
venient arrangement, and harmonious proportion in a remarkable degree. 
We think we are perfectly safe in saying that there is no building in the 
city of New York, belonging to the public, which equals it — hardly one 
that approaches it in either of these particulars. We do not believe there 
is one in America, which surpasses it in those respects. Although 
some tax-payers have doubtless thought that a smaller and less ornate 
structure, costing less than fourteen hundred thousand dollars, would 
have served equally well the purpose of the public, yet all who under- 
stand and have examined the subject, admit that such a building as was 
erected could not have been constructed for less money, and that it is in 
every way admirably adapted to the present and future use of the county 
of Erie, and the city of Buffalo. It is a good, honest, substantial, service- 
able structure, inside and outside, from front to rear, from end to end, 

'* From turret to foundation stone." 

The only County buildings erected since the County and City Hall, 
have been the new jail and a wing to the Insane Asylum connected with 
the County Alms House. The former is situated on the west side of 
Delaware Avenue, opposite the County and City Hall. It is plainly built 
of gray stone, but is of ample size, and cost about two hundred thousand 
dollars. It was built in 1877 ^"cl '78. The wing of the Insane Asylum 
was also erected during the same years. 

Erie County Civil List. 339 



President — Vice-President — Secretary of War — Postmaster-General — Foreign Ministers — 
United States Judge — United States District Attorney — Clerks of the District Court— 
Superintendent of Public Printing Office — Members of the House of Representatives — 
Presidential Electors — Generals of the Regular Army — Governor of New York — Lieuten- 
ant-Governor — Secretary of State — Attorney General — Comptrollers — State Treasurers — 
Canal Commissioners — Inspector of State Prisons — Superintendent of Public Instruction — 
R^ent of the University — Canal Appraisers — Judge of the Court of Claims — Circuit Judge 
—Judges of the Supreme Court — Member of the Council of Appointment — State Senators 
— Members of Assembly — Members of Constitutional Conventions — First Judges of the 
Common Pleas — County Judges — Sheriffs — County Clerks — District Attorneys — Surro- 
gates — County Treasurers — School Commissioners. 


HE following is a list of names of all persons who have held prom- 
inent civil offices in the National, State or County Government, 
while residents of Erie county : — 

National Government. 

President of the United States. — Millard Fillmore, from July 9, 1850, 
to March 3, 1853. 

Vice-President of the United States. — Millard Fillmore, from March 
4, 1849, to July 9, 1850. 

Secretary of War. — Peter B. Porter, from May 26, 1828, to March 
9, 1829. 

Postmaster-GeneraL — Nathan K. Hall, from July 23, 1850, to Septem- 
ber 14, 1852. 

Ministers in Foreign Countries, — Thomas M. Foote, Chargi d' Affaires 
in New Granada, from the spring of 1849 to the summer of 1852; Thomas 
M. Foote, Charge d* Affaires in Austria, from the summer of 1852 to 
the spring of 1853; James O. Putnam, Minister Resident in Belgium, 
from May 19, 1880, to July i, 1882 * 

Judge of the District Court of Northern New York. — Nathan K. Hall, 
from September 1852, until his death, March 2, 1874. 

District-Attorney y District of NortJiern New York. — William Dor- 
sheimer, from March 1867, to March 1871. 

Clerks of the District Court.— AuvtWzxi Conkling, from Marc