From Geneva Gazette 27 February 1852
Pioneer Events in Geneva - While the Pioneer events
we have been recording, were going on in other localities, the little
village of Kanadesaga, at the foot of Seneca Lake, had been going ahead
under the auspices of Reed and Ryckman, and the Lessees. In the
compromise with Phelps and Gorham, the Lessees had come in possession
of townships 6, 7, and 8, in the 1st Range, and 9 in the 2d.
townships were deeded to the Lessees under the name of the "New York
and a fifth township (No. 9 in the 1st) was deeded to "Berton and
"In the fall of 1788," says a manuscript in the author's
"number 8 was divided into lots, and balloted for at Geneva; Benjamin
sen., at that time being agent for the Niagara (or Canada) Company,
the number of lots assigned to them; and Messrs. Benton and Birdsall,
being present, drew for themselves and associates."
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 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. Benton.
There was a cluster of log houses all along on the low ground and
bottom. Peter Ryckman and Peter
Bortle were residing there, and several others whose names are not
recollected. Col. Seth Reed was residing at the Old Castle.
Dominick Debartzeh, 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 establishment; though his trade
extended to the western Indians, among whom he went after selling his
claim to the Cashong farm to the late Major Benj. 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 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
lands." In April and May, 1789, the New York company held out to
their Canada associates the strongest assurances of being able with
assistance, to induce the Indians to abide by the Lease, instead of
cessions to the State; but in the fall of that year, they began to be
to take whatever they could get. In September, one of the "New
Genesee Company," writing to the "Niagara Genesee Company," says:
business has fallen much short of our first idea," and after asking
concurrence in a proposed compromise with the State, the letter closed
with, "I am, 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 settlements 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 of 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
was chosen Supervisor, Thomas Sisson, Town Clerk. Other town
Oliver Whitmore, Jas. Rice, Phineas Pierce, Patrick Burnett, Samuel
Peter Bortle, Jr., Sanford Williams, Jonathan Oaks, David Smith,
Tuttle, Wm. Smith, David Benton, Benj. Dixon, Amos Jenks, John Reed,
Culver, Charles Harris, Stephen Sisson, W. Whitmore, Joseph Kilbourne,
In 1794, Ambrose Hall was Supervisor. Store and tavern licenses
were granted to Graham S. Scott, Thomas Sergeants, Joseph Annin, Hewson
& Co. 1795, Timothy Allen was Supervisor, and Samuel Colt,
Town Clerk; town meeting was held at the house of Ezra Patterson, who
was chosen Supervisor of the town 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 Genesee country, and there our race first
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
in the Revolution attached to the New York line; was at the siege of
Fort Stanwix, and at the close of the war became a merchant in Albany.
The son was preceded in his profession at Geneva, only by Henry
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 $4.00 per week at the hotel; and all things were going
on as swimmingly as in the later years, 1836, '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. Williamson's headquarters were then
principally at the Geneva Hotel. In addition to his other
enterprises, he was actively engaged in the construction of the
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 O. Delamater, of Columbia county; another, of Herman Ten Eyck,
of Albany; another, of Godfrey J. Grosvenor, of Geneva. Mr.
at his residence in Geneva, since this portion of the book was
Early lawyers in Geneva, other than Mr. Bogert, Pollydore B. Wisner,
Daniel W. Lewis, Robert W. Stoddard, John Collins, David 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 is an officer of the navy. Mr. Collins is now a
practicing lawyer in Angelica. Mr. Hudson still survives, and
continues a resident of Geneva. Mr. Parke is yet a practicing
attorney in Geneva. He studied law with Lewis and Collins, and
was admitted 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
The early merchants of Geneva, other than those who were located there
under Indian and Lessee occupancy, were: Grieve and Moffat,
Samuel Colt, Richard M. Williams, Elijah H. Gordon, Richard M. Bailey,
Abraham Dox. Grieve & Moffat established the first brewery in all
region. Mr. Grieve was in the employ of Mr. Williamson in the
years, as it is presumed. Mr. Moffat was, as his name occurs in
connection with the early movements 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, Ontario 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
Colt, the early merchant of Canandaigua, Auburn and Palmyra. He removed
to New York, and on a visit to Geneva, attending the commencement at
College, he died suddenly at the Hotel, in 1834. Mr. Baily is
living. He entered the regular army in 1812; had a staff
appointment, was 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 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 business; 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 H. and Wm. W. Gordon, reside
in Washington, Louisiana.
Dr. Adams was a physician in Geneva in the earliest years of
settlement. Drs. John Henry and Daniel Goodwin, were the earliest
permanent physicians. Dr. Henry died in 1812. Dr. Goodwin
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
A Presbyterian society 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, Septimus 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 Protestant
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,
Samuel Shekell, John Collins, Robert E. Rose, Richard Hughes, Ralph T.
Wood, David Nagler, Jas. Reese, Thomas Powell, 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
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 Donner, Moses Hall, W. W. Watson,
John Woods, Lucius Cary, Jonathan Doane, Foster Barnard, Richard
Lazalere, Jacob and Joseph Backenstose.
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
courts of Ontario. He engaged extensively in agricultural
owning and occupying the large farm afterwards purchased by Gideon Lee.
Judge Nicholas died in 1817. His surviving sons are Robert C.
Lawson Nicholas, Gavin L. Nicholas, John Nicholas; a daughter became
wife of Abraham Dox; and another became the wife of Dr. Leonard of
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 Nicholas were at one
extensive wool growers and did much to promote the improvement of sheep
husbandry in this region. He was for one or two terms a
in Congress. He died suddenly at Waterloo in 1845. His
who was of the Virginia family of Lawsons, so highly esteemed for her
and unobtrusive charities, and especially for her zealous aid to the
church, whose doctrines she adorned through life, died in 1847, or '8.
surviving sons are: Dr. Lawson G. Rose, of Geneva; John and Henry Rose,
of Jerusalem, Yates County; Robert L. Rose, of Allen's Hill, Ontario
late a representative in Congress, from the Ontario and Livingston
and Charles Rose, of the town of Rose, Wayne County. A daughter
the wife of Robert C. Nicholas; another, the wife of Hopkins Sill.
From Ontario Repository and Messenger 29 January 1868
The friends of Henry Porter, Naples, were assembled at his
house Jan. 15th, to commemorate his golden wedding. The number present
was large, and many old and young hearts were made glad with the happy
reunion. Some who were present at his wedding, fifty years ago, were
present, and enjoyed the scene. Old by-gones for the old, and useful
instruction for the young, with grapes and every luxury, passed the day
and evening pleasantly. Mr. Porter gave his history, from memory,
mostly, which we subjoin below:
This occasion requires that I should give a short history of my
ancestry, and having no family record in full, I shall depend somewhat
upon my memory. My grandfather was of Irish descent, and emigrated to
this country about the year 1776, and settled on the Delaware river, in
Penn. He died in the year 1812. My grandmother died about the same
time. My father, Alexander Porter, came to this country at the
age of fourteen and settled in Oneida county, this State. He had one
brother who settled near Albany, N. Y., and one sister who settled in
Philadelphia. In the year 1797, my father moved to Flint Creek Hollow
(now the north part of Italy Hollow.) This whole
section was then a howling, unbroken wilderness, and my father the
family that settled. It was infested with panthers, bears and wolves,
prowled about filling the woods with hideous yells. The wolves were so
that they killed yearling cattle in daylight, and at night were kept
the cabins by fire-brands. The bears were very numerous and
troublesome, carrying off pigs and even hogs. One hog weighing 200
lbs., was taken from the pen in the daytime, and carried by the bear
bodily, walking on his hind feet, fifty rods, and was shot while
dragging his victim through a brush fence. We suffered much for help,
so scarce were settlers and no teams. The
trees were felled in slashes, across each other, suffered to lay one
and then burned, and our corn was planted between the logs. When it was
ripe, was cut up, a great fire built of the logs, and the settlers
invited to the husking. The men carried the bundles and the women
husked till midnight. This was done with each other until all were
served. My father moved to Middlesex, adjoining this town, where he
lived several years, when he moved to this town and died here at the
advanced age of 89 years.
My mother was American born and her maiden name was Catherine
Armstrong. While she was a child, living with her father at Fort
Stanwix, (now Rome, Oneida Co.), she was one day picking wild cherries
about one-fourth of a mile from the Fort, accompanied by another girl,
and was taken prisoner by the Indians. The girls tried to elude them
and the other girl succeeded, but as my mother was climbing a fence,
she was taken. She was shown then, the scalps of seven neighboring
women, fresh and dripping, and was in great fear. She saw her mother at
evening when she went out to milk, but was told if she made a loud
noise, her's would be there too. She was a prisoner among the Indians
two years and nine months, and was then ransomed by her uncle, for five
guineas and several gallons of rum. After the ransom she was sent to
Albany with other prisoners, and there Gen'l Washington conversed with
them about their hardships, and giving them their dinner and a crown
each, sent them home. She died here at the age of 76.
I had five brothers, Archibald, Thomas, William, Robert and Charles.
Archibald volunteered in the war of 1812, and was killed at the battle
Queenston. Thomas died at 18. William now lives in Pennsylvania. Robert
and Charles live in Illinois. I had six sisters, Delany, Hannah, Patty,
and Mary, who are all dead but one.
I was born in Oneida county, in 1794, and moved with my father to this
section, while everything was wilderness, as stated before. I never had
a shoe on my feet until after I was 9 years of age, and my advantages
for schoolling were very poor, and went two miles to school with rags
on my feet. My parents, with the early settlers, endured many
privations, and suffered greatly for necessaries. We settled here in
1803, and have lived here ever since. I was married to Ruth Watkins, on
the 15th Jan., 1818, fifty years ago today, the Rev. Lyman Barrett
officiating, and Eli Watkins and Sylvia Parrish stood up. Aunt Laura
Clarke, the mother of Noah T. Clarke, Jr., and Mrs. Cummings, who are
present today, were at my wedding with their husbands, fifty years ago
this day. My wife was the daughter of Joel and Abigail Watkins, who
emigrated from Berkshire, Mass., (being six weeks in moving,) and was
one of the early settlers of this town, and held an important station
many years. He had five sons and four daughters, who are all dead but
two. Capt. Wm. Watkins, grandfather of my wife, died here in 1801, from
the kick of a horse, the day following the accident. He was a useful
man, and put out the first orchard in this town about 70 years ago, and
the fruit of which my wife and I are eating every year with thankful
hearts. The orchard is back
of my house and mainly connected with the Elias Simons Farm, and stands
the brick house at the north end of Main street.
The milling at this time was done at Waterloo, below Geneva, also at
Penn Yan and Painted Post. My father has taken his grist on his back,
and gone to Waterloo, which was a severe task. The usual way was with
oxen, drawing a sort of dray made from the crotch of a tree, and box on
it. The first mill in this town was a mortar, dug out of a solid oak
stump, and would
hold six or eight quarts. It was located near where the old church
at the lower end of the village line. This wonderful mill was propelled
a spring pole, and had a pestle attached. This done our grinding until
Maj. Clarke and Capt. Metcalf built a water mill on or near the site of
the Ontario Mill, now owned by James Covel.
I have lived here about 65 years with the exception of about two years,
during the troubles of 1812, in which I volunteered and went on the
I have seen the forests fall by the axe, seen the village grow up, and
country improve. Steadily has the march of civilization been onward
from the first school by Miss Susanna Parrish, near where I now live,
till now I listen daily to the bell of a first-class brick Academy. I
now see a beautiful village, filled with churches and school houses,
with bells; filled with stores containing the necessaries we so longed
for once. I see three large flouring mills in place of the mortar, and
rich vineyards in place of the dense forest. I live where I can from my
door, see the place of first settlement and mill, and all the scenes of
my early days, and can eat of the fruit of that first orchard. I am
content here to live, where I can contemplate in my last days the
changes worked by time and civilization, until God in His mercy shall
remove me, I trust to His unbounded fields where toll and privations
are no more.
From Geneva Gazette 10 August 1877
During a ride through Seneca, part of Phelps and
Hopewell in the early part of this week, the country hardly presented
its finest aspects. The roads were dry and dusty, and the weather
warm. The grain crops are all harvested excepting here and there a
of oats; in many instances the wheat has been threshed, and all report
an abundant yield - ranging from 25 to 47 bushels to the acre. The
wheat has been mostly grown in this section, and the old favorite Wicks
prevailing with a few. It is claimed by growers of the latter that it
produce more flour to the bushel, and that its quality cannot be
The barley crop is very fine, prices will rule fair, and most of it
undoubtedly pass into the hands of BETZ & NESTER, the Geneva
In fact all the cereals give promise of "panning out" largely, and
blue our merchants and tradesmen may have felt during the past few
there is none of this in the country.
The improved machinery for harvesting gives more opportunity for
repairs about the farm in favorable weather. Fence repairs, the
erection of barns, and general cleaning up are progressing now.
Vincent L. Runyan, is putting the homestead farm,
about a mile south of Seneca Castle,
in prime order. The barns have been moved off their old
foundations, enlarged, newly sided and shingled, and will conveniently
house his crops, horses and live stock. As newly constructed, they
enclose a large square within the rows of buildings with ample room
beneath the barns for wintering. The work is being done by a skillful
carpenter, Mr. J. M. Wilson of Stanley, who is kept
busy by the demands of his neighbors. Ed. McCombs, the victor
in the late slander suit, of which we have before spoken, also draws on
the purses of his neighbors for skilled labor.
Passing the broad acres of Gould B. Sears, and the pleasant
home of P. A. Hall, his farmer, among others, we drew rein
the shade of the trees at Seneca Castle.
Mr. Schoonmaker, like the farmers in his region, has been
compelled to "tear down and build larger." The foundation for an
structure just east of his present store is laid, and the first joist
in position. He may not occupy it this season, but next year he hopes
have the model country store of this region. In trade, and enjoying the
confidence of that community, his hopes have been fully realized.
In manufactures, Seneca Castle has no less to boast of than similar
rural hamlets. The carriage shop of G. M. Child, the
blacksmithing of Lew. Travis, are growing institutions, the
products of their
skill giving universal satisfaction. In one respect Geneva has to "cave
in." Ours, with a population of nearly 7,000, depends upon little
Seneca Castle for the flour from its mills.
The elevated drive from the latter place to Orleans is full of pleasing
memories. We have floundered time and again in the deep snow drifts
that lined its roadway, and years agone have hunted its forests -- now
all cut off -- for game and trolled its stream for fish. On the
hillside directly east of Orleans, the elder John Warner erected
his home nearly a
century ago. After living to ripe old age, having voted in that
district at seventy-one fall elections, and gathered about him a vast
body of descendants, near relatives and warm friends, about four years
ago was gathered to a
home of complete rest. Not a child did he leave behind him but to come
up to a ripe old age in the same upright manner in which the father had
lived; and so of the grandchildren. There is "much of them" when
together, as we have seen on more than one occasion. The Warners own
and occupy about one
thousand acres of fine farming land in that region.
Orleans is a thriving little place. It has its churches, stores,
hotel, grist and flouring mills, and all the requirements for home
maintenance. The Sodus Point & Southern railway affords ample
shipping facilities, and it has the reputation of being now a better
grain market than either Geneva, Phelps or Canandaigua. Last season its
shipments of apples and potatoes were enormous, at one time 2,000
barrels of potatoes being in store. Messrs. E. D. Aldrich and J.
C. Warner are intending to buy grain this season, if the markets
will warrant any investments. J. A. Blythe at the flouring
mill takes in his share of grain, running the very finest grades of
flour and meal.
The principal store at Orleans is owned by our friend, Lewis R.
Lombard, who established in business there eleven years ago. The
is not large, but the placard in plain letters, "If you don't see what
you want, ask for it," indicates that he has an ample reserve
Justice is meted out by Esquire Spear, in a manner that
friends. He only issues a warrant when all methods of reconciliation
Would that all justices were so.
After climbing the hills west of Orleans, the most beautiful farm lands
are presented to view - a broad panorama of rich fields, gently and
evenly rolling as the waves of the great Pacific. From one hundred to
three hundred acres are embraced in each farm, and the crops have been
most abundant. We pass in succession the lands of Jas. W.
Moore, Tompkins and Milton Warner, Horace Baker and his
brother, the Skekels,
and others. Not a rod of poor land is to be seen for miles on this road
in either direction. But we fear to weary the reader. Such thrift
we love to dwell on rather than return to the close atmosphere of
Our drive was continued to the well-kept and broad acres of John H.
Benham, and the yet more snug farm of G. Granger Benham in
Hopewell. The former has made many exhibits at the State and County
Fairs, invariably carrying off the premiums on fine livestock.
Mr. Benham regretted the departure from among us of James O.
Sheldon, to whom the country is indebted for all that is good in
blooded stock, and hopes that the White Springs farm may again, under
the ownership of W. & T. Smith, assume its old place as
the model stock farm of the country.
And another time we may journey off in the northern and western part of
old Phelps and in returning by Gorham, Stanley and Manchester, and we
hope our friends will be ready to "show up their hands."
From Geneva Gazette 12 January 1894
Old Time Funerals - In my last published communication to you,
I promised to give your readers a description of the manner of
conducting funerals as I remember them sixty five years ago. I
now fulfill that promise. It must be understood that I am writing of
funerals in the country. In cities the manner was somewhat
different, still there were some things similar.
There were no tinselled hearses, no prancing steeds with gaudy
trappings, no ceremony attending the singing, no music on organ or
melodeon. Vocal music to me on such occasions gave impressions as
lasting as life. The ministers officiating would give out a hymn, when
some one present would
start one of those never-to-be-forgotten tunes, others would start in
the first two lines, then the minister would read the next two lines,
being necessary as hymn books were but few in those days. The book
used was called the Village Hymns; sometimes Watts' was used. As I look
everything connected with the solemn occasions is stamped indelibly on
mind. First, the dead clothed in a winding sheet; generally the eyes
closed with a penny on each; the coffin made of cherry stained, costing
six to ten dollars. No undertakers; some neighbor would officiate to
when necessary; no ceremony attending in order to take a last view of
dead. Everything was conducted in a way that would lift a pecuniary
from many sad bereaved ones at the present day. Of course, we wish
do for our departed loved ones, but is our love the less if their
are enclosed in pine instead of rosewood? Do we cherish their memory
more though their monument reaches to the skies?
To proceed with my subject I would say, as there were no hearses, some
neighbor having a one horse wagon, (no springs), would take the remains
to the grave, preceded by the minister and doctor on horses, each
having a common gift of three or six yards of fine bleached muslin,
sufficient for one or two shirt patterns, so folded that it was
fastened on the right shoulder by a bow of black ribbon and tied under
the left arm. As soon as the procession came in sight of the church,
the sexton would toll the age of the departed.
From Geneva Advertiser 30 October 1894
Old Times Recalled -- With a great deal of pleasure we print the
communication below, sent to us by one who knows what she is
writing about. The lady is not accustomed to writing for the
press, but she need not fear in future efforts:
I was lately reading the Geneva items in the Elmira Telegram,
and noted the mention of the death of David Hill which occurred
the foot of Seneca Lake. That tavern has a history that is well
recounting, but let me say that no murder was ever committed
nor in the tavern beyond -- none that was ever heard of.
The famous Chapman murder was committed at the Sportsman's Hall, the
large brick building still standing on the lake road, just within the
Seneca County line. I could tell you all about that murder, but
will not encroach upon your time and space.
Now as to that history: At my elbow sits a friend who is able
to go back over seventy years, and remembers well when Captain
Teall built the then fine tavern stand at the foot of Seneca Lake.
It was much larger then than it is now, nearly twice its size,
barns and sheds to accommodate travelers journeying over the road.
was a farmers' stand in those days, to catch the weary horsemen and
people going to the Genesee country, then called "the far west," many
packs on their backs and many with families in covered wagons. My
informant tells me that he has often seen twenty, and sometimes fifty
sheltered in those barns and sheds over night, and horses tied to the
ends of wagons. It was a busy place in those days -- nearly every
all the rooms would be filled with beds thrown on the floors, beds
in from the wagons, and big enough to accommodate the whole family.
Captain Teall was a jovial landlord, with a hearty welcome to greet
the coming, and just as cheery a good-bye to speed the departing guest.
In his wife, Mrs. Polly Teall, he had most able help.
was a model landlady. The lake road then was a lovely drive, no
at the north of it. The road was nearly a quarter-mile out in
is now the lake, shaded all the way by fine trees. It was the
favorite drive from Geneva around the beach of the beautiful Seneca.
Gay ladies and gentlemen who rode so much on horseback at that
time, would canter over the hard beach roadway, and rein up at the
Teall tavern for a glass of their favorite wine or one of those slings
so fashionable at that early day.
Mr. Editor, my informant closes his eyes, searches away back in
Memory's garden and calls up parties who have long been laid to rest,
who used to make merry and crack jokes in that old house by the
lakeside ! Among the foremost who comes so fresh to memory is Mr.
Charles Williamson, one of the gayest of the gay; then the quiet
gentleman Mr. David Saxton
Hall, with the Misses Scott, great belles in society. They
rein up at the hotel for a pleasant chat and cheese. Next come Mr.
Robert Rose, Senior, who would canter up on his favorite pony,
wearing a white necktie, and that friendly snuff box was always ready
use of his friends. Snuff was greatly in favor with some at the
even ladies would carry a silver box for their own use. Then
up the genial, pleasant face of Doctor Rose.
How the Doctor did like to fish ! The lake was full of fish
then. Mr. Giles Parker, Sen., used to fish with a seine
down near there, would draw in enough in one night to load a wagon.
Even the fish have left the old grounds -- nothing but a memory
of what once
was so pleasant remaining.
Few now living remember the gay balls that used to be held in Teall's
Tavern. It had a fine, large ball room, and many pleasant
entertainments were given there, too. Sickle's show, so popular
in its day; and
"Babes in the Woods!" Who ever tired of that, when the Robins
and covered the babes over with leaves ? -- once seen, never to be
Mr. Giles Parker, Sen., with his laughing gas made plenty
of fun, because it was all new and thought so wonderful in 1822.
Mr. Ansel Teall, eldest son of Captain Nathan Teall, built a
fine flouring mill at the foot of Seneca Lake on what was then the
outlet. Where the present outlet is was then a canal to let boats
into the river from the lake. It had a lock and lock-tender.
the new canal was constructed it ruined the water-power and the mill
changed the outlet.
But above all, to wake up the people we had the stage coaches with
their jolly drivers, four-in-hand, blowing their horns and dashing up
to the door with their loads of travelers, and perhaps all to dine.
driver was no lowly personage. He was treated to the best, for he
could bestow his patronage wherever he pleased. He had a wide
field to choose from, about a dozen taverns on the road between Geneva
and Canandaigua, and about the same between Geneva and Waterloo, and
every few miles a modest cake and gingerbeer house with its sign
swinging in the breeze, so welcome to the dusty traveler on foot with
his heavy pack on his back and generally a pair of boots hanging over
his shoulders. Today he would be called a "tramp," but then he
was known as a foot traveler.
My informant can remember the names of nearly all who kept houses of
entertainment in these towns during the times of which I write, but I
will not tire you by giving them here, but I will mention one, the last
before entering the village of Waterloo, kept by a Mrs. Smith,
generally known as "Aunt Spudy." She was famous for brewing hot
slings, would always stir it up, then taste it, remarking, "That is
good enough for the money."
But the crowning glory was General Training Day, often held near
Teall's Tavern. How the young boys wished to be men, and train,
and carry guns as these soldiers did ! What lots of pies, and
ginger bread had to be baked for general training ! But I will not
dwell longer on this happy theme. Will say good-bye to those good old
days past and gone, never, never to return.
E. A. T.
From Ontario County Times 23 January 1889
The Naples Record, in urging that something be done by way of
observing the centennial of the settlement of the town this year, gives
this item of history: The deed of the town of Naples from Oliver Phelps
and Nathaniel Gorham to James Harris, Nathan Watkins,
William Watkins, Elizur Burnham, Nathan Hibbard, Edward Kibbe, William
Cady, Ephraim Cleveland, Dennison Robinson, William Clark, and Thomas Robinson, Jr., is
dated March 20, 1789, and conveys township No. 7, in th 4th range, six
miles north and south, and five and one-half miles east and west,
containing 21,120 acres. The consideration is one thousand and
fifty-six pounds, current.
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