History of Livingston County, New York

In the preparation of the history of the county treated of in this volume the authors have endeavored to confine themselves to a concise and truthful statement of facts, leaving deductions and moralisms, except where such were necessary to a proper elucidation of the subject, to the individual reader; and in gleaning these facts they have laid under contribution every available source of information in the effort to arrive at correct data. This, however, has not always been possible, for much is given that rests for its authority entirely upon verbal statements, which, even among the best informed, are subject to the lapses of memory. When conflicting statements have been observed, as was to be expected there would be in so broad a field of inquiry, an honest effort has been made to reconcile them and make them conform to the probable fact; for while each individual expects the record of a fact to conform to his remembrance, it is notorious that all do not retain precisely the same recollection of it. To this end also, records have been consulted where such existed and were accessible, both to supplement and establish a verbal fact, and as an original source of information. These, however, were often fragmentary, sometimes entirely wanting, and while their incompleteness was perplexing, their frequent indefiniteness was even more so, so that it was often necessary to supplement them by verbal information.

The materials for such a work were widely scattered. They laid mainly in the imperfect town, county, church, school, society and private records, and in the vague and faded memories of individuals. Much time, labor, diligent research and patient inquiry have been required to gather these materials and collate them into systematic order. Every town has been visited, and its records and well-informed citizens have been consulted. In addition to these, the files of local and other papers have been scrutinized, and the works of numerous authors laid under contribution; but as the latter have generally been referred to in the text, especially when quoted, we do not deem it necessary to enumerate them here. A few local gleaners, of acknowledged ability, in this field of historic inquiry, had rescued from oblivion much that has served to embellish the annals of Livingston. The fruit of their labors was kindly placed at our disposal.

Much more might have been given, enough to swell the volume to twice its present size, by the multiplication of details which some would regard with interest and others as unimportant; much indeed was prepared and still more gathered, but it was found necessary to eliminate it to bring it within the scope of this work. In discarding matter we have aimed to retain that which seemed most important — most worthy of preservation.

An earlier preparation of the work would have lessened the labor and produced more satisfactory results; would have given access to the personal experience and relations of the very first settlers, with whom have died facts and incidents which are now beyond recall. But few of the first generation of those who settled and subdued this wilderness are now left with us, and fewer still of that sacred remnant retain their faculties sufficiently to relate coherently and positively the interesting incidents of that early period; but we still have their "oft told tales" from the lips of their immediate descendants, and have thus been able to collect and chronicle, with a close approach to accuracy, the facts of early history. It must, therefore, be obvious that the time for the publication of this work had fully come, and that a longer delay would only have added to the obscurity of the facts and the difficulty of their acquisition.

Happily the very full and scholarly "Relations" of the faithful Jesuits and other French missionaries give us a minute and definite account of the manners and customs of the American Indians, the supposed aboriginal occupants of this country, with whom they mingled as early as the fore part of the last half of the seventeenth century, though they are chiefly concerned with the relation of their efforts to Christianize them, and to engraft upon their rude natures some of the arts and usages of civilization in their time. Numerous evidences of this intercourse have been disclosed by means of the plow and other agencies in this county, which for a considerable period was the home of several cantons of the most numerous and powerful of the tribes of the Six Nations, the Senecas. These consist of gaudy trinkets and other articles of use and adornment, which possessed an intensely magnified value in the eyes of the untutored savage, and were the means by which these zealous missionaries sought to ingratiate themselves with the natives and prepare the way for the successful accomplishment of their ulterior object. The mural remains, now mostly obliterated by the agency of the plow, and other economic and sacred relics which were familiar objects to the first white settlers in the Valley of the Genesee, bore abundant testimony to the fact that Livingston county was long the seat of a numerous Indian population.

Though this county is not as rich in historical incidents fraught with tragic interest as the counties which bordered on the confines of civilization during the French and Indian wars, the sanguinary struggle of the Revolution, and the more recent but memorable war with the mother country, which etched in lines of blood the history of their eventful scenes, it witnessed one of the most pathetic and memorable incidents of the Revolutionary struggle, and the culmination of an event which was fraught with the most important results affecting the development of Central and Western New York. Its soil is hallowed by blood shed to establish those principles which, eighty-two years later, its sons so nobly fought to perpetuate. It has, too, a pacific history to which many will recur with interest — yea, with reverence.

The authors take this opportunity to tender their grateful acknowledgments to the many who, in various ways, have so kindly aided them in this laborious work, and to testify to the uniform courtesy which was extended to them, and the cordiality with which their labors were seconded by the hosts from whom it became their duty to solicit information.


Table of Contents

CHAPTER I. — Aborigines — Pre-Historic Period — The Iroquois Confederacy — Its Origin and Organization — Tribal Relations — Secret of Its Power — Its Superiority and Supremacy — Its Degeneracy 9

CHAPTER II. — Indian Habits and Usages — Indian Dwellings — Indian Towns — Social Usages — Dress and Habits — Law of Marriages — Experimental Marriages — Family Discipline — Amusements — Dances and Feasts — The War Dance — Stated Annual Festivals — Medical Feasts — Dreams — Wizards and Witches — Burials — Wampum — Hospitality 20

CHAPTER III. — Early Discoveries — European Com- petition in the Western Continent — Settlements and Conflicting Claims of the Dutch, French and English — The English Supercede the Dutch in New Netherlands — Iroquois and Early Colonists — Cham- plain's Invasions of 1609 and 1615 — Location of the Fort attacked by Champlain in 1615 — Iroquois make Peace with French — Iroquois Conquests and Supremacy 32

CHAPTER IV. — French and English Rivalry - Expedition of M. de Courcelles against the Mohawks — M. de Tracy's Expedition against the Mohawks — Peace of Breda — French and Iroquois at warin 1669 — Peace of 1673 — M. de la Barre's Expedition against the Senecas — M. de Denonville's Expedition against the Senecas — French and English War of 1689 — Attack on Montreal and Quebec — Frontenac Invades the Onondaga Country — Treaty of Ryswick — Treaty of Utrecht — Tuscaroras admitted to Iroquois Confederacy — French and English War of 1741-1748— Treaty of Aixla-Chappelle — War Renewed in 1755 — Treaty of Paris — Pontiac's Conspiracy — War of the Revolution — Present Status of Iroquois 39

CHAPTER V. — The Senecas — Their Origin and Symbols — Antiquity and Extent of their Country — Their Status among the Iroquois — Their Early Town Sites — Greenhalgh's Journal — The Senecas Visited by LaMotte, Hennepin and LaSalle — Mission of Sieur de Joncaire — Jesuit Missions — Jogue's Mission to the Mohawks — Le Moine's Mission at Onondaga — Chaumonot Establishes the Missions of St. Joseph among the Cayugas and of St. Michael among the Senecas — Missions of Fathers Fremin, Raffeix and Garnier — Seneca Mission Resumed by Fathers Gamier and Vaillant — Fathers Bruyas and Fenelon — Episcopal Missions — New England Missions — Rev. Sam'l Kirkland — Missionary Societies of Massachusetts and New York 59

CHAPTER VI. — Titles to the Soil — Extinguishment of Indian Titles — Line of Property— Conflicting Claims of New York and Massachusetts — Preemption Line — New York and Massachusetts Surrender Claims to Territory to Federal Government — Treaty and Cession of 1784 — Phelps and Gorham's Purchase — Treaty and Cession of 1788 — Pultney Estate — Holland Land Company — Holland Purchase — Connecticut Tract — Transit Line — Morris Reserve — Forty thousand acre Tract — Morris Honorary Creditor's Tract — Robert Morris' Letter to President Washington — Treaty and Cession of Big Tree in 1797 — Red Jacket's Insincerity — Difficulties Experienced in Determining the Extent and Boundaries of Reservations — Mary Jemison's Farm — Lessee Company — Effort made to Dismember the State — Reservations made in 1797 — Treaty and Cession of 1826 70

CHAPTER VII. — Early Civil Divisions— Formation of Livingston County — Original Towns in Livingston County — Subsequent Territorial Changes — Topography — Boundaries, Area and Geographical Situation — Improved Land in 1820 and 1875 — Character of Surface — Genesee River — Falls at Portage — The Genesee made a Public Highway — Charlevoix's Description of the Genesee in 1712 — Indian Name of the Genesee — Its Principal Tributaries — Canaseraga Creek — Oashaqua Creek — Conesus and Hemlock Lakes — Climate of Livingston County — Soil — Staple Productions — Chief Industry — Comparative Analysis of the Census of 1875 — Livingston County Compared with other Counties in the State — Towns in Livingston County Compared 77

CHAPTER VIII. — Geology— Succession of Underlying Rocks in the County — Water-lime of the Onondaga Salt Group — Onondaga Limestone — Corniferous Limestone — Marcellus Shales — Hamilton Group — Genesee Slate — Portage Group — Cashaqua Shale — Gardeau Shale and Flagstones — Portage Sandstones — Diagonal Lamination — Ripple Marks — Casts of Shrinkage Cracks — Concretions or Septaria — Casts of Flowing Mud, Etc. — Indications of Coal — Sulphuretted Hydrogen Springs - Avon Springs — Brine Springs — Alluvial Deposits — Marl — Chara — Mastodon Remains 83

CHAPTER IX. — First Settlements and Measures Leading Thereto — Military Tract — MillYard Tract — Census of 1790 — First Settlements in Livingston County — Communication opened with the Settlements in Pennsylvania — Arks — Charles Williamson becomes Agent of the Pultney Estate — Progress of Settlements under his Energetic Exertions — The Village of "Williamsburgh Founded — Settlements Retarded by War with the Western Indians and unfriendly Attitude of the British in Canada— "Simcoe War" — Remarkable Progress of Settlements — Scotch Colony at Caledonia — Robert Munro's Description of the Genesee Country in 1804 — Settlements Interrupted by War of 1812 — Population at Different Periods — Homes and Privations of the Early Settlers 91

CHAPTER X. — Internal Improvements — Indian Trails — Routes Indicated by Blazed Trees — Improvements in Natural Water Channels — Western Inland Lock Navigation Company — Old Genesee Road — Cayuga Bridge — Seneca Turnpike Company — First Mail between Whitestown and the Genesee — Williamsburgh Road — First Vessel and Steamboat on Lake Erie — The Erie Canal — Early Speculations Regarding It — First Survey Thereof — First Board of Canal Commissioners — First Contract on Erie Canal — Construction Commenced — The Completion Celebrated — Erie Canal Enlargement — Navigation of the Genesee — First Canal Boat and Steamboat thereon — Genesee Valley Canal — Preliminary Measures — Construction Luthorized — Its Completion — Dansville and Rochester Railroad — Genes A and Pittsford Railroad — Attica and Hornellsville Railroad — Portage Bridge — Portage Riot — Buffalo and Cohocton Valley Railroad — Rochester and Genesee Valley Railroad — Genesee Valley Railroad — Avon, Geneseo and Mt. Morris Railroad — Dansville and Genesee Valley Railroad Company — Erie and Genesee Valley Railroad — Silver Lake Railroad — Canandaigua and Niagara Falls Rail- road — Rochester, Nunda and Pennsylvania Railroad — Rochester and Genesee Valley Canal Railroad 106

CHAPTER XI. — Societies — The Medical Society of the County of Livingston — Its Organization and First Officers — Succession of Presidents of the Society — Names of Members from its Organization — Origin of Homeopathy — Its Introduction into Livingston County — Homeopathic Medical Society of Livingston County — Its Constituent Members — Succession of Presidents of the Society — Additional Members — The Livingston County Agricultural Society — First Officers — Premiums Awarded — Classification of Members in 185.5 — Prominent Stock Raisers and Horticulturists in County — Succession of Presidents of the Agricultural Society — Livingston County Stock Association — Livingston County Historical Society — Livingston County Pioneer Association 110

CHAPTER XII. — The Press of Livingston County — Origin of the Press — The American Press — Its Marvelous Growth — Early Journalism in Livingston County — The First Newspaper in Livingston County — The Union and Constitution — The Livingston Republican — The Dansville Express — The Laws of Life and Journal of Health — The Nunda News— The Dansville Advertiser — The Mt. Morris Enterprise — The Livingston County Herald - The Union Citizen — The Caledonia Advertiser — The Springwater Enterprise — Obsolete Papers 121

CHAPTER XIII. — Early Courts — County Seat Designated — First County Officers — County Buildings — First Court in Livingston County — County Poor-House — Insane Asylum — Livingston County Civil List — Delegates to State Constitutional Conventions—State Senators — Members of Assembly - First and County Judges — Surrogates — District Attorneys — Sheriffs — County Clerks — County Treasurers — County Superintendents of the Common Schools — School Commissioners — Presidential Electors — Representatives in Congress 127

CHAPTER XIV. — War of the Rebellion — Its Underlying Cause— Secession of South Carolina, Followed by Other States — First Measures to Repress Rebellion — Ready Response of the North — Additional Troops Called for — Prompt and Generous Response of Livingston County — Thirteenth Regiment — Twenty-Seventh Regiment — Thirty-Third Regiment — Regimental Camp at Geneseo — One Hundred and Fourth Regiment, or Wadsworth Guards — Calls of July 2, 1862, and August 4, 1862 — Military Districts Formed — The One Hundred and Thirtieth Regiment, or First New York Dragoons — One Hundred and Thirty-Sixth Regiment — The Draft — Quotas Under Various Calls — Subsequent Calls — County Bounty — Enormous Local Bounties — State Bounty — Local Bounties Abrogated — Contributions to the Support of the Indigent Families of Volunteers — Quotas Under Last Three Calls 134

CHAPTER XV. — History of the Town of North Dansville 155
CHAPTER XVI. — History of the Town of Ossian 209
CHAPTER XVII. — History of the Town of Springwater 216
CHAPTER XVIII. — History of the Town of Sparta 224
CHAPTER XIX. — History of the Town of West Sparta 235
CHAPTER XX. — History of the Town of Nunda 242
CHAPTER XXI. — History of the Town of Portage 262
CHAPTER XXII. — History of the Town of Mount Morris 283
CHAPTER XXIII. — History of the Town of Conesus 323
CHAPTER XXIV. — History of the Town of Leicester 338
CHAPTER XXV. — History of the Town of Groveland 348
CHAPTER XXVI. — History of the Town of Livonia 361
CHAPTER XXVII. - History of the Town of Geneseo 381
CHAPTER XXVIII. — History of the Town of York 410
CHAPTER XXIX. — History of the Town of Avon 426
CHAPTER XXX. — History of the Town of Caleonia 447
CHAPTER XXXI. — History of the Town of Lima 469


Read the Book - Free

Download the Book ( 37.4 MB ) - Free

Long ago, says the Iroquois tradition, Taounyawatha, the deity who presides over the forests and streams, came down from his abode in the clouds to make free the former to all, to remove the obstructions from the latter, and to bestow good gifts upon the people. In the locality of Oswego he disclosed to two hunters of the Onondaga nation whom he there met, the object of his mission, and prevailed on them to accompany him up the river and over the lesser lakes, while he made ample provision for the sustenance of men, and taught them how to cultivate the soil and live happy, united and prosperous. Having accomplished this beneficent mission he divested himself of his divine character and took up his abode among men, assuming their habits and character. He chose for his habitation a beautiful spot on the shore of Teonto (Cross) Lake, where he built a cabin and took a wife of the Onondagas, by whom he had an only and beautiful daughter, whom he tenderly loved. His excellence of character, great sagacity, and wise counsels won for him a profound regard, and by universal consent he was named Hiawatha, signifying very wise man. His advice upon matters both grave and trivial was eagerly sought, and he was regarded as possessing transcendent powers of mind and consummate wisdom. Under his direction the Onondagas early gained a pre-eminent distinction as the wisest counselors, the most eloquent orators and expert hunters, and the bravest warriors.