Livingston County Historical Society (N.Y.).

Annual meeting of the Livingston County Historical Society, Volumes 1-15 online

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Online LibraryLivingston County Historical Society (N.Y.)Annual meeting of the Livingston County Historical Society, Volumes 1-15 → online text (page 62 of 64)
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sisting of a row of wooden stores, was laid in ashes. Upon those
ruins there have been erected large brick blocks, two and three stones
in height. The master workman, who directed the craft of laborers
while at work, was a man of more than ordinary intelligence. He
was a man of middle age, and, unfortunately, had not had the ad-
vantages that the youth of to day are enjoying in our common
schools. But being a man of keen perceptive faculties, of extensive
and broad observation, he had read and studied largely of the Book
of Nature. To him a ledge of rocks was an open book ; there he
could read of periods, of epochs, time and eras. The massive boul-
der by the wayside was simply another volume. A blow with his
stone hammer was the examination of its title page, and he could

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readily tell you whether it belonged to the Silurian, Devonian,
Carboniferous, Reptilian or Mammalian Age. A close observer, a
practical reasoner, the deep gorges at Niagara falls disclose to him
the Niagara period belonging to the upper Silurian era ; southward
through the valley of the Genesee he traces the Devonian age, or
age of fishes, and correctly classifies each p^iod, the Comiferous,
Hamilton and Chemung ; further to the south, he strikes into the
Carboniferous age and the coal measures of Pennsylvania. To this
man the salt formation lying underneath us was no guess-work ; it
was to him a certainty. And it was while he was engaged in the
erection of these brick blocks in Livonia he gathered about him a
company of local capitalists, residing in Livonia, who signed articles
and organized the first salt company of Western New York. For
some reason or other this company ifailed to materialize, but its pro-
jector, still undaunted, finally succeeded, some years later, in organ-
izing a company near his home, and had the satisfaction of knowing
that this corapanv **struck salt" And to this man belongs entirely
the credit of being the father and the founder of the salt industry of
Western New York. I refer to Carroll Cocher, of Greigsville.

The first operative salt company organized in the town of Livonia
was organized June 17th, 1884. It was organized at Lakeville, in
the town ot Livonia, as the Conesus Lake Salt & Mining Company,
Limited. At the meeting for organization T. F. De Graw, of Con-
esus, was made temporary chairman, and C. A. Patchin temporary
secretary. The late Joel Stone was unanimously elected president,
the late John M. Gray first vice president, and Frank Armstrong
second vice-president, F. M. Acker, secretary, and Andrew Kuder
treasurer. The company was organized with $30,000 capital. Be-
fore the company had completed its working plant, Joel Stone, its
leading spirit, was taken suddenly ill and died in a few days after-
ward. The presidency then fell upon Frank E. Stone, the youngest
son of Joel Stone. In July, 1887, the company's block was
destroyed by fire. The manufacture of salt had been carried on
at a loss to the stockholders, and after the fire it was decided by the
stockholders to dissolve, and an order was entered in the Supreme
Court on the 29th day of March, 1890, dissolving the company.

In 1884, M. L. Townsend, Esq., a lawyer of the city of New
York, purchased six acres of land in the northern portion of the
village of Liyonia and began sinking a well for salt. A bed of 32)4
feet of pure rock salt was found at a total depth of 1221^ feet.
This well, while nothing has been done with it toward the production
of salt, is rich in mineral deposit. A steady flow of gas is taken
from the well to the house of the writer and is consumed in one
stove, materially helping out on the fuel question. It also produces
oil. In August last I opened the well and found a deposit of petro-
leum standing in the well, and bailed out about twelve gallons.

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Soon after the well was drilled I sent a small quantity of the petro-
leum to a friend of mine in Olean, who had it analyzed by the chem-
ist of the Acme Oil Company, who pronounced it of a superior
grade. In 1890, Mr. M. L. Townsend, for the purpose of further
developing the salt field, took some contracts of Mr. Julius C. Reed,
R. J. Hatch and others south of the village of Livonia, and put
down another test well for salt This well was drilled to a depth of
1335 feet on the J. C. Reed farm, and developed a salt bed of 58
feet in thickness. In June following the Livonia Salt & Mining
Company was organized with a capital of $1,500,000, divided into
15,000 shares of $100 each. This company was organized with
Milo M. fielding, M. L. Townsend, Wm. B. Putney, George C. Cur-
rier and Milo M. fielding, Jr., of New York city, Charles Adams of
Boston, and J. W. Smith of Lynne, Mass., as trustees. This com-
pany immediately began work sinking a mining shaft 12x22 feet, and
at the present time are pushing the work with a large force of men
night and day. M. L. Townsend, Esq., is the business manager and
general superintendent.

In October last the old mine of the Conesus Lake Salt & Mining
Company, Limited, was sold to a New York company. This com-
pany has a capital of $250,000. Its purpose is to build the model
works of this country, and manufacture the finest grades of salt for
domestic use. A close and careful analysis of the Lakeville brine
has been made both in this country and in England, and the Lake-
ville brine has been pronounced equal if not superior, to any in the
world. This company is the owner of valuable patents for the puri-
fication of brines, and also in a new construction of sluice grainers
for its e vaporization. The president of this company is F. B. Thur-
ber of New York city, and Charles F. Burger secretary and general
manager, Mr. Burger has long been known as the American agent
of the English salt companies. The great bulk of English salt, as
well as American salt, is sold through the agency of Burger. It is
perhaps needless for me to say that Livonia in the near future is
destined to take front rank in the salt producing towns of the world.


Hemlock Lake.

At the eleventii hour I was drafted into the service, and I come
obediently, but reluctantly, to duty on this occasion — appropriating a
few only of the precious moments allotted for your deliberations.
The subject that I bring is that all-important one before our com-
mon country to-day — water; pure, beautiful, ice-bound Hemlock;

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the hilly lake that for six miles nestles among the hills on the bound-
ary between this and the adjacent county of Ontario, with the foot
embraced within our county limits. Seven miles in length, with an
average width of less than 200 rods, it looks like the section of a
river that lost its connections when the waters receded from off our
western world. The water surface of the lake is less than three
square miles, and drains a country of nearly forty square miles in ex-
tent. Its average depth, bold shores, purity of water, and many
fishes are among its notable characteristics. We can find but eighty
feet of water at the deepest place, while from any point a mile above
the foot you may skip a stone into sixty feet of water. It has an
altitude of nearly 900 feet, and the adjacent hills — Bald Hill and
Marrowback — must reach nearly that distance above the surface of
the lake. Of the fifteen miles of beach that surround the lake, less
than two border on cultivated fields. For miles at a stretch the
high water, leaves not even a foot-path along its beach, while the
high, thickly- wooded and nearly pjerpendicular hills above you, near-
ly as far as the eye can reach, seem only waiting an invitation to fall
over into the water. Five miles of continuous woods on the west
shore of the lake, I think, must be the largest deer park in this coun-
try ; and it is becoming quite a dear park for the city of Rochester.
Forty years ago the attention of the city of Rochester was first di-
rected to the parity of Hemlock lake water, and in 1852 the legisla-
ture authorized the formation of a company for the purpose of utiliz-
ing it for their benefit. But it was not until December, 1875, that
the long-looked-for boon flowed into a reality. The pipe that car-
ries the water to the city is three feet in diameter at the lake end,
but after some twelve miles of the distance is passed, pipes two feet
in diameter are used. The height of the lake above the streets in
the business part of the city is over 300 feet, so the gravity pressure
must be enormous.

In the matter of fish Hemlock lake takes second rank to no lake
in the state. It has always been noted as the home of the beautiful
and popular lake trout 3 and the fish stories that come down to us
from ''ye olden times" would give this article a very "fishy" appear-
ance. The lake was called by the Seneca Indian "O-neh-da,"
meaning hemlock ; and the early settlers took this name in their
own language, which I suppose it will retain long after the last hem-
lock on its banks has fallen a prey to the lumberman's avarice and
ax. We have no authentic history of the presence of any white man
until Sullivan and his men were stopped in their pursuit of the
Senecas by this lake 112 years ago. The lake first finds a place on
the map of 1790, and less than a year afterward the first cabin of a
white man was built by Roswell Bliss, the father of Charles, at
nearly the same point on the lake where Sullivan and his army
camped twelve years before. The next decade and a half m the

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history of the lake witnessed the appearance and disappearance of
quite a number of settlers, who came, settled, fished, hunted, told
fish and bear stories, and moved out. Many were the aratising inci-
dents and anecdotes of those days, which the want of time compels
me to give a wide berth. The names of Malone, Curtis, Ejximonds,
Goodrich, Bowen, Saxby, and many others are prominent among the
early residents, many of whom have transmitted their names to
prominent points on the lake. But most of these seemed to have no
especial business but to settle. Early in the present century the
lumber industry was assuming huge proportions in the country south
of the lake, and the water by summer and the ice by winter were the
principal highways over which this commodity was reached out to
Livonia and Lima settlers. This led to the construction of a public
road along the east shore of the lake in 1826 and 1827, which has
been continued until the present, and now forms a shady and roman-
tic drive- way, as many a truant lad and lass can voucl^ No road
has ever been constructed on the west side of the lake. I quote
from the pen of D. B. Waite of Canadice in regard to this lumber
industry and these times : " Many hands were employed in floating
large quantities of lumber during the warm season, and when the ice
was sufficiently strong, oftimes it had the appearance of a band of
pilgrims to the shrine of some high worthy. And often during the
winter as many as 200 teams could be seen at one time drawing the
productions of these southern mills." For twenty years quite a
commerce was carried on over this route. Com, flour and mill-feed
— in fact nearly every farm product of northern Livingston and
Monroe was taken to the lumber camps and exchanged for hemlock
and pme lumber and cedar posts, large quantities of which found its
way by teams as far as the then infant city of Rochester. But now
come dark days for beautiful and romantic Hemlock. The lumber
in the southern districts was exhausted. The hemlock and the few
scattering pines that grew along its banks had been converted into
lumber and sold. The construction of a railroad from Coming to
Rochester had turned travel and traffic in another direction. The
old hill turnpike that Kad been buih the entire length of the lake
during the lumber boom had become sadly neglected and almost
entirely abandoned and impassable ; the toll-gate was moved away;
the gate keeper, and finally Hill himself, was summoned to that
country where no toll gate spans the broai highway. The side hills
adjoining the lake, with their poor soil, were uninviting for agricul-
ture, and nearly all the land that was cleared up and cultivated for a
season was abandoned. A few fishing cabins, where the occupants
lured the finny tribes into a gill net or seine, and bartered them with
the farmers for flour or pork, and the sheep pens where the spring
sheep-washing was done, were all the signs of life that remained of
this once busy mart. When Rochester first coveted the waters of

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this lake, the whole lake frontage could have been purchased for the
price of a loo-acre farm in this township. Soon after the mid<ile of
our present century, strangers visited this lake, who came not for
gold. They wanted neither to buy nor to sell lumber. They came
from the busy, heated cities, attracted by its shady nooks, its pebbly
beach, clear waters, wild, romantic scenery ; but most of all, by the
fresh breezes that, toying with the thick growth of evergreens upon
its banks, came from oflf its bosom laden with the elements of health
and strength. In a new farm house, at the foot of the lake, lived
the now venerable and much-respected Russell Jacques and his busy
and accommodating wife, then in the prime of life, and ever ready to
welcome and encourage these strangers on their annual visits to the
lake. At the old Half-way House, at the Bliss Home (now Uncle
Tom's Cabin), and on 'many of the attractive points on the lake,
picnic and camping parties began to gather, and the long slumber-
ing echoes sent back their merry music from the woods. • ♦ *
Duri ig the exciting days of the besieging and defense of Fort Sum-
ter, George and Stephen Watson, boat builders, of Rochester, were
driving nails and spikes into a curiously constructed water craft at
the foot of the lake, that only for its location might have been
thought as intended for our coast defenses ; after transferring the
machinery of an adjacent saw mill to its decks it was christened a
steamboat. But a few trials demonstrated that it was not at home
on water without a tow-path and bevy of mules, and after two years
of unprofitable life the machinery was returned to the mill and the
boat sent adrift. This was the forerunner of no less than fifteen
steamboats that have had a home on the lake. The first summer-
house on the lake we credit to Geo. Atwell of Lima, near the foot,
twenty years ago; Chambers and Martin of Lima followed soon
afterward, and the Lake Shore house was built the third or fourth on
the list. The wild upper region of the lake was opened to sumnler
residents by the pioneer, W. H. Pierce, of Springwater, who, with
Dr. Requa and H. E. Bordman of Rochester, selected a beautiful far
out-reaching point where they erected a cottage in '74, which they
christened 0-neh-da, after the Indian name oT the lake. From this
beginning has grown the summer city on these shores, which we re-
gard as still in its infancy. It is not pleasure and recreation alone,
but health and length of days, that call the summer tourist to these
wilds. These summer houses are cabins no longer, but are substan-
tial and home-like, and many of them quite elaborate and expen-
sive. ♦ * * From earliest time, long before these silvery waters
reflected a pale-face from its mirrored surface, this lake was the
favorite camping ground of the red man. Here the warrior chief-
tain, the hunter and the wooer, turned their faces for their summer
recreation, and here, following in their footsteps, lurked the blood-
thirsty savage on his errand of revenge. For centuries the long

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aisles and perpendicular walls of her dark gorges sent back the
echoes of the war-whoop, or festive dance, or echoed faintly the
muffled mutterings of jealousy in the death struggle or the death
shriek of the surprised lover or new-made husband, as ihe poisoned
arrow or deadly knife of his lurking antagonist summoned his spirit to
the better land. The tomahawk and scalping knife were welcome
accessories to these summer sports, and the massacre of a whole
band or tribe of hostiles was not an unusual occurrence. * * *
But this is Livingston county tradition and not history. True, it is;
but isn't it as reasonable — isn't it as readable and far fresher than
the old story of the **she wolf and the Roman foundlings ?"

A Prehistoric Race.

May not a prehistoric race of people have occupied the Genesee
valley prior to the North Amegcan Indian ?

As an evidence of a prehistoric race having occupied this locality,
the writer relates the following circumstance: About the year 1845
an itinerant party of persons, three in number, styling themselves
money diggers, were wandering through this section of Western New
York. In the opinion of the writer they were an exploring party
examining Indian mounds for relics. On Squawkie Hill, a high
promontory overlooking the Genesee valley, situate on the west bank
of the Genesee river, and about one mile north of the village of Ml
Morris, N. Y., these relic hunters discovered a mound situated about
half a mile back, or west of the brow of the hill, between the high-
way and the high banks of the Genesee river, which at this time had
a well defined trench surrounding it. The relic hunters opened this
mound Carroll Cocher, Esq , of original salt-findmg deposits in the
Genesee valley, N. Y., was present and witnessed the digging. The
glass works were in operation at Mt. Morris at that time. A man
by the name of Cooly, a glass blower, was also present Cooly was
a large fleshy man, with a large-sized head and broad face. The relic
hunters, when down about five feet in the earth, came upon the
remains of a human person covered over with mica. The skeleton
had substantially crumbled into dust, although before being dis-
turbed outlined the form. The lower jaw-bone was well preserved
and nearly intact Cooly slipped it over the outside of his face in
the region of the lower jaw with all ease. From this circumstance,
as well as the outline of the skeleton, which was of usual length, to-
gether with the mica covering it, induced those present to believe
that the person buried there belonged to a race now extinct and of
enormous size compared with the races now living on the North

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American continent, and preceded the North American Indian in the
occupancy of the Genesee valley.

The writer is personally acquainted with Carroll Cocher and
enabled to vouch for his credibility. He gave the writer the history
of this find Jan. loth, 1888. It is claimed by writers of authority
that the bony structure of the human body, interred under proper
care and conditions for preservation, will remain intact two thousand
years before crumbling into dust, and cite instances in England to
prove their statements. The mica also found in the grave is not
common in the burial of the Indian, if not entirely unknown.

York Landing.

Robert Grant, of Rochester, a former resident of York, sub-
mitted the following early history of **York Landing :"

That portion of the Genesee river, from the great falls therein, at
what subsequently became Rochester, in the county of Monroe, un-
til Its junction with the Canaseraga creek, near what became Mt.
Morns, in the county of Livingston, and the said creek, from its said
junction to the southern boundary of township number seven, in the
seventh range in the county of Ontario, was, on the loth day of
August, in the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety-eight, by
act of the legislature of the state of New York, at its 2 2d annual
session, declared a navigable stream or public highway. By an act
of the legislature passed April 18th, 1828, the line was extended
from Rochester to the Pennsylvania line without prejudice to mills
and dams previously erected.

Upon the completion of the Erie canal to Rochester in 1822, and
the erection of a state dam across the river at the head of the rapids
some two miles south of the business centre of the then prospective
city, and the construction of a feeder from the above mentioned dam
along the east bank of the river and connecting with the canal c^n
South St. Paul street, through which boats were able to pass, and the
Elys, Beaches, Kempshalls and others having erected extensive flour-
ing mills in Rochester, whose product soon found an active eastern
demand, the necessity and desire for a large quantity of the favorite
fall 'ted chaff" and **white flint** wheat, grown in the upper Genesee
valley, was early felt, and means devised for securing and transport-
ing the same to what soon became known as the Flour City, and
whose superfine brands soon came to rule and reign king in the
markets of the world.

To this end barges, batteaux, flat or pole river boats were impro-
vised, and numerous large and commodious grain warehouses were

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early built at various points along the river banks, noUbly at York
Landing, in the county of Livingston, one mile east from the center
or business place of the town, and directly opposite the point of the
great bend there made in the tortuous stream, and constituting what
has long been known as the extensive Wadsworth *'Ox-Bow" farm,
which comprises many of the extreme southwesterly acres of the
town of Avon. As early as the year 1804- or 1S05 some of the rich
agricultural lands on the York side of the river at this point were oc-
cupied by Capt. Angus McBean, who soon removing a little farther
north, early became the possessor of what was acknowledged to be the
best cultivated farm, and he the best farmer in the county. A little
later on, one Mr. Hitchcock .from Oneida county, and Michael VVest,
respectively, became the owners of the greater portion of the lands
in this vicinity ; the former disposing of his interest to James Gil-
more, and the latter exchanging with Timothy Rice for town proper-
ty at York Center and selling a portion to Holloway Long.

In the pioneer days of 1827 there came from New England to
this locality a Mr. Perry Gardner, a man marked with great energy of
character and strong expression of speech, who also purchasing a
portion of Mr. West's lands, commenced at the foot of the street,
lea«[ing directly east from York Center, the erection of a dwelling
and grain warehouse upon the river bank, where he established him
self in the produce business and in operating a line of boats upon
the river. He was assisted in his warehouse business by James H.
Bow and Capt. Jehial Freeman ; the latter aiding in the warehouse
in the winter time and running one of the fleet of boats in the sum-
mer, or during the season of navigation. Mr. Ebenezer W. Walker
surrendered a clerkship in the Eagle, the leading hotel of Rochester,
to take charge of Mr. Gardner's warehouse, who not only did quite a
large business in the purchase and transportation of grain to Roches-
ter, but in bringing therefrom merchandise for the merchants of
York, Moscow, Perry, Castile, Warsaw, and other localities beyond
in Wyoming county. He also stored and shipped largely for other
operators, among whom was Cyrus Hawley, a merchant of York,
who in the winter of 1833 had in store a large quantity of pork and
lard when the warehouse and dwelling were both consumed by fire.
The failure of Mr. Hawley in business soon followed, not without
serious detriment, however, to some of his best neighbors, friends,
and customers, and not entirely without some suspicions, either just
or otherwise, touching the matter of incendiarism in the loss of the
Gardner buildings and contents. Mr. Gardner was a man of roost
undaunted courage, and a tradition early obtained relates that one
evening, while performing some labor in the basement of his ware-
house, he was attacked by an enormous army of wharf rats, through
which he was obliged to cut his way in order to make his escape.
After the fire he disposed of his premises to Hon. Thomas Kemp-

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shall, of Rochester, and became, along with his son-in-law, Milo
Powell, one of the early emigrants to Michigan.

Mr. Kempshall, along with CoL D. H, Abell, erected upon the

Online LibraryLivingston County Historical Society (N.Y.)Annual meeting of the Livingston County Historical Society, Volumes 1-15 → online text (page 62 of 64)