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Full text of "History of the pioneer settlement of Phelps and Gorham's purchase, and Morris' reserve embracing the counties of Monroe, Ontario, Livingston, Yates, Steuben, most of Wayne and Allegany, and parts of Orleans, Genesee, and Wyoming. To which is added, a Supplement or Extension of the pioneer history of Monroe county ... / By O. Turner"

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HISTORY 

OF THE 

PIONEER SETTLEMENT 

PHILPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE 

AND 

MORRIS RESERVE; 



EMBRACING THE COUNTIES OF 



MONROE, ONTARIO, LIVINGSTON, YATES, STEUBEN, 

MOST OF WAYNE AND ALLEGANY, AND PARTS 

OF ORLEANS, GENESEE AND WYOMING. 



TO WHICH IS ADDED, A SUPPLEMENT, > OR EXTENSION D* 1 THE PIONEER HISTORY OF 



MOIROE: COUNTY. 



THE WHOLE PRECEDED BY 

SOME ACCOUNT OF FRENCH AND ENGLISH DOMINION BORDER WARS OF THE REVOLU 
TION INDIAN COUNCILS AND LAND CESSIONS THE PROGRESS OF SETTLEMENT 
WESTWARD FROM THE TALLET OF THE MOHAWK EARLY DIFFICUL 
TIES WITH THE INDIANS OUR IMMEDIATE PREDECESSORS THE 
SENEGAS WITH "A GLANCE AT THE IROQUOIS." 



BY 0. TURNER, 

[AUTHOR OF THE "HISTORY OF THE HOLLAND PURCHASE."] 



ROCHESTER: 

PUBLISHED BY WILLIAM ALLING. 

1851. 



Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1851, by WM. ALLING, in the Clerk s 
Office of the District Court of the Northern District of New York. 



Stereotyped by 
J. w. BROWN, Rochester. 

FEINTED BY LEE, MANN & CO., 
Rochester, JV. Y. 



TO THE 

SURVIVING PIONEERS 

AND THB 

DESCENDANTS OP PIONEERS 

PHELPS AND G-ORHAM S PURCHASE, 

AND 

MORRIS RESERVE, 

THIS "WORK IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED: 

To the first, as a feeble tribute, a moiety of what is their due, for the 
physical and moral triumphs they have won through long early years of toil, 
privation and endurance. In view of the brief space allotted to man by an 
All Wise Providence, as an average existence (no more than thirty 
fleeting years constituting a generation) you live to be the witnesses of 
more than it is often given to man to see. The wilderness you entered in your 
youths some of you in middle age you have lived to see not only 
"blossom as the rose," but to bear its matured and ripened fruit. Where 
you have followed the trails of your immediate predecessors the Seneca 
Iroquois or your own woods paths, are Canals, Rail Roads and Telegraphs. 
A long line of internal navigation an artificial River bearing upon its 
bosom the products of your own subdued, teeming soil, and continuous fleets, 
laden with the products of an Empire, that has sprung up around the bor 
ders of our Western Lakes winds along through vallies that you have seen 
but the abodes of wild beasts ; from whose depths you have heard in your 
log cabins, the terrific howl of the famishing wolf ! Aqueducts, structures 
that the architects of the old world might take for models, span the streams you 
have often forded, and over which you have helped to throw primitive log 
bridges. And upon these Lakes, whose commerce you have seen to consist 
of a few batteaux, lazily coasting along near shore, putting into bays and inlets, 
whenever the elements were disturbed are fleets of sail vessels, and " float 
ing palaces," propelled by a mighty agent, whose powers were but little 
known when you began to wield the axe in the forests of the Genesee coun 
try. A subtle agent was occasionally flashing in the dark forests, indicating 
its power by scathing and levelling its tall trees ; then but partially subdued 
to man s use ; now tamed, harnessed, controlled ; traversing those wires, and 
bringing the extremes of this extended Union to hold converse with each 
other with the " rapidity of thought," more than realizing the boasts of 
the spirit of the poet s imagination, who would 

Put a girdle round the Earth in thirty minutes !" 

M85S17 



Iv DEDICATION. 

Villages, cities, institutions of religion and learning, are upon sites where 
you have seen the dark shades of the forest rest with a profound stillness, 
that you could hardly have expected to see disturbed by the hand of improve 
ment. But more than all this, you have lived to see an extended region of 
wilderness converted into fruitful fields ; a landscape every where interspersed 
with comfortable, often luxurious, farm buildings ; surrounded by all the evi 
dences of substantial, unsurpassed prosperity. Who else that have planted 
colonies, founded settlements, have lived to see such consummations ? Peaceful, 
bloodless, and yet glorious ! The conquerous upon battle fields have been 
destroyers ; you, creators ; they, have made fields desolate ; you, have clothed 
them with smiling promise and full fruition. They, have brought mourning- ; 
you, rejoicing. Theirs, was the physical courage of a day, perhaps of a for 
tunate hour ; yours, was the higher and nobler attribute the moral courage 
the spirit of endurance and perseverance, that held out through long years 
of suffering and privation ; that looked dangers and difficulties in the face, 
till they became familiar associates. In the retrospect of well-spent lives 
in view of the consummation of the great work of civilization and improve 
ment, you have helped to commence and carry on now that the shades of 
evening are gathering around you now that you are admonished that your 
work upon earth is done well may you say : " Now Lord lettest tkou 
thy servant depart in peace." 

To the second, as the inheritors of a rich legacy, the fruits of the 
achievments, of the long years of enterprise, toil, fortitude and perseverance, 
of those Pioneer Fathers ; the conservators of their memories. Honors, titles, 
stars and garters, such as kings may bestow, are baubles compared with what 
they have bequeathed ! Far most of them breaking out from their quiet 
New England homes, in youth, and strength, went first to the battle field, 
where it was the strong against the weak, the oppressor against the oppressed, 
and helped to win a glorious national inheritance ; then, after a short respite, 
came to this primitive region, and won a local inheritance for you, fair and 
fertile, as rich in all the elements of prosperity and happiness, as any that 
the sun of Heaven shines upon ! Guard the trust in a spirit of gratitude ; 
cherish the memories of the Pioneers ; imitate their stern virtues ; preserve 
and carry on the work they have so well begun ! 

And both will accept this tribute, from the son of a Pioneer one " who 
was to the manor born," who has essayed to snatch from fading memories, 
gather from imperfect records, and preserve these local Reminiscences ; and 
who, most of all regrets, that in the execution of the task, he has not been able 
to recognize more of the names and the deeds of the FOUNDERS OF SETTLE 
MENTS IN THE GENESEE COUNTRY. THE AUTHOR. 



ODE, 

IN COMMEMORATION OF THE FIRST SETTLEMENT OF WESTERN NEW-YORK. 
[BY W. H. C. HOSMER, ESQ.] 

High was the homage Senates paid 

To the plumed Conquerors of old, 
And freely, at their feet were laid, 

Rich piles of flashing gems and gold. 

Proud History exhausted thought, 
Glad bards awoke their vocal reeds; 

While Phidian hands the marble wrought 
In honor of their wondrous deeds : 

But our undaunted Pioneers 
Have conquests more enduring won, 

In scattering the night of years, 
And opening forests to the sun; 

And victors are they nobler far 

Than the helmed chiefs of other times, 

Who rolled their chariots of war, 
To foreign lands, and distant climes. 

Earth groaned beneath their mail-clad men, 
Bereft of greenness where they trod, 

And wildly rose, from hill and glen, 
Loud, agonizing shrieks to God. 

Purveyors of the carrion bird 

Blood streamed from their uplifted hands, 

And while the crash of States was heard, 
Passed on their desolating hordes. 

Then tell me not of heroes fled 

Crime, renders foul their boasted fame, 

While widowed ones and orphans bled, 
They earned the phantom of a name. 

The sons of our New England Sires, 
Armed with endurance, dared to roam 

Far from the hospitable fires, 
And the bright, hallowed bowers of Home. 

The storm they met with bosoms bared, 
And bloodless triumphs bought by toil ; 

The wild beast from his cavern scared, 
And clothed in bloom the virgin soil. 



ODE. 

Distemper leagued with famines wan, 
Nerved to a high resolve, they bore ; 

And flocks, upon the thymy lawn, 
Ranged where the panther yelled before. 

Look now abroad ! the scene how changed, 

Where fifty fleeting years ago 
Clad in their savage costume ranged, 

The belted lords of shaft and bow. 

In praise of pomp let fawning Art 
Carve rocks to triumph over years, 

The grateful incense of the heart 
Give to our living PIONEERS. 

Almighty ! may thine out-stretched arm 
Guard through long ages, yet to be, 

From tread of slave, and kingly harm, 
OUR EDEN OF THE GENESEE. 



ERRATA. 

Page 131 arts of peace, instead of " acts." 

Page 151 read sister instead of " daughter of Zachaiiah Seymour." 
Page 174 in note Judge Taylor, should be in place of " Judge "Wells. " 
Two references which belong to page 325 are carried over to page 326. 
Page 483 Shay s Rebellion " General order" date should have been 1 786. 
Page 314 8th line, " after," should precede "his appointment." 
Page 416 9th line $200 instead of $2,00." 

Page 597 15th line, receipts of Rochester P, 0., should be as in a few lines above, 
$3,46, instead of "$346." 



PREFACE. 



A WORK, commenced nearly one year since, the publication of which has been 
delayed far beyond the promised period, owing to causes unforseen principally to 
the fact that it is of greater magnitude, and has involved a far greater amount of travel, 
labor and research than was anticipated is now presented to the public. 

The general plan of it will hardly be misunderstood by its readers : It is a his 
tory of the Pioneer, or FIRST SETTLEMENT, of that portion of the Genesee Country em 
braced in the purchase of Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham of the State of Mas 
sachusetts and the Seneca Indians, and of that portion purchased by Robert MorriF, 
which he reserved in his sale to the Holland Company. The boundaries of the region 
embraced are indicated in the title page, and are more clearly defined in the body of 
the work. It is the eastern, and nearly the one half of what constitutes, properly, 
Western New York ; its eastern boundary being the Massachusetts line of pre-emption. 

The work commences with the advent of the French upon the St. Lawrence, and 
traces their progress to this region, and along the shores of the Western Lakes to the 
Mississippi ; briefly recognizing the prominent events that followed under English 
and French dominion. 

Enough of colonial history has been embraced that which tended in the direction 
of our local region to make such an induction to the main design of the work, as 
would secure an unbroken chain, or chronology of events, commencing with the 
landing of the French upon the St. Lawrence, and continued through the period of 
French and English occupancy. As all this was but incidental, it has been, generally, 
briefly disposed of, for the author was admonished that his space would be required 
when he had entered upon a less beaten track. Yet he may venture to anticipate that 
even the student of history, will find something of interest in this precedent portion 
of the work ; for it is not wholly an explored field, and each new gleaner may bring 
something from it to add to the common stock of historical knowledge. 

It was the original design of the author to incorporate in the work, something of 
the history of our immediate predecessors, the Senecas. It was mainly abandoned 
however, on learning that a local author, quite competent for the task, (as his now 
published work bears witness,) was preparing for the press, a work which would em 
brace much of interest in their history.* Much of them, however, will be found 
scattered throughout a large portion of the work, and a separate chapter is appropriated 
to them, from the pen of a native, and resident of the Genesee Valley a scholar and 
a poet, whose fame has gone out far beyond our local region, and conferred credit upon 
See chapter II, Pa 



its literature, t JS^f" See chapter II, Part I. 

The colonial period passed, the local events of the Revolution briefly disposed 
of; Indian treaties, commencing under the administration of GEORGE CLINTON 
the almost interminable difficulties in which the State, and individual purchasers 
were involved in with the Lessees, the slow advance of settlement in this direc 
tion are subjects next in order. Much of all this has been drawn from authentic 
records, and did not previously exist in any connected printed record. 

The main subject reached settlement of the Genesee country commenced a 
general plan of narrative, somewhat novel in its character was adopted : History 
and brief personal Biography, have been in a great measure blended. This has vastly 
increased the labor of the work, but it is hoped it will be found to have added to its 
interest. It will readily be inferred that it involved the necessity of selecting the 
most prominent of the Pioneers in each locality those with whom could be blended 
most of the Pioneer events. In almost every locality there has been regretted omis 
sions ; a failure to recognize all who should have been noticed. This has been partly 
the result of necessity, but oftener the neglect of those who had promised to furnish 
the required information. While the work contains more of names and sketches of 
personal history, than are to be found in any other local annals that have been pub 
lished in our country, there are hundreds of Pioneer names reluctantly omitted. 

* " League of the Iroquois," by Lewis H. Morgan, Esq., of Rochester. 
t W. H. 0. Hosmer, Esq., of Avon. 



PREFACE. 

In all that relates to early difficulties with the Indians ; to threatened renewals of 
the Border Wars, after the settlement of the country commenced, the author has been 
fortunate in the possession of authentic records, hitherto neglected, which gives to 
the subjects a new and enhanced interest. The accounts of the treaties of Messrs. 
PICKERING and CHAPIN, with the Indians, are mostly derived from official correspon 
dence ; while most of what relates to the councils held with them to obtain land ces 
sions, west of the Seneca Lake, are derived from the manuscripts of Oliver Phelps 
and Thomas Morris, the principal actors in the scenes. 

The author cannot but coHclude, that poorly as the task may have been executed, 
it has been undertaken at a fortunate period. More than one half of this volume is 
made up from the reminiscences, the fading memories, of the living actors in the 
scenes described and the events related. N"o less than nine, who, within the last ten 
months, have rendered in this way, essential sendee, without whose assistance the 
work must have been far more imperfect are either in their graves, or then- memories 
are wholly impaired. 

The thanks of the author are especially due to HENRY O RiELLY, for the use of val 
uable papers collected with reference to continuing some historical researches, he had 
so well commenced ; to JAMES H. WOODS, for the use of papers of CHAS. WILLIAMSON ; 
to OLIVER PHELPS and JAMES S. WADSWORTH, for the use of papers in their possession, 
as the representatives of OLIVER PHELPS and JAMES WADSWOPVTH ; to JOHN GRKIG and 
JOSEPH FELLOWS for access to papers in their respective land offices ; and especially 
to the former, for the essential materials in his possession as the representative of 
ISRAEL CHAPIN, and his son and successor, ISRAEL CHAPIN ; to the managers of the 
Rochester Athseneum, for free access to their valuable Library ; to C. C. CLARKE, of 
Albany, and S. B. BUCKLEY, of Yates, for valuable contributions ; to numerous other 
individuals, most of whom are indicated in the body of the work. And to LEE, MANN 
fe Co., the Printers, and WM. ALLING, the Publisher, for their liberal terms, and the 
business accommodation with which they have aided the enterprise. 

(^ The manner of publishing is a material departure from the original intention. 
Instead of publishing ONE WORK, there will be FOUR. This is the first of the series. 
Those that will follow in order (and in rapid succession if no unforeseen difficulties 
occur) will be : P. and G. Purchase Livingston and Allegany ; P. and G. 
P. Ontario and Yates ; P. and G. P. Wayne. In this plan it is confidently 
believed the interests of Author, Publisher and Purchaser, will be made to harmonize. 
It obviates the necessity of a large work of two volumes, and a HIGH PRICE, fatal to that 
general sale that a local work must have, within its scope, to remunerate the labor of 
its preparation and defray the necessary expenses attending it. While the citizens of 
Monroe, for instance, will have all the GENERAL HISTORY of Phelps and Gorham s 
Purchase, and Morris* Reserve 493 octavo pages brought down to a late Pioneer 
period ; they will not be under the necessity of purchasing at an an enhanced price, 
the mere local history of other counties. The only alteration there will be in the main 
body of the work, in the subsequent volumes announced, will be the correction of 
any material errors that are discovered ; but there will be in each one of them, the 
"Supplement," or "Extension," of the Pioneer history of the counties, as in this in 
stance Monroe. 

The historical works which have been essential to the author s purposes, other than 
those duly credited, are : Conquest of Canada, Travels of the Duke De la Roche- 
foucault Liancourt, Mary Jemison or the White Woman, History of Schoharie His 
tory of Onondaga, History of Rochester. 

ftT There are no illustrations : partly because they are not essential to historv, 
but mainly because they enhance the cost beyond what the sales of any local work 
will warrant. The leading object has been in the mechanical execution of the work 
to furnish a large amount of reading matter, in a plain, neat and substantial manner, at 
a LOW PRICE, which object, it will probably be conceded, has been accomplished 

$$ir It will be observed, that little is said of the early history of Steuben. In an 
early stage of the preparation of the work, the author was apprised that a local histo 
ry of that county, was preparing for the press. 

C?pErrors in names, m dates, in facts, will undoubtedly be discovered De 
pending upon memories often infirm, one disagreeing with another, labor, weeks and 
months of careful research, could not wholly guard against them. \T With reference 
to the future enterprises announced, the author will be thankful for any corrections 
that may be communicated to him personally, or through the mails. 



PART FIRST. 



CHAPTER I. . . 



BRIEF NOTICES OF EARLY COLONIZATION. 



IT was one hundred and sixteen years after the discovery of 
America by Columbus, before the occupancy of our race was tend 
ing in this direction, and Europeans had made a permanent stand 
upon the St. Lawrence, under the auspices of France and Cham- 
plain. In all that time, there had been but occasional expeditions 
to our northern Atlantic coast, of discovery, exploration, and 
occasional brief occupancy ; but no overt act of possession and 
dominion. The advent of Champlain, the founding of Quebec, from 
which events we date French colonization in America, was in 1608. 
One year previous, in 1607, an English expedition had entered the 
Chesapeake Bay and founded Jamestown, the oldest English settle 
ment in America. In 1609, Henry Hudson, an Englishman, in the 
employ of the East India Company of Holland, entered the bay 
of the river that bears his name, and sailed up the river as far as 
Albany. In 16*21, permanent Dutch colonization commenced at 
New- York and Albany. In 1620 the first English colonists com 
menced the permanent occupancy of New England at Plymouth. 

In tracing the advent of our race to our local region, French 
colonization and occupancy, must necessarily, take precedence. 
Western New- York, from an early period after the arrival of Cham- 
plain upon the St. Lawrence, until 1759, for almost a century 
and a half, formed a portion of French Canada, or in a more ex 
tended geographical designation, of New France. 

France, by priority of discovery, by navigators sailing under her 
flag, and commissioned by her King, in an early period of partition 
among the nations of Europe, claimed the St. Lawrence and ils 
tributary waters and all contiguous territory, as her part of the New 
World. Setting at defiance, as did England the papal bull of Pope 



10 PHELPS AND GOBHAM S PUECHASE. 

Alexander VI., which conferred all of America, "its towns and 
cities" included, upon Spain and Portugal, her then King, Francis 
I. entered vigorously into the national competition for colonial pos- 
fee^sjonfc inlArefeficJa. While the English and Dutch were cruizing 
upon euV sofr?ef"and eastern coasts, entering the bays, and mouths 
<cjf : thahirh?ef-s, hesitating and vasciliating in measures of permanent 
"cojojiteatioh ; .aid trie* Spaniards were making mixed advents of gold 
hunting and romance, upon our south-western coast ; the French 
were coasting off the mouth of the St. Lawrence, and unappalled by 
a rigorous climate, and rough and forbidding landscapes, resolving 
upon colonization upon its banks. " Touch and take," was the 
order of the day ; with but little knowledge of the value of the vast 
region that had been discovered, of its capabilities and resources, 
but such as had been gained by navigators in a distant view of the 
coasts, and an occasional entrance into bays and rivers ; the splendid 
inheritance was parcelled out, or claimed by the nations of Europe, 
as lightly and inconsiderately as if it had been of little worth. 

The subjects of France, as it would now seem, when such a vast 
field had been opened for possession ; after they had seen and heard 
of more promising and congenial regions, made but a poor choice 
of her share in the New World. We are left principally to con 
jecture for the explanation : First, the broad stream of the St. Law 
rence invited them to enter and explore it ; no where were Europe 
ans met by the natives with more friendly manifestations ; and a 
lucrative trade soon added to the inducements. It was a mighty 
flood .that they saw pouring into the ocean, with a uniformity that 
convinced them of the vast magnitude and extent of the region it 
drained. Though ice-bound for long and dreary months, when spring 
approached, its fetters gave way, and on rolled its rushing tide, a 
" swift witness" that it came from congenial regions embraced in 
their discovery. Beside, a "shorter route to the Indies," across this 
continent, was one of the prominent and early objects of European 
navigators, following the discovery of Columbus. It was in fact, a 
main object, allied perhaps with visions of precious metals ; for 
actual colonization, was at first but incidental to the leading objects.* 

* Upon the shores of the Chesapeake, upon the Hudson and St. Lawrence, and in 
the bays of New England, the first information sought after by European adventures, 
of the natives, through the medium of signs, had reference to the directions from which 
the rivers flowed, and the existence of precious metals. 



PHELPS AKD GORHAM S PUECIIASE. 11 

It was but a natural deduction, that the broad and deep river they 
had entered from the ocean, and its tributaries, were stretched out 
in a long line toward the Pacific coast.* 

The progress of colonization in all the northern portion of the 
continent, after discovery, was slow. What in our age, and espe 
cially where our own countrymen are engaged, would be but the 
work of a year, was then the work of a century. It was before the 
world had been stimulated by the example of a free government and 
a free people, unincumbered by royal grants and charters, and their 
odious and paralizing monopolies. It was before governments had 
learned the simple truths that some of them are yet slow in appre 
ciating, that the higher destinies of our own race are only to be 
worked out in the absence of shackles upon the mind and the phy 
sical energies of the governed. It was when the good of the few 
was made ^subservient to that of the many; and Kings and their 
favorites were central orbs around which all there was of human 
energy, enterprize and adventure, was made to revolve as sattelites. 
It was when foreign wars and conquests, and civil wars, in which 
the higher interests of mankind were but little involved, were divert 
ing the attention of Europe from the pursuits of peace, civilization, 
and their extended sphere. There was no prophet to awake the 
sleeping energies of the Old World to an adequate conception of 
the field of promise that was opening here ; no one to even fore 
shadow all that was hidden in the womb of time ; and had there 
been, there would have been unfolded to Kings and Potentates, 
little for their encouragement ; but how much to MAN, in all his 
noblest aspirations, his looking forward to a BETTER TIME \ 

When colonization, such as contemplated permanent occupation 
finally commenced, it was in a measure, simultaneous, upon our 
northern coasts. Two powerful competitors started in the race 



* The intrepid La Salle, -with a spirit of daring enterprize that was never excelled, 
had no sooner seen the " avalanche of waters" at Niagara, than he determined to fol 
low them to their source. He had no sooner seen the upper waters of the Mississippi, 
than he had determined to see the great basin into which they flowed. Leaving be 
hind him detachments of his followers to maintaiii the posts he established, and cany 
ou lucrative trade, he was himself absorbed in the great objects of his mission, a new 
route to the Indies and the discovery of gold. The extent of his wanderings is sup 
posed to have been Chihuahua, in New Mexico. He was almost upon the right track 
with reference to both objects. Others beside him, seem to have been prepossessed with 
the idea that there was gold in that direction. Shall we conclude that through some 
unknown medium, some indistinct idea had been promulgated of what in our day is 
actual discovery and acquisition? 



12 I>HELPS A1STD GOKHAM s PUKCHASE. 

for possession and dominion in America ; and a third was awakened 
and became a competitor. While as yet the Pilgrim Fathers were 
refugees in Germany, deliberating as to where should be their 
assylum, appalled by all the dangers of the ocean and an inhospita 
ble clime, and at times half resolving to go back and brave the per 
secution from which they had fled ; while as yet there was but 
one feeble colony, upon all our southern coast, and the rambling 
De Soto and the romantic Ponce de Leon had been but disappointed 
adventurers in the south-west; the adventurous Frenchmen had 
entered the St. Lawrence and planted a colony upon its banks ; 
had erected rude pallisades at Quebec and Montreal, and were 
making their way by slow stages in this direction. Halting at 
Kingston, (Frontenac) they struck off across Canada by river and 
inland lake navigation carrying their bark canoes over portages 
and reached Lake Huron ; then on, amid hostile tribes, until they 
had explored and made missionary and trading stations upon Lakes 
Michigan and Superior, the upper waters of the Mississippi, and the 
Illinois rivers. 

In all the French expeditions to the St. Lawrence, previous to that 
of Champlain, there is little interest save in those of Jaques Cartier. 
In his second one, in 1535, with three ships, and a large number 
of accompanying adventurers he entered the St. Lawrence and 
gave it its name ; giving also, as he proceeded up the river, names 
to other localities which they yet bear. Arrived at the Island of 
Orleans, he had a friendly interview with the natives. In a previ 
ous voyage he had seized and carried to France, two natives, who, 
returning with him somewhat instructed in the French language, 
now acted as his interpreters, and gave a favorable account to their 
people of those they had been with, and the country they had seen. 
Proceeding on, he anchored for the winter, at " Stadacona," after 
wards called Quebec. Here he was met by an Indian chief, Dona- 
cona, with a train of five hundred natives who welcomed his arri 
val. The Indians giving Cartier intimation that a larger village 
than theirs lay farther up the river. With a picked crew of thirty- 
five armed men he ascended the river, had friendly interviews with 
the natives upon its banks. Arriving at the present site of Mon 
treal, he found an Indian village called Hochelaga, which "stood in 
the midst of a great field of Indian com, was of a circular form, 
containing about fifty large huts, each fifty paces long and from 



PHELPS AITD GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 13 

fourteen to fifteen wide, all built in the shape of tunnels, formed of 
wood, and covered with birch bark ; the dwellings were divided into 
several rooms, surrounding an open court in the centre, where the 
fires burned. Three rows of pallisades encircled the town, with 
only one entrance ; above the gate and over the whole length of 
the outer ring of defence, there was a gallery, approached by flights 
of steps, and plentifully provided with stones and other missiles to 
resist attack." * The strangers were entertained with fetes and 
dances, and in their turn, made presents. The sick and infirm came 
to Jaques C artier, who in the simple minds of the natives, possessed 
some supernatural power over disease, which he disclaimed ; but 
the pious adventurer " read aloud part of the Gospel of St. John, 
and made the sign of the cross over the sufferers." 

Jaques Cartier returned to his colony at St. Croix, after a friendly 
parting with his newly acquired acquaintances at Hochelaga. In 
his absence, the intense cold had come upon his people unprepared, 
the scurvy had attacked them, twenty-five were dead, and all were 
more or less affected. The kind natives gave him a remedy that 
checked the disease.! The expedition prepared to return to France. 
As if all of the first interviews of our race with the natives were to 
be signally marked by acts of wrong and outrage, as an earnest of 
the whole catalogue that was to follow, under pretence that he had 
seen some manifestations of hostilities, Cartier signalized his depart 
ure, and his ingratitude, by seizing the chief, Donacona, the former 
captives, and two others; and conveying them on board his vessels, 
took them to France. The act was mitigated, it has been said, by a 
kind treatment that reconciled them to their fate. 

The expedition had found no "gold nor silver" and for that rea 
son disappointed their patron, the King, and the people of France ; 
added to which, were tales of suffering in a rigorous climate. Ja 
ques Cartier, however, made favorable reports of all he had seen and 
heard ; and the Indian chief, Donacona, as soon as he had acquired 
enough of French to be intelligible, " confirmed all that had been said 
of the beauty, richness and salubrity of his native country." The 
chief, however, sickened and died. 

The next commission to visit the new dominions of France, was 



* Conquest of Canada. 
..,t A decoction of the leaf ana the bark of the fir tree. 



14 PHELPS AND GOBHAM S PURCHASE. 

granted to Jean Francois de la Roche, with Jaques Cartier as his 
second in command. It was formidable in its organization and 
equipment; after a series of disasters: the arrival of Cartier, 
upon his old grounds ; a reconciling of the Indians to his outrage , 
a winter of disease and death among his men ; a failure of de la 
Roche to arrive in season ; it returned to France to add to a war in 
which she had just then engaged, reasons for suspending colonial 
enterprises. Almost a half century succeeded for French advents 
to become but a tradition upon the banks of the St. Lawrence. 

How like a vision, in all this time, must those advents have seemed 
with the simple natives ! A strange people, with all that could excite 
their wonder : their huge ships, their loud mouthed cannon, whose 
sounds had reverberated upon the summits of their mountains, in 
their vallies, and been re-echoed from the deep recesses of their 
forests ; with their gay banners, and music, and all the imposing at 
tendants of fleets sent out by the proud monarch of a showy and 
ostentatious nation of Europe ; who had addressed them in an un 
known tongue, and by signs and symbols awed them to a contempla 
tion of a Great Spirit, other than the terrible Manitou of their sim 
ple creed ; who had showed them a " book" in which were revela 
tions they had neither " seen in the clouds nor heard in the winds ;" 
whose advent had been a mixed one of conciliation and perfidy: 
who had given them a taste of " strong water/ that had steeped 
their senses in forgetfulness, or aroused their fiercest passions. All 
this had come and gone, began and ended, and left behind it a vacu 
um, of mingled wonder, amazement and curiosity ; and of dark fore 
bodings of evil, if there was some kind spirit, caring for their future 
destiny, to foreshadow to them the sequel of all they had witnessed. 
Would the pale faced strangers come again ? Would their lost ones 
be restored to reveal to them the mysteries of those wondrous 
advents ; and tell them of all things they had seen in that far off 
land, the home of the strangers ? These were the anxious enquiries, 
the themes around their council fires, in their wigwams, when they 
held communion with their pagan deities, or asked the moon and the 
stars to be the revelators of hidden things. One generation passed 
away and another succeeded, before the mysterious strangers came, 

X 

NOTE. Toward the close of the period between tho advents of Cartier and Cham- 
plain, small expeditions of French fishermen and traders, generally coasting off New 
Foundland, occasionally entered the St. Lawrence and traded with the natives. 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 15 

first to conciliate their favor by offering themselves as allies ; then 
to wrest from them empire and dominion. 

The first expedition of Champlain was in 1603 and 4. The ac 
counts of them possess but little interest. In 1608, equipped by his 
patrons for an expedition, having principally in view the fur trade, he 
extended his own views to the addition of permanent colonization, 
and missionary enterprize. Arriving at Quebec, he erected the first 
European tenements upon the banks of the St. Lawrence. The In 
dians, with whom Cartier had cultivated an acquaintance, were re 
duced to a few in number, by removal, famine and disease. Re 
maining at Quebec through a severe winter, relieving the neccessi- 
ties of the Indians, his own people suffering under an attack of the 
scurvy, Champlain in 1609, accompanied by two Frenchmen and 
a war party of the natives, wen-t up the St. Lawrence, and struck off 
to the Lake that still bears his name. The war party that accom 
panied him, were of the Algonquins and Hurons, of Canada, who were 
then at war with the Iroquois. Their object was invasion of the Ir- 
oquois country, and Champlain, from motives of policy had become 
their ally. Upon the shores of a lake to which be gave the name of 
St. Sacrament afterwards called Lake George the party met a 
war party of two hundred Iroquois ; a battle ensued, the tide of it was 
as uusual, turning in favor of the warlike and almost every where 
conquerin.g Iroquois, when Champlain suddenly made his appearance, 
with his two Frenchmen, and the first fire from their arquabuses, kil 
led two of the Iroquois chiefs, and wounded a third. The Iroquois, 
dismayed, as well by the report and terrible effect of new weapons 
of war, as by the appearance of those who bore them, held out but 
little longer; fled in disorder; were pursued, and many of them killed 
and taken prisoners. This was the first battle of which history gives 
us any account, in a region where armies have since often met. 
And it marks another era, the introduction of fire arms in battle, to 
the na lives, in all the northern portion of this continent. They had 
now b( jen made acquainted with the two elements that were destined 
to wo rk out principally their decline and gradual extermination. 
They had tasted French brandy upon the St. Lawrence, English rum 
upon the shores of the Chesapeake, and Dutch gin, upon the banks 
of th(j Hudson. They had seen the mighty engines, one of which 
was to conquer them in battle and the other was to conquer them 
m p eace councils, where cessions of their domains were involved. 



16 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 

Champlain returned to France, leaving a small colony at Quebec ; 
was invited to an audience, and had favor with the King, who be 
stowed upon all this region, the name of New France. * Cham- 
plain visited his infant colony again in 1610, and 1613, recruiting it, 
and upon each occasion going himself to battle with his neighbors 
and allies against the Iroquois. In 1615 a company of merchants in 
France, having procured a charter from the King, which embraced 
all of French interests in New France, gave to Champlain the prin 
cipal direction of their affairs. Having attended to the temporal 
affairs of the colony, the conversion of the natives, by Catholic 
missionaries, engaged his attention. Four missionaries of the order 
of Recollets were enlisted. These were the first missionaries in 
Canada, and the first upon all our Atlantic coast, with the exception 
of some Jesuit missionaries that had before reached Nova Scotia. 
Leaving the large recruit of colonists he brought out at Quebec, 
where he found all things had gone well in his absence, the intrepid ad 
venturer, and soldier as he had made himself, pushed on to Montreal, 
and joined again a war party of his Indian allies, against the Iroquois. 
The Iroquois were this time conquerors. Defeat had lessened the 
importance of Champlain in the eyes of his Indian allies, and they 
even refused him and his few followers, a guide back to Quebec, 
although he had been wounded. Remaining for the winter an 
unwilling guest of his Indian allies, he improved his time, as soon as 
his wounds would allow of it, in visiting more of the wild region of 
Canada. In the spring he returned to Quebec, and in July, to 
France. 

For several succeeding years, Champlain visited and revisited the 
colony, extending and strengthening it ; encountering vicissitudes in 
France consequent upon the breaking up and change of proprietor 
ships ; his colony subjected to attacks from the Iroquois whom he 

* Charlevoix. 

NOTE. It has remained for an indefatigable researcher in the history of the early 
French occupancy of this region 0. H. Marshall, Esq. of Buffalo to ascertain where 
Champlain and his Indian allies invaded the territory of the Iroquois. They came 
across the lower end of Lake Ontario, and passing through what is now Jefferson and 
Oswego counties, crossed the Oneide Lake and attacked the Onondagas at their prin 
cipal settlement and Fort on the banks of the Onondaga Lake, when a battle ensued 
which lasted -three hours, the invaders gained no advantage; and Champlain who 
expected a reinforcement endeavored in vain to induce his Indian allies to remain and 
continue the seige. He had received two severe wounds, and was carried in a basket 
of "wicker-work" to the shores of lake Ontario. He spent a dreary winter amung the 
Hurons on the north shore of the Lake. 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 17 

had injudiciously made his implacable enemies. Still, French colo 
nization in New France slowly progressed, and trading establish 
ments were multiplied. In 1623 a stone Fort was erected at Quebec 
to protect the colonists against the Iroquois, and a threatened end of 
amicable relations with the Hurons and Algonquins. In 1625, 6, 
the first Jesuit missionaries came out from France, among them were 
names with which we become familiar in tracing the first advents of 
our race in Western New York and the region of the Western 
Lakes. 

In 1627 the colonization of New France was placed upon a new 
footing, by the organization of the Company of One Hundred Asso 
ciates." Their charter gave them a monopoly in New France, and 
attempted to promote christianization and colonization, both of which 
had been neglected by making the fur trade a principal object. The 
"Company" engaged to introduce 16,000 settlers before 1643.- 
Before the advent of this new association, the colony had become 
but a feeble one ; the Indians had become hostile and kept the French 
confined to their small settlements, at times, to their fortifications. 

Hostilities having commenced between France and England, the 
first vessel sent out by the Associates fell into the hands of the 
English. An English expedition after destroying the French trading 
establishment at Tadoussac, on the Sagenay, sent a demand for the 
surrender of Quebec. Champlain replied in a manner so spirited 
and determined as to delay the attack, until the English force was 
increased. In July 1629 an English fleet appeared, and demanded 
a surrender which Champlain with his reduced, and feeble means 
of resistance was obliged to obey. The terms of capitulation se 
cured all private rights of the French colonists, and most of them 
remained, Champlain, however, returned to France. It was a 
siege and capitulation in miniature, that after the lapse of more than 
a century, was destined to be the work of concentrated armies and 
navies, and weeks of fierce contest. 

English possession was surrendered by treaty in 1632. At the 
period of this small conquest : "the Fort of Quebec, surrounded by 
a score of hastily built dwellings and barracks, some poor huts on 
the Is-land of Montreal, the like at Three Rivers and Tadoussac, 
and a few fishermen s log houses and huts on the St. Lawrence, 
were the only fruits of the discoveries of Verrazano, Jaques Cartier, 
Roberval and Champlain, and the great outlay of La Roche and 



18 PHELPS AND GOBHAM S PUECHASE. 

De Monts, and the toils and sufferings of their followers, for nearly 
a century." * 

Champlain returned in 1633, having been re-appointed Governor 
of New France, bringing with him recruits of Missionary and other 
colonists, and gave a new impulse to colonial enterprize ; settle 
ments began to be extended, and a college, with rich endowments 
was formed at Quebec, for the "education of youth, and the conver 
sion of the Indians." While all this was in progress, Champlain, 
the founder of French colonization in New France, to whose perse 
verance, courage, and fortitude, France was indebted for the foot 
hold she had gained upon this continent, died, and was "buried in the 
city of which he was the founder." f 

Montmagny succeeded Champlain. Deprived of much of the 
patronage from the Associates that he had reason to expect, the work 
of colonization progressed but slowly during his administration, 
which continued until 1647. Trade, advanced settlements, agricul 
ture, made but little progress, but missionary and educational enter 
prises, had a powerful impetus. At Sillery, near Quebec, a college 
was founded. The Dutchess de Arguillon founded the Hotel Dieu, 
and Madame de la Peltrie, the convent of the Ursulines. The last 
named liberal patron was young, high born ; a devotee to her reli 
gious faith, and a zealous propagator of it. She came herself to the 
New World, with a vessel of her own, accompanied by Ursulines. 
who blended their names and services conspicuously with the history 
of Lower Canada. Such was the eclat that attended the advent of 
the noble patron and her followers, who had left all the refinements, 
gaities, and luxuries of France, to take up their abode upon the wild 
and inhospitable shores of the St. Lawrence, that their arrival was 
signalized by a public reception, with military and religious observan 
ces. 

The other principal events under the administration of Mont 
magny, were the founding of Montreal, and the building of a 
Fort there and at the mouth of the Richlieu, as out- posts against the 
Iroquois, who since they had become exasperated by Champlain, 
made frequent attacks upon the French settlements. A threat reach- 

* Conquest of Canada. 

tHe was one of the extraordinary men of his age and nation. History finds in him a 
marked character, and poetry and romance the model of an heroic adventurer. 



AND GOBHAM S PURCHASE. 19 

ed the ears of Montmagny that they would " drive the white man into 
the sea," and becoming convinced of the powers of the wild warriors, 
whose strength he had no means of estimating, he sought the means 
of establishing a peace with them, in which he was encouraged by his 
neighbors the Hurons, who were worn out, and their numbers re 
duced, by long wars with their indefatiguable adversaries. The gov 
ernor and the Huron chiefs met deputies of the Iroquois at Three 
Rivers, and concluded a peace. 

M. d Ailleboust who had held a command at Three Rivers, was 
the successor of Montmagny, and continued as Governor until 1650. 
The peace with the Iroquois gave a spur to missionary enterprise 
and trade, both of which were extended. 

During the administration of Montmagny, missionaries and traders 
had followed the water courses of Canada, and reached Lake Hu 
ron, where they had established a post. From that distant point, 
in 1640, came the first of our race that ever trod upon the soil of 
Western New York, and left behind them any record of their ad 
vent. * On the 2d day of November, 1640, two Jesuit Fathers, 
Brebeauf and Chaumonot, left their mission station at St. Marie, 
on the river Severn, near Lake Huron, and came upon the Niagara 
river, both sides of which were occupied by the Neuter Nation, f 
They found this nation to consist of 12,000 souls, having 4,000 
warriors, and inhabiting forty villages, eighteen of which the mis 
sionaries visited. They were, say these Fathers: "Larger, 
stronger, and better formed than our Hurons." " The men, like 
all savages, cover their naked flesh with skins, but are less particu- 



* In a letter from Father L Allcmant to the Provincial of the Jesuits in France. 
it is mentioned that the Recollet Father Daillon passed the winter of 1626 among the 
Neuter Nation. If this is so, lie was the first white man who saw "Western New York. 
The period is earlier than wo can well suppose there could have been any Frenchman 
so far away from the settlements upon the St. Lawrence, especially when we consider 
the then utter hostility of the Iroquois. Still, the Seneca branch of them may as early 
as this have tolerated a few missionaries and traders. 

t This Neuter Nation, then, were occupants of all the region between the Niagani 
and the Gencsee rivers, Lake Ontario and the foot of Lake Erie, and a wide strip on 
the west side of the Niagara river. It was NEUTRAL ground, while surrounding nations 
were at war, and they were neutrals. But three years only after the visit of Brebeauf 
and Chaumorot, they were dispossessed by the Iroquois. Thus the region became 
as we found it a part of the domains of the Seneca. Says Charlevoix : "To avoid 
the fury of the Iroquois, they finally joined themselves against the Hurons, but gainer! 
nothing by the union. The Iroquois, that like lions that have tasted blood, can not b<-> 
satiated; destroyed all that came in their way ; and at this day there remains no trace 
of the Neuter Nation." 



20 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PUECIIASE. 

lar than the Hurons in concealing what should not appear." " The 
Squaws are ordinarily clothed, at least from the waist to the knees ; 
but are more shameless in their immodesty than our Hurons." 
* They have Indian corn, beans, and gourds in equal abundance ; 
also, plenty of fish. They are much employed in hunting deer, buf 
falo, wild cats, wolves, wild boars, beaver, and other animals. It is 
rare to see snow in the country more than half a foot deep. But 
this year, it is more than three feet/ The Rev. Fathers found our 
remote predecessors here upon the soil of Western New York, 
with the exception of one village, unfavorable to the mission they 
were upon, and intent upon which they had braved all the rigors 
of the season, and a long forest path which they soon retraced. 

If those Rev. Fathers were admirers of nature s almost undis 
turbed works, fresh, as it were, from the Creator, and bearing 
the impress of His hands and we may well suppose they were, 
for they had come from cloistered halls and high scats of learning, 
and refinement how must their eyes have been satiated in view 
of the panorama of lakes and forests, hills and plains, rushing tor 
rents, water-falls, and the climax in their midst the mighty cata 
ract of Niagara, thundering in its solitude ! Who would not wish 
that he had been among them or what is perhaps more rational 
that he could enjoy such a scene as Western New York then was : 

The treaty with the Iroquois had but suspended their hostilities, 
In 1648, they were again out upon their war-paths upon the banks 
of the St. Lawrence. Father Antoine Daniel had made a mission 
station of the small settlement of St. Joseph. When the Huron 
warriors had gone out upon the chase, while the missionary had the 
old men, the women and children, collected for religious service, a 
party of Iroquois stole upon them and massacred the whole. This 1 
was probably the first of a series of martyrdoms that awaited the 
Jesuit missionaries. In the early part of 1G40, a thousand Iroquois 
fell upon two villages of the Hurons, and nearly exterminated the 
whole population ; the missionary in eaoh place meeting the fate oi 
Father Daniel. This was followed up in the same year by an at 
tack upon the Huron village of St. Johns, where nearly three thou 
sand, with their missionary, were massacred ! Disease, as well as 
the war-club, had visited the Hurons. "Most of the remnant oi 
this unhappy tribe then took the resolution of presenting themselves 
to their conquerors, and were received into their nation. The few 



PHELPS ATO GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 21 

who still remained wandering in the forests, were hunted down like 
wolves, and soon exterminated." * 

In 1650, M. de Lauson became the Governor of New France. 
During his administration, the colony made but slow advances ; 
flushed with their victories over their own race, the Iroquois grew 
bolder and more determined to expel another race whom they 
regarded as intruders ; and who had been the allies of their foes. 
They almost continually hung upon the French settlements, and 
paralized their efforts. In 1653, however, the Onondaga branch of 
the Confederacy petitioned the French Governor for the location 
of a missionary and trading establishment among them. The propo 
sition was acceded to, but it served to exasperate the other nations, 
and was finally withdrawn by stealth, to avoid a massacre. 

In 1658, Viscount d Arguson succeeded M. de Lauson. The 
commencement of his administration was signalized by a massacre 
of French allies, the Algonquins, under the very walls and guns of 
Quebec. A reverse, however a defeat of a band of Mohawks 
at Three Rivers, was followed by a suspension of hostilities which 
was industriously improved by the French in extending their mis 
sion and trading stations. But the Iroquois were soon again upon 
their war-paths, giving the French colony but little repose. At a 
period when the colonists were desponding, and almost upon the 
point of abandoning the whole ground, and retiring to France, 
d Arguson renewed a treaty with the Iroquois, and an exchange of 
prisoners. 

In 1662, a new Governor came out the Baron d Avagour 
and the French garrision was reinforced by an importation of 400 
soldiers. A Bishop of Quebec had now been appointed M. de 
Monts. He found all spiritual and temporal efforts likely to be 
paralized by the sale of spirituous liquors to the Indians, and the 
colonists, that d Avagour had allowed. The Bishop hastened to 
France, represented the evil to the King, and came back with a 
new Governor, M. d Mesy, who had orders to stop the destructive 
traffic, f The new Governor proved a tyrant, thwarted the mis 
sionaries, fell into a general disrepute, and was soon recalled. 

* Conquest of Canada, 

tThis was probably the first temperance movement by other than "moral suasion," 
on this continent The Catholie missionaries were from the first, however, each a Fa 
ther Matthew. 



22 PHELPS AKD GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 

In 1663, the company of Associates relinquished all their rights 
in New France, which were transferred to the West India Compa 
ny. In this year, all that is now the Canadas, Western and Central 
New York, was visited by a tremendous earthquake. * 

M. de Tracy came out as Governor under the West India Com 
pany in 1665, bringing with him a recruit of soldiers, arid soon, 
with the aid of Indian allies, intimidated the Iroquois. A large 
number of families, artisans and laborers, were added to the colony, 
and forts were built at the mouth of the Richlieu. In December, 
the Senecas, Cayugas, and Onondagas, sent deputations sueing for 
peace and an exchange of prisoners, which was readily agreed up 
on. The Mohawks and Oneidas still holding out, after sending out 
an expedition against them that principally failed, M. de Tracy, at 
the head of 1200 French soldiers and 600 Indian allies, encounter 
ed all the vicissitudes of a long march through the wilderness ; in 
which his army suffered for the want of food, and were only 
saved from starvation by subsisting upon chestnuts. Arriving at 
the villages of the Mohawks, he found them principally deserted. 
The finale of the formidable expedition was the burning of the 
Mohawk cabins, and the killing of a few old men and women. t 
Little of glory, and much of suffering, loss and disgrace, were the 
fruits of the expedition. M. de Tracy returned to France, and the 
government devolved on M. de Courcelles. 

Peace with the Iroquois ensued, and a brief season was allowed 
for the progress of settlement and the promotion of agriculture. 
The administration of M. de Courcelles was vigorous and well con 
ducted. Learning that the Iroquois were endeavoring to persuade 
the Western Indians to trade with the English,, he menaced them 
with a formidable attack ; to make amends for murders of Iroquois 
by Frenchmen, he had led out and executed, the offenders, in view 
of those whose friends had been the victims ; and by other acts ot 



* [See Appendix, No. 1.] There are strong evidences throughout all this region, oi 
some great convulsion of the earth, as recently as -within the last two centurieR 
There are fissures in our rocks, extensive forests with timber growths of less than two 
centuries ; mounds and indentations of earth, as if whole forests had suddenly been 
uprooted ; immense sections of rock and earth detached from their primitive locations 
upon hill sides, and the banks of our streams ; shall we not say that all this date? 
from 1663 ? Some portions of the account would seem exaggerated ; but in all mat 
ters of fact, the Jesuit Relations are accredited by historians. 

t The French found corn enough buried in pits to have supplied the Mohawks foi 
two years. 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PTJECHASE. 23 

conciliation, preserved peace. A war broke out between the 
Iroquois and Ottawas, and he interfered and made peace. 

About this period, the small pox, always a most frightful scourge 
with the Indian race,* broke out among all the allies of the French 
upon the St. Lawrence and the interior of Canada. In some instan 
ces, whole tribes were exterminated; the victims were enumerated 
by thousands ; in one village near Quebec, they amounted to fifteen 
hundred. 

Near the close ofM. de Courcelles administration, in 1671, by 
sending an indefatigable agent to all the Indian nations around the 
western Lakes, a grand council was convened at the Falls of St. 
Mary, when the sovfteignty of the King of France was acknowl 
edged, and a cross, bearing his arms, was set up. 

In 1671, Count Frontenac, a worthy successor of Cbamplain, his 
equal in all, and his superior in many respects ; advanced in age, but 
vigorous, arbitrary, in all his designs and movements ; took the reins 
of government in New France, and in many respects, created a new 
era. Following out the plans of his subordinate, M. Talon, an expe 
dition was set on foot to explore the " great river," the "Mechasepe," 
in the dialect of the western tribes, of which but vague and inde 
finite ideas had been gained of the natives. Marquette, a Jesuit 
Missionary, with Joliet, and other attendants, set out from St. Mary s 
and reaching the Miami, obtained from them two natives as guides. 
They struck upon the waters of Fox River, and descending them, 
crossed the short portage, and descended upon the waters of the 
Wisconsin River to its confluence with the Mississippi. Their 
guides having returned, the adventurous Frenchmen floated down 
the river in their frail canoes until they came to a village of the 
Illinois where they were " kindly arid hospitably received." The ex 
pedition, falling in with none but friendly natives, went as far down 
as below the mouth of the Arkansas, where, hearing that the river 
emptied itself into the Gulf of Mexico, instead of the Pacific, as they 
had fondly hoped ; and fearing that they might fall into the hands of 
the Spaniards ; they returned ; Marquette commencing missionary 

* Whenever the scourge has appeared upon this continent among the aborigines, it 
has swept off nearly all who were attacked. Their simple remedies succesful in other 
diseases, have failed them in this. This has been principally attributed to the com 
plexion, or rather the texture of the skin, differing from that of our race, in a toughness 
that prevents the disease breaking out and expending itself upon the surface ; and 
eends it back to prey upon the vitals of its victims. 



24: PHELPS AND GOBHAM S PURCHASE. 

labors among the Miamis, and Joliet carrying the news of their dis 
coveries to Quebec. These were the first of our race that saw the 
upper Mississippi and its vast tributaries. The pages of general his 
tory that tell of the hazardous journey ; that recounts the impressions 
made upon the mind of Marquette, who had a mind to appreciate all 
he saw in that then vast and hitherto unexplored wilderness of prairie 
and forest, inland seas, and wide rivers ; is one of peculiar attractions. 
Few historical readers will fail to peruse it. The name of a county 
in Illinois, and a village, perpetuates the names, and the memories of 
Marquette and Joliet. 



ADVENTURES OF LA SALLE THE FIRST SAIL VESSEL UPON THE 
UPPER LAKES. 



Previous to the western advent of Marquette and Joliet, La Salle, 
a young Frenchman of ample fortune, after completing his educa 
tion, with all the religious enthusiasm peculiar to the disciples of 
Loyola, mixed with a spirit of adventure then so rife in France, had 
crossed the ocean, pushed on beyond the farthest French settle 
ments upon the St. Lawrence, and become the founder of Frontenac, 
now Kingston, the ownership of which was conferred upon him by 
his King with the rank of nobility. The grant was in fact, that of a 
wide domain, with some exclusive privileges of Indian trade. 

When Marquette and Joliet returned, they took Frontenac in their 
route, and found the young adventurer in the midst of his enterprises, 
drawing around him missionaries, traders, agriculturalists the pa- 
troon of one of the most flourishing settlements of New France. 
Listening to their accounts of the vast beautiful region they had 
seen, its broad Lakes, wide prairies and with especial interest to 
their story of the "Great River," he resolved upon following 
up their discoveries, by a new route, and extending French domin 
ion across the entire continent. Returning to France, with the 
information he had obtained from various sources, his earnest impor 
tunities inspired the king and his minister, Colbert, with confidence, 
and a commission of discovery was granted him. The object, as 
expressed in the commission, was, " to discover the western portion of 
our country of New France," and the suggestion was made, that 
through it a passage might be found to Mexico. The expedition 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUKCHASE. 25 

was to be at his own expense, and that of his associates ; their pros 
pective remuneration, a restricted monopoly of trade with the natives. 

With an Italian named Tonti, Father Hennepin, a number 01 
mechanics and mariners, naval stores, and goods for the Indian 
trade, he arrived at Frontenac in the fall of 1678, and soon after a 
wooden canoe of ten tons, the first craft of European architecture 
that ever entered the Niagara River, bore a part of his company to 
the site of Fort Niagara. La Salle, followed soon after with a sail 
vessel, in which he had a stock of provisions, and materials for ship 
building ; crossed the Lake, coasted along its southern shore, entered 
the mouth of the Genesee River or the Irondequoit Bay, and visited 
some of the villages of the Senecas to reconcile them to his enterprise ; 
and on his way from the Genesee to the Niagara River, encountered 
a gale and lost his vessel, saving but a part of his cargo. Arrived at 
Niagara, he erected some rude defences, established a post, and at 
Lewiston erected a trading station with pallisades. Late in Janu 
ary the business of ship building was commenced at the mouth of 
Cayuga creek, six miles above the Falls of Niagara. In mid winter, 
the neccessity occurring, the intrepid adventurer, on foot, made the 
journey to Frontenac, around the head of the Lake, returning on the 
ice along the northern shore, with a dog and sledge for the transpor 
tation of his baggage. 

It was fortunate, perhaps, that during the ship s building, the war 
riors of the Senecas were principally drawn ofFin an expedition against 
some of the western enemies. Those that remained behind, hung 
around and watched the operations at Niagara as well as at the 
place of ship building. In consequence of their remonstrances, wha t 
was intended as the commencement of a Fort at Niagara, had to be 
abandoned, and a " habitation surrounded with pallisades" substitu 
ted ; and they were almost constantly annoying the ship builders. 
The missionary, Hennepin, by mild persuasion, and the display of the 
emblems of the faith he was propagating, would seem to have aided 
much in reconciling the natives to these strange movements they 



NOTE. It should be observed that hitherto Lake Erie had been unexplored. The 
route to the Upper Lakes had been via the interior Rivers and Lakes of Canada. 
Why the ear Her ad venturers, missionaries and traders, had failed to follow up the great 
body of water that they saw discharging into Lake Ontario, is left to conjecture : 
The jealousy with which the Senecas had guarded their territory, and then unwilling 
ness, that the French should extend their alliance with their enemies the western na 
tions, affords the most reasonable explanation. 

2 



26 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

were witnessing. Becoming discouraged, surrounded with dangers, 
the ship builders were once upon the point of desertion to the English 
settlements upon the Hudson, but were encouraged by the pious 
missionary in "exhortations on holidays and Sundays after divine 
service." He told them that the enterprise had sole " reference to 
the promotion of the glory of God, and the welfare of the Christian 
colonies." On one occasion, while the vessel was upon the stocks, 
a scheme, the Senecas had devised for burning it, was frustrated by 
the timely warning of a friendly squaw. 

All these difficulties were surmounted, and when the River and 
Lake had become clear of ice, a vessel of sixty tons burthen, was 
ready for the water. It was " blessed according to our Church of 
Rome," and launched under the discharge of artillery, accompanied 
by the chaunting of the Te Deum ; the Senecas looking on with 
amazement, declaring the ship builders to be " Ot-kons," men with 
"penetrating minds." Some weeks followed of preparation for the 
voyage; trips by water were made to Frontenac ; trading parties 
went to the principal villages of the Senecas ; and the Niagara Riv 
er was explored to see how the vessel was to be got into Lake Erie. 
In the mean time the warriors of the Senecas returned from the 
westward, and their resentments were absorbed in wonder at all 
they saw ; awe, or fear perhaps, overcame their jealousies. Invited 
on board the vessel and hospitably entertained, they exclaimed, 
" ga-nor-ron," how wonderful ! 

The vessel was named the " Griffin," in honor of Count Fronte 
nac, whose armorial bearing was the representation of two griffins. 
It was equipped with sails, masts, and every thing ready for naviga 
tion, and had on board " five small cannon and two arquebuses.* 
After all was ready several attempts were made to ascend the Nia 
gara, befor a wind sufficiently favorable occurred to insure success 
At last, with much severe labor, men being often placed on shore 
with tow lines to assist the sails the vessel entered Lake Erie, 
and on the 7th of August, 1679, accompanied by the discharge of can 
non, and the chaunting of the Te Deum, the first sail vessel was 
careering over its unknown expanse, groping its way with no charts 
to direct its course. 

* Hennepin, whose account is principally relied upon, speaks of the great difficulty 
attending the getting of the vessel s equipments up the "three mountains" at Lewis- 
ton. He says " it took four men to carry the largest anchor, but brandy being given 
to cheer them, the work was soon accomplished." 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM ? S PURCHASE. 27 

After a protracted voyage, the Griffin cast anchor in Green Bay, 
where a trade was opened with the natives and a rich cargo of furs 
obtained. Late in the season of navigation, it started on its return 
voyage to the Niagara River, encountered severe gales, and the 
vessel and all on board were never more heard of their fate remain 
ing a mystery.* 

Hennepin describing what they saw of the shores of Lakes Erie, 
St. Clair and Huron, and the banks of the Detroit and St. Clair Riv 
ers, observes ; Those who will have the good fortune some day to 
possess the beautiful and fertile lands, will be under many obliga- 
gations to us, who have cleared the way. 

Anticipating the return of the ill-fated vessel, La Salle established a 
trading house at Mackinaw, and proceeding to the mouth of the St. 
Josephs, added to a small Missionary station, under the care of Al- 
louez, a trading house with pallisades, which he called the " Fort of the 
Miami." Despairing of the return of the Griffin, leaving ten men to 
guard the fort, with Hennepin, and two other Missionaries, Tonti, and 
about thirty other followers, the impatient adventurer ascended the 
St. Joseph and descended the Kankakee to its mouth. From there 
he descended the Illinois to Lake Peori where he erected a fort amid 
the murmuring and discontent of his followers, w r ho deemed their 
leader and his expedition ruined by the loss of the Griffin. Yielding 
temporarily to despondency, the stout hearted leader, named it Fort 
Creve Cceur, the " Fort of the Broken hearted." 

Recovering his wonted energy, however, he set his men to sawing 
ship plank, dispatched Hennepin with two followers to explore the 
Upper Mississippi, and started himself with three companions, for 
Frontenac, to procure recruits, and sails and cordage for his vessel. 
The journey was made in the month of March, and was one of peril and 
suffering ; the route overland to the Niagara River, and from thence 
around the head of Lake Ontario to Frontenac. New adventurers 

* Unless the author was right in the conclusion he formed as to its fate in a previous 
work. The Jesuit Missionaries concluded that it was stranded in a gale, plundered 
by the natives and its crew murdered. Such was probably the fact : In 1805, some 
of the early settlers in Hamburg, Erie county, after a severe blow that had removed a 
large body of sand and gravel upon the lake shore, found where it had been deeply 
embedded, an anchor. In later years, near the same spot, there has been found several 
hundred pounds of iron, such as would seem to have been taken from a vessel ; and 
near the spot, two cannon, the whole buried in the earth, and good sized forest trees grow 
ing over them. There is no record, or tradition, of the loss of any vessel, other than 
the Griffin, at the early period in which these relics must have been left where they 
were found. 



28 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 

flocked to his standard, supplies were obtained, and he returned to 
his post upon the Illinois, which he found deserted. In his absence, 
it had been attacked by the natives ; an aged Missionary, Father 
Ribourde, had been murdered, and Tonti with a few followers, had 
escaped, and found refuge among the Potawatomies on Lake Mi 
chigan. 

Returning to Green Bay, he commenced trading and establishing 
a friendly intercourse with the Indians ; collected his scattered fol 
lowers ; built a spacious barge on the Illinois River, and in the early 
part of 1632, descended the Mississippi to the sea, He planted a 
cross upon the Gulf of Mexico, claimed the country for France, and 
called it Louisana. 

The sequel of these daring enterprises, that have no parallel even 
in our day of wondrous achievements that paved the wa} r for the 
occupancy of our race in all the vast region drained by the Missis 
sippi is a long chapter of disaster, of successes and reverses, mostly 
remote from our local region, and belonging to the pages of general 
history. In all that relates to French occupancy, of the Genesee 
country, the borders of the western Lakes, of the valley of the Mis 
sissippi especially, to the adventures of Marquette, Joliet, La 
Salle, Hennepin and Tonti, hitherto the historian has had but uncer 
tain guides, and but unsatisfactory, authentic details. Recent dis 
coveries in Quebec, and among the archives of the Jesuits, in Rome, 
afford encouragement that with some future historian these de 
ficiencies will be supplied. In anticipation of this, the author leaves 
the high souled, adventurous La Salle, upon the threshold of adven 
tures, that led him over the plains of Texas, to New Mexico ; that 
embraced, voyages to France by sea, shipwrecks, and a scries of 
untoward events ; and ended in his murder by one of his followers, 
on the Trinity River in Texas, on a return, overland, to Frontenac. 

Well deserving was he of the eulogy bestowed upon him by our ac 
complished national historian, Bancroft : " For force of will and 
vast conceptions ; for various knowledge and quick adaption of his 
genius to untried circumstances ; for a sublime magnanimity that 
resigned itself to the will of Heaven, and yet triumphed over afflic 
tion by energy of purpose and unfaltering hope, he had no superior 
among his countrymen." 

In a previous work, the author in a brief review of a somewhat 
more elaborate account of the expeditions of La Salle, has remark- 



PHELPS AND GOBHAM S PUKCHASE. 29 

ed : One hundred and thirty nine years ago, the Griffin set out upon 
its voyage, passed up the rapids of the Niagara, and unfurled the first 
sail upon the waters of the Upper Lakes. 

Intrepid navigator and explorer! High as were hopes and ambi 
tion that could alone impel him to such an enterprise ; far seeing as 
he was ; could the curtain that concealed the future from his view, 
have been raised, his would have been the exclamation : 

" Visions of glory, spare my aching sight ; 
Ye unborn ages, rush not on my soul!" 

He deemed himself but adding to the nominal dominions of his 
King ; but opening new avenues to the commerce of his country ; 
founding a prior claim to increased colonial possessions. He was 
pioneering the way for an empire of freemen, who in process of time 
were to fill the valleys he traversed ; the sails of whose commerce 
were to whiten the vast expanse of waters upon which he was em 
barking ! 

How often, when reflecting upon the triumphs of steam naviga 
tion, do we almost wish that it were admitted by the dispensations 
of Providence that Fulton could be again invested with mortality, 
and witness the mighty achievements of his genius. Akin to this, 
would be the wish, that La Salle could rise from his wilderness grave 
in the far-off South, and look out upon the triumphs of civilization 
and improvement over the vast region he was the first to explore. 

Ours is a country whose whole history is replete with daring en 
terprises and bold adventures. Were we prone, as we should be, 
duly to commemorate the great events that have marked our pro 
gress, here and there, in fitting localities, more monuments would 
be raised as tributes due to our history, and to the memory of those 
who have acted a conspicuous part in it. Upon the banks of our 
noble river, within sight of the Falls, a shaft from our quarries would 
soon designate the spot where the Griffin was built and launched ; 
upon its base, the name of La Salle, and a brief inscription that 
would commemorate the pioneer advent of our vast and increasing 
Lake commerce. 



Frontenac returned to France in consequence of disagreement 
with other officers of the colony, but to return again in after years. 
He was succeeded by M. de la Barre, who found the Iroquois dis- 



30 PHELPS AND GORIIAM S PURCHASE. 

posed to lean toward the English interests upon the Hudson, and 
assuming again a hostile attitude toward the French. The Otta- 
was, who were the allies of the French, had killed a chief of the 
Iroquois ; and from this and other causes, they were again exaspera 
ted, and preparing for descents upon the French settlements. Hith 
erto, the Senecas, far removed from what had been the seat of war, 
and almost continually waging war with those of their own race, 
had participated but little in the wars with the French. Provoca 
tions now began on their part, in the way of endeavoring to divert 
trade to the English, and in warring upon the French Indian allies ; 
and upon one occasion, they had robbed a French trading party on 
their way to Illinois. 

A long series of provocations were given by the Iroquois, which 
determined M. dela Barre to go against them with all the forces he 
could command. He had information that a descent was to be 
made upon the French settlements upon the St. Lawrence. He 
assembled an army of 700 Canadian militia, 130 regular soldiers, 
and 200 Indian allies, in July, 1683. While coming up the St. 
Lawrence, he learned that the more friendly of the Iroquois nations 
had prevailed upon the Senecas to listen to overtures of peace. The 
English had offered their mediation, with intimations that they 
would make common cause with the hostile nations of Iroquois, if 
the French Governor persevered in his warlike demonstrations. 
M. de la Barre crossed Lake Ontario, and quartered his army at a 
Bay in what is now Jefferson county, and awaited the arrival of 
peace deputies of the Iroquois. While there, the French army suf 
fered much for want of wholesome provisions, and they named the 
place " La Famine," or Hungry Bay. The Indians met them, with 
an Onondaga chief, Garangula, at their head. A speech was made 
by the French Governor, and replied to by Garangula, in a tone 
of contempt and derision, rather than of fear or submission. * He 
well knew that famine and disease had weakened the French force, 
and even tantalized them by allusion to their misfortunes. De la 

*For a correct translation of this noted j speech, copied from La Hontan, see 
" Holland Purchase." Mr. Clinton said : " I believe it impossible to find in rill the 
effusions of ancient or modem oratory, a speech more appropriate or convincing. 
Under the veil of respectful profession, it conveys the most biting irony ; and while 
it abounds with rich and splendid imagery, it contains the most solid reasoning." The 
resported author of " History of Onondaga," regards him as having been the Nestor 
of the Iroquois. 



PHELPS AND GORIIAM S PURCHASE. 31 

i 

Barre, says the Baron la Hontan, who was present, " returned to his 
tent much enraged at what he had heard." The interview ended 
by a stipulation on the part of the Senecas that they would make 
reparation for some alleged wrongs ; * and on the part of the French 
Governor, that he would immediately withdraw his army. The dis- 
cornfitted and chagrined la Barre withdrew an army made feeble 
by disease and hunger ; and upon reaching Montreal, learned that 
a French force had arrived, which would have enabled him to 
humble the proud warriors, and provoking orator he had met on 
the wild shores of Lake Ontario. 

[Of local events, the expedition of. De Nonville follows next in order of time. A 
brief allusion to it will be found in Mr. Hosmer s chapter upon the Senecas, and more 
of it will be found in the Appendix, No. 2.] 

The Iroquois were prompt to carry the war home upon their in 
vaders. In November following De Nonville s expedition, they at 
tacked the French fort on the Sorrel, and were repulsed, but they 
ravaged the neighboring French settlements, and made captives. 
Darkness lowered upon the French cause. 

" In this same year, there fell upon Canada an evil more severe 
than Indian aggression or English hostility. Toward the end of 
the summer, a deadly malady visited the colony, and carried mourn 
ing into almost every household. So great was the mortality, that 
M. De Nonville was constrained to abandon, or rather defer, his 
project of humbling the pride and power of the Tsonnonthouans. 
He had also reason to doubt the faith of his Indian allies ; even the 
Hurons of the far West, who had fought so stoutly by his side on 
the shores of Lake Ontario, were discovered to have been at the 
time in treacherous correspondence with the Iroquois." 

" While doubt and disease paralized the power of the French, 
their dangerous enemies were not idle. Twelre hundred Iroquois 
warriors assembled at Lake St. Francis, within two days march 
of Montreal, and haughtily demanded audience of the Governor, 
which was immediately granted. Their orator proclaimed the 
power of his race, and the weakness of the white men, with all the 
emphasis and striking illustration of Indian eloquence. He offered 

* The wrongs complained of, were the destruction, by the Senecas, of a large 
number of the canoes of the French traders, on their way to the West , the taking of 
fourteen Frenchmen as prisoners; and an attack upon one of the Western forts. 
Paris Doc. 



32 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

peace on terms proposed by the Governor of New York, but only 
allowed the French four days for deliberation." 

" This high-handed diplomacy was backed by formidable demon 
strations. The whole country west of the river Sorrel, or Richlieu, 
was occupied by a savage host, and the distant fort of Cataracouy, 
on the Ontario shore, was with difficulty held against 800 Iroquois, 
who had burned the farm stores with flaming arrows, and slain the 
cattle of the settlers. The French bowed before the storm they 
could not resist, and peace was concluded on conditions that war 
should cease in the land, and all the allies should share in the 
blessings of repose. M. De Nonville further agreed to restore the 
Indian chiefs who had been so treacherously torn from their native 
wilds, and sent to labor in the galleys of France."* 

Before the treaty was concluded, however, the implacable ene 
mies of the Iroquois, the Abenaquis, attacked them on the Sorrel, 
destroyed many, and pushed their conquest even to the English set 
tlements. And nearly at the same time, another untoward circum 
stance occurred ; an instance of cunning and knavery which has 
no parallel in Indian warfare : Kondiaronk, a chief of the west 
ern Hurons, with a retinue of warriors, sought an interview with 
De Nonville, for the purpose of reconciling some misunderstanding. 
Learning that peace was about to bo concluded between the French 
and Iroquois, he determined to prevent it. Pretending to go back 
to his own country, he went up the St. Lawrence, and lying in am 
bush for the Iroquois, on their return from the treaty, he fell upon 
them with his warriors, killing many, and taking some prisoners. He 
then pretended that he was acting in concert with the French Gov 
ernor, and that he had instigated the attack upon those with whom 
he had just concluded a peace. The scheme worked just as the 
wily backwoods Metternich had concluded it would : A renewal 

* Conquest of Canada. 

NOTE. The author of the history of the Conquest of Canada, says of De Nonville, 
in allusion to his seizure of the Iroquois, and sending them to France : "His other 
wise honorable and useful career can never be cleansed from the fatal blot of one dark 
act of treachery. From the day when .that evil deed was done, the rude but magnani 
mous Indians, scorned as a broken reed the sullied "honor of the French." The author 
should not have made De Nonville wholly responsible. In all probability, he acted 
under instructions. The instructions of Louis XIV. to La Barre, were: "As these 
savages who are stout and robust, will serve with advantage in my galleys, I wish 
you to do every thing in your power to make them prisoners of war, and that you 
will have them shipped by every opportunity which will offer for their removal to 
France." 



PHELPS Am> GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 33 

of hostilities was soon made by the Iroquois, to revenge themselves 
for the supposed baseness of the French Governor. Twelve hun 
dred Iroquois warriors made a descent upon the Island of Montreal, 
burnt the French houses, sacked their plantations, and put to the 
sword all the men, women and children within the outskirts of the 
town. " A thousand French were slain in the invasion, and twenty- 
six carried into captivity."* The marauders retreated, but not with 
out further destruction of life; a force of one hundred French and 
fifty Indians, sent in pursuit, were entirely cut off. " The disastrous 
incursions filled the French with panic and astonishment. They at 
once blew up the forts of Cataracouy, (Kingston,) and Niagara, 
burned two vessels, built under their protection, and altogether 
abandoned the shores of the western Lakes." f Frontenac arrived 
at Quebec in October, 1689, at a period of great depression with the 
colony. His hands were strengthened by the government of 
France, but a vast field of labor was before him. He repaired to 
Montreal, and summoned a council of the western Indians ; the 
first and most important consummation to be effected, being their 
perfect conciliation and alliance : "As a representative of the 
Gallic Monarch, claiming to be the bulwark of Christendom Count 
Frontenac, himself a peer of France, now in his seventieth year, 
placed the murderous hatchet in the hands of his allies ; and with 
tomahawk in his own grasp, chaunted the war-song, danced the 
war- dance, and listened, apparently with delight, to the threat of 
savage vengeance." J 

In the February preceding the event just alluded to, the revolu 
tion in England had been consummated. William and Mary had 
succeeded to the throne, and soon after which France had declared 
a war against England, in which the American colonies became at 
once involved, and a contest ensued, in which the question of undi 
vided empire in all this portion of North America was the stake to 
be won; France and England had both determined upon entire 
conquest, Frontenac succeeded in conforming the alliance of 
nearly all the western tribes of Indians, and through the mission- 



* Smith s History of New York. 

t So says the author of the Conquest of Canada. It is not probable that all the 

western posts were abandoned. 

J Bancroft 



34 PIIELPS AND GORHAM S PUECHASE. 

aries was enabled to make a partial division of the Iroquois from the 
English interests. He soon received from his government instruc 
tions to war for conquest, not only upon New England and New 
York, but upon all the Indian allies of the English. His instruc 
tions contemplated an attack upon " Manathe," (" Manhattan" or 
New York,) by sea, and an attack upon Fort Orange by land, 
and a descent upon the Hudson, to co-operate with the naval 
expedition. * The French force in Canada, of regulars and militia 
was about two thousand. In February, 1689, an expedition 
started from Montreal, and after a long march through the wild 
erness, in which they were obliged to walk up to their knees 
in water, and . break the ice with their feet, in order to find a solid 
footing, they arrived in the vicinity of Schenectady, the then 
farthest advanced of the English settlements. Arriving at a soli 
tary wigwam, the benumbed and disabled from the effects of the 
severe cold weather, warmed themselves by its fire, and information 
was gained from the squaws who inhabited it, how they could best 
fall upon the village and execute their terrible mission of war and 
retribution upon those who had assisted the Mohawk branch of the 
Iroquois in their onslaughts upon the French settlements. In all 
their march and contemplated attack, they had been assisted by a 
former chief of the Mohawks, who had deserted his country and 
identified himself with the French allies at the west. Approaching 
the point of attack, he had eloquently harangued the French and their 
Indian allies to "lose all recollections of their fatigue in hopes of 
taking ample revenge for the injuries they had received from the 
Iroquois, at the solicitation of the English, and of washing them out 
in the blood of the traitors." * At eleven o clock at night they came 
near the settlement, and deliberating whether they should not post 
pone the attack to a more dead hour of the night, were compelled by 
the excessive cold to rush upon their victims and destroy them, to 

* He was, says the French official account, " without contradiction, the most con 
siderable of his tribe an honest man as full of spirit, generosity and prudence as 
was possible, and capable at the same time of great undertakings." 

NOTE. The English account of the massacre at Schenectady, contained in the Lon 
don Documents, gives the names of sixty of "ye people Idled and destroyed ;" of 
twenty-seven who were carried prisoners to Canada. The few of all the population 
that escaped, being a detached part of the settlement, the residence of the British com 
mandant of the place, "Capt. Sander," whose wife had shown some favor previously 
to some French prisoners. The French account, in the Paris Documents, says that 
" the lives of fifty or sixty persons, old men, women and children were spared, they 
having escaped the first fury of attack." 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 35 

enjoy the warmth of their burning hamlets. A small garrison, where 
there were soldiers under arms, was first attacked, carried, set fire 
to and burned, and all its defenders slaughtered. Then succeeded 
hours of burning and massacre, until almost the entire population 
and their dwellings had been destroyed. The details of the terrible 
onslaught are familiar to the general reader. It was a stealthy mid- 
night assault, a work of the sword and the torch, that has few par 
allels in all the wars upon this continent. The whole forms an early 
legend of the Mohawk, and was the precursor of the terrible scenes, 
that in after years were enacted in that once harrassed and ravaged, 
but now smiling and peaceful valley. 

As if satiated with this work of death ; paralized by the severity 
of the weather, or intimidated by the English strength at Albany ; 
the French retraced their steps, with their prisoners and plunder, not, 
however, without suffering from hunger and cold, enough to make 
the victory, if such it could be called, a dear one. The flesh of 
the horses they had taken at Schenectady, was for a part of the 
march their only food. About one hundred and fifty Indians and 
fifty young men of Albany, pursued them to Lake. Charaplain, and 
even over it, killing some and taking others prisoners. 

Another expedition left Three Rivers and penetrated the wilder 
ness to the Piscataqua River in Maine, surprised a small English 
settlement, killed thirty of its inhabitants, and made the rest prisoners. 
After which they fell in with another French force, and destroyed 
the English Fort at Casco. 

A third expedition went among the Western Indians to confirm 
their alliance by intimidation and a lavish bestowal of presents ; 
and was by far the most successful of the three. It helped vastly to 
turn trade in the direction of Montreal, and strengthened the French 
with many of the powerful nations of the west. On their way, they 
fell in with and defeated a large war party of the Iroquois. 

While all this was in progress, war parties of the hostile Iroquois 
had been making repeated incursions down the St. Lawrence, 
harrassing the French settlements. 

The incursions of the French at the eastward had aroused the 
people of New England to make common cause with the people of 
New York and their Iroquois allies. In May, 1690, deputies from 
New York and all the New England colonies met in Albany, and 
made the quarrel their own instead of that of England, who had been 



36 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUKCHASE. 

remiss in aiding their colonies to carry it on. A general invasion 
of the French colony was resolved upon. Two expeditions were 
arranged, one to sail from Boston to Quebec, and the other to cross 
the country to the St. Lawrence, and descending the River, join the 
naval expedition at Quebec. Both were failures. The land force, 
under General Winthrop of Connecticut, 800 strong, marched from 
Albany to Lake Champlain, where they were disappointed in not 
meeting 500 Iroquois warriors as had been aggreed upon, and the In 
dians had also failed to provide the necessary canoes for crossing 
the Lake. A council of war was held and a retreat agreed upon. 
Major Schuyler of the New York levies, had however, preceded the 
main army, and crossed the Lake without knowing that Winthrop 
had retreated. He attacked a small garrison at La Prairie, and obliged 
them to fall back toward Chambly. The French in retreating, fell 
in with a reinforcement, and turned upon their pursuers ; a severe 
engagement ensued ; overpowered by numbers, Schuyler was obliged 
to retreat. Sir William Phipps had command of the naval ex 
pedition, which consisted of 35 vessels and 200 troops. After captur 
ing some French posts at New Foundland, and upon the Lower St. 
Lawrence, the British squadron arrived at the mouth of the Sage- 
nay, Frontenac having learned that the English land force had 
turned back, had hastened to Quebec, and ordered a concentration 
of his forces there. The slow approach of the New England inva 
ders gave him a plenty of time to prepare for defence. On the 5th 
of October the squadron appeared before Quebec and the next day 
demanded a surrender. To the enquiry of the bearer of the mes 
sage, what answer he had to return, the brave old Count said : 
" Tell your master I will answer by the mouth of my cannon, that 
he may learn that a man of my rank is not to be summoned in this 
manner." The attack followed : A force of 1700 was landed un 
der Major Walley, and had much hard fighting, with but indifferent 
success, with French out-posts. In the mean time, Phipps had 
anchored his vessels, bearing the heaviest guns against the town and 
fortress. The fire was mostly ineffectual; directed principally 
against the high eminence of the Upper Town, it fell short of the 
mark, while a destructive fire was pouring down upon the assail 
ants. The siege was continued but twenty hours, when the British 
fleet fell down the stream out of the reach of the galling fire from 
the high ramparts of the besieged fortress. The force under Major 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PUKCHASE. 37 

Walley, upon land, continued the fight, generally succeeding in 
their approaches. After a series of sharp engagements, the land 
force were obliged to resort to a hurried embarkation on board of 
their vessels. It was a night scene of panic and disorder, many 
losing their lives by the upsetting of boats. The artillery that was 
taken on shore, fell into the hands of the French. Leaving nine dis 
abled ships, Phipps returned to Boston to add to the news of there- 
treat of Winthrop, the sad account of the result of his siege of 
Quebec. 

Then followed a winter of repose with the French colony, but of 
dismay and apprehension in New England and New York, whose 
fleet and army had so signally failed. But the Iroquois who had 
failed to co-operate with Winthrop in the fall, were early in the 
field by themselves in the spring. In May, a thousand of their 
warriors approached Montreal, laying waste the French settlements, 
and re-enacting all the horrid scenes of former years ; though not 
without some instances of severe and summary retributions before 
they had effected their retreat. In a few weeks the incursion was 
repeated, and with similar results. 

Then followed seven years of English and French and Indian war, 
the French under the energetic administration of Frontenac, all the 
while extending their settlements, and strengthening their whole co 
lonial position, though with arms in their hands. They were mostly 
content to act upon the defensive, while on the part of the English 
colonies, there seems to have been no energy in aiding the Iroquois to 
carry on the war. In 1796, Frontenac, despairing of any reconcilia 
tion with the Iroquois, resolved upon another invasion of their terri 
tory. He assembled all his disposable forces of French and Indian 
allies at Fort Frontenac, (Kingston.) and crossing Lake Ontario dis 
embarked at the mouth of the Oswego river. His army was a form 
idable one, and it was provided with a train of artillery as if he was 
to attack a walled town instead of weak pallisade Forts. After en- 

NOTE. The details of battles that occurred along in these years upon the St. Law 
rence, would alone confirm all of daring heroism that has been attributed to the Jro- 
quois, and give us a clue to their long series of conquests over their own race. Crossing 
Lakes Ontario and Champlain, in inclement seasons, with their frail canoes, and de 
scending the St. Lawrence by land and water amid snows and ice, there was not only 
their stealthy assaults and savage warfare, but on many occasions with the stoicism of 
their race added to ordinary bravery they faced for hours the trained and veteran 
soldiers of France, astonishing the men of discipline in the arts of war with their 
achievements. The best soldiers of France, and England, were not a match on many 
occasions, for an equal number of untaught soldiers of the wigwam and forest. 



PHEPLS AND GOKHAMV PUKCIIASE. 

tering the OnondagaXake, the army was divided, a portion of it being 
sent against the Oneidas, while Frontenac landed with the main force 
destined for the attack upon the Onondagas. The old Count had 
now become so decrepid from age and hard service, that he was 
borne to the point of attack upon a litter ; presenting a scene spiced 
somewhat with romantic heroism, if the object of attack had in any 
considerable degree corresponded with the military array and pre 
paration. The French army landed upon the banks of the Lake, and 
threw up some defences. The Onondagas were aware of the ap 
proach, fortified themselves as well as they could in their castle, 
sent away all but their warriors, and resolved upon a desperate de 
fence. They were, however, intimidated by a Seneca prisoner, who 
had escaped from the French, who told them that Frontenac s army 
" was as numerous as the leaves on the trees, and that they had ma 
chines which threw up large balls in the air, which falling on their 
cabins would burst in pieces scattering fire and death every where 
around, against which their stockades would be no defence," This 
was a kind of warfare new to them, and which they resolved not to 
encounter, setting fire to their castle and cabins, they fled and left 
their invaders the poor triumph of putting to death one old Indian 
Sachem, who remained to become a sacrifice and defy and scorn 
the invaders, even while they were applying their instruments of 
torture. The Oneidas fled at the approach of the other division of the 
French army, but thirty of them remaining to welcome the invaders 
and save their castle, village, and crops. They were made prisoners 
and the village, castle, and crops destroyed. No rumor came from 
the English, but the fear of one hastened the French retreat across the 
Lake to Fort Frontenac, and from thence to Montreal. 

The treaty of peace concluded at Ryswick, and the death of Fron 
tenac soon followed, leaving partial repose to the harrassed French 
and English colonies. The amiable Callieres, the governor of Mon 
treal, succeeded Frontenac, but hardly lived to witness the consum 
mation of his wise measures for conciliating the Iroquois, renewing 
Indian alliances, and generally to better the condition of the affairs 
of New France. He was succeeded by Vaudreiul who was soon 
waited upon by a deputation of Iroquois, that acknowledged the 
French dominion. 

It was but a short breathing spell for the colonies : In May, 
1702, what was called "Queen Ann s war," was declared, and the 



PHELPS AKD GORIIAM^S PURCHASE. 39 

scenes of what had been called " King \V illiam s war," were re-enact 
ed upon this continent. 

The Province of New York took but little part in the contest, and 
its chief burden fell upon New England. The Indians, within their 
own limits, reinforced by the Indians of Canada, and not unfrequent- 
]y accompanied by the French, made incursions into all parts of the 
eastern English Provinces, falling upon the frontier settlements with 
the torch, the tomahawk and knife, and furnishing a long catalogue 
of captivity and death, that mark that as one of the most trying pe 
riods in a colonial history, upon almost every page of which we are 
forcibly reminded how much of blood and suffering it cost our pio 
neer ancestors to maintain a foothold upon this continent.* The 
war on the part of the English colonies, was principally directed 
against Port Royal, Quebec and Montreal. Most of the expeditions 
they fitted out were failures ; there was a succession o.f shipwreck, 
badly framed schemes of conquest ; organization of forces but to be 
disbanded before they had consummated any definite purposes ; 
" marching up hills and marching down again." 

Such being the geographical features of the war ; the Province 
of New York having assented to the treaty of neutrality between 
the French and Five Nations, and contenting itselt with an enjoy 
ment of Indian trade, while their neighboring Provinces were strug 
gling against the French and Indians ; there is little to notice having 
any immediate connexion with our local relations. 

Generally, during the war, the Five Nations preserved their 
neutrality. They managed with consummate skill to be the inti 
mate friends of both the English and French. Situated between 
two powerful nations at war with each other, they concluded the 
safest way was to keep themselves in a position to fall in with the 
one that finally triumphed. At one period, when an attack upon 
Montreal was contemplated, they were induced by the English to 
furnish a large auxiliary force, that assembled with a detachment of 
English troops at Wood Creek. The whole scheme amounting to 
a failure, no opportunity w T as offered of testing their sincerity ; but 
from some circumstances that transpired, it was suspected that they 
were as much inclined to the French as to the English. At one 

* From the year 1675, to the close of Queen Ann s War in 1713, about six thousand 
of the English colonists, had perished by the stroke of the enemy, or by distempers 
contracted in military service. 



40 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUECHASE. 

period during the war, five Iroquois Sachems were prevailed upon 
to visit England for the purpose of urging renewed attempts to 
conquer Canada. They were introduced to the Queen, decked 
out in splendid wardrobe, exhibited through the streets of London, 
at the theatres, and other places of public resort ; feasted and toast 
ed, they professed that their people were ready to assist in extermi 
nating the French, but threatened to go home and join the French 
unless more effectual war-measures were adopted. This was a les 
son undoubtedly taught them by the English colonies, who had sent 
them over to aid in exciting more interest at home in the contest 
that was waging in the colonies. The visit of the Sachems had tem 
porarily the desired effect. It aided in inducing the English gov 
ernment to furnish the colonies with an increased force of men and 
vessels of war, in assisting in a renewed expedition against Mon 
treal and Quebec, which ended, as others had, in a failure. They 
got nothing from the Five Nations but professions ; no overt act of 
co-operation and assistance. The Governor of the province of 
New York, all along refused to urge them to violate their engage 
ments of neutrality ; for as neutrals, they were a barrier to the 
frontier settlements of New York, against the encroachments of the 
French and their Indian allies. 

"The treaty of Utrecht, in April, 1713, put an end to the war. 
France ceded to England all Nova Scotia or Arcadia, with its 
ancient boundaries ; also, the city of Port Royal, now called An 
napolis Royal, and all other things in those parts, which depend up 
on the said lands/ France stipulated in the treaty that she would 
never molest the Five Nations, subject to the dominion of Great 
Britain/ leaving still undefined their boundaries, to form with other 
questions of boundary and dominion, future disagreements. 

In all these years of war, French interests at the West had not 
been neglected. In 1701, a French officer, with a small colony 
and a Jesuit missionary, founded the city of Detroit. * The peace 
of their respective sovereigns over the ocean, failed to reconcile 
difficulties between the colonies. The trade and the right to navi 
gate the Lakes, was a monopoly enforced by the French, which the 
English colonies of New York were bent upon disturbing, though 



* Almost a century before the settlement of Western New York had advanced be 
yond the Genesee river. 



PHELPS AXD GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 41 

the terms of peace had in effect, confirmed it. The English as 
sumed that all of what is now Western New York, was within 
thcjir dominions, by virtue of but a partial alliance of its native 
owners and occupants ; and the French claimed by a similar tenure ; 
for, in fact, it was a divided alliance, fluctuating with the policy of 
the Senecas, who seemed well to understand the importance of 
their position, and were resolved to make the most of it. Soon af 
ter 1700, we find a marked and progressive change in the disposi 
tion of the Senecas towards the French. This we may well at 
tribute to the influence of the Jesuit missionaries, who had suc 
ceeded in getting permanent missionary stations among them, in a 
greater degree, perhaps, to the advent of an extraordinary person 
age, who, for a long period, exercised an almost unbounded influ 
ence throughout this region. This was Joncaire, a Frenchman, 
who, from a captive among the Senecas, merged himself with them, 
was adopted, and became the faithful and indefatigable promoter 
of the French interests. We first hear of him from Charlevoix, who, 
in 1721, found him the occupant of a cabin at Lewiston, where he 
had gathered around him a small Indian settlement, and where a 
fortress was contemplated the right to build which, he had nego 
tiated with the Senecas. He then bore a commission in the French 
army. He was familiar with all the localities of this region, and 
gave to Charlevoix a description of the " river of the Tsontonouans," 
(Genesee river,) the Sulphur Springs at Avon, and the Oil Spring 
at Cuba. In 1750. Kalm, the German traveller, found a half-blood 
Seneca, a son of his, at Lewiston; and in 1753, Washington made 
the acquaintance of another son of his, while on a mission to the 
French at the West, and mentions that he was then preferring the 
French claim to the Ohio, by virtue of the discoveries of La Salle. 
In 1759, these two half-blood sons bore commissions in the French 
army, and were among the French forces of the West, that were 
defeated on the Niagara River, on their way to re-inforce the be 
sieged garrison. In 1736, M. de Joncaire, the elder, had made a 
report to the French Superintendent at Montreal, of all the Indians 
whom he regarded as "connected with the government of Canada." 
He embraces the whole of the Iroquois nations, and locates them 
principally through this State, from Schenectady to the Niagara 
River ; and in Canada, along near the lower end of Lake Ontario, 

all of the nations of Canada, and all inhabiting the valleys of the 
3 



42 PHELPS AND OOEHAM S PURCHASE. 

western lakes, the Ohio and the Mississippi. In this official docu 
ment, he mentions that he is " engaged at the history of the Sioux." 
" He spoke," says Charlevoix, " with all the good sense of a French 
man, whereof he enjoys a large share, and with all the sublime 
eloquence of our Iroquois." 

The peace of Utrecht, i-n 1713, had but illy defined the respective 
dominions of the English and French, in this quarter; but the Gov 
ernor of New York assumed that it gave the English the jurisdic 
tion they had claimed. In 1726, the English Governor, Burnett, built 
a fort at Oswego, and a "public store-house" at the Bay of "Ironde- 
quoit." The year previous, the French, upon the ruins of the tem 
porary works of De Nonville, had built Fort Niagara against the 
protests and remonstrances of the English. * 

The occurrences of a long succession of years, of Indian out 
breaks, of French descents upon New England settlements, of re 
taliatory expeditions, of French and Indian wars, have in the main 
but little reference to this local region, though dominion here was 
one prominent cause of contention. Peace between the mother 
countries had but little influence with the colonists ; they would 
make war upon their own account as often as difficulties arose out 
of mixed occupancy, and conflicting claims to jurisdiction. The 

NOTE. Were it not that NAMES descend through the maternal line, the descendants 
of Joncaire would be found among the Senecas of the present day, in all probability ; 
for French blood has no where run out among the natives when once merged with 
them. Inquiry would hardly fail to find among them traditions of Joncaire, and those 
who are his living descendants. 

* The site of Fort Niagara commanded the key to the western lakes. The French 
were aware that its occupancy and fortification was necessary to the maintenance of 
the dominion they claimed against English encroachments. Previous to 1721, Jon 
caire had secured a mixed trading, missionary and military station at Lewiston. Even 
this met with the strong opposition of the English authorities of New York, and all of 
the Six Nations, except the Senecas, who had the right of controlling the matter. The 
Senecas persisting in allowing their favorite to build his "cabin" where he chose, 
the English asked for joint occupancy. To which the Senecas replied: "Our 
country is in peace, the French and you will never be able to live together without 
raising disturbances. Moreover, it is of no consequence that Joncaire should remain 
here ; he is a child of the nation ; he enjoys this right, which we are not at liberty to 
take from him." Soon after this, the successful negotiator extended his views farther 
down the river, and paved the way for flie erection of a strong fortress at Niagara. 
This was accomplished by a EUSB on the part of Joncaire and other French officers. 
The Senecas had no idea of admitting either French or English fortifications upon 
their territory. A body of French troops arrived and encamped at the mouth of the 
Niagara river, to commence the work, but were by no means strong enough to under 
take it in the presence of the Senecas, who were watching their movements. They at 
first got permission to build a "wigwam with one door;" and then to divert the Sene 
cas from being witnesses of the formidable work they were contemplating, joined them 
in a general hunt, which kept them away until the work was far enough advanced to 
enable the French to protect themselves against attack. 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 43 

French continued to extend their posts to the West and South West, 
and the English to strengthen the frontiers of New England, and 
their advance post at Oswego. 

In 1744, Great Britain declared war against France and Spain. 
The first blow struck upon this continent, was the capture of Louis- 
burg, which success emboldened Governor Shirley, of Massachu 
setts, to ask the co-operation of the other colonies in an attempt to 
drive the French from all their American possessions ; some de 
monstrations with that view were made ; but the principal events 
of the campaign were at sea, and upon the frontiers of New Eng 
land. The short war was closed by the peace of Aix la Chapelle, 
of 1748. Its chief result had been the loss to the French of all the 
Northern frontier coast, to repair which, they immediately projected 
schemes for extending their dominion to the valley of the Ohio, and 
upon the Mississippi, to the Gulf of Mexico. In 1750, commission 
ers met in Paris to adjust American boundaries, but after a long 
session, accomplished nothing. Difficulties arose in a new quarter- 
The crown of England granted to an association of its subjects at 
home, and in Virginia, called the Ohio Company, 600,000 acres of 
land upon the Ohio river, all of which was upon territory claimed 
by France. The attempts of this Company to survey and settle 
these lands, and the building of French posts upon them, simulta 
neously, brought the English and French colonists into direct con 
flict. The campaign was opened by the Governor of Virginia, who 
sent an armed force to the disputed ground. Other colonies soon 
co-operated ; and after the contest had been attended with alternate 
successes and reverses, in 1755, General Braddock came with a 
force from England, to aid the colonies. All the events of the war 
upon the Allegany and the Ohio, form prominent pages of American 
history; ultimately connected with the history of our western 
States ; but deriving its chief general interest from the circumstance 
that it was the school of experience and discipline, where the sword 
of the youthful WASHINGTON was first unsheathed. 

Braddock s defeat followed ; then General Shirley s abortive ex 
pedition in the direction of Niagara ; Sir William Johnson s par 
tially successful expedition to Lake George ; the advent of Lord 
Loudon, as Commander-in-chief of the British army in America; 
which principal events closed the campaign of 1755 ; and in the ag 
gregate, had darkened British prospects on this side of the Atlantic. 



44 PIIELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

The campaign of 1756, opened with the successful attack of the 
Marquis de Vaudreuil, upon an English fort, in what is now the 
county of Oneida ; which, after an engagement of Bradstre-et with 
a French force on the Oswego river, was followed by the capture of 
the British fort at Oswego, by the Marquis de Montcalm. 

These principal events, with the dark filling up of French and 
Indian depredations at the west; amounting almost to the exter 
mination of the border settlers of Pennsylvania ; gave to British in 
terests, at the close of the campaign of 176, an aspect even less 
encouraging than the one with which it was commenced. 

- Montcalm opened the campaign of 1757, early in the spring, by a 
harrassing investment of Fort William Henry, by a force under the 
command of Vaudreuil and Longrieul ; a reinforcing and strengthen 
ing of Crown Point, Ticonderoga and Niagara. During the summer, 
Lord Loudon collected the main force of the regular army, all the dis 
posable forces of the colonies, and with a powerful naval armament 
added, undertook the capture of Louisburg, on the Island of Cape Bre 
ton, but abandoned the design when a victory seemed easily attaina 
ble ; for reasons which remain a mystery in the history of English war 
fare. Taking advantage of this diversion of the English forces, Mont 
calm in person completed the conquest of Fort William Henry. It 
was a year of disasters with the English ; formidable armies and navies 
were embarked and disembarked, expensive expeditions were abor 
tive ; one of their strong fortresses had gone into the hands of the 
French. In no modern era, save that of the American Revolution, 
has English pride of foreign conquest been more humbled. 

In 1758 a new era with England commenced : It was that of 

O 

Mr. Pitt s administration of its affairs. So untoward was the aspect 
of its affairs when he assumed the helm of government, that it was 
with difficulty, that confidence could be restored. "Whoever is in, 
or whoever is out," said Lord Chesterfield, in one his letters, " I am 
sure we are undone both at home and abroad : at home by an increas 
ing debt and expenses ; abroad by our ill luck and incapacity. The 
French are masters to do what they please in America. We are no 
longer a nation. I never yet saw so dreadful a prospect." 

The first brilliant achievment under the new order of things, was 
the capture of Louisburg. Procuring the removal of the naval and 
military officers, who had proved so inefficient in America, Mr. Pitt 
recalled Lord Amherst from the army in Germany, and made him 



PHELPS AND GOBIIAM S PUECHASE. 45 

commander in chief of the expedition, and made the Hon. Edward 
Boscawen the Admiral of the fleet. An expedition consisting of 22 
ships of the line, 15 frigates, 120 smaller vessels, on board of which 
were nearly 12,000 British regulars, sailed from Portsmouth and arri 
ving at Halifax on the 28th of May, soon commenced the siege of 
Louisburg, which ended in a capitulation of the strong fortress, after 
a gallant and protracted resistance, on the 25th of July. The fruits 
of the conquest were 5,600 French prisoners ; 1 1 ships of war taken 
or destroyed; 250 pieces of ordnance; 15,000 stand of arms, and a 
great amount of provisions and military stores. A scene of plunder 
and devastation folio wed in all that region, which dimmed the lustre 
of British arms. 

Far less of success attended British arms in this campaign in other 
quarters : Mr. Pitt had infused among the despairing colonies, a new 
impulse ; they had sent into the field an efficient force of 9,000 men, 
which were added to 6, 000 regulars all under the command of Aber- 
crombie. In July, he had his strong force afloat on Lake George, 
proceeding to the attack upon Ticonderoga and Crown Point. A 
protracted siege of Ticonderoga followed, badly conducted in almost 
every particular ; the sequel, a retreat, with the loss of nearly 2,000 
men. The intrepid Bradstreet soon made partial amends for this un 
fortunate enterprise, by the capture of Fort Frontenac, then the strong 
hold of French Indian alliance. General Stanvvix advanced up the 
Mohawk and built the Fort that took his name. In the mean time 
General Forbes had left Philadelphia with an efficient army of over 
6,000 regulars and provincials, and after a defeat of his advance force, 
had captured Fort du Quesne, changing the name to Fort Pitt in 
honor of the great master spirit who was controlling England s des- 



NOTE. How often are triumphs of arms, the result of chance ! It is bat a few 
years since an American General confessed that a splendid victory was owing to the 
fact that some undisciplined troops did not know when they were fairly conquered, 
persevered in the fight and turned the tide of battle. An English historian, candid 
upon every subject he touches, admits that the capture of Louisburg was accidental : 
The first successful landing was made by Wolf, then a Brigadier General Gen. 
Amherst doubted its practicability. " The chivalrous Wolf himself, as he neared the 
awful surf, staggered in his resolution, and proposing to defer the enterprise, waved his 
hat for the boats to retire. Three young subaltern officers, however, commanding the 
leading craft, pushed on shore, having mistaken the signal for what their stout hearts 
desired, as an order to advance ; some of their men, as they sprung upon the beach, 
were dragged back by the receding surge and drowned, but the remainder climbed up 
the rugged rocks, and formed upon the summit. The Brigadier then cheered on the 
rest of the division to the support of the gallant few, and thus the almost desperate 
landing was accomplished." 



46 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

tinies, At the close of the campaign of the year, Abercrombie had 
been recalled, and General Amherst, who had returned to England 
after the capture of Louisburg, had arrived in America invested 
with the office of commander in chief. 



CHAPTER II 



SIEGE AND SURRENDER OF FORT NIAGARA. CONdUEST OF WESTERN 

NEW YORK. 



TOWARD the close of 1758, the policy of the British Minister, Mr. 
Pitt, began to be clearly developed. It looked to no farther ineffi 
cient measures but to a vigorous and decisive campaign, which 
should terminate in the anihilation of French power and dominion up 
on this continent. The British people, stimulated by a spirit of con 
quest, and a hatred of the French, both of which had been assidu 
ously promoted by the public press, and public men of England, 
seconded the ambitious views of the Minister. Parliament, in ad 
dressing the Throne, applauded him, and upon the recommendation 
of the King, were prompt and liberal in the voting of supplies. 

And care had been taken upon this side of the Atlantic, to secure 
cordial and vigorous co-operation ; the colonists, wearied with war 
and its harrassing effects, were cheered by the expressions of the 
commiseration of the King, and his assurances of protection and 
final indemnification; and more than all, perhaps, by an overt act of 
Parliament, in voting them the sum of 200,000, as a compensation 
for losses and expenses consequent upon the war. The strong, im 
pelling motive of interest had been preparing the way for a cordial 
co-operation of the colonists in the magnificent scheme of conquest 
that Mr. Pitt had projected. In its success was involved the high 
prizes, a monopoly of the Indian trade, the commerce of the Lakes, 
and the consequent vastly extended field of enterprise which would be 
opened. The board of trade had brought every appliance within their 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 47 

control to bear upon the King and Parliament, and of course, had not 
failed to magnify the hindrances to British interest which continued 
French dominion imposed ; nor to present in glowing language, the 
fruits of conquest and the extension of British power in America. 
Sir William Johnson, always faithful to his liberal patron the King, 
was more than usually active in wielding the immense influence he 
had acquired with the Indians to secure their aid ; he drew them 
together in different localities, urged upon them his professions of re 
gard for their interests, inflamed their resentments by recounting 
the wrongs they had endured at the hands of the French ; listened 
to their complaints of English encroachments upon their lands, and 
was lavish in promises of ample reparation ; not omitting the more 
than usually liberal distribution of presents, of which he was the 
accustomed almoner. By much the larger portion of the Five Na 
tions of the Iroquois were won over to the British interests, a portion 
of the Senecas being almost alone in standing aloof from the contest^ 
or continuing in French alliance. 

General Amherst having succeeded to the office of Commander 
in Chief of the British forces in North America, had his head quar 
ters in New York, in the winter of 1758, 9, actively calling to his 
aid the provincial troops, appointing Albany as the place of rendez 
vous, at which place he established his head quarters as early as the 
month of April. 

The force at the disposal of General Amherst, was larger by far 
than any that had been before mustered upon this continent. In 
addition to a large force of British regulars, the colony of Massachu 
setts had furnished seven thousand men, Connecticut five thousand, 
and New Hampshire one thousand. The provincial regiments, as 
fast as they arrived at Albany went into camp, and were subjected 
to rigid discipline ; the regulars, who were destined for operations at 
the north, were pushed on and encamped at a point some fifty miles 
on the road to Fort Edward. 

The general plan of the campaign contemplated the conquest of 
the three important strong holds, and seats of power, of the French ; 
Quebec, Montreal, and Niagara. The main army, under General 
Amherst, were to move from the shores of Lake George, reduce the 
French posts at Ticonderoga and Crown Point, descend by the river 
Richlieu and occupy Montreal ; then, on down the St. Lawrence to 
join the besiegers of Quebec. 



48 PHELPS AND GOBIIAM S PUECHASE. 

Leaving the northern expeditition to the province of general his 
tory, with the exception perhaps of a brief allusion to it in another 
place, we will take up that portion of" the general campaign, which 
is more immediately blended with the history of our local region : 

The force destined for Niagara rendezvoused at Schenectady 
early in May. It consisted of two British regiments ; a detachment 
of Royal Artillery; a battalion of Royal Americans ; two battalions 
of New York Provincials ; and a large force of Indian Allies under 
the command of Sir William Johnson ; the most of whom were 
Mohawks, Oneidas and Onondagas, the remainder, Cayugas and 
Senecas, with a few from such western nations as had been partly 
won over to the British interests. Brigadier General Prideaux was 
the Commander in Chief; next in rank, was Sir William Johnson, 
who previous to this had been regularly commissioned in the British 
army. The force moved from Schenectady on the 20th of May, 
came up the Mohawk, and via the usual water route to Oswego, 
where it remained, completing the preparation of batteaux for ascend 
ing Lake Ontario, for over five weeks. On the first of July, the 
whole force were embarked, and coasting along the shore of the Lake 
toward their destination ; a strong fortress, the seat of French domin 
ion, over a widely extended region ; the key or gate- way to the pri 
mitive commerce of the western lakes ; its battlements in solitary 
grandeur frowning defiance to any force that would be likely to reach 
it through difficult avenues, in its far off location in the wilderness. 
Never in all more modern periods, have the waters of Ontario borne 
upon their bosom a more formidable armament. In addition to a 
large force, to their stores and camp equipage, was the heavy artillery, 
and all the requisites that British military skill and foresight had 
deemed necessary for the reduction of a strong fortress by regular 
approaches; such as the plan of attack contemplated. And how 
mixed and made up of different races, and men of different habits 
and characters, was this expedition ! There was the proud com 
missioned and titled Briton, who had seen more of the refinements 
and luxuries of courts, than of the hardships of camps in the wilder 
ness; veteran officers and soldiers, who had fought in European 
wars, inured to the camp and the field ; the sons of the wealthy and 
influential colonists in New York, along the Hudson river counties, 
who had sought commissions in the army, and were going out in 
their first campaign. Provincials, men and boys, transferred from 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 49 

the stores counting-houses, and mechanic shops of New York, and 
the rural districts of Westchester, Richmond, Kings, Queens, Suffolk, 
Dutchess, Ulster, Orange, Albany, and the lower valley of the Mo 
hawk, to the camp, the drill, and the march that seemed then as far 
extended, and beset with more difficulies than would one over 
the mountains to Oregon now ; and lastly there was the warriors of 
the Iroquois, fully imbued with their ancient war spirit, decked out 
with feathers, claws, and hoops, the spoils of the forest chase and 
with new paint, broad-cloths, blankets and silver ornaments, the gifts 
of the King. 

The armament coasted along up the south shore of the Lake, en 
camping on shore ; the first night at Sodus, invited there by the 
beautiful bay, in which their water craft could be made secure from 
winds and waves, as their frail structure demanded. Their other 
halting places for the night, were at Irondequoit, Braddock s Bay, 
and Johnson s Creek ; (which latter place was named in honor of Sir 
William Johnson ;) arrived at the mouth of the Eighteen Mile Creek, 
(what is now the viilage of Olcott,) within eighteen miles of Fort 
Niagara, a halt was made to enable reconnoitering parties to go out 
and determine whether the French had made a sortie from the Fort 
in anticipation of their arrival. 

As they coasted along up the lake, they had occasionally dis 
charged their heavy artillery, well knowing that a noiseless approach 
would give them no advantage, as the Indian scouts from the garri 
son, glimpses of whom had been caught upon several occasions, had 
kept the French well informed of their movements ; and there were 
Iroquois enough in the French interest, belonging to the lower na 
tions, to give the French missionaries and traders, in all their local 
ities in Western New York, timely notice of all that was going on. 
But they wished to inspire the Senecas in their interests with cour 
age and the neutrals with terror ; and well, perhaps, did their device 
subserve those purposes. 

Leaving the British army almost within sight of the field of con 
flict, let us pass over the lake, and down the river St. Lawrence, to 
see what preparation had been made for their reception : 

Well informed at home of the policy of Mr. Pitt ; of the prepara 
tory acts of Parliament ; of the shipping of reinforcements to the 
British army in America; of all the minutiae, in fact, of the cam 
paign ; the French had not been idle. Despatches were sent to M. 



50 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUKCHASE. 

De Vaudrieuil, the Governor of Canada, and his hands were strength 
ened by reinforcements from France. He lost no time in putting 
Quebec, Montreal, Crown Point, and Ticonderoga, in the best pos 
sible state of defence. Proclamations were made to the Canadian 
militia, commending them in the highest terms for their former 
services; reminding them of their former triumphs ; and appealing 
to them to join in the final struggle for the dominion of their King 
and country, over the fairest and best portions of the New World. 
The gallant Montcaim had succeeded Dieskau, as commander in 
chief of the French forces in Canada, and was active in the work 
of preparation. Captain Pouchot, a skillful and experienced engi 
neer, was sent to put Fort Niagara in a condition for defence, and 
to assume the command of it. 

On the 7th of July, the British force under Prideux, broke up 
their brief encampment at the Eighteen Mile Creek, and by land 
and water, moved up to the Four Mile Creek, making a stand upon 
the western shore of the Bay, where they then began an entrench 
ment, and commenced the work of opening an avenue through the 
forest. A small scouting party of French and Indians, came upon 
the advance workmen, as they were about to emerge from the forest 
into the open ground, a few shots were exchanged, and the party re 
tired into the fort. A fire was opened upon the besiegers from the 
fort, which was kept up during the greater portion of the night. 
On the 8th, the English prosecuted the work upon their entrench 
ments, the French continuing their fire upon them at intervals from 
the fort, and Monsieur La Force * coasting up and down the Lake 
in the armed schooner Iroquois, occasionally reaching them with a 
shot. General Prideux sent an officer with a flag into the fort, de 
manding a surrender, which was very courteously refused by the 
French commander. On the 9th, but little transpired beyond the 
exchange of a few shots, and a slight advance of the besiegers. On 
the 10th, the English advanced into the open ground, protecting 
themselves by entrenchments, under an occasional fire from the fort, 

* He may, with propriety, be called the Admiral of the Lake ; for -he commanded 
the only sail vessel upon it. He was a kind of fresh water Van Tromp, or Paul 
Jones; at one period, we hear of him as an active negotiator between the French and 
English, at Fort du Quesne ; at another, in the command of a scouting party, har- 
J-assingthe border settlers of Virginia; at another, loaded with chains, in jail at Wil- 
liamsburgh, from which he was liberated by the humanity of "Washington, who had 
known him upon the Ohio ; and lastly, in the command of an armed schooner, active 
and brave, in the French service on Lake Ontario. 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 51 

which became almost incessant during the night, obliging them at 
times to suspend their works. The small French force at Schlosser, 
succeeded in reaching the fort. On the llth, a small party of 
French approached within a short distance of the English trenches, 
from which they sallied out in strong force, but were driven again 
into their defences, by the guns of the fort. At 5 P. M., the Eng 
lish opened their fire with eight mortars. 

The siege continued from day to day, and night to night, with oc 
casional, but not long-continued intermissions ; the French, too few 
in number to risk a sortie, holding out valiantly amid the tumbling 
walls of their devoted fortress, seriously annoying the besiegers 
by an active fire, that often arrested the progress of their works, as 
may well be inferred from their slow approaches ; wearied with toil 
and want of rest ; at times, almost upon the point of abandoning 
the unequal contest. On the 14th, the besiegers had so extended 
their works, as to be enabled to bring a heavy force to bear upon 
the fort. On the evening of the 19th, their General, (Prideux,) who 
had so well planned the attack, and, so far, so well executed it, 
was accidentally killed, while giving his orders in the trenches, by 
the premature bursting of a shell, discharged from a cohorn mortar. 
The vigor with which the siege was prosecuted, may be judged 
from the fact, that in one night, they threw three hundred bombs. 
Thus things continued until the morning of the 23d, when the be 
sieged had a gleam of hope that was destined not to be realized : 
Anticipating this attack, Captain Pouchot had sent runners to 
Presque Isle, Le Boeuf, Venango, and Detroit, ordering them with 
their commands, and all the Indian allies they could muster, to 
repair to Niagara, At a moment when it seemed that the dilapidated 
fortress, and its diminished and wearied defenders could hold out no 
longer, two western Indians made their way into the fort, bringing 
word from Monsieur Aubrey that he had arrived with a force of 
nearly twenty-five hundred French and Indians, at Navy Island, 
opposite the " Little Fort," (Schlosser.) Four Indians were imme 
diately despatched, to inform Monsieur Aubrey of the critical con 
dition of the fort, and urge him to press forward to its relief. 

The command of the British force having now devolved upon 
Sir William Johnson, he had anticipated the approach of the 
French and Indians from the West, and kept himself carefully ad 
vised of their movements, by means of his Indian runners. On 



52 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUKCHASE. 

the evening of the 23d, he sent out strong detachments of troops, 
and posted them along on either side of the road leading from the 
fort to the Falls, about two miles from the fort, where they rested 
upon their arms during the night. Early in the morning of the 
24th, other detachments of his most effective troops were ordered 
from the trenches before the fort, to re-inforce those already posted 
upon the Niagara River. The success of his protracted siege, 
now depended on arresting the march of D Aubrey. 

The British force had but just been posted for the encounter 
when the French and Indians, under D Aubrey, came down the 
river. The British out-posts fell back, and joined the main body. 
The opposing forces were now drawn up in order of battle, and 
D Aubrey gave the order for attack. His western Indian allies, 
hitherto principally concealed, swarmed from the woods, and gave 
the terrific war-whoop, at the same time, rushing upon the English 
lines, followed by the French troops. The British regulars, and 
such provincials as had seen little of Indian warfare, quailed for a 
moment in view of the fierce onslaught ; the Iroquois and the prac 
ticed Indian fighters, among both regulars and provincials, stood firm. 
In a moment, the shock was met as firmly as it had been impetu 
ously made. Volley after volley was discharged upon the fierce 
assailants from the whole British line, and from the Indian flanking 
parties, until the Indian assailants gave way and left the field. 
Deserted by his Indian allies, D Aubrey bravely led on his French 
troops against the English column, and was pressing it vigorously, 
when a reinforcement of Johnson s Indians arrived from the trench 
es, and assailed his flanks, and aided powerfully in turning the tide 
of battle against him. Standing firm for a short time, and return 
ing the English and the Indian fire, he gave way and ordered a re 
treat, which soon assumed the character of a total rout. The 
English pressed upon the vanquished and retreating French, and 
made prisoners, or shot down by far the larger portion of them. 
But a remnant of them escaped into an inhospitable and trackless 
wilderness. D Aubrey and most of his principal officers were 
among the captives. This was the main and decisive feature of 
the protracted siege. The contest was but of short duration ; but 
long enough, with the vigor and desperation with which it was 
waged, to strew the ground for miles with the dead bodies of the 
combatants. 



PHELPS AND GOKIIAM S PURCHASE. 53 

How vivid is the picture presented to the imagination, of this 
early scene! It was then far, far away, in any direction, from the 
abode of civilization. There were no spectators of that sudden clash 
of arms, of that protracted siege ; all were participants. Hundreds 
of miles beyond the heaviest sounds that like earthquake shocks 
must have gone out from the conflict, were the nearest of our race, 
save those who were at Frontenac and Oswego, and the few mis 
sionaries and traders upon our interior rivers. The outlet of vast 
inland lakes, the shores of which had been scarcely tread by Euro 
peans, hushed to comparative stillness, after having tumbled over 
the mighty precipice, and madly rushed through the long narrow 
gorge that succeeds, was rolling past, its eddies dashing heavily 
againstlhe shore, moaning a requiem over the dead that were thickly 
strewn upon it. Death and carnage, the smoke of battle, the gleam 
ing of steel, had chosen for their theatre a marked spot, romantic 
and beautiful as any that arrests the eye of the tourist, in that region 
of sublime and gorgeous landscapes. There was the roar of musket 
ry, the terrible war-hoop ; the groans of the dying ; the fierce assault 
and firm repulsion ; precipitate retreat, and hot and deadly pursuit ; 
the red warrior loading himself with trophies of the tomahawk and 
scalping knife, that would signalize his valor in the war dance, or 
tale out his deeds of blood at a place of reward : 

"The shout of battle, the barbarian yell, the bray 
Of disonant instruments, the clang of arms, 
The shrieks of agony, the groan of death, 
In one wild uproar and continued din 
Shook the still air!" SOUTIIEY. 

In yonder ancient structure, standing out in bold relief, solitary 
and isolated even now; was a handful of brave men, their numbers 
thinned, holding out after a long siege ; encouraged by hopes that 
were crushed, when their brave countrymen, deserted by treacher 
ous allies, gave way before a superior force. Stretched out upon 
yonder plain, in long lines of batteries and entrenchments, were the 
besiegers, who, advancing from day to day, had approached so near, 
that every shot from their heavy artillery told upon the massive 
walls they were assailing. 

It was a new scene in the wilderness ; nature in her solitudes 
and fastnesses, was affrighted ; the wild beasts - hurried farther and 
farther, into the recesses of the forest, or huddled in their lairs, 



54 PHELPS ATTD GORHAM S PUECHASE. 

trembling as each successive crash came upon their unaccustomed 
ears. It was a calm July morning. The surface of that wide ex 
panse of water, smooth and unruffled, mirrored the scene of fire and 
smoke, of waving banners and advancing columns. Stunning and 
deafening came the sounds of battle ; then a hushed silence, as if 
war and conquest stood appalled in view of the work of death they 
had wrought ; in which brief pause would come the roar of the 
mighty cataract, rushing in as if impatient to riot in its accustomed 
monopoly of sound ! The " great thunderer" was contending with 
its first rival ! High over all arose the smoke . of the two battle 
grounds to the clear blue heavens, and mingling there with the spray 
of the cataract, was carried off by a gentle breeze ; and at the suns 
decline, when the strife was ended, it canopied and spanned the deep 
blue waters, a bow of promise and a harbinger of peace. 

The French in the Fort had been close observers of every sign 
without, and had seen enough to make them apprehensive of the re 
sult upon the river bank ; but hours passed by before they could 
know with certainty the fate of the gallant men who had been 
arrested in their march of intended relief. An Indian scout gained 
access to the Fort informing them of Aubrey s total defeat and rout, 
and in a few minutes, a British officer entered and demanded a 
surrender, accompanying the demand with an exhortation from Sir 
William Johnson against the necessity of further bloodshed, and the 
intimation that his exasperated Indian allies could not be prevented 
from wreaking vengence upon the captives if the fight was further 
prolonged. Captain Pouchot, with the advice and concurrence of 
of his officers, yielded to fate and necessity ; and more than all, per 
haps, to the fearful apprehension that farther doubtful resistance 
would make victims to savage warfare, of his unfortunate country 
men and their allies. Terms of capitulation were agreed upon, hon 
orable to both parties ; and thus ended a well planned and well con 
ducted siege ; stood out against with almost unexampled heroic 
fortitude ; and thus commenced the English possession of Fort Niag 
ara, and dominion over all the region of Western New York. 



NOTE. The battle ground is upon the banks of the Niagara River between the vil 
lages of Youngstown and Lewiston, below the Five Mile Meadows. Its principal 
theatre was at a small inlet which was known to the early settlers by the name of 
"Bloody Run." Soon after 1800, when settlement of that region commenced, gun 
barrels, gun locks, broken swords, bayonets and " bill axes * were found on the surface 
of the earth, and up to this period, the plough frequently discloses relics of the battle. 



PHELPS AND GOBIIAM S PURCHASE. 55 

The terms of capitulation assented to by Sir William Johnson, 
should be added to the evidences that while he excelled in bravery 
and military foresight, a life in the wilderness, far away from the 
incentives and examples of civilized life, had not made him insensi 
ble to the obligations of humanity and courtesy. Anticipating the 
bloody scenes we must yet pass through, to conduct the reader to the 
main objects of our narrative, the wish obtrudes itself that he could 
have been spared to have exercised his vast influence in after years 
in arresting the tomahawk and the scalping knife. The vanquished 
were allowed to pass out of the Fort with the honors of war, and lay 
down their arms. It was stipulated that the French officers and 
soldiers should be conducted to New York, where comfortable quar 
ters should be furnished them ; that the females and children should 
have safe convoy to the nearest port of France ; and that the woun 
ded should be taken care of, and conveyed to New York as soon 
as they were able to undertake the journey. Upon the other hand, 
Captain Pouchot stipulated the surrender of all the stores, provisions 
and arms, with which the garrison had been well supplied. 

The French that capitulated in the fort, numbered over 600 ; be 
side them, were the prisoners taken in the battle upon the river. 
Not less than ten commissioned officers were among the prisoners, 
of whom were the gallant D Aubrey, Captain Pouchot, and two 
half-breed sons of Joncaire. In marching out and embarking in 
batteux, it was with difficulty they were saved from massacre by 
the Iroquois ; and only saved by the conciliatory course of Sir 
William Johnson,, and the promise to his turbulent allies of a liberal 
participation in the spoils of victory ; a promise that he fulfilled.* 

In a few days, after holding an Indian council to further promote 



* A letter, written from the spot soon after the surrender, preserved in some old 
newspaper files, states that the Indian allies were allowed all the plunder in the fort, 
save the arras and ammunition. Some of them, it is stated, obtained, individually, 
plunder to the value of 300. Among the plunder, were large quantities of French 
hatchets, stored there for Indian trade and presents ; the same that are even now occa 
sionally uncovered by the plough, in different localities in this region. 

NOTE. It has been truthfully said, that the last French and English war, was the 
school of the Revolution. Washington first unsheathed his sword at the battle of the 
Great Meadows, and won his first laurels at Braddock s defeat. Putnam was at Ticon- 
deroga ; Gates and Morgan were at Braddock s defeat ; Stark wa-s a young officer in 
a corps of Provincial Rangers ; George Clinton, it has been asserted, bore a comini 



gion among the Provincials, in the siege of Niagara ; and there are other names, after 
wards rendered illustrious, mingled in different accounts of the campaigns agai 
Crown Point, Ticonderoga, Quebec, and Niagara. 



commis- 
es, after- 
campaigns against 



56 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

and strengthen the alliance of the Iroquois, and detaching a suffi 
cient force to repair and occupy the captured fort, Sir William 
Johnson, with his main force and his prisoners, departed for 
Oswego. 



CHAPTER III. 



SIEGE AND CAPTURE OF TICONDEROGA, CROWN POIN i, QUEBEC, AND 
MONTREAL PEACE OF 1763 END OF FRENCH DOMINION. 



WHILE all this was transpiring, war was waging with equal vigor, 
if not with as signal success, upon the banks of the St. Lawrence, 
and upon the Northern Lakes. On the 22d of July, the main army 
under General Amherst, arrived at Ticonderoga ; and, opening a 
heavy fire upon the French out-posts, compelled them to retire 
within the walls of the fort, leaving their heavy breast-works to 
shelter the besiegers from a brisk fire they poured out from the 
strong-hold to which they had retreated. The siege and stout re 
sistance continued until late in the night of the 23d, when the 
French, warned by the formidable preparations the besiegers were 
making, withdrew their main force to Crown Point, leaving but 
400 to mark their retreat. Seldom, perhaps, in war s annals, has 
an unequal force a handiul against a powerful array so much 
annoyed besiegers, as did these 400 gallant Frenchmen, left, as it 
would almost seem, for a sacrifice. In the darkness of the night, a 
detachment of them went from the fort, and stealthily approached 
the English in their entrenchments ; breaking them up, and for a 
brief space, creating confusion and dismay. They held out in the 
fort for the two succeeding days, annoying the besiegers in their 
entrenchments, by a continued well-directed fire. On the night of 
the 26th, the small force, perceiving that the English had planted 
themselves strongly within six hundred yards of the fort that 



PHELPS Am> GORHAM S PURCHASE. 5T 

longer resistance would be unavailing blew up their magazines, 
fired their wooden breast-works, barracks and store-houses ; made a 
wreck of their fortress for the besiegers to occupy, and secured a 
safe retreat, uninterrupted but by a pursuit across the Lake, and 
the capture of 16 of their number. At daylight, on the morning 
of the 27th, the French flag was struck down, and the English flag 
raised, amid smoke and flames, devastation and ruin, that the torch 
and lusee of the gallant, but despairing Frenchmen, had left for the 
destruction of works their valor could not save. 

The first work of Gen. Amherst was the repairing of the dilapi 
dated fortress ; and in the mean time some naval armament was per 
fected necessary to carrying his conquest further on, to Crown 
Point. He was soon however, informed that that post was aban 
doned, and that the enemy had retreated to Aux Nois, at the lower 
end of Lake Champlain. On the 4th of August, he advanced with 
his main army, to the last deserted French post. M. de Bourlemagne, 
who commanded the French forces in that quarter, seemed govern 
ed by the policy of retarding as far as possible, the advance of the 
English force, whose ultimate destination he was well aware, was 
Quebec ; and their errand there, to aid the besiegers in the reduc 
tion of that strong hold, and last hope, of his king and country upon 
this continent. At Aux Nois, where he had made his stand, he had 
yet an effective force of 3,500 men; 100 pieces of cannon; and a 
force of armed vessels, which gave him command of the Lake. 
The English rested at Crown Point, engaging actively however,, in 
strengthening their feeble naval armament ; occasionally sending 
out small scouting parties ; and preparing in all things, for breaking 
up the French in their plan of retreat. On the 10th of October, 
the army under Gen. Amherst were embarked, and after an ineffec 
tual attempt to reach their destination, in consequence of high winds 
and storms, were obliged to seek shelter in a bay, upon the western 
shore of the lake, and remain there for seven days. On the 18th. 
the troops were again embarked, and after encountering another 
gale, fell back to Crown Point. The season was now far advanced 
the rigors of winter, in a bleak northern region, had began seri 
ously to impair the ability and energy of the troops. These con 
siderations, allied to the probability that he could not reach Quebec 
until the contest there was decided, induced Gen. Amherst to post 
pone further offensive operations to a more propitious season. 
4 



58 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 

The English squadron, destined for Quebec, had set sail about 
the middle of February. The command of this expedition was 
conferred by Mr. Pitt, upon James Wolf; the youngest man th-at 
had ever borne the commission of Major General in the British 
army ; yet, he was selected for by far the most difficult service that 
the war involved. The naval command was conferred upon Admiral 
Saunders. The expedition arrived at Halifax, towards the close of 
the month of April. The force destined to act upon land under 
Wolf, was over 8,000. From the first landing upon the American 
coast, the British Admiral had anticipated the arrival of a convoy 
from France, destined for supplies and men, and had watched to in 
tercept it, but it had eluded his vigilance and reached Quebec. 

It was not until the 27th of June that the imposing force had 
reached the Island of Orleans, a few leagues below Quebec, and 
disembarked. A recent historian* has thus eloquently described 
the English commander s first view of Quebec, and the task that lay 
before him : " Accompanied by the chief engineer, Major M. Kel 
ler, and an escort of light infantry, he pushed on to the extremity 
of the Island nearest to Quebec. A magnificent but disheartening 
scene lay before him. On the summit of the highest eminence ; on 
the straits of the great river from whence the basin before him open 
ed, the French flag waved. The crest of the rocky height was 
crowned with formidable works redoubted and planked. On every 
favorable spot, above, below, on the rugged assent, were batteries 
bristelling with guns. This strong-hold formed the right flank of a 
position eight miles in extent ; the falls and the deep and rapid stream 
of the Montmorency, was the left. The shoals and rocks of the 
St. Lawrence protected the broad front, and the rich vallies of the 
St. Charles, with the prosperous and beautiful villages of Charles- 
burg, and Beauport, gave shelter and hospitality in the rear. A 
crested bank of some height over the great river, marked the main 
line of defences from east to west, parapets planked at every favor 
able spot, aided their natural strength. Crowding on this embattled 
bank, swarming in the irregular village streets, and formed in mass 
es on the hills beyond, were 12,000 French and Canadian troops, 
led by the gallant Montcalm." 

The scenes that followed all the details of that protracted and 

* Author of Conquest of Canada. 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUPvCHASE. 59 

eventful siege form prominent pages in our general history. It 
would be but repeating that with which most readers are familiar, 
to give them a place in these local annals. 

The siege commenced on the 29th of June, and lasted with but 
brief intermissions, until the 18th day of September. Upon that 
memorable day the French, after a gallant resistance a holding out 
almost unparalelled, considered in reference to time and the fierce 
and frequent approaches they had to resist - surrendered the great 
citadel of their strength in America ; the Gibraltar upon which 
they had fallen back in other days of untoward events ; the spot 
they had occupied since Champlain chose it in 1608, as the seat 
and centre of French colonization. 

The American reader has been surfeited, through English sources 
principally, with accounts of the bravery, the skill and the fortitude, 
of the besiegers and conquerors of Quebec. The story of the gal 
lant Wolf, the mild, unassuming and amiable commander ; in whose 
character there is mixed up the finest sensibilities of our nature ; 
child like simplicity, with as stern heroism as Britain can boast in 
her long catalogue of military conquerors ; his almost shout of tri 
umph, when the news reached him that the enemy was yielding, 
even when the film of death was upon his eyes, just as his noble 
spirit was about to take its flight far away from worldly conflict ; 
has become as familiar as house-hold words. But little has been 
said, or known, in our language, of the brave defenders of the be 
sieged citadel ; and of him especially, the gallant but unfortunate 
Montcalm ; whose end was as glorious as that of his conqueror ; 
though no shouts of victory cheered him upon his entrance into the 
dark valley of death. 

A recent English historian,* has in this respect, set an example 
of magnanimity ; and to his pages are we indebted for much that is 
new in all that concerned the defence of Quebec. From the mo 
ment the English had obtained a footing upon the Island of Orleans, 
the French commander was like a noble stag at bay. Confronted 
by a powerful force, chafed and harrassed in his preparation for de 
fence ; distrustful as the result proved he had reason to be, of the 
courage and counsels of the Governor, Vaudreuil, who had an 
immediate command of the Canadian militia ; his courage was that 

* Author of "Conquest of Canada." 



60 PHELPS AND GOTHAM S PURCHASE. 

of desperation: restive, impulsive, chivalric, to a fault. Forget 
ful of superiority of rank, he said to Vaudreuil, in reference to some 
policy he had pursued : " You have sold your country, but while 
I live I will not surrender it up." Of the provincial troops, he wrote, 
on the eve of battle : "My Canadians without discipline, deaf to 
the sound of the drum, and badly armed, nothing remains for them 
but to fly ; and behold me beaten without resources. But one thing 
I can assure you, I shall not survive the probable loss of the colony. 
There are times when a general s only resource is to die with honor ; 
this is such a time. No stain shall rest upon my memory. But in 
defeat and death there is consolation left. The loss of the colony 
will one day be of more value to my country, than a victory. The 
conqueror shall here find a tomb ; his aggrandizement shall prove 
his ultimate ruin/ * 

Never did the general of an army, or the defender of a citadel 
have more upon his hands. There was disaffection among the 
militia to conciliate ; desertion to prevent ; a scanty and bad supply 
of provisions to obviate, with but feeble prospects of obtaining new 
supplies ; an unreaped harvest wasting in the fields, for the preser 
vation of which he was obliged to spare 2,000 of his men at a crit 
ical moment; the supply of ammunition was scanty; the vigorous 
and almost incessant prosecution of the seige, left him with little 
of that confidence which is essential to efficient action. His co- 
operator, and superior, (Vaudreuil,) was but a clog upon his move 
ments. Yet he manfully and heroically contended against impend 
ing and fearfully foreshadowed fate. He compelled obedience to 
his orders by iron rules and summary inflictions of severe penalties ; 
inspired by his determined impetuous bearing, terror, where duty 
and courage failed or flagged ; moved from point to point issuing 
his orders ; here to repair a breach, there to prevent desertion ; and 
.there, to push forward attacking columns. 

" I am safe," said he on the 12th of September, "unless Wolf lands 
above the town. " Even then, there was a movement with the Brit 
ish force to gain the position, from the possession of which he had 
impliedly foretold his ruin. 



* There is some difficulty in determining to what event this looked forward : If 
to defeat and expulsion from the region the English were conquering, it has not been 
realized. If it meant that the war that was then waging would pave the way to the 
loss of most of the American Colonies, it was singularly and truthfully prophetic. 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 61 

While he was listening to the sound of cannon from an unexpec 
ted quarter, a horseman came to him in full speed, and announced 
that the English were occupying the plains of Abraham. He 
aroused a sleeping and wearied soldiery, and by prompt action had 
them soon hurrying in long lines over the valley of the St. Charles 
to the battle ground. Incredulous at first, that the besiegers had 
ventured and succeeded in gaining the rugged ascent almost be 
lieving it a feint; when convinced of its reality he nerved him 
self for the decisive contest which he knew had come. The hour 
of conflict found him at the head of his army ; as Wolf was of his. 
Where danger was most imminent, he was to be found ; flying from 
column to column, inspiring confidence by his presence and infusing 
into his ranks, a desperate courage that England s veteran troops had 
no where before contended with. At one moment, simultaneously al 
most, as if each charge was exploded by an electric circuit, came a 
volley from the drawn up columns of the British lines. The French 
were swept down like forest trees before a whirlwind. Upon this 
hand, fell his second in command, upon the other, one of his bravest 
generals ; the day and the battle, the citadel and an Empire was al 
ready lost ; and yet Montcalm was undismayed. Recoiling from 
the shock, like hardened steel that has been bent almost to breaking, 
again he collected his scattered forces and presented a bold front 
to the enemy. Then came another terrible fire from the British 
lines, and with it a charge, such as has but few parallels in the his 
tories of battles. Overcome, trampled down, yielding and flying in 
every direction, was the whole French force. Amid this scene of 
death and carnage, Montcalm died as he had hoped he should ; 
when- h& could no longer resist the march of the invader. He fell 
mortally wounded at the head of his troops, that he was in vain at 
tempting to rally and make stand firm, in the face of a fire and a 
charge, incessant and desperate. When the surgeon had examined 
his wound, he told him it was mortal. " I am glad of it," said he, 
" how long can I survive ? " " Perhaps a day, perhaps less/ was 
the reply of the surgeon. " So much the better," replied Montcalm, 
" I shall not live to see the surrender of Quebec." It is given on 
the atuhority of a British officer, who was present at the siege of 
Quebec, that Montcalm, in his last moments, paid a high compliment 
to his conquerors ; and at the same time bitterly reflected upon his 
own troops. That he said : " If I could survive this wound, I would 



62 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 

engage to beat three times the number of such forces as I comman 
ded this morning, with a third of their number of British troops." 

The siege continued. On the 17th, when the British fleet had 
prepared to attack the lower town, and 118 guns were mounted up 
on the British batteries, ready to opsn a fire, there came from the 
besieged city a stipulation to surrender, if no reinforcements came 
before the next morning. This was in anticipation of the arrival 
of French troops from Montreal that had been ordered down. In the 
mean time, Vaudreuil had retreated with his immediate command at 
Montmorency, as had also another large division of the French 
army, under De Bougainville, that had been posted at another point. 
They retired to Port aux Trembles. When the Governor of Mon 
treal came down and joined them, it was agreed to send encoura 
ging words to M. de Ramsay, the Governor of Quebec, urging him 
to hold out against the siege. The courier reached the besieged city 
on the day the 18th of September in the morning of which it 
had surrendered. 

The English army took possession of Quebec, and the French 
army retired to Three Rivers and Montreal. Thus ended the 
campaign in that quarter, for the season of 1759. Its results had 
been the conquest of Quebec, Crown Point, Ticonderoga, and 
Niagara. Occupying these vantage grounds, the English may 
well be supposed to have surmounted the most formidable barriers 
against the complete success of the campaign ; yet, on the part of 
the French colonists, the stake they were contending for, was too 
large the issue was too momentous to admit of entire surrender, 
as long as there was the least chance of winning. 

M. de Levi, the Governor of Montreal, had succeeded Montcalm 
as commander-in-chief. The French army, during the winter of 
1759, 60, had been reinforced by six thousand militia, and a large 

NOTE. The author of the "Conquest of Canada," says: "Under some mysteri 
ous and incomprehensible impulse, Montcalm at once determined to meet his danger 
ous enemy in the open field. To account for this extraordinary resolution, is impossi 
ble. Had the French General thrown himself into Quebec, he might have securely 
defied his assailants from behind its ramparts, till winter drove them away. But a 
short time before, he had recorded his deliberate conviction, that he could not face the 
British army in a general engagement. He was well aware that all the efforts of his 
indefatigable enemy had been throughout exerted to bring on an action upon any 
terms : and yet, at length, on an open plain, without even waiting for his artillery, 
unaided by any advantage of position, he threw the rude Canadian militia against the 
veterans of England. Once, and once only, in a successful and illustrious career, did 
this gallant Frenchman forget his wisdom and his military skill. But that one tremen 
dous error led hirn to defeat and death. 



PIIELPS AND GORHAM S PUECHASE. 63 

body of Indians. In April, as soon as the upper portion of the St. 
Lawrence was open enough to admit of the transportation of 
his artillery, heavy baggage, and military stores, M. de Levi re 
solved upon a descent and an attempt to re-conquer Quebec. It 
was a rash attempt, but he relied much upon the effects a cold win 
ter had had in reducing and enfeebling the British force, that had 
been left at Quebec ; and in fact, shut up as they had been, but 
scantily supplied with salt provisions, death and disability had fear 
fully thinned their ranks. The defence had devolved upon Gen. 
Murray. On the morning of the 27th of April, M. de Levi had 
posted his strong force within three miles of Quebec. The British 
General, fully aware that investment, for any considerable period, in 
the condition of his army, would be equally as fatal as defeat, re 
solved to follow the example of Montcalm. His unequal force was 
marched out, and an attack commenced. After a desperate fight, 
and the loss, in killed and wounded, of nearly one-third of his army, 
he retired within the walls. M. de Levi followed up his success, 
approaching and strongly entrenching ; the lost citadel was apparent 
ly within his grasp ; when a small, but efficient English fleet came 
up the St. Lawrence, and made quick work in destroying and cap 
turing the whole French armament ; a new spirit was infused in the 
English camp ; and M. de Levi, with hopes so suddenly crushed, 
made a hasty retreat at the sacrifice of his guns, amunition, stores, 
and entrenching tools. Thus ended an expedition that the chagrined 
Canadians stigmatized as " de Levi s folly." 

On his way to Niagara, Prideux had left Col. Haldimand in com 
mand at Oswego. On the 4th of July, the fort was besieged by a 
large force of Canadian militia and Indians, under the command of 
M. de la Corne. A surprise was attempted and failed, the garrison, 
being forewarned, was ready for their reception, and opened a fire 
upon the besiegers, which compelled a dispersion. An attempt to 
burn the English boats in the harbor failed, and the besiegers re- 
crossed the Lake. 

The English opened the campaign in 1760, to complete their con 
quest. Early in May, Gen. Amherst had collected a large force at 
Oswego. Two armed vessels succeeded in forcing all the French 
armament upon the Lake to take refuge among the " Thousand 
Isles." The army at Oswego consisted of over 10,000; allied to 
which, were 700 Indians that Sir William Johnson had brought into 



64 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 

the field. The main army under Gen. Amherst, went down the 
Lake, and the St. Lawrence ; a detachment under Col. Haviland 
going via Lake Charnplain to Crown Point, to be joined by the force 
stationed there. The first point of attack was the small garrison 
upon Isle Royal, commanded by captain Pouchot. That surrender 
ed after a spirited resistance. Here the Indian allies mostly deser 
ted, or marched off in a body, chagrined at Amherst and Johnson s 
refusal to allow them to massacre the whole French garrison, as 
they had intended. After a perilous passage down the St. Lawrence, 
in which 80 men and 60 boats were lost, Amherst s army landed 
nine miles from Montreal on the 6th of September. Murray, with 
all his disposable force, had left Quebec and sailed up the St. Law 
rence on the 14th of June. As an evidence how stiong, was yet 
the attachment of the Canadians to the French interests even in 
this hour where there was little hope, it is mentioned that Murray s 
force was constantly annoyed by guerrilla attacks from the banks of 
the river, as they ascended. After a slow passage, delayed in expect 
ation of being joined by fresh troops from England, the squadron 
reached the Island of Montreal on the 7th of September, and were 
disembarked. Col. Haviland having come down Lake Champlain, 
captured the post at Isle Aux Nois, to which the French had re 
treated before Amherst, the previous season, was near at hand, and 
reached the Island on the 8th. 

Under Amherst, Murray and Haviland, there was now an 
English force of 16,000 effective troops. With but little delay, in 
view of so formidable an army of besiegers, M de Vaudreuil surren 
dered Montreal and signed articles of capitulation, which included, 
all of Canada, western New York, and to the extent of the French 
claims at the west. 

If any thing excused the French Governor, Vaudreuil, for so sud 
den a surrender, it was the favorable terms he exacted from the be 
siegers, which were conceded to, as a better alternative, than the 
shedding of more blood, of which the banks of the St. Lawrence, 
and the shores of the Lakes, had already seen enough to satiate the 
most morbid desire for human sacrifice, in the respective countries 
to which the thousands of victims owed allegiance. The foreign 
French troops ; the civil officers, their families and baggage ; were 
to be sent home in English vessels ; the troops under parol, to serve 
no more during the war. The militia were allowed to return to 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 65 

their homes. The French colonists were to enjoy the same privi 
leges and immunities as British subjects. The Indians that had ad 
hered to the French interests, were to be unmolested, and disturbed 
in no right they had enjoyed under French dominion. 

Thus terminated French dominion upon this continent, which 
had existed for a century and a half. How badly was all that time 
improved ! The sympathies which are naturally excited by a peru 
sal of all the details of the final contest ; the misfortunes and casual 
ties, we may well call them, that one after another baffled the arms 
of France, and paralized the arms of as brave men as were ever 
trained in her armies ; shutting them up in fortresses ; closing the 
avenues by which succor could reach them, with ice and snow, or 
adverse winds ; cutting off reinforcements in their march of relief; 
disease prostrating them, and famine staring them in the face, while 
hosts of armed men were thundering at their gates, and their strong 
walls were swaying and trembling over their heads ; are in a mea 
sure abated by the reflection, that they so long held dominion over 
as fine a region as arms ever conquered, or enterprise ever reach 
ed, and were so unmindful of the value of their possession. An 
occupancy of five generations, and how little did it leave behind of 
its impress ! How little was done for France ! how little for man 
kind! 

There was in Canada, (East,) the two considerable cities of 
Quebec and Montreal, and a few small villages upon the St. Law 
rence. In their vicinities, upon the most favorable soils, there was 
an agricultural population, but little more than supplying their own 
food. In Canada, (West,) but a small garrison at Frontenac, (Kings 
ton,) with a little agricultural improvement in its immediate neigh 
borhood ; a small trading station at Toronto ; and a few missionary 
and trading stations in the interior, and upon Lake Huron. In 
western New York, the valley of the Lakes, and the upper vallies 
of the Mississippi, over all of which the French claimed dominion, 
there was but fur trading and missionary stations ; with few excep 
tions of agricultural enterprise ; by far the most considerable of 
which, was upon a narrow strip upon the Detroit river. 

There is much that is admirable in the French Missionary enter- 
prize in all the region they occupied. The world has no where 
seen as much of devotion, of self-sacrifice, of courage, perseverance 
and endurance. A host of gifted men who had left the highest 



66 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 

walks of civilization and refinement, which they had helped to- 
adorn, took up their abode in the wilderness, in rude huts ; here and 
there, upon the banks of lakes and rivers, where there were none 
of even the foot prints of civilization, save their own. Solitary and 
alone, they wrestled with the rude savage ; displayed the cross, 
the emblem of salvation, to his wondering gaze, and disarmed his 
fierce resentments by mild persuasion ; adapting themselves to his 
condition, and inducting him into the sublime mysteries of a re 
ligion of peace and universal brotherhood. Each missionary was 
a wanderer: ice, snow, swollen streams, winds and tempests, 
summer s heats and winter s chills, were to him no hindrances, when 
duty and devotion urged him onward. Inured to toil and priva 
tion, a small parcel of parched corn and a bit of jerked beef, would 
be his only sustenance in long journeys through the forests, seeking 
new fields of missionary labor. Often were they martyrs there 
are few localities in all the vast region they traversed, where one or 
more of them did not yield up his life as an earnest of his faith. 
As often as they perished by the tomahawk, the rigors of the cli 
mate, exposure, fatigue or disease, their ranks were supplied. Like 
disciplined soldiers, the Jesuit missionaries, one after ano-ther, would 
fill ranks, the vacancy of which would admonish them of danger. 

And where are now the evidences of all these long years of mis 
sionary enterprize, zeal and martyrdom ? In the small villages of 
Western New York, which now contain remnants of the once 
powerful Iroquois, there is the form of the cross in their silver or 
naments, and around the western Lakes and Rivers, the traveller 
may see in addition to this, occasionally, a rude cross, over an Indian 
grave. This is all that is left, save written records, to remind us of 
that extraordinary, long continued, missionary advent. All else 
faded away with the decline of French power. The good mission 
ary, w r orn out in the service, either rested from his labors under the 
mould of the forests he had penetrated, or retired when the flag of 
his country no longer gave him confidence and protection. The 
treaty of 1763 forbid any recruits of his order. In his absence, 
his simple neophytes soon forgot his teachings. The symbols of 
his faith no longer reminded them of the "glad tidings" he had 
proclaimed. Tradition even of his presence, has become obscure. 

Never perhaps, was rejoicing in England, as universal and enthu 
siastic, as when the news of the conquest of Quebec the con- 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 67 

quest of Canada as it was rightly construed reached there. 
High expectations of the value and importance of the French pos 
sessions had been raised ; and hatred of the French had become a 
universal public sentiment. A series of defeats and misfortunes 
that had previously attended the British arms in this quarter; in the 
war then waging, had disposed the people of England to make the 
most of victories when they finally came. A public thanksgiving 
was proclaimed, pageants upon land and water succeeded, with 
bonfires and illuminations. The victory was the theme of the press 
and the pulpit, of the poet and the player. Mingled with all this, 
was mourning for the brave men that had perished in the long suc 
cession of conflicts, or rather the reverse of the picture, was the 
funeral pageant, the widow s and the orphan s tears, the hearths 
made desolate. When the remains of the lamented Wolf were 
carried home and conveyed to Greenwich cemetry, there was a 
solemn and imposing hiatus in the national jubilee ; but that over, 
England became again joyous in view of an immense accession of 
empire, and the triumph of its armies. 

We know how w r ell it is ordered for us, as individuals, that a 
curtain is drawn between the present and the future ; that our pres 
ent happiness is unalloyed by any taste of the bitter drugs that are 
concealed even in the cup of bliss. So with nations, if they could 
always see the tendency and the end of events, there would have 
been less rejoicing at the triumphs of arms. How would it have 
appalled England ; how would her King, her Statesmen, sitting un 
der triumphal arches, or holding saturnalias at festive boards, have 
been affrighted and dismayed, if some prophetic hand had inscribed 
upon their walls: "You HAVE GAINED A PROVINCE AND LOST AN 
EMPIRE ! " 

And such was the destiny ; crowding into a brief space, the 
cause and the effect, the triumph and its consequences. Illy fitted 
for the great task that was before them, would the feeble colonies 
have been, at the commencement of the Revolution, in the absence 
of the apprenticeship in the trade of war, that the last French and 
English war upon this continent afforded. What better discipline 
could men have had ; what better experience, to inure them to toil, 
privation and danger, than was had in the expeditions to the Ohio 
and the Allegany, the siege of Louisburg, Quebec, Montreal, 
Crown Point and Niagara? Every campaign was a school far 



68 PHELPS AND GOKIIAM S PUECHASE. 

better than West Point and Annapolis. Mingled in all these were 
the colonists of New York and New England, New Jersey, Penn 
sylvania, Maryland and Virginia. Out of the ranks of those retired 
armies, came a host of the efficient men, who, upon the breaking out 
of the Revolution, so well convinced their military instructors of 
the proficiency they had made under their tuition. The military 
skill and genius necessary to organize armies, the courage and chiv 
alry necessary to lead them to triumph, which had been inert, was 
aroused in the stirring scenes of the French war ; its succession 
of splendid triumphs. England had made war a profession with a 
large number of the colonists, little thinking where would be the 
field and what the occasion of its practice. In the prosecution of 
the French war, England had fearfully augmented its public debt ; 
in an hour of evil councils, against the protestations of her wisest 
statesmen, taxation of the colonies was added to the burthens, the 
privations and sufferings that had borne so heavily upon them. 
And it may be added, that a handful of feeble colonies would hardly 
have ventured to strike a blow for separation, as long as the French 
held dominion here. Independence achieved, the colonies would 
necessarily have had to assume the relative condition that England 
bore with France. They would have assumed England s quarrels, 
growing out of unsettled boundaries and disputed dominions. 

Had there been no English conquest of French dominions, the 
separation of the colonies, if realized at all, would have been an 
event far removed from the period in which it was consummated. 
France surrendered her splendid possessions in America, sullenly 
and grudgingly, yielded to destiny and a succession of untoward 
events, hoping for some event some "tide in the affairs of men," 
that would wrest from England s Crown the bright jewel she had 
picked up on the banks of the St. Lawrence, bathed in blood ; and 
which she was displaying with a provoking air of triumph. It 
came more speedily than the keenest eye of prophecy could have 
foreseen. In a little more than twenty years after the fall of Que 
bec, La Fayette, Rochambeau, Chastelleux, D Estang, M. de Choisy, 
Viomenil, de Grasse, M. de St. Simon, and a host of gallant French 
men beside, saw the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown ; an 
event as crowning and decisive, in the loss of an empire, as was 
the surrender of Quebec, in the loss of a colony. 



PHELP3 AND GOKHAM 7 S PURCHASE. 69 



CHAPTER IV. 



ENGLISH DOMINION BORDER WARS OF THE REVOLUTION. 



FROM the end of French dominion in Western New York, to 
the close of the Revolution, constituted a period of twenty-four 
years ; the events of which, having an immediate bearing upon our 
local region, must be crowded into a space too limited for elaborate 
detail ; allowing of but little more than what is necessary to pre 
vent a break in the chain of events that leads us to the main de 
sign of the work in hand. 

Little of historical interest occurred previous to the Revolution. 
The English would seem to have made no better use of the rich 
prize that the fortunes of war had thrown into their hands, than had 
their French predecessors. Settlements made the advance of but 
a day s walk, and occupancy in any form, west of the lower valley 
of the Mohawk, was but the fortresses of Oswego and Niagara, and 
small English trading establishments, that had succeeded those of 
the French. The rich soil, that has made this region the prosper 
ous home of hundreds of thousands; in which lay dormant the 
elements of more enduring wealth than would have been the rich 
est " placers " of California, had no attractions for their adventur 
ers, and were without the narrow circle of enterprize that bound 
ed the views of colonial governors and legislators. 

The change of occupants does not seem to have pleased the 
Senecas. Scarcely had the English got a foothold in their coun 
ty, before a war was commenced by an attack upon a British 
wagon-train and its guard, as they were passing over the Portage 
from Lewiston to Schlosser. A tragical event that has much 
prominence in the local reminiscences of that region. This was 
followed by an attack upon a detachment of British soldiers at 
Black Rock, on their way from Niagara to Detroit. Sir William 
Johnson, in his official correspondence, called the Senecas a "trou 
blesome people." 



70 PHELPS AND GOBHAM S PUECIIASE. 

All of English dominion west of Albany, other than its military 
posts, was a " one man power ;" and before proceeding farther, it 
will be necessary to give some account of that one man, who has 
alreadv, incidentally, been introduced in our narrative. 



SIR WILLIAM JOHNSON. 

He was a native of Ireland, of a good family, and was well edu 
cated. Soon after he became of age, in 1737 or 8, he came to 
America as the land agent of his uncle, Sir Peter Warren, an Ad 
miral in the English navy, who had acquired a considerable tract of 
land upon the Mohawk, in the present county of Montgomery. He 
located a few miles from the present village of Port Jackson. Of a 
romantic disposition, and having acquired, from the unsuccessful 
termination of a love affair in his native country, some distaste for 
civilized society, which he was well qualified to adorn, he had not 
been long a resident in the backwoods of America, when he had 
determined upon permament settlement. He formed an exception 
to a large majority of his countymen, in the ease and facility with 
which he exchanged the refinements of civilized society for life in 
the woods, with few but the native Indians for neighbors or associ 
ates. No Frenchman ever sit himself down upon the borders of 
our western lakes, alone of all his race, in the midst of Indian wig 
wams, and sooner merged and blended himself with all about him. 
Says the London Gentleman s Magazine, (1755) : "Besides his 
skill and experience as an officer, he is particularly happy in making 
himself beloved by all sorts of people, and can conform to all com 
panies and conversations. He is very much the fine gentleman in 
genteel company. But as the inhabitants next to him are mostly 
Dutch, he sits down with them and smokes his tobacco, drinks flip, 
and talks of improvements, bear and beaver skins. Being surround 
ed with Indians, he speaks several of their languages well, and has 
always some of them with him. He takes care of their wives and 
old Indians, when they go out on parties, and even wears their 
dress. In short, by his honest dealings with them in trade, and his 
courage, which has often been successfully tried with them, and his 
courteous behavior, he has so endeared himself to them, that they 
chose him one of their chief Sachems, or Princes, and esteem him 
as their father." 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 71 

He was just the man the English government required in the 
contest they were waging with the French; and he had not been 
long in the Mohawk valley, before he became its Indian agent, and 
the dispenser of its gifts, which added to his personal popularity 
with the Indians, gave him an influence over them greater than 
any one of our own race has ever possessed. He was the first 
Englishman to contend, with any great measure of success, with 
French Indian diplomacy ; their governors, missionaries and tra 
ders. 

On the breaking out of the last English and French war upon 
this continent, he was made a General of colonial militia, and by 
virtue of a leadership that had been created by the Iroquois, he was 
head warrior of all of them that inclined to the English interests. 
His first military service, was to head the formidable expedition 
against Crown Point, in which he was the vanquisher of the Baron 
Dieskeu. For this signal service, he was made a Baronet. The 
other prominent event in his military career, was the siege and con 
quest of Fort Niagara, which mainly devolved upon him, by the 
death of his superior in command, Gen. Prideaux. 

The gifts of his sovereign, and the facilities he enjoyed for pur 
chasing Indian lands, made him the possessor of great wealth, which, 
with his military honors, the partiality of his countrymen, and his 
great influence with the Indians, rendered him as near a Prince as 
any thing the backwoods of America have witnessed. * 

After the close of the French war, as a British agent, he held 
treaties and negotiated with the Iroquois, and some of the western 
nations, all of the territorial acquisitions in middle New York, north 
ern Pennsylvania, and upon the Ohio River, that was made pre- 



* " He built two spacious and convenient residences on the Mohawk River, known 
afterwards as Johnson Castle and Johnson Hall. The Hall was his summer residence. 
Here this singular man lived like a little sovereign, kept an excellent table for strangers 
and officers, whom the course of their duty now led into these wilds ; and by con 
fiding entirely in the Indians, and treating them with unwearied truth and justice 
without even yielding to solicitations he had once refused, he taught them to repose 
entire confidence in him. So perfect was his dependence on those people, whom his 
fortitude and other manly virtues had attached 1o him, that when they returned from 
their summer excursions and exchanged their last year furs for fire arms, (fee., they 
used to pass a few days at the Castle, when his family and most of his domestics were 
down at the Hall. There they were all liberally entertained by Sir William , and 500 
of them have been known, for nights together, after drinking pretty freely, to lie 
around him on the ground, while he was the only white person in a house containing 
great quantities of every thing that was to them valuable or desirable." Memoirs of 
ait American Lady. 



72 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 

vious to the Revolution. To his influence with the Indians as a 
British agent, inherited by his family, may be attributed in a great 
measure their alliance with the British throughout the Revolution ; 
and yet had he lived when the contest was waged, it is doubtful 
what would have been his position. There are strong reasons for 
assuming that he would have been at least a neutral. He died at 
Johnson Hall, in June, 1774, just as the storm was gathering, soon 
after he had himself predicted that " England and her colonies \vere 
approaching a terrible war, which he should never live to witness," 
His health had been for some years declining.* 

In his youth, soon after he became a resident upon the Mohawk, 
he took for his wife, (conventionally,) a comely, German girl, who 
being a redemptionist, was serving her time with one of his neighbors, 
She was the mother of his son and successor, Sir John Johnson, 
and of his daughters, who became the wives of Col. Glaus, and Col. 
Guy Johnson, a distant relative of Sir William. A legal marriage 
took place when Sir William was on his death bed, which ceremony 
had reference to the descent of property. And here it would be 
historical delinquency to conceal the fact, that Sir William, away 
from the restraints of civilized life, had indulged in what Mr. Ban 
croft would call the "freedom of the backwoods." Ebenezer Allan, 
who was at one period, in the valley of the Genesee, what Sir 
William was in the valley of the Mohawk, without taking his many 
virtues as his examples, was but an humble imitator of his one prom 
inent vice. The fruits of his amours may be traced at this day in 
all the retreats of the remnants of the Six nations. Upon the banks 
of the Allegany, the observing traveller will recognize the family 
resemblance in the contour of faces ; the " blood of the Johnsons," 
coursing the veins and harmoniously blending with that of the Iro- 
quois. The sister of Joseph Brant, in some respects as good a speci 
men of her race, as was her renowned brother, was the mother of 
several of his children who were also legitimatized by a private 
marriage that took place a few years before his death. 



Histories of the Revolution exist in too many forms, are too 
easily accessible to all classes of readers, to make it necessary to em- 

* Documentary History. Vol. 2d. p. 957 ; Col Duncan, to a Friend of Sir Williams: 
"Yr friend Sir William is sore failed, he is ever now and then in a bad way, wherefore 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 73 

brace even any considerable allusion to it in a work of this character. 
All of it that has any more than a remote connection with the his 
tory of our local region, are the Border Wars of New York, and 
with them the author will assume that his readers are generally 
familiar. 

On the death of Sir William Johnson, his son, John Johnson, suc 
ceeded to his titles and estates, and his officer of General Superin 
tendent of Indian Affairs fell into the hands of Col. Guy Johnson, 
his son-in-law, who had as his deputy Col. Claus, another son-in- 
law. Thus inherited, all the official and personal influence that had 
been acquired was wielded against the Colonies and in favor of the 
mother country. The natives unschooled in all that could enable 
them to understand the merits of the quarrel themselves recog 
nizing in their simple form of government heriditary rulers could 
see in the up rising of the Colonies against their King, little else than 
unjustifiable rebellion, and they were told by the Johnsons that the 
outbreaks in Boston, and the battle of Lexington, were the acts of 
disobedient children against the King their Father, who had been 
kind to them as he had to the Six Nations. Sir William Johnson had . 
been the almoner of annual gifts from his sovereign, and mingling a 
sincere regard for them, with his official duties, had wedded them 
strongly to him and to his government. 

Joseph Brant, (in Indian, Thay-en-da-ga,) had been the protege 
of Sir William Johnson. When quite a youth he had sent him to 
the Rev. Dr. Wheelock s school in Lebanon, Connecticut, after 
wards employed him in his private business. * Engaged in military 
service, when he took the field, the young chief took the war path, 
one of the leaders of Sir William s Indian allies. Under these cir 
cumstances it was very natural that Brant should have been found 
a follower of the fortunes of the Johnson family. 

With those influences bearing upon them, the Six Nations, with 

is thought not to last many years more which will be a great loss to mankind in gen 
eral, but particularly to this neighborhood, and I don t se.e that any one of the family 
is capable of keeping up the general applause when he is gone." 

* His nativity is a mooted question. Bishop Strachan of Toronto, in an article 
written for the Christian Messenger, assumed that he was a Mohawk, born on the Ohio 
river, his parents having emigrated. This is upon the authority of Dr. Stewart, for 
merly a missionary in the Mohawk valley ; Col. Stone accredits this. But better au 
thority than either, because he has been a far more industrious researcher L. C. Dra 
per, Esq., of Philadelphia assumes that he was a native Cherokee. There were 
Cherokecs in all the nations of the Iroquois ; captives and their descendants. 
5 



74: PHELPS A1STD GOBHAM s PURCHASE. 

the exception of a part of the Tuscaroras and Oneidas, were the firm 
allies of England throughout the war of the Revolution. Immedi 
ately after the death of Sir William, Guy Johnson renewed allian 
ces, and as hostilities approached the Mohawk valley, " brightened 
the chain of friendship" with gifts and lavish promises of increased 
patronage from his master, the King. A " committee of safety," 
which was early organized in " Tryon county," were jealous of 
every movement of the Johnsons, and especially those of Guy John 
son. It would seem, in fact, that he had at first rashly determined to 
maintain his ground, and, for that purpose, under pretence of fear 
of attack from " the rebels," had fortified his house, and drawn 
around it as guards, a formidable body of Indians. This alarmed 
the Tryon county committee, which had been early organized as 
auxiliary to the central committee at Albany. They made re 
presentations to the Albany committee of all that was going on, 
and in allusion to Johnson s fortified castle and the hostile Indians, 
they say : " We are, gentlemen, in a worse situation than any part 
of America at present. We have an open enemy before our faces, 
and a treacherous enemy at our backs." They assure the Albany 
committee that they will "neither submit to the acts of Parliament 
nor Col. Johnson s arbitrary conduct." 

A series of stirring local events followed : The Johnson family 
closely allied in interest and friendship with other influential fami 
lies of Tryon county, not only controlled the Indians, but had such 
an influence with the whites as almost to enable them to coerce 
local obedience to them, and fealty to the King. They even 
ventured, and partially were successful, in using the civil authori 
ties of Tryon county to subserve these purposes; interfering in one 
or two instances in breaking up what they termed "rebel meetings." 

Early in the summer of 1775 however, Guy Johnson had deter 
mined that his own safety and the interests of his King, would both 
be promoted by removal to Canada. Up to this time, he had relied 
upon hopes that the revolutionary movements were but temporary 
outbreaks, which would be suppressed by the strong arm of his 
government, or conciliated by a redress of some of the grievances 
complained of. But admonished by the dark clouds of war that 
were gathering, that the crisis had arrived, that he could not preserve 
where he was with safety, a position even of neutrality, he resolved 
upon placing himself in a position to take an active part in the con- 



PHELPS AKD GOEIIAM S PUECHASE. 75 



test. Under the pretence that he could better control the Indians, 
and keep them from harming the inhabitants by fixing his head 
quarters at Fort Stanwix, he left " Guy Park " and repaired to that 
post, where he was soon joined by John and Waiter Butler, Brant, 
and a formidable body of Tories and Indians. He soon removed 
with most of his retinue to Oswego. 

It should here be observed, that inured to war as had been the 
Iroquois fond of it as would seem from the avidity with which 
they had engaged in it with their own race and ours the breaking 
out of the Revolution, found them with somewhat altered inclina 
tions. Vastly reduced by wars \vith the southern and western 
Indians, and with the French, the remnant of them that had enjoy 
ed a few years of peace had learned in some degree to estimate its 
value. Fully realizing the consequences, should they take up the 
hatchet for the King, the local committees of safety for Tryon and 
Albany counties, held conferences with the Mohawks and received 
assurances of neutrality. In June, 1776, General Schuyler, appoint 
ed for that purpose by the Congress at Philadelphia, held a council 
with all of the Six Nations upon the German Flats, where assur 
ances of neutrality were renewed. But the superior influences that 
have been spoken of, finally prevailed. 

Guy Johnson soon repaired to Montreal, where he made his 
head quarters, and engaged with zeal and activity, in enlisting the 
Indians in a harrassing border war, chiefly directed against his old 
neighbors. Sir John Johnson, previous to the flight, or hegira of 
his brother-in-law, had stipulated with Gen. Schuyler that he would 
remain and be a neutral, the chief motive being the preservation of 
the vast estate he had inherited ; but encouraged by the prospect of 
a final triumph of the King over the colonies, he followed his incli 
nations, violated his pledges of neutrality, and taking with him 
three hundred of his neighbors and dependents, (chiefly Scotch,) 
joined his brother in Montreal, and became like him an active par- 
tizan. The immediate presence of the powerful family was thus 
withdrawn from the Mohawk, and little left of them but their deser 
ted fields and mansions ; but the devoted valley had yet to feel the 
terrible scourge which loyalty could inflict, when sharpened by mo 
tives of private vengeance. 

Col. John Butler soon fixed his residence on the shores of Lake 
Ontario, in the immediate vicinity of the village of Niagara, where 



76 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUKCHASE. 

he was soon installed as the leader of the tory refugees. Erecting 
barracks upon the plain, near where Fort George was afterwards 
built, there they were organized and quartered ; and from that point 
they sallied out in marauding expeditions to the vallies oi the Mo 
hawk and Susquehannah, with their Indian allies ; and to that point 
they returned when their errands of mischief had been executed. 
It was there the expeditions to the devoted valley of Wyoming, and 
to arrest the march of Sullivan, were projected. 

After leaving the Mohawk valley, Brant was alternately at Oswego, 
Niagara, upon the Susquehannah and Genesee Rivers, until July 
1777, when he made his appearance with an armed band of warriors 
at Unadilla, an Indian village upon the Susquehannah. There Gen. 
Herkimer, with a strong guard of Tryon county militia, sought an 
interview with him, in hopes of changing his purpose of engaging 
in the King s service. They met, Brant rather haughtily demanded 
the object of the interview, which was explained. Hinting to Gen. 
Herkimer that his attendants were pretty numerous for a peace 
ambassador, he assured him that he had a superior force, five hundred 
warriors, with which he could crush him and his party at a word ; 
but said he, "we are old neighbors and friends and I will not do it." 
A hot-headed and imprudent Col. Cox, who had accompanied Gen. 
Herkimer, grossly insulted Brant, which came near bringing on an 
unequal contest, but Brant hushed the impending storm and promised 
another interview. It was had according to promise ; Brant assur 
ed the General that he fully understood his errand ; " but" s-aid he, 
" you are too late, I am already engaged to serve the King. We 
are old friends, I can do no less than to let you return home unmo 
lested, although you are entirely within my power." This was the 
last conference held by the agents of Congress with the Indians, 
pending or during the war of the Revolution ; and after this, soon 
followed the terrible scenes with which the author presumes the 
reader to be familiar. 

Immediately following this interview with Brant, Sir John John 
son and Col. Walter Butler sent out runners and convened delega 
tions from air of the Six Nations at Oswego. The council was 
opened by a speech from Sir John, in which he assured the Indians 
that their assistance was wanted " to subdue the rebels who had 
taken up arms against their good Father the King, and was about 
to rob him of a great part of his possessions and wealth." The 



PHELPS AOT> GORimi s PUECHASE. 77 

chiefs then rose and severally assured the British agents that they 
had only one year before in council with General Schuyler, pledged 
themselves to neutrality, and that they should not violate the pledge 
by taking up the hatchet. The British agents told them that the 
;< rebels " were few in number and easily subdued, and that on ac 
count of their disobedience they fully merited all the punishment that 
white men and Indians united could inflict ; that the King was rich 
and powerful, both in money and subjects ; that his " rum w r as as 
plenty as the waters of Lake Ontario." This appeal to the appetites 
of the simple natives which British agents had done much before to 
vitiate, accompanied by promises of rich gifts, prevailed, and a treaty 
was made in which they pledge themselves to take up arms against 
the rebels, and continue in service during the war. " Upon the con 
clusion of the treaty, each Indian was presented with a suit of clothes, 
a brass kettle, a gun, a tomahawk, a scalping knife, a quantity of 
powder and lead, and a piece of gold." * 

In the speech of Cornplanter to the Governor of Pennsylvania, 
in 1822, he said : " The cause of Indians having been led into sin 
at that time, was, that many of them were in the practice of drink 
ing and getting intoxicated. Great Britain requested us to join 
them in the conflict against Americans, and promised the Indians 
land and liquor." 

Soon after the war commenced, Brant collected the Mohawks at 
Lewiston, selecting for their home some of the fine grounds on the 
Ridge Road, near the present village. He built a small log church, 
using the bell of one of the Indian churches upon the Mohawk, 
which was hung upon the notch of a tree, the British chaplain at 
Fort Niagara, frequently holding service there. After the Revolu 
tion, he removed to Brantford, C. W., where large grants of land 
were secured to him by the British government. He died in 1807, 
aged 64 years. 

Col. John Butler, who was respectably connected upon the Mo 
hawk, became, from the first breaking out of the Revolution, a 

* Life of Mary Jemison. 

NOTE. In few things is tlie poverty of the colonies, when the war commenced, 
more strikingly evinced, than in these Indian negotiations. With a few thousand 
doUars.expended in the form of presents, when Gen. Schuyler held his treaty with 
them, their neutrality could have been secured ; but he gave them nothing, for he had 
nothing to give. The British took advantage of this, secured their services, and made 
them a scourge to border settlers of New York and Pennsylvania. 



78 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

zealous tory, and fled from his friends and home with the Johnsons, 
fixed his residence at Niagara, as has already been mentioned. 
With the doings of him and his Rangers, the readers of the Revo 
lutionary history are familiar ; he is connected with some of the 
darkest pages of it. With more of the savage in his nature by far, 
than Brant, he was far ahead of him in acts of cruelty, and incapa 
ble of the exercise of any of his sterling virtues. He was well 
educated, and his letters and the part he acted in various Indian 
treaties for the sale of the lands of this region, induce the conclu 
sion, that he had a good share of business talents. At the close of 
the Revolution, he became Superintendent of Indian affairs for Up 
per Canada, and was also a half-pay British Colonel. The patron 
age of a King he had served so devotedly at the sacrifice of the 
private esteem of even those who had been his companions in arms, 
enabled him to surround himself with all the comforts and many of 
the luxuries of life. The home of which he was the founder, even 
now in its neglected condition, exhibits in all its primitive appoint 
ments, much of cultivated taste and refinement, which it is difficult 
to reconcile with the character of the man, as given to us in the 
annals of Border Wars. He died at Niagara, in 1794. 

The influence of the Johnson family with the Indians, was hard 
ly less potent than with their white neighbors. No where in all 
the colonies, was there so large a proportionate diversion of the 
inhabitants from an espousal of the Revolution, as in the valley 
of the Mohawk ; and on the other hand, no where were there bet 
ter examples of patriotism, bravery and self-sacrifice. It was, em 
phatically, "the dark and bloody ground." At first, the contest 
had all the features of civil war ; households were divided ; it was 
brother against brother, and neighbor against neighbor ; and when, 
after the tories and Indians had withdrawn to Oswego, Montreal, 
Fort Niagara and Canada, they returned from time to time upon 
their errands of blood-shed and rapine ; they were upon familiar 
ground, and well knew where most effectually to direct their steps, 

NOTE. In 1791, James Wadswortli visited Niagara, principally to inform himself 
as to the prospect of an Indian war. He wrote to a friend : " You will not suppose 
that we are under much fears from the Indians, when I tell you that I started from 
the Geuesee river without company, and reached Niagara in two days, without any 
difficulty. But sir, it was a most solitary ride." "I had an excellent dinner witli Col. 
Butler. We were served with apples, chestnuts, hazel nuts and walnuts; but what 
surprised me most, was, to see a plate of malacatoon peaches as good as I ever saw." 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 79 

and where to execute the most terrible mischief. In the retrospect, 
when nations have settled down in peace, and look back upon the 
excesses they have committed in the strife and heat of war, there 
is always much even for self-accusation ; but in all the history of 
wars, there is nothing that so stands out in bold relief, without miti 
gation or excuse, as was the sanguine policy of England in the em 
ployment of the tomahawk and scalping knife, to aid her in warring 
against her colonies. In all her own dark catalogue of wrongs, in 
the east, at home, in compelling obedience to the throne, there is 
nothing that so far outraged humanity, that so far transcended the 
rules of civilized warfare, as was the arming of savage allies, and 
sending them to lay waste unprotected backwoods settlements and 
massacre their inhabitants, without regard to age, condition, or sex. 
What the feeble colonies scorned to do in self-defence after they 
had determined upon asking nothing farther than to have the toma 
hawk and scalping knife kept out of the contest British agents, 
with the sanction of their government, did not hesitate to do in a 
spirit of inhumanity so sanguinary aud unrelenting, that it urged on 
Indian warfare, even when it hesitated in the execution of its 
stealthy and bloody missions. 

The Border Wars, the tory and Indian incursions from Canada, 
Oswego and Niagara, continued at intervals from the flight of the 
Johnsons, Butler and Brant in 75, until August 1779. The horrid 
details already fill volumes of published history.* With powerful 
British armies to contend with upon the sea board work enough 
for the feeble and exhausted colonies inadequate help had been 
afforded to repel invaders of the frontier settlements of New York. 
The stealthy foe could make descents by land or water through dif 
ferent unguarded avenues, and when their work of death was 
accomplished, retreat to their strong holds at Oswego and Niagara^ 
a wide wilderness their defence and security against pursuit and 
retribution. When expeditions were planned at Niagara, if designed 
for the valley of the Mohawk, the Indians and tories would concen 
trate at Oswego; and if the valley of the Susquehannah was the 
destination, they would concentrate upon the Genesee river, Seneca 



*For these details the reader is referred to Campbell s Annals of Tryon County. 
Simm s History of Schoharie and the Border Wars, Stone s Life of Brant, History of 
Onondaga, and the Holland Purchase. 



80 PIEELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 

Lake, or the Tioga river. Their prisoners were usually taken to 
Fort Niagara, the Bastile of the then western wilderness 

At last, in the early part of the year 1779, Gen. Washington de 
termined upon a measure for carrying the war home upon the inva 
ders, routing the Indians from their villages, and if practicable, the 
seige and capture of Fort Niagara. The command was entrusted 
to Gen. Sullivan. The army organized for the expedition was in 
three divisions. That part of it under the immediate command of 
Gen. Sullivan, coming from Pennsylvania, ascended the Susquehan- 
nah to Tioga Point. Another division under the command of Gen. 
James Clinton, constructing batteaux at Schenectady, ascended the 
Mohawk and rendezvoused at Canajoharrie, opened a road to the 
head of Otsego Lake, and from thence proceeded in a formidable 
fleet of over two hundred batteaux, to Tioga Point, forming a 
junction with the force under Gen. Sullivan, on the 22d of August. 
Previous to the arrival of Gen. Clinton, Sullivan had sent forward 
a detachment which fell in with a scouting party of Indians, and a 
skirmish ensued. 

The combined forces amounted to 5,000 men. The expedition 
had been so long preparing, and upon the march, that the enemy 
were well apprized of all that was- going on. Their plan of de 
fence contemplated a decisive engagement upon the Chemung river. 
For this purpose the Rangers and regular British troops, under the 
command of Col. John Butler, Cols. Guy and Sir John Johnson, 
Major Walter N. Butler and Capt. M Donald, and the Indians 
under Brant had concentrated their forces upon a bend of the river, 
near the present village of Elmira, where they had thrown up a 
long breast work of logs. The united forces of the British allies 
as computed by Gen. Sullivan, was about 1500.* Having ascer 
tained their position, Gen. Sullivan marched in full force and attacked 
them in the forenoon of the 29th of August. He found the enemy 
partly entrenched and partly arranged in scouting and flanking 
parties, the Indians especially adopting their favorite mode of war 
fare. Well provided with artillery, a heavy fire was opened upon 
the enemies entrenchments, which soon proved them a weak de 
fence ; a part of the Indians were panic stricken by the heavy 
cannonade, and fled, while other portions of them were rallied by 

* Assumed to be much less in the British accounts. 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 81 

their intrepid leader, Brant, and well maintained the unequal contest. 
" Both tories and Indians were entitled to the credit of fighting 
manfully. Every rock and tree and bush, sheltered its man, from 
hehind which the winged messengers of death were thickly sent, 
but with so little effect as to excite astonishment. The Indians 
yielded ground only inch by inch ; and in their retreat darted from 
tree to tree with the agility of a panther, often contesting each new- 
position at the point of the bayonet a thing very unusual even 
with militiamen, and still more rare among the undisciplined warriors 
of the woods." * The battle had been waged about two hours, 
when the British and Indians perceiving their forces inadequate, 
and that a maneuver to surround them was likely to be successful, 
broke and fled in great disorder. 

" This " says John Salmon, of Livingston county, who belonged to 
the expedition and gave an account of it to the author of the Life 
of Mary Jemison, " was the only regular stand made by the In 
dians. In their retreat they were pursued by our men to the Nar 
rows, where they were attacked and killed in great numbers, so that 
the sides of the rocks next the River looked as if blood had been 
poured on them by pailfuls." 

The details of all that transpired in this campaign are before the 
public in so many forms, that their repetition here is unnecessary. 
The route of the army was via " French Catherine s Town," f head 
of Seneca Lake, down the east shore of the Lake to the Indian 
village of Kanadesaga, (Old Castle,) and from thence to Canandai- 
gua, Honeoye, head of Conesus Lake, to Groveland. The villages 
destroyed, (with the apple trees and growing crops of the Indians,) 
were at Catherinestown, Kendai, or " Apple Town " on the east 
side of the Lake, eleven miles from its foot, Kanadesaga, Honeoye, 
Conesus, Canascraga, Little Beard s Town, Big Tree, Canawagus, 
arid on the return of the army, Scawyace, a village between the 

* Life of Brant. 

t Name from Catherine Montour. She was a half blood, is said to have been the 
daughter of one of the French Governors of Canada. She was made a captive and 
adopted by the Senecas when she was ten years of age, becoming afterwards the wife 
of a distinguished Seneca Chief. When on several occasions she accompanied the 
chief to Philadelphia her extraordinary beauty, joined to a considerable polish of 
manners, made her the "observed of all observers;" she was invited to a private house 
and treated with much respect. She resided at the head of Seneca Lake previous to 
Sullivan s expedition, and afterwards at Fort Niagara, where she was treated with 
marked attention by the British officers. 



82 PHELPS AND GOEIIAM S PURCHASE. 

Cayuga and Seneca Lakes, and several other Cayuga villages. 
Captain Machin was at the head oi the engineers in this expedition. 
The industrious gleaner of Border War reminiscences, the author 
of the History of Schoharie, has found among his papers the fol 
lowing, which accompanied a map of Sullivan s entire route : 

" Distance of places from Easton, Pennsylvania, to Chenesee, [Gen- 
esee] Castle, taken in 1779, by actual survey : 

NAMES OF PLACES. MILES. TOTAL. 

From Easton to Weomining, ----- 65 65 

To Lackewaneck Creek, ..... 10 75 

Quailuternunk, __----- 7 

Tuiiklianuurik Creek, ..... 11 

Meshohing Creek, 9 102 

Vanderlips Plantation, ...... 5 107 

Wealusking Town, 8 115 

Wessawkin, or Pine Creek, ..... 14!-,< 129) 

Tioga, - ..... 15> 145 

Chemung, - - ..... 12 157 

Newton, - - 

French Catherinestown, 

Kandia or Appleton 

Outlet of Seneca Lake, 

Kanadesaga, or Seneca Castle 

Kanandaque, 

Haunyauya, ....... 13>| 255 

Adjusta, ........ 12) 267^ 

Cossauwauloughby, ------- 7 274^ 

Chenesee Castle ....... 5^ 280 

It is probable a better table of distances than has since been 
made. Among the papers of Capt. Machin, is the following certifi 
cate : 

" This may certify that Kayingwaurto the Sanakee chief, has been on an expedition 
to Fort Stanwix and taken two scalps, one from an officer and a corporal, they were 
gunning near the Fort, for which I promise to pay at sight, ten dollars for each scalp. 
Given under my hand at Buck s Island. JOHN BUTLER, Col. and 

Supt. of the Six Nations and the allies of his Majesty." 

This Kayingwaurto was a principal Seneca chief at Kanadesaga. 
He was killed by a scouting party of Gen. Sullivan s army, and in 
his pocket the certificate was found. The history of those scalps is 
one of the most melancholy tales of that era of terrible savage war 
fare. The chief in 1777, with a scouting party of Seneca warriors, 
was prowling about Fort Stanwix. Capt. Gregg, and a Corporal of 
the Fort, had ventured out to shoot pigeons, when they were fired at 
by the Indian scouts ; the corporal being killed and Capt. Gregg 
severely wounded. Both were scalped ; but after the Indians had left 



211 

31 



PIIELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 83 

Capt Gregg revived. His clog ran off to some fishermen of the 
Fort, a mile distant, alarmed them by his moaning, attracted them 
in the direction of his wounded master. Capt. Gregg was thus 
discovered, and lived to relate the story of his preservation. It is 
given upon the authority of Dr. D wight. 

The march of Sullivan, the devastations committed by his army, 
would at this distant period seem like Vandalism, in the absence 
of the consideration that he was acting under strict orders ; and 
that those orders were approved, if not dictated by Washington. 
The campaign was a matter of necessity ; to be effectual, it was 
not only necessary that its acts should be retaliatory and retributive, 
but that the haunts, the retreats, of a foe so ruthless, must be bro 
ken up. The object was to destroy all the means of subsistence 
of the Senecas, desolate their homes, prevent their return to them, 
and if possible, induce their permanent retreat beyond the Niagara 
River. The imprudence, the want of sagacity, which Col. Stone 
has imputed to Gen. Sullivan in alarming every village he approach 
ed by the sound of his cannon, the author conceives, a misappre 
hension of his motives. Stealthy, quiet approaches, would .have 
found as victims in every village, the old men, the women and 
children the warriors away, banded with their British allies. 
Humanity dictated the forewarning, that those he did not come to 
war against could have time to flee. It would have been a far 
darker feature of the campaign than those that have been complained 
of, anS one that could not have been mitigated, if old men, women 
and children, had been unalarmed, and exposed to the vengeance 
of those who came from the valleys of the Susquehannah and the 
Mohawk to punish murderers of their kindred and neighbors. The 
march of Gen. Sullivan, after leaving the Chemung, was bloodless, 
except in a small degree just as it should have been, if he could 
not make victims of those he was sent to punish. 

The third expedition of this campaign, which has generally been 
lost sight of by historians, was that of Gen. Broadhead. He left 
Fort Pitt in August with six hundred men, and destroyed several 
Mingo and Muncey tribes living on the Allegany, French Creek, 
and other tributaries of the Ohio. 

The heavy artillery that Gen. Sullivan brought as far as Newton, 
would indicate that Niagara was originally the destination. There 
the General arid his officers, seeing how loner it had taken to reach 



84 PHELPS AND GOEIIAM S PURCHASE. 

that point, in all probability determined that too much of the season 
had been wasted, to allow of executing their tasks in the Indian 
country, making their roads and moving the army and all its ap 
pointments to Niagara before the setting in of winter. Besides, before 
the army had reached the valley of the Chemung, the fact was 
ascertained that there would be a failure in a contemplated junction 
with the army under Gen. Broadhead. 

After the expedition of Gen. Sullivan, the Indians never had any 
considerable permanent re- occupancy of their villages east of the 
Genesee river. They settled down after a brief flight, in their 
villages on the west side of the river in the neighborhood of Gen- 
eseo, Mt. Morris and Avon, and at Gardeau, Canadea, Tonawanda, 
Tuscarora, Buffalo Creek, Cattaraugus and Allegany. For retreats 
of the Johnsons, Butler and their troops, see narrative of William 
Hincher, in subsequent pages; and for Gen. Washington s official 
account of Sullivan s expedition, as copied from the manuscripts 
of a Revolutionary officer for the History of the Holland Purchase, 
see Appendix, No. 3. 

NOTE. The author derives from James Otis Esq. of Perry, Wyoming County, a 
more satisfactory account of the retreat of the Indians upon the Genesee River, than 
he has seen from any other source. He became acquainted with Mary Jemison in 
1810. She told him that when Sullivan s army was approaching the place of her resi 
dence, Little Beard s Town, the Indians retreated upon the Silver Lake trail. When 
about two miles from the Lake they halted to await expected re-inforcements fro in 
Buffalo Creek. They had a white person with them that they hung by bending down 
a small tree, fastening to it a bark halter they had around his neck, and letting it fly 
back ; thus suspending their victim in the air. The bones and the bent tree attested 
the truth of the relation long after white settlements commenced. Reinforcements 
from Buffalo arrived, a council was held which terminated in the conclusion that they 
were too weak to risk an attack of Sullivan. When their invaders had retreated, the 
great body of the Indians went back to the sites of their old villages upon the River. 
Mrs. Jemison, went around on the west side of Silver Lake, and then down to Gardeau 
flats, where she found two negroes living that had raised some corn. She husked corn 
for the negroes and earned enough to supply her family with bread until the next 
harvest. This occupancy continued, Mrs. Jemison had the Gardeau tract granted to 
her at the Morris treaty. 



PART SECOND 



CHAPTER I. 



OUR IMMEDIATE PREDECESSORS THE SENEGAS WITH A GLANCE AT 

THE IROQUOIS. 



IT is not the design of this work to embrace a detailed account of 
the Five Nations. The Senecas, however, the Tsonnontouans of 
French chronicle, who guarded the western door of the Long 
House, looking out on the Great Lakes, demand a passing notice, as 
we are approaching a series of events connected with the " par 
tition " of their wide and beautiful domain. 

In common with the red races, they are the " autochthonal " of the 
soil "fresher from the hand that formed of earth the human 
face," than the present rulers of the land that was once theirs. 
On their hunting grounds, the pioneers of the Genesee country, 
preparatory to settlement, kindled their camp-fires. Our clustering 
cities and villages are on the sites of their ancient castles, forts and 
places of burial. In the vallies where they lived, and on hills 
where blazed their beacons, a people with the best blood of Europe 
in their veins, at one and the same time, are founding halls of learn 
ing, and gathering in the golden harvests. The early annals of 
their occupation, to which the reader is soon to be introduced, are 
intimately blended with this once powerful and numerous branch 
of the Iroquois confederacy, that furnished under the toteiuic 
bond, at the era of confederation, two of the presiding law-givers 
and chiefs. * 

An opinion prevails, that the guardians of the Eastern Door, the 
Mohawks ; or, as called by their brethren, " Do-de-o-gah," or 



* Documentary History. 



86 PIIELPS AND GORHAM S PUECHASE. 

"message bearers," were the most warlike; but a careful exami 
nation of history and the pages of Jesuit journals, establishes the 
fact, that the Senecas were not their inferiors in every martial at 
tribute, and were always represented at a general gathering of the 
clans, in time of danger, by a more formidable force. There is no 
foundation for the remark of Buchanan, speaking in reference to 
the Mohawks, that their allies neither made war or peace without 
their consent. 

Unquestionable proof is on record, that the fierce Senecas were 
not always governed in their action by the general voice at Onon- 
daga. Sternly independent, they some times took up arms, when 
the other tribes, to use an Indian metaphor, sate smoking in quiet 
on their mats. After the rapid decline of French ascendancy on 
this continent, and many of the tribes beheld with terror the gov 
ernment of Canada falling into English hands, the Senecas, un 
daunted by the danger, adhered with dogged obstinacy, to the 
vanquished. 

For a time, they were in alliance with Pontiac, and played a 
conspicuous part with the great " Ottawa " in his plan of surprising 
a cordon of posts in the Lake country, and exterminating the 
: dogs in red clothing," that guarded them. This statement does 
not rest on vague conjecture, or blind tradition. By reference to 
the British Annual Register, for 1764, we learn that on the 3d of 
April, 1763, Sir William Johnson concluded at Johnson Hall, on 
the Mohawk, preliminary articles of peace with eight deputies of 
the Seneca nation, which alone of the Iroquois league, had joined 
Pontiac. While the proud and conquering Mohawks imposed 
tribute on the Mohegans, and scoured the pine-forests of distant 
Maine in pursuit of flying foes, westward the track of the Senecas 
was literally marked in blood. The Neuter Nation, with homes on 
both sides of the Niagara, were " blotted from the things that be ;" 
and the Eries, after a brave resistance, destroyed the prize of 
conquest, the loveliest portion of our trans-Genessean country. 
The barren coast of Superior, a thousand miles away from their 
great council-fire, was trodden by their warriors. 

The Illinois turned pale at their approach on the shores of 
the Mississippi, and no hatchets were redder than theirs in the 
Herculean task of humbling the Lenni Lenapes, and for ever 
hushing into silence their boasting tongues. 



PIIELPS AUTD GORI-IAM S PURCHASE. 87 

The Chippewas, a valiant people, discomfitted and utterly dis 
mayed by their prowess, fled like hunted deer to the remote vil- 
lao-es of the Sioux. The long and bloody wars waged by the Five 
Nations with the Southern tribes, owed their origin to an attack 
made on the Senecas in one of their distant expeditions to the 
south west, by a party of Cherokees. The war-post was at once 
struck, and the confederates joined with their injured brethren in 
resenting the insult, and taming the pride of their wily antagonists. 
Though a vast extent of territory lay between the hunting grounds 
of the latter and the central fire of their cantons, the dreaded 
war-whoop of the Iroquois w.as heard on the banks of the Talla- 
poosa and Ocmulgee. Forbidding wilds, draped in the long gray 
moss of milder latitudes, and swampy fastnesses, the savage haunts 
of the alligator and terrapin, were explored by the infuriated in 
vaders. 

Nature opposed no barrier to a triumphant campaign, and dis 
tance was no obstacle in the fearful work of retaliation. 

Hiokatoo, the renowned husband of the " White Woman," was a 
leader in one of these wild forays, and when a gray-haired ancient, 
cheered many a listening circle at his lodge fire, with a narrative 
of his exploits on that occasion. 

Individuals of Cherokee extraction, still reside on the Tonawan- 
da Reservation. They trace their descent to captives, saved from 
torture at the stake, and adopted as tribesmen by their victors. 

I must differ from many writers, misled by Heckewelder, in the 
opinion that compared with surrounding nations, the Iroquois were 
not a superior race of men. No primitive people can boast of 
nobler war captains, than Kan-ah-je-a-gah, Hon-ne-ya-was, Brant, 
Hendrick and Skenandoah ; no abler orators and statesmen than 
Dekanissora, Canassetego, Logan and Red Jacket. 

When the adventurous Frenchmen first set foot on Canadian soil, 
in 1G03, he found the tribes of the League settled near Hochelaga, 
on the site of Montreal. Previous to this eventful period, they were 
said to have been a peaceful and happy people more inclined to 
till the earth than follow the war-path. The unprovoked encroach 
ment of the Adirondacks on their land a powerful nation residing 
300 miles above Trois-Rivieres, at length woke their latent energies, 
and roused their martial qualities. After their expulsion from the 
banks of the St. Lawrence, one of America s mighty arteries, and 



88 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. , 

conquering the Satanas in their migrations, they laid the founda 
tion of empire on the borders of our beautiful Lakes. Seasoned, 
like Caesar s veterans, by hardship, long marches and victory, they 
bravely resisted the inroads of their old enemies, the Hurons and 
Adirondacks. Though inferior in physical force, they made ample 
amends therefor, by the exercise of greater prudence, and superior 
strategy. Fighting in small detached parties, and under intrepid 
leaders, they struck blows in remote points, at one and the same 
moment of time, producing a general panic and surprise. 

In turn, assuming the offensive, they drove back the invaders, 
disheartened and discomfitted, to the neighborhood of Quebec. 
Then came the tug of war. Through the .intervention of Jesuit 
influence, so puissant in the 17th century, that Kings and Pontiffs 
submitted to its dictation, the French colonists formed an alliance 
with the vanquished tribes. Supplied with more deadly weapons 
the fire-locks of civilization the Algonquin and Huron again 
struggled for the mastery. By consulting Golden, we learn that 
previous to the conflict between Champlain and the Iroquois, on the 
Lake that bears his name, the latter had never heard the thunder 
or seen the lightning of the pale faces. Though defeated on that 
occasion, they were not humbled ; all fear of consequences was 
merged in a feeling of deep and deadly exasperation. The re 
doubtable Champlain himself, was doomed a few years after to feel 
the heavy weight of their vengeance. * Incautiously laying siege 
to one of their forts on Oiiondaga Lake, in October, 1615, he was 
twice wounded by arrows, and forced to retire in disgrace with his 
motley array of French and Indians. 

He who foils, in hard encounter, a dexterous swordsman, with 
an oaken staff, gives proof of matchless address and prowess 
and the fact that the Five Nations, recovering from the effects of a 
first surprise, boldly maintained their ground, even at this period, 
and often played an aggressive part, proves their native superiority. 
and gives them indisputable right to their own haughty term of 
designation " On-gui-hion-wi " men without peers. 

French interference, in behalf of their old and implacable foes, 
only developed the genius of their Sachems, and attested the devo 
tion of their warriors. 

*0. H. Marshall s able. address before the Young Men s Association at Buffalo. 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 89 

It was extremely impolitic on the part of the Canadian colony, 
far from the resources of the mother country, thus in a state of in 
fancy, to provoke the hate of unconquerable tribes. The Charis- 
toone, or Iron Workers, as they termed their neighbors, the Dutch, 
and after their decline, the English, supplied the Konoshioni with 
ammunition and arms. Jealous of French influence, they encouraged 
them to wage a war that should ask no quarter, and know no end 
ing, until Canada was depopulated. Then blacker grew the tem 
pest: from the pine plains of Ske-nec-ta-da to the great Lake, 
a gathering-cry was heard, that rang through the arches of the 
forest, more dreadful than the panther s scream. Towns and out 
posts were burned the Carignan was struck down at his door- 
stone, and the settler scalped in the midst of his clearing. Neither 
age nor sex was spared. 

The fur-trader found a red grave in the wilderness ; even the 
sentinel was shot pacing his rounds, and the unwary batteauman 
dyed with liis heart s best blood the waters of Cataracqui. 

French America, through the administration of successive Vice 
roys of Louis XIV., atoned for her folly in the dispersion of her 
Abenaqui the sack of Montreal the defeat of her faithful 
Hurons under the guns of Quebec, and humiliating irruptions of a 
foe that overran the province, to use the strong figure of her annal 
ists, " as a torrent does the low-lands, when it overflows its banks, 
and there is no withstanding it." 

Compare for a moment- the Atahualpas and Huan Capacs of 
Peruvian history, with the dreaded founders and rulers of this 
Aboriginal League. Though mighty armies came at their call, 
resplendant with gold and blazing with jewels, they were routed by 
Pizarro, with a few horsemen at his back. Charging steed and 
shouting rider deemed by the silly natives one animal, like the 
Centaur of fable rattling gun and the blast of the trumpet 
subdued them with a terror that no appeal to patriotism could 
overcome. In sight of their homes and altars, thousands were 
slain like unresisting sheep, the survivors bowing their necks to the 
yoke, and looking tamely on, while their heart-broken Incas suffer 
ed ignominious death. The mighty empire of the Aztecs had ex 
perienced a few years before, the same disastrous fate ; it crumbled 
away, as it were, in a night ; the splendor of its adorning more ef 
fectually insuring its destruction. 
6 



90 PIIELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 

The romantic valor of a few Castiiian adventurers, outweighed 
in the scale of conflict, the countless multitudes that opposed them. 

Montezuma and Guatimozin, after all, were nothing more than 
royal shadows, notwithstanding their patient martyrdom. 

The sceptred phantoms invoked by the weird sisters were less 
frail and unsubstantial, for they inspired fear extorting this shud 
dering cry from a tyrant and regicide, bloody and false like Cortez 

"Let this pernicious hour 

Stand, aye, accursed in the calendar." 

Of different mould and mettle, were the Sachems and Attotarhos 
of the Five Nations. They were endowed with the will to dare 
the hand to execute. Their Garangulas and Decanissoras their 
Oundiagas and Karistageas united to indomitable courage, talents 
for negotiation, and resistless eloquence. 

Less brilliant than banded states that paid submissive tribute to 
the Aztec emperor, there was more stability and strength in their 
unwritten compact of union. Though a mere handful, compared 
with the swarming and priest-ridden slaves of Mexico, they posses 
sed an inherent valor and spirit of independence, that submitted to 
no wrong, and brooked no rivalry. Seldom in the field with more 
than a thousand warriors, they went forth conquering and to con 
quer bound by an heraldic tie that evoked a deeply-rooted senti 
ment of regard and national pride. 

Less formidable by far was Spanish inroad at the extreme south 
than French military power on this continent so vainly exerted, 
under De Nonville and Frontenac, to overawe and subdue them, 
" and it can scarcely be deemed fanciful to assert," says a dis 
tinguished writer, * " that had Hernando Cortez entered the Mohawk 
valley instead of that of Mexico, with the force he actually had, his 
ranks would have gone down under the skilfulness of the Iroquois 
ambuscades, and himself perished ingloriously at the stake." 

Wherever they were urged onward by a martial impulse and 
ardor that no difficulties could lessen or abate whether traversing 
the Appalachian chain or western prairie the fame of their ex 
ploits proceeding them, created panic, and paralized resistance. 
Though thinned in number by long and bloody wars, they were fear 
fully formidable in modern times : foes in our revolutionary struggle, 

* Sehoolcraft. 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 91 

they proved their devotion to their British Father at Wyoming, 
Minnisink and mournful Oriskany friends at a later epoch, of our 
Union, they followed Oundiaka and Honneyawas to the red field of 
Chippewa. At all periods of their history flushed with triumph, or 
clouded by disaster there has been no decay of hereditary valor. 
Whether known as Massawomekes to the southern, or * Na- 
dowa to the western Tribes, they were alike terrible and invinci 
ble. A more splendid race of savages never launched their war- 
canoes on our streams, or drew bow in our forests ; and a wild mag- 
namity throws light on their darker traits, in their practical applica 
tion of the motto, " parcere subjectos, et extirpare superbos." Hu 
manity blushes to recall the scenes of rape and hellish licence that 
have followed the storming of towns, and sack of cities in the old world, 
but an Iroquois warrior was never known to violate the chastity of 
a female prisoner. 

Often a chivalric spirit gave an air of romance to their native 
daring. After a successful foray into an enemy s country, pursu 
ers on the trail, finding their gage of mortal defiance, would move 
with greater circumspection. Like the generous reptile whose 
dread rattle arrests the step of the hunter, significant tokens dropped 
by the way, warned foemen to retire, or expect no mercy at their 
hands. Thus in 1696, when Frontenac s army was on the Oswego, 
two bundles of cut rushes, in their line of march, a numerical sign, 
conveyed the startling intelligence that more than fourteen hundred 
warriors were on the watch for their coming. 

Not less haughty and heroic was their conduct in 1779, when re 
tiring before the greatly superior force of Sullivan. They bent a 
tree, and twisted its rugged top around the trunk, as an emblem of 
their own situation bent but not broken smitten, but not over 
thrown. 

Though all the tribes of aboriginal America were competitors ; the 
palm for greatest manifestation of mental power would be awarded 
to this extraordinary people. The principle of unity that banded 
them together, offspring of profound policy that lifts them above the 
hunter state their love of liberty that scorned submission to foreign 
control ; their ability to cope, in council, with the most skillful diplo 
matists of a boasted civilization the wonderful eloquence of their 
orators, challenging comparison with the finest periods of Demos 
thenes their self-reliance that laughed at the menaces of kings 



92 PHELPS A1STD GOEHAM ? S PURCHASE. 

their long adherence to one great plan of conquest ; bear witness 
that they were a highly-gifted race, and may well make them objects 
of intense interest to the poet, philosopher and historian. The climate 
enjoyed, and the country occupied by them were favorable to the de- 
velopement of a noble manhood. Their broad domain was irrigated 
by streams whose rich alluvial bottoms rewarded the rudest tillage 
with a full supply of golden maize ; its forests abounding in animals of 
chase bear, bounding deer, majestic moose and elk furnished 
their lodge boards with venison ; and the lovely lakes that spotted its 
rolling surface, paid rich tribute to the bark-net^ and barbed spear of 
the fisherman. 

Man owes many of his characteristics to the scenes amid which 
he is nursed, and the grand, geographical features of Iroquois em 
pire were sources to its upholders and lords, of high, ennobling 
thought. Rivers rushing to find a level "either in the gulfs of St, 
Lawrence and Mexico, or in the intermediate shores of the Atlan 
tic " Erie and Ontario, those lonely worlds of waters, that border 
ed on the north and west, with a blue belt, their hunting grounds ; 
the Adirondack chain, with its deep gorges, vapory cones, and 
splintered cliffs old mossy woods, where the mysterious winds 
awoke their wildest music ; glades basking in the light, and glens, 
where reigned at noon-day a sepulchral gloom ; and, more than 
all, the mighty Cataract of Niagara, singing an eternal anthem at 
the western door of their Long House; were sights and sounds that 
found a reflex and an echo, not only in their magnificent traditions, 
but in the sublime imagery and symbolic phraseology of their 
orators. Previous to the overthrow of the Neuter Nation, and 
subsequent to that event, of the Eries, the Seneca country extended 
westward to the Genesee. After that period they were undisputed 
masters of the soil from the valley of Pleasant Water, to the banks 
of the De-o-se-o-wa, or Buffalo Creek. Disputes have arisen among 
antiquarians, as to the question whether the Kah-kwahs and Eries 
were one and the same people. All Indian history proves that a 
tribe is often known by diverse names in their own tongue, as well 
as in different dialects. For example, referring to their position, the 
Senecas were called " Swan-ne-ho-ont," (door on the hinge) in 
reference to the place of their origin an elevated point at the 
head of Canandaigua Lake, " Nun-do-wa-ga," or people of the Hill. 
Whether known as Allegan, Erie, or Kah-kwah, the western door- 



PHELPS A1STD GOKHAM 7 S PURCHASE. 93 

keepers struggled many years in vain to give the Long House 
of the League a greater extension. For the first time since quitting 
their Canadian seats, on the St. Lawrence and its tributaries, were 
they checked in their march toward the setting sun. Their rivals 
in arms were inclined, while hand could wield hatchet, not to sur 
render without a blow the broad spreading chase-grounds of their 
fathers : and a glorious land it was a Canaan of the wilderness 
well worth the bloody sacrifice that was made by a luckless and 
gallant people in defending the integrity of its aoil. Opposed to 
them was a foe, renowned throughout the nations, for courage, en 
durance, enterprise and boundless ambition. 

The latter assign as cause of war, the defeat of the Kah-kwahs 
in ball playing, and other athletic sports, though the challenging 
party. 

I am inclined to believe, however, that the Senecas were the ag 
gressors, competitors for the spoils in one of those games of life 
and death that the human race, savage and civilized, have played in 
all ages and in all lands. 

O 

Their fierce and restless natures could ill bear aught that blocked 
the way to a more extended rule : bounds to their supremacy, 
westward, were not to be found on the Genesee, while beyond its 
channel lay one of the fairest gardens of this western World. It 
was an easy task for their subtle minds to frame a pretext a much 
harder one for their strong right arms to wrest a priceless heritage 
from its heroic defenders. 

In August of the year 1653, Father Le Moyne known among 
red men as Ondessonk visited the Onondagas, and found them 
bitterly bewailing the loss that the confederacy had sustained in the 
massacre of the great Seneca Chief " An-nen-cra-os " by their 
enemies, the Kah-kwahs. The war raged for a time without any 
very disastrous result to either party. 

Unaided by their eastern brethren, the Senecas, however, triumph 
ed in the first general engagement unmistakeable proof of their 
high, martial qualities ; for their opponents displayed a desperate 
hardihood, on that day, worthy of a more fortunate issue. 

Some writers are of opinion, that the battle was fought near the 
Honeoye outlet, and midway between Canandaigua Lake and the 
Genesee River : others locate the scene of carnage more than a 
day s march from the old village of Cannewaugus, in a westward 



94 PHELPS AOT) GOKHAM S PUKCHASE. 



direction. The place of final conflict is better known. Leaving 
more than half of their warriors, pierced by the shafts, and crushed 
by the war clubs of the conquerors, the survivors fled to their prin 
cipal village, and strong-hold on the De-o-se-o-wa. 

Reinforced by tlieir ailies, the Senecas pursued and attacked them 
in their fortress. After a brave resistance a feeble remnant of the 
once haughty Eries fled from their old hearth-stones and possessions 
to an Island of the Allegany ; but a foe was on their trail, truer 
than the sleuth-hound when he has tasted blood. The unhappy 
fugitives, surprised in their encampment, fled down the river, under 
cover of night, losing forever in distant wilds, their identity as a 
nation. A few, saved from the general slaughter and dispersion, 
were adopted by the confederates ; for by this politic course, they 
in part, repaired the dreadful ravages of war, and postponed the 
dismal hour of their own inevitable declension and fall. 

I cannot forbear, in my brief sketch of their extirpation, from 
closing in the eloquent words of my friend Marshall : " They are 
a people of whom there is scarcely a memorial, save the name of 
the Lake that washes the shore they ruled. Fit mausoleum of an 
extinct tribe ! Even the vague tradition that transmits their mem 
ory, will soon be lost, with the last remnant of the Nun-de-wa-gas 
that swept them from existence." 

Enraged by continued infraction of their territory, during the ad 
ministration of De la Barre, by the passage of French trading 
parties to the south west, laden with material to arm their enemies, 
the Senecas began hostilities by wresting from them their powder 
and lead seizing their canoes, and dismissing them, homeward, 
with threats of torture and death if they ever returned. In his in 
structions to the French Governor, on receipt of the alarming intelli 
gence, Louis XIV. recommended a prompt invasion of the hostile 
country, and directed that all prisoners of war taken in the cam 
paign, when opportunity offered, should be shipped to France, re 
marking, in his despatch, that " the Iroquois, being stout and robust, 
would serve with advantage in his galleys. 

What plan, by the rash Bourbon, could have been devised, I ask, 
more certain than this to undermine his sovreignty on this conti 
nent? An attempt to enslave a high spirited race, that preferred 
liberty to life, was a long stride, on the part of French America, 
towards certain destruction. Captives, treacherously seized, were, 



PHELPS AND GOEIIAM S PUECHASE. 95 

actually carried to France, in pusurance of royal policy, and forced 
into degrading service. 

At a subsequent period they were liberated and laden with pres 
ents, brought back to Canada. But the dragon-teeth had been sown, 
and it was too late to hope for a burial of the hatchet. The insult 
was one that the Five Nations would neither forget nor forgive : 
and many were the bloody scalps that soon hung drying in the 
smoke of their wigwams. De la Barre s expedition to La Famine, 
or Hungry Bay, in compliance with the royal pleasure, was attended 
by disastrous results. A terrible distemper broke out in his camp, 
and the half- famished troops, spurning restraints of discipline, clamor 
ed for speedy departure to their homes. 

While thus in a condition to become an easy prey for enemies, 
ever on the watch, he endeavored to achieve by diplomacy what he 
could not effect by force. Messengers were sent entreating the Five 
Nations to meet him in council on the shore of the Lake. 

The Mohawks and Senecas returned a haughty refusal, but the 
remaining tribes complied with his request. The speech of Garan- 
gula, on that occasion, has been justly deemed a master-piece of 
argument and eloquence. 

De la Barre had indulged in idle bravado, thinking that his real 
situation was unknown to his eagle-eyed adversary ; and nothing 
could have astonished him more than the picture drawn by the 
sarcastic chief, of his utter inability to strike a blow or more 
galling to a soldier s pride, than the taunting language that he em 
ployed : _ nv 

" Hear, Yonnondio ! our women had taken their clubs, our chil 
dren and old men had carried their bows and arrows into the heart 
of your camp, if our warriors had not disarmed them, and kept 
them back." 

Soon after this signal exposure of his weakness, the Governor 
returned to Canada, with a dispirited army, and a tarnished reputa 
tion. 

Tha Marquis De Nonville, successor of De la Barre, though an 
accomplished officer, was taught a still sterner lesson in 1687. In 
July of that year, with two thousand regulars and militia, and a 
thousand friendly Indians, he landed at " O-nyui-da-on-da-gwat," or 
Irondequoit Bay. The plan of campaign was to attack the dread 
ed " Long-house/ at a point never before invaded, by securing 



96 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

greater chances of success. In crushing the Senecas, justly re 
garded the most ferocious and formidable of the Five Nations, 
the Marquis hoped to curb the pride, and paralize the power of 
their strong League for ever. Great glory would also accrue to 
his name, in conquering a region, and annexing it to the crown 
of France, unsurpassed in beauty and fertility, "of regular sea 
sons," mild of climate, intersected by numerous lakes and rivers, 
and said, by writers of the period, to be " capable of bearing all 
the fru-its of Touraine and Provence." 

In addition, by erecting a fort at " the extremity of a tongue of 
land between the Niagara River and Lake Ontario," he intended to 
secure uninterrupted command of the great lakes, monopolize the 
beaver trade, and furnish a place ol rendezvous and supplies for the 
savage allies of France in their wars with the Iroquois. 

After building a redoubt, manned by several companies, to pro 
tect the canoes and batteaux, four hundred in number, De Non- 
ville put his army in motion. Warned of the danger, the main 
body of the Seneca warriors hastened to remove their old men, 
women and children to places of safety, leaving a hundred picked 
men at a small fort to act as a corps of observation, and closely 
watch the progress of the invaders. 

The latter, informed that "Yonnondio" was on the war-path, 
sent runners to their friends, and 350 young men turned back to 
give him a suitable reception. 

An ambuscade was skillfully laid on a small wooded hill, about 
half a mile from the Indian castle of Ganagarro, at the foot of 
which was a deep and dangerous defile. 

The -scouts of the army, on the second day of their march, passed 
without being molested, or observing their crafty enemies, even to 
the corn fields of the village. The lions of the Genesee lay 
crouched in their hidden lair, to pounce on more formidable prey. 
No note of alarm being heard, command was given to centre and 
wings to quicken their movements. Thinking that the braves of 
the nation had fled, and that they would meet with no opposition, 
the French plunged rashly into the defile. While in confused array, 
the dreaded and blood-curdling war whoops of the Iroquois rang in 
their ears, followed by a heavy volley of musketry. While their 
bravest went down under the close discharge, the foremost ranks 
recoiled ; then, emulating French speed at the " Battle of the spurs/ 



PIIELPS AND GORIIAM S PURCHASE. 9*7 

shamefully fled, disorganizing the whole line, and carrying dismay 
in their course. " Battalions/ says La Hontan, a spectator, and 
the historian of the fight " separated into platoons, that ran with 
out order, pell-mell, to the right and left, not knowing whither they 
went" A more vivid picture of utter overthrow for the time, and 
the contagion of fear, could not be drawn. 

Before the panic subsided, the Senecas broke cover, and charged 
the flying foe, tomahawk in hand. 

Many of the fugitives were slain, but the pursuers -followed too 
far, losing the advantage of a thick wood, and strong position. Such 
was their paucity of numbers, that they could only for a brief period 
make head against a host. By rallying his routed troops, and 
making a combined attack of regulars, militia and Indians, De Non- 
ville checked the Senecas, and after a valiant stand, and desperate 
efforts to stem the refluent tide of conflict, they were compelled 
reluctantly to give way. 

Spartan prowess could have done no more. A General, thirty 
years in service, and a favorite officer of the Magnificent Louis," 
had been surprised ; his savage hordes, colonial levies, and veteran 
regiments disordered, charged and driven back by a much smaller 
force than his own rear-guard and only saved, by overwhelming 
numbers, from the crowning disgrace of a disastrous defeat. 

Though repulsed, the Senecas were not disheartened, and when 
challenged, in their retreat, to stand and fight, halted on the brow 
of a hill, and replied : " Come on, four hundred to our four hun 
dred, and we have but a hundred men, and three hundred boys, and 
we will fight you hand to fist." * It is unnecessary to remark that 
the proposition was not accepted, for we have French authority for 
saying that the Iroquois were more skillful in the use of the gun 
than Europeans, f 

If De Nonville was the chivalrous soldier and Christian, that 
Charlevoix represents him to have been, he left his good name be 
hind him in this unfortunate expedition. In his report of the battle 
he has mingled much that is obviously false, an act unworthy of a 
gallant gentleman ; and he little honored the Christian character, 
by permiting his wampum-decked allies, whose poltroonry was only 

* Doc. "His." Vol. 1, p. 248. 
I Doc. "His." p. 231. 



98 PHELPS A:ND GOKHAM S PUECIIASE. 

surpassed by their horrid barbarities, to torture the helpless and 
wounded, breathing defiance to the lost, that fell into his hands. 

How can we reconcile with common ideas of honor, his official 
statement, that the skulking Ottawas performed their duty admirably 
in the action, with a passage in his published letter to the Minister, 
in which he bitterly denounces their cowardice and cruelly ? How 
can we reconcile his idle, and vain-glorious claim to an almost 
bloodless victory, with La Hontan s, that besides twenty-two woun 
ded, an hundred Frenchmen, and ten savages were slain ? 

The Baron s honest narrative, so little flattering to the military 
pride of his countrymen, is corroborated, in the main, by other 
witnesses of the engagement. Well might an indignant savage, 
in view of their utter inefficiency to cope with the " Western Ro 
mans," sneeringly exclaim, that "they were only fit to make war on 
Indian corn, and bark canoes ; " for there is proof on record, that 
the French officers, at Mount Royal, jeered one another for being 
appalled by the Seneca war whoop to such a degree, as to fall 
terror-stricken and powerless to the ground. * 

The memory of illustrious women who have matched, in defence 
of altar and hearth, the deeds of the sterner sex, has been enshrined 
in song, and honored by the Historic Muse. Joan of Arc, and the 
dark-eyed maid of Saragossa, in all coming time, will be chivalric 
watchwords for France and Spain, but not less worthy of record, 
and poetic embalmment, were the five devoted heroines who followed 
their red lords to the battle-field, near ancient Ganagarro, and 
fought with unflinching resolution by their sides, f Children of 
such wives could not be otherwise than valiant. " Bring back your 
shield, or be brought upon it," was the Spartan mother s stern in 
junction to her son ; but, roused to a higher pitch of courage, the 
wild daughters of the Genesee stood in the perilous pass, and, in 
defence of their forest homes, " turned not back from the sword 
the thunder of the captains, and the shouting." 

The results of this ill-conceived irruption into the Seneca can 
ton, though preceded by months of busy preparation, great con 
sumption of material, and attended by the pomp and parade of war, 
may be summed up in few words. 

* Doc. "His." Vol. 1, p. 246. 
tDoc. "His." Yol. 1, p. 248. 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 99 

A battle was fought in which the field was won by the French 
the glory by their foe. Then a few unarmed prisoners were tor 
tured, corn fields laid waste, and bark villages burned, followed by 
alarms that caused a precipitate retreat to their boats, harrassed 
every step of the way by hovering parties in pursuit. Embarking 
at Irondequoit, after the loss of about twenty men, * they coasted 
along the Lake, leaving a feeble garrison at Niagara to defend an 
isolated post. 

The greater part of them, soon after, including the commander, 
De Troyes, while closely besieged by the Iroquois, fell victims 
within their stockade, to the not less fearful assaults of famine and 
disease. 



CHAPTER II. 



CONFLICTING CLAIMS TO WESTERN NEW YORK INDIAN TREATIES 

THE LESSEE COMPANY THE MILITARY TRACT. 



IN the treaty of peace of 1783, which ended the Revolutionary 
war, England, forgetful of their obligations to the Six Nations, 
most of whom had served them faithfully, as the devastated fron 
tier settlements fully attested, made no provisions for their allies ; 
but left them to the mercy or discretion of those against whom they 
had carried on a long and sanguinary warfare. " The ancient 
country of the Six Nations, the residence of their ancestors, from 
the time far beyond their earliest traditions, was included in the 
boundary granted to Americans." f According to the usages of 

* "We have the news of Keman, that the Indians have taken 8 men, 1 woman, 8 
crowns or scalps, aud killed near upon 20 men at the place where the Barks lay." 
[Maj. Schuyler to Gov. Dongan, Doc. His. v. 1 p. 255. 

t Memorial of the Six Nations, presented to Lord Camden. 



100 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 

war and the laws of civilized nations, they were a conquered peo 
ple, and their country forfeited to the conqueror. But the authori 
ties of our General and State Governments did not choose to apply 
so stringent a rule to the simple natives, who were unlearned in 
reference to the position in which their action in the war had pla 
ced them, and had been the dupes of their unprincipled, ungrateful, 
and neglectful employers. A strong disposition prevailed in the 
state to regard their lands a forfeit especially among those who 
had suffered most at their hands ; at one period, the State Legisla 
ture entertained such a proposition with so much favor, that it 
is probable it would have prevailed, but for the decided opposition of 
General Schuyler, aided by the influence of Washington, with the 
General Government. A different course was dictated by a feeling 
of humanity, as well as that of economy ; for renewed war and 
conquest would have been far more expensive than peace negotia 
tion and purchase proved to be. The wiser and better policy 
prevailed. 

The cessation of hostilities on the part of those to whom they had 
lately been allies, left them in an embarrassing position. England 
had made a peace, and left her allies in the field to fight it out, or 
seek a peace upon their own account. British perfidy has seldom 
been more clearly exhibited. 

Previous to the cession by all the states, of lands within their 
boundaries to the General Government, the respective rights of 
General and State Governments were but illy defined ; and so far 
as this State was concerned, especially, a collision was had. As 
early as April, 1784, the Legislature of this State passed an act, 
making the Governor and a Board of commissioners the Superin 
tendents of Indian affairs. The commissioners designated were : 
Abraham Cuyler, Peter Schuyler, Henry Glen, who associated with 
them, Philip Schuyler, Robert Yates, Abraham Ten Broeck, A. 
Yates, jr., P. W. Yates, John J. Beekman, Mathew Vischer, Gen. 
Ganesvoort. Governor George Clinton, as the head of the Board, 
assumed the laboring oar of negotiation. The services of the mis- 



E Had a different course been pursued, the Indians would have called to 
their aid some of the western nations, and prolonged the war. The venerable chief 
Blacksnake, now an hundred years old, residing upon the Allegany Reservation, in 
sists that the Six Nations went to the treaty of Fort Stanwix, not as a conquered 
oeople sueing for peace, but with arms in their hands. 



PHELPS AHD GOEHAM S PUECHASE, 101 

sionary, the Rev. Mr. Kirkland, of Peter Ryckfnab; ~ 3aCob Reed," 
James Deane, Major Fonda, Col. Wemple, Major Fry, GpL-Van 
Dyke, most of whom had been Indian traders r 1 captive^ ~ were 
enlisted. Peter Ryckman became to the Board, a species of 
" winged Mercury," flying from locality to locality now at Oneida, 
then at Kanadesaga, then at Niagara, consulting with Brant; and 
next at Albany, reporting the result of his conferences with the 
statesmen and diplomatists of the forest. The time and place 
of a treaty was partially agreed upon. 

In the mean time, Congress had contemplated a general treaty 
with the Indians, bordering upon the settlements in New York, 
Pennsylvania and Ohio ; and had appointed as its commissioners, 
Oliver Wolcott, Richard Butler and Arthur Lee. A correspond 
ence took place between the New York Board and the Commis 
sioners of the United States, in which the question of jurisdiction, 
the respective rights to treat with the Indians, was seriously involv 
ed. The New York Commissioners found the Indians generally 
averse to treating with a State, but generally disposed to meet the 
" Thirteen Fires," and hold a treaty of peace jointly with their 
people of some of the western nations. Most of the spring and 
summer of 1784, was consumed by endeavors of the New York 
Board to get a council of the Six Nations convened. On the first 
of September, they met at Fort Schuyler deputies from the Mo 
hawks, Cayugas, Onondagas and Senecas. The Oneidas and Tus- 
caroras held back ; but deputations from them, were brought in by 
runners on the third day. The deputies of these two nations were 
first addressed by Governor Clinton. He assured them of a dis 
position to be at peace ; disclaimed any intention to deprive them 
of their lands ; proposed a settlement of boundaries ; and warned, 
them against disposing of their lands to other than commissioners 
regularly appointed by the State of New York, who would treat 
with them for lands, when they were disposed to sell them. In re 
ply to this speech, a delegate of the two nations expressed their 
gratification that the war had ended, and that they could now meet 
and " smoke the pipe of peace." " You have come up," said he, 
"what has been an untrodden path to you for many years; and 
this path which you have seen as you have come along, has been 
strewed with blood. We, therefore, in our turn, console your loss 
es and sorrows during these troublesome times. We rejoice that 



102 PHELPS AJSTD GOPvHAM s PURCHASE. 



ave", opened the path of peace to this country." He thanked 
the porrtfmss-ioners for iheir advice to the Oneidas and Tuscaroras, 
&Gt 4o \.iistey ,tcx ^individuals who proposed the purchase of their 
lands. 

At this stage of the council, the Cayuga and Tuscarora chiefs 
exhibited a letter from the commissioners of Congress. The letter 
was read. It informed the Indians that they, the commissioners, 
were appointed by Congress "to settle a general peace with all the 
Indian nations, from the Ohio to the Great Lake " that the Gov 
ernor of New York had no authority from Congress ; but as he had 
invited the Indians to assemble at Fort Stanwix, on the 20th of 
September, the commissioners, to save the trouble of two councils, 
would alter the determination of holding their council at Niagara, 
and meet them at For Stanwix on the day named. 

Gov. Clinton next addressed the " Sachems and warriors of the 
Mohawks, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas." He assured them 
that what was a colony had become a State ; that he and his friends 
had met them to open the paths of peace, to establish that friendly 
relation that existed between the Indians and their white neighbors 
previous to the war. Some passages of the Governor s speech was 
as truly eloquent as any thing that will be found among our State 
records. He said : " The council fires which was lighted both at 
Albany and Onondaga by our ancestors and those of the Six Na 
tions, which burned so bright, and shone with so friendly a light 
over our common country, has unhappily been almost extinguished 
by the late war with Great Britain. I now gather together at this 
place the remaining brands, add fresh fuel, and with the true spirit 
of reconciliation and returning friendship, rekindle the fire, in hopes 
that no future events may ever arise to extinguish it ; but that you 
and we, and the offspring of us both, may enjoy its benign influence 
as long as the sun shall shine, or waters flow." In reference to 
the letters of the commissioners of Congress, he assured them that 
their business was with Indians residing out of any State ; but that 
New York had a right to deal with those residing within her boun 
daries. 

The answer to the Governor s speech was made by Brant. He 
said that " it meets with our dispositions and feelings of our minds." 
In reference to the respective claims of Congress and New York 
to treat with the Indians, he thought it strange that " there should 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 103 

be two bodies to manage the same business." Several speeches 
followed, Brant and Cornplanter being the spokesmen of the Indi 
ans. The utmost harmony prevailed ; the Indian orators treating 
all subjects adroitly, manifesting a disposition to make a treaty, but 
evidently intending to stave off any direct action, until they met 
in council the U. S. Commissioners. To a proposition from Gov. 
Clinton, that the State of New York would look for a cession of 
lands to help " indemnify them for the expenses .and sacrifices of 
the war ; " they replied, admitting the justice of the claim, but say 
ing they were peace ambassadors, and had no authority to dispose 
of lands. The council broke up after distributing presents, and 
leaving the Indians a supply of provisions for subsistence while 
waiting to meet the U. S. Commissioners. 

O * 

The treaty of Fort Stanwix followed, conducted by the United 
States Commissioners, Oliver Wolcott, Richard Butler, and Arthur 
Lee. No record of the proceedings exist in our public archives ; 
the general result is however known. Terms of peace were con 
cluded ; the western boundaries of the Six Nations were so fixed 
as to enlarge the " carrying place" on the Niagara river they had 
previously ceded to the King of Great Britian, and starting from 
the mouth of Buffalo Creek, was to be a line running due south to 
the northern boundary of Pennsylvania ; thence west to the end of 
said boundary; thence south along the west boundary of said State 
to the river Ohio. The treaty was effected with considerable diffi 
culty, a large number of the Indians insisting that it should be gen 
eral, and embrace the western Indians, so that all questions of boun 
daries could be settled at once. Brant was absent, transacting 
some business with the Governor of Canada. Had he been present, 
it is doubtful whether any treaty would have oeen concluded. Red 
Jacket, then a youth, made his first public speech, and as Levasseur, 
(who derived his information from La Fayette,) says : "His speech 
was a masterpiece, and every warrior who heard him, was carried 

NOTE. La Fayette was present at the treaty of Fort Stanwix. After the lapse of 
forty years, the generous Frenchman, the companion of Washington, and the Seneca 
orator, again met. The author was present at the interview. A concourse of citizens 
had been assembled for nearly two days, awaiting the anival of the steam boat from 
Dunkirk, which had been chartered by the committee of Erie county, to convey La 
Fayette to Buffalo, and among them was Red Jacket. He made, as usual, a somewhat 
ostentatious display of his medal a gift from Washington and it required the es 
pecial attention of a select committee to keep the aged chief from an indulgence 
a "sin that so easy beset him," which would have marred the dignity if not the 



104 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUKCHASE. 



away with his eloquence." He strongly protested against ceding 
away the hunting grounds of his people at the west, and boldly 
advocated a renewal of the war. The better councils of Corn- 
planter, however, prevailed. The so highly extolled eloquence of 
Red Jacket, had little in it of practicability. The Six Nations 
agreed to surrender all of their captives, most of whom had been 
brought to the treaty ground for that purpose. The commissioners 
in behalf of the United States, guaranteed to the Six Nations the 
quiet possession of the lands they occupied, which was recognized 
as embracing all of New York, west of cessions they had made 
under English dominion. 

The next council of the commissioners of New York, after the 
one that has been named, was convened at Fort Herkimer, in June 
1785. This was with the Oneidas and Tuscaroras. Gov. Clinton 
made an opening speech in which, after defining their rights, and 
advising them that the State held the exclusive right to purchase, 
informed them that it was understood they were prepared to sell 
some of their lands south of the Unadilla ; and if so, the commis 
sioners were ready to purchase. After nearly two days delibera 
tion, the Governor s speech was replied to by " Petrus, the minis 
ter." The orator said his people were averse to parting with lands 
alluded to the frauds that had been practiced upon the Mohawks 
before the Revolution ; said " the German Flats people when they 
were poor, applied to us for lands and they were friends ; but now 
they are rich, they do not use us kindly." The speech was one of 
consummate ability ; especially did the chief turn the tables upon the 
Governor, in a frequent allusion to his former advice to the Indians 
to keep their lands. Days of deliberation and speech making suc 
ceeded, the Indians nfaking propositions to lease a small quantity of 
land, then to sell a small quantity of their poorest lands, but failing 



romance of the intended interview. The reception, the ceremonies generally, were 
upon a staging erected in front of " Rathbun s Eagle." After they were through with, 
Red Jacket was escorted upon the staging, by a committee. " The Douglass in his 
hall," himself in his native forest never walked with a firmer step or a prouder 
bearing! There was the stoicism of the Indian seemingly, the condecension, if it 
existed, was his, and not the "Nation s Guest." He addressed the General in his 
native tongue, through an interpreter who was present. During the interview, La Fay - 
ette not recognizing him, alluded to the treaty of Fort Stanwix : "And what" said 
he, "has become of the young Seneca, who on that occasion so eloquently opposed 
the burying of the tomahawk ? " "He is now before you," replied Red Jacket. The 
circumstance, as the reader will infer, revived in the mind of La Fayette, the scenea 
of the Revolution, and in his journey the next two days, his conversation was enrich 
ed by the reminiscences which it called up, 



PIEELPS AND GORHAM S PUECIIASE. 105 

to come up to what the commissioners required. In a speech made 
by the Grasshopper, he alluded to the attempt the British agents 
made during the war, to induce the Tuscaroras and Oneidas to join 
them. He said : "They told us by joining the Americans, we would 
get lice, as they were only a lousy people ; but however, although 
they expressed the Americans were lousy, they have although lousy, 
overcome their enemies." 

The commissioners finally succeeded in purchasing the land lying 
between the Unadilla and Chenango Rivers, south of a line drawn 
east and \vest through those streams, and north of the Pennsylva 
ilia line, &c., for which they paid 811,500, and distributed among 
them a liberal amount of goods, trinkets and provisions. In finally 
announcing the conclusion to sell the land, the Grasshopper said : 
" This news about selling our lands will make a great noise in the 
Six Nations, when they hear we have sold so much ; and therefore 
we hope we shall not be applied to any more for any of our country." 
How was the future curtained before the simple backwood s diplo 
matist ! Little did he think that the narrow strip of land thus 
grudgingly and unwillingly parted with, would be added to, and 
widened out, until his people were mostly shorn of their broad pos 
sessions ! 

Here, in the order of time, it becomes necessary to notice two 
hindrances that were interposed to temporarily delay the prelimin 
ary measures for the advance of settlement westward from the 
lower valley of the Mohawk, after the Revolution : The Kings 
of England and France were either poor geographers, or very 
careless in their grants of territory in the new world. They gran 
ted what they never possessed, paid very little attention to each 
other s rights, and created cross or conflicting claims. In the year 
1620, the King of Great Britain, granted to the Plymouth Compa 
ny a tract of country denominated New England, extending several 
degrees of latitude north and South, and from the Atlantic to the 
Pacific ocean, east and west. A charter for the government of a 
portion of this territory, granted by Charles I., in 1628, was vacated 
in 1684, but a second charter was granted by William and Mary 
1691. The territory comprised in this second charter, extended on 
the Atlantic ocean, from north latitude 42 2, to 44 15, and from 
the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean. Charles L, in 1663, granted to the 
Duke of York and Albany, the province of New York, including 
7 



106 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

the present State of New Jersey. The tract thus granted extended 
from a line twenty miles east of the Hudson river, westward, rather 
indefinitely, and from the Atlantic ocean north, to the south line of 
Canada, then a French province. 

By this collision of description, each of these colonies, (after 
wards States,) laid claim to the jurisdiction as well as pre-emption 
right of the same land, being a tract sufficiently large to form several 
States. The State of New York, however, in 1781, and Massa 
chusetts, in 1785, ceded to the United States all their rights, either 
of jurisdiction or proprietorship, to all the territory lying west of a 
meridian, line run south from the westerly bend of Lake Ontario. 
Although the nominal amount in controversy, by these acts, was 
much diminished, it still left some nineteen thousand square miles 
of territory in dispute ; but this controversy was finally settled by a 
convention of commissioners, appointed by the parties, held at 
Hartford, Conn., on the 16th day of December, 1786. According 
to the stipulations entered into by the convention, Massachusetts 
ceded to the State of New York, all her claim to the government, 
sovereignty and jurisdiction of all the territory lying west of the 
present east line of the State of New York ; and New York ceded 
to Massachusetts the pre-emption right, or fee of the land, subject 
to the title of natives, of all that part of the State of New York 
lying west of a line, beginning at a point in the north line oi Penn 
sylvania, 82 miles north of the north-east corner of said State, and 
running from thence due north through Seneca Lake, to Lake On 
tario ; excepting and reserving to the State of New York, a strip 
of land east of, and adjoining the eastern bank of Niagara river, 
one mile wide, and extending its whole length. The land, the pre 
emption right of which was thus ceded, amounted to about six 
millions of acres. 

The other difficulty alluded to, arose from the organization and 
operations of two joint Lessee Companies. The constitution of the 
state forbade the purchase of the fee in lands of the Indians, by 
individuals, reserving the right to the state alone. To evade this, 
and come in possession of the lands, an association of individuals 
was organized in the winter of 1787, 8, who styled themselves the 
" New York Genesee Land Company." The company was com 
posed of some eighty or ninety individuals, mostly residing upon the 
Hudson ; many of whom were wealthy and influential The prin- 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUECHASE. 107 

cipal seat of the company was at Hudson. Dr. Caleb Benton, 
John Livingston, and Jared Coffin were the principal managers 
At the same time a branch company was organized in Canada, 
called the " Niagara Genesee Land Company." This consisted of 
John Butler, Samuel Street, John Powell, Johnson and Murphy, and 
Benjamin Barton ; all but the last named, being residents of Canada. 
This branch organization enabled the company to avail themselves 
of the then potent influence of Col. John Butler with the Six 
Nations, and the influence of his associates. Benjamin Barton, the 
father of the late Benjamin Barton Jr. of Lewiston, was an active 
member of the association. Soon after the close of the Revolution, 
he had engaged in the Indian trade, and as a drover from New 
Jersey, via. the Susquehannah River, to the British garrison at 
Niagara. By this means he had become well acquainted with the 
Senecas, was adopted by them, and had taken while a youth, Henry 
O Bail, the son of Cornplanter, and placed him in a school in N. 
Jersey. In addition to the influence thus acquired, there belonged 
to the New York Company, several who had for a long period been 
Indian traders. Thus organized, by such appliances as usually for 
warded negotiations with the Indians, the company in November, 
1787, obtained a Lease for " nine hundred and ninety nine years," 
of all the lands of the Six Nations in the state of New York, except 
some small reservations, the privilege of hunting, fishing &c. 
The annual rent was to be two thousand Spanish milled dollars ; and 
a bonus of $20,000 was also promised. 

In March, 1788, John Taylor had been appointed an agent of the 
New York board of commissioners, or superintendent of Indian 
affairs. In that month, he was sent to the Indian country to coun 
teract the unlawful proceedings of the Lessees. On his return he 
reported that he had fallen in with the clerk of an Indian trader, 
just from Tioga, who told him that " Livingston had sent fourteen 
sleighs loaded with goods into the Indian country. They got within 
50 miles of Tioga, and would proceed no farther. That the Sene 
cas were exceedingly dissatisfied with Livingston, and would not 
abide by the bargain, charging him with having cheated them ; and 
threatened Ryckman for having assisted him in cheating them. 
That near 160 families were at Tioga, with a considerable number 
of cattle, in order to form a settlement on those lands ; but were 
very much at a loss, as they had heard that the state intended 



108 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

that no settlement should be made." Governor Clinton issued a 
proclamation warning purchasers that the Lessee title would be 
annulled, and sent runners to all the Six Nations warning them of 
the fraud that had been practiced against them. 

It was a formidable organization, embracing men of wealth and 
political influence, and those who, if their own plans could not be 
consummated, had an influence with the Indians that would enable 
them to throw serious obstacles in the way of legal negotiations with 
them for their lands. The lease consummated, the next object of the 
association was to procure an act of the legislature sanctioning the 
proceedings, and for that purpose, an attempt was made to intimidate, 
by threats of dismemberment, and the formation of a new state, 
embracing all the leased territory. But the whole matter was met 
with energy and promptness by Gov. George Clinton, who urged 
upon the Legislature measures to counteract the intended mischief. 
In March, 1788, an act was passed which authorised the Governor 
to disregard all contracts made with the Indians, not sanctioned by 
the state as null and void, and to cause all persons who had entered 
upon Indian lands under such contracts, to be driven off by force, 
and their buildings destroyed. Governor Clinton ordered William 
Colbraith, then Sheriff of the county of Herkimer, (which then em 
braced all of the present county of Herkimer and all west of it to 
the west bounds of the state,) to dispossess intruders and burn their 
dwellings. A military force was called out, and the orders strictly 
executed. One of the prominent settlers, and a co-operator of the 
Lessees, was taken to New York in irons, upon a charge of high 
treason. 

Thus baffled, the managers of the two associations determined to 
retaliate and coerce a compromise, if they failed to carry out their 
original design, by meeting the State upon treaty grounds, where 
they could bring a stronger lobby than they could command for 
the halls of legislation. At the treaty, held in Fort Stanwix, in 
September, 1778, with the Onondagas, for the purchase of their 
lands by the State, Governor Clinton took the field in person, back 
ed by all the official influence he could command ; and yet, he 
found for a w r hile, extreme difficulty in effecting any thing. Little 
opposition from the Lessees showed itself openly, but it was there 
with its strongest appliances. In after years, when preferring a 
claim against the " New York Genesee Company," in behalf of the 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PUKCHASE. 109 

" Niagara Genesee Company," a prominent individual among the 
claimants, urged that the Canada company had kept the Indians 
back from the treaties ; and when they could no longer do so, had 
on one occasion, baffled Governor Clinton for nearly three weeks. 
Treaties, however, went on, until the State had possessed itself of 
the lands of the Six Nations east of the pre-emption line. The les 
sees, seeing little hopes of accomplishing their designs, finally peti 
tioned the legislature for relief; and after considerable delay, in 
1793, an act was passed, authorizing the commissioners of the land 
office to set off for them from any of the vacant unappropriated 
lands of the State, a tract equal to ten miles square. The allot 
ment was finally made in township number three, of the " Old Mili 
tary tract/ Thus terminated a magnificent scheme, so far as the 
State was concerned, which contemplated the possession of a vast 
domain, and perhaps, as has been alleged, a separate State organi 
zation. It marks an important era in the early history of our State. 
The influence brought to bear upon the Indians from Canada, by 
which the extraordinary lease was obtained, was stimulated by 
the prospect of individual gain; but may we not well infer with 
out an implication of the many respectable individuals who com 
posed the association in this State to that extent that it looked 
forward to future events; the maintenance of British dominion, 
which was afterwards asserted and reluctantly yielded. It was 
long after this, before the potent influence which the Johnsons, But 
ler and Brant had carried with them, even in their retreat to Cana 
da, was counteracted. They were yet constantly inculcating the 
idea among the Six Nations, that they were under British dominion, 
the Senecas at least. What could better have promoted this pre 
tension, than such a scheme, especially if it contemplated the ex 
treme measure of a dismemberment of this State such as was 
alleged at the time, was embraced in the plan of the two organiza 
tions ? The calculations of the " New York Genesee Company " 
may have been circumscribed by the boundaries of loss and gain ; 
that of their associates and co-operators may have taken a wider 
range, and embraced national interest, to which it was wedded by 
ties even stronger if possible, than motives of gain and private 
emolument. As late as November, 1793, James Wadsworth and 
Oliver Phelps, received a circular, signed by John Livingston and 
Caleb Benton, as officers of a convention purporting to have been ! 



110 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 

held at Geneva, urging the people to hold town meetings and sign 
petitions for a new state to be set off from New York, and to em 
brace the counties of Otsego, Tioga, Herkimer and Ontario. 

Early in the spring of 1788, another council with the Six Na 
tions was contemplated by the New York commissioners. In an 
swer to a message from them, requesting the Indians to fix upon a 
time, some of the chiefs answered in a writing, that it must be 
" after the corn is hoed." Massachusetts, not having then parted 
with its pre-emption right west of Seneca Lake, Gov. Clinton 
wrote to Gov. Hancock to secure his co-operation in counter 
acting the designs of the lessees. The general court declared the 
leases " null and void ;" but Governor Hancock, in his reply to the 
letter, stated that Massachusetts, on account of the " embarrassed 
situation of the Commonwealth," was about to comply with the 
proposals of some of her citizens, for the purchase of the pre-emp 
tion right. 

The first of September was fixed as the period for the treaty, and 
Fort Schuyler was designated as the place. Active preparations 
for it were going on through the summer, under the general super 
vision of John Taylor, who had the zealous co-operation of Gov. 
Clinton. In all the villages of the Six Nations, the lessees had 
their agents and runners, or Indian traders in their interest. Even 
the Rev. Mr. Kirkland had been either deceived or corrupted by 
them, and had played a part inconsistent with his profession, and 
with his obligations to Massachusetts. It was represented to Gov. 
Clinton that, in ^preaching to the Indians, he had advised them to 
lease to the New York and Canada companies, as their territory 

NOTE. After the arrangement with the State, there was a long controversy be 
tween the two associations in settling their affairs : in the course of which, much of 
the secret machinery of both was developed. An old adage was pretty well illustra 
ted. It no where appears that any thing was paid to the Indians in their national or 
confederate capacities ; though a bonus of twenty thousand dollars was stipulated to 
be paid in addition to the annual rents. The Canada company refused at one timeto 
pay an installment into this general fund, alleging as a reason, the non-payment of 
this twenty thousand dollars due the Indians. But yet, it appears that it was a pretty 
expensive operation ; the chiefs who favored the scheme and the agents who operated 
upon them, must have been well paid ; "presents " must have been as lavish as in the 
palmiest days of British and Indian negotiations. Remonstrances that were presented 
to the Legislature of this State, set forth that " secret and unwarrantable means had 
been employed by the lessees in making their arrangements with some of the In 
dians." At a meeting of the "New York Genesee Company," at Hudson, in Sep 
tember, 1789, the aggregate expenditures, as liquidated, had been over twelve thou 
sand pounds, N. E. currency. It will be necessary to refer to this subject again, in 
connection with Indian treaties that followed, and Charles Williamson. 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. Ill 

was so wide, he could not make his voice heard to its full extent ; 
that he could " preach better," if their territory was smaller. At 
the treaty held at Kanadesaga, when the Lease was procured, he had 
acted efficiently for the Lessees. To counteract thosestrong influ 
ences, agents and runners were put in requisition by the N. Y. 
commissioners ; and during the summer, the poor Indians had but 
little peace. 

The preparations for the embassy to the Indian country, at Al 
bany and New York, were formidable ones. A similar expedition 
now to Santa Fee, or Oregon, would be attended with less of pre 
liminary arrangements. A sloop came up from New York with In 
dian goods, stores for the expedition, marquees and tents, specie for 
purchase money, (which was obtained with much trouble,) those 
of the board of commissioners and their associates, who resided in 
New York, and many who were going to attend the treaty from 
motives of curiosity ; among whom was Count Monsbiers, the then 
French minister, and his sister. 

The board of commissioners and their retinue, started from Al 
bany on the 23d of August, (the goods and baggage going up the 
Mohawk in batteaux that had been built for the purpose,) and did 
not arrive at Fort Schuyler until the 28th. 

A wild, romantic scene was soon presented. The veteran soldier, 
George Clinton, pitched his marquee, and was as much the General 
as if he had headed a military instead of a civil expedition. Among 
his associates in the commission, and his companions, \vere many 
who had with him been conspicuous in the Revolution, and were 
the leading men of the then young State. They were surrounded 
by the camp fires of the numerous representatives of the Six Na 
tions, amounting to thousands, who had been attracted to the spot, 
some from an interest hey felt in the negotiations, but far the lar 
gest proportion of them had been attracted from their scattered 
wilderness homes, by the hopes and promises of feasts and carous 
als. Indian traders from all their localities in New York and 
Canada, with their showy goods and trinkets, and " fire water/ were 
upon the ground with the mixed objects of a sale of their goods, 
when money was paid to the Indians, and the espousal either of 
the State interests or that of the Lessees. Some of the prominent 
Lessees from Albany, Hudson and Canada had preceded the Gov 
ernor, and were in the crowd, secretly and insidiously endeavoring 



112 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

to thwart the objects of the council. Irritated by all he had heard 
of the machinations of the Lessees, and learning that one of their 
principals, John Livingston, of " Livingston Manor " was present 
with the concurrence of his associates, Gov. Clinton " took the 
responsibility," as did Gen. Jackson at New Orleans, and ordered 
him in writing, to " leave in three hours," and " retire to the dis 
tance of forty miles from Fort Schuyler. 

After this, Governor Clinton organized a species of court, or 
inquest, and summoning Indians, Indian traders, runners in the 
interest of both State and Lessees, took affidavits of all that had 
transpired in procuring the long lease. It exposed a connected 
scheme of bribery, threats, intimidation and deception, practiced 
upon the Indians. Finding that the Senecas were holding back 
from the treaty, and that many of the head men of the Cayugas and 
Onondagas were absent, and learning that there was a counter 
gathering at Kanadesaga, messengers were sent there, who found 
Dr. Benton surrounded by Indians and his agents, dealing out liquor 
and goods, and delivering speeches, in which he assured the Indians 
that if they we*nt to Fort Schuyler the Governor of New York 
would either cheat them out of their lands, or failing in that, would 
fall upon them with an armed force. Many of the Indians were 
undeceived, and finally induced to go to Fort Schuyler, when they 
had recovered from a state of beastly intoxication they had been 
kept in by Dr. Benton and other agents of the Lessees. Such had 
been the excesses into which they were betrayed, to keep them 
away from the treaty, that many of them, when becoming sober 
were sick and unable to reach Fort Schuyler ; and a Cayuga chief, 
Spruce Carrier, died on the road. When they were encamped at 
Scawyace, twelve miles east of Seneca Lake, on the eastern trail, 
Debartzch, a French trader at Cashong, in the interest of the Lessees, 
went there, and by intimidations, the use of rum, and promises of 
presents, induced them to turn back. 

It was not until the 8th of September that the different Nations 
were so far represented as to warrant the proceeding to the business 
of the council. Governor Clinton addressed the Onondagas, inform 
ing tnem minutely of the positions in which the Six Nations stood 
in reference to their lands ; that they were theirs to dispose of 
when they pleased, but that to protect them from frauds, the State 
had reserved to itself the right to purchase whenever they were 



PHELP3 AND GOKHAM s PUECHASE. 113 

disposed to sell. He told them that the acts of the Lessees, were 
the acts of " disobedient children " of the State, and that they were 
a " cheat/ and at the same time informing them that as commis 
sioners of the State, he and his associates were there prepared to 
purchase. He cautioned them to keep sober, as there were stran 
gers present, " who will laugh at us if while this business is in agi 
tation, any of us should be found disguised." " After the business 
is completed," said the Governor, " we can indulge ourselves in 
innocent mirth and friendship together." Black Cap, in behalf ot 
the Onondagas, replied, assuring the Governor that the Onondagas 
wholly disapproved of the proceedings with the Lessees, had made 
up their minds to sell to the State, but wanted a little farther time 
to talk among themselves. On the 12th, the treaty was concluded, 
and the deed of cession of the lands of the Onondagas, some res 
ervations excepted, was executed. The consideration was 81000 
in hand, and an annuity of $500 forever. After the treaty was 
concluded, additional provisions were distributed, presents of goods 
made, and congratulatory speeches interchanged. " As the business 
on which we had met, said the Governor, is now happily accomplish 
ed, we shall cover up the council fire at this time and take a drink, 
and smoke our pipes together, and devote the remainder of the day 
to decent mirth." 

It should be observed, that this council was called for the double 
purpose of perpetuating friendship with the Six Nations, and pur 
chasing lands. Though New York had ceded the pre-emption 
right to the lands of the Senecas, to Massachusetts, still it was de 
sirable that the Senecas should be present. . Most of their chiefs 
and head men were kept away, but about eighty young Seneca 
warriors and women were on the ground, occupying the ruins of 
the old Fort. The governor addressed them, distributed among 
them some provisions and liquor, and desired them to go back to 
their nation and report all they had seen, and warn their people 
against having any thing to do with the Lessees. A young Seneca 
warrior in his reply said : " We had to struggle hard to break 
through the opposition that was made to our coming down, by some 
of your disobedient children. We will now tell you how things 
really are among us. The voice of the birds,* and proud, strong 

* Vague rumors, and falsehoods, were called by the Senecas, " the voice of birds." 



114 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PUECHASE. 

words uttered by some of our own people at Kanadesaga, overcome 
the sachems and turned them back, after they had twice promised 
to come down with us." 

Negotiations with the Oneidas followed : Gov. Clinton made a 
speech to them to the same purport of the one he had delivered to 
the Onondagas. This was replied to by " One-yan-ha, alias Beach 
Tree, commonly called the " Quarter Master," who said an answer 
to the speech should be made after his people had counselled to 
gether. The next day, just as the council had assembled, word 
carne that a young warrior was found dead in Wood Creek. It 
was concluded after some investigation, that he had been drowned ac 
cidentally, in a state of intoxication. The commissioners insisted 
upon going on with the treaty, but the Indians demanded a postpone 
ment for funeral observances. At the burial, A-gwel-en-ton-gwas, 
alias, Domine Peter, or Good Peter, made a pathetic harrangue, 
eloquent in some of its passages. It was a temperance, but not 
a total abstinence discourse. 

The funeral over, the business of the council was resumed. Good 
Peter replied to the speech of the Governor : He reminded him 
of a remark made by him at Fort Herkimer in 1785, in substance, 
that he should not ask them for any more lands. The chief recapitula 
ted in a long speech, with surprising accuracy, every point in the 
Governor s speech, and observed that if any thing had been omitted, 
it was because he had not " the advantage of the use of letters." 
He then made an apology, that he was fatigued, and wished to sit 
down and rest ; and that in the meantime, according to ancient 



. The backwoods spiritual and temporal adviser, insisted that his people 
must abide by the resolution of their chief, which forbid any of them asking the Gov 
ernor or commissioners for mm, but only to take it when it was offered arid measured 
out to them. " We are not fit " said he, "to prescribe as to this article. Some who 
are great drinkers have often given in both women and children in their list, and 
drawn for the whole company as warriors, and thereby increased the quantity beyond 
all reasonable bounds.- Let the Governor therefore determine, if he sees fit to give a 
glass in the morning, and at noon, and then at night ; and if any remain after each 
one is served, let it be taken off the ground. This was the ancient custom at Albany 
in the days of our forefathers, when a great number of Indians were assembled on 
the hill above the city. The rum was brought there and each one drank a glass and 
was satisfied. No true Indian who had the spirit of a man, was ever known at that 
day to run to a commissioner and demand a bottle of rum, on the ground that he was 
a great man, and another too, for the same reason, which is the practice now-a-days ; 
no such great men were known in ancient happy times." 

[Good Peter s temperance exhortation, is similar to that of the Scotch divine : 
"My dear hearers," said he, "it is a well to take a drap on getting up of a mornin. 
a little afore dinner and supper, arid a little on ganging to bed; but dinna be "drain, 
dram, dramming."] 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 115 

custom, another speaker would arise and raise the spirit of their de 
ceased sachem, the Grasshopper. But before he sat down, he in 
formed the Governor, that the man bearing the name of Oe-dat-segh- 
ta, is the first name know in their national council, and had long 
been publised throughout the confederacy ; that his friend, the Grass 
hopper, was the counsellor for the tribe, to whom that name be 
longed, and that therefore, they replaced the Grasshopper with this 
lad, whom you are to call Kan-y-a-dal-i-go ; presenting the young 
lad to the Governor and Commissioners ; and that until he arrives 
at an age to qualify him to transact business personally, in council, 
their friend, Hans Jurio, is to bear the name of O-jis-tal-a-be, alias 
Grasshopper, and to be counsellor for this young man and his clan, 
until that period. 

The Governor made a speech, in which he disclaimed any desire 
on the part of the State to purchase their lands ; but strenuously 
urged upon them that the State would not tolerate the purchase or 
leasing by individuals. He told them that when they chose to sell 
the State would buy more for their good than anything else, as the 
State then had more land than it could occupy with people. 

Good Peter followed, said the Governor s speech was excellent, 
and to their minds. " We comprehend every word of your speech, 
it is true indeed ; for we see you possessed of an extensive territo 
ry, and but here and there a smoke." " But," said he, " we, too, 
have disorderly people in our nation ; you have a keg here, and 
they have their eyes upon it, and nothing can divert them from the 
pursuit of it. While there is any part of it left, they will have their 
eyes upon it and seek after it, till they die by it ; and if one dies, 
there is another who will not be deterred by it, will still continue to 
seek after it. It is just so with your people. As long as any spot 
of our excellent land remains, they will covet it, and will never 
rest till they possess it." He said it would take him a long time to 
tell the Governor " all his thoughts and contemplations ; they were 
extensive ; my mind is perplexed and pained, it labors hard." In a 
short digression, he spoke of the Tree of Peace, and expressed his 
fears that, " by-and-by, some twig of this beautiful tree will be 
broken off. The wind seems always to blow, and shake this belov 
ed tree." Before sitting down, Good Peter observed that they had 
all agreed to place the business of the council, on their part, in the 
hands of two of their people, Col. Louis and Peter Ot-se-quette, 



116 PHELPS A]SD GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

who would be their " mouth and their ears." * There was, also, ap 
pointed, as their advisers, a committee of principal chiefs. 

The negotiation went on for days ; speeches were interchanged ; 
propositions were made and rejected, until finally a deed of cession 
was agreed upon and executed by the chiefs. It conveyed all their 
lands, making reservations for their own residence around the Onei- 
da castle, or principal village, and a number of other smaller ones 
for their own people, and such whites as had been their interpret 
ers, favorite traders, or belonged to them by adoption. The con 
sideration was $2,000 in money, $2,000 in clothing and other 
goods, 81,000 in provisions, $500 in money for the erection of a 
saw-mill and grist-mill on their reservation, and an annuity of " six 
hundred dollars in silver," for ever. Congratulatory addresses fol 
lowed ; the Governor making to the Oneidas a parting address, re 
plete with good instruction and fatherly kindness ; the Oneidas re 
plying, assuring him of the satisfaction of their people with all that 
had taken place ; and thanking the Governor and his associate 
commissioners for the fairness of their speeches and their conduct. 
It would be difficult to find a record of diplomacy between civilized 
nations more replete throughout with dignity, decorum and ability, 
than is that of this protracted treaty. 

After dispatching the Rev. Mr. Kirkland (who had been present 
throughout the treaty, and materially aided the commissioners ; 
thus making full amends for the mischief he had helped to produce 
in connection with the long lease,) to the Cayugas and Senecas, 
charged with the mission of informing them of all that had trans 
pired, the Governor and his retinue set out on their return to Al 
bany. The council had continued for twenty-five days. 

The next meeting of the commissioners was convened at Albany, 
December 15, 1788. Governor Clinton read a letter from Peter 
Ryckman and Seth Reed, who were then residents at Kanadesaga ; 
Reed at the Old Castle, and Ryckman upon the Lake shore. The 

* Col. Louis was a half blood, French and Oneida. He had held a commission un 
der Gov. Clinton, in the Revolution. Peter Ot-se-quette, in a speech he made in the 
council, said that he had just returned from France, where he had been taken and edu 
cated by LaFayette. He said that when he arrived in France, he "was naked, and 
the Marquis clad him, receiving and treating him with great kindness ;" that for a 
year, he was restless ; and " when the light of knowledge flowed in on his mind, he 
felt distressed at the miserable situation of his countrymen ;" that after four years 
absence, he had returned with the intention of enlightening and reforming them. 
See Appendix, No. 4. 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

letter was forwarded by " Mr. Lee and Mr. Noble," who had been 
residing for the summer at Kanadesaga. The writers say to the 
Governor, that the bearers of the letter will detail to him all that 
has transpired in their locality ; and add, that if required, they can 
induce the Cayugas and Senecas to attend a council. The Rev. 
Mr. Kirkland gave, in writing, an account of his mission. He 
stated that on arriving at Kanadesaga, he ascertained that to keep 
the Cayugas back from the treaty at Fort Schuyler, two of the 
principal lessees and their agents, had " kept them in a continued 
state of intoxication for three weeks;" that "Dr. B. and Col. M. 
had between twenty and thirty riflemen in arms for twenty-four 
hours ; and gave out severe threats against P. Ryckman and Col. 
Reed, for being enemies to their party, and friends to the govern 
ment, in persuading the Indians to attend the treaty at Fort 
Schuyler." Mr. Kirkland stated that he had been as far as Nia 
gara, and seen Col. Butler ; and that at the Seneca village, on Buf 
falo Creek, he had seen Shen-dy-ough-gwat-te, the " second man 
of influence among the Senecas ;" and Farmer s Brother, alias 
Ogh-ne-wi-ge-was ;" and that they had become disposed to treat 
with the State. Before the Board adjourned, it was agreed to ad 
dress a letter to Reed and Ryckman, asking them to name a day on 
which they could procure the attendance of the Cayugas and 
Senecas, at Albany. Reed and Ryckman, on the reception of the 
letter, despatched James Manning Reed with an answer, saying 
that they would be at Albany, with the Indians, on the 23d oi 
January ; and adding, that the lessees kept the Indians " so continu 
ally intoxicated with liquor, that it is almost impossible to do any 
thing with them." 

It was not until the llth of Febuary however, that Mr. Ryck 
man was enabled to collect a sufficient number of Indians, and reach 
Albany. Several days were spent in some preliminary proceedings, 
and in waiting for the arrival of delegations that were on the way. 
On the 14th, James Bryan and Benjamin Birdsall, two of the 
Lessees appeared before the commissioners and delivered up the 
"long leases" that had occasioned so much trouble. On the 19th 

NOTE. Gov. Clinton and many of the commissioners resided in New York. As an 
illustration of the then slow passage down the Hudson, they resolved at Albany to 
charter a sloop, and thus be enabled to settle their accounts and arrange their papers 
on their way down the river. 



118 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

the council was opened with the Cayugas, many Senecas, Onon- 
dagas and Oneidas, being present. Good Peter in behalf of the 
Cayugas, made a speech. He said his brothers, the Cayugas and 
Senecas had " requested him to be their mouth." As upon another 
occasion his speech abounded in some of the finest figures of speech 
to be found in any preserved specimens of Indian eloquence. In 
allusion to the conduct of the Lessees, and a long series of precedent 
difficulties the Indians had had with the whites, he observed : 
" Let us notwithstanding, possess our minds in peace ; we can see 
but a small depth into the heart of man ; we can only discover what 
comes from his tongue." Speaking of the relations that used to 
exist between his people and the old colony of New York, he said, 
they "used to kindle a council fire, the smoke of \\hich reached the 
heavens, and around which they sat and talked of peace." He 
said in reference to the blessings of peace, and the settled state of 
things that was promised by fixing the Indians upon their Reserva 
tions, under the protection of the state : " Our little ones can now 
go with leisure to look for fish in the streams, and our warriors to 
hunt for wild beasts in the woods." Present at the council, 
was a considerable number of their women, whom Good Peter 
called " Governesses," and gave the reasons why they were there. 
" The Rights of women," found in him an able advocate: "Our 
ancestors considered it a great transgression to reject the counsel 
of the women, particularly the Governesses ; they considered them 
the mistresses of the soil. They said, who brings us forth? 
Who cultivates our lands ? Who kindles our fires, and boils our 
pots, but the women ? Our women say let not the tradition of the 
fathers, with respect to women, be disiegarded ; let them not be des 
pised ; God is their maker." 

Several other speeches intervening, the Governor answered the 
speech of Good Peter ; He reviewed the bargain the Indians had 
made with the Lessees, and told them that if carried out it would 
be to their ruin; explained the laws of the state, and their tendency 
to protect them in the enjoyment of a sufficient quantity of land for 
their use ; and to guard them against peculation and fraud. In re 
plying to that part of Good Peter s speech in reference to the 
women and their rights, the venerable Governor was in a vein of 
gallantry, eloquently conceding the immunities that belonged to 
the " mothers of mankind." He told them they should have re- 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 119 

servations " large enough however prolific they might be ; even if 
they should increase their nation to its ancient state and num 
bers." He apologised to the dusky sisterhood by saying that, he 
" was advanced in years, unaccustomed to address their sex in pub 
lic ;" and therefore they " must excuse the imperfections of his 
speech." 

Other speeches, and days of negotiation followed. On the 25th 
of February, all the preliminaries being settled, the Cayugas ceded 
to the state all of their lands, excepting a large reservation of 100 
square miles. The consideration was $500 in hand, $1,628 in June 
following, and an annuity of $500 for ever. 

In a congratulatory address, after the treaty was concluded, Gov. 
Clinton recapitulated all of its terms, and observed : " Brothers 
and sisters ! when you reflect that you had parted with the whole of 
your country, (in allusion to the long lease,) without reserving a 
spot to lay down, or kindle a fire on ; and that you had disposed of 
your lands to people whom you had no means to compel to pay 
what they had promised, you will be persuaded that your brothers 
and sisters whom you have left at home, and your and their children, 
will have reason to rejoice at the covenant you have now made, 
which not only saves you from impending ruin, but restores you to 
peace and security." 

The three treaties, that had thus been concluded, had made the 
state the owners of the soil of the Military Tract, or the principal 
amount of territory now included in the counties of Cayuga, Onon- 
daga, Seneca, Tompkins, Cortland, and parts of Oswego and Wayne. 
Other cessions followed until the large reservations were either 
ceded entirely away, or reduced to their present narrow limits. 

The deed of cession of the Cayugas stipulated that the state 
should convey to their " adopted child," Peter Ryckman, " whom 
they desire shall reside near them and assist them," a tract on the 



NOTE. This tract was bounded on the Lake and extended back to the old pre 
emption line, embracing most of the present site of Geneva. By sale, or some after 
arrangement, the patent was issued to "Reed and Ryckman." It would seem by this 
cession that the Cayugas claimed west as far as the old pre-emption line, but their 
ownership, as it was afterwards shewn, did not extend west of Seneca Lake. Their 
ancient boundary was a line running due south from the head of Great Sodus Bay. 
Good Peter as the "mouth" of the Cayugas, alluding to the obligations they were 
under to Peter Ryckman, said *hey " wanted his dish made large," for they expected 
"to put their spoons in it when they were hungry." This probably had reference to 
eome promises on the part of Ryckman. 



120 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUKCHASE. 

west side of Seneca Lake, which should contain sixteen thousand 
acres, the location being designated. 

Soon after the treaty of Albany, the superintendency of Indian 
affairs principally devolved upon John Taylor, as the agent of the 
board of commissioners. Although the treaty had seemed amica 
ble and satisfactory, a pretty strong faction of all three of the na 
tions treated with, had kept back, and became instruments for the 
use of designing whites. Although the Lessees had surrendered 
their leases, they did not cease, through their agents and Indian 
traders in their interest to make trouble, by creating dissatisfaction 
among the Indians ; probably, with the hopes of coercing the State 
to grant them remuneration. Neither Brant, Red Jacket, Farmer s 
Brother, and in fact but few of the influential chiefs had attended 
the treaties. Harrassed for a long period, a bone of contention, 
first between the French and the English, then between the Eng 
lish and colonists of New York during the Revolution, and lastly, 
between the State of New York and the Lessees, the Six Nations 
had become cut up into contending factions, and their old land 
marks of government and laws, the ancient well defined immuni 
ties of their chiefs, obliterated. Dissatisfaction, following the trea 
ties, found ready and willing promoters in the persons of the gov- 
ment officers of Canada, and the loyalists who had sought refuge 
there, during the border wars of the Revolution. When the first at 
tempt was made to survey the lands, a message was received by Gov. 
Clinton, from some of the malcontents, threatening resistance, but 
an answer from the Governor, stating the consequence of such re 
sistance, intimidated them. At an Indian council at Niagara, Col. 
Butler said the Oneidas were " a poor despicable set of Indians, 
who had sold all their country to the Governor of New York, and 
had dealt treacherously with their old friends." 

When the period approached for paying the first annuity, the 
Onondagas through an agent, represented to Gov. Clinton, that 
they had " received four strings of wampum from the Senecas, for 
bidding their going to Fort Stanwix to receive the money ; and in 
forming them that the Governor of Quebec, wanted their lands ; 
Sir John, (Johnson, it is presumed,) wanted, it ; Col. Butler wants 
the Cayuga s lands ; and the commanding officer of Fort Niagara 
wants the Seneca s lands." The agent in behalf of the Governor, 
admonished them to " keep their minds in peace," assured them of 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 121 

the Governor s protection ; and told them the Lessees were the 
cause of all their trouble. 

The Cayugas sent a message to the Governor, informing him 
that they were " threatened with destruction, even with total exter 
mination. The voice comes from the west ; its sound is terrible ; 
it bespeaks our death. Our brothers the Cayugas, and Onondagas 
are to share the same fate." They stated that the cause of com 
plaint was that they had " sold their lands without consulting the 
western tribes. This has awakened up their resentment to such a 
degree, that they determined in full council, at Buffalo creek, that 
we shall be deprived of our respective reserves, with our lives in 
the bargain. This determination of the western tribes, our Gov 
ernor may depend upon. It has been communicated to the super 
intendent of Indian affairs at Quebec, who as we are told, makes no 
objections to their wicked intentions, but rather countenances them. 3 
They appealed to the Governor to fulfill his promises of protection. 

Replies were made, in which the Indians were told they should 
be protected. As one source of complaint was, that some Cayugas 
who resided at Buffalo creek, had not been paid their share of the 
purchase money. The Governor advised that they should make a 
fair distribution ; and warned them against the Lessees, and all 
other malign influences. 

Among the mischief makers, was a Mr. Peter Penet, a shrewd, 
artful Frenchman, who had been established among the Oneidas 
as a trader ; and whom Gov. Clinton had at first favored and em 
ployed in Indian negotiations. But ingratiating himself in the good 
will of the natives, he became ambitious, represented himself as 
the ambassador of France, as the friend of La Fayette, charged by 
him with looking to the interest of the Indians ; and finally, got the 



NOTE. The part that the Senecas were persuaded to take in promoting these em 
barrassments, was glaringly inconsistent. They had sold a part of their lands to Mr. 
Phelps the fall before, without consulting other nations, to say nothing of their having 
consented to the "lease" which was afar worse bargain than those made by the 
State. But the main promoters of the troubles, were the Lessees and the British 
agents; the latter of whom, were soured by the result of the Revolution, and were yet 
looking forward to British re-possession of all Western, and a part of Middle New 
York. In all this matter the conduct of Brant, did not correspond with his general 
reputation for fairness and honesty. He helped to fan the flames of discontent, while 
at the same time he was almost upon his own hooks, trying to sell to the State the 
remnant of the Mohawk s lands. Interfering between the State and the Indians, 
he got some dissatisfied chiefs to join him in an insolent letter to the Governor, 
which was replied to with a good deal of severity of language. 
8 



122 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUECHASE. 

promises of large land cessions. Thwarted mainly in his designs, 
he became mischievous, and caused much trouble. 

A mere skeleton has thus been given of the events connected 
with the extinguishment of Indian titles, and the measures prelimi 
nary to the advancement of settlement westward, after the Revo 
lution. It was only after a hard struggle, much of perplexity and 
embarrassment, that the object was accomplished. For the honor 
of our whole country, it could be wished, that all Indian negotia 
tions and treaties, had been attended with as little of wrong, had 
been conducted as fairly as \vere those under the auspices and 
general direction of George Clinton. No where has the veteran 
warrior and statesman, left better proof of his sterling integrity 
and ability, than is furnished by the records of those treaties. In 
no case did he allow the Indians to be deceived, but stated to them 
from time to time, with unwearied patience, the true conditions of 
the bargains they w r ere consummating. The policy he aimed at was 
to open all of the beautiful domain of western New York, for sale 
and settlement to prepare the way for inevitable destiny and 
at the same time secure the Indians in their possessions ; give them 
liberal reservations ; and extend over them as a protection, the 
strong arms of the State. 

The treaties for lands, found the Six Nations in a miserable con 
dition. They had warred on -the side of a losing party, for long 
years, the field and the chase had been neglected ; they were suffer 
ing for food and raiment. Half famished, they flocked to the 
treaties, and were fed and clothed. One item of expense charged 
in the accounts of the treaty at Albany in 1789, was for horses paid 
for, that the Indians had killed and eaten, on their way down. For 
several years, in addition to the amount of provisions distributed to 
them at the treaties, boat loads of corn were distributed among them 
by the State.* 

In tracing the progress of settlement westward, it will be neces 
sary to give a brief account of the disposition the State made of lands 
acquired of the Six Nations, bordering upon the Genesee Country. 
They constituted what is known as the Military Tract. To protect 



* The years 1789, 90, is supposed to have been a period of great scarcity. The 
record of legislation shows that large amounts of provisions were paid for by the 
State, aud distributed, not only among the Indians, but among the white inhabitants 
of several counties. 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 123 

the frontiers of this State from the incursions of the British and their 
Indian allies, the State of New York, throwu upon its own resour 
ces, in 1779 and bO, enlisted two regiments to serve three years, 
unless sooner discharged. They were to be paid and clothed at 
the expense of the United States ; but the State pledged to them a 
liberal bounty in land. To redeem this pledge, as soon as Indian 
titles were extinguished, the surveyor General was instructed to 
survey these bounty lands and prepare them tor the location of 
warrants. The survey was completed in 1790. It embraced about 
two million eight hundred thousand acres, in six hundred acre lots. 
The tract comprised all the territory within the present boundaries 
of Ononda^a, Cayuga, Seneca and Cortland, and a part of Oswego, 
Wayne and Tompkins. A large district of country adjoining on 
the east, was thus put in the way of being settled, about the same 
period that sales and settlement commenced west of the pre-emp 
tion line, though it did not progress as rapidly. Land titles were in 
dispute, and emigrants chose to push on farther, where titles were 
indisputable. Speculation and fraud commenced as soon as the 
patents were issued, a majority of those who it was intended the 
bounty of the State should benefit, sold their right for a trifle,* and 
some were defrauded out of the whole. By the time that settle 
ment commenced, there were few lots, the title to which, was not 
contested. In addition to other questions of title, the officers and 
soldiers wives, held in a large majority of cases, the right of dower. 
Land titles upon the whole military tract, were not finally settled 
until about 1800, when a committee appointed by the Legislature, 
one of whom was the late Gen. Vincent Matthews, accomplished 
the work. 

In 1784, Hugh White and his family progressed beyond the set 
tlements on the Mohawk, and located at what is now Whitestown. 
In the same year, James Dean located upon a tract given him by 
the Indians, in consequence of some services rendered them as an 
interpreter, near the present village of Rome. In 1787, Joseph 

NOTE. In a letter from Mr. Moriss . to Mr, Colquhoun, dated in June 1791, he says 
that notwithstanding all these questions of title, land on the military tract had risen 
to I8d per acre ; and that a tract of 50,000, which he had bought of the State of New- 
York in 1786, in Otsego county, which by a fortunate use of some public securities, 
cost him but 6d per acre, had risen to 10s per acre, New York currency. i 

* " Many patents for GOO acres, were sold at prices in some instances as low as eight 
dollars. [Maude, ail English Journalist. 4 



124 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

Blackmer, who was afterwards a pioneer in Wheatland, Monroe 
county, advanced and settled a short distance west of Judge Dean. 
In May, 1788, Asa Danforth, with his family, accompanied by 
Comfort Tyler, progressed far on beyond the bounds of civilization, 
locating at Onondaga Hollow. There being then no road, they 
came by water, landing at the mouth of Onondaga Creek. The 
very earliest pioneers of all this region, speak of " Major Dan 
forth " and the comforts of his log tavern, as compared with their 
camps in the wilderness. Another name has been introduced, that 
should not be passed over by the mere mention of it. Comfort 
Tyler was conspicuously identified in all early years with the his 
tory of the western portion of this State. He \vas teaching a 
school upon the Mohawk at the close of the Revolution, and also 
engaged in the business of a surveyor. He was with Gen. James 
Clinton, in the establishment of the boundary line between this 
State and Pennsylvania. He felled the first tree, (with reference to 
improvement,) assisted in the manufacture of the first salt, * (other 
than Indian manufacture,) and built the first turnpike in Onondaga 
county. He also constructed the first " stump mortar," or hand- 
mill, of which the reader will be told more in the course of our nar 
rative. He filled many important offices in Onondaga county, and 
was one of the original projectors of the Cayuga bridge. He was 
the friend of the early pioneers ; and many in all this region, will 
remember his good offices. The Indians, who were his first neigh 
bors, respected him, and his memory is now held in reverence by 
their descendents. His Indian name was To-whan-ta-gua " 
meaning that he could do two things at once ; or be, at the same 
time, a gentleman and a laboring man. While a member of the 
Legislature in 1799, he made the acquaintance of Aaron Burr. A 
charter having been procured for building the bridge, Col. Burr and 
Gen. Swartout subscribed for the whole of the stock ; and at that 
time, Col. Burr had other business connections in this region. 



* Tyler and Danforth, both engaged in making a little salt for new settlers in 
early years. A letter published in a Philadelphia paper, in 1792, says, that "sixteen 
bushels of salt are manufactured daily at Col. Dariforth s works." It is mentioned in 
the history of Onondaga, that Col. Danforth commenced the business of salt boiling 
by carrying a five pail iron kettle from Onondaga Hollow to the Salt Springs upon his 
head. Lest this should be looked upon as incredible by the younger class of read 
ers, the fact may be mentioned, that it was a very common practice of the pioneers to 
carry their five pail kettles into the woods for sugar-making in this way. 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 125 

41 Thus commenced the intercourse of Aaron Burr with the people 
of Western New York, many of whom," with Col. Tyler, "were 
drawn into the great south-west expedition." Col. Tyler and Israel 
Smith were commissaries of the expedition ; went upon the Ohio 
river, purchased provisions, and shipped them to Natches. Col. 
Tyler was arrested and indicted, but never tried. With fortune 
impaired by all this, in a few years after, Col. Tyler removed to 
Montezuma, and became identified in all early enterprises and im 
provement at that point. In the war of 1812, he acted as Assistant 
Commissary General to the northern army. He was an early 
promoter of the canal policy, and his memory should be closely 
associated with all that relates to the early history of the Erie 
Canal. He died at Montezuma, in 1827. 

There followed Danforth and Tyler, in the progress of settle 
ment westward, John L. Hardenburgh, whose location was called, 
in early years, " Hardenburgh s Corners," now the city of Auburn. 
In 1789, James Bennett and John Harris, settled on either side of 
Cayuga Lake, and established a ferry. This was about the extent 
of settlement west of the lower valley of the Mohawk, when set 
tlements in the Genesee country began to be founded. * The ven 
erable Joshua Fairbanks, of Lewiston, who with his then young 
wife, (who is also living,) came through from Albany to Geneva in 
the winter of 1789, 90 ; were sheltered the first night in the " un 
finished log house" of Joseph Blackmer, who had become a 
neighbor of Judge Dean ; and the next night at Col. Danforth s ; 

NOTE. For the principal facts in the above brief notice of one whose history- 
would make an interesting volume, the author is indebted to the " History of Onon- 
daga." The connection, in all this region, of prominent individuals with Col. Burr, 
in his south-western scheme, was far more extensive than has generally been supposed. 
It embraced names here, the mention of which would go far to favor the conclusion 
which time and its developements have been producing, that the scheme, as imparted 
by Col. Burr to his followers, had nothing in it of domestic treason. There were no 
better friends to their country, or more ardent devotees to its interests, than were many 
men of western N ew York, who were enlisted in this scheme. In after years, when 
in familiar conversation with an informant of the author, (a resident of western 
New York,) Col. Burr spoke even with enthusiasm of his associates here naming 
them, and saying that among them, were men whom he would choose to lead armies, 
or engage in any high achievement that required talents and energy of character. At 
the risk of extending this note to an unreasonable length, the author will add the 
somewhat curious historical fact, that the maps and charts, by which the British fleet 
approached New Orleans in the war of 1812, were those prepared in western New 
York, by a then resident here, for the south-western expedition of Col. Burr. The 
cucumstance was accidental ; the facts in no way implicating the author or maker of 
the maps. 

* Other than the settlement of Jerusalem. 



126 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUKCHASE. 

there being no intermediate settler. They camped out the third 
night ; and the fourth, staid with John Harris on the Cayuga Lake. 
The parents of Gen. Parkhurst Whitney, of Niagara Falls, came 
through to Seneca Lake, in February, 1790, " camping out " three 
nights west of Rome. It is mentioned, in connection with some 
account of the early advent of Major Danforth, in May, 1788, that 
his wife saw no white woman in the first eight months. These in 
cidents are cited, to remind the younger class of readers that the 
pioneers of this region hot only came to a wilderness, but had a 
long and dreary one to pass through before arriving at their desti 
nation. 

j The first name we find for all New York west of Albany, was 
that bestowed by the Dutch in 1638 : " Terra Incognita," or " un 
known land." It was next Albany county ; in 1772 Tryon county 
(named from the then English Governor,) was set off, embracing all 
of the territory in this state west of a line drawn north and south 
that would pass through the centre of Schoharie county. Imme 
diately after the Revolution the name was changed to Montgomery. 
All this region was in Montgomery county when settlement com 
menced. In 1788, all the region west of Utica was the town of 
Whitestown. The first town meeting was held at the " barn of 
Captain Daniel White, in said District, in April, 1789 ; Jedediah San- 
ger, was elected Supervisor. At the third town meeting, in 1791, 
Trueworthy Cook, of Pompey, and Jeremiah Gould of Saiina, 
Onondaga county, and James Wadsworth of Geneseo, were chosen 
path masters. Accordingly, it may be noted that Mr. Wadsworth 
was the first path master west of Cayuga Lake. It could have been 
little more than the supervision of Indian trails ; but the "warning" 
must have been an -onerous task. Mr. Wadsworth had the year 
previous, done something at road making, which probably suggested 
the idea that he would make a good path master.* At the first 
general election for Whitestown, the polls were opened at Cayuga 
Ferry, adjourned to Onondaga, and closed at Whitestown. Herki- 
mer county was taken from Montgomery in 1791, and included all 
west of the present county of Montgomery. 

* " The first road attempted to be made in this country, was in 1790, under the di 
rection of the Wadsworths, from the settlement at Whitestown to Canandaigua 
through a country then very little explored, and then quite a wilderness." [History 
of Onondaga. 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 127 



CHAPTER III 



THE GENESEE COUNTEY AT THE PERIOD WHEN SETTLEMENT COM 
MENCED ITS POSITION IN REFERENCE TO CONTIGUOUS TERRITORY 

CONDITION OF THE COUNTRY GENERALLY AFTER THE REVOLUTION. 



AT Geneva, (then called Kanadesaga) there was a cluster of 
buildings, occupied by Indian traders, and a few settlers who had 
come in under the auspices of the Lessee Company. Jemima 
Wilkinson, with her small colony, was upon her first location upon 
the west bank of Seneca Lake, upon the Indian Trail through the 
valley of the Susquehannah, and across Western New York to 
Upper Canada ; the primitive highway of all this region ; one or two 
white families had settled at Catherine s Town, at the head of Sen 
eca Lake. A wide region of wilderness, separated the most north 
ern and western settlements of Pennsylvania from all this region. 
All that portion of Ohio bordering upon the Lake, had, of our race, 
but the small trading establishment at Sandusky, and the military 
and trading posts upon the Maumee. Michigan was a wilderness, 
save the French village and the British garrison at Detroit, and a 
few French settlers upon the Detroit River and the River Raisin. 
In fact, all that is now included in the geographical designation 
the Great West was Indian territory, and had but Indian occu 
pancy, with similar exceptions, to those made in reference to Mich 
igan. In what is now known as. Canada West, there had been the 
British occupancy, of a post opposite Buffalo, early known as Fort 
Erie, and a trading station at Niagara, since the expulsion of the 
French, in 1759. Settlement, in its proper sense, had its commence 
ment in Canada West during the Revolution ; was the offspring of 
one of its emergencies. Those in the then colonies who adhered to 
the King, fled there for refuge : for the protection offered by British 
dominion and armed occupancy. The termination of the struggle* 



128 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 

in favor of the colonies, and the encouragement afforded by the 
colonial authorities, gave an impetus to this emigration ; yet at the 
period of the first commencement of settlement in Western New 
York, settlement in Canada West was confined to Kingston and its 
neighborhood, Niagara, Queenston, Chippewa, along the banks of the 
Niagara River, with a few small settlements in the immediate inte 
rior. Upon Lakes Erie and Ontario, there were a few British 
armed vessels, and three or four schooners were employed in the 
commerce, which was confined wholly to the fur trade, and the 
supplying of British garrisons. 

Within the Genesee country, other than the small settlement at 
Geneva, and the Friend s settlement, which has been before men 
tioned, there were two or three Indian traders upon the Genesee 
River, a few white families who were squatters, upon the flats ; one 
or two white families at Lewiston ; one at Schlosser ; a negro, with 
a squaw wife, at Tonawanda ; an Indian interpreter, and two or 
three traders at the mouth of Buffalo creek, and a negro Indian 
trader at the mouth of Cattaragus creek. Fort Niagara was a 
British garrison. All else was Seneca Indian occupancy. 

In all that relates to other than the natural productions of the 
soil, there was but the cultivation, in a rude way, of a few acros of 
flats, and intervals, on the river and creeks, wherever the Indians 
were located ; the productions principally confined to corn, beans 
and squashes. In the way of cultivated fruit, there was in several 
localities, a few apple trees, the seeds of which had been planted 
by the Jesuit Missionaries ; and they w r ere almost the only relic 
left of their early, and long continued occupancy. At Fort Niag 
ara and Schlosser, there were ordinary English gardens. 

The streams upon an average, were twice as large as now ; the 
clearing of the land, and consequent absorption of the water, having 
diminished one half, and perhaps more, the quantity of water then 
carried off through their channels. The . primitive forests other 
than those that were deemed of second growth that are standing 
now, have undergone but little change, that of ordinary decay, 
growth, and re-production, but there are large groves of second 
growth, now consisting of good sized forest trees, that were sixty 
years ago but small saplings. The aged Senecas point out in many 
instances, swamps that are now thickly wooded, that they have 
known as open marshes, with but here and there a copse of under- 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 129 

wood. The origin of many marshes, especially upon the small 
streams, may be distinctly traced to the beaver ; the erection of 
their dams, and the consequent flooding of the lands, having des 
troyed the timber. As the beaver gradually disappeared, the dams 
wore away, the water flowed off, and forest trees began to grow. 

And here it may not be out of place to remark, that a very com 
mon error exists in reference to the adaptedness of certain kinds 
of forest trees to a wet soil. We find the soft maple, black ash, a 
species of elm, the fir, the spruce, the tamarack, the alder, and 
several other varieties of trees and shrubs growing in wet soils, 
and then draw the inference that wet soils are their natural local 
ities. Should we not rather infer, that all this is accidental, or 
rather, to be traced to other causes, than that of peculiar adaptation ? 
Take the case of land that has been flooded by the beaver : the 
water has receded, and the open ground is prepared for the recep 
tion of such seeds as the winds, the floods, the birds and fowls, 
bring to it. It will be found that the seeds of those trees which 
predominate in the swamps, are those best adapted to the modes of 
transmission. The practical bearing of these remarks, has refer 
ence to the transplanting of trees from wet grounds. Wherever 
the ash, the fir, spruce, tamarack, high bush cranberry, soft maple, 
&c. have been transplanted upon up lands, and properly cared for, 
they furnish evidence that it was a casualty, not a peculiar adapta 
tion, that placed them where found, generally stinted and unhealthy. 

But little was known in the colonies of New York, and New 
England of Western New York, previous to the Revolution. During 
the twenty-four years it had been in the possession of the English, 
there had been a communication kept up by water, via Oswego 
and Niagara, to the western posts ; and a few traders from the east 
visited the Senecas. The expeditions of Prideux and Bradstreet 
were composed partly of citizens of New England and New York, 
but they saw nothing of the interior of all this region. A few 
years previous to the Revolution, in 1765, the Rev. Samuel Kirk- 
land, whose name will appear in connexion with Indian treaties, in 
subsequent pages, extended his missionary labors to the Indian 
village of Kanadesaga, where he sojourned for several months, 
making excursions to the Genesee River, Tonawanda and Buffalo 
Creeks. He was the first protestant missionary among the Senecas, 
and with the exception of Indian traders, probably gave the people 



130 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 

of New England, the first account of the Genesee country.* But 
the campaign of Gen. Sullivan, in 1779, more than all else perhaps, 
served to create an interest in this region. The route of the army, 
after entering the Genesee country, was one to give them a favora 
ble impression of it. They saw the fine region along the west shore 
of the Seneca Lake ; and passing through what are now the towns 
of Seneca, Phelps, Gorham, Canandaigua, Bristol, Bloomfield, Rich 
mond, Livonia, Conesus, they passed up and down the flats of the 
Genesee and the Canasoraga. To eyes that had rested only upon 
the rugged scenery of New England, its mountains and rocky hill 
sides, its sterile soil and stinted herbage, the march must have af 
forded a constant succession of beautiful landscapes ; and what was 
of greater interest to them, practical working men as they were, 
was the rich easily cultivated soil, that at every step caused them 
to look forward to the period when they could make to it a second 
advent a peaceful one with the implements of agriculture, 
rather than the weapons of war. Returning to the firesides of 
Eastern New York, and New England, they relieved the dark pic 
ture of retaliatory warfare the route, the flight, smouldering 
cabins, pillage and spoliations with the lighter shades descrip 
tions of the Lakes and Rivers, the rolling up-lands and rich valleys 
the Canaan of the wilderness, they had seen. But it was a far 
off land, farther off than would seem to us now, our remote posses 
sions upon the Pacific ; associated in the minds of the people of 
New England, with ail the horrors of a warfare they had known 
upon their own extreme borders ; the Revolution was not consum- 



* The young missionary had first seen some of the young men of the Six Nations, 
at the mission" school of the Rev. Mr. Wheelock in Lebanon, Connecticut, where they 
were his fellow students, among whom was Joseph Brant. Taking a deep interest 
in the spiritual welfare of their people, he got introduced to them as a missionary of 
Sir William Johnson. With Indian guides, carrying a pack containing his provisions, 
travelling upon snow shoes, and camping at night upon and under hemlock boughs. 
he reached the Indian settlement at the foot of Seneca Lake, or rather at the Seneca 
Castle. He was well received by the chief sachem of the village, and invited to re 
main ; but another chief of the Pagan party of the village, soon made him much 
trouble, and in fact endangered his life, by accusing him of witchcraft of being the 
cause of the sudden death of one of their people. He was tried and acquitted through 
the influence of his friend the chief sachem, and a trader from the Mohawk, by the 
name of Wemple, the father of Mrs". Gilbert Berry, and grandfather of Mrs. George 
Hosmer.* After this he was uninterrupted in his missionary labors. Mr. Kirkland s 
influence with the Indians enabled him to do essential service during the Revolution, 
in diverting them- from Butler and Brant. 

* See Appendix, No. 5. 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PTJECHASE. 131 

mated ; long years it must be, as they thought, if ever, before the 
goodly land, of which they had thus had glimpses, could become 
the abode of civilization. The consummation was not speedy, but it 
come far sooner than in that dark hour, they allowed themselves to 
anticipate. In less than four years after Sullivan s expedition, the 
war of the Revolution was ended by a treaty of peace ; but almost 
ten years elapsed before the conflicting claims of Massachusetts 
and New York were settled, and Indian titles had been extinguish 
ed, so as to admit of the commencement of settlement. 

The tide of emigation to the Genesee county, was destined to 
come principally from New England. A brief space, therefore ; 
may be appropriately occupied in a sketch of the condition of the 
citizens of that region, after the Revolution, in the vortex of which 
they had been placed ; and in this, the author has been assisted by 
the venerable Gen. Micah Brooks, whose retentive memory goes 
back to the period, and well informs us in reference to the men 
who were the foremost Pioneers of the Genesee country. The 
sketch is given as it came from his hands : 

" It was my lot to have my birth under the Colonial Government. 
In childhood, I saw our fathers go to the field of battle, and our 
mothers to the harvest field to gather the scanty crops. Food and 
clothing for the army was but in part provided ; and at the end of 
the war, the soldiers, who had suffered almost beyond endurance, 
were discharged without pay ; the patriots, who had supplied food 
and clothing for the army, had been paid in Government paper, 
which had become worthless ; the great portion of laborers drawn 
from the farms and the workshops, had reduced the country to 
poverty; and commerce was nearly annihilated. The fisheries 
abandoned, the labor and capital of the people diverted into other 
channels, and the acts of peace had not returned to give any sur 
plus for exportation. A national debt justly due, of $100,000,000, 
and the Continental Congress no power to collect duties on imports, 
or to compel the States to raise their quotas. The end of the war 
brought no internal peace. In 1785, Congress attempted to make 
commercial treaties with England, France, Spain and Portugal ; 
each refused ; assigning as a reason, that under the Confederacy, 
Congress had no power to bind the States. Spain closed the Mis 
sissippi against our trade, and we were expelled from the Mediter 
ranean by Barbary pirates ; and we were without the means to 



132 PHELPS AM) GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

fight them, or money to buy their peace. The attempt of the 
States to extend their commerce was abortive ; salt rose to $5 and 
$8 per bushel ; and packing meat for exportation ceased. Massa 
chusetts prohibited the exportation of American products in British 
bottoms ; and some of the States imposed a countervailing duty 
on foreign tonnage. Pennsylvania imposed a duty on foreign goods, 
while New Jersey admitted them free of duty. 

" During the war, various causes had operated to make a new dis 
tribution of property : those equally friendly to the British had 
secretly traded with the enemy, and supplied them with fresh provi 
sions, while their troops were quartered in various parts of the 
country ; thus filling their pockets with British gold. At the close 
of the war, a large amount of British goods were sent into the 
country, absorbing much of its precious metals; tending to render 
us still dependent on British favor. While all those whose time and 
property had been devoted to the cause of liberty and independ 
ence, were scarcely able to hold their lands, taxation brought dis 
tress and ruin on a great portion of our most worlhy citizens. 
Time was required by those who had lost their time and property, 
to re-establish themselves in their former occupations ; yet, some 
of the States resorted to vigorous taxation, which created discon 
tent and open resistance. The great and general pressure, at this 
time, seemed to create a universal attempt of all creditors to en 
force in the courts of law all their demands before they should 
be put at hazard by the sweeping taxation, which was evidently 
coming. 

" It may be well to call to mind the condition of the country, as to 
law and government. At the period of the Declaration of Inde 
pendence, we had neither constitutions nor government, and the 
people took the power into their hands to conduct the affairs of the 
nation. The people, in their primary assemblies, attempted to car 
ry out the recommendations of the American Congress ; and that 
in many instances, by town committees ; and to furnish recruits for 
the army. The citizens of a town would form themselves into 
classes ; each class to furnish a man, equipped for service. The towns 
punished treason, arrested and expelled tories, levied taxes, and 
cordially co-operated in all the leading measures of that day, so far 
as related to our National Independence. 

" In 1786, 7, a boy, I saw the Revolutionary fathers in their 



PIIELPS AOT) GOEHAM S PTJKCHASE. 133 

primary assemblies. The scene was solemn and portentous ! They 
found their common country without a constitution and govern 
ment, and without a union. The supposed oppressive measures of 
an adjoining State had so alarmed the people of a portion of it, 
that open resistance was made for self-protection, and the protec 
tion of property. An army, in resistance to a proceeding of the 
courts of law in Massachusetts, had been raised, and had taken the 
field. Col. P., a man of gigantic stature, and a soldier of the Rev 
olution, with his associates in arms, entered the court-house at 
Northampton, silenced the court; and in a voice of thunder, order 
ed it out, closing the doors, and using the court-house as his castle. 
In the county of Berkshire, a General, with three hundred volun 
teers, had taken the field, in open resistance to State authority ; and 
the blood of the citizens had been shed, and the execution of 
State laws had been suspended. Other sections of our country 
were in a state of insurrection, and no prospect of relief from any 
source of mediatorial power then existing. The appalling scenes 
that followed, filled the American people with fear and dread. The 
distress that existed, might be an apology for the resistance of the 
laws, which was afterwards regretted by those who partook in it, a 
number of whom I saw who had left their homes and wandered as 
fugitives to evade the punishment that the law would inflict on 
them. 

" A new field was now opened to exhibit the powers, genius and 
energies of the American people. They soon discovered what was 
essential to their security and prosperity ; and in their deliberations, 
moved and adopted an ordinance, or constitution, which they de 
clared to be in order to form a more perfect union, establish jus 
tice, ensure domestic tranquility, and provide for the general de 
fence ; promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of 
liberty to ourselves and our posterity ; and, although defects and 
doubts of its renovating power existed, yet, in a spirit of concilia 
tion, they adopted it. 

At the time the new constitution went into effect, a new class 
of laborers appeared. These sturdy boys, who were taught in 
business habits during the war, had grown to manhood, and with 
redoubled energy, repaired the depredations which contending 
armies had spread. And many of those soldiers who composed 
Sullivan s army, and who had penetrated the western wilds of this 



134 PHELPS AND GOKHAM ? S PUKCIIASE. 

State, to chastise the savages for cruelties inflicted on their friends 
and relations ; those who had viewed the beauties of the Genesee, 
and the rich table lands of Western New York, resolved to leave 
the sterile soil, the worn and exhausted lands of New England, and 
with their families, under the guidance and protection of a kind 
Providence, gathered their small substance, pioneered the way 
through a long wilderness, to the land of promise the Genesee 
country. 

In 179G, in common with the sons of New England, I had a 
strong disposition to explore the regions of the west, and avail my 
self if possible, of a more productive soil, where a more bountiful 
reward would relieve the toil of labor. I traversed the Mohawk, 
the Susquehannah, the Seneca and the Genesee. I saw the scatter 
ed Pioneers of the wilderness in their lonely cabins, cheered by 
the hope and promise of a generous reward, for all the temporary 
privations they then suffered. Their hearts were cheered with the 
sight of a stranger, and they greeted him with a welcome. I found 
in most of the pioneer localities, that three-fourths of the heads of 
families had been soldiers of the Revolution. Schooled in the prin 
ciples that had achieved that glorious work, they only appreciated 
the responsibilities they had assumed, in becoming founders of new 
settlements, and the proprietors of local, religious, educational and 
moral institutions. These Pioneers inherited the principles and 
firmness of their forefathers ; and whatever in reason and pro 
priety they desired to accomplish, their energy and perseverance 
carried into effect. They subdued the forest, opened avenues of 
intercourse, built houses and temples for worship, with a rapidity 
unknown in former ages. For intelligence and useful acquirements 
they were not out done in any age ; and were well skilled in all the 
practical duties of life. In seven or eight years from the first en 
trance of a settler, a number of towns in Ontario county, were fur 
nished with well chosen public libraries." 



PHELPS AND GOUHAM S PUKCHASE. 135 



CHAPTER IV. 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE OF MASSACHUSETTS OLIVER PHELPS, 

HIS ADVENT TO THE GE-NESEE COUNTRY, AND HIS TREATY 
WITH THE SENEGAS: NATHANIEL GORHAM. 



OLIVER PHELPS was a native of Windsor, Connecticut. Soon 
after he became of age, the resistance to British oppression com 
menced in the colony of Massachusetts, and he became an active 
partizan, participating in the revolutionary spirit, with all the zeal 
of youth and ardent patriotism. He was among the men of New 
England, who gathered at Lexington, and helped to make that early 
demonstration of intended separation and independence. Soon 
after, without the influence of wealth or family distinction with 
nothing to recommend him but uncommon energy of character, and a 
reputation he had won for himself though but a youth, he was 
enrolled as a member of the Massachusetts Committee of Safety. 
When the troops of Connecticut were first organized, and had 
taken the field, he entered the service of a contractor oi the army, 
and soon after had an appointment in the commissary department, 
the duties of which he continued to discharge until the close of the 
Revolution. 

On the return of peace, he settled in Suffield, Massachusetts. 
He held in succession, the offices of member of Assembly, Sena 
tor, and a member of the Governor s council. Robert Morris 
having been at the head of financial affairs during the Revolution, 
Mr. Phelps had made his acquaintance, and for a few years after 
its close, business relations brought them frequently together. Maj. 
Adam Hoops, who had been the aid of Gen. Sullivan, in his expe 
dition to the Genesee country, was a resident of Philadelphia, and 
an intimate acquaintance of Mr. Morris. It was during interviews 
with them, that Mr. Phelps was confirmed in a favorable opinion of 



136 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 

this region, and the inducements it held out to enterprise, which had 
been acquired by the representations of his New England neigh 
bors, who had been in Sullivan s expedition. 

Soon after Massachusetts became possessed of the pre-emption 
right by deed of cession from New York, he resolved upon being 
interested in the purchase of one million of acres ; and for this 
purpose associated himself with Judge Sullivan, Messrs. Skinner 
and Chapin, William Walker, and several of his friends in Berk 
shire. Before they had matured their plans however, Nathaniel 
Gorham had made proposals to the Legislature for the purchase of 
a portion of the Genesee lands. Mr. Phelps had a conference with 
Mr. Gorham, and to prevent coming in collision, they mutually 
agreed, that Mr. Gorham should merge himself with the association, 
and consider his proposition as made for their common benefit. He 
had proposed the purchase of one million of acres, at one and six 
pence currency per acre, payable in the "public paper of the com 
monwealth." The House of Representatives acceded to the propo 
sition, but the Senate non- concurred. In a letter to one of the 
associates, announcing the result, Mr. Phelps observes: "We 
found such opposition in the Senate, and so many person s ears and 
eyes wide open, propagating great stories about the value of those 
lands, that we thought best to postpone the affair until the next 
session." This was at the session of 1787. 

The effect of Mr. Gorham s offer was to bring competitors into 
the field, and others had resolved upon making proposals before the 
legislature again convened in April, 1788. Another compromise 
was made which admitted new partners, and embraced all who 
had any intention of purchase, in one association, of which Messrs. 
Phelps and Gorham were constituted the representatives. They 
made proposals for all the lands embraced in the cession of Massa 
chusetts, which were acceded to ; the stipulated consideration being 
$100,000, payable in the public paper of Massachusetts; the price 



-$ OTE . In addition to the knowledge Mr. Phelps had acquired of the country as 
above indicated, some early explorer had given him a written account of it from which 
the following is an extract : " The country is so favorable to fruit, that the apple trees 
destroyed in the late war, have sprung up and already bear fruit The flats and in 
tervals of which there are a great quantity, are superior to any on Connecticut River, 
There are many salt springs ; an Indian was working at one of them last summer, 
when I was in the country, with an old broken pot-ash kettle, and he never made less 
than a bushel a day. 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 137 

of which being much depressed, it was selling at a high rate of 
discount. 

So much accomplished, the share holders held a meeting, appoint 
ed Gen. Israel Chapin to go out and explore the country; Mr. 
Phelps the general agent, whose first duty \vas to hold a treaty with 
the Indians, and purchase the fee or right of soil ; Mr. Gorham as an 
agent to confer with the authorities of New Yor.k, in reference to 
running the boundary or pre-emption line ; and Mr. William Walk 
er, as the local agent of surveys and sales. 

The Lessees and their " long lease," was an obstacle duly con 
sidered by the purchasers, for they were aware of the exertions 
they were making to thwart the commissioners of New York, and 
had no reason to anticipate any thing less from them, in their own 
case. Massachusetts had joined New York, in declaring the leases 
illegal and void, but the association were well advised that they 
could not succeed in a treaty with the Senecas, against the powerful 
influences the Lessees could command, through their connection 
with Butler, Brant, Street, and their associates in Canada, and the 
Indian traders and interpreters in their interest. A compromise 
was resolved upon as the cheapest and surest means of success. 
Proceeding to Hudson, Mr. Phelps met some of the principal Les 
sees, and compromised with them upon terms of which there are 
no records, but there is evidence which leads to the conclusion, that 
they were to become shareholders with him and his associates. 
The Lessees on their part, contracted to hold another treaty with 
the Indians at Kanadesaga, surrender their lease of all the lands 
west of the Massachusetts pre-emption line, and procure for the 
same, a deed of cession, Phelps & Gorham, for themselves and 
associates, to be the grantees. 

Mr. Phelps returned to New England and made preparations for 
attending the treaty at Kanadesaga, which was to be convened and 
carried on under the general supervision of John Livingston, the 
principal agent of the Lessees. In all confidence that the arrange 
ment would be consummated, Mr. Phelps started upon his advent to 
the Genesee country with a retinue of agents, surveyors, and assis 
tants, prepared to take possession of the country and commence 
operations. Arriving at Schenectady on the 8th of May, the party 
put their baggage on board of batteaux and arranged to go on horse 
back to Fort Stanwix, as far as there was any road, and from there 



138 PHELPS AOT> GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

embark in their batteaux. Mr. Phelps wrote from Schenectady 
that they were likely to be delayed there by the non- arrival of Mr. 
Livingston ; that he had met many unfavorable rumors, the purport 
of one of which was that the Indians had refused to treat with 
Livingston, and that they had " taken up and whipped several 
persons" in his interests who had preceded him at Kanadesaga. 
On the 13th he wrote to Col. Wadsworth, of Hartford, that Livings 
ton had arrived, with his provisions and goods for the treaty, that 
all was on board of batteaux, and the expedition was about to move 
on ; but he adds, that an Oneida Indian had just arrived from the 
west with the information that Brant has " got the Indians collected 
at Buffalo creek, and is persuading them to take up the hatchet, and if 
possible not to treat with us." He expresses his fears that the treaty 
will fail ; and adds his regrets, as he thinks it will " keep back settle 
ment a whole year." 

Mr. Phelps did not arrive at Kanadesaga, (Geneva,) until the 
first of June. On the 4th he wrote to one of his associates, Samuel 
Fowler, informing him that the Indians had not collected, that But 
ler and Brant had collected them at Buffalo creek and persuaded 
them not to treat with Livingston. But inasmuch as Livingston 
had sent out runners and interpreters, he is in hopes they will yet 
be collected. " I am well pleased," he says, " with what I have seen 
of the country. This place is situated at the foot of Seneca Lake, 
on a beautiful hill which over looks the country around it, and gives 
a fine prospect of the whole lake, which is about forty miles in 
length. Here we propose building the city, as there is a water 
carriage from this to Schenectady ; with only two carrying places 
of one mile each. I design to set out to-morrow to view the Genesee 
Flats." 

After waiting at Kanadesaga until the 17th of June, Mr. Phelps 
made up his mind that the Lessees would be unable to fulfil their 
contract, and informed their agent, Mr. Livingston, that he should 
proceed independent of them or their lease, to treat with the Indians. 

NOTE. In addition to other letters of introduction lie had provided himself with 
in case of necessity, he procured one at Kanadesaga from Dominique Debartzch, the 
French Indian trader at Cashong, who wielded more influence then among the Seuecas 
than any one man had, since the days of the Jesuit Fathers, and Joncaire, He had 
essentially aided the Lessees as the reader lias observed, and now as zealously es 
poused the interests of Mr. Phelps. Among Indian traders, interpreters, and it may 
almost be said, missionaries, at that period, " every man had his price/* and it was 
generally payable in land, in case it should be obtained. 



PHELP3 AND GOBHAM s PURCHASE. 139 

He had by this time discovered that there was a " screw loose" 
between the " New York Genesee Company" and the " Niagara 
Genesee Company" and that they were puliing in different directions. 
Inferring that the balance of power was in the hands of the Niag 
ara Company, Mr. Phelps taking the Indian trail, proceeded to Niag 
ara, where he met Butler, Brant and Street. He secured their 
co-operation, and they agreed to procure a gathering of the Indians 
at Buffalo creek for the purpose of holding a treaty with him. Mr. 
Phelps, rejoined his friends at Kanadesaga where he remained until 
a deputation of chiefs waited upon him to conduct him to the coun 
cil fire they had lighted at Buffalo creek,*" where he and his party 
arrived on the 4th of July. 

Negotiations were commenced. The Rev. Mr. Kirkland was 
present, appointed by a law of Massachusetts to superintend the 
treaty and see that no injustice was done to the Indians, and his 
assistant, superintendent, Elisha Lee, Esq. of Boston. The inter 
preters were James Deane and Joseph Smith, William Johnstone, 
Mr. Kirkland and several others. Besides these, there were also 
present, John Butler, Joseph Brant, Samuel Street, the officers of 
Fort Niagara. The Lessees, following up Mr. Phelps, were repre 
sented by John Livingston, Caleb Benton and Ezekiel Gilbert. 
Chiefs of the Onondagas, Cayugas, and the Mohawks were also 
present. 

On the opening of the council, Mr. Phelps produced the commis 
sion given him by the Governor of Massachusetts : f had it inter 
preted ; and made a speech, explaining the object of the treaty ; 
the right he had purchased of Massachusetts, &c. Most of the 
Seneca chiefs, of which there was a pretty full delegation present, 
were far selling a portion of their lands. They, however, stood 
out as to the quantity. They had come to the treaty, determined 
upon making the Genesee river the eastern boundary of their ces 
sion, and they stoutly resisted innovation west of it for several 
days : but finally yielded, and fixed the western boundary as it was 

* Red Jacket was at the head of this deputation. Afterwards, in 1790, at a council 
at Tioga, when complaining to Mr. Pickering of some wrong in reference to Mr. Phelp s 
treaty, he said : "Then I, Billy, and The Heap of Dogs, went to Kanadesaga and 
took Mr. Phelps by the hand, and led him to our council fire at Buffalo creek." 

tSays Red Jacket, in his complaints to Mr. Pickering, at Tioga : "Then all know, 
and Mr. Street knows, that Mr. Phelps held up a paper, with a seal to it, as big as my 
hand. . When he epened his mind to us, we took it hard." 



140 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

afterwards established. Mr. Phelps, in a statement he made of the 
transactions, says, " the council was conducted in a friendly and 
amicable manner." The negotiation then turned upon the price to 
be paid ; and Mr. Phelps and the Indians failing to agree, they mu 
tually appointed John Butler, Joseph Brant, Elisha Lee, as referees, 
who agreed that Mr. Phelps should pay for the tract purchased, five 
thousand dollars, and an annuity of five hundred dollars for ever. 
The Indians had consented to take for the quantity of land they 
were conveying, a sum which would amount to a fair proportion 
of what the Lessees had agreed to pay for their whole country, and 
this was the basis upon which the price was fixed. 

The lands thus ceded, constituted what is now known as Phelp s 
and Gorham s Purchase ; its eastern boundary, the Massachusetts 
pre-emption line ; and its western boundary, a line " beginning in 
the northern line of Pennsylvania, due south of the corner or point 
of land made by the confluence of the Genesee river and the Can- 
ascraga Creek ; thence north on said meridian line to the corner, 
or point, at the confluence aforesaid ; thence northwardly along the 
waters of the Genesee river, to a point two miles north of Cana- 
wagus village ; thence running due west twelve miles ; thence run 
ning northwardly, so as to be twelve miles distant from the western 
bounds of said river to the shores of Lake Ontario/ Within 
these boundaries, were contained, by estimation, 2,600,000 acres. 

Soon after arriving at Buffalo Creek, Mr. Phelps saw that the 
Lessee agents would embarrass his negotiations at least, cause 
delay and he, therefore, made a compromise, stipulating the con 
veyance to them of the four townships named in another connec 
tion; besides, as may well be inferred, paying their immediate 
agents well for a forbearance in the work of mischief, in which 
they were so persevering. Their release of so much as was in 
cluded in his purchase, was interpreted to the Indians. 

The Niagara Genesee Company, Butler and his associates, in ad 
dition to their interests in common with all the Lessees, had an in 
dependent claim for convening the Indians ; and by their influence, 

NOTE. With the story of the "Mill Site," the reader will be familiar. The au 
thor finds 110 record of it ; but it may well be presumed, that Mr. Phelps, in urging 
the extension of his purchase beyond the Genesee river, spoke of building a mill at 
the Falls ; and in all probability, promised to do so for the mutual benefit of the In 
dians and the white settlers ; for immediately after the treaty, he gave the 100 acres to 
Ebenezer Allan, upon condition that he would erect a saw-mill and grist-mill 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 141 

in fact, enabling Mr. Phelps to accomplish his purpose. This was, 
probably, arranged by a promise on the part of Mr. Phelps, to give 
them an interest in common with himself and associates. * 

Mr. Phelps, befor# leaving the country, set surveyors to work, 
under the direction of Col. Hugh Maxwell, to divide the newly ac 
quired country into townships ; and, having fixed upon Canandai- 
gua as the primitive locality, the focus of intended enterprise, re 
turned to Suffield. All retired as winter approached, and left the 
whole region in possession of its ancient owners.f Arrived at home, 
Mr. Phelps reported, by letter to his principal associates, the result 
of his embassy. " You may rely upon it," says he " that it is a good 
country ; I have purchased all that the Indians will sell at pre 
sent ; and, perhaps, as much as it would be profitable for us to buy 
at this time." Mr. Walker, after having remained in the country 
until nearly the setting in of winter, returned and was present at a 
meeting of the associates in January. He reported that he had 
sold and contracted about thirty townships. At this meeting, a 
division of the land took place ; a large proportion of the shares 
were but small ones, the largest portion of the lands falling into the 

* Such would seem to have been the arrangement, though a misunderstanding and 
litigation ensued. Soon after Mr. Phelps large sale to Robert Morris, " Samuel Street 
and others," (the Niagara Lessee Company,) filed a bill in chancery, setting forth 
that they were entitled to the proceeds of sales of " fifteen one hundred and twentieth 
parts" of all of Phelps and Gorham s Purchase, by virtue of an agreement made by 
Mr. Phelps at the treaty of Buffalo Creek. Upon the bill of complaint, an injunction 
was issued against Phelps and Gorham, their associates in interest, and their grantees ; 
but how the matter was arranged, the author is unable- to state. An interminable 
quarrel arose between the two lessee companies ; and the Canada company had but 
little, if any, of the avails of the four townships. Some of their correspondence re 
minds one of the anecdote of the gambler, who, after pocketing cards, and practicing 
the arts of his profession for a whole evening, very gravely complained that there 
" was cheating about the board." 

t Kanadesaga (Geneva) excepted. Mr. Phelps intentions of founding a settlement 
at Geneva, which the reader will have noticed, was of course changed, when he found 
that according to the original survey of the pre-emption line, the locality was off from 
his purchase. Canandaigua was his next choice. 

NOTE, There has been a very common mistake as to where Mr. Phelps held his 
Indian treaty ; and this work will, probably, fall into the hands of those who will in 
sist that it was at Canandaigua, pointing out the very spot upon which it was held. 
The error has been perpetutated by historians and essayists, who have added a fancy 
sketch of a scene at the treaty ground: Red Jacket eloquently invoking the war 
cry, the tomahawk and scalping knife, and Farmer s Brother opposing him. The 
whole story is spoiled by Red Jacket s own assertion, that he and "Billy, and the 
Heap of Dogs," led Mr. Phelps from Kanadesaga to the treaty at Buffalo Creek. There 
was no opposition to the Phelps treaty at the time ; but one afterwards appeared. 
The idea of a land treaty of Mr. Phelps with the Indians, at Canandaigua, must have 
come from a gathering which was had there in 1789, when Mr. Phelps payments be 
came due. 



142 PHELPS AKD GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

hands of Phelps and Gorham and a few associates. The most of 
the early sales of townships, was to those who held shares. * 

Early in the spring of 1789, under the general auspicies of Mr. 
Phelps, arrangements were made, and a pretty formidable expedition 
started out to the new Genesee country to commence a settlement, 
the general details of which will be found in another connection. 
Mr. Phelps was during that and succeeding years, alternating be 
tween Canandaigua and his home in New England. Before the 
close of 1789, he had jointly, with John Taylor, an agent of the 
State, contracted with Ephraim Blackmer, who has before been 
named, for the cutting out of a road, two rods wide from Fort Stan- 
wix to Seneca Lake. While in the Genesee country this year, in 
the absence of any local laws, he entered into a written compact with 
some Seneca chiefs, of a reciprocal character, each party promising 
to punish offences committed by their own people. 

After all this had transpired, at the session of the Massachusetts 
legislature in 1789, Messrs. Phelps and Gorham, and their associates, 
found themselves unable to fulfil the engagements they had made 
for the payment of the purchase money. They had predicated 
payment upon the supposition, that they could purchase the public 
paper of Massachusetts, at its then market value, which was but 
about fifty cents on the dollar. In the interval, before pay day ar 
rived, the prospect of success in the formation of a Federal govern 
ment, and a consequent funding of the debts of the States, the 
paper they had stipulated to make payment in, had nearly a par value 
in market. Thus situated, and having failed to extinguish the 
native right to the whole, they memorialized the legislature and 
got released from their obligations in reference to what remained, 
paying only for what was included in their Indian treaty. The 
legislature, the more readily perhaps, acceded to their request, inas 
much as they were pretty sure of finding a purchaser for what re 
mained, in the person of Robert Morris. 

New difficulties however, soon presented themselves. The Indi 
ans who had seemed almost universally satisfied with the sale to 
Mr. Phelps, became divided upon the subject; the mischievous 

* The low prices named in connection with some of the early sales, is explained by 
this. The purchasers were shareholders ; the price paid, about what it had cost the 
association. For instance, Robinson and Hathaway were original shareholders ; and 
the price they paid for Jerusalem, was fixed upon the basis named. 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PUECHASE. 143 

traders and some interpreters among them, promoted the trouble, 
and in that then retreat of disturbed spirits, and haters of every 
thing that was American the refugees of the Revolution, and 
British officers and agents Fort Niagara and its precincts there 
were disturbers other than those that had been compromised with. 
The Indian chief Cornplanter, was the principal representative of 
the malcontents. 

In August, 1790, Mr. Phelps being in the Genesee country, wrote 
to the elder Mr. Gorham in Boston, and after giving a somewhat dis 
couraging account of the almost universal prevalence of disease 
among the new settlers,* informs him that the Indians had been at 
Canandaigua, and refused to receive any farther payments, alledg- 
ing that the amount of purchase money, aside from the annuity, 
was to have been ten, instead of five thousand dollars. He adds, 
that some recent murders of Indians committed at Tioga, by whites, 
had helped to exasperate them ; that he was about to set out to visit 
their principal villages to appease them ; and that if he did not suc 
ceed, he feared they would retaliate by a general attack upon the 
whites. 

At an Indian council by Mr. Pickering at Tioga, in November, 
Red Jacket and Farmer s Brother made speeches, in which they 
both claimed that the sum to be paid by Mr. Phelps, was ten instead 
of five thousand dollars ; alledged that they had been cheated ; 
that their " heads had been confused " by treaties with the "thirteen 
Fires," with " Fires kindled by the Governor of New York," and 
by " Livingston." Speaking of the payment from Mr. Phelps, Red 
Jacket said : " When we went to Canandaigua to meet Mr. Phelps, 
expecting to receive ten thousand dollars, we were to have but five 
thousand. When we discovered the fraud, we had a mind to apply 
to Congress, to see if the matter could not be rectified. For when 
we took the money and shared it, every one here knows, that we 
had but about one dollar a piece. All our lands came to, was but 
the worth of a few hogsheads of tobacco. Gentlemen who stand 
by, do not think hard of us for what has been said. At the time 
of the treaty, twenty broaches would not buy half a loaf of bread ; 

*He says: "We have suffered much for the want of a physician ; Atwater has 
not yet arrived ; we have now a gentleman from Pennsylvania attending on the sick, 
who seems to understand his business. The two Wadsworths, who came from Dur 
ham, have been very sick, are now recovering, but are low spirited ; they like the 
country but their sickness has discouraged them." 



144 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

so that when we returned home, there was not a bright spot of 
silver about us." 

In December, Cornplanter, attended by other Seneca chiefs, met 
President Washington at Philadelphia, and delivered to him a speech, 
in which he represented that the treaty at Buffalo creek, had been 
fraudulently conducted ; that Mr. Phelps represented himself as 
the agent of the " thirteen Fires," that he told them that the coun 
try had been ceded to the thirteen Fires by the British King ; that 
if he could not make a bargain with the Indians, he could take 
their lands by force ; and that generally, it was by threats and de 
ceptions he had obtained the Indian lands. He added that Mr. 
Street, whom they supposed their friend, "until they saw him 
whispering with Phelps," had been bribed by the promise of a 
large tract of land. The President heard the complaints, promised 
an investigation of the matter, and to see the Indians redressed if 
they had suffered wrong. 

Soon after all this, Mr. Phelps addressed the President, giving a 
detailed history of the treaty, denying the allegations of Cornplan 
ter, and asserting that he caused the Indians at the treaty, to be 
well informed of his errand, their rights to their lands ; that he used 
no threats, or coercion to accomplish his object, and that the sum 
he was to advance to the Indians, was but five thousand dollars. 
He accompanied his statement, by depositions from the Rev. Mr. 
Kirkland, James Dean, Judge Hollenbeck, and others, who were 
present at the treaty, in substance, to the effect that the treaty was 
conducted honorably, and fairly, and that Cornplanter was mista 
ken as to the amount of the purchase money. 

In February, 91, Joseph Brant addressed a long letter to the su 
perintendent of Indian affairs for the northern district of the United 

NOTE. It is to be inferred from what followed, that Cornplanter was more eloquent 
than honest in his speech to the President. Speaking of the consequences of the 
President turning a deaf ear to the complaints of the Senecas, he said : "You have 
said that we were in your hand, and that by closing it you could crush us to nothing 1 . 
Are you determined to crush us ? If you are, tell us so, that those of our nation who 
have^become your children, and have determined to die so, may know what to do. In 
this case one chief has said he would ask you to put him out of pain. Another, who 
will not think of dying by the hand of his father, has said he will retire to Chautau- 
que, eat of the fatal root, and sleep with his fathers in peace." This was an allusion 
to the beautiful Seneca tradition, that a young squaw once eat of a root she dug on 
the banks of the Chautauque Lake, which created thirst ; to slake it, she stooped down 
to drink of the waters of the Lake, and disappeared forever. Thence the name of 
the Lake ; " Ja-da-qua," or the place of easy death, where one disappears, and is 
Been no more. 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 145 

States, in which he attacks Cornplanter with severity ; alleging 
that " influenced by bribes and other selfish views, he prevailed on 
the chiefs who were sent to cover up the council fire at Kanadesaga, 
kindled by John Livingston, to lease the whole of the Five Nation s 
country, for a consideration of twenty thousand dollars, and an an 
nual rent of two thousand ; and it was with the utmost difficulty, 
that the Five Nations were able to move that lease, from off a por 
tion of the country." He recapitulates the bargain made by Mr. 
Phelps, agreeing with other witnesses. He says that the Lessees 
were only released from the payment of five thousand of the twenty 
thousand they had agreed to pay for the whole country, and a pro 
rata amount of their stipulated annual rent.* This was to show, 
that the bargain with Mr. Phelps, was a better one even than Corn- 
planter had promoted with the Lessees. 

When Mr. Pickering held his council at Newtown, in July, 91, he 
examined several Cayuga and Onondaga chiefs, who stated that 
Cornplanter s allegations were untrue ; and some of the principal 
Seneca chiefs, stated to him that all was fair on Mr. Phelps part, 
in reference to the treaty. 

But all this did not entirely quell the dissatisfaction, and the al- 
ledged wrong was mixed up with other elements, to render the 
earliest relations of Pioneers of the Genesee country and the Indi 
ans, equivocal ; in a condition to keep up alarm and apprehensions 
of evil. If the Senecas themselves were mainly disposed to be 
friendly, their jealousies and resentments were kept alive, by the 
western Indians, and their British prompters, and British agents at 
Niagara. DCP See Mr. Phelps speech to the Indians. Appendix, 
No. 6. 

The whole history of the early Indian treaties in this State, is a 
complex one ; there was a disjointed state of things existing among 
our own people ; the treaties began without any clear and definite 
understanding, of what were the respective rights of the State and 
the general government. The Indians, after they had heard of 
" one big fire being lighted for all the thirteen States," could not un 
derstand why they should be invited to attend " so many little fires," 



* The reader need hardly be told, that the poor Indians never realized the sum 
promised by the Lessees, except in the form of bribes to some of their chiefs ; and in 
that form but a small portion of it. And yet the Lessees ia one form and another, 
realized a large amount for their illegal "long lease." 



146 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

or councils. The almost interminable mischief, the Lessee move 
ment, was thrust in to add to embarrassment. The close of the 
Revolution had left them with distracted councils, cut up into fac 
tions themselves. No wonder that when they were pulled and 
hauled about from one treaty to another, beset by State commis 
sioners, Lessee companies, speculators and " their old friends at 
Niagara," they should on several occasions have complained that 
their " heads were confused." 

But the crowning curse, the source of nearly all other evils that 
beset them, and nearly all that embarrassed our early relations and 
intercourse with their race, was the use of spirituous liquors. In 
the absence of them, the advent of our race to this continent, would 
have been a blessing to theirs, instead of what it has proved to be, 
the cause of their ruin, and gradual extermination. Nowhere in a 
long career of discover} 1 -, of enterprize and extension of empire, 
have Europeans found natives of the soil, with as many of the 
noblest attributes of humanity ; moral and physical elements, which, 
if they could not have been blended with ours, could have main 
tained a separate existence, and been fostered by the proximity of 
civilization and the arts. Every where, when first approached by 
our race, they welcomed it, and made demonstrations of friendship 
and peace. Savage, as they were called, savage as they may have 
been in their assaults and wars upon each other, there is no act of 
theirs recorded in our histories, of early colonization, of wrong or 
outrage, that was not provoked by assaults, treachery or deception 
breaches of the hospitalities they had extended to the strangers, 
Whatever of savage character they may have possessed, so far as 
our race was concerned, it was dormant until aroused to action 
by assaults or treachery of intruders upon their soil, whom they had 
met and treated as friends. 

This was the beginning of trouble ; the cupidity of our race 
perpetuated it by the introduction of "fire water," which, vitiating 
their appetites, cost them their native independence of character, 
made them dependents upon the trader and the agents of rival 
governments; mixed them up with factious and contending aspir 
ants to dominion ; and from time to time, impelled them to the 
fields of blood and slaughter, or to the stealthy assault with the tom 
ahawk and scalping knife. For the ruin of his race, the red man 
has a fearful account against us, since we assumed the responsibility 



PHELPS AND GOBHAM S PURCHASE. 

of intercourse with it, as a separate and independent people ; but 
as in another instance, where another race is concerned, we may 
plead with truth and justice, that we were inheritors of the curse ; 
and that our predecessors are chargeable with having fixed the plague 
spot and stain upon us, indelibly, long before the responsibility de 
volved upon us. 

From the hour that Henry Hudson toled the Indians on board of 
his vessel, on the river that bears his name, and gave them the first 
taste of spirituous liquors, the whole history of British intercourse 
with them is marked by the use of this accursed agent as a princi 
pal means of success. The example of Hudson was followed up 
by all the Dutch and English traders upon the Mohawk, and when 
Sir William Johnson had settled as a British agent in the Mohawk 
valley, he had unfortunately learned the potent influence of spirit 
uous liquors in Indian traffic and negotiation. He is probably the 
first that made use of them at Indian councils ; thus setting a vicious 
example that has been perpetuated. The early French traders upon 
the St. Lawrence, and in all this region, commenced the traffic not 
until after they had ascertained that they could in no way compete 
with the English traders than by using the same means. The early 
Jesuit Missionaries checked them in their work of evil, but the 
English trader was left unrestrained, even encouraged by English 
colonial authority. The Senecas, especially, naturally inclined to 
the French. There was something in the French character that was 
congenial to their natural preferences ; the two races met and 
flowed into each other, (if the expression is admissable,) like kindred, 
or easily assimilating elements ; with the English it was different ; 
there was a natural repugnance, it may almost be said ; the blowze, 
turgid Englishman, and the Seneca who possessed generous and even 
romantic and poetic elements, were in caste and inclination, anti 
podes. It was with his keg of rum, that the Englishman could alone 
succeed ; and with a morbid, sordid perseverance, he plied it in trade 
as well as diplomacy. It was rum that first enabled the Englishman 



NOTE. From the first advent of the French Franciscan and Jesuit Missionaries in 
this region, they were the determined opposers of the introduction of spirituous 
liquors among the Indians. They would suppress it in the trading houses of their 
own countrymen, and at the risk of their lives, knock out the heads of English rum 
casks. They became, in some instances, martyrs in endeavoing to suppress the traffic. 
The first temperance essay the world ever saw other than the precepts of the Bible, 
was written in this region by a Jesuit Missionary, and published in Paris. 



148 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 

to get a foothold upon the Hudson, upon the Mohawk, along the 
shores of Lake Ontario ; in the absence of its use, bold as the asser 
tion may appear, he would not have succeeeded in putting an end to 
French dominion in America. 

At a later period, when the storm of the Revolution was gather 
ing, the English resorted to the old weapon they had used against 
the French, to use against the colonies. The Indians had undoubt 
edly resolved upon neutrality ; unsophisticated, unlearned in all the 
grievances of oppressed colonies, in the intricacies of taxation, 
representation, and the immunities under other structures of gov 
ernment than their own, they could not understand why the bonds 
of kindred should be sundered ; why those they had just seen fight 
ing side by side against the French should be arrayed against each 
other so suddenly. The aspect of the quarrel was not suited to 
their tastes or inclinations, and they resolved upon standing aloof; 
the Senecas at least. Invited to Oswego, by the English refugees 
from the Mohawk, kept intoxicated for days and weeks, promised 
there that the accursed "fire water" of England s King, should be 
as free to them "as the waters of Lake Ontario," their good inten 
tions were changed, and their tomahawks and scalping knives were 
turned against the border settlers ; a series of events ensued, the 
review of which creates a shudder, and a wonder that the offences 
were so easily forgiven ; that we had not taken their country after 
subduing it with our arms, instead of treating for it. But well and 
humanely did the Father of his Country consider how they had been 
wiled to the unfortunate choice of friends which they made. Eng 
lish rum was not only freely dealt out at Oswego, during the Revo 
lution, but at Fort Niagara, where it paid for the reeking scalp, and 
helped to arouse the fiercest passions of Indian allies, and send 
them back upon their bloody track. 

When peace came, and our State authorities began to cultivate 
an acquaintance with the Indians, they found them deserted by 
their late British employers, with nothing to show for the sanguine 
aid they had given them, but appetites vitiated by the English rum 
cask, and a moral and physical degeneracy, the progress of which 
could not have been arrested ; and lingering yet among them, in all 
their principal localities, was the English or tory trader, prolonging 
his destructive traffic. It was American, New York legislation, 
that made the first statutes against the traffic of spirituous liquors 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 149 

among the Indians. It was American legislation, after the incubus 
of British dominion was shaken off, that first checked the slave 
trade. Two enormous offences have been committed against two 
races, both of which had been alike perpetuated under English do 
minion. 



Mr. Phelps, although his residence in all the earliest years of set 
tlement, was still in Massachusetts, spent most of his time in Can- 
andaigua, and was the active and liberal patron and helper in all 
the public enterprises of the region where he had been the pioneer. 
Of ardent temperament, ambitious in all that related to the pros 
perity of the new country, the Pioneer settlers found in him a friend ; 
and when disease, privation, Indian alarms, created despondency, 
he had for them words of encouragement, and prophecies of a " bet 
ter time." He was useful to a degree that no one can realize who 
has not seen how much one man can do in helping to smooth the 
always rugged paths of backwoods life. 

A considerable shareholder in the original purchase of Massa 
chusetts and the Indians, he eventually became a principal owner, 
by purchase of shares, reversions and other means. In a few years 
after the settlement of the Genesee country was fairly under way, 
he was regarded as one of the most successful and wealthy of all 
the many founders of new settlements of that period. In 1795, he 
regarded himself as worth a million of dollars. There are no busi 
ness enterprises which, if successful, are better calculated to lead to 
excess and rash venture, than that of speculation in lands. A 
mania of land speculation, as will be seen in another connection, 
commenced along in 95 and 6, and extended through all the then 
settled parts of the Union. Philadelphia was the principal focus, 
its leading capitalists, among whom was Mr. Morris, were the prin 
cipal operators. Among the devices of the times, was a gigantic 
" American Land Company." Elected to Congress, Mr. Phelps, 
elated with his success in the Genesee country, was thrown into 
the vortex of rash adventure, and became deeply involved, as all 
were who made any considerable ventures at that unfortunate 
period. One of his ventures was in connection with the " Georgia 
Land Company ;" with the fate of which, most readers will be 
familiar. Liabilities abroad made him a large borrower, and obliged 



150 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

him to execute mortgages upon his Genesee lands. In all this, the 
titles of purchasers under him became involved, which created dis 
trust and excitement among a portion of the settlers, and brought 
upon him a good deal of censure. His reverses, and the appre 
hensions, perhaps, that others were to be involved in them, preying 
upon a sensitive mind, his health gradually declined, and he died in 
1809, aged 60 years. In 1802, he had removed to Canandaigua ; 
and from the commencement of his reverses up to the period of his 
death, had been struggling to extricate himself, and others involved 
with him, from embarrassment. In allusion to all this, an inscrip 
tion upon his tomb-stone contains the following sentence : 

" Enterprise, Industry and Temperance, can not always secure success ; but the 
fruits of those virtues, will be felt by society." 

The State of Connecticut having been a principal creditor of 
Mr. Phelps, and holding a large mortgage upon his lands, the Hon. 
Gideon Granger became its agent, and ultimately the settlement of 
the estate devolved upon him. When he entered upon the task, he 
was assisted in some of its preliminary investigations by the late 
Jessee Hawley, Esq., who, in a memorandum which the author has 
in his possession, remarks that the estate was involved in " com 
plexity, perplexity and confusion." The superior business facul 
ties of Mr. Granger, however, made " crooked things straight ;" 
debts were cancelled, land titles cleared from incumbrances ; no 
purchasers under Mr. Phelps, it is believed, ultimately suffered loss ; 
and a considerable estate was saved to his heirs. Among the sur 
viving early Pioneers, it is common now to hear expressions of re 
spect for the memory of Oliver Phelps, and regrets, that the last 
years of his active and enterprising life was so clouded by misfor- 
fortune. Jesse Hawley wrote that he was " the Cecrops of the 
Genesee country. Its inhabitants owe a mausoleum to his memo 
ry, in gratitude for his having pioneered for them the wilderness of 
this Canaan of the west." 

Mr. Phelps was first judge of Ontario, on the primitive organiza 
tion of its courts ; and was an early Representative in Congress, 
from the then western district of this State. 

He left a son and daughter. His son, Oliver Leicester Phelps, 
was educated at Yale College, married a grand-daughter of Roger 
Sherman, and became a resident of Paris, France. Returning to 
this country, after the death of his father, he became the occupant 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 151 

of the old Phelps mansion at Canandaigua ; was at one period Maj. 
General of the 22d Division of New York Infantry. He died in 
1813. His surviving sons are: Judge Oliver Phelps, of Canan 
daigua, who resides at the old homestead, a worthy representative 
of his honored ancestor ; William H. Phelps, of Canandaigua ; and 
Francis Phelps, an inmate of the Infirmary at Brattleborough, 
Vermont. The daughter of Oliver Phelps became the wife ot 
A.masa Jackson, of the city of New York, and is now a resi 
dent of Canandaigua. A daughter of hers, is- the wife of Gen. 
John A. Granger ; and another, is the wife of Alexander H. Howell, 
a son of the Hon. N. W. Howell. The wife of Oliver Phelps, who 
was the daughter of Zachariah Seymour, died in 1826, aged 74 
years. 



Nathaniel Gorham, the elder, who was the associate of Mr, 
Phelps, was never a resident upon the Purchase. He resided in 
Charlestown, Mass. His son, Nathaniel Gorham, jr., his local repre 
sentative, came to Canandaigua in 1789, and was of course one of 
the earliest pioneers. He was an early Supervisor of Canandaigua, 
a Judge of the county courts, and the President of the Ontario 
Bank, from its first organization, until his death. He died in 1826, 
aged 62 years. His surviving sons are : Nathaniel Gorham, mer 
chant, of Canandaigua ; William Gorham, of Canandaigua ; and 
David Gorham, of Exeter, New Hampshire. Mrs. Dr. A. G. Bris 
tol, of Rochester, is a daughter ; and an unmarried daughter resides 
at the old homestead at Canandaigua. The mother died in 1848, 
at the advanced age of 83 years. 

And in this connection, lest he should be omitted in a work like 
this as he should not be some mention should be made of the 
venerable William Wood, who, if not a pioneer himself, is especial 
ly the friend of the pioneers ; and among his other good works, 
takes a lively interest in perpetuating their memories. Mr. Wood 
is a veteran bachelor, the brother of the late Mrs. Nathaniel Gor 
ham. His native place is Charlestown, Massachusetts. At one 
period of his life, he was an importing merchant in the city of Bos 
ton ; after that, a cotton dealer in New Orleans, where he was 
known for his deeds of philanthropy and benevolence. Becoming 
a resident of Canandaigua, by quiet unostentatious charities, by 



152 PHELPS AKD GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 

being " present in every good work, " he has well entitled himself to 
be called the Howard of his local region. The public edifices of 
Canandaigua, the rural church-yard, the streets and side-walks, the 
public libraries, bear testimonials of his public spirit. If no other 
good work is in hand, he will carry apples, books, and other accept 
able presents, to the inmates of the jail, and cheer them by kind 
words. Jn cities and villages of this country and in England, he 
has established libraries and literary institutions, principally for the 
benefit of mechanics, apprentices and clerks. Well may it be said, 
that the world would be better, the picture of humanity would have 
in it more of lighter coloring, if there were more like William 
Wood. But, principally, it has been intended to notice him in con 
nection with a Gallery of Portraits mostly of Pioneers of the 
Genesee country that he is collecting and suspending in their 
well-chosen and appropriate place, the court-house at Canandaigua. 
It contains already the portraits of 

OLIVER PHELPS, AUGUSTUS PORTER, 

PETER B. PORTER. JOHN GREIG, 

PHILIP CHURCH, JAMES WADS WORTH, 

WM. WADSWORTH, RED JACKET, 

MICAH BROOKS, NATHANIEL ROCHESTER, 

VINCENT MATHEWS. JASPER PARRISH, 

ABNER BARLOW, JUDGE FITZHUGH, 

WALTER HUBBELL, AMBROSE SPENCER, 

JOHN C. SPENCER, WILLIAM WILLIAMS, 

MOSES ATWATEB, N. W. HOWELL. 

And a correspondent adds ; " WILLIAM WOOD, the noblest Ro 
man of them all." 



PHELPS AKD GORHAM S PUECHASE. 153 



CHAPTER V 



JEMIMA WILKINSON, 



THIS eccentric founder of a religious sect, and her followers, 
having been the Pioneers of the entire Genesee country, preceding 
even the Indian treaties for acquiring land titles ; and having con 
stituted in early days a prominent feature in all this region ; some 
account of them, it may well be supposed, will be looked for in a 
work of this character. 

Jemima Wilkinson, or, as she was called by her followers, " The 
Friend," or " The Universal Friend," was a daughter of Jeremiah 
Wilkinson of Cumberland, Rhode Island. She was one of a family 
of twelve children. The father was a respectable ordinary New 
England farmer. When Jemima was in her 20th year,, the entire 
family, except her, had a severe attack of fever ; and after their 
recovery, she was attacked, and her sickness was severe and pro 
tracted, at times her life being despaired of. In the extremity of her 
illness, her friends had assembled around her bed side to witness 
her death, when, as she affirmed, it was suddenly revealed to her 
that she must "raise her dead body." She arose from her bed, and- 
kneeling by its side, made a fervent prayer, called for her clothing, 
and announced -that her carnal existence had ended; henceforward 
she was but divine and spiritual ; invested with the gift of prophe 
cy.* She soon commenced travelling and exhorting, and with a 
considerable degree of success ; followers multiplied, some of them 
good New England farmers. They soon furnished all her wants, 
and would accompany her sometimes to the number of twenty, on 
her missions. She travelled through New England, Eastern New 
York, and spent several years in the neighborhood of Philadelphia 



* This is briefly, her own account of her sudden transformation, as related to an in 
formant of the author, who knew her well, before and after her advent to this region. 
10 



154 PHELPS AND GOKHAM ? S PUKCIIASE. 

and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, accompanied by most of her follow 
ers ; and she had proselytes wherever she went. Her authority 
over them was absolute. Upon one occasion, at New Milford. in 
Connecticut, she proclaimed a fast for thirty days on bread and 
water. Most of them strictly obeyed ; some of them becoming 
almost what Calvin Edson was in later years. After remaining in 
New England and Pennsylvania about twenty years, she came to 
Western New York ; she was then near forty years of age. The 
author has a copy of the " New Haven Gazette and Connecticut 
Magazine," of date, March 1787, that has a letter in it from a 
Philadelphia correspondent, written at the time " The Friend," and 
her followers were in Philadelphia, on their way to this region. 
Her personal appearance is thus described : " She is about the 
middle size of woman, not genteel in her person, rather awkward in 
her carnage ; her complexion good, her eyes remarkably black and 
brilliant, her hair black and waving with beautiful ringlets upon her 
neck and shoulders ; her features are regular, and the whole of her 
face thought by many to be perfectly beautiful. As she is not to be 
supposed of either sex, so this neutrality is manifest in her personal 
appearance: She wears no cap, letting her hair hang down as 
has been described. She wears her neckcloth like a man ; her chemise 
is buttoned around the neck and wrists. Her outside garment is a 
robe, under which it is said she wears an expensive dress, the fash 
ion of which is made to correspond neither with that of a man nor 
woman. Her understanding is not deficient, except touching her 
religious fanatacism. She is very illiterate, yet her memory is very 
great ; artful in discovering many circumstances which fall out 
among her disciples. On all occasions she requires the most extra 
ordinary attentions that can be bestowed upon her; one or more 
of her disciples usually attend upon her, and perform the most 
menial service. Her pronunciation is after the peculiar dialect of 
the most illiterate of the country people of New England. Her 
preaching has very little connexion, and is very lengthy ; at times 
cold and languid, but occasionally lively, zealous and animated." 

Enlarging upon the account she first gave of her rising from a 
bed of sickness dead in the flesh she assumed that there was 
once such a person as Jemima Wilkinson, but that " she died and 
went to heaven ; after which the Divine Spirit re-animated that 
same body, and it arose from the dead ; now this divine inhabitant 



PHELPS AM) GORHAM S PTJECHASE. 

is Christ Jesus our Lord, the friend to all mankind, and gives his 
name to the body to which he is united, and therefore, body and 
spirit conjointly, is the "Universal Friend." She assumed to have 
two "witnesses," corresponding in all respects to those prophecied 
in Rev. Chap, xi, from 3d to 13th verse. These were James Par 
ker and Sarah Richards. 

But the reader will be principally interested in the advent of this 
singular personage and her followers to the Genesee country : 
Previous to 1786, they were living in detached localities. In that 
year, they met in Connecticut, and resolved upon finding some "fer 
tile unsettled region, far from towns and cities, where the Univer 
sal Friend " and her followers, might live undisturbed in peace and 
plenty, in the enjoyment of their peculiar religion. They delega- ^ 
ted three of their number, Abraham Dayton, Richard Smith and 
Thomas Hathaway to look for such a location. They went to * 
Philadelphia and traversed on horseback the interior of Pennsylva 
nia. Passing through the valley of Wyoming, they came across a ^ 
backwoodsman by the name of Spalding, who furnished them with 
a glimpse of the region around Seneca Lake, and gave them direc 
tions how to find it. Following his directions, they went up the 
river, and falling upon the track of Sullivan s army, reached the 
foot of Seneca Lake, and from thence proceeded to Cashong creek, 
where they found two French traders, (De Bartzch and Poudry.) 
who told them that they had travelled through Canada, and through 
the Western territory, and had seen no where so fine a country as the 
one they were in. A few days exploration, satisfied the land look 
ers, and they returned by the route they came, to inform the Friend 
of the result of their travels. 

In June 1787, twenty five of the Friends, among whom were 



NOTE. At a time when the Friend and her followers, were likely to loose their first 
location upon the banks of the Seneca Lake, .and were having some difficulty with 
their neighbors, Abraham Dayton was deputied to go to Canada, and negotiate with 
GOT. Simcoe, for a grant of land for a new location. Gov. Simcoe acceded, and made 
a grant in the present township of Burford, C. W. Preparations were made to emi 
grate, when the Governor annulled his grant. He gave as an excuse that he had sup 
posed them to be Quakers, of whom he had acquired a good opinion in England ; 
but. learning that they were a new sect, he did not wish to encourage their emigration. 
He however made the grant to Col. Dayton individually, upon such terms, settle 
ment duties &c. as he was then in the habit of making land grants. Col. Dayton 
settled upon the land, died in early years, and was succeeded by his son-in-law, Ben- 
ajah Mallory. The aged widow of Col. Dayton, who became the wife of Col. Joel 
Stone, the founder of the village of Gananoque, below Kingston, died but a few years 



156 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUECHASE. 

Abel Botsford, Peleg and John Briggs, and Isaac Nichols, with their 
families, met at Schenectady, and embarked on board of batteaux 
for the promised land. At Geneva they found but a solitary log 
house, and that not finished, " inhabited by one Jennings." They 
went up the east side of the Lake to " Apple Town," where they 
remained several days searching for a mill site. The noise of the 
falling water, of the outlet of Crooked Lake, attracted them to the 
west shore of Seneca Lake. Passing up the outlet they came to 
the Falls, and exploring the neighborhood, fixed upon it as their 
location. They began their settlement in Yates County, about one 
mile south of the present village of Dresden. It was August when 
they arrived. They prepared ground and sowed a field of wheat 
in common, and the next season, 1789, several small fields of wheat 
were sown.* 

The first land purchase was made of the State, upon the " Gore." 
previous to the running of the new pre-emption line. It was a 
tract of 14,000 acres, situated in the east part of the present town 
of Milo, and south east part of Starkey. William Potter and 
Thomas Hathaway were delegated to make the purchase. They 
applied to Governor George Clinton for a grant of land, which was 
refused of course, but he assured them that if they would attend 
the public sale in Albany, they would be able to obtain land at a 
satisfactory price. They attended the sale and bought the tract 
above named for a little less then 2s per acre. Benedict Robinson 
and Thomas Hathaway, soon after bought of Phelps and Gorham 
the town of Jerusalem for Is 3d per acre.f 

The first grist mill in Western New York, was built by three of 
the society ; Richard Smith, James Parker and Abraham Dayton. 
The site was the one now occupied by the " Empire Mills," two 
and a half miles from Penn Yan. It was built in the summer and 
fall of 1789 and flour was made in it in that year. Here also was 



* This corrects the very common impression, that the first wheat was harvested at 
Canandaigua, and Victor, in the fall of 1790. The wheat sown bj the Friends must 
have been harvested in 1789. 

t It was a rule at that early period, with Messrs. Phelps & Gorham, in selling a 
picked township, to require the purchaser to draw for another township at the same 
price. Robinson and Hathaway after purchasing Jerusalem, drew what is now the 
town of Geneseo. The Friend objected to her people "trading and buying property 
at a distance," and fearing her displeasure, they prevailed upon Mr. Phelps to release 
them from the bargain, which he was quite willing to do, as he had ascertained the 
Value of the township. 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

opened the first public house by David Waggener. A son of his, 
Abraham Waggener of Penn Yan, now 76 years of age, well re 
members seeing the French Duke, Liancourt, at his father s inn.* 
The first framed house in the Genesee country, was built by Enoch 
and Elijah Malin, as a residence for " The Friend." The house is 
still standing, and is occupied by Charles J. Townsend. -It is a mile 
north of Dresden, and a half a mile east of S. B. Buckleys. The 
first school in the Genesee country, was opened by Rachel Malin in 
a log room attached to this house. In 1789, a log meeting house 
was built in which " The Friend" preached, and met with her fol 
lowers. This house stood a few rods south of the residence of S, 
B. Buckley. But this is anticipating pioneer events that belong in 
another connexion. 

Major Benajah Mallory, well known in all this region during the 
war of 1812, is yet living, in Lockport, Niagara County. He is 
spoken of in a preceding note as having married the daughter of 
Abraham Dayton. This family connexion, (or then anticipated one,) 
brought him to the Friend s settlement at an early period after it was 
founded. He was the first merchant there ; and in tact, opened the 
first store in the Genesee Country, other than those connected with 
the Indian trade. From him the author has obtained many remin 
iscences, some of which are applicable to the subject in hand. He 
gives the names of principal heads of families who were followers 
of " The Friend," and located in the settlement during the earliest 
years : Abraham Dayton, William Potter, (father of Arnold Pot 
ter) Asahel Stone, John Supplee, Richard Smith, David Waggener, 
James Parker, Samuel Lawrence, Benj. Brown, Elnathan and Jon 
athan Botsford, Jessee Brown, Jessee Holmes, Joshua Brown, Barn- 
abus Brown, Nathaniel Ingraham, Eleazor Ingraharn, David Culver, 
David Fish, Beloved Luther, John Gibbs, Jacob Waggener, Wm. 
Sanford, John Barnes, Elijah Brown, Silas Hunt, Castle Dean, Jon 
athan Dean, Benedict Robinson, Thomas Hathaway. Besides these 
there were unmarried men, and men and women who had been 
separated in adhering to the Friend. The followers were mostly 

* " The inn" says the Duke in his Travels which contained but two rooms, we found 
already full; same person who intended to buy land near the Great Sodus, and Capt 
Williamson s agent who was to sell it to them, had taken possession before our arrival. 
After an American supper consisting of coffee and boiled ham, we all lay down to 
rest in the same room. There was only two beds for ten persons ; in consequence, these 
two beds were occupied by four of TIS, and the others lay down in their clothes upon 
the straw." 



158 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUECHASE. 

respectable men of small property ; some of them had enough to be 
called rich in those days. Those who had considerable property 
gave her a part, or were at least liberal in supplying her wants. 
Man and wife were not separated ; but they were forbidden to 
multiply. A few transgressed, but obtained absolution by confes 
sing and promising not to disobey again. It was generally a well 
regulated community, its members mostly lived in harmony, were 
temperate and industrious. They had two days of rest in the week, 
Saturday and Sunday. At their meetings the Friend would gener 
ally speak, take a text preach and exhort and give liberty to others 
to speak. The Friend appeared much devoted to the interests of 
her followers, and especially attentive to them in sickness. Major 
Mallory insists that the old story of her promising to " walk on the 
water" is wholly false. When Col. Pickering held his treaty with the 
Indians at Newtown Point, nearly five hundred Senecas encamped 
at Friends Landing on Seneca Lake. They were accompanied by 
Red Jacket, Cornplanter, and Good Peter, (the Indian preacher,) 
the Rev. Mr. Kirkland, Horatio Jones and Jasper Parrish. Good 
Peter wanted an interview with the " Universal Friend." She ap 
pointed a meeting-with the Indians and preached to them, Good 
Peter followed her, and the Friend wanted his discourse interpre 
ted. Good Peter objected, saying : "if she is Christ, she knows 
what I said." This was the meeting upon the bank of Seneca Lake, 
that gave rise to the report alluded to. 

The Friend did not join her colony until the spring of 1789. She 
then came with a reinforcement, a somewhat formidable retinue.* 
Benedict Robinson, the most considerable property holder among 
her followers, gave her 1000 acres of land, upon which she resided. f 

* William Hencher, the Pioneer at the mouth of the Genesee River, then lived at 
Newtown Point, and helped her on with his teams through the woods, to Catherines- 
town. His surviving son who accompanied the expedition, well remembers "The 
Friend," her singular dress, and singularity as it seemed to him, of a woman controlling 
and directing men in all things appertaining to the journey. It seemed to him a "one 
woman power," if the form of expression may be changed with the sex ; yet he 
gratefully remembers her kindness and hospitality, when his father s family came 
through the wilderness, and stopped at her residence, on their way to the Genesee 
Biver. 

t The author has several letters of Mr. Robinson, written to Messrs. Wadsworth, 
Williamson, and others, and he is often alluded to in early reminiscences. The Duke, 
Liancourt visited him in 1795, and says of him; " This Benedict Robinson is a mild, 
sensible and well behaved man, resides on an estate of 500 acres, 150 of which are im 
proved." " Last year he sold a thousand pounds of cheese at a shilling a pound." 
" He does not plough his land, but contents himself with breaking it up with a har 
row. Although he says that Mr. Robinson had been a " zealous disciple of the "All 
Friend," he inferred from his conversation that his confidence in her divine mission 



PHELPS AOT) GORHAM S PUECHASE. 159 

Her business would seem to have been conducted by her female 
witmess, Sarah Richards, who did not arrive at the settlement until 
June, 1789. Some correspondence of hers, and memorandums, 
have been preserved : 

"JERUSALEM, 1st of 6th mo., 1791. 

"I arrived with Rachel Malin, Elijah Malin, E.Mehitable Smith, Maria, and most of 
the Friend s family, and the goods which the Friend sent Elijah to assist in bringing 
on. "We all arrived on the west side of Seneca Lake, and reached the Friend s house. 
which The Universal Friend had got built for our reception ; and with great joy, met 
The Friend once more in time, and all in walking health, and as well as usual. 

"SARAH RICHARDS." 

"In the year 91, settled with Elijah Malin, being in trust for The Universal Friend. 
At this time, reckoned and settled with him for building The Friend s house, and pass 
ed receipts the 24th of the sixth month, 1791. SARAH RICHARDS." 

" Reckoned and settled^with Richard Hathaway for goods which the carpenters took 
up at his store for building The Friend s piouse in Jerusalem. Settled, I say, this 3d 
of the 7th month, 1791. SARAH RICHARDS." 

"About the 26th of the 7th month, 1791,1 and Rachel Malin were taken sick about 
the time of wheat harvest, and remained sick, and were not able to go out of the house 
until the ground was covered with snow ; but entirely confined to our chamber, wnich 
finished up the year 1791. SARAH RICHARDS." 

Sarah Richards died in 94 or 5, and was succeeded in all her 
relations . to The Friend, by Rachel Malin. The father of The 
Friend never became her convert, but her brother, Stephen, and 
sisters, Mercy, Betsey and Deborah, followed her in her advent to 
this region. 

O 

The meetings of this singular sect, were conducted very much 

was somewhat weakened. The Duke might have added a circumstance that had 
somewhat interfered with the relations of the Friend and one of her most prominent 
disciples. He had infracted one of her rules, by marrying. He was in this way, the 
first transgressor among the followers. Susannah Brown had been his houskeeper. 
Tlios. Hathaway having business with Benedict early one morning, went to his house 
where he found Mr. Williamson, who told him that Benedict being unwell was yet 
in bed. Mr. "Williamson leading the way, they both went up stairs and found Bene 
dict in bed with his housekeeper, Susannah ; " Good .Lord! Benedict, what does this 
mean ?" was the ejaculation and interrogation of Thomas, accompanied by an uplifting 
of his hands, in token of astonishment and horror, at what he called "shameful, sin 
ful, and disgraceful." Mr. Williamson replied : "Why, Benedict got tired of sleeping 
alone, and crept in bed with Susannah." Thomas hastened to inform The Friend , 
who was displeased, but avoided an open rapture, with one whose position and influence 
made him too valuable to admit of excommunication. The harsh features of the affair 
were soon softened, by Mr. Williamson, who announced that he was then on his way 
from Canandaigua, where he had taken out his commission as a Judge of Ontario county, 
and had legally married Benedict and Susannah before they had ventured to place 
themselves in the position in which Thomas had found them. The eccentric marriage 
proved a happy one to the parties, whatever it may have been with the offended Jemi 
ma. The living descendants in the first degree, of the offending Benedict and Susan 
nah, are : Dr. Daniel Robinson of Farmington, Out. county ; Mrs. Dr. Hatmaker of 
Milo, Yates county ; James C. Robinson, P. M., Penn Yan ; and Phoebe, a maiden 
daughter, who resides at the old homestead. 



160 PHELPS AJ>TC> GOKHAM S PUECHASE. 

after the manner of the legitimate Society of Friends. The con 
gregation would sit in silence until some one would rise and speak. 
While The Friend lived, she would generally lead in the public 
speaking, and after her, Rachel Malm. In addition to this, and the 
usual observance of a period of silence, with each family, upon sit 
ting down to their meals, " sittings " in each family, upon Sunday 
evenings, was common. The family would observe perfect silence 
for an hour or more, and then rise and shake hands. " I remem 
ber," says Mr. Buckley, " when I was a boy, many such sittings 
at my grand-father s, and I always rejoiced when they commenced 
shaking hands to end the tiresome stillness." 

It has already been observed, that the French Duke, Liancourt, 
visited The Friend s settlement in 1795. He became much inter 
ested in the new sect, made the acquaintance of The Friend, was 
a guest, with his travelling companions, at her house, and attended 
her meetings. For one so generally liberal and candid, he writes 
of all he saw there in a vein of censure, in some respects, unde 
served. She and her followers, were then at variance with their 
neighbors, and the Duke too readily listened to gossip that implica 
ted the private character of this founder of a sect, and added them 
to his (justifiable, perhaps,) denunciations of religious imposture. 
Her real character was a mixed one : Her first incentives were 
the imaginings of a mind highly susceptible of religious enthusiasm, 
and strongly tinctured with the supernatural and spiritual, which, 
in our own day, has found advocates, and has been systematized in 
to a creed. The physical energies prostrated by disease, the 
dreamy mind went out, and, following its inclinations, wandered 
in celestial spheres, and in a " rapt vision," created an image, some 
thing to be or to personate. Disease abating, consciousness return 
ing, this image had made an impress upon the mind not to be readily 
effaced. She became an enthusiast ; after events, made her an im 
postor. All founders of sects, upon new revelations, have not had 
even so much in the way of induction to mitigate their frauds. A 
sect that has arisen in our own day, now counting its tens of thou 
sands, the founders of a State, have nothing to show as their basis, 
but a bald and clumsy cheat ; a designed and pre-meditated fraud. 
It had no even distempered religious enthusiasm ; no sick man or 
sick woman s fancy to create a primitive semblance of sincerity or 
integrity of purpose. The trance or dream of Jemima Wilkinson, 



PIIELPS AND GORHAM S PUE CHASE. 161 

honestly enough promulgated at first, while the image of its creation 
absorbed all her thoughts and threw around her a spell that reason 
could not dissipate, attracted the attention of the superstitious and 
credulous, and, perhaps, the designing. The motives of worldly 
ambition, power, distinction; the desire to rule, came upon her 
when the paroxism of disease in body and rnind had subsided, and 
made her what history must say she was, an impostor and false 
pretender. 

And yet there were many evidences that motives of benevolence, 
a kindly spirit, a wish to promote the temporal wellfare of her fol 
lowers, was mixed up with her impositions. Her character was a 
compound. If she was conscious herself of imposition, as we must 
suppose she was, her perseverence was most extraordinary. Never 
through her long career did she for one moment yield the preten 
sions she made upon rising from her sick bed and going out upon 
her mission. With gravity and dignity of demeanor, she Avould 
confront cavillers and disbelievers, and parry their assaults upon 
her motives and pretensions; almost awing them to a surren 
der of their doubts and disbelief. Always self-possessed, no evidence 
could ever be obtained of any misgivings with her, touching her 
spiritual claims. Upon one occasion James Wadsworth called to 
see her. At the close of the interview, she said : Thou art a 
lawyer ; thou hast plead for others ; hast thou ever plead for thyself 
to the Lord ?" Mr. Wadsworth made a courteous reply, when re 
questing all present to kneel with her, she prayed fervently, after 
which she rose, shook hands with Mr. Wadsworth, and retired to 
her apartment. 

The reader must make some allowances for the strong prejudices 
of the French Duke, who upon the whole, made but poor returns 
for the hospitalities he acknowledges. He says : " She is con 
stantly engaged in personating the part she has assumed ; she des 
canted in a sanctimonious, mystic tone, on death, and on the happi 
ness of having been an instrument to others, in the way of their 
salvation. She gave us a rhapsody of prophecies to read, ascribed 
to Dr. Love, who was beheaded in Cromwell s time. Her hypoc 
risy may be traced in all her discourses, actions and conduct, and 
even in the very manner in which she manages her countenance .." 

The Friend s community, at first flourishing and successful, began 
to decline in early years. The seclusion and separation from the 



162 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

world, contemplated by its founders was not realized. They had 
selected too fine a region to make a monopoly of it. The tide of 
emigration reached them, and before they had got fairly under way, 
they were surrounded with neighbors who had little faith in The 
Friend, or sympathy with her followers. The relations of neigh 
borhood, town and county soon clashed, militia musters came, and 
the followers refused the service ; fines were imposed and their 
property sold. The Friend was a long time harrassed with indict 
ments for blasphemy, but never convicted. While she could keep 
most of her older followers in the harness, the younger ones remind 
ed of the restraints imposed upon them, by contrasting their privi 
leges with their disbelieving neighbors, would unharness themselves ; 
one after another following the early example of Benedict Robinson. 
Two of that early class of methodist circuit preachers,* that were 
so indefatiguable in threading the wood s roads of this western 
forest, as were their Jesuit predecessors a century before them, 
found the retreat, and getting a foothold, in a log school house, 
gradually drew many of the young people to their meetings. Many 
of the sons and daughters of the followers abjured the faith. 

Jemima Wilkinson died in 1819, or departed, went away, as the 
implicit believers in her divine character would have it. Rachel 
Malin, her successor in spiritual as well as worldly affairs, died 
about three years since. She kept up the meetings until a few 
years previous to her death. James Brown, and George Clark, who 
married heirs of Rachel Malin, own the property that she inherited 
from The Friend. The peculiar sect may be said to be extinct ; 
not more than three or four are living who even hold lightly to the 
original faith. Even the immediate successors of Jemima and 
Rachel, the inheritors of the property, and those who should be 
conservators of their memories, if not of their faith, are forgetful 
of their teachings. The old homestead, the very sanctuary of the 
Universal Friend, once with all things appertaining to it, so chast 
ened by her rigid discipline ; is even desecrated. During this present 
winter the sounds of music and dancing have come from within its 
once consecrated and venerated walls. CCpFor an interesting 
sketch of Jemima Wilkinson and her followers, copied from the 
manuscripts of Thomas Morris, see Appendix, No. 7. 

* Revs. James Smith and John Broadliead. 



PART THIRD- 



CHAPTER I. 



COMMENCEMENT OP SURVEYS, AND SETTLEMENT OF THE GENESEE 

COUNTRY. 



[Pioneer settlements will be taken up in this connection, by counties, as they now 
exist. The arrangement will not allow of strict reference to the order of time in 
which events occurred ; but it will be found more convenient for the reader than any 
other that could be adopted. 

After Mr. Phelps had concluded the treaty, before leaving the 
country he made arrangements for its survey into Ranges and Town 
ships. This was done under contract, by Col. Hugh Maxwell, who 
completed most of the northern portion of it previous to the close 
of the year 1788 ; and in the year 1789, with the assistance of 
Judge Porter, he completed the whole. The survey of townships 
into farm lots, in cases where whole townships were sold, was done 
at the expense of the purchasers. Judge Porter, Frederick Saxton, 
Jenkins, were among the earliest surveyors of the subdivis 
ions. 

Mr. Phelps having selected the foot of Canandaigua Lake, as a 
central locality in the purchase, and as combining all the advanta 
ges which has since made it pre-eminent, even among the beautiful 
villages of western New York, erected a building for a store house 
on the bank of the Lake. The next movement was to make some 
primitive roads, to get to and from the site that had been selected. 
Men were employed at Geneva, who underbrushed and continued 
a sleigh road, from where it had been previously made on Flint creek, 
to the foot of Canandaigua Lake, following pretty much the old 



164 PHELPS AND GOKHAJtt s PURCHASE. 

Indian trail. When this was done, a wagon road was made near 
where Manchester now is, the head of navigation on the Canandai- 
gua outlet. No one wintered at Canandaigua in 1788, 9. Early 
in the spring of 1789, before the snow was off the ground, Joseph 
Smith moved his family from Geneva, and occupied the log store 
house ; thus making himself the first settler west of Seneca Lake. 
Soon after his arrival he built a block house upon Main street, upon 
the rise of ground from the Lake, where he opened a tavern. His 
first stock of liquors was obtained from Niagara, U. C. He went 
after them from the mouth of Genesee river, in a canoe ; on his 
return, his frail craft was foundered in a gale, at the mouth of the 
Oak Orchard creek ; but he saved most of his stock, and carried it 
to Canandaigua on pack horses. This primitive tavern, and the 
rude store house on the Lake, furnished a temporary stopping place 
for those who arrived in the spring and summer of 1789. 

Early in May 1789, Gen. Israel Chapin arrived at Canandaigua, 
and selected it as his residence, erecting a log house near the outlet ; 
connected with him, and with surveys and land sales that were 
contemplated, were some eight or ten others, who came at the same 
time. They came by water, even into the lake, though this was 
about the only instance that batteaux went higher up the out-let 
than Manchester. There were, of these early adventurers, besides 
Gen. Chapin: Nathaniel Gorham jr., Frederick Saxton, Benjamin 
Gardner, and Daniel Gates. Soon after Mr. Walker, an agent of 
Phelps and Gorham arrived with a party, built and opened a log 
land office on the site which Mr. Phelps afterwards selected for his 
residence. Others came during the summer, who will be named in 
another connection, and before the sitting in of winter there was a 
pretty good beginning of a new settlement. Judge John H. Jones, 
a brother of Capt. Horatio Jones, who still survives to remember 



NOTE. Joseph Smith was captured by the Indians at Cherry Valley, during the 
Border Wars. Like others he had chosen to remain arsong them. His stay at 
Canandaigua was but a brief one, as he was soon employed as an Indian interpreter. 
At the Moms treaty at Geneseo, the Indians gave to him and Horatio Jones six square 
miles of land on the Genesee river. They sold one half of the tract to Oliver Phelps 
and Daniel Penfield, and Smith soon after parted with his remaining quarter. He was 
an open hearted generous man, possessed in fact of many good qualities ; endorsed for 
his friends, was somewhat improvident, and soon lost most of the rich gift of the Indi 
ans. He was well known upon the river in some of the earliest years of settlement, 
He died in early years ; his death was occasioned by an accident at a ball play, in 
Leicester. A daughter of his a Mrs. Button, resides at Utica with her son-iu-law, 
Dr. Bissell, late Canal Commissioner. 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. . 165 

with great distinctness, early events, was one of the party who 
opened the road from Geneva to Canandaigua, and from Canandai- 
gua to the landing place on the outlet, in 1788, revisited the locality 
again in August, in 1709. He says : " There was a great change. 
When we left in the fall of 88 there was not a solitary person 
there ; when I returned fourteen months afterwards the place was 
full of people : residents, surveyors, explorers, adventurers ; houses 
were going up ; it w r as a busy, thriving place." 

Mrs. Hannah Sanborn, is now the oldest surviving resident of 
the village ; and with few exceptions, the oldest upon Phelps and 
Gorham s purchase. She is now in her 88th year, exhibiting but 
little of the usual infirmities of that advanced age, with faculties, 
especially that of memory of early events, "but slightly impaired. 
The author found her in high spirits, even gay and humorous, en 
joying the hearty laugh of middle age, when her memory called up 
some mirthful reminiscence. Upon her table were some of the 
latest publications, and she alluded in conversation to Headly s fine 
descriptions in his " Sacred Mountains," as if she had enjoyed them 
with all the zest of her younger days. She had just finished a letter 
in a fair hand, shewing but little of the tremor of age, which was to 
be addressed to a great grand daughter. To her, is the author 
largely indebted for reminiscences of early Pioneer events at Can 
andaigua. 

Early in the spring of 1790, Mr. Sanborn came with his wife and 
two young children to Schenectady, where he joined Judah Colt, 
and the two chartered a boat, with which they came to the head 
of navigation on the Canandaigua outlet.* Mr. Sanborn moved 



NOTE. Nathaniel Sanborn, the husband of Mrs. Sanborn, died in 1814. There is 
scarcely a pioneer settler in the Genesee country, that did not know the early landlord 
and landlady. Mrs. S. was the daughter of James Gould, of Lyme Conn., is the aunt 
of James Gould of Albany. Her son John and William reside in Illinois. Her eldest 
daughter the first born in Canandaigua, now over 60 years of age, is the wife of 
Dr. Jacobs of Canandaigua; another daughter is the wife of Henry Fellows Esq. of 
Penfield ; another, is Mrs. Erastus Granger of Buffalo ; and a fourth is a maiden 
daughter, residing with her mother. 

*Mrs. S. gives a graphic account of this journey. The last house the party slept 
in after leaving pchenectady until they arrived at the cabin on the Canandaigua out 
let, was the then one log house in Utica. It was crowded with boatmen from Niag 
ara. Mrs. S. spread her bed upon the floor for herself, husband and children, and the 
wearied boatmen begged the privilege of laying their heads upon its borders, The 
floor was covered. After that they camped wherever night overtook them. On the 
Oswego River they took possession of a deserted camp, and just as they had got their 
supper prepared two stout Indians came who claimed the camp and threatened a sum- 



166 PHELPS AOT) GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 



into the log hut that he had built in the Robinson neighborhood, where 
they staid but a short time, the place looking " forbidding and lone 
some." Mrs. S. chose to go where she could have more than one 
neighbor within eight miles. They removed to Canandaigua 
Mrs. S. says she found there in May, 1790, Joseph Smith, living 
on bank of Lake, Daniel Brainard in a little log house near the pres 
ent cemetry, Capt. Martin Dudley, in the house built by Mr. Walk 
er, James D. Fish in a log house down near the Lake ; Gen. Chapin 
who had been on the fall before had built a small framed house for 
his family, a few rods below Bemis Bookstore. Mr. Sanborn 
moved into it until a small framed house was erected on the Atwater 
corner, of which he became the occupant, opening a tavern, which 
with the exception of what Joseph Smith had done in the way of 
entertainment, was the first tavern w r est of Seneca Lake, and 
was the only one for four years. It was the home of the young 
men who came to Canandaigua for settlement ; of adventurers, 
emigrants, who would stop at. Canandaigua with their families a few 
days to prepare for pushing here and there into the wilderness ; 
land surveyors and explorers ; Judges of the early courts, and law 
yers ; the Indian]chiefs Red Jacket, Brant, Farmer s Brother. Corn- 
planter, who were called to Canandaigua often in early years to 
transact business with Gen. Chapin, the Superintendent ; in short 
the primitive tavern that now would be deemed of inadequate 
dimensions for an inn at some four corners in the country, had for 
guests all the prominent men of that early period ; and of many 
eminent in their day, and even now blended with all the early his 
tory of the Genesee Country. Mrs. Sanborn enumerates among 
her early guests, many of them as boarders: Oliver Phelps, 
Charles Williamson, Aaron Burr, Thomas Morris, Rev. Mr. Kirk- 
land, Augustus and Peter B. Porter, James and William Wads worth, 
the early Judges of the Supreme court of this State, Bishop Chase, 
Joseph and Benj. Ellicott, Philip Church, Louis Le Couteleux, 
Charles and Dugald Cameron, Vincent Matthews, Nathaniel W. 
Howell, John Greig, Horatio and John H. Jones, Robert Troup, 
Jeremiah Mason, Philetus and John Swift, Wm Howe Cuyler, 
Elias Cost, Herman Bogert, Samuel Haight, Timothy Hosmer, 

mary ejectment. The conflicting claim was amicably adjdusted, but Mrs, S. says it 
was the first of the race she had ever seen, and they cost her a little fright. The party 
saw none but Indians and boatmen in all of the long journey west of Utica. 



PHELPS A]ST> GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 167 

Arnold Potter, Benedict Robinson, Jemima Wilkinson, Samuel B, 
Ogden, John Butler, Samuel Street, and Timothy Pickering. Few 
of all of them are now living, and yet the busy stirring landlady, of 
whom they were guests, most of them in their early years, lives to 
remember them and speak familiarly of their advents to this 
region. 

Mrs. Sanborn well remembers the Pickering treaty of 94. As 
it was known that Col. Pickering, the agent, would come prepared 
to give them a grand feast, and distribute among them a large 
amount of money and clothing, the attendance was very general. 
For weeks before the treaty, they were arriving in squads from all 
of their villages and constructing their camps in the woods, upon 
the Lake shore, and around the court house square. The little 
village of whites, was invested, over run with the wild natives. 
It seemed as if they had deserted all their villages and transferred 
even their old men, women, and children, to the feast, the carousal, 
and the place of gifts. The night scenes were wild and picturesque ; 
their camp fires lighting up the forest, and their whoops and yells 
creating a sensation of novelty, not unmingled with fear, with the 
far inferior in numbers who composed the citizens of the pioneer 
village, and the sojourners of their own race. At first, all was peace 
and quiet, and the treaty was in progress, beeves had been slaughter 
ed sufficient to supply them all with meat, and liquor had been care- 
full v excluded ; but an avaricious liquor dealer, secretly dealt out 
to them the means of intoxication, and the council was interrupted, 
and. many of the Indians became troublesome and riotous. Gen. 
Chapin however suppressed the liquor shop, harmony was restored, 
and the treaty concluded and the gifts dispensed. A general ca 
rousal followed, but no outrages were committed. They lingered 
for weeks after the council, displaying their new broadcloths and 
blankets, silver bands and broaches.*" 

Samuel Gardner was the first merchant in Canandaigua ; he 
married a sister of Wm Antis; his store was in a log building. 
Thaddeus Chapin was the next. 



* Judge Porter was then in Canaiidaigua acting as the agent of Phelps and Gorhain, 
iritlie name of his principals, he had to make them presents of provisions and whiskey 
when they came to Canandaigua, and that was pretty often. On the occasion alluded 
to he denied an Indian whiskey, telling him it was all gone. "No, no," replied the 
Indian, " Genesee Falls never dry." This was a shrewd allusion to the gift to Phelps 
and Gorham of the enormous "Mill Lot," which embraced the Geuesee Falls. 



168 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUECIIASE. 

During the summer of 1790, Caleb Walker, the brother of the 
agent, who had been down and made a beginning in Perintoii, died. 
It was the first death and funeral in Canandaigua. The nearest 
physician was a Dr. Adams of Geneva, who came but was destitute 
of medicine ; some was obtained by breaking open a chest that had 
been left fyy a traveller. At the funeral, the physician being an 
Episcopalian, the church service was read, which was the first relig 
ious exercises after settlement han commenced, in the Genesee Coun 
try. In the same year religious meetings were organized, using Judge 
Phelp s barn for the meetings. Sermons were read by John Call ; 
Mr. Sanborn led the singing ; prayers were omitted, there being 
no one to make them. After the sermon of Rev. Mr. Smith,* who 
is mentioned in connection with the Pitts family, the next was 
preached by the Rev. Mr. Guernsey. 

- In all early years at Canandaigua, the forest afforded a plenty of 
vension, and the Lake and small streams a plenty of fish. The 
hills on either side of the Lake, abounded in deer, which were easi 
ly driven into the Lake and caught. Some hunters would kill 
from eighty to an hundred in a season ; and the Indians, when they 
visited the place, would generally have vension to barter for flour 
or bread. Wild fruits whortleberries, blackberries, wild plums, 
crab-appies, cranberries, strawberries, raspberries were plenty in 
their seasons, and furnished a pretty good substitute for cultivated 
fruits. The Indian orchard on Canandaigua Lake, at the Old Cas 
tle near Geneva, at Honeoye and Conesus, afforded a stinted supply 
of poor apples. Apples and peaches in small quantities, began to 
be produced from the young orchards, in 95 and ? 6. The first dish 
of currants produced in the Genesee country, were served in a tea- 
saucer, by Mrs. Sanborn, in 1794, at a tea-party, and was a thing 
much talked of; it marked an era. 

Ebenezer Allan is well remembered at Canandaigua, as he is in 
all the Pioneer settlements. Mrs. -Sanborn speaks of his being her 
guest on his way to Philadelphia, after the Morris treaty, to place 
his two half-blood daughters in school. He had his waiter along, 
and was at that period what the Senecas would have called a 

* On the second visit to the country, in 1701, Mr. Smith called together such as 
were members of churches in all the Genesee Country organized a church and admin 
istered the sacrament. The first church organization and the first celebration of the 
Lord s supper, in the Genesee Country. The church organization was however, not 
a permanent one. 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S TUECHASE. 169 

" Shin-ne-wa-na," ( a gentleman ; ) but stories of his barbarity in 
the Border Wars, were then so rife, that he was treated with 
but little respect. Sally, the Seneca mother, with all a mother s 
fondness, came as far as Canandaigua to bid her daughters good 
bye. 

In July, 1790, the heads of families in T. 10, R. 3, (Canandai- 
gua ) were as follows : Nathaniel Gorham, jr., Nathaniel Sanborn; 
John Fellows, James D. Fish, Joseph . Smith, Israel Chapin, John 
Clark, Martin Dudley, Phineas* Bates, Caleb Walker, Judah Colt, 
Abner Barlow, Daniel Brainard, Seth Holcomb, James Brockle- 
bank, Lemuel Castle, Benjamin Wells, John Freeman. Before the 
close of 1790, there was a considerable accession to the popula 
tion. 

The first town meeting of the town of Canandaigua, was held in 
April, 1791. It was "opened and superintended by Israel Chapin," 
who was chosen Supervisor; and James D. Fish \vas chosen Town 
Clerk. The other town officers were as follows : John Call, Enos 
Boughton, Seth Reed, Nathan Comstock, James Austin, Arnold Pot 
ter, Nathaniel Potter, Israel Chapin, John Codding, James Latta, 
Joshua Whitney, John Swift, Daniel Gates, Gamaliel Wilder, Isaac 
Hathaway, Phineas Bates, John Codding, Nathaniel Sanborn, Jared 
Boughton, Phineas Bates, Othniel Taylor, Joseph Smith, Benjamin 
Wells, Hezekiah Boughton, Eber Norton, William Gooding, John 
D. Robinson, Jabez French, Abner Barlow. 

"Voted, That swine, two months old and upwards, going at large, 
shall have good and sufficient yokes." 

" Voted, That for every full-grown wolf killed in the town, a 
bounty of thirty shillings shall be paid." 

The reader, with names and locations that have occurred and 
will occur, will observe that these primitive town officers were 
spread over most of all the eastern portion of Phelps and Gorham s 
Purchase. It was the first occasion to bring the Pioneers together. 
Mutual acquaintances were made ; friendship, good feeling, hiliari- 
ty, athletic games, (says Mrs. Sanborn,) were the order of the day. 



NOTE. When the Senecas, at the Morris treaty, deeded four square miles at Mount 
Morris, to Allan, in trust for Chloe and Sally Allan, one condition of the trust was, that 
he should have them taught " reading and writing, sewing, and other useful arts, ac 
cording to the custom of white people." 
11 



1TO PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 

In April, 1792, the town meeting was "opened and inspected by 
Israel Chapin and Moses Atwater, Esqs." Most of the officers 
were re-elected. Eighty pounds were raised to defray the expen 
ses of the town. In this year, the record of a road was made, 
which ran from " Joseph Kilbourn s house to the shore of the Lake ;" 
and another, from " Swift s ashery to west line of No. 12, R. 2, 
near Webb Harwood s ;" another, * from Swift s to Canandaigua ;" 
and others, leading " from the square in Canandaigua," in different 
directions. 

Town meeting, 1793, it was voted that fence viewers "examine 
the size and dimensions of hog yokes ;" the wolf bounty was raised 
to 85. Tn this year, twelve scalps were produced; among the 
names of those who claimed bounty, were : Thaddeus Chapin, 
William Markham, Benjamin Keys, Gamaliel Wilder, Daniel Cha 
pin, Israel Reed. Roads from " Canandaigua to John Coddings ;" 
" from Nathan Comstock s to Webb Harwood s ;" " from old pre 
emption line to Canandaigua Mills;" "from Mud Creek Hollow to 
Capt. Peter Pitts ;" and many others, were surveyed this year. 
The early road surveyors were : Gideon Pitts, Jairus Rose, 
Jonathan Edwards, Jabez French. 

By the town records of 1794, it would seem that Annanias M. 
Miller had a mill in operation on Mud Creek. Roads were recorded 
this year, " from Canandaigua to Jerusalem ; ; from Jerusalem to 
Gerundegut." This year, Othniel Taylor presented six wolf scalps. 

Gen. Israel Chapin was Supervisor till 1795, when he was suc 
ceeded by Abner Barlow. There is recorded this year, the sale of 
several slaves, the property of the citizens of Canandaigua. 

Although the county of Ontario, embracing all of the Genesee 
country, was set off from Montgomery, during the session of the 
legislature in 1789, 90, no organization of the courts was had until 
1793. In June of that year, a court of Oyer and Terminer was 
held at " Patterson s Tavern in Geneva." The presiding judge 
was John Stop Hobart, one of the three Supreme Court judges ap 
pointed after the organization of the Judiciary in 1777. A grand 
jury was called and charged, but no indictments preferred. The 
first court of Common Pleas and General Sessions, was held at the 
house of Nathaniel Sanborn in Canandaigua, in November, 1794, 
The presiding judges were, Timothy Hosmer and Charles William 
son, associated with whom, as assistant justice ; was Enos Bough- 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 171 

ton. Attornies, Thomas Morris, John Wickham, James Wads- 
worth, Vincent Matthews. There was a number of suits upon the 
calendar, but no jury trial. The organization of the court would 
seem have been the principal business. There was, however, a grand 
jury, and one indictment was found. 

The next session of the court was in June, 1795. James Parker 
was an associate justice. Peter B. Porter and Nathaniel W. Ho well, 
being attornies of the Supreme Court, were admitted to practice in 
the courts of Ontario county. Stephen Ross and Thomas Mum- 
ford were also admitted. At this court, the first jury trial was had 
west of the county of Herkimer. It was the trial of the indict 
ment that had been preferred at the previous session, for stealing a 
cow bell. John Wickham, as County Clerk, was ex-officio District 
Attorney, but the management of the prosecution devolved upon 
Nathaniel W. Howell. Peter B. Porter and Vincent Matthews 
managed the defence. 

In November, 1795, Moses Atwater was added to the bench. It 
was ordered that " Nathan Whitney be appointed the guardian of 
Parkhurst Whitney, an infant at the age of eleven years." David 
Saltonstall, Herman Bogert, David Jones, Ambrose Hall, Peter 
Masterton, John Nelson, Major Bostwick, George D. Cooper, H. 
K. Van Rensselaer, were admitted as attornies, [most of them non 
residents.] 

From Book of "Miscellaneous Records," 1797 : Peter B. Por 
ter as county clerk, records the medical diplomas of Daniel Good 
win, Ralph Wilcox, Jeremiah Atwater, Moses Atwater, Augustus 
Williams and Joel Prescott. 1799 Chiefs of Seneca Nation ac 
knowledged the receipt of 88,000 from Gen. Chapin, as a dividend 
upon the sum of 8100,000, which the United States government had 
received of Robert Morris, as purchase money for the Holland Pur 
chase and Morris Reserve, and invested in the stock of the United 
States Bank. The medical diplomas of Drs. John Ray, Samuel 
Dungan, David Fairchild, Arnold Willis, are recorded. Peter B. 
Porter appoints Thomas Cloudesly, deputy clerk. Theophilus Caze- 
nove and Paul Busti appoint Joseph Ellicott and James Wadsworth, 
their lawful attornies. 1800 Robert Troup as general agent for 
Sir William Pultney, appoints Robert Scott local agent. De Witt 
Clinton executes a mortgage to Oliver Phelps, on an " undivided 
fourth part of 100,000 acres lying west of the Genesee River." 1801, 



172 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 

Peter B. Porter as clerk, makes Augustus Porter his deputy. 1803 
Benj. Barton and Polydore B. Wisner are made appraisers of dam 
ages incurred by the construction of the Seneca Turnpike. 1804 
Sylvester Tiffany as county clerk appoints Dudley Saltonstall his 
deputy. Thomas Morris appoints John Greig his lawful attorney. 
Harry Hickox files certificate of license to practice medicine. 1806 
John Hornby of the county of Middlesex, Kingdom of G. B. ap 
points John Greig his lawful attorney. T. Spencer Colman is ap 
pointed deputy clerk. Phineas P. Bates is succeeded as Sheriff 
by James K. Guernsey. 1807 Oliver Phelps appoints Virtue 
Bronson his lawful attorney. 1808 Stephen Bates as Sheriff ap 
points Nathaniel Allen deputy. James B. Mower succeeded .Syl 
vester Tiffany as clerk. 1810 Myron Holley is county clerk. 
Canandaigua Library organized. 1811 James B. Mower as clerk 
appoints Daniel D. Barnard his deputy. 

In all the earliest years, the Cayuga, Oneida, Ononclaga and. 
Seneca Indians received their annuities at Canandaigua, which 
made it the place of annual gatherings of those nations, and the 
centre of the Indian trade. 

Although not entitled to it from population, in 1791, by a special 
act, Ontario was entitled to be represented in the Assembly. This 
was not known in the new settlements of Canandaigua, Geneva, 
and their neighborhoods, but in a small settlement that had com 
menced on the Canisteoin what is now Steuben Co., they were in 
possession of the secret. Col. Eleazor Lindley, under whose auspi- 
cies the settlement was made, collected together a few back woods 
men, held an election, got a few votes for himself, carried them to 
New York and was admitted a member of the Legislature. The 
whole proceeding was irregular, but there was no one to contest 
the seat, and the Legislature did not wish to deprive the backwoods 
of a representative. General Israel Chapin was its representative 
in 1792. 

In a letter to Sir Wm. Pultney, in 1791, Robert Morris had de 
clared his intention of settling his son Thomas in the Genesee coun 
try, as an evidence of his faith in its value and prospects. He 
states that Thomas was then reading law with Richard Harrison 

o 

Esq. by whom he was deemed a " worthy young man," In August 
1791, Thomas Morris with some companions, passed through the 
country, visited Niagara Falls, and on his return, made a considera- 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PUECHASE. 

ble stay at Canandaigua.* He returned and became a resident of 
Canandaigua, marrying a daughter of Elias Kane, of Albany. His 
father having become the purchaser of the pre-emption right of 
what was afterwards the Holland Purchase and Morris Reserve, 
it was probably intended that he should be the local agent. That 
interest however being parted with, he had much to do with closing 
up his father s affairs in this region, and in all the preliminary meas 
ures adopted by the Holland Company, in reference to their pur 
chase. His father having in his sale to the Holland Company, 
guarantied the extinguishment of the Indian title, he acted in all 
that affair as his agent. He was the first representative in Congress 
from all the region west of Seneca Lake ; and as a lawyer, land 
proprietor, and agent, was intimately blended with all the local 
history of this region. Becoming through his father, an early pro 
prietor of the Allan tract at Mount Morris, that locality derives its 
name from him. He was the intimate friend of Mr. Williamson; 
and in fact, enjoyed the confidence and esteem of all the early 
Pioneers. Like others of that early period, he over-traded in lands, 
shared in his father s reverses, and as early as 1803 or 4, retired to 
the city of New York, where he practiced law, until his death, in 
1848. The author knows nothing of his family, save the fact, that Mr. 
Morris an Engineer upon the southern rail road, and Lieut. Morris 
of the Navy are his sons. 



* Major Hoops, who was then surveying for the father, Robert Morris, in Steuben, 
writes to him, Sept. 1791 : "Your son Thomas is an excellent woodsman. He got 
lost about a mile from Canandaigua, night came on ; he made his way through swamps 
and over hills, and at length espied a solitary light at a distance. Entering the hut 
from whence it proceeded, he asked for lodging, but he appeared in such a question 
able shape that it was denied. Upon being told who he was, the occupant made 
amends for his incivility by turning half a dozen boys and girls out of their bed into 
his own. Tom turned in, slept till morning among flees and bed bugs, &c., (fee. ; then 
rose and trudged on six miles, to Canandaigua, arriving before sun rise." 

And another case of a benighted traveller, of greater note perhaps, but of far less 
real merit, had happened years before settlement commenced: John Jacob Astor, 
with a pack of Indian goods upon his back, wandered from the Indian trail, got lost 
in the low grounds at the foot of Seneca Lake, in an inclement night, wandered amid 
the howl and the rustling of wild beasts, until almost morning, when he was attracted 
by the light of an Indian cabin, near the old castle, and following it, obtained shelter 
and warmth. 

NOTE. Mr. Moms, in his manuscripts which were prepared in 1844, says : " The 
excursion that has been spoken of was undertaken by me, partly from a desire to 
witness an Indian treaty, and see the Falls of Niagara; and partly with a desire to 
see a country in which my father, at that time had so extensive an interest ; and with 
the determination to settle in it if I liked it. I was pleased with it, and made up my 
mind to settle at Canandaigua, as soon as I should have attained the age of 21, and 
nay admission to the bar. Accordingly, in the early part of March, 1792, I left New 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 

John Fellows, who is named among the residents in Canandai- 
gua in 1790, was in the Massachusetts line during the Revolution, 
with the rank of Brig. General. He was a resident of Sheffield, 
Mass., was sheriff of Berkshire county, and its representative in 
the State legislature. He was one of the associates of Bacon and 
Adams, in the purchase of East Bloomfield ; drawing his share 
3,000 acres, on Mud creek, he erected a saw mill there in 1790, 
in company with the late Augustus Porter. Besides this tract, he 
had lands in Canandaigua and Honeoye. He never became a per 
manent resident of the country got discouraged, or rather looked 
upon the dark side of things ; said there was no use of having 
good wheat lands, if they never were to have any market. He re 
sold the 3,000 acres on Mud creed for 18d. per acre. He died in his 
native town, Sheffield, in 1808. He was the father of Henry Fel 
lows, Esq. of Penfield, and of Mrs. Daniel Penfield. 

James D. Fish, was first town clerk ; his wife s death was the 
second one in Canandaigua ; and he died in early years. 

John Clark came with Mr. Phelps to the treaty. His trade be 
ing that of a tanner and currier, he manufactured the first leather 
in the Genesee country. This was from the hides of the cattle 
driven on to furnish beef for the Indians at the treaty. His vats 
were made by sawing off sections of hollow trees. From this 
small beginning, his business was extended, and in early years his 
shoe and leather establishment was well known throughout a wide 
region. His wife was the daughter of the early pioneer, Lemuel 
Castle. Mr. Clarke died in 1813, and Mrs. Clark in 1842. They 
were the parents of Mrs. Mark H. Sibley of Canandaigua, and 
Mrs. W. H. Adams of Lyons. 

Luther Cole came into the country with Gen. Israel Chapin. 
He was the first to carry the mail from Whitesboro to Canandaigua ; 
on horseback when the roads would allow of it, and often on foot.* 
In winters he would travel with a sleigh, buy goods in Whitesboro 

York for Canandaigua. I was induced to fix on that place for my residence, from the 
character and respectability of the families already established there. In the course 
of that year I commenced building a framed house, filled in with brick, and which 
was finished in the early part of the year 1793. That house still subsists, and even in 
that handsome town, where there are so many beautiful buildings, is not considered as 
an eye sore. When it was completed, that and the house built by Oliver Phelps were 
the only framed houses west of Whitesboro." The house is now owned and occupied 
by Judge Wells. 

* See Post Office Canandaigua, Appendix, No. 8. 



PIIELPS AOT) GOEEIAM S PUECHASE. 175 



and sell them in Canandaigua. From this small beginning he be 
came an early and prominent merchant. His wife was a niece of 
Mrs. Phineas Bates. He died many years since. His sons, Henry 
and James, emigrated to Detroit ; James will be remembered as 
an early and highly gifted poet. 

Dr. Hart was another early physician, and died in early years. 
He married the widow of Hezekiah Boughton, a brother of Jared 
and Enos Boughton, and father of Claudius V. and George H. 
Boughton. 

William Antiss emigrated from Pennsylvania, and established 
himself in Canandaigua as a gun smith, at an early period. He 
was employed by Gen. Chapin to make and repair rifles for the In 
dians, and the white hunters and sportsmen, over a wide region, 
were for a long period, the customers of his establishment. He 
died in early years, and was succeeded by his son William Antiss 
2d, who continued in the business until his death in 1843. The 
sons of Wm. Antiss 2d, are William Antiss of Canandaigua, Robert 
Antiss, who is the successor of his father and grand-father in busi 
ness. Mrs. Byron Hays and Mrs. Wm. Reed of Canandaigua, are 
daughters of Wm. Antiss 2d. 

In his rambles in June, 1795, the Duke, Liancourt, went from 
Bath to Canandaigua. He staid all night at "Capt. Metcalf s," and 
mentions the fact that a few years before the Capt. had bought his 
land for Is. per acre, and sold a part of it for $3 per acre. He 
says the settlement was " called Watkinstown, from several families 
of that name who possess the greatest property here."* "Capt. 
Metcalf besides his lands and Inn, possesses a saw mill, where 4500 
feet of boards are cut daily. These boards he sends on the lake to 
Canandaigua, where they are sold for 10s. per 100 feet." " There 
is a school master at Watkinstown, with a salary of twelve dollars 
per month." Speaking of Canandaigua he says : " The houses, 
although built of wood, are much better than any of that descrip 
tion I have hitherto seen. They consist mostly of joiner s work, 
and are prettily painted. In front of some of them are small courts, 
surrounded with neat railings. There are two Inns in the town, 
and several shops, where commodities are sold, and shoes and other 



* The Duke was in Naples. Plielps and Gorham sold the township to " Watkins. 
Harriss & Co." 



176 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

articles made. The price of land here is three dollars per acre 
without the town, and fifteen dollars within. Speaking of a visit to 
" Mr. Chipping," * (Chapin) he says he found him surrounded by a 
dozen Seneca Indians, (among whom was Red Jacket,) who had 
come to partake of his whiskey and meat." The Duke was evi 
dently in bad humor at Canandaigua. His friend Blacons had 
selected the " second Inn, which was far inferior to the first," and 
he says their dissatisfaction was greatly increased, when they were 
" shewn into a corn loft to sleep, being four of us, in company with 
ten or twelve other men," and after he had got to sleep, he says he 
was disturbed by a recruit of lodgers, an old man and a handsome 
young woman, who I believe was his daughter." At the idea of a 
young woman occupying the same room, with twelve or fifteen of 
the other sex, he thinks his European readers " will scoff, or laugh," 
but he thinks it showed in " an advantageous light, . the laudable 
simplicity and innocence of American manners." 

Phineas Bates was a native of Durham, Conn. He came to the 
Genesee country in early summer in 1789, with the early Pioneer, 
Gamaliel Wilder, and remained with him until the fall of the year, 
making the commencement at Wilder s Point, in Bristol. He re 
turned to Connecticut in the fall, making the journey on foot. 
Early in the spring of 1790, accompanied by his eldest son, 
Stephen, his son-in-law, Orange Brace, and several others, he return 
ed, starting with a yoke of oxen and sled, the party bringing with 
them a year s provision, and some household goods. Arriving at 
Schenectady, they put every thing they could not conveniently 
carry in their knapsacks, on board of a batteaux, left their sled, un 
yoked their oxen, travelled up the Mohawk, and struck off into 
the wilderness, preceding the Wads worths a few weeks. At Onon- 
daga, Mr. Bates bought half a bushel of potatoes, slung them across 
the neck of one of his oxen, brought them to Canandaigua, and 
planted them upon some village lots he purchased. During the 
summer, he cleared ten acres, and sowed it to wheat. 

Returning to Connecticut late in the fall, in company with Amos 

Hall, Sweet, Samuel Knapp ; soon after the party left, they 

encountered a severe snow storm, the snow falling to such a depth 



* The translator of the Duke s "Travels," made bad work with names. William 
Wadsworth for instance, is called Capt. Watworth." 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 

as to render their progress extremely slow. Walking in single file, 
one would go forward to break the path, until he wearied out, when 
another would take his place. Anticipating no such delay, they 
had provided themselves with an inadequate stock of provisions, 
and long before they reached Whitestown, the suffering of hunger 
was added to that of cold and fatigue. The carcass of an otter, 
their dog killed in the Nine Mile Creek, was a substitute for more 
palatable food. 

Undismayed by the scene of suffering and privation he had passed 
through, Mr. Bates on reaching home, made preparations for the 
removal of his family, and in February, 1791, brought them by 
sleighing to Canandaigua, making the seventh in the new settle 
ment. 

He opened a public house at an early day, near the upper end of 
Main-street, which was continued by him and his son for many 
years. He was an early Justice of the Peace, and in all respects, 
a worthy citizen. He died in 1829, at an advanced age. Bring 
ing with him into the country at so early a period, active and en 
terprising sons, the family occupied a prominent position for a long 
series of years. His eldest son, Stephen, marrying the daughter 
of Deacon Handy of W. Bloomfield, became a successful farmer 
in Gorham, was sheriff of Ontario, a member of Assembly, and a 
Senator. In 1845, he emigrated to Sauk, Wisconsin, where he 
died the year following ; and of a large family of children, but few 
survive. Asher Bates married the daughter of Elisha Steel, of 
East Bloomfield; in 1808, moved west of the Genesee river, and 
opened a public house on the main road between Caledonia and Le 
Roy; was one of the earliest sheriffs of Genesee; died in 1810. 
An only son studied law with Spencer and Sibley in Canandaigua, 
settled in Detroit, and is now a resident at Honolulu, one of the 
Sandwich Islands, acting in the capacity of the King s attorney or 
counsellor. His first wife was the daughter of Thomas Beals of 
Canandaigua ; the second, is a sister of Dr. Judd, the physician of 
the missionaries in the Sandwich Islands. The widow of Asher 
Bates is now the wife of Dr. Wm. Sheldon of Le Roy. Phineas 
P. Bates succeeded his father as a landlord in Canandaigua, and 
was for many years a deputy sheriff and sheriff of Ontario. He 
is the only one of a large family that survives : is the occupant 
of a fine farm adjoining the village of Canandaigua. David C. 



ITS PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUKCHASE. 

Bates was a farmer near Canandaigua; died in 1849. A daughter 
of the elder Phineas Bates became the wife of John A. Stevens, 
the early Printer, and Editor of the Ontario Messenger. An elder 
daughter was the wife of Orange Brace, who has been named in 
connection with the early advent of the family ; in 1806, he be 
came one of the earliest settlers upon the purchase of Phelps and 
Chipman, in Sheldon, Wyoming county. * 

Phineas P. Bates, Esq., the survivor of the family, who has been 
named, in 1800, was the mail boy from Canandaigua to Fort Nia 
gara. The mail route had been established about two years pre 
vious, and was carried through by Jasper Marvin, who sometimes 
dispensed with mail bags, and carried the contents in a pocket 
book. Mr. Bates observes that when he commenced carrying it 
for his brother Stephen, who was the mail contractor, it used to 
take six days to go and return. His stopping places over night, 
were at Mrs. Berry s, among the Indians at Tonawanda, and at 
Fort Niagara. 

In some reminiscences of Mr. Bates, he observes, that "in 1793, 
one of those fatal accidents occurred at Canandaigua, which always 
cast a gloom over small communities. A Mr. Miles, from what is 
now Lima, and a citizen of Canada, were on their way to Massa 
chusetts. Riding into the village, when they were within a few 
rods of Main-street, a tree turned out by the roots, fell upon the 
travellers, killing them both, and one of their horses. What made 
the affair a very singular one, was the fact, that although it was 
raining moderately at the time, there was not the least wind to 
cause the fall of the tree." 

Dr. Moses Atwater settled in Canandaigua as a physician, at the 
early period of 1791. In some correspondence that passed be 
tween Gen. Chapin and Judge Phelps, there was much gratifica 
tion manifested that their new settlement was to have the benefit 
of a physician. Dr. Atwater enjoyed for a long period an extensive 
practice, and made himselt eminently useful in the new country. 

* The Pioneer and a son, both died on the frontier, where they had gone under 
Smyth s proclamation, in the war of 1812. Another son and a daughter died about 
the same period. Toward the close of the war, a son-in-law, Ardin Merrill, was kill 
ed on board of a ferry boat, at the Canada landing, opposite Black Hock. Many 
households of all the Genesee country were thinned by disease, and deaths upon bat 
tle grounds, during the war ; but there were few, if any, hearthstones made as desolate 
as was theirs. Leicester Brace of Buffalo, late sheriff of Erie county, is a surviving 
son of Orange Brace, and a surviving son and daughter reside in Illinois. 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUECHASE. 

^ 

He was an early Judge of Ontario county. He died in 1848, at 
the advanced age of 82 years. Samuel Atwater of Canandaigua, 
and Moses Atwater of Buffalo, are his sons ; a daughter became 
the wife of Robert Pomeroy, of Buffalo ; and another, the wife of 
Lewis Jenkins, formerly a merchant of Canandaigua, now a resi 
dent of Buffalo. Dr. Jeremiah Atwater, a brother of Moses, set 
tled in Canandaigua in early years. He still survives at the age 
of 80 years, laboring, however, uiider the infirmity of a loss of 
sight. 

Mr. Samuel Dungan was a native of Pennsylvania, a student 
with the celebrated Dr. Wistar. He settled in practice in Canan 
daigua in 1797. He possessed extraordinary skill as a surgeon, and 
in that capacity, was known throughout a wide region. He died 
nearly thirty years since. He left a son and a daughter, both of 
whom are still living. 

Dr. William A. Williams was from Wallingford, Conn. He en 
tered Yale College at the close of the Revolution, and graduated at 
the early age of sixteen. After passing through a regular course 
of medical studies, he commenced practice in Hatfield, Mass.; but 
in a few years, in 1793, emigrated to Canandaigua, established him 
self in a large and successful practice, which he retained until near 
the close of a long life. One who was his neighbor for near forty 
years, observes : "He was a man of plain and simple manners, 
amiable and kind hearted ; at the bed side of his patients, he min 
gled the consolations of friendship with professional advice ; in 
day or night time, in sunshine or in storm, whether his patients were 
rich or poor, he was the same indefatigable, faithful physician and 
good neighbor. He died in 1833 or 4. Col. George Williams, of 
Portage, and Charles Williams, of Nunda, are his sons. His 
daughters became the wives of the late Jared Wilson, Esq., and 

John A. Granger, of Canandaigua, and Whitney, the present 

P. M. at Canandaigua, and Editor of the Ontario Repository. 



NATHANIEL W. HOWELL. 

The venerable Nathaniel W. Howell, now in his 81st year, is the 
oldest resident member of the Bar of Western New York. His 
native place is Blooming Grove, Orange County, N. Y. The son 



180 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 

of a farmer, at a period when farmer s sons were early inured to 
toil, a naturally robust and vigorous constitution was aided by the 
healthy labors of the field. At the age of thirteen he was placed in 
an Academy in Goshen, founded by Noah Webster, the widely 
known author ; where he remained for nearly two years ; after 
which he entered the Academy at Hackensack, N. J., the Principal 
of which was Dr. Peter Wilson, formerly Professor of languages in 
Columbia College. In May, 1787, he entered the junior class in 
Princeton College, and graduated, in Sept. 1788. A few months 
after graduating, making choice of the legal profession, he com 
menced the study of law in the office of the late Gen. Wilkin, in 
Goshen. Remaining there but a short period, he accepted a call to 
take charge of an Academy at Ward s Bridge in Ulster Co., where 
he continued for over three years ; after which, he resumed the 
study of law in the office of the late Judge Hoffman, in the city of 
New York. He was admitted an Attorney of the Supreme Court 
in May, 1794. 

In May, 1795, he opened an office in the town of Union, near 
the now village of Binghampton, in Tioga county. The late Gen. 
Matthews was then practicing law in Newtown, now Elmira. The 
two were the only Supreme court lawyers then in the county. 

Judge Howell was admitted as an Attorney of the court of com 
mon pleas in Ontario in June, 1795, and in the following February, 
removed to Canandaigua, where he has continued to reside until 
the present time. The records of the courts bear evidence of his 
having acquired a large practice in early years. He was one of the 
local legal advisers of Mr. Williamson, and was employed by 
Joseph Eliicott in his earliest movements upon the Holland Purchase. 
Laying before the author at this present writing, are copies of his 
letters to Mr. Williamson written in 1795, and a letter written with 
in the present year, in a fair hand, but little marked by the tremor 
of age. Fifty six-years have intervened ! 

In 1799, he was appointed by the council of appointment, on the 
nomination of Gov. Jay, assistant Attorney General for the five 
western counties of this state, the duties of which office he contin 
ued to discharge until his resignation in 1802. In 1819 he was 
appointed by the council of appointment, on the nomination of Gov 
Dewitt Clinton, First Judge of the county of Ontario, which office 
he filled for thirteen years. He was an early representative in the 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 181 

state legislature, and in 1813, 14, he represented in Congress, the 
double district, composed of Ontario and the five counties to the 
west of it. On retiring from the Bench, he retired from his profes 
sion, employing himself in the superintendence of a farm and gar 
den, enjoying good health, with slight exceptions ; in summers labor 
ing more or less with his own hands. 

In a previous work, the author has observed, that there are few 
instances of so extended a period of active participation in the 
affairs of life ; and still fewer instances of a life that has so adorned 
the profession to which he belongs, and been so eminently useful 
and exemplary. To him, and to such as him his early cotem- 
porary, General Matthews, for instance and others of his cotem- 
poraries that could be named, is the highly honorable profession of 
law in Western New York indebted for early and long continued 
examples of those high aims, dignity, and exalted integrity, which 
should be its abiding characteristics. They have passed, and are 
passing away. If days of degeneracy should come upon the profes 
sion renovation become necessary there are no better prece 
dents and examples to consult, than the lives and practices of the 
Pioneer Lawyers. 

The first wife of Judge Howell was the youngest daughter of 
General Israel Chapin. She died in 1808, leaving two sons and a 
daughter. He married for a second wife, in 1809, the daughter of 
Dr. Coleman, of Anchram, Mass. She died in 1842, leaving three 
sons and a daughter. The surviving sons are : Alexander H. 
Howell, Thomas M. Howell, Nathaniel W. Howell, Augustus P. 
Howell. Daughters became the wives of Amasa Jackson of the 
city of New York, and Henry S. Mulligan of Buffalo. 

Dudley Saltonstall was a native of New London, Conn., a grad 
uate of Yale College. He studied law in the celebrated law school 
of Judge Reeves of Litchfield, and was admitted to practice in the 
court of common pleas of Ontario, in 1795. He had genius, and 
high attainments in scholarship, commenced practice under favorable 
auspices ; but aiming high and falling below his aim, in his first 
forensic efforts, he lost confidence in himself, and abandoned the 
profession. He engaged in other pursuits with but little better 
success, and in 1808, emigrated to Maryland, and soon after to 
Elizabeth city, N. Carolina, where he died some fifteen years since. 

Dudley Marvin did not locate at Canandaigua within a pioneer 



182 PHELPS AM) GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

period, but his name is so blended with the locality, that a tirief no 
tice of him will perhaps be anticipated. He was a native of 
Lyme, Connecticut. His law studies were commenced and com 
pleted in the office of Messrs. Howell & Greig ; in the absence of 
any classical education, but in its place was a vigorous intellect, 
peculiarly adapted to the profession he embraced. He had not 
been long admitted to the bar, when he had no superior, and few 
if any equals, as an advocate, in the western counties of this State ; 
indeed, the giants of the law from the east, who used to follow the 
circuits of the old Supreme Court Judges in this direction, found in 
the young advocate of the west, a competitor who plucked laurels 
from their brows they had won upon other theatres of forensic strife. 
" When sitting as a judge," says one of his early legal mentors, " I 
frequently listened with admiration to his exceedingly able and elo 
quent summings up in jury trials. I was once present on the trial 
of an important and highly interesting cause, in which Mr. Marvin 
and the celebrated Elisha Williams were opposed to each other, 
and I thought the speech to the jury of Marvin, was quite as 
eloquent as that of Williams, and decidedly more able. He was, in 
deed, unsuccessful, but the failure was owing to his cause, and not 
to him. He might well have said with the Trojan hero : " Si 
Pergama dextra defendi possent etiam hac defensi f ids sent." 

He was twice elected to Congress, in which capacity the high 
expectations that were entertained of his career were somewhat dis 
appointed. The new sphere of action was evidently not his forte 
neither was it to his liking ; while the free habits that unfortunately 
so much prevailed at our national eapitol, were illy suited to help 
the wavering resolutions of a mind that was wrestling with all its 
giant strength, to throw off chains with which a generous social 
nature, had helped to fetter him. Years followed, in which one who 
had filled a large space in the public mind of this region, was almost 
lost sight of; his residence being principally in Maryland and Vir 
ginia. He returned to this State, and resumed practice in the city 
of New York, where he continued but a few years ; removing to 
the county cf Chautauque, and retiring upon a farm. 

Myron Holley came from Salisbury Connecticut, in 1803, locating 
at Canandaigua. He had studied law, but never engaged in prac 
tice. He was an early bookseller, and for a considerable time 
clerk of Ontario county. He was a member of the first Board of 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 183 

canal commissioners, the acting commissioner in the original con 
struction of the western division of the Erie Canal, unil the whole 
*was put under contract. Soon after the location of the canal he 
became a resident of the village of Lyons. So eminently able and 
faithful were his services as a canal commissioner, that the grateful 
recollection and acknowledgement of them, outlive and palliate the 
mixed offence of fault and misfortune, with which his official career 
terminated. 

Mr. Holley died in 1839, or 40; his widow, the daughter of 
John House, an early Pioneer at Canandaigua, resides in Black 
Rock, Erie county. 

Isaac Davis, an early merchant at Canandaigua, and subsequently 
at Buffalo, married another daughter of Mr. House. She resides 
with her two sons in Lockport. Wm. C. House, a surviving son of 
John House, was an early merchant in Lockport, and lately the 
canal collector at that point ; his wife, the daughter of John G. 
Bond, an early merchant in Rochester. 

Thomas Beals became a resident of Canandaigua, engaging in 
the mercantile business, in 1803. In early j^earshis trade extended 
over a wide region of country, in which he was highly esteemed 
as an honest and fair dealing merchant. The successor of Thad- 
deus Chapin as treasurer of Ontario county, in 1814, he continued 
to hold the office for twenty eight years. As Trustee and Secretary, 
he has been connected with the Canandaigua Academy forty years. 
He was one of the trustees, and a member of the building com 
mittee of the Congregational Church in 1812; and was one of the 
county superintendents of the poor, when the Poor House was first 
erected. He is now, in his 66th year, engaged in the active 
pursuits of life ; the Treasurer of the Ontario Savmgs Bank, a 
flourishing institution of which he was the founder. Mrs. Beals, 
who was the daughter of the early settled clergyman at Canan 
daigua, the Rev. Mr. Fields, still survives. There are two survi- 
veing sons, one a resident of New York, and the other in Indiana. 
Surviving daughters are : Mrs. Alfred Field, and Mrs. Dr. Carr, 
of Canandaigua, and Mrs. James S. Rogers, of Wisconsin. 

In 1798, a formidable party of emigrants arrived and settled near 
Canandaigua. It consisted of the families of Benjamin Barney, 
Richard Daker and Vincent Grant. They were from Orange county; 
and were all family connexions.. With their six or seven teams, 



184 PIIELPS AISD GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

and a numerous retinue of foot passengers, and stock, their advent 
is well remembered. They practiced one species of travelling 
economy, that the author has never before heard of among the de 
vices of pioneer times : the milk of their cows was put into a 
churn, and the motion of the wagon produced their butter as they 
went along.* The journey from Orange county consumed twenty- 
six days. The sons who came with Benj. Barney, were : Thomas, 
John, Nicholas, Joseph and Henry. Thomas was the head of a 
family when they came to the Genesee country ; a surviving son 
of his, is Gen. V. G. Barney of Newark Wayne county ; a surviv 
ing daughter is the wife of EHsha Higby, of Hope well, Ontario 
county; and in this connection it may be observed, that Mr, 
Higby erected the first carding machine in the Genesee country, 
in 1804, in what is now the town of Hopewell, to which he soon 
added a cloth dressing establishment. 

James Sibley, the early and widely known silver smith, watch 
repairer, and jeweler, of Canandaigua, still survives, retired from 
business, a resident of Rochester. His son, Oscar Sibley, pursuing 
the business of his father, is the proprietor of a large establishment 
in Buffalo. By the aid of a singularly retentive memory especi 
ally in reference to names and localities he has furnished the 
author with the following names of all the heads of families in Can- 
andaigua, village, in 1803 : 



Seth Thompson, 
Abner Bunnell, 


Widow Whiting, 
Phineas Bates, 


Svlvester Tiffany, 
Wm. A. Williams, 


Elijah Morley, 


Augustus Porter, 


James Holden, 


Henry Chapin. 


Zachariah Seymour, 


Hath. W. Howell, 


Samuel Latta, 


Nathaniel Sanborn, 


Samuel Dungan, 


Dudley Saltonstall, 
Leander Butler, 


Tiaiothy Burt, 
Thomas Moms, 


Robert Spencer, 
Hannah Whalley, 


Luther W. Benjamin, 


Thomas Beals, 


Ebenezer F. Norton, 


John Hall, 


Moses Atwater, 


John Furguson, 


John House, 


Thaddeus Chapin, 


Abner Barlow, 


Martin Dudley, 


Israel Chapin, 


Norton <fc Richards, 


Gen. Wells, 


Gould & Post, 


Nathaniel Gorham. 


Jasper Parish, 


James Dewey, 


William Shepherd, 


Mr. Crane, 


Ezekiel Taylor, 


Freeman Atwater, 


Daniel Danes, 


Wm. Antiss, 


William Chapman, 


Mr. Sampson, 
Timothy Youn glove, 


John Clark, 
James Smedley, 


Col. Hyde, 
Virtue Bronson, 


Samuel Abbey, 


Jacob Haskell, 


James B. Mower, 


John Shuler, 


Rev. Timothy Field, 


Oliver Phelps, 


John Brockelbank, 


Joshua Eaton, 


Peter H. Colt. 


Jeremiah Atwater, 


Samuel Brock, 


Luther Cole, 


General Taylor, 


Moses Cleveland, 


Amos Beach. 



* But this device found more than its match with an old lady who was fleeing from 
the frontier in the war of 1812. An alarm found her with her dough mixed for baking. 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 185 

The first permanent church organization in Canandaigua, of 
which the author finds any record, was that of St. Mathew s 
church of the town of Canand.aigua, February 4th, 1799. "A 
meeting was held at the house of Nathaniel Sanborn ; Ezra Platt 
was called to the chair to regulate said meeting." The following 
officers were chosen : Ezra Platt, Joseph Colt, Wardens ; John 
Clark, Augustus Porter, John Hecox, Nathaniel Sanborn, Benjamin 
Wells, James Fields, Moses Atwater, Aaron Flint, Vestrymen. 

The Rev. Philander Chase, the present Bishop of the United 
States, then in Deacon s orders, presided at this organization ; re 
mained and officiated as clergyman for several months. 

About the same period, " the first Congregational church of the 
town of Cannandaigua," was organized. " Ail persons who had 
statedly worshipped in said congregation," met "at the school 
house," and chose as Trustees : Othniel Taylor, Thaddeus Chapin, 
Dudley Saltonstall, Seth Holcomb, Abner Barlow, Phineas Bates. 
The first settled minister of this church, was the Rev- Mr. Field. 

The first record of election returns that the author has been 
enabled to obtain, is that of the election of Senators and Assem 
blymen in 1799. This was before Ontario was dismembered, or 
rather before Steuben had a separate organization, and the returns 
of course embrace the whole region west of Seneca Lake. Vin 
cent Matthews, Joseph White, Moss Kent, were the candidates for 
Senators. The candidates for Assembly were, Charles Williamson 
and Nathaniel Norton, opposed by Lemuel Chipman and Dudley 
Saltonstall. Williamson and Saltonstall were elected. The entire 



vote is given : 









Bloomfield 


168 


Jerusalem - 


101 


ISTorthfield 


59 


Hartford 


70 


Charleston 
East on 


125 

58 


Palmyra 
Gencseo ... 


55 
44 


Augusta - 


58 


Sodus - -.-- 


46 


Sparta 


82 


Seneca - 


55 



She rolled it up in a bed, and sitting upon it, kept it warm, pulling it out and baking 
as she stopped along the road. 



. There was a little feeling of rivalry in the organization of these Pioneer 
churches: thence the anecdote of " Bishop Chase s fiddle." The then young clergy 
man boarded with Mrs. Sanborn, and to amuse one of her children, whittled out a 
shingle in the shape of a fiddle, and stringing it with silk thread, put it in the win 
dow ; an ^Eolian harp. The trifling affair soon got noised about, and some members 
of the rival church organization converted it to no less offence than that of a minister 
of the gospel making a fiddle. 
12 



186 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUKCHASE. 

Canandaigua ... 66 Middlesex ... 53 

Bristol - - - - 110 Frederickstown - - 46 

Phelps - - - - 104 Painted Post 63 

Pittstown 62 Dansville - - - 54 

Middletown 86 Canisteo 76 

Bath 106 

978 

766 
978 

Total 1744 

In 1800, Lemuel Chipman and Nathaniel Norton were elected; 
number of votes, 3,582. Thomas Morris was elected to Congress, 
receiving almost the entire vote of the Genesee country. Canan 
daigua, Palmyra, Bristol, Sparta, Hartford, Easton, Charleston, 
Northfield, Augusta, their entire vote ; and in several other towns 
there were but one, two and three, against him. 1801 Peter B. 
Porter and Daniel Chapin were elected to the Assembly. 1802 
Steuben elected separately, Pollydore B. Wisner, Augustus Porter 
and Thaddeus Chapin, were elected members of Assembly from 
Ontario. 1803 Batavia, which was then all of the Holland 
Purchase, gave less than 180 votes. In that year, Amos Hall, 
Nathaniel W. Howell, Pollydore B. Wisner, were elected to the 
Assembly. 1804 The members of Assembly were, Amos Hall, 
Daniel W. Lewis and Alexander Rhea. 

Jonathan Philips, an early shoemaker of Canandaigua, still sur 
vives, hammering and drawing out his waxed ends upon a seat he 
has occupied for 51 years ; being now 75 years of age. The old 
gentleman observes, that in that now healthy locality, he has known 
it to be so sickly, that more than half the entire population would 
be afflicted with fevers. 

South worth Cole, an elder brother of Luther Cole, came into the 
country in 1797. He located on the east side of the Lake, in a 
then wilderness, at what was known in early days as Corn Creek." 
There was an old Indian clearing of about 20 acres. Mr. Cole 
was for several years the only settler between the foot of the Lake 
and Naples. The location was famed as the favorite ground of the 
rattle snake : some members of this Pioneer family have killed as 
many as 160 in the course oi a day at their den. Deer were so 
plenty, that a hunter of the family has killed 60 in a season. The 
sons of the Pioneer were Abner Cole, an early lawyer of Palmyra ; 
Dorastus Cole, of Palmyra ; Joseph Cole, of Michigan ; G. W. 



PHELPS AND GOPJIAM S PURCHASE. 187 

Cole, of Saratoga Springs ; and Benjamin B. Cole, of Ogden. 
Mrs. Philetus Swift of Phelps, and Mrs. Kingsley Miller of Palmy 
ra, were his daughters. Joseph Colt, the early merchant of Geneva 
and Palmyra, married a sister of Southworth and Luther Cole. 



BLOOMF1ELD. 

The settlement of East Bloomfield, commenced simultaneously 
with that of Canandaigua. The east township was purchased by 
Capt. Wm. Bacon, Gen. John Fellows, Elisha Lee, Deacon John 
Adams, Dr. Joshua Porter (the father of Peter B. and Augustus,) 
Deacon Adams became the pioneer in settlement ; and the pa 
triarch it might well be added, for he introduced a large household 
into the wilderness. His family consisted of himself and wife, his 
sons John, Jonathan, William, Abner and Joseph ; his sons in laws, 

Ephraim Rew, Lorin Hull, and Wilcox, and their wives, and 

Elijah Rose, a brother in law and his family, and three unmarried 
daughters. Joined with all these in the primitive advent, were : 
Moses Gunn, Lot Rew, John Barnes, Roger Sprague, Asa Hickox, 
Benjamin Goss, John Keyes, Nathaniel Norton. Early after the 
opening of navigation, in 1789, the emigrants departed from Sche- 
nectady, some of the men with the household furniture and stores, by 
water, but most of the party upon pack horses, following principally 
the Indian trails. In May, they were joined by Augustus Porter, 
Thaddeus Keyes, Joel Steele, Eber Norton and Orange Woodruff. 
Judge Porter, then but twenty years of age, had been employed to 
make farm surveys of the township. When he arrived he found 
the Adams family, and those who had come in with them, the occu 
pants of a log house, 30 by 40 feet, the first dwelling erected west 
of Canandaigua after white settlement commenced. To accomo- 
date so large a family with lodgings, there were berths upon wooden 
pins along the walls of the house, one above another, steam, or 
packet boat fashion. It was the young surveyor s first introduction 
to backwoods life. He added to the crowded household himself and 
his assistants, and soon shouldered his " Jacob staff," and commen 
ced his work. The emigrants had brought on a good stock of pro 
visions and some cows ; wild game soon began to be added, which 
made them very comfortable livers. The Judge, in his later years, 



188 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 

would speak with much animation, of the primitive log house, its 
enormous fire place ; and especially of the bread "baked in ashes" 
which Mrs. Rose used to bring upon the table, and which he said 
was excellent. 

William Bacon, a principal proprietor in Bloomfield, was a res 
ident of Sheffield, Mass.; he never emigrated. He bore a captain s 
commsssion in the Revolution, and was a contractor for the army. 
After the Revolution he drove cattle through upon the old Indian 
trail to Fort Niagara. Deacon Adams, Nathaniel Eggleston, and 
several others of the early settlers in Bloomfield, first saw the Gen- 
esee Country, in connection with this cattle trade to Niagara. Col. 
Asher Saxton a prominent pioneer, in Bloomfield, Cambria, and 
Lockport Niagara co., and lastly upon the river Raisin, near 
Monroe, was a son in law of capt. Bacon and his local representa 
tive. He died at his residence in Michigan in 1847 at an advanced 
age. He married for a third wife a sister of Gen. Micah Brooks. 
When he left Bloomfield to go into a new region in Niagara county, 
he remarked to an old friend that he was going " where they live in 
log cabins." " I want" said he " to see more of Pioneer life." The 
roof of a log cabin has seldom sheltered a worthier man. 

The author is unable to name the year in which all of the emi 
grants settled in Bloomfield after the primitive advent of the Adam s 
household, and those who came in the same year. Those who will 
be named were of the earliest class of Pioneers. 

Dr. Daniel Chapin was the early physician. He was the next 
representative of Ontario county in the Legislature after Gen. 
Israel Chapin. He removed to Buffalo in 1805 and died there in 
1835. 

Amos Bronson was from Berkshire, a persevering and enterprising 
man, and became the owner of a large farm. He died in 1835. 
His wife still survives, at the advanced age of over 90 years. Mrs. 
Bronson, and Benjamin Goss, are the only two surviving residents 



NOTE. There are no surviving descendants in the first degree of the early Pioneer 
Deacon John Adams. In the second, third and fourth degree, few families are more 
numerous. The three unmarried daughters mentioned above, became the wives of 

John Keyes, Benjamin, and Silas Eggleston . Among the descendants are the 

family who gave the name to "Adams Basin," in Ogden ; Gen. Wm. H. Adams of 
Lyons, "Wm. Adams of Rochester, and Mrs. Barrett of Lockport ; and the author re 
grets that he has not the memorandums to enable him to remember more of a name 
and family so prominently identified with Pioneer settlement. 



PHELPS AISTD GOKHAM S PTJECHASE. 189 

of all the adult pioneers of East Bloomfield. The sons are among 
the wealthy and public spirited men of the town. 

Benjamin Goss, who is named above, was in the country as early 
as 1791. He married a daughter of Deacon George Codding, of 
Bristol. Theirs was the first wedding on Phelps and Gorham s Pur 
chase. He is now 90 years of age ; a Revolutionary pensioner. 
He was in the battle at Johnstown, at Sharon Springs, and was in 
the unsuccessful expedition of Col. Marinus Willett to Oswego in the 
winter of 1781.* 

Nathaniel Norton was from Goshen, Conn. He was the foun 
der of the mills that took his name, on the Ganargwa creek, in 
Bloomfield. He was an early sheriff of Ontario, and its represen 
tative in the Legislature ; and an early merchant in Bloomfield and 
Canandaigua. He died in 1809 or 10. The late Heman Norton 
was his son ; a daughter became the wife of Judge Baldwin of the 

Sup. Court of the United States ; another of Beach, of the 

firm of Norton & Beach. Aaron Norton, the brother of Nathaniel, 
settled in Bloomfield about the same time; died soon after 1815. 
Hon. Ebenezer F. Norton of Buffalo, and Reuben Norton of Bloom- 
field, are his sons. A daughter became the wife of Kibbe, 

the early Bank cashier at Canandaigua and Buffalo ; another, the 
wife of Peter Bowen. Eber Norton, another brother of Nathaniel, 
died in 1810; Judge Norton of Allegany is a so.n of his. 

Roger, Azel, and Thomas Sprague, with their father and mother, 
and three sisters, were early pioneers. Roger succeeded Nathaniel 
Norton as Sheriff of Ontario, was a member of the Legislature, and 
supervisor. He died in Michigan, in 1848. Asahel and Thomas, 
both died soon after 1810. The only survivor of the family is a 
sister who became the wife of Dr. Ralph \Vilcox. 



* Tlie old gentleman gives a relation of suffering and privation in that expedition, 
which exhibits some of the harshest features of the war of the Revolution. The con 
templated attack upon Oswego, was undertaken in mid winter, and the army encoun 
tered deep snow. Many of the men had their feet frozen, and the relator among the 
number. The expedition was undertaken in sleighs, and upou snow shoes, the men 
going ahead upon the snow shoes, and partly beating the track. Oneida Lake was 
crossed upon the ice. Arriving at Fort Brewerton, a large number of the pressed mil 
itia, appalled by the suffering and danger they were to encounter, deserted and return- 
-ed to the valley of the Mohawk ; the remainder, an unequal force for the work that 
was before them, struck off into the dark forest in the direction of Oswego, were badly 
piloted, missed their course, and were three days wanderers amid the deep snows of 
the wilderness. Coming within four miles of a strong fortress, with provisions exhaus 
ted, ammunition much damaged, and men already worn out in the inarch, a council de 
cided against the attack, and the expedition retreated to Fort Plain. 



190 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUECHASE. 

Moses Gunn was from Berkshire. He died in 1820 ; Linus Gunn 
of Bloomfield was a son of his ; another son was an early tavern 
keeper on north road to Canandaigua. 

As early as 1790 Daniel Gates located in the town of Bloomfield, 
on the Honeoye creek, at what is now known as North Bloomfield, 
and erected the first saw mill upon that stream. Procuring some 
apple sprouts from the old Indian orchard at Geneva he had one of 
the earliest bearing orchards in the Genesee country, His youngest 
son, Alfred Gates, now resides upon the old homestead. 

Dr. John Barnes was an early physician, remained a few years, 
and emigrated to Canada. 

Elijah Hamlin, Philo Hamlin, Cyprian Collins, Gideon King, Ben 
jamin Chapman, Joel and Christopher Parks, Ephraim and Lot Rue, 
Alexander Emmons, Ashbel Beach, Nathan Waldron, Enos Hawley, 
Timothy Buel, were Pioneers in Bloomfield, but in reference to them, 
the author as in many other instances, has to regret the absence of 
datas to enable him to speak of them beyond the mention of their 
names. Elijah Hamlin, who was alive a short time since, in Mich 
igan, if alive now, is the only survivor of them. He was a contrac 
tor on the Erie Canal, at Lockport, in 1822. Joel Parks, a son of 
one of those named, married a daughter of Dea. Gooding of Bristol. 
He was a pioneer at Lockport, Niagara county, a Justice of the 
peace and merchant ; and is now a resident of Lockport Illinois. 

Moses Sperry moved from Berkshire to Bloomfield, in March, 
1794, with his wife and seven children. He was then but 27 years 
old. Remaining in Bloomfield until 1813, he removed with his 
family to the town of Henrietta, when settlement had but first com 
menced, and where he had been preceded two or three years by 
some of his sons. He died in the town of Gates, in 1826, aged 62 
years. At the time of his death he had living, 12 children, 67 
grand-children, and 7 great-grand children ; nine of the sons and 

NOTE. Amos Otis Esq. of Perry, "Wyoming county, who has furnished the author 
with some interesting reminiscences of the early settlement of his present locality, a 
nephew of the above named Daniel Gates, resided with him as early as 1804. He was 
informed by his uncle that he ploughed up many relics in the earliest years of settle 
ment ; among which was a sword blade about two feet long, and a brass kettle. The 
old gentleman also informed him the Indians were very troublesome previous to the 
Pickering treaty ; BO much so that they would enter the log cabins of the new settlers, 
insolently demanding whatever they wanted to eat or drink. Mr. Otis mentions an 
additional fact that the author has learned from no other source, that in the height of 
Indian alarm, the new settlers erected a block house, upon the Ball farm, in the north 
part of the town of Lima. 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 191 

daughters are now living. The mother died in Randolph, Cattara- 
gus county, in 1840, aged 78 years; the eldest son at Council Bluff, 
on his way to Oregon, in 1846. The history of this family furnishes 
a remarkable instance of the spirit of enterprise and adventure in 
herited by the descendants of the early pioneers of the Genesee 
country. Residing in one town, in 1813, in 1842 the sons and 
daughters were residents of five different States. Nine of them 
are now living : James Sperry, in Henrietta, a well known surveyor, 
and a local agent of the Wadsvvorth estate ; Moses Sperry, the 
present Surrogate of Monroe ; Calvin Sperry, in Gates, Monroe 
county ; Charles Sperry in Quincy, Illinois ; George Sperry in 
Trumbull county Ohio. A sister resides in Cattaragus county; 
another in Akron, Ohio ; another in Missouri ; another in Gates, 
Monroe county. 

Mr James Sperry having kindly furnished the author with some 
interesting pioneer reminiscences, they are inserted in the form 
adooted in other instances. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES SPERRY. 



Among the trials of the first settlers, there were none more irritating than 
the destruction of sheep and swine by the wolves and bears. Often whole 
flocks of sheep would be slaughtered in the night by the wolves. This hap 
pened so frequently that those who determined to preserve their sheep, made 
pens or yards, so high and tight that a wolf could not get over or through 
them. If left out by accident or carelessness, they were almost sure to be at 
tacked. The state, county and town, offered bounties, in the aggregate, 
amounting to $20 for each wolf scalp. Asahel Sprague caught ten in Bloom- 
field, which had the effect to pretty much stop their ravages in that quarter. 

Bears preyed upon the hogs, that from necessity the new settlers were 
oViged to let run in the woods for shack. A.bout two years after we 
came to Bloomfield, when our nearest neighbor was a mile from my father s 
house, one dark evening in October, when we were all sitting around the 
table pearing pumpkins to dry, (and to make apple sauce,) we were suddenly 
started by a loud squeal from the mother of the grunters, who with her pro 
geny, were resting in a hollow log in the woods. My father having no am 
munition for his old French gun, seized an axe, and went to the rescue, un 
hindered by the remonstrances of my mother. The bear fled at his approach, 
bat had so injured the hog that my father killed her and dragged in the carcass. 

It was not uncommon for boys to see bears when after the cows, but I 
think no one of the early settlers received any injury from them, unless they 
had first been wounded. One of .the Coddino-s, in Bloomfield, came pretty 



192 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUECHASE. 

near having a clinch with one, while in the woods, splitting rails. Stooping 
down to pick up his axe to cut a sliver, he turned around and found himself 
confronted by a bear standing upon its hind legs, with fore paws extended, to 
give him a hug. He declined the offer, struck the bear in the head with the 
axe, but making a glancing stroke, failed to penetrate the skull. The bear 
fled, bearing off the axe, which was held by the wounded skin and flesh. 

Asahel Sprague shot one effectually in the night, while he had hold of one 
of his hogs in the fattening pen. James Parker drove one out of his corn field 
in the day time, followed close upon his heels, and broke his back with a 
hand-spike as he was getting over the fence. The second year of our residence 
in Bloomfield, one day when my father had gone to training, a bear came 
within six or eight rods of the house and caught a hog. My mother and 
eldest sister frightened him from his prey. So much for bear stories, and 
enough perhaps, though I could tell a dozen more of them. 

Among the pleasures of Pioneer life, there was nothing I used to enjoy 
more than to see the flocks of deer bounding over the openings when we 
were out for the cows, or whenever we went a little way from the clearings. 
Many enjoyed the sport of hunting them, and some were successful enough 
to make the sport profitable ; killed enough to supply themselves and their 
neighbors with meat, and themselves with breeches from the dressed skins. 
By the way, I would remark here, that at that early day, the openings about 
Bloomfield were so clear of trees and bushes, that in many places deer would 
be seen from a half to three quarters of a mile off. The openings were 
burned over every spring, and every season they would be green with the 
tender " bent grass," which made good feed for the cattle and deer. In a 
few years, however, improvements were so extended that the inhabitants 
ceased firing the openings, and soon they began to be covered with oak and 
hickory bushes. I know 7 of two localities where the ground was free from 
trees or bushes fifty years ago, that would produce as many cords of wood 
now per acre, as the heaviest timbered native forests. 

Although the privations of the first settlers were numerous and hard to 
bear, having often to go without meat and sometimes bread ; obliged to go 
on horseback to mill, often fifteen and twenty miles ; to go with poor shoes 
and moccasins in the winter, and barefoot in the summer ; yet, notwithstand 
ing all this, to their praise be it recorded, they showed a considerable zeal in 
the support of schools for their children. When our family arrived in 
March, 1794, there was a school in the north east corner of the town, near 
the residence of the Adams and Nortons, kept by Laura Adams. Four of 
the oldest of our family entered the school as soon as we arrived. Heman 
Norton and Lot Rue, who afterwards " went through college," were mem 
bers of this school. The next spring, a seven by ten log school house was 
built about one and a half miles south west of the centre, where a school 
was kept by Lovisa Post, who afterwards married William H. Bush, and 
removed to Batavia, * During the summer of 95 and 6, Betsey Sprague 

* The wife of the author is a daughter of his. After leaving Bloomfield in 1606, 
he built mills at a place "which took his name, on the Tonawanda Creek, three miles 
west of Batavia. He was a Pioneer of Bloomfield, and also upon the Holland Pur 
chase. He carded the first pound of wool by machinery ; dressed the first piece of 
cloth, and made the first ream of paper west of Calatkmia. He still survives, in the 
78th year of his age. 



PIEELPS AKD GOBHAM S PURCHASE. 193 

kept tliis school. There was then but two . schools in the town. Miss 
Sprague kept the same school in the winter of 96 and 7. My eldest 
brother and myself attended this school in the winter, walking two and a half 
miles through the snow across the openings not with " old shoes and clout 
ed " on our feet, but with rags tied on them to go and come in, taking them 
oft in school hours. The young men and boys, the young women and girls, 
for three miles around, attended this school. John Fairchild, west of the 
Centre, sent his children. 

ID the fall of 97, a young man with a pack on his back, came into the 
neighborhood of Gunn, Goss, King, Larnberton, and the Bronsons, two miles 
east of the south west school, and one mile north of may father s, and intro 
duced himself as a schoolteacher from the land of steady habits ; proposing 
that they form a new district, and he would keep their school. The proposi 
tion was accepted, and all turned out late in the season, the young man volun 
teering his assistance, and built another log school house in which he kept a 
school in the winter of 97 and 8, and the ensuing winter. The school was 
as full both winters as the house could hold. Two young men, John Lam- 
berton and Jesse Tainter, studied surveying both winters, and in 1800, 
Lamberton commenced surveying for the Holland Company, doing a larger 
amount of SUIT eying upon their Purchase than any other man. He now 
lives near Pine Hill, a few miles north of Batavia. The first winter, my 
father sent seven to this school, and the second winter eight. In this school, 
most of us learned for the first time that the earth was round, and turned 
round upon its axis once in 24 hours, and revolves around the sun once a 
year. I shall never forget the teacher s manner of illustrating these facts : 
For the want of a globe, he took an old hat, the crown having "gone up to 
seed," doubled in the old limber trim, marked with chalk a line round the 
middle for the equator, and another representing the eliptic, arid held it up 
to the scholars, with the " seed end " towards them, and turning it, com 
menced the two revolutions. The simultaneous shout which went up from 
small to great, was a " caution " to all young school masters how they in 
troduce " new things" to young Pioneers. Although the school master was 
a favorite with parents and pupils, the " most orthodox " thought he was 
talking of some thing of which he knew nothing, and was teaching for sound 
doctrine what was contrary to the common sense of all; for every body 
knew that the earth was flat and immovably fixed, and that the sun rose and 
set every day. That teacher finally settled in Bloomfield, was afterwards 
many years a Justice of the Peace ; for one term, member of the legislature ; 
and for one term, a member of Congress; now known as Gen. Micah Brooks, 
of Brook s Grove, Livingston county. 

The first meeting house in the Genesee country, was erected in Bloomfield, 
in 1801. A church and society had been formed some years before; Seth 
Williston and Jedediah Bushnell, missionaries from the east, labored occa 
sioually and sometimes continually in Bloomfield, from 1797 to 1800. An 
extensive revival in that and adjoining towns continued under their labors for 
several years, and in 1801, they raised a large meeting house. Robert 
Powers was the builder. Meetings were held in it summer and winter, when 
it was in an unfinished condition, and without warming it, until 1807 and 8, 
when it was finished; Andrew Colton being the architect. 

Ancient occupancy was distinctly traced at the period of early settlement 



194 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

in Bloomfield. On the farm of Nathan Waldron, and on others contiguous, 
in the north east corner of the town, near where the Adams, Nortons and > 
Rues first settled, many gun barrels, locks and stock barrels, of French con 
struction, and tomahawks, were* plowed up and used for making or mending 
agricultural implements. I have seen as many as 15 or 20 barrels at a time, at 
Waldron s blacksmith shop, while he and David Reese, Lis journeyman, were 
working them np. I once saw Reese pointing out in the roof of the shop, 
the effect of a ball fired from an old barrel while heating it in the forge ; his. 
hearers wondering how the powder retained its strength for so long a period, 
the barrel having lain under ground. 

There were many old Indian burying grounds in Bloomfield, and many of 
the graves were opened in search of curiosities. In some of them, hatchets 
were found, but generally nothing but bones. In ploughing the ground, 
bones, skulls, and sometimes hatchets, were found. The stones used by the 
Indians for skinning their game and peeling bark, were found in various 
localities. These stones were very hard, worked off smooth, and brought 
down to an edge at one end, and generally from four to six inches long. 
Pestle stones used for pounding their com were frequently found. They 
were from one to one a half feet in length, round and smooth, with a round 
point at both ends, something like a rolling pin ; and they were frequently 
used by the settlers for that purpose. 



The venerable Deacon Stephen Dudley, who settled in Bloomfield 
as early as 1799, still survives. In the summer of 1848 he informed 
the author that there were then less than twenty persons living in 
Bloomfield, who were adults when he came there. He also inform 
ed the author, that Gen. Fellows built the first framed barn west of 
Canandaigua; and as an instance of the value of lands in an early 
day, he related an anecdote : Gen. Fellows Lad no building spot 
on the road, on his large tract, but an acre of land on a lot adjoin 
ing was desirable for that purpose. Proposing to buy it, he asked 
the owner his price, who replied : " I declare, General, if you 
take an acre right out of my farm, I think you should give me as 
much as fifty cents for it." 

In 1798 a second religious society was organized in Bloomfield, 
called the "North Congregational Society." The first trustees 
were : Jared Boughton, Joseph Brace, and Thomas Havvley. 



MICAH BROOKS. 



Micah Brooks, was a son of David Brooks, A. M., of Cheshire, 
Conn. The father was a graduate of Yale College. He belonged 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUECHASE. 195 

to the first quota of men furnished by the town of Cheshire ; en 
tering the service first as a private soldier, but soon becoming the 
quarter master of his regiment. He was a member of the legisla 
ture of Connecticut, at the period of the surrender of Burgoyne, 
and a delegate to the State Convention that adopted the U. S. con 
stitution at Hartford. After his first military service, he alternated 
in discharging the duties of a minister and then of a soldier going 
out in cases of exigency with his shouldered musket ; especially at 
the burning of Danbury and the attack upon New Haven. After 
the Revolution, he retired to his farm in Cheshire, where he died in 
1802. 

Micah Brooks, in 1796, having just arrived at the age of twenty- 
one years, set out from his father s house to visit the new region, the 
fame of which was then spreading throughout New England. Af 
ter a pretty thorough exploration of western New York, he returned 
to Whitestown, and visited the country again in the fall of 1797, stop 
ping at Bloomfield and engaging as a school teacher ; helping to build 
his own log school house. DCP See reminiscences of Mr. James 
Sperry. Returning to Cheshire, he spent a part of a summer in 
studying surveying with Professor Meigs, with the design of enter 
ing into the service of the Holland Company. In the fall of 98, 
he returned, and passing Bloomfield, extended his travels to the Falls 
of Niagara on foot, pursuing the old Niagara trail ; meeting with 
none of his race, except travellers, and Poudry, at Tonawanda, with 
whom and his Squaw wife, he remained over night. After visiting 
the Falls seeing for himself the wonder of which he had read so 
imperfect descriptions in New England school books, he went up 
the Canada side to Fort Erie, crossing the river at Black Rock. 
The author gives a graphic account of his morning s walk from 
Black Rock to where Buffalo now is, in his own language, as he is 
quite confident he could not improve it : " It was a bright, clear 
morning in November. In my lonely walk along the bank of the 
Lake, I looked out upon its vast expanse of water, that unstirred 
by the wind, was as transparent as a sea of glass. There was no 
marks of civilization upon its shores, no American sail to float 
upon its surface. Standing to contemplate the scene, - here, I re 
flected, the goodness of a Supreme Being has prepared a new crea 
tion, ready to be occupied by the people of his choice. At what 
period will the shores of this beautiful Lake be adorned with dwel- 



196 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S 

lings and all the appointments of civilized life, as now seen upon the 
shores of the Atlantic ? I began to tax my mathematical powers to 
see when the east would become so overstocked with population, 
as to be enabled to furnish a surplus to fill up the unoccupied space 
between me and my New England friends. It was a hard question 
to solve ; and I concluded if my New England friends could see 
me, a solitary wanderer, upon the shores of a far off western Lake, 
indulging in such w T ild speculations, they would advise me to return 
and leave such questions to future generations. But I have often 
thought that I had then, a presentiment of apart of what half a 
century has accomplished." Walking on to the rude log tavern of 
Palmer, which was one of the then, but two or three habitations, on 
all the present site of Buffalo, he added to his stock of bread and 
cheese, and struck off again into the wilderness, on the Indian trail, 
slept one night in the surveyor s camp of James Smedley, and 
after getting lost in the dense dark woods where Batavia now is, 
reached the transit line, where Mr. Ellicbtt s hands were engaged in 
erecting their primitive log store house. 

Renewing his school teaching in Bloomfield, in 99, he purchased 
the farm where he resided for many years. It was at a period of 
land speculation, and inflation of prices, and he paid the high price 
of 86 per acre. Boarding at Deacon Bronson s working for him 
two days in the week for his board, and for others during haying 
and harvesting, he commenced a small improvement. 

Returning to Connecticut, he kept a school for the winter, and in 
the spring came out with some building materials ; building a small 
framed house in the course of the season. In 1801 he brought out 
two sisters as house keepers, one of whom as has been stated, be 
came the wife of Col. Asher Saxton, and the other Curtiss, a 

settler in Gorham. In 1802 he married the daughter of Deacon 
Abel Hall of Lyme, Conn., a sister of Mrs. Clark Peck of Bloom- 
field. 

He became a prominent, public spirited, and useful Pioneer. 
Receiving in one of the earliest years of his residence in the new 
country, a military commission, he passed through the different gra 
dations to that of Major General. Appointed to the office of justice 
of the peace in 1806, he was an assistant justice of the county 
courts in 1808, and was the same year elected, to the Legislature 
from Ontario county. In 1800, he was an associate commissioner 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 19 Y 

with Hugh McNair and Mathevv Warner, to lay out a road from 
Canandaigua to Olean ; and another from Hornellsville to the mouth 
of the Genesee River. In the war of 1812, he was out on the 
frontier in two campaigns, serving with the rank of Colonel. In 
1814 was elected to Congress. He was a member of the State 
Convention in 1822, and a Presidential Elector in 1824. He was 
for twenty years a Judge of the Ontario county courts. 

In 1823, he purchased in connection with Jellis Clute and John 
B. Gibson, of Mary Jemison, commonly called the White Woman, 
the Gardeau tract on the Genesee River. Selecting a fine portion 
of it for a large farm and residence, on the road from Mount Mor 
ris to Nunda, he removed to it soon after the purchase. The small 
village and place of his residence is called " Brook s Grove. " 

Gen. Brooks is now 75 years of age, retaining his mental facul 
ties unimpaired ; as an evidence that his physical constitution holds 
out well, after a long life of toil and enterprise, it may be remarked 
that in the most inclement month of the last winter, he made a jour 
ney to New England and the city of New York. His present wife 
was a sister of the first wife of Frederick Smith, Esq. of Palmyra, 
and of the second wife of Gen. Mills, of Mount Morris. His sons 
are Lorenzo H. Brooks, of Canadea, and Micah W. Brooks, residing 
at the homestead. A daughter is the wife of Henry O Rielly Esq., 
formerly the editor of the Rochester Daily Advertiser, and P. M. 
of Rochester ; now a resident of New York, widely known as the 
enterprising proprietor of thousands of miles of Telegraph lines in 
different States of the Union ; another, is the wife of Mr. George 
Elhvanger, one of the enterprising proprietors of Mount Hope Gar 
den and Nursery ; another the wife of Theodore F. Hall, formerly 
of Rochester, now of Brook s Grove. He has two unmarried 
daughters, one of whom is a well educated mute, and is now a 
teacher in the deaf and dumb institution at Hartford, Conn. 

The history of Micah Brooks furnishes a remarkable instance of 
a man well educated, and yet unschooled. The successful teacher, 
the competent Justice and Judge as a member of our State and 
National councils, the drafter of bills and competent debater the 
author of able essays upon internal improvements, and other sub 
jects even now in his old age, a vigorous writer, and a frequent 
contributor to the public press: never enjoyed, in all, a twelve 
months of school tuition ! The small library of his father, a good 



198 PHELPS AOT) GOKHAM S PUECHASE. 



native intellect, intercourse with the world, a laudable ambition and 
self reliance, supplied the rest. 

The original purchasers of that part of the old town of Bloom- 
field, which is now the town of West Bloomfield, (or 10,560 acres of 
it,) were Robert Taft, Amos Hall, Nathan Marvin and Ebenezer 
Curtis. All of these, it is presumed, became settlers in 1789, 90 ; 
as was also Jasper P. Sears, Peregrine Gardner, Samuel Miller, 
John Algur, Sylvanus Thayer. 

Amos Hall was from Guilford, Conn. He was connected with 
the earliest military organizations, as a commissioned officer, and 
rose to the rank of Major General, succeeding William Wadsworth. 
At one period during the war of 1812, he was the commander-in- 
ch ief upon the Niagara frontier. He also held several civil offices ; 
and in all early years was a prominent and useful citizen. He died 
in 1827, aged 66 years. The surviving sons are : David S. Hall, 
merchant, Geneva ; Thomas Hall, superintendant of Rochester and 
Syracuse R. Road ; Morris Hall, Cass county Michigan : Heman 
Hall, a resident of Pennsylvania. An only daughter became the 
wife of Josiah Wendle, of Bloomfield. 

Gen. Hall was the deputy Marshall, and took the U. S. census in 
Ontario county, in 1790, in July and August, it is presumed. His 
roll has been preserved by the family, and will be found in the Ap 
pendix, (No. 9.) 



HONEOYE PITTSTOWN-^NOW RICHMOND. 

In April, 1787, three young men, Gideon Pitts, James Goodwin, 
and Asa Simmons left their native place, (Dighton, Mass.,)to seek a 
new home in the wilderness. They came up the Susquehannah 
and located at Newtown, now Elmira. Here, uniting with other 
adventurers they erected the first white man s habitation upon the 
site of the present village ; and during the summer and fall planted 
and raised Indian corn. Returning to Dighton, their favorable rep 
resentations of the country induced the organization of the " Dighton 
Company" for the purpose of purchasing a large tract as soon as 
Phelps and Gorham had perfected their title. To be in season, Cal 
vin Jacobs vras deputed to attend the treaty with Gideon Pitts, and 
select the tract. As soon as the townships were surveyed, the com- 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 199 

pany purchased 46,080 acres of the land embraced in Townships 9 
in the 3d, 4th, and 5th Ranges : being most of what was after 
wards embraced in the towns of Richmond, Bristol, and the fraction 
of number nine, on the west side of Canandaigua lake, The title 
was taken for the company, in the name of Calvin Jacobs and 
John Smith. 

In 1789, Capt. Peter Pitts, his son William, Dea. George Codding, 
and his son George, Calvin Jacobs, and John Smith, came via the 
Susquehannah route to the new purchase, and surveyed what is now 
the town of Richmond and Bristol. One of the party, (the Rev. 
John Smith,) on their arrival at Canandaigua, preached the first 
sermon there, and first in all the Genesee country, save those 
preached by Indian missionaries, by the chaplain at Fort Niagara 
and at Brant s Indian church at Lewiston. The lands having been 
divided by lottery, Capt. Pitts draw for his share, 3000 acres, at 
the foot of Honeoye lake, embracing the flats, and a cleared field 
which had been the site of an Indian village destroyed by Sullivan s 
army. 

In the spring of .1790, Gideon and William Pitts commenced the 
improvement of this tract. Coming in with a four ox team, they 
managed to make a shelter for themselves with the boards of their 
sled, ploughed up a few acres of open flats, and planted some spring 
crops, from which they got a good yield, preparatory to the coming 
in of the remainder of the family. Withal, fattening some hogs 
that William had procured in Cayuga county, driving them in, and 
carrying his own, and their provisions upon his back. Capt. Peter 
Pitts, started with the family in October, in company with John 
Codding and family. They came from Taunton River in a char 
tered vessel, as far as Albany, and from Schenectady by water, 
landing at Geneva. The tediousness of the journey, may be judged 
from the fact that starting from Dighton on the llth of October 
they did not arrive at Pitt s flats until the 2d day of December. 
A comfortable log house had been provided by Gideon and William. 
The family consisted of the old gentleman, his wife, and ten children, 
besides hired help. For three years they constituted the only family 
in town ; their neighbors, the Wadsworths at Big Tree, Capt. Taft 
in West Bloomfield, and the Coddings and Goodings, in Bristol. 

The House of this early family being on the Indian trail from 
Canandaigua to Genesee river which constituted the early trav- 



200 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

elled road for the white settlers " Capt. Pitts " and " Pitts Flats " 
had a wide notoriety in all primitive days. It was the stopping 
place of the Wadsworths and Jones, of Thomas Morris and in 
fact of all of the early prominent Pioneers of that region. Louis 
Phillipe, when from a wanderer in the backwoods of America, he had 
become the occupant of a throne, remembered that he had spent a 
night in the humble log house of Capt. Pitts. The Duke Liancourt, 
strolling every where through this region, in 1795, with his com 
panions went from Canandaigua to make the patriarch of the back 
woods a visit.* 

The Indians upon their trail, camping and hunting upon their old 
grounds, the flats, and the up lands around the Honeoye Lake 
were the almost constant neighbors of Capt. Pitts, in the earliest 
years. Generally they were peaceable and well disposed ; a party 
of them however, most of whom were intoxicated, on their way to 
the Pickering treaty at Canandaigua in 1794, attacked the women 
of the family who refused them liquor, and Capt. Pitts, his son s 
and hired men, coming to the rescue, a severe conflict ensued. 
The assailed attacking the assailants with clubs, shovels and tongs, 
soon vanquished them though peace was not restored, until Hor 
atio Jones, fortunately arriving on his way to the treaty, interfered. 

The first training in the Genesee country was held at Captain 
Pitt s house ; a militia company, commanded by Captain William 
Wadsworth ; and Pitt s Flats was for many years a training ground. 

Captain Peter Pitts died in 1812, aged 74 years. His eldest son 
Gideon, who was several times a member of the Legislature, and 
a delegate to the state convention in 1822, died in 1829 aged 63 
years. The only survivors of the sons and daughters of Capt. 
Pitts, are, Peter Pitts, and Mrs. Blackmer. A son, Samuel Pitts 

* The Duke has made a record of it : " We set out with Blacons to visit an estate 
belonging to one Mr. Pitt, of which we had heard much talk through the countiy. 
On our arrival we found the house crowded with Presbyterians ; its owner attending 
to a noisy, tedious harangue, delivered by a minister with such violence of elocution, 
that he appeared all over in a perspiration." [It was the Rev. Zadock Huun.J "We 
found it very difficult to obtain some oats for our horses and a few hasty morsels for our 
dinner." The Duke however admired the fine herd of cattle ; and with characteristic 
gallantry, adds, that " a view of the handsome married and unmarried women" that he 
saw attending the meeting, " was even more delectable to our senses than the fine 
rural scenery" Rev. Zadock Hunn, who was not so fortunate as a part of his hearers 



house 

Canandaigua and 

Bristol" She differs with the Duke says they "used to have good meetings; much 
better ones than, we do now." 



PHELPS AIST> GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 201 

was an early and prominent citizen of Livonia. The descendants 
of Capt. Pitts are numerous. Levi Blackmer settled in Pittstown 
in 95, is still alive, aged 78 years, his wife, (the daughter of Capt. 
Pitts,) aged 72. In the summer of 1848, the boy who had driven 
an ox- team to the Genesee country, in 1795, was at work on the 
highway. 

The Duke Liancourt, said that Capt. Pitts had to u go to mill with 
a sled, twelve miles " ; this was to Norton s Mills. In 98, Thomas 
Morris built a grist and saw mill on the outlet of Hemlock Lake, and 
in 1802 Oliver Phelps built a grist mill on Mill Creek. 

In 95, Drs. Lemuel and Cyrus Chipman, from Paulet, Vermont, 
and their brother-in-law, Philip Reed, came into Pittstown, with 
their families. They came all the way by sleighing, with horse and 
ox teams. The teams were driven by Levi Blackmer, Pierce 
Chamberlain, Asa Dennison, and Isaac Adams, all of whom became 
residents of the town. They were eighteen days on the road. 

Lemuel Chipman had been a surgeon in the army of the Revolu 
tion. He was one of a numerous family of that name in Vermont, 
a brother of the well known lawyer, and law professor in Middle- 
bury College. In all early years he was a prominent, public spirited 
and useful helper in the new settlements ; one of the best specimens 
of that strong minded, energetic race of men that were the founders 
of settlement and civil institutions in the Genesee country. He was 
an early member of the Legislature, and a judge of the courts of 
Ontario county ; was twice elector of President and Vice President ; 
and was a State Senator. Soon after 1800, he purchased, in con 
nection with Oliver Phelps, the town of Sheldon, in Wyoming 
county, and the town was settled pretty much under his auspices. 
He removed to that town in 1828, where he died at an advanced 
age. His sons were Lemuel Chipman of Sheldon, deceased, father 
of Mrs. Guy II. Salisbury of Buffalo ; Fitch Chipman of Sheldon ; 
and Samuel Chipman of Rochester, the well known pioneer in the 
temperance movement now the editor of the Star of Temperance. 
A daughter became the wife of Dr. Cyrus Wells of Oakland county, 
Michigan, and another the wife of Dr. E. W. Cheney, of Canan- 
daigua. 

Dr. Cyrus Chipman emigrated at an early period to Pontiac, 
Michigan, where he was a Pioneer, and where his descendants 
principally reside. 
13 



202 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 

In the year 1796, Roswell Turner came from Dorset, Vermont, 
took land on the outlet of Hemlock Lake, cleared a few acres, built 
a log house, and in the following winter moved on his family, and 
his father and mother. The family had previously emigrated from 
Connecticut to Vermont. After a long and tedious journey, with 
jaded horses, they arrived at Cayuga Lake, where they were des 
tined to encounter a climax of hardship and endurance. Crossing 
upon the ice on horseback, a part of the family, the Pioneer, his 
mother and two small children, broke through in a cold day, and 
were with difficulty saved from drowning by the help of those who 
came to their rescue from the shore. Arrived at their new home, 
sickness soon added to their afflictions, and two deaths occurred in 
the family the first year. The residence of the family was changed 
in a year or two to the neighborhood of Allen s Hill, where they 
remained until 1804, and then, as if they had not seen enough of 
the hardships of Pioneer life, pushed on to the Holland Purchase, 
into the dark hemlock woods of the west part of Wyoming, the 
Pioneer making his own road, west of Warsaw, thirteen miles ; 
he and his family being the first that settled in all the region west 
of Warsaw, south of Attica and the old Buffalo road, and east of 
Hamburgh; pages could be filled with the details of the hard 
ships of the first lonely winter, its deep snows, the breaking of 
roads out to Wadsworth s Flats, and digging corn from under the 
snow to save a famishing stock of cattle too weak to subsist upon 
brouse, and other incidents which would show the most rugged 
features of backwoods life ; but it is out of the present beat. Ros 
well Turner died in 1809. His sons were, the late Judge Horace 
S. Turner of Sheldon ; the author of this work ; and a younger 
brother, Chipman Phelps Turner of Aurora, Erie county. Daugh 
ters Mrs. Farnum of Bennington; Mrs. Sanders of Aurora; 
and the first wife of Pliny Sexton, of Palmvra. 



PITTSTOWN REMINISCENCES OF MRS. FARNUM. 



I nemember very well, that when early deaths occurred in our family, no 
seasoned boards could be obtained for coffins, short of taking down a parti 
tion of our log-liouse. The second winter, myselfj a sister, and young bro 
ther, went to school two miles arid a half through the woods, into what is 
now Livonia. We went upon the old Big Tree Road, and mostly had to 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 203 

beat our own path, for but a few sleighs passed during the winter. There 
was but one family that of Mr. Briggs on the way. 

I think it was in the summer of 1802, that a little daughter of one of our 
neighbors, Sewal Boyd, three years old, was lost in the woods. A lively 
sympathy was created in the neighborhood, the woods were scoured, the out 
let waded, and the flood wood removed ; on the third day, she was found in 
the woods alive, having some berries in her hand, which the instincts of 
hunger had caused her to pick. The musquetoes had preyed upon her until 
they had caused running sores upon her face and arms, and the little wander 
er had passed through a terrific thunder storm. 

The Indians, if they were guilty of occasional outrage, had some of the 
finest impulses of the human heart. The wife of a son of Capt. Pitts, who 
had always been kind to them, was upon her death bed ; hearing of it, the 
Squaws came and wailed around the house, with all the intense grief they 
exhibit when mourning the death of kindred. 

Upon " Phelps Flats," as they were called, near the Old Indian Castle, 
at the foot of Honeoye Lake, in the first ploughing, many brass kettles, guns, 
beads, &c., were found. An old Squaw that had formerly resided upon the 
Flats, said that the approach of Sullivan s army was not discovered by them 
until they were seen coming over the hill near where Capt. Pitts built his 
house. They were quietly braiding their corn, and boiling their succotash. 
She said there was a sudden desertion of their village ; all took to flight and 
left the invaders an uncontested field. One Indian admitted that he never 
looked back until he reached Buffalo Creek. 

In the earliest years, deer would come in flocks, and feed upon our green 
wheat ; Elisha Pratt, who was a hunter, made his home at our house, and I 
have known him to kill six and seven in a day. Bears would come and take 
the hogs from directly before the doors of the new settlers sometimes in open 
day light. I saw one who had seized a valuable sow belonging to Peter 
Allen, and retreated to the woods, raising her with his paws clenched in her 
spine, and beating her against a tree to deprive her of life ; persisting even af 
ter men had approached and were attacking him with clubs. 

I could relate many wolf stories, but one will perhaps be so incredible that 
it will suffice. A Mr. Hurlburt, that lived in the west part of the town, was 
riding through our neighborhood, on a winter evening, and passing a strip of 
woods near our house, a pack of wolves surrounded him, but his dog diverted 
their attention until he escaped. While sitting upon his horse, telling us the 
story, the pack came within fifteen rods of the house, and stopping upon a 
knoll almost deafened us with their howl. Retreating into the woods a short 
distance, they seemed by the noise to have a fight among themselves, and in 
the morning, it was ascertained that they had actually killed and eat one of 
their own number! * 

Capt. Harmon, built a barn in 1802 or 3 ; at the raising, an adopted son 
of his, by the name of Butts, was killed outright, and Isaac Bishop was stun- 
neJ, supposed to be dead. He recovered, but with the entire loss of the fac- 



* This is not incredible ; other similar cases are given upon good authority. Fam 
ishing, ravenous ; a fight occurs, and tasting blood, they know no distinction between 
their own and other species. AUTHOR. 



204 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

ulty of memory. Although he had possessed a good education, he had lost 
it all, even the names of his children, his wife and farming utensils. His 
wife re-taught him the rudiments of education, beginning with the ABC, 
and the names of things. 

Rattle snakes were too common a thing to speak of; but we had a few of 
another kind of snake, that I have never heard or read of, elsewhere. It had 
a horn with which it would make a noise like the rattle of a rattle snake. 



In 1796 and 7, Peter Allen and his family ; his brother Nathaniel, 
and the father, Moses Allen, became residents of the town. The 
father and mother died in early years. Peter Allen was connected 
with early military organizations, and rose to the rank of a Brig. 
Gen. He was in command of a Regiment at the battle of Queens- 
ton, in which he was made a prisoner ; afterwards a member of the 
Legislature from Ontario. [CP See Peter Allen and " Hen. Fel 
lows," Hammond s Political History. In 1816 he emigrated to In 
diana, becoming one of the pioneer settlers of Terra Haute ; a por" 
tion of his original farm, being now embraced in the village. He 
died in 1837, many of his descendants are residents of Terra 
Haute. Nathaniel Allen was the primitive blacksmith of Pitts- 
town ; working first as a journeyman in Canandaigua, and then 
starting a shop, first in the neighborhood of Pitts Flats, and after 
wards, on the Hill, that assumed his name. He was an early officer 
of militia, deputy sheriff, member of the legislature. In the war 
of 1812, he successively filled the post of commissioner and pay 
master, on the N iagara Frontier. After the war, he was sheriff of 
Ontario county, and in later years, for two terms, its representative 
in Congress. He died at Louisville, Ky., in 1833, where he was a 
contractor for the construction of the canal around the Falls of the 
Ohio. Of five sons, but one survives. Dr. Orrin Allen, a resident 
of Virginia. An only daughter was the first wife of the Hon. R. 
L. Rose, who is the occupant of the homestead of the family on 
Allen s Hill. The family were from Dutchess county. The daugh 
ters of Moses Allen became the wives of Elihu GifFord, of Easton, 
Washington county, Samuel Woodworth of Mayville, Mont, co., 
Samuel Robinson of Newark, Wayne co., Fairing Wilson, of Stock- 
bridge, Mass., Roswell Turner of Pittstown, Ont., and Stephen 
Durfee of Palmyra, Wayne county. 

Sylvester Curtis erected the first distillery in town ; and James 



PHELPS AND GOREAM S PURCHASE. 205 

Henderson who was a pioneer at the head of Conesus Lake, was an 
early landlord upon the Hill. 

David Akin, Wm. Baker, Thomas Wilson, James Hazen, Silas 
Whitney, Cyrus Wells, the Johnsons, David Winton, Nathaniel 
Harmon, William Warner, were settlers in earliest years. 

Philip Reed, who came in with the Chiprnans, died about twenty 
years ago. His surviving sons are Col. John F. Reed, Silas Reed, 
Wheeler Reed, Wm. F. Reed, and Philip Reed, all residing on and 
near the old homestead. 

As early as 1796 or 7, Elijah and Stiles Parker, Elisha Belknap, 
Col. John Green, John Garlinghouse, became residents of the town. 
The four first named, emigrated many years since to Kentucky, and 
in late years some of them have pioneered still further on, over 
the Rocky Mountains to Oregon. Joseph Garlinghouse, a son of 
the early pioneer, John Garlinghouse, an ex-sheriff of Ontario 
county, a prominent enterprising farmer, still resides in Richmond. 
A son of his married a daughter of Erastus Spalding, the early 
pioneer at the mouth of Genesee River ; another, the daughter of 
David Stout, a pioneer in Victor and Perinton. Daughters, are 
Mrs. Comstock, of Avon, and Mrs. Sheldon, of Le Roy. Mrs. Briggs 
and Mrs. Hopkins, of Richmond, are daughters of John Garling 
house ; and a son and daughter reside in Iowa. 

Asa Dennison who is named in connection with the Chipmans, 
still survives, a resident of Chautauque county. 



GORHAM. 



In all of the old town of Gorham, at first Easton, (what was is 
now Gorham and Hopewell,) a few settlers began to drop in along 
on the main road from Canandaigua to Geneva, as early as 1790. In 
July of that year, there were the families of Daniel Gates, Daniel 

Warren, Sweets, Platts, Samuel Day, and Israel Cha- 

pin jr. who had commenced the erection of the mills upon the 
outlet. Mr. Day was the father of David M. Day, the early ap 
prentice to the printing business with John A. Stephens in Canan- 
andaigua, and the founder of what is now one of the prominent 
and leading newspapers of western New York, the Buffalo Commer- 



206 PHELPS AND GOKHAM : S PUKCIIASE. 

cial Advertiser. Daniel Warren emigrated to Sheldon, now Wyo 
ming co., in 1810 or 11, where he died within a few years; Pome- 
roy Warren, of Attica, Wyoming co., is a son of his, and Mrs. 
Harry Hamilton, near Little Fort, Illinois, is a daughter. 

Daniel Gates and his son Daniel Gates jr. were from Stonington 
Conn., both were out with Mr. Phelps in his primitive advent. 
They purchased land in Gorham, paying Is 6d per acre. The old 
gentleman died in 1831, aged 87 years. He was the first collector of 
taxes of the town of Gorham. His descendants are numerous, a 
large family of sons and daughters becoming heads of families. 
His daughters became the wives of Asahel Burchard, the early 
pioneer of Lima ; Asa Benton, Shubel Clark and James Wyckoff 
of Gorham. Daniel Gates, jr. died in 1812 ; his wife was a sister of 
the wife of Major Miller the early pioneer near Buffalo, and of 
the wife of Capt. Follett ; Daniel Gates of Palmyra is a son. 

Those whose names will follow, were all residents of Gorham as 

early as 1796 or 7: James Wood, Perley Gates, Ingalls, 

Frederick Miller, Silas Reed, Capt. Frederick Follett, Lemuel, 
George, Isaiah and William Babcock ; Joseph and James Birdseye ; 
John Warren. 

Major Frederick Miller left Gorham soon after 1800, and was a 
Pioneer at Black Rock, the early landlord and keeper of the ferry 
at that point. William Miller of Buffalo, is his son ; and Mrs. 
Heman B. Potter is a daughter. Mrs. Miller, Mrs. Follett and 
Mrs. Daniel Gates, jr., were daughters of George Babcock. 

Silas Reed died in 1834, at the age of 76 years ; an only sur 
viving son, is Seneca Reed of Greece ; a daughter became the 
wife of Levi Taylor, an early Pioneer of Lockport, now a resident 
of Ionia, Michigan. 

Frederick Follett, in 1778, was among the border settlers of 
Wyoming Valley. In company with Lieut. Buck, Messrs. Stephen 
Pettibone and Elisha Williams, on the Kingston side of the river, 
within sight of the Wilkesbarre Fort, the party were suddenly at 
tacked by twenty Indians. Three of the four were murdered and 
scalped. Mr. Follett was pierced by two balls, one in either shoulder, 
and stabbed nine times with spears. Still having consciousness, he 
fell on his face being unable to escape held his breath as much 
as possible, and feigned death, in hopes he might escape further muti 
lation at the hands of his ruthless pursuers. But he was not thus 



PHELPS AND GOPJIAM S PUECIIASE. 207 

to be spared. The Indians came up to him, and without any un 
necessary delay or useless ceremony, scalped him as he lay in his 
gore and agony ; and but for the approach of assistance from the 
fort, would no doubt have ended his days with the tomahawk. 
The spear wounds were severe and deep one of which penetra 
ted his stomach, so that its contents came out at his side ! His 
case was deemed hopeless, but kindness prompted all the aid that 
medical and surgical skill could afford. He was placed in charge 
of Dr. William Hooker Smith, who did all in his power to save 
him and his efforts were crowned with success, and he became a 
hearty and well man. He was then young and full of vigor, and 
never experienced any particular inconvenience from these severe 
wounds, except occasional pain from one of the bullets, which was 
never extracted from his body, and extreme sensitiveness to the 
slightest touch, or even the air, of that portion of the head from 
which the scalp was removed. 

He afterwards entered the naval service was captured, and 
taken to Halifax, and confined in a dungeon six months ; was re 
leased ; entered the service again, and was twice captured by the 
British, and eventually returned to his native country, to Dalton, 
Berkshire county, Mass., from whence he removed at an early day 
to Gorham. 

It is a somewhat singular coincidence that his eldest son now 
dead who entered the naval service as a midshipman, in 1812, 
was captured on board the Chesapeake in her engagement with the 
Shannon, and was also imprisoned in the same dungeon six months 
that his father had occupied during our first conflict with the pow 
ers of England. 

Capt. Follett " is frequently mentioned in the manuscripts of 
Charles Williamson, and would seem to have been in his employ as 
early as 1794. His surviving sons are, : Orrin Follett, an early 
printer and editor at Batavia, and a member of the legislature from 
Genesee county, now a resident of Sandusky, Ohio; his second 
wife, a niece of James D. Bemis, of Canandaigua ; Nathan Follett 
of Batavia ; and Frederick Follett, of Batavia, the successor of his 
brother, as a printer and editor for a long period honorable asso 
ciated with the public press of the Genesee country and at 
present, one of the Board of Canal Commissioners of this State ; 
having in immediate charge the western division of the Erie Canal, 



208 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECIIASE. 

and the Genesee Valley Canal. A son of his, is Lieut. Frederick 
M. Follett, of the U. S. army, a graduate of West Point ; a cir 
cumstance worthy of mention, as the patronage of that national 
school is not always as well bestowed, as in this instance, upon the 
descendant of one so eminently entitled to be remembered for ser 
vices, sacrifices and sufferings, unparalleled in our Revolutionary 
annals. 



BRISTOL, 



Gamaliel Wilder and Joseph Gilbert were the Pioneers of Bris 
tol. About the period that Mr. Phelps was holding his treaty with 
the Indians, in 1788, they located at the Old Indian Orchard, and 
commenced improvements. In 1790, Mr. Wilder built the small 
Pioneer Mill that has been often named in other connections. He 
died many years since. Joseph Gilbert was living a few months 
since, at the age of 93 years ; if living now, he is the oldest sur 
viving resident of the Genesee country. 

Deacon William Gooding and George Codding were among the 
few who wintered in the Genesee country in 1789, 90. Both 
families have been widely known, and few have been more useful 
in the work of subduing the wilderness, and promoting the health 
ful progress of religion, education and sound moral principles. The 
descendants of George Codding are numerous, and mostly reside in 
the early home of their Pioneer ancestor. William T. Codding is 
the only surviving son. Ebenezer Gooding, of Henrietta, is a son 
of the early Pioneer ; another son, Stephen, resides in Illinois. 
Deacon John Gooding, another son, was one of the early founders 
of Lockport, Niagara county, where he died in 1838 or 9. 

The earliest record of a town meeting in Bristol, is that of 1797. 
In that year, William Gooding was chosen Supervisor, and John 
Codding, Town Clerk. Other town officers : Fauner Codding, 
Nathan Allen, Nathaniel Fisher, James Gooding, Jabez Hicks, 
Moses Porter, Amos Barber, Alden Sears, jr., George Codding, 
Stephen Sisson, Amos Rice, Ephraim Wilder, Nathan Hatch. 
Peter Ganyard, Elizur Hills, Theophilus Allen, Elnathan Gooding, 
John Simmons. Other citizens of the town in that year, were : 
Daniel Burt, Moses Porter, Jonathan Wilder, Theophilus Allen, 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUEcnASE. 209 

Elnathan Gooding, Chauncey Allen, Samuel Mallory, Ephraim 
Francis, Seth Hathaway, Constant Simmons, James Carl, Zebulon 
Mark. 



MANCHESTER. 



Township 12, R. 2, originally a part of Farmington, now Man 
chester; settlement commenced as early as 1793. Stephen Jared, 
Joel Phelps, and Joab Gillett, were the first settlers. QCP For 
Stephen Phelps, see Palmyra. Gillett, in early years, moved to No. 
9, Canandaigua. 

Nathan Pierce, from Berkshire, was a settler in 1795. But small 
openings had then been made in the forest. Mr. Pierce erected a 
log house, had split bass wood floors, no gable ends, doors, or win 
dows ; neither boards or glass to be had ; and " wolves and bears 
were his near neighbors." Coming from Parker s Mills through 
the woods at night, with his grist on his back, a pack of wolves 
followed him to his door. Brice Aldrich, a Pioneer of Farmington, 
was taking some fresh meat to Canandaigua on horseback, when a 
wolf stoutly contended with him for a share of it. There were 
many Indian hunters camped along on the outlet ; some times the 
whites would carry loads of venison to Canandaigua for them, 
where it would be bought up, and the hams dried and sent to an 
eastern market. Trapping upon the outlet was profitable for both 
Indians and whites. 

Mr. Pierce was supervisor of Farmington for fifteen years, and 
an early magistrate; he died in 1814; his widow is now living, at 
the age of 87 years. His surviving sons are: Nathan Pierce, 
of Marshall, Michigan, Darius Pierce, of Washtenaw, Ezra Pierce 
of Manchester. Daughters : Mrs. Peter Mitchell, of Manches 
ter, Mrs. David Arnold, of Farmington. John McLouth, from 
Berkshire, came in 95, was a brother-in-law of Nathan Pierce ; 
died in 1820. Joshua Van Fleet, was one of the earliest; was an 
officer of the Revolution, a member of the legislature from Ontario ; 
a judge and magistrate, and the first supervisor of Manchester. 
He is 90 years of age, a resident of Marion, Ohio. First merchant, 
Nathan Barlow, a son of Abner Barlow, of Canandaigua ; resides 
now in Michigan. First physician, James Stewart. Nathan 



210 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

Jones came in 1799, died in 1839 ; Samuel and Nathan Jones are 
his sons ; Mrs. Dr. Ashley, of Lyons, and Mrs. Simmons of Phelps, 
are his daughters. Jedediah Dewey, from Suffield, Conn., came 
in 98, is still living. Hooker and Joseph Sawyer, were early. 
Gilbert Rowland, a brother of Job Rowland, of Farmington, set 
tled in Manchester in 1800 ; purchasing a large tract of land. The 
Rowlands were from Berkshire ; Gilbert died in 1830. Nicholas 
Rowland, of Farmington, and Jonathan Rowland of Adrian, Mich 
igan, are his sons. Mrs. Silas Brown of Hamburg, Erie county, is 
a daughter. 

John Lamunion, came in early years ; was from Rhode Island. 
He died ten or twelve years since. His wife, who was the widow 
of Capt. Follett, died two or three years since. 

Peleg Redfield, was a townsman of Mr. Phelps in Suffield ; was 
a musician in the Connecticut line during the Revolution. In 1799, 
he exchanged with Mr. Phelps, his small farm in Suffield, for 200 
acres, wherever he should choose to locate, on any unsold lands of 
Mr. Phelps. He selected the land where he now resides on the 
Rail Road, a mile and a half wes* of Clifton Springs ; (a judicious 
selection, as any one will allow, who sees the fine farm into which 
it has been converted ; ) clearing three acres and erecting the body of 
a log house, he removed his family in Feb. 1800, consisting of a wife 
and six children. " The journey," says a son of his, " was perform 
ed with a sleigh and a single span of horses. Besides the family, 
the sleigh was loaded with beds and bedding, and articles of house 
hold furniture. I shall never forget this, my first journey to the 
Genesee country, especially that portion of it west of Utica. The 
snow was three feet deep, and the horses tired and jaded by the 
cradle-holes, often refused to proceed farther with their load. I 
had the privilege of riding down hill, but mostly walked with my 
father, my mother driving the team." 

Arriving at their new home, the Pioneer family found shelter with 
a new settler, " until the bark would peel in the spring," when a 
roof was put upon the body of the log house that Mr. Redfield had 
erected ; openings made for a door and window, and bass-wood logs 
^plit for a floor. Here the family remained until autumn, when a 
double log house had been erected. Mr. Redfield is now in his 
80th year ; his memory of early events, retentive, and his physical 
constitution remarkable for one of his years. He is the father of 



PHELPS AND GOBHAM S PUECHASE. 211 

the Hon. Heman J. Redfield, of Batavia ; of Lewis H. Redfield, 
the well known editor, publisher, and bookseller at Syracuse ; Hiram 
Redfield of Rochester, George Redfield, Cass co. Michigan, Alex 
ander H. Redfield of Detroit, Cuyler Redfield, with whom he re 
sides upon the old homestead. His son, Manning Redfield, of Man 
Chester, was killed in a mill where he was marketing his grain in 
1850. One of his daughters, was the wife of Leonard Short, of 
Shortsville, and the other, of Marvin Minor, a merchant at Bergen 
and Johnson s creek. " I could have made my location at Fort 
Hill, near Canandaigua," said the old gentleman to the author, "but 
a town was growing up there, and I feared its influence upon my 
boys." There are many Pioneer fathers who have lived to regret, 
that they had not been governed by the same prudent motive. 

The Pioneer mother died in 1844, aged 80 years. It will appeal 
incredible to the house keepers, and young mothers of the present 
day, when they are told, that Mrs. Redfield, in early years, when 
she had a family of six and seven children, performed all her ordin 
ary house- work, milked her own cows ; and carded, cpun and wove, 
all the woolen and linen cloth that the family \vore. But the old 
gentleman thinks it should be added, that he and the boys lightened 
her labor, by uniformity wearing buckskin breeches in the winter ; 
though the mother had them to make. 



REMINISCENCES OF PELEG REDFIELD. 



In 1800, a log house had been vacated; we fitted it up and hired Elam 
Crane* to teach a school. It was a mile from my house, and my boys used 
to go through the woods by marked trees. 

In early years, wolves were a great nuisance ; nothing short of a pen sixteen 
rails high, would protect our sheep. In winters, when hungry, they would 
collect together and prowl around the log dwellings ; and if disappointed in 
securing any prey, their howling would startle even backwoodsmen. The 
Indian wars upon the wolf with great hatred ; it is in a spirit of revenge for 
their preying upon their game, the deer. In the side hill, along on my farm, 
they dug pits, covered them over with light brush and leaves, and bending 
down small trees, suspended the offals of deer directly over the pits. In 
springing for the bait the wolf would land in the bottom of the pits where they 
could easily be killed. The salmon used to ascend the Canandaigua outlet, 
as far up as Shortsville, before mill dams were erected. The speckled trout 
were plenty in tlie Sulphur Spring brook ; and in all the small streams. 

* Mr. Crane died recently in south Bristol aged 83 years; lie came to the Genesee 

country in 1788. 



212 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 

In 1805, I was erecting my frame house, and wanted glass and nails. I 
I went with oxen and sled to Utica, carrying 50 bushels of wheat. I sold it for 
$1,68 per bushel, to Watts Sherman, a merchant of Utica, and paid 18d per 
pound for wrought nails ; $7 50 for two boxes of glass.* 

It was pretty easy for young men to secure farms, in the earliest years of 
settlement. I knew many who received a dollar a day for their labor, and 
bought lands for twenty five cents per acre. 



A Baptist Church was organized in Manchester in 1804; the 
first Trustees were : Ebenezer Pratt, Joseph Wells and Jeremiah 
Dewey. This was the first legal organization, a society had been 
formed previous to 1800. Judge Phelps gave the society a site for 
a meeting house, and in 1806 Deacon John McLouth erected a log 
building. In 1812 or 13, the stone meeting house was erected. 
Rev. Anson Shay organized the church, and remained its pastor 
for 25 years ; he emigrated to Michigan, where he died in 1845. 
The Methodists had a society organization as early as 1800, hold 
ing their primitive meetings in school and private houses. 

" St. John s Church, Farmington," (Episcopal, at Sulphur Springs.) 
was organized by the Rev. Devenport Phelps, in 1807. The offi 
cers were : John Shekels, Samuel Shekels, wardens ; Darius 
Seager, William Warner, George Wilson, Archibald A. Beal, Davis 
Williams, Thomas Edmonston, Alexander Howard, William Pow- 
ell.f 



GOLD - BIBLE MOEM03TISM. 



As we are now at the home of the Smith family in sight of " Mormon 
Hill" a brief pioneer history will be looked for, of the strange, and singularly 
successful religious sect the Mormons ; and brief it must be, merely starting 
it in its career, and leaving to their especial historian to trace them to Kirtland, 
Nauvoo, Beaver Island, and Utah, or the Salt Lake. 

Joseph Smith, the father of the prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., was from the 
Merrimack river, N. H. He first settled in or near Palmyra village, but as 

*Mr. Redfield has preserved his store bill. It is made out and signed by Henry 
B. Gibson, the well known Canandaigua Banker, who was the book keeper in Sher 
man s store. 

t A brother of the early Hotel keeper at Geneva The two brothers had erected a 
public house at the Springs, and William was the landlord, 



PHELP3 AND GOEHAM s PURCHASE. 213 

early as 1819 was the occupant of some new land on " Stafford Street" in the 
town of Manchester, near the line of Palmyra.* " Mormon Hill " is near the 
plank road about half way between the villages of Palmyra and Manchester. 
The elder Smith had been a IJniversalist, and subsequently a Methodist ; was 
a good deal of a srnatterer in Scriptural knowledge : but the seed of revela 
tion was sown on weak ground ; he was a great babbler, credulous, not espe 
cially industrious, a money digger, prone to the marvellous ; and withal, a lit 
tle given to difficulties with neighbors, and petty law-suits. Not a very pro 
pitious account of the father of a Prophet, the founder of a state; but there 
was a " woman in the case." However present, in matters of good or evil ! 
In the garden of Eden, in the siege of Troy, on the field of Orleans, f in the 
dawning of the Reformation, in the Palace of St. Petersburgh, and Kremlin 
of Moscow, in England s history, and Spain s proudest era; and here upon 
this continent, in the persons of Ann Lee, Jemima Wilkinson, and as we are 
about to add, Mrs. Joseph Smith ! A mother s influences ; in the world s 
history, in the history of men, how distinct is the impress! In heroes, in 
statesmen, in poets, in all of good or bad aspirations, or distinctions, that 
single men out from the mass, and give them notoriety ; how often, almost in 
variably, are we led back to the influences of a mother, to find the germ that 
has sprouted in the offspring. 

The reader will excuse this interruption of narrative, and be told that Mrs. 
Smith was a woman of strong uncultivated intellect ; artful and cunning ; im 
bued with an illy regulated religious enthusiasm. The incipient hints, the 
first givings out that a Prophet was to spring from her humble household, 
came from her ; and when matters were maturing for denouement, she gave 
out that such and such ones always fixing upon those who had both money 
and credulity were to be instruments in some gre%c work of new revelation. 
The old man was rather her faithful co-worker, or executive exponent. Their 
son, Alvah, was originally intended, or designated, by fireside consultations, 
and solemn and mysterious out door hints, as the forth coming Prophet. The 
mother and the father said he was the chosen one ; but Alvah, however spir 
itual he may have been, had a carnal appetite ; eat too many green turnips, 
sickened and died. Thus the world lost a Prophet, and Mornionism a leader ; 
the designs impiously and wickedly attributed to Providence, defeated ; and 
all in consequence of a surfeit of raw turnips. Who will talk of the cackling 
geese of Rome, or any other small and innocent causes of mighty events, af 
ter this? The mantle of the Prophet which Mis. and Mr. Joseph Smith and 
one Oliver Cowdery, had wove of themselves every thread of it -fell upon 
their next eldest son, Joseph Smith, Jr. 

And a most unpromising recipient of such a trust, was this same Joseph 
Smith, Jr., afterwards, " Jo. Smith." He was lounging, idle; (not to say 
vicious,) and possessed of less than ordinary intellect. The author s own re 
collections of him are distinct ones. He used to come into the village of 
Palmyra with little jags of wood, from his backwoods home ; sometimes pat 
ronizing a village grocery too freely ; sometimes find an odd job to do about 

* Here the author remembers to have first seen the family, in the winter of 19, 20, 
in a rude log house, with but a small spot underbrushed around it 

t France. 



214 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

the store of Seymour Scovell ; and once a week he would stroll into the office 
of the old Palmyra Register, for his father s paper. How impious, in us young 
" dare Devils" * to once and a while blacken the face of the then meddling 
inquisitive lounger but afterwards Prophet, with the old fashioned balls, 
when he used to put himself in the way of the working of the old fashioned 
Rarnage press ! The editor of the Cultivator, at Albany esteemed as he 
may justly consider himself, for his subsequent enterprize and usefulness, may 
think of it, with contrition and repentance ; that he once helped, thus to dis 
figure the face of a Prophet, and remotely, the founder of a State. 

But Joseph had a little ambition; and some very laudable aspirations; the 
mother s intellect occasionally shone out in him feebly, especially when he 
used to help us solve some portentous questions of moral or political ethics, 
in our juvenile debating club, which we moved down to the old red school 
house on Durfee street, to get rid of the annoyance of critics that used to drop 
in upon us in the village; and subsequently, after catching a spark of Metho 
dism in the camp meeting, away down in the woods, on the Vienna read, ho 
was a very passable exhorter in evening meetings. 

Legends of hidden treasure, had long designated Mormon Hill as the de 
pository. Old Joseph had dug there, and young Joseph had not only heard 
his father and mother relate the marvelous tales of buried wealth, but had ac 
companied his father in the midnight delvings, and incantations of the spirits 
that guarded it. 

If a buried revelation was to be exhumed, how natural was it that the Smith 
family, with their credulity, and their assumed presentiment that a Prophet 
was to come from their household, should be connected with it ; and that 
Mormon Hill was the place where it would be found. 

It is believed by those w"ho were best acquainted with the Smith family, 
and most conversant with all the Gold Bible movements, that there is no 
foundation for the statement that their original manuscript was written by a< 
Mr. Spaulding, of Ohio. A supplement to the Gold Bible, " The Book of 
Commandments" in all probability, was written by Rigdon, and he may have 
been aided by Spaulding s manuscripts; but the book itself is without doubt, 
a production of the Smith family, aided by Oliver Cowdery, who was a school 
teacher on Stafford street, an intimate of the Smith family, and identified 
with the whole matter. The production as all will conclude, who have read 
it, or even given it a cursory review, is not that of an educated man or wo 
man. The bungling attempt to counterfeit the style of the Scriptures; the 
intermixture of modern phraseology ; theignorraicc of chronology arid geogra 
phy; its utter crudeness and baldness, as a whole, stamp its character, and 
clearly exhibits its vulgar origin. It is a strange medley of scriptures, romance, 
and bad composition. 

The primitive designs of Mrs. Smith, her husband, Jo and Cowdery, was 
money-making ; blended with which perhaps, was a desire for notoriety, to be 
obtained by a cheat and a fraud. The idea of being the founders of a new sect, 
was an after thought, in which they were aided by others. 



* To soften the use of such an expression, the reader should be reminded that ap 
prentices in printing offices have since the days of Faust and Gottcnberg, been thus 
called, and sometimes it was not inappropriate. 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 215 

The projectors of tlie humbug, being destitute of means for carrying out 
their plans, a victim was selected to obviate that difficulty. Martin Harris, 
was a farmer of Palmyra, the owner of a good farm, and an honest worthy 
citizen ; but especially given to religious enthusiasm, new creeds, the more 
extravagant the better ; a monomaniac, in fact. Joseph Smith upon whom 
the mantle of prophecy had fallen after the sad fate of Alva, began to make 
demonstrations. He informed Harris of the great discovery, and that it had 
been revealed to him, that he (Harris,) was a chosen instrument to aid in the 
great work of surprising the world with a new revelation. They had hit up 
on the right man. He mortgaged his fine farm to pay for printing the book, 
assumed a grave, mysterious, ancl unearthly deportment, and made he re and 
there among his acquaintances solemn annunciations of the great event that 
was transpiring. His version of the discovery, as communicated to him by 
the Prophet Joseph himself, is well remembered by several respectable citi 
zens of Palmyra, to whom he made early disclosures. It was in substance, as 
follows : 

The Prophet Joseph, was directed by an angel where to find, by excava 
tion, at the place afterwards called Mormon Hill, the gold plates ; and was 
compelled by the angel, much against his will, to be the interpreter of the sa 
cred record they contained, and publish it to the world. That the plates 
contained a record of the ancient inhabitants of this country, "engraved by 
Mormon, the son of Nephi." That on the top of the box containing the plates, 
" a pair of large spectacles were found, the stones or glass set in which were 
opaque to all but the Prophet," that " these belonged to Mormon, the engra 
ver of the plates, and without them, the plates could not be read." Hams as 
sumed, that himself and Cowdery were the chosen amanuenses, and that the 
Prophet Joseph, curtained from the world and them, with his spectacles, read 
from the gold plates what they committed to paper. Harris exhibited to an 
informant of the author, the manuscript title page. On it were drawn, rudely 
and bunglingly, concentric circles, between above and below which were char 
acters, with little resemblance to letters ; apparently a miserable imitation of 
hieroglyphics, the writer may have somewhere seen. To guai d against pro 
fane curiosity, the Prophet had given out that no one but himself, not even 
his chosen co-operators, must be permitted to see them, on pain of instant 
death. Harris had never seen the plates, but -the glowing account of their 
massive richness excited other than spiritual hopes, and he upon one occasion, 
irot a village silver-smith to help him estimate their value; taking as a basis, 
the Prophet s account of their dimensions. It was a blending of the spiritual 
and utilitarian, that threw a shadow of doubt upon Martin s sincerity. This, 
and some anticipations he indulged in, as to the profits that would arise from 
the sale of the Gold Bible, made it then, as it is now, a mooted question, 
whether he was altogether a dupe. 

The wife of Harris was a rank infidel and heretic, touching the whole thing, 
and decidedly opposed to her husband s participation in it. With sacriligious 
hands, she seized over an hundred <5f the manuscript pages of the new reve 
lation, and burned or secreted them. It was agreed by the Smith family, 
Cowdery and Harris, not to transcribe these again, but to let so much of the 
new revelation drop out, as the " evil spirit would get up a story that the 
second translation did not agree with the first." A very ingenious method, 
surely, of guarding against the possibility that Mrs. Harris had preserved the 



216 JPHELPS A:ND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 

manuscript with which they might be confronted, should they attempt an im 
itation of their own miserable patchwork. 

The Prophet did not get his lesson well upon the start, or the household of 
impostors were in the fault. After he had told his story, in his absence, the 
rest of the family made a new version of it to one of their neighbors. They 
shewed him such a pebble as may any day be picked up on the shore of 
Lake Ontario the common horn blend carefully wrapped in cotton, and 
kept in a mysterious box. They said it was by looking at this stone, in a 
hat, the light excluded, that Joseph discovered the plates. This it will be ob 
served, differs materially from Joseph s story of the angel. It was the same 
stone the Smiths had used in money digging, and in some pretended discov 
eries of stolen property. 

Long before the Gold Bible demonstration, the Smith family had with some 
sinister object in view, whispered another fraud in the ears of the credulous. 
They pretended that in digging for money, at Mormon Hill, they came across "a 
chest, three by two feet in size, covered with a dark colored stone. In the 
centre of the stone was a white spot about the size of a sixpence. Enlarg 
ing, the spot increased to the size of a twenty four pound shot and then explo 
ded with a terrible noise. The chest vanished and all was utter darkness. " 

It may be safely presumed that in no other instance have Prophets and the 
chosen and designated of angels, been quite as calculating and worldly as were 
those of Stafford street, Mormon Hill, and Palmyra. The only business con 
tract veritable instrument in writing, that was ever executed by spiritual 
agents, has been preserved, and should be among the archives of the new 
state of Utah. It is signed by the Prophet Joseph himself, and witnessed 
by Oliver Cowdery, and secures to Martin Harris, one half of the proceeds of 
the sale of the Gold Bible until he was fully reimbursed in the sum of $2,500, 
the cost of printing. 

The after thought that has been alluded to ; the enlarging of original in 
tentions ; was at the suggestion of Sidney Rigclon, of Ohio, who made his 
appearance, and blended himself with the poorly devised scheme of impos 
ture about the time the book was issued from the press. He unworthily bore 
the title of a Baptist elder, but had by some previous freak, if the author is 
rightly informed, forfeited his standing with that respectable religious denom 
ination. Designing, ambitious, and dishonest, under the semblance of sanc 
tity and assumed spirituality, he was just the man for the uses of the Smith 
household and their half dupe and half designing abettors ; and they were 
just the fit instruments he desired. He became at once the Hamlet, or more 
appropriately perhaps, the Mawworm of the play. Like the veiled Prophet 
Mokanna, he may be supposed thus to have soliloquised : 

" Ye too, believers of incredible creeds, 
Whose faith enshrines the monsters which it breeds ; 
Who bolder, even than Nimrod, think to rise 
By nonsense heaped on nonsense to the skies ; 
Ye shall have miracles, aye, sound ones too, 
Seen, heard, attested, every thing but true. 
Your preaching zealots, too inspired to seek 
One grace of meaning for the things they speak ; 
Your martyrs ready to shed out their blood 



PHELPS AND GOEIIAM S PURCHASE. 217 

For truths too heavenly to be understood ;" 

* * * * 



" They shall have mysteries aye, precious stuff 
For knaves to thrive by mysteries enough ; 
Dark tangled doctrines, dark as fraud can weave, 
"Which simple votaries shall on trust receive, 
While craftier feign belief, till they believe." 

Under the auspices of Rigdon, a new sect, the Mormons, was projected, 
prophecies fell thick and fast from the lips of Joseph ; old Mrs. Smith assum 
ed all the airs of the mother of a Prophet ; that particular family of 
Smiths were singled out and became exalted above all their log-ion of name 
sakes. The bald, clumsy cheat, found here and there an enthusiast, a mo 
nomaniac or a knave, in and around its primitive locality, to help it upon its 
start ; and soon, like another scheme of imposture, (that had a little of dig 
nity and plausibility in it,) it had its Hegira, or flight, to Kirtland; then to 
Nauvo ; then to a short resting place in Missouri and then on over the 
Rocky Mountains to Utah, or the Salt Lake. Banks, printing offices, tem 
ples, cities, and finally a State, have arisen under its auspices. Converts have 
multiplied to tens of thousands. In several of the countries of Europe there 
are preachers and organized sects of Mormons ; believers in the divine mission 
of Joseph Smith & Co. 

And here the subject must be dismissed. If it has been treated lightly - 
with a seeming levity it is because it will admit of no other treatment. 
There is no dignity about the whole thing ; nothing to entitle it to mild 
treatment. It deserves none of the charity extended to ordinary religious 
fanatacism, for knavery and fraud has been with it incipiently and progress 
ively. It has not even the poor merit of ingenuity. Its success is a slur upon 
the age. Fanaticism promoted it at first ; then ill advised persecution ; 
then the designs of demagogues who wished to command the suffrages of 
its followers ; until finally an American Congress has abetted the fraud and 
imposition by its acts, and we are to have a state of our proud Union 
in this boasted era of light and knowledge the very name of which will 
sanction and dignify the fraud and falsehood of Mormon Hill, the gold plates, 
and the spurious revelation. This much, at least, might have been omitted 
out of decent respect to the moral and religious sense of the people of tha 
old states. 



FARMINGTON. 



Township No. 11, R. 3, (now Farmin^ton,) was the first sab of 
Phelps and Gorham. The purchasers were : Nathan Comstock, 
Benjamin Russell, Abraham Lapham, Edmund Jenks, Jeremiah 
Brown, Ephraim Fish, Nathan Herendeen, Nathan Aldrich, Ste 
phen Smith, Benjamin Rickenson, William Baker and Dr. Daniel 
Brown. The deed was given to Nathan Comstock, and Benjamin 
14 



218 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

Russell ; all except Russell, Jenks, J. Brown, Fish, Rickenson, Ba 
ker and Smith, became residents upon the purchase. In 1789,. Na 
than Comstock, with two sons, Otis and Darius, and Robert Hatha 
way, came from Adams, Berkshire county, Mass. ; a part of them by 
the water route, landing at Geneva, with their provisions, and a 
part by land with a horse and some cattle. When the overland 
party had arrived within 15 miles of Seneca Lake, they had the ad 
dition of a calf to their small stock, which Otis Comstock carried 
on his back, that distance. They arrived upon the new purchase, 
built a cabin, cleared four acres of ground, and sowed it to wheat. 
Their horse died, and they were obliged to make a pack horse of 
Darius, who went once a week through the woods to Geneva, where 
he purchased provisions and carried them on his back, twenty miles, 
to their cabin in the wilderness. Upon the approach of winter, 
the party returned to Massachusetts, leaving Otis Comstock to take 
care of the stock through the winter, with no neighbors other than 
Indians and wild beasts, nearer than Boughton Hill and Canandai- 
gua. About the same period of the advent of the Comstocks, 
Nathan Aldrich, one of the proprietors of the township, came by 
the water route, landing his provisions and seed wheat at Geneva, 
and carrying them upon his back to the new purchase ; he clear 
ed a few acres of ground, sowed it to wheat and returned to Mass 
achusetts. 

In the month of February, 1790, Nathan Comstock and his large 
family, started from his home in Adams, accompanied by Nathan 
Aldrich and Isaac Hathaway, and were f}llowed the day after by 
Nathan Herendeen, his son William, and his two sons-in-law, Josh 
ua Herrington and John M Cumber. The last party overtook the 
first at Geneva, when the whole penetrated the wilderness, making 
their own roads as they proceeded, the greater part of the distance, 
and arrived at their new homes in the wilderness, on the 15th of 
March. After leaving Whitestown, both parties, their women and 
children, camped out each night during their tedious journey, and 
arriving at their destination, had most of them to erect temporary 
habitations, and this at an inclement season. 

The following are the names of all who were residents of the 
new township in 1790 : Nathan Comstock, Nathan Comstock, jr., 
Otis Comstock, Darius Comstock, John Comstock, Israel Reed, 
John Russell, John Payne, Isaac Hathaway, Nathan Herendeen, 



PHELPS AKD GOTHAM S PtiRcnASE. 219 

Welcome Herendeen, Joshua Herrington, John M Cumber, Nathan 
Aldrich, Jacob Smith, Job Rowland, Abraham Lapham, John Ran- 
kin, Elijah Smith, Levi Smith, Annanias M Millan, Edward Dur- 
fee, Thomas W. Larkin, Silas Lawrence, Jonathan Smith, Pardon 
Wilcox, Robert Hathaway, Jeremiah Smith. But a part of all 
these that were married had brought in their families, and most of 
them were unmarried. 

The only survivors of all the above named, are John Comstock, 
Pardon Wilcox, and Levi Smith ; to the last of whom the author 
is indebted for many of his Pioneer reminiscences of Farmington. 
Joshua Herendeen died last winter, at the advanced age of over 
90 years. 

Many of these early Pioneers were Friends, either by member 
ship or birth right. An early discipline of that society was in effect, 
that any of its members contemplating any important enterprise, 
and especially that of emigration, must report their intentions to 
their meeting for consideration and advisement. The rash enter 
prise of going away off to the Genesee country, and settling down 
among savages and wild beasts, was not consistent with the kindly 
regard entertained by the meeting for the Farmington emigrants ; 
consent was refused, and they were formally disowned. When a 
committee of the Friend s Yearly Meeting of Philadelphia, attend 
ed the Pickering treaty at Canandaigua in 1794, they visited the 
Friends of Farmington, espoused their cause, interceded with the 
meeting that had disowned them in Massachusetts, which resulted 
in their restoration. A meeting was soon after organized, the first, 
and for a long period, the only one west of Utica. The society 
erected a meeting house in 1804. Their early local public Friend, 
or minister as he would have been called by other orders, was Caleb 
M Cumber. He died last year at an advanced age. 

Wheat was harvested in the summer of 1790, the product of 
what was sowed by the Comstocks and Nathan Aldrich, in the fall 
previous. Some summer crops were raised in the summer of 90. 
The stump mortar was the principal dependence for preparing 
their grain for bread. In the fall of 1790, Joshua Herendeen, with 
two yoke of oxen, made his way through the woods to Wilder s 
Mills in Bristol ; arriving late on Saturday night, the miller s wife 
interposed her ipsi dixit, and declared the mill should not run on 
Sunday, " if all Farmington starved." This made him a second 



220 PIEELPS AND GORIIAM S PURCHASE. 

journey, and it was a work of days, as the first had been. During 
the same season, Welcome Herendeen, John M Cumber and Jona 
than Smith, took grain up the Canandaigua outlet and Lake to 
Wilder s Mill. They got but a part of it ground, and it being late 
in the season, a part of their grist lay over until the next season. 
Levi Smith, in 1791, then a hired man of Nathan Aldrich and 
Abraham Lapham, carried grists upon two horses to the Friend s 
Mil], in Jerusalam. 

As an example of the difficulties and hardships that attended 
emigration at that early period, it may be mentioned that in 1791, 
Jacob Smith, with his family, was thirty one days in making the 
journey from Adams, Mass., to Farmington. Putting family and 
household furniture on ^oard of a boat at Schenectady, and driving 
his stock through the woods, along tho creeks, rivers, and lakes., the 
whole arrived at Swift s Landing, beyo ;d which he had to make 
his road principally, as there had been little intercourse in that 
direction, from the settlement in Farmington. 

Nathan Herendeen himself wintered in the new settlement, his son 
Welcome returning to bring out the family, who came in February, 
91 ; and about the same time other considerable additions were 
made to the settlement, consisting of the families of those who had 
come in the year before, and new adventurers. Brice, and Turner 
Aldrich and their families, William Cady, Uriel Smith, Benjamin 
Lapham, were among the number. A considerable number of 
them came in company, with ox and horse teams, were twenty-one 
days on the route, the whole camping in the woods eight nights on 
the way. 

The young reader, and others who may be unacquainted with 
Pioneer life, in passing through that now region of wealth and 
prosperity, will be surprised to be told that the founders of many of 
those farm establishments clusters of neat farm buildings, sur 
rounded by flocks and herds, and broad cultivated fields in their 
primitive advent, plodded through snow and mud days and weeks, 
with stinted means; at night, with their families of young children, 
clearing away the snow and spreading their cots upon the ground; 
their slumbers often interrupted by the howl of the gaunt wolf 
prowling around the.r camp-fires. Unless in that locality, from the 
peculiar character of its inhabitants, better ideas of right physical 
education prevails than is usual, there are daughters in those abodes 



PHELPS AND GORIIAM S PURCHASE. 221 

of comfort and luxury who shrink even from the healthful breeze 
whos3 mothers have prepared the frugal meal by the winter 
camp-fire, and kept nursery vigils where the driving storm pelted 
her and her household through their frail covering. Equally is 
physical degeneracy, the work of but one and two generations, 
marked in the sons. There are those in the Genesee country who 
would deem it a hardship to black their own boots, harness their 
own horse, or make their own fires, whose fathers and grand-fathers 
have carried provisions to their families upon their backs through 
long dreary winter woods paths. Sincerely is it to be hoped that 
mental degeneracy is not keeping pace with all this, as some ob 
servers and theorists maintain. 

But we are losing sight of the germ of what became a prosperous 
settlement. The new comers were soon in their log cabins, dotted 
down in the forest, and making openings about them to let in the 
sun. Nathan Comstock was regarded as surveyor general of roads. 
Mounted upon his old mare, he would strike off into the woods in 
different directions where roads were needed, followed by axe-men 
and a teamster with oxen and sled. The underbrush would be cut, 
logs cut and turned out of the way, and thus the beginning of a 
road was made to be followed up gradually, by widening out to two 
and four rods, and bridging of streams, sloughs and marshes. As an 
evidence that they commenced in earnest to subdue the wilderness, 
it may be mentioned that there were considerable fields of wheat 
sown in the fall of 1790. Nathan Aldrich having raised rome 
seed wheat in that season, Welcome Herendeen worked for him 
thirteen days for two and a half bushels, sowed it, and he used to 
tell the story when he became the owner of broad wheat fields, 
remarking that lie never had to buy any after that. The first set 
tlers of Farrnington, bringing with them apple seeds, and peach 
and plum pits, were early fruit growers soon had bearing 
orchards and for long years, the new settlers in far oil neighbor 
hoods, went there for apples, and a real luxury they were in primi 
tive times. Farmington and Bloomfield cider, apples, and apple 
sauce, was an especial treat for many years in the backwoods of 
the Holland Purchase. Some enterprising keeper of a log tavern 
would push out when sleighing came, and bring in a load. His re 
turn would be heralded over a wide district ; and then would fol 
low ox sleds and horse sleigh ride, through wood s roads, rude feasts 



222 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

and frolics. The pampered appetites of the present day know 
nothing of the zest which attended these simple luxuries then. 

The first marriage in Farmington, was that of Otis Comstock to 
Huldah Freeman, at the house of Isaac Hathaway, in 1792, Dr. 
Atwater, of Canandaigua, officiating. The first birth, was that of 
Welcome Herendeen, in 1790, a son of Joshua Herendeen, who now 
resides in Michigan. As a specimen of this first production, it 
may be mentioned that his weight is now said to be 350 pounds. 
The first death of an adult, was that of Elijah Smith, in 1793. 

The first frame building was erected by Joseph Smith and James 
D. Fish of Canandaigua, for an ashery, on the farm of Welcome 
Herendeen. The first framed barn was built by Annanias McMil 
lan, for Isaac Hathaway, in 1793; and the same year, McMillan 
built a small framed grist mill on Ganargwa Creek, within the town 
ship, for Jacob and Joseph Smith. Settlers have been known to 
come forty miles to this mill. The wreck of it is now standing. 
The first saw mill was built by Jacob and Joseph Smith, in 1795. 
The first physician in Farmington, was Dr. Stephen Aldridge, from 
Uxbridge, Mass. He died about fifteen years since, alter a long 
and useful career, both in his profession and as a citizen. 

Almost the whole town of Farmington was settled by emigrants 
from Adams, in that same county of Berkshire that has been so 
prolific a hive, sending out its swarms not only here, but to all our 
western States and territories. The local historian here and at 
the west, has often to query with himself as to whether there could 
be any body left in Berkshire ? It would seem that when new 
fields of enterprise were opened, new regions were to be subdued 
to the uses of civilization, legions went out from its mountains, hills 
and valleys not "of armed men" but of the best of materials 
for the work that lay before them. Berkshire a single county of 
New England it may almost be said, has been the mother of em 
pires. 

In the history of a wide region of unparalelled success and pros 
perity, no where has it been so uniform as in the town of Farming- 
ton. The town was soon farmed out by the original proprietors, 
and of all the purchasers, but one failed to be a permanent citizen 
and pay for his land. The wholesome discipline and example of 
the Society of Friends preserved it from the effects of an early 
profuse use of spirituous liquors, so destructive to early prosperity 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 223 

in other localities ; while the fruits and example of their proverbial 
industry and economy, gave the town the pre-eminence that it has 
acquired. 

The first town meeting of the " District of Farmington " was held 
at the house of Nathan Aldrich, in 1797 ; meeting was opened and 
superintended by Phineas Bates, Esq., when Jared Comstock was 
chosen Supervisor, and Isaac Hathaway town clerk. Other town 
officers : Joseph Smith, Nathan Herendeen, Jonathan Smith, 
Otis Comstock, Asa Wilmarth, John M Louth, Isaac Hathaway, 
Arthur Power, Sharon Booth, Joab Gillett, Gilbert Buck, Benjamin 
Peters, Job Rowland, Welcome Herendeen, Turner Aldrich, Gid 
eon Payne, Joshua Van Fleet, Jacob Smith. 

It was voted that $10 be paid for the scalp of each wolf killed 
in town. Fifty dollars was raised to defray the. expenses of the 
Town. The meeting was adjourned to be held next year at the 
house of Nathan Herendeen. 



PHELPS. 



John Decker Robinson, from Claverack, Columbia co., and 
Nathaniel Sanborn, were among those who came to the Genesee 
country about the time of the Phelps and Gorham treaty. Mr. San- 
born was employed by Mr. Phelps to take charge of a drove of 
cattle that he intended for beef, to distribute among the Indians at 



NOTE. The family of Comstocks were from Rhode Island, and had been Pioneers 
in Berkshire before their advent to the Genesee country. New England could hardly 
have sent better materials to this region ; or a family that would have proved more 
useful. At the period of emigration, the old Pioneer and patroon of new settlement, 
had six sons : Otis, Darius, Joseph, Jajred, Nathan and John. Nathan was the Pio 
neer at Lockport, having settled there in the wilderness several years before the canal 
was constructed. Joseph, Jared and Darius went there as soon as the canal was loca 
ted, and became the proprietors of a large portion of the site of the present Upper 
Town, and the Lower Town has grown up principally upon the original farm of Nathan. 
Darius was a large contractor upon the Mountain Ridge, and soon after the canal was 
completed became a Pioneer near the present village of Adrian Michigan. & part of 
the site of the village of Adrian was upon his purchase, and his son, Addison J. Com 
stock, was a prominent founder of the village. The father died in Farmington in 181G ; 
Joseph, in Lockport, in 1821 ; Nathan in Lockport, in 1830 ; Jared and Darius in Mich 
igan, in 1844 and 5 ; and Otis in Farmington, in 1850. The only survivor is John, 
who was an early law student in Canandaigua, and now resides upon a farm near Ad 
rian, Michigan. " The descendants in the second and third degree are very numerous, 
their residences being now principally in Michigan. The wife of Asa B. Smith of 
Farmington, is a daughter of Darius. The late Margaret Snell, of Union Springs, 
was a daughter of Joseph. 



224 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

the treaty. As soon as land sales commenced, Mr. Robinson bought 
lot No. 14, T. 11, R. 1, (Phelps) on the Canandaigua outlet, in pay 
ment for which he erected for Phelps and Gorharn, (partly of logs 
and partly framed,) the building that was used as the primitive land 
office, and for the residence of the agent of Mr. Walker. In the 
spring of 1789, he put his family and goods on board a batteaux at 
Schenectady and landed them at their new home in the then wilder 
ness. Raising a cloth tent they brought with them, the family 
were sheltered under that until a log cabin was erected. Nine days 
after their arrival, they were joined by Pierce and Elihu Granger, 
Nathaniel Sanborn and his brother-in-law, Gould, who remain 
ed with them a few months, cleared a few acres on an adjoining lot, 
built shantees, and returned to SufMd in the fall, leaving tha Rob 
inson family to spend the winter eight miles from their nearest 
neighbor. Mr. Robinson opened a public house as soon as 93, or 4. 
His location was East Vienna ; embracing some valuable mill seats 
on Flint creek and Canandaigua outlet. He was one of the most 
enterprising of the early Pioneers. His son Harry was the first 
male child born in Phelps; another son, Henry, II. resides in 
Lima. 

Following the lead of Robinson and the Grangers, in 1791, were, 
Thaddeus Oaks, Seth Dean, Oliver and Charles Humphrey, and 
Elias Dickinson. 

Jonathan Oaks was the primitive landlord, ejecting as early as 
94 the large framed tavern house, at Oak s Corners, about the same 
time that Mr. Williamson erected his Hotel at Geneva, It \vas a 
wonder in early days ; peering up in a region of log houses, it had 
an aristocratic look, and its enterprising founder was regarded as 
pushing things far beyond their time. It was the second framed 
tavern house west of Geneva, and when built, there was probably 
not half a dozen framed buildings of any kind, west of that locality. 
It was the house of the early explorers and emigrants, and its fame 
extended throughout New England. It is yet standing and occu 
pied as a tavern in a pretty good state of preservation. Mr. Oaks 
died in 1804, leaving as his successor his son Thaddeus, who had 
married a grand-daughter of Elias Dickinson. The father dying 
at so early a period, the name of Thaddeus Oaks is principally 
blended in the reminiscences of the later Pioneer period. He died 
in 1824 at the age of 50 years; an only surviving son, Nathan 



PHELPS AND GOEIIAM S PURCHASE. 225 

Oaks, a worthy representative of his Pioneer ancestors, inherits the 
fine estate, the fruit of h ; s grand-father and father s early enterprise. 
He is the P. M. at Oaks Corners ; his wife, the daughter of Truman 
Heminway Esq., of Palmyra ; a sister, is the wife of Leman Hotch- 
kiss, Esq. of Vienna. 

As early as 1810, the lessees of the Oaks stand, were Joel and 
Levi Thayer, now of Buffalo. About this period, the long celebra 
ted Race Course, was established upon the broad sweep of level 
ground, upon the Oaks farm, which passengers may observe from 
the cars, in the rear of the church. For years, it was a famous 
gathering place for sportsmen, and amateur sportsmen ; race horses 
came to it from the south, and from Long Island and New Jersey. 
The annual gatherings there, were to western New York, in a 
measure, what the State Fairs now are to the whole State. 

Philetus Swift, a brother of John Swift, of Palmyra, was in 
Phelps as early as 91. He was an early representative of Ontario, 
in Assembly and Senate ; in anticipation of the war of 1812, hold 
ing the rank of Col., he was ordered, with a regiment of volunteers, 
to march to the Niagara Frontier, and was with his regiment at 
Black Rock, when war was declared. He died in 1820. He left 
no sons ; an only daughter by a second marriage, is wife of Alexis 
Russel, of Webster, Monroe co. 

Seth Dean, was the Pioneer upon the site of the present village 
of Vienna, building a primitive grist and saw mill, upon Flint creek. 
His mill was raised by himself and his son Isaac ; they being unable 
to procure any help. The Pioneer died in early years ; his son 
Isaac resides in Adrian, Michigan, is the father-in-law of Addison 
J. Comstock, one of the founders of the village of Adrian. Mrs. 
Wells Whitmore, of Vienna, is a daughter of Seth Dean. Walter 
Dean, a brother of Seth, came in at a later period. He was the 
father of L. Q. C. Dean. A daughter of his married Dr. Isaac 
Smith, of Lockport, deceased, and is now the wife of David Thomas, 
of Cayuga. 

The first merchant in Phslps, was John R. Green, an English 



NOTE. Mrs. Dean, it is presumed, put the first cheese to press in the Genesee coun 
try ; and "thereby hangs a tale" or, a bear story. It was in one of the old fashioned, 
out door presses ; a bear came at night, and entirely devoured it, as his tracks aud tho 
empty cheege curb, bore wiuess. 



226 PIIELPS AND GOKIIAM S PUECHASE. 

man, located at Oaks Corners. Leman Hotrhkiss and David Mc 
Neil, were the first merchants in Vienna ; a firm of much enterprise, 
commanding, for a long period, the trade of a wide region. Hotch- 
kiss, was the brother of the late Judge Hotchkiss, of Lewiston. 
He died in 1822. His widow is now Mrs. Joel Stearns, of Vienna. 
Hiram, of Lyons, and Leman B. of Vienna, are his sons. McNeil 
was the first P. M. in Phelps, appointed in 1804, he held the office 
until his death, in 1841. He died childless; his widow survives, a 
resident of Vienna. 

Dr. Joel Prescott, was the early physician. He was an early 
supervisor of the town, and for several years chairman of the board 
of supervisors of Ontario. He died during the war of 1812 ; a 
son of his, Irnly Prescott, recently died in Geneva ; daughters be 
came the wives of Owen Edrnonston, of Vienna, and James Dar- 
row, of Seneca county. 

Elder Solomon Goodale, was the first resident minister in Phelps ; 
preaching in school and private houses. The first organized church 
was at Oaks Corners Presbyterian the officiating minister, the 
Rev. Jonathan Powell, a Welchman ; who still survives, and is 
settled over a Welch congregation in Ohio; a grand-daughter, Jane 
Reese, was a poetess, whose early effusions appeared in the Palmy 
ra Register, in 1819, 20; a sister of hers, is Mrs: Bailey Durfee, 
of Palmyra. The church at Oaks Corners, was the second built 
west of Seneca Lake, that of East Bloomfield the first. It was 
erected in 1804, but not finished until 1814. Having then became 
almost a wreck, by a vote of those interested, it was given in charge 
of Col. Cost, who procured subscriptions, and rented pews, the 
avails of which, more than paid for its completion. Thaddeus Oaks 
gave the ground, and $1,000 dollars in addition, before it was finish 
ed. Vienna and Oaks Corners, were originally competitors for the 
location. 

Jonathan Melvin was in as early as 95 : far better off than most 
Pioneers, he purchased 800 acres of land at what is known as 
" Melvin Hill." With ample means, and by extraordinary enter 
prise, he soon had large improvements, grain, pork, and pasturage 
for new settlers. He built mills in an early day in Wolcott, where 
he was a large landholder. After accumulating a large estate, he 
endorsed, became embarrassed, and finally subsisted in his lasts 
years, upon a Revolutionary pension. He died but a few years 



PHELPS AOT) GOEHAM^S PUECHASE. 227 

since, at an advanced age.* His son, Jonathan Melvin, now resides 
upon the old homestead. 

Wells Whitmore came in with Jonathan Oaks ; married a daugh 
ter of Seth Dean ; his son Barnet, resides in Georgia, and Mrs. 
Norton, of Vienna, is a daughter. 

John and Patrick Burnett, brothers, came in 1795 ; Patrick left 
in a few years ; John became a prominent citizen. He held a 
Captain s commission in the Revolution. Wrn. Burnett, his son, 
was an early supervisor, magistrate, and attained the rank of Brig. 
Gen. of militia. He was in service on the Niagara frontier in 1813, 
and commanded the volunteer force, called out to repel the British 
invaders at Sodus. He died in 1826; William Burnett, of Ann 
Arbor, is his son ; Mrs. Benjamin Hartwell, and Mrs. Bainbridge of 
Phelps, are his daughters. 

Cornelius Westfall came in 95 ; purchased 500 acres of land ; 
died in 1832. His only so-n, Jacab, a Captain of a company of 
riflemen, was killed in Queenston battle. 

Elijah Gates, came in 95 ; died in 1835 : his sons Seth and Dan 
iel, reside at the old homestead. 

Oliver Humphrey, one of the earliest, died in 1838; was a Major 
of Militia. His son Hugh Humphrey, lives at the old homestead. 
His brother Charles, who came in with him, died a few years since j 
his son John, resides upon the homestead. 

Lodovvick Vandermark, came in 94 ; erected one of the earliest 
saw mills on the outlet. He died just previous to the war of 1812 ; 
Frederick and William, of Phelps, are his sons. His brother Joseph, 
who came in with him, died in 1810. 

Deacon Jessee Warner, one of the earliest, located on site of 
village of Orleans; was one of the founders of the churches at 
Orleans and Melvin Hill. He died in 1835; John Warner of Or 
leans, is his son. 

Solomon Warner was in Geneva as early as 88. He located 
near, ar.d afterwards became the purchaser of a part of the Old 
Castle tract, which he sold to Jonathan Whitney. His wife was a 
daughter of Jonathan Oaks. He died in 1813; two of his sons 
reside in Michigan, and two at the homestead ; daughters became 

* In passing the Old Castle, in an early (lay, he picked up an apple, and was told to 
lay it down. "You must be mean" said he "to begrudge a neigbor an apple; 1 will 
plant 100 trees next year for the public." He was as good as his word; the trees are 
now standing along the road, on his old farm. 



228 PIIELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 

the wives of Cephas Shekells, Alfred Hooker, William Jones, Rev. 
Wm. Patton. His son Lucius, now 53 years of ag3, resides in the 
houss his father built in 89, and in which he was born. 

Col. Elias Dickinson, one of the original purchasers of Phelps, was 
from Conway, Mass. He died in 1804, or 5. His son, Col ton, 
was killed in raising the church at Oaks Corners, in 1804 ; Samuel 
Dickinson, the eminent printer and publisher, of Boston, was a son 
of Col ton Dickinson ; he was an apprentice of Elias Hull of Ge 
neva. Another son of the old Pioneer, was the founder "of the 
large mills of Vienna. He died in early years. 

Col. Elias Cost was a native of Frederick co., Maryland, a son 
of Jacob Cost ; a sister of his, was the mother of Wm. Cost John 
son. At the age of 21 years, in 1799, in company with Benjamin 
Shekel, and Abraham Simmons, he came to the Genesee country. 
The party travelled on horseback, coming in via Mr. Williamson s 
Northumberland Road; upon 46 miles of which, there was then 
but one house; stopped at the Geneva Hotel, and continued on 
through the woods to Sodus, where they found Mr. Williamson, 
Jacob W. Hallett, and James Reese. The young adventurers had 
left their horses at Oaks tavern, and arriving at the outlet, at Ly 
ons, were ferried over upon the back of a stout backwoodsman, by 
^the name of Hunn. Shekels and Simmons, bought land at the Sul 
phur Springs. The party returned to Maryland. The next season 
Col. Cost came out and purchased land near Oaks Corners, where 
he has resided for half a century. He is now 72 years of age : 
may almost be said to be robust in health; his mind retaining its 
vigor and elasticity ; possessing the fine social qualities, peculiar to 
his native region. His first wife was the daughter of Capt. Shekells. 
After her death he married the widow of Thaddeus Oaks, and was 
the landlord of the Oaks stand for fourteen years. His daughters, 
the fruits of his first marriage, became the wives of Thomas John 
son, of Maryland, and Lynham J. Beddoe, a son of John Beddoe, 
of Yates co. An unmmarried daughter whose mother was Mrs. 
Oaks, supplies the place of her mot e , (who died recently,) in his 
hospitable mansion. Col. Cost was upon the frontier in the war of 
1812, a volunteer, with the commission of Captain, in the regiment of 
Col. Micah Brooks, was at the sortie of Fort Erie ; was a member 
of Assembly from Ontario, in 184G. 

KOTE. Col. Cost, died in April lust, whilst this work was in press. 



PHELPS AND GOBHAM S PURCHASE, 229 

Benjamin Shekell, whose advent is mentioned in connection with 
Col. Cost, died in 1818. His son Richard resides in Hops-well ; a 
daughter, is Mrs. Stephens of Hopewell. Samuel Shekel! came in 
1803 ; died in 1820 ; his son Thomas in 1804, and opened a store 
at Clifton Springs; returning to Maryland in a few years; another 
son, Jacob M., resides near Ann Arbor, Michigan ; another. John, in 
Waterloo ; another, Cephus, in Milwaukee. His daughters became 
the wives of Col. Elias Cost, Major VVm. Howe Cuyler, Alexander 
Howard, and Andrew Dorsey, of Lyons. The Shekells were Irom 
Bladensburg, Maryland. 

William Hildreth was an early merchant and distiller ; was a 
Supervisor of the town, and a member of the legislature. He 
erected mills on Flint Creek, was a large farmer, and in all, a man 
of extraordinary enterprise, carrying on for many years an exten 
sive business. He died in 1838 ; his widow survives. His sons, 
William and Spencer, reside in Vienna. 

Eleazor, Cephas and Joseph Hawks, were early settlers in Yienna. 
Cephas Hawks, just previous to the, war, erected a large woolen 
factory at Whits Sprin. s, on the Nicholas (now Mrs. Lee s) farm, 
near Geneva ; bought the line wool of the Wadsworths; sold cloth 
at from $5 to $12 per yard ; made money rapidly; but low prices 
and consequent failure succeeded after the war. He emigrated to 
Michigan. Benjamin F. Hawks, of Vienna, is a son of Eleazor. 

Luther Root was the first clothier in Phelps ; he died 25 years 
since ; his widow and sons are residents of Vienna. 

The town of Phelps was first the "District of Sullivan;" the 
first town meeting was held at the house of Jonathan Oaks, in 1796. 
Jonathan Oaks was chosen Supervisor, Solomon Goodale, Town 
Clerk. Other town officers : Joel Prescott, Philetus Swift, Pierce 
Granger, Cornelius Westfall, Abraham F. Spurr, Chas. Humphrey, 
Elijah Gates, Augustus Dickinson, John Patton, Wells Whitmore, 
Jonathan Melvin, Oliver Humphrey, Patrick Burnett, Jesse Warner, 
Oliver Humphrey, Philetus Swift, Augustus Dickinson, Joel Prescott, 
Oliver Humphrey, Solomon Goodale. 

A "gratuity of four pounds" was voted for "every wolfs head 
that shall be killed in this district by an inhabitant thereof." 

At a court of special sessions of Ontario county, in June, 1706, 
name was changed to "District of Phelps." 

In February, 1797, a special town meeting was called "for tho 



230 FHELPS AND GOKHAM s PTJKCHASE. 

purpose of establishing some regulations in reference to schools/ 
After the town had assumed his name, Mr. Phelps gave an enter 
tainment at Oaks Tavern, and a jovial time the backwoodsmen 
had of it, as but few of them live to recollect. 



GENEVA. 

While the Pioneer events we have been recording, were going 
on in other localities, the little village of Kanadesaga, at the foot o-f 
Seneca Lake, had been going a head under the auspices of Reed 
and Ryckman. and the Lessees. In the compromise with Phelp s 
and Gorham, the Lessees had come in possession of townships 6, 7, 
and 8, in the 1st Range, and 9 in the 2d. These townships were 
deeded to the Lessees under the name of the " New York Com 
pany ;" and a fifth township (No. 9 in the 1st,) was deeded to 
" Benton and Livingston." * " In the fall of 1788," says a manu 
script in the author s possession, "number 8 was divided into lots, 
and balloted for at Geneva ; Benjamin Barton, sen., at that time 
being agent for the Niagara (or Canada) Company, drew the num 
ber of lots assigned to them ; and Messrs. Benton and Birdsall, 
being present, drew for themselves and associates." f 

In the fall of 1788, about the time that the Pioneer movements 
were making at Canandaigua, Geneva had become a pretty brisk 
place ; the focus of speculators, explorers, the Lessee Company and 
their agents ; and the principal seat of the Indian trade for a wide 
region. Horatio Jones was living in a log house covered with 
bark, on the bank of the Lake, and had a small stock of goods for 
the Indian trade ; Asa Ransom (the afterwards Pioneer at Buffalo 



* But the four townships were included in the compromise. Benton and Livingston 
were prominent among the Lessees; and either acquired the fifth township by pur 
chase, or it was a bonus to them individually, for their agency in effecting the corrv 
promise. 

t The author has in his possession the original draft of this lottery scheme, with the 
names of all who drew lots over an hundred and th" numbers of the lots they 
severally drew. The lots are said to be in th } "town of Geneva and county thereof." 
Either the villfge of Geneva, that had been laid out by Reed and Ryckman was 
merged with the lands of the Lessees, or they laid out a village upon the Lake 
shore, opposite T. 8, as each share holder drew a "town lot," and a "large lot," which 
evidently meant a village lot ; nd a farm lot. Lots were drawn in the name of 
"Street & C<J.." " Samuel Street," "St: cot and B i ler," "John Butler," and by all 
the members of the New York and Canada joint Lessee Companies. 



PHELPS AKD GOTHAM S PURCHASE. 231 

and Ransom s Grove,) occupied a hut, and was manufacturing 
Indian trinkets ; Lark Jennings had a log tavern on the bank of 
the Lake ; the Lessee Company had a framed tavern and trading 
establishment, covered with bark, on the Lake shore, " near where 
the bluff approaches the Lake," which was occupied by Dr. Ben- 
ton. There was a cluster of log houses all along on the low ground 
aear the Lake shore. The geographical designations were " hill 
and bottom." Petar Ryckman and Peter Bortle were residing 
rhere, and several others whose names are not recollected. Col. 
Seth Reed was residing at the Old Castle. Dominick Debartzch, 
an Indian trader from Montreal, was rather the great man of the 
country. His principal seat was the Cashong farm, which he 
claimed as an Indian grant, and where he had a trading establish 
ment ; though his trade extended to the western Indians, among 
whom he went after selling his claim to the Cashong farm to the 
late Major Bsnj. Barton, of Lewiston.* 

The Lessees were then strenuously claiming all of the lands of 
the six nations up to the old pre-emption line. A letter from one 
of the company at Geneva, to one of the Canada associates, dated 
in Nov. 88, speaks confidently of a compromise with the State, " by 
which we shall be enabled to hold a part, if not the whole of the lands 
contained in our lease." To further this object, it is proposed that 
the Canada influence shall be brought to bear upon the Indians ; and 
that a. strong delegation of the chiefs shall be at Albany when the 
legislature meets, and " remonstrate openly to the sovereignty of the 
State, against the late proceedings at Fort Stanwix, and demand the 
restitution of their lands. "f In April and May, 1789, the New 
York company held out to their Canada associates, the strongest 
assurances of being enabled with their assistance, to induce the In 
dians to abide by the Lease, instead of their cessions to the State ; 
but in the fall of that year, they began to be disposed to take what 
ever they could get. In September, one of the auditors of the " New 



* John H. Jones witnessed the confirmation of this bargain. Major Barton, in part 
payment, pulled off his overcoat, and gave it to Debartzch. It has heretofore been 
said that the purchase was made of Poudry. Mr. Jones corrects this, and says that 
Poudry at the time was a servant of Debartzch, occasionally asssisting him in the 
Indian trade. Both gloried in native wives. 

t In the month of September preceding, the Onondagas had, at a treaty at Fort 
Stanwix, ceded their lands to the State ; and in the same month, the Oneidas had 
ceded theirs. 



232 PIIELPS Aro GOBIIAM S PURCHASE. 



York Genesee Company," writing to4he " Niagara Gonesee Com 
pany," says : " Our business has fallen much short of our first idea;" 
and after a^! ing their concurrence in a proposed compromise with 
the State, the letter closes with, " I arn, with due respect, but like 
the rest of the company at this time, somewhat dejected, your very 
humble servant." 

All that was done at Geneva previous to the spring of 1793, was 
under the auspices of Reed and Ryckman and the Lessees. The 
little backwoods village that had grown up there, the scattered set 
tlements in the Lessee towns and upon the Gore, and at Jerusalem, 
constituted a majority perhaps of all the population west of Seneca 
Lake. " The district of Seneca," which, so far as organization was 
concerned, embraced all the region north to Lake Ontario, and the 
Lessee towns, had its first town meeting in April, 1793. It was held 
at the house of Joshua Fairbanks, who still survives, a resident of 
Lewiston. Niagara county. Ezra Patterson was chosen Supervisor, 
Thomas Sisson, Town Clerk. Other town officers, Oliver Whit- 
more, Jas. Rice, Phineas Pierce, Patrick Burnett, Samuel Wheedon, 
Peter Bortle, Jr., Sanford Williams, Jonathan Oaks, David Smith, 
Benjamin Tuttlo, Win. Smith, Jr., David Benton, Benj. Dixon, 
Amos Jenks, John Reed, Caleb Culver, Charles Harris, Stephen 
Sisson, W. WHitmore, Joseph Kilbourn, Seba Squires. 

In 1791, Ambrose Hull was Supsrvisor. Store and tavern licen 
ses were granted to Graham S. Scott, Thomas Sergeants, Joseph 
Annin, liewson & Co. 1795, Timothy Allen was Supervisor, and 
Samuel Colt, Town Clerk ; town meeting was held at the house of 
Ezr,\ Patterson, who was chosen Supervisor of the town for several 
successive years. In 1800, the number of persons assessed to work 
on the highways in the town of Seneca, was 290. 

Mr. Williamson turned his attention to Geneva, in the spring of 
1793 ; and as will be observed, many of the early reminiscences of 
the locality occur in connection with him. In fact, Geneva is more 
or less mingled with the earliest events of the whole region. It was 
the door or gateway to the Genesce country, and there our race first 
made a stand preliminary to farther advances. 

Herman H. Bogert, commenced the practice of law in Geneva, 
in 1797, being now the oldest resident member of the profession, 
except Judge Howell, in western New York. His father was Isaac 
Bogert, a captain in the Revolution, attached to the New York line ; 



PHELPS AND GOEIIAM S PURCHASE. 233 

was at the siege of Fort Stanwix, and at the close of the war be 
came a merchant in Albany. The son was preceded in his profes 
sion at Geneva, only by Henry H. Van Rensselaer, who remained 
but a few years. 

Mr. Bogert observes, that at the period he came to Geneva, land 
speculations were at their height ; high prices were the order of the 
day; board was $1,00 per week at the hotel; and all things were 
going on as swimmingly as in the later years, 1838, 37. Eligible 
building lots of three-fourths of an acre-, sold for $500 ; farming 
lands in the neighborhood, sold for $5,00 an acre, that afterwards 
brought but $2 and $3,00. Mr. Williamson had a sloop upon the 
Lake that was engaged in bringing down lumber. The mail was 
brought from Albany once in two weeks upon horseback. Mr. Wil 
liamson s head quarters were then principally at the Geneva Hotel. 
In addition to his other enterprizes, he was actively engaged in the 
construction of the turnpike. 

Mr. Bogert is now 77 years of age ; his wife, the daughter of 
John Witbeck, of Red Hook, who also survives, is 73. Charles A. 
Bogert of Dresden, Yates county, is a son ; a daughter became the 
wife of Derick C. Delamater, of Columbia county ; another, of Her 
man Ten Eyck, of Albany ; another, of Godfrey J. Grosvenor, of 
Geneva. 

Early lawyers in Geneva, other than Mr. Bogert, Pollydore B. 
Wisner, Daniel W. Lewis, Robert W. Stoddard, John Collins, Da 
vid Hudson. Mr. Wisner was an early District Attorney. He 
died in 1814. He was from Orange county; studied law with 
Richard Varick ; at one period member of the Legislature. Mr. 
Lewis died within a few years in Buffalo, leaving no children. An 
adopted daughter of his was the wife of Stephen K. Grosvenor, and 
is now the wife of the Rev. Dr. Shelton, of Buffalo. Mr. Stoddard 
died in 1847. A son of his is a practicing lawyer in Brooklyn, and 
another son is an officer of the navy. Mr. Collins is now a prac 
ticing lawyer in Angelica. Mr. Hudson still survives, and contin 
ues a resident of Geneva. Mr. Parks is yet a practicing Attorney 

NOTE. Mr. Bogert, among other interesting reminiscences of early times, which 
the author lias used in other connections, speaks of a marked event a thunder storm 
in 1797. There seemed to be a meeting of two large, dense, black clouds. For two 
hours, there was peal after peal, in quick succession, of thunder ; not unlike the re 
ports of parks of artillery. Water sponts rose upon the Lake, column after column ; 
the atmosphere seemed on fire ; the whole was a scene of grandeur and terror, that Vas 
had few parallels. 

15 



234 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 

in Geneva. He studied law with Lewis and Collins, and was ad 
mitted to practice in 1814. In the war of 1812, he was upon the 
frontier, and in the battle of Queenston, in command of a company 
of volunteers. 

The early merchants of Geneva, other than those who were loca 
ted there under Indian and Lessee occupancy, were : Grieve and 
Moffat, Samuel Colt, Richard M. Williams, Elijah H. Gordon, 
Richard M. Bailey, Abraham Dox. Grieve & Moffatt established 
the first brewery in all this region. Mr. Grieve was in the employ 
of Mr. Williamson, in the earliest years, as it is presumed Mr. Mof 
fat was, as his name occurs in connection with the early move 
ments at Sodus. Mr. Grieve was out in the war of 1812, a colonel, 
under Gen. McClure. He died in 1835. Mr. Moffat removed to 
Buffalo. Richard M. Williams became a farmer in Middlesex, On 
tario county, (or in Yates county) where he died a few years since ; 
a son of his was lately in the Senate of this State. Mr. Colt was a 
brother of Joseph Colt, the early merchant of Canandaigua,, Auburn, 
and Palmyra. He removed to New York, and on a visit to Ge 
neva, attending the commencement at the College, he died suddenly, 
at the Hotel, in 1834. Mr. Baily is still living. He entered the 
regular army in 1812; had a staff appointment, \vas taken prisoner 
at the battle of Queenston : went to Quebec in company with Gen. 
Scott, where he was parolled. 

Elijah H. Gordon is one of the three or four survivors of all who 
were residents of Geneva previous to 1798 ; is in his 80th year. 
His goods came in early years, from Schenectady, via the usual 
water route, costing for transportation, generally about $3 per cwt. 
Barter trade, in furs especially, constituted his principal early busi 
ness ; potash and ginseng was added after a few years. 

Mr. Gordon was a Judge of Ontario county courts in early years ; 
and the second Post Master at Geneva, succeeding Walter Grieves, 
who was the first. His two sons, John II., and Win. W. Gordon, 
reside in Washington, Louisana. 

Dr. Adams was a physician in Geneva in the earliest years of 
settlement. Dr. John Henry and Daniel Goodwin, were the ear 
liest permanent physicians. Dr. Henry died in 1812. Dr. Good 
win removed to Detroit, where he died a few years since. Stephen 
A. Goodwin, an attorney at law, in Auburn, is a son of his ; another 
son, Daniel Goodwin, is an attorney in Detroit. 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUECHASE. 235 

A Presbyterian society was organized in Geneva, as early as 
1798. In July of that year, a meeting was held; John Fulton and 
Oliver Whitmore presided ; Oliver Whitmore, Elijah Wilder, Sep 
timus Evans, Ezra Patterson, Samuel Latta, Wm. Smith, jr., and 
Pollydore B. Wisner, were chosen trustees. The Rev. Jedediah 
Chapman became the first settled minister, continuing as such, 
until his death in 1813. He was succeeded by the Rev. Henry 
Axtell. The society built a church in 1811. 

In 1806, " nineteen persons of full age, belonging to the Protest 
ant Episcopal church, assembled, and there being no Rector, John 
Nicholas presided." Trinity church was organized by the election 
of the following officers : John Nicholas and Daniel W. Lewis, 
Wardens ; Samuel Shekel!, John Collins, Robert S. Rose, Richard 
Hughes, Ralph T. Wood, David Nagler, Jas. Reese, Thomas Pow 
ell, Vestrymen. 

The Rev. Davenport Phelps was the first officiating clergyman ; 
was succeeded by the Rev. Orrin Clark, who officiated for many 
years. He died in 1828. The society erected a church in 1809, 
which was removed, and its site occupied by the present Trinity 
Church, in 1845. 

Baptist and Methodist societies were organized, and churches 
erected, soon after the war of 1812, but the author has no farther 
record or information concerning them. 

Among the earliest mechanics at Geneva, were : Wm. Tappan, 
John and Abraham B. Hall, John Sweeny, Elisha Douner, Moses 
Hall, W. W. Watson, John Woods,* Lucius Gary, Jonathan Doane,f 
Foster Barnard, Richard Lazalere, Jacob and Joseph Backenstose. J 

John Nicholas, emigrated from Virginia, and settled at Geneva 
in 1804. He was a lawyer by profession, but had retired from 
practice. He was for several terms, a member of the State Senate, 
and a Judge of the courts of Ontario. He engaged extensively in 

* Mr. Wood, was also an early landlord. 

t He erected the primative churches ; was the father of Bishop Doane of N"ew Jer 
sey, who received his primary education in Geneva. 

t They were brothers, came to Geneva in the earliest years. They were the pioneer 
tailors of the Genesee country. Time was, when to wear a coat from their press board, 
marked the wearer as an aristocrat. Men going to Congress, or the Legislature, gen 
erally got a coat from a "Geneva tailor," but never before election. "Generals" and 
"Colonels" sometimes indulged in such an extravagant luxury. The surviving sons of 
Jacob, arc : John Barkenstore a merchant of Geneva, and Jacob and Frederick, of 
Bloomfield. Jacob Barkenstore yet survives, a resident of Lockport 



236 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 

agricultural pursuits, owning and occupying the large farm after 
wards purchased by Gideon Lee. Judge Nicholas died in 1817 
His surviving sons are Robert C. Nicholas, Lawson Nicholas, Gavin 
L. Nicholas, John Nicholas ; a daughter became the wife of Abra 
ham Dox, and another the wife of Dr. Leonard, of Lansingburg. 

Robert S. Rose, a brother-in-law of Judge Nicholas, emigrated 
with him from Virginia. He located upon a farm on the opposite 
side of Seneca Lake, where for many years, he was one of the 
largest farmers in western New York. Both he and Judge Nich 
olas, were at one period extensive wool growers, and did ;iiuch to 
promote the improvement of sheep husbandry in this region. He 
was for one or two terms, a representative in Congress. He died, 
suddenly, at Waterloo, in 1845.* His widow, who was of the 
Virginia family of Lawsons, so highly esteemed for her quiet and 
unobtrusive charities, and especially for her zealous aid to the Epis 
copal church, whose doctrines she adorned through life, died in 
1847, or 8. The surviving sons, are: Dr. Lawson G. Rose, cf 
Geneva ; John and Henry Rose, of Jerusalem, Yates county ; 
Robert L. Rose, of Allen s Hill, Ontario county, late a representative 
in Congress, from the Ontario and Livingston district, and Charles 
Rose, of the town of Rose, Wayne county. A daughter became 
the wife of Robert C. Nicholas; another, the wife of Hopkins Sill 



BRIEF REMINISCENCES. 



From old newspaper files, preserved by James Bogart Esq., an early and 
worthy conductor of the newspaper press in Ontario county. JST See some 
account of the early printers and editors of the Genesee country. 

In Batli Gazette, 1799, by an advertisement, it would seem that tlie "Bath 
Theatre" was in full blast. The plays announced, are the " Mock Doctor, or 
the Dumb Lady cured." " A peep into the Seraglio." "Pit, six shillings ; 
Gallery three shillings." In same paper, George M Clure, announces that lie 

* In early life lie had entertained a presentiment of sudden death, arising from some 
disorganization in the region of the heart Many years previous to his death he had 
assured his family it would be sudden, as it proved to be. He had dined with some 
friends at Waterloo at the table had spoken of his unusual good health; and in the 
act of stepping into his sleigh to return home, fell and soon expired. So abiding was 
his presentiment, that he had kept all his business affairs prepared for such an exigen 
cy as actually occured. 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 237 

has opened a "house of entertainment," at Bath. Bath races are advertised. 

"Northumberland and Sunbury Gazette," 1792: Charles Williamson 
offers for sale " 1,000,000 acres of good land in the Genesee country, at $1,00 
per acre to actual settlers." He says: "A village called Williamsburg, 
is laid out at the junction of the Canascraga and Genesee Rivers, where 
there is excellent navigation for boats carrying ten tons, in the driest season." 
"The village will have the advantage of a school, church, <fec." "Mechanics 
wanted, to whom village lots will be donated." "Mr. Williamson begs 
leave to inform the German settlers in Pennsylvania, that he expects to hear 
of the arrival of 400 Saxons from Germany, who have taken up lands in the 
Genesee country. They sailed from Hamburg in April last." * 

In " Seneca Museum," 1800, Elkanah Watson and Wm. Mynderse, adver 
tise that they will contract the making of a turnpike from Onondaga Hollow 
to Geneva, and make payment for the same "in good land." In same paper 
it is announced that " Sloop- Seneca, will sail from Geneva every Tuesday, 
wind and weather permitting, for the head of the Lake, and will generally 
return from there the Friday following. For freight or passage, apply to 
Captain on board." 

From the Geneva Gazette, April, 1806: "Positive proof has been ob 
tained by Joseph II. Davis, attorney general for Kentucky district, that Burr 
had formed an association for making \var against Spain, invading Mexico, 
and forming a distinct empire in the western country." 



JAMES REESE. 



In all our country there are but few survivors of our Revolution 
ary period not one, perhaps certainly not in our local region, 
survives, who was so familiar with its stirring events as the venera 
ble James Reese, of Geneva, now in his 87th year. Entering the 
counting house of Willing & Morris, in Philadelphia, in the memora 
ble year of the Declaration of Independence, he remained there until 
the close of the long struggle that ensued. Transferred from the 
commercial department of the firm to the private desk, and confi 
dence, of one of its partners, Robert Morris, then so blended with 
and so participating in all that was transpiring, it may well be con 
ceived that his yet vigorous mind is a rich storehouse of historical 
reminiscences. The man survives, a citizen of our own local region, 
who was a witness of the interviews that often occurred between 
Geo. Washington and Robert Morris ; when he who wielded the 



* And they proved, as the reader will see, rather the hardest case that the enterpris 
ing founder of settlements, had upon his hands. 



238 PHELPS AOT) GORHAM ? S PURCHASE. 

sword, would meet him who wielded the purse, and the two, with 
painful anxiety, surrounded by embarrassments with an unclothed 
and unpaid army, and an empty treasury would discuss the por- 
tentuous questions, the ways and means of our nation s deliverance. 
When unpaid armies, disheartened, wore down by fatigue and pri 
vation, would threaten dispersion and a return to their long neglect 
ed homes ; when even their stout-hearted leader would temporarily 
yield to despondency, and almost in despair appeal to him whose 
financial expedients were seemingly exhaustless, for council and 
aid. 

The printed notes of hand that Mr. Morris issued in several 
emergencies during the Revolution, especially those used in addi 
tion to the sum borrowed of the French to enable Washington to 
put the army upon its march, preparatory to the battle of Yorktown, 
were filled up and afterwards cancelled by Mr. Reese. Of the 
hundreds in Mr. Morris employment at that period, in all his com 
mercial relations as Superintendent of the finances, and Secre 
tary of the Treasury Mr. Reese alone survives. His position 
brought him in contact, and made him acquainted with the leaders 
of both the American and French army, and the officers of the 
Navy, of those whose memories are embalmed in a nation s heart. 
He names them with all the familiarity of recent intercourse ; but 
there are few, if any, in the long list that have not gone to their final 
rest. He is one of the few remaining links that connect the Past 
with the Present and his is not only in reference to our national 
history, but to the Pioneer history of our local region. 

Mr. Reese s first visit to this region was as clerk or secretary to 
the commissioners for holding a treaty with the Indians, at " Big 
Tree, " commonly called the Morris treaty. Returning to Phila 
delphia he acquired an interest in the new region, and in 1798, he 
removed his family to Geneva, where he has since resided, with the 
exception of one year spent in Bath, in connection with the land of 
fice there. When Mr. Williamson came out as the Pultney agent, 
his first business was with Mr. Morris, where Mr. Reese became 
one of his earliest acquaintances in this country. On arriving here, 
he entered into his agency service, and after that, was his private 
agent until he returned to England. 

NOTE. Major Reese died at his residence in Geneva after this portion of the work 
was prepared for the press. 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 239 

He was appointed cashier to the old Bank of Geneva when it 
went into operation. He was in service during the war of 1812, as 
a Deputy Quartermaster of the Northern Division of the Army ; 
and in later years he has filled the office of Bank Commissioner of 
State, and Postmaster at Geneva. 

In a work devoted to other objects, but a brief space can be spared 
for Revolutionary reminiscences even those as full of interest as 
are those of -the subject of this sketch. Speaking of Mr. Morris, he 
observes: "His commercial transactions were immense, extend 
ing over the greater portion of the commercial world ; and to all 
this was added the onerous task of providing for an army in the field, 
and an armed force upon the ocean. He brought all his energies 
of mind and body in requisition for the Herculean labor ; was active, 
vigilant at times sleepless, and all in his employ were kept in 
motion. There was no man who could have filled his place. He 
wielded an immense amount of wealth ; had an extraordinary facul 
ty to inspire confidence ; he unloosed purse strings that no one else 
could have unloosed. Even those of the society of Friends, their 
principles forbidding an immediate or remote participaton in war 
or any of its relations, who constituted at that period a large class of 
Philadelphia capitalists, lent him money ; in one especial instance, 
$6,000 in specie, in a pressing emergency of the army, with an in 
junction of secrecy.* The relations between him and Washington 
during the whole of the Revolution, was one of great intimacy, con 
fidence and friendship. There was no one individual upon whom 
the Father of his country so much relied, in all the terrible conflict 
that won our national Independence. 

As the clerk of Mr. Morris, Mr. Reese had an opportunity of 
seeing Washington under circumstances which enable him to 
speak familiarly of him. " He always," says he, "received me and 
treated me with great kindness of manner, when I had business to 
transact with him. He was mild and courteous sedate not 
austere." 

Mr. Reese observes that Mr. Morris sudden reverses were in a 

Wh on the gallant Rochambeau was about to return to France, a deputation of 
Friends were among those who made to him congratulatory addresses : " It is not" 
said they, "on account of thy military qualities that we make thee this visit those we 
hold in little esteem ; bnt thou art the friend of mankind, and thy army conducts 
itself with the utmost order and discipline. It is this which induces us to render thce 
our uspccte. " 



240 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUKCHASE. 

great measure consequent upon what he regarded as his fortunate 
investments in the Genesee country. Stimulated by his golden 
prospects here, and especially by his successful sale to Sir William 
Pultney and his associates, renowned throughout Europe as the 
fortunate American land operator, he bought of himself and with 
others, immense tracts of wild land in different States of the Union. 
Pay days came before sales could be effected ; a change from af 
fluence, a princely fortune, to bankruptcy, attended with dignity, 
integrity, and honorable conduct, marked the close of his useful 
career. 



CHAPTER II. 



SALE OF PHELPS AND GORHAM TO ROBERT MORRIS RE-SALE TO ENG 
LISH ASSOCIATION ADVENT OF CHARLES WILLIAMSON. 



A NAME intimately blended with the whole history of the Revo 
lution, one to whose memory a larger debt of national gratitude is 
due than to that of any other man, (the great leader in the struggle 
always excepted,) was early and prominently identified with all this 
region. What could well furnish the material for an elaborate his 
torical work, must here be but the brief sketch necessary to his in 
troduction as a large proprietor of the soil of the Genesee country. 

Robert Morris was a native of Liverpool, England. While a 
youth, bis father emigrated to this country, locating in Baltimore. 
Entering into the service of the eminent merchant of Philadelphia, 
Charles Willing, as a clerk, he became the partner of his son and 
successor. At the breaking out of the Revolution, although en 
gaged in an extensive mercantile and commercial business that de 
manded his attention, he became at once an active partizan in the 
struggle. In 1776, he was a member of Congress from Pennsyl 
vania, and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUKCHASE. 241 

In the previous year, soon after the battle of Trenton, General 
Washington, in a pressing emergency, had realized from him a tem 
porary loan for the army. Again, money was wanted by the 
commander in chief, and he supplied it; the army was destitute 
of bread, and the doors of his store houses were opened for their 
relief; it was without lead for bullets, stripping the lead fixtures 
from private dwellings for that purpose, when the ballast of one 
of his vessels supplied the deficiency. Invested with the office of 
Secretary of an empty Treasury becoming the financier of the 
poorest country that ever kept an army in the field, or armed ships 
upon the ocean his own means were put in requisition, and his 
almost unbounded credit freely used. With a tact, as a financier; 
never excelled, when money must be had, he obtained it. When 
other men or bodies of men failed, he would succeed. When the 
rich bankers of Amsterdam knew no such new creation as the 
United States, or its Congress ; or, knowing them, had no confi 
dence in their engagements, they trusted him on his private re 
sponsibility with millions, which he used in the public service. 
And when the great struggle was drawing to a close when a 
last and desperate blow was to be struck, and the army that was to 
do it, was in New Jersey, without pay, and destitute of comfortable 
clothing and rations. * when even its stout hearted commander- 
in-chief was almost yielding to the embarrassments with which he 
was surrounded, and upon the point of leading his army the wrong 
way, because he could not command the means to move it where 
it should go the active, patriotic financier hastened to his camp, 
and by assuring him that he would supply all immediate wants, en 
couraged him to put his army in motion. The destination was 
Yorktown; the defeat of Cornwallis, the crowning act of the 
Revolution, was the result, f Mr. Morris died in New Jersey, in 
180G. He was eventually reimbursed by Congress for all of his 
expenditures and losses in the Revolution, though not for the sacri 
fices of time and abstraction from his private business, that his pub 
lic services made necessary. He was, however, eminently success- 



* " I saw that army when it passed through Philadelphia," says the venerable 
James Reese; "and a more ragged, shoeless, and sad looking one, has seldom been 
put upon the march in the direction of an enemy." 

t The money in specie, that he had promised, was borrowed, and paid to the army, 
but a few days before the attack upon Cornwallis. 



242 PHELPS AKD GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

ful in his commercial affairs, and at one period, was by far the 
wealthiest man in the United States ; but engaging enormously in 
land purchases other than in this region he became embar 
rassed, and the country he had so well served, had the sore morti 
fication of seeing him, toward the close of his useful life, the tenant 
of jail limits. * 

Mr. Morris extended commercial affairs, had made him in a 
measure, a citizen of the world, instead of that of the new republic. 
Such was his credit at one period, that in most of the commercial 
cities of Europe, his private notes passed from hand to hand, with 
all the confidence that would have been had in the issues of a sound 
bank. At the close of the Revolution, an immense quantity of wild 
lands were thrown into market, speculation became rife, and Mr. 
Morris entered into it upon an extensive scale. Mr. Phelps, during 
the Revolution, having been connected with the commissary depart 
ment of the Massachusetts line, and Mr. Gorham, being a promi 
nent merchant in Boston, Mr. Morris had made their acquaintance, 
and when they sought a purchaser for their unsold lands in the Gen- 
esee country, they applied to him. Little was known in the com 
mercial cities of all this region, other than what had been gathered 
from maps, and from those who had accompanied Sullivan s expedi- 

NOTE. The Duke Liancourt, who made the acquaintance of Mr. Morris, and speaks 
of him in language of respect and esteem, mentions among his gigantic business oper 
ations, his investments in the city of Washington. The capital was located in an era 
of speculation and inflation, and magnificent expectations were entertained in reference 
to the city that would grow up around it. In company with Messrs. Nicholson and 
Greenleaf, of Philadelphia, he purchased 6,000 lots at $80 per lot, Avith the condition 
that there should be built upon them 120 two story brick houses, within seven years. 
This purchase was made of commissioners; the company bought about an equal 
number of lots of original proprietors of the ground. Successful sales followed, part 
of the buildings were" erected, but the bubble burst and added to the embarrassments 
of Mr. Moms, ruining manv others of the large capitalists of the United States. The 
city of "brickkilns," and "magnificent distances," as Mr. Randolph called it, abounds 
with the relics of the extravagant, views entertained at an early period. 

The private notes that Mr. Morris issued during the Revolution, were called " Long- 
Bobs,"Sand " hort Bobs ;" having reference to the drawer s name, and the periods of 
their maturity. (J^f" For a more extended biographical sketch of Robert Morris, see 
History of Holland Purchase. 

*An unthinking Shylock at a public watering place, during the last summer, in "W. 
N. Y., gave it as his sage and profound opinion, that no " worthy, deserving man," 
ever suffered by the operations of the old law, which imprisoned for debt ; and added 
the wish, that it could be restored. The author must here note what occurred to him 
at the time : The man, without whose individual exertions, the Revolutionary strug 
gle would have been a failure ; and the man who projected the overland route of that 
great dispenser of wealth and prosperity to millions the Erie Canal were victims 
of that relic of an iron age, which strangely enough had found at this late period, one 
advocate. 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 243 

ti on. Mr. Morris, however, sought the means of further informa 
tion. Ebenezer (or Indian) Allan, was then located as an Indian 
trader on the Genesee River, at what is now Mount Morris, and 
was in the habit of making yearly visits to Philadelphia for the pur 
chase of goods. Samuel Street who resided at the Falls on the Can 
ada side, had also visited Philadelphia. From them Mr. Morris ob 
tained information, which induced him to accede to a proposition of 
Messrs. Phelps & Gorham. Their deed of conveyance embraces 
their entire final purchase of Massachusetts, of about two millions, 
two hundred thousand acres, excepting such towns and parts of town 
ships as they had sold, being in all, about one million, one hundred 
thousand acres. The consideration and actual price paid by Mr. 
Morris, was thirty thousand pounds New York currency. 

At an early period after the purchase, Mr. Morris employed Maj. 
Adam Hoops to explore the country,* who reported that " in respect 
to soil, climate and advantageous navigation," it was equal to any 
portion of the United States. Measures were immediately adopted 
for the survey of such portions as was unsurveyed. The celebra 
ted David Rittenhouse was then just perfecting some surveyor s in 
struments, and he was employed to fit out Major Hoops expedition.! 



NOTE. Mr. Morris after he had made the purchase, wrote to his agent in London, 
that " Mr. Ebenezer Allan, the oldest settler in that country" had assured him " that 
hemp grows like young willows, it is so rampant and strong, and that he has raised 
forty bushels of the finest wheat he ever saw, and so of other articles in like abund 
ance. He asserts that the forest trees about Philadelphia are not larger than the bran 
ches of trees in his neighborhood." In another letter he assures his agent that he has 
had the most flattering accounts of his Genesee purchase, from those who belonged to 
the Friend s settlement on Seneca Lake, that had returned to Pennsylvania on a visit 
to their connexion. He assures him that he has from all quarters heard such favora 
ble accounts of the country, that were he a young man, he would " pitch his tent there !" 

* Major Hoops was residing near Philadelphia, He had been in the army through 
out the Revolution, was in Sullivan s campaign, and at one period, belonged to the 
staff of Washington ; and was one of the aids of Gen. Sullivan, in his expedition to the 
Genesee country. He was connected with the earliest surveys of all this region, 
"When Mr. Morris afterwards, purchased all the regions west of Phelps and Gorham s 
purchase, he explored it and commenced the surveys. In 1804, he in company with 
Ebenezer F. Norton, purchased the most of the township of Olean. They laid out 
there, the village of Hamilton, which was afterwards, changed to Olean. He was a 
bachelor; died in Westchester, Pa., in 1835 or 6. 

t There is an anecdote connected with Mr. Rittenhouse, which is quite too good 
to be lost, and may be preserved here. When he had completed one of his astronomical 
instruments, in anticipation of the transit of Venus, he had invited several friends to 
be present, and enjoy a view of it Among the rest he had invited a respectable far 
mer from the country, who knew far more about raising crops, than he did about 
movements of the planets. He answered in a note, that he should be very much en 
gaged the evening named, but if Mr. Rittenhouse would have the " transit of Venus 
postponed for a few evenings" he would be very happy to attend. 



244 PIEELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

In Mr. Morris extensive land operations, he had agents in all the 
principal cities of Europe. His agent in London, was Wm. Tem 
ple Franklin, a grand-son of Dr. Franklin, to whom he had given 
an inadequate idea of its real value. Just as he became fully ap 
prized of its value, and was in active preparation to bring it into 
market for settlers, under his own auspices, he received news from 
Mr. Franklin, that he had sold it. The purchasers were an "Asso 
ciation," consisting of Sir Wm. Pultney, John Hornby and Patrick 
Colquhoun. The first was a capatalist, and at that period occupied 
a high position as a citizen and statesman. He resided in the city of 
London. The second, had been governor of Bombay, and was a 
retired London capitalist. The third was eminent in his day, as a 
statesman and philanthropist.* The price paid for what was sup 
posed to be about one million one hundred thousand acres, but 
which in fact amounted to almost one million two hundred thousand 
acres, was thirty five thousand pounds sterling. Mr. Morris had 
written to Mr. Franklin previous to the sale, a letter from which he 
would have inferred, that he intended advancing on the price, but 
the sale was made previous to the reception of the letter. In that 
letter he says : "I have applications in all, for 250,000 acres of 
the Genesee lands, and they are daily increasing. This winter has 
disclosed the real character those lands deserve. Many genteel 
families are going to settle there, and as I have determined to settle 
my son there, no one can doubt the favorable opinion I entertain of 
the soil, climate and rapidity of settlement." " I consider that the 
southwestern Indian war, will eventually be of advantage to the set 
tlements of the Genesee country." " There is now in this city a Mr. 
Jackson, who lives on the borders of Seneca Lake, who is accom 
panied by an Indian. They assured me that before they left, while 
there was snow on the ground, every night thirty or forty families 
arrived at his place, (Friends settlement,) on their way to settle the 
lands that had been bought before my purchase." " All our public 
affairs go on well. This country is rushing into wealth and impor- 



* A marble tablet erected in front of the Presbyterian church in Canandaigua, to 
perpetuate his memory, has upon it an inscription which recognizes the principal 
events of his useful life. He was a native of Glasgow, and died in London, in 1820, 
aged 76 years. Few men have contributed more to the reformation of criminal laws, 
to the promotion of trade and commerce, in founding systems for benefitting the poor, 
and for public education, in England and Scotland. In some of his correspondence 
in the hands of the author, he mentions having spent some time in America previ 
ous to 1790 ; as is inferred, in some of the Southern States. 



PHELPS AOT) GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 245 



tance faster than ever was expected by the most sanguine of the 
sanguinous." My Genesee lands are infinitely preferable to any 
American lands that can be offered in Europe." After he had 
been apprised of the sale, he wrote to Mr. Colquhoun : "Those 
tracts which Gorham and Phelps had sold previous to my purchase, 
are settling very fast, and the first settlers are raising enough to 
supply the new comers." " I am now at New York, on my return 
from Boston, where I saw several people from the Genesee country, 
and it. affords me great pleasure to reiterate the account which you 
have already had, of that fine country. On my way through Connec 
ticut, I met Mr. Wadsworth who has settled in the Genesee country, 
with whom I had much conversation, and who I find like every 
other person who has visited the country, is in raptures with it, 
Mr. Wadsworth is extremely intelligent, and one upon whose 
veracity the utmost reliance can be placed. The reports made by 
him and others in New England, has turned the attention of all who 
think of emigration, towards the Genesee, and every man who 
pitches his tent there, adds to the value of your purchase." 

Major Hoops, prosecuted the surveys under the new proprietors, 
by an arrangement with Mr. Morris. He early discovered, what 
had been suspected, a material error in the running the Pre-emp 
tion line. As this is a matter which it will be necessary for the 
reader to understand, in connection with after events, it may be 
here stated, that the State of New York ceded to Massachusetts, 
all the territory west of a line to be drawn due north and south 
from the 82nd mile stone on the Pennsylvania line. Before the 
running this line, it could of course be but mere conjecture where 
it would fall, as far north from the starting point as Seneca Lake. 
Seth Reed, the afterwards founder of the settlement at Presque 
Isle, (Erie,) Pa., the grand-father of the present Charles M. Reed, 
and Peter Ryckman, both of whom had been Indian traders, ap 
plied to the State of New York, for a remuneration for services 
rendered in some previous negotiations with the eastern portion of 
the Six Nations, and proposed to take a patent for a tract, the boun 
daries of which should "begin at a tree on the bank of the Seneca 
Lake, and run along the bank of the Lake to the south, until they 
should have 16,000 acres between the Lake and the east bounds of 
the land ceded to Massachusetts." Their request was acceded to, 
and a patent issued. Thus situated, they proposed to Messrs. Phelps 



246 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 

and Gorham, to join them in running the Pre-emption Line, each 
party furnishing a surveyor. " A Captain Allen," says one authority, 
" Mr. Jenkins " says another, was selected by Reed and Ryckman, 
and Colonel Maxwell, by Phelps and Gorham. In the mean time, 
the Lessees assuming that their transactions were valid, took an in 
terest in the matter, and as Messrs. Reed and Ryckman were both 
share holders in their company, the matter was mutually accommo 
dated between them. The line was run, which is known as the 
" Old Pre-emption Line." Messrs. Phelps and Gorham, were 
much disappointed in the result, suspected error, or fraud, but made 
no movement for a re-survey, before they had sold to the English 
Association. Their suspicions had been at first excited by an offer 
from a prominent member of the Lessee Company, for " all the lands 
they owned east of the line that had been run." They were so 
well assured of the fact, that in their deed to Mr. Morris, they 
specified a tract, in a gore between the line then run, and the west 
bounds of the counties of Montgomery and Tioga, those counties 
then embracing all of the military tract. 

Upon a superficial examination of the line, Major Hoops w r as 
convinced of its inaccuracy. Mr. Morris having in his convey 
ance to the English purchasers, stipulated an accurate survey of all 
he conveyed, instructed Major Hoops to correct the line.* Mr. 
Ellicott with his two brothers, Joseph and Benjamin, had then just 
finished the survey of Washington city. The transit instrument, 
for surveying by means of astronomical observations, having just 
been invented in Germany, Mr. Ellicott availed himself of it, his 
brother Benjamin superintending its construction. Upon arriving 
in this country, Mr. Ellicott was joined by the late Judge Porter, who 
was then a surveyor in the employ of Messrs. Phelps & Gorham ; 
a corps of axe-men were employed, and a vista thirty feet wide 
opened before the transit instrument, until the line had reached the 
head of Seneca Lake, when night signals were employed to run 
down and over the Lake. So much pains were taken to insure 
correctness, that the survey was never disputed, and thus the " new 
Pre-emption Line" was established as the true division line between 

* In a letter to Mr. Colquhoun, Mr. Morris says:. "These three brothers," (An 
drew, Joseph, and Benjamin Ellicott,) "are of the number of beings on whom nature 
sports her favors. They are great mathematicians as well as mechanical geniuses, to 
which they have added much practical experience, and good moral characters." 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 247 

the lands of the State of New York and those that had been ceded 
to Massachusetts. In examining the old survey, Major Hoops had 
discovered the precise points of deviation to the westward. It had 
commenced soon after leaving the Pennsylvania line, gradually 
bearing off until it crossed the out-let of the Crooked Lake, where 
an abrupt offset was made, and then an inclination for a few miles, 
almost in a north-west course ; then as if fearful that it was running 
west farther than was necessary to secure a given object, the line 
was made to incline to the east, until it passed the foot of Seneca 
Lake, when it was run nearly north and south to Lake Ontario. All 
this will be observed upon any of the old maps. It will at once be 
perceived that the site of Geneva, the 16,000 acres of Reed and 
Ryckman, and the supposed interests of the Lessees, had caused more 
than a usual variation of the surveyor s compass. Judge Porter s 
explanation is as follows : " Geneva was then a small settlement, 
beautifully situated on the Seneca Lake, rendered quite attractive 
by its lying beside an old Indian settlement, in which there was an 
orchard." * 

The old pre-emption line", terminated on Lake Ontario, three 
miles west of Sodus Bay, and the new line very nearly the center 
of the head of the Bay. With the exception of the abrupt varia 
tions that have been noticed, the old line parting from the true merid 
ian about five miles south of the Chemung river, bears off gradually 
until it reaches the shore of Lake Ontario. The strip of land between 
the two lines was called " The Gore." In addition to the patent 
granted to Reed and Ryckman, the State had presumed the origi 
nal survey to be correct, and made other grants, and allowed the 
location of military land warrants upon what had been made dispu 
ted territory. We shall see what was the final disposition of the 
matter. 

After Mr. Morris had made the purchase of Phelps and Gorham, 
he had once endeavored to promote the settlement of the Genesee 
lands, entering into negotiations with individuals, and with those 
who proposed founding settlements or colonies, but he had perfected 
nothing ; though some sales he had in progress, were consummated 

* In speaking of this fraud, to the author, Judge Porter entirely exonerated Col. 
Maxwell, for whom, in common with all who knew him, he entertained a high res 
pect. In fact, it turned out that CoL Maxwell was sick and obliged to trust the line 
to his associate at the time the fraud was committed. 



248 PEELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

by his successors. His plan of settlement contemplated principally 
emigration from Pennsylvania ; but there were formidable difficul 
ties in the way. A wide forest separated his lands from the most 
advanced settlements of Pennsylvania, over the mountains and 
across the streams, of which no avenue had been opened ; and the 
still greater difficulty was the fear of Indian wars. The Six Na 
tions were looked upon as but in a state of armistice, as having re 
luctantly yielded to necesssity, and paused in their stealthy assaults ; 
but far from being reconciled, ready to again take up the tomahawk 
and scalping knife, upon their own account, if opportunity was of 
fered, or at the bidding of those who were yet brooding over their 
revenge behind the walls of Forts Oswego and Niagara, and in their 
Canadian retreats. The borderers of Pennsylvania had seen and felt 
too much of the horrors of Indian wars, to feel willing to place them 
selves again in a position to be harrassed by them. News had 
reached them of Indian murders of surveyors and emigrants near 
Presque Isle, and of surveyors in this region ; of solitary cases of a 
renewal of Indian hostilities upon the Susquehannah ; and rumor 
had vastly magnified the apprehended danger. A society of Men- 
onists in Pennsylvania, had contracted with Phelps and Gorham 
for a township, and were negotiating with Mr. Morris for a larger 
purchase, to enable them to settle their sons in this country, but 
gave up the project in consequence of the fear of Indian war. Mr. 
Morris writes to Mr. Colquhoun soon after he had sold to the As 
sociation, that " these worthy but timid people had grown afraid 
since the Indian wars at the westward had become so general as it 
is, to let their sons go out even to the townships they have bought, 
lest the Six Nations should become parties, and attack the Genesee 
settlements. Now as there is not the least danger of this happening, 
the Six Nations having decided already for peace, yet these timid peo 
ple will await their own time. I will, however, announce to them that 
[ can supply them with the lands they wanted, and as I think the 
Indian war will be of short duration, there is little doubt but they 
will buy it when it is over." 

In a letter from Mr. Morris to Mr. Colquhoun, dated in June, 
1791, he gives a general statement of wild lands in the United States, 
then in market. Speaking of his own operations he says, he has 
50,000 acres in Otsego county, that he had bought of the State of 
<Yew York ; and he mentions that the State of New York has vet 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 249 

600,000 acres, but he knows of a " company who intend to buy it. 
The State asks four shillings per acre, and want cash down, the ap 
plicants want credit, and a lower price, and as yet the land remains 
unsold. On the Mohawk river, lands are worth from 5 to 15 
per acre, New England currency." He mentions " that in company 
with Governeur Morris," (who was then in Europe, endeavoring to 
sell lands,) " and his brother-in-law, I have a 190 thousand acres on 
the river St. Lawrence." " In Pennsylvania the lands belonging to 
the State are reduced by sales and settlement to an inconsiderable 
quantity." " The vacant lands in Virginia, from a vicious practice 
in the land office, and a more vicious practice of the surveyors, are 
rendered so precarious in title, that people are afraid to buy them, 
and therefore they are offered at 6d per acre, and no buyers." 
" Lands west of the Ohio are now out of the question, until the In 
dian war is over; they are also too remote from any market." 
" Lands in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia may be 
cheap, but the climate is too warm for rapid settlement." 



CHARLES WILLIAMSON. 



As soon as the London Associates had completed their purchase 
of Mr. Franklin, the agent of Mr. Morris, they entered upon 
measures for the sale and settlement of what they had acquired. 
Sir Wm. Pultney, in the earliest years, was in a great measure a 
silent partner ; the concerns of the Genesee lands seem to have 
devolved principally upon Mr. Colquhoun. He devoted himself 
earnestly to the work ; availed himself of all the information he 
could acquire ; projected improvements ; and made himself, by an 
active correspondence with Mr. Morris and others, in this country, 
familiar with this region. He was ambitious to make it a lucrative 
operation for himself and associates, arid at the same time to make 
himself and them the founders of prosperous settlements. His 
correspondence are perfect specimens of .method, and high business 

NOTE. Almost simultaneously with the sale to the English Association, Mr. Morris 

had purchased of Massachusetts what Messrs. Phelps & Gorham had relinquished, and, 

what afterwards constituted the Holland purchase and " Morris reserve." ilis interest, 

therefore, in this region, did not cease with his sale to Sir Wm. Pultney and associates 

16 



250 PHELPS AND GOEHLtM s PURCHASE. 

qualifications ; exhibit great foresight and prudence ; and touching 
the interest of those upon whom was to devolve the hard task of 
subduing the wilderness, there is blended in all of it a spirit of phi 
lanthropy, and fair and honest dealing, which would well justify 
much that has been said of him on the tablet that has been raised 
to his memory in Canandaigua. And with nothing to judge from 
but his business letters, instructions to agents, &c., it is impossible to 
form any other conclusion with regard to Sir Wm. Pultney, but such 
as are creditable to him, as one whose capital had made his own 
interests and those of new settlers, mutual. 

And here, with a knowledge that the author has acquired by a 
perusal of masses of correspondence that have passed between the 
foreign land holders of most of all Western New York and their 
agents letters written in all the confidence that would accrue from 
such a relation he is constrained to remark, that the country 
could hardly have fallen into better hands. Both the English and 
the Dutch companies, under whose auspices, as proprietors, three 
fourths of the whole country west of Seneca Lake was settled, 
were composed of capitalists who made investments of large 
amounts of money, in the infancy of this republic, when its stabil 
ity was by no means a settled point ; and they were satisfied with 
reasonable returns for their vast outlays ; and patient under the de 
lays of payment, as all must concede. With reference to both 
companies, in all their correspondence with their agents, no wish or 
indication escapes them of a disposition to have the new settlers 
oppressed, or to have their business conducted in any other than a fair, 
honest, and liberal manner. If any wrong policy was pursued it 
was a fixing of too high prices upon land, and in that matter they 
generally were guided by the advice of their agents ; but long, in 
many instances, almost interminable credits were given ; and that 
enabled men to possess, and finally pay for land, who could not have 
done so, if payment at a very low rate had been demanded in hand. 
There is not in the history of the world a better example of the 
advantages of credit than is furnished in the settlement of all this 
region. It has conferred homes and competence upon tens of 
thousands who would not have had them if pay down had been the 
order of early days. There was no considerable class of actual 
settlers \vhen most of the Genesee country was brought into 
market that could pay down even twenty five cents per acre. The 



PHELPS AND GCRHAM S PURCHASE. 251 

present system of selling the wild lands of the United States would 
not have answered for that day, for there is now twenty settlers who 
are able to pay before working it out of the soil, where there was 
one then. 

The Association, as a first step after purchase, looked for an agent 
to manage it. The choice fell upon Charles Williamson ; one who 
was destined to have his name prominently and honorably identified 
with all the earliest history of settlement and progress in Western 
New York. 

Mr. Williamson was a native of Balgray, in the county of Dum 
fries, Scotland. His father, Alexander Williamson, was the Secre 
tary of the Earl of Hopeton. At the commencement of the Revo 
lution, he held a captain s commission in the British service, and 
was ordered to this country with his regiment, though as it hap 
pened without any service. The ship in which he sailed, when 
nearing our coast, was captured by a French privateer, carried into 
Newburyport, and transferred to the depot at Boston, where he re 
mained a prisoner until the close of the war, was married and re 
turned to Scotland. He improved his stay i n the country, by col 
lecting much information, and left it with high expectations in re 
ference to its destinies, which w T ere fully confirmed by the success 
ful termination of the war of the Revolution. After making the 
tour of the eastern continent, he returned to London, just about the 
period when the attention of capitalists in Europe was drawn 
toward the wild lands of the United States ; his opinion and infor 
mation was much sought after. His intelligence, and fine social 
qualities attracted the attention of Mr. Pitt, and Mr. Colquhoun, 
then sheriff of Westminster, and with them he became very inti 
mate, which was only ended by the death of the parties. Mr. 
Williamson had a strong desire to return to this country, which was 
gratified by his appointment as agent of what was at first called 
" The. Association, " and afterwards the Pultney Estate. Leaving 
London, he repaired to Scotland, and after arranging his affairs there, 
sailed for this country, accompanied by his family, and two well 
educated and intelligent Scotchmen, John Johnstone and Charles 
Cameron, who came out as his assistants. After a long voyage, the 
party arrived at Norfolk, and going to Baltimore, Mr. Williamson 
provided quarters for his family for the winter. From this city he 
wrote to his principals that all things looked well in the new coun- 



252 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

try; that .the city was so full of newly arrived emigrants that he 
found it difficult to get accommodations. Preceding his companions, 
he went to Philadelphia, made the acquaintance of Mr. Morris, and 
availed himself of his knowledge of the Genesee country, and his 
remaining interest in it, in projecting some improvements, the open 
ing of a direct road to the purchase, and a genera] plan of commen 
cing the settlements ; at the same time, after having become natural 
ized he took from Mr. Morris deeds in his own name, his principals 
being aliens and non-residents. In a letter to Mr. Colquhoun from 
Baltimore, Mr. Williamson had foreshadowed some of his ideas of 
what should be done. He states that he had just met with a gentle 
man who had "traversed the Genesee lands in several directions ;" 
and his account corresponded with their most favorable anticipa 
tions : " He declares that even the worst are superior to any he 
ever saw." Mr. Williamson adds: "These disinterested ac 
counts, from different people, put the quality of the land in the fairest 
view. The next object then is to take some liberal and decisive 
steps to bring them to their value. Want of communications is 
the great draw back on back settlements distant from the rivers 
that run into the Atlantic. Remove this difficulty and there can be 
no doubt that the gentlemen of the Association will reap an advan 
tage fifty times their outlay ; and come to their purpose many years 
sooner. Nothing will draw the attention of the people of America 
more readily than the idea of their settling under the protection of 
an association who will take every means to render their farms con 
venient and profitable. " In the same letter he proposes a plan for 
advancing JO to "poor settlers to induce them to settle down on 
the worst part of the tract where wealthier people might hesitate to 
make a beginning.. 

Mr. Williamson spent the most of the winter of 1791, 2, with 
his party in Northumberland, Penn. In February, however, he 
made a flying visit to the Genesee country, going around via New 
York and Albany. He writes to Mr. Colquhoun that he passed 
through "an uninhabited wilderness of more than 100 miles before 
reaching Geneva, which consisted of a few straggling huts." 
" There is not a road within one hundred miles of the Genesee 
country, that will admit of any sort of conveyance, otherwise than 
on horseback, or on a sled, when the ground is covered with snow." 
" The price of land has, in a few instances, exceeded 2s. per acre \ 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PUECHASE. 253 

some few farms of first-rate quality have been sold on a credit for 
4s. per acre." Returning to Baltimore, he decided upon opening a 
communication with the Genesee country from the southward. It 
was from that direction he expected his principal emigration ; and 
he looked to the Susquehannah and its branches, and Chesapeake 
Bay, as the prospective avenues of trade from all this region ; and 
to Baltimore as its great emporium. To the eastward from the 
Genesee country, every thing had a discouraging look a woods 
road through the wide wilderness that separated the region from 
the old settlement on the Mohawk, which when improved, would 
furnish but a long and expensive land carriage ; and the imperfect 
and expensive water communication afforded by the Mohawk, 
Wood Creek, Oneida Lake, Oswego, and Seneca Rivers, afforded 
the best prospects that existed in that direction. Taking care to 
excite a good deal of interest in Baltimore, by holding out the fine 
prospects for trade with the Genesee country, he returned to North 
umberland and organized a party of road surveyors. Proceeding 
via Loyalsock, the party went up the Lycoming to the "house 
of one Kyle," who was then the farthest advanced settler. 
Sending out the hunters to explore ahead, and return and re 
port, the party by slow progress, camping and breaking up their 
camps, proceeded until they had located a road from what 
was then " Ross Farm," now Williamsport, to the mouth of the 
Canascraga Creek, on the Genesee river, a distance of about 
one hundred and fifty miles. * Application was made to th.e State 
of Pennsylvania for assistance to open the road ; but little more was 
obtained than authority to build it through that State. Measures 
were immediately commenced for opening the road. Before it 
could be opened, a ship with merchant s goods that Mr. Colquhoun 
had consigned to Mr. Williamson, arrived at Baltimore. The con 
signee informed the consigner that there was no other way to get 
them to the Genesee country, but by " pack horses and Indian 
paths, except in freshets ;" but finally concluded to sell off the heavy 
goods at Baltimore, and send on the lighter ones via New York 
and Albany. Before the close of 1792, Mr. Williamson had deter- 



* The route of this primitive road, was via Blossburgh, then called "Peter s Camp," 
(from the name of a German whom Mr. Williamson established there, with a depot 
of provisions ;) thence down the Tioga to Painted Post ; up the Canisteo to Hornels- 
ville ; then to Dansvillc, and down the Canascra^a to Genesee river. 



254 PHELPS AND GORHAM ? S PURCHASE. 

mined upon commencing his first settlement at the termination of 
his road on the Genesee river, and in pursuance of that decision, 
had laid out a village, which he called Williamsburg, ploughed 80 
acres of flats, and built a long row of dwellings. 

The dwellings and ploughed ground were intended for the use of 
a German colony. As " Williamsburg" and " the Germans/ 
formed a distinct feature of all this region, in an early day, some 
account of them, their advent, and after hegira, must be given 
here. It was an untoward commencement of settlement, or rather, 
of European colonization in the Genesee country. 

Soon after the Association had sent out Mr. Williamson, there 
appeared in London an itinerant picture merchant from Germany, 
by the name of Berezy. With a good deal of tact and gentlemanly 
address, he had won the confidence of Mr. Colquhoun, and prevail 
ed upon him to let him head an expedition which contemplated the 
bringing to this country a colony of poor, industrious Saxons 
colonizing them, and holding them here as redemptionists.* In 
stead of following his instructions, he went to the city of Ham 
burgh and picked up idlers, indifferent mechanics, broken down 
gamblers and players, in fact, just about the worst materials that 
were ever collected for the practical uses of a new settlement.! 
They consisted of about seventy families. From their very start, 
they began to be the source of enormous expense. Arriving at 
London, they were, after a great deal of trouble, put on board two 
chartered vessels and consigned to Robert Morris. They finally 
arrived at Northumberland just about the time that Mr. Williamson 
commenced opening the road. Axes, spades and hoes were provi 
ded for them, and they set to work : and bad work enough they 
made of it. They had to be first taught the use of their tools, and 
were far from learning easily. An old gentleman who came over 
the road in an early day, says the trees looked as if they had been 
"gnawed down by beavers." Their labor, however, made the road 

NOTR. On arriving at Genesee river, Mr. Williamson found that T. 8, R. 7, now 
Groveland, had been sold to an agent o t a Society of Menonists, in Pennsylvania, by 
Phelps and Gorham. He purchased the townships of the agent, paying the then high 
price of one dollar per acre. 

* Persons held to service to pay all expenses attending their emigration and settle 
ment. 

t They were, says the French Duke Liancourt, " of the crowd of foreigners, whom 
poverty, idleness, and necessities of every kind, induce to resort to Hamburgh with a 
view to emigration." 



PHELPS AKD GORHAM 7 S PURCHASE. 255 

principally, to where Blossburgh now is. They were then taken 
down to Painted Post, and remained there until the spring of 93, 
when they were located at the home provided for them at Williams- 
burg. Each family had a house and fifty acres of land appro 
priated to its use ; necessary farming tools ; a stock of provisions ; 
and there were distributed among the whole, 27 yoke of oxen, 40 
cows, 80 hogs, 300 sheep. Even their household utensils were 
provided them. Beside all this, they had their minister and 
physician. 

The city training, and idle habits of the expensive colonists, soon 
began to be exhibited. They were both idle and improvident, the 
women made as bad use of the provisions that had been furnished, 
as the men of the farming implements that were put into their 
hands. An eye witness informed the author, that they fried their 
pork and then threw it away, supposing the grease only intended for 
use ; and he gave other similar specimens of their domestic econo 
my. The whole fiddled and danced, and drank whiskey ; even the 
minister proved a bad specimen of his cloth. It soon turned out 
that most of them had been deceived. Berezy to swell his num 
bers, and gratify his ambition to be the head of a colony, had prom 
ised them fine times in America ; had assured them that his patrons 
being rich, they should want for nothing, and as they were to be 
the founders of a city, they could each choose such employment as 
was best suited to their tastes and habits. That they were to dig 
and delve in the dirty earth, was not in the bond, according to their 
understanding. 

Mr. Williamson soon became convinced, that he had at least one 
bad job upon his hands, as the founder of new settlements. One 
stock of provisions was consumed, and another had to be supplied ; 
the fallows that had been provided for them, lay undisturbed ; the 
sheep and hogs that were intended as breeders, and the cows that 
were intended to furnish milk all obtained at great expense and 
trouble one after another disappeared, and were found upon the 
shambles ; the city appetites of the hopeful colonists craving occa 
sional alternations between salted and fresh provisions. The very 
seeds that Mr. Williamson provided, instead of going into the 
ground, went into the pot. And what was worse perhaps than all, 
Berezy, by indulgence and other artful management, had obtain 
ed complete control of the colonists, and set himself above Mr. 



256 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

Williamson, claiming to have brought his authority directly from 
head quarters in London. A store had been established at Wil- 
liamsburg, which was under the care of Mr. John Johnstone, and 
Berezy and the Germans had used its goods and provisions lavishly ; 
and besides, Berezy had contracted debts for supplies, especially 
with the Messrs. Wadsworths, assuming that he was acting for the 
Association, and not under the authority of Mr. Williamson. 

After having humored the whole matter, until some decisive 
measures became necessary, Mr. Williamson visited his refractory 
colony, taking with him from Canandaigua, his friend Thomas Morris, 
determined to have some reform. He had a house at Williams- 
burg, then occupied by James Miller, where he kept a desk contain 
ing all his papers that had reference to that locality ; and there he and 
his friend took up their quarters.* Sending for Berezy he had an 
interview with him, which ended by displacing him as an agent, 
and forbidding him to exercise any authority over the Germans. 
Calling the Germans together, he informed them of their new rela 
tions, and proposed measures of further assistance to them, condi 
tioned upon their going to work, and trying to help themselves. At 
first they were disposed to listen to his proposals, but the superior 
influence of Berezy soon prevailed, and riot and mutiny succeeded. 

Sunday intervened, and Mr. Williamson says, " Berezy and the 
minister were all day pow- wowing in every house in the settlement." 
Monday came, and Mr. Williamson found the quarters of himself 
and friends besieged. The Germans had collected in a body, and 
under the influence of Berezy were making extravagant demands 
as the terms of peace, and a continuance in the colony. Mr. Wil 
liamson retreated into the house with his friends Morris, Johnstone, 
and several others, in all, a force vastly inferior to the refractory 
colonists. " Driven into a corner between two writing desks" says 
Mr. Williamson, " I had luckily some of my own people near me, 
who were able to keep the most savage and daring of the Germans 
off, though the cry was to lay hold of me. Nothing could equal 
my situation, but some of the Parisian scenes. For an hour and a 
half I was in this situation, every instant expecting to be torn to 
pieces." Berezy finding the storm he had raised, raging too vio- 



* The reader should understand that. Williamsburg, the site of this early German 
colony, is what has since been known as the "Hermitage; " the present farm and res 
idence of the Hon. Charles H. Carroll. 



PHELP3 AND GOKHAM s PURCHASE. 25? 

lently, quelled it ; but rapine took the place of personal assault. The 
cattle upon the premises were driven off, or killed to furnish a feast 
for a general carousal. The mutiny and plunder lasted for several 
days; there-being no authority or superior force to quell it. At 
one time, the physician of the colony, who had taken sides with 
Mr. Williamson became the object of the fiercest resentment. He 
was seized, and in attempting to rescue him, Messrs. Morris and 
Johnstone were assaulted and their lives placed in jeopardy ; but 
finally made their escape. 

Present in all the affray was Mr. Richard Cuyler, then acting as 
Mr. Williamson s clerk. He was dispatched to Albany with a 
requisition upon Gov. George Clinton, for a force sufficient to quell 
the riot and apprehend the rioters. Berezy with a few of the Ger 
mans, departed for Philadelphia, for the double purpose of escaping 
arrest and enlisting Mr. Robert Morris on their side. Gov. Clinton 
issued an order to Judah Colt, who had been appointed Sheriff of 
the new county of Ontario, commanding him to summon a posse 
for the arrest of the rioters. A posse equal in numbers with the 
German colonists was no easy matter at that early period of settle 
ment. But fortunately some boat crews and new settlers, had just 
arrived at Bath. They made a forced night march through the 
woods, and joined by others, succeeded in arresting those who had 
been foremost in the riot. They were taken to Canandaigua and 
light fines imposed ; the principal object being the assertion of the 
supremacy of the laws. Unable to pay the fines, they were hired 
out to new settlers in Canandaigua and the vicinity, to earn the 
money. Their defence, was some of the earliest practice of the 
late Gen. Vincent Matthews. 

Berezy, goin-g from Philadelphia to New York, put the Germans 
and himself under the auspices of a German benevolent association, 
who had made arrangements with Gov. Simcoe, for settling emi 
grants at what is now Toronto, and in the townships of Markham. 
They went down and encamped at the mouth of the Genesee river, 
and were temporarily the early neighbors of Wm. Hencher. When 
the boats came from Canada to take them away, a boatman was 
drowned in the river. His was the first death and funeral, after 
settlement commenced, in all of what is now Monroe county. 

Another formidable attempt at colonization from Europe, did not 
progress so far, or rather took another direction. Donald Stewart, 



258 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

an enterprising Scotchman, of " Achnaun by Appin, in Argyleshire, 3 
soon after the purchase of the Association, had organized a colony 
in his neighborhood, the destination of which was Cumberland, N. 
Carolina. He received a proposition from Mr. Colquhoun too late 
to change their direction, the colonists having embarked and sailed. 
But following them soon, Mr. Stewart came to explore the Genesee 
country, with the intention, if suited with it, to bring his colony 
here. He spent several weeks traveling on horseback, with Mr. 
Williamson, got a small specimen of the ague and fever; the new- 
country in its primitive roughness, had to him a forbidding look ; he 
turned his back upon it rather in ill humor.* There were many 
other schemes of the proprietors in London, and Mr. Williamson, to 
colonize this region, none of which succeeded, except that of the 
persevering, and finally eminently successful one, at Caledonia 
Springs. And here it may well be observed, that in reference gen 
erally to founding new settlements in the United States, the Associ 
ates in London, and their agent here, had many impracticable views 
at first, of which they became finally convinced, by a pretty ex 
pensive experience. 

The getting the Northumberland road through ; the commence 
ment of a settlement at Williamsburg, and the building of a saw 
mill on the Canascraga creek, near the present town of Ossian, oc 
cupied the business season of 1792. Mr. Williamson himself hav 
ing settled his family at Northumberland, was upon the move ; 
visited New York, Baltimore ; travelled in the interior of Mary 
land and Pennsylvania, beating up for emigrants ; and explored 
pretty thoroughly the whole region over which his agency extended. 

In the spring of 1793, operations were commenced at Bath.f 



* A good anecdote came of it however, which it is said had something to do with 
his dislike of the country. Threading the forest on horseback, Mr. Williamson and 
his companion were attracted by the noise of falling water. Approaching it, the water 
gushing from the rock, and falling over a precipice, the bed of the stream, the rocks 
and banks covered with sulphur, riveted their attention. It was a feast for the eyes, 
but not exactly agreeable to their smell. After gazing for a few minutes, Mr. William 
son broke the silence by observing, that they had found just the place for a Highland 
colony. The reader will observe, as the keenly sensitive Highlander did, that the 
harmless joke had reference to a certain cutaneous infirmity. It came too from a 
Lowlander, and touched a tender cord ; called up reminiscences of ancient feuds in 
their native land ; was resented ; and is said to be one of the reasons why a largo 
Highland colony, was not early introduced into this region. The reader "will have 
surmized, that the party were viewing Clifton Springs. 

tName from the daughter of Sir Wm. Pultney, who was Countess of Bath. 



PIIELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE, 259 

Two boats with workmen, provisions &c., came up the Susquehan- 
nah to Tioga Point, where they left one boat and half the load of 
the other, and reached Bath April 15, 1793. Mr. Williamson ar 
rived via Northumberland road, two days after. Some shantees 
were thrown up, a village plat surveyed, a log land office was built; 
and during the season, about twenty other log buildings were erect 
ed. As would be said in this later day of refinement in language, 
the Pioneers had a "distinct view of the elephant." Provisions 
failed, and they were at one time three days without food ; as they 
cleared away the forest, the fever and ague, as it was wont to do, 
walked into the opening, and the new comers were soon freezing, 
shaking, and then burning with fever, in their hastily constructed 
cabins. It was Mr. Williamson s introduction into the hardships 
and privations of the wilderness. " He would lay in his hut, with 
his feet to the fire, and when the cold chills of ague came on, call 
for some one to lie close to his back, to keep him warm." To other 
improvements during the year, at Bath, Mr. Williamson added a 
log tavern, which was opened and kept by John Metcalf. Bath 
having been fixed upon as the centre of all the southern portion of 
the Associates purchase, farther improvements were commenced. 
Mr. Williamson built a saw mill and a grist mill ; emigrants from 
Pennsylvania and Maryland, soon began to be attracted there. It 
became the permanent residence of Mr. Williamson. The Duke, 
Liancourt, who visited him in the summer of 1795, says: "The 
habitation of the Captain consists of several small houses, formed of 
trunks of trees and joiners work, which at present forms a very ir 
regular whole, but which he intends soon to improve. His way of 
living is simple, neat and good ; every day \ve had a joint of fresh 
meat, vegetables and wine. We met with no circumstances of 
pomp or luxury, but found good ease, humor and plenty." Perhaps 
it is the fairest eulogium I can pass upon his free and easy urbanity 
to say, that all the time of our stay, he seemed as much at his ease 
as if we had not been present. He transacted all his business in 
our presence, and was actively employed the whole day long. We 
were present at his receiving persons of different ranks and des 
criptions, with whom the appartment he allots to business is generally 
crowded. He received them all with the same attention, civility 
and good nature. They came to him prepossessed with a certain 
confidence in him, and they never leave him dissatisfied. He is at 



260 PIIELPS AND GOEIIAM S PURCHASE. 

all times ready to converse with any who have business to transact 
with him. He will break off a conversation with his friends, or 
even get up from dinner for the sake of dispatching those who wish 
to speak to him. 

In the spring of 1794, improvements were commenced at Geneva, 
the first and principal one being the erection of the Geneva Hotel. 
It was completed in December, and opened with a grand ball, which 
furnished a memorable epoch in the earfy history of the Genesee 
country. The Hotel was talked of far and wide as a wonderful en 
terprise ; and such it really was. Even now, after the lapse of fifty- 
six years, when fine hotels have arisen in all of our cities and prin 
cipal villages, the old Williamson Hotel, as it is often called, in its fine 
location, with its large open park in front, is ranked as one of the 
first class. Imagine how it was when it had no competitors in all 
the region west of Utica, save perhaps three or four moderate sized 
framed taverns ; when log taverns were generally the order of the 
day. It was an Astor House then ; and even this comparison falls 
short of conveying an idea of its then comparative magnitude. Mr. 
Williamson wrote to his principals, proposing such a house, and 
urged that as it would stand in the doorway or entrance to the 
Genesee country, it should be respectable ; so designed as to make 
a favorable impression ; and urged beside, that such a house, where 
all the comforts of a good English inn could be realized, would 
invite respectable people to the country. And so perhaps it did. 
How many readers of these early reminiscences, will remember 
the house, the landlord, and all belonging to that early halting place, 
in the long and dreary journies that used to be made. Blended with it 
in memory, is the old stage coach ; chilled and drowsy with long night 
rides, over hubs or poached clay roads, there would be the smart 
crack of the driver s whip, the trundling of the wheels upon a stone 
pavement, the squaring up to the door, the getting out and stretching 
of almost torpid limbs ; the ushering in to well warmed and com 
fortable apartments, the smell and the taste of smoking steak and 
hot coffee, and other " creature comforts," that it will not do to 
speak of now. Your modern travellers know nothing of the ex 
tremes of pain and pleasure of the old fashioned way of traveling 
from Albany to Buffalo. For landlord to his new Hotel, Mr. Wil 
liamson selected Thomas Powell, whom he had known in London, 
connected with the celebrated " Thatched Cottage, the resort of 



PHELPS AND GOUHAM S PURCHASE. 261 



statesmen, politicians and wits." * He had previously emigrated to 
this country, and opened a house at Lansingburg. 

Although Mr. Williamson s house was at Bath, a large proportion 
of his time was spent at Geneva, attending to matters connected 
with the northern division of the purchase. The company that he 
drew around him, made a very considerable business for the new 
hotel ; and it was the early home of the young men without fami 
lies, who located at Geneva; the principal stopping place for emi 
grants, who could afford the comforts of a good inn. Under the 
auspices of Reed and Ryckman, Joseph Annin and Benjamin Bar 
ton had surveyed a small village plat, which was superseded under 
Mr. Williamson s auspices by a new, enlarged survey, generally 
as now indicated, except that the new survey, Mr. Williamson s 
plan, contemplated that the whole town should be built up fronting 
the Lake ; the space between the mam street and the Lake, was 
intended for terraced parks and gardens. In a few words, Geneva 
is now, though beautiful in all its appointments, more upon the utili 
tarian order, than Mr. Williamson intended. He had seen the 
original in his travels upon the continent, and associating Seneca 
Lake with " Lake Leman," had in view an imitation, in a wilder 
ness of the new world. In reference to this as well as other of his 
projections, his ardent and sanguine temperament led him to sup 
pose that villages and village improvements, to a considerable extent, 
could precede a general cultivation of the soil. Experience has 
shown that they must follow by slow steps after it. 

The Hotel was but a part of Mr. Williamson s enterprises at 
Geneva. 

Before the State had acknowledged the correctness of the new 
pre-emption line, as in the case of the site of Geneva, and Reed 
and Ryckman, patents had been issued, covering nearly the whole 
of " the Gore," Mr. Williamson, through the agency of Mr. John 
Johnstone, having purchased all the patents, had so fortified 
the claim of his principals, that he had ventured upon exercising 
ownership; though title was yet an open question. In March, 
1795, while a bill was pending in the legislature, providing for run 
ning a third line, by the Surveyor General, and if the one run by 
Mr. Ellicott should prove correct, to give the associates other lands 

*Mr. Powell became an early stage proprietor. After keeping the Hotel for many 
years, he removed to Scheuectady, and was succeeded by his brother, Wm. Powell. 



262 PHELPS AND GOEIIAJl s PUKOIIASE. 

in lieu of those that had been patented upon the Gore ; Phillip 
Schuyler introduced amendments, which prevailed, making it dis 
cretionary with the Surveyor General, allowing him to waive the 
running of a new line, if he satisfied himself that Mr. Ellicott s 
line was correct; and leave it to the commissioners of the land 
office to arrange matters between the holders of patents and the as 
sociates, or Mr. Williamson, holding as he did, by purchase, most 
of the patents, to perfect the title to " the Gore," nearly 84,000 
acres. As an equivolent for what he had paid in the purchase of 
patents, the commissioners of the land office conveyed to him about 
the same quantity of land embraced in the patents, off from the 
military tract, in what is now Wolcott and Galen, in Wayne 
county. 

The reader will have seen that the first location of " The Friend 
and her followers, was upon " The Gore." Their titles were all 
confirmed by Mr. Williamson, upon terms generally satisfactory. 

Sodus was the next site chosen for the foundation of a settle 
ment or in fact, for the founding of a commercial village, not 
to say city. In all Mr. Williamson s plans for settling the coun- 

NOTE. It would seem that, as between the State, the Lessees and Mr. Williamson, 
the early colonists, for a time, hardly knew whose hands they were to fall into. In 
January 94, however, they had concluded whose title was to be preferred. They ad 
dressed to Mr. Williamson the following letter, or petition : 

"JERUSALEM, 13th of 1st mo., 1794. 

"FRIEND WILLIAMSON, "We take this opportunity to let thee know our wishes, 
who are now on thy land, at The Friend s settlement in Jerusalem, in the county of 
Ontario, and in the State of New York. We, the subscribers, wish to take deeds from 
friend Williamson for the land our improvements is on, rather than any other person. 
Our desires is, that thee would not dispose of the lands to any other person but to us, 
who are on the land. 

Benajah Botsford Elnathan Botsford, Philo Ingraham, 

Eleazor Ingraham, Daniel Ingraham, Elisha Ingraham, 

Solomon Ingraham, Richard Matthews, Samuel Parsons, 

Richard S.initli, Elnathan Botsford, jr., Jonathan Davis, 

Abel Botsford, Asahcl Stone, Elijah Malin, 

Enoch Malin, Samuel Doolittle, Thos. Hathaway, 

William Davis, John Davis, Mary Aldrich." 

John Briggs, Benedict Robinson, 

There are other letters from Benedict Robinson and others of the Friends, to the same 
purport. " Friend Parker" lets "Captain Williamson" into his family affairs, with 
out reserve: "It is my desire to settle the several branches of my family near me: 
for that reason, I began where we now are; with the intention to buy of the right 
owner when I could see him. The 1,000 acres may seem too much for one man , but 
when it is divided between myself, a son, and three sons-in-laws, it, I think, will not 
be deemed extravagant ; especially, considering 1 know not how soon I may have two 
more sons-in-laws. A man like myself, who was one of the first settlers in the coun 
try, and began onr settlement, which would have been elsewhere had it not have been 
for me; and also encouraged many emigrants into this country, may claim to be in 
dulged in having the several branches of Ms family settled near him." 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUKCHASE. 263 

try, and his projections of internal improvements, laid from time to 
time before his principals, he had looked to the Conhocton, the 
Caniste, Tioga and Susquehannah rivers, as the avenues to market 
from the southern district of the Genesee purchase ; and to Balti 
more as its commercial mart. With these views, he had founded 
Bath. * Looking to Lake Ontario, the Oswego river, Oneida Lake. 
Wood Creek, the Mohawk and the Hudson river, and the St. Law 
rence, as avenues to the New York and Montreal markets, for the 
northern district of the purchase, he selected Sodus Bay as the 
commercial depot. 

Early in the winter of 1793, he determined upon improvements 
there, and in the spring of 94, he had roads cut out from Palmyra 
and Phelpstown, to get access to the spot from those points. It 
was his first appearance in the Lake Ontario region, and his pre 
sence there, with his surveyors, road makers, builders, and all the 
retinue necessary to carry out his plans, created a new era in 
spired new hopes with the scattered backwoods settlers. It had 
looked before he came, as if for long years, no one would be bold 
enough to penetrate the dark, heavy forests, that in a wide belt, were 
stretched along the shores of the Lake. They entertained before 
no hopes of realizing for years, any better facilities for trans 
portation to market, than was afforded by Ganargwa Creek, f the 
outlet of Canandaigua Lake, and Clyde river. He had preceded 
the enterprise by a written announcement of the plan of oper 
ations : It contemplated the survey of " a town between Salmon 
Creek and Great Sodus Bay, and a spacious street, with a large 
square in the centre, between the Falls on Salmon Creek and the 
anchorage in the Bay, and mills are to be built at the Falls on Sal 
mon Creek." He adds : "As the harbor of Great Sodus is ac 
knowledged to be the finest on Lake Ontario, this town, in the con 
venience of the mills and extensive fisheries, will command advan 
tages unknown to the country, independent of the navigation of 



* It should be observed, that he contemplated the improvement of the navigation 
of those rivers, and projected a canal to connect the Tioga and Delaware rivers, in 
order to reach Philadelphia. 

t Mud Creek, until recently. The old name was blended with the recollection of 
stagnant waters, bogs, chills and fevers. When its whole aspect had been changed by 
the hand of improvement, and it became even picturesque and beautiful in its mean- 
derings through cultivated fields, and a rural scenery seldom equalled, the dwellers in 
its valley were enabled, with the help of Lewis Morgan, Esq , of Rochester, to come 
at its ancient Seneca name, which they adopted. 



264 PHELPS AND GOKIIAM S PURCHASE. 

the Great Lake, and the St. Lawrence," The town was surveyed 
by Joseph Colt. The plan was as indicated above. The in-lots 
contained a quarter of an acre, and the out-lots ten acres. The 
whole was upon a scale of magnificence illy suited to that primitive 
period; and yet, perhaps, justified by then prospective events; 
and more than all, by the capacious and beautiful Bay, the best 
natural harbor upon our whole chain of Lakes, a view of which, 
even now, excites surprise that it has not, ere this, more than reali 
zed the always sanguine expectations of Mr. Williamson. 

The in-lots in the new town, were offered for one hundred dol 
lars ; the out-lots, for four dollars per acre ; the farming lands in 
all the neighborhood, at one dollar fifty cents per acre. Thomas 

Little and Moffat, were the local agents. A tavern house was 

erected at a cost of over $5000, and opened by Moses and Jabez 
Sill. * Mills were erected at the Falls on Salmon Creek ; a plea 
sure boat was placed upon the Bay ; and several other improve 
ments made. Inroads, surveys, buildings, &c. 5 over $20,000 was 
expended in the first two years. 

The first difficulty encountered was the ague and fever, that early 
incubus that brooded over all of Pioneer enterprise, upon the Lake 
shore. When the sickly season came, agents, mechanics and labor 
ers, could only work upon " well days. " Mr. Williamson soon be 
gan to realize that there was something beside the " romantic and 
beautiful, " about the " Bay of Naples " he had found hid away in 
the forests of the Genesee country. And another trouble came. 
OU 3 See British invasion of the Genesee country, at Sodus. 

Soon after Mr. Williamson had perfected his title to the Gore, 
the junction of the Canandaigua out-let and Ganargwa creek, the 
fine flats, hemmed in by hills and gentle swells of upland the 
facilities afforded for navigation with light craft, attracted his at 
tention. Fancying the outlet and the creek to be miniature repre 
sentations of the Rhone and the Sayone, and struck with a coinci 
dence of landscapes, he bestowed upon the location the name of 
Lyons. He had been preceded here by some of the earliest Pioneers 
of the Genesee country. In May, 1789, a small colony consisting 

* Moses Sill died in Dansville, in 1849. Jabez Sill died at Wilkesbarre, in 1844, 
The latter was an early proprietor at Prideaux, "Braddock s Bay." His son, Daniel 
Sill, is the fortunate California adventurer from Dansville. 

g5JT For some acconnt of the Sill family, see History of Wyoming, and Mrs. EUett s 
"Women of the Revolution." 



PHELPS AND GORIIAM S PURCHASE. 265 

of twelve persons, were piloted up the Mohawk, and by the usual 
water route, by Wemple. the Indian trader who has been mentioned 
in connection with the Rev. Mr. Kirkland. Arriving at what was 
then the principal head of navigation, especially for batteaux of any 
considerable size, they located and erected log huts half a mile south 
of the present village of Lyons, where James Dunn lately resided. 
The heads of families, were : Nicholas Stansell, William Stansell, 
and a brother in-law, John Featherly. They had been inured to 
hardships, toil and danger, as border settlers upon the Mohawk, and 
in Otsego county ; Wm. Stansell had been to this region in Sulli 
van s expedition. Their nearest neighbors were Decker Robinson 
and the Oaks family ; the same season, a few families, located at 
Palmyra. The Stansell? and Featherly may be regarded as the 
Pioneers of all the northern part of Wayne county. They ground 
their corn in a small hand mill "until a German named Baer put up 
a log mill where Waterloo now is. " Jointly with the Pioneers of 
Phelps, they opened a woods road to that neighborhood and in the 
direction of the mill at Waterloo. The father of the Stansells died 
in the earliest years, and was buried in the absence of any funeral 
rites ; there being no one to conduct them. A few weeks previous 
to Wayne s victory, the early Pioneers became alarmed ; made up 
their minds they must flee, or see a second edition of the scenes 
that they had passed through upon the Mohawk ; the old batteaux 
that brought them into the wilderness was re-corked and pitched to 
take them out of it ; they were upon the point of starting, when news 
came that " Mad Anthony " had humbled the western nations, and 
smothered the flame that had threatened to break out in the Gene- 
see country. These early adventurers depended much upon the 
" products of the forest ; " not such as comes under that head in 
our modern canal statistics ; but upon wild game ; deer principally. 
Nicholas Stansell was a hunter, and would go out and kill from 
eight to ten deer in a day. Nicholas Stansell, a surviving son of 



NOTE. This early colony brought in with them some hogs ; and the result, with 
other similar ones that will be noted, confirms the fact that our domesticated hog will 
if turned into the forest, to share it with wild animals alone, go back to his primitive 
condition in one, or two years, at farthest. A boar, of this primitive stock changed 
in form, became a wild racer, his tusks grew to a frightful length ; he became more 
than a match for bears and wolves ; and finally a terror to the new settlers, until he 
was hunted and shot. The first progeny of this primitive stock when caught could 
not be tamed, and generally had to be hunted like other game 
17 



266 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PUECHASE. 

one of the two Pioneer brothers, who now resides in Arcadia 
Wayne county, says : " After our first stock of provisions was 
exhausted, we saw hard times; got out of corn once; went and 
bought of Onondaga Indians. For days we were without any pro 
visions other than what the forest, the streams, and our cows affor 
ded. We eat milk and greens. Venison and fish we could always 
have in plenty. My father hardly ever missed when he went out 
after a deer. Salmon, bass, pickerel, speckled trout, ducks and 
pigeons, were in abundance. " 

A small patch of corn and potatoes, raised by the Stansells and 
Featherly, on the old Dorsey farm, in 1789, were the first crops 
raised in Wayne county. 

Nicholas Stansell died in 1817 ; his surviving sons are, William 
Stansell, of Arcadia, and George Stansell, who lives a mile south 
of Newark. John Featherly died a few years since in the town 
of Rose, aged 80 years. Nicholas Stansell, changing his residence 
in 1809, became the proprietor of lands upon which the village of 
Lockville has grown up. 

Mr. Williamson commenced operations at Lyons, in the summer 
of 1794. He made Charles Cameron his principal local agent. 
Reserving nearly a thousand acres, which was afterwards sold to 
Judge Dorsey, a house and barn were built for Mr. Cameron ; the first 
framed house in that region.* Mr. Cameron had the village surveyed, 
and built a store house and distillery. Before the close of 1796, 
Henry Tower, as Mr. Williamson s agent, had erected and com 
pleted what was long known as " Tower s Mills," at Alloway. 

The mills must have been of more than ordinary magnitude, for 
that early period, as the author observes that the cost was over 
twelve thousand dollars. In addition to other improvements, Mr. 
Cameron cleared land, and commenced making a farm. 

Next to Sodus Bay, Mr. Williamson had regarded Prideaux 
(Braddock s) Bay as a favorable position upon the Lake. He made 
some surveys there for a town, but did little towards starting it. 
In his correspondence with his principals in London, he often men 
tioned the mouth of Genesee River, but not in a way to indicate a 
high opinion of its locality. His aim was to improve only such spots 
as were surrounded by the lands he held in charge. Those nearest 

* It is now standing in a tolerable state of preservation, on the bank of the outlet. 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUE CHASE. 267 

the mouth of the River and the Falls, had been sold by Phelps and 
Gorham, before their sale to the London Associates. In 1794 he 
visited the Falls, Prideaux Bay, and spent a day or two with Wm. 
Hencher. He soon after purchased of Samuel B. Ogden, the Allan 
Mill, and the Hundred Acres, with a view to commencing some 
improvements upon the present site of the city of Rochester. Al 
lan had sold the property to Benjamin Barton, senior ; and Barton to 
Ogden. CCP* See deed, or title paper, in Library of Rochester 
Athenaeum and Mechanic s Association. At the time of William 
son s purchase, the mill, a frail structure originally, with no cus 
tomers to keep it in motion, had got much out of repair. He 
expended upon it some five or six hundred dollars put it in tolera 
ble repair but unfortunately there were no customers. It was 
difficult of access from the older settlements, and mills more con 
venient for them, were soon erected. The purchase, repair, and 
sale of the mill and mill tract, was about the extent of Mr. Wil 
liamson s enterprises at the " Falls of the Genesee River," where 
the aspect of things in that early day, was any thing but encouraging. 
In 1798, a party of emigrants from Perthshire, Scotland, emigra 
ted to America, landing at New York, and coming west as far as 
Johnstown, Montgomery county, halted there to determine on some 
permanent location. Mr. Williamson hearing of the arrival of his 
countrymen, made a journey to see them. He found them poor 
in purse with nothing to pay for lands and but little even for 
present subsistence ; but they came from the 

Land of the forest and the rock, 

Of dark blue lake and mighty river, 
Of mountains reared aloft, to mock 

The storm s career, the lightning s shock ; - 

NOTE.- The following may be presumed to be the first business letter that "was ever 
written from the site of the present city of Rochester. Christopher Dugan married a 
sister of Ebenczer Allan, and was put in charge of the mill by him : 

FALLS OF GEXESEE, Aug. 9, 1794. 

The mill erected by Ebenezer Allan, which I am informed you have purchased, is 
in a bad situation, much out of repair, and unless attention is paid to it, it will soon 
take its voyage to the Lake. I have resided here for several years, and kept watch and 
ward, without fee or recompense; and am pleased to hear that it has fallen into the 
hands of a gentleman who is able to repair it, and whose character is such that I firmly 
believe he will not allow an old man to suffer without reward for his exertions. I wish 
to have you come, or send some one to take care of the mill, as my situation is such 
as makes it necessary soon to remove. I am sir, with respect, your most 

obedient humble servant, 

CHARLES WILLIAMSON, Esq. CHRISTOPHER DUGAN. 



268 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

they were rich in courage, in a spirit of perseverence, in habits of 
industry ; in all the elements that life in the wilderness, and success 
in it, required. Mr. Williamson became to them not only a patroon, 
but a benefactor. " A Scot had met a brither Scot." He offered 
them a favorite location, in the neighborhood of the " Big Springs," 
(Caledonia) ; land at three dollars per acre, payable in wheat at 
six shillings per bushel ; a reasonable pay day ; and besides, to fur 
nish them with provisions until they could help themselves. Four 
of their number were sent out to view the lands ; were pleased 
with the allotment that Mr. Williamson had made ; on their return, 
met him on his way from Geneva to Canandaigua ; he drew up a 
writing on the road, and the bargain was thus closed. In March, 
1799, while there was yet sleighing, the Scotch adventurers came 
from Johnstown to the " Big Springs."* Those who first came 
were: Peter Campbell and wife, Malcolm M Laren and wife, 
John M Naughton and wife; and Donald M Vean and Hugh 
M Dermid, single men. In the fall of the same year, they were 
joined by their countrymen, John M Vean, John M Pherson, 
John Anderson, Duncan Anderson, all single men "but M Vean. 
During the next year they were joined by Donald M Pherson, 
Donald Anderson, Alexander Thompson, and their families. Those 
whose names have been given, except Thompson and M Vean, 
had crossed the ocean in the same ship. They are to be regarded 
as constituting the primitive settlers at Caledonia, though for several 
years after, other of their countrymen joined them. 

The Springs, being on the great trail from Tioga point to Fort 
Niagara, had long been a favorite camping ground. f Previous to 
the Scotch advent, Fuller and Peterson, had become squatters there, 
built log houses, and entertained travelers. This furnished the 
Scotch settlers a temporary shelter. John Smith, one of Mr. Will 
iamson s surveyors, soon arrived and surveyed their lands, so plan 
ning the surveys that each allotment would have a front upon the 
streams. Log houses were soon erected in the primitive manner, 
small patches of summer crops planted ; and the Scotch settlers 



* This had been the name of the locality, even as far back as the first English occu 
pancy of Niagara. Mr. Williamson gave it the new name of Caledonia. 

: t An old Canadian emigrant, and a frequent traveler upon the trail about the close 
of the Revolution, says that camping there was so frequent, that the fires of one party 
would be burning wheii another arrived. 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 269 

were soon under way, though struggling with stinted means against 
all the hardships and privations of backwoods life. On their ar 
rival Mr. Williamson had promptly given orders to Alexander 
McDonald, who was then his agent and clerk at Williamsburg, 
for supplying some provisions. Wheat was procured at Dans- 
ville and ground in the Messrs. Wadsworths mill at Conesus ; and 
pork was drawn from the store at Williamsburg. Mr. Wil 
liamson also furnished them with some cows. And how did you 
manage for your early team work ? was the author s enquiry of the 
venerable John McNaughton, now in his 80th year,*" surrounded 
by his hundreds of improved acres, his garners filled to overflowing, 
and broad fields, green and luxuriant, promising future abundance. 
" We sold some of our clothes that we could spare, to settlers on the 
river, for the occasional use of their oxen ; " was the answer. In 
addition to other encouragements, Mr. Williamson donated one 
hundred and fifty acres for a "glebe," and fifty acres for school 
purposes. He erected at the Springs a grist and saw mill, which 
were completed in about three years ; as soon in fact, as there was 
much need of a grist mill. 

This is so far as Mr. Williamson was directly connected with the 
Pioneer settlers at Caledonia. Their after progress will be mingled 
with events narrated in succeeding portions of the work. 

The reader of the present day will smile at the idea of " Fairs " 
and "Race grounds " in back woods settlements, at a time when 
settlers generally had but just made small openings in the forest, and 
stood more in need of log causeways over streams, boards for their 
floors, and glass for their windows, than of racehorses or improved 
breeds of cattle. But the sanguine adventurous Scotchman had 
seen these things in England and Scotland, and supposed them 
neccessary accompaniments of rural enterprise, even in new settle 
ments ; and as it will be observed he had ulterior objects in view. 
Impressed with the idea that the region, the settlement of which he 
was endeavoring to promote, was nearly all it had proved to be ; 
enthusiastic even in his efforts ; he had made up his mind that the 

*The survivors of the original Scotch settlers are: John M Naughton, Hugh 
M Dermid, Donald Anderson, Mrs. M Vean and Mrs. McLaren, now the widow of 
the late Deacon Hinds Chamberlin, of Le Roy. M Dermid and Anderson, emigrated 
to Canada some twenty years since. 

NOTE. For all that Mr. Williamson Burnished of provisions and cows, the settlers 
gave their notes, and paid them when due. 



270 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

Genesee country need only be seen to be appreciated. In travelling 
through Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, he had endeavored 
to bring men of wealth and enterprise to view the country, but had 
generally failed. It was too secluded, too far off from civilization. 
too much threatened with Indian wars ; had in it too much of the 
elements of chills and fevers, to be attractive, to men who were not 
under the necessity of encountering such formidable difficulties. 
But he had discovered that those he w r anted to come and see the 
country were fond of races and holiday sports, and he resolved upon 
instituting them in addition to the attractions he had held out. In 
1794 he had laid out a race course and fair grounds, near the pres 
ent residence of the Hon. Charles Carroll, on the forks of the Can- 
ascraga creek and Genesee river, and in the fall of that year was 
had there a fair and races. Extensive preparations were made 
for the event. Mr. Williamson s anxiety to have all things in read 
iness is manifested in a letter to Mr. Wadsworth. He says ; "As 
you have manifested much interest in the exhibition at Williams- 
burg, do, my friend, attend to it, and push the getting a bridge from 
Starr s or thereabouts, to the flats, in time ; Mr. Morris will give 
10 and I will give 10. The appointed day came, and there was 
a gathering from all the new settlements of the Genesee country ; 
from as far east as Utica ; and of sportsmen and land explorers from 
Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. The two small taverns of 
Starr and Fowler, at Williamsburg, and the deserted log houses of 
the Germans, were vastly inadequate to the accommodation of the 
crowd. The few buildings at Geneseo. and all the log tenements of 
the neighborhood were put in requsition, and yet the Fair ground 
had to be an encampment. In the language of an informant of the 
author, who was present : " Here met for business and pleasure, 
men from all parts of the purchase ; stock was exhibited and pur 
chases made. Here also were seen- for the first time, the holiday 
sports of " merry England, " such as greasing a pigs tail ; climbing 
a greased pole, &c. " Care had been taken for the gratification of 
visitors, to have a general attendance of the Indians ; and as it was 
just after Wayne s victory, it was perhaps very wisely considered 
that it would help them in their then growing inclinations to be at 
peace and cultivate the acquaintance of their new neighbors. They 
were present in great numbers, and joined in the sports with great 
relish. Their own foot races and ball plays, were added to the 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PUKCIIASE. 271 

amusements. It all went off well ; all were pleased ; the southern 
ers and Pennsylvanians were delighted with the entertainment and 
with the country ; made favorable reports when they returned home ; 
and with many of them it led finally to emigration. The Fair and 
Races were held next year at Williamsburg, and at Bath and Dans- 
ville, in a few successive years ; Mr. Williamson had himself some 
fine race horses ; and in the way of oxen, such was the magnitude 
of his operations in different portions of the purchase, that at one 
time he had eighty yoke wintering on the Genesee flats. 

In addition to the enterprises of Mr. Williamson, that have been 
named, he was active in procuring the passage of the act for laying 
out the old State Road from Fort Schuyler to Geneva, and was 
one of the commissioners for locating it. In 1798, when Mr. Elli- 
cott had commenced the survey of the Holland Purchase, he joined 
him in making \vhat was at first called the " Niagara Road," west 
of Genesee river. He made the road from the river to Col. Gan- 
son s, within a mile of Le Roy, expending upon it 82,000. * He 
assisted in making the road from Lyons to Palmyra ; from " Hope- 
ton to Townsends ;" from " Seneca Falls to Lyon s Mills ;" from 
" Cashong to Hopeton." There are few of the primitive roads in 
Yates, Steuben, and the south part of Livingston, that he did not 
either make or assist in making. He built mills at Hopeton, on 
the Hemlock Lake, and at Williamsburgh. He added to the hotel 
at Geneva, the " Mile Point House and Farm," on the bank of 
Seneca Lake, which he intended for a brother, the "Hopkins House 
and Farm," and the " Mullender House and Farm," at the Old Castle. 
His enterprises at Williamsburg embraced an extensive farm which 

NOTE The "Williamson Fair and Races," are among the cherished reminiscences 

of the " oldest inhabitants, " and in fact, it is only the oldest who survive to remem 
ber them. Frolic, sports, recreation, with the meii of that period, were things done in 
earnest like everything else they undertook. Gen. George M Clure, an early Pioneer 
at Ball), now residing at Elgin, Illinois, writing to his old friend Charles Cameron, 
now of Greene, Chenango co., during the present year, says in allusion to some histor 
ical reminiscences he is gathering up : " It wont do to tell of all of our doings in those 
days of Lang Syne. I presume vou have not forgotten the night we spent in Dunn s 
hotel when we roasted th. quarterof beef." " Give me your age and any thing else 
you crm think of. This is a flourishing town. The Chicago and Galena rail road 
passes through it. Why cant you come and make us a visit. You can come all the 
way by steam. I am now in my 80th year, and enjoy good health. 

* In connection with this enterprise, the author has some items of account, showing 
the cost of things at that primitive period: It cost $18 to take a common waggon 
load from Geneva to Le Boy. 2 bbls. of pork and 2 bbls. of whiskey cost, delivered, 
(at Ganson s) $120. The only grind-stone in all the region, was one owned by the 
Indians at Canawagus, and the use of it cost $1,50. 



2*72 PHELPS AND GORHAM ? S PUKCIIASE. 

he called the " Hermitage Farm." Beside this, he had a large farrr 
on the Canascraga, a few miles below Dansville, and several farms 
in Steuben. 

Connected with all these improvements in the way of agencies, 
clerkships, mechanics, surveyors, road makers, &c., are many fami 
liar Pioneer names : Among them, those of William White, John 
Swift, Jonathan Baker, "Capt. Follett," Reed, Buskirk, Fitzsim- 
mons, Woodward, Griswold,- Henry Brown, Ralph T, Woods, Peter 
ShaefFer, Francis Dana, Solomon Earl, Williams and Frazee, 
Gordon and Evans, James Bardin, Jonathan Woods, Francis Dana, 
Jonathan Mathews, B. Lazelere, David Milner, William Mulhallen, 
Jacob Hartgate, Elisha Brown, Leonard Beaty, Daniel Nicholson, 
Woods and Pratt, Thomas Wilbur, Nathaniel Williams, Judah 
Colt, Caleb Seely, Thomas W. Williams, E. Hawkes, David Abbey, 
King and Howe, Joseph Merrill, Charles Dutcher, Jonathan Bur 
nett, Robert Burnett, Peter Lander, David Fish, Daniel Britain, 
E. Van Winkle, Gideon Dudley, Norman Merry, David Abbey, 
Obadiah Osburn, George Humphrey, Annanias Platt, Wm. Angus, 
John Davis, Grieve and MofFatt, John Carey, James Beaumont, 
Joshua Laig, George Goundry, Elisha Pratt, Pierce Chamberlain, 
Joseph Roberts, Thomas Howe, David Dennett, Jeremiah Gregory, 
Darling Havens, Daniel P. Faulkner, Jonathan Harker, Henry 
Brown, Asa Simmons, Peter Rice, W. M Cartney, James Hender 
son, Rufus Boyd. These are but a moiety ; for a considerable 
period, in one way and another, a large proportion of the new 
settlers were connected with his enterprises. 

He was a large subscriber to the Canandaigua Academy, to the 
first library established at Geneva, and aided in some of the first 
movements made in the Genesee country, in the cause of educa 
tion. After he had extended his road from Northumberland, Penn., 
to Williamsburg, on the Genesee river, he soon established a mail, 
on foot sometimes, and sometimes on horseback, between the two 
points, thus opening a communication with Philadelphia and Balti 
more. A branch mail went to Canandaiima, Geneva and Sodus. 

O 7 

NOTE. About the time of the projection of the State Road west of Rome, Mr. 
Williamson was riding upon Long Island, in company with De Witt Clinton, who re 
marking upon the smoothness of the road, said to Mr. W.: "If you had such roads 
to your country I would make you a visit." "It can be done with proper exertions." 
Mr. Clinton promised him his co-operation, and afterwards assisted in procuring 
the incorporation of the Seneca Turnpike Company, in which the State Road was 
merged. Mr. Clinton s first visit to this region, was in 1810. 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 273 

For several years after, a better understanding was had with Gov. 
Simcoe and his successors by means of these mail facilities ; they 
received their letters and papers from Europe and the Atlantic 
cities, through this primitive medium. It is presumed that he had 
something to do with putting on the first mail and passenger wagon 
from Albany to Canandaigua, as the agent at Albany procured and 
charged to him a wagon and harness for that purpose. 

Mr. Williamson was elected to the legislature from Ontario 
county, in 179G ; and for three successive years, while in that capa 
city, he contributed with great energy and perseverance to dif 
ferent measures for the benefit of the region he represented, which 
was all of Western New York. He was a Judge of Onlario county ; 
in the early military organizations in what is nowSteuben, equipped 
an independent company at his own expense ; and rose from the 
rank of Captain in his Britannic Majesty s service, to that of Col. 
of a regiment of backwoods militia in the Genesee country. 

The manufacture of pot and pearl-ash was prominent in his view, 
as one of the resources of the new country ; he gave some en 
couragement to it ; but the means of transportation to market at 
that early day, was a great drawback upon the enterprise. * The 
manufacture of maple sugar was also an object of interest with 
him ; and in fact, was an anticipated source of great revenue to 
the country, by many of the earliest adventurers. They failed to 
appreciate the competition it had to encounter in the sugar-cane and 
cheap labor. One of the earliest enterprises of Mr. Williamson, 
was the improvement of the navigation of the Conhocton and 
Canisteo, the manufacture of lumber, and the carrying of it to Bal 
timore, in periods of high water. 

In all this career of Pioneer enterprise that has been passed over, 
it may well be anticipated that much money was required. There 
was little money in the country hardly enough for the purchase 
of the common necessaries of life of course, not enough to make 
any considerable land payments. Lands had to be sold upon credit, 
payments of instalments postponed ; most of his enterprises were 

* Writing to Mr. Colquhoun soon after his arrival in this country, he stated that 
Judge Cooper, father of J. Fennimore Cooper, who was then just founding a settle 
ment on the Otsego Lake, was greatly promoting sales of land and settlement, by 
furnishing the new settlers with pot-ash kettles to a large amount. He speaks of the 
after hero of backwoods romance " Judge Temple," as a prominent co-worker in 
promoting settlements. 



2T4 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 

ahead of the time and the condition of the country, and made slow 
returns. The resources were mainly the capital of his principals, 
the London associates. Seldom, if ever, have property holders ad 
vanced larger amounts for improvements, or more freely at first, 
though they began to be impatient after years had gone by, and the 
returns of their immense outlays \vere coming in but slowly to re 
plenish their coffers. In 1800, the balance sheets did not look well 
for their Genesee country enterprise. "There had been expended 
for purchase money of lands, agencies, and improvements, such as 
have been indicated, $1,374,470 10. There had been received for 
lands sold, but 8147,974 83. In addition to this balance against 
them, they owed of principal and interest upon lands purchased, over 
$300,000. To make all this look better, however, they had an im 
mense amount of unsold lands, farms and mills, and an immense 
debt due for lands sold. While all Mr. -Williamson s enterprises 
had been putting the country ahead in the way of settlement and 
improvement, (even from ten to fifteen years, as many estimate,) 
another direct effect must have been, the adding vastly to the prin 
cipals, the care of which he turned over to his successors. He 
found the wild lands of the Genesee country selling at from 1 to 4s. 
per acre; he left them selling at from $1,50 to $4. 

He had at first formidable difficulties to overcome, other than 
such as have been named and indicated, as consequent upon the 
task of settling a country so isolated from the older settlements, 
possessing so many harsh features to keep back emigration. He 
was a foreigner, and had held a commission in the ranks of the 
British army, with whom a large portion of the new settlers had 
just been contending upon battle fields. Arms had been grounded, 
but feelings of resentment, prejudice, were rife. The possession of 
Fort Niagara and Oswego, the British claims upon the territory of 
Western New York, their tampering with the western Indians, and 
even those that were unreconciled here, served to keep alive this 
feeling. Although Mr. Williamson had from the time he landed in 
America, given the strongest evidence that he intended to merge 
himself with the disenthralled colonies, and throw off all allegiance 
to Great Britain, still he encountered jealousy and distrust. In re 
capitulating to Sir Wm. Pulteney, toward the close of his agency, 
the difficulties he had encountered, he makes the following remarks : 
Even previous to 1794, there was a strong predisposition against 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 275 

every thing that was British. But this was more particularly the 
case in those parts of the back country adjacent to the British set 
tlements ; and where, from the influence of the British govern 
ment with the Indians, there was too much reason to fear that hos 
tilities from that quarter would be directed against these infant set 
tlements. These jealousies met me in an hundred mortifying in 
stances ; and they were with difficulty prevented from having the 
most disagreeable effects, both to me and every old countryman in 
the settlements. To such an extent was this carried, that every 
road I talked of was said to be for the purpose of admitting the In 
dians and British ; every set of arms I procured though really to 
enable the settlers to defend themselves againt the Indians was 
said to be for supplying the expected enemy ; and the very grass 
seed I brought into the country for the purpose of supplying the 
farmers, was seized as gun powder going to the enemies of the 
country." He also alleges that these distrusts opposition to his 
movements were enhanced by influential individuals, who were 
interested in the sale of wild lands in other localities. 

All this, however, wore off, as we may well conclude, for he was 
elected to represent the county in the legislature, with but little op 
position, in 1796, and the mark of favor was repeated. Well educated, 
possessing more than ordinary social qualities, with a mind im 
proved by travel and association with the best classes in Europe, 
his society was sought after by the many educated and intelligent 
men who came to this region in the earliest years of settlement ; 
and he knew well how to adapt himself to circumstances, and to 
all classes that went to make up the aggregate of the early adven 
turers. Changing his habits of life with great ease and facility, he 
was at home in every primitive log cabin ; a welcome, cheerful, and 
contented guest, with words of encouragement for those who were 
sinking under the hardships of Pioneer life ; and often with sub 
stantial aid, to relieve their necessities ; away off* in some isolated 
opening of the forest would be those prostrated by disease, to whom 
he would be the good Samaritan, and send them the bracing tonic 
or restoring cordial. These acts of kindness, his benevolence of 
heart, are well remembered by surviving Pioneers ; and repeatedly 
has the author been importuned by them to speak well of their 
friend, in those local annals. 

From the day that Mr. Williamson arrived in this country, until 



PHELPS ATTO GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

he returned to Europe, his correspondence was extensive and em 
braced a large number of prominent men in the northern States 
and in Europe. The interests of all this region were deeply in 
volved in the success of Mr. Jay s mission to England in 1794. Mr. 
Williamson s acquaintance with the statesmen of England, were 
with those principally of the conservative class, and with them he 
urged a reconciliation of all existing difficulties. He made the Eng 
lish government acquainted with the conduct of their agents in 
Canada : with their machinations with the Indians to bring on an 
other series of border wars ; and with the conduct of British officers 
at the western posts, in stimulating the Indians to stealthy assaults 
upon settlers, surveyors and explorers. OZF 3 See account of murder 
of Major Trueman, Appendix, No. 10. The treaty of Mr. Jay con 
cluded, he urged upon the Colonial department of the English gov 
ernment, the substitution of better disposed neighbors in the Cana- 
das, than Lord Dorchester, and Gov. Simcoe ; and the hastening of 
the fulfilment of treaty stipulations by the surrender of Oswego and 
Niagara. Trouble, an open rupture with England, was to be sure, 
but postponed ; but the author can hardly forego the conclusion, that 
in the infancy of settlement in the Genesee country, it was fortunate 
that English statesmen were extensive land holders deeply inter 
ested in the securing of peace and prosperity to the country and 
that they had for their local agent, such a man as Charles Williamson. 
There had accompanied Mr. Williamson on his first advent to 
the country, from Scotland, Charles Cameron, John Johnstone, 
James Tower, Henry Tower, Andrew Smith and Hugh McCartney. 
Mr. Cameron came over at the solicitation of Mr. Williamson, pen 
etrated the wildernes with him, assisted in planning and executing 
improvements, kept the books and accounts, was his travelling com 
panion in many forest journeys ; and in fact, was closely connected 
with him during his whole residence in the country. He was the 
local agent as has been seen, at Lyons, and from that point it is 
supposed, shipped the first produce of the Genesee country to an 
eastern market ; the flour from the mills that had been erected un 
der his agency. He was one of the earliest merchants at Canan- 
daigua ; at a primitive period, when the mercantile business of 
almost the entire Genesee country, was transacted in that village. 
In this relation he was widely and favorably known to the Pioneers. 
Either upon his own account, or as agent for Mr. Williamson, he 



PIIELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

was a merchant at Bath before he removed to Lyons, as is inferred 
from a store bill, which the author has in his possession : 

BATH, October, 1793. 

John Dolson, 

Bought of Charles Cameron : 

Oct. 26, 1 Ib. chocolate, 2s. 6d ; 1-3 gal. whiskey 5s. 7s. 6d. 

Nov. 5. 1 gallon whiskey, 10s. 10 

Mr. Cameron is one of the few survivors of that early period. 
He is now in his 78th year ; a resident of Greene, Chenango county. 
Mr. Johnstone was also in Mr. Williamson s employ. 

When the division of lands took place between Sir Wm. Pulteney 
and Gov. Hornby, Mr. Johnstone became the agent of the Hornby 
lands, in which agency he continued until his death in 1806. He 
married a step-daughter of Nicholas Lowe, of New York. He 
was the father of James Johnstone, of Canandaigua, and Mrs 
Leavenworth, of New York. 

Henry Tower, was an agent in the erection of the mills at Lyons, 
(or " Alloway,") became the purchaser ot them ; and resided there 
for many years. Hugh McCartney settled in Sparta. Of the other 
two who came with Mr. Williamson, the author has no account. 

Mr. Williamson s first engagement with the London Associates, 
was for the term of seven years ; though he continued in the agen 
cy beyond the expiration of that period. It has already been in 
dicated, that his principals were somewhat impatient at the slow 
return of his large outlays; and the sanguine, impulsive agent, may 
have ventured to deplete their purses too rapidly; but there could 
have been no serious misunderstanding between them, as the cor 
respondence that took place, in reference to the final settlement of 
the affairs of the agency in 1800 and 1801, exhibit a continuance 
of mutual esteem and friendship. A paragraph in a letter from Sir 
Wm. Pultney to the successor in the agency, indicates a wish that 
Mr. Williamson should be dealt honorably with in the settlement. 

In the final adjustment of his affairs with his principals, what 
would then have been considered a very large estate, was left him 
in farms, village property in Geneva and Bath, wild lands, bonds 
and mortgages, and personal property. James Rees3, Esq., of Geneva, 

*Mr. Dolson lived near Elmira. In one of Mr. Williamson s backwoods excursions 
in 1792, he had an attack of fever at Mr. Dolson s house, where ho was nursed until 
he recovered. He presented the family with twenty guineas, and a farm wherever 
they might choose it upon the purchase. 



278 PHELPS AND GOKHAM-8 PURCHASE. 

was his agent, until he finally returned to Scotland, in 1803, or 4, 
when he left all his affairs in America, with his friend Col. Benja* 
min Walker, of Utica. The successor of Col. Walker in the care 
of the Williamson estate, was John H. Woods Esq., of Geneva, 
with whom it now remains. 

Aaron Burr was identified, as has already been observed, with 
some of the earliest movements in the direction of the Genesee 
country. Soon after Mr. Williamson s arrival, he made his acquain 
tance, and retained him as counsel in his business ; and the farther 
relation of strong personal friendship soon succeeded. In 1795, 
Mr. Burr made a visit to this region, continuing his journey as far 
west as Niagara Falls. He was accompanied by his daughter The- 
odosia, and her then, or afterwards, husband, Mr. Allston. The 
party were on horseback.* Upon this occasion, Mr. Williamson 
had interviews with him, if he was not in fact, his travelling com 
panion in a part of the trip ; and when Mr. Williamson became a 
member of the legislature in 96, and in succeeding years, business 
and social relations, made them frequent companions in Albany. 
In whatever project Mr. Burr had at the south, Mr. Williamson 
was blended, and would have taken a conspicuous part in it, if it had 
not been so summarily arrested. 

After Mr. Williamson left this country, he resided at the home of 
his family in Balgray, and in London. He died in 1808. The 
only record of the event, that the author has been able to obtain, is 
the following extract of a letter from Col. Walker, to " Mr. Wm. Ellis, 

NOTE. Col. Benjamin Walker, was an early and prominent citizen of Utica, In 
the early part of the Revolution he had been in the staff of Gen. Washington, and was 
afterwards the aid of Baron Steuben. He is connected with a good anecdote of the 
Baron : Reviewing some raw troops, he ordered them with his imperfect English 
pronunciation, to fall back, which they mistook for "advance," and came rushing di 
rectly upon him. Irritated, and fearing they would understand him no better in his 
reprimands, he ordered Col. Walker to d n them in English. 

In 1792 he was surveyor of the port of New York, and was employed by Messrs. 
Pulteney and Hornby to settle with an agent in this country, who had invested some 
money for them in lands, (other than the Genesee purchase,) which led to his early 
acquaintance with Mr. Williamson. His correspondence with Mr. Williamson after he 
returned to Europe, would indicate superior talents; and there could be gleaned from 
them many interesting early reminiscences of events in this country. Col. Walker 
died in Utica, in 1818. An only daughter married D Villiers, a French gentleman, 
who was in this region in 94, or 5. She died in France. The only representative of 
the family in this country, is an adopted daughter, Mrs. Bours of Geneva. 

* In this western visit Mr. Burr parted from his travelling companions at Avon, 
and went down and visited the falls of the Genesee, taking their height, and a landscape 
view of them. He shared the log cabin of Mr. Shaeffer, over night, on his return, and 
;he old gentleman well remembers his praises of the new country, and his "pleasant, 
sociable turn." 



PHELPS AISD GOKIIAM S PURCHASE. 279 

Nicholson street, Edingburg :" " An extract sent me from an 
English newspaper, announces the death of my friend, Col. Will 
iamson, as having happened on his passage from Havanna to 
England ; an event which will be most sincerely lamented by a 
numerous acquaintance in this country, who esteemed and loved 
him." 

There is now no descendants of Mr. Williamson in this country. 
He lost a son and a daughter in Bath ; and a son and daughter went 
soon after him to Scotland. The daughter survives. Charles A. 
Williamson, the son, married a Miss Clark of New York, and resi 
ded in Geneva. Enticed by the discovery of gold in California 
although he would seem to have had enough of wealth to satisfy a 
reasonable ambition he took the overland route in the summer 
of 1818, died of cholera at Fort Laramie ; and about the same 
period his wife died in Scotland. 

Sir William Pulteney died in May, 1805, leaving an only heir, his 
daughter, Henrietta Laura Pulteney, Countess of Bath. She died 
in July, 1808. DCPFor historical, and legal deduction of title to 
lands, other than what is contained in the body of the work, see 
Appendix No. 11. 



ROBERT TROUP. 



The successor of Mr. Williamson, in the general agency ot tne 
London Association, was Col. Robert Troup. He was a native of 
New Jersey ; in the war of the Revolution, he was the aid of Gen 



. _ There are contradictory accounts of Mr. Williamson s position at the period 
of his death. One is, that he had been appointed by the British goveernment, Govern 
or of one of "the West India Islands; and another is, that his adventurous and enter 
prising spirit, had connected him with some of the earliest movements in relation to 
South American Independence, in which he was to have borne a conspicuous part ; 
and in pursuance of which, he was at sea, at the period of his death. 

]S[ OTE _ j n a letter from James Waclsworth to Col. Troup, dated in September, 1805, 
he says _ " I have just heard of the death of Sir William Pultney. My mind is strong 
ly impressed with the disasters that may befal this section of the State, from the 
event Sir William was a man of business ; he was capable of deciding for himself, 
what was and what was not proper. What may be the character of his successor we 



with Sir 
the 
but of 



Duke of York ; and I think 1 have been informed, quite regardless of property ; 
of his honorable views, and perfect soundness of inind, I have no reason to doubt" 



280 PHELPS AND GOPJIAM S PURCHASE. 

Gates ; his father was an officer of the navy in the preceding French 
war. Previous to the Revolution, Col. Troup had been a student 
at law in the office of Thomas Smith, of Havestraw, New Jersey, 
and subsequently in the office of Gov. Jay. After obtaining license, 
he opened an office in the city of Albany, and soon after returned 
to New York, where he practipetf law until 1801. He was a few 
years a Judge of the U. S. District Court. In 1801 he was appoin 
ted a general agent of the Pulteney estate. Residing in New York 
and Albany, he frequently visited this region, until 1814, when he 
became a permanent resident of Geneva. Under his auspices a 
large portion of the original purchase of the London Associates, 
(such as had not been settled during Mr. Williamson s administra 
tion,) was sold and settled. Liberal in his views, public spirited, 
and possessed of much practical knowledge, he was a valuable 
helper in speeding on the prosperity of the Genesee country. Al 
though the "Mill Tract," west of the Genesee river, was settled 
tinder the immediate auspices of Mr. Wadsworth, Col. Troup as 
the general agent, had much to do in all that relates to its pioneer 
history ; and for over thirty years, his name was conspicuously 
blended with the history of all this local region. He was one of 
the early promoters of the Erie Canal, and wielding a ready and 
able pen, he did much to forward that great measure in its early 
projection and progress. He was the intimate friend of Alexander 
Hamilton, and in fact few enjoyed more of the intimate acquaint 
ance and friendship, of the most of prominent men of the Revolution, 
and early statesmen of New York. He died in New York in 1832. 
aged 74 years. He had two sons, one of whom died in Charleston, 
and the other in N. York. A daughter of his is Mrs. James L. 
Brinkerhoof, of N. York; and another unmarried daughter resides 
in New York. 

Before Col. Troup s removal to Geneva, the immediate duties of 
the agency devolved successively upon John Johnstone, John Hes- 
lop and Robert. Scott. Heslop was first a clerk of Mr. Wads- 
worth, and entered the Geneva office a short time before the close 
of Mr. Williamson s agency. He died on a visit to his native 
country, England. Mrs. Greshom, of Brooklyn, is a daughter 
of his. 



PHELPS AISTD GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 281 

JOSEPH FELLOWS. 



Jaseph Fellows is a native of Warwickshire, England; from 
which place his father emigrated in 1795 to Luzerne county, Penn., 
17 miles from Wilkesbarre. At the age of fourteen, soon after the 
arrival of the family in this country, he entered the office of Isaac 
L. Kip, Esq., as a student at law ; was admitted to practice, but 
soon after entered the office of Col. Troup. He came to Geneva 
in 1810, as a sub-agent in the Pultney land office ; the details of the 
agency principally devolved upon him, until the death of Colonel 
Troup, when he became his successor in the general agency, which 
position he still retains. Mr. Fellows is a bachelor ; a sister of his 
was the wife of Dr. Eli Hill, the early physician of Conesus and 
Geneseo. Dr. Hill removed to Berrien, Michigan, where he died 
in 1838. His three sons, Edward, Joseph and Henry, are residents 
of Buffalo. Mrs. Hill survives, and resides at Geneva, with her 
brother. 

The purchasers of the Pultney lands, have found in Mr. Fellows 
an agent disposed to conduct the business with strict integrity, and 
in the same spirit of liberality and indulgence that had actuated his 
predecessors. "I went to him," said a farmer upon the Lake shore, 
in Wayne county, to the author, " and told him my house was old 
and uncomfortable, and I could build if he would give me an exten 
sion of payment. He granted me even more than I asked." " My 
payments were due," said another, " sickness had been added to 
unpropitious seasons ; he made a liberal deduction of interest, and 
gave me an extension of payment, which enabled me finally to pos 
sess an uninc umbered farm." 



The clerks in the Geneva office, in successsion, have been Thos. 
Goundry, George Goundry, William Van Wort, David H. Vance. 
The present clerks are Wm. Young and John Wride. 

When Mr. Williamson left Bath, James Reese removed there 
from Geneva, and took the temporary charge of the Land Office. 
Resigning the post in 1803, he was succeeded by Samuel L. Haight. 

Gen. Haight was a student at law, with the late Gen. Matthews, 
at Newtowu -/entering his office in 1796. In 1801 he was admitted 
18 



282 PHELP3 AND GORHAM s P DECEASE. 

to practice in the Supreme Court, and in the following year opened 
an office in Bath. Assuming the duties of the Land Office soon 
after, he continued to discharge them until 1814. He was sub 
sequently the law partner of General Matthews at Bath, and re 
mained so until Gen. M. removed to Rochester in 1821. He now 
resides at Cuba, Allegany county. Besides holding important civil 
stations, in 1819 he received the appointment of Major General of 
the 25th military division, then comprising the counties of Steuben, 
Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauque.* 

The subsequent agents in the Bath office have been, Dugald 
Cameron, and William M Kay ; the latter of whom is the present 
agent. He is the son of John S. M Kay, who emigrated to Geneva 
in 1800, and died in Pittsford, in 1819. 



JOHtf GREIG. 



Mr. Greig was a native of MofFat, in Dumfrieshire, Scotland. His 
father was a lawyer by profession, the factor or agent of the Earl 
of Hopeton; and besides, a landholder, ranking among the better 
class of Scotch farmers. After having acquired in his native 
parish, and in a High School in Edinburg, a substantial education, 
while undetermined as to his pursuits in life, Mr. Johnstone, who, it 
will have been seen, had been in this region, connected with Mr. 
Williamson, revisited his native country, and meeting Mr. Greig. 
induced him to be his companion on his return to the new world. 
They arrived at New York, in the winter of 1799 and 18GO, after 
a tedious passage of eleven weeks. Mr. Greig, after spending some 
time in New York and Albany, came to Canandaigua, in April, 
1800. He became a student at law, in the office of Nathaniel W. 
Howell, and in 1804 was admitted to practice. In 1806, on the 
occurrence of the death of his friend, John Johnstone, he succeeded 
him in the agency of the Hornby and Colquhoun estate ; in which he 
has continued up to the present, period. 

In an early period of his professional career, he became the part 
ner of Judge Howell ; the partnership continued until 1820. Ming 
ling with his professional duties, the arduous ones consequent upon 



*In 1819 all that territory contained but 3,100 men, subject to military duty, 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUECHASE. 283 

the sale and settlement of large tracts of wild lands, professional 
eminence could hardly be expected ; yet in early days, when there 
were "giants in the land" when the bar of western New York 
had in its front rank, a class of men, whose places can now harldy 
be said to be filled they found in the young foreigner a professional 
cotemporary, possessed of sound legal acquirements ; and especially 
recommending himself to their esteem, by a high sense of honor ; 
and a courtesy, which ruled his conduct at the bar, as well as in 
the business and social relations of life. 

As a patroon of new settlements which his agency of a foreign 
and absent principal, made him in that position, in which so im 
portant an influence is wielded over the destinies of a new coun 
try his best eulogy is found in the frequent expressions of gratitude, 
which a gatherer of historical reminiscences may hear, from the 
lips of surviving Pioneers, for indulgence and kindness received 
at his hands.. 

Mr. Greig succeeded Mr. Gorham, in the Presidency of the On 
tario Bank, soon after 1820, which place he continues to fill. He 
became one of the Regents of the University in 1825, and is now 
the Vice Chancellor of the Board. In 1841, 2, he was the Repre 
sentative in Congress, from Ontario and Livingston ; and is now 
one of the managers of the Western House of Refuge. 

He is now 72 years of age ; his general health and constitution 
not seriously impaired ; his mental faculties retaining much of the 
vigor of middle age ; having the general supervision of his estate, 
and discharging the public duties which his several offices impose. 

One of the largest estates of western New York, is the fruit of 
his youthful advent to a region he has seen converted from a wil 
derness, to one of fruitful fields and unsurpassed prosperity; of a 
long life of professional and business enterprise and judicious man 
agement. Leaving his young countrymen and school fellows to 
inherit estates ; with a self-reliance, which can only give substantial 
success in life, he boldly and manfully struck out into a new field of 
enterprise a then fresh and new world and became the founder 
of one. Liberal in its management and disposition, with a sensible 
estimate of what constitutes the legitimate value and use of wealth; 
he is the promoter of public enterprises, the liberal patron of public, 
and the dispenser of private charities ; in all of which he finds a 
willing co-operator in his excellent wife, who is a worthy descend- 



284 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

ant of one who occupied a front rank among the earliest Pio 
neers of the Genesee country. She was the daughter of Captain 
Israel Chapin, the grand-daughter of Gen. Israel Chapin ; was mar 
ried to Mr. Greig in 1806. 



CHAPTER III. 



INDIAN DIFFICULTIES BRITISH INTERFERENCE INDIAN COUNCILS 

GEN. ISRAEL CHAPIN. 



IN preceding pages, the reader has observed some indications o-f 
unsettled relations between the Indians, and the early adventurers 
of our own race, in the Genesee country ; and the mischievous 
influence of those to whom they had been allies in the Revolution, 
All this will be farther exhibited in connection with the early settle 
ment of Sodus. In this chapter it is proposed to treat the subject 
generally, avoiding as far as possible a repetition of what has been 
and will be, in the other connections, but incidental. 

The reader of American general history, need hardly be told ? 
that what was called a treaty of peace with Great Britain, in 1783, 
war rather an armistice a cessation of hostilities and that but 
little of real peace, or amicable relations, was immediately conse 
quent upon it. On the one hand, a proud arrogant nation, worsted 
in a contest with a few feeble colonies, its invading armies defeated 
and routed, grudgingly and reluctantly yielded to a stern necessity, 
and allowed only enough of concession to be wrung from her, to 
secure the grounding of arms. And on the other hand, success, 
victory, had been won by a last, and almost desperate effort, the 
wearied colonies gladly embracing an opportunity to rest. Thus 
conditioned, the terms of peace were illy defined, and left open 
questions, to irritate and furnish grounds for a renewal of hostilities. 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 285 

British armies re-crossed the ocean, and British navies left our 
coasts, but British resentment was still rife. In the palace at 
Windsor, England s King was mourning with almost the weakness 
of childhood, or dotage, over his lost colonies ; yielding to the 
sacrifice with a had grace, and in the absence of any kingly digni 
ty. Rich jewels had dropped from his crown, and he refused to be 
reconciled to their loss ; and his ministers, with more of philosophy, 
but little less of chagrin and discomfiture, in peace negotiations, 
seem almost to have made mental reservations, that contemplated 
a renewal of the contest. The homely adage, " like master like 
man," was never better illustrated, than it was in the persons and 
official acts of those who came out as government officers and 
agents, to look to the little that was saved to England, after the 
wreck of the Revolution. But one spirit, and one feeling pervaded 
in the home and colonial governments. It was that the treaty had 
been an act of present necessity, that had not contemplated an 
ultimate sacrifice of such magnitude as was the final loss of the 
American colonies. The statesmen of England, were not unmind 
ful that the site of an Empire lay spread out around our western 
lakes and rivers, and in all of what is now western New York, over 
which the Indians held absolute and undisputed sovereignty. Those 
Indians were their allies, ready to take the tomahawk from its belt, 
and the knife from its sheath at their bidding. 

The first, and principal hope and reliance of England, touching 
the reversion of her lost empire, was that the experiment of free 
government would be a failure. Astonished that resistance to their 
rule had been attempted by a few feeble colonies, and more aston 
ished that it had been successful almost prepared to believe in 
the decrees of fate, or the enactment of miracles they were yet 
unprepared to believe that discordant materials could be so blended 
together as to insure a permanent separation ; that here in the 
backwoods of America, statesmen would be created by exigency, 
with a firmness, an intuitive wisdom, to mould together a perma 
nent confederacy, that would be the wonder of the old world ; a 
political phenomena and thus secure all that had been so dearly 
won. After the close of the Revolution, every movement upon 
this side of the water, was watched with intense anxiety. Unpro- 
pitious as were the first few years of the experiment, the events in 
creased their confidence. The difficulties growing out of disputed 



286 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

boundaries between the States ; the Shay rebellion in Massachu 
setts ; the internal commotions in Pennsylvania; and finally the 
discordant views of those who came together to form a Union, and 
a permanent government ; all helped to increase their hopes, that 
divided and distracted, the colonies would either fall back into their 
embraces, or be an easy conquest when they chose to renew the 
war. 

In the final success in the formation of a confederacy of States, 
the Union the interested croakers lost some confidence in their 
predictions, but they still hoped for the worst. If they admitted 
for a moment that there might be a confederacy of eastern States, 
they thought they saw enough of the elements of trouble in geo 
graphical divisions, in conflicting interests of soils and climate ; in a 
curse they had entailed upon the colonies in the form of African 
slavery, to insure the failure of the experiment to embrace the 
whole in one political fabric. 

Disappointed in their earliest hopes, they fell back upon another 
reliance ; that by means of a continued alliance with the Six Na 
tions, and with the western Indians, they should be enabled to re 
tain all of what had been French Canada ; western New York, the 
vallies of the western lakes and the Mississippi. With this end in 
view, by means of pretences so flimsy, that they never rose to the 
dignity of being sufficiently defined to be understood, they disre 
garded the plainest stipulations of the treaty of 1783, withheld the 
posts upon Lake Ontario and the western lakes, and steadily pur 
sued the policy of commercial outrages and annoyances, dogged 
and irritating diplomacy, and bringing to bear upon the Indians an 
influence that was intended to embarrass all our negotiations with 
them, and ultimately to make them allies in a renewed contest for 
dominion over them and their territory. 

The settlement of the Genesee country, commenced under the 
untoward circumstances of a continued British occupancy ; the 
native owners of the soil, but illy reconciled to the treaties of cer- 
sions, and thus in a condition to be easily incited to mischief; while 
off upon the borders of the western lakes, were numerous nations 
and tribes ready to join them, to redress their fancied wrongs, at 
the instigation of the malign influences that lingered among them. 
For six years after feeble settlements were scattered in backwood s 
localities, the British retained Fort Oswego and Niagara, and the 



PHELPS AND GOEHAMJ3 PURCHASE. 287 

western posts ; no American commerce was allowed on Lake Onta 
rio, or if allowed, it was a mere sufferance, attended with all the 
annoyance and insolence of an armed police at the two important 
points, Oswego and Niagara. 

In the person of Lord Dorchester, the Gov. General of Canada, 
was an implacable enemy of the disenthralled colonies, an embodi 
ment and fit representative of the spirit that ruled his home gov 
ernment, and his deputy, General Simcoe, the Lieutenant Governor 
of the Upper Province, located at Niagara, was well fitted to take 
the lead in that then retreat of mischief makers and irreconciled 
refugees. Sir John Johnstone, after his retreat from the Mohawk, 
had continued to reside at Montreal, and after the war, retained a 
large share of the influence he had inherited, over the Six Nations. 
He may well be supposed to have had no very kind feelings toward his 
old neighbors. He was in fact the ready helper in the persevering 
attempts that were made to keep the Indians irreconciled and trouble 
some. The position of Joseph Brant was equivocal; keen scrutiny 
and watchfulness, failed to determine what were his real inclina 
tions. Even his partial biographer, has left his conduct in the crisis 
we are considering, an enigma. At times he would seem to have 
been for peace ; in his correspondence with Messrs. Kirkland, 
Phelps, Thomas Morris, General Chapin, and with the Secretary 
of War, General Knox, there were professions of peaceful inclina 
tions ; while at the same period, he would be heard of in war coun 
cils of the western Indians, stirring up with a potent influence, side 
by side with his British allies, their worst passions ; or organizing 



. As late as the summer of 1795, even after the Jay treaty and Wayne s treaty 
of Grenville, Col. Simcoe was irreconciled, and to all appearances looking forward to 
a renewal of tlie contest between Great Britain and her lost colonies, or States as they 
had then become. The Duke Liancourt, was then his guest, at Niagara, who says of 

him : "War seems to be the object of his leading passions ; " he is acquainted with 

the military history of all countries ; no hillock catches his eye without exciting in 
liis mind the idea of a fort, which might be constructed on the spot, and with the 
construction of this fort he associates the plan of operations for a campaign, especially 
of that which is to lead him to Philadelphia." At the Indian village of Tuscarora, 
near Lewisto^i, where the Duke accompanied him, he told the Indians that the "Yan 
kees were brooding over some evil designs against them ; that they had no other object 
in view but to rob them of their lands ; and that their good father, King George, was 
the true friend of their nation. He also repeated, that the maize thief, Timothy 
Pickering, was a rogue and a liar." When the Governor and the Duke were on their 
way to Tuscarora, they met an American family on their way to Canada. On learn 
ing their destination, the Governor said to them : "Aye, aye, you are tired of the 
Federal government ; you like not any longer to have so many kings ; you wish again 
for your^)ld father, come along and I will give you lands," 



288 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUKCIIASE. 

armed bands of Canada Indians, as allies of the western confeder 
ates. Red Jacket was a backwoods Talleyrand, and Cornplanter, 
an unschooled Metternich. 

Col. John Butler, living at Niagara in affluence, richly pensioned, 
and himself and family connections richly endowed with lands by 
the king, repaid the bounties of his sovereign with all the zeal that 
he had shewn in the war, by seconding the views of Lord Dorches 
ter and Col. Simcoe. As Superintendent of Indian affairs he had 
the keys of the king s store house at Niagara, and dispensed his 
presents profusely among the Indians, telling them that the "king, 
their good father, would soon want their services again, against the 
rebels." The early settlers of the Genesee country, saw on more 
than one occasion, the Indians in possession of new broadcloths, 
blankets, and silver ornaments, that came from the king s store house, 
the fearful purport of which they well understood. Some of the 
influences and agencies that have been named, had assisted in land 
treaties, but it had been for pay, and with the hope ultimately of the 
partition of New York, and the non-fulfilment of the treaty stipu 
lation for the surrender of its western territory. Lingering yet 
upon the Genesee river, and in several other localities, were refu 
gees from the Mohawk, with feelings rankling in their bosoms akin 
to those of Milton s fallen angels after they had been driven out of 
Paradise. 

Added to all thesft elements of trouble, was an irreconciled feel 
ing against the Indians, on the part of those who had been border 
settlers upon the Mohawk and the Susquehannah, and could not so 
soon forget their horrid barbarities. In the absence of courts and 
any efficient civil police, this feeling would occasionally break out 
in outrages, and on several occasions resulted in the murder of In 
dians ; it required all the wisdom of the general and State govern 
ments and their local agents to prevent retaliation upon the scatter 
ed settlements of the Pioneers. 

While a storm was gathering at the west, and the Senecas, un 
der the influences that have been named, were half inclined to act 
in concert with hostile nations in that quarter, the murder of two 
Senecas, by whites, occurred on Pine creek, in Pennsylvania. It 
highly exasperated the Senecas, and they made an immediate de 
mand upon the Governor of Pennsylvania for redress. It was in 
the form of a message, signed by Little Beard, Red Jacket, Gisse- 



PHELP3 AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 289 

hakie, Caunhesongo, chiefs and warriors of the Seneca nation, and 
dated at "Geneseo River Flats," August 1790. After saying they 
are glad that a reward of eight hundred dollars has been offered for 
the murderers, they add: "Brothers the two men you have killed 
were very great men, and were of the great Turtle tribe ; one of 
them was a chief, and the other was to be put in the great king 
Garoughta s place, who is dead also. Brothers, you must not think 
hard of us if we speak rash, as it comes from a wounded heart, as 
you have struck the hatchet in our head, and we can t be reconciled 
until you come and pull it out. We are sorry to tell you, you have 
killed eleven of us since peace." " And now we take you by the 
hand and lead you to the Painted Post, as far as your canoes can 
come up the creek, where you will meet the whole tribe of the de 
ceased, and all the chiefs and a number of warriors of our nation, 
where we expect you will wash away the blood of your brothers, 
and bury the hatchet, and put it out of memory, as it is yet sticking 
in our heads. 

Mr. Pickering, who was then residing at Wyoming, was either 
sent by the Governor of Pennsylvania, or the Secretary of War to 
hold the proposed treaty, at Tioga Point, on the 16th day of No 
vember. He met there, Red Jacket, Farmer s Brother, Col. Butler, 
Little Billy, Fish Carrier, and other chiefs of the Six Nations, and 
the Chippevva and Stockbridge Indians. They came to the coun 
cil much enraged, and a speech of Red Jacket was well calculated 
to increase their resentments. The black cloud that hung over 
their deliberations for days, was finally driven away by the prudent 
course of Col. Pickering, and the war spirit that was kindled in 
many a savage bosom, finally quelled. This was the first time that 
the Six Nations were met in council by the general government 
after the adoption of the constitution. Col. Pickering informed 
them that the Thirteen Fires was now but one Fire, that they were 
now all under the care of the great chief, General Washington, who 
would redress their wrongs, and correct any abuses the whites had 

NOTE. Money and presents of goods, it is presumed, were the principal agents of 
reconciliation. The wily chiefs who demanded the council, while they assumed that 
their young warrriors could hardly be restrained from taking summary vengeance upon 
the whites, intimated what they were expecting ; and they especially requested that 
the Governor should send to the council "all the property of the murderers," as it 
would " be a great satisfaction to the families of the deceased." The result of the 
council amounted to little more than a compromising of the murders, and professions 
of friendship, that were destined to remain equivocal 



290 PHELPS AND GOEIIAM S PURCHASE. 

practiced upon them ; and that especially traders among them 
would be prohibited from selling spirituous liquors. To all this 
Red Jacket and Farmer s Brother made replies, expressing much 
gratification that the "great chief of the Thirteen Fires, had opened 
his moulh to them." They made formal complaints of the manner 
in which their lands had been obtained from them, to which Col. 
Pickering replied, that their lands were their own to dispose of as 
they pleased, that the United States would only see that no frauds 
were practiced in the land treaties. 

The Six Nations called their councils with the whites, measures 
for "brightening the chain of friendship, "and never did chains get 
rusty so quick after brightening as they did along during this critical 
period. One treaty or council was hardly over before another was 
demanded by one party or the other. In the spring of 1791, when 
the Little Turtle as the successor of Pontiac as a leader, almost 
his equal had perfected an alliance of the principal western na 
tions against the United States : when expedients for reconciliation 
with them had been exhausted, and General Harmar was about to 
march against them ; it was deemed of the utmost importance to 
confirm the wavering purposes of the Six Nations, and divert them 
from an alliance with the legions that threatened to break up the 
border settlements west of the Ohio, and if successful there, to in 
volve the new settlements of the Genesee country in the contest for 
dominion. For this purpose, Colonel Pickering was again commis 
sioned by the Secretary of War to hold a treaty. It was held at 
Newtown, (now Elmira,) in the month of June. With a good deal 
of difficulty, a pretty general attendance of the Indians was secured. 
Fortunately Col. Proctor who had turned back in a peace embassy 
to the western nations, in consequence of intimations which induced 
a conclusion that it would not only be fruitless but dangerous, had 
spent some weeks among the Senecas at Buffalo, and his visit had 
been favorable to the drawing off of the chiefs and warriors from 
Canada influence and western alliance, in the direction .of Colonel 
Pickering and his treaty ground. 

The treaty was mainly successful. With all the bad inclinations 
of the Senecas at this period, and bad influences that was bearing 
upon them, there was a strong conservative influence which had a 
powerful auxiliary in the, " Governesses, " or influential women.* 

* The very common impression tuat the women had no influence in the councils of 



PHELPS AND GCRHAM S PURCHASE. 291 

The principal speakers were, Red Jacket and Farmer s Brother. 
Thomas Morris was present at this treaty ;* the author extracts from 
his manuscripts, spoken of in the preface to this work: "Red 
Jacket was I suppose, at that time, about 30 or 35 years of age, of 
middle height, well formed, with an intelligent countenance, and a 
fine eye ; and was in all respects a fine looking man. He was the 
most graceful public speaker I have ever known ; his manner was 
most dignified and easy. He was fluent, and at times witty and sar 
castic. He was quick and ready at reply. He pitted himself against 
Col. Pickering, whom he sometimes foiled in argument. The 
Colonel would sometimes become irritated and lose his temper; then 
Red Jacket would be delighted and shew his dexterity in taking 
advantage of any unguarded assertion of the Colonel s. He felt a 
conscious pride in the conviction that nature had done more for 
him than for his antagonist. A year or two after this treaty, when 
Col. Pickering from Post Master General became Secretary of War, 
I informed Red Jacket of his promotion. Ah, said he, we began 
our public career about the same time ; he" knew how to read and 
write, I did not, and he has got ahead of me ; but if I had known 
how to read and write I should have got ahead of him. " 

The name of an early Pioneer has already been incidentally men 
tioned, who became prominently blended in all the relations of the 
general government, and consequently in all the relations of this 
local region, with our Indian predecessors. General Israel Chapin 
was from Hatfield, Massachusetts. He was commissioned as a Cap 
tain in the earliest military organizations of Massachusetts, after 
the commencement of the Revolution, and was in the campaign 
against Quebec ; soon after which he was advanced to the rank of 
Colonel, and at the close of the Revolution, he had attained to the 



the Six Nations that their whole sex was regarded as mere drudges is refuted by 
the recorded facts, that in treaties with Gov. George Clinton, and in the treaty at " Big 
Tree," they turned the scale in councils. 

* Mr. Morris, then just from his law studies, with a younger brother, set out from Phil 
adelphia, and coming via "Wilkesbarre and what was called " Sullivan s path, " attended 
the treaty, visited the Falls of Niagara, and returning, made up his mind to fix his res 
idence at Canandaigua. j^gpSee sketches of early times at Canandaigua, and see also 
some further reminiscences of Mr. Morris in connection with the treaty at Newtown, 
Appendix No. 12. 

NOTE. Among the Revolutionary papers of General Chapin, are many interesting 
relics. Ephraim Patch, a soldier of his company, charges in his memorandum, for 
" one pair of bulled trowsers, one pewter basin, one pair shoes, one tomahawk and 



292 PHELPS AKD GOKIIAM S PUKCHASE. 

rank of Brigadier General. In addition to his services in the field, 
he was occasionally a sub -contractor, or agent of Oliver Phelps, in 
procuring army supplies. Upon one occasion, as the author observes 
by his correspondence, he was requested by Mr. Phelps to obtain a 
" fine yoke of fat cattle for Gen. Washington s table." Gen. Chapin 
was in active military service during the Shay rebellion : DCP See 
"general orders, transmitted to him by Major General Shepherd, 
Appendix, No. 13. After the close of the Revolution, he was a 
prominent managing member of an association, organized for the 
purpose of dealing in wild lands in Vermont. He was one of the 
original associates with Mr. Phelps, in the purchase of the Genesee 
country, and was chosen to come out and explore it in 1789, which 
resulted in his removal with his family to Canandaigua, in 1790. 

Soon after the organization of the general government, the Sec 
retary of War, General Knox, saw the necessity of a local agent 
among the Six Nations, and the well earned reputation of General 
Chapin, in the Revolution, and in the important civil crisis that fol 
lowed after it in Massachusetts, fortunately for the region with 
which he had become identified, pointed him out as a safe de 
pository of the important trust. From his earliest residence in the 
country, he had been entrusted with commissions, in connection 
with Indian relations, by Gen. Knox and Col. Pickering. Soon after 
the treaty at Newtown, he was appointed to the office of Deputy 
Superintendent of the Six Nations, though the duties of his office 
ultimately, in many instances, embraced the whole northern de 
partment. 

The letter of appointment from Gen. Knox, enjoined upon him 
the impressing upon the Indians, that it was the " firm determination 
of the President that the utmost fairness and kindness should be 
exhibited to the Indian tribes by the United States." That it was 
" not only his desire to be at peace with all the Indian tribes, but to 
be their guardian and protector, against all injustice." He was 
informed by the Secretary, that Joseph Brant had promised a visit 
to the seat of government, and instructed either to accompany him, 
" or otherwise provide for his journey in a manner perfectly agree 
able to him." 



on- 



belt, one bayonet and belt, lost by me in the retreat from Quebec, May 6. 1776." J 
athan Clark charges that he was equally unfortunate in the hasty flight; he lost 
his woolen shirts, stockings, shoes, a bayonet and belt, a tomahawk, and a "pair of In 
dian stockings. 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 293 

This attempt to get Brant to Philadelphia, together with a large 
representation of other chiefs and warriors of the Six Nations, and 
others not actually merged with the hostile Indians of the west, had 
been commenced in the previous winter. It succeeded very well, 
with the exception of Brant ; a large Seneca delegation, with a few 
Onondagas and Oneidas, nearly forty in all, were conducted to Phil 
adelphia, across the country, via Wilkesbarre, by Horatio Jones 
and Joseph Smith. It was upon this occasion that the Indian chief, 
Big Tree, was a victim to the excessive hospitality that was extended 
to the delegation, at the seat of government, dying there from the 
effects of surfeit. British hospitality and liberality was outdone ; 
President Washington won the esteem and confidence of the Indi 
ans, and they departed with promises of continued friendship, and 
that they would undertake a friendly mission to the hostile Indians 
of the west. 

Brant was invited to the conference by the Rev. Mr. Kirkland 
and Col. Pickering, but he stood out somewhat upon his dignity, 
and intimated that if he went, it was to be in a manner more con 
sistent with his character and position, than would be a journey 
through the country, with a drove of Indians, under the lead of in 
terpreters. This being communicated to Gen. Knox, he took the 
hint, and thence his instructions to Gen. Chapin. Apprehensive, 
too, that Brant wanted the invitation to come directly from the seat 
of government, he addressed him an official letter, respectful and 
conciliatory, appealing to him upon the score of humanity, to lend 
his great influence toward reconciling the existing Indian difficul 
ties, preventing the further shedding of blood, and to assist the 
government in devising measures for bettering the condition of his 
race. This drew from the chief an answer that he would start for 
Philadelphia in about thirty days, and in the meantime would con 
sult the western nations, and be enabled to speak by authority from 
them. No statesman of the new or old world, ever penned a more 
guarded, non-committal answer in diplomacy, than was this from 
the retired chief, in the backwoods of Canada. 

The letter to the Secretary of War, was sent to Mr. Kirkland, 
at Oneida, and forwarded by him by the hands of Dr. Deodat Al 
len, to the care of Col. Gordon, the British commanding officer at 
Fort Niagara, with a request to have it sent by private express to 
Captain Brant, at Grand River. This manner of forwarding the 



294 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUKCHASE. 

letter proved unfortunate. Dr. Allen, knowing its contents designed 
ly or imprudently communicated them to Col. Gordon, who acsompa- 
nied it with suggestions well calculated to promote an unfavorable 
answer. Hs also informed Captain Chew,* a deputy Indian 
agent under Sir John Johnstone, residing at Niagara, of the 
contents of the letter, who brought all his influence to bear upon 
Brant, to prevent the journey. 

As the time of departure drew near, Gen. Chapin had Brant at 
tended from the Grand River to Canandaigua, and from there, 
via Albany and New York to Philadelphia. The chief was at 
tended by Israel Chapin, jr., Dr. Allen, Samuel Street, a servant of 
his own, and another provided for the party by Gen. Chapin. It 
was Brant s first appearance in the Valley of the Mohawk after 
his flight from there, and well knowing that upon his journey he 
must often encounter those of his old neighbors against whom he had 
carried on a sanguinary warfare, he feared retribution, and only 
proceeded upon the pledges of Gen. Chapin that no insult or indig 
nity should be offered him. It was only upon one occasion that fears 
were entertained for his safety on the route by his attendants, who 
enabled him to avoid the threatened danger. Arrived at New 
York, it would seem the whole party, about to appear at court or 
rather, at the seat of government doffed their backwoods ward 
robe, and patronized a fashionable tailor. Pretty round bills were 
presented to Gen. Chapin for payment ; that for a full suit for Brant, 
would show that he at least did not appear in any less mean attire 
than was befitting an ambassador. 

The result of this visit of Brant to the seat of government, in 
detail, is already incorporated in history. Although in a measure 
satisfactory and productive of good, his position was by no means 
fixed, or changed by it. In the midst of feasting and civilities, tho 
recipient of presents and flatteries, he was reserved and guarded ; 
put on an air of mystery ; so much so, that Gen. Knox in a letter 
to Gen. Chapin, expresses fears that some thing was said or done at 



* Captain Chew had conventionally, for a wife, a half blood Tuscarora, the daughter 
of Capt. Mountpleasant, of the British Army, and sister of the venerable John Mount- 
pleasnt, of Tuscarora, a woman who is well remembered by the Pioneers of that re 
gion. One of them, not a bad judge in such matters, told the author that she was 
the handsomest woman he had ever seen. Her first espousal was with a Captain El 
mer, of the British army. Her descendants are a/nong the many respectable natives 
tf Tuscarora village. 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 295 

Philadelphia that had displeased him. The truth was, that he had 
a difficult part to perform : In the first place, he was sincerely 
tired of war, and wanted psace ; but he was bound to the British 
interests by gratitude, by present and prospective interests ; exist 
ing upon their bounty, and apprehensive that his large landed pos 
sessions were held by the tenure of a continued loyalty. He knew 
that every step he took, and every word he uttered in favor of the 
United States, or peace, would be used against him, not only to 
weaken his influence with the British, but also with what he proba 
bly valued still higher, his influence with his own race. Gen. Knox 
drew from him a promise that he would visit the western nations ; 
but the promise was attended with conditions and mental reserva 
tions, which were calculated to render the mission of little avail. . 

There followed this movement, a series of fruitless embassies to 
the hostile Indians, a protracted period of alarm and apprehension. 
Repeated conferences and councils were held by Gen. Chapin with 
the Six Nations, mostly with the Senecas, as they were most in 
clined to be allies of the western. Indian confederacy. Hend ricks, 
a Stockbridge chief, Red Jacket, and Cornplanter, were successively 
sent on missions to the west, under the auspices of Gen. Chapin ; 
but neither they, nor white ambassadors, succeeded in getting any 
overture better than the ultimatum that the Ohio should be the 
boundary line of respective dominion. 

There was a long period of dismay and alarm, in which the new 
settlers of the Genesee country deeply and painfully participated ; 
eveiV movement in the west was regarded with anxiety ; and the 
Senecas in their midst, were watched with jealousy and distrust. 
In addition to the fruitless missions from this quarter, others were 
undertaken from the seat of government, and our military posts 
upon the Allegany, equally abortive; in two instances, peace am 
bassadors \\ ere treacherously murdered before reaching treaty 
grounds. The hindrances to peace negotiations with the Indians, 
were vastly augmented by British interference. Not content with 
encouraging the Indians to hold out, and actually supplying them 
with the means of carrying on the war, on one occasion, they refused 
to let a peace embassy proceed by water via Oswego and Niagara ; 
and on another occasion, with a military police, prevented commis 
sioners of the United States from proceeding to their destination, 
a treaty ground. And these were the acts of a nation with whom 



296 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

we had just made a treaty of peace ; a nation who, in a recent 
colonial crisis of their own, demanded the most stringent observance 
of the duties of neutral nations. They set up the specious and 
false pretence, that the supplying the Indians with the means of 
warring upon us, was the work of individuals, for which the gov- 
ment was not accountable. In the case of the Navy Island war, 
they insisted that our government should be responsible for individ- 
al acts. 

The office of Gen. Chapin, it may well be concluded, was no sin 
ecure. At the head of the war department was a faithful public 
officer, and he required promptness and energy from all his subor 
dinates. Upon Gen. Chapin, devolved the procuring of embassa- 
dors to the hostile Indians, fitting out them and their retinues, and 
holding council after council to keep the faces of the Six Nations 
turned from the west. In these troublesome times, the government 
was of course liberal with the Senecas, and Gen. Chapin was its al 
moner. They, shrewd enough to understand the value of their con 
tinued friendship to the United States at that critical period, were 
most of them sturdy beggars. Often they would propose councils 
with the ulterior motive of a feast and carousal and a " staff"* to 
support them on their return to their villages. At his home in Can- 
andaigua he was obliged to hold almost perpetual audience with self 
constituted delegations who would profess that they were decided 
conservatives and peace makers, as long as he dispensed his bread, 
meat and whiskey freely. Lingering sometimes quite too long to 
be agreeable or essential to the purposes of diplomacy, he would fit 
them out with a liberal " staff" and persuade the squaws to go back 
to their cornfields, and the Indians to their hunting camps in the 
forest. Mr. Berry at Canawagus, and Winney, the then almost 

NOTE. It is not the author s purpose to give the general history of Indian diffi 
culties at the west, at this period ; though it should be mentioned, for the information 
of those not conversant with what was then transpiring in that quarter, that the In 
dian confederacy, which had been revived, and the wars they waged, was to recover 
all of their country they had ceded to the United States south of the Ohio, which 
then contained about thirty-five thousand inhabitants. They insisted upon the Ohio 
as the boundary line, and in this, they were sustained and encouraged by the British. 
The expeditions of St. Clair and Wayne, were for enforcing previous treaties and 
punishing the Indians for their depredations committed upon those who had settled on 
ceded territory. 

* A bottle, and sometimes a teg of whiskey to which they gave this name. What 
a misnomer ! The emblem of strength and support was weakness, as has since beeu 
lamentably demonstrated. 



PHELPS AND GOPJIAM S PURCHASE. 297 

solitary resident upon the present site of Buffalo, were Indian 
traders, and acted as local sub-agents, the two first named es 
pecially. Upon the General s orders, and sometimes at their own 
discretion, they would dispense meats and drinks, and formidable 
accounts thereof would be presented. Winney occupying an im 
portant position with reference to Indian relations, kept the General 
apprised of all that was going on in that quarter. The United 
States having passed a stringent law prohibiting wholly the selling 
of liquor to the Indians and trading among them without license, an 
onerous task was imposed upon the superintendent to prevent its 
infraction. School masters, missionaries and blacksmiths, among the 
Indians had to be cared for, and their various wants supplied. In 
all difficulties that arose between the white settlers and the Indians, 
the superintendent was usually called upon to be the arbitrator. If 
the Indians stole from the white settlers, complaints were made to the 
superintendant and it seemed to have been a matter of inference 
that his office "imposed upon him the duty of seeing all such wrongs 
redressed. It will surprise those who are not conversant with the 
scale of economy upon which our national affairs commenced, that 
the pay for all this, which was attended with large disbursement of 
public money, for which the most rigid accountability was deman 
ded, was but five hundred dollars per annum. 

The season of 1791 opened with gloomy prospects: Negotia 
tions with the western Indians had signally failed ; one army had 
been routed, and another defeated ; Indian murders of border settlers 
at the west continued ; a war with England was not improbable ;* 
and among the fearfully anticipated results in this region, was a 
renewal of the border wars, with the active participation of the 
legions of savage warriors at the west, added to increase its hor- 

NOTE. The following is a specimen of Mr. Winney s correspondence. Prince Ed 
ward was the afterwards Duke of Kent, the father of the present Queen of England. 
He had then a commission in the British army : 

BUFFALO CREEK, e 23d Aug., 1792. 

" I inform General Chapin that about 79 of the Canada Indians is gone to Detroit, 
they seem to be for Warr and a number of Indians more are expected to go up, I further 
inform you that the Indians of this place are to go up in the first Kings vessel tha 
comes down. Prince Edward is arrived at niagara should I hear anything worth while 
to write I shall let you know. I am your most obedient and very humble servant. 

C. WiNNEY. 

* The reader is reminded that a war between England and France had commenced 
England had prostrated American commerce by her arbitrary orders in council ; and 
impressment of American seamen, (of itself a sufficient cause of war,) was going on. 
19 



298 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 

rors. In the month of February, Lord Dorchester had returned 
from England, and meeting a deputation from the western Indians, 
had delivered to them an inflammatory speech, asserting among 
other things, that he should regard as invalid, any acquisition of the 
United States, of Indian lands since the peace of 1783. [Appen 
dix, No. 14.] This of course included all of the Genesee country. 
Following up the hostile demonstration, Gov. Simcoe, early in April, 
with a body of troops had proceeded to the west, and erected a 
Fort, at the foot of the Rapids of the Miami, far within the boun 
daries of the United States, as acknowleged in the treaty of 1783. 
Although General Chapin, as many of the old Pioneers well re 
member, endeavored to quiet alarm, and prevent the desertion of 
the country, he was far from feeling all the security and freedom from 
apprehension of danger, that he with good motives professed. All 
eyes were turned to him; from all the backwoods settlements, mes 
sengers would go to Canandaigua, to learn from him all that was 
going on to consult him as to anticipated danger; if he had 
shown misgivings, or favored alarm, a desertion of the country would 
have ensued, the necessity of which he was laboring to obviate. 
During the previous winter he had been to Philadelphia, and deliv 
ered to the President a message from a council of the Six Nations, 
and brought back an answer. In February he had convened a coun 
cil at Buffalo and delivered it. It had proved satisfactory except in 
one particular it had failed to give an explicit answer upon the 
vexed question of the disputed western boundary. He however 
distributed presents among them of which was a large supply of 
warm winter clothing and left them with renewed professions of 
peaceful intentions.* In April he wrote to the Secretary of War that 
he had entertained confidence that the Six Nations intended to hold a 
council with the U. States, in order to bring " about a general peace," 
but that he feared that the " inflammatory speech of Lord Dorches 
ter," (which had been interpreted to the Indians at Buffalo Creek, 
by Col, Butler.) " with what passed between the British and Indi 
ans on that occasion, had changed their intentions." "Captain 
Bomberry attended the council in behalf of the British government, 
and took pains on all occasions to inform the Indians that war between 

* At this period the Senecas were almost wholly clothed and fed by him. It was 
the only policy which could prevent them from resorting to the king s store house at 
Niagara. 



PHELPS AND GOKIIAM S PUKCIIASE. 299 

their government and ours, was inevitable. When I was at Buf 
falo Creek, Gov. Simcoe had gone to Detroit. He started for that 
place immediately on receiving Lord Dorchester s speech to the 
Indians." " The expenses of the Indians increase with the im 
portance they suppose their friendship to be to us ; however, you 
may be persuaded that I endeavor to make use of all the economy I 
can." The letter closes as follows : " This part of the country, be 
ing the frontier of the State of New York, is very much alarmed at the 
present appearance of war. Destitute of arms and ammunition, the 
scattered inhabitants of this remote wilderness would fall an easy prey 
to their savage neighbors, should they think proper to attack them." 

On the 5th of May, General Chapin informed the Secretary, that 
the British had commenced the erection of a Fort at Sandusky. 
" If," says he, " it is consistent with the views of the United States, 
to put any part of this country in a state of defence, this part of 
it calls aloud for it as much as any. We are totally unprovided 
with arms and ammunition, and our enemy is within a few miles 
of us. If 12 or 1500 stand of arms could be spared from the arse 
nals of the United States, to the inhabitants of this frontier, together 
with some ammunition, it would contribute much to their security."* 

The apprehension of danger extended over all the region west 
of Utica. In the small settlements that had been commenced in 
Onondaga, it had been enhanced by an unfortunate local occurrence: 
Early in the spring, Sir John Johnson, through an agent, had at 
tempted to take from Albany to Canada, a boat load of groceries 
and fruit trees. A party of men waylaid the boat at Three River 
Point, and plundered the entire cargo. It was a lawless attempt of 
individuals to take the power into their own hands, and redress na 
tional wrongs ; gratify an ill feeling against Johnson, and retaliate 
for British offences upon the Ocean/and the annoyances of Ameri 
can Lake commerce at Oswego. An invading force from Canada 
to land at Oswego, and march upon the settlements in Onondaga, 
was threatened and anticipated. Rumors came that Johnson and 
Brant were organizing for that purpose. 

In reference to the whole complexion of things at the west, and 
in Canada, the legislature of New York had resolved upon erecting 
fortifications upon the western borders, and had appropriated 

* Some f.rms and ammunition were shortly afterwards sent to Gen. Chapin, either 
by the general or state government. 



300 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 

12,000 for that purpose. The commissioners under the act, were 

Generals Stephen Van Rensselaer and William North, Adjt. Gen, 

David Van Home and Baron Steuben, who was then a resident 

of Oneida county. Soon after their appointment, they had enlisted 

u e co-operation of General Chap m, Charles Williamson and Robert 

arris, as to the location of the defences. Although Baron 

teuben came west, and corresponded with the last named gentle- 

lan in reference to the matter, the author can not learn that any 

hing was finally consummated west of Onondaga. Before any 

thing coufd have been matured, the clouds of war had began to dis 

perse. In the hour of alarm, the State commissioners came west 

as far as Salt Point, and ordered the erection of a block house, 

which was soon completed. The Baron mustered together the 

backwoodsmen of Onondaga, officered and inspected them ; a 

committee of public safety was organized. Before the block house 

was completed and garrisoned, on several occasions, the inhabitants 

fled to the woods with their most valuable effects. At this time, 

there was an unusual number of Indians at the British posts of Os- 

wego and Niagara ; it was inferred that they were only waiting for 

Wayne s defeat at the west, as a signal for a movement in this 

quarter. 

A new element of trouble was interposed to embarrass the rela 
tions of the Six Nations with the United States. Cornplanter, 
with a few other chiefs, had sold to the State of Pennsylvania a 
district of country along on the south shore of Lake Erie, which 
included Presque Isle. The act was strongly remonstrated against, 
and Pennsylvania was early informed that it had not the sanction 
of competant authority, and would be regarded by the Indians as a 
nullity ; but at a critical period, the authorities of Pennsylvania 
very inddiscreetly commenced an armed occupancy and surveys. 
This threatened to undo all that had been done by General Chapin 



. The author of the excellent History of Onondaga,, from which a portion of 
the account of movements in that quarter are derived, says: "Frederick William 
Augustus Baron de Steuben, once an aid-de-camp to Frederick the Great, King of 
Prussia, Quartermaster General, Chevalier of the Order of Merit, Grand Master of the 
Court of Hohenzollen, Colonel in the Circle of Suabia, Knight of the Order of Fideli 
ty, Commander-in-chief of the armies of the Prince of Baden, Major General of the 
armies of the United States, and Inspector General of the same the fortunate 
eoldier of fifty battles, an admirer of freedom, the friend of Washington, the man of 
virtue, fidelity and honor performed his last military service in reviewing a score of 
unarmed, half-clad militia, and in selecting a site for a block-house for the defence of 
the frontier of New York, in the county of Onondaga, at Salt Point, in 1794." 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 301 

to keep the Six nations quiet. He took the advantage of a visit of 
Capt. Williamson to the seat of government, to represent the con 
sequences, and induce the President to interfere and persuade the 
authorities of Pennsylvania to abandon the enterprise. In a letter 
to the Secretary of War, dated on the 7th of June, he had fore 
shadowed the difficulty that was springing up in a new quarter 
" The Cornplanter, whose steadiness and fidelity has been, until 
lately, unshaken, has, I am apprehensive, been induced to join 
their interests. He has lately returned from Niagara, loaded with 
presents. Shortly after his return to his home, he despatched run 
ners to the different tribes of the Six Nations, requesting them to 
meet in a general council at his castle, to proceed from thence to 
Venango ; informing them that an Indian had been killed by our 
people, and that it would be necessary for them to inquire into the 
circumstances." " I am afraid that the murder of the Indian is not 
the real cause of calling this council. The lands at Presque Isle, 
were sold to the State of Pennsylvania by Cornplanter, and a small 
party, without the consent of the nation. No division of the 
money was ever made. The Cornplanter has always denied h; ving 
made the sale, and they have never considered it as a valid one. 
The troops sent on by the State of Pennsylvania, prove to the In- 
dians that the property is considered by the State as belonging ot 
them ; and the Cornplanter, in order to extricate himself from the 
unpleasant situation he is placed in, is perhaps desirous of inflaming 
the Six Nations against the United States." General Chapin sig 
nified his intention of attending the council at Venango, as he had 
been invited, to thwart any mischief that might be engendered 
there. He succeeded, however, in changing the council to Buffalo 
Creek, to be held there on the 15th of June. 

Cornplanter was present at this council, and the principal speak 
er. He led off with a speech to be transmitted to the President, in 
which he nearly threw off all disguise, and from a conservative, be 
came an ultraist. He opened smoothly and artfully, however; ad 
dressing the President through Gen. Chapin, he said: "Brother, 
I have for a long time aimed at the good of both parties. I have 
paid you different compliments, as that of brother, and father, and 
now I shall call you friend. We were pleased when we heard that 
you was appointed to have chief command of the United States." 
He closed a long speech, and one of a good deal of ability, by join- 



302 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PUECHASE. 

ing the western Indians in their ultimatum, in reference to making 
the Ohio the boundary line; thus, in fact, nullifying his own acts. 
He demanded redress for two of their people killed by the whites ; 
and^even had the effrontery to complain of the occupation of 
Presque Isle, adding very significantly that it might "occasion 
many accidents," and presented the Gen. with ten strings of black 
wampum. General Chapin made a judicious reply ; and in answer 
to a request that Cornplanter had made in behalf of the Six 
Nations, for him to go to Presque Isle, disclaimed any right he had 
to interfere with the acts of Pennsylvania ; but said he would ac 
cept the invitation, and go there and give his advice. 

Accompanied by William Johnson, * two Seneca chiefs and ten 
Indians as a guard and as oars-men, General Chapin left Buffalo 
Creek on the 19th of July for Presque Isle, where he arrived on the 
24th. Their slow progress had been owing to head winds that 
frequently obliged them to camp on shore and await their subsiding. 
There were then no Indian or white occupants at Presque Isle. A 
company of troops and a corps of surveyors were stationed at Le 
Boeuf, on French Creek, 16 miles distant, to which place the em 
bassy plodded their way through the woods on foot. A Captain 
Denny commanded troops at Le. Boeuf, and Mr. Ellicott f was at 
the head of the surveyors. The arrival of the ambassador of peace 
and his dusky retinue, was honored by the discharge of cannon. 
Runners had preceded the party, and on its arrival, a considerable 
number of Indians were collected. General Chapin delivered to 
Messrs. Denny and Ellicott , a message from the chiefs he had met 
at Buffalo Creek, which contained a demand for the suspension of 
surveys and a withdrawal of the troops ; a day or two was spent in 
making speeches, and in friendly intercourse with the Indians. The 
council, or interview, terminated in a promise from General Chapin 
of a general treaty to settle not only that, but all existing difficul 
ties, and the representatives of Pennsylvania signified a willingness 
to abide by the result. Before leaving Le Boeuf, General Chapin 
despatched a letter to the Secretary of War, in which he said, that 

* Johnson was a trader and interpreter in the British interests, residing at Buffalo 
Creek. When the Holland Company purchased, lie owned, by deed of gift from the 
Indians, almost the entire site of the present city of Buffalo. A compromise gave 
him 45 acres, now in the heart of the city, and a tract of wild land near the city. He 
had been a Butler Ranger. He died in 1807 

t Either Joseph or Benjamin Ellicott. 



PHELPS AND GoiuiAivrs PURCHASE. 303 

" although the minds of the Six Natio ns are much disturbed at the 
injuries they say they have sustained, they are still opposed to war, 
and wish, if possible, to live in peace with the United States. 
They are much opposed to the establishing of a garrison at this 
place, as they say it will involve them in a war with the hostile 
Indians. * They are likewise much displeased with the having 
those lands surveyed, as they say they have not been legally pur 
chased." In this letter, General Chapin earnestly recommended a 
general treaty, as the only means which could keep the Six Nations 
aloof from the dangerous confederacy at the west. 

To the letter of General Chapin, the Secretary answered on the 
25th of July, saying;. "Your ideas of a conference are adopted. 
It will be held at Canandaigua on the 8th of September. Colonel 
Pickering will be the commissioner, to be assisted by you in all re 
spects. Notify the Six Nations that their father, the President of 
the United States, is deeply concerned to hear qf any dissatisfac 
tion existing in their minds against the United States, and there 
fore invites them to a conference, for the purpose of removing all 
causes of misunderstanding, and establishing a permanent peace 
and friendship between the United States and the Six Nations." 

No time was lost by General Chapin in disseminating the invi 
tation among the Indians ; holding " talks " and councils with them, 
personally, in their villages. A crisis w r as at hand ; Gen. Wayne 
was marching into the Indian country ; legions of the western and 
southern Indians were assembling to give him battle ; unless the 
Six Nations were diverted, there was strong probability that they 
would be with them ; and if Gen. Wayne was defeated, there was 
the additional fearful probability that an attempt of the confederates 
would follow, to address the alleged wrongs of the Six Nations, by 
bringing the war to this region. Runners, or messengers, were 
despatched to the seat of government ; frequent communications 
passed betwen Generals Knox and Chapin, and frequent speeches 
came from the President, through General Knox, to the Six Nations. 
On the 30th of July, General Chapin reported progress, and inform 
ed General Knox that the complexion of things at the west looked 
discouraging ; that although he entertained hopes of a general at- 



* Oblige them to join the hostile Indians, it is presumed, is the meaning intended 
to be conve) r ed. 



304 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

tendance at the treaty, he had to stem a strong tide of opposition, 
principally instigated by the British. " Captain O. Bail does not 
feel satisfied respecting his villanous conduct in making sale of the 
lands at Presque Isle, which gives general dissatisfaction to the Six 
Nations, as they were not informed of his proceedings. The In 
dians enmity to him, induces him to be more attached to the 
British, as they tolerate every kind of such conduct to disturb the 
Indians and bring about their own purposes." In this letter, the 
General mentions that the warriors on the Allegany had been per 
suaded that Wayne would march in this direction, and had re 
moved their old men, women, and children, to a new location on 
he Cattaraugus Creek, with the ultimate intention, as he thought, 
of crossing the Lake to Canada. 

In the fore part of September, General Chapin employed William 
Ewing, whom the reader will find alluded to in connection with 
reminiscences of Pioneer settlement on the Genesee river, to repair 
to Buffalo creek and Canada, use his influence in getting the Indi 
ans in that quarter to attend the treaty, and watch and counteract 
as far as possible, British interference. A letter from Mr. Ewing 
to General Chapin after his return, contains so much of the cotem- 
porary history of that period, that the author has inserted it entire 
in the Appendix, No. 15. 

The most ample provisions were made for the treaty ; while the 
Secretary of War would caution against the unnecessary expendi 
ture of public money, he transmitted funds liberally, and ample 
stores of Indian goods, liquors, tobacco, &c., were purchased in 
New York, sent up the Hudson, and started upon the long and tedious 
water transit, while at Canandaigua, the local superintendent, laid 
in provisions and prepared to fulfil a promise to the Indians, that he 
would "hang on big kettles." Col. Pickering wrote to General 
Chapin to have quarters provided for him where he could entertain 
friends ; that he ha.l sent on liquors, provisions, tea and coffee, for 
a private establishment. 

The Indians gathered tardily. Col. Pickering anticipating this, 
did not arrive until after the 20th of September. In a letter to the 
Secretary, dated on the 17th, Gen. Chapin mentions a rumor, that 
Wayne had defeated the Indians. In reference to the treaty he 
says : " Since the Indians were first invited to it, the British have 
endeavored if possible to prevent their attendance, and have used. 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 305 

every endeavor to persuade them to join the hostile Indians, till at 
last they found the Indians would not generally join in the war, 
the Governor told them in the council at Fort Erie, that they might 
attend the treaty, and if anything was given them by the Ameri 
cans, to take it." " The Indians will generally attend the treaty in 
my opinion, or especially those of the best part of them ; such as 
are generally in council, and the best friends to the United States." 

Previous to the treaty, or Wayne s victory, a little light had broke 
in to the darkness that pervaded. The prospect of a general war 
with England was lessened. Gen. Knox wrote to Gen. Chapin in 
June, that the " British conduct in the West Indies," and Lord 
Dorchester s speech had " rendered it pretty conclusive^that last au 
tumn the ministry of Great Britain entertained the idea of making 
war upon us. It is however, now pretty certain that they have 
altered or suspended that intention. This conclusion is drawn from 
the orders of the 8th of January, and the general opinion enter 
tained in Great Britain." Favorable as were these indications, 
they had no immediate effect upon British agents in this quarter. 

It was not until near the middle of October, that a sufficient num 
ber of Indians were collected at Canandaigua, to warrant the com 
mencement of business. About that period General Chapin wrote 
to the Secretary, that he should " endeavor to make use of the 
shortest ceremony in procuring supplies, but the number of Indians 
is greater than I expected, and the expenses also." It is apparent 
from the cotemporary records, that the Six Nations, a large propor 
tion of them at least, hung back from this treaty, even until they 
began to hear of Wayne s victory, from such of their number as 
had been in the fight, as allies of the confederates ; and in fact they 
did not assemble at Canandaigua, in any considerable numbers, un 
til Wayne s success was fully confirmed, and they were clearly con 
vinced that the fortunes of war had turned decidedly against those 
with whom they would have been fully allied, if Wayne had met 
with no better success than had his predecessors, Harmar and St. 
Clair. 

The general proceedings, and favorable termination of Picker 
ing s treaty of 1701, at Canandaigua, are already incorporated in 
history. Wayne s victory, and the success of the treaty, which 
was in a great measure consequent upon it, were the commence 
ment of events that finally gave a feeling of security to this region, 



306 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 

and enabled settlements and improvements to go on, unannoyed by 
the alarms and prospects of war and invasion. There was a lin 
gering state of uncertainty after the two fortunate events; for 
months rumors came, that the western confederates were again 
making a stand, and refusing any compromise ; indications in Can 
ada, and at the British posts at the west, favored the conclusion of 
British alliance with them ; but the news at last came, that the far 
western nations were retiring across the Mississippi, discomfited, 
and chagrined with an alledged breach of faith on the part of the 
British, in not coming to the rescue when they \vere hotly pressed 
by Wayne in shutting the gates of their fortress against them, 
when his iron hail was strewing the ground with their warriors ; * 
and finally, that the nations more immediately interested in the con 
test, had signified their willingness to do what was soon after con 
summated at the treaty of Grenv ille. Jay s treaty followed, Oswego 
and Niagara were surrendered, and years of peace and security 
followed, and continued until the war of 1812. 

The Hon. Thomas Morris, it will have been seen, was a citizen 
of Canandaigua. He was present at the treaty. He tnus speaks 
of it in his manuscript reminiscences : " For some months prioi 
to the treaty at Canandaigua, the Indians would come among us 
painted for war ; their deportment was fierce and arrogant : such 
as to create the belief that they would not be unwilling to take up 
the hatchet against us. From certain expressions attributed to 
Gov. Simcoe, in connection with his conduct at Sodus Bay, it was 
believed that the British had taught the Indians to expect that Gen. 
Wayne would be defeated, in which event they might easily have 
persuaded the Six Nations, to make common cause with the hostile 
Indians, and our settlements would have been depopulated. Such 
were the apprehensions entertained at the time of an Indian war on 
our borders, that in several instances, farmers were panic struck, and 
with the dread of the scalping knife before them, had pulled up 
stakes, and with their families, were on their way to the East. Ar 
rived at Canandaigua, they found that I was painting my house, 
and making improvements about it ; believing that I possessed better 
information on the subject than they did, their fears became quieted. 



* Mr. Morris says that the hostile Indians at the west, sent runners to the Canandai 
gua treaty with a full account of their disaster, which closed by saying : " And our 
brethren, the British, looked on, and gave us not the least assistance. 5 



PHELPS AltD GORIIAM s PURCHASE. 

and they retraced their steps back to their habitations. After the 
defeat of the hostile Indians, those of the Six Nations became com 
pletely cowed ; and, from that time all apprehensions of a war with 
them vanished. 

Brant has almost been lost sight of in the progress of this narra 
tive ; though he was by no means inactive. He was in correspond- 
dence with General Chapin, on terms of personal friendship with 
him, receiving from his hands considerable sums of money in pay 
ment for promised services ; but it is impossible to avoid the con 
clusion that he was insincere and faithless. His own partial biog 
rapher, Col. Stone, places him in arms, with an hundred Mohawks, 
against St. Glair, and gives a letter of his to Gov. Simcoe, in which 
he acknowledges the receipt of ammunition from the British, and 
said he was about to join his camp of warriors at " Point Appineu,"* 
to act in co-operation with Cornplanter in an attack upon Le Boeuf. 
In short, with the exception of a growing distaste for war, of which 
he had had a surfeit, his relations to the British government, and 
attachment to its interests, were not materially changed, until grow 
ing out of land difficulties in Canada, he had a quarrel with the 
colonial authorities. Cornplanter finally made some amends for 
the conduct of which Gen. Chapin so very justly complained. 

The visit of General Chapin to the disputed territory in Penn 
sylvania, as a mediator, and the fortunate turn he gave to affairs by 
his judicious suggestion of a general treaty, was an important event 
not only to this region, but to our whole country. It diverted the Six 
Nations from marching against Wayne ; had they been in main force 
with the confederates, the result of the contest, in all probability, 
would have been adverse. Little Turtle would have been aided 
by the counsels of "older and better" warriors than himself; the 
ancient war cry of the Iroquois that had so often spread dismay and 
terror among the confederates, would have been equally potent in 
rallying them in a common cause of their race. In a letter to Gen. 
Knox, dated in December, alter the treaty, in which he congratu 
lates the Government through him of the favorable turn of affairs, 
and gives the assurance of a settled state of things in this region, 
General Chapin says : " My journey to Le Boeuf, I shall ever 
believe was the means of preventing the Six Nations from lending 

* Point Abino on the Canada side of Lake Erie. 



308 PHELPS Am) GORHAM S PUKOHASE. 

their assistance to their western brothers, as they term them ; and 
in which I got my present sickness from which I am fearful I shall 
never recover. But believe me, Sir, to be useful to the frontier upon 
which I live, and my country in general, has been the prevailing 
object of my pursuits. " 

Other than the mutual pledges of peace and friendship which 
was made at the treaty, the settling of the lands about Presque Isle 
was the important consummation. This was the result of a com 
promise. By the treaty at Fort Stanwix, the western boundary of 
the Senecas was a line due south from the mouth of Buffalo creek 
to the Pennsylvania line ; thus cutting them off from Lake Erie and 
taking from them all the territory that is now embraced in Chautauque 
county, besides a strip which is now in Cattaraugus, and a gore in 
Erie county. This was restored, making their western boundary 
the shore of Lake Erie, and a strip of land on the Niagara River, 
an addition to what had been ceded to Great Britain, was also res 
tored. The Senecas surrendered -all claim to a smaller amount of 
land the triangle at Presque Isle. 

In the Maryland Journal of Nov. 5th, 1794, there is a letter dated 
at Whitestown, in this state, which says that " Wm. Johnston a 
British Indian agent " was present at the treaty and secretly at 
tempted a diversion of the Indians. The author finds bnt little of 
this in General Chapin s correspondence with Gen. Knox, but he 
infers that something of the kind occurred. In a letter to Brant 
General Chapin speaks of the sudden departure of Johnston from 
the treaty ground, as if he had advised it in consequence of a fear 
that some outrage would be committed upon him by citizens in at 
tendance ; as if he had interfered, and a summary punishment was 
threatened. 

The forebodings of General Chapin, in his last letter to General 
Knox, in reference to his declining health, unhappily for his country, 
and especially the local region where he had been so useful, was des 
tined to be realized. He continued to decline, under the effects of 
what is presumed to have been in some form the then prevailing 
disease of the country, which finally terminated in dropsy. He 
died on the 7th of March, 1795, aged 54 years. In the discharge 
of his official duties, he had won the esteem and confidence of the 
government, testimonials of which were given before and after his 
death. Apprized of his illness, his friend Colonel Pickering, who had 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 309 

succeeded Gen. Knox as Secretary of War, carefully consulted the 
eminent physician, Dr. Rush, and communicated his advice by 
letter ; and equal solicitude was felt throughout a large circle of ac 
quaintance. In all this local region, his death was mourned as that 
of a puhlic benefactor ; and no where more sincerely than among the 
Indians, whose esteem he had won by his uniform kindness and 
strict regard for their welfare. Soon after his death a large num 
ber of chiefs assembled at Canandaigua, and in public council de 
monstrated their high sense of tha loss they had sustained, Red 
Jacket, addressing Captains Israel Chapin and Parrish, said : 

" BROTHERS I wish you to pay attention to what I have to say. 
We have lost a good friend ; the loss is as great to us as to you. 
We consider that we of the Six Nations, as well as the United 
States, have met with a great loss. A person that we looked up to 
as a father ; a person appointed to stand between us and the United 
States, we have lost, and it gives our minds great uneasiness. 
He has taken great pains to keep the chain of friendship bright be 
tween us and the United States ; now that he is gone, let us pre 
vent that agreeableness and friendship, which he has held up between 
us and the United States, from failing. 

"BROTHERS It has been customary among the Six Nations, 
when they have lost a great chief, to throw a belt in his place after 
he is dead and gone. We have lost so many of late, that we are 
destitute of a belt, and in its place we present you with these strings, 
[9 strings black and white wampum.] 

" BROTHERS As it is a custom handed down to us by our fath 
ers, to keep up the good old ancient rules, now we visit the grave 
of our friend, we gather leaves and strew them over the grave, and 
endeavor to banish grief from our minds, as much as we can." [14 
strings black and white wampum.] 

After this the chiefs adopted a message to be sent to the Presi 
dent, informing him that the " person whom he had appointed for 
us to communicate our minds to, has now left us and gone to ano 
ther world. He with the greatest care communicated our minds to 
the great, council fire." They concluded the message by recapitu 
lating the services that had been rendered them by Captain Israel 
Chapin, his son ; reminded the President that he is conversant with 
all the relations of his father with then), and request that he may- 
succeed to his place. 



310 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

The President being of the same mind of the Indians, the ap 
pointment of Captain Israel Chapin soon followed. In announcing 
to him his appointment, Mr. Pickering says : " The affairs of the 
Six Nations will henceforward be managed with much less trouble 
than formerly. The treaty made with them last, fall, must supersede 
all pre-existing cause of complaint. The treaty entered into by Mr. 
Jay with Great Britain, will, I trust, rid you of all such embarrass 
ments, as heretofore have sprung from British influence, and peace 
with the western Indians, is now in fair prospect. The hostile na 
tions have all sent in their chiefs to Gen. Wayne, to sue for peace ; 
and have agreed upon a treaty, to be held at his head quarters, about 
the first of June next. So your principal concern will be to pro 
tect the tribes under your superintendence from injury and imposi 
tion, which too many of our own people are disposed to practice 
upon them ; and diligently to employ all the means under your di 
rection, to promote their comfort and improvement." 

As the Secretary suggested, the principal difficulties with the Six 
Nations had been adjusted, but a vast amount of labor and responsi 
bility still devolved upon the local agency. Annuities were to be 
paid, not only the general ones, but special ones, to a large num 
ber of chiefs and warriors, who had recommended themselves to 
favor ; schools and school-masters were to be looked to ; blacksmiths 
were to be employed and superintended in all the principal Indian 
villages ; depredations upon Indian lands were to be prevented, and 
frequent difficulties between Indian and white settlers were to be 
adjusted ; Indians killed by the white men were to be paid for.* 
The Indians had learned to lean upon the local Superintendent with 
all the dependence of childhood. All these arduous duties seem to 
have been faithfully discharged until 1802, when he was removed 
from the agency. His successor was Captain Callender Irwin, of 
Erie, Pennsylvania. The change would seem to have been one 
of an ordinary political character, and not from any cause that im 
plicated his private or official character. 

In connection with these events, it should be mentioned that 

* Killing was a matter of business compromise : " Received of Israel Olmpin, 
agent of Indian affairs for the Six Nations, two hundred dollars, to satisfy the widow 
and children of a deceased Indian, who was murdered at Venango, in 1795, by a sol 
dier of that garrison. his 

Witness, Win. Johnston, Jasper ParrisL JOHN X O BAIL. 

Canandaigua, April 8, 1797. mark. 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 311 

the Six Nations found in the Yearly Meeting of the society of 
Friends of Philadelphia early and faithful guardians of their inter 
ests and welfare. A committee of their number hospitably enter 
tained their chiefs when they visited Philadelphia ; at the especial 
request of the chiefs, a committee attended the treaty of 94, at 
Canandaigua. For almost half a century there has been a standing 
committee of that Yearly Meeting, having especial care of the 
Six Nations. In I79G this committee, availing themselves of a 
visit of Jasper Parrish to the seat of government, prevailed upon 
him to visit the Indians and tender to them their assistance in a 
plan to instruct them in " husbandry and the most neccessary arts 
of civil life. " They soon after established schools, sent men and 
women among them to teach them farming and house work, and 
built mills for them, in at least one locality. 

The sons of General Israel Chapin were : Thaddeus, who was 
an early merchant in Canandaigua. and subsequently, a large farmer 
near the village ; Israel, the official successor of his father, who was 
the founder of what was called " Chapin s Mills, " a few miles north 
of Canandaigua, on the Palmyra road ; the only survivors of his 
family, are, Mrs. John Greig, and a maiden sister ; Henry, who was 
an early merchant in Buffalo, a resident of Ohio ; and George, a 
farmer near Canandaigua. A daughter of General Chapin, was 
the wife of Benjamin Wells, who came to Canandaigua with his 
father-in-law, in 1789. The surviving sons of Mr. Wells are, 
Walter Wells, of Webster, Monroe county, Benjamin Wells, of 
Conhocton, and Clement Wells, of Canandiagua. A daughter 
became the wife of Jonas Williams, who was one the founders of 
the village ol Williamsville, Erie co. 



JASPER PARRISH. 

His family were emigrants from the state of Connecticut to the 
head waters of the Delaware river in this State, where they were 
residing on the breaking out of the border wars. In 1778, when 
but eleven years of age, the subject of this sketch was with his 
father, who was six miles from home, assisting a family of back 
woodsmen to move nearer the settlement, where they would be less 
exposed. Attacked by a small party of Munsee Indians, they were 
made captives. The father was taken to Niagara, and after being a 



312 PHELPS AKD GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

captive two years, was exchanged and enabled to rejoin his family. 
The protector of young Jasper, was a war chief, by whom he 
was well treated. After remaining a while at the " Cook House," 
he was taken to Chemung. When entering the Indian village, the 
war party that accompanied him set up the war shout when a posse 
of Indians and Indian boys sall ed out and met them ; pulling the 
young prisoner from the horse he was riding, they scourged him 
with whips and beat him cruelly with the handles of their toma 
hawks subjected him to one form of their gauntlet until his 
master humanely rescued him. He was soon after sold by his 
master to an Indian family of Delawares, and taken to reside with 
them at their village on the south side of the Delaware river, where 
he remained during the year 1779, suffering a good deal during the 
winter for the want of warm clothing, and in consequence of the 
scanty fare of the Indians. To inure him to cold, the Indians com 
pelled him almost daily, to strip and plunge into the ice and water 
of the river. Adopted by the family who had become his owners, 
he was kindly treated, and accompanied them in all their hunting 
and fishing excursions. 

He was at Newtowh with his captors, when Sullivan invaded 
their country, and used to relate what transpired there : As the 
army approached New town point, a large body of Indians collected 
four -miles below to make an attack, after having placed their squaws, 
prisoners and baggage in a safe place. They soon found they could 
not stand their ground, and sent runners to the squaws directing 
them, to retreat up the river to Painted Post, where they followed 
them soon after. The whole made a hasty march to Niagara, via 
Bath, Geneseo and Tonawanda. The family to whom Parrish be 
longed were of this retreating party. In a short time after their 
arrival, nearly the whole of the Six Nations were encamped on the 
plain, in the vicinity of the Fort. They subsisted upon salted pro 
visions during the winter, dealt out to them from the British garrison, 
and great numbers died in consequence. To induce them to dis 
perse and go back to their villages on the Genesee river, or go out 
on scouting parties, the British officers offered them an increased 
bounty for American scalps. 

Before winter young Parrish was sold for twenty dollars, to Cap 
tain David Hill, " a large fine looking Mohawk Indian," a relation 
of Joseph Brant, who conducted him to his tent and gave him to 



PHELPS AND GOEHAMS PURCHASE. 313 

understand that he would thereafter live with him. He disliked 
the change of masters at the time ; it involved the necessity of 
learning another Indian language, and he had become attached to the 
Delaware family ; but it all turned out for the best. He resided in 
the family of Captain Hill for five years, in all of which time he 
was kindly treated, and well provided for. His time was chiefly 
spent in accompanying the Indians in travelling excursions, hunting, 
fishing, and when put to labor, but light tasks were imposed upon 
him. Soon after he was purchased by Captain Hill, a general 
council of the British and Indians took place at Fort Niagara ; upon 
which occasion Capt. Hill took his young American captive into the 
midst of an assembly of chiefs, and adopted him as his son, going 
through the ceremony of placing a large belt of wampum around 
his neck. After which an old chief took him by the hand and 
made a speech, as is customary on such occasions, accompanying it 
with a great deal of solemnity of manner. Then the chiefs arose 
and all shook hands with the adopted captive. 

On one occasion, while with the Delaware family at Niagara, he 
came near being the victim of the British bounty for scalps. Left 
alone with some Indians who were on a carousal, he overheard one 
propose to another, that they should kill the "young Yankee," take 
his scalp to the Fort and sell it for rum. In a few minutes one of 
them took a large brand from the fire and hurled it at his head, but 
being on the alert, he dodged it and made his escape. The Indians 
pursued him, but it being dark he was enabled to avoid them. 

In May, 1780, Brant founded a village of Mohawks near the pres 
ent village of Lewiston, to which Capt. Hill removed. There Par- 
rish remained until the close of the Revolution. He travelled with 
his Indian father a good deal among other Indian tribes, by whom 
he was always well treated. At the treaty of Fort Stanwix, in 1784, 
he with other prisoners, were surrendered in accordance with treaty 
stipulations. He immediately joined his father s family, whom he 
found in Goshen, Orange county. Having nearly lost the use of 
his own language, he attended school for about one year, which was 
all the opportunity for acquiring an education he ever enjoyed, 
other than what a strong native intellect enabled him to acquire in 
his intercourse with the world. 

He was employed by Mr. Pickering in his Indian treaty in 1790, 
and 91, and his qualifications as an interpreter, together with his 
20 



314 PHELPS AOT) GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 

character for faithfulness and integrity, coming to the knowledge 
of the then Secretary of War, General Knox, he employed him in 
the Indian department in 1792, giving him a letter to General Cha- 
pin, with whom he became associated as interpreter for the Six 
Nations. In all the crisis of Indian difficulties, he was the active 
co-operater of General Chapin, and contributed much to the final 
adjustment of them. A " winged Mercury/ in the earliest years 
his appointment after he was now here, and now there ; alter 
nating between the seat of government, at Philadelphia, Buffalo 
Creek, Genesee River, Onondaga, Oneida and Canandaigua ; the 
interpreter at councils, and the bearer of messages. The captive 
boy of the Indian wigwams, becoming a man, remembered on]y the 
virtues and kindnesses of his captors not the wrongs they had 
inflicted upon him or his countrymen and was the faithful inter 
preter of their complaints and grievances to him, whom they called 
their "Father, the great chief of the Thirteen Fires" Washing 
ton. In 1803 he had the additional appointment of local Indian 
agent, and continued to hold both offices, through all the changes 
oY the administration of the general government, down to the 
second term of General Jackson s administration. 

He retained to the close of his life, a strong attachment to the 
Indians, as was the case generally with liberated captives ; and by 
means of his position, and the influence he had acquired with 
them, was enabled to render them essential service ; to assist in 
ameliorating their condition, by introducing among them the Chris 
tian religion, schools and agricultural pursuits. While a prisoner, 
he acquired the Mohawk language, and before the close of his life, 
he spoke that of five of the Six Nations with great fluency. 
Captain Parrish died at his residence in Canandaigua, July 12th, 
1836, in the 69th year of his age. 

He married in early life, a daughter of General Edward Paine, 
one of the Pioneers of the western Reserve, and the founder of 
Painesville. She died in 1837. His surviving sons are, Isaac, a 
farmer on the Lake shore, near Canandaigua ; Stephen and Ed 
ward, residents of the village of Canandaigua. One of his daughters 
became the wife of Ebenezer S. Cobb, of Michigan, who was lost 
with the ill-fated Erie, near Dunkirk, in 1841 ; another, the wife 
of Peter Townsend, of Orange county ; and another, the wife of 
William W. Gorham. of Canandaigua. 



PHELPS AXD GORHAM S PURCHASE. 315 



CHAPTER IV. 



ATTEMPT OF GOV. SIMCOE TO BREAK UP THE SETTLEMENTS OF THE 
GENESEE COUNTRY. 



THE reader has already learned, generally, what was the temper 
and bearing of the British authorities in Canada, touching the early 
Pioneer movements in the Genesee country. A British and Indian 
alliance, a connected movement, having in view the re-possession 
of the country, was with much difficulty but barely prevented. 
In all the controversy or pending the issue of the whole matter 
there was, other than what may have transpired at the west, but 
one overt act, in pursuance of British pretensions and threats. This 
was an actual invasion, by a British armed force, of the Genesee 
country, at Sodus Bay. 

Previous to coming in possession of the valuable manuscripts of 
the late Thomas Morris, the author had drawn up for this work, an 
account of the event, the materials for which were derived prin 
cipally from the papers of Mr. Williamson. Mr. Morris having 
included it in his reminiscences, it being a matter, " all of which 
he saw, and a part of which he was/ his history of the transaction 
is substituted : 

" Gov. Simcoe had, from his first assuming the government of 
Upper Canada, evinced the greatest jealousy of the progress of the 
settlement of our western country ; he was even said to have 
threatened to send Captain Williamson to England in irons, if he 
ever ventured to come into Canada. In 1794, Capt. Williamson 
had commenced a settlement at Sodus Bay. 

In the month of August of that year, Lieut. Sheaffe, of the 
British army, (now Major General Sir Roger Hale Sheaffe, who, 
during the last war, commanded at the battle of Queenston, after 
the death of Gen. Brock,) was sent by Governor Simcoe, with a 



316 PHELPS AND GOKH Ail s PURCHASE. 

protest to be delivered to Captain Williamson, protesting against 
the prosecution of the settlement of Sodus, and all other Ameri 
can settlements beyond the old French line, during the inexecution 
of the treaty that terminated the Revolutionary war. Finding 
there only an agent of Mr. Williamson s, (a Mr. Moffat, who is yet 
living,) Lieut. Sheaffe informed him of the nature of his mission, 
and requested him to make it known to Capt. Williamson, and to 
inform him that he would return in ten days, when he hoped to 
meet Capt. Williamson there. Mr. Moffat came to me at Canan- 
daigua, to acquaint me with what had taken place, and induce me 
to accompany him to Bath, to confer with Capt. Williamson in re 
lation to this very extraordinary protest. I accordingly went to 
Bath, and it was agreed between Capt. Williamson and myself, that 
we would both meet Lieut. Sheaffe at Sodus, at the time he had ap 
pointed to be there. Accordingly, on the day named by Lieut. 
Sheaffe, we were at Sodus ; and shortly after our arrival there, we 
perceived on the lake, a boat rowed by about a dozen British 
soldiers, who, after landing their officer, were directed by him to 
pull off some distance in the bay, and remain there until he made a 
signal to return for him. Capt. Williamson, in consequence of the 
threats imputed to Gov. Simcoe, in relation to himself, did not think 
proper to expose himself unnecessarily to any act of violence, if 
any such should have been meditated against him. He therefore 
requested me to receive Lieut. Sheaffe on the beach, and to ac 
company him to the log cabin where Capt. Williamson was, with a 
brace of loaded pistols on his table. The ordering his men to re 
main at a distance from the shore, shows that the precaution that 
had been taken, though proper at the time, was unnecessary, 
and that no resort to force was intended. The meeting between 
the Lieut, and Mr. Williamson, was friendly ; they had known each 
other before ; and while in the same service, had marched through 
some part of England together. The Lieut, handed to Capt. Wil 
liamson the protest, and was desired by the Capt. to inform Gov- 
Simcoe that he would pay no attention to it, but prosecute his set 
tlement, the same as if no such paper had been delivered to him ; 
that if any attempt should be made forcibly to prevent him from 
doing so, that attempt would be repelled by force. Lieut. Sheaffe 
having, during the interview between them, made some allusion to 
Capt. Williamson having once held a commission in the British 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 317 

army, he replied, that while in the service of the Crown, he had 
faithfully performed his duty ; that having since renounced his al 
legiance to that Crown, and became a citizen of the United States, 
his adopted country, having both the ability and the inclination, 
would protect him in his rights, and the possession of his property, 
I asked Lieut. Sheaffe if he would be so good as to explain what 
was meant by the old French line, where it ran, and what portion 
of our country we were forbidden in Gov. Simcoe s protest, to oc 
cupy. He replied, that he was merely the bearer of the paper ; that 
by the orders of his superior officer, he had handed it to Capt. Wil 
liamson ; that no explanation had been given to him of its purport, 
nor was he authorized to give any. After about half an hour, I 
accompanied him to the beach, where he had landed ; and on a 
signal having been made by him, his boat returned for him, and he 
departed. This is what my father, in his letter of the 10th of Sep 
tember, 1794, alludes to, and terms a treaty, and for which he hopes 
that Simcoe will get a rap over the knuckles from his master. So 
many years have elapsed since the complaints made both by the 
British and our own Government, were adjusted by negotiation, 
that you may be at a loss to know what Governor Simcoe meant 
when he spoke of the inexecution of the treaty that terminated our 
Revolutionary struggle. The complaint on the part of Great 
Britain, was, that those parts of the treaty which required that 
those States in which British subjects were prevented by law, from 
recovering debts due to them prior to the Revolution, had been re 
pealed, as by the treaty, they ought to have been, and also, 
that British property had been confiscated, since the period limited 
in the treaty for such confiscations, and no compensation had 
been made to the injured parties. On our part, the complaint was, 
that after the cessation of hostilities, negroes and other property, 
were carried away by the British army, contrary to stipulations en- 
tered into by the preliminary treaty of peace. The British retain 
ed possession. of the posts on our borders, and within our bounds, 
until an amicable settlement of these difficulties, and which settle 
ment, I think, took place in 1796." 



TE. The conversation that passed between Mr. Williamson and Lieut. Sheaffe, 
as copied from Mr. Williamson s autograph, is as follows : 

LIEUT. SHEAFFE. "lam commissioned by Governor Simcoe to deliver the papers, 
and require an answer." 

MR. WILLIAMSON. "I am a citizen of the United States, and under their authori- 



318 PHELPS AOT> GOBHAM S PUKCHASE. 

The news of this hostile demonstration on the part of one, seem 
ing to act by authority from the British government, was soon 
spread through all the backwoods settlements of the Genesee coun 
try. At no period since the settlement commenced, had the con 
duct of the Indians so much favored the worst apprehensions. Har- 
mar and St. Clair had in turn been defeated and repulsed by the 
western Indians, and the issue that Wayne had made with them 
was pending; his defeat being not improbable, in view of the for 
midable enemy with which he had to contend. Evidences of 
British aid to the western Indians, against General Wayne, was 
furnished by returning adventurers from the west, and every travel 
ler that came through the wilderness from Niagara, confirmed the 
worst suspicions of all that was going on at that focus of British 
machinations, against the peace of the defenceless border settlers. 
It was, too, ominous of danger, that the Senecas in their immedi 
ate neighborhood, in their midst, it may almost be said, had armed and 
moved off in considerable numbers, to become confederates against 
General Wayne, bearing upon their persons the blankets, the broad 
cloths, calicoes, and war decorations, served to them from the king s 
store house at Niagara, by the hands of one whose very very name* 
was a terror, for it was mingled with the chiefest horrors, and 
the darkest deeds of the Border Wars of the Revolution. Wayne 
defeated, it was but natural to suppose that the Senecas who had gone 
west and made themselves confederates against him, would bring 
back with them upon their war path, allies from the western tribes, to 
renew the bloody scenes that had been enacted upon the banks of the 
Mohawk and Susquehannah. Such being the cotemporary state 



ty and protection, I possess these lands. I know no right that his Britannic Majesty, 
or Gov. Simcoe, has to interfere, or molest me. The only allegiance I owe to any 
power on earth, is to the i nited States ; and so far from being intimidated by threats 
from people I have no connection with, I shall proceed with my improvements ; and 
nothing but superior force shall make me abandon the place. Is the protest of Gov. 
Simcoe intended to apply to Sodus, exclusively ?" 

LIEUT. SHEAFFE. "By no means ! It is intended to embrace all the Indian lands 
purchased since the peace of 1783." 

MR. WILLIAMSON. "And what are Gov. Simcoe s intentions, supposing the protest 
is disregarded ?" 

LIEUT. SHEAFFE. "I am merely the official bearer of the papers; but I have a 
further message to deliver from Gov. Simcoe ; which is that he reprobates your con 
duct exceedingly for endeavoring to obtain flour from Upper Canada ; and that should 
he permit it, it would be acknowledging the right of the United States to these In 
dian lands." 

* Col. John Butler. 



PIIELPS ATsT) GCRHAM S PURCHASE. 319 

of things, it is hardly to be wondered, that the landing of a small 
body of British troops upon the soil of the Genesee country ; though 
they came but small in numbers, their errand but to bring a threat 
ening protest, was a circumstance of no trifling magnitude. And the 
reader will not fail to. take into the account, how feeble in numbers, 
how exposed, and how weak in all things necessary to a successful 
defence, was the then new settlements of the Genesee country. In 
all this he will be aided by a brief retrospect of the commencement 
and progress of settlement ; and added to what this will show, 
should be the consideration, that the settlers came into the wilder 
ness unprepared for war. They came, relying upon a treaty of 
peace. Wearied with war and all its harrassing effects, they had 
more than figuratively beat their swords into ploughshares, and 
their spears into pruning hooks. They had come to subdue the wil 
derness, and not to subdue their fellow men. The rumors of war 
came to the sparse settlements, and the solitary log-cabins dotted 
down in the wilderness, like the decrees of fate, to be added to all 
the sufferings and endurances of pioneer, life. But a few weeks 
previous to all this, there had been, as if by concert, a far more than 
usual emigration of New York Indians to Canada. They went from 
most of the Six Nations, in detatched parties, and a very large pro 
portion of the Onondagas had emigrated in a body. The demeanor 
of the Senecas had undergone a marked change. By some unseen 
but suspected influence, they had become morose and quarrelsome. 
A far more than usual number of outrages were committed upon 
the new settlers ; in fact, the principal ones that are now remem 
bered, happened about this period. These facts were not without 
their influence in converting the circumstances of the landing of an 
armed force at Sodus Bay, into a preliminary measure, the sequel 
of which might prove the breaking out of a general war, having 
for its object the recovery of the soil of the Genesee country by 
the Indians, and the bringing of it again under British dominion 

It will surprise those who are not familiar with early events in the 
Genesee country, when they are told that as late as 1794 eight 
years after settlement had been commenced, there was but little of 
intercourse or communication with Albany arid New York ; Phila 
delphia and Baltimore, and especially the latter, had far more inti 
mate relations with all this region. To the papers of those cities, 
the settlers in those then backwoods looked for news, and in them 



320 PHELPS A15TD GOKHAMS PURCHASE. 

events transpiring here were generally recorded. On the first of 
September, the affair at Sodus was announced in the Maryland 
Gazette, in a letter from Philadelphia, accompanied by the intelli 
gence that an express had arrived at the then seat of government, 
with despatches for the War Office. 

Immediately after the departure of Lieut. Sheaffe, Mr. William 
son, with the co-operation of other prominent citizens, adopted the 
most energetic measures, as well for the purpose of preparing for 
the contingency, which he had good reasons for supposing would 
occur, after what had transpired at Sodus, as to give assurances of 
safety and protection to the inhabitants. 

He not only despatched an express rider to the seat of govern 
ment, as indicated by the correspondent of the Maryland Gazette, 
but he also despatched one to Albany. He forwarded by these mes 
sengers letters to Edmund Randolph, Secretary of State, to Gen. 
Knox, Secretary of War, and to Gov. George Clinton. In these 
letters he detailed all that had transpired, suggested some measures 
of protection, and gave asurances that the mandate of Gov. Sim- 
coe would be disregarded. In the letter to Gen. Knox, he says : 
" It is pretty well ascertained that for some time past, quantities of 
military stores and ammunition have been forwarded to Oswego. 
This makes me think it not improbable that Lieut. SheafFe will take 
a forcible possession of Sodus on his return. I shall, however, with 
out relaxing, go on with my business there, until drove off by a 
superior force. It is heedless for me to trouble you with any com 
ments on this unparalleled piece of insolence, and gross insult to 
the government of the United States/ 

Mr. Williamson wrote a letter to Sir William Pulteney, in which 
he says : 

" I shall make no further comment on this business, than to observe, that 
any thing short of actual hostilities, it completes the unequalled insolent con 
duct of Mr. Simcoe toward this government. Mr. Simcoe s personal of my 
self and you, I treat with the scorn it deserves, but I beg leave to give you a 
sketch, of his political conduct. On his first arrival in this country, by deep 
laid schemes he has prevented every possibility of an accomodation between 
this country and the hostile Indians, and this summer, by his intrigues, he has 
drawn several tribes of friendly Indians from the territory of the United States 
to the British side of the lines, and left nothing undone to induce the Six 
Nations, our neighbors, to take up the hatchet the moment he gives the word. 
You must be acquainted with his marching a body of armed troops, and 
erecting a Fort at the Rapids of the Miami seventy miles within the territory 



PIIELPS AND GOKHAAL S PURCHASE. 321 

of the United States, but this being an extensive wilderness, seemed of less 
importance. 

" Not content with this, he has now interfered with our settlements, in a 
manner so unlike the dignity of a great nation that it must astonish you. If it 
is the intention of the British ministry, by low and underhand schemes, to keep 
alive a harrassing war against helpless women and children, or by murders on 
this frontier, to add to the list of murders already committed by the influence 
of their servants here, and to treat this government with the most unwarrantable 
insolence and contempt. I allow that Mr. Simcoe is the most industrious and 
faithful servant the British government ever had. But if it is their intention 
to cultivate a friendly intercourse with this country, it never can take place 
while such is the conduct of their Governor here. For my own part, I think 
it would be doing the government of Great Britain a most essential service, 
should their intentions towards this country be friendly, to show to their min 
istry the conduct of Gov. Simcoe ; and I write this letter that you may show it 
to Mr. Dundas, or Mr. Pitt, if you think proper. Their knowledge of me, I 
am convinced, will give it sufficient weight. If these transactions are in con 
sequence of orders from Great Britain, and their views are hostile, there is 
nothing further to be said." 

While all this was progressing, in four days after the affair at Sodus 
in fact, before Gov. Simcoe would have had time to execute his 
threats, the great measure of deliverance for the Genesee country 
and the few scattered border settlers of the west, had been con 
summated. " Mad Anthony, " [and there had been " method in 
his madness, "] had met the confederated bands of the hostile 
Indians of the west, and almost under the walls of a fortress of their 
British allies, achieved a signal victory! Those upon whom Gov. 
Simcoe was relying for aid, (for it is evident that he looked to a 
descent of the western Indians upon the Genesee country in case 
the war was renewed,) were humbled and suing for peace. 
This alone would have averted his worst intentions, and added to 
this, was the consideration that Mr. Jay had sailed for London on 
the 12th of May, clothed with ample powers from our government 
to arrange all matters of dispute. 

Those familiar with the history of our whole country in the 
earliest years of its separation from England, are aware how im 
portant was the well planned and successful expedition of General 
Wayne. Important in its immediate consequences the putting 
an end to protracted, harrassing Indian treaties, and the founding of 
that great empire of wealth, prosperity, and unparralleled progress, 
our western states. But few can now realize its local consequence, 
in the Genesee country. It gave security where there was little of 
it before, inspired hope and confidence with those who were half 



322 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 

determined to retrace the weary steps that had brought them into 
the wilderness, for they felt that if war was to be added to all the 
sufferings and privations they were encountering, it were better to 
abandon the field, if not forever, to a period more propitious. The 
news of Wayne s victory was communicated by Brant to Gen. 
Chapin, and it circulated briskly among the backwoods settlements. 
Here and there was seen small gatherings of Pioneer settlers, con 
gratulating each other upon the event, and taking fresh courage to 
grapple with the hardships of Pioneer life. All was confirmed, when 
in a few days, the Senecas were seen coming back upon their war 
path, humbled, quaking with fear at the mere recollection of the terri 
ble onslaught that Mad Anthony had made upon the dusky legions 
that had gathered to oppose him, and uttering imprecations against 
those who had lured them from home to take part in the contest 
and then remained far away from danger, or shut themselves up in 
a strong fortress, but spectators in a conflict in which they and 
their confederates were falling like autumn leaves in a shower of 
hail. 

The haughty spirit of the descendants of the warlike Iroquois, 
was humbled within them, and chagrined by the terrible discomfit 
ure they had witnessed, and been partakers of, as well as by the 
bad faith of their advisers and abettors at Niagara, they resolved to 
settle down quietly in their villages, and renew their peaceful and 
amicable relations with their white neighbors. 

As early as the 3d of July, preceding the visit of Lieut. Sheaffe, 
to Sodus, a representation had been made to the War Department, 
of the exposed condition of the new settlers in the Genesee coun 
try, the danger of Indian disturbances promoted by British agents 
at Niagara, and the necessity of some means of defence. To which, 
Gen. Knox, the Secretary of War, had replied in substance, that 
some official use had been made of the communication, by the Sec- 



There are some amusing anecdotes of the relations that the returning Indi- 
dians gave of the battle. In its conduct, Wayne had made himself in their imagina- 
ations, more than human. His was a warfare they had been unused to : impetuous, 
crushing ; inspiring a terror that conquered as effectually as his arms. A Seneca, who 
came away in an early stage of the battle, having seen quite enough to gratify his curi 
osity and love of adventure, gave to an informant of the author, the reason for his 
precipitate retreat. He said in his graphic description of the opening of the right: 
"Pop, pop, pop, boo, woo, woo-o-oo, Avish, wish, wish-e-ee, boo, woo! 
kill twenty Inguus one time ; no good, by d ri ! " This the reader will at once 
perceive, was an attempt to imitate the firing of small arms and cannon, and the 
whizzing of the fuse, and the bursting of bombs. 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PUECHASE. 323 

retary ol War, in his correspondence with the British Minister, 
that a conference was to be held with the Six Nations at Canandai- 
gua, in September, for the purpose of conciliating, and establishing 
finally a peace with them if possible. In reply to an application 
for arms, the Secretary says, that an order had been issued in favor 
of the Governor of New York, for one thousand muskets, cartridge 
boxes, and bayonets. 

The following copy of a letter from President Washington to Mr. 
Jay, our then minister in London, possesses much of a general 
historical interest, and will aid the reader in a full understanding of 
the questions then at issue, so far as this local region wasc oncerned : 

"AUGUST, 30, 1794. 

"As you will receive letters from the Secretary of States office, giving an 
official account of the public occurrences as they have arisen and advanced, 
it is unnecessary for me to retouch any of them ; and yet I cannot restrain my 
self from making some observations on the most recent of them, the commu 
nication of which was received this morning only. I mean the protest of the 
Governor of Upper Canada, delivered by Lieutenant Skeaffe, against our oc 
cupying lands far from any of tke posts, wkick, long ago, they ought to have 
surrendered, and far within tke known, and until now, tke acknowledged 
limits of tke United States. 

" On this irregular and high kanded proceeding, of Mr. Simcoe, wkick is 
no longer masked, I would rather kear wkat tke ministry of Great Britain will 
say, tkan pronounce iny own sentiments tkereon. But can tkat government, 
or will it attempt, after tins official act of one of tkeir governors, to kold out 
ideas of friendly intentions towards tke United States, and suffer suck con 
duct to pass witk impunity ? 

"This may be considered as tke most open and daring act of tke British 
agents in America, tkough it is not tke most kostile and cruel : for tkere 
does not remain a doubt in tke mind of any well informed person in .this 
country, not skut against conviction, tkat all the difficulties we encounter with 
the Indians, their hostilities, the murders of helpless women and children, 
along our frontiers, result from the conduct of agents of Great Britain in 
this country. In vain is it tken for its administration in Britain, to disavow 
haying i^iven orders wkick will warrant suck conduct, wkilst tkeir agents go 
unpunished ; while we have a thousand corroborating circumstances, and 
indeed as many evidences, some of wkick cannot be brought forward, to prove 
tkat tkey are seducing from our alliances, and endeavoring to remove over tke 
line, tribes tkat kave kitkerto been kept in peace and friendship with us at a 
heavy expense, and who kave no causes of complaint, except pretended ones 
of tkeir creating ; wkilst tkey keep in a state of irritation tke tribes tkat are 
kostile to us, and are instigating those wko know little of us, or we of them, 
to unite in tke war against us ; and whilst it is an undeniable fact, that they 
are furnishing the whole with arms, ammunition, clothing, and even pro 
visions to carry on the war. I might go farther, and if thev are not muck 
belied, add, men also in disguise. 



324 PHELPS AND GORHAMS PUECHASE. 

" Can it be expected, I ask, so long as these tilings are known in the United 
States, or at least firmly believed, and suffered with impunity by Great Britain, 
that there ever will or can be any cordiality between the two countries ? I 
answer No. And I will undertake, without the gift of prophecy to predict, 
that it will be impossible to keep this country in a state of amity with Great 
Britain long, if these posts are not surrendered. A knowledge of those being 
my sentiments, would have but little weight, I am persuaded, with the British 
administration, or perhaps with the nation, in effecting the measures, but both 
may rest satisfied, that if they want to be at peace with this country, and to 
enjoy the benefits of its trade, to give up the posts is the only road to it. 
Withholding them, and the consequences we feel at present continuing, war 
will be inevitable." 



CHAPTER V. 



JAME-3 AND WILLIAM WADSWORTH PIONEER EVENTS IN WHAT IB 

NOW LIVINGSTON. 



THE advent of these two brothers to the Genesee country, marks 
an era in our early local history. They were from the first, 
large landholders and patroons of new settlements, and for many 
years intimately and conspicuously blended with the progress of 
improvement. The connection of their family with Col. Jeremiah 
Wadsworth, of Hartford, Conn., was the primary cause of their 
early enterprise ; of whom, as he was an early and large proprietor 
of land, by purchase from Phelps and Gorham, it will not be out of 
place to speak, incidentally. He was the son of the Rev. Daniel 
Wadsworth, of Hartford. Entering upon a sea-faring life in early 
years, for the benefit of his health, first as a sailor before the mast, 
and afterwards as mate and captain, he finally settled down in 
Hartford, where he resided upon the breaking out of the Revolution 
ary war. He received the appointment of commissary of the Con 
necticut line, and following that appointment, he had important trusts 
committed to his charge, not only by Connecticut, but by the Con 
gress at Philadelphia, having reference generally to the pay, clothing 



5 

PHELPS AND GORIIAM S PURCHASE. 325 

and subsistence of the Continental troops. Soon after the arrival 
of Rochambeau, with the French army, their subsistence was en 
trusted to his charge, jointly with John B. Church. He was one 
of those with whom Gen. Washington made an early acquaintance 
when the great crisis arrived, and in whose hospitable mansion, at 
Hartford, he was wont to meet, and have social intercourse and 
consultation with its owner, and other prominent men of the Revo 
lution. It was the taking down and removal of this old mansion, 
that suggested the following .beautiful lines of Mrs. Sigourney: 

" Fallen dome, beloved so well, 
Thou could st many a legend tell 
Of the chiefs of ancient lame, 
Who, to si are thy shelter came : 
Rochambeau and La Fayette, 
Round thy plenteous board have met, 
With Columbia s mightier son, 
Great and glorious WASHINGTON. 
Here with kindred minds they plann d 
Rescue for an infant land ; 
While the British Lion s roar 
Echo d round the leagur d shore." 

Annals of Conn., by R R Hinman. 

" The services of Col. Wadsworth, during some periods of the 
war," says a biographer, " were incalculable." He was a member 
of the 1st, 2d, and 3d Congress. He died in 1804, aged 61 years. 

Mr. Phelps having been in the commissary department during the 
Revolution, he had made the acquaintance of Col. Wadsworth, and 
soon after he obtained title, induced him to make investments in the 
Genesee country.* He purchased T. 6, R. 9, a part of T. 11, R. 
7, and one 12th of " Big Tree."f Being a man of wealth, and con 
siderably advanced in years, their purchases were for investment 
and and re-sale, rather than with any intention to emigrate. 

William and James Wadsworth were natives of Durham, Conn., 
the sons of John N. Wadsworth. James Wadsworth graduated at 
Yale College, in 1787, and spent the winter of 87 and 88, in Mon 
treal, employed in school teaching. The father had died before 
James graduated at College, and left the homestead in Durham, 
which would have been called a " fair estate" in New England, to 
his three children, the care of which had devolved upon the elder 
brother, William. In the Spring of 1790, at a period when James, 
then 22 years of age, was undetermined as to the pursuits of life 



826 PHELPS AND GORHAM s PUECHASE. 

hesitating between the alternatives of seeking his fortune in the south 
ern states, and acquiring the profession of law, and settling down in 
New England, his kinsman, Col. Jeremiah Wadsworth, proposed to 
him emigration to the Genesee country, the sale to him of a part 
of his tract at " Big Tree," upon advantageous terms, and an 
agency that would embrace the care and sale of his remaining lands. 
After consulting with his brother William, making it a condition of 
the proposed emigration that he should accompany him, the two 
brothers agreed jointly to accept the proposition. 

In June, after a work of preparation which was of no little mag 
nitude in New England, preliminary to an advent to this then- far 
off and secluded wilderness ; amid the farewells of kindred and 
friends, in which were mingled sad forebodings of the dangers and 
vicissitudes the bold adventurers were about to encounter, they com 
menced their journey. William, the practical working man of the 
two, so far as manual labor was concerned, started with an ox team 
and cart, two or three hired men and a colored woman, a favorite 
slave belonging to the family. J James came via the Sound, and the 
Hudson, and the water route from Schenectady to the head of navi 
gation on Canandaigua outlet, in charge of provisions and a small 
amount of household furniture. William, with his oxen and cart, 
made slow progress. The winter sleigh road west of Whitesboro, 
had to be adapted to wheels as they progressed ; logs had to be cut 
and moved out of the track, and small streams and sloughs had to 
be cause-wayed. Arriving at Cayuga Lake, there was no ferry 
scow, and the party chartered two Indian canoes, which they lashed 
together, and making a deck of poles, succeeded in crossing. Be 
tween Whitesboro and Canandaigua their average progress was 
but twelve miles per day. The parties reunited at Canandaigua, 
James having arrived three days in advance. 

After making some necessary preparations, the whole party start- 

* Or, as is quite probable, Col. Wadsworth may have had an interest, originally, 
with Messrs. Phelps and Gorham. 

t To which, James and William afterwards added a tenth, making the original 
"Wadsworth tract at Geneseo; about 5,000 acres. 

t The identical "Jenny." She was for a long time almost the only one of her race, 
in that region ; and an object of curiosity with the younger portion of the back 
woodsmen. Turning to the travels of Liancourt, we find that on the morning he left 
"Big Tree," she was queuing and powdering "Capt. Wadsworth s" hair, preparatory 
to his departure for Caradaigna to "review a partv of .soldier?, over whom he is 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 32? 

ed from Canandaigua, with all the effects with which they had left 
Durham, to which had been added a small stock of cattle, purchased 
upon the Mohawk. They took the Indian trail and Sullivan s 
route, clearing their road for the passage of their cart, as they went 
along, camping the first night at " Pitt s Flats," and the next, at the 
foot of Conesus Lake. Breaking up their encampment in the 
morning, James, on horseback, with one companion, preceded the 
rest of the party, and pursued the Big Tree trail ; William, with 
the oxen, cart, and other effects, following after, took the Branch 
trail that led to a large Indian village of the Oneidas, which was 
two miles below Big Tree, on the river. Wandering from the 
obscure trail, the party got lost, and brought up at night in a swamp 
about two miles north-east from Big Tree, tied their cattle to trees, 
and encamped. James, having spent the night at Big Tree, with 
his companion, in the woods, withmo means of making an en 
campment, took his back track in the morning ; arrived at the point 
where the Oneida trail branched off, followed the track of the cart 
wheels, and found the lost party, groping in the wilderness, un 
determined as to the course they should pursue. He conducted the 
whole party to Big Tree, (Geneseo, the reader will bear in mind,) 
where they slept in the cart and upon the ground, for two or three 
nights, until they erected a rude cabin on the table land, a little be 
low the present village, on the old River trail. On their arrival, 
they found, of their race, but one man, Lemuel Jennings, who had 
a cabin, and was herding some cattle on the flats for Oliver Phelps. 
James, returning to Canandaigua on the day he had located the 
party, on his way back, got benighted, but was attracted by a light, 
and pursuing the direction from which it proceeded, found the negro 
woman, Jenny, holding a light for his brother William, who was 
hewing some plank for their cabin floor. 

The arrival was upon the 10th of June. In August of the same 
year, 1790, when Gen. Amos Hall took the census, the family of 
William Wadsworth consisted of nine persons. Beside him, there 
had then settled in the townships, others who were regarded as 
heads of families: Phineas Bates, Daniel Ross, Henry Brown, 
Enoch Noble, Nicholas Rosecrantz, David Robb, Nahum Fair 
banks. Horatio and John H. Jones had preceded the Wadaworths 
a few weeks, and were over the river, occupying an Indian cabin, 
and the shantee they had built the year before. They had come in 



328 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

from Geneva, via Canandaigua and Avon, with a cart, Horatio s 
wife and three children, household furniture, and some hired men. 
Their cart was the first wheel vehicle that passed over that route. 
From Avon, they had no track, but picked their way along the 
ridges and open grounds. Horatio Jones built a comfortable block 
house the same year. Besides Horace Jones family, there was in 
August, west of the river, on what was then called " Indian lands," 
the families of William Ewing, * Nathan Fowler, and Jeremiah 
Gregory, f 

The Indians residing upon the Genesee river in 1790, were loca 
ted in villages, as follows : At Squaky Hill, near Mount Morris, 
there were a small cluster of cabins, and a few families. The men 
had been southern captives, who had intermarried, and merged 
themselves with the Senecas. The principal chief, was " Black 
Chief." At " Allan s Hill," now Mount Morris, there were a few 
families ; their principal chief, " Tall Chief." He was a fine speci 
men of his race, physically and otherwise. At Philadelphia, on a 
visit to Congress, with Horatio Jones, he commanded much atten 
tion and respect. 

Little Beard s Town, a large village, was upon the present site 
of Cuylerville. The chief, Little Beard, was one of the worst 
specimens of his race. He was chiefly instrumental in the horrid 
massacre of Lieut. Boyd, and all the early Pioneers give him a bad 
character. The manner of his death in 1806, was but a just retri 
bution for his many acts of cruelty in the Border wars : In a 
drunken row, in which both Indians and whites were engaged, at 
the old Stimson tavern, in Leicester, he was pushed out of door, 
and falling from the steps, received an injury that caused his 
death. 

Big Tree, a considerable village, was upon the bluff, opposite 

* Ewing was a surveyor in the employ of Mr. Phelps. His father, Alexander 
Ewing, became a resident there in an early day, upon what is now the Perkins farm, 
near Fall Brook. He was the father-in-law of John H. Jones. His son, William, 
went from there to Buffalo, and from thence to Sandusky. Another son, Alexander, 
was a Pioneer at Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he carried on an Indian trade. His sou 
Charles, was the U.S. District Judge Ewing; another son, George W., was State 
Senator of Indiana ; William G. Ewing, of Indiana, was another son. The father was an 
emigrant from Ireland, and was settled in Northumberland, Pa., when settlement of 
the Genesee country commenced. 

t He was the father of " Mille Gregory," who was one of the white wives of Ebene- 
zer Allan. He lived on the Canascraga, near Son-yea," (the open spot where the 
sun shines in,) the present site of the Shaker Society. 



PHELPS AND GOKUAM S PURCHASE. 329 

Geneseo, upon the river, now embraced in the farm of Eason Slo- 
cum ; Iven-de-wa, (Big Tree) was its principal chief. 

There was a small village of Tucaroras on the river, a little 
above the Geneseo bridge, which was called Tuscarora ; and t^vo 
miles down the river from Geneseo, near the large Maple Grove of 
the Messrs. Wadsworths, was " Oneida Town," a large village of 
Oneidas. * 

The other, and a principal village, was on the west bank of the 
river, opposite Avon, near where the main road crosses the river. 
The chief was Ga-kwa-dia, (Hot Bread,) in high repute among his 
people, and much respected by the Pioneer settlers, f 

Gardeau, was the residence of the White Woman, and the several 
branches of her family went principally to make up the small 
Tillage. Her husband was principal chief. At Nunda, there 
was a small village ; " Elk Hunter " and " Green Coat," were 
principal chiefs. 

At Caneadea there was a considerable village ; the head chief. 
John Hudson. He was an ok, man, and had been a leading 
" brave " in the southern Indian wars, waged by the Seneoas, 
and afterwards, in the English and French wars. Hon. George 
Woods, a prominent citizen of Bedford, Pennsylvania, became a 
prisoner with the Indians, on the Ohio or the Allegany. Hudson 
porcured his release, after he had been condemned and tied to a 
stake. In after years, they met, and the Judge treated him with 
much kindness, making him a present of a fine house and lot at 



* The Oneidas and Tuscaroras were divided on the breaking out of the Revolution. 
Those that adhered to the colonies, and the neutrals, remaining in their eastern vil 
lages ; and those that followed Butler and Brant, coming upon the Genesee River. A 
partial re-union of the Tuscaroras took place at their village near Lcwiston, in after 
years. 

t This was the birth place of Cornrjlanter. In his letter to the Governor of Penn 
sylvania, in 1822, he says : "I feel it my duty to send a speech to the Governor of 
Pennsylvania at this time, and inform him the place where I was from which was 
Connewaugus, on the Genesee river." He then goes on to relate to the Governor, that 
on growing up, the Indian boys in the neighborhood took notice of his skin being of 
a different color from theirs, and on naming it to his mother, she told him who his 
white lather was, and that he lived at Albany. He, after becoming a man, sought him 
out, and made himself known to him. He complains that he gave him victuals to eat 
at his house, but "no provisions to eat on the way home." "He gave me neither 
kettle nor gun, nor did he tell me that the United States were about to rebel against 
Great Britain," This is authentic, and does away with the less truthful, but more 
romantic version of the first interview between Cornplanter and his white father, 
O Bail or"Abeel." 
21 



330 PHELPS AND GOBHA3I 7 S PURCHASE. 

Bedford, which he never occupied, but he used to often pride him 
self upon its possession, and the manner in which he came by it. 

In a ramble, to give the reader some account of their neighbors, 
the adventurers who were more immediately under consideration, 
have almost been lost sight of. We left William Wadsworth hewing 
plank for their shantee, by candle light, and James emerging from 
the forest, where he had been lost on his return from Canandaigua. 
The shantee went up, and the work of clearing a small spot of up 
land and preparing a few acres of flats for summer crops, was im 
mediately commenced. There was from the first, a division of 
labor between the two brothers : William had been bred a 
farmer, and from habit and physical constitution, was well adapted 
to take the laboring oar in that department. Few men were better 
fitted for a Pioneer in the backwoods to wrestle with the harsh 
est features of Pioneer life or for being merged in habits, social 
intercourse and inclinations, with the hardy adventurers who were 
his early cotemporaries. The backwoodsmen called him "Old 
Bill," and yet he had not reached his 30th year ; not from any dis 
respect, but as a kind of backwoods conventional nomenclature. At 
a log house raising, " a bee," or a rude frolic, " he was one of them ;" 
and when there were any "doings" at "Old Leicester," "Pitt s 
Flats," or Williamsburg, he was pretty sure to be there. He took 
an early interest in the organization of the militia, and mingled 
with the recollections of the author s boyhood, is " General Bill," 
at the fall musters, with his harsh, strong features, and bronzed 
complexion, mounted upon his magnificent black charger ; the 
" observed of all observers," the not inapt personification of the 
dark and frowning god of war; and to youthful backwoods eyes, 
he looked nothing less. 

James, was by nature, of a different cast, and to natural incli 
nations had been added the polish and the discipline of mind 
acquired in college halls, and a mingling in the most cultivated of 
New England society. The transition, the change of a New Eng 
land home, for that of a cabin in the wilderness, and the associa 
tions of the backwoods, was far less easy and natural ; though by 
alternating between the settlement at " Big Tree, " and Canandai- 



NOTE. James Hudson, the son and successor of John, was one of the finest 
men of his race that was found here, in the early days of settlement. Staid and < 
fied in his deportment, he was truly one of "nature s noblemen/ 



PHELPS A:ND GOKHAM S PUECIIASE. 331 

gua, Albany and Connecticut, he managed to accommodate himself 
very well to circumstances. Upon him devolved the land agen 
cy, and soon extending its sphere, and purchasing largely on the 
joint account of himself and brother, even in early years, he be 
came engrossed in a business of great magnitude. 

They had left behind them a large circle of family connexions 
and friends in "old Durham, " and great was their concern for the 
rash adventurers who had pushed away on beyond the verge of 
civilization, and set down in the midst of wild beasts, and then but 
recently hostile Indian tribes. How different is now the spirit and 
feeling of the age ? Then, there had been brooding over New Eng 
land the incubus of foreign dominion, binding, fettering enterprise, 
and confining it to narrow, sterile and unpropitious bounds ; until 
when the fetters were shaken off, it seemed rashness to venture 
upon the extension of settlement and civilization even to this fair 
region, where all would seem to have been so inviting and promis 
ing. Now, under the blessings, the stimulus, the release from 
foreign thraldom, of something over half a century, our young men 
make a hasty preparation, and are off over a wide ocean track, foun 
ding villages and cities on the Pacific coast, in the interior, and fol 
lowing up, up, the dark ravines of the Sierra Nevada, are making 
their camps upon its slope and its summit ; and in fond kindred 
circles at home, there is less concern for them than there w r as for 
the young adventurers who pushed out from New England to settle 
in the Genesee country. 

An active correspondence commenced between James and his 
New England friends soon after their departure from Durham. 
In a letter to his brother, John N. Wadsworth, dated at Albany, he 
says : " We have secured a boat and pilot, forage is pretty scarce, 
but our expenses do not exceed our expectations. We have now 
arrived where Genesee is much talked of, and all accounts confirm 
us in our choice. All hands are in good health and fine spirits ; lay 
aside all anxiety for us. We expect many difficulties but are fast 
in the belief that perseverance will surmount them. There has 
arrived this day, two vessels from Rhode Island. One has 28 and 
the other 30 passengers, bound full speed for the Genesee country. 
The migrations to the westward are almost beyond belief. Gin s 
(the colored woman,) courage rather increases, as many of her 
color are oing to the Genesee."* A tender epistle to James, in no 



332 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 

masculine hand, dated at New Haven, imagines that at some Indian 
war dance, his scalp may be one of the trophies " that will dangle 
from the belt of a Seneca brave. " She adds, that " nothing short 
of making a fortune could induce you to reside amongst an uncivil] 
ized people, exposed to the savages of the wilderness. " Samuel 
Street, of Chippewa, C. W., writes a note from Canandaigua, on a 
small strip of paper, asking Mr. Wadsworth to excuse it " as paper 
is very scarce here. " John B. Van Epps writes from Schenectady 
that " Peter and Gerritt Ryckman would not take up the four bar 
rels of rum to Canandaigua, under $4 per barrel ; and to be paid 
likewise for riding the barrels over the carrying place. " 

As early as September, 1790, the progress of improvement was 
arrested : William and all of his hired hands had the fever and 
ague, the wench Jenny being the only well one among them. Dis 
heartened by disease, the hired men returned to Connecticut, 
where they were soon followed by James, leaving William and 
the negro woman, to winter in the shantee and take care of the 
stock. 

James Wadsworth started from Durham, in April 1791; but was 
delayed in New York by the sprouting of the ague, the seeds of 
which had been sown the fall previous. He arrived however, at 
" Big Tree " in June, and writes back to his uncle James thai he 

* But she did not become wholly reconciled. Sometimes on foot, sometimes in tlu 
ox-cart, cutting out roads and camping out nights, she would get out of all patience, in 
sist that the expedition was a wild and foolish one ; and offer her sage advice that i 
would be best to go back to " Old Durham " and give it up as a bad job. 

NOTE. Among the family connexions in Durham, was an uncle, Gen. Jamc; 
Wadsworth, who had held the rank of a Major General in the Connecticut line in tin 
Revolution, was a member of the Continental Congress ; and was one of the promi 
nent men of New England. It would seem that after the death of their father, lie hat 
been, if not the guardian, the kind mentor and counsellor of his nephews. Reverence 
for his memory is the natural impulse upon the perusal of his letters to them after the\ 
had departed for the Genesee country. His first letter dated in May, 1790, was a loiu 
one, replete with advice and admonition, deeply imbued with religious sentiment, am 
instructions as to the duties and pursuits of Jife. In the next, dated in July, he give: 
the nephews all the current news of the day, as if they were beyond the reach of news- 
papers or mails, (as they really were,) and closeswitii admonitions : " I must remiiu 
you of the importance of orderly and regular conduct in a new settlement ; of a prope: 
observation of the Sabbath; of justice in your dealings, especially with the Indians 
and of inviolably supporting your credit; cultivate friendship with your neighboring 
Indians. Whatever husbandry you undertake, do it thoroughly." Then again in an 
other letter, he strikes off upon foreign news: " The commotions in France, arc tlu 
topics among our politicians and clergy. Cutting off heads, hanging and assassination 
are much the order of the day there. It will be a very hard case if they arc not Ten 
properly applied in some instances. Report says, the King s head is cut off; La Fay- 
ette has gone over to the Austrians. I hope the six nations will observe a strict neu 
trality, on which your safety depends." 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUKCHASE. 333 

found " brother Bill well ; and by persevering industry he has much 
improved the place, and given our settlement a very different and 
highly pleasing aspect. We have an excellent enclosed pasture 
within eight rods of our house, and please ourselves with the pros 
pect of soon enjoying most of the conveniences of settlements of 
several years standing. We have the prospect throughout the 
country of a most extraordinary crop of wheat ; ours far exceeds 
our expectations, and corn promises 60 or 70 bushels to the acre. 
Our flats bespeak a great quantity of hay, (wild grass.) Respecting 
the Indians, we are so far from dreading the Six Nations (our neigh 
bors) that we consider them no inconsiderable security. They 
have given us the most satisfactory proof of their friendship. We 
shall not be troubled by the southern Indians. I am happy to say 
that on second view of the Genesee country, I am confirmed in my 
favorable opinion of it. We have received a great increase of in 
habitants the winter past. Four barns were raised last week in 
Canandaigua, within a half mile distance. Ontario, from a dreary 
wilderness begins to put on the appearance of a populated country. " 
In a letter to his uncle James, dated in August, same year, he 
says : " The Indians have returned from the treaty(Pickering s at 
Newtown,) highly pleased. The inhabitants now do not even think 
of danger from the Six Nations ; although fears are entertained 
that the southern Indians will attack the Six Nations. " 

In 1791, Oliver Phelps, First Judge of Ontario county admits 
James Wadsworth to practice as attorney and counsellor " to enable 
persons to sue out writs and bring actions, which .at the present, 
for want of attornies, it is impossible to cb. " 

The Messrs. Wadsworths from year to year, extended their far 
ming operations, bringing the broad sweep of flats that they pos 
sessed, under cultivation, and stocking it with cattle. There being 
no access to markets for wheat, they raised but little, but were early 
large producers of corn. Their cattle went to the Philadelphia 
and Baltimore markets principally ; some were sold to new settlers, 
and some driven to Fort Niagara and Canada. Independent of 
their cultivated fields, the uplands and flats in summer, and the 
rushes that grew in abundance upon the flats, in winter, enabled 
them to increase their cattle to any desired extent. The present 
town of Rush, upon its flats had extensive meadows of rushes, upon 
which their cattle were herded for several of the early winters. 



334 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

They at one period had an extensive dairy. The cultivation of 
hemp engaged their attention in an early day, and along in 1800, 
and a few succeeding years, they were large cultivators of it, with 
others upon the river. They manufactured much of it into ropes, 
for which they found a market in Albany and New York. In com 
mon with others in their neighborhood, they commenced the culti 
vation of tobacco ; but that business fell pretty much into the hands 
of a company, who came, on from Long Meadow, in Connecticut, 
rented flats of them, and cultivated for a few years largely. They 
cured it and put it uj for market after the Virginia fashion. The 
breeding of mules fix the Baltimore market, was a considerable 
business with them in early years. In later years they turned their 
attention to sheep, and prosecuted wool growing to an extent that 
has never been exceeded in the United States. In some observa 
tions of Professor Renwick, they are ranked with Gen. Wade Hamp 
ton, of S. Carolina, in reference to the magnitude of their opera 
tions, at the " head of agricultural pursuits in the United States." 

While the immediate care of all this chiefly devolved upon Wil 
liam Wadsworth, James participated in it by a general supervis 
ion, the purchase and sale of stock in distant markets, the procuring 
of improved breeds of cattle and sheep, and a scientific investiga 
tion of all matters of practical improvement in agriculture. 

From their first coming into the country, they were constantly 
extending their farming operations, and adding to their possessions. 
In early years they were materially aided in all this, by the use of 
the capital of their friends 1 in New England ; especially that of 
their relative, Col. Jeremiah Wadsworth ; but their extensive and 
judiciously conducted farming, soon began to yield them large 
profits, which added to the commissions that James realized upon 
various land agencies, in the aggregate, of vast magnitude, and of 
profits of purchase and sale of wild lands upon his own account 
enabled them to add farm to farm, and tract to tract, until they were 
ranked among the largest land holders in the United States ; and 
hi reference to present and prospective value of their possessions, 
probably the largest. Certainly no others owned and managed so 
many cultivated acres. 



NOTE. Major Spencer, the early merchant, manufactured the leaf into plugs, and 
for several years supplied most of the small dealers west of Seneca Lake. 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 335 

In February, 1796, James Wadsworth sailed for Europe. He 
went upon his own account, upon that of joint partners with him in 
land operations, and other large land holders in the United States. 
And here it is not out of place to remark, that land speculations had 
become rife very soon after the close of the Revolution. Large 
quantities of wild lands were thrown into market by the different 
States, pre-emption rights were obtained. Indian cessions followed, 
and very soon most of the available capital and credit of the whole 
country was used in the purchase of lands. They rose rapidly in 
value, fortunes were made, but as we have seen in later years, a 
crash followed, ruin and bankruptcy overtook, a large and prominent 
class of the operators. No matter how low they had purchased 
their lands ; if they were in debt for them, sale, settlement and im 
provement, would fall behind the pay days of purchase money, and 
wide tracts of uncultivated wilderness was a poor resource for taking 
care of protested bills, and threatened foreclosures. Speculators had 
over bought, even with the quantity of wild lands then marketable, 
and when other wide regions in the north-west territory were thrown 
into market, and brought into competition, embarrassments were en 
hanced. In 95, 6, this untoward state of things had arrived at its 
culminating point ; an exigency existed which created the alterna 
tives of ruin to nearly all who had ventured in large land specula 
tions, and the enlisting of capital in Europe. 

In such a crisis, a distinct realization of which, can only be had 
by a general review of the history of that period, Mr. Wadsworth 
was selected as an agent to go to Europe, and make sales of lands to 
foreign capitalists. It was certainly no small compliment to the bus- 
siness reputation and character of one who had gone out in his youth 
and acquired his recommendations in the back woods, to be thus 
singled out from among the most prominent men in the United 
States, whose interest, with his own, he was to promote. His visit 
to Europe, was at the suggestion, and attended by the co-operation, 
of Robert Morris, Thomas Morris, Governeur Morris, Aaron Burr, 
Charles Williamson, De Witt Clinton, Robert Troup, Oliver Phelps, 
Nicholson and Greenleaf, Col. Jeremiah Wadsworth, of Hartford, 
and other prominent men of New England and Pennsylvania. His 
mission was undertaken under adverse circumstances : What was 
understood in Europe to have been the highly successful ventures of 
the London associates, and the Holland Company of Amsterdam, in 



336 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

lands in this region, had had the effect to stimulate others, and at 
first, to create a strong disposition for American land investments. 
Land agents-had flocked to Europe, and it is not at all strange that 
impositions had been practiced, and that many had been, (to use a 
modern term,) victimized. The reader need only be told, that a 
system of operations had been carried on, not unlike the mapping 
and platting upon paper, which prevailed in 1836, 7. Mr. Wads- 
worth reached Europe at a period of reaction, and yet, with the 
testimonials he carried with him, added to the confidence he inspired 
by his dignity of deportment and manifest integrity of purpose, by 
a slow process, his mission was mainly successful. He visited, and 
resided temporaily in London, Paris and Amsterdam. His letters of 
introduction, coming from high sources in this country, gave him ac 
cess to the society of prominent financial men of that period, and inci 
dentally to that of some eminent statesmen and scholars. Favored at 
once by the countenance and friendship of Sir Wm. Pulteney and 
Mr. Colquhoun, and in Amsterdam, with that of the members of the 
Holland Company, among whom was one eminent statesman, and 
several who occupied a high position as bankers, the young back 
woodsman, from then young America, was enabled to place him 
self upon a favorable footing, not only with reference to the imme 
diate objects of his mission, but with reference to those advantages 
acquired by foreign travel and residence. He remained abroad until 
the last of November, 1798. In all this time, he effected a large 
amount of sales, and to this mission is to be attributed many of the 
foreign proprietorships in this region, as well as in other portions of 
the United States. Some brief extracts from his correspondence 
while abroad, possess not only local, but general historical inter 
est, and are contained in a note attached. While in London 
Mr. Wads worth obtained a commission agency from Sir William 
Pulteney, for the sale of lands upon the Mill Tract west of 
Genesee River, embracing what is now Ogden, Parma, Riga, Chili, 
and a part of Greece and Wheatland, from William Six, of Am 
sterdam, for the sale of the township, now Henrietta, and from 
others, the agency for the sale of other tracts. And added to all 
this, was the agency for the sale of lands in the Genesee country 
belonging to Jeremiah Wadsworth and other New England land 
holders. The duties thus assumed, together with the general man 
agement of what then constituted the Wadsworth estate, of farms 



PHELPS AND GORHAMS PUECHASE. 337 

and wild lands, threw upon his hands an amount of business seldom 
devolving upon one individual, and requiring all his time and ener 
gies. He must be regarded as the patroon of new settlements in 
his own neighborhood, in a large portion of the present county of 
Monroe, and in several other localities. His European agencies 
were upon terms that gave him an interest in the sale and settlement 
of wild lands, in some instances more than equal to that of the pro 
prietors, and he was indefatigable in promoting sales. The fine re 
gions coming under his supervision, unbroken by sales or settlement, 
principally west of the Genesee river; were put in market, and 
going to New England, he prosecuted upon a large scale, a system 
that Mr. Phelps had began, of exchanging wild lands for farms, 
when the occupants would become residents. He thus secured a 
good class of new settlers, and no where in the whole history of new 
settlements in this country, have they been more prosperous, abating 
such drawbacks as were beyond his control, than those were of 
which he may be regarded the founder. And while he was thus 
the instrument, eventually, to promote the prosperity of others, he 
was laying the foundation, or accumulating, the large estate which 
his family now possess. The profits of his agencies were large 
ones, and were invested in wild lands and farms. These being 
g nerally retained and well managed, the rise in value chiefly helped 

NOTE. From London, June, 96. J. W. writes to Charles Wilkes,* that he was 
upon the point of effecting large sales of land, " but all had been frustrated by oppo- 
sition in the H. of Rep. to Jay s treaty." "The fear of sequestration and confiscation 
has destroyed all confidence with capitalists in England. Besides they fear the effect 
of French influence in the United States." " Mr. Young, a large East India cap 
italist, to whom 1 was going to sell 30,000 acres of land at half a guinea per acre, 
backs out in consequence of news from America." J. W. to Thomas Morris, May, 
90, says: "I am prevented from making sales by the proceedings of H. of Repre 
sentatives." J. W. to Charles Wilkes, June, 96 : " Things are looking better ; news 
has been received that Congress have passed the necessary laws to carry the treaty into 
effect ; confidence in American investments are reviving." J. W. to Benj. West, (the 
celebrated painter.) "Be kind enough to use your influence in quieting alarm and 
getting up confidence in London. I have no doubt that the United States will be as 
happy, and their government as permanent, as is allowable to men, and human insti 
tutions in the world." A correspondence between Mr. Wadsworth and Aaron Burr 
was kept up during the absence of the former ; the letters of Mr. Burr, would some 
times be upon matters of business, sometimes upon politics, which subject would sud- 
lenly be arrested by his favorite theme, gossip upon courtship and marriage. Some 
portions of his letters are obscured by the use of his ciphers. A. B. to J. W., JS"ov. 
1796 : "I refer you to the gazettes for the name of the electors, and the particulars 
yet known respecting the election ; 4 I think will be 15 ; 1, has, I think no chance ; 
12 and 4 will run generally together, 43ut the latter will not succeed by reason of 
Borne disaffection in 14; 16, lu, had been at home, 13 would have been the man as 

* An eminent early merchant of New York ; a namesake and family connexion of 
Charles Wilkes, of London. 



338 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

to make the lagest estate, perhaps, that has ever been accumulated 
in the United States, by the same process. 

But let no one, while viewing the broad domains of which he 
died possessed, suppose that they came to him in the absence of in 
dustry, economy, good management, or of long years of severe 
trial and embarrassments. Dependent, chiefly, in his early enter 
prises, upon the capital of others, he carried along through an ex 
tended period of depression, a slow growth of the country, a war that 
bore heavily upon this local region a large debt, and all the trials 
and vexations which it carries in its train.* It was not until the 
war of 1812 made a good market for his produce, that he began to 
be relieved from embarrassment ; his large clip of wool, his cattle, 
grain, and the produce from his dairy, enabled him to rapidly di 
minish his-dndebtedness ; then followed a few years of depression ; 
then came that great measure of deliverance, and source of pros 
perity to all this region, the Erie Canal ; and participating largely, as 
his possessions enabled him to do, in the rapid advance in the value 
of real estate, in the facilities for market that it at once afforded 
freedom from debt, unincumbered wealth that was soon rated by 
millions, was the reward of his early wilderness advent, and over 
half a century of industry and enterprise. 

In a history of pioneer settlement, such as this is intended to be, 
one who bore so conspicuous a part in it, must necessarily occupy 
a considerable space, and yet one entirely inadequate to the task of 
detailing his immediate and intimate connection with the growth 

you will be convinced when you shall return home. Upon the whole I am quite sat 
isfied with the state of things." " Except the little box already acknowledged, and 
which appeared to have been sent by my booksellers, probably under your orders, I 
have not received a book or a pamphlet from you since your residence abroad." I 
have it from the very best authority that your friend Linklaen is soon to be married 
to a daughter of Major Ledyard, a pretty and agreeable girl. Not a bad match I 
think on either side. I continue an in flexible bachelor, but have been much smitten by 
Dge-gx of Naef-az, who is at present indisputably at the head of my list. Under oth 
er dates, A. B. to J. W. : "I have been quite a recluse and a farmer this summer; 
have not been two miles from home since my return from Philadelphia ; am not mar 
ried, nor have made any approaches to it, though shall not probably pass another six 
months single, though no particular object has yet engaged my attention. God bless 
and prosper you." "It is hoped by some, feared by others, and believed by all, that 
the President will decline being a candidate at the next election. The candidates will 
be Burw-k, 12, 4 and 1. The event seems pretty doubtful. I have been told (this 
day,) and fully believe it, that 20 and 21 were publicly married a few day sago. Adieu 
once more." 

* In a letter to a friend after he had had an experience of fifteen years, he says : 
" It is slow realizing from new lands. I will never advise another friend to invest in 
them. Men generally have not the requisite patience for speculating in them." 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 339 

and prosperity of this region. His biography alone, if it followed 
him in all his relations to our local region, would be almost its early 
history. To say that his was a useful life, would be but a natural 
deduction from his early advent, and his leading participation in 
laying the foundation of that unexampled prosperity, which now 
exists in a region that he entered, the wheels of his cart, and shoes 
of his horse, making the first impress of civilization upon its soil ! 
The abatement, if any, from his life of usefulness, would be the 
amount of territory he encompassed, and held on to with a tenacity, 
almost amounting to dotage, or an inordinate desire to possess ex 
tended fields and forests. This ambition was first excited when a 
young adventurer, on his way to Montreal, in company with John 
Jacob Astor, to seek employment as a school teacher, he saw an 
extensive and beautiful estate, in one of the valleys of Vermont ; 
and traveling in Europe, a few years afterwards, making a sojourn, 
occasionally, at the hospitable seats of immense land proprietors, he 
seems to have been confirmed in his desire for a similar position, 
and to have steadily pursued his object in after life. Great landed 
estates in a country like ours, are a sore evil ; the effects, in various 
ways, bearing heavily and vexatiously upon their immediate 
neighborhoods. It is no " vote yourself a farm" spirit, no sympathy 
in common with agrarianism, that dictates the expression of a hope, 
that by all legal means, the evil may be abated. It would have 
been far better for the beautiful valley, where Mr. Wadsworth cast 
his lot in early life, o,nd with which he became so intimately blen 
ded, if his ambition for large possessions had been more moderate ; 
but, " may I not do as I will with mine own? " is an interrogation 
he might well have opposed to those who cavilled at his monopoly 
of the soil.* 



* And this reminds the author of an anecdote of an early and venerated cotempora- 
ry of Mr. Wadsworth, the late Augustus Porter. The possession in his family of " Goat 
Island," and all the most desirable grounds on the American side, at Niagara Falls, 
and the tenacity with which they were held, when improvements were sought to 
be made, had occasioned much of murmuring and fault finding, in -which the au 
thor, as the editor of a paper in the same county, had participated, occasionally giving 
some thrusts at what used to be called the " monopoly." While engaged in a preceding 1 
historical work, the old gentleman had kindly given him the benefit of days and 
nights of conversation upon the early history of all this region ; his personal narrative, 
that began with his early adventures in the wilderness, his early years spent in survey 
or s camps, encountering hardships and privations ; his after long years of toil. At 
the close of this interview, suffering under bodily infirmities, partly consequent upon 
ull this, he observed : " Now you have my whole history ; you have seen how I 



340 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PTJKCHASE. 

At an early period almost as soon as the farming operations of 
the Wadsworths were fairly commenced James Wadsworth gave 
much of his attention to agricultural improvements. He may be said 
to have given the impetus, in this state, to the application of science, 
the heeding of the simple teaching of nature, the election of rural 
labor from mere uninstructed handicraft, to the position and the dig 
nity it has been rapidly assuming. He had cotemporaries, co-opera 
tors there were perhaps those before him in the state, who had 
labored in the same field but he had entered upon the work with 
an earnestness, with practical views, and aided with his pen and 
his purse, effectual measures, that helped to mark a new era in 
agricultural improvements. Practical in his views upon all sub 
jects, his theories and recommendations occupied the middle ground 
between a judicious and healthy reform in the cultivation of the 
earth, and stock breeding, and the extravagancies of mere theorists. 
The practicability and the usefulness of a thing with him were always 
allied. Had he been in the place of Mr. Jefferson, his spirit of enter 
prise may have dictated the erection of a saw mill upon an eminence, 
to be propelled by wind, but before he had ventured upon the ex 
periment, he would have seen how his saw logs were to be got up 
the steep ascent. 

His, was a mind too active to repose upon the possession of 
wealth, or fall into supineness and inactivity, when the stimulus of 
gain had in a measure subsided. It reached out after new objects, 
when old ones were accomplished. Education, education of the 
masses, allied to political economy, in all its later years, became 
with him, if not a hobby, an object of intense interest. He was not 
unmindful of the higher interests of religion, but even those he would 
have made secondary in the economy of life, believing that educa 
tion of the mind was the broad superstructure upon which all of 
spiritual as well as temporal good should be based. As the possessor 
of property, he urged upon the wealthy of the state, by strong ap 
peals, that it had no security short of the education of the masses, 
out of which alone wou d grow a respect for the laws, and vested 
rights. He was the patron of J. Orville Taylor, in his first move 
ments ; had essays upon education, upon political economy, tracts, 



have earned what I possess ; upon the whole, do you not think that I should have the 
privilege of managing it as best suits my choice and inclinations?" There was cer 
tainly no convenient way of meeting the rebuke, or answering the interrrogatory. 



PIIELPS AND GCKHAMS PTJECHASE. 341 

printed and distributed through the state, at his own expense ; en 
listed newspapers in the cause of education, by paying them for 
setting apart a space for its discussion ; aided ki the establishment 
of the District School Journal, and paid salaries to public lecturers, 
to go through the State, and arouse public attention to its impor 
tance. If the system of District School Libraries did not originate 
with him, (as there are some reasons to suppose it did,) it had the 
benefit of his early and efficient aid. In the way of agricultural 
improvement, he had essays printed and distributed, and was an 
early and efficient patron of Judge Buel, in the starting of the 
Cultivator, at Albany 

A love of order, system and regularity, was one of his leading 
characteristics. This is strikingly exhibited in his correspond 
ence, and the careful manner in which it was preserved; and 
equally so in the written instructions to his agents. His office 
clerks he reminded of the maxim : " Every thing in its place, and 
a place for every thing ;" and they were forbidden to hold any con 
versations with those who came to the office to do business, on 
the subject of party politics, but instructed to interest themselves, 
and hold conversations "in reference to schools, and the means of 
their improvement." His out-door clerk, or farm agent, was in 
structed to " frequently visit every farm, make suggestions to ten 
ants ; see how they manage affairs, see that every farm has growing 
upon it good and wholesome fruit ; look to the compost heaps and 
manure ; see that the premises are made conducive to health." All 
short comings, negligencies, and slovenly, or bad management, you 
are to report to the office. Your inquiries should be : " Are the 
gates in good order ? Is the wood-pile where it ought to be ? Are the 
grounds around the house kept in a neat and wholesome manner ? 
Are the sheds, and yard fence around the barn in a good state of re 
pair ? The land agent should make suggestions to the tenants on 
the leading principles of good husbandry, with frequent reference 

NOTE. In a letter to Mr. Traup, after he had succeeded to the Pulteney agency, in 
1805, Mr. Wadsworth urges the setting apart of land in each township " for a school 
house, meeting house, glebe, and parsonage" He adds : "I am not superstitious, but 
I believe in Christianity ; I am no partisan, but I believe in the piety of patriot 
ism ; and amidst the afflictions of this way ward world, it appears to me that the sweet 
est consolations that attend advanced life, is a recollection of substantial benefits con 
ferred upon our country of having contributed our full mite to the improvement and 
happiness of our fellow men ; especially to that portion of them whose destinies are in 
fluenced more or less by our decisions, and by the situations, which, under Providence, 
we are placed." 



342 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

to sound morals, founded on the sanction of religion and jusl 
reasoning; and also the unappreciable importance of the edu 
cation of youth, and of a vigilant attention to the state of com 
mon schools in the lessees district. Shade trees must be about 
each house. From a look or two about the garden or house, you 
can easily ascertain if the occupant drinks bitters in the morning, 
or whiskey with his dinner. If he drinks bitters, you will find his 
garden full of weeds." 

To a natural love of rural scenery, skirted and dotted with forests 
and shade trees,had been added observation in European travel where 
time had enhanced their beauty and value. In England, in fact, 
he had learned to love trees, and appreciate the importance of their 
preservation ; and in nothing has he so distinctly left traces of him 
self, as in the beautiful woodland scenery and magnificent forest 
trees, so much admired, in the immediate valley of the Genesee. 
With the same forecast that enabled him to estimate the prospec 
tive value of lands, he saw far ahead what this whole region is now 
beginning to realize, the evil of destroying the native forests, with 
out planting and rearing trees for future practical uses, as well as 
ornament. 

The personal character of Mr. Wadsworth may mostly be infer 
red from this imperfect sketch of him, as the Pioneer and founder 
of settlements. Almost his entire history is blended with this local 
region its early settlement and progress ; though he took a deep 
interest in public affairs, it was in the retirement of private life, 
from which he would seem to have never had a disposition to be 
drawn by any allurements of official stations. His private corres 
pondence, the ability with which he discussed various subjects of 
political economy, scientific agriculture and education, evince a 
clear, sound judgment, strengthened by judicious, practical read 
ing ; indeed, his library, like all the appointments of his farms, his 
stock, his dwelling, and his garden, is chosen with a strict regard to 
utility. " He was," (says a surviving cotemporary, * ) "a good judge 
of men seldom erred in his estimation of them and relying up 
on his judgment, was even arbitrary in the withholding and bestow 
al of confidence. He had not the elements of popularity ; or if he 
had, did not choose to make them available ; usually absorbed in 
the cares of business, or some favorite studv, he was reserved in his 



* George Hoimier, Esq. 



PHELPS AKD GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 343 

deportment, and liable to be regarded as austere and unsocial ; but 
relaxing, as he sometimes would freeing his mind from its bur 
dens, he would exercise fine conversational powers, not unmixed 
with humor, wit and gaiety." 

William Wadsworth, as has already been indicated, was the prac 
tical farmer, and has little of history disconnected with the imme 
diate supervision of large farming operations, and his early and 
prominent position in the local military organization. At the battle 
of Queenston, after the wounding of Gen. Solomon Van Rensselear, 
the immediate command devolved upon him, and he acquitted him 
self with honor, and won even something of laurels, upon a badly 
selected and generally unfortunate battle field, where they were 
scarce, and hard to acquire.* He was a bachelor, and a bachelor s 
history has always an abrupt termination. He died in 1833, aged 
71 years. His property which had been mostly held in common 
with his brother James, was willed to his children; thus leaving the 
large estate unbroken. 

James Wadsworth died at his residence in Geneseo, in June, 
1844, aged 76 years ; leaving two sons and two daughters. His 
eldest daughter, was the wife of Martin Brimmer, of Boston, at 
one period the Mayor of that city; she died in 1834. His second 
daughter, Elizabeth, was married in January, of the present year, 
in Scotland, to Charles Augustus Murray, second son of the late 
Earl of Dunmore, and a nephew of the Duke of Hamilton ; and 
now resides at Cairo, in Egypt, where her husband is the diplomatic 
representative of the British Government.! His son, William 

* Mansfield, one of the biographers of Gen. Scott, says that when he had crossed 
the Niagara, at the battle of Queenston, and arrived upon the Heights, he proposed 
to Gen. Wadsworth, instead of assuming the chief command to limit it to the legular 
force; to which the brave and patriotic Wadsworth replied: "No, you know best 
professionally what ought to be done ; I am here for the honor of my country, and the 
New York militia." And the biographer adds : " Scott assumed the command, and 
Wadsworth throughout the movements that ensued, dared every danger in seconding 
his views. Though they "had met for the first time, he had become attached to the 
young Colonel, repeatedly during the battle, interposing his own person to shield 
Scott from the Indian rifles, which his tall form attracted." This statement, illus 
trating the modesty of his courage, is confirmed by General Scott. 

t He is the grand son of Lord Dunmore, the governor of the colony of Virginia on 
the breaking out of the Revolution. In 1834, he visited this country, upon a tour 
undertaken with the two fold objects of business and pleasure. Upon investigation 
he ascertained that by some defect or omission in the Virginia acts of confiscation, 
- he could recover a large tract of land that had belonged to his grand-father, but he 
declined consummating the recovery upon learning that the land was nearly valueless. 
Striking off into the western States, he organized at St. Louis a corps of adventurers, 
and with them visited one of the far western Indian nations the Pawnees spend- 
in 01 the most of a summer with them, joining them in their rural sports, and accora- 



344 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 

Wadsworth, who married the daughter of Austin, of Boston, 

resides at the old family mansion in Geneseo. His son, James S. 
Wadsworth, who married the daughter of John Wharton, of Philadel 
phia, is the occupant of a fine mansion he has erected in a grove, 
a short distance north of the village of Geneseo, upon a bluff that 
overlooks a broad sweep of the valley of the Genesee. Upon him, 
in consequence of the abscence of the surviving sister, and the in 
firmities of his brother, devolves the entire management of the 
Wadsworth estate ; a difficult task, with all its diversified interest, 
its numerous farms, and tracts of wild lands ; but one that is well 
performed, not only in reference to the estate itself, but with refer 
ence to the public interest in which so large landed possessions are 
necessarily merged. The representative of the early Pioneers 
his father and uncle " to the manor born" while he knows little 
of the hardships, self-denial, the long years of trial and anxiety 
which attended the accumulation of the immense wealth he controls, 
he entertains liberal and enlightened views in reference to its man 
agement and disposition ; is not unmindful, as his frequent acts of 
public munificence bear witness, of the local interests and prosper 
ity of his native valley of the Genesee. While in many portions 
of our country, the evil attending the accumulation of great estates, 
is much enhanced by the narrow and sordid views of those into 
whose hands they fall; in this, as well as in other instances, in cur 
own prosperous region, it has been mitigated. It was something 
more than the mere possession of wealth something of the more 
legitimate claims to popular esteem that during the last winter 
created that intense anxiety in the local public mind, when the 
worst fears were entertained in reference to the fate of the packet 
ship, in which the subject of this incidental notice, had taken pas 
sage on his return voyage from Europe. 

panying them in their buffalo hunts. He is the author of a book of " Travels in North 
America," and of the popular tale of fact and fiction of wild adventure and roman 
tic incidents- entitled the " Prairie Bird ; " which the author is informed by one of 
the trade, has reached a tenth edition, in this country. James Wadsworth made the 
acquaintance of the family during his residence in Europe, and the younger member 
of it brought a letter of introduction to him when he came out to this country in 1834 ; 
thence the acquaintance ; the sequel, after a long delay, consequent upon the mooted 
question of country and residence, has been the transfer of one of the daughters of the 
Genesee from her native valley, to the court and the diplomatic circle of one of the 
far off capitols of the Old World. 

NOTE. James Wadsworth in his life time, founded a library in Geneseo, erecting 

a building for the purpose, and for its support deeding to its trustees two farms and 

. some village property. He made it free to every citizen of Livingston county. It has 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 345 

In the primitive division of Ontario into Districts, the second 
district, Geneseo, embraced all west of the east line of the present 
towns of Pittsford, Mendon, Richmond. The first town meeting 
for the " District of Geneseo, " was held at Canawagus, April 9, 
1791. John Ganson was chosen Sup. David Bullen, T. C. Other 
town officers : Gad Wadsworth, Nathan Perry, Amos Hall, Israel 
Stone, Edward Carney, Hill Carney, Jno. Ball, Isaiah Thompson, 
Benj. Gardner, John Lusk, Jasper Marvin, Norris Humphrey. 

It will be observed that these officers were distributed throughout 
the entire settled region west of the line named above. It used to be 
alledged that a little feeling of aristocracy had thus early crept into 
the backwoods, and manifested itself in the choice of supervisor 
shoes, moccasins, and bare feet, were the order of the day, but " Capt 
Ganson, " glorying in the possession of a pair of boots, the choice 
fell upon him. 

The town meeting in 1793, was held at "Miles Gore." Lima ; 
Amos Hall was elected Supervisor. This year, most of all the 
early roads in Livingston, east part of Monroe, and west part of 
Ontario, were laid out and recorded. Store and tavern licenses 
were granted to Gilbert R. Berry, Wm. Wadswortli, Simon Stone, 
Elijah Flowers, Pierce and Ransom, John Johnson, Donald Mc 
Donald, Elijah Starr, Abel Willey, Peter Simms, Nathaniel 
Fowler, James Rogers, Wm. Hencher, Abner Migells. Nathaniel 
Perry, Christopher Dugan. 

At that early period, when stock of all kinds ran in the woods, 
ear marks were appended. It is presumed that nearly all of the in 
habitants had their peculiar marks recorded. In many of the old 
town books, the picture of a hog or a sheep s ear, is drawn, with 
each man s mark delienated opposite his name. In 1796, there 
were upon the town books of the district of Geneseo, the following 
names of those who had chosen ear marks, in all the wide region 
west of East Bloomfield to the western boundaries of the State. 
There is no other form in which so many Pioneer names are re 
corded : 

now about 2,300 volumes, and a yearly income of about $600. In. his will, he constitu 
ted his immediate heirs its trustees. Its management devolves upon James S. Wads- 
worth, under which it is carrying out the designs of its founder, and promises to become 
one of the largest Libraries in the State. He gave $10,000 the income of which is to be 
employed in the education of any indigent relative. He- also gave $10,000, the in 
come of which is to be devoted to the benefit of the common schools of the State. 
22 



346 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 



Benjamin Gardner, 
Perez Gardner, 
J. P. Sears, 
Clark Peek, 
Jasper Marvin, 
John Alger 
John Gardner, 
John Minor, 
Solomon Hovey, 
Amos Hall, 
Asa Baker, 
Samuel Barker, 
Paul Davison, 
Samuel Baker, jr., 
Elijah Morgan, 
Thomas Peck, 
Sylvester Marvin, 
Nathaniel Fowler, 
Win. Harris, 
Ebenezer Merry, 
Jacob Wright, 
Abraham "Wright, 
S. C. Brockway, 
Elisha Wade, 
Stephen Tucker, 
Amariah Bates, 
Jos. Wright, 
John Parks, 
John Ganson, 
David Seymour, 
Alexander Forsyth, 
John Beach, 
Reuben Thayer, 
Nathaniel Mung-er. 



Henry Redding, 
Joseph Smith, 
Adna Heacock, 
Marvin Gates, 
Daniel Gates, 
Phineas Bates, 
Asahel Burchell, 
Ebenezer Sprague, 
Simon Tiftanv, 
Ezra Burchell, 
Seth Lewis, 
Alexander Ewing, 
Gad Wadsworth, 
Wm, Markham, 
Ebenezcr Merry, 
Wm. Wadsworth, 
Jed. Cummings, 
Benjamin Thompson, 
Lorin Wait, 
Thomas Lee, 
Richard Wait, 
Wm. Moore, 
John Barnes, 
David Davis, 
Samuel Goodrich, 
Gershom Beact, 
Daniel Fox, 
Aaron Lyon, 
William Lay ton, 
Hezekiah Fox, 
Joseph Baker, 
Zebulon Moses, 
Asahel Warner, 



Tim. Hosmer, 
John Rhodes, 
David Bailey, 
Thomas Migells 
Theo. Shepherd, 
Ransom Smith, 
Philip Simms, 
David Markham. 
Reuben Heath, 
Daniel Wright, 
Jos. Arthur, 
P. andJ. Sheffer, 
Jos. Morgan, 
Enos Hart, 
Abel Wilsey, 
John Morgan, 
Asa B. Simmons, 
David B. Morgan, 
Samuel Bullen, 
Samuel Stevens, 
George Gardner, 
Joseph Norton, 
Jesse Pangburn, 
Joel Harvey, 
David Benton, 
Jeremiah Olmsted, 
Joshua Whitney, 
David Pierson, 
Justus Minard, 
Jonathan Gould, 
Abiel Gardner, 
Ezekiel Chamberlin, 
Benjamin Parsons, 



The location of the Wadsworths at Geneseo, made that point the 
nucleus of a considerable neighborhood, though for many years, 
there was but a small cluster of buildings. The business of the 
new settlements was divided between Geneseo, " Old Leicester," 
and Williamsburg. The Wadsworths resided in their primitive log 
house until 1794, when they built a large block house on the site of 
the old Wadsworth mansion. About 1804, they had erected the 
upright part of the present building, a large square roofed house 
that made an imposing appearance in a region of log houses, where 
a framed house of any size was a rarity. The early clerk of 
James Wadsworth, after he had opened his land office, was Samuel 
B. Walley, an Englishman, the father of Mrs. Dudley Marvin ; he 
was succeeded by Andrew McNabb, who went into the Bath land 
office ; Joseph W. Lawrence was first blacksmith in Geneseo. He 
removed to Michigan, where he died in 1845. Among the promi 
nent early settlers, were : Lemuel B. Jennings, Benjamin Squire, 
Wm. Crossett, Rodman Clark, Wm. Findlay, David Findlay. As 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 347 

early as 1804, Mr. Wadsworth visited Marlborough, Connecticut, 
and exchanged lands for farms, thus inducing several families to 
remove, who settled on the road leading to Conesus, among whom 
was David Kneeland ; their location was early called " Marlborough 
Street." 

The early merchants atGeneseo were Minor & Hall. In 1805, 
one of the firm, Hall, died at Oneida Castle, on his way to New 
York to purchase goods. 

The prominent early merchant of Geneseo was the late Major 
Wm. H. Spencer. He was from East Haddam, Conn. Arriving 
upon the Genesee River in 1803, with his axe upon his shoulder, he 
was a Pioneer of " Fairfield " now Ogden ; breaking into the wilder 
ness on Rush creek, about a mile east of Spencer s Basin, he built 
a cabin, kept bachelor s hall, bought provisions of Mr. Shaeffer, 
carrying most of them in on his back ; built a saw mill, and in a little 
over a year cleared fifty acres. Getting ready for his saw mill irons, 
he went to Connecticut, and brought them all the way from there 
with an ox-team. In 1804 he struck the first blow in Riga, making 
an opening, and erecting a house for Mr. Wadsworth, a mile and a 
half southeast of Churchville. 

In 1805 he was induced by Mr. Wadsworth to take an interest 
with him in a mercantile establishment in Geneseo. Starting with 
a large stock of goods for that period, his business extended as set 
tlement advanced, and there were many early years that his trade 
embraced a wide region. His goods came by the water route from 
Schenectady to the foot of Cayuga Lake, and from thence on wheels 
to Geneseo ; the transportation usually costing about 83,00 per cwt. 
Doing principally a barter trade, his furs, tobacco, hemp, grain, pork, 
and maple sugar, were in the earliest years marketed at Baltimore ; 
by wagoning to Arkport on the Canisteo, and from thence by water. 
The first produce shipped at Arkport, was from Dansville ; the sec 
ond shipments were by Spencer & Co., from Geneseo. This was 
the avenue to market for all the southern portion of Phelps and Gor- 
ham s Purchase, until the Jefferson embargo ; then it changed to 
Lake Ontario, by wagon roads to the mouth of Genesee River, 
until bateaux were introduced upon the river. These ran from the 
rapids above Rochester, as high up as Geneseo ; and Durham boats 
used to ascend to Mount Morris. In the war of 1812 Maj. Spencer 
was the aid of Gen. Wadsworth. Many years since he retired 



348 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

from the mercantile business to his extensive farm of flats and up 
land, on the river opposite Geneseo. He was the owner of the 
beautiful sweep of flats, field after field, along on either side of the 
road from Geneseo to Piffardinia ; and had become one of the largest 
grazers, wool and wheat growers in the valley of the Genesee. He 
died suddenly, of appoplexy, in January of this year, while engaged 
in the active management of the large estate that had been gamed 
by early Pioneer enterprise, industry and perseverance. 

In 1805 Geneseo had but about a dozen dwellings, there were 
two public houses, one kept by Faulkner, and the other by Bishop : 
John Pierce had started the hatting business. Seymour Welcon 
was a tavern keeper there as early as 1S09 or 10. Dr. Sill was the 
early physician. He died in early years ; he was the father of Dr. 

Sill, of Livonia, and Sill of Wheatland. He was succeeded 

in practice by Dr. Augustus Wolcott, who emigrated west in early 
years. Ashbel Atkins was the early tanner and shoe maker. The 
earliest religious meetings were held in a small building called the 
"town house, " opposite the Park, which also answered the purpo 
ses of a school-house. Elder Joseph Lindsley was the first resident 
clergyman. That portion of Morris Reserve and the Holland Pur 
chase lying west of Geneseo, commenced settling along in 1805 and 
6, and Geneseo being upon the main thoroughfare, its trade, and 
the business of its public houses, derived a considerable impetus 
from it. Much of the trade of the new settlers was done there and 
the grain raised upon Wadsworths, Jones, and Mt. Morris flats, 
was their principal dependence. 



A RECLUSE. 



In 1793 or 4, DeBoui, a Frenchman, wandered to this region with a single 
companion, a negro slave, built a log cabin on Wadsworth s flats, and lived the 
life of a recluse. He was a native of Alsace. While a youth, lie quarrelled 
with a friend, wounded him in a duel, fled to St. Domingo, where lie served 
as a private soldier, until his superior attainments recommended him for em 
ployment in the public service as an engineer. He finally received the appoin- 
inent of Inspector General of the Li^n roads, and became besides, a consider 
able planter. The revolution in St. Domingo, breaking out, lie fled to Amer 
ica, bringing with liim one faithful servant, and the remnant of his estate, a 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 349 

few bills on France. Col. Wadsworth, of Hartford, assumed the negotiation 
of his bills, advanced him money, and granted to him the use of a small tract 
of land, which he came on and occupied. When the Duke Liancourt, and 
his French companions were upon the river, in 1795, they visited him and 
spent the night in his hut. They found him a confirmed misanthrope, but 
pleased at the unexpected visit of his countrymen to his backwoods retreat. A 
highly cultivated mind had been soured by misfortune ; and he had contract 
ed a disgust for his race, seeking no other associates but his faithful servant, 
who cooked his food, and cultivated a small patch of ground for their mutual 
sustenance. Unless he is right in assuming that he finally joined a colony of 
his countrymen at Asylum, in Pennsylvania, the author is unable to state 
what became of him. 



HORATIO AND JOHN H. JONES. 

In 1788, John H. Jones had joined his brother Horatio, in Gene 
va. In the spring of 1789, having obtained a yoke of oxen, the 
two brothers went into what is now Phelps, found an open spot, 
ploughed and planted five or six acres of corn, which they sold on 
the ground. In August of that year, the Indians having promised 
Horatio a tract of land west of the Genesee river, the advent of 
the two brothers, was as related in page 328. 

With the history of Horatio Jones, the public have already been 
made familiar. In a previous work of the author s the history 
of the Holland Purchase, there is a sketch of his life. Identified 
as he had become, with the Senecas, and sharing largely in their 
esteem and confidence, in his settlement west of the river, he had 
relied upon their intention of granting him his location, in which 
he was not disappointed, as will be seen in connection with the 
Morris treaty. Receiving from President Washington the appoint 
ment of Indian interpreter, in early years, his attendance upon 
treaties, the accompanying of Indian delegations to the seat of gov 
ernment, and various other trusts connected with the Indians, em 
ployed most of his time. When alive, there was none of our race, 
save Mary Jemison, who had been so long a resident of this region. 
He was with Col. Broadhead in his expedition to the Allegany, and 
as an Indian prisoner, he resided at Nunda, as early as 1781. The 

NOTE. No one whose lot was ever cast with the Senecas, was a better judge of 
their character ; and no one has in a greater degree contributed to our knowledge of 
them. His brother gave to the author, some observations of his, in reference to their 



350 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

farming principally devolved upon John H. Jones, and in early years, 
the brothers were large producers, especially of corn, for the new 
settlers who dropped in around and beyond them. At a primitive 
period, when the Indians in all that region, far out numbered the 
whites at a period too, when they were unreconciled, and unde 
termined, as to their relations with the whites, Horatio Jones ex 
ercised a salutary influence ; and to him much of the credit is due, 
for the success of Indian treaties, and the suppression of hostilities. 
The Indian captive boy became the arbitrer between his captors 
and his own race ; and by an inherent strength of mind and energy 
of character, which marked him as no ordinary man, made early 
misfortune the means ol conspicuously identifying himself with the 
early history of all this region : rendering to it essential service in 
years of weakness ; becoming in fact, a founder of settlement and 
civilization upon soil where he began his career as an alien and 
captive. 

Among the captives with whom he became acquainted while in 

captivity himself, was the daughter of Whitmore, of Schenec- 

tady. She was released with him at the treaty of Fort Stanwix, 
soon after which they were married. She died in 1794. He died 
1836, aged 75 years. The surviving sons, are : William, Hiram 
and Charles, of Leicester, Horatio, of Moscow, Seneca, a Califor 
nia adventurer. Daughters : Mrs. Lyman of Moscow, Mrs. 
Fitzhugh, of Saginaw, Michigan, Mrs. Hewitt and Mrs. B. F. Angell, 
of Geneseo, Mrs. Finley, of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Two sons, 
George and James, were killed at the British attack on Lewiston, 
in the war of 1812. 

John H. Jones, is now living at the age of 80 years, his mind 
but little impaired, and with the exception of rheumatism, a physi 
cal constitution but little broken. In 1792, he was engaged 
in the Indian trade at the mouth of Genesee river, upon the 
Allegany river, and Cattaraugus creek. He speaks familiarly 
of being at Buffalo, when the only white inhabitant was Win- 
warlike character, which it is believed has never before been published. He used to 
say that their southern wars with their own race, their success in them, were often. 
their themes in the war dance, and iu their wigwams. He has often heard the old 
men relate that the very name of Seneca, had a terror with Indians of other nations. 
At the south and the west, and among the nations of Canada, the Seneca war-whoop 
would almost conquer of itself. He said that even as late as the war of 1812, the In 
dians of Canada were struck with terror, when they learned that they must encounter 
the Senecas in battle. 



PHELPS AM) GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 351 

ney, a Butler Ranger, and the only resident on all the south 
shore of Lake Erie, west of Buffalo, other than Indians, was " Black 
Joe," a fugitive slave, at the mouth of Cattaraugus creek. Judge 
Jones was a magistrate of Ontario before the division ; soon after 
Genesee was set off, he became one of its Judges, and from 1812 to 
1822, was first Judge of Genesee, and after that for several years $ 
of Livingston. He was the first supervisor of Leicester, and was 
in all early years, a prominent, active helper in pioneer movements. 
His surviving sons are, George W., Horatio, Thomas J., James M., 
John H., Lucien B., Hiram, and Fayette, all residing in his imme 
diate neighborhood ; and Napoleon N., of Scottsville. Daughters : 
Mrs. Clute, of Cuylerville, Mrs. William Jones, of Leicester, Mrs. 
James Jones, of Cincinnati;!. 

The three brothers, Jellis, Thomas and "William Clute, from 
Schenectady, were early settlers at Leicester. Jellis was engaged 
in the Indian trade at Beardstown. Thomas and" William settled 
at Gardeau. 

The Rev. Samuel J. Mills was a graduate of Yale College, a na 
tive of Derby, Conn. He emigrated to the Genesee river in 1795. 
He joined Thomas Morris and others in the purchase of 10,000 
acres of land in Groveland and Sparta, at a period of high prices, 
paying and contracting to pay 86 per acre. The price soon fell 
below $2. He settled near where Col. Fitzhugh afterwards loca 
ted ; erecting a framed house and moving into it, it burned down, 
with all his household furniture, the family barely escaping. This, 
with his unfortunate investment in lands, embarrassed him, and dis 
couraged the spirit of enterprise that had brought him from New 
England. He was the early minister, for several years itinerating 
among the new settlements, until the period of his death, soon after 
1800. His wife returned to Connecticut. One of his sons, the 
late Gen. William A. Mills, was destined to a more fortunate career. 
Thrown upon his own resources at the age of 17, he rented flats 
of the Indians, occupying a shantee, where he lived alone at Mount 
Morris, his nearest neighbors, the Indians. Renting his land upon 
easy terms, and hiring the Indians and Squaws to assist him in 
working it, he was soon enabled to erect a distillery ; and when the" 
Mount Morris tract was opened for sale, he purchased from time 
to time, until he became possessed of eight hundred acres, including 
several hundred acres of the fine flats opposite the present village 



352 PHELPS AKD GOKHAM S PUKCHASE. 

of Mount Morris. His Indian name, " Sa-nem-ge-wa," (generous) 
would indicate their esteem for him, and the probity that governed 
his early intercourse with them. He spoke their language fluent 
ly, and from early associations, was much attached to them. When, 
after their removal, they would occasionlly revisit their old homes 
upon the Genesee, he met them, and treated them as old friends. * 
To his distilling and grain raising in early years, he added grazing 
upon the Mount Morris and Gardeau flats, and became finally large 
ly engaged in that business : and successful, as many have witness 
ed at our early county and State fairs. He was for twenty years, 
the . Supervisor of Mount Morris ; a commissioned officer in the 
early military organization in his region, he was upon the frontier 
in the war of 112, and in later years, rose to the rank of Brig. 
General. He died in J844, aged 67 years. His sons are : Wil 
liam A., Sidney H., Minard H. and Julius P., of Mount Morris, 
and Dr. Myron H., of Rochester. Daughters : Mrs. Levi Beach 
of Knox county, Ohio, Mrs. Dr. G. W. Branch and Mrs. William 
Hamlin, of Mount Morris. 

Alexander Mills, another son of the early Pioneer, Rev. Samuel 
J. Mills, located at Olean in an early day, where he was extensively 
engaged in the lumber trade ; now resides in Cleveland. Major 
Philo Mills, another son, located in Groveland, emigrated to Tecum- 
seh, Michigan. Frederick L. Mills, another son, located on flats ; 
he died in 1834; his living descendants are : George, of Mount 
Morris, Philo, of Groveland, Lewis, of Allegany, and Mrs. Hunt, 
of Groveland. 

The first saw mill west of Genesee river, (save one at Niagara 
Falls, erected by Stedman,) was erected by Ebenezer Allan, on the 
outlet of the Silver Lake. This supplied the first boards had in the 
upper valley of the Genesee. It was built in 1792, and raised by 
the help of the Indians, for the want of sufficient white men in the 
country. In some of the earliest years, Judge Phelps had a distil 
lery erected near the present village of Moscow. In 1800, Augus 
tus Porter, as the agent of Oliver Phelps, laid out the village of 



* And this, the author would here remark, was not unlike the relation that existed 
between most of the Pioneers of the Genesee country and the Indians, where they 
became neighbors in early years, and something of mutual dependence existed. 
Even now, in our cities and villages, the old Pioneers are pained often in witness- 
Ing their degradation, arid prompt to resist any insult offered to them. 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECIIASE. 353 

Leicester, * on a tract he had purchased of Jones and Smith, and 
opened the direct road across the flats to " Jones Ford ;" previous 
to which, it had gone via Beardstown. He also erected a saw mill 
on Beards Creek, near the present village of Moscow. For several 
years after 1800, the village of Leicester bore an important relation 
to the new settlements forming in Wyoming, Allegany, and south 
part of Erie. The early and well known tavern keeper, was 
Leonard Stimson, from Albany, who had been engaged in a 
small Indian trade at Mount Morris. He opened the first store, 
and started the first blacksmith shop. He left Geneseo soon after 
the war of 1812 ; his descendants reside in the neighborhood of 
Rochester. The first physician was Dr. Paul Newcomb. Colonel 
Jedediah Horsford, the present M. C. from Livingston, was an early 
tCdcher of a missionary school at Squaky Hill, and an early land 
lord at Moscow. Joel Harvey was an early tavern keeper a little 
west of Old Leicester. 

The first, town meeting in Leicester, was held at the house of 
Joseph Smith. John J. Jones was elected Supervisor ; George A. 
Wheeler, Town Clerk. Other town officers: Samuel Ewing, 
Alpheus Harris, Dennison Foster, Abel Cleavland, Samuel Hascall, 
George Gardner, Wm. A. Mills, Joel Harvey, David Dickinson, 
James Dale. 

One hundred dollars was raised to pay " bounty on wolves and 
wild cats, killed by white people." 

By a resolution of a special town meeting, in 1803, town of An 
gelica was set off from Leicester. 

The village of Moscow was started just after the close of the 
war of 1812, under the auspices of the late Samuel M. Hopkins, 
who in company with Benjamin W. Rogers, had purchased three 
fourths of the original Jones and Smith s Indian grant, of Isaac 
Bronson. Hopkins built the fine residence now owned by W. T. 
Cuyler, between Cuylerville and Moscow. The first merchant was 
Nicholas Ayrault, late of Rochester ; Wm. Robb, William Lyman, 
and Sherwood and Miller, were early merchants. The early land 
lords were: Jessee Wadhams, Wm. T. Jenkins, Homer Sher 
wood. Early lawyers, other than S.M.Hopkins: Felix Tracy, 
John Baldwin, George Miles, recently one the Judges of the Su- 

* Name, from Oliver Leicester Phelps. 



354 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 

preme Court, of Michigan. Rev. Mr. Mason founded the first 
Presbyterian church. An Academy was founded principally under 
the auspices of Mr. Hopkins, in 1817; the first Principal was Og- 
den M. Willey ; his assistants, the Miss Raymonds, one of whom 
became the wife of the Rev. Calvin C. Colton, the author of the 
life of Henry Clay, then a settled Presbyterian minister, at Batavia. 
The early physicians were : Asa R. Palmer, J. W. Montross, 
Daniel H. and Daniel P. Bissell. 

Cuylerville sprung up after the completion of the Genesee Valley 
Canal. W. T. Cuyler, who was an early citizen of Rochester, pur 
chased the Hopkins house and farm, of Richard Post, a son of the 
late Dr. Post, of New York, in 1830. The village has grown up 
on or near the site of the old Indian village of Beardstown, where the 
road from Perry and Warsaw crosses the canal. Mr. Cuyler 
started the first fordwarding and commission house ; the early mer 
chants were : Odell and Evans, and Joseph Wheelock. 

From Ebenezer Allan, the Mt. Morris tract, of four square miles, 
went into the hands of Robert Morris, and afterwards his son Thom 
as became a joint owner with others. Col. John Trumbull, of 
Revolutionary memory, the celebrated artist, was one of the early 
proprietors. He visited the country, and selected for his residence, 
the site, in the present village, now occupied by George Hastings, 
Esq.; planted an orchard, and made some preparations for building. 
The name, which had been " Allan s Hill," he changed to " Rich 
mond Hill." Afterwards, when he had abandoned the idea of 
making it his residence, the name was changed to Mt. Morris. The 
early proprietors of the tract, other than those named, were : Mr. 
Fitzsimmons, of Philadelphia, Charles Williamson, Robert Troup, 
the Messrs. Wads worths, John Murray* & Sons, of New York 
(of which firm Wm. Ogden was a partner,) Benj. W. Rodgers, 
Isaac Bronson, Gen. Mills, and Jessee Stanley, were the prominent 
pioneers of settlement. Deacon Stanley was from Goshen, Conn., 
his residence was the site now occupied by James Bond. He died 
in 1846, aged 90 years; he was the father of Oliver Stan-ley, of 
Mt. Morris. The village has grown up principally on the lands of 
Messrs. Mills, Stanley, and Mark Hopkins, a brother of Samuel M. 



* Jolm II. Murray, of Mt. Morris, is the grandson of John Murray, the early proprie 
tor at Mt. Morris, and owner of the township, now Ogden. 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PUECHASE. 355 

Hopkins. Mr. Hopkins came on as agent for owners, soon after the 
tract was opened for sale. He died soon after 1820. 



VALLEY OF THE CANASCRAGA. 

Following the tract of Mr. Williamson when he broke in from 
Pennsylvania and made a commencement at Williamsburg, settlers 
soon began to drop into the valley of the Canascraga. In Grove- 
land, other than at Williamsburg, John Smith was the Pioneer. He 
was from New Jersey, a surveyor in the employ of Mr. Williamson. 
He purchased a mile square, upon which he resided until his death 
in 1817. Benjamin Parker, a step son of John Smith, John Harri 
son, William and Thomas Lemen, William and Daniel Kelley, 
James Roseborough, w r ere among the earliest. Smith in 99, built a 
mill between Hornellsville and Arkport, and as early as 1800 took 
lumber from it to the Baltimore market. Michael Roup was an early 
Pioneer upon the up lands in Groveland, with his son Christain 
Roup. He died during the war of 1812 ; Michael Roup, of Grove- 
land is his son. The early minister that visited the neighborhood was 
the Rev. Mr. Gray ; the first school taught was by Robert M - 
Kay, in one of the houses that the Germans had deserted. 

The early Pioneers of Sparta, on the Canascraga, between Mount 
Morris and Dansville, were : J. Duncan, John Clark, Thomas 
Ward, Wm. McCartney, Henry Driesback, Benjamin Wilcox, Geo. 
Wilkenson, Rev. Andrew Grey, John McNair. 

In Groveland, other than those named in another connection : 
Samuel Nibleck, (Nibleck s Hill,) William Martin, Samuel Stilwell, 
John Vance, Doty, Ewart. 

In reference to all the upper valley of the Canascraga, Dansville 
was the prominent pioneer locality, as it is now the focus of business 
and enterprise. The Pioneer in the town of Sparta, near the present 
village of Dansville, was Hugh McCartney, who had accompanied 
Mr. Williamson from Scotland, and of whom, the author has no ac 
count other than the fact of his early advent. Upon the site of the 
village of Dansville, Neil McCoy, was the first settler. He came 
from Painted Post, and located where his step-son, James McCurdy ? 
who came in with him, now resides. The family were four days in 



356 PHELPS AND GOEHAMS PUECHASE. 

making the journey from Painted Post, camping out two nights on 
the way. The only tenement they found, was a small hut built for 
surveyors, where Conrad Welch now resides on Ossian street. At 
this time there was no white inhabitant in what is now the town of 
Dansville. Preparing logs for a house 14 by 18 feet, help to raise 
it came from Bath, Geneseo and Mount Morris, with Indians from 
Squaky Hill and Gardeau. It is mentioned by Mr. McCurdy, in 
some reminiscences he contributed several years since to a local 
history of Dansville,* from which the author derives many facts to 
add to what he has gleaned from other sources, that his mother, Mrs. 
M Coy, the first season heard of the arrival of Judge Hurlburt s family 
at Arkport, on the Canisteo, eleven miles distant, and as an act of 
backwoods courtesy, resolved upon making the first call. Taking 
her son (McCurdy) with her, she made the visit through the woods 
by marked trees, dined with her new neighbors, and returned in 
time to do her milking, after a walk, going and coming of twenty- 
two miles ! During the first winter they needed no hay for their 
stock, the rushes upon the Canascraga flats furnishing a substitute, 
upon which their cattle would thrive. The Indians belonging in the 
villages along the Genesee river, were almost constantly encamped on 
the flats of the Canascraga, as high up as Dansville, principally engag 
ed in hunting, though they cultivated small patches of ground. Their 
venison and corn was a part of the subsistence of the new settlers. 

Mr. McCoy died in 1809, childless; his representative, and the 
occupant of his primitive locality, is James M Curdy Esq., his step 
son. 

The venerable Amariah Hammond, for a long period a patriarch 
of the settlement and village of Dansville, after living to see a young 
and flourishing city grow up in the wilderness, where he so early 
cast his lot, died in the winter of 50, 51. His large farm, is im 
mediately adjoining the village, on the main road to Geneseo. 
Daughters of his, became the wives of L. Bradner, Esq., and Dr. 
James Faulkner, both of whom are prominently identified with the 
locality. L. C. Woodruff, Esq., formerly of Lockport, graduating 
in his youth from a printing office, and now the principal active 
manager of the Bank of Dansville, a sound and flourishing institu 
tion, married the daughter of Mr. Bradner, the grand-daughter of 



Miniature of Dansville/ by J. W. Clark. 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 357 

the early and much respected Pioneer. The first wife of Mr. 
Hammond died in 1798. "She had," says Mr. M Curdy, "endear 
ed herself to all of us by hei many virtues. When she died, all 
wept who had hearts and eyes." 

The author of the small local history already named, states that 
Mr. Hammond on coming in to explore, slept two nights under a 
pine tree on the premises he afterwards purchased. Early in the 
spring of 1796, "he removed his young family from Bath to this 
place ; his wife and infant child on horseback, his household goods 
and farming utensils on a sled drawn by four oxen, and a hired man 
driving the cattle." Some difficulty occurring in getting the cattle 
through the woods, Mr. Hammond after arriving at his log cabin, 
went back upon his track, and remained in the woods all night, 
leaving his young wife with her infant child to spend the first night 
alone. Mr. Hammond among other instances of the embarrass 
ments of pioneer life, that he used to relate, said that the first scythes 
he used, cost him a journey to Tioga Point. Two scythes and the 
journey costing him eleven dollars. 

In relating to his London principals the progress of settlement, 
Mr. Williamson says : "I sold also on six years credit, the west 
half of township No. 6, Cth range/ (this includes a large portion of 
the site of Dansville,) to a Mr. Fitzgerald, at $1 50 per acre. He 
sold the land to gentlemen in Pennsylvania for a large profit. The 
purchasers were, a Mr. Wilson, one of the Judges of Northumber 
land co., a Mr. C. Hall, a counsellor at law in Pennsylvania, a Mr. 
Dunn, and a Mr. Faulkner. These gentlemen have carried on the 
settlement with much spirit, and Mr. Faulkner is at the head of it. 
They have a neat town, a company of militia, two saw mills and a 
grist mill, and indeed, every convenience. Mr. Faulkner, although 
he came from Pennsylvania, was originally from the State of New 
York, north from Albany. This winter he went down to see his 
father and other connections ; the consequence was, that he moved 



NOTE. In "Descriptions of the Genesee country," written by Mr. Williamson, in 
1798, he remarks : " Of- those settlements begun in 1796, there are two worthy of no 
tice , that of the Rev. Mr. Gray, in T. 4, 7th Range, who removed from Pennsylvania 
with a respectable. part of his former parish, and a Mr. Daniel Faulkner, with a Jersey 
settlement, on the head of Cauascraga creek ; both of them exhibit instances of indus 
try and enterprise. The ensuing season, Mr. Faulkner being appointed captain of a 
company of grenadiers to be raised in his settlement, at the organization of the militia 
of Stcuben, appeared on parade at the head of 27 grenadiers, all in a handsome uniform, 
and well armed, and composed solely of the young men of liis settlement." 



358 PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 

up about fifteen very decent families, who passed through Albany 
with excellent teams, every way well equipped. He sold to some 
very wealthy and respectable men of Albany, 5,000 acres at a large 
profit. " The Captain Faulkner, who Mr. Williamson names, was 
Daniel P. Faulkner, an early patroon of Dansville, as will be infer 
red. " Capt. Dan. Faulkner," was his familiar backwoods appella 
tive, and thence the name Dans-vi\\e." He was the uncle of Dr. 
James Faulkner. 

Soon after settlement commenced, Mr. Williamson had erected 
a grist and saw mill, on the site afterwards occupied by Col. Roches 
ter. David Scholl, who was Mr. Williamson s mill-wright at the 
Lyons mills, erected the mills. The early mill-wright of the Gen- 
esee country, emigrated many years since to Michigan. Mrs. Sol 
omon and Mrs. Isaac Fentztermacher, of Dansville, are his daughters. 
The mill was burned down soon after 1800, after which, before re 
building, the neighborhood had to go to Bosley s mills at the foot of 
Hemlock Lake. 

Jacob Welch came from Pennsylvania to Dansville, in 1798. 
He died in 1831. His widow still survives, aged 86 years. His 
sons, Jacob, Henry and Conrad, are residents of Dansville. His 
daughters became the wives of John Beltz, Peter Labach, Will 
iam Kercher, and Valentine Hamsher. The decendants of Jacob 
Welch, residents of Dansville and its vicinity, number over one 
hundred and thirty. The part of his farm inherited by his son 
Conrad Welch, embraces the Dansville canal slip and basin. Mr. 
Conrad Welch, a prominent and worthy citizen of Dansville, gave 
the author some account of the early advent of his father, and 
others : " My grand-father, Jacob Martz, resided near Sunbury, 
Northumberland county, Pa. The advent of Charles Williamson 
through that region, his road, and all that was going on under his 
auspices, created a good deal of interest for the Genesee country. 
Jacob Martz came out and viewed it, and returning, reported so 
favorably, that an emigrant party was soon organized. It consisted 
of Jacob Martz, his son Conrad Martz, George Shirey, Frederick 
Barnhart and Jacob Welch, and their families. The party came 
via Bath, and up the Conhocton. From what afterwards became 
Blood s corners, the emigrants had their own road to make through 
to Dansville. A winding road had been underbrushed, but no, 
streams bridged, and high winds had encumbered it with fallen trees 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 359 

They were three days coming in from Bath, camping out two nights. 
Hearing of our approach, the new settlers in Dansville nearly all 
turned out, met and assisted us. Prominent of the party was Mr. 
Faulkner, who was alway ready to assist new settlers by such acts 
of kindness. Occupying an old deserter! hut, and quartering our 
selves upon the settlers in their log cabins, we got through the 
winter, and in the spring erected log cabins for ourselves. When 
we arrived, Samuel Faulkner had opened a small framed tavern, 
near where Mr. Bradner s store now is. In addition to the Faulk- 
ners, Hammond, and M Coy, there was here when we arrived, 
Wm. Phenix, James Logan, David Scholl, John Vande venter,* the 
father-in-law of Esq. Hammond, Jared Erwin,Wm. Perrine. There 
was three or four families along on the road to Williamsburg." 

" There had been, where Dansville now is, a pretty large Indian 
settlement, fifteen or twenty huts were standing when white settle 
ment commenced, and several Indian families lingered for several 
years in the neighborhood/ 

" Game was very abundant ; the new settlers could kill deer 
about when they pleased. After yarding their sheep, they would 
often have to go out and scare the wolves off. In cold winter 
nights, the wolves would set up a terrific howl in all the surround 
ing forests. They attacked cattle ; in one instance, they killed a cow 
of my grand-father Martz. Steel traps, dead falls and pits, were 
put in requisition, and soon thinned them out. There was fine fish 
ing in the streams. Mill Creek, especially, was a fine trout stream. 
Pigeons were so abundant, that almost uniformly, newly sowed 
fields had to be watched almost constantly." 

* A brother of Isaac Yandeventer, the early settler on Buffalo road west of Clarence 
Hollow. 

ISToTE. The author copies from the manuscripts of W. H. C. Hosmer, Esq., the .fol 
lowing account of an " ancient grave at Dansville : " 

" Before the Revolution, according to Indian tradition, a battle took place on a hill 
a few miles distant from the village of Dansville, between the Canisteo Indians and 
those living on the Ga-nope-ga-go, [Canascraga] Creek. A chief of the latter, of 
great renown, was slain, and buried with great pomp by his tribesmen. When the 
whites first settled here, the spot where he fell was marked by a large hole dug in the 
shape of a man prostrate, with his arms extended. An Indian trail led by the place, 
and the passing red man was accustomed to clear away the dry leaves and brush 
blown in by the winds. The chief was interred in an old burial place near the present 
site of the Lutheran Church in the village of Dansville. The ground was formerly 
covered with graves to the extent of two or three acres. His monument consisted of 
a large pile of small stones, gathered from time to time by the natives, from a hill, a 
mile distant ; passing, they would add to the heap, by tossing on it, after the manner 
of the ancient Caledonians, their rude tributes of arfectiou." 



360 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

The primitive settlers of Dansville were mostly Lutherans, 01 
Dutch Reformed. The first meetings were held from house to 
house ; Frederick Barnhart or Adam Miller, usually taking the 
lead. The Rev. Mr. Markle, a Lutheran preacher from Geneva, 
occasionally visited the place, as did Elder Gray. The first loca 
ted minister, was the Rev. Mr. Pratt. The Rev. Hubbard, a 

son-in-law of Moses Van Cam-pen, was an early settled minister. 
He was the father of John Hubbard, of Oswego. 

Jonathan Rowley was an early landlord in Dansville ; he erect 
ed for a tavern the first brick house in the village. He died in 
1830, childless; the only representative of the family, residing in 
Dansville, is a niece of Mr. Rowley, the wife of Samuel W. 
Smith. 

William Perrine, has been before named as one of- the primitive 
class of Pioneers, died in 1847, at the advanced age of 93 years. 
He was a soldier of the Revolution in the Pennsylvania line. His 
son, Peter Perrine, occupies the farm on which his father originally 
settled, near the village. William Perrine, of South Dansville, and 
Robert Perrine, of West Sparta, are also sons of the early Pioneer. 
Mrs. Robert Thompson, of Dansville, is a daughter of his, 

Harman Hartman was one of the earliest of the Pennsylvania 
emigrants. His descendants are numerous, residing principally in 
Dansville and its vicinity. 

Hugh McCurdy, Esq., in a statement made for the author of the 
published reminiscences of Dansville, already alluded to, says : 
" The first tanner and currier was Israel Vandeventer ; the first black 
smith, James Porter ; the first marriage was that of Wm. McCartney 
to Mary McCurdy ; our first school was taught by Thomas Mac- 
lain ; the first established preacher and founder of a church among 
us, was the Rev. Andrew Gray ; the first Justice of the peace was 
Dr. James Faulkner, (uncle to the present Dr. James Faulkner ;) 
the first Supervisor was Amariah Hammond ; the first death was 
that of Captain Nathaniel Porter ; the first P. M. was Israel Irwin ; 
the first merchant goods were brought in by Captain Daniel P. 
Faulkner ; the next merchant, Jared "Erwin. He died of the pre 
vailing fever during the war of 1812 ; his widow became the wife 
of Col. James M Burney ; Mrs. Gansevoort, of Bath, is his daugh 
ter." 

Joshua Shepherd, L. Bradner and S. W. Smith, were early and 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 361 

prominent merchants of Dansville. Mr. Shepherd died in 1S29 ; 
Mr. Bradner is the President of the Bank of Dansville ; Mr. Smith 
is a son of the early landlord on the main road from Avon to Cale 
donia. 

Pioneer settlers of Dansville, other than those named : Natha 
niel Porter, John Haas, Thomas McWhorter, Samuel Shannon, 
James Harrison, Daniel Hamsher, Mathew Dorr, Oliver Warren, 
a nephew of Dr. Warren, of Revolutionary memory. 

Col. Nathaniel Rochester became a resident of Dansviile in 1810, 
purchasing a large tract of land, which includes the greater portion 
of the water power now within the limits of the corporation. The 
old Williamson mills were embraced in his purchase. He added 
to the mills, a paper mill, ther pioneer establishment in that line, in 
all western New York. * In 1815, Col. Rochester sold his land, 
mills, and water power, to the Rev. Christian Endress from the 
borough of Easton, Pa., and Mr. Jacob Opp, from Northampton Co., 
Pa. Mr. Endress resided in Dansville but a year, when he return 
ed, and resumed the charge of a German Lutheran congregation in 
Easton. He died in Lancaster, Pa., in 1827. His interest in 
Dansville was purchased by Dr. James Faulkner. Judge Endress 
and Dr. Endress, of Dansville, are his sons. Mr. Opp died in 
Dansville, in 1847, aged 84 years. Henry B. Opp, of Dansville, is 
his son. 

North Dansville, in which is the site of Dansville village, was in 
the county of Steuben, until 1822, when it was attached to the 
town of Sparta, Livingston county. In 1846, the old town of 
Sparta was divided into three towns of which the town of 
North Dansville, three miles square, was one. The town of Dans 
ville, is still in Steuben county. 

Although it is one of the pioneer localities, of the Genesee coun 
try, and commenced in an early period to be a place of considera 
ble business, Dansville was but little known in the northern por 
tion of western New York, until after the completion of the Gene- 
see Valley Canal ; and even now, away from the main eastern and 
western thoroughfares, as it is, it may well be presumed that this 
work will fall into the hands of many readers, who have neither 

* The pure water at Dansville and fine water power, has invited this branch of manu 
factures there to a great extent. There were four large paper mills there in 1844, 
manufacturing over $100,000 worth of paper per arintirn. 
23 



362 PIIELPS AND GOPJIAM S rcniciiASE. 

seen the bustling, prosperous large village, hid away among the 
southern hills, nor perhaps, read any account of it. For this rea 
son, a brief topographical sketch will be given a departure from 
the uniform purpose of the author, in this history of pioneer set 
tlement. 

Though some sixteen miles from the Genesee River, it is in fact 
at the head of the Genesee Valley.* Coming down through the nar- , 
row gorges of Allegany and the southern portion of Livingston, the 
river has but an occasional broad sweep of flats, until it reaches Mt. 
Morris. The flats of the river are continuous, and mostly of uni 
form width, from a few miles above Rochester, to Mount Morris, 
from which point gradually narrowing, they follow the course of the 
Canascraga to Dansville, where, after widening out, and gradually 
rising in beautiful table lands, they come to an abrupt termination, 
and are hemmed in by hills. The ^Canascraga, Mill Creek, and 
Stony Brook, coming down from the highlands, through narrow 
gorges, enter the valley and unite mainly within the village limits. 
The Canascraga enters the valley through a narrow pass called 
" Pog s Hole," through which, climbing along a steep acclivity, and 
then descending to a level with the stream, passes the Hornellsville 
road. Upon the opposite side of the stream from the road, through 
the whole length of the narrow pass, is a perpendicular ledge of 
rocks, an hundred feet in height. Beyond this pass, the valley 
widens out occasionally, into small areas of intervale, but ranges of 
highlands rise in near proximity on either hand. The scenery is 
wild and romantic, at every step reminding the contemplative ob 
server, of the written descriptions of the passes of the Alps. Mill 
creek making in irom another direction, has a rapid descent for a con 
siderable distance, before reaching the valley, furnishing a succes 
sion of hydraulic facilities, as does the Canascraga, where it passes 
from the highlands, and for a considerable distance below. The 
aggregate durable water power of both streams, before and after 
their union, is immense largely improved now and equal to any 
present or prospective requirements. 

At the head of the valley, is a succession of promontories, over 
looking the town, upon one of which is a rural cemetery, not unlike the 
Mt. Hope, at the other extremity of the Genesee Valley. Moulder- 

* The term " vallev " is here used not in its enlarged sense the term " flats " would 
perhaps be better. 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PUKCHASE. 363 

ing in its shades, upon its slopes and summits, are all that was earth 
ly of nearly all the Pioneers, who, entering that beautiful valley, 
when it was a wilderness, laid, amid toil, disease, and privations, the 
foundation of that busy scene of enterprise, prosperity and happi 
ness. Admonished may their successors and inheritors be, that 
their spirits may be lingering upon that summit, guardians and 
watchers, over those to whom they bequeathed so rich an inherit 
ance. Let that elevated city of the dead, be to them a Mount Sinai 
or an Horeb, from which to catch, as if by inspiration, a moiety of 
the stern resolves, the moral courage, the patriotism, of the Pioneers. 

The main street of the town is parallel with, and at the base of 
an unbroken range of high land, rising to the height of nearly five 
hundred feet steep, but yet admitting of cultivation. Cultivated 
fields and woodlands, rising one above another, form the back ground, 
or rural landscape ; in the foreground are gentle offsets, or table 
lands, at the termination of which, the Canascraga winds along the 
base of another similar hill, or mountain range ; to the left are the 
headlands, that have been named, and to the right, the Canascra 
ga, winding along between the two ranges of highlands, flows to min 
gle its waters with the Genesee, at 4 Mount Morris. 

The Genesee Valley Canal, terminates a half mile from main street, 
where it is fed from Mill creek, and a mile below, at Woodville, 
receives the waters of the Canascraga. The canal terminating 
too far from the central business locality of the town, individual 
enterprise has supplied a side cut, or slip which remedies the incon 
venience. 

In reference to the whole scenery of the southern portion of the 
Genesee country, the upper vallies of the Genesee, the Canascraga, 
the Allegany, the Cattaraugus, the Conhocton, and the Canisteo, it 
may here be remarked, that the traveller or tourist of what Mr. 
Williamson called the " northern plains, " who breaks out for a 
summer excursion to the east, the north or the west, may be told 
that a day s journey to the south, will bring him to a region of hill 
and valley, rivers and creeks, mountains and rivulets, cultivated 
fields and wild woodlands, which should satisfy any reasonable desire 
for the romantic and picturesque. And if health is the object of 
his summer wanderings, no where can he breathe " freer and deeper," 
of a pure and invigorating atmosphere or drink from purer springs 
and streams, than, in all our local southern region. 



364 PHELPS AJSD GOEHAH^S PUECHASE. 

WILLIAM FITZHUGH. 



He was of a family, the name and services of which are inti 
mately blended with the history of the stirring events of the Rev 
olution in the colony of Maryland. The father, Col. William 
Fitzhugh, held the commission of Colonel in the British army, 
retired upon half pay, when the troubles between the colonies and 
the mother country commenced. He resided at the mouth of the 
Patuxent, where he, had a large estate, a farm, mills and manufac* 
tories. Exercising an unusual share of influence with his fellow 
citizens, the British colonial Governor made him the extraordinary 
offer of a continuance of his rank and half pay, and the quiet 
possession of his property if he would remain a neutral in the con 
test. Though an invalid, by reason of physical infirmities, he re 
jected the overture, surrendered his commission (or rather left it 
upon the Governor s table when he refused to receive it) encour 
aged his two sons to take commissions in the "rebel " army, taking 
himself a seat in the Executive council of Maryland, to assist in 
devising ways and means for his country s deliverance. His fine 
estate, easy of access from its locality, was of course doomed to pil 
lage and the torch. In the absence of the father and sons, a small 
British party landed, but resistance came from an unexpected source. 
The Revolutionary wife and mother, Mrs. Fitzhugh, armed the slaves 
upon the estate, and carrying herself cartridges in her apron, went 
out to meet the invaders, and intimidated them to a hasty retreat. 
It was however, but a warding off of destiny for a brief season. A 
stronger party came and ruthlessly executed their mission, the 
family fleeing to an asylum fifty miles up the river where it remain 
ed until the contest ended.* 

The son, Col. Peregrine Fitzhugh, was first commissioned in a 
corps of light horse, but in a later period of the war was enrolled in 
the military family of Washington. [Cf 3 See Sodus. William, 
the more immediate subject of this brief sketch, served as a Colonel 
in a division of cavalry, and after the war, was a member of the 
Maryland Legislature. Previous to 1800 Col. Peregrine Fitzhugh 
had made the acquaintance of Mr. Williamson, and had visited the 



Principally from Mrs. Ellet s "Women of the Revolution." 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 365 

Genesee Country. When Col. William Fitzhugh first visited the 
country in 1800 in company with Col. Nathaniel Rochester, Major 
Charles Carroll, and several others, he brought a letter of introduc 
tion to Mr. Williamson from his brother, for himself and Col. Roches 
ter ; Major Carroll as would seem from the reading of the letter, 
having previously known him. During this visit, in addition to a 
third interest in the "100 acre Tract" at the Falls of the Genesee, pur 
chased in company with Messrs. Rochester and Carroll, jointly with 
Mr. Carroll he purchased on the Canascraga, in Groveland and Spar 
ta, 12,000 acres of Mr. Williamson, paying $ 209 per acre.* Their 
tract embraced the old site of Williamsburg, Mr. Williamson having 
abandoned his enterprise of forming a town there after the failure 
with his German colony. Leaving their property in the care of an 
agent. Messrs. Fitzhugh and Carroll did not emigrate with then 
families until 1816, when a division of the joint purchase was 
made. 

Col. Fitzhugh died in 1839, aged 78 years; his wife, who was the 
daughter of Col. Daniel Hughes, of Washington county, Md., died in 
1829, aged 56 years. The surviving sons and daughters are : 
Wm. H. Fitzhugh, residing upon the old homestead in Maryland ; 
Dr. D. H. Fitzhugh, residing upon the Canascraga four miles from Mt. 
Morris; James Fitzhugh, in Ohio county, Ky.; Richard P. Fitzhugh, 
on the Canascraga near his brother Daniel ; Henry Fitzhugh, in 
Oswego ; Mrs. Dr. Frederick F. Backus, of Rochester ; Mrs. 
James G. Birney, of Kentucky ; Mrs. Gerrit Smith of Peterboro ; 
Mrs. John T. Talman, of Rochester ; Mrs. Lieut. J. W. Swift, 
of the U. S. Navy, residing at Geneva. A son, Judge Samuel 



* Their tract was principally up lands ; a strange choice it was thought at the time, 
when they were offered the Mt. Morris tract, with its beautiful sweeps of flats, at $3,00 
per acre. But they had come from a region where timber was scarce, and they had 
learned to appreciate its value and with reference to intrinsic relative value of soil ; 
time, and improved systems of cultivation are fast demonstrating that their choice of 
lands was far less injudicious than it used to be considered. The late Major Spencer 
told the author that the up lands upon his fine farm were worth as much per acre as his 
flats. 

NOTE. The Shaker settlement at the junction of the Kishaqua creek with tha 
Canascraga a few miles above Mt. Morris, where the Genesee Valley canal enters the 
valley of the Canascraga, is a part of the original Fitzhugh and Can-oil tract. The 
society purchased of Dr. Fitzhugh, a few years since, 1700 acres, for which they paid 
$y2,000 ; and to which they have added several hundred acres. Their organization is 
after the manner of the societies at Niskayuna and New Lebanon ; they are enterpri 
sing and prosperous ; themselves and their beautiful location one of the many objects 
?f interest in the southern portion of our local region. 



366 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

Fitzhugh, residing at Mt. Morris, died in 1849 ; and a younger son, 
Robert, died in Groveland, in 1836. There are over 80 descend 
ants of Col. Wm. Fitzhugh. 



CHARLES CARROLL. 



His connection with Messrs. Rochester and Fitzhugh, and his 
advent to this region with them in 1800, will have been noticed. 
He had previously in the year 1798, with a brother, Daniel Carroll, 
been here upon a tour of exploration. They came via the Susque- 
hannah route, with pack mules, made a general survey of the coun 
try, were pleased with it, but made no investments as will be ob 
served, until 1800. Their residence in Maryland was at Bellevue, 
near Hagerstown ; the earlier home of the family had been upon 
the site of the city of Washington ; the capital of the United States, 
now occupies a portion of the estate of their father, Charles Carroll, 
who was a cousin of " Charles Carroll of Carrollton." 

The author has little of the history of Major Carroll, disconnected 
with that of his associates, Messrs. Rochester and Fitzhugh. He 
died at his residence in Groveland, in 1837, aged 60 years. His 
living sons are : Charles Carroll, the occupant of the homestead, 
recently the representative in Congress of the Livingston and On 
tario district, and a State Senator; Dr. Daniel J. Carrol of New 
York ; William T. Carroll, a clerk of the Supreme Court of the 
United States. Daughters became the wives of Henry Fitzhugh, 
of Oswego ; Moses Tabbs, of Washington, D. C. ; Dr. Hardage 
Lane of St. Louis. The eldest son was the private Secretary of 
Mr. Clay, at Ghent ; becoming soon after the clerk of his father, 
who held the office of Receiver at Franklin, Missouri, he was killed 
in an affray which occurred in that town. 



There came to the Genesee country with Messrs. Fitzhugh, 
Rochester and Carroll, or at about the same time, Col. Jonas Hog- 
mire, of Washington county, Md., Wm. Beal, and John Wilson, of 
Frederick county. Col. Hogmire purchased of Mr. Wads worth, 
on the river, in Avon, 1500 acres of land, upon which his sons Con- 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 367 

rad and Samuel Hogmire now reside. The father never emigrated. 
Messrs. Beal and Wilson purchased a large tract on the Canascraga, 
in Sparta. 



AVON". 



Gilbert R. Berry, was the first permanent settler in what is no 
Avon.* He was from Albany. He married the daughter of the 
early Indian trader, Wemple, who has been named in connection 
with the Rev. Mr. Kirkland. Engaging in the Indian trade, he 
located first at Geneva, and in 1789, removed to the Genesee river, 
erected a log house on the west side of the river, near the present 
bridge, opened a trade with the Indian village of Canawaugus, es 
tablished a ferry, and entertained the few travellers that passed 
through on the old Niagara trail. He died in 96 or 7, and was 
succeeded by his widow. The Holland Purchase being opened for 
settlement soon afterwards, the "Widow Berry s" tavern was 
widely know in all early years, west of the river ; and besides fur 
nishing a comfortable resting place for early Pioneers, in her prim 
itive tavern, some of the best wives and mothers of the Genesee 
country, were reared and fitted for the duties of life. Her daughters 
became the wives of Geo. Hosmer, Esq., of Avon, E. Clark Hickox, 
the early merchant of Batavia and Buffalo, John Mastick, Esq., the 
Pioneer lawyer of Rochester, and George A. Tiffany, whose father 
was one of the early printers of Canandaigua. 

Capt. John Ganson, was the pioneer settler following Mr. Berry. 
Holding a commission in the Revolutionary war, he had accompanied 

* This is assumed from the best information the author has been able to obtain. 
"William Rice was at Avon in the same year, and must have settled there soon after 
Mr. Berry. Morgan and William Desha, were upon the " Desha Flats," as early as 
1789, claiming under an Indian grant ; but the title failing, they removed to Canada. 
There Vv r ere there in that year, besides, several heads of families, who are supposed not 
to have been permanent settlers. The son of the "Wm. Rice named above, was the 
first born upon the Phelps and Gorham s Purchase. He was named "Oliver Phelps 
Rice." Judge Phelps gave him an 100 acres of land in Livonia, which he occupied 
when he became of age. Mrs. "Rice was a good specimen of the strong minded, ener 
getic women, who were the ] loneer mothers of this region. Skilled as a midwife and 
nurse, she went from settlement to settlement, and from log cabin to log cabin, often 
supplying the place of a physician. Her many acts of kindness are gratefully remem 
bered by the early Pioneers. Mrs. Gould of Lima, and Mrs. Rhodes of Geneseo, are 
her daughters. 



368 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PUECHASE. 

the expedition of Gen. Sullivan. Before the treaty was concluded, 
in 1788, he revisited the country, and selected a fine tract of land 
on the river, about two miles below Avon. His sons John and 
James wintered in a cabin in 1788, 9, upon the premises; and the 
father and family came on in the fall of 1789. During the follow 
ing winter they erected a rude " tub mill " on the small stream that 
puts into the river on the Markham farm. It was a small log 
building; no boards could be had; the curb was made of hewed 
plank ; the spindle was made by straightening out a section of a cart 
tire ; the stones were roughly carved out of native rock. There 
was no bolt, the substitute being hand sieves, made of splints. It 
was a rude, primitive concern ; but it would mash the corn a little 
better than a wooden mortar and pestle ; and was quite an acquisi 
tion to the country. It preceded the Allan mill a few months, and 
if we shall call it a mill, it was the first in the Genesee Valley. The 
buckwheat that has been mentioned, produced upon Boughton Hill, 
was ground or mashed in it, having been carried there twenty miles 
through the woods, by Jared Boughton, in the fall of 1789 ; and the 
producer, and mill boy (or man) lives to eat buckwheat cakes, now in 
the winter of 1850, 51. Borrowing the language of Shakspeare, and 
applying it to this one of the few survivors of that early period, may 

" Good digestion wait on appetite, 
And health on both." 

Capt. Ganson had claimed title either under the Indian grant, or 
under the Lessees, which failed, and Col. Wm. Markham became 
his successor. He resided for several^ years afterwards, four miles 
east of Avon, on the main road. As early as 1788, about the period 
of the commencement of surveys upon the Holland Purchase, Capt. 
Ganson, had pushed on to the west side of the river, and purchased 
the pioneer tavern stand of Charles Wilbur, on the then verge of 
civilization, one mile east of the present village of Le Roy. In this 
location he was widely known in early years. His house was the 
home of early land agents, surveyors, explorers and pioneer settlers. 
He was both loved and feared by the Indians ; they came to him 
for counsel and advice ; and when they became turbulent in their 
drunken frolics and threatened outrage, he would quell them by his 
determined will, or with his strong arm. He was even ultra in his 
Revolutionary principles. When he came upon the river, he and 
the Butler Rangers the tories of the Revolution, were far from 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 369 

being agreeable neighbors ; he was impatient to see the last of them 
on their way to Canada. 

Township 10, R. 7, (Avon,) was sold by Mr. Phelps to " Wads- 
worth, Lewis & Co." Those interested in the purchase, were : 
William Wadsworth, of Farmington, Conn., (a cousin of James 

and William,) Wells of Hartford, Isaiah Thompson, Timothy 

Hosmer, and Lewis. The price paid was Is 6d, N. E. cur 
rency per acre ; " a high price at the period, in consequence of the 
large amount of open flats." Dr. Hosmer, and Thompson, were the 
only ones of the proprietors who became residents. Major Thomp 
son, who had not brought his family, died the first season, of billious 
fever. His son Charles afterwards became a resident, and died in 
Avon, many years since. Mrs. Tompkins, of Batavia is a grand 
daughter of Major Thompson. 

Dr. Timothy Hosmer was a native of West Hartford, Conn. 
With a little more than an ordinary academical education, he be 
came a student of medicine with Dr. Dickinson, of Middleton. 
But recently settled in practice in Farmington, at the breaking out 
of the Revolution, he entered the service of the colonies, as a sur 
geon, in the Connecticut line. Serving in that capacity through 
the eventful crisis, he retired, happy in the recollection of its glori 
ous result, but like most of those who had achieved it, poor and 
pennyless, a growing family dependent on his professional services 
for support. In the army he had acquired a high reputation in his 
profession ; especially for his successful treatment .of the small pox, 
at Danbury, where an army hospital had been established for patients. 
The discovery of Jenner, having been but recently promulgated in 
Europe, its efficacy was a mooted question ; with a professional 
boldness which was characteristic of the man, he espoused the new 
discovery, and used it with great success. His mate, in the army, 
was Dr. Eustis, afterwards Secretary of War. 

Personally acquainted with Mr. Phelps, and hearing of his pur 
chase in the Genesee country, partly from a love of adventure and 



NOTE. James and John Ganson the sons, were early landlords at Le Roy and 
Stafford. Mrs. Warren residing near Lockport, is a daughter. James Garison is still 
living, a resident of Jackson, Michigan; his sons, are John S. Ganson, of Buffalo, 
President of the Bank of Attica ; Joseph Ganson, a merchant of "Brockport, Hiram, 
Cornelius and Cornell, residents of Michigan, and another son resides in Milwaukee. 
The sons of John Ganson, are Dr. Holt on Ganson of Batavia ; John Ganson, an Attor 
ney in Buffalo ; and James Gansoii, Cashier of the Marine Bank of Buffalo. 



370 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUECHASE. 

new enterprise, and partly to escape from a large practice that was 
requiring too much of constant toil, in 1790, he visited this region 
in company with Major Thompson, with whom, for themselves and 
associates, he made the purchase of a township. Spending the 
summer of 90 in Avon; in 91 he brought on his two sons, Fred 
erick and Sydney ; erecting a log house, the first dwelling on the 
present site of Avon, where Mr. Merrill s house now stands. His 
whole family joined him in 1792. Coming into the wilderness, with 
other objects in view, he was forced by necessity by the absence 
of others of his profession, to engage in practice, which he contin 
ued until relieved by others- Among the old pioneers who in those 
primitive days, were in detached settlements throughout a wide 
range, you will hear him spoken of; and especially do they remem 
ber his disregard of fatigue, his long, night, wood s rides, prompted 
more by a spirit of benevolence than professional gain ; his good 
humor, and the kind w r ords he always had to cheer the desponding 
settler, who was wrestling with disease, or the hardships of pioneer 
life. The Indians early learned to appreciate his professional skill, 
and personal good offices. They named him " At-tta-gus," the healer 
of disease. In a period of doubt as to their relations with the new 
settlers, he helped to reconcile them and averl. a threatened danger. 

When Ontario was organized he became one of its Judges, and 
succeeded Mr. Phelps as first Judge, which office he held until he 
was sixty years of age, the constitutional limitation. He possessed 
naturally a fine literary taste ; and his well selected library was an 
anomaly in the backwoods. In his correspondence with Messrs. 
Wadsworth and Williamson, which the author has perused, there are 
indications of the scholar, the poet,* and always, of ardent, enlight 
ened patriotism. 

He died in November, 1815, aged 70 years. His surviving sons, 

* His early poetic effusions may be found in the files of the old Connecticut Courant. 
In a letter to James Wadsworth, intended to reach him on the eve of his departure 
from New York to Europe, after wishing him "a happv and prosperous voyage," he 
congratulates him on the "pleasing prospect," then "opening to the cause of freedom;" 
and adds : " May the resplendent day of Liberty pervade the universe, and radiate 
every region where man is found. It has ever been my opinion that the spark of 
freedom, which was kindled in Boston, in 1775, and spread with great rapidity 
throughout the United States, would not be circumscribed in its limits to the shores of 
the Atlantic. The men of reflection, in Europe, find that the extensive territory of 
the United States, can be governed with the greatest facility, and with a degree of hap 
piness, unknown to eastern countries, without the pompous nothing, called a King, 
the dissipated pageantry of a licentious court, or the enormity of a civil list computed 
by millions ; and it is therefore not a matter of surprise, to see France, whose armies 



PHELPS AOT) GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 

most of whom came to the country as junior pioneers, are William 
T., of Meadville, Pa.; George, of Avon, who in early years occu 
pied a conspicuous position at the bar of W. N. York, the father 
of Wm. H. C. Hosmer, the author of " Yonnondio," " Themes of 
Song," and other poems ; who is justly entitled to the position that 
has been awarded him in the front rank of American scholars and 
poets. Geo. Hosmer pursued his early studies under the tuition of 
the Rev. Ebenezer Johnson of Lima ; in 1799 entered the law 
office of the Hon. Nathaniel W. Ho well, as a student ; and in 1802 
was admitted to practice, opening his office in Avon, then the only 
lawyer west of Canandaigua. In the war of 1812 he was upon the 
frontier as the aid of Gen. Hall. He is now G9 years of age. 
Timothy, the early and widely known landlord at Avon, resides at 
the Four Mile creek, near Fort Niagara ; Sylvester, in Caledonia ; 
Albert in Hartland, Niagara co. An only daughter of Judge Hos 
mer is the wife of the Rev. Flavel F. Bliss, of Churchville. Fred 
erick Hosmer, deceased, was a son of Judge Hosmer ; he was the 
first merchant at Avon ; another son, A. Sydney Hosmer, was long 
known as a tavern keeper at Le Roy ; he emigrated to Wisconsin, 
where he died in 1835. 

Colonel William Markham, who had first settled at Bloomfield, 
moved to Avon in 1790. In Bloomfield he had purchased an hundred 
acres of land, and paid for it with the proceeds of one acre of po 
tatoes. With the proceeds of that land, he purchased and paid for 
the fine farm on the river, now owned by his son, Guy Markham, 
which has rented for 81,000 per year. He became a useful, public 
spirited citizen, and his name is mingled with the reminiscences of the 
town, in all early years. He died in 1827, or 8. His surviving sons 
are : Guy and Ira, of Rush, Wayne, on Ridge Road, near Clarkson, 
Vine, in Michigan. Daughters : Mrs. Whitney, Michigan ; Mrs. 
Boughton and Mrs. Dr. Socrates Smith, of Rush. 

Gad Wadsworth was a distant connexion of James and William, 
and came in with them, in their primitive advent in 1790, in care, 
personally, pf the stock. James and William having become, by 
purchase from first hands, land proprietors in Avon, he settled 



have fought the battle of Independence, in America, victorious over the minions of des 
pots. And if I may be allowed the privilege of a prediction, I shall have but little 
hesitation in pronouncing, that the extirpation of tyrants and tyranny from Europe, 
is but a small remove from the present era." 



372 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

there in 1792, his farm being what are now the farms of his son, 
Henry Wadsworth, and Asa Nowlen, upon which are the Avon 
springs. He died soon after 1820, nearly 80 years old. Another 
so-n of his, Richard, inhabited that part of the farm upon which the 
springs are sitftated, and sold to Mr, Nowlen. He emigrated to 
Sandusky. 

Major Isaac Smith was the early and widely known landlord, four 
miles west of the river, commencing there as early as 1800. Un 
der his roof, a large proportion of the Pioneers west of the river, 
have found rest and refreshment ; and from under it, it may also be 
added, have come not less than half a dozen excellent wives and 
mothers. They were : Mrs. Isaac Sutherland, and Mrs. E. Kim- 
berly, of Batavia, Mrs. John M Kay, of Caledonia, Mrs. A. Sidney 
Hosmer, formerly of Le Roy, Mrs. Faulkner, of Dansville, and 
Mrs. Sylvester Hosmer, of Caledonia. S. W. Smith, of Dansville, 
and Nelson Smith, of Michigan, are sons of the early landlord. 

The next landlord at Avon, after Gilbert R. Berry, was Nathan 
Perry. He built a framed house, north side of square, on the site 
now occupied by the dwelling of Mr. Curtis Hawley. Perry emi 
grated to the Connecticut Reserve, and was succeeded by Sydney 
Hosmer, who made additions to the house. In 1806 James Wads- 
worth built the hotel on the corner, and soon after sold it to Sidney 
and W. T. Hosmer, after which it was long known as the Hos 
mer Stand.* During the war, and for many years after, it was 
kept by Timothy Hosmer. The old landlord and landlady are still 
alive, the owners and occupants of one of the finest farms, in that 
region of fine farms, Niagara county. The first school house was 
a log one, erected a little north of the Episcopal church. Judge 
Hosmer and the Wadsworths, built saw-mills on the Conesus, as 
early as 1796. The first meetings were held in the log shool house. 
Judge Hosmer usually reading the Episcopal service. Mr. Crane, 
an Episcopal clergyman, and Rev. Samuel J. Mills, were early 
itinerant ministers. 

Jehiel Kelsey yet survives, of the early Pioneers of Avon. He 
has reached his 80th year. The old gentleman speaks familiarly of 
early events, of the period when not over twenty or twenty-five 

* Previous to the sale, however, David Findlay and Joshua Lovejoy were occupants. 
Lovejoy removed to Buffalo. $%g~ See account of the massacre of Mrs. Lovejoy, at 
the destruction of Buffalo, in History of Holland Purchase. 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PUKOHASE. 373 

men could be raised in all the Genesee valley, to put a log bridge 
over Deep Hollow, in the now city of Rochester. In 1798 he 
brought the first cargo of salt that came from Onondaga, by water, 
and around the Portage, at Genesee Falls. He paid for each bushel 
of salt, a pound of pork, and sold his salt at $10 per barrel. He 
well remembers seeing companies of surveyors fittirig out, and load 
ing their pack horses at Avon, to break into the Holland Purchase. 

In 1805, a Library was established at Avon. The trustees were : 
A. Sidney Hosmer, Job Pierce, Joshua Lovejoy, Jehiel Kelsey, 
Elkanah Whitney, James Lawrence, Wm. Markharn, George Hos 
mer, Stephen Rodgers. 

In 1810, " a number of persons being stated hearers of Rev. John 
F. Bliss, of Avon," met and organized " Avon Religious Society." 
Samuel Bliss and Asa Clark presided. Trustees : John Pierson, 
George Hosmer, Nathaniel Bancroft, John Brown, Ezekiel Mosely, 
William Markham. 



AVON SPRINGS. 



The rapidly increasing celebrity of Avon Springs, as a summer resort for 
invalids, pleasure parties, and tourists ; invited as well by the healing water?, 
as by charming scenery, the broad, cultivated fields, and beautiful forests, that 
surround them, will perhaps render some early reminiscences of them not un 
interesting : They were known to the Jesuit Missionaries, and Joncaire, un 
der French dominion, and they recognized their use by the Indians, for medi 
cinal or healing purposes. The Seneca name for them was " Can-a-wau-gus," 
(feet id, bad smelling water,) and thence the name of their village, in the im 
mediate neighborhood. When settlement commenced, sixty years since, they 
were surrounded by a dense cedar marsh. The waters of the springs flowed 
into a basin or pond, covering a space of several acres, the margin of which, 
was pure white sand, thrown up by the action of the water. The waters were 
clear and transparent, and shaded by the dark forest, the spot had a secluded 
and romantic aspect. It was first noticed as a resort of the wild pigeon. 
Indian paths were found leading to the spot, from the old Niagara trail, and 
from tli e branch trails; and the Indians told the earliest settlers of the efficacy 
of the waters in cutaneous diseases. At an early period in the settlement of 
the country, as many will remember, the measles, (as it was called*) was 

* If tlie medical faculty will excuse a non-professor for the introduction of a new 
name, in their vocabulary, it was the " Genesee itch," to which men as well as animals 
were subject in this region, when first coming here endemical in its character or 
rather incidental to forest life here. The Jesuit missionaries were afflicted with it. 



374 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PUECHASE. 

prevalent among the hogs. It was observed, that when thus afflicted, they 
would go and wallow in the mud and sulphur water, penetrating the forest appa 
rently for that object. In early years, Miss Wemple, a sister of Mrs. Berry, 
upon the recommendation of Dr. Hosmer, bathed in and drank the waters, and 
was relieved; and other similar cases occurred. Soon after the war of 1812, 
visitors from abroad began to resort to the Springs, and Richard Wadsworth, 
at the suggestion, and with the aid of George Hosmer, Esq., erected a small 
bathing establishment, and shower bath. After the purchase of the property 
by Mr. Nowlen, and the erection of a boarding house by Mr. Houghton, a 
new impetus was given to improvements ; visitors began to increase, from year 
to year, improvements have been progressive ; until sick or well,, there is no spot 
more inviting in western New York. But a pioneer history was only intended. 



REMINISCENCES OF GEORGE HOSMER. 



Mr. Hosmer confirms the position, that the domestic hog will go back tc 
his native state, soon after he has re-entered a forest life. In early years of 
settlement, there were droves of hogs, generally roaming over the uplands 
along the Genesee river, the immediate progenitors of which. had been thos< 
domesticated by the Indians, and those brought here by Butler s Rangers 
They were wild, as are those now seen by California adventurers in crossing 
the Isthmus of Panama. They were untameable, and when wanted fo 
pork, or when ravaging badly fenced fields, were hunted and shot like othe: 
wild game. 

In 1795, Frederick Hosmer, at the instance of Mr. Williamson, went t< 
reside at the mouth of the river. Erecting a log shantee, he kept a fev 
goods to barter with the Indians for furs, and trade with the batteaumen tha 
used to make that a stopping place. George Hosmer was frequently witl 
him. British deserters from Niagara would frequently come down the Lake 
Upon one occasion, some deserters were followed by a young Lieutenant am 
a guard of 8 men in a boat. Arriving at the mouth of the river, and hear 
ing nothing of the refugees, the Lieutenant hunted and fished; lending hi 
fowling piece to two of his soldiers who were going up to the Falls, the; 
too deserted. The Lieutenant pursued them to Orange Stone s, in Brighton 
where he heard of them, but they were fleeing to some new settlement in th 
" land of liberty," so rapidly, that he gave up the chase, and returned to For 
Niagara, minus two of his guard, added to the deserters. The imfortunat 
Lieutenant was the afterwards Lord Hill of the Peninsular war, the hero a 
the storming of Badajos. 

Desertion from the then British Fort, Niagara, was frequent as soon as th 
soldiers knew that there were new settlements in this quarter places of re 
fuge ; Indians were hired by the British officers to pursue them, and failinj 
to arrest, to shoot them. White hunters, and citizens visiting the Fort 

The French soldiers of De Nonville s army, were attacked with the " rheum." Th 
families of early settlers in some localities, before the forest was cleared away wouL 
be attacked with a cutaneous disease, more inveterate, and otherwise materially differ 
mg from the common " itch. 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 375 

and intending to pass through the wilderness to the eastward, were furnished 
with a medal, or a token, to show the Indians thus employed, to prevent ar 
rest " Tuscarora," or " Stiff-armed George," was thus employed, and he 
was one of the worst specimens of his race; a terror wherever he was known. 
He shot and scalped several deserters, carrying his trophies to Foil Niagara 
for reward. Upon one occasion, when George Hosmer was left to take care 
of the shantee in the absence of his brother Frederick, George demanded 
rum, which being refused, the Indian pushed him back against a post, and 
striking at his head with his tomahawk, the blow was averted, making an 
impression upon the post which evidenced the intention of the revengeful 
savage. Mr. Hencher and his hired man came to the rescue. * 

Ebenezer Allan was rather imposing in his appearance, usually mild and 
gentlemanly, but he had a bold and determined look ; could easily put on the 
savage character. He had acquired a distaste for civilized life. Mrs. Dugan, 
his sister, was mild and amiable somewhat accomplished. 

The " On-ta-gua," or Horse Shoe Pond, a mile and a half below Avon 
village, abounded in line fish, especially large black bass, in an early day ; 
and it was also the favorite resort of ducks, geese, and other wild water fowl. 
Speckled trout were plenty in the river, and in all the tributary streams. 
There was no pickerel, or pike, above the Genesee Falls, until 1810, when 
William Wadsworth, and some others, caught pickerel in Lake Ontario, and 
other Lake fish, and put them into Conesus Lake; and pickerel abound there 
now ; have been taken weighing 20 Ibs. As the pickerel came down from 
the Lake into the Genesee river, the trout disappeared. 

The most troublesome wild animals in early days, other than bears and 
wolves, were the foxes ancl wild cats preying upon the fowls, pigeons preying 
upon the newly sowed crops, chipmucks, ravens, hawks, owls, wood chucks, 
and black squirrels. There were a few turkey buzzards upon the river, and 
a few turkeys upon the uplands; several panthers were killed. The crow, 
the grey squirrel, the quail, came in with civilization. New species of birds 
have been coming in almost yearly. The opossum is a new comer. 



LIMA. 



Paul Davison, in the summer of 1788,f about the period that Mr. 
Phelps was negotiating his Indian purchase, in company with his 
brother-in-law, Jonathan Gould, came from the valley of the Sus- 
quehannah, to look out a new home in the Genesee country. Passing 



* He finally met his deserts. Enlisting as an ally of the western Indians against 
Wayne, lie was among the killed. 

t If the author s informant is correct in the year, this was the first advent of an 
household west of the Adam s settlement, in Bloomfield. 



376 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

the last white habitation at Geneva, they pursued the Indian trail 
to the present town of Lima ; where, finding a location to suit them, 
they erected a cabin and commenced making an opening in the 
forest. Going to the Indian lands at Canawaugus, they planted and 
raised a patch of corn and potatoes. Their location was about one 
mile south of the Indian trail, near the west line of the town. Af 
ter some improvements upon their cabin, such as the luxury of a 
bark roof, and a hewed plank floor, and gathering the small crop 
they had raised upon Indian lands, they returned to the Susquehan- 
nah, and in the spring of 1789, Mr. Davison, with his family, con 
sisting of his wife and her mother, and two children, came to make 
his permanent home in the wilderness. He was accompanied by 
Asahel Burchard, The family and household implements were con 
veyed in an ox cart, Mr. Davison and his companion sleeping under 
the cart, and the family in the cart, during the whole journey. 
Their route was Sullivan s track, the whole distance from the Sus- 
quehannah to where the Indian trail bore off in the direction of 
Canawaugus. They had bridges to build occasionally, and logs to 
cut out, before they left the track of Sullivan ; after that, they had 
their own road to make for the greater part of the way to the place 
of their destination. The journey consumed three weeks. Mr. 
Davison raised a crop of oats and turnips, the first of any kind raised 
in Lima ; and in that and a few succeeding years, cultivated Indian 
lands at Canawaugus. For two years, the family pounded all their 
corn in a stump mortar, getting their first grinding done at the Al 
lan mill. Captain Davison and some of his Pioneer neighbors, took 
six or seven bushels of corn to Canawaugus, hired an Indian canoe, 
and took it down to the mill. On their return up the river, their 
canoe upset, and their meal became wet and unfit for use ; a small 
matter to make a record of, some readers will say, and yet, let them 
be assured, it w r as no small matter with those new beginners in the 
wilderness. In 1790, Mrs. Davison s mother died; it being the 
second death in the Genesee country after settlement commenced. 
A daughter of Captain Davison, who became the wife of James 
Otis, of Perry, Wyoming county, was the first born white female 
west of Geneva. Captain Davison died in 1804. aged 41 years, 
after having become a successful farmer, and the owner of a large 
farm. Mrs. Davison died in 1844, aged 80 years. 

Dr. John Miner and Abner Migells, had settled in Lima, in the 



PHELPS AND GCRHAM S PURCHASE. 377 

summer of 1790 ; and it is presumed that Mr. Burchard had then 
brought in his family ; as his name, as the head of a family, occurs 
in the census of that period. He still survives to enjoy the fruits 
of his early enterprise and life of toil. " He was," says a corres 
pondent of the author, "always a kind and good neighbor, and much 
esteemed by the early settlers." 

Lima was called, in an early period, " Miles Gore," the fraction 
of a township having been purchased in the name of Abner Miles, 
or Abner Migells, as the author finds it on some of the early records. 
According to the recollections of William Hencher, he must have 
{eft Lima soon after settlement commenced there ; as he was early 
engaged with his father in trading trips to Canada, and erected a 
public house at Toronto in the earliest years of settlement there. 

The brothers, Asahel and Matthew Warner, Miles Bristol, and 
others, who were early and prominent Pioneers in Lima, the author 
hopes to be able to speak of in another connection. At present, he 
has not the necessary datas. 

Reuben F. Thayer must have settled in Lima before the close of 
1790. The venerable Judge Hopkins, of Niagara county, was in 
the fall of 1789, with a number of companions, returning to New 
Jersey, after a trading excursion. Passing Canawaugus, they as 
sisted Gilbert R. Berry in erecting his first log house ; and the next 
day, finding a " settler just arrived by the name of Thayer, with 
logs ready for a house," they stopped and assisted him. 

Wheelock Wood came to Lima in the winter of 1795, locating 
upon the present site of the college, where he commenced clearing, 
and erected a log cabin. He remained there a few years, and re 
moved to Livonia, and from there, in 1807, to Gainesville, Wyoming 
county. He died in 1834. 

In an early period of settlement in Lima, ancient remains, and 
relics of French occupancy were to be seen in various localities. 
The "Ball Farm," so prolific in these, and so often alluded to by an 
tiquarians, is within the town. Upon the farm of Miles Bristol, a 
short distance west of Lima village, upon a commanding eminence, 
the embankments and ditches of an ancient Fort were easily traced. 
In ploughing upon his farm, in early years, Mr. Bristol picked up 
several hundred pounds of old iron, chiefly French axes. 

James K. Guernsey, in connection with the Nortons, of Bloom- 
field and Canandaigua, and afterwards upon his own account, was 
24 



378 PHELPS AND GOBHAM S PURCHASE. 

the early prominent merchant of Lima. He removed to Pi.ttsford, 
where he died in 1839. George Guernsey, of Michigan, is his son ; 
Mrs. Mortimer F. Delano, of Rochester, is his daughter. For many 
years, his store in Lima commanded the trade of a wide region. 



CHAPTER VI. 



PIONEER EVENTS IN WHAT IS NOW WAYNE COUNTY. 



IN the winter of 1788, 9, John Swift and Col. John Jenkins, pur 
chased T. 12, R. 2, now Palmyra, and commenced the survey of it 
into farm lots, in March. Jenkins being a practical surveyor, built 
a camp on the bank of Ganargwa creek, about two miles below the 
present village of Palmyra. His assistants were his nephew, Al- 

pheus Harris, Solomon Earle, Baker, and Daniel Ransom. One 

morning about 2 o clock, the party being asleep in their bunks, their 
fire giving light enough to show their several positions, a party of fonr 
Tuscarora Indians and a squaw stealthily approached, and the Indi 
ans -putting their guns through the open spaces between the logs, se 
lected their victims and fired. Baker was killed, Earle, lying upon his 
back, with his hand upon his breast, a ball passed through his hand 
and breast, mutilated his nose, and lodged under the frontal sinus 
between his eyes. Jenkins and Ransom escaped unhurt, and en 
countering the murderers Jenkins with his Jacob staff, and Ran 
som with an axe drove them off, capturing two of their rifles and 
a tomahawk. In the morning they buried their dead companion, 
carried Earle to Geneva, and gave the alarm. The Indians were 
pursued, and two captured on the Chemung river. The nearest jail 
being Johnstown, it was feared they would be rescued ; if an at 
tempt was made to carry them there ; what in later years would be 
called a Lynch court, was organized ; they were tried and execu 
ted at Newtown, now Elmira. The execution was after the Indian 
method, with the tomahawk. They were taken back into the 



PHELPS AM) GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 

woods, and blindfolded. One of the executioners dispatched his 
victim at a blow; the other failed ; the Indian being a stout athletic 
fellow, parried the blow, escaped, was followed by a possee, who 
caught and beat him to death with stones and pine knots ! This 
was the first trial and execution in the Genesee country. Horrid 
and lawless as it may now seem, it was justified by then existing 
exigencies, 

During the summer, John Swift moved into the township, erect 
ing a log house and store house at "Swift s Landing a little north of 
the lower end of Main street, Palmyra. 

Before the close of the year 1789, Webb Harwood, from Adams, 
Berkshire county, with his wife came in and erected a cabin on the 
rise of ground near first lock west of Palmyra, upon the farm now 
owned and occupied by Dennison Rogers. He was accompanied 
by Noah Porter, Jonathan Warner and Bennet Bates, single men 
The author is disposed to regard Harwood as the Pioneer, although 
it is generally supposed that Gen. Swift had previously brought in a 
family. No family but that of Mr. Harwood and David White 



. The Indian party had their hunting camp near the surveyors, and had seve 
ral times shared their provisions ; the incentive was hunger. One of them that 
escaped was " Turkey" well known in after years upon the Genesee river. He had a 
scar upon his face, the mark of a blow from Jenkin s Jacob staff. During the war ot 
1812, he contracted the small pox upon the frontier ; came to Squaky Hill. The In 
dians dreading the spread of the disease, carried him to a hut in the pine woods near 
Moscow, where he was left to die alone. Earl recovered. He was the early ferry man 
at the Seneca outlet. There have been many versions of this affair. The author de 
rived his information from the late Judge Porter, and from Judge John H. Jones, whose 
informants were Horatio Jones and Jasper Parrish, who were present at the trial and 
execution. He has a-lso a printed account of it in the Maryland Journal, of April 1789. 
Alpheus Harris was living a few years since, if he is not now, at Spanish Hill, a few 
miles from Tioga Point. He says the Indians were "tried by committee law." 

NOTE. John Swift was a native of Litchfield County Connecticut. He took an 
active part in the Revolutionary war, and at its close, with his brother Philetus, was 
an emigrant to the disputed territory in Pennsylvania. He held a commission, and 
was at the battle of Wyoming ; and was also engaged in the " Pennamite " war, where 
he set fire to a Pennamite block house. He became a commissioned officer in the 
earliest organization of the militia and in the campaign of 1814 upon the Niagara Fron 
tier, he was commissioned as Brig Gen. of N. Y. volunteers. In reconnoitering the 
enemy s position and works at Fort George, he captured a picket guard, and while in 
the act of receiving their arms, one of the prisoners shot him through the breast ; an at 
tack from a superior British force followed ; the wounded General rallied his men, 
commenced a successful engagement, when he fell exhausted by his wound. "Never" 
says an historian of the war, "was the country called upon to lament the loss of a firm 
er patriot or braver man." The Legislature voted a sword to his oldest male heir. 
The gift fell to Asa R. Swift of Palmyra who was drowned in Sodus Bay in 1820 or 21 
by the upsetting of a boat while engaged in fishing. The sword is now in the hands 
of Henry C. Swift, his son, a resident o^Phelps. His companion Ashley Van Duzer, 
was also drowned ; his widow a sister of Mrs. Gen. Brooks, became the wife of Gen. 
Mills of Mt. Morris, and now resides at Brook s Grove. The Rev. Marcus Swift, of 
Michigan is a son of Gen Swift. 



350 PHELPS AXD GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 

is enumerated in the census taken in the summer of 1790. Mr. 
Harwood died in 1S24. Win. Harwood, of Ana Arbor, Mich 
igan is a son of his ; his daughters became the wives of Isaac Mace. 
of Peny.. Wyoming co ; and Coe : of Kirtland, Ohio. 

The settlers that followed, in 1790, 91, 9*2, in the order in which 
they are named, or as nearly so as the author s information enables 
him to arrange them, were: Lemuel Spear, David Jackwavs. 
James Galloway, Jonathan Millet, the Mattisons : Gideon Duriee 
the eider, his sons Gideon, Edward. Job, Pardon. Stephen, and 
Lemuel : Isaac Springer : William. James and Thomas Rogers : 
John Russell, Nathan Harris, David Wilcox. Joel Foster. Abraham 
Foster, Elias Reeves, Luther Saniord; and to what was Paloiyra. 
now MacedoD. in addition to those that have been named, Messrs. 
Reid, Delano, Packard Barney, Brown, Adam Kingman, Hiii. Lap- 
ham, Benj. and Philip Woods. 

Lemuel Spear, was a soldier of the Revolution, as most of the 
Pioneer settlers of Palmyra were. He was from Cummingtoi.. 
Mas?. The family came on runners, before the breaking up ot the 
ground in Feb "90, with two yoke of oxen, some cows and sheep, 
having little more than a bare track and blazed trees to guide them 
from Vienna to their destination, a miie above Palmyra village, where 
Mr. Spear had purchased land of Isaac Hathaway, ibr twenty cents 
per acre. The season being mild, they turned their stock out upon 
the open flats, some of which had been cultivated by the Indians. 
where they got along well through the winter and spring : the fam 
ily consisting of the parents and nine children, living in a covered 
skigh and in a structure similar to the Indians camp, until they had 
planted a few acres in the spring, when they buLt a log house 
Brjiging in a year s provisions, and killing deer whenever they 
wanted fresh meat, or bartering for venison with the Indians, they 
g;t along very well until after the harvest of their few primitive acres 
of crops. In the first winters, the Indians camped upon the flats ar.d 
were peaceable, good neighbors, hunting and trapping, occasionally 
getting a beaver, the last of a colony, selling their furs and skins to 
traders and bantering their surplus venison with the new settlers 
Lemuel Spear died ia 1509 : his surviving sons., are: Ebenezer 
Spear, of PenSsid, Abraham Spear, of Jeddo, Orleans county. 
Stephen Sp&sr. residing upon the oid homestead. A daughter is 
the wife of Dr. MaHory, of Wisconsin. 



PHELPS AXD GOEHAM S FTBCHASE. : 1 

Ebenezer Spear is now in his 73th rear. Leaving Palmyra in 
early years he went to sea, engaged in mercantile business in Bos 
ton, returned to Palmyra in 1SO4, married for a second wife, a 

daughter of Francis Postfe, an early tailor in Canandaigna and Pal 
myra, from the city of Prague, in Bohemia, moved to North Pen- 
field in 1807. He was one of the Carthage Bridge company, and 
opened a tavern at Carthage, while the bridge was constructing. 



REMTSTSCI^CES OF 131 Mil?. -:i_?. 



In 1790. after we tad got settled at Palmyra, the wife of our predecessor 

in the wilderness. Webb Harwood, in a delicate state of health, preeeiing 
child-birth, retired wine, and ber in-lnl^n: husband determined upon JTC- 
curing some. At his request. I went to Cammdaigna, found cone to 
Uuoa, an-i was equally unsuccessful and ccnthnnng my journey to 
Scheneetady, procured sis quarts of wine of C harks Ksne. I was fennaai 
lays making the journey on foot, carrying my provident in a knapsack. 
sleeping under a roof but four of thirteen nights. 

Our first boards came from Grangers saw-mill on Flint Creek, several years 
after we came in ; Captain Porter built the nrst framed born, and my father 
the nest one. I burned the first lime kiln west of Seneca Lake, tor General 
Othniel Taylor, of Canandaigua. In 1724, or "5. Abraham and Jacob 
Smith built milk in Farmingtoiu on the Ganar-rwa Creek: previous to which, 
we used to go to Tte Friend s mills in Jensalem. The first corn cankd to 
nr ll from Palmyra, was by Xoah Porter. He went to Jerusalem with an 01 
team in "90, carrying com for all the settler?, taking ten days in g i: _ 
r-erarnin^. His return to the settlement was tailed with great joy, tor poond- 
izz com was very hard work. Onr cc-liee w^s maIe of burnt corn: cor tea, 
of hcinlock and other bark ; and for chocolate. drlc>i evans rovt was frecitieni- 



White died in early years the first death and foneral in 
His sons were, the late Gen. David White, of SylYania, 
Michigan : Orrin White, a resident of Ann Arbor. Michigan; and 
Drs. James and William White, who reside at Black Rock: a 
daughter married Col. Otis Turner, of Niagara Falls. Bennett 
Bate? is still living at Ridge way. Orleans county ; is the fathei 
of Lyman Bates, of Ridgeway. and Orlando Bates, of Jeddo. 
Noah Porter died in early years : he was the father of Mrs, Sey 
mour Scovell. of Lewiston. and John Porter. Esq.. of Youngstown. 



382 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PUECHASE. 

Jacob Gannett was an early settler, and founder of the mills near 
Macedon Locks. 

The Durfee family, who have been named, were from Tiverton, 
Rhode Island. In the summer of 1790, Gideon and Edward came 
first to Farmington, and Gideon returning in the fall, represented 
the country so favorably, that the whole family resolved upon emi 
gration. Gideon, with Isace Springer, came back in the winter of 
90, 91, with an ox sled, consuming 17 i days in the journey. 
Gideon purchased of John Swift his choice of 1600 acres. He 
located it on what was long known as " Durfee Street," a short dis 
tance below Palmyra, securing a large amount of the flats on the 
Ganargwa. Being soon re-joined by his brother Edward, the 
brothers and Springer built a cabin, and clearing six acres, and 
without the use of a plough, planted it to corn. The brothers re 
turned to Rhode Island, and brought out their brothers, Pardon and 
Job, with their families, coming in a batteaux, and landing at their 
new home in the wilderness, almost destitute of food. They were re 
joiced on their arrival to find their corn fit for roasting, a forward 
ness they have never since known. It served them the two-fold 
purposes of food, and confidence in the soil and climate. The six 
acres yielded 50 bushels to the acre, a quantity that served their 
own wants and over-stocked the market, as there were few con 
sumers. The remainder of the large family came out in the winter 
of 91, 2. They had a large crop, some of which was marketed 
at Schenectady, probably the first that ever reached that market 
from as far west as Palmyra. Otherwise prosperous, sickness soon 
laid a heavy hand upon the large household, 17 out of 22 being 
prostrated at one time with fevers. Their first bread was made 
from pounded corn ; their first grinding was procured at Wilder s 
mill, and occasionally at The Friend s mill, Jerusalem. 

The descendants of the Pioneer and Patriarch, Gideon Durfee, 
were 1 1 sons and daughters, 96 grand-children, and the whole num 
ber are now over 200. The daughters became the wives of the 
Pioneers, Welcome Herendeen, of Farmington, Weaver Osborne, 
Humphrey Sherman and William Wilcox, of Palmyra. The only 
surviving son, is Stephen Durfee, of Palmyra, aged 75 years ; and 
the only surviving daughter, is Ruth Wilcox, aged 76 years. 

Elias Durfee and Mrs. Thomas Lakey, of Marion, Elihu Durfee, 
of Williamson, William, Isaac, Lemuel, Bailey Durfee and Mrs. 



PHELPS AND GOEHAM S PURCHASE. 383 

Brown, of Palmyra, Mrs. Wicks, of Ogden, Mrs. Edward S. Town- 
send, late of Palmyra, Charles Durfee, of New York, Philo Durfee, 
of Buffalo, Sidney Durfee, of Chicago, Allen, Barton and Nathaniel 
Durfee, of Michigan, are among the descendants. 



REMINISCENCES OF STEPHEN DURFEE 



There was general prosperity in the early settlement; all were friendly; 
mutual dependence made us so ; and struggling with the hardships of pioneer 
life, there was a fellow feeling, a sympathy for each other s misfortunes, but 
little of which exists now. The first curse that came upon us was whiskey 
distilleries, when the new settlers would take their corn and rye, and get them 
converted to what was the cause in many instances, of their ruin, and that of 
many of their sons. There was not only habitual, every day drinking, but 
much intoxication. I saw so much of the evils of intoxication, that I refrain 
ed entirely, and was almost alone in it. I think the first temperance move 
ment, practical one, in all this region, was made by me when I raised my 
house in 1811. When I invited my neighbors to the raising, I gave out that 
no liquor would be provided ; and although it was a new experiment, I had 
no difficulty in raising my house. Strict temperance was not then a disci 
pline with the society of Friends to which I belonged, but afterwards be 
came so. 

In the way of markets, our earliest grain mostly went to the distilleries, 
and supplied the new settlers. After Zebulon Williams, the early merchant 
established his store, he commenced a barter trade, receiving for goods, grain 
and cattle. Money was scarce ; those who were pretty well off were troubled 
many times, to pay their taxes, and much property used to be sacrificed at 
public sale. Williams was the first cash purchaser for wheat, but the prices 
were fluctuating; running down sometimes to 37^- cents. One of my neigh 
bors once sold his wheat in Rochester, for twenty-five cents. 

In early years we could hardly believe that settlement would go much be 
yond the Genesee River, during our life time. We thought we were quite 
for enough to the west ; as far removed from markets as it would answer to 
venture ; and we that had seen the hardest features of pioneer life, were surprised 
to see or hear of men attacking the dark heavy forests of the Holland Purchase. 

Our first commerce was the navigation of the Ganargwa creek ; then came 
the big wagons," and then the Erie Canal, that gave us fair, steady prices 
for produce, raised the value of lands, and brought on a new era of enterprise 
and prosperity. 

The Indians, were hunting and trapping, camping in our neighborhood, in 
all the earliest years. The flats of the Ganargwa, and the adjoining up lands 
were favorite hunting grounds. Many of the sons of the early settlers were 
trappers. It was about our only means of obtaining any money. I have re 
alized from muskrat and coon furs, $50 in a season. I caught a beaver in a 
trap that I set for otter. Henry Lovell, a famous hunter was here in early 



384 PHELPS AND GOBHAM S PTTKCHASE. 

years, he had trapped beaver for years. He said he had often tamed the 
young ones. Following their instinct (or reasoning,) when it rained they 
would knaw up chairs, and other household furniture, and go through with all 
the ceremony of erecting dams. When suffered to go out, they would com 
mence dams upon the small streams. 

All the low grounds of Palmyra were very heavily timbered ; there were 
but small patches of open flats. To look out before we got clearings, we had to 
go upon the top of " Wintergreen Hill." Upon this hill, just before Wayne s 
victory, we contemplated the erection of a block house, fearing an outbreak 
of the Indians. But we were soon quieted by events that followed. 

I remember very well the first town meeting. It was held at my father s 
house. All were well pleased with the idea that we had got along fast enough 
in the " District of Tolland " to have a town organization. John Swift was 
the Captain of our first training his beat, all this north country. The 
company parade was at his house; he gave out a liberal supply of damaged 
powder salutes were fired occasionally an old revolutionary musket burst ; 
as holidays were scarce then, we used to make the most of them. 

We began to have apples, from the seed, soon after 1800. Previous to 
that we had plenty of wild plums, crab apples, cranberries, &c. Evans root 
chocolate was a common beverage ; and we used wheat and tea for coffee. 
Our nails cost us 25 cents per lb., "hum hum" for shirts, 50 cents per yard, 
a luxury that but few could indulge in. Our wool had to be carded by hand, 
in all the early years. John Swift built the first carding machine, on the 
present site of Goddard s mill. 

Nathan Harris was the principal early hunter of Palmyra; and fisherman 
too; in 1792 he drew a net across Ganargwa creek, near the present residence 
of Mrs. Williams, and caught eighteen large salmon. He was the father of 
Martin Harris, who was an early convert to Mormonism, and mortgaged his 
fine farm to pay for the printing of the " Gold Bible."* 



Zebulon Williams, who has been mentioned by Stephen Durfee, 
as the early merchant, died several years since, his widow survives, 
a resident at the old homestead. Platt Williams, of California, who 
was early engaged in canal transportations at Albany, and Richard, 



* The late Mr.s Eden Foster, of Batavia, whose first husband was Moody Stone, of 
Palmvra, was an inmate of the family of Dr. Town. She gave the author a graphic 
description of a husking frolic in 96, at the house of Nathan Harris: "We had a 
pot pie baked in a five pail kettle, composed of 13 fowls, as many squirrels, and due 
proportions of beef, mutton and venison ; baked meats, beans and huge pumpkin pies. 
Hunting stories, singing, dancing on a split basswood floor, snap and catch em, jump 
ing the broom stick, and hunt the squirrel, followed the feast. All joined in the rustic 
sports, there was no aristocracy in those days." * In Canandaigna " continued the old 
lady, " the dances were more fashionable, but there was no aristocracy there ; though 
a hired girl, in families of Gen. Taylor, and Abncr Barlow, I used to attend the frolics 
and dance with Peter B. and Augustus Porter, Thomas Morris, Samuel and Judah 
Colt, Dr. Atwater, and many others of distinction." The old lady was even eloquent 
when reminiscences of the past, one after another, would flash upon her memory, 



PHELPS A1STD GORHAM s PTJKCHASE. 385 

Homer and Zebulon Williams, are his sons ; Mrs. Hiram P. Thayer, 
of Buffalo, is his daughter. 

Stephen Phelps was the early landlord in the village ; afterwards 
the surrogate of Ontario county. The site he occupied, is now that 
of Nottingham s Eagle Tavern. He emigrated to Illinois in 1820. 
Enoch Lilley was another early landlord ; his wife was the daughter 
f the Rev. Eleazor Fairbanks. Preceding either, however, was 
Dr. Azel Ensworth, who was a brother-in-law of William Rodgers, 
and had come into the country in 92, and first settled in his imme 
diate neighborhood. After keeping a public house in early years, 
in Palmyra, in the early start of Rochester, he was the founder of 
the Eagle Tavern, and for a long period he and his son were its 
landlords. He still survives, a resident of Buffalo, with his son-in- 
law, Benjamin Campbell.* 

Silas Stoddard was from Groton, Conn. ; had been at sea, in the 
merchant service, emigrated to Palmyra in 1801, landing first at 
Sodus. He died in July last, at the age of 91 years; his intellect 
and physical constitution but little impaired previous to his last ill 
ness. Col. James Stoddard, known of late years as an intelligent 
horticulturist, is his son ; now a resident of Palmyra, aged 66 years. 
He served an apprenticeship with Col. Samuel Green, of the New 
London Gazette, and emigrated to Palmyra with his father. From 
him the author obtained many early reminiscences. In 1804, he 
was in the employment of Major Samuel Colt, who had commenced 
merchandizing in Palmyra, and had charge of two Durham boats, 
which Major Colt owned at Palmyra. Loading them with flour 
and pork, he went down the Ganargwa creek to Lyons, and from 
thence to Schenectady. Among his companions, were Gilbert 
Howell, Cooper Culver, John Phelps, and Wm. Clark. The party 
were one month going and one month returning ; having merchan 
dise for their return freight. About the time of the building of 
these boats, says Col. Stoddard, land transportation looked discour 
aging ; the merchants of Geneva, Canandaigua, Palmyra, Ithica, in 
fact all who did not depend on the Susquehannah as an avenue to 
market, held a consultation, and concluded that business must be 
done via the Rivers, Oneida Lake, and the Mohawk ; and to en- 



* At the Pioneer Festival in Rochester, in 1850, he was present, and the medal was 
awarded to him as being the earliest Pioneer present. 



386 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

courage them, stone locks had been built, at Rome and Little Falls, 
Many boats were built ; for a few years business was brisk, but it 
proved too tedious and expensive ; too dependant upon high and 
low water. Even land transportation, over bad roads, successfully 
competed with it. 

" The first trip we made," says Col. Stoddard, " in passing through 
Oneid a Lake, we stopped at Vanderkemp s settlement, now Con- 
stantia. Mr. Vanderkemp had erected an expensive dam, a large 
saw mill and grist mill, and there were eight or ten framed and 
some log dwellings ; but one single family however, all the rest hav 
ing been driven off by sickness.* When I landed with my father s 
family at Sodus, Mr. Williamson s settlement had much declined, 
and there were many deserted tenements between Sodus and Pal 
myra ; sickness having driven off the occupants. I have known 
periods when a majority of all the inhabitants of the Ganargwa 
valley were prostrated by fevers." 

Henry Jessup was the early tanner in Palmyra, and still survives, 
his sons being his successors in business. His partner for many 
years was George Palmer, of Buffalo. 

William Rogers came in with his brothers, James and Thomas, 
in 1792, a widower, and his brother James dying in early years, he 
married his widow. The family were from Rhode Island. William 
was one of the early Judges of Ontario, one of its representatives 
in the Legislature, and a magistrate ; prominently identified with 
the history of Palmyra and Ontario county. He died in 1836, aged 82 
years. Major William Rogers, so favorably known to the travel 
ling public in the early years of canal navigation, as a packet master, 
the father-in-law of Pomeroy Tucker, editor of the Wayne Sen 
tinel, is a surviving son. He is now the occupant of a fine farm 
near Pultneyville ; as stirring and energetic as when he used to 
sing out : " Hurra, is the lock ready ? " or beat up the quarters 
of the sleepy drivers in dark and rainy nights. A daughter of his 
was the wife of Noah Porter. Gen. Thomas Rodgers, and Denni- 
son Rodgers of Palmyra, are surviving sons of James Rodgers. 
Thomas Rodgers preceded his brother, and assisted in the survey 
of the town ; of his family, only his son David remains in Palmyra. 

The founder of this settlement was the father of John J. Vanderkemp, of Phila 
delphia, the general agent of the Holland Co. He soon abandoned the enterprise, and 
removed to Oldenbaxneveldt," [Trenton,] Oneidaco. 



PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PTJKCHASE. 387 

The first winter after Judge Rodgers came in, the neighborhood 
was without salt. Learning that some had been brought up as far 
as Lyons, with a hired man, and an ox team, he cut his own sled 
path, and after three days hard labor, returned with his salt. 

Zackariah Blackman was the early blacksmith. John Hurlburt, 
a brother of Judge Hurlburt, who was the Pioneer of Arkport, on 
the Canisteo, became a resident of Palmyra in 1795. His widow 
is now living at the age of 81 years. He set up a distillery as ear 
ly as 96. He died in 1813. * William Jackway, who came in 
with Gen. Swift, died in 1849, aged 91 years. John Russell, who 
was one of the front rank of Pioneers, upon whose original farm 
a portion of the village has grown up, removed to Henrietta in 1821, 
where he died but a few years since, from the effects of the kick of 
a horse. John Russell was the step-father of Augustus Southworth, 
of Holley ; Mrs. Russel now resides in Rochester. 

Reuben Town was the earliest settled Physician in Palmyra. 
He removed to Batavia in early years. He was followed by Dr. 
Gain Robinson, as early as 1800. Dr. Robinson was from Cum- 
mington, Massachusetts. He married the daughter of Col. John 
Bradish, the father of Gov. Bradish, who was one of the early set 
tlers of Palmyra. He continued in practice until his death, in 1830, 
enjoying a large share of professional eminence, and highly esteem 
ed in the wide circle of his practice. There have gone out from 
under his instruction a large number who hare conferred credit up 
on their early mentor ; among them may be named : His nephew, 
Dr. Alexander Mclntyre, who for many years practiced with him, 
and is now his local successor ; Drs. James and William White ; 
Dr. West, of Cayuga county ; Dr. Isaac Smith, of Lockport, 
(deceased;) Dr. Whippo, (now an engineer;) Dr. Durfee Chase, 
of Palmyra; Dr. Gregory of Michigan. The surviving sons of 
Dr. Robinson, are : Clark, Darwin, and Rollin, of Buffalo. 
Daughters : Mrs. Philip Grandin, of New York ; her husband 
was an early merchant in Palmyra ; and Mrs. Judge Tiffany, of 
Adrian, Michigan; Mrs. Hiram Niles, of Buffalo; and Mrs. Geo. 
Pomeroy. f 

* A toast of the early Pioneer, in one of the early years, at a Fourth of July cele 
bration, is worthy of preservation. The wish has been fully realized: "May we 
cultivate the vine and sheaf in this new world, and furnish the old with bread." 

t Judge Tiffany is a son of the early printer at Niagara, C. W., and Canandaigua. 
Mr. Pomeroy is one of the founders of Wells & Porneroy s Express. 



388 PHELPS AOT> GOEHAM S PUECHASE. 

The first lawyer in Palmyra, was John Comstock, who also mar 
ried a daughter of Col. Bradish. He survives, a resident near 
Adrian, Michigan. 

In the year 1789, Joel Foster, Elias Reeves and Luke Foster, of 
Long Island, became the agents of a company that had been form 
ed in Connecticut, New Jersey and Long Island, for the purpose of 
leasing lands of the Indians ; an organization similar to the Lessee 
Company of this State. Proceeding to Fort Pitt, where they were 
joined by others, they traversed the wilds of Virginia, and return 
ing to the north, struck the Ohio river, and followed it down to the 
desirable location called Turkey Bottom, where they purchased a 
claim to a large tract, and left Luke Foster to keep possession for 
the winter, Joel Foster and Elias Reeves returning to take on a 
colony of settlers in the spring. An act of Congress interfering 
with their title or possession, frustrated the enterprise. " Turkey 
Bottom," in process of time, became Cincinnati, the queen city of 
the west. 

Thus disappointed, and Indian wars growing more threatening at 
the west, the Long Island adventurers turned their attention to the 
Genesee country. Elias Reeves, Abraham Foster, William Hop 
kins, Luther Sandford and Joel Foster, in the summer of 1791, 
bought 5,500 acres on the Ganargwa Creek, in East Palmyra ; 
spotting a tree and planting some apple seeds, an earnest of their 
intended occupancy. In April, 1792, they built a sail boat, launched 
it in Heady Creek, embarked with their families, towing down the 
stream to South Bay, and sailing up to New York, and from thence 
to Albany, where they took their boat out of water, transported it 
on wheels to Schenectady, launched it in the Mohawk, and from 
thence came to Lyons ; and obtaining a smaller boat, ascended the 
Ganargwa Creek to their new wilderness home. The journey con 
sumed 28 days. Most of those named, became prominent founders 
of settlement, and have left numerous descendants. 



NOTE. For the facts connected with, the pioneer enterprise of this Long Island 
colony, the author is indebted to a sermon delivered at Palmyra on Thanksgiving day, 
1846, by the Itev. Nathaniel W. Fisher, Pastor of the Presbyterian Church, who de 
rived his information from Mr. Henry J. Foster, a descendant of one of the Pioneers. 
Mr. Fisher was one of the victims of the cholera at Sandusky, in the summer of 1848. 
The author makes an extract from the sermon, in which the Rev. gentleman bestows 
no more than a deserved eulogy upon the Pioneer mothers, who accompanied this ex 
pedition : " Especially do we admire the character of those noble women, whose 
sacrifices, prayers and labors, aided ill laying the foundations of society and those 



PHELPS AND GORHAM S PUECHASE. 389 

It is stated by the Rev. Mr. Fisher, that a Presbyterian church 
was organized in 1793, hi Palmyra. If this is so, it was the first or 
ganized church west of Seneca Lake. Mrs. Tice, a daughter of John 
Hurlburt, says their first religious meetings were conversational or 
social meetings, not sectarian, generally held at the house of John 
Swift. It is recorded that the Presbyterian church in Palmyra was 
organized in Sept., 1797 ; the trustees elected : Jacob Gannett, 
Stephen Reeves, David Warner, Jedediah Foster, Jonah Howell. 
The first settled minister was the Rev. Eleazor Fairbanks, who was 
succeeded by the Rev. Benjamin Bell. 

Jonah Howell erected the first mill, a mile east of the village, on 
the Vienna road ; this was followed by one erected by Gen. Swift, 
on the site occupied by Goddard s mill. 

The first death in Palmyra was that of David White ; the first 
wedding was that of William Wilcox and Ruth Durfee ; the first 
male child born in town, was Asa R. Swift, a son of John Swift; 
the first female, the daughter of David Wilcox, who became the wife 
of Alva Hendee. 



WILLIAM HOWE CUTLER. 

His father, John Cuyler, of Greenbush, had been (at what period 
the author is unable to state,) a General in the British service. 
He was a resident of Greenbush, opposite Albany, an attorney at 
law. It is presumed, that when Mr. Williamson arrived in this 
country, upon his agency, he found in him an old acquaintance, as 
he is one of the first with whom he held correspondence, and he 
was one of his first legal advisers. As early as 1793, his son, Rich 
ard, was in the employment of Mr. Williamson, as was his son Wm. 
Howe Cuyler, several years previous to 1800. 

Soon after 1800, Wm. Howe Cuyler became a resident of Pal 
myra, having become the local agent of Mr. Williamson, for the 

blessed institutions which are now the support and ornament of community. The 
legends of those times are adorned with the names of females that should descend to 
posterity, and be embalmed in their most grateful recollections. We often wonder if 
the mantle of those venerated matrons have fallen upon the wives of the present day ; 
with all the improvements in modern education, are they better qualified to make 
happy homes ? Have they larger hearts, better minds, purer patriotism, warmer zeal, 
in every good work ?" 



390 PHELPS AND GOBHAM S PUECHASE. 

sale of lands in the north-east portion of what is now Wayne 

county. Sawyer, the brother-in-law of John Swift, who 

had an interest with him in the original purchase of the town, wish 
ing to return to Georgia, where he had formerly resided, sold his 
property to Major Cuyler, in 1805. Included in this sale, was the 
old Cuyler farm, upon- which a considerable portion of the village 
of Palmyra has grown up. 

Upon the breaking out of the war of 1812, Major Cuyler was early 
upon the frontier, as the aid of General Swift.* Stationed at 
Buffalo, he was the active co-operator with Lieut. Elliott, in the 
preparations for the gallant exploit of capturing the British vessels, 
from under the walls of Fort Erie, on the 8th of October, 1812. 
In anticipation that the expedition would return with wounded men, 
he had been engaged through the night in making preparations for 
their reception. Anxious for the fate of men who had engaged in 
so hazardous an enterprise, before day light in the morning, he had 
rode down upon the beach, towards Black Rock, when a chance 
grape shot, from a British battery, at Fort Erie, passed through his 
body, breaking the spine, and killing him instantly. f It was the first 
sacrifice of the war, on the Niagara frontier ; the first and one of 
the dearest of the many sacrifices of western New York, in all that 
contest. And it may also be added, that Gen. Scott being near 
him, it was his first introduction to the terrible realities of war, of 
which he was destined to see so much through a long and brilliant 
military career.J After the war, his remains were removed to 
Palmyra, and are now entombed in the rural cemetery, which the 
citizens of that village, with much of good taste and public spirit. 
have within a few years added to their flourishing village. 

In civil life, Major Cuyler was a man of much energy and enter- 



* The author has an early evidence of his military spirit and ambition. When some 
of the earliest military organizations were going on in Steuben, he was a resident at 
Bath, a clerk of Mr. Williamson. Mr. Williamson being in Albany, the young aspirant 
to military distinction, -wrote to him : " You are the only field officer in the Regi 
ment, and on you, of course, will devolve the duty of making proper recommendations. 
I shall only observe that I have been a military man for about twelve years past, and 
have never rose above the halberd, and that I now look for promotion. I should like 
to Lave the office Mr. Porter formerly held that of Brigade Major and Inspector as 
the duty of Adjutant General in the several brigades, now devolve on that officer." 

t The shot is now in possession of his sister, Mrs. Smith, of Auburn. 

t He had just been promoted to the rank of Lieut. Colonel, and had arrived at Black 
Rock, in command of two companies of U. S. Artillery. 



PHELPS AND GOBHAM S PUECHASE. 391 

prise ; he was one of the founders of the Ontario Woolen Manu 
facturing Company.* He married the daughter of Samuel Shekell, 
of Manchester, who still survives, a resident of Brooklyn, with her 
daughter by a second marriage. Major Cuyler left two sons, George 
W. and William Howe Cuyler ; the former a banker, and the lat 
ter a merchant, in Palmyra. 



LYCWS. 



The early advent of the Stansell s and Featherly, the building of 
mills, the primitive commencement generally, at Lyons, have been 
noticed in connection with Mr. Williamson. 

James Otto came in 1796, was employed in the erection of the 
mills, and in 98, marrying the daughter of Capt. Dunn who settled 
where the Mead s now reside on the Geneva road, he moved upon 
his farm south of Lyons village, where he now resides, in his 81st 
year. He has been the father of eight sons and eight daughters, 
thirteen of whom are now living in Lyons and the western states. 

The old gentleman says it was so sickly about the village of Lyons 
in early years that many who attempted to settle there got discour 
aged and left. Dr. Prescott of Phelps, was the first physcian. Dr. 
Willis settled where the village of Lyons now is, but getting sick 
himself, and sick of the country, returned to Vermont. In the 
winter of 99 and 1800, there was an unusal deep snow ; there came 
a rain making a crust, and the wolves destroyed the deer to such an 
extent that their carcasses were strewn over the woods tainting the 
whole atmosphere. 

Judge Evert Van Wickle, who has been mentioned in connec 
tion with early operations in Allegany, came to Lyons soon after 
Mr. Williamson had commenced improvements there, and was in 
his employ as a surveyor.! 

Judge Daniel Dorsey from Frederick county, Maryland, came 



* He introduced the first Merino buck into -western New York, purchasing it of one 
of the Livingstons, in Albany, paying """ 



t In one of Mr. "Williamson s letters, in 1798, ho says : "A promising settlement, 
composed of people from Jersey and Maryland, is begun here this June ; a Mr. Van 
Wickle from the Jerseys, moved in along with forty persons." 



392 PHELPS AND GOKHAM S PURCHASE. 

to Lyons in 1801, with his family. Two years previous he had ex 
plored the country and purchased of Mr. Williamson nearly one 
thousand acres, mostly on the east side of the outlet, immediately 
adjoining the village of Lyons, on either side of the Lyons and 
Geneva Plank Road. It included the farm that had been commen 
ced by Mr. Cameron, as agent for Mr. Wiliamson, and the improve 
ments ; had been reserved in anticipation of what would grow up 
at the confluence of the streams mostly the head of navigation ; 
but was sold to Judge Dorsey as an inducement to emigration. 
He had a large family ten children and a-considerable number 
of slaves, that were soon liberated, principally for the reason that 
in that case as well as in all other similar experiments that were tried 
in this region, slave labor was unprofitable. 

The strong handed emigrant immediately commenced clearing 
and improving his fine possessions. Soon after 1800 he commen 
ced merchandizing, bringing his goods from Baltimore. A fcrge 
proportion of his early trade was with the Indians, who were en 
camped along the banks of the outlet and at Sodus. There used to 
be as many as thirty Indian huts along where William street, of 
Lyons village, crosses the canal. 

Thomas Dorsey, a son of the early Pioneer, now occupies a por 
tion of the old homestead. The author transcribes from memoran 
dums of a conversation had with him, some early reminiscences of 
that- locality: 

Durham boats used to arrive frequently from Schenectady with 
emigrants and goods* and with salt from Salt Point. It was only 
in freshets that they could go as high up as Palmyra and Manches 
ter. Salmon were very plenty in the streams ; at the forks I have 
known fifteen and twenty taken with one spear in a night ; weigh 
ing from fifteen to twenty pounds. It was not uncommon to see 
herds of deer grazing on the flats. 

When the Dorsey family arrived at Lyons, there was settled in 
village and immediate vicinity, other than those already named : 
John Biggs, who kept a tavern on the site now occupied by Bar 
ton s tavern, in a log house. He was the Pioneer landlord, and is 
yet living near the village. Richard Jones, a saddler, had a shop 
on what is now Broad street, in a log building. He died in 1832. 
George Carr, a mason by trade, lived on Broad street in a log house. 
William Gibbs lived a little south of the village, on the farm now 



PHELPS AHD GORHAM S PURCHASE. 393 

owned by Harvey Geer. John Perrine lived on the Canandaigua 
outlet one mile from the village. He was an early magistrate and 
Supervisor of the town ; removed to Michigan, where he died in 
183G. The progress of the village was slow in all the early years, 
and in fact until the location and construction of the Erie Canal 
In 1818 there was but a small cluster of buildings ; two taverns, one 
kept by Ezekiel Price, and another by Elias Hull ; the store of 
Leach & Demmon ; a few dwellings; a few mechanic shops; 
a Methodist and Presbyterian church. John Cole, the father of 
Joseph Cole, was the first local minister, and organized the first 
Methodist society. He died in 1810. The first religious meetings 
were attended by Judge Dorsey, who was a member of the Meth 
odist church, and occasionally an exhorter. 

The village of Lyons had a rapid start after the completion of 
the canal ; many enterprising men were attracted there ; substantial 
business establishments were started one after another ; private 
residences, in beauty of location, and in all their appointments vie- 
ing with those of any of its neighboring villages and cities in West 
ern New York, were founded one after another ; new streets were 
laid out with the accompaniments of fine walks and long lines of 
shade trees ; substantial and neat public edifices were erected ; 
until now, in 1851, there are few spots in all this wide region, hold 
ing out more inducements, either for residence, or business pur 
suits. The tourist, in western New York, who does not wander 
from the rail road route, misses at least two beautiful and flourishing 
villages Palmyra and Lyons. But things as they were, not as 
they now are, are the subjects in hand. 

Daniel Dorsey died in 1823, at the age of 65 years. His survi 
ving children are : Upton Dorsey, Esq., of Geneva ; Thomas E. 
Dorsey, residing on the old homestead at Lyons ; Nelson R. Dorsey, 
residing in Calhoun county, Michigan ; Mrs. Cyrus Chapin, of Gen 
eva ; Mrs. Lawrence Riley, in Ohio ; Mrs. Thomas Rook, of Lyons, 
Mrs. Wm. Hudson, of Geneva ; Mrs. Michael Miller, of Calhoun 
cu., Michigan ; Mrs. Milton Barney, of Chicago ; and two sons 
have died after arriving at adult age ; eleven in all. The early 
Pioneer had held a Captain s commission in the Maryland line during 
the Revolution, and after his advent to this region, was an early 
Judge of the courts of Ontario. 
25 



394 PHELPS AND GORHAM S PURCHASE. 

SODUS. 

After the advent of Mr. Williamson in that region, the erection 
of his mills, large tavern house, wharf and store house all the im 
provements under his auspices there followed long years of de 
cline ; but an occasional hardy adventurer dropping into the wil 
derness, along on the Lyons and Palmyra roads, encountering dis 
ease and privation some of them wrestling with them until dis 
couraged, leaving their log cabins untenanted a forbidding indi 
cation to new adventurers. All that Mr. Williamson had done was 
premature. A fine public house, good mills, a pleasure boat upon 
the beautiful Bay, would have been well conceived enterprises in a 
settled country, but sadly out of place in a wilderness, with here 
and there, miles apart, in small openings of the forest, a Pioneer 
settler, half resolving to leave the country, and give up his enter 
prise as a bad job. Of those that were connected with the im 
provements, but few remained long after they were completed. 

In 1801, Ami Els worth came from East Wind