John F.] [Hart.

The industries of the city of Rochester. A résumé of her past history and progress .. online

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City of Rochester




\/) AND A





Condensed History of the Chamber of Commerce.








THE preparation of The Industries of Rochester has been attended
with many unforeseen difficulties not necessary to specify, and conse-
quently the appearance of the work was somewhat delayed — a fact
that causes vis much regret, as we confidently expected to place it in the
hands of subscribers at least a month earlier. We have, however, done
the best that was possible under the attending circumstances, and should
any disappointment have been experienced by those who have so gener-
ously co-operated with the publishers in their effort to produce a volume
that in its scope and style would be a credit to the beautiful and progres-
sive city of which it treats, we hope that the explanation above offered
will suffice to clear us of any suspicion of intentional tardiness. None save
those who have had experience in the elaboration of similar publications
can have any conception of the obstacles to be overcome, the prejudices to
be dissipated, and the minute attention that must be devoted to details, in
order that the result may give — not universal satisfaction, for that is im-
possible — but the least possible margin for unfriendly criticism.

In this superbly printed and handsomely illustrated book we present
the fruits of many months' hard work in procuring, shaping and polishing
such data as seemed to us most valuable and putting the same in attractive
form for the perusal of the thousands of people all over this country and
Europe to whom the work will be sent as an invitation to participate in
the present unrivaled advantages and future magnificent development and
prosperity of Rochester. That our effort may result in much advantage,
directly and indirectly, to the city and its business interests, we do' not
permit ourselves for a moment to doubt.

We cannot conclude this brief preamble without embracing the oppor-
tunity of returning thanks to the many prominent citizens who have aided
and encouraged us. Especially are we under obligations to Messrs. H. H.
Warner, president; Wm. S. Kimball, Frank S. Upton, and Henry Michaels,
vice-presidents ; H. B. Hathaway, treasurer ; J. Y. McClintock, secretary
and the officers of the Chamber of Commerce generally ; Sibley, Lindsay
& Curr, the Paine Drug Company, Michaels, Stern & Co., Hamilton &
Matthews, Smith, Perkins & Co., A. J. Johnson & Co., Hiram Sibley, and
other conspicuous firms and individuals representing the business interests
of the city.

u s CT H° p o ic YcarM u . raccYnr^mr^ei.w^. m » n i - 1 i




The Past 7

The Present 21

Municipal 27

The Board op Education 29

Higher Education 31

The University of Bochester 31

Chamber op Commerce 33

Members of the Chamber of Commerce 44

Rochester's Water Supply 51

The Genesee and its Bridges 53

Fine Buildings 55

Warner Astronomical Observatory 62

New Post Office and Government Building 63

Manufactures , 65

Transportation 71

The Nurseries 73

Banks and Banking 75

The Press 77

Representative Houses - 81

Index to Representative Houses 271

Index to Advertisements 276




Hiram Sibley Frontispiece

Col. Nathaniel Rochester 9

H. H. Warner 34

W. S. Kimball 36

Frank S. Upton 37

Henry Michaels 38

J. Y. McClintock 39

T. B. Griffith 40

Thomas Bolton 116

A. W. MuDGE 120

James Vick 133

A. V. Smith 187

D. L. Simmons 189

J. Austin Shaw 212



The New Government Building . . 4

The City Hall 6

University of Rochester 12

Upper Falls of the Genesee 22

Erie Aqueduct over the Genesee 25

Lower Falls of the Genesee 26

State Street looking North from

the Four Corners 30

Another View of the Upper Falls

OF the Genesee 32

Rochester Chamber op Commerce

Building 33

Views at Charlotte Beach 50

The Leading Hostelries 54


The New Wilder Building 58

Warner Observatory 61

Vacuum Oil Works 67

Some Private Residences 74

D. W. Powers Building 80

H. H. Warner Co.'s Building 84

The Hiram Sibley Fire Proof

Warehouses, Chicago 88

Crosman Bros. Seed House 110

German Insurance Co.'s Building 112

Woodbury's Building 118

Vick Seed House 132

Bausch & Lomb Optical Company's

Building 140




NO more romantic or attractive region has ever been found east of the
Mississippi than that of the Genesee valley when first visited by
the white man. Its very name in the Seneca Indian tongue, " Gen-
nishe-yo" — the beautiful valley^indicates that even the savage aborigine
had a realizing sense of the grandeur of the scenery, the affluence of the
soil and the availability and loveliness of the region. But there was one
serious drawback; the country adjacent to the lower river and Lake Ontario
was at that. time a maze of almost impenetrable, miasma-breeding swamps,
and it seemed a veritable tepapting of Providence on the part of either
white man or Indian who should make it his home. It was not, therefore,
until 1788 that any determined effort was made to plant a settlement at
the falls of the Genesee, a treaty for cession of the lands lying east of the
river having been effected with the Senecas July 8th of that year, Oliver
Phelps acting as agent of the speculators. The Indians were jealous of
white encroachment west of the Genesee, and it was only on his solemn
agreement to erect at the falls a mill for the convenience of both races that
Phelps obtained their consent to sell for a nominal consideration a tract of
land " for a mill-yard," which the surveyor. Maxwell, made sure should be
sufficiently large for the purpose, making the river the east line, starting
the south line near the present village of Avon, running west twelve miles,
thence due north to the lake, thus taking in a goodly portion of the present
county of Monroe. Soon afterward one hundred acres of the land so ob-
tained was made a free gift to one Ebenezer (" Indian ") Allan, who is de-
scribed as a combination of backwoodsman, savage and Turk, on condition
that he should construct thereon a mill. Allan put up a primitive saw-mill
in the summer of 1789, and prepared the timbers for a small grist-mill, the
latter being erected during the ensuing winter. It was a shabby affair,


twenty-six by thirty feet, built of heavy logs, provided with a single run of
rude stones quarried and prepared on the spot, and of sixty bushels per day
capacity, though the management was so poor that it seldom exceeded ten.
At times of low water in summer, so badly placed was it that no power
could be obtained, and in the rainy season the supply so greatly exceeded
the demand that no effort was made to utilize it at all. Nevertheless, poor


(Used by permission of the editor of the Municipal Manual.)

and inefficient and badly conducted as it was, the Allan mill was the only
one on the Genesee and the sole reliance of settlers and Indians in all that
I'egion, many coming for distances of twenty miles or more, with ox sleds
or on horseback, in a country destitute of roads, and over the hills to avoid
the marshes, that their families might have bread. Yet this unreliable
pioneer grist-mill, with its neighbor. and predecessor the still ruder and less
valuable saw-mill, formed the germ of what afterward became for a long


period the most extensive milling plant on this continent — the far-famed
Genesee mills, whose celebrity conferred upon their site the soubriquet of
the Flour City, since changed to the Flower City because the great wheat-
growing and milling centers have removed further west and the nursery
interest has developed in this vicinity to proportions unknown elsewhere
in America. "Allan's saw-mill" was in ruins as early as 1798, and the grain
mill soon followed. Allan himself, the first white resident and first miller
of Rochester, died among the Indians in 1814, leaving behind him an un-
savory reputation, two white and one red women who claimed to be his
widows. A Colonel Fish succeeded Allan in the milling business, but,
after expending considerable money and labor to no purpose, retired, build-
ing a cabin on the site of Rochester in 1797, in which year Louis Phillippe
of France and his brothers visited the Genesee falls.

The first crop raised on the site of
'^ the present city of Rochester was by

Jeremiah Olmstead, in 179 8-99. He
removed to the ridge the next season,
and later to Hanford's landing, where
he died in 1816. The first American
vessel on the Genesee was built by Eli
Granger in 1798. What was then known
as the " hundred-acre tract " of Sir
William Pulteney, now included in the
city of Rochester, was purchased in
1802, for $17.50 per acre, by Colonel
Nathaniel Rochester, Colonel William
Fitzhugh and Major Charles Carroll.
The first recorded flood in the Genesee
occurred in 1805. In 1807 Charles
Hanford, who came from England,
erected a block-house on land that now
fronts Mill street, and the same year a
bear was killed on the present site of
the court-house. A saw-mill was built
by Enos Stone on the east bank of the river, and in 1809 a law authorizing
a bridge over the falls was enacted by the Legislature.

In 1810 Enos Stone erected the first frame house east of the river, and
May 4th the first white native of the place — James S. Stone — was born
therein. Up to and for a while subsequent to this time the settlement was
indifferently known as Genesee Falls and Falls Town. This year Colonel
Rochester, by and with the advice and consent of his associates, platted
their hundred acres and placed the lots on the market. The Colonel was a
resident of Dansville, where in 1810 he erected and managed the first paper
mill in Western New York. He was in all respects a remarkable man, per-
fectly suited by birth, training and experience for the role he was to play as the
founder of a beautiful and flourishing city. For the following synopsis of
his life and services, and for much other valuable data, we are indebted to
the " Semi-Centennial Souvenir and Chronological History of Rochester,"
published on the celebration of the city's jubilee, June 9, 1884, an account
of which we give further along :

" Col. Nathaniel Rochester was born in Westmoreland county, Virginia,



on the 21st day of February, 175-2. At the age of twenty we find him en-
gaged in mercantile pursuits, but on the commencement of the struggle
between the Colonies and Great Britain he became prominently engaged
in the struggle, both in military and legislative offices. After the war he
again embarked in mercantile and manufacturing pursuits, at Hagerstown,
Maryland. In 1788 he married Sophia, daughter of Wm. Beatty, Esq., of

" Col. Rochester's connection with this section dates as early as 1802,
in which year he visited the Genesee, where he appears to have become
the purchaser of six hundred acres of land, which was made with the
intention of removing to it with his family. In 1804 he again visited the
Genesee, when the " Hundred-acre Lot," now included in our city, was
obtained, at $17.50 per acre. In 1810 Col. Rochester first became
a resident of Western New York, at Dansville, where he lived five years,
and erected a large paper mill and various other manufacturing establish-
ments. In 1815 he removed to a farm in Bloomfield. After remaining
there three years, in 1818 he took up his residence in this city, which, in the
interim, had received his name. In January, 1817, Col. Rochester officiated
as secretary of the convention at Canandaigua which urged the consti'uc-
tion of the Erie canal. During the succeeding years of his active life he
was prominently identified with the growth and improvement of our city,
and held many offices of public trust, serving twice as presidential elector,
the first as clerk of the county of Monroe, member of the Assembly, etc.

" In the spring of 1824 a law passed, granting a charter for the 'Bank
of Rochester,' when Col. Rochester was appointed one of the commissioners
for taking subscriptions and apportioning the capital stock. In June of the
same year he was unanimously elected president of that correct and vigor-
ous institution. The office (with that also of director) was resigned in
December following, it having been originally taken only at the urgent
solicitation of a number of his fellow citizens, and with the avowal that, as
soon as the bank was successfully in operation, he must be permitted to
resign. When this resolution was carried into effect the Colonel was only
two months from completing his seventy-fourth year.

" The relations of Col. Rochester to this city, after the period of his
retirement from the bank, were those rather of personal influence than per-
sonal activity. The age and bodily infirmity, however, M'hich restrained
the latter, gave weight to the former. His opinions came with the exper-
ience of three-score and ten. His example Avas enforced by the tried mo-
rality of a long life, and the higher sanction of religious conduct and hope.
His disinterested use of the property he had acquired afforded every facility for
a thrifty and prosperous population. From the commencement he sold the
lots on terms the most liberal, and encouraged, by his personal benefac-
tions, every plan of general utility. He died May 17, 1831, after an illness
of several weeks."

In 1810 Isaac W. Stone erected, on the east side of the river, the first
tavern in this vicinity, near the present intersection of South St. Paul and
Ely streets. The next year Benjamin, son of Geoi'ge H. Evans, first saw
the light in his father's cabin, near where St. Mary's hospital now stands,
and was probably the first white child born in Rochester, west of the river.
In 1812 Hamlet Scrantom built a house (log) where the magnificent Powers
block is now located. This year was marked by the first celebration of


American independence, by the appointment of a postmaster (Abelard Rey-
nolds, who held the office for seventeen years), by the construction of the
first bridge, the establishment of the first tailor-shop, the first blacksmith
shop, and a weekly mail to Canandaigua. The outbreak of the second war
with Great Britain was a serious blow to the struggling settlement, which
was twice threatened with devastation by Commodore Yeo, commanding a
squadron of armed vessels on Lake Ontario. On the first occasion, in 1813,
he was ordered elsewhere by Admiral Cliauncey; returning in 1814, Colonel
Isaac W. Stone, Captains F. Brown and E. Ely, with thirty-two citizens
and an eighteen-pounder, met him at the mouth of the river, and presented
so bold a front and exercised such admirable strategy that the enemy with-
drew after an exchange of shots resulting in no loss to the defenders. It
was in 1813 that J. K. Ballentine, a Pennsylvania immigrant, provided
with oxen and plough, first broke up and cultivated properly the ground
now covered by the Powers block. The same year witnessed the arrival
of the first physician. Dr. Jonah Brown; the opening of the first school by
Miss Huldah Strong, the first public religious services (held over Jehiel
Barnard's tailor-shop), the erection of E. D. Smith's City mills, and the
last celebration in this vicinity of the Seneca "sacrifice of the white dog,"
a heathen rite whereof no living man comprehends the significance. The
first school-house, a small one-story frame building, 15x24 feet, was com-
pleted in May, 1814. It was for many years known as "the old red school-
house," and stood on the present site of Public School No. 1. "The old
red mill " was built by Josiah Bissell and the Ely brothers, Harvey and
Elisha, in 1815, and the first wedding — that of Jehiel Barnard to Delia
Scrantom — occurred October 8th of the same year. During 1815 Postmaster
Abelard Reynolds opened the first west side tavern, the first church society
(Presbyterian) was organized, the first bookstore established, the first stone
dwelling was erected, the first watchmaker located, and the old stage line
to Canandaig^ia was established. The first census, taken this year, shows
a population of 331. With 1816, the war having ended in triumph for the
American arms, the whole country received a fresh impetus; immigration
commenced in earnest; activity and prosperity became general, and the
village on the Genesee first really began to grow. This year were com-
pleted a cotton mill of 1,400 spindles, and the improvement known as
Brown's race; the Weekly Gazette, the first newspaper, was founded; the
first steamboat — the Ontario — began regular trips to the port; the first
stage line to Lewiston was established, and the first bakery was opened by
Jacob Howe. The place was incorporated as Rochesterville in 1817, and
the same year the first Presbyterian Church was erected, St. Paul's Epis-
copal corporation founded, the Hicksite Friends' society, the first lodge of
Freemasons and the first fire company organized; William Atkinson built
the first mill on the east side and Johnson's mill-race was constructed. The
events of the next year — 1818 — include the establishment of the Rochester
Telegraph, the arrival of Colonel Rochester and family, who came to stay;
the founding of the First Baptist church, the establishing of a police force,
the erection of a toll bridge over the upper falls, the formation of a rifle
company, the inclosure of a cemetery, the organization of a Sunday-school,
and the taking of the second census— population 1,049. Surveys were made
through Rochester for the Erie canal in 1819; the same year Cleveland's
mill was built, and, on December 5, Abelard Reynolds' house burned —
Rochester's first fire.





In 1820 th-e Carthage bridge — a single span of 718 feet — fell, and was
subsequently replaced by a suspension bridge. This year the first terra of
the United States District Court was held at Rochesterville; St. Patrick's
and the First Methodist Episcopal churches were founded, and the United
States census credited the town with a population of 1,502.

The county of Monroe, carved from Ontario and Genesee, was organ-
ized in 1821, and Rochesterville made the capital. Button's canal aque-
duct was constructed the same year, at a cost of |83,000; Rochester and
Montgomery's mill, of three run of stones, and the first brick house in
Rochesterville were constructed in 1821. The Monroe County Medical
Society and the Monroe County Bible Society — the latter the mother of the
American Bible Society — were organized the same year. The first jail and
court-house were erected in 1822, as was the first Friends' meeting-house,
and the name of the place was shortened to Rochester. Shipments by canal
were inaugurated that year. In 1823 St. Patrick's church was built; the
first meeting to suggest the name of John Quincy Adams for the presi-
dency was held at the Mansion House, and $1,500 was collected in town
and county in aid of the Greek war for independence. St. Luke's Epis-
copal and the First Presbyterian churches were completed in 1824, and the
Bank of Rochester incorporated. The great event of the year, however,
was the opening throughout its entire length of the Erie canal. In
preparation for the turning in of the water at Tonawanda cannon had
been planted at intervals along the canal and the Hudson river, and
were fired in succession, by which means the announcement was made
in New York within an hour and a half after th*e gates were opened.
In the following November Governor Clinton, the father of the enter-
prise, passed through Rochester on a tour of inspection, and was tend-
ered a grand reception. Lafayette was the next illustrious visitor to
receive an ovation, coming by canal from the West in 1825. The
first museum building was erected, and the first dramatic performance
given at the " Circus " building. Exchange street, in the last-named year.
The question of a city charter was first agitated, and the Second Presby-
terian church organized. Population 5,2 73. The following year was a
memorable one for the excitement occasioned by Morgan's betrayal of the
Freemasons, his incarceration in and abduction from the Canandaigua jail,
the arrest and conviction of the abductors, and the organization and tem-
porary supremacy of the Anti-Masonic party. The Rochester Advertiser,
the pioneer daily, made its appearance this year; the first directory was
published; the Franklin Institute was established; a permanent theater
was opened, and Shelmire's mill erected. The Third Presbyterian Society
and St. Paul's Church corporation were founded, theCraftsman established,
Peck's paper mill burned, and Beach, Kempshall and Kennedy's large mill
erected in 1827. The first grain elevator ever known was constructed in
1828, by Warham Whitney, for a Brown street warehouse — a strap and
bucket device, considered a wonder in its time. The same year Reynolds'
Arcade was built, the Rochester Balance was issued; the Old Brick church
was erected, and the Orthodox Quakers organized. Valuation of personal
and real property for assessment, #1,767,315. The events of 1829 include
the surrender of charters and abandonment, by the Freemasons of Roches-
ter and vicinity, of the order, Avhich had become obnoxious because of the
Morgan affair; the celebrated and fatal leap of Sam Patch over the Gene-


see falls; the founding of the Law Library; the incorporation of the Bank
of Monroe; the building of Grace church and the Eagle tavefn, and the '
organization of the Rochester Atliena?um.

Joe Smith "discovered" the " golden plates" upon which was engraved
the Book of Mormon in the woods near Palmyra, their place of conceal-
ment having been revealed to him in a dreara — so he claimed; but when
he applied to Thurlow Weed, of the Rochester Telegraph, for the purpose
of having it printed in cold type on white paper, in 1830, he was shown
tlie door. L^nhappily, Mr. Weed could not at the same time squelch the
delusion, which, at a later date, found many believers in this region. St.
Paul's church was finished this year; St. Patrick's rebuilt; the subject of
high schools was agitated, and Wm. A, Reynolds started the pioneer seed
house. Colonel Rochester, the founder, died May 31, 1831, The Roches-
ter Canal and Railroad Company was incorporated this year; the Common
Pleas Court organized; the Rochester Savings Bank incorporated;- the
Monroe County Horticultural Society organized; the Reformed Presbyte-
rian Society formed, and the first cargo of Ohio wheat received via lake
and canal. The Rochester & Tonawanda Railroad Company was char-
tered in 1832; the Rochester Seminary and First Presbyterian Free Church
organized, and 118 persons died of cholera. It is related in this connection
that of these Ashbel W. Riley, a member of the health board, cared for
and coffined without assistance, 80. Mr. R. has always since been looked
upon as a true hero of the loftiest type. Fifty-four more victims of chol-
era are recorded for 1833. The Rochester & Carthage railroad (horse-
power) was finished the same year.

The city of Rochester was incorporated in 1834. June 2d a City Coun-
cil and Board of Supervisors were elected, and on the 9th of the same
month Jonathan Child was elected by council as the first Mayor, his in-
auguration taking place the next day. Mr. Child, born in Vermont, of
Puritan and Revolutionary stock, in 1785, was himself a Major in the war
of 1812. He was twice elected to the Legislature from Ontario county —
1816-17; married Colonel Rochester's daughter in 1818; came to Roches-
ter in 1820; engaged in mercantile pursuits, became a prominent contractor,

Online LibraryJohn F.] [HartThe industries of the city of Rochester. A résumé of her past history and progress .. → online text (page 1 of 37)