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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS,







Chap. Copyright No

Shelf_X_ll^

^^VB

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.



The Lake Country.



AN ASMNAL OF OLDEN DAYS IN
CENTRAL NEW YORK.



The Land of Gold,



BY

JOHN CORBETT.



ROCHESTER, N. Y.

DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE PRINT,



■C7t






COPYRIGHTED,

JOHN CORBETT.
1898.







THE TOPICS.

TITLE. PAGE.

The Lakes 8

The Iroquois ii

The Expedition 13

The Invasion 16

The Engagement 19

The Devastation 21

The Encampments 24

The Barbarities 27

The Retreat 30

The Chronicle ^^

The Traditions ^6

The Commanders 39

The Sachems. 42

The Women 44

The Treaties 47

The Pre-emption '. 50

The Titles 53

The Estates 56

The Counties 58

The Officials 62

The Pioneers 65

The Settlement 68

The Development 71

The Industries 7;^

The Antiquities 76

The Landmarks 79

The Travelers 82

The Militia 85



THE TOPICS.

TITLE. PAGE

The Schools 88

The Institutions 91

The Religion 93

The Folk-lore 96

The Treasure 99

The Salt-springs 102

The Rocks 105

The Streams 108

The Waterways no

The Steamboats 113

The Ferries 116

The Canals 119

The Land-routes 122

The Stage-lines 125

The Railways 128

The Press 130

The Sloops 133

The Fruits 136

THE SKETCHES.

The Ship 144

The Camp 147

The Claim 149

The Gold 151

The Scene 154

The Shore 156

The Race 159



MfiiPOPrA/KRC»




l-CHEMUNG.

II-SENECA.

Ill— CAYUGA.

IV-GENESEE.

V-HONEOYE.

V!— HEMLOCK.

VII— CONESUS.

VIII— KEUKA.

IX-CANANDAIGUA.

X— NEWTOV^N CREEK.

XI-CAYUTA CREEK.

XII— SUSQUEHANNA.

A— SULLIVAN'S BAT.

B— DEARBORN'S RT.

C-BUTLER'S ROUTE.

1— TIOGA CAMP.

2— NEWTOWN RT.

3— KANAWAHOLLA.

4-SHEOQUAGA.

5-PEACH ORCHARD.

6— CONDAWHAW.

7— KENDAIA. 8— KANADASEAGA. 9.— GOTHSEUNQUEAN.

10— KANANDAIGUA. II-HANNEYAYE. 12— KANAGHSAWS.

13— CHENANDANAH. 14-SKOIYASE. 15— CHONODOTE.

16-SWAHYAWANA. 17— COREORGONEL.

ARROWS ON PRE-EMPTION LINE.



THE ANNAL



The Annal of Olden Days is the out-
growth of several years of endeavor as
a newspaper writer in the local field of
the Lake Country, and the research for
the facts presented was pursued with
great care and diligent application. The
work portrays the period of the pioneers
of Central New York, and is designed to
be a correct chronicle of the time. To
one whose eighty years have been passed
amid the scenes depicted, and another
whose life has been about the lakes,
these sketches are inscribed — Otis R.
Corbett and Adelia B. Corbett, the
parents of The Author,



THE LAKE COUNTRY.



AN ANNAL OF OLDEN DAYS IN
CENTRAL NEW YORK.



The Lake Country is a region famed
in song and story, of legendary lore that
vests with poetic charm the placid lakes
and tumbling streams, which render
every part a pleasure ground. This pic-
turesque land was the seat of empire of
the Iroquois, from a time so remote that
even tradition is silent as to the Hghting
of the first council-fire. Their trails
along the shores have been obliterated;
their hunting-grounds of hill and vale
deforested; their remains rest in un-



8 THE LAKE COUNTRY.

known graves by lake and stream. It
embraces the waters of Central New
York from the Onondaga to the Gen-
esee. From the eastward to westward,
in valleys extending north and south, its
lakes range as follows: Otisco, Skan-
eateles, Owasco, Cayuga, Seneca, Keuka,
Canandaigua, Honeoye, Canadice, Hem-
lock and Conesus.

THE LAKES.

The Lakes whose charms of wave and
shore make beautiful the scenery of that
section of New York State, southward
of Ontario's waters, vary in length,
breadth and depth, but occupy beds of
similar trend and configuration, and
doubtless great depressions of the earth,
modified from original conformation by
glacial action. Seneca and Cayuga hold
superiority as to extent, and are also
distinguished as occupying the central
location of the Lake Country. Next in
the order of size is Lake Keuka; then
Canandaigua and Skaneateles, Owasco,
Conesus, Hemlock, Honeoye, Canadice
and Otisco.



THE LAKE COUNTRY. Q

Seneca Lake extends in a rock-riven
valley, farther in the southward hills
than adjoining lakes, and the fame of its
glens and cascades is world-wide. From
its surface, which is 447 feet above tide,
the uplands rise from 500 to 1,000 feet,
but arable to their summits. The lake
is nearly forty miles in length, with an
average breadth of less than two miles.
The greatest width is 17,060 feet, ofif the
outlet of Lake Keuka, and the deepest
point of sounding, 612 feet, is three miles
south of Lodi Landing. But three times
in the memory of the present race of
occupancy of its shores, have its waters
been ice-fettered; they having at all
other seasons billowed free beneath the
wintry airs.

Cayuga Lake is separated from Sen-
eca by a ridge, rising in its highest point
to 1,257 ^^^t above tide, and over the
rock formations about its head, beautiful
waterfalls mark the entrances to pic-
turesque gorges. The length of the lake
is about forty miles, and its elevation
above tide is 387 feet. Its greatest width,
18,000 feet, is ofif Aurora, and its pro-



lO THE LAKE COUNTRY.

foundest depth is 435 feet, at Kidder's
Ferry, not in mid-stream, but near the
west shore. The geological characteris-
tics of the beds of Cayuga and Seneca
are about the same; cliffs of shale and
sandstone rising from head-waters to
fertile slopes above, though the former
has not an open valley to the southward,
which is a feature of the latter.

Keuka Lake, which for a time suf-
fered the loss of its aboriginal appella-
tion in the commonplace designation of
Crooked Lake, is nearly twenty miles in
length, 718 feet above tide, and upwards
of 200 feet deep. The two lakes, Can-
andaigua and Skaneateles, resemble each
other in contour. Their lengths are
about sixteen miles, but w^hile the former
is 668 feet above tide, the elevation of
the latter is 860 feet. Owasco and
Conesus Lakes are each some ten miles
long; Hemlock and Honeoye Lakes are
six miles in length, and Canadice and
Otisco about four miles long. About all
these waters, camp-fires glow in sum-
mertide, on shady points where wigwam-
smoke arose in olden days.



THE LAKE COUNTRY. II

THE IROQUOIS.

The Lake Country of Central New
York perpetuates in the appellations of
its romantic waters, the memories of a
race whose council-fires have died for-
ever from the shores. The Iroquois or
Hodenosaunee, as they styled them-
selves, had domain from the Hudson to
beyond the Genesee. The Mohaw^ks
held the eastern and the Senecas the
western door of the "Long House,"
while to the Onondagas was entrusted
the keeping of the central fire. Tradition
names the Mohawks, the Onondagas
and the Senecas as the elder nations, the
Oneidas having diverged from the Onon-
dagas and the Cayugas from the
Senecas.

A chronicle of 1666, states that the
Iroquois Nation formerly consisted of
nine tribes, which occupied as many vil-
lages, finally collected together in order
to sustain war more easily. The first
tribe was that of the Tortoise, so-called
from the belief that when the Master of
Life made the earth he placed it on the
tortoise. The second tribe was



12 THE LAKE COUNTRY.

that of the Wolf, brother to the
Tortoise, and on the question of war
they dehberated together. The third
tribe was that of the Bear; the fourth
that of the Beaver, brother to the Bear;
the fifth that of the Deer, the sixth that
of the Potato, the seventh that of the
Great Plover, the eighth that of the Lit-
tle Plover, the ninth that of the Eagle.
From this classification arose the totems
of the tribes.

The League of the Iroquois was a con-
federation of Five Nations when first
known to white men. The Onondagas
were called "The Fathers of the Con-
federacy," from the belief that the idea
of union originated with them. The
Mohawks on consultation first assented,
and became "The Eldest Brothers"; the
Cayugas, "The Youngest Brothers";
the Oneidas, "The Heads of the Con-
federacy," and the Senecas, who were
accorded two delegates to one each
for the other tribes because of the greater
number of warriors, were known as
"The Watchmen." In 1722, the Tusca-
roras, driven from the forest glades of



THE LAKE COUNTRY. 1 3

the South, were admitted to the confed-
eration, and thenceforth its annals were
of the Six Nations.

The Senecas constituted by far the
most powerful member of the Confeder-
acy, and occupied not only the country
along the Seneca Lake but westward to
the Genesee and thence to the tributaries
of the Ohio, while the other nations were
mainly located about the waters that
bear their names, the Tuscaroras having
possessions near the Oneidas. An official
report regarding the Indian tribes, made
near the close of 1763, estimated the
strength of the Senecas at 1,050 men,
while all the remaining warriors of the
confederation were enumerated at 900,
apportioned among the several nations
as follows: The Oneidas, 250; the Cay-
ugas, 200; the Mohawks, 160; the Onon-
dagas, 150; the Tuscaroras, 140.

THE EXPEDITION.

The Six Nations at the time of the
Revolution were greatly advanced from
the state of savagery, characteristic of
the tribes of aborigines holding sway to



14 THE LAKE COUNTRY.

the westward. Their territory had been
left intact by the French and Enghsh
during the wars ensuing in the struggle
for supremacy on this continent, and
throughout its extent were many flour-
ishing villages in which log-cabins had
taken the place of primitive wig^vams,
and where thrived upon the surrounding
intervales, plantations of corn and beans
and orchards of peach and apple trees.

The Great Council of the Iroquois had
assured the Colonial authorities that
neutrality would be observed in the con-
test then impending, but English influ-
ence becoming paramount in tribal
afrairs when the war began, rendered
this pledge of no avail. The Confedera-
tion, however, mindful of preserving its
national renown, prohibited the enemies
of American Independence from estab-
lishing permanent fortifications within
its borders, but extended aid to them by
raising army food-supplies and inciting
warrior bands to depredations on war-
path or in ambuscade. The Indians thus
allied v/ith the British numbered some
1,200, of which a third at least were of
the Seneca Natioix



THE LAKE COUNTRY. 1 5

The Colonies as late as March, 1778,
endeavored to secure the good will of
the Iroquois, but at the council called
for the purpose the Cayugas were hardly
represented and the Senecas not at all.
Before the year was over, occurred the
massacres of Wyoming and Cherry Val-
ley, and the fact became impressed upon
Congress that the savage foe must be
subdued. In February, 1779, General
Washington was authorized to take
effective measures to that end, and in
accordance with this determination a
Military Expedition was planned against
the Six Nations. The complete devasta-
tion of their land was contemplated, and
the command of the avenging forces was
entrusted to Major General John Sul-
livan.

The campaign was regarded by . the
Commander-in-Chief as of the greatest
importance in the contest for freedom,
and in his instructions concerning it he
insisted upon two points to be observed,
as follows: "The one is the necessity of
pushing the Indians to the greatest prac-
ticable distance from their own settle-



l6 THE LAKE COUNTRY.

ments and our frontiers ; to the throwing
them wholly on the British enemy. The
other is the making the destruction of
their settlements so final and complete
as to put it out of their power to derive
the smallest succor from them in case
they should attempt to return this sea-
son."

THE INVASION.

The Invasion of the country of the Six
Nations by General Sullivan occurred in
the autumn of 1779. The main army
reached Tioga, as the point at the junc-
tion of the Chemung and the Susque-
hanna was called, on August nth, and
there established Fort Sullivan as a base
of operations. The troops had marched
from Easton on the Delaware to Wyom-
ing on the Susquehanna, and thence up
the river to the place of vantage, where
they were joined on x\ugust 22nd, by the
brigade in command of General James
Clinton, which came down the Susque-
hanna from Otsego Lake.

The line of march into a wilderness
swarming with savage warriors who



THE LAKE COUNTRY. \J

alone knew its trails, was formed on
August 26th. The Iroquois were met
and routed at the Battle of Newtown on
the 29th. The dreaded defiles of Cath-
arine Creek were passed without moles-
tation from the enemy, and September
1st found the army at Catharine's Town.
Six days were required to reach and
destroy the villages, the orchards and the
cornfields along the eastern slope of Sen-
eca Lake. From Kanadaseaga, which
was entered the 7th, the route extended
by the waters of Canandaigua, Honeoye,
Hemlock and Conesus Lakes to the
Genesee River. This was crossed on
September 14th, and the army rested at
the westward limit of its course.

The return march was begun on Sep-
tember 15th, and by the 19th the army
had retraced the trail to Kanadaseaga.
On the 20th, a detachment of 600 men
under Colonel William Butler was sent
to destroy the towns on the east side of
Cayuga Lake, and Colonel Peter Ganse-
voort and 100 men were detached to
Albany. The next day, a detachment of
200 men led by Colonel Henry Dear-



I» THE LAKE COUNTRY.

born, left to devastate the west side of
the Cayuga. The main army then re-
turned over its out-going course, to the
Chemung, arriving the 24th, where it
awaited the detachments of Colonels
Dearborn and Butler. The former joined
on the 26th and the latter on the 28th,
and September 30th the army again en-
camped at Tioga.

The country of the Cayugas like that
of the Senecas was found to be deserted.
Colonel Dearborn in his march up the
west side of Cayuga Lake entered the
village of Coreorgonel near its head, on
September 24th. This was burned, and
turning westward he trailed over the
hills to Catharine's Town, arriving two
days after General Sullivan's troops had
passed through on their return south-
ward. Colonel Butler in his course up
the east side of the Cayuga, reached
Coreorgonel on the 25th, the day after
its destruction by Colonel Dearborn. He
then proceeded southwesterly to the
track of the main army, one man dying
on the route.



THE LAKE COUNTRY. I9

THE ENGAGEMENT.

The Military force under command of
General Sullivan has been variously esti-
mated as to numbers, and was probably
not far from 3,500 men. The First
Brigade, led by General William Max-
well, was composed of New Jersey
troops; the Second Brigade, General
Enoch Poor, of New Hampshire and
Massachusetts troops; the Third Brig-
ade, General Edward Hand, of Pennsyl-
vania troops, and the Fourth Brigade,
General James Clinton, of New York
troops. An artillery regiment was in
command of Colonel Thomas Proctor,
and an artillery detachment was led by
Captain Isaiah Wool.

The Battle of Newtown was the only
general engagement of the campaign. It
was fought on Sunday, August 29th,
on the left bank of the Chemung six miles
below the site of Elmira, at a place well-
chosen for defense or ambuscade, and
now overlooked by a monument erected
in 1879 in commemoration of the event.
Intrenched behind breastworks artfully
concealed in the pine and shrub-oak



20 THE LAKE COUNTRY.

thicket, about 1,200 Indians, English and
Tories awaited the approach of General
Sullivan's battalions. The Iroquois,
numbering some 1,000 warriors, were
under the leadership of Joseph Brant or
Thayendanegea, the War Chief of the
Six Nations, and the whites were com-
manded by Colonel John Butler, noto-
rious as the leader at Wyoming.

The Sabbath stillness which had pre-
vailed for centuries over the hills about
the valley of the Chemung, was then
broken for the first time by the reverber-
ations of cannon. It was the roar of
artillery from the forces at their front
and a detachment which had gained a
position in their rear, that struck terror
to the hearts of the Iroquois, and they
precipitately fled, leaving eleven warriors
and one female dead on the ground.
Four of the whites were killed, and car-
ried from the field. Two prisoners, a
Tory and a Negro, fell into the hands
of General Sullivan. In the official report
of the action, he placed his loss at three
killed and thirty-nine wounded. Five of
the injured men died at Tioga soon after
the battle.



THE LAKE COUNTRY. 21

The Expedition sustained loss of life
at ambuscades previous and subsequent
to the Battle of Newtown. The first
occurred near the scene of that conflict,
on August 13th, when troops that had
left Tioga to burn the village of Che-
mung in order that it might not become
a rendezvous of the enemy, were way-
laid by the savage foe. Six men were
killed and nine wounded, and later while
destroying corn, one man was shot and
five wounded by the Indians. The sec-
ond ambuscade took place near the head
of Conesus Lake, on September 13th.
Of a scouting party, fifteen men were
slain, eight escaped, and its leader, Lieu-
tenant Thomas Boyd, and his sergeant,
Michael Parker, were taken captive and
put to death by torture.

THE DEVASTATION.

The Devastation of the land of the
Senecas followed immediately upon tlie
Battle of Newtown. The murk of that
encounter yet rested over the valley,
when the ominous cloud was augmented
by the smoke of burning villages. The



22 THE LAKE COUNTRY.

vanquished warriors nowhere made re-
sistance, though up Seneca Lake came
a force to support the routed horde, and
one by one the Indian towns were deso-
lated. There was much of the pageantry
of war in the advance of General Sulli-
van's column of horse and foot. The
guns numbered four three-pounders and
a light brass piece called a cohorn, and
morning and evening their roar warned
the defeated Iroquois that flight alone
was possible.

The mellowing haze of September
brooded over the forest-covered slopes
of Seneca and her sister lakes, as the
flames of abandoned habitations marked
the spots where destruction was rife in
fields of corn, and orchards with their
wealth of fruit were falling before the
ranger's axe. On the plains of the Che-
mung, upon the intervales skirting the
waters of the lakes, and in the valley of
the Genesee flourished many a broad
expanse of maize, but ripening only for
the wanton hand of the despoiler. Gen-
eral Sullivan, in his report of the expedi-
tion, estimated that at a moderate com-



THE LAKE COUNTRY. 23

putation 160,000 bushels of corn were
destroyed with a vast quantity of veg-
etables of every kind, while the fruit
trees felled to the ground numbered
among the thousands.

The Indian towns doomed to destruc-
tion during the campaign were located
on or near the sites of the present cen-
ters of population of the Lake Country.
Before its waters were sighted and ere
August had yet closed, the preliminary
work of devastation had been accom-
pHshed along the Susquehanna and Che-
mung. Seven villages had been burned
by General Clinton and three by the
main army, before the meeting of forces
at Tioga. Nine towns were destroyed
about the Chemung; Newtown, Middle-
town, Kanawaholla of twenty houses on
the site of Elmira, and Runonvea, near
Big Flats, ending in flames on August
31st.

The despoliation of Catharine's Town
with its wealth of corn and fruit, oc-
curred soon after the arrival of the
troops on September ist; that of Peach
Orchard, so-named for its fruits, the



24 THE LAKE COUNTRY.

3rd; Condawhaw, now North Hector,
the 4th; Kendaia or Appletown, the 5th;
Butler's Buildings and Kanadaseaga,
near the foot of Seneca Lake, the 7th;
Gothseunquean, west side of Seneca, and
Skoi-yase, now Waterloo, the 8th; Kan-
andaigua, foot of Canandaigua Lake, the
loth; Hanneyaye, near Honeoye, the
nth; Kanaghsaws and Gathtsegwaro-
hare, the 13th; Chenandanah or Genesee
Castle, September 15th. Five towns were
destroyed along the east side and as
many on the west side of Cayuga Lake,
before the burning of Coreorgonel on
September 24th. This village of twenty-
five houses was located three miles up
Cayuga Inlet, and with it died the
council-fires of the once powerful
Catawba Nation.

THE ENCAMPMENTS.

The Encampments of the army after
each day's destruction were usually on
the sites of Indian villages, where the
habitations furnished fire-wood, and the
productions of fields of corn supple-
mented the short allowance of rations



THE LAKE COUNTRY. 25

to which the troops had consented after
the Battle of Newtown. The cohimn
tarried for a day after that contest, and
also at each of the places of Catharine's
Town, Kanadaseaga and Genesee Cas-
tle. These three towns were the most
important of the Seneca Nation — the
first from its location near the head of
Seneca Lake; the second for its Council
House, and the third as the western
door of the figurative Long House of
the Iroquois.

The village of Catharine's Town ex-
tended along the banks of Catharine
Creek, a short distance to the southward
of the site of Havana. Its Indian name
was Sheoquaga, and among its thirty
houses was included the dwelling of
Queen Catharine Montour. Kanada-
seaga was located upwards of a mile
westward of the site of Geneva, in prox-
imity to a stream, and consisted of some
fifty houses. It was also called Seneca
Castle, and was the place of residence of
the Chief Sachem of the Seneca Nation.
The great village of the Senecas, Gene-
see Castle or Chenandanah, was a town



20 THE LAKE COUNTRY.

of about one hundred and thirty habi-
tations, beautifully situated on the west
shore of the Genesee River.

Three garrisons were establislied dur-
ing the expedition, and at their loca-
tions encampments were made. The
first garrison, at Fort Sullivan, con-
sisted of 250 men in command of Col-
onel Israel Shreve. The artillery in-
cluded two six-pounders and four more
pieces after the Battle of Newtown, and
was in charge of Captain Wool. At
Hanneyaye, near the foot of Honeoye
Lake, a block-house was garrisoned
September nth, and left in charge of
Captain John Cumming till its evacua-
tion on the 17th. Fort Reed was located
where Newtown Creek joins Chemung
River, on September 15th. It was a
palisaded work in command of Captain
John Reed, with 100 men and a three-
pounder. There the army rested on its
return, from September 24th to the 29th,
and a feu-de-joie was an event of the
25th.

The longest encampment, from Au-
gust nth to the 26th, was at Tioga or



THE LAKE COUNT RV. 27

'The Gate," a place considered as of
great importance by the Iroquois, and
the location of an Indian village until
its destruction by Colonel Hartley in
1778. From this strategical point ex-
tends the valleys of the Chemung and
Susquehanna, and their diverging
branches led into the heart of the
country of the Six Nations. Fort Sul-
livan was constructed where the two
rivers approach near each other, at about
the center of the site of Athens, and in-
cluded in the fortifications were four
block-houses and a stockade. They
were demolished on October 3rd, and
the troops followed the Susquehanna
southward.

THE BARBARITIES.

The Barbarities of warfare in the wil-
derness were committed alike by troops
and Indians. The dead warriors of the
Battle of Newtown were scalped when
found, and the legs of two of the bodies
were skinned, to be tanned and used as
leggins by two officers during the cam-
paign. The soldiers slain were buried



28 THE LAKE COUNTRY.

on the field of action, and fires built
above to conceal their resting places
from prowling savages, but Indian
graves were rifled by members of the
army at Tioga, Kendaia and Genesee
Castle, though contrary to orders. Lieu-
tenant Boyd suffered the most cruel tor-
ture at his death, but his party had shot
and scalped an Indian just before his
capture.

An aged squaw was found at Catha-
rine's Town, and treated by General Sul-
livan with much consideration, but she
was not the sole habitant of its aban-
doned houses. A younger squaw was
hidden in the corn, who pretended to be
lame when discovered, but soon after
disappeared. On the army's return, the
old squaw was still in the cabin erected
for her by the troops, with a quart of
corn at her side, while the dead body of
the young-er squaw lay a short distance
away, pierced by a bullet evidently from
a ranger's rifle. The old squaw preferred
remaining with a supply of provisions,


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