From Geneva Gazette 3 June 1892


As Seen Through Swiss Eyes

Some two or three months ago Mr. D. F. Attwood, President of our village, received a request for documents and information relating to it.  The applicant was a newspaper editor or correspondent in Geneva, Switzerland, who thought that his fellow citizens would be interested in some brief account of all the American GENEVAS. His request being complied with, he now courteously sends to President Attwood and others the net results of his study of our character and our history.  We give below a somewhat free translation of this article, (it appeared originally in French), believing that our readers will be glad to avail themselves of the "giftie" so earnestly coveted by the poet Burns -- "to see oursel's as others see us."

The women tax-payers will be sorry to learn that our Swiss friend is in error in his statement that les femmes recalcitrantes cannot be forced like the men to pay their taxes.  To be sure, the charter provides that no body execution shall issue against women, but this is their only exemption from the processes of the collector.  As the provision for a "body execution" is never put in force against the men, women and men are practically on the same footing in this respect.


Mr. Editor, I have presented to your readers eighteen American Genevas.  I would like today to talk with them about the GENEVA of New York, eldest of the Genevas of the United States.  Let a map of the state of New York be consulted; upon the same degree of longitude as Washington and nearly upon the 43rd degree of north latitude is found a village called Geneva, situated at the north of a lake.  In order to point out its position precisely we will add that Geneva, N. Y. is 105 miles east of Lake Erie, 25 miles south of lake Ontario, 220 miles north-east of New York, and almost upon the same degree of latitude as Toulon.  Five little lakes about half as large as lake Leman flow from south to north, parallel to one another, and upon an average about 12 miles apart. Their northern extremity is about  twenty-five miles south of Lake Erie which is almost as large as Switzerland. Going from east to west these lakes are Skaneateles, Owasco, Cayuga, Seneca and Canandaigua.

Geneva, N. Y., situated at the north of lake Seneca, is ten days by post from the Swiss Geneva.

Mr. D. F. Attwood, president of the Board of Trustees of this Geneva, sends me some documents of recent date relating to its settlement.  Ex-president George S. Conover is its historiographer. It is through his kindness that I am able to offer you the following statement:

The first official document concerning Geneva, N. Y., is a letter from Dr. Cabb Benton to William Walker, surveyor and land agent dated Oct. 15, 1788.  Nine other official documents bearing the name of Geneva and a date following one another up to Sept. 20th, 1791, which is the date of a description by Elkanah Watson in his newspaper.  It was nine months, then, before the presidency of Washington, and eight years after Major Andre, the Swiss Genevan, had been shot by Washington as a spy and buried as a hero by England in Westminister Abbey, that the Geneva of New York was settled.  While surveyors were laying out the boundaries of Geneva, N. Y., this is what was happening in the Swiss Geneva:  (It is the historian Jullien who writes:)  "The wealthy people of Geneva were generous; in September, 1788, the city of Sion, capital of Valais, was laid waste by a fire which consumed a hundred and twenty-six houses and caused a loss of more than a million; the contributions of Geneva amounted to more than forty-three thousand florins."

And now a few words about the pre-historic American Geneva which called itself Kanadesaga.  The army of Gen. Sullivan made the tour of the lake now called Seneca September 17th, 1779.  At the north of it they found a prosperous Indian village, chief place of the Kanadesaga tribe.  There they saw a beautiful apple-orchard surrounding a fortress known later as Indian Castle.  Mr. Conover gives us a detailed account of the most renowned chiefs of the Kanadesagas in 1788.  On the 4th of June of this year, Oliver Phelps arrived at this Indian village; was struck by its beauty and by its favorable situation from a commercial point of view.  He there wrote a letter in which one reads these memorable words:  "We mean to found a city here."  The chronicler reports to us the dramatic history of the debates between the Indian chiefs and the Americans Phelps and Gorham over the cession of the territory of the new Geneva.  He gives us the speech of Red Jacket against the American offers, and the reply of Farmer's Brother in favor of acceptance.  All this took place in the presence of the tribes assembled in a clearing of the virgin forest.  It was then in the autumn of 1788 that Kanadesaga took the name of Geneva, and became the isolated outpost of what was called the Geneva country.  Soon it became the rendezvous of traders going to the great lakes.  Taverns, cottages, surveyors, speculators, explorers, the Leasee company and its agents, (some educated men and gentlemen), a crowd of vagrants -- the foam on the crest of the westward-moving wave, -- all seized by the fever of hope and ambition.

Phelps and Gorham, the first owners, sold what remained of their tract to Robert Morris in 1790.  He, in turn, sold his title through his London agent to Sir William Pulteney, John Harnbey and Patrick Colqumann, but these gentlemen not being Americans and being by this fact disqualified to acquire real estate in America, sent over their agent, Mr. Charles Williamson, who became naturalized and thus bought land in the new Geneva in his name for the English financiers.  This deed was signed April 11th, 1792.

The appearance of the new Geneva was less attractive than that of Kanadesaga, its predecessor; in fact, Elkanah Watson who visited it in 1791 wrote the following lines on the 21st of September:  "Geneva is an unhealthy little village consisting of about fifteen houses, all of wood except three, and perhaps twenty families. We were well enough received at the Patterson tavern, situated upon the shore of the lake, but our sleep was disturbed nearly all night by gamblers and fleas, those two social plagues." In 1793, Captain Williamson had a new survey of the village made.  The charts and the original plans have not been preserved.  Historian Conover despairs of finding them again.

Lakes Cayuga and Seneca have been explored with the greatest care by Professors E. Fuertes and Crandall and Mr. J. P. Church.  Students of engineering worked in 1878 and 1883 to take soundings and to make surveys. Exact charts of the bottoms of these lakes have been prepared.  Seneca Lake is thirty-four miles in length; its greatest width is 3.12 miles, and its greatest depth is 618 English feet.  In other words, Seneca Lake measured upon Lake Leman would stretch from Geneva to Ouehy in length, and from Nyon to Nernier in its greatest width.

The town government of Geneva is excellent.  Public and private gambling houses are prohibited, also, horse-racing. Unreasonably fast driving is forbidden, and the public is warned not to play at hoop or ball, or to engage in any game through which persons passing by might be injured.

On the third Tuesday in May, at ten in the morning, all tax-payers are gathered in a general assembly to approve or reject the annual budget which is submitted to them by the Trustees of the Village Board.  And, a thing unknown in Europe !  Women who are tax-payers "refuse to pay their taxes cannot, like the men, be forced to pay."

Any person who does not observe the proprieties of language, or is not decently clothed, is liable to a fine. Bathing in the lake, or in the water-courses traversing the village limits, except at night, is forbidden.

It appears that the supervision of public morals is as severe as it was in our Geneva in the days of Calvin.

Locomotives and steamboats are not allowed to whistle within the village limits except in case of impending danger. The code from which I borrow these laws consists of a hundred and fifty pages, and appears to me to be a model of clearness and judicious foresight.

The authorities of the Geneva New York have been touched by the sympathetic comparison which I have endeavored to establish between the Geneva of Julius Caesar and the first Geneva of the New World.  May these reciprocal sentiments bear fruit in the future !  It is my dearest wish.

Robert Harvey

From Geneva Gazette 9 April 1897


Geneva Glass Factory

Mr. H. L. DeZeng recently came into possession, through the kindness of Mr. J. B. Church, of a relic of one of Geneva's earliest industries -- the Geneva Glass Factory.  It is a transcript of the law passed in May, 1810, incorporating the company, supplied by the then Secretary of State, and bearing the faded but still distinct seal of the State.  The incorporators included Abraham Dox, Joseph Fellows, John Greig, Samuel Colt, Nathaniel Gorham, James Bogert and others. The total number of shares authorized was 2500 at $50 each -- total $125,000.  Mr. Wm. S. DeZeng came into the project seven years later, or in 1817, from which time it seems that he wielded the laboring oar in this important enterprise. The act of incorporation was approved and signed by Gov. Daniel D. Tompkins, certified by Daniel Hale, Secretary of State.  The memoranda accompanying shows a dividend in "boxes of window glass of 3/4 box per share."  What its value in dollars and cents we are unable at this day to figure out.  Mr. DeZeng proposes to place these relics of a by-gone age in local history in the College Library.  The documents are 80 and 87 years old respectively, and among the most ancient to be found in our local archives.

From Geneva Gazette 13 August 1897

The Old Glass Factory -
Mr. H. L. DeZeng, whose father, W. S. DeZeng, was principal manager of the industry, has sketched from memory of the plant all the buildings and residences constituting the Glass Factory plant located at the bay on Seneca Lake which still bears the name "Glass Factory Bay."  The date at which Mr. DeZeng fixes in memory the old plant is
1841.  The operating buildings were near the lake shore and consisted of a "blowing" factory, cutting and flattening buildings, office, store, barns, and along the west side of the highway a row of five houses, then a school house, and further up on the hill under the shade of a large willow tree, the more commodious home of John Fowler, the foreman of the works.  It was about the only factory of importance in this whole region at that time.  Its products were sent to out-of-town markets by lake and canal -- we had no railroad entering Geneva at that time.  We well remember visiting the factory in '41 or '42 and witnessing with boyish wonder the interesting process of "blowing glass".  The workmen before the ovens had about as warm a time of it as do operatives in a rolling mill or iron casting foundry.  The glass-blowers were paid good wages and earned them.  Not a vestige of the old factory remains; the Fall Brook railroad tracks traverse its site.  Maxwell's extensive fruit orchard occupies the land west of and adjacent to the factory hamlet, and on lands then cultivated to grain and grass.

From Geneva Gazette 12 March 1875

A Relic of Forty Years Ago

Mr. Conover, our village President, in overhauling and arranging old documents and papers in our village archives, came across the following memorial, which we produce as recalling the names of earlier citizens, so many of whom have passed away, and as indicating their patriotic reverence for the memory of one of our most illustrious defenders - Gen. La Fayette. The "filing" alone tells its date -- 1834.

To the Trustees of the Village of Geneva:

Gentlemen  --  Information having come to hand through the medium of yesterday's papers, announcing the death of Gen'l GILBERT MOTTIER LA FAYETTE, the friend and companion of Washington and the adopted son of our country; we, the undersigned, feeling a desire that the demise of this great and good man should not pass without some expression on the part of our citizens of the deep and heartfelt regret which must pervade the heart of every American patriot at this dispensation of Providence, would respectfully recommend and request that a meeting of the village corporation be called forthwith for the purpose of taking such order thereon as may be deemed suitable to the occasion.

W. V. I. Mercer
John Wood
Geo. Wight
P. Hastings
A. Messer
D. Field jun'r
John Woods
G. W. Cromwell
R. Hogarth
J. S. Hogarth
Peter M. Dox
Charles S. Bronson
Sexton Mount
W. W. Watson
Wm. Mager
S. H. Bostwick
William Inslee
J. Gray
David S. Skaats
Jacob Larzelere
Wm. Hudson
John W. Nevius
C. A. Cook
J. M. Soverhill
Henry Stephens
J. M. Page
S. Buckley
Harvey Tomlinson
Luther Kelly
George Wood
David Carey
W. E. Sill
R. W. Stoddard
Alonzo Seymour
Chas. T. Brouer
Nathan Parke
H. V. R. Schemerhorn
Robert C. Nicholas
G. P. Stephens
Samuel Robinson
Robert Daskam
H. Brizse
A. H. Barber
H. Hastings
L. W. Hamblin
James Gillespie
W. S. DeZeng
Theodore Hinman jr.
J. A. Coffin
Charles Butler
W. Gordon
William Cole
Hugh Black
David Wilson
Josiah Anderson
John Hall
John Greves
Oliver S. Phelps
G. H. Merrill
J. Thayer
J. Snow
M. M. Williams
E. Hastings
Phinehas Prouty
David S. Hall
D. L. Lum
John W. Tillman
R. M. Bayly
J. B. Rumny
D. G. Johnson
Jerome Loomis
H. H. Bogert
Wm. H. Townsend
H. DeGraff
A. Hemiup
Geo. Merrill
G. H. Haskill
H. A. Nagly
C. Rodney
Geo. A. Condit
Levi A. Stevens
R. Bedell
S. L. Wood
John N. Bogert
W. W. Carter
T. B. Tallmadge
Jas. B. Dungan
S. Hemenway
R. Hemenway
John Fargo
Joseph I. Scidmore
E. H. Gordon
A. I. Wynkoop
J. F. Jenkins
John C. Merrill
David Hudson
Ducondray Holstein
S. B. Grosvenor
A. H. Osborn
U. E. Lewis
James Rees
John H. Stagg
C. Powell
Peter Staats
John D. Locke
Wm. W. Greene
Joseph C. Northup
Abr'm B. Hall
B. Stainton
Wm. Tippetts
A. Fleming
Septs Evans
J. Smith
S. H. Rose
J. R. Morrison

Of the one hundred and sixteen signers to this memorial, only fifteen are to us known to be now living, viz:

Asa Messer
Peter M. Dox
David S. Hall
Jacob Larzelere
J. M. Soverhill
John M. Page
Wm. E. Sill
Samuel Robinson
Geo. A. Condit
Jno. N. Bogert
Wm. S. DeZeng
David Wilson
B. Stainton
Dr. J. Smith
J. R. Morrison

There may be possibly other survivors of this roll, the original of which we believe contains the largest number of autographs in existence of old residents.

From Geneva Gazette 26 March 1875

A Relic of Fifty Years Ago

Mr. Editor - In the Gazette of March 12th you have given a very interesting column from the heading:  "A Relic of Forty Years Ago."  In looking the article over it gave me a good deal of historic pleasure; most of the names I have heard in my youth, and in fact I could call to mind the appearance of more than half of that one hundred and sixteen men.  But if I cannot produce a relic with so formidable an array of names, I can go you one of ten years older, and one possessing far more local interest to Geneva, I claim, than your forty year document.  It is this:

To the Com'rs of Highways of the Town of Seneca:

Gentlemen:  Having heard that a petition had been presented to you requesting a road to be laid out commencing at the west end of Washington street in Geneva, running west through the farm of Josiah Reed, we beg leave respectfully and firmly to remonstrate against
that measure as unnecessary for public travel or convenience, and expensive in purchasing the land and making the road.  For these and other reasons we deem it improper to lay out such road as a public highway.

Dated Seneca, May 10, 1824

R. Hogarth
Horace Kingsley
J. Rice
John I. Freleigh
W. Grissel
John Sloan Sr.
H. S. White
David Squier
F. Barnard
D. Field Jr.
Thomas Lynds
Wm. Goff
Edward White
Nathan Reed
John Reed
John Scoon
E. Hall
Benj. Tuttle
Solomon Gardner
Josiah Smith
Mitchell M. Combs
John S. Reed
Phineas Stow
A. Lewis
Artemus Stow (Stone)
Ezekiel Roberts
Nathan Reed 2d
Joseph Hammond
Thomas Barron
William Smith
Isaac L. Latts
Thomas Crawford
Shubael Hammond
John How--d

In endeavoring to copy above list it may be that I have got the two names of "Stow" wrong, although the handwriting is good it does not appear to me that I have got them correct.  Also I cannot make out another name part of which I have dashed.  Perhaps the name of "Mitchell M. Combs" is not deciphered correctly.  The paper is backed for filing as follows:  "Petition and Remonstrance for road -- 1824," but the petition does not accompany the document.

From Geneva Gazette 9 February 1849

Constitution of the Ontario Trojan Band

Article 1.  This association shall be called the Ontario Trojan Band and shall continue its existence until
January 1st, 1850.

Article 2.  The object of this Band is to proceed to California by way of Panama, and personally engage in amassing gold by mining operations and for the mutual benefit and protection of its members  --  the number of which shall not exceed thirty persons.
. . . . .etc.

From Geneva Gazette 16 February 1849

The Ontario Trojan Band

The perfect equality which the Constitution of this band gives to all its members is one of its best recommendations.  Every member is bound to toil for the benefit of the whole, and each member is alike amenable to the authority of the whole band.  We invite the careful attention of all who wish to go to California to this project.  It is emphatically an organization of working men.  No stock-jobbing speculation -- no home member drones to feed upon the avails of the laborer -- but all alike to engage with energy, zeal and perseverance in the acquisition of gold for the mutual benefit of the whole.

The members of the band, and those who have signified their intention of joining it -- and such as would like to join it, are requested to meet at my office in Geneva, on Saturday, the 10th inst., at 2 P. M.

From Geneva Gazette 9 March 1849

The Ontario Trojan Band

A number of the members of this Band left Canandaigua last Wednesday on the noon train of cars for Albany
en route for California.  A large concourse of friends were assembled to witness their departure, and as the cars started forward, gave the adventurers three hearty cheers.  The Treasurer of the Band left yesterday, and the Chief of the Band leaves Geneva next Monday, to join his fellow Trojans in New York prior to the sailing of the Crescent City, on Thursday the 15th inst., for Chagres.

The following list shows the names and places of residence of the Ontario Trojan Band for California:

George R. Parburt, Geneva
M. H. Lincoln, Hopewell
Thomas B. Tyler, Gorham
Robert Walker, Canandaigua
Stephen Parrish 2d, Canandaigua
John Swart, Gorham
Seth T. Walker, Canandaigua
Henry Tidman, Canandaigua
James McGowan, Canandaigua
William Rowlatt, Gorham
Marvin D. Mapes, Gorham
Miles B. Clark, Gorham
William E. Tooker, Gorham
James M. Richardson, Gorham
William E. Williamson, Gorham
F. W. Collins, East Bloomfield
Allan Pierce, East Bloomfield
Robert Quick, East Bloomfield
John T. Dickson, East Bloomfield
Lockwood Proper, Potter, Yates Co.
John Wells, Potter, Yates Co.
Henry Pultney, Potter, Yates Co.
James Scott, Italy Hollow
William S. Kemp, Lockport, Niagara Co.
M. S. Thompson, Springport, Cay. Co.
Chas. H. Westfall, Port Jervis, Orange Co.
Levi Westfall, Port Jervis, Orange Co.
Chief of the Band
Vice Chief of the Band
Treas. & Sen. mem of B'd of Conciliation
Associate mem. of B'd of Conciliation
Associate mem. of B'd of Conciliation

There are several applications for membership yet under consideration, and the band may yet be filled up to the number of thirty, which was the number originally intended.  The band is chiefly composed of young farmers, several mechanics and three professional men.

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