MR. DELAFIELD'S SURVEY OF SENECA COUNTY.
N.Y. STATE AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY
ABSTRACT OF THE PROCEEDINGS
COUNTY AGRICULTURAL SOCIETIES
Vol. X.- 1850
Charles Van Benthuysen, Printer To The Legislature,
Every step taken by the New-York State Agricultural
Society indicates progress. At no time, and under no circumstances, as
far as we are informed, has an association formed for purposes so
beneficent and so useful, in so short a time, not only enlisted the
confidence of the farming public, but so richly deserved it. Commencing
its operations in 1832, and struggling in its embryo state through difficulties
and embarrassments that would have wrecked less perservering men, it
has, by its tact and adjustments to the wants of a community like ours,
slowly but steadily advanced to be now its favorite institution. And
how could it have been otherwise, for its success, as all felt, was to
be the signal for the prosperity of the State. It is fortunate that its
interests were confided to men who appreciated the true condition of Agriculture
at its formation, and who have had the talent, indus-try and perseverance
that have promoted its advancement. To form some opinion of its improvement
under the fostering care of the Society, compare the rude and imperfect
farm implements of 1830, to the model ones of 1850. From the first, you
infer how the work was done in their time with them. - From the latter,
how the work can and will be done now. And likewise compare the products
from the worn out -land at that time to those of the same land now, where
it has been under the direction of an intelligent agriculturist.
This last remark is strikingly exemplified in the survey
of the county of Seneca, by Mr. Delafield, where the historical
information upon this point has been most satisfactorily collected.
For instance, in 1840, from ten to fourteen bushels of wheat were,
upon the average, raised on the acre in that county, and so proportionately
of the other grains. In 1850, the average of wheat per acre was twenty
bushels, and not considered as at all unusual, and so proportionately arc
the other grains increased. In our immediate vicinities, which are peculiarly
favorable to make correct observations upon the farming products of surrounding
localities for the last twenty years, this fact of increased production
is incontestibly settled. It has for some time
- past often -been a source of remark, not only by
ourselves, but by the most intelligent men, that apparently of
many kinds of grain, such as oats and buckwheat, and occasionally
rye, nearly as much is now sown as was formerly raised, and of potatoes
and corn, two of our most-profitable crops the quantity raised is
at least doubled. It is true more land is put to their culture, but
it is likewise true the product per acre, on the average, is very much
augmented. To what cause but this, can we impute the increased
price of land per acre, from twenty up in many instances to one hundred
dollars, for entire farms of one to two hundred acres.
Can we impute it to increased population, creating a greater demand
for its products? No; for look at the census of 1850, and you will observe
that in the older counties in the State, remote from cities, in the
last ten years, the population remains nearly stationary. It was the
imperfect method of farming, and its scanty returns from an impoverished
soil, that created a necessity for an organized and systematic effort
on the part of the farming community, to promote that interest.
The effort was made. A State Society, to foster Agriculture and the kindred
arts, together with collateral aids in the formation of similar societies
in almost every county in this State, is the fruit of it. Indeed short
review of its general operations may here not be out of place; but
we will not go back to describe the dim twilight that preceded its
birth, hut trace a few steps that have accompanied its onward progress.
It had its due share of influence in bringing about
the Geological Survey of the State, the knowledge of which was
as important to us at the comniencement of our investigations, as is
that of the anatomy of the human body to the young physician and surgeon,
and so too have been the devel-opments of its treasures as Èapplications
to aid in our husbandry, as is the knowledge of-the effect of the many
appliances used by the faculty for the cure of the diseases of the body.
It is riot our business to speak of it here as a work in its present shape
the most useful and commodious, but it certainly will be the entering wedge
through whichi the resources of our great State will become more generally
known, and for the future be better ap-preciated. It has given confidence
to our Legislature, in their willingness to contribute for the benefit
of their constituents, towards their funds, and thus aid the Society in
giving rewards for successful industry. It imparted that same glow of confidence
to a discerning public, and brought into existence the many county agricultural
societies that are now nearly co-exten-sive with its borders. It has created
that individual competition at our State Fairs, in the exhibition of
the most profitable and valuable animals, the best of farm implements,
of the mechanic and manufacturing arts, of articles of almost every description,
that have already been shown, to the delight of the hundreds of thousands
that have attended them. It has carried that same sprit of local improvement
down to the county fairs, which in many instances, will now almost vie
in their exhibitions with that of -the great Annual State Fairs, of which
they were intended to be, as far as practicable, the copies. it has started
into existence the many agricultural papers that are now issued by thousands
from the presses instituted for that purpose, and as an evidence of our
onward progress, those papers from having been a collection of the wise
sayings of our grandfathers upon the-rules
of rural husbandry, as taken from the almanac, now
contain essays and dissertations upon the general and isolated
subjects of our art, that would do credit to our most learned and
accomplished professors. Our yearly Transactions too, our Legislature
have caused to be published, and by their dissemination, and that
of our papers, it has diffused a spirit of inquiry at home always attendant
upon, and the sure accompaniment of progress. It has scattered that
spirit abroad, as we see our sister states of Delaware, Maryland, Ohio,
Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and possibly others,
following our noble example. The citizens of the last state frankly
acknowledged the fact that they were following the example set them by
the New-York State Agricultural Society; that she intended to take our
organization for a model, and invited several of our members to witness
their first exhibition.
The excellence and variety of our fairs, too, has been
the theme of many a tongue, the subject of many a newspaper paragraph;
and its order of business, from the most important to the most trivial,
is as promptly and eagerly published in all the newspapers of the
land, as the most important event of the times. It is not giving it
undue credit to ascribe at least a portion of the influence that has
produced the World’s Fair at London, the present year, to the great
and successful example our Society has given, not to America alone,
but likewise to Europe. And, not stopping at outward show as the evidences
only of its progress, it has caused a critical, useful, and most commendatory
survey of all that appertains to the earthÕs forma-tion, the
knowledge of whi.ch can be made subservient to our agriculture, to be
commenced under its auspices, and in two of the counties, viz: Washington
and Seneca, to be finished; and, in both cases, they are creditable
alike to the Society that instituted and to the gentlemen who conducted
them. These surveys will unquestionably be extended, under the same auspices,
to the different counties in the State, and will contain a compendium,
produced much cheaper, more practical, and far more useful than the more
elaborate and ornate work of the State Geologist
These are a few of the results that have emanated from
the existence of our State Society - but we. have not been barren
of more substantial fruit. It is farther manifested in our increased
production of all that constitutes a nation’s prosperity; and the
coming census if it does not in all the coun-ties in the State show
that in the last few years we have produced more than formerly, it
will at least satisfy the most incredulous, that in those counties
where the spirit of improvement has been most rife, the increased productions
of the soil are most apparent.
These remarks are preliminary to the report of the
committee who were
appointed by the executive officers of the Society
upon Mr. Delafield's survey of the county of Seneca. The manuscript
having been submitted to them, they have given it that careful perusal
to which it is certainly entitled. It is an elaborate historical, geographical,
geological and agricultural survey of the countyÑits chapters
treating, in their subdivisions, on the different subjects that necessarily
grow out of the branches of these import-ant general heads. Under the
first head, the general history and settlement of the State of New-York
is given: The extension of the settlements to the county of Seneca: The
history of the native race it found there:
Their connection with the other tribes of Indians,
under the general terms of the Iroquois nation: The wars of the
early settlers with them, and their ultimate expulsion from that
part of our State, after their signal defeat by General Sullivan:
The progress, subsequently, of the settlers: Their alternate success
and suffering, until the whole county was finally occupied.
The historical part relates many interesting incidents
that occasionally occurred during these unsettled times and border
troubles, and brings to light many new facts to the reader, that
without these reminiscences would have soon passed into oblivion.
While the collection of the incidents related gives interest to the
work, yet in our minds it is questionable whe-ther, for a historical
survey of the not large county of Seneca, it is desira-ble to enter
into the particulars of a general history of the State, remote from
the county of which the sketch is to be given, but only so far as it
has a direct and immediate influence on the locality of the county selected.
It is true, the early settlement of the State led slowly on to the settlement
of the county of Seneea; but, if we go back to all these contingent
and remote events, in distant parts, although it may be in the same
State, it gives an unnecessary fulness to a narrative, when treating
of an area of only a few miles square, and which would be better adapted
to the more extended history of the State. We have yet more than fifty
counties to be surveyed. If, in the survey of the historical part, we are
to have in each the same elaborateness, it gives too much volume to what
needs no repetition, and is best disposed of by confining their survey as
much as possible to the events that have transpired in their immediate borders.
For ourselves, however, we do not complain of the course taken by the surveyor.
We only speak of it as rendering such a work too voluminous. In all probability,
we are to have many more of these surveys, of other counties in the State,
when, with the same appropriateness, this example may be followed by others
who are not so competent to give them.
In no part of this survey, however, were we more interested
than in the historical record of the events that gave rise to and
attended the expedition
[Assembly, No. 150]
of General Sullivan, in 1799, to chastise the hostile
Indians in the western portion of our State, and the narrative describing
that campaign has a clearness and fullness not only very desirable,
but necessary to a full understanding of it. In these particulars,
it is the most satisfactory account of that expedition we have ever
seen any where, and we give its author due credit for the care and pains
with which he has gathered his materials, and the satisfactory manner
in which he has disposed of them, That portion in which he gives us a view
of the State of agriculture among the Indians, and the articles they cultivated
at that time, is exceedingly interesting, and if specimens of their various
productions, as far as practicable, could now be procured and compared
with those grown by the white man, it would be the cause of some reflection.
We think we did not misunderstand the author where he says: “ some portions
of their orchards are still in existence. yet bearing their products.” Could
the Society have a sample, at one of our exhibitions, of an Indian apple,
grown on a tree probably planted before the ground was trod by the foot
of the white man, it would so far be demonstrative proof that our natives
were not unapprized of the advantages leading to modern civilization.
Its next division is into political and physical geography.
Under these heads the proper subjects are arranged and treated in
a most satisfactory manner. All that can be said, or ought to be
said, is done after the most careful examination; indeed, great pains
and unwearied industry must have been used to gather the facts that
throw light on these subjects. But it is in its geological department
where, apparently, the most pains have been taken to give a full and
perfect sketch of the natural structure of the county. If there is a
defect in the want of information imparted to the reader, by the bad arrangement
of the different subjects treated of in the Geology of the State, it
is that in surveying localities they did not give all the in-formation
necessary to a correct understanding of the town or county upon which such
information was sought. For the different subjects occupying near the
same ground, you are obliged to grope your way through several volumes
and many pages before you ever can find what you seek for. But in the
survey of the county of Seneca you have the different subjects entering
into its formation, so clearly and comprehensively arranged and elucidated,
that it cannot be misunderstood. Throwing aside its theories of the
causes of drifts that have operated to make special deposits of the different
subjects that enter into its peculiar formation, which are certainly plausible,
but in their very nature speculative and uncertain yet the particularity
with which its geological survey has been made the care taken to gather
facts, and facts only the industry and perseverance which such a collection
and the collection of the materials thus gathered -entitle
the gentlemen who have been engaged in this work to great credit
for their intelligence and zeal.
Its agricultural department comes next. This, as most
appropriate to the subject of this report, we will not enter into.
The work which follows will best satisfy the reader that no effort
has been wanting to make it full and interesting, and as its improvement
is the basis upon which rests the usefulness or reputation of this Society,
to give it full effect, we had better let the authors speak for themselves.
We will not, however, conclude this report of the survey of Seneca county
without observing that, as it is one of the fruits which have been produced
by the formation of the New-York State Agricultural Society, if we
progress no farther in accomplishing the objects of our organization,
it will be a lasting monument of the benefits it has conferred by this
investigation. It affords, too, a prospective view of what this community
have to hope from its efforts in future, should those efforts be continued.
We trust no reader having undertaken to look into this survey, will,
on account of its length, be deterred from its entire perusal, He will
find in it information varied, agreeable, and instructive; and if, in
some of its reasoning and relation of events, he may find what was before
in part familiar to him, yet there is a clearness and freshness in both
these respects, that will leave none but the most pleasant recollections
J. P. BEEKMAN,
E. P. PRENTICE,
A GENERAL VIEW AND AGRICULTURAL SURVEY
COUNTY OF SENECA.
Taken under the direction of the New-York
State Agricultural Society,
BY JOHN DELAFIELD.
[Copy right secured by the Author in the Clerk’s office
of the Northern District of New-York,
A. D. 1851.]
"That which hath been is now; and that which is to
be, hath already been."
In accordance with the wishes of the New-York State
Agricultural Society, as expressed in a communication from their
esteemed Secretary, B. P. Johnson, Esq.; this work was undertaken
in April last, and every portion of time not required by the care
and practical management of a large farm, has been devoted to a search
for correct information, relative to the various objects named in the
instructions of the Society.* Every town-lot in the county, surveyed
under the authority of the State, has been visited and examined. The
rock formation upon which the soils are based, was traced and examined
by an accomplished geologist;** the limits of the various divisions,
were carefully and exactly ascertained and defined; and to the same
gentleman, acknowledgments are due, for the chemical examination of
the rocks and soils of the county, exhibiting the nature and amount of
the several mineral elements or matters contained in them; thereby leading
to a knowledge of the best modes of improving and cultivating the soil.
To the analysis of the soils of farms, in the various
sections of the county, much importance is attributed; and at this
early day benefits are confidently looked for by many, whose farms
were first analysed.
The analysis of farms in each town, also offers a foundation
for comparison at some future period, by which an improved or
deteriorated condition of the soil may be ascertained. With this
view, a specimen of the soil of each farm subjected to analysis ,
has been preserved in glass jars, sealed, and the locality labelled
distinctly thereon: these, specimens are deposited in the museum of
the State Society, and duplicates are subject to the order of the County
In the agricultural division of this work, every avenue
has been carefully sought and examined for the assurance of accuracy:
abundant facilities have been afforded for frequent comparison of
views and facts; they were frankly and freely tendered by
*(See Transactions, vol. 7, page
**Dr. Thomas Antisell.
the farmers, and a kind feeling was uniformly manifested
to aid in the production of correct and digested material.
As no correct map of the county exists in any of the
State or county offices, it became necessary to procure from the
Surveyor-General the field notes of the survey order-ed by the Legislature
for the division of this county as part of the military tract. With
these notes and the aid of a careful and correct surveyor, a map has
been constructed, on which the hills and valleys arc delineated, the
elevation of prominent points is noted and every road is carefully laid
Notwithstanding the existence of the college at Geneva,
no observations appear to have been recorded, by which to establish
its true latitude and longitude; the nearest points hitherto supposed
to be known or determined are, Canandaigua and Auburn, as reported
by the Regents of the University to the Legislature, and from these
points near the western and eastern boundaries of the county, its
geographical limits are computed, and do not vary probably very far
from the truth.t
The historical sketch, serves to show the advance of
civilization from the shores. of the Atlantic ocean, until it penetrated
into the thick forests of the lake country, it accounts for the decline
of the red men, and traces the foot steps of the white men to their
possession and settlement of the county.
The drawings of grasses, fossil remains and other illustrations
are from the pencil of a farmer's daughter of the county.
To Judge Tremper of Dresden, and to General Joseph
G. Swift, of Geneva, many thanks are due for valuable meteorological
and general information; and likewise to the several Vice Presidents
and other officers and members of the county Agricultural Society,
for useful information and facilities afforded while visiting their
respective towns; to my brother farmers also, for their kindness and
The survey is now submitted, not as a perfect work,
yet as containing facts hitherto unknown to farmers generally; and
information of a character and importance, which may greatly improve
even the best cultivated farms, by the adoption and use of one or more
of the methods indicated.
No pretension is made to offer any new principles,
for there are none; the effort is, to make known facts and circumstances
which have existed, though unknown or unused, for a long series
of ages; which when understood and applied must conduce to the comfort,
happiness and welfare of all; to portray correctly the past and present
condition of the county, that the necessity as well as the means for
improvement may be better considered and understood.
* Win. T. Gibson, Esq., of Waterloo,
I Measures are now in progress for a series of correct
The history of Agriculture, as connected with the county
of Seneca, has relation to a period too recent, to present, or
admit of, an instructive contrast with the Agriculture of older
counties in this State, or other portions of the United States.
The advance of civilization since the year 1609, when
the foot of the white man made its first imprint upon the soil of
this State, has been so rapid, with influences so powerful and at this
time contributing benefits so extensive to older nations of the world,
that a condensed view of facts connected with the introduction of moral
and social relations, and their progress or development in North
America, will aid in understanding the present. and promoting the
future condition of this county.
The extinction of the race of red men, the early proprietors
of the soil, with its proximate cause, has a bearing of interest
upon the agricultural history of the land, nor can it be forgotten
that, within the agc of many now living, the smoke of the council
fires has risen in graceful wreaths, and fervent adoration has been
addressed to the Great Spirit, by the warlike Brave, or the eloquent
Sachem of the Seneca Nation.
The existing monuments of Indian agriculture indicate
a condition of life above the rude and savage state, a state which
contending nations have endeavored to darken by fictions in their history,
and presenting a field of inquiry appropriate to this survey.
An eager and ardent appetite for mercantile ascendancy,
deeply engaged the speculative minds of commercial men in Europe,
about the end of the sixteenth, and beginning of the seventeenth
centuries. The bold and daring enterprises of Captain John Smith,
in Turkey, from whence he returned to England in 1604, and his expedition
with Gosnold to Virginia, and the adventures of Champlain in Canada,
effectually stimulated and roused the Dutch nation to appease their appetite
for wealth, by reaching the treasures of India, through a route at once
short, and free from the t errific tempest of the southern ocean, or the
not less dreaded dangers of the Asiatic seas.
It was fortunate for the Dutch that the jealousies
and contentions of the British merchants allowed Hendrick Hudson
to retire from their service, after two unsuccessful voyages, in
1606. The Dutch East India Company availed themselves of his experience,
induced him to enter their service, and nndcr their auspices to explore
the northern seas for the desired short route to India.
In the month of April, 1609, Hudson sailed from Holland
in the "CRESCENT," or Half-Moon. Coasting along the inhospitable
ice-bound shores of Greenland, and the high, bold coast of Newfoundland,
he touched at Cape Cod, and thence steered for the British Colony
established in Vir-ginia: changing his course, he then followed the
shores of the American continent until the third day of September,
when he entered the mouth of the noble river which bears his name.
Hudson ascended the river as far as Albany, indulging
a hope of communication with a northern sea or ocean; the shallow
waters above Albany destroyed this hope, compelling him to return to
the Atlantic. There is an account of the country along the banks of
the Hudson, published in Amsterdam, in 1656. The work was compiled
by Yanderdonek, one of the first residents on the island now called New-York.
Many curious facts are stated, but as most interesting to the present
work, he relates that the country was for manymiles covered with grape
vines yielding much fruit; so abundant, that at an early date of the
colony, wine was made, and became an article of export to holland. Other
productions are named by him, but in some instances they must have been
introduced from Europe, such as apricots and melons. Indian corn and beans
were presented as food to the first Europeans who touched the shores.
The red men, who were the lords of the soil at the
time of the discovery, were known by the general appellation of
Iroquois, a nation, or a confederacy, whose power extended from
the Atlantic to the Ohio river, and from the St. Lawrence to the
Potomac - a people of indomitable energy, and possessing an imperishable
love of liberty. This confederacy was composed of six distinct
nations, the most powerful member being the SENECAS, or SENEKES, inhabiting
the region south of Lake Ontario, and extending from the western shores
of Cayuga lake, into the dense forests of the far west, where war-paths
conducted them to the hunting grounds of the Hurons and Eries, which
tribes they drove beyond the lakes. The Cayugas, Onondagas, Oneidas,
and Mohawks, completed the original confederacy, to which at a later
period, the nation of Tuskaroras was added, making in all six na-tions,
a power at whose name all other native tribes and nations trembled.
Our national records afford abundant proof of the energy,
courage, and force of character, of the people who occupied western
New-York from 1670 to 1840. Their prowess in war is well developed
as a national characteristic, in the achievements of Hendric, Brant,
Cornplanter, and other war braves; their eloquence, in the speeches
of Logan, Red Jacket, and other sachems.
When Hudson entered the harbor of New-York, then called
by the natives, a Frenchman, bold and daring, joined
a war party of Indians from Canada, and penetrated the country
of the Iroquois, near to the upper waters of the Hudson. It was
Champlain, the founder of Quebec, who thus as a European, trod for
the first time, the soil of Northern New-York. Elated with the knowledge
procured during his hazardous expedition, Champlain returned to France,
kindling in the breasts of his countrymen ambitious views and high
In 1615, Champlain again entered the Iroquois country
from Canada, as a foe, but, wounded and repulsed, he found safety
only on the Canadian banks of the St. Lawrence; while the sachems
and warriors of the Mohawk, with their allied nations, rejoiced in
successfully protecting their homes and hunting grounds from the grasp
of strangers and intruders. The more sagacious policy of the Dutch, gave
them a friendly footing on Manhattan island in 1609. The Dutch merchants
were more intent upon traffic and trade with the natives, than the establishment
of colonies. Assiduous in their endeavors, they promoted kindly feelings,
and avoided, as far as practicable, all means of offence or ill will.
A few hovels, therefore, were erected for temporary shelter, during
the periods of traffic, until 1614, when a fort was erected, indicating
a more sure possession of their discoveries.
In 1615, Albany began to assume the character of a
trading post, and with the increase of inhabitants on Manhattan
island, an increase of means of protection became indispensable.
A block house was erected in 1623, and from this period may be dated
the determined establishment of a Dutch colony. Though fourteen years
had elapsed since Hudson landed at New-York, without the erection
of permanent edifices for the settled abode of Europeans, yet their
intercourse with the natives exhibited to, and early instructed them
in the use of fire-arms-to them the most wonderful weapon of attack
and defence, and simultaneously the introduction of ardent liquors,
made them acquainted with an insidious foe, far more destructive than
the musket. All the vices of the white man followed in succession.
If by the term civilization, is meant that development
of the human powers which shall produce the greatest amount of
human happiness, it will be doubted by many whether the standard
of civilization was elevated or depressed among the Indians, by their
contact with Europeans, in the beginning of the seventeenth century.
The marked development of intellect in Europe and the
United States, within the last century, points to a highly elevated
standard, very far above the measure indicated at the period of the
discovery. The advance of the natural sciences, the progress of
art, and consequent refinement, have been diffused among most nations,
but events and causes operating favorably upon
European civilization, have but recently shed a healthy
influence upon the natives of America. Wars of extermination, schemes
of territorial aggrandizement, have, until within a few years, demanded
every energy of the Indian nations to resist, if not exclude, the
white man foe.
When Hudson stood upon the island shore, surrounded
by swarthy, sinewy men, the only weapon of offence among the warriors
was the war-club, the arrow with head of flint, or hatchet rudely
made from stone. Yet a short time had passed away, when the same men
were seen brandishing the knife or dagger with glittering blade, the
tomahawk with keen steel edge, and rifle of deadly aim. But Hudson did
not live to witness the results of his discoveries, fraught with distress
and evil to the native--his fate was early sealed, deserving a passing
His daring enterprize, in 1607, is without a parallel,
claiming admiration at the hardy resolution of that bold navigator,
who, in a small vessel, with a crew of ten men and a boy, sailed from
London, intending to reach China by a northwest passage. After touching
the high latitude of 80° returning in the month of September,
unsuccessful, but not disheartened - during a second voyage, landing
at Nova Zembla, and returning again disappointed, but nothing daunted,
he entered upon his third voyage, during which he discovered and ascended
the Hudson river, as has been stated.
Elated with success, excited by dreams of wealth and
power for the future, and aided by the commercial spirit of English
merchants, Hudson was readily refitted for his fourth voyage.
He sailed on the 17th of April, 1610, passed Greenland on the 4th
of June, and reached the strait which now bears his name, in latitude
60°, entering the great bay which is also called by his name, and
too late in the season to brave the winter storms of the Atlantic,
he determined to winter in the bay. The vessel was drawn into a creek,
and every means used to ward off, or mitigate the seventies of a winter
in that desolate region. Privation and disease pressed heavily on the
spirits of the officers and crew. Their stores fast diminishing, with-out
any means of supply, Hudson prepared his vessel for sea, at the open-ing
of spring; leaving the scene of his hardships, he put to sea. For two days
they were driven to and fro, by fields of ice, when, in bitterness of soul,
he called his men around him, painted to them their true situation, the
necessity for implicit obedience, and rigid economy in the use of their
small store of food, and he divided the last bread equally among them,
as tears rolled down his bronzed and sea-worn features. When he reached
the western end of the straits, murmurs of discontent broke forth from
the crew. In a moment of anger, he threatened to set the ringleaders
on shore. Irritated and exasperated, the crew entered his cabin at night,
tied his arms
behind him, and, placing him in the ship's boat, with
his son and seven of the sick and most infirm men, turned him adrift.
They were never heard of, and doubtless perished on the rocky shores
of the bay, or were engulfed in its icy waters.
Afraid to think of treachery so base, stung by conscience,
and too late aware of having forfeited all confidence in Him who
alone can save, the wretched remnant of the crew were terrified by
every wave. Death, attended by storm and tempest, by famine and despair,
seemed to hover over the frail bark, and strip these guilty men of all
memory, save only of their late dark and dreadful deed. Drifting over
the swelling waves, a ruling Providence permitted them to land, in extreme
wretebedness, on the English coast, in the month of September, 1611, to
meet that ignominy which awaits the evil doer and miscreant.
Among leading influences contributing to the introduction
and advance-ment of civilization, are events connected with the
stormy period between 1603 and 1620. When James the first ascended
the British throne, reli-gious feuds were most bitter, and seriously
affected the political relations of the realm; the individuals who refused
assent to the service and ceremonials of the English church, or who
absented themselves for one month from the church,, had been treated
as obstinate, wrong-headed non-conformists, and were threatened with
expatriation, or execution.
Hope had been indulged that under the government of
that monarch, the puritans would find some relief or alleviation
from suffering, for it was remembered, that while yet in Scotland,
he had not scrupled to declare his affection for puritan doctrines. Vain
and deceitful, unmanly and pedantic, no reliance could be placed on
his promises or professions, and in 1604, he openly declared that he
would make the puritans conform, "harry them out of the land or elswhere,"
- "only hang them-that's all." The reformers of the church, were
immediately subjected to persecution, they were sorely oppress-ed, often
made inmates of prisons, and so grevious had become their distress,
that no relief could be devised or safety ensured, unless by expatriation.
In 1607, the first attempt was made to reach Holland as a place of
refuge; and again in 1608, Robinson, Brewster and others escaped from
England under circumstances of sorrow and deep distress. For eleven years
they enjoyed comparative peace at Leyden, and from that place the fame
of Robinson as a preacher, and of his associates, as men of zealous piety
truth added many to their numbers, inspired respect
and obtained a widely extended public favor.
The voyages of Smith to Virginia, and of Hudson to
New Amsterdam, were productive of general excitement in Europe
in the seventeenth century, as intense and dazzling, as the wildest
visions indulged by the El Dorado of Raleigh, or by the gold hunters
of California in the nineteenth century. Men engaged in commerce
and trade saw in the dim distance, honors and wealth; kings and princes
indulged in dreams of territory and power. The puritans, unused to the
language and manners of the Dutch, turned their thoughts to the new world
as a region yet free from dissolute vice; free from persecution, or
at least happy in distance and probable neg-lect: a region where, as they
said, they could seek God, "a right way for us, and for our little ones."
After suitable arrangements had been made, they embarked
in July, 1620, on board the Mayflower and Speedwell; and on the
vessels' deck with beaded knee, Carver, Bradford, Winslow, Brewster,
Allerton, Standish, and others, in solemn prayers with their much
loved preacher Robinson, implored the mercy and aid of God in their
Many and severe were the trials, tempests and dangers
which afflicted them. On the 9th of November, the cry of land roused
their drooping spirits and infused new energy into the worn and weary
Already had the chill blasts of winter placed a whitened
mantle upon the rocky summits of the shore; the spray of the ocean
freezing as it fell, chilled the men, and stiffened the cordage of
their vessels: snow and wind impeded their exertions, while inflammatory
disease added to the miseries of the bleak and barren coast. In search
for a place to land, they followed the coast till the 8th of December,
when the wild war whoop of the Indians, and a flight of arrows in their
midst, presented a new obstacle to landing. Storms of snow and rain, roaring
billows, on a coast unknown, night with impenetrable darkness, bring terrors
sufficient to appal the stoutest heart; but trusting, confiding in God,
the breaking of the masts, the loss of sails and rudder, and increase
of the furious gale, fail to dishearten inca, thus nerved, and served to
add fresh energy and power equal to the emergency when in a moment of imminent
peril, in the midst of rocks and breakers, the frame and timbers of the
vessel trembling and groaning with every surge, the vessel was lifted by
a billow across a bar, and entering a bay they found themselves sheltered
from the blast under the projecting banks of the shore.
It was on Monday the 11th of December, 1620, that this
first party of Pilgrims landed on Plymouth rock, and that day gave
birth to a new people, who planted, nurtured and matured the seed
of freedom and liberty in the
new world. From that day to the present, pure and lofty
notions of character are ever associated with every name connected
with that gallant band of men, their women and their children. There
is a charm or spell which accompanies the contemplation of their sufferings,
their heroic endurance, their increase in numbers, their treaties with
the aborigines, and every event in their history; a witchery so strong
as to enchain the mind, and cause a reluctant return to more formal
The establishment of the puritan pilgrims at Plymouth,
in 1620, and the Dutch as a colony at the mouth of the Hudson river,
in 1623, became at an early day, the fruitful parents of settlements
in the valley of the Connecti-cut. The Plymouth colony established
a trading house at Windsor in 1633, and the Dutch in the same year erected
a fort at Hartford. These in-roads upon the territories of the natives,
excited a hatred deep and strong, enmity ripened into open hostility
and frequent attempts were made to destroy or exterminate the intruding
foe, but the sabre of Europe, the fatal ball and foreign strategy, were
too potent against the war club, the flint-headed arrow and slender lance.
The vices of the white man became a far more deadly weapon against the
natives, and with allurements leading to excess, the destruction proved
greater than could be effected by implements of war.
The French had, at the same time, (1627,) successfully
established themselves in Canada, and contended with the English
and Dutch for the exclusive enjoyment of the fur trade with the
Indians. Thus, from the north, the east, and south, the white men
from Europe encroached upon the Indian territory, forming an imposing
front, advancing with rapid strides, driving before them tribes and
nations ; and, extinguishing their council fires, they opened the door
to the vast region now converted into fields of grain and fruits. The
thirst for gain soon transformed the white man into a hunter and trapper,
or a dealer in bear and beaver skins. Yet the arts of the old world were
accompaniments, causing the wigwam and hovel to give way to more commodious
edifices, and the wild game and fruits of the forest, to be displaced
by domestic animals and nutritious seed.
The progress of civilization, in this country, gives
a painful record of the injustice, suffering, and distress, which
overwhelmed the Indian nations’ a people at once brave, and full of
energy and ability. The constant succession of quarrels, between
the traders and the natives, from 1630 to 1664, were attended with
cruelties and murder; and the free use of brandy was a source of bitter-complaint,
by the Indians, who, unable to resist the once indulged appetite, felt
its destructive power. Perceiving its effect, the white man applied
it more vigorously; and, while they drank the "fire -
No. 150.] 365
water," they heaped imprecations on the hand which
proffered it - and, while maddened by its effects, would fell
with the hatchet, or pierce with an arrow, the destroyer of their
These continued broils led to an assault upon the Dutch
colony in 1655. At that time New Amsterdam was, as it is now, the
resort of strangers and adventurers; at that time, the relics of the
reformation, from the various nations of Europe, all found an asylum
in the new colony. Then, as now, it was the caravanserai, where all
nations met, with no permanently abiding interest, yet each and all contributing
to swell the tide of transient population, concentrating wealth upon the
favored spot, changing, from hand to hand, as the momentary proprietor
shifted his scene of action, and giving place to a more numerous, .and
equally energetic band of successors.
The unwise conduct of the Dutch Governor, Kieft, roused
the anger of the neighboring tribes, who, in revenge for his cruelties
and injustice, murdered the farmer in his field, burned his dwelling,
and swept away his children to far distant forests. When quiet was
in some degree restored, inter-course was resumed. The treaty, or
council, exhibited the points of character in the contracting powers.
Nor could the Dutch feel secure, when a Long Island sachem, rising haughtily
in their midst, upbraided them, saying : "When you first appeared upon
our waters, and landed on our shores, you were without food; you were
hungry, and we gave you beans and corn; we fed you with oysters and fish
from our rivers; and now, for our recompense, you murder our people."
With such feelings deep rooted in the mind, confidence could not be restored,
and though the cruel Kieft perished miserably amid the ocean waves,
the enormity of his crimes, and his injustice, could not be washed away
by the briny flood: the passions of the Indians were for a time only
suppressed, but not subdued.
The brave and honest Stuyvesant essayed a system of
lenity and justice, which, for a few years, gave peace to the colony.
But his military exploits against the Swedes, in New-Jersey, with
the intent of dislodging them from territory claimed by the Dutch,
weakened the garrison at New Amsterdam, and induced the surrounding
tribes to attack the colony in September, 1655. For nearly seventy years,
a union had existed between England and Holland; but, as England became
more deeply interested in trade and commerce, her people viewed with
.jealousy the successful results richly flowing to the Dutch, from their
industry and frugality; qualities which necessarily secured to them the
most lucrative branches of commerce, by enabling them to undersell their
less careful competitors in every market. Instigated by motives less
just than political, and relying upon the superi-ority of their navy, the
English sought to obtain by force what was denied
to their skill. Hence, notwithstanding the treaty of
alliance, which was renewed with the Dutch in 1662, the English
seized the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam (New-York), and other
colonies, and afterward, in 1665, openly declared war against them.
The Dutch possessions in this country having acknowledged
the sway of Great Britain, in September, 1664, the British flag floated
over the de-fences of Manhattan, which from thenceforth has been
called New-York. The surrender of this territory gave to England
a full possession of the Atlantic coast, as far south as Carolina:
the tenure of the country was not, however, firmly established in New-York
It was not long before this date, that the French obtained
a footing on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, erecting a fort
at Oswego. This encroachment, and the influence exerted by the Jesuit
missionaries over the various tribes of Indians, induced the British
government to invite a con-ference with the Iroquois confederacy,
in the hope of detaching them from the French interest. The French,
emboldened by success in traffic, and the happy influence exerted by
the missionaries, erected a fort at Niagara, (Unghiawraw, as pronounced
by the Indians,) in 1687. From this period, the rival powers of England
and France together with political and reli-gious feuds in the colony
of New-York, essentially disturbed the welfare of the people. The French,
under Count Frontignac, in 1689, penetrated the country as far as Schenectady,
destroying the town and murdering the in-habitants. The cruelties inflicted
upon the English settlers, roused them to acts of retaliation, and instigated
a combined movement by New-York and Massachusetts in an attack on Canada.
The enterprise failed, and on the return of the officers
and men, a series of internal factions seriously impeded the healthy
growth of the colony. The French continued their efforts against
the Iroquois nations, who, unassisted by the English, maintained
an equal struggle. Irritated by the mode of Indian warfare, Count
Frontignac allowed himself to sanction inhuman outrages and tortures
upon his prisoners, outstriping in ingenuity and horror the most
fiendish barbarities ever attributed to the warriors of the forest.
Two Mohawk prisoners were selected to undergo French torture. One
of them sacrificed his fame and honor by an ignominious suicide, perpetrated
with a knife, furnished doubtless by some ill-advised friend, while
his com-panion, eager to exhibit his contempt for death, and mastery over
pain, reproached the cowardly act of his fellow-captive, demanded the privilege
of chaunting his death song. lie narrated how many French he had de-stroyed
with his hatchet or knife; the scalps he had taken, and the fame he had
gained by such prowess. While thus singing his exploits, fire was ap-
No. 150.] 367
plied to his feet, his hands were thrust into red
hot tubes; his bones were broken, the sinews were twisted with heated
bars, his head was scalped, and the wound filled with sand from
the heated soil. It seems incredible at this day, that man could ever
put off his attributes so far, or be sunk so low in the scale of humanity,
to perform such atrocities.
The peace of Ryswick in 1697, brought a cessation of
hostilities, permitting the French and English nations to encourage
and extend by more friendly acts, their intercourse and traffic with
the sons of the forest.
The means by which art and civilization were introduced
into New-York from Europe, during the period between the discovery
by Hudson, in 1609, and the end of the seventeenth century, have
been indicated; and it is proper here to glance at the condition of
England especially, from whence the chief influx was derived.
Science and literature were in their infancy during
the reign of James the First; (1603-1625,) scholastic pursuits took
precedence of and retard-ed knowledge. Geometry was scarcely known.
Among the products of the earth known as luxuries, and then first introduced,
were tea, coffee, and chocolate, (1660,) asparagus, artichokes, and
cauliflower were then rare plants. Commerce rapidly increased with
the increase of liberty. Manu-factures were encouraged, and the art
of dyeing woolen cloth was first brought from Holland. It was stated
by Sir Josiah Child, that in 1088, there were on change Òmore
men worth ten thousand pounds in 1688, than there were in 1650 worth
one thousand; that five hundred pounds with a daughter, was in the latter
period deemed a larger portion than two thou-sand in the former; that
gentlewomen, in those early times, thought them-selves well clothed in
a serge gown, which a chambermaid would, in 1688, be ashamed to be seen
in; and that besides the great increase of rich clothes, plate, jewels,
household furniture, and coaches, were in that time, aug-mented a hundred
fold.” Glass was then introduced from Venice by the Duke of Buckingham,
and the first turnpike road established; and strange as it must appear to
the free American, it is only 173 years since the law of England for burning
heretics was repealed; so thick was the cloud of bigotry and ignorance
which overspread that nation in the days of the com-monwealth and protectorate.
Notwithstanding the storms and tempests of their revolutions, the exact
sciences made much progress, and art was em-
couraged. Such was the condition of England during
the first century of New-York.
It is not important to pursue a connected history of
this State, further than is useful to exhibit the condition of
the aboriginal occupiers of the soil, their mode of life, their
gradual dispossession, and the intrusion of a white people.
It has been stated that a member or nation of the Iroquois
confederacy, known as the SENECAS, inhabited the region south of
Lake Ontario, and west of Cayuga lake. Their oldest traditions established
them on the fer-tile- lands between the Seneca and Cayuga lakes,
from thence gradually extending their power and control to the Niagara,
and along the shores of the Allegany; and it is worthy of remark
that the Senecas generally select-ed, with singular discrimination,
the most fertile and productive soils for their permanent abodes, an
evidence of sagacity, and of agricultural pur-suits. In all past time,
the northern race of Indians esteemed themselves a peculiar people,
a race far above all other red men, excelling as much in intellect as
in strength. When speaking of their tribes, they used the term “ongwe
honwe,” as characteristic of, and implying superiority. The Sene-cas appreciated
and maintained this superiority, carefully fostered national pride, using
every influence to perpetuate it. Not less careful were they to encourage
energy of mind and body, and a devoted love for independence. We find
this character of the Senecas strongly portrayed in their declara-tions
to the assembled chiefs of the British forces at Albany in 1684; a
council at which an agent from the French settlements of Canada was also
in attendance. Upon that occasion a Mohawk chief, with dignity and grace,
presented heaver skins to the English commissioner, and said, “We present
these three skins as a token of our gladness that your heart is softened;
and these two skins, of our joy that the axe is buried; we are glad that
you will bury in the pit what is past. Let the earth be trodden hard
over it; let a strong stream run under the pit, to wash the evil away
out of our sight and remembrance, and so that it may never be digged
up.” The Seneca brave rose, with an eye beaming with the wild energy of
his nation, and on their behalf said, Ò We have not wandered from
our paths; when Onondio, the Governor of Canada, threatens us with war,
shall we run away? shall we sit still in our houses? No! our beaver hunters
are brave men, and the beaver hunt must be free.” Another Seneca
warrior rising in the circle and turning to the French agent, said, “It
is well for you, that you have left under ground the hatchet which has
so often been stained in the blood of the French. Our children and old
men had carried their bows and arrows into the heart of your camp, if our
braves had not kept them
back. Our warriors have not enough of beaver to pay
for the many arms we have taken from the French; and our old men
are not afraid of war; we are born free; we depend neither upon the
English, nor upon the French.Ó Such was the language of the
Senecas, who were doomed, how-ever, to see their country overrun, and
forts erected to keep them in sub-mission. Not long after the council
held at Albany, and when the French had established a Ôfort at
Niagara, the Senecas advanced to attack it. Coin-manded by Haaskaoun, they
were confident of success; actuated by noble impulses, the chief demanded
a surrender of the fort and garrison. A par-ley was held, when Haaskaoun,
with haughty brow and fieroe glaring eye, declared to the commandant of
the fort his views and resolution. ÒI have always loved the French,Ó
said he, Òand our warriors are here to burn your fort, your houses,
barns, and corn; to weaken you by famine, and then to overwhelm and destroy
you; I am come to tell you that you may escape this misery, if within four
days you yield to our terms; restore our kid-napped chiefs; every spoil
taken from the Seneca nation; and demolish the rorts you have erected.Ó
Five hundred warriors, carrying the standard of their tribe, the wolf and
eagle, on their broad breasts, awaited the signal of llaaskaoun. But the
French quniled beneath his frown, submitted to the terms dictated, and
fulfilling every item, left the country south of the Onta-rio lake, free
from French intrusion. Such were the Senecas. Such were the men who once
covered and cultivated this county; whose garden grounds, and corn-fields,
and apple-orchards are not yet wholly obliterated by the modern plow and
harrow. A regret will arise and linger in the mind, that the council fires
of such a nation are forever quenched; that the Binoke no longer curls
from their domestic hearths; that the Brave and his red race have gone
like chaff before the wind.
The traditions of a people who have so recently faded
away, are not with-out interest, possessing also a charm of wildness
and romance, and from which may be discovered types and allegories
full of meaning, curious and instructive to the philanthropist.
A tradition of the Seneca nation, and one held by most
of the Six Nations, is, that in the beginning two worlds existed,
one inhabited by man, the other by monsters, living in darkness and
In the advance of time, the lower world was fitted
and prepared as an abode for the human race. To people it. a female
descended from the upper world, and found a resting place on the back
of a tortoise; here she gave birth to twins. The one called UssKoss,
(Good,) the other TAUTAOKOS, (Bad.) Soon after their birth the mother
died, when Usskoss converted his mother's head into the sun, the moon,
and stars. By their genial influ
[Assembly, No. 150.] 24
ences he drove the great monsters to their hiding places
in the deep, and checked the ferocity of the lesser monsters.
The tortoise increased rapidly in size, and ultimately
formed a great island.* Usskoss then made the earth, its hills
and valleys, its water-courses and lakes, filling them with game
and fish. He finally made a man and woman, naming them Ongwee Honwee,
or the best of people.
While Usskoss was thus occupied in beneficent works,
his brother Tautao-koss was no less industrious in labors to nndo
or overthrow the work of Usskoss. He created and increased monsters
of frightful aspect, venomous serpents, and destructive creatures:
every effort was urgently essayed to overwhelm and destroy the man
and the woman. Disturbed and wearied with constant struggles for power,
a contest at last took place, in which Tautaokoss fell, and was hurled
from the island into utter darkness. The triumph of Usskoss, allowed
him to perfect his intended works, and com-mitting them to the care of
the man and woman, he left the earth. This tradition of the creation
of the world is held, with slight variations, by most of the northern
nations of the American continent.
Each nation has a tradition touching its own origin
at some later period, and the Senecas were firm in the belief that
they originated on Nundowaga hill, about fifteen miles west of Seneca
lake, and near the site of the beau-tiful village of Canandaigna. They
assert, that they came forth from the hill, and dwelt on it for a time
in peace and joy. While yet few in num-bers, a reptile was found by the
children, and brought within the embank-ments and trenches of their
town on the hill, it became the fondled associate of the young, who nourished
it with tenderness and kindness. It grew rapidly, and from its increasing
appetite and strength soon required nourish-ment beyond the powers of
children and youth to supply. As yet harm-less and a favorite, the men
fed it from day to day with game. Becoming vigorous and strong, it now
went forth to seek its own sustenance and free-dom. At times, sporting
in the lake, or ranging the forests, it exhibited a power beyond human
control, and a disposition for mischief inconsistent with the safety of
the people. The destruction of game also became a source of serious alarm,
and induced the people to seek means for the de-struction of the creature,
so long the nourished inmate of their town.
At early dawn, on the day appointed for the attack,
they descried the monster encircling their hill, its enormous jaws
opening as it were in defi-ance, in front of the gateway or passage
of their entrenchments.
Undaunted by this formidable foe, arrangements were
made for a vigor-
*The Indians have ever believed this continent to be
ous sally; previous to which, some endeavored to escape
by climbing the monster's scaly sides; but in all directions they
were thwarted and thrown back from his wreathing folds or coils. Urged
on by hunger, impatient of restraint, the whole tribe made a vigorous
onset, rushing with desperation into his very jaws. None returned that
day to their homes; all fell a sacrifice to the monster; all were swallowed
by his capacious stomach, save, only one woman and her two children,
who effected their escape.
Gorged with his feast, the monster reptile rested for
a day and night un-disturbed. In terror, the woman and her children
found shelter in the forest. Overcome with sleep, a vision warned
her to provide arrows of a peculiar form, for herself and children;
at the same time, she was insttucted bow to use them with effect, and
where to plant them with fatal conse-quences upon the monster. Carefully
complying with the injunction thus received, she fearlessly sought
the monster which held his watch around the hill. The charmed arrows
sped with unerring aim, penetrating beneath the shining scales, reaching
the creature's heart ; in agony, it lashed the steep hill side; breaking
down the forests, and plowing deep furrows in the earth. Rolling down
the hill slope, it plunged into the lake; wild with dis-tress, and with
convulsive throes, it disgorged its human victims near the shores: at length,
exhausted by pain, and yielding to the effect of the charmed arrows, the
monster gradually descended to the bottom of the lake. On the shores
of the Canandaigua waters, rounded pebbles, of the size and -shape of
a human skull, are numerous at this day, which the Indians affirm are the
petrified skulls of the "people of the hill," disgorged by the mon-ster.
The woman and her children removed to the banks of the Seneca lake, and
from them originated tha late powerful Seneca nation.
In these rude allegories, it is easy to trace points
of unrecorded history, obscured by the mist of time, yet interesting
to the antiquarian and philo-sopher.
The condition of Indian art anterior to the arrival
of Europeans, was limited by the few wants or demands needful for
their mode of life. Ma-chinery or implements for trapping or killing
game, implements for the preparation of clothing, and tools few in
number, for the mechanic art, were the most important objects. Architecture
was confined to walls of earth or slight frames of wood, covered with
layers of bark. Soon after the landing of Hudson, and Champlain, the
amulet of shell, and carved pipe of Indian handiwork, gave way to foreign
ingenuity in the engraved medalion and the moulded pipe bowl: the personal
orna-ments of shell and bone curiously and often elaborately wrought,
yielded to beads and tinsel trinkets: the coarse clay pottery of their
rapidly exchanged for the brass, copper, or tin kettle
the tempered hatch-et took place of the stone tomahawk; and the
axe became a substitute for the stone gouge or chisel used in felling
trees. Awls and needles made from animal bones, or from the bones
of fish, were no longer favored by the Indian woman; the steel needle
alone would now be used. Like multi-tudes of men in many parts of
Europe, the American native adhered with superstitious veneration
to charms, amulets, necromancy and witch-craft; these were firmly
fixed in their belief, as like errors, in the minds of their white
brethren during the dark ages, and held with as much tenacity as
dis-graced the early days of the eastern settlements when Salem witch-craft
found ignorance and folly, blind enough for belief, and barbarity
so great, as to jeopard life for dreams and visions. It was by an artful,
possibly a con-scientious encouragement of superstition, that the
Dutch and English, ad-vanced the success of their trade and traffic
with the Indians; the power to ward off evil, ascribed to bones and
shells, gems, beads and crosses, rendered these baubles of inestimable
value to the confiding native, who was ever ready to part with his heaver
or bear skin for a relic to propitiate the Great Spirit. These ornaments,
with silver bands for the arms and wrists; gor-gets and other objects
for adornment, gave activity to the European work-shop; and by degrees,
supplanted the waist cloth of skins and fur leggings; cotton and linen
fabrics early graced the fine forms of the women, and wool-en cloths
protectcd the stout broad frame of the Indian man.
At this day the arts of Indian life (as they existed
in 1600), are to be found only in collections made from ancient
grave-yards or tombs and mounds; for the Senecas of 1700 had extensively
adopted the arts; if not the customs, of Europeans.
The Senecas, and northern Indians generally, held and
maintained be-lief in future rewards and punishments, and the immortality
of the soul; their notions of morals, conducing to secure reward,
are chiefly connected with such requisites as fit men to support
life or punish agression, which may be comprised in the qualities of
a good hunter and a brave warrior; the absence of these qualifications
renders the unhappy delinquent, dis-creditable on earth and punishable
in the land of spirits. Good and evil spirits abound in their system
of religion; these good spirits are ever in communion with their chief
priest, or medicine man, while the evil spirits are checked or subdued
by his charms, his spells and ceremonies.
Hence, it was the interest of the chief priest to inculcate
and foster su-perstition, to feed love for the marvelous and mysterious.
The office of chief priest secured for the incumbent
the reverence of the peo-ple who received through him the favor
of the great spirit, invoked by aid of
charms and magic spells; in him the people saw the
type of the benign in-fluence and aid of the supreme power or the
great spirit. At an appointed day in every year the priest performed
a sacred service, alike in every habita-tion; at early dawn every fire
was extinguished, every hearth was cold; ashes and cinders were strewn
around, discomfort and misery seemed to pre-vail. The venerable man
with measured step entered every dwelling, he
solemnly and fervently invoked the great spirit in
behalf of each family; striking a light, a new fire was kindled
by him on the domestic altar, with a prayer for its continued comfort
through the year. The lodge was swept, the feast prepared, and peace,
joy and content prevailed. Thus was the bond of allegiance annually
renewed, and reverence maintained.
It is not unreasonable to ascribe to Indians of sagacity
and vivid thought, an intent to typify by this service, a special
influence of the Creator. To them fire was the source of comfort
and enjoyment: the sun being to them the great source of all heat:
fire became the symbol of the sun's influences, while its absence indicated
desolation, want, and death. The ceremony seems to justify this belief.
One among many similar stories illustrative of the force of superstition
in connection with the foregoing, will sufficiently exhibit the Indian
character as existing about the year 1700.
It has been asserted with full credence that a man
and his wife with a friend, took shelter for a night in the Òhouse
of the deadÓ in Oneida; after the fire was covered, and sleep
was heavy on them, a noise was heard as of a person gnawing and eating,
starting from the mat or bed, a fire was re-kindled, when they discovered
that the flesh of one of the dead persons had been the feast of a ghost.
But the following more circumstantial account is given by a Seneca: "A
hunter and his wife were overtaken by darkness and a rushing storm. A
dead house offered the only shelter. In the night the wife was alarmed
by sounds resembling eating and drinking; the sounds were near and distinct,
but nothing could be seen; kindling a fire, she found the blood of her
husband flowing over the ground; he was dead, and partially devoured by
a ghost, or spirit. She fled in consternation, but soon heard the whoop
of the ghost behind her. Every exertion was used for escape, but some
mysterious agency alone preserved her."
Puerile as these legends undoubtedly are, it must be
remembered, they are the Indian superstitions of the seventeenth
century, and should not pre-judice the mind in 1850, when studying
the habits and manners of these ions of the American forests. In truth,
the contrast is not unfavorable to the latter, when placed side by
side with the mythology of northern Europe, or contemplating the extent
and horrors of the scenes exhibited near the close of the sixteenth
century, when five hundred human beings were burned
as witches, at Geneva, within the short space of three
months, and one thousand victims were destroyed in the diocese
of Como. In England, the like events were not less discreditable,
nor were they finally checked in that country till 1701, by the firmness
and mental vigor of Chief Justice Holt. The last victims in England
were in 1716, when a Mrs. Hicks and her young daughter were hanged,
for selling their souls, and raising a storm by pulling off their stockings
and making a lather of soap In this coun-try, the negative merit may
be claimed, that no judicial executions occurred after 1692. Happily,
with rare exceptions, the insane fancies of diseased minds, and the artful
machinery of malignity, knavery and hypocrisy, have no hold upon the
mind of the people of this country; and the history of such dreadful
folly is read with regret for the past, and hope for the future.
The long continued enmity between England and France,
which was calmed by the treaty of Ryswick, (1697,) broke forth soon
after the death of William III. (1702.) The constant struggles of
France and England for power, engendering almost an hereditary hatred
in the bosoms of their people toward each other, may be viewed as one
potent influence to retard the progress of civilization; without interest,
without any common sympa-thy, the discoveries and improvements of
either, were carefully denied to its neighbor. This impolitic and suicidal
course continued down to the last forty years.
The same destructive and grasping policy marked the
progress of the American people, under the government of Great Britain.
The un-creasing attempts of the colonial governors to obtain superiority—the
rival claims of the two belligerent nations, to the profitable trade
in furs—pro-duced violent collisions, and murderous frays, between
the Indians and the traders of both nations.
The active, restless spirit of French enterprize, had
early won for them the affections of the Seneca nation. The facility
with which they entered into and adopted the habits and customs of
the Senecas, even their dress, gave them a decided advantage over the
more phlegmatic Dutchman or Englishman. The gaudy beads, the useful
copper kettle, the polished tomahawk, and ornamented scalping knife, opened
an easy road for the French, along the margins of the great lakes, and
the shores of the Alle-ghany and Ohio rivers, on the banks of which floated
the flag of France.
The same enterprize planted a French colony at the
mouth of the Missis-sippi. New Orleans opened to them new and broad
avenues to Indian traffic, and to the establishment of trading posts,
defended by forts, in connexion with those on the Qhio.
Thus hemmed in, or surrounded, the trade of the forests
flowing to the St. Lawrence and Mississippi; the colonial governors
demanded a with-drawal of the French forces from the Ohio. Pretexts
for non-compliance were not wanting, but the delay caused Virginia
to present an opposing force to the encroachments of the French upon
her borders. Troops were raised, in 1754, and entrusted to the command
of Ccl. Washington. With only four hundred men, he traversed the
forests and wilderness, until he reached the forks of the Alleghany
and Monongahela rivers. At this point, or near it, the French had erected
Fort Du Quesne, being the site where the city of Pittsburg now stands.
Here he encountered a formidable and overwhelming force, under Dc Villiers,
who compelled him to retire, after exhibiting a skill and bravery indicative
of the hero, destined to fill so large a page in the history of this
This event was followed by the more extensive preparations
for driving the French from their posts on the Ohio, under General
Braddock, (1755,) who moved on Fort Du Quesne with twelve hundred
men. Gen. Braddock had already won laurels elsewhere; he was, unquestionably,
a brave man, and versed in the arts of war; yet he unaccountably
suffered his progress through the forests to be unguarded, and he
fell into a well planned ambush of the Indians. Concealed behind trees
and rocks, they poured a deadly fire into his ranks; confusion ensued,
and a frightful carnage closed the scene, (9th July, 1755.) General Braddock
was wounded, carried from the field, and died in a few hours.
These collisions between the colonies of England and
France served to embitter the parent nations, and fierce war raged
between them. For four years New-York was the theatre of war, until
the campaign of 1759Ñ60, when the fall of Quebec led to the
extinguishment of French power in Canada. This heavy loss of colonies,
of trade and traffic in America, paved the way to a restoration of
peace, which was concluded in 1763, and signed in Paris.
It has been seen that the introduction of fire-arms
among the Indians, with other arts, soon after the discovery produced
a most important change, operating to the disadvantage of the white
man; the Indians soon became expert in the use of the death dealing musket.
The Seneca nation became as unerring in aim with the rifle, as with the
tomahawk; though the latter, and the knife were constant appendages, and
favorite weapons, when the
foe was within reach. The varying success of the contending
foreign rivals, taught the Indians lessons of policy and strategy,
if not of mercy. It is painful to be assured that, with all the acts
of atrocity so liberally ascribed to the Seneca Indians, and to other
nations, the white man too often exceeded them in ferocity and atrocious
acts of barbarity.
The knowledge of Europeans, thus imparted to the Indians,
and its in-fluences, served to encourage the hope of more certain
means for the exter-mination of the white man; a hope long cherished
by nearly all the nations west of the Oneidas, and now tending to a
united effort. A wide extended coalition, of western nations, drove
in the distant settlers, and the Indian forces reached the borders of
the settled counties.
Since the peace of Paris, in 176.3, the colonies had
felt great relief from the dread of a savage war, fomented and
led on by French intrigue. The jealous feelings of the Indian could
be appeased, for a time, at least, by a trade in trinkets and baubles,
and they could be kept in check along the borders by a show of power.
During this period of relief, the colonies began to
unfold and mature those seeds of independence which were planted
by the puritans, and had found a congenial soil in all the breadth
of the land. Inured to hardships and privationÑpossessing high
spiritÑthe people did not hesitate to com-plain of the unequal
and unjust burthens imposed on them by the English government, nor
to claim a voice in the administration of their own affairs.
The determined endeavor of the crown to impose taxes
on the colonies, and to restrict all commercial intercourse with
the mother country, roused the anger of the people. Quarrels often
occurred between them and the soldiery, until 1770, when a serious
fray took place in State street, Boston. The drums beat to arms—the
people collected-th troops fired on the as-semblage, and many lives
were lost. The result was, a prudent relinquish-ment, by the government,
of many of the burthens recently imposed; an act which confirmed the
people in the soundness of their cause, and sanc-tioned them in rigidly
maintaining and asserting the principles they had adopted.
The political condition and final overthrow of the
Seneca nation are so closely interwoven with the events and results
of the struggle for the su-premacy of freedom, that a few of the
prominent incidents may be consist-ently related here, as tending
to explain the causes leading to their expul-sion, as well as the
rapid introduction of art and science, with the officers and armies
sent hither by England and France; the one to resist the pro-gress
of civil liberty, the other to aid in its protection and advancement.
The years 1772-3 were marked by an evil not unknown
to the commer--
cial men of later times, in this country as in Europe-an
over-trading or undue application of labor beyond the natural wants
of the people for the object produced, or introduced, and in excess.
Such was the condition of England in 1772-3, in regard to Asiatic
productions. The British East India company had overloaded their extensive
warehouses with tea and other products from China and India. As one
mode of relief, it was deter-mined to send the surplus to the colonies
in America, in direct opposition to the existing and well known order
of exclusion emanating from the people.
The first arrival of this excluded article of luxury,
was in November, 1773. Every argument was used, every peaceable
effort was urged to induce the parties who represented the property
to cause the return of ship and cargo to England; no honorable means
were left untried, to avoid the consequences of a landing. It was
felt that the day had arrived when the principles so long cherished,
must be maintained by a force stronger than argument. Having carefully
considered their position, and maturely weighed the issue, the people,
by a unanimous vote, determined to prevent the unlading of the ship in
the port of Boston. To avoid delay and idle negotiation, the populace crowded
to the decks of the vessel, opened her hatches, and threw the contents
of every tea chest into the river. Having thus accomplished the object, they
retired quietly to their homes, regretting the necessity for the act, but
determined to maintain their independence. The same spirit, which from the
landing at Plymouth rock, in 1620, had from year to year increased in vigor
and energy, now spread through the land, nerving every honest breast to meet
firmly and bravely the coming storm. Those who had basked in the sunshine
of court favor, and the timid few who feared the power of Britain, adhered
to the royal cause; but the mass of men, possessing property, knowledge,
and influence, in all the colo-nies, zealously supported the cause of the
The events of 1775 opening with the battle of Lexington,
followed by the battle of Bunker Hill, led the public mind to full
and open discussions of the advantages of unfettered trade, the right
to govern and administer their local governments; the right freely
to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These rights
thus openly and freely discussed, caused a first movement in favor
of a formal declaration of independence to be made in congress by a
Virginian,* a proposition which found an approving spirit in the whole
people, and was formally adopted and declared on the 4th of July, 1776.
These events led to the entire emancipation of the people from foreign
rule, and the establishment of this republic.
*Richard Henry Lee.
The contest for freedom was marked with scenes of peculiar
ferocity, perpetrated by those who adhered to the British cause.
The Indians, with few exceptions, acecpted the courted alliance
of the English commauders, and under their guidance or sanction committed
outrages and enormities of unparalleled magnitude.
Not more than seventy years have passed since the massacres
at Wyoming presented a scene of fury and horror so great, that not
a vestige of that settlement was left; the Indian tomahawk, with fire,
and the tory sword. swept every living thing and habitation from
that beautiful valley. In the same year the inmates of Cherry Valley
were roused from their sleep by th( war whoop of the Indians, and English
soldiery, dealing death and destrue tion to unarmed men, their wives,
and helpless children.
The warrior Brant, with his Mohawks and Senecas, hovered
on the bor ders of Albany; and at that comparatively recent period
it was declared by General Schuyler, that unless some exemplary
blow should be inflicted on the hostile Indians, Schenectady would
shortly become the boundary of the State. The border incursions of
the Senecas were carried into Ulster county; Kingston was kept in
alarm and attacked; Minisink, near Goshen, and. Pulaski, were burned
and laid waste. For many years the bones of the slain lay bleaching
on the field, until 1822, when the citizens of Orange county caused them
to be colleeted and buried.
The unwearied efforts of the enemy to harrass the people
of this State by means of predatory eruptions from Canada, aided
by their Indian allies, called for effective relief. Congress felt
the necessity, and issued the needful authority. General Washington
selected General Sullivan to chastise the Indians, and drive them
far from the county borders or settlementsÑto destroy their
towns, and remove every means which could facilitate or contribute to
their residence in the Seneca country.
To effect this object, an army of five thousand men
was raised, of which two thousand, under General James Clinton,
ascended the Mohawk river as far as Canajoharie, from whence he transported
his batteaux, stores, and material a distance of twenty miles to
Otsego lake, he embarked upon its waters, and passing down a branch
of the Susquehannah river, formed a junction with the main army under
General Sullivan, near the forks of the Tioga. The army then advanced
into the Indian country, (August, 1779.) The Senecas had been apprised
of the movement, and procured the assistance of the British officers,
Colonel Guy Johnson and Colonel John Butler, with other officers and
their troops. Brant commanded the Indian forces, and determined to give
battle on the banks of the Chemung, at a place then called Newtown, now
known as Elmira. Every preparation was made,
No. 150.] 379
a breastwork about half a mile in length was thrown
upÑthe ground was masked by pines of a stunted growth, and
many small shrub oaks were stuck in the ground, better to conceal
their position; sentinels were posted at short distances, and on every
hill. Thus prepared, and trusting to their defences and skill, they
waited the approach of the American army.
Near noon on the 29th of August, Major Par, who was
with the advanced guard, discovered the works and position of the
Indians and English. Halting for a short time for the nearer approach
of the main force, arrangements were made for attack. It was led
by Generals Hand and Maxwell, in front. For several hQurs the resistance
was obstinate and bravely maintained; but the Indians and allies
being worsted, fled, and although a large part of their force was
saved by crossing the river, many lives were lost in the battle and
in eagerness to escape.
General Sullivan advanced his army to the head of Seneca
lake, destroying the town of Knawahole, and Catharines Town, (Havanah,)
with their extensive gardens, and rich corn-fields. Catharines
town, near the margin of Seneca lake, was held in esteem as the
residence of Catharine Montour, under whose influence the place
had grown into comparative wealth and importance. Catharine Montour
was the daughter, (as believed,) of Count Frontignac, one of the French
governors of Canada. TIer complexion indicated European blood, and
her infancy was nurtured in comforts unusual among Indian tribes. During
the Wars which raged for a time between the Senecas and French, Catharine
Montour was captured, then about ten years of age, and carried into
the country of the Senecas. There she was adopted, and reared, early
exhibiting an energy and spirit, admired by and worthy of the haughty
nation which now claimed her as their own.
A chief of renown, and distinguished as a Seneca warrior,
became the husband of Catharine Montour, as soon as she reached
womanhood. Her beauty and bright spirit lent a charm to her natural
grace, which, aided by a strong mind, gave to her a wide spread influence.
In the wars with the southern tribes in 1730, her husband was slain
in battle. Two sons of Catharine Montour were bold and prominent actors
on the war paths. One was actively engaged at the Wyoming tragedy; the
other in the attack upon Cherry Valley. It has been said that Catharine
often joined in the hottest contests fearless alike of the hatchet or
rifle bail, but when it is remembered that this female was received and
caressed by the ladies of Philadelphia, that she participated with ease
in the refined and luxurious entertainments of the wealthiest citizens,
and with a politeness of manner and grace equal to the most polished,
it is difficult to credif the ferocity ascribed to her. After the dispersion
of the Senecas from this region, Catharine
Montour, with her sons, resided at Niagara, and in
that fortress was received and entertained with respect by the
The entire destruction of Catharines town, and flight
of its inhabitants, carried terror through every village to the
outlet of the lake. The old men and women were sent rapidly forward
in the hope of the warriors making a stand against the foe at or near
the present site of Geneva. The American army pressed forward between
the Cayuga and Seneca lakes, driving the Indians before them. here the
lands were found to be cultivated, yielding abundant corn; extensive orchards
presented fine fruits to the invaders; the apple, pear, and plum were
abundant. A regularity in the arrangement of their houses, indicated long
continued prosperity and enjoyment of property. Many houses were rudely
framed, with chimneys, and some few were painted; all, however, were destroyed.
Nothing was left to afford succour, or inducement to return so near
to the American settlements.
Kendaia was deserted by its inhabitants as soon as
the residence of Catharine Montour was destroyed. The Indians of
Kendaia had selected a fertile position for their town, and bestowed
much labor upon the garden and fields; the orchards were extensive
and productive, and a portion escaping the general destruction, are
now in bearing, as mementos of Indian horticulture. So remarkable was
the town for its orchards, that it was often known as Apple town, and
even now the name is heard from the lips of the old inhabitants. The
day after the destruction of Kcndaia, or Apple town, the American army
reached the high grounds at the foot of the lake, and encamped on the
grounds now known as Rose Hill, Viewficld, Oak-lands, and Aubrey farm.
On the opposite shore, where Geneva so beautifully rises from the lake
and crowns the hill, the Scnecas had collected in force. On the 7th
of September, Gen. Sullivan ordercd his army to advance ; they crossed
the outlet of the lake without opposition, reached and destroyed Kanadaseaga,
and moved upon Canandaigua, destroying the settlements between Seneca
lake and the Nundowaga hill. At the same time a detachment under Colonel
Harper, made a rapid movement along the Seneca river, and destroyed Scawas,
From Canandaigua the army advanced to Honeoye, a small
town which shared the fate of others. The Indians had continued
to fly in dismay, and were disheartened; but the rapid advance of
the American force, with destruction in its train, roused them once
more to think of defence. In the
No. 150.] 381
hope of arresting the progress of General Sullivan,
the Senecas collected their warriors, the old men, women, and children
were sent to a distant place of safety, and hastily prepared an ambush
at HendersonÕs Flats, a point between Honeoye creek and Conessus
lake. The American advanced guard entered the ambush, when the wild
war whoop and terrific yell, with a fierce and deadly attack, compelled
the guard to fall back upon the main body of the army. The red men were
too eager for the attack, and frustrated their object by too early springing
from their concealment. Unwilling to riskan encounter with the main
army, the Indians fell back on the Genesee river, leaving their farms
and dwellings to inevitable destruction
During the attack near Honcoyc, two Indians, who were
employed as guides, acting with the American advanced guard, were
captured by the hostile Senecas. Both were of the Oneida tribe, and
highly esteemed in the American camp. One of these men had an elder brother
in the British service, who had often used cogent arguments to induce
the younger to forsake the American cause, and look for favor and higher
reward from the British. True to his word, the young Oneida held firm
to his promises, and faithfully guided the troops in their advance through
the Seneca forests. At Honcoyc battle ground, these brothers met in
opposing ranks; the younger brother became the prisoner of the elder
brother ; the instant of recognition was a moment of savage excitement;
with haughty mein the the elder brother upbraided the prisoner, and threatened
death with the war club or tomahawk; he rapidly narrated the crime committed
by leading the white foe to the fields and homes of his fathers and friends,
guiding them to the very homes where their mothers and children were to
meet death or be driven to new and unknown hunting grounds. ÒBut
though you merit death, and shall die on this spot, my hands shall not be
stained with a brotherÕs blood. Who will strike ?" A bright hatchet
gleamed for an instant in the air, in a moment, the young Oneida ceased
to breatheÑto live.
The failure of resistance at Honeoye convinced the
Indians that retreat alone could preserve their lives, they determined,
therefore to leave their country to the scourge now sweeping over
it. They moved off toward Niagara, leaving bands of warriors to watch
the enemy and inflict such annoyance as opportunity might permit.
When the army reached the Genesee valley, all were
surprised at the cultivation exhibited, by wide fields of corn
, gardens well stocked, their tattle, houses, and other buildings,
showing good design, with mechanical skill, and if the language of
General Sullivan may be adopted, their fields were fruitful with Òevery
kind of vegetable that could be conceived.Ó
Beautiful as was the scene in the eyes of the army,
a few days changed it to utter desolation ; neither house, nor garden,
grain, fruit tree, or vegetable, was left unscathed.
When the warrior chief, Corn-Planter, met General Washington,
in 1792, thirteen years after the passage of General Sullivan through
this county, well might he be excused for the language which burst
from his lips. Kindling with the remembrance of the deep misery endured
by his people, he declared that, “even to this day, when the name
of the town-destroyer is heard, our women look behind them and turn
pale, and our children cling close to the necks of their mothers: our
sachems and our warriors are men, who cannot be afraid; but their hearts
are grieved with the fears of our women and children.”
General Sullivan did not pursue the Indians beyond
the Genesee towns; he returned by the same route he had advanced,
and reached the outlet of Seneca lake, in this county, en the 20th
of September. Crossing the outlet, he camped again on the high ground
of Oakland farm. From this point he detached Colonel Zebulon Butler,
with five hundred rifles, to traverse the eastern shore of Cayuga lake,
and inflict punishment on the tribes of Caynga, with no less severity
than was measured to the Senecas. Colonel Dearborn was also directed
to follow the western shore of Cayuga lake, with similar instructions.
Other detachments, under Colonels Van Courtland and Dayton, were sent
to scour the country around the head waters of the Tioga river, while
the main army moved south, passing Tioga on the 30th September, and reaching
Easton, in Pennsylvania, on the 15th of October, making the distance
traversed to the Genesee Castle, about two hundred and eighty miles. Other
incursions were made, in 1779, into the country of the Onondagas, and also
along the Alleghany river, exhibiting to the Indians a power beyond their
means to resist or control.
By this movement of the American army, the social and
political condition of the Seneca nation was destroyed; and by these
means, though necessarily severe, the influence of the English nation
was curbed and controled; the murderous warfare of the tomahawk and
knife, wielded alike by the Indian and ferocious tory, was arrested.
Such were the events, and their causes, which opened
to the admiration of five thousand men, the fertile soil of the
rich county of Seneca.
Seventy years ago, the red man gave place to the American
citizen nor was it till then, that the foot of the white man trod
this soil, except, perhaps, some helpless captive, snatched from a
border settlement, or the enduring Jesuit, from France, who silently
and adroitly studied to ingra-
tiate himself with the natives, adopting their
customs, and proffering the comforts and rewards of adhesion to
his peculiar and religious views.
Seventy years ago, the timid deer, the otter and the
beaver, held peaceful occupation of the soil. The bear and the
wolf held unmolested their nightly carousals: the eagle, the swan,
and all the feathered songsters of the wood, rejoiced in their ignorance
of the rifle, musket, or fowling piece.
The struggles and privations of the people through
all the scenes of the revolution, their devotion to their country,
their adherence to the principles of freedom, representation, and
adjustment of public burthens, did long retard the settlement of
this portion of the State.
The remembrance, however, of the pure, placid waters
of Seneca lake, he beautiful Caynga, the rich corn fields and abundant
fruits, did not fade from the minds of those who had traversed the country
in 1779, under Sullivan. Many who then shouldered the musket or the
rifle, and these who wielded the sword of command, were eager and prompt
to return and realize their early visions, as soon as peace with Great
Britain released them from the exertions due to the defence of their
Hostilities with the Indians did not terminate with
the declaration of peace, for their friends and allies who treated
for peace and obtained it regardless of Indian rights, their homes
and hunting grounds, made no stipulations for their safety or security.
On behalf of the United States, humanity and a lenient
policy toward the natives, was adopted. General Washington ever
expressed a desire to look favorably upon these children of the forest,
with a hope that the arts of peace might find in them as fervent admiration,
as had characterised their nation through so long a period for the pursuit
It was not possible to heal their wounded pride nor
overcome the effect of that extraordinary neglect manifested by their
allies, the English, until the year 1784, when a treaty was concluded
between the six nations and the United States, whereby the Indians,
acknowledged allegiance to the general government, and ceded to the
State of New York the lands lying east of Seneca lake.
Moodily they brooded over their losses, and fall from
power, while the tide of emigration began to press them from their
accustomed seats. Encounters, and too often death, were consequences
of nearer approach, until the stream of population reached the banks
of the Ohio, in 1780. Then the Indians were roused to maintain the
boundary limits of the whites, which they claimed to be the Ohio river.
Sharp and destructive collisions ensued, fomented by the British officers,
in Canada, who unjustly had yet
retaincd possession of Niagara and other western posts.
These difficulties were increased, in 1789, by fraudulent purchases
of lands by speculators.
The Senecas, more than any other Indian nation in New-York,
felt oppression, and one of their chiefs thus eloquently poured
forth their grief, at a council, in 1790: "You told us that we were
in your hand, and that, by closing it, you could crush us to nothing;
and you demanded from us a great country, as the price of that peace you
had offered us-as if our feebleness had destroyed our rights. 'Tis true,
our chiefs had felt your power, and were unable to contend against you,
and therefore they gave up that country."
Such was the feeling of the Senecas, and the inhabitants
of the whole western wilds, when speculation, and the far-reaching
minds of the white men, dwclt upon visions of counties, towns, cities
and villages, which were to follow in the swelling tide of emigration
from Europe, to cover the land.
Various intricate questions, as to jurisdiction and
proprietorship of the soil, had for a time excited uneasiness between
the neighboring states of New-York, Pennsylvania, Conneeticut and
Massachusetts. Happily, that spirit of compromise and just feeling
which has so strongly characterized the people of the United States,
led to an adjustment of all these difficulties, (1786.) Pouhtless the
difficulty of adjustment had an influence upon the minds of the Indians,
who thus witnessed the division of spoils, wrested from them, among
English patents, for large tracts of land, bad been
issued in so loose a manner as to cause conflicting claims, and as
the facts became apparent, they engendered hopes in the minds of
bold and unscrupulous individuals, to aggrandize themselves at the
expense of the Indians. In one instance, a company was formed by the
residents of Columbia county, to circumvent a statute, which forbade
any purchase from Indians in the State, by bargaining with them for a
lease of their territory for nine hundred and ninety-nine years. The position
and influence of the persons forming the company concerned in this improper
proceeding, caused much anxiety ameng people of correct views. Surprise
and apprehension were loudly expressed, and by seasonable representation
to the Legislature, (1788,) means were devised to avert the evil.
More just views prevailed from that time, and the pre-emptive
rights of Massachusetts to lands east of the Genesee river, passed
to Phelps and Gorham; while the remainder of the territory, lying west
of the Genesee river, passed, under the same authority, in 1790, to
Robert Morris, of Philadeiphia. This last tract reached from the Niagara
river, and from Lake Ontario to Pennsylvania, and contained about
four millions of acres.
In 1792, Mr. Morris sold an extensive tract of territory
to the Holland Land Company, but was not able to induce the Senecas
to relinquish their. title until 1797, when it was accomplished
by the sagacity and perseverance of Mr. Thomas Morris1 who had long
lived among the Indians, and was highly esteemed by them.
A trait of Seneca character was exhibited at the council
of 1797. When Mr. Morris, in the course of argument, stated that-"The
land could have but little value to them, in its present condition,
that it was the consciousness of ownership which alone gave it value
in their eyes ;" a Seneca chief replied:
"That knowledge is every thing to us. It raises
us in our own estimation-it creates in our bosoms a proud feeling,
which elevates us as a nation. Observe the difference between the
value of a Seneca and an Oneida; we are courted, while the Oneidas are
considered a degraded people fit only to make brooms and baskets! Why
this difference? It is because the Senecas are known as the proprietors
of a broad land, while the Oneidas are cooped in a narrow space.
In 1790, Robert Morris purchased from Phelps and Gorham
about one million two hundred thousand acres, which were afterward
sold and conveyed to Sir William Pulteney. These extensive operations
covered the whole Seneca county within the State of New-York. The
Indians became parties to the transfer, reserving such portions, at
selected points, as were deemed sufficient for their numbers, now reduced
to very narrow. limits.
Thus ended the existence of the Seneca nation-thus
the extinguishment of the once powerful confederacy of the Six
Nations. What a chain of of the Six Nations. What- & chain of emotions
thrill through the wind, when the sorrows of that race are allowed
to flow in native eloquence from their lips. "Who is it," said a noble
Seneca, "who is it that causes this river to rise in the high mountains,
and to empty itself into the ocean? Who is it that causes to blow the
loud winds of winter, and that calms them again, in summer? Who is it
that rears up the shade of those lofty forests, and blasts them with
the quick lightning at his pleasure? The same spirit, who gave you a
country on the other side of the waters, gave this land to us, and we
will defend it."
But with the white man came civilization, and at the
same time the vices peculiar to civilized society.* Distrusting
the benefits of civilizatisn, which were exhibited only through
the medium of reckless border men, and ever attended by a keen rapacity
to obtain their lands, it became to them a scourge, a besom of destruction;
and when, at. last, the great body of the nation had gone " to join
the spirits of their fathers" - when their
* Dr. Kirkland.
[Assembly, No. 159.]
leaves and branches were withered and shaken by every
breeze, the Seneca Red Jacket feelingly deplored the fate of his
people, saying: “We stand a small island in the bosom of the great
waters—we are encircled—we are encompassed. The evil spirit rides upon
the blast, and the waters are dis-. turbed. They rise, they press upon
us, and the waves once settled over us, we disappear forever. Who then
lives to mourn us ?—None. What marks our extinction ?—Nothing. We are
mingled with the common elements.”
The agricultural condition of the Indian nations has
been incidentally alluded to, and evidence given that the cultivation
of the earth must have been for ages an employment among the natives
who occupied the country comprized within the bounds of Seneca county.
Indian corn, the Zea maize of botanists, was found
as a common food, when Europeans first landed in New-York. Extensive
fields of this grain were cultivated, and the grain preserved, affording
a frugal and very nourishing food to the people, whether engaged in
the chase or on the war-path.
At an early treaty, the natives taunted the Dutch settlers
with ingratitude, reminding them of the hospitality freely extended
to them on their landing, and the large supplies of corn and beans
furnished to them in their necessities.
Well defined evidences of agricultural industry may
be traced even at this day, in their ancient cornfields. At the early
settlement of the Oneida nation, about forty miles from this county,
there is the appearance of a former cornfield; the hills arc large
in circumference, and with some attention to regularity in distances.
The field, when visited by Commissioner School-craft, was overgrown
by a forest of timber; a black walnut tree had been partly cut through,
and broken down, exhibiting the rings or layers of woody fibre by
which its age was ascertained to be about two hundred and forty years;
this guide, and every indication of the ground, warranted the conclusion,
that corn had been planted on that field before the year 1555, which was
forty-four years before the discovery by Hudson. An old Oneida Indian
stated to Schoolcraft, that “in ancient times the corn hills were made
so large that three clusters of stalks were raised on each hill, and that
the hill, once prepared, was used year after year, causing them to be kept
large, and accounting for their distinct continuance to this day.
When Cartier visited Hochelaga, now called Montreal,
in 1535,* that town was situated in the midst of extensive corn
fields; the houses of the Indians
were large and commodious, “well and cunningly put
together,” he found the natives devoted to husbandry and fishing.
Le Moine, navigated Lake Ontario in 1653, and landing
among the Senecas, they gave him “bread made from Indian corn, of
a kind to be roasted at the fire.”
Many interesting and amusing inquiries have been diligently
pursued as to the indigenous character of Indian corn, an article
now become so important for food of man and animals in both eastern
and western hemispheres; but from the facts stated, and the fact that
Columbus found this grain when he first visited the western world in 1492,
and as Indian corn was always found among every nation of this continent
when first visited, no room is left for doubt as to its geing an indigenous
grain of America.
The potato was undoubtedly known and cultivated from
an early age. It was carried to Europe in 1565, by Hawkins, from
Santa Fe, but did not attract notice until introduced by Sir Walter
Raleigh from Virginia, in 1.586, and was then known by its Indian name
of “openawg,” the name by which that tuber is known to this day by most
of the northern tribes of Indians.
Beans were found in this State by the earliest adventurers,
though no strong reasons exist to doubt their introduction by the
Spaniards or French. The forests yielded a plentiful supply of wild
fruits, yet when the Dutch and French introduced the apple, the natives
propogated it so extensively that when the colonists penetrated the
wilderness, large orchards of fair fruit were met in frequent succession.
Thus it is evident that notwithstanding their constant wars, and migratory
hunting excursions, husbandry engaged their energies, nor can it be doubted,
that if the advantages of civilization could have been presented to them
unmixed with error; the labors of the field and the workshop would have
been distinguished by a success, commensurate with the spread of knowledge
The intercourse maintained between the native villages
and settlements was active and frequent, as indicated by the well
beaten trails or roads. The trails leading from the head waters
of the Delaware river, through Unadilla, and from the forks of the
Susquehannah, at Tioga point, formed a junction near Catharine’s Town,
thence passing northward through an Indian plantation called “the Peach
Orchard,” it crossed a ravine at Breakneck hollow, touching Mill creek
at Shallow ford, thence it passed to another village known as “Appletown,”
and trending along and near the western margin of Seneca Lake, it crossed
the outlet and reached Canandesaga, now Geneva. The present lake road
winding along the bays and inlets of the shore, followed the Indian trail
with slight deviations, now passing around the head of a wooded glen,
in whose shaded valley, bright waters flowed
from its springs, over a shaly bed to meet the pure
waves of the never freezing-lake, then winding sharply down the
steep-hill. to ascend the not less abrupt and opposite boundary of
the valley. The most precipitous of these glens have been rendered
easy to pass by dykes thrown direct across them, thereby securing a
route nearer to the lake’s margin, and presenting to the traveller a
varied scene of hill and dale on the east, with rich pastures and wide
fields of grain, and on the west tall rocks of crumbling slate, crowned
with stately oaks; or points of land jutting into the lake, offering an
unceasing variety of light and shade, attractive and delightful to those
who value the ornaments which enrich this lake bordered county.
Lateral trails branched off from the main road, leading
to orchards, gar dens, and corn fields, or to the level lands on
the Cayuga border.
Objects of regard and sacred care, among the tribes,
were the burial places of their fathers; among the many positions
selected by the Senecas in this county, is the field of peace in
the town of Lodi. To the Indian it was a sacred and secluded spot
of earth, on a point of land between “Mill Creek” and a rivulet that pours
its waters into the lake; this point projects into the lake,. ever
washed by its gentle waves, affording a retired and unfrequented place
for Indian sepulture, where the soul was lulled by the murinuring waters,
and allowed to prepare for its journey to the land of spirits. A branch
trail led to this spot, but the antiquarian, the philosopher, and the
man of idle curiosity have ravaged the numerous graves, and have carried
off guns, knives, tomahawks, brass kettles, and various domestic articles
which had been deposited in compliance with Indian customs, with the
body of the dead but few of the articles thus obtained, had any value,
for like the bones of these graves, they were crumbling to dust, but few
retaininig their forms after exhumation.
The antiquity of these cemeteries, and of the few arehiteetural
relics existing in this county, can be conjectured, only from the
vegetable remains which in some instances cover the ruins.
On the lot, No. 29, in the town of Ovid, are the remains
of an Indian fortification, covering nearly three and a half acres
of ground; the position has a gentle elevation above the surrounding
country. The farm, on which this work is yet partially discernible,
fell under the plow and harrow about fifty years ago; the embankments
have given way, and the thrifty owners have reaped many a rich harvest
from ground once trod by the war-like and brave Senecas.
The breast-work was, three and a half feet high, with
a base five to eight feet wide, surrounded with a ditch four feet
wide at top. The area enclosed nearly four acres of ground which was
covered with heavy timber; oaks of
large size, with maple and bass wood, reared their
lofty heads; several old red oaks full three feet in diameter,
stood on the embankment; large trees had fallen into and across the
ditch, some resting in a partially decayed condition, others mouldering
into dust. No traditions exist as to this work, every trace of which
will in a few years cease to be. Other ruins of fortified mounds or
elevated points exist in the county, too indistinct for description;
every town affords abundant evidence of the long continued residence
of the natives. Implements of war, as well as those for the chase and
the mechanic arts, are yet found when the plow upturns the furrow; but
the rude hatchet of stone, the spear head and arrow of flint, the stone
mortar and pestle, give no date for determining any period of Indian
Remains of Indian Fortification, on Lot 39, Town of Ovid
It has been said of the American people, that a peculiar
characteristic marks them individually and collectively, a propensity
to migrate. The affection for birthplace, for a home surrounded by
the charms of youthful joys and early associations, seems not to possess
a restraining hold. The enjoyment of the fruits of early and earnest
labor, seems not so great as the pleasure of labor itself, for many
are the instances where the comforts of civilized life are relinquished
cheerfully, to enter the forests, and press on to their shady depths,
there to convert its wild features into the rich productive farm.
In other countries the motive for emigration is usually
to avoid evils7 which fcttcred the conscience, or restrained that
freedom and liberty which is the birthright of man. In the wide expanse
of territory, under the laws of the United States, such evils are unknown;
and no similar motive can be found to urge an American from the home
of his youth. The man who for many years lived happily and content in
the older settlements, with every comfort around his hearth and board,
where his annual harvcst home exhibited plenty with peace, and moderate
labor, finds the position of his sons very different from his own. The
old homestead has acquired a value of fifty fold since the forest rang
beneath the old man's axe; the products have doubled in quantity since
t’he first fruits were given in return for labor. The young man sees and
understands that this mere se of capital, of substantial wealth, is the
reward of industry well applied. No myst ry hangs about its skirts, no
rules of any abstruse science are necessary to comprehend and appreciate
the causes of this large accumulation. A few days journey farther west
opens to the son the same inducements which actuated the father, proffering
the same advantages, and the same benefits; he embraces the opening, leaving
the home of his childhood, the endearments of a paternal roof for the
log hut, and the many though usual hardships of “ "a settler’s “life.
A few years roll on in swift succession, when his sphere
of action is increased; moral and intellectual influences had pursued
his footsteps; neighbors multiplied in number; villages and towns
spring into life; schools and academies rear their fostering heads.
A new race is born, and before them falls the dense forest from year
to year; the earth is taxed more and more, to yield her bounteous stores,
until at length exhausted and impoverished, with no restoration of the
elements profusely withdrawn, the crops diminish, and the sons of the
proprietor again are tempted, as their fathers were, to seek new lands
for cultivation, leaving to the sire the worn soil,
yielding less annual product, yet increased in value.
In this chain cf causes, as well as in the love of freedom, to enjoy.
fully and undisturbed, in any and every place, the fruits of his
own industry, may be traced a cause for the peculiar characteristic
of migration belonging to the American people, and to this peculiarity
may, in a sense, be ascribed the early settlement of the county of
The fertility of its soil was observed and known to
many of the officers and men, who traversed its extent under the
banners of General Sullivan, and the war path which led the army from
the beautiful valley of Wyoming, through the gorges and ravines hollowed
out by the waters of the Susquehannah, also led the settler to the
southern .door of this county.
The town of Lodi, once a part of Ovid, may be called
the southern entrance door, through which the early settlers entered.
Covert, which is now the southeastern town, and once, like Lodi,
a portion of Ovid, was entered by an opening. from Ithaca. Time has
spared a few who first entered these avenues; and from them are gathered
and now recorded the incidents, which might otherwise have slept forever.
In the year 1789, while the exciting narrations of
men who were attached to General Sullivans army, in regard to the
rich soil, the temperate climate, were yet fresh; a party of hardy
men from New Jersey determined to explore and settle on the lands
between the Seneca and Caynga lakes. Early in the spring they reached
and crossed the Delaware river; passing the intervening highlands,
they descended into the valley of Wyoming on the waters of the Susquehanna.
Embarking on its bosoni, they reached Tioga point, now called Athens.
As the waters rose from rains, the boats were enabled to ascend the
river to Newtown, (now Elmira.) At this point the Indian trail served
this hardy band, as it had before done for Gen. Sullivan, a good and
direct road to the shores and clear waters of Seneca lake.
The adventure of these persons, its wildness and novelty,
attracted admiration, and some of the stout men of Pennsylvania
joined in the pursuit of a forest home. From the high lands of Ovid,
from the summit of Prospect Hill, the county lay spread out in its beauty
at their feet. At sunrise’ the sparkling Cayuga on the right, gave
life to the woody shores, and the eye embraced its eastern shores to
its northern boundary; on the left was the clear, bright Seneca lake,
its margin studded with dense forests, though here and there “a clearing,”
or open space, indicated the abode of the Indian, where his garden and
corn ground gave evidence of feelings above the savage man. Along this
lake the eye is never tired, and from this hill it ranges to where Geneva
now stands, the intervening bays and points giving lights and shades of
It was from this beautiful and commanding range of
hills that the white man threaded his way to such positions as
suited his imagination, his convenience, or his agricultural views.
Among the first settlers in the southern part of the
county, was Mr. George Faussett, whose heirs now occupy the estate
of their sire. Mr. Faussett was originally a resident of Pennsylvania.
Leaving his wife and child at home, he reached this county early
in 1789. Crossing th t portion of Ovid designated on the map as lot
No. 88, he felt that he had reached the spot most desired, the spot
on which his pleasant visions had rested, and to which his more happy
destiny had led him.
In accordance with the easy method of occupying land
in those days, and not knowing in whom the legal title was vested,
Mr. Faussett erected a log hut, covered with bark, and made other
improvements and arrangements for future occupation, he then returned
to Pennsylvania, where he remained during the winter of 1789. As
soon as the snow and ice had passed away, he again entered upon the
Indian trail, accompanied by his family, and after a weary journey,
reached their new wilderness home. Industry, with frugality, made that
home, which was a log hut, not only prosperous ; it gilded every passing
week and month with joy and happiness. As the harvests returned in succession,
the crops of grain would cover more extended fields, and overflowing garners
testified the fertility of the soil and the fullness of value in the well
applied labor of man. When Mr. Faussett took possession of the soil, it
was not known in this region to whom the land legally belonged. After
many endeavors the owner was discovered, and Mr. Fanssett at once became
the proprietor of two hundred acres of the ground he had cultivated. In
a few years more the same industry and frugality enabled him to add by
purchase, anothcr portion of two hundred acres to his farm. In the cultivation
of this estate Mr. Faussett lived to an old age, having passed away from
the scenes of his happy labors a few years since, aged
83.* About the same period Mr. James
Jackson, traversing the same route from Pennsylvania, settled on
lot No. 35, in Ovid. Other settlers arrived, but with Mr. Jackson,
remained only a short time and passed away. The venerable Andrew
Dunlap, who yet lives encircled in the affections of his children,
and children’s children, as well as of his towns-men, entered this
county among the earliest residents. He arrived by the southern route
in May, 1789, and took possession of lot No. 8, in the town of Ovid.
On this spot Mr. Dunlap has lived and reared his family. At an early
day he purchased the fee of the whole lot, comprising six hundred
acres, and for a period of sixty years has witnessed its increase in value,
* The daughter of Mr. Faussett is
yet living, and is the first white person born in this county.
No. 150.1 393
enjoying the reflection that his energy and industry
gave the first impulse to the village of Ovid. Mr. Dunlap was the
first man who turned a furrow with the plow between the lakes.* It
occurred in the last week of May, 1789, at which time he plowed half
an acre of ground, and planted it with potatoes brought by him from
Sehshequin, on the Susquehanna. Among the events incidental to
a newly opened country, it should be mentioned that Mr. Dunlap’s barn
served as a court house for several years, the courts being held alternately
at this barn in Ovid, and in the corn house of Comfort Tyler, at Aurora.
At the early perird of 1789—90, the settlers were obliged
to visit Elmira, (then Newtown,) to purchase provisions and seed
grain, a distance of forty miles through a wilderness, and as no
mill had yet been erected between the lakes, they were compelled to
cross Seneca lake in canoes or boats, and carry the grist to a mill situated
midway between Dresden and Penn Yan. Occasional storms, and the severity
of winter often prevented a visit to the mill, neither would the labors
of spring or harvest time, admit of relaxation sufficient to leave
the farm for this staff of life. Necessity gave life to invention, and
the “hominy block” appeared.. This implement, or mill, was either the
stump of a tree, or a portion of the body of a tree excavated, similar
to an apothecary’s mortar, or a bowl; a pestle also, formed of wood, was
suspended over the hominy block, pendent from a horizontal pole, which
acting as a spring, and sustaining the weight of the pestle, required but
a small force to bruise and grind the corn in the block or mill.
This was one of the many difficulties and resources
encountered by Mr. Dunlap and other settlers in 1789. Mr. William
Dunlap, who yet lives in the town of Ovid, entered the county with
his brother Andrew, and with them came Mr. James Wilson, who, like
most of the settlers of that period, amassed sufficient property to
allow perfect ease with independence in old age. At the same period Mr.
David Wisner settled in Romulus, and Mr. James McKnight in that portion
of Romulus now called Varick. The success of the early settlers induced
many to look with desire toward this county, and in the spring of 1793,
thirty families had become residents of the southern part of the county.
At this day it is difficult to conceive the privations and difficulties
to which these early inhabitants were subjected. Indian corn, ground to
a coarse meal, formed into a paste and boiled, served as food, with an
occasional addition of potatoes. Many families subsisted cheerfully on
these esculents for weeks. In proper season, venison would grace i c
board, and bears’ meat was at times a delicacy. Their cattle would rouse
in the woods, or feed through the summer months on the
* Judge Sackett's address in 1842.
natural grasses, giving note of their whereabout, by
sonorous bell; in winter they would stray in search of food, and
not unfrequently be lost.
In 1792, Mr. Silas Halsey of Southampton, on Long Island,
embarked in a sloop for the city of New-York, accompanied by a hired
man, and a negro servant. Having reached the city, he transferred his
baggage to a sloop bound to Albany; crossing a portage from Albany to
Schenectady, over the sand hills and plains, to avoid the Cohoes falls
on the Mohawk. He purchased a batteaux at Schenectady, and ascended
the river, “poling,” paddling and rowing to the place where Rome now stands.
Here it was necessary to transport the batteaux on wheels to Wood creek,
and again embarking descended the creek, passed through Oneida lake,
Oneida and Seneca rivers, into Seneca lake. Skirting its eastern shore,
Mr. Halsey reached “Cooley’s,” since known as Goff’s Point, and now as
Lodi Landing—making a distance by this route, from his residence, of
about five hundred miles. At Little Falls, Rome, Jack’s Rift, Seneca Falls,
and Scauys, he was obliged to pass the falls and rapids by carrying his
boat and baggage across the portages on wheels.
The season was favorable for exploration, and Mr. Halsey
selecting a position on lot No. 37, in Ovid, commenced an improvement;”
a small log house was erected, the under brush was cleared off, the
stately oaks which for ages had shaded six or seven acres of land
were deeply “girdled,” and the surface soil was strewed with wheat. This
last operation was performed, without any previous cultivation, and
the seed was harrowed in, with the rough wooded toothed barrow of that
age; it was customary, however, to pass over the ground with the harrow
from four to eight times’ and to cross harrow the fields.
Mr. Halsey, procured a quart of apple seeds from the
Indian Orchard, at Cooley’s point, and planted them with care, forming
probably the first nursery in this region. Having thus established
his “ plant,” he prepared to return to his home on Long Island.
Embarking in his batteau with his men, he passed the Seneca lake
and river, and retraced the same route he traversed to reach this county.
In April, 1793, Mr. Halsey left Southampton with his
family. On this occasion, his son, with his wife and children;
and his son-in-law, with his family, joined the expedition, numbering
in all eighteen persons. Embarking in three vessels they pursued
the same route as travelled by Mr. Halsey in May, 1792.
After a laborious passage of six weeks, the party landed
in the month of May at Cooley’s point, and soon reached their new
home; here again, unfiring industry, frugality, with sound judgment,
paved the way to prosperity
and enjoyment. The neighbors nearest to the residence
of Mr. Halsey were James Jackson, one and a half miles west; Elijah
Kinne, four miles, north, at the point where the village of Ovid
now crowns the beautiful hill; Andrew Dunlap, four miles north north-west;
George Faussett, south south-west six miles ; Philip Trernain, south-east
fifteen miles, at Goodwin’s point, on Cayuga lake; and David Wisner,
north-east nine miles at Sheldrake point. All the intervening country
was a dense wilderness, a mass of trees, shrubs, brush and weeds,
so thick and impervious, that the rays of the summer’s sun could not
penetrate at some points, nor could the eye range beyond the distance
of a few yards. This mass of trees and shrubs was occasionally broken
by the Indian trail, or the corn fields of the Senecas; these, however,
were chiefly on the margins of the lakes, leaving the higher grounds
undisturbed except for hunting and trapping.
Judge Silas Halsey, with an enterprise and public spirit
which distinguished him through a long and useful life, conceived
and executed a plan for erecting a grist mill; it was erected on
Lodi creek in the summer of 1.794, by the brothers John, Caspar
and George Yost; this mill proved an essential comfort to every
family, and a source of economy to all.
Before the erection of this mill, the nearest point
where grain could be converted to flour, was the town or village
of Rome, and one other near Penn-Yan. This latter mill was erected
by the followers of Jemima Wilkinson, who left Connecticut in 1789,
and following the track of General Clinton, by way of Otsego and Tioga
point, reached Geneva in May, from thence, they cut a road to the outlet
of Crooked lake, halting there, they made a permanent settlement and
erected a grist mill in 1790.
It was at this mill, near Penn Yan, that the first
bag of grain was ground in western New-York, and it was to this
mill, that the first white inhabitants of Seneca county came with
their grists for several years, and until Judge Halsey built the
mill above the falls of Lodi. Mr. Halsey died at the advanced age
of ninety years.
From the year 1793 to 1800, the constant influx of
settlers presented a demand sufficient to consume all the products
of labor; yet so rapid was the return of value for the labor bestowed
on the soil, that from the year 1800, an export of the surplus wheat
and corn took place; Elmira (then Newtown,? was the shipping port,
to which place the products were carried with difficulty over a path
or track, which was little better than the Indian trail. When the melting
ice and snows had filled the river to its upper banks, arks and floats
conveyed the articles to towns and villages on the Susquehannab. The returns
yielded a profit of fifty cents per bushel to the producer.
The first public meeting of the town of Ovid was held
in 1794, at which
Judge Halsey presided as Justice of the peace, he was
elected Supervisor, and overseers of the highway were chosen, being
the first occasion for such officers, as no highways existed by authority
before that date, each farmer cut his own road as convenience suggested.
It forms a strong contrast with the action of the present day, to
notice on the record that six pounds! were voted at this meeting
as an appropriation for the support of the poor.
About the year 1800, several families had settled in
the eastern portion of Ovid, now called Covert. A track had been
opened from Ithaca to Goodwin’s point, thence to Trumansburg and
across the county to a tavern kept by Peter Smith, two miles east
of Lodi; passing Judge Halsey’s it opened into the main trail leading
along the banks of Seneca lake to Geneva.
Peter Smith, who resided on this road came from Pennsylvania
in 1789, early in April, and located on lot number seven. Mr. Smith
died on this lot in 1829. Mr. A. Boarman, arrived in this county in
the winter of 1799—1800, and in the following spring
Erastus Woodworth, accompanied by his father, brothers and a sister,
traversing the interior of Massachusetts, followed the course of the
Mohawk river to Utica, with a team of horses, two yoke of oxen and
several cows, they made their way westward through the wilderness
and reached a solitary log house, looking drearily over the position
where .now stands the beautiful and busy village of Auburn; continuing
their progress, they beheld before them the bright Cayuga lake, and
at the point where is the village of Levana, they embarked in small boats,
landing on the Seneca shore opposite to Himrod’s point, they soon found
the desired position for a permanent residence, which was purchased,
and with subsequent additions, soon brought content, happiness and wealth
sufficient for them and for a long line of worthy descendants. The horses
and cattle passed round the head of the lake, entering Covert at Trumansburg.
About this time Mr. John Letts arrived from New Jersey, and settled in
the southern pan of the county.
From this period the accession of inhabitants was rapid.
The men who had early entered upon the soil were generally a hardy,
energetic race, being actuated by motives and circumstances very
similar, they felt a mutual dependence, and kindest sympathies, the
one for the other. By well directed efforts they sustained themselves
and each other in the difficult task of opening and subduing the forests,
and laying the foundation of future wealth.
It is due to the early settlers of every town in the
county, to record the fact, that with their industry and energy,
they brought with them also prin-
No. 150.] 397
ciples of rectitude, an instinctive perception of right
and wrong, with a knowledge of moral duties, most important to their
success and welfare.
As early as 1793, missionaries found a welcome home
in these wild woodlands, where by judicious advice and wholesome
instructions, they early formed centers of morality, from which its
benign influences have been extended to every subdivision of the county,
exerting a present influence to prevent error and vice, and inculcate
knowledge and truth.
To the present generation it may seem incredible, that
in the year 1790, only nine hundred and sixty human beings dwelt
between the Seneca lake and Niagra river; that in 1792 not a resident
could be found established between the Seneca and Cayuga shores,
on the line of travel between the Cayuga ferry and Geneva; that twenty
log houses and four frame buildings gave the name of village to the
now beautiful Geneva. Such was the condition of this region only
sixty years ago. But a few years earlier Horatio Jones rested on the
banks of Seneca river, where the spindles and looms of Waterloo now
speed through their daily duty. He had been long a captive among the
Indians, had learned their language, and adopted in part their habits
and customs. It was in 1784 that he remained for a season trading goods
for furs. Two young men from Connecticut found their way in 1785, with
packs of goods, to Canoga, there trading and trafficking for awhile
with the natives. These men were traders, and cannot be ranked among
the early settlers. The first resident in the northern part of the county
of whom there is any record, was James Bennett, a native of Northumberland,
in Pennsylvania. Mr. Bennett arrived at the town of Washington, (now
Fayette,) in the year 1789, and among his first operations established
a ferry across the Cayuga lake, a short distance south of the present
bridge. Mr. Bennett died in 1827, leaving behind him a large family and
a suflicient property.
When General Sullivan returned with his army from the
Genesee Valley, and reached the Seneca lake, he detached one hundred
men under Col. Gansevoort, to examine the country eastward of the
lake. In this detachment was Lawrence Van Cleef, who, when the detachment
encamped at Seneca Falls, looked at the rapids, noticed the fall of
water, and surveyed the surrounding landscape covered with stately
oaks, with feelings of surprise and delight. While standing on the brink
of the rapids, the resolution was formed, that as soon as the sound of
the trumpet and drum should
be stilled by peace, he would settle at this delightful
spot. Peace followed, and Mr. Van Cleef, with his family, arrived
at the falls early in the summer of 1789. Here he lived a hardy man,
too generous to become rich, and died in 1830. When Mr. Van Cleef
erected his log cabin at the falls, Mr. John Green established himself
on the farm since occupied by Mr. Samuel Lundy, in the town of Waterloo.
The rapids of the Seneca river at Scauys, or Scauas,
attracted an industrious population to its vicinity, and a village
soon sprang into being. It had advanced so rapidly that the need
of a grist mill was much felt. Mr. Samuel Bear determined to erect
one of good dimensions, sufficient to supply the wants of all the
neighboring country. The brothers Yost were the mill-wrights, who
applied themselves diligently upon the frame work, that it might be
covered early in the season. The posts and girths, the sills and plates,
in short every piece was accurately worked, and was ready to be framed,
when it was discovered that all the force of the neighborhood was inadequate
to raise the first bent. Mr. Yost was in the constant habit of attending
church at Geneva, and while in that place mentioned his dilemma to the
officiating minister, who advised Mr. Yost to have boats prepared and
in readiness at Geneva on the following Sunday. The day arrived, and
after the services were ended, the minister explained the case to his
hearers, when a suggestion was made that every willing hand should at
once be lent to a work of such necessity to the welfare of all. The proposition
was adopted by acclamation, the boats were manned, and before darkness
had shnt out the day, the last bent was raised and the whole frame pinned
together. Order, quietness, and propriety prevailed, and the citizens
of Ontario returned to their homes, conscious of doing good to their
fellow-men, unconscious of error, and trusting that the motive and intention
would be viewed with lenity, if not with entire approbation.
The extreme northern towns, Junius and Tyre, though
possessing fertile lands, and a soil more easily cultivated than
the heavy clays lying south of Seneca river, were not settled as
rapidly as the towns bordering on the direct track of emigration.
Seneca Falls at an early day became a center for industrial
occupation; the rapids of the river offering a motive power of great
value, ingenuity, talent and industry assembled at this point, and
accumulation of capital with consequent results are strongly marked,
in the array of productive in dustry as set forth in the statistics
of the county.
Waterloo is of more recent origin, and for a time was
held in check by speculations, which in some degree interfered with
the title and perfect con-
No. 150.] 399
veyance of the soil. This impediment having been removed,
the village is now bounding forward, and will take rank among the
prosperous and vigorous villages of western New-York; this is evidenced
by the increase of population of the town since the former census,
being a gain of 771; a larger gain than is observed in any other section
of the county.
Junius, directly north of Waterloo, became the favored
resting place and home of many prudent, cautious men from the
east; among them were the family of Southwicks, Carmans, Liskes,
Colemans, and others who were early settlers.
The town of Tyre occupies the north-east corner of
the county, into which the first settlers entered in 1794; it was
at that time a dense forest, where dwelled the grizly bear, and the
fierce wild Indian, too savage to associate with his tribe, living
almost as an out-east on the small islands amid the swamps and marshes
of Tyre, and on the borders of the river.
The first white man who settled within the limits of
Tyre, was Ezekiel Crane, who, with his wife and one or two children,
left New Jersey in 1794, and selected the lot No. 48 for their future
residence. It has been remarked by Mrs. Crane, that during the first
twelve months of her residence in Tyre, she never beheld the face
of a white female. In the following year Stephen Crane, (a brother
to Ezekiel,) with his wife, her father and mother, named Pegarmo, two
sons named Peter and Ezra Degarmo, arrived and settled on the same lots;
at the same time Asher Halsey joined the new settlement.
The next settlers were Robert Goold, Thomas Sasson,
Lewis Winans, Thomas W. Roosevelt and others.
In 1802, Asa Smith arrived from Vermont, he cleared
a piece of ground, sowed it with wheat, erected a comfortable log
house and returned to Vermont. In April, 1803, he left the Vermont
hills for western New-York. His caravan consisted of himself, his wife,
five daughters and one son, the latter is Jason Smith, now of Tyre, and
for several years a Vice-President and an active member of the county
Agricultural Society. They reached their new home in the untrod forest,
and found themselves farther advanced in the wilderness than any other white
family, subjected consequently to intrusions from the wandering Indians;
as an old trail passed near the house, they were often affrighted by
a savage head peering through the window, or the muzzle of a rifle presented
with a request for food or tobacco such was the position of a pioneer family
in this county in 1803.
Among the Indians who had been permitted to roam freely
among the white inhabitants and receive aid and kindness from all,
was an elderly Seneca called “old Indian John,” he was tolerated for
his age, but not
esteemed, as his passions were strong and under no
subjection; being an experienced hunter, his rifle and knife were
worthy of close observation and his skill of imitation. As the frosts
of autumn stripped the forests of their gay attire, men prepared for
the chase, the Indian and white man alike were incited to prepare
their store before the deep snows of winter should drive the game away,
or render it more difficult to approach. It was at this season that
old Indian John and Mr. George Phadoc agreed to share in the season’s
hunt. Well prepared, they erected a bark cabin on the banks of the Black
Several days of successful hunting were followed by
a sudden change on the part of “old Indian John.” The well fatted
deer passed him unharmed, the wild birds screamed defiance to his
ball, his rifle refused to give its sharp, quick report; sullenly
he viewed the fall of game laid low by the true aim of Mr. Phadoc,
his eye became fierce with rising passion, the idea of necromancy
took possession of his brain, jealousy was roused to hatred, and heated
It was after an unsuccessful hunt on the part of the
Indian, on the 11th of December, that both returned to their cabin
for rest ; leaving the game killed by Mr. Phadoc, to be brought in
the next morning. The wily Indian was thwarted in every hope of revenge
during that night, and disappointment added torture to his maddened
brain. On the morning of the 12th December, Mr. Phadoc departed from
the cabin at an early hour to bring in a deer, which had been shot the
evening previous; returning to the cabin door and stooping to unburthen
himself, a rifle ball passed through the game, slightly wounding his
side: he instantly drew his tomahawk, intending to despatch old John,
but a second thought induced him to seize his rifle and hasten to the
white man’s abode for relief. Having reached Mr. Asa Smith’s residence,
the family were alarmed, fearing the well known rage of the old Indian:
in their alarm every tree seemed to shelter or hide a foe, but the Indian
did not leave the cabin, he re-loaded his rifle, and in patience awaited
an opportunity to indulge his ferocious desire for revenge.
Mr. Ezekiel Crane, the earliest settler of Tyre, had
successfully opened the forest, and the earth had begun to yield
a full recompense to his toils. His wife, who patiently had shared
the dangers and privations of pioneer life, now rejoiced in comforts
and comparative indulgence, which gave to the past a dreamy existence,
a feeling of almost doubt, whether such scenes and hardship could be
endured and life continue. Thus happy in the increase of wealth, Crane
determined to increase his real estate, and on the morning of Phadoc’s
disaster, accompanied by Ezra Degarmo, they intended to ex-
No. 150.] 401
amine the country for a few miles west, and select
such portions as would probably be productive. Well acquainted with
Phadoc and old Indian John, and knowing their arrangements for taking
game, Mr. Crane determined to stop at their cabin and procure such
venison as might be spared. Reaching Black brook, they approached
the cabin; Mr. Crane tapped at the door, and in an instant a rifle
ball penetrated his left breast and lodged in his left shoulder. He
fell apparently dead. Young Degarmo was unable to remove or carry him
off, and fearing that any delay would jeopardize his own life, he hastened
to rouse the neighborhood and carry the first tidings of the sad event
to the family of Mr. Crane. In the meantime Mr. Crane, though mortally
wounded, was able to reach the dwelling of Mr. Asa Smith, where he lingered
for five days, and death released him from great suffering.
Toward evening of the day on which Mr. Crane was shot,
the hardy woodsmen assembled, intending to capture the Indian,
that he might be punished by the laws of the land, rightly judging
that punishment thus applied, carried with it a terror far greater and
more abiding in its consequences than ever flows from hasty illegal
acts of individuals. Waiting until darkness might cover their movements,
the cabin was earefully approached under cover of the huge trees of
the forest. The old Indian was seen standing at the door; with characteristic
sagacity, anticipating an attack, his keen eye, quickly discovered the
motion of dark objects in the distance, and he instantly made the woods
ring with the war whoop and shouts of defiance. Impressed with the danger
of taking him alive, without the sacrifice of some one or more of the assailing
party, it was difficult to restrain the younger men from shooting him as
With a knowledge of Indian character, the older men
had procured the assistance of three friendly Indians, by whose
means the old man was first brought to a parley and finally seized,
overpowered, and bound. He was carried to the dwelling of Mr.
Smith, and there met Phadoc. The old man’s rage rose to a pitch
of fury at sight of his intended victim. Impotent for harm, a reaction
took place, and though he maintained a deadly hatred against Phadoc,
he expressed unfeigned sorrow for the death of Mr. Crane. Old Indian
John was placed in an apartment constructcd within the eastern abutment
of Cayuga bridge. The, severity of the winter made it necessary to
send him for safety to the jail at Canandaigua. In 1804 he was tried
and convicted of the murder. lie suffered the penalty of the law at
Aurora, in Cayuga county, exhibiting in his last moments one of the superstitious
characteristics of the Indian. While on the platform it was observed
that a pipe and portion of leaf tobacco were in his belt, prepared,
[Assembly, No. 150.]
as he informed the officers present, to smoke the calumet
of peace with Mr. Crane, when they should meet in the spirit world.
The execution of this man produced a wholesome effect
upon the Indians yet lingering in this region. The largest portion
removed immediately to the more distant wilderness, while the few
who remained were passive and became in a degree useful laborers.
No. 150.] 403
With the increase of population, advancing with a force
unknown on any other portion of the globe, the relations of the
country to the early settlements required frequent changes for the
ready administration of government, with regard both to public law
and policy. About fifty-eight years after the first attempt to establish
a colony on the shores of New Amsterdam, it became indispensable to
create divisions and subdivisions of territory. Accordingly, on the
first day of November, 1683, by a law of the colony, the following
ten counties were organized, viz: Suffolk, Queens, Kings, Richmond,
New-York, West Chester, Dutchess, Orange, Ulster, and Albany. Each western
county embraced the territory of the wilderness to the limits of the
State, and was circumscribed from time to time by the erection of new
counties, the organization of which served to define the western, northern
and southern bounds of the county, from which the new territory was taken,
1772. — The contests of England and France for power at home, and for the
trade of this country, retarded for many years the opening and peopling
of the forests, the battle fields of the contending European powers seemed
for a time to be transfered to the new world, and for near a century restrained
the associations of men to the neighborhood of the early settled villages
and towns. The waters of the Mohawk had long been an easy route through
the wilderness as far as Canajoharie, and tempted hardy, courageous men
to make their homes near its banks. In 1772 it became expedient to extend
to these advanced settlers the ready protection of law, and facility for
the enjoyment of every constitutional right. To effect this a new county
was erected, taken from Albany county, then called Tryon county, and afterwards
known as Montgomery county, This occurred just prior to the revolutionary
struggle, a period which paralyzed for the time the advance of civilization
beyond existing populous neighborhoods. Within a few years after the achievement
of the freedom of the people, emigration once more flowed rapidly over
western lands. In 1791 the new counties of ilerkimer, Otsego, Tioga and
Ontario, were taken from Montgomery; in 1798 Oneida and part of Chenango
were also taken from Montgomery; in 1802 0-enesee was set off from Ontario,
and subsequently in 1821, Livingston and Monroe, and again in 1823, Yates
was taken from Ontario. From Genesee was taken Allegany in 1806; Cattaraugus,
Chautauque, and Niagara in 1808, and Orleans in
Other divisions have been made since the year 1824, but
the foregoing exhibits the links or chain of organization direet
from the waters of the’ Hudson to the Niagara river.
The direct chain of organization of the county of Seneca
is from Albany, the original colony, from whence was derived Tryon,
or Montgomery, in 1772; thence Herkimer, 1791 ; from Herkimer was derived
1794. Cayuga was organized from Onondaga, ‘in 1799, and
Seneca was. erected into a county in 1804, taken from Cayuga. The
boundaries of the county as ordained by statute, are as follows :*
“The county of Seneca shall contain all that part of this State, bounded
on the north by the county of Wayne, on the east by the county of Cayuga,
on the south by the county of Tompkins, and on the west by the west
shore of the Seneca lake, and from the north end of said lake, by the
pre-emption line as established by law.” A description so vague and defective,
without reference to a single determinate point, cannot be well comprehended,
or determine the limits of any portion of territory. Difficulties had
arisen between New-York and Massachusetts, in relation to the region of
country lying west of the Seneca lake, a large portion of which was claimed
by Massachusetts. These diffi-culties were happily adjusted in 1786, by
concessions on both sides; New— York retained the jurisdiction, while
Massachusetts secured the pre-emptive right to the soil, or the right
to the fee of the territory upon giving to the Indians such compensation
for removal as would satisfy them. In order to establish the eastern limit
of "the right," thus conferred on Massachusetts, it was ordered that a
line should be run due north from the eighty-second mile stone, on the
north boundary of Pennsylvania to the British posses-sions in Canada.
And it is this line which is designated as the western boundary of the
northern part of the county of Seneca. It does not appear that any observations
have been made to establish the true position of this line relatively to
any meridian. Yet for the purposes of this survey calcu-lations have been
made, based upon observations said to be made at adja-cent points, by which
it appears that the pre-emption line is about one mile east of the meridian
of Washington. The geographical limits of the county may be defined as
extending from 42 deg. 33 min., to 43 deg. 1 min. of north latitude, and
from 55 to 76 dog. west of London. The west-ern shores are washed by the
clear waters of Seneca lake, a distance of thirty-nine miles; and the eastern
shores by the Cayuga lake, nearly the same distance.
When the county was organized in the year 1804, by an act
*Revised Statutes chap. 2, title 1, page 14, vol. 3, second
No. 150.] 405
he 24th of March, its extent and limits comprised (he towns
of Ovid, Romulus, Fayette, and Junius. The towns of Ovid and Romulus
had been organized as parts of Ontario county, by the general sessions,
pursuant to an act passed on the 27th of January, 1789. Fayette had
been organ-ized as part of Cayuga county, on the 4th of March, 1800,
and taken from Romulus. It then bore the name of Washington. This name
was changed to Fayette, by an act passed on the 6th of April, 1808. Junius
was taken from the town of Washington, (Fayette,) and organized by an
act passed on the 12th. February 1803.
Since the erection of the county, several towns have been
created by a division of the older and larger towns. In (he year
1817, Covert was taken from Ovid, and in 1826 Covert was divided, and
the town of Lodi was de-rived from the western portion..
Junius was divided in the year 1829, giving rise to the
towns of Tyre, Waterloo, and Seneca Falls, and again in 1830 a northern
portion of Romu-lus was organized as the town of Varick.
The county now comprises ten towns; taking them in alphabetical
order they are Covert, Fayette, Junius, Lodi, Ovid, Romulus, Seneca
Falls, Tyre, Varick, and Waterloo. The whole county covers an area
of 197,500 acres. The territory is apportioned to the several towns
The taxes imposed on this valuation, and on personal property,
(which is estimated at $744,924,) annually for county, town, road,
and school taxes, forms an aggregate of about $24,000..
To facilitate the administration of justice, it was found
expedient, in the year 1822, to divide the county into two jury districts,
the courts being
held alternately at the court house in Waterloo and
in Ovid. The northern jury district comprizes the towns of Fayette,
Waterloo, Seneca Falls, Junius, and Tyre. The number of grand jurors
in this district is one huddred and seventy-two, of petit jurors five
hundred and ninety-four.
The Southern district comprises Covert, Lodi, Ovid,
Romulus and Yarick, with one hundred and fifty-seven grand jurors,
and seven hundred and sixteen petit jurors.
ROADS. - When the Indian trail or foot path led the
hardy citizen into this county, and at a period so recent that,
the man yet lives who trod those very paths before any road was made;
the most valuable products of this region were, furs or peltry, which
were transported on the backs of Indian men and women, to points where
Often would the tangled briars and underwood obstruct
their progress, or the treacherous swamp and precipitous ravine
compel them to traverse an extended circuit. Soon, however, the rich
rewards of labor, applied to a soil full of the elements of fertility,
taught the cultivator the necessity fer unobstructed, easy and rapid
means of communication with the more populous country and active markets
of the sea-board.
The face of the county had been surveyed and for the
most part laid out in lots of about one mile square, presenting
division lines running north and south, and at right angles east
and west ; it was deemed advisable to adopt a system or net work of
roads conforming to the lot lines, as most convenient, uniform and
direct for all useful purposes; accordingly the roads are generally
co-incident with the lines of town lots, presenting parallel avenues
through the length and breadth of the county, about one mile asunder.
By this uniform system every branch of industry is
encouraged and promoted; economy is a necessary consequence; and
the diminished cost of agricultural products, proves generally to
be a profit to the farmer.
In the early spring of the year, when the frost leaves
the soil, and in the autumn when the rains loosen it, the roads
have been at times imnpassable, at other seasons they are firm
and smooth, being kept in excellent repair under the existing regulations
of the highway laws.
To avoid the delays and consumption of labor when frost
and rains affect roads; the construction of a plank flooring has
been adopted and has found general favor; private enterprize founded
on the belief of emolument and public utility, has entered upon the formation
of plank roads ; several are in progress from the thriving village of
Waterloo, extending north into Wayne Co., south and toward Ovid, other
similar roads branch off from the manufacturing village of Seneca Falls,
and more recently a plank road has been laid along the
No. 150.] 407
shore of Seneca lake from Geneva, across the outlet,
passing through Rose Hill it reaches the border of Varick. The
beauty, of the lake, the scenery of its shores, its bright transparent
waters, its banks clothed with the richest verdure, and studded with
edifices replete with comfort; their inmates given to hospitality;
these advantages offer to the stranger and visitor one of the most agreeable
rides, and enchanting scenes of which the nation can boast.
The lines of the Albany and Buffalo railroad, and a
branch of the Eric canal passing through the northern towns; the
navigable lakes bounding either side of the county; the New-York and
Erie railroad in direct connection with Seneca lake, the Ithaca and
Owego road in communication with the Caynga lake; all present constant
and direct communications with New-York and Boston, and every intermediate
market on the Atlantic coast, and also with the great northern and western
lakes and country. There is a remarkable feature, characteristic
of Seneca lake, which is of inestimable value to the region round about;
this lake maintains a temperature through the winter months, which prevents
the accumulation of ice, and affords a permanent, available channel
of intercourse with the north and south, and direct communication between
New-York and Buffalo, in sixteen to twenty hours.
This peculiarity of temperature is explained in the
chapter on springs. The formation of the bottom of the lake is given
in the annexed diagram and the depth of water at the points indicated.
It will be perceived that the greatest depth is off
Starkey’s point and measures 630 feet below the surface. The surface
of its waters is 431 feet above Albany, 447 feet above the ocean,
and 216 feet above lake Ontario. The greatest depth is 183 feet below
the surface of the ocean. According to a series of observations, the
mean temperature of the lake, near its surface and for twelve months
was 53 91/100 degree. At the depth of 80 feet it is about
480. The lowest mean temperature
was in the month of February, being then 340, the highest in August,
when it was 76 degree. Neither shoals nor bars oppose the navigation
of this lake. At is northern extremity the waters have encroached
upon the land, wearing the banks; their farther advance
is arrested by a sea wall erected by the State, to protect
the canal which passes between the lake and the track of the railroad.
Seneca lake is thirty-nine miles in length, and about four
miles wide, at its broadest point. The annexed sketch of the lake
gives the position of the principal landing places, and the usual track
of the steamboats is marked by the dotted line—the distance between
each landing is as follows:
Geneva to Dresden 14
Dresden to Baileytown or Ovid Landing 5
Baileytown to Lodi Landing 4
Lodi to Milo Landing 5
Milo to Starkey and Dundee Landing 3
Starkey to Big Stream Point 4
Big Stream to Hector Falls 8
Hector Falls to Jefferson Railroad Station
The formation of the county does not admit the collection of
waters on its surface in sufficient quantities to form rivers. Melting
snows and the union of springs have caused waters to run for a season
down the slopes of the elevated lands in the southcrn towns, forming precipices
and ravines. The only perpetual stream in the county is the Seneca river—its
waters are derived originally from the lake, and flowing in a direction
about E. N. E., supply the various manufactories, mills, and machinery,
with useful power at Waterloo ; thence it flows on to Seneca Falls, where
it is again applied to give force and motion to extensive machinery; from
these falls it rolls on until it mingles with the waters of Cayuga lake,
and running north, passes Montezuma; then stretching through the counties
of Cayuga and Onondaga its waters join the Oswego river, falling into Lake
Ontario at Oswego.
Big Creek is an unimportant stream, which receives a portion
of the sur-face waters of Romulus, Varick, and Fayette, taking a northerly
direction, parallel with the lakes, and about two miles east of Seneca
lake, it falls into Seneca river at the farm of Mr. Jacob Kendig.
A rivulet of some importance and notoriety rises in the eastern
part of Fayette, near the village of Canoga. The main supply issues from
a pool, fifteen feet in diameter; the water is pure, leaving no sediment
or deposit; pursuing its rapid course to Cayuga lake, giving power to
several mills for grinding grain and sawing lumber. A curious feature of
the pool is the quantity of nitrogen gas which escapes, at times giving
to the water the appearance of ebullition. The spring is further noticed
in the chapter on springs. This rivulet, and its locality obtains some
notoriety from a tree, not far from its banks, under which the celebrated
No. 150.] 409
Jacket was born; a tree which he visited in his old age, with
feelings alike honorable to his head and heart.
Lodi Creek is a stream fed from the high lands of the southern
bounds, of the county; when swollen with rains or melted snows, it
sweeps down its shaly bed, bounding over the rapids until it reaches
the farm and mills of Mr. Nicholl H. Wyckoff, where it pours over a precipice,
falling into a basin about one hundred and sixty feet below. The steep
and rocky sides of this glen are filled with objects of interest to the
man of science, and to all who love a wild, rude scenery, clothed with
verdure, ornamented with flowers of every tint, and checkered with light
and shadow, as the sun-beams force their way through the dense and entangled
foliage. Here and there, on the margin of this stream, are grist mills of
admirable construc-tion; their solid structure of stone, enough weather
beaten to carry the marks of age, rising from groves of aged trees, might
readily bring to mind the feeling of awe mingled with pleasure, which, in
youthful days, would invest the lofty banks and frowning rocks with fairies,
satyrs, and an elfin race these twilight feelings, once so prevalent., are
nearly blotted from the mind, by instruction and education ; they have given
place to thought, and reason, unceasingly occupied in objects of utility
and the means of subsistence.
Cayuga lake, with its sparkling waters, washes gently the eastern
shore of the county. This beautiful sheet of watcr is not so great in
volume as Seneca lake, neither is the temperature of the water as high,
which proba-bly arises from a lesser depth of water, and the supply being
derived from sources nearer to the surface of the earth than those which
spring into the basin of the Seneca lake.
The annexed diagram exhibits the form of the Cayuga basin,
in the di-rection of its length, with the depth of the water at the
The depth of water off Springport is about twenty-five feet.
At one mile south of this point, it is thirty-six feet deep; the water
deepens rapidly, and between Aurora and the opposite western shore,
the lead escaping the edge of the rock strata, sinks to a depth. of
near three hundred feet; the bluff edges of the rock frequently lead
to error in sounding.
Off Shcldrake Point, on the Seneca shore, the water
is shallow, the point jutting out far into the lake forms a narrow
strip of earth of a texture seemingly tenacious or adhesive. A singular
flexibility is attributed to the extreme portions of it, by the inhabitants
of the neighborhood, who maintain that it shifts its position, curving
to the northward or southward as the wind prevails from the one or
the other direction. The deepest water of this lake is found near to
Myers’ Point, about four miles south of Himrod's Point, and toward the
eastern shore. At this place the lead reaches the bottom at a depth
of three hundred and ninety-six feet. The basin riscs from this point
rather abruptly, as will be seen by reference to the diagram. *
The surface of this lake freezes in the winter season,
so far as to impede navigation occasionally. This basin, like that
of Seneca lake, is probably supplied with water by the rain falling
on the surface of the surrounding country, which, passing through
the seams and fissures of the rocks, rushes into the basin below the
surface of the lake. No streams of any magnitude flow into this lake;
at Springport, a valuable flow of water gushes from the earth, giving
power sufficient for machinery.
Both the Seneca and Cayuga lakes have abounded with
the much es teemed white fish, weighing from five to ten pounds ;
numbers are taken annually to grace the tables of the wealthy and
luxurious in the large cities. Trout are abundant; two varieties of
bass fish are esteemed ; and besides these, pike and perch abound, and
eels of great size are numerous.
During the summer months the bosom of the Cayuga is
studded here and there with the white canvass of sloops and schooners,
engaged in transporting commodities from shore to shore, or from one
extreme to its opposite. Steamboats of rare excellence divide the
waters with their swift keels, hurrying the man of business or of pleasure
from the great markets of the sea coast, to the cities and villages of
the distant west, or carrying the merchant and trader of the west to
the great centers of commerce, into which all nations now pour their
fabrics and works of ingenuity and art.
Cayuga lake extends from north to south, about thirty-eight
and a half miles. The traveller from Ithaca reaches Ludlowville,
a distance of seven miles, and at two and a half miles farther north
he passes Goodwin’s Point:
Kidder’s Ferry, or Port Kidder, is seventeen and a
quarter miles from Ithaca, and two miles south of Sheldrake Point;
Aurora, one of the most beautiful villages in the State, is twenty-six
miles from Ithaca; Levana is two miles further north, and Springport
is four and a half miles north of Levana. A few miles onward is the
terminus of the Cayuga bridge, a
*The soundings of Cayuga lake are taken from
Mr. Van Nuxem's Geological Report, and the traditions obtained
from residents on its borders. Many persons assert that the depths
of the Seneca and Cayuga lakes are far greater than is stated in this
No. 150.] 411
structure of vast importance in the early settlement
of the country beyond Caynga. In the year 1790, and until 1798,
a ferry existed at this point; it was established by Col. John Harris
who relinquished his rights to an association, chartered for the purpose
of erecting a bridge. It was completed and opened on the 4th of July,
1800 ; its length was one mile and ten rods, resting upon piles. In five
years, decay rendered the bridge insecure, and in 1807 it fell into
the lake. Speculative views interfered with the public good; chancery
suits were invoked to protect supposed rights; the charter was forfeited;
legislative relief restored all former rights, under due restrictions, and
a new bridge was erected in 1812—13, at a cost of $44,000. This structure
yielded to the effects of weather, storms and tempests, in 1833, giving
place to the bridge now spanning the lake. The existing bridge cost about
$16,000, and it is to be regretted that though now in good repair, and
deemed secure, yet within the last year or two it has at times been impassable
, giving presage of early destruction.
It has been remarked that no streams of any magnitude
flow into either the Seneca or Cayuga lakes; yet the discharge from
Seneca lake, giving rise to the Seneca river, is so great as to arrest
attention, and to suggest frequently the inquiry, whence is this great
body of water derived ?
The surface of Crooked lake is 271 feet above the Seneca
lake waters. The flow from Crooked lake empties through the outlet
near Dresden ; this outlet presents the form or figure shown in the
The velocity of the current through this outlet is
132 feet per minute, which is equal to one and a half miles per
hour. The quantity of water discharged is 144,065 gallons per minute.
The volume of water discharged from Seneca lake into the river is
equal to 232,306 gallons per minute.
The difference proving that 88,241 gallons per minute
must be contributed by springs.* The form and dimensions of
the outlet of Seneca lake are given in the following diagram:
* The waters received into the lake, from the Chemung
canal, are not included in the estimates of quantities-supposing
them to be balanced by the discharge at Geneva, through the Cayuga and
The span of the bridge over the outlet is eighty-two
feet ; the western side is choked with sand, reducing the water
course to seventy-two feet.
The percolation of rain through the slaty formation
of this region has been considered under the head of springs, and
needs no further illustration here, except to add that columns of water
are known to rise from the bottom of the lake, with a force sufficient
to cause a slight yet perceptible elevation on its placid surface;
and when bathers have passed through these ascending columns, the cold
has benumbed their limbs, warning them that danger attends a repeated
There is a feature which mars the general beauty of
the northeastern town of this county, and its continued existence
is strangely inconsistent with the energy and forecast of the farmers
Not less than six thousand acres of land are useless
in the town of Tyre. They are worse than useless, for disease and
decay have their haunts and fastnesses in that unfrequented place,
dragging their slimy lengths along the miry channels, nnd with unwholesome
breath they bid defiance to the boldest pioneer. The adjoining counties
of Wayne and Cayuga are alike and equally interested in the removal
of this pest, and it needs but a true presentation of the value of
the wide area lying waste, to find and apply the remedy.
The soils of the northeastern lots of Tyre are, for
many months of the year, overflowed by the waters from the Canandaigua,
Seneca, and Caynga lakes, all pressing along the margin of Seneca
river, without finding a sufficient outlet for their discharge. For
a period unknown, vegetable remains have been collected in strata,
now measuring many feet in depth. From year to year this deposit increases,
and is generally saturated with water, even in the driest season it offers
a treacherous support to the foot. The soil is black, changing to a brown
color when dried by heat. The underlying earthy surface is a marl, rich
in carbonate of lime. The moisture which surrounds every fibre of the
vegetable mass, contains an acid, and as the subsoil is calcareous, the
acid tends to decompose the iron which is naturally present in marshes
or bogs, (sulphate of iron,) and causes the production of sulphate of
lime. This is not mentioned as uniformly, but as frequently occurring,
and as one of the causes of unusual crops ef corn, where the planter
has previously composted this marsh mud and then applied it as a top-dressing
to his corn hills, deriving signal advantage by rapid growth and large
Many have indulged the vain hope of reclaiming these
marshes by individual exertion, without a general and thorough
drainage. Such attempts
No. 150] 413
are useless, and will ever produce loss to the sanguine
farmer. Vegitation cannot be perfectly developed in a soil merely
vegetable, and rendered noxious to cultivated plants by its poisonous
acid; the soil must first be altered by the art of man.
The extensive area of waste lands in Tyre, and the
submerged lands adjoining, must at an early day claim attention,
and be brought to a condition which shall add wealth and power
to the counties in which they lie. There is no reason to doubt the
easy accomplishment of this object. The face of the country, the fall
and course of Seneca river, indicate the method by which to drain the
basin retaining the vast amount of waters; which being done, it will rest
with the skill of the farmer to furnish the vegetable soil with such other
elements as will promote and support vigorous life in the various useful
and profitable farm products. The underlying marls, with the neighboring
lime kilns of Fayette and Seneca Falls, with the accustomed industry
of the farmers, would in .a few years make the present marshes to yield
abundant and remunerating crops.
Thorough drainage must precede any attempt at cultivation,
it must be complete, taking off all water from the entire mass of
vegetable deposit, thereby allowing it to become firm, solid, and
ready for the art of the husbandman.
In the town of Varick, nearly eight hundred acres of
surface have been permitted to lie waste, and at times throw off
the seeds of disease upon the surrounding farms. This swamp or bog
is usually known as the “ Cranberry swamp.” The underlying slate rock
forms a basin of no great depth, into which a vegetable deposit has
fallen and accumulated. This basin sheds its surplus waters, by openings
on its eastern margin into the Cayuga lake. Resting upon elevated ground,
the town of Varick suffers much from this collection of water, and but
for this drawback, Varick would in all respects be equal to the most fertile
There is no apparent impediment to the easy reclamation
of this cranberry swamp, the expense of which would be well repaid
in a very few years by the ample products of its now useless area.
With the foregoing exceptions, there is no waste land
in this county. The increasing value of all well cultivated fields
in the vicinity of these swamps, will necessarily draw attention to
the subject, and will produce probably a combined action or effort
of the several contiguous counties, to reclaim an area of an extent
so great, and composed of materials so useful as to present objects for
reasonable profit unattended by delay.
In the United States, freedom and security are enjoyed
to an extent unknown in other nations; and it seems as if one element
of happiness alone remains incomplete, causing a diversity of condition
among the people; it is the degree of plenty in its broad signification,
which varies the quantum of enjoyment of individuals.
The condition of man upon this globe does not, however,
admit of equal degrees of plenty, and a few remarks upon the distribution
of happiness or the possession of plenty among the various classes
may be acceptable and gratifying to the farmer.
Subsistence is derived origin ally and solely from
the soil ; all food is produced from the soil. The possessors of
the soil, therefore, control the great and principal element of happiness;
and it is the excess of their production, beyond their wants, which
warms into existence other occupations than husbandry, and encourages
other talent to be exerted for the production of objects of ingenuity,
comfort or luxury, which may be given in exchange for the farmers surplus
It is evident that by this arrangement the farmer is
excited to increase his products from year to year that he may
indulge in more varied comforts or gratify a taste for ornament
and luxury, which growing habits soon erect into necessaries of
life those persons who from disinclination or other disability do
not or cannot possess a portion of the soil are thus, also called into
action, and receive, directly or indirectly from the cultivator of
the ground, the necessaries of life or means for subsistence, giving
for theta what the farmer thinks he stands in need of: or like the merchant,
the means for his subsistence may be derived, in the form of compensation
for his exertions and labor in the distribution of surplus products.
Thus it is that artificial desires have acted as stimulants
to industry and long continued habit has now established a wholesome
mutual dependence of all classes upon each other, and the degree
of plenty is governed by the greater industry and better talent that
may he nsed or exerted. The artificial desires appertaining to this age
are strongly illustrated by the fact that, multitudes of men obtain their
subsistence by distributing objects which in thcmselves are useless, or
positively injurious, for instance, tobacco is an article unfit for the
preservation or continuance of life in any degree, and has no claim upon
man for its use, other than is derived from fashion, idle indulgence, or
a vitiated appetite. Yet this article gives a powerful impetus to
No. 150.1 415
productive and distributive industry, as appears from
the public documents of 1850; in which it is shown that an amount
of tobacco has been exported from the United States in the year ending
on the 30th of June, valued at more than nine and a half millions of
dollars. Multitudes of other articles equally useless or non-essential,
make up a large portion of trade and commerce, and may be ranked under
the same class of stimuli founded chiefly on the habits of the farmer.
Here let it be remembered that the farming population of the United States
amount in number to 17,500,000 while the remainder of the population
divided into many classes and vocations, are in number only 5,500,000.
The inquiring farmer will not fail to observe that
though his own indulgence must have been the first active cause
for this condition of life, he is now the recipient of the largest
share of advantages springing from it. The advance of knowledge brought
with it new and refined tastes; new habits were formed as new luxuries
were introduced, and these habits have given additional life and vigor
to that portion of the community who subsist by employments, which gratify
the inclinations, the caprices, the wants real and imaginary, of the producers
from the soil.
The farmer must see also, that the greater the demand
is for these ob jects, so much greater will be the demand upon his
farm for the supply of subsistence for the class of non-producers,
and as a farm will always produce, with due care and attention, more
than the proprietor and his family can possibly consume, so, he becomes
necessarily richer by the stimulus which induces larger products, and
may justly indulge the very gratifying reflection that, though industry
is equally excited among all classes of people, yet Agriculture is the
main supporting pillar of the fabric of society.
Agriculture being the direct source of human sustenance,
all who are engaged in the distribution of its products, are instrumental
in its promotion, and the whole vast machinery of trade and commerce
has no intrinsic value beyond the accomplishment of this end.
Though this position as regards trade and commerce
is strictly true, yet it must be remembered, that they confer upon
the farmer benefits of inestimable value, it is the vast machine and
depot, whereby the earthÕs products are transmitted to the consumers,
or held in readiness for their use, without the continued labor or
care of the farmer; and their values are returned to his door in any
form or substance most desirable to him; it is a system of the division
of labor, which in all its branches serves to promote the interests of
the owner of the soil.
The condition of this county sixty years ago, when
the surface was first subjected to imperfect tillage; the increase
of inhabitants, the more recent
establishment of villages, the great demand for mechanical
improvements followed by the introduction of almost every foreign
luxury, strongly illustrate the foregoing positions.
In the year 1789Ñ90, the first seed was scattered
upon the earth of Senaca county; in a few short years, rudely constructed
arks were seen floating on the lakes, or down the waters of the Susquehannah,
loaded with the surplus products of the farmer. During the earlier
period every want was supplied from the soil; food was derived from
the grain and cattle, raiment from the wool of sheep; labor afforded
neither time or desire for unnecesary objects. Soon, however, the earth
presented to industry a greater amount of products than could be consumed
or conveniently preserved; then the broadeloths of other nations began
to supplant the homespun fabrics; the gown of IndiaÕs cotton with
gay color and strange sounding names, displaced the handiwork of the domestic
spinning wheel and loom; with these comfortable innovations came also foreign
teas and sugars.
When population had increased in New England to an
extent, which could not be as cheaply sustained from the rocky
soil, as from more fertile land, the people naturally sought other
modes of subsistence than the cultivation of an unprofitable farm.
Many left their homes to people and cultivate the western lands, while
others applied themselves to vie with foreign nations in the manufacture
of fabrics useful or tempting to the producing classes; a competion as
bold as it has now become successful. In the early struggles of the
manufacturing interests every avenue was industriously explored for
markets, wherein to vend their fabrics; eastern industry and ingenuity
again stimulated the agricultural people, and this county with others
poured forth their grain and flour, their beeves and sheep, taking in
return objects of industry, ingenuity and utility.
The impetus thus given was necessarily extended to
the mechanic arts, to the greater use of metals and machinery,
causing persons thus occupied to assemble and reside in villages,
for greater convenience and mutual aid, in many cases selecting the
rapids of rivers for the position of a village, that the power of water
might be economically used. Thus Seneca Falls and Waterloo reared their
heads; Canoga and Bearytown, Romulusville and Ovid, Lodi and Covert,
Towuseadville and Farmerville, became the busy residences of numbers
not connected with the soil as farmers, yet all called into action for
the aid of the cultivator, by employing their talents and industry, in
consumption, distribution, and the production of commodities useful or
These and similar causes have, in the space of sixty
years, made the wild forests within the bounds of this county to
produce about 600,000
No. 150.] 417
bushels of wheat, 350,000 bushels of oats, and 300,000
bushels of corn, per annum, with a due proportion of other agricultural
The following pages exhibit the productions of each
town, in a manner at once simple yet showing at a glance the comparative
condition of each town in regard to every article of production, also
the total or aggregate quantities produced in the county.
The industrial pursuits are classified alphabetically,
and so arranged as to show the capital, number of men, and the
value of the commodities produced in each town, and forms an easy
contrast of the towns. It may be noticed that the county contains 2,349
farms of various dimensions, and that the officers of the United States,
employed to take the census of this county, have visited only 1,557
farms; consequently, the number of inhabitants, and quantity of products
of this county, are much larger than is stated in the official returns.
It is due to the gentlemen engaged in taking the census
of this county, to remark, that they were not required to visit or
record farms, the income of which did not amount to one hundred dollars
per annum; neither of industrial pursuits which did not yield five
hundred dollars annually.
This will explain the discrepancy between the area
of the county, as returned by the United States officers, (168,067
acres,) and the area upon which the supervisors of the county adjust
the annual taxes, (197,500 acres,) being a difference of about thirty
The omission to report the inhabitants, products, and
industrial pursuits covering a space of thirty thousand acres, necessarily
presents the county in a less favorable condition than is due to
it; yet, the system being uniform throughout the United States, the
census will present an important State document, for all purposes of
comparison, sufficient for the statesman and legislator.
[Assembly, No. 150.1 27
No. 150.1 423
It will be noticed by the careful rcadcr, that no return
of the industrial occupations pursued in Junius or Tyre, has been
made, yet the capital reported as invested appears to be $987,815,
and the labor consumed in its conduct and management to be applied by
about 1,353 individuals. It appears also from these returns, that the
use of this capital with the mate rials, and the labor applied to it,
produced in one year various products, the value of which was $1,772,903.
The farmer will find much to interest him in the examination
of these statistics, every item of which has an influence on his
well doing. Under the head of grist mills it will be seen that two
hundred and seventy thousand five hundred dollars are applied as
capital to this branch of industry. These mills are worked by sixty-seven
persons ; they grind, collectively, five hundred and seventy-four thousand
bushels of grain, and send out as one of their products, one hundred
arid forty thousand five hundred and seventy-five barrels of flour. In
this instance the consumption of wheat grain exceeds the whole wheat product
of the county.
Another branch of industry bearing direct on the product
of the farm, is the manufacture of wool. The capital invested in
the employment is $224,000, giving occupation to three hundred persons,
whose labor is chiefly employed in attendance upon machinery. This
capital and labor consumes annually 325,000 pounds of wool, being a
quantity more than double of the whole wool product of the county. It
is by no means intended to infer from these facts, that the value of the
farmers’ wheat and wool are immediately influenced by the mills and factories
within the county. They are unimportant in their effect upon the market
value of the raw material, yet their beneficial influences are great,
inasmuch as they draw together masses of capital, increase the number
of consumers of the articles of sustenance, all of which are derived from
the farm; and so long as they are managed with prudence, they are influential
in the increase of population and accumulation of capital.
Men who live in villages, possessing intelligence and
enterprise, soon discover these springs which act with, force upon
capitalists, and when the impetus is given, every action gives birth
to a new want or exercise of industry. It must be remembered that
these springs of industrial occupations with their influences, belong
properly to and arise from the non-producing class of citizens ; the
results of their labors do not produce the necessaries of life, or the
materials for subsistence. This is peculiarly the occupation of farmers;
it is for them to furnish subsistence for mankind, while those engaged
in industril pursuits supply the great body of the
people with articles of comfort and luxury, and the
enjoyment of high civilization flowing from the well directed application
of science and art.
Our planet has two envelopes, of which one, which is
general—the at. mosphere—is composed of an elastic fluid, and
the other the sea, is only locally distributed, surrounding and
therefore modifying the form of the land. These two envelopes of
air and sen constitute a natural whole on which depends the difference
of climate on the earth’s surface, according to the relative extension
of the aqueous and solid parts, the form and aspect of the land, and
the direction and elevation of mountain chains"*
The influence of water upon climate must be great,
when it is considered how much of the earth’s surface is covered
by it. The area of land to that of water of the whole globe is estimated
as ten is to twenty-seven. On this hemisphere the area of water is much
more extensive, and must therefore alter and modify the climate of
every latitude from that of the eastern hemisphere.
The reactions of air, sea and land upon each other
must be carefully studied, before all the influences of climate
upon vegetation can be comprehended. It is only of late years that
observations and facts have been classified so far as to justify
conclusions. It is only of late years that the
Proportion of land and water has been ascertained,
it being a fixed opinion of the middle ages that the waters of
the globe were only a narrow sea, and the term “ ocean stream,” so
common at that period, seemed to foster the delusion. He who nearly
three centuries ago “unchained the ocean,” shared in this belief, and
to it may probably be attributed the discovery of this hemisphere.
The configuration of this continent tends to alter
its climate from that of the old world.. Almost surrounded by water
within the tropics, its temperature is still farther reduced below
that of corresponding latitudes in Europe and Asia. The masses of
ice which annually break up and float south between Labrador and Iceland,
passing along the eastern shores of the United States, influence and
lower their temperature. And finally the atmospheric current, which
in the polar regions descends from above and traverses south along the
surface of the land, becomes chilled and deprived of its watery vapor, until
by reaching the middle states it has attained a due degree of warmth and
moisture. Before it reaches the temperate latitudes, it contributes sensibly
to lower the temperature of the land over which it blows. Unrestrained
by mountain chains running from east to
No. 150.] 425
west, this wind has full influence on the northern
and eastern states, and would retard vegetation in the State of
New-York, as it does in Canada, were it not for those great masses
of water, the great lakes, lose power of equalizing the atmospheric
temperatures in all seasons is remarkable.
As they do not freeze to any great extent, they protect
the soil in some degree by the formation of clouds, which prevent
a too great radiation of heat from the earth’s surface in winter, and
too copious evaporation in summer.
As compared with the European quarter of the old world,
the Unitcd States is a vast plain, a level country; the portion
under cultivation or held for agricultural occupation being two-thirds
of its whole surface ; this estimate omits the recent accession of
territory from Mexico. The ranges of the Rocky mountains and the lesser
range of the Alleghany seem to have been upheaved to regulate among other
important influences, the excesses of heat and cold, and effects of
agitated atmosphere, and it may be, to offer to man, under new forms and
during new eras, a resting place and shelter, as he is gradually driven
from the polar and mediate regions toward the equatorial belt, there
to find climates not unfriendly, and sufficient for him in his course
The elevation of a farm, three hundred and fifty feet
above the level of the ocean, is equal to a diminution of the average
temperature of its soil, to the extent of one degree of the thermometer,
with this fact in view it is easy to conceive the effect of elevation
upon agricultural success. So likewise the difference of distance
north from the tropical regions diminishes the average temperature
in the proportion of one degree of the thermometer for every sixty
miles, or for each degree of latitude.
It is well established that the ocean climate is equal
and uniform, and exercises a powerful influence in equalizing the
temperature of the soil along its borders, at all seasons.
In Seneca county the temperature of the air and soil
is influenced by the waters of the lake region, and especially by
the waters of Seneca lake, which never freeze. During the warm
months of the year, the rays of the sun are consumed in evaporation
of the lakes, while the soil absorbs and retains them, thus equalizing
the temperature of the atmosphere especially in this lake bound county.
Wind and rain have an intimate connection with the
temperature of the atmosphere. The winds sweeping from the ocean,
bring with them an atmosphere loaded with moisture. The winds from
the lakes are proportionately charged with water. A land breeze is
relatively dry and brings with it the extreme of heat in summer, or
of cold in winter.
Hence, the variableness of climate. The talent fostered
in the navy and
merchant marine of the United States, has established
a variety of meteorological data or facts proving these several
positions; the records of observin men in the interior of the State,
all tend to confirm the general laws of storms of wind and rain, as
they have been established within the last thirty years, and their
effects upon climate. From data thus obtained it is clear that the southerly
winds coming from the Atlantic charged with vapour, meeting the cooler
air of this temperate region, the humidity is condensed and falls in rain;
such almost uniformly is the result of a southerly wind passing over the
county of Seneca. Often times the westerly winds come charged with moisture
from lake Erie, with like results though not so uniform in action.
Thus it is that rains are modified by winds and have
an influence on climate. It is useful also to know the quantity
of rain which falls upon this county, for evaporation from the earth’s
surface lowers the temperature of the atmosphere, while waters resting
on the surface or in the soil lower the temperature of the earth and
render it the longer unfit for the purposes of vegitation.* The quantity
of water which falls from the atmosphere varies exceedingly at different
localities, as will appear by the following statement: The annual average
fall of rain within the tropics of the old world is 77 inches; during
the same period, within the American tropics it is 115 inches. Near
Bombay in Asia, the fall is equal to 25 feet! The quantity on temperate
Europe gives a mean fall of 34 inches. On the United States a mean fall
of 39 inches, and on Seneca county 31 46/100.
It is not necessary to discuss the question as to change
of climate, it may be sufficient to state that, abundant proof exists
of changes with the several epochs of the world; one manifest proof
being, the discovery of the same vegetable type in every part of the
coal formation in latitudes where the plant cannot now endure the
climate. It has thus been shown that geographical position influences
climate. The elevation of the earth or soil, mountains, seas and lakes,
strongly characterise particular latitudes.
The importance of atmospheric influences is so striking
that diagrams are presented with this work, exhibiting familiarly
to the eye the sectional contour of the county of Seneca, with the
heights of elevations and extent of plains and valleys. Diagrams are
added also, exhibiting the mean temperature of the atmosphere for each
day of the years 1849 and 1850, with the hope of attracting more general
attention from the farmer to meteorology, a subject closely connected
with his welfare; and the annexed table presents a comparative view
of the climate as observed in Seneca county with other and prominent
places in the State.
The highest temperature of the atmosphere observed
in this county for a period of five years, is 90 degrees, and the
lowest 20. These are the liniits of change of temperature, and the
mean temperature is 49 49 30/100 degree. The elevation of Seneca
lake is four hundred and forty-seven feet above the ocean, and the
mean elevation of the soil of the county is two hundred and fifty feet.
No observations have been recorded as to the temperature of the soil,
nor have they been collected in any part of the State, so far as can
be ascertained, except those made by Mr. Emmons, in Albany, and published
in the Natural History of the State of New-York, at page 232. These
observations were made by placing the bulb of the thermometer seven inches
below the surface of the earth, and recorded early and late in the day.
Until more extensive observations shall
be recorded, no reliable laws in relation to the temperature of
the soil can be offered. Sufficient information can be derived from
Mr. Emmons’ observations to guide the farmer, in connection with other
established facts. Thus it is known that plants will germinate at a temperature
between 45 degree and 100 degree. When, therefore, the mean temperature
of the soil is at or below 459, in the months of April and May, it is
vain to expect germination, and a waste of labor and seed to hasten its
deposit in the earth. Indian corn does not vegetate at a lower temperature
than 550, which accounts for the occasional disappointment of farmers, by
the entire disappearance by decay of the seed.
The month of April in this year (1850,) affords an
illustration of these facts. - The mean temperature for the first
twenty days of April was only 39 20/100°. For the last ten days
of the month it was 53 and for the entire thirty days it was 40°.
The month of May opened cold, the mean temperature for the first ten
days being 48 30/100. The earth saturated with water presented a lower
temperature to the seed deposited, and being at or below the degree
needful for germination, much seed decayed-, and many farmers who planted
corn early were compelled to plant a second time, or forego a crop
for the season.
It seems manifest therefore, that though every requisite
for the full de
No. 150.] 429
velopment of plants be abundantly supplied, yet
the absence of heat renders all the others inert. The barrenness
of the polar and productiveness of the tropical regions, the suspension
of vegetable life in winter, its return with the warmth of spring, prove
the position. The horticulturist, aware of this truth, brings artificial
heat to his aid, and by skill creates an artificial climate, and in
a degree produces fruits, which the warmth of the sun yields naturally
for the health. and pleasure of man. In this case, however, as in most
artificial conditions of life, the forcing system is injurious. It is
not consistent with nature’s laws; health is injured by the absence of repose.
The fruit produced is rarely perfect or agreeable. Art triumphs for a
few short seasons, when the exhausted plant dies.
Excess of heat has, during some seasons, been injurious
to vegetation; for though plants possess the power of resisting
heat by the evaporation of moisture, yet when the supply is deficient,
as was the case in the summer of 1849, the dry atmosphere burns the
plant, it contracts, withers and dies.
Excess of cold is also injurious; it has been shown
that plants will not germinate in a temperature below 45 degree,
yet vitality is not destroyed when seed is exposed to a much lower
temperature. When, however, congelation takes place, expansion ensues,
tearing and breaking open the vessels exposing them to the influences
of the air, where alone fluids should exist. The juices are made to separate
and become unable to perform their proper functions, and too often the
rising plant is forcibly separated from its embryo seed, and both perish
from cold. The grain fields of this region have occasionally and in former
days, exhibited these effects of cold. Happily the system of drainage has
diminished the evil.
The due and proper adaptation of plants to soils and
climate, demands more attention than it has generally received;
the attempts to introduce various grasses and foreign grains have
in many instances proved abortive, from want of a due consideration
of the effects of. temperature. Plants may live and grow, seeds may
vegetate in many localities; but to flourish to mature and develop
sound fruit or products, a degree of heat within a certain range is
essential. Chick-weed will live and bloom in heat and cold, presenting
its blossoms every month in the year, but the nettle and thistle yield
to the early frosts, nor will they vegetate until the strong rays of
the sun call them into life.
Wheat will not germinate in an atmosphere higher than
95°; while Indian corn will endure a heat of 110°, and throw
forth a healthy shoot; thus corn will thrive where wheat cannot be
grown. These facts call for a careful consideration and adaptation of
seeds to the climate; not only in rela-
tion to heat, but also in reference to elevation above
the Ocean and distance from the equatorial regions.
Humboldt has forcibly displayed the effects of varied
climates in describing the ascent of snow-capped mountains. At the
base of Teneriffe; dates, plantain, sugar cane, and the noble ban
yan flourish as in tropic heats. A little higher, the vine, olive, fig,
the orange and the lemon and other fruits and trees of southern Europe,
grow in rich profusion; there also wheat and grasses thrive, with the
apple, the cherry and the plum. Above this region is a belt of hardy wood,
the oaks, the laurel and other evergreens. Next above is the region of
firs with juniper, then a tract covered with heath or broom, above which are
found the mosses, violets and a few grasses, creeping into the borders of
the interminable snows which form the summit cap of the mountain.
The peculiar position of the county of Seneca must
necessarily have a controlling influence upon the pursuits of the
people; washed by lakes on the eastern and western bcftders for
two-thirds of its entire length, the broad waters of Ontario not
far distant from the northern boundary; it is not without interest
for the farmer to be better acquainted with the causes of the increase
or diminution of moisture in the atmosphere.
Within a few past years the thermometer has found its
way into the dwellings of many farmers, giving a knowledge of the
temperature of the atmosphere. More recently, the barometer has
been introduced on several farms, indicating the weight or pressure
of the air, giving notice of the approaching storm or the continuance
of clear skies: the hygrometer which measures the condition of moisture
in the atmosphere is less known. Yet it is an implement or instrument
from which comfort may be derived, by showing that though no rain falls
nor a cloud passes for days, yet there is no cause for apprehension
of evil ; for the atmosphere holds an amount of moisture which the
leaves of plants are able to appropriate in sufficient quantity to sustain
With these instruments and a knowledge of the principles
which govern their action, the farmer would learn to have more
confidence in the unlimited goodness which surrounds him, gratitude
would overflow, and aspirations would more frequently be poured
forth, for the light of knowledge and the consequent increase of
comfort and joy.
The following diagrams exhibit the daily mean temperature
of the atmosphere for the years 1849 and 1850. The arrangement presents
at once the condition and contrast of corresponding dates in each
year. The observations were made at Oaklands, in the town of Fayette,
the elevation being about 480 feet above tide water. These and like
observations have been
No. 150.] 431
recorded for a series of years, of which the two last
are given as indicative of the temperature at the several seasons.
They are given also with a belief that every careful, prudent farmer
will derive a benefit from their examination, and find an inducement
to seek information in relation to the subject of climate.
The importance of this branch of knowledge has occupied
the attention of the 11c~ents of the University, who are now engaged
in establishing meteorological stations in different parts of this
State, and it is understood that a station will be located at Geneva.
The principal object of these stations will be the
ascertainment of the laws of storms, and the special climate of
the State as regards temperature, humidity, &c. The benefits
to general science will undoubtedly be great, and the agriculturist
will assuredly derive a full share of advantage; yet farmers will act
wisely if they continue their own observations and record them daily,
for years will probably elapse before any decisive results can be obtained
from the stations, or that the observed and recorded facts can be so digested
and arranged as to offer any facts practically useful to the great body
of the people.
NOTE—This table is compiled from the records of Doctor
H. P. Sartwell, of Penn Yan.
From this record it appears that the mean temperature
for the period of twenty-one years, is 46- 65 degrees, and the average
depth of rain for the same time is 27 26 inches.
Penn Yan is about seven hundred and fifty feet above
Commencement of the Wheat Harvest in the County of
Seneca, from the
year 1822 to 1850.
1822, commenced on 5th July.
1823, do 8th
do a wet season.
1824, do 10th
1825, do 10th
1826, do 11th
1827, do 9th
do a heavy crop.
1828, do 16th
do wheat much injured.
1829, do 13th
do a very good crop.
1830, do 16th do a very heavy crop.
1831, do 12th do injured by the Hessian fly.
1832, do 17th do a good crop.
1833, do 16th do a very large and heavy crop.
1834, do 21st do much injured by rust.
1835, do 24th do much injured by rust.
1836, do 28th do a short crop, plant smothered by deep
1837, do 22d do much rust.
1838, do 19th do the crop good—much lost by a hail
1839, do 14th do a fair crop.
1840, do 16th do a good crop.
1841, do 17th do a good crop.
1842, do 19th do injured by hail, and a wet season.
1843, do 19th do a great and heavy crop.
1844, do 12th do injured by Hessian fly.
1845, do 14th do a good crop.
1846, do 7th do a good crop.
1847, do 14th do a good crop.
1848, do 6th do a very good crop.
1849, do 14th do injured by wheat fly, and dry season.
1850, do 16th do an excellent crop.
[Assembly, No. 150.] 28
In a work which, like the present, is professedly an
accumulation of statistics, and a declaration of facts, theoretical
considerations might be deemed out of place, and likely, by biasing
the mind, to derogate from the value of the statements made. There
are, however, so many links of reasoning which bind apparently incongruous
facts together, and serve to harmonize them as a whole, and which
convert the mere documentary statistics into a methodical relation
of cause and effect, rendering the mass of facts simple to comprehend
and easy to recollect; that to withhold them would be to detract from
the unity and completeness of the work.
Under this catagory are included considerations derived
from inspections of the rocks distributed over the globe, the regularity
of their position, with regard to each other, their textural appearance,
their chemical constitution, and the various matters found imbedded
within them, presenting such points of analogy, even when brought
from the remotest parts of the globe, that the mind is led to the irresistible
conclusion, that similar effects must have arisen from similar causes,
and becomes curious to inquire what these causes were, and to what
amount they have acted. Such information on these topics as have any
bearing on the geology and agriculture of the county of Seneca, will
be presented as clearly and succinctly as possible, leaving any further
knowledge to be derived from the various surveys of the State, or other
sources, as the inquirer may desire.
In passing along a district of country, as from the
head waters of the Mississippi toward the eastern limit of the State
of New-York, the observer may find the surface of the country a
mass of clay, of perhaps in some cases unascertainable depth, in
others being so slight a covering to the surface that the rock becomes
exposed, and forms the prominent features of the district. It is in
a valley or basin of this rock that the clay has rested, and in every
instance it is possible, by boring, to come down upon the rock.
The kind of rock which may be met with varies considerably;
sometimes it is a mass of white or red grains closely cemented together,
and known as freestone, or sandstone, sometimes a slate, sometimes
a limestone or chalk, or occasionally the harder rocks, known as mica
slate, gneiss, or granite. Travelling over the district alluded to,
after the thick and heavy clays of
No. 150.] 435
the alluvial valley of the Mississippi is passed a
tract of country is reached, overlaid by hills of sand, and ridges
of gravel, with large blocks of stone covering the ground on every
side, the rocks of the country here being to a great degree hidden
by the deep accumulation of the soil. On the margin of Wisconsin river
a bed of sandstone is found in situ, as the rock of the district; passing
east into Michigan, limestone is found, including coal. Passing through
west Canada, by the falls into New-York, red sand stone appears, with
slate rock, limestone, flag stones,aud gypsum, as far as Ithaca; thence
southeast, the country becomes more elevated, aud the scenery is bolder,
rocks of a crystaline and glittering texture abound, including mica slate
and horublende, and finally hills of granite are reached in the Highlands
on the Hudson r:ver. These rocks met with on this line constitute almost
all that are found on the globe, and usually occur in the order in which
they have been enumerated on this continent; and if it were possible to
bore downwards far into the earth, they would all be met with in the order
mentioned, commencing at the surface as in the view from the west, and counting
downwards until the granite was reached, which formation may be looked
upon as the basic structure of our globe, on which all other rocks rest,
and from which they are to a great extent derived.
Wherever granite is upon the surface, as a rock bed,
there is no other rock below, and whatever rock may be above, it
is possible to reach granite by boring downwards, and generally
certain to come at it by travelling to the hilly country on either
side. It constitutes the great elevations, dipping and rising in
alternations, in the basins or hollows of which all other rocks are
This granite rock is composed of three minerals mixed
together in unequal proportions, quartz, felspar, and mica; each
of these separately form rocks which derive their name from the mineral
as quartz rock, mica and clay slate. When hornblende mineral replaces
the mica, the granite is called syenite; other modifications of these
minerals produce granite form rocks and minerals.
It is generally admitted that these rocks have undergone
the influence of some heating agency until they were completely
molten, when cooling slowly the minerals of which they were composed
crystalized in their appropriate forms, and thus the glassy and
hard structure was communicated to the rock. Volcanic upheavals raised
the mass of granite, sometimes when it was in a semi-fluid condition,
and more frequently after it was fully solidified, the elevating cause
acting with such intensity as to raise this originally lowest placed,
or primary rock, to the highest elevation which mountain tops attain
to on this globe.
Covered by water as the greater portion of the earth’s
surface was, at that early period of the world’s existence, those
granitic hills, whose sides were subjected to the action of water,
wind, solar heat, and frost, gradually became worn away, and the materials
being disintegrated and carried down into the sea, were deposited along
the ocean bottom in an even layer or bed. If the deposit had taken
place in quiet waters, the minerals would have been arranged for the
formation of gaciss rock; on the contrary, if an agitating or sifting
took place, or the materials were carried very far out, they would have
been deposited in different places, according to their gravity, just as
clay is separated from sand by washing, and the result would have been
a formation of mica slate, of finely powdered feldspar rock, or of sandstone.
When these beds of soft materials have been subjected to intense pressure
from above, and long continued action of heat, and perhaps magnetic agency
from below, they are ultim tely converted into hard rock, and should they
by volcanic movements be slowly raised from the ocean bed, they are presented
to the eye as the striped gneiss, a mica slate rock, a clay slate, or a
sandstone. Beds of stone, from their proximity to a rock once ignited,
and in some degree affected by the internal temperature, lose their distinguishing
character of water formed or stratified rocks, they have undergone a change
whereby they arc assimilated to granite formations, and hence have been
called metamorphic. None of these rocks are found in this country as a
rock in place ; they are met with on the surface as travelled stones.
Taking a position at the Highlands of the Hudson and
looking to the west, the order is found to be, granite or primary
rock, then mica and clay slate rocks; lying west of these, or upon
the top of them in position, is a class of rocks, formed by deposition
out of salt water, and containing traces of the animal and vegetable
life of the period when they were formed, unaltered by any metamorphic
action. In physical character they are sand stone rocks, both fine
grained and conglomerated; more frequently composed of siliceous and
argillaceous matter forming slates and flag stones. Limestone occurs in
subordinate quantity with streaks of carbonaceous matter, or small isolated
masses of coal, mostly anthracite, but never containing a true coal seam.
With these are associated beds of shale, the tints
principally grey or brown, olive and green, and even red is here
and there found in all parts of the series.
Inclosed among these beds in this country, occur the
beds of plaster and salt of this State, The lower beds of this
series merge gradually into the metamorphic clay slate, and the upper
pass into the old red sand stone.
No. 150.] 437
This class of rocks so largely developed in this State,
and so important, are but thinly formed in western Europe, where
they were formerly termed Greywaucke rocks, and in latter years, Cambrian,
and silurian Systems, from the English localities where they are found
Such a system of nomenclature is unfortunate, as conveying
no information to one ignorant of the locality, and it is a matter
of regret to see the analogous rocks of this State receive names derived
from their locality, which require thus a new name in every State
where they may be found to exist.
It is the most recently formed or higher portion of
these rocks (the silurian series) that occupy the northern portion
of the county of Seneca, and which are sub divided by the authors
of the geological survey of the State of New-York, into the Onondaga
salt group, the water lime group, the Seneca limestone, the Marcellus
shale, the Hamilton group and the Genesee black shale; it will be necessary
to allude to these more fully hereafter.
After the formation of these rocks, there appears to
have been a period of great repose, as far as volcanic action is
concerned, over a large portion of the earth’s surface during which,
a deep sea with extensive shores prevailed. Then as now, the waves
heat the surface and washed the beach, until round pebbles and fine
black sand were formed; the wind drove the surge upon the shore, forming
the wave and ripple marks, the rains of many ages fell upon the sands
and pitted them, and wading birds walked to and fro and left their steps
imprinted on the sea retiring bottom: covered up and overwhehned, converted
into rock and raised above the water level they have become a sand stone,
containing all the traces and impressions of life and change which have
passed over them. This is the old red sand stone of European writers,
the system of a few English writers, and the Portage and Chemung group
of the New-York State survey. The groups lie in the immediate southern
portion of the county of Seneca, and pass out into the neighboring county
of Tompkins and farther south. Upon the top of these rocks and still
later formed, are found in successive order, the limestone, containing
true coal beds, magnesia limestone, new red sand stone, serpentine and
chalk, with the green sand of Jersey. These not occurring in this county
do not require further notice.
These last rocks conclude the series which have been
termed secondary, and which commenced with the first bed of fossiliferous
Beds of hard rock arc found in many parts of Europe,
overlying the chalk, and have from their position, received the
name of tertiary strata. On this continent no tertiary rocks are
found, but they are represented by beds of clay, sand, and gravel,
which from the fossils contained within
them, indicate them to have been in the opinion of
some, contemporaneous. These, however, as being on the surface,
and in many places forming the cultivated soil of the county of Seneca
will be better treated of under that head, and that of the distribution
of post tertiary beds over the county.
These were deposited long anterior to human existence
on the globe; and the only change wimich the physical aspect of the
county has undergone since, is the silent alteration which the atmosphere,
and streams of water effect, in cutting river courses, depositing beds
of alluvial clay, and thc formation of beds of marl.
The hiatus which exists in the upper secondary beds
in western New-York, nothing being found above the old red sand
stone, but the beds of drifted sand and gravel of a late tertiary
epoch, naturally lends to an inquiry as to the probable causes which
led to the non-deposition of the carboniferous limestone, the coal
series, and the upper secondary beds which terminate with the chalk
That the entire section of country was immersed under
water, the deposition of the drift and of boulders is proof; but
the want of even deposition of fine sand and of calcareous corals,
show the absence of an archipelagic ocean since the period of
the New-Yorksystem being deposited.
It has been suggested that an inland sea covered the
western surface of this State at that period, and observations
made on the elevation of the margins or shores of this ancient lake,
would tend to support this view; measurements made on the Ontario
lake ridge show that the water stood? at various times, at different
levels, the highest point of which has been at nine hundred and fifty-six
feet above the sea, or seven hundred and sixty. two feet above the present
margin of Lake Ontario. Seven shores have been distinctly traced on
the sides of the ridge, each below the other, until the present shore
is reached. Similar terraces or ancient shores have been traced at the
head of Seneca lake. When the waters stood at the highcst point indicated,
the area occupied must have been of immense extent, limited by the Highlands
and the New England range on the cast, the shores of Lake Superior on the
north, the Alleghanies on the south, and, perhaps, by the region of the
head waters of the Mississippi on the west. The outlet of this vast body
of water, was probably by the St. Lawrence. the Connecticut, the Hudson,
and possibly by the Susquehanna, each of ampler dimensions than at this
day, and probably being united, to some extent, the valley of the Connecticut
formed the chief channel. The deposition of drift which occurred at this
period of time, may be traced down that valley, in the large number of boulders
deposited in its bed, with the fact also, that those reposing on the opposite
shore of Long Island, arc of
No. 150.] 439
Connecticut origin; the supposition may be hazarded
that this position was the chief embouchure of the inland waters.
Such a sea flowing toward the southeast, carrying a
large amount of drift with a strong current, and subject to the periodical
lowering of its level, at long intervals, must have had great effect
on the bottom over which it flowed. The deepening of many valleys
of western New-York, and especially of the northern part of the county
of Seneca, must have been due to this cause. In the vicinity of the
Seneca river, the abrasion of the surface of the rocks, and the wearing
away of the shale from the underlying Seneca limestone, are evident
marks of the existence and force of sueh a body of water. The erosion
of the edges of the Moscow shale, and Tully limestone, on the margin
of both Cayuga and Seneca lakes, is a further proof.
The lakes on each side of Seneca county must have aided
considerably in giving southerly outlets to this sea, by way of the
Susquehanna, while the waters stood at a high level.
Both Cayuga and Seneca lakes poured forth their waters
until they subsided to a level of about nine hundred and eighty
feet, when Cayuga ceased to flow south, because of its lesser depth;
Seneca lake, and the valley south of it, continued to discharge till
the waters retired, and brought the level of the sea about ninety
feet lower, when the communication between the inland waters and the
Susquehanna ceased, and the further drainage was into the Atlantic,
by the eastern rivers.
The existence of such an inland ocean would account
for the non-existence of the upper beds of secondary rocks, the
absence of limestone and coal strata, the deposition and direction
of the drift, and the northern origin of boulders.
Onondaga Salt Group—Gypsum Group.
This is the lowest, and most anciently deposited, of
the secondary rocks which are found in this county. The group
lies upon a bed of limestone, which, on account of its development
in extent and fossil character, at Lock-port and Niagra, has received
the nanmes of Lockport and Niagara lime-stones; it was previously termed
geodiferous and bituminous liamestone; and is coeval in deposition
with the Wenlock limestone of the upper Silurian rocks of British geologists.
This rock dips south at a gentle angle, and lying upon
it, and partaking of the same southerly slope, are the series
of beds which contain, as their characteristic ingredient, sulphate
of lime, or plaster.
These beds consist of slates, indurated marls, limestones,
containing silica to a large amount; and beds in which limestone
exists, but in amount inferior to the alumina or clay. The majority
of the beds contain alumina.
in excess; they weather or crumble rapidly on exposure,
and form ashen gray and drab colored soft shales, which give the
characteristic appearance of the group.
In the New-York State Survey, this group has been subdivided
as follows, commencing from below:
1. A bed of blue and green shales, with occasional
bands of red.
2. Green and ash colored marls, with their seams
of fibrous gypsum and colorless selenite, and occasional small masses
of compact gypsum.
3. Gray and ash colored marls and shales, containing
the workable beds of gypsum.
Between the different portions of the deposit there
are no well marked lines of division, but each in its entirety is
sufficiently well defined.
DIAGRAM FROM THE STATE SURVEY.
(a) Green and blue shale with red.
(b) Shaly Limestone with fibrous
(c) Lower gypsum hed.
(d) Shaly limestone with cavities
and fine pores between beds of gypsum.
(e) Upper gypsum hed.
(f) Light gray and drab colored limestone.
This group, which extends across the State in a narrow
belt from the south and west of Niagara county to the west border
of Montgomery, has perhaps its greatest width where it crosses the
county of Seneca, owing to the denudation of the super-imposed rocks
on its southern edge. It occupies the whole of the county north
of the Seneca river, (except that portion of the town of Waterloo
where it is covered up by limestone,) embracing the whole of the
towns of Junius and Tyre ; all but the southwest corner of Seneca
Falls, and that portion of Waterloo north of a line drawn from the village
and trending northwest into Ontario county.
There is, however, scarcely any external evidence of
its existence, as the uppermost rock of that district except the
appearance of springs as at Dublin, (in Junius,) chart ed with sulphates
of magnesia and iron, derived from the leakage through the gypseous
The rock can scarcely be said to appear upon the surface,
by elevation of the strata, but rather to be exposed ly natural
or artificial cuttings, as at
No. 150.] 441
Bear Creek, and a few localities where wells have been
sunk north of Seneca Falls village, being covered up by alluvial
and tertiary deposits to a great depth, varying from fifteen to
fifty feet, as is noticed when treating of the soils of Junius and
The waters of the Seneca lake, in their passage eastward,
have their outlet through the overlying shales and limestone, and
have worn their track along this group, exposing its upper beds, which
extend on either bank of the village of Seneca Falls, near the fall
of the river, extending two and a half miles down the stream.
SECTION OF GYPSUM BED AT Mr. SWABY'S FARM.
(a) Gypsum rock.
(h) Clay. (c) Limestone. (d)
The greatest exposures of the rock are on the north
bank, on the farm of Mr. Frederick Swaby, and also on the ground
of Mr. Cady. The rock on Mr. Swaby’s farm was extensively worked at one
period, and before he purchased the property; but, owing in some degree
to the limited size of the beds, but chiefly to the neglect of the parties
who worked the quarries, they are not productive. The difficulty seems
to have arisen from the omission of separating the rock from the shales
artd marly lintestone which surrounds it, any large proportion of which
would, by its tendency to fall apart, destroy the property of the cement.
Although the upper layer of gypsum beds are by no means
so valuable as the lower, yet from the size of the masses of rock
on Mr. Swaby’s farm, where it is exposed by the river, and the capability
of getting it free from
the surrounding decomposed bed, there is but little
doubt that with ordinary care, a pure plaster could be obtained there.
The height of the cutting is about forty feet, and the upper bed of
rock, the drab colored limestone is covered by a few feet of soil;
it is about six feet thick, in thin courses, broken into fragments,
and underlaid by several feet of decomposed clay, shale, and marl, with
gypsum crystals and particles scattered through: both the limestone
and the shale have cavities on their exposed surface, partly caused
by the softer and more soluble port.ions of the rock being washed out,
by water filtering through Underneath, and surroundad by the latter,
is the plaster in large masses, lying next each other, though unconnected,
deposited where formed, and almost unaltered since deposition, for the
lines of stratification pass quite evenly from one mass of plaster into
another, and quite uniformly through the intervening gypseous marl, thus
showing that all were deposited and consolidated at one period.
Some of the masses of plaster exposed are of considerable
size: one is estimated to be fifteen feet high, and thirty-five
feet broad; the bottom has not been fully exposed by cutting. Thin
veins of selenite, in small rhomboidal tables, as well as in silky
filaments, occur through these beds. On the south side of the river,
and opposite to Mr. Swaby’s quarries, the bluffs of gypsum rock approach
the banks, but they have not been exposed, except by cuttings in a few
places, and the indications were so poor as not to justify further attempts.
These beds are the same as on the north side, the upper
layer being covered deeply by the marly shale.
As the whole of the soil between the river and the
road leading to the Cayuga bridge, is underlaid by this group,
some points might be readily selected, where by excavation, not only
good upper beds, but the lower and better beds of gypsum could be reached;
it is in this angle alone that good beds of plaster can be expected,
in this county, and when opened they will probably be worked economically
Farther east the plaster rock makes its appearance
on the north side of the river at the railroad bridge, and again
on the south side, a short distance from a cut made through the
bank by the railroad company for the purpose of filling the low ground
at the margin of the lake; this cut has exposed the plaster, which is
covered by a great depth of clay, in some places it is probably twenty-five
feet in depth. This bed is on the farm of Mr. 0. Tylor, and gives promise
o& future value. The present cutting has been made east by north, and
exposes the edge of the strata; the beds of shale, of which there are four
courses ‘distinctly marked, are slightly curved, with their convexity upward;
here, also, the stratification passes
No. 150.] 443
from the rock into shale. Some of the courses of gypsum
rock are of considerable thickness, one bed being four and a half
feet, and another two and a half feet thick; as far as now visible,
this promises to be a good opening with many local advantages. The plaster
stone is of a deep blue color, very dense and filled with crystalline
plates of selenite; it effervesces strongly with acids.
The limestone which overlies the group at Seneca Falls,
is of a hard texture, and interspersed with cavities here and there,
which are filled with crystalline incrustations of carbonate of
lime in mammillary concretions; this deposit of carbonate of lime,
concretes the marl and shale below, into forms resembling breccia
or conglomerate, and is produced by the trickling of springs through
strata of limestone and depositing the lime which the water held
in solution, in these cavities.
Masses of this stalactitial character have been found
on the south side of the canal bank, below the village, where a calcareous
spring oozes out from the rock; the deposit from the water of this
spring, is so even, and ribboned as to give the appearance of agate
when broken across, and as it takes a polish the material can be wrought
into various objects of utility, but more appropriately into ornaments.
These same springs carrying down sulphate of lime into
the shale, and depositing it slowly, produces those colored stellar
crystaline masses of gypsum found in the marl.
Lying above the limestone before alluded to, is a thin
bed of stone, partly silicious, partly alluminous and containing
some magnesia; it is blue when first exposed, but afterward changes
to a drab or grey color. It is a silico-argilaceous limestone; and
from it, in other localities, has been obtained the useful hydraulic
lime, or water cement. This rock which appears on the eastern shore
of Cayuga lake, and also, at Phelps in Ontario county, does not present
in the beds of Seneca county, the same useful properties. These properties
vary inasmuch as, one portion contains too much carbonate of lime,
and another too much silica, and such is the character of the rock
at Seneca Falls.
Every good hydraulic mortar depends for its success
upon the formation of silicate of lime. This must be formed by the
agency of water, which is partly taken up, thereby forming a hydrated
silicate. The only essential constituents there are silica and
lime, and water to produce the combination; but few stones have that
simple constitution; they contain other bases, such as oxides of
iron, and man anese, and magnesia, and even clay, (alumina,) which
unite with the excess of silica, to form double silicates, which in
the case of manganese and magnesia, arc very insoluble, and
therefore render the mortar harder and more durable. It is for this
reason it has been deemed necessary that a hydraulic stone cement should
contain magnesia. It is possible, if a stone do not contain the exact ingredients,
or these not in due proportion, so to amend their character as to produce
ulti-mately a good cement; and it is well known the best lime cements
for fine works, are those which are made artificially. The silica in a
cement stone should not exist as ordinary sand, or quartz powder, but
in that peculiar state in which it will gelatinize with an acid, that is,
just when it has es-caped from its combination with a base.
It may be brought into this condition by calcining it with an alkali,
as potash or soda, or with an earth at a bright red heat. When mixed with
water the ground stone will then set in a cement.
If a limestone contains clay in a less ratio than ten per cent, it
will burn as common lime, and will not cement. If it contains twenty per
cent of clay it will slake, but it will also cement. If it contains an
amount of clay equal to thirty per cent, it will not slake well, nor heat,
but forms an excel-lent cement. If the natural stone contains other bases
besides clay, as magnesia and iron, and perhaps manganese, which may be
determined by analysis, it is easy, in order to render it a good cement.
so to adjust the proportions of these bases, that in affinity they shall
represent the thirty per cent of clay. Great care should be exercised in
the burning, as many good hydraulic limes are rendered worthless by over-burning,
partly owing to the silicates becoming fused by the heat.
The water limestone being like other beds, a deposit from saline
waters, it must vary in different localities to some extent, and hence
the discord-ance between the economical values of this stone, in this
county and the county of Ontario.
The southern border of this limestone being hid under Seneca Falls,
it has not been examined. A few courses may be seen south of the falls,
and at the quarries of Mr. Wuchter and Mr. Chamberlain, in Scauas, but
the stone is not well marked in its characters. A mill in the village of
Seneca Falls is constructed with this stone, obtained from the immediate
vicinity. Upon examination the grain is very coarse, and is full of geodal
This term has been applied to the mass of fissile fossiliferous blue
slate, which overlies the Seneca limestone. It corresponds with the pyriliferous
rock of Dr. Eaton, and has hardly a representative in the British rocks
formed in the upper secondary period, the deposits which were formed at
coeval periods being, in the two continents of very different amounts.
These, which in the eastern states amount to several thousand feet in thickness,
No. 150.] 445
do not reach as many hundred feet in western Europe; hence arises
the difficulty of finding the representatives of each, or applying a comnion
name to both.
This bed of shale may be considered in many respects as resembling
the numerous beds of overlying slate, which have received the name of
the Hamilton group; yet as it has been treated separately in the State
survey, it may be useful to continue the subdivision in this work.
The characteristics of this bed are, a black, or black and blue slate,
easily broken, or weathering into small fragments; under the finger it
splits into thin laminae, which when separated, display the hollow of
a fossil mollusc shell, to the abundance of which this rook appears to
owe its extraordinary fissibility. It is very soft, and may be marked
by the finger nail, or crushed under the fingers, and from the excess
of alumina, (or clay,) it is decom-posed readily into a tenacious clay.
When broken a whitish, dotted frost-ing may be discerned on the fresh
surfaces, produced by a decomposition of the iron pyrites in the stone,
producing a sulphate of alumina, and a sul-phate of lime, which crystallize
at the spot where produced.
This shale occupies a considerable portion of the county, the extent
of which may be seen by a reference to the geological map. Its northern
line is the southern limit of the Seneca limestone, stretching across the
county from the Cayuga to the Seneca lake. On the shores of the latter
it dis-plays its greatest width, occupying the space from lot number 2,
in Fayette, on the Seneca river, the whole surface of the town as far as
the northern half of lots number 32 and 33, and the middle of lot 34; passing
south in an easterly direction to Cayuga lake, it passes out on the north
limit of the south tier of lots of “the reservation,” thus including an
area of about twenty-eight miles of the county, and embracing the northern
and middle portions of’ Fayette. Much of the northeast of Fayette is covered
by this shale, but as it only caps the limestone, which is also exposed,
the latter has been treated as the surface rock of that portion of the county.
Abundant, opportunities are offered for examining this slate on the
Seneca lake shore, commencing one mile south of the outlet, where it rises
from under the water, and attains an elevation of from ten to eighty feet
above the water’s edge. On every elevated ridge of land it either appears
on the surface, or is found at from one to six feet deep, the plow often
turning it up. On the exposed road surfaces, at almost every sinking for
wells, and on the side of the water courses, where drift clay has been washed
away, it forms the surface rock. Its repeated fractures, and upheaval of
the edges, are marked along the face of the town by the ledges of land pointing
in a direction N. N. W. and S. S. E., the bluff end being. northeast, and
gentle slope to the southwest. These ridges are more distinctly marked
on the western side of the town ; and there also the whole land is more
ele-vated, showing that the local cause which produced these, was more
influ-ential on the western edge of the county. What that influence may
have been, is noticed when treating of Seneca limestone, and in confirmation
of the truth of the view advanced, may be ‘adduced the calculations of Bris-choff,
derived from observations, which show that a mass of sandstone five miles
in thickness, heated to 100 degrees, would undergo an elevation of twenty-five
feet by mere force of expansion, while a mass of clay rock, (slate or shale,)
will, on the contrary, undergo contraction, producing fracture of the
mass. Where then expansion of one mass of stone occurs, with fracture
of portions at the opposite end, these latter must be inevitably displaced
from their horizontal position, and produce that undulating surface of
coun-try which Fayette exhibits.
Though constantly appearing on the surface, the Marcellus shale is
not very thick, certainly not equal to the shale - bed in the counties
east, the shale thinning off as it passes west. Over the north and middle
of Fayette it cannot be more in any place than sixty feet, and that occurs
on the Sene-ca lake shore, for it gradually thins off at the eastward
and northward. The limestone quarried near the county poor house, and
the quarry of Mr. James Rorison, crop out without any covering; while
at Mr. A. Rorison's, further west it is twenty-five feet below the surface
covered by two feet of shale. On lot number twelve, the shale is eight
feet below the surface, and fifty-one feet thick; the limestone is then
reached; and over the whole district, the distance at which that useful
stone lies, can easily be determined by the simple process of boring, and
in some instances can be profitably worked. Carbonate of lime forms a
small constituent of this rock, it effervesces with acid, and yields
about four per cent; this proportion varies, in-creasing in some spots
to a thin seam or streak of limestone, in other places resulting in the
formation of nodules or concretions of limestone deposited from water trickling
through the mass of clay before it was fully consoli-dated.
The iron pyrites so abundant in very minute grains through the rock,
causes by its decomposition, the breaking up of the mass into fragments,
and the liberation of sulphur which passes as sulphureted hydrogen into
the water; The waters of Fayette are but slightly impregnated with this
The abundance of vegetable matter is the cause of the deep tint to
the shale; its decomposition produces the bitumen which is so diffused
through some of the seams as to give them the character of coal, as it
No. 150.] 447
burns in the fire with a strong flame; in some of the nodules cavities
exist, which contain bitumen.
The fossil species of this rock are not numerous, though the individual
number is very great. The upper layers contain atrypa and orthis in great
abundance. Tentaculites, an occasional goniatite impression, and stropho-mena,
but the predominant molluse of this rock is avicula. The forms of shells
are well preserved in the rock; they are of the minute and delicate species
and imply from their preservation,, as well the fine character of the clay
in which they are imbedded, as the quiet condition of the deep ocean bottom
on which they lived.
From the fissile character and ready decomposition of this shale
by the air, it is unfit for any industrial uses. It should not be used
where a less argillaceous stone conld be had.
It has gradually rendered the drift soil overlaying it, more stiff
and more retentive of water; and there are few places in the town where
it could be considered any improvement to bring it to the surface.
This “corniferous limestone” of the State survey is uniform, both
in its mineral character and fossil contents, in its entire extent; which
is from the Hudson river on the east to the Niagara on the west.
This rock which lies immediately above the gypseous group and bounds
its southern margin, in a fine grained compact stone of a deep blue color,
showing very fine shining crystaline facets when broken. The upper in-clines
to a greyish tint, and from containing alumina passes to an ashy shade.
It contains masses of black flint or hornstone imbedded in the strata,
and occasionally extended as their streaks or lines separate the beds.
insertion of flint between the masses, increases, west of the county
to such an extent as to thin the limestone, and almost alter its character.
This rock when exposed has “its calcareous matter soon dissolved
out, leaving the hornstone in jagged or irregular projecting points, from
which it receives the local name of chawed rock.”* In this county the
alteration of the rock does not occur in place.; but small rolled stones
out of the drift, are found scattered over the surface to a short distance
south. In the strata when exposed, the beds are in a few instances separated
by a talcose shaly clay.
Although its position is that of a band across the western counties,
yet in the county of Seneca it occupies no more than an area of six miles.
About one mile and three-fourths west of Waterloo, it appears under the
bed of the river, and crosses over to the southern side and is traceable
east-ward toward Cayuga lake, where it passes out of the county about
one and a half miles south of Canoga. Its northern limit is the southern
boundary of the gypseous group.
Through a large part of this section, especially in the northeast
part of Fayette it is covered by the rock next in succession, the Marcellus
shale, but is exposed in several places, owing to the strata being altered
from their horizontal position, cracked in several places, and the southern
end being depressed. The dip of the rock is slight, and those alterations
which have been caused by movements from below, have left few traces on
the general surface of the country, which is slighty raised above the level
of the sur-rounding land and is gently undulating;
The thickness of the bed of shale which covers this limestone varies,
but in many places is not more than four feet. On Mr. Hoster’s farm, (lot
37,) it can be reached at from six to eight feet deep; and on the ridge,
and many of the undulations within the district named, the shale does not
cover it to any greater depth; at other points the rock comes to the surface,
or is covered by a few feet of clay.
The total thickness of the limestone does not exceed thirty feet
in this county, and includes five or six beds or strata, varying from
nine to eighteen inches thick. In every quarry which has been opened,
the same strata are exposed. Thus, the courses in Mr. Chamberlain’s and
Mr. Wuchter’s quarries are similar to those of Mr. Rorison’s and Mr. McAllis-ter’s,
showing that the original horizontal bed has been fissured and exposed
in several places, and though occupying so many miles of surface, it is
only twenty-five feet in depth.
Its brittle character, its blue color, and its fine grained and compact
* State Survey.
No. 150.] 419
structure, tell its history. Similar to the other limestones of the
county, it is not the aggre0ation of remains of innumerable molluscs, corals,
and other shelled sea-water animals, but the result of the deposition of
a mud, whose basis was a limestone rock originally, and which, being carried
with some rapidity, and copiously deposited on a sea bottom of great depth,
was so circumstanced that no animal remains could be included in it, except
of those which were dead at the time, or could not resist the depositing
cur-rent. That it was of great depth may be inferred from the compactness
of the stone, and the absence of coral remains. The upper beds are cracked
in many places by fissures, and traversed by joints which run in two direc-tions,
one east and west, the other northeast and southwest; the general dip of
this rock is south by one point west.
This rock has been quarried for building purposes, and for conversion
into caustic lime, in several places.
On the Seneca river, near Waterloo, it has been raised by Mr. Enoch
At Scawas, or South Waterloo, by Mr. H. Wuchter.
On lot No. 15, by Mr. James Rorison.
On lot No. 27, by Mr. McAllister.
Also, on the county poor-house farm, and a few lesser quarries.
At Mr. Chamberlain’s, where the beds are well exposed, the general
cha-racter of the rock can be well examined. In this quarry, six beds
or strata are exposed, the soil above covering them to a depth varying
fromn two to eight feet. The two upper beds are cracked and fissured in
several places, down which the water passes, and freezing in winter breaks
it in smaller fragments, fit only for the kiln. The fourth, fifth and sixth
beds below the surface yield the largest blocks of stone; the third bed
is the thickest, be-ing about four feet deep; between the third and fourth
bed is a seam of shale, from eight to twelve inches thick, which, when exposed
to the air, chips and falls to a fine soft powder, of a light brown tint;
while fresh it is grayish, soft and unctuous; it is a magnesian mineral,
and might be classed as a talcose slate. This material might possibly be
made to answer time purposes of French chalk, or fullers’ earth; when ground
and well washed, it might be an aid to pottery clays; or, when weathered,
it might be the basis of a compost advantageous on loose and sandy ground,
as an addition favorable to the wheat plant.
As a material for building, the Seneca limestone affords the most
durable and beautiful block of any beds in the county, and where free from
the flint veins, or horn stones, it can be dressed with great neatness and
facility under the chisel, and form an important item of industry in the
[Assembly, No. 150.] 29
The faults in these beds of limestone give origin to several springs,
and streams of water, of which the most remarkable in the district is that
of Canoga. The slips which this rock has made may have been caused either
by upheaval, or by the removal of the soft gypsum rock below, allowing
the higher strata to fall down. To this latter opinion the geologists of
the State survey incline ; yet it is quite as possible to be produced by
the pressure caused by the upheaval of rocks at some distance. Thus the
un-dulations which caused the bending of the strata in the southern part
of the county, may, by their progression through a more brittle mass, have
result-ed in the fracture and tilting up on the edge of the Seneca limestone.
The fossils of this rock are few. Vegetable matter gives to the whole
mass a tint of blue, which occasionally is so deep in tone as to be almost
black. The dark color is due to bituminous matter, and small portions of
bituminous coal have occasionally been taken from between the strata of
stone. Of the animal remains, the stophomena lineata is the most abundant
and cha-racteristic. Cyrtoceras undulatumn, and stophomena undulata, these
are delineated in the annexed sketches as also the quarries at Scawas in
the town of Fayette.
Under this head are included all the beds of rock which underlie
the middle portion of the county, commencing about the south tier of
lots of the town of Fayette, and extending to the boundary line of Romulus
and some parts of Ovid, presenting a convex margin to the north. It has
derived its name from its development in the town of Hamilton, county of
Madison. In the State survey this group has been subdivided into six different
series, of which five are shales or slate, and one is limestone. In an
ascending scale from the lowest bed, they have been termed,
The numbers included within parenthesis refer to their position on
the geological map.
Lying between the thin bed of Marcellus shale which dips under, and
the Tully limnestone which overlays it, and forms a well marked southern
boun-dary, as a class of rocks, they are readily recognizable. The subdivisions
of this group have been founded partly upon tIme mineral character of the
beds, which in some of the series differ from each other, and partly upon
the different character of the fossils imbedded in it.
They may be recognized and examined with great facility on the eastern
shore of Seneca lake, where, from the constant action of the westerly
winds, the shore is kept in a bold state, with the naked rock exposed.
In many of the ravines on this shore, and on the western side of Cayuga
lake, similar opportunities are afforded. The Cayuga lake shore in
this county being less undulating, and less exposed to the action of agitated
water, exhibits these shales to less advantage.
The deep waters which existed during the period of the deposit of
the Marcellus shale, was also prevalent during the long period which was
neces-sary to deposit beds of such immense thickness as are included in
this group. ·From inspection of the beds in several places, the depth
of this group cannot be less than six hundred feet. During deposition, the
waters were unusually quiet, and disturbed only by a slight current running
in a northerly direction.
The fineness of the character of the deposit, the perfect condition
of the fossil impressions, and the species which they include, imply these
No. 150.] 453
The first enumerated of these beds, the “Dark slaty fossiliferous
shale,” underlies the southern lots of the town of Fayette, and the whole
of the town of Varick, except the lots 61, 62., 63, and part of 59 and 82.
Its northern boundary is the limit of the Marcellus shale, from which it
may be recognized by a separating line of very thin shale, which in many
places has crumbled into clay. Underneath this it becomes a slate of a
dark blue or even black tint, which separates into thin laminae; not, however,
suffi-ciently large or regular to constitute a flag stone. Like the shale
which overlays it, it is almost entirely argillaceous, but in several places
carbonate of lime appears and accumulates, producing not only nodules and
concre-tions of this mineral, but also thin streaks of limestone, never
sufficient in any of the places examined to constitute a layer of limestone.
Small as the quantity of this mineral has been in the rock, it is sufficient
to have pro-duced the circumstances favorable for the development of testaceous
animals, where shells are found in these spots.
In the quarry situated on Mr. Lerch’s farm, (lot 31, in Fayette,)
this shale can be well seen; some of the layers split well into small flags,
but the greater portion break off into shaly fragments, which are highly
fossili-ferous, and contain numerous casts of cyathophyllum. On lot 38,
a short distance north of Mr. Kidd’s dwelling house, this shale may also
be seen with advantage. On the Seneca lake shore, along the same meridian,
the dip is very nearly south-southwest. In many places in Fayette, it is
deeply covered by a drift clay and soil thirty feet in thickness. By gradations
nearly imperceptible, the last shale merges into a bed, marked six on
the map, termed the “compact calcareous blue shale,” which at once implies
its composition and structure; it is a slaty, cleavable rock, not so fissile
as the two foregoing, upon which it reposes. Like the preceding, it is
a clay rock, having an increased per centage of lime, which continues to
augment until the upper beds are reached, where this mineral so prevails
as to give the character of a limestone rock, and render it suitable for
the purposes of burning. These beds are marked by the presence of the fossil
This bed of thin limestone separates the shale from another bed which
lies above it. This, the “Olive shale,” is more fissile than the last named
bed, is very calcareous where it is in contact with the limestone layers,
but farther up it loses this character, and becomes of a dark olive tint,
which is due to the presence of a manganese mineral.
It is much more freely decomposed and weathered than the blue shale
above, and, where exposed, it crumbles readily into soil. It is protected
from extensive action by the overlying shale, as may be seen in the ravines
along either lake shore. Ascending the deep ravine in the eastern shore
Romulus, on lot 71, this shale is exposed and underlaid by the blue
slate. Both beds are here about one hundred and fifty feet thick. The dip
of the shale is southwest, at an angle of five degrees. Nearly a mile up
this ravine the cascade rolls and pours over the upper beds which are protected
by the ealcareous beds of the blue shale; these consist of three Barrow
courses of stone, which protect the shale from the further erosion of the
stream; yet higher up the ravine the blue shale appears overlying the limestone
On lot 82, in the town of Romulus, the blue shale may be seen crossing
the road, south of the residence of Mr. William Martin; and on lot 98
the olive shale shows itself a few rods south of the creek; on the bed
of the latter, the calcareous beds which intervene, may be seen forming
the water bed; on lot 100 it crosses the boundary line of Romulus and
Ovid, and approaches the Cayuga shore; a few yards south of Mr. Martin’s,
this cal-careous bed was excavated by him, and he found it to possess the
properties of a good hydraulic lime; at this spot it lies near the surface,
and is covered by a compact blue shale; it slopes off very abrupt, for on
another part of the farm the same bed was twenty-one feet deep.
Along the shore of the Seneca lake these two beds are fully exposed
on lot 60 in Varick, and on lots 64, 65 and 66 in Romulus. The olive shale
contains nodules of claystone and of limestone imbedded in the mass, of
various sizes; they are chiefly rounded and do not resemble any organic
form; a large portion of some of them is made up of pyrites, which in-creases
their density. Impressions of shells are on their outer surface, and occasionally
a shell is found within, around which the deposit took place.
The upper layers of the olive shale lose their fissilility and become
compact, retaining the color, but parting with the fossil characteristics
which it possessed. Its southern limit is where it passes into a mass of
limestone between two and three feet thick.
These upper layers are exposed by the ravines on the west shore of
Ro-mulus, and may be seen from the lake on lots 72, 73 and 79, where
they are opened by the action of the water. On the Cayuga shore of Ovid,
on lot 6, and toward Sheldrake point they may be seen on the margin. The
atrypa concentrica is a common fossil of these beds.
A short distance north of Baileytown, this layer of shale is exposed
on the lake shore, crosses the county in lots 80 and 81 of Romulus, the
north part of 82 and southeast of 77, here it dips under the surface and
appears again on the Cayuga shore, on lot 23, south of Sheldrake point.
From its superior development in Cayuga county at Ludlowville, this
bed has received the name of Ludlowville shale.
The thin bed of limestone which forms the termination of this series
of slates has been termed encrinal limestone from the abundance of
that fossil, some times the rock appears to be formed of nothing else
but the remains of the stalk of this and several varieties of coral. It
is of a brown or clay color, and contains other fossils which are not character-istic.
It resists the action of weather and forms the edges of the cascades in a
few of the ravines in the northeastern part of Ovid.
The localities of its exposure on the lake shore, are the same as
those of the last described shale. It varies from two and a half to three
feet in thickness in most beds, yet occasionally it does not exceed one
foot. It forms a rough building stone and burns well to caustic lime. It
is probable from the proportion of aluminous clay which it contains, that
the mortar formed would be found durable, and is therefore worthy the attention
of build-ers. In a few places the clay so far predominates as to convert
it into a shale rock; the fossils however serve to distinguish it. Being
so very thin, and exposed only in upheavals of slate, it cannot be said
to occupy any portion of the area of the county.
The “Moscow shales,” as they have been designated by Mr. Hall, from
the perfection of the fossils (trilobites) developed in Moscow, Livingston
county; lie above the encrinal limestone, and are a bed of great thick-ness;
as it is bounded on the south by the Tully limestone, it can be readily
recognized it is of a dark blue color, composed of fine particles and traversed
by seams; it contains more lime than the foregoing shales, and on that account,
does not in many of its exposures display a slaty structure.
Where it approaches the Tully limestone it becomes very fossiliferous.
It is a soft stone, easily decomposed, and contains iron pyrites disseminated
through the mass, as well as collected in small masses of crystals, and
con-creted into nodules. The glittering golden color, and the weight of
these, have impressed a few with the erroneous belief that they were ores
of the precious metals.
The rusting along the edges, owing to the iron becoming oxydised
assists in breaking up the slate when acted upon by moisture.
They may be examined along the shores of Seneca lake, commencing
a few rods below the new Ovid landing and stretching a mile south towards
Almost every creek or ravine on the western shore of the county in
Ovid, displays this shale by exposure of twenty-five to forty feet in
depth. In the creek, near the shore and leading from the falls of Lodi
to Goff's point, this shale may be seen underlaying the Tully limestone.
Along the Cayuga shore it is exposed from the vicinity of Port Kid-der
to the extremity of the county, and in the ravines along the shore. It
passes through the county westward under lots 14, 13 and 5, in Ovid,
and embraces in extent the southern portion of Romulus, except the middle
lots extending a mile and a half north of Ovid, its greatest breadth
there is two miles, but on the lake shores it widens out considerably.
This terminates the description of the Hamilton group. The superior
rocks being stripped, it occupies a greater extent of surface in this county
than at any point westward. Its greatest breadth is about nine miles,
ex-tending from near the south part of Fayette, through the entire length
of Varick, and a large part of Romulus, to within a mile and a half north
of Ovid, and stretching from thence in a curve, a few miles farther south
along the lakes, where, owing to the force of the great mass of waters
which once flowed in the direction of Seneca and Cayuga lakes, their shores
have been indented on each side. The total thickness of these beds has been
esti-mated at one thousand feet, including the Marcellus shale.
The fossils found in this group are not only sufficient to distinguish
their position among the secondary rocks, but also to some extent, to
separate the subdivisions from each other; siliceous and argillaceous slates
as they all are, with here and there a bed of limestone, from their mineral
charac-ter alone, but little could be determined in regard to them. The
organic life of that period is a more characteristic test, and there
is here annexed a list of the most important fossils of this group.
No. 150.] 457
1 Atrypa prisca, in the olive and Moscow shale.
2 Atrypa concentrica, in the olive and Marcellus shales.
3 Nucula oblonga, black fossiliferous shale.
4 Delthyris mucronata.
6 Loxonerna nexilis.
7 Orthonata undulata.
S Dipleura Dekayii.
This limestone lies above the Moscow shales, and derives its name
from the village of Tully, in Onondaga. It is the last bed of limestone
which is formed by sedimentary action, or by the deposit of a calcareous
mud, the other and succeeding limestones being, those formed as the result
of organic life. But these existing only in the carboniferous system, which
beds do not occur in this State, it becomes important, inasmuch as it is
the n-test southern bed of limestone in this State. It is an impure stone,
calcareous, sometimes argillaceous, always compact and fine brained,
and of a dark and blackish blue color. The usual thickness, in this county,
is eleven feet; the greatest observed thickness, about thirteen feet.
It is extensively exposed in the county of Seneca, and where not
appa-rent, is in many places readily within reach, and from its uniform
thickness and characteristic color can always be recognized. It stretches
across the county in a semi-circular line, the greatest convexity of which
is one and a half miles north of Ovid, from thence it may be traced on
either side to the lakes.
From the eastern edge of lot 89, in Romulus, it dips southeasterly
and reappears on lots 5 and 6, in Ovid, where it crosses the road near
Mr. Craven's farm, and is there one hundred and twenty yards wide,
it dips again below the soil, and is lost at Cayuga lake, a little north
of Sheldrake point, by the removal of the rocks above the Hamilton group.
It rises to the surface again on lot 42, the south boundary of Ovid, where
Mr. Moorehouse has a quarry; here it crosses a ravine, where it is exhibited
probably in its most distinctive features; it then curves south, and is
lost under the Gene-see slate, which here overlies it.
On the west side of Ovid, the limestone can be traced on lot 43,
in Lodi, it may be seen rising out of the Seneca lake, some distance from
the shore. In the ravine leading to the falls of Lodi, it is more than fifteen
feet above the creek, it ascends gradually, until on the shore it may be
seen as high as sixty feet; it continues northerly for a mile and a quarter
in a horizontal line, then descending to the north for half a nile, it reaches
the level of the lake. A few rods farther north, it emerges from the lake,
and rises to a height of forty feet, where it may be seen in a ravine, on
lot 94, of Romulus, whence it traverses under 93 and 84, until it emerges
ngain on lot 89, its greatest northerly point or limit. Its uniformity in
appearance and thickness is remarkable on the ravine sections, in each of
these locali-ties, there are five courses of stone, of which the lowest
is the thickest, averaging four and one-half to five feet; the joints
are vertical, and far apart, allowing of large blocks to be quarried and
removed. From its com-pactness it resists the action of the streams, and
presents a ledge of rock over which the cascades roll. The slate which underlies
this rock, (Mos-cow shale,) is, however, occasionally eaten away, and leaves
a large slab of limestone overhanging the chasm; this in time bends, and
then breaks off; this effect can be seen on the ravine running in to lot
No. 94. The action of the Seneca waters have removed the shale, and consequently
causing the fall of large masses of the limestone ; these angular blocks
line the coast for many miles, both on the Cayuga as well as the Seneca shores,
No. 150.] 459
have often been removed for the purposes of burning, and brought
to the head of the lake. The impropriety of removing these masses of stone
has been remarked, as it leads to the further destruction of the banks,
by the inroad of the waters, whereas if these broken masses were left to
rest on the shore, they would remain a natural and perpetual break water.
The curved line which this limestone presents to the north, is due
to the effect of erosion before referred to.
After the limestone and superior rocks had been deposited, they were
upraised; but the force of the current, which swept onward toward the
south, took the channel of both lakes, and swept away the angles of the
bed on each side.
The bending of the limestone to the south, and its rising again to
form an arc, which may be seen on the Seneca shore, is due to a very different
When this bed, with the accompanying overlying slate, were deposited,
the waters were tranquil to a great extent, the bottom was horizontal,
or nearly so, on which they were deposited, and the current came from a
point south, perhaps a little west, deeper waters existed further east,
and the sea bottom gradually became more shallow in Indiana and Illinois.
The cur-rent taking the deeper channel, carried the fine materials farther
out into the sea, and depositing the very fine clay mud farthest north, they
being specifically lighter, then nearer to the source of those muds which
contained limestone, then the purer limestones, and lastly the sandy materials,
which, being heavier, could be carried the least far.
Taking the south as the point of departure, the deposit took place
in the following consecutive order:
1. Genesee slate, (containing sandstone.)
2. Tully limestone, (siliceous and argillaceous limestone.)
3. Shales containing lime and sand, (Moscow and olive.)
4. Shales containing much lime, (blue shale.)
5. Shales containing little lime, (Marcellus shale.)
In the western states, where the belt was shallower, the deposits
course thinner and more sandy.
After final deposition and consolidation of these beds, and perhaps
after the deposition of the old red sandstone of the southern counties,
(the Portage and Chemung group,) volcanic upheaval and undulations occurred.
Of the former action there are no true indications in this county, and
the latter can only be inferred from the appearances of this group. The
arching of this strata north and south was produced when surrounded by shales.
as now, for the slate above and below follow the curve of the limestone.
curve being only a few miles in extent, shows the subterranean action
to have been limited. That the action was not applied immediately to this
locality may be inferred from the fact, that there is no injection, or
pene-tration of the mass from below, no fissures filled with greenstone
or trachytic rocks of a modern age. This holds true of this, though Mr. Vanuxem
mentions the appearance of two thin veins of serpentine and limestone mixed,
resembling trap rock, found in close connexion with this limestone at Ludlowville;
this being the only locality where such has been observed, and that of too
small an amount to justify the belief of such action being the cause, almost
the only inference left to be adopted, is that this curve is the result
of an undulation of the surface, a wave transmitted through the bed of rock,
and derived from a distant point south. The motive force below bending the
stratum as it passed along, partly perhaps by upheaval, but mostly by its
heating power, producing expansion upwards of the overlying mass. Those
beds susceptible of the greatest expansion will curve most, while those
differently affected by heat, will either not curve, or as in the case of
argillaceous beds, dry out, and crack. This has been before alluded to when
treating of the shales which underlie this bed. To produce the curvature,
a fixed point at the extremity is required. Whether the pres-ence of the
great mass of waters which overlayed the beds towards the north, coupled
with the cooler beds in that region, would afford the necessary “point d’appui,”
is a suggestion thrown out, rather than a reason given.
The lime obtained by burning the Tully limestone is not always white,
owing to traces of iron and manganese, which the stone contains, and which
stain the stone of a red or olive color, or tint in some places. The lowest
and thickest bed is generally very pure. It is capable of being dressed
very neatly, and would form a fine building stone, and as the joints are
in a vertical direction, there is little lodgment of water in quarrying these
stones ; the joints being distant also, allow of large blocks to be raised
if care is observed. It does not appear capable of affording the finer
slabs and sills, like those obtained from the beds of Seneca limestone,
but it can afford square stones of almost any desired dimensions, and being
a compact stone, of good quality, and easily reached, it deserves more
attention and extensive use than it receives- at present.
The fossils of this limestone are not numerous in Seneca county.
They are atrypa cuboides, affinis and lentiformis; cryphaeus orthis tulhiensis.
No. 150.] 461
Fossils in the Tully Limestone.
This slate is the “ Upper Black Shale,” of the State survey; it occupies
a large area of the southern part of the county, including the whole
of the town of Ovid and those of Lodi and Covert, except so much of the
former as is denuded at its eastern and western margins, and of the two
where by the cuttings of the ravines, the lower rocks are exposed:
it stretches north a short distance into Romulus, and underlies the town
of Ovid, occupying an area of about sixty-five square miles, and next
to the Onondaga group, is the most extensively diffused bed.
It is generally of a deep black color of a slaty structure, passing
in a few places into a hard siliceous grey or ashy stone, ringing under
the hammer; the surfaces of these last mentioned layers, glitter with the
light, owing to fine particles of mica disseminated through the stone.
The beds of dark slate contain very few fossil remains; and although
crumbling readily under the effects of weather and moisture, splitting
into fragments, yet when placed with their edges outward they withstand
the action of the heat remarkably well, being good fire stones and remaining
almost unaltered used in a back as fire places for forty years; they
have been used in furnaces with equal advantage.
The thickness of this bed of slate varies, but in the average, may
be estimated at from one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet. It cannot
be less than two hundred feet in the ravine at the falls of Lodi; it occupies
the whole of the ravine from Mr. Wykoff’s mill to the base of the lower
falls, below which on passing about a fourth of a mile, the Tully limestone
on which it reposes, may be seen, rising on both the north and- south sides
of the stream. This characteristic rock, at once localizes both the position
and depth of the slate, and few if any places in the county gives so good
a view of the nature of the Genesee slate as this ravine affords.
The ravines on the Cayuga lake at the south of Covert, also display
this bed advantageously.
The character of the bed is mostly argillaceous, beds of dark slate,
which split irregularly, and black shale, which is fissile. These occupy
several feet from the surface and are succeeded by a few layers of sandstone
which are from three to eight inches thick, they laminate as slates and
have the jointed scams of the shale passing down through the sandstone.
Two or three of these beds occur of variable quality and thickness; they
constitute the flag-stone of this section of the country. The joints
are from twelve to four-teen feet apart, and therefore allow the flags
to be raised of great dimensions.
These joints are vertical like those in the Tully limestone, and
are in two directions, one being nearly due east and west, the other,
north by east and south by west; this joint often presents a curve, with
its concavity to the east; this curving is well displayed in Colonel Pratt’s
quarries in Covert. These joints are also well seen on lot number 14, in
Ovid west of Shel-drake point, where this shale is exposed. Three sub-divisions
of the rock may be seen, two of them are the joints, and the third is the
No. 150.] 463
of cleavage in the slate. In this quarry the joints run north by
west; and the same direction was observed by Mr. Vanuxum at Ludlowville.
A and b are the two series of joints which determine in the sandstone
the size of the blocks or flags; c c are the lines of cleavage which are
visible on the sides of the ravine, as well as on the floor.
The economical uses of this Genesee slate, are in importance next
to the limestones; the shaly, dark and fossiliferous beds arc of little
value, as they decay rapidly; but not so when the series of flag stones
are reached. These are displayed to most advantage on the east side of
the county, inasmuch as they are horizontal in that locality, and have
been less disturbed, and are less covered by shale and drift. On lot No.
11, in Ovid, at Scott’s corners, Mr. Leonard has a quarry, in the lower
beds, which are here near the sur-face, and covered by a few feet of shale;
these beds are not the true flag stones, but rather a silico-argillaceous
limestone. The stones are thin, but dress well for building or other purposes.
On lot 32, in Ovid, is a similar stone, somewhat mnore siliceous; this stone
was formerly called Graywacke slate. There are from three to five courses
in a quarry north of the resi-dence of Mr. Isaac Covert; the stones are covered
by two beds of slaty shale, and underlaid by black, thin beds of fossiliferous
slate. In the fifth bed of this quarry, a fine layer is disclosed, giving
a slab equal to twelve inches thick, and fourteen feet long; their surface
is marked with vegetable impressions and shells.
A similar stone is quarried further west, by Mr. Van Loo; in an easterly
direction these beds thin off; as the joints are far asunder, large slabs
may be raised, with due care, of great excellence.
In the immediate vicinity of Mr. Covert’s house, and in a southerly
direction a similar but upper bed has been exposed, with two g6od courses
of stone, covered and underlaid by shale; the dip of these beds is southwest.
The fossil impressions observed on the stone of Mr. Covert’s beds
1. Lingula spatulata.
2. Orbicula Lodiensis.
3. Lingula concentrica.
4. Avicula fragilis.
Mr. Isaac Covert’s farm, on which is this last described
bed, is adjoining
(north) of the thriving village of Farmerville, near to which is
a series of beds of sandstone, quarried by Mr. Seneca Mundy. In this
series the fossil shells are not so abundant, neither are the vegetable
remains. These beds are elevated on their eastern edge, and the dip is
nearly due south. They afford good building stone, and are full of micaceous
grains ; the blocks are raised in size about four and a half by six feet.
The beds are covered by a clay five feet in thickness, and are arranged
thus: three beds of slate, one bed of shale, a bed of good stone, and shale
underneath. The stone from this quarry finds a ready sale at fifty cents
On lot number 86, in the town of Covert, is the extensive quarry
of Colonel Pratt. From this quarry is sent forth the largest and finest
flag-stones. Stones of unusual size have been raised from its beds and
shipped to Buffalo, Syracuse, and other principal cities. These beds
are covered by a stratum of clay at least four feet thick, and another
of shale two feet thick, and are underlaid by blue and olive shale. These
quarries do not exceed three to four feet in depth, but they can be quarried
laterally, as their su-perficial extent and quantity is great. The joints
are so far apart as to allow slabs to be raised, measuring twelve feet
square and six inches thick. The slabs are an even deposit of fine sand,
and dip to the southwest, at a very slight angle. They are sold from the
quarries at six cents per foot dressed, or in their rough state at fifty
cents per load.
Another quarry is opened on lot 74, belonging to Mr. Williamson.
The stone is similar in texture to that on lot 86; but is not extensively
worked, nor are the blocks as large.
In the beds of black shale the amount of bitumen is very great, giving
it the deceptive coaly appearance, which has induced many unacquainted
with geology, to believe that workable scams of coal might be found in
these shales. The deposit of vegetable matter has not been sufficient to
form distinct beds, although it has impregnated the slate so extensively.
Under the influence of the pyrites the vegetable matter has passed into
the state of bitumen, and this liquid oozes down through the layers and
escaping on and with the falling waters, is carried out into the lakes;
and as the slope of the beds (S.W.) carries the fluid in that direction,
Seneca lake receives the greatest portion of these cozings. There is little
doubt-, that as the slate crops out beneath the lake, the bitumen also
escapes there, and being specifically lighter than water, it rises and
floats on the surface. The
nodules of claystone, and those masses which with their angular subdivi-sions,
separated by a larger portion of calearcous matter, or earthy sulphates,,
arc called septaria, occasionally contain bitumen in an internal cavity.
The presence of iron pyrites in the shale tends to produce a series
of changes in this rock, by its decomposition, interesting to consider.
The pyrites may be estimated as made up of thirty-two parts of sulphur and
twenty-eight parts of iron in every sixty parts. The iron rusts when ex-posed
to the air, and becomes increased to thirty-six parts. Its increased bulk,
and the affinity of the rust, or oxide of iron for water tends to split
the rock and hasten its decomposition. The sulphur noting on the air becomes
acidified or converted into sulphuric acid, which seizing on the earthy
matters of the slate, the alumina, magnesia and lime, form salts, suiphates
of alumina, of magnesia, and of lime. These, when’ formed, crystalize on
the surface of the shale, and on its exposed edges, and form those white
saline effiorescences which are common in this shale. Common salt also
forms a portion of the mass; the presence of vegetable matters hastens these
changes, and hence it is, that in this shale, when it abounds in pyrites,
alum in native crystals is also abundant.
The middle layers of shale of the Genesec slate, present these condi-tions,
and when exposed, exhibit the action as explained, going on rapidly.
At the falls of Lodi, it is a characteristic feature; at the lower cascade,
about sixty feet above the waters running from the bottom of the fall,
the shales, for ten or twelve feet of thickness, may be traced on each
side of the ravine, by the white effiorescenee on the surface of the rock,
and large quan-tities of the native mineral may be taken from between the
laminae. It is a true alum sehist or shale, and from its exposure, facility
of working, and large extent, might offer a reasonable inducement for the
manufacture of the artificial salt. The process, as carried out in England,
may be explained here, and possibly with advantage, though the detail is
not now essential. The process may be divided into four parts:
1. The preparation of the shale. 2. The lixiviation
of the shale. 3. The separation of foreign matters. 4. The crystalization
1. The alum schist is occasionally so bituminous
and decomposable, that it is sufficient to expose it in loose heaps,
and water its surface, when it falls to a fine powder, and is ready for
the second process: more frequently the shale requires to be burned,
which is done by brushwood, having a continual, slow heat, and a smothered
fire; the slower it is burned, the more alum will be produced.
2. In the neighborhood of the heaps, flagged or
wooden cisterns are built, into which large masses of the mineral are placed
below, the finest parts arc
[Assembly, No. 160 ] 30
placed on top, and over which is poured a moderate quantity of water;
after laying some time, it dissolves out all the soluble matter of the
shale, and is usually then transferred to another cistern, where it acts
in a similar way, and so on until the liquid becomes fully saturated with
the salts. To ac-complish this, a series of cisterns, placed on terraces,
allow the passage of the fluid as desired. The saline liquid is then transferred
to a cistern in connection with a furnace, the flame of which plays on
the surface of the liquid, and evaporates it to the point when it just commences
to crystalize; by this means some of the impurities subside.
3. The above named liquid is then drained into another cistern, and
a potash or ammoniacal salt is added, either sulphate of potash or chloride
of potassium is used, the former more frequently. This removes nearly all
the alum out of the liquor, ‘and it falls as a white powder to the bottom,
which is called “alum flour.” As soon as it has settled down, the floating
liquor is drawn off, and treated again in the same way, so as to exhaust
it. The alum meal requires to be washed once or twice with a little cold
water, to free it from iron, which tints it of a brown color, the wash
liquors are pre-served for future use.
4. The powder is then passed into large leaden pans, where only a
little water, is poured over, and a gentle fire lighted below it; when
dissolved by a boiling heat, it is run off into conical casks, five or
six feet high, where it cools and crystalizes on the sides. After lying
eight or ten days, the casks are opened, the liquor drawn off, and the
crystals transferred into the pack-ing vessels for market. Such is an outline
of a manufacture which, for the completion of the various processes mentioned,
takes several weeks to accom-plish, and an outlay of capital.
The low price of the article, when ‘manufactured, ought not to enter
into consideration; but rather the facilities which the locality gives,
and the great consumption of this article ‘in many departments of manufacture;
several thousands of tons are annually consumed by wool, silk and cotton
One of the salts which is separated as an impurity, is sulphate of
magnesia or epsom salts, which thus becomes a bye product of manufacture,
and tends to diminish the cost of alum-making.
In England, from sixty to sixty-five tons of shale, will produce
of alum, which, when made, costs.......................$30, 00
The cost of the alum stone, or shale........................16 00
Leaving the cost of the potash, labor, &c., &c......$14 00
Which is considerably above what it would be at the falls of Lodi.
No. 150] 467
Fossils from the Slate at
the Falls of Lodi
5. Lingula spatulata.
Those marked 3, 4 and,5, are very common in the shale at the foot
of the falls. Fig. 1, is probably a terrestrial fern. When viewed under
the lens, the whole mass of shale appears impregnated with pyrites.
This closes the account of the structure and geological position
of the rocks as they exist in the county of Seneca. The extent of surface
which they occupy may be seen by examination of the map in which. the beds
have been traced with as much accuracy as possible. A sectional view of the
order of position of these ‘beds is also given, which may assist the inquirer.
The Genesee slate passes into Tompkins county, and is succeeded by the Portage
and Chemung rocks, corresponding to the old red sandstone of Eu-ropean
writers. Those who require more information concerning the fossils of the
period will be well rewarded for their trouble, by consulting Mr. Hall’s
volume of Palaeontology, in the State Survey, and Sir R. Murchison’s work,
“Silurian Researches,” and his work on Russian Geology. There is, as yet,
great difficulty in classifying these rocks, and comparing them with their
analogues in Europe. This can only be done successfully by the study of the
fossil remains. The comparison of the two may be said to have been sketched,
but not filled up, by the State Survey, and those who enter on the field
will do so with the assistance of much previous labor, and either by tracing
now resemblances, or bringing forward essential differences, con-fer a benefit
on science and on the country.
List of fossils common to the rocks of Seneca county.
Gypseous group Orthoceratite.
Seneca limestone......... Strophomena lineata.
Marcellus shale Posidonia alata.
Ludlowville shale Atrypa coneentrica.
Blue and olive shales, Leptaeria.
Encrinal limestone Asaphus, (new species.)
Moscow shale Calymene bufo.
Atrypa aflinis, prisca.
Tully limestone, (16 feet thick,) Atrypa affinis.
Upper black shale, (150 feet thick,) .... . Lingula.
The general phenomena of springs, and the principles which regulate
the percolation of water though beds of clay or rock, are of importance
to the agriculturist, and claim his studious attention.
The quantity of water beneath the surface of the soil depends on
quantity of rain which falls; but the exact relation between the
two, de-pends upon the nature and slope of the rock below, the amount
of solar heat, and the level of the surface. The existence of rivers is
produced by the latter, and the volume of water which they contain by the
The annual fall of rain is consumed in the following manner:
1. A portion rolls off the surface, forming a stream.
2. A portion sinks a few inches into the earth,
and is raised and evapo-rated.
3. A portion is consumed by man and animals.
4. A portion sinks below the evaporating level
into the strata of sand, gravel, clay, or rock.
The last is the only portion to be considered as the cause of springs,
and which it may do in several ways.
The water which sinks a few feet into the earth, continues descending
until it reaches some bed or bottom which is impervious to water. There
it rests, accumulates, and spreads itself laterally along the porous bed,
until it reaches the extremity of that bed, when it overflows. Such is the
case, when, upon a surface of rock, or upon a bed of stiff clay, is placed
a bed of gravel or sand. This may be curved with either end upraised. Such
a bed acts as a tube, and delivers the water at its lowest level, and only
there, unless tapped elsewhere.
If 1 be the bed of rock, 2 the bed of clay, 3 the gravel bed, covered
by 4, another bed of clay, the rain which falls at a and along the slope
of the hill, will sink through the clay 4, into 3, the gravel bed, where
it aceumu-mulates, until the whole layer of gravel and sand is full, and
rising to the level at b, it overflows, because the bed is now in the condition
of a syphon, and will deliver itself through the longest leg from the shortest.
Upon an examination of the preceding figure it will be seen how water
may escape from a level above that of the surrounding country, which water
is supplied from some higher level at a distance.
The syphon acts during a short period, or until the water in the
legs of the syphons arc on the same level, or balance each other, they
then cease to flow, until this portion of the leg is again full. If a sinking
be made in the e rth at c, water can be obtained at any time, and it will
rise to the
surface constantly. In other cases the spring is produced by the
running of water through the thin beds of rock which underlie the soil.
This in the county of Seneca, is a very usual source of springs.
If the above diagram represents a vertical section of a bed of drift
clay, (No. 1,) lying against the bluff edge of the shale or slate, (2,)
all the rain which falls on the clay passes into the seams of the slate,
and will be carried downward along the sloping line, until it is arrested
by borings or sinkings as represented at a, b, c. It is obvious that
it is the rain water which falls upon the slope of the hill at 1, that
is collected by boring, for all the rain which falls on the slope 3, rolled
down along the surface of the rock.
If this diagram represents the shales of Seneca county, most of which
dip southwest, passing under the lake, it is clear that all water which
falls on the upland, at the edges of the shale, and which does not happen
to be drawn off or consumed, must pass into the lake, escaping from the
rocky seams, mixing with and increasing the lake waters.
The quantity of water so disposed of must he very great. That a vast
portion is thus derived, is certain from two facts. The lake, although
a limited sheet of water, is cooler in summer and warmer in winter than
the surrounding air. This could scarcely happen in a small lake, unless
it were supplied from a source having a steady temperature which would lower
the summer and raise the winter temperature of its waters.
The altitude of the uplands in Ovid and Covert is from five to six
hun-dred feet above the surface of Seneca lake. The lake bottom opposite
these shores is more than six hundred feet below the surface waters ;
as all the beds of shale dip southwest, they reach the lake at or below
the water level. An angle of six, degrees is equal to a fall of 544 feet
per mile. The highest land in Ovid is about three miles from the lake
shore. The water which falls upon the hills two miles inward from the lake,
must be discharged into the lake at its level, or within a distance
of about five hundred feet below the level.
The land on the south of Lodi is considerably higher than Ovid, and
will to a farther extent drain itself into the lake at the same points,
which are not the deepest part of the lake.
The time which the water requires to pass through these laminae of
No. 150.] 471
and the fact that they pass at depths beyond the heating power of
the sun upon the surface, tends to make the water acquire the temperature
of the rock through which it passes, which is at these depths the mean tempera-ture
of the country, and that is about 48°. This constant temperature of
the fresh water passing into the lake has the effect of lowering its summer
warmth, and preventing its freezing in winter.
It is a known fact that springs do exist and rise with force in the
lake, but for the most part they have only been ascertained to exist at
the mar-gin. A search for springs at great depths, and a knowledge of the
comparative height of the lake waters, with the fall of rain the previous
season, will bring conviction to any doubting mind.
The well known spring at Canoga owes its coldness to the course above
described. Its waters have travelled down the slope of the Onondaga group
southward, until they reached a fissure or fault in the Seneca limestone,
up which it rushes to escape on the surface. Coming from a great depth,
it has the mean temperature of the country.
This most interesting spring is on the farm of Mr. Daniel Greenleaf,
in lot 34, of the Cayuga reservation in the town of Fayette, and a short
distance west from the hotel, in the pleasant village of Canoga. The
water from this spring and a smaller one in its vicinity, turns the machinery
of the Canoga flouring mills, saw mills, and other works and passes into
The spring bed covers a space, about fourteen feet in diameter, is
shallow and covered with loose pebbles; the water which rises with great
rapidity, is clear, tasteless, and inodorous and leaves no deposit on
the bottom or sides of its basin. The bubbles
of gas which rise with velocity and in large quantity are pure nitrogen.
On examination they do not afford any trace of oxygen. No ready
means were applicable for ascertaining the quantity of gas given off,
but is incredi-bly great, as the surface presents the appearance of ebullition,
and on stirring the bottom with a stick, the supply is so much increased,
that a large test bottle may be filled in a few seconds. The temperature
of the water in June, was 45°, the air at the same time was 82 °.
These waters as has been stated, escape
from a fissure in the Seneca limestone, which is every where broken by
a series of faults produced as Mr. Hall believes it probable by the soft
gypseons rocks below. In the State survey, Mr. Hall alludes to this spring
as the only one in the State found in this geological position; others
being near the junction of transition with primitive or metamorphic rocks;
and refers to Daubeny's hypothesis, that the production of nitrogen is
due to the proximity of melted or highly heat-
ed materials, as a probable proof that the faults have arisen from
igneous or subterranean action.
This last position is hardly tenable, as in the immediate proximity,
there are no evidences of upheaval, except the bending of the shales
and Tully limestone, visible on the banks of the lakes; but as the cause
which has produced the latter, has long since ceased, it can have
little connect-ion with the phenomena at Canoga.
It is probable that the hollow and loose character of the gypseous
rock, underlying the limestone, has more to do with the production of
the spring and the evolution of the gas than is generally supposed. It
is a well known fact, wherever any of these shales are exposed to the
air, crystals of sulphate of lime will form, owing to the pyrites of
the iron becoming decomposed its sulphur taking oxygen from the air to
form the sulphuric acid, and the iron taking oxygen to replace the sulphur;
the acid when formed uniting with the lime in the stone and crystalizing
as gypsum. The oxygen being taken from the air leaves its other element
nitrogen uncombined and it escapes freely; but if this were carried on
in confined positions, as in cavities in the solid rock, the nitrogen could
not escape except through such fissures as might accidentally exist. Wherever
the rock contains pyrites, there much gypsum will be formed, and it is possible
that the large masses of gypsum have been so formed; if so, the quantity
of air necessary to supply the needful oxygen must have been great indeed,
and the quantity of nitrogen correspondingly great, and sufficient to
produce larger evolu-tions of gas than occurs at Canoga. The water of the
spring is possibly supplied by the soakage of the waters on the gypseous
ground north of Seneca Falls, which passing along the slope of the strata
southward enters those caverns in the rocks, where remaining for sonic
short time, it acquires the steady temperature of that underground position,
approaching very near the mean temperature of the year, which in this
latitude would be about fifty feet below the surface: passing through
the cavities where these che-mical changes have been going on, it forces
its way through the fissures carrying with it mechanically the free nitrogen,
arising from the decomposed atmosphere; the water is placed in the condition
of a fluid in a syphon, the long leg being the sloping stratum, and the
short leg the fissure, hence it is delivered upward with such force. The
water does not contain more mineral matter than sixteen grains to the pint,
which consists of sulphate of lime and chlorides of calcium and sodium.
There are no springs in the county of Seneca, which can be traced
to volcanic action. The springs which contain sulphurcttcd hydrogen are
those which have traveled through beds of rock containing iron pyrites;
No, 150.] 473
mineral decomposing without access of air produces oxide of iron
and sul-phuretted hydrogen, the latter gas escaping through the water
gives it the sulphuretted odor. There are several such springs rising
out of the Onon-daga group of rocks, and espeeially from the shale beds.
The Genesee slate region is the most productive of such springs.
Almost all the spring water in the town of Tyre is sulphuretted ;
other instances are found, in various localities; one exists on the farm
of Mr. Van Loo, in lot 54, town of Lodi; another on lot 6, at Seneca Falls
- this spring belongs to Mr. Baseum, who is about to erect a neat edifice
Sometimes the oxide of iron becomes converted into sulphate of iron,
which then dissolves in the water, and renders it chalybeate. Such is
the condition of a spring on lot 69, in Covert, which is also sulphurctted;
and also of a spring near the residence of Mr. Daniel Young, on lot 21,
in Tyre. These springs are ferruginous, depositing an ochrey layer along
The springs which pass over and through the Onondaga group become
impregnated with gypsum, and the salts arising from the decomposition of
the gypseous shales; such is the spring at Dublin, in the town of Junius,
which is not sulphuretted. An analysis of this spring exhibited the follow-ing
This spring is remarkable for being sensibly acid to litmus paper,
ana having the power of curdling milk.*
A spring similar to the foregoing exists on lot 42, in Junius, on
the farm of Mr. Southwick; the deposit of ochre is considerable, and the
taste of the water is bitter.
Springs passing through beds of limestone reek dissolve this mineral,
* The acidity of the spring is due to the small
quantity of free sulphuric acid, which may be supplied by the tendency
of the protoxide of iron to become liberated and peroxodized; I do not believe
it to be due to the presence of sulphuric acid n an uncombined state, for
such is only found in neighborhoods of existing active volcanoes,
where it is formed; in this place from the tufa being discolored by iron,
the acid has evidently been liberated. I am inclined to think that this
is the true explanation of similar acid springs in the Onondaga group, although
Dr. Beck seems inclined to a different opinion -Thomas Antisell.
deposit it again on exposure, forming deposits sometimes hard, resembling
stalactites, more frequently in the condition of soft marly powder, or
in-crustations (tufa) on pieces of dead vegetable matter; of the former,
an example may be seen in the spring which pours out on the south side
of Seneca river, a few rods below the village of Seneca Falls ; the deposit
being somewhat ochrey, gives it a ribboned or agate appearance. In the town
of Tyre, there arc several such springs, of lesser note.
Of the deposit of lime in the second form, instances are abundant.
One of the best is on the farm of Mr. A. Dunlap, Jr., near Ovid, where
the tufarous deposit occurs in the stream, and the whole ground around
is underlaid with a thick coating of marl.
The spring at Mr. Van Loo's, on lot 54, in Lodi, before alluded to,
is remarkable for the escape of bubbles of gas at intervals, and preceded
by a low gurgling noise; the gass is given off in large quantity; a test
glass was filled in three minutes. It burns with a pale flame, and is
wholly composed of a light carburetted hydrogen, or the gas of the marshes;
it contains no sulphuretted hydrogen; the pools beside the well, on being
stirred, give off the gas plentifully, and no doubt it streams up through
the clay, its ap-pearance in the water being accidental, This gas arises
from the decom-position of the vegetable matter in the shale below, one
of the results of which is, the formation of marsh gas.
On the lot No. 58, in the town of Lodi, bitumen escapes with the
water out of the shale. This mineral also arises from the vegetable matter
or coal in the shale being destroyed. The decay is a process analogous
to what heat produces on coal in a gas retort—it separates the coal into
an inflammable gas, (carburetted hydrogen,) and an inflammable liquid,
(tar.) On the slate it is decomposed into marsh gas, and bitumen, or Seneca
oil, as it is sometimes called, from its being gathered off the lake.
There is a spring in Lodi, on lot 54, which is remarkable only for
the large volutne of water discharged from it. The basin is about six
feet in diameter, and the stream which flows from it would fill a bore
of seven inches diameter. Its velocity is about three and a half miles
per hour, hav-ing a power, from its position, to move much useful machinery.
At present it is unoccupied and idle.
In every part of the northern hemisphere above the latitude of forty
degrees, wherever examined, there is a great amount of proof that a large
body of water moved over the face of the lands, then wholy or in great
In this state the current flowed rapidly in a south-easterly direction,
and bore along upon its bosom whatever materials it could take from the
rocks over which it had passed, and deposited them very far south of the
localities whence they were derived.
Whether this diluvial action was sufficient to excavate the deep
channels of the lakes which border this county, and, to produce grooved
lines* on the surfaces of the exposed rock, there is not sufficient evidence
to say, as far as this county is concerned. In part of the British Isles,
the furrows on the rocks are in the same line as the deposition of the
drift now alluded to, and may be considered as cotemporaneous in origin
and indicating the course of the current.
The materials carried by the waters are of two kinds, viz
1. Boulders or large blocks of stones generally rounded and found
ly-ing on and imbedded in the clay.
2. Beds of sand, and clay or of gravel, the fragments are rounded,
of various materials, and different degrees of fineness.
The boulder deposit in this county is very abundant in the north,
spars in the middle towns, and very deficient in the south. One reason
for this may be that such large masses although transported in deep water
and therefore with great momentum in travelling along the ocean bottom,
must in this country have been brought up an inclined plane, going south
their motion would then be impeded by any moderate obstacle ; perhaps another
reason is that those rocks being deposited in the north, the supply which
might be had by the action of the current on the beds in the middle and south
would be trifling, as with the exception of the limestone no other rock
would afford them; the shales of the southern towns could not produce a
In the northern towns these stones arc almost all derived from primary
rocks, and arc the only instances of crystalline rocks in the county.
The larger masses are uniformly granite, (chiefly white) as occur
in Junius, where they have been removed from the surface, and meet
the plow occasionally.
*The grooved lines have not been examined in this county, th re are
no fresh exposures of rock sufficient to afford examination, and it is
desirable in all future openings of quarries that such examinations
should be made.
476 [ ASSEMBLY
On Mr. Braden’s farm several blocks of this kind have been raised:
one of these was about four feet in diameter ; smaller stones of flesh-colored
granite and gneiss have been removed from the central lots of Junius. On
lot 29 the larger stones are chiefly granite and sandstone, (red) and the
smaller stones are Graywacke slate. In lot No, 1, on the read side, lies
a large boulder N. E. and S. W.
In Tyre, granite boulders of a large size are frequently met with; a
few smaller consist of sienite, granite with red felspar, and red sandstone.
Cob-ble stones of greenstone porphyry are abundant.
These large masses are almost confined to these towns, for in Waterloo
and Seneca Falls, the larger boulders are rare, appearing at the sides
of the gravel hills occasionally, but seldom constituting the surface stone.
In the town of Fayette, although blocks of large dimensions do here
and there present themselves, yet it is probable they were included in
the mass of gravel and sand. On the lake margins, they have been washed
out of the ridges; on the lots south of the Seneca river they are chiefly
of gnciss and granite; large blocks of hornblcnde and actymolite are accompa-nied
by rolled pebbles of greenstone, sandstone, sienite, and limestone. In the
south of the town limestone appears as a drift rock, and continues to increase
through the towns of Yarick and Romulus. This appears to be more especially
true of the eastern side. The primary rocks never wholly disappear: granite
is found on almost every lot in Romulus and Ovid, much more sparingly in
Lodi and Covert. In these latter towns, they are pre-sent in smaller masses,
as is also, occasional fragments of hornblcnde, greenstone and actymolite.
In the southern towns the limestone is not so abundant a boulder as in
Romulus and. Varick, but is a very common handstone in the gravel hills.
The limestone found as boulders in the middle and south, appear to be
similar to the Waterloo stones, and some of the larger masses of the Tully
limestone. South of the county this stone has been drifted to a great dis-tance,
having been probably torn up from the bed of the lakes by the force of the
There does not appear to be. any uniformity in the line of deposit of
these boulders, nor does the eye trace a given course with any distinctness.
In other words they do not imply their being grounded out of ice deposits,
or by glacial action. Perhaps, however, the cultivation of the soil by
re-moving them, may divest this opinion of any value.
The ridges of gravel and sand, and of clay, appear to have been carried
by a similar action, and at the same time as the larger stones where the
small stones which are to be found in them are, to a great extent,
of a simi-lar character, and probably from the same localities.
In the north-west of Junius, these hills are very numerous, set closely
together, and have a direction pointing S. SE. In Tyre the same direction
prevails, where they are more prevalent in the lots forming the middle
and north-west portion of the town; toward the southern portion they spread
out and the surface is flattened.
In Seneca Falls they preserve the same direction, both on the north
and south side of the river. In the western lots of Waterloo, the dirrecction
ap-pears to have inclined more to the eastward: the lots on the river have
their ridges well developed, but somewhat spread out and flattened.
In Fayette these hills of sand and gravel lose the isolated and distinct
character which in the northern towns were well defined; they are here
considerably flattened out, as might be supposed to occur, when the drift,
arriving in water somewhat shallower, met with obstructions on the surface
of land sloping upward toward the south; the tops of the hills have less
slope, and the northerly and southerly direction is less marked, if we
except the margins of each lake, where the ridges are quite distinct and
formed of gravel and stiff clay, the former being composed to a great ex-tent
of limestones. They chiefly accumulate on the bluff edge or the north side
of the ridges of shale which overspread this town.
In Varick and Romulus, there are fewer evidences of these hills,
yet the drift can be traced along the towns deposited in almost an even
layer, with more quietness and somewhat finer materials.
These had more time and a better opportunity to settle down, and
in these towns, and those farther south, beds of gravel disposed evenly
along the surface of the shales, and constituting receptacles or basins
for the rain water to sink into, are common: in some places, as the southern
side of a small hill, a bed of fine sand will be found to exist, occasionally
the latter is spread horizontally as a layer, beneath a few feet of soil.
In the southern part of Romulus, the sand appears to have been distributed
more abundantly on each lake shore, than on the central lots, and with
a few exceptions this is true of the southern towns.
The western lots of Lodi are much more sandy than those in the middle
of the town, or adjoining Covert.
The greater abundance of limestone in the pebbles of drift, as well
as in the larger boulders in the southern towns, contributes to increase
the amount of that mineral in the soil, giving it as in the south of Romulus
a marly character.
There is a less uniformity in the character of the drift over a given
in Waterloo and Seneca Falls, than in other towns of this county;
thus in Seneca Falls, on lots 73, 84 and 85, fine grey sand is found under
almost all the hills. This occurs on Mr. Crowell’s farm in very fine
layers, the sand possessing a slight buff tint. It is drawn into Waterloo
for building pur-poses and is sold at twenty-five cents per load. On Mr.
Austen’s farm in this neighborhood, a finer sand than the above occurs,
but the pit is nearly exhausted.
In Waterloo, many of the lots on the north side of Seneca River,
appear to be a wet alluvium. The village lot and numbers 97 and 98 are
of this character: in 78, 89 and 91, the soil is chiefly sand; while lot
90 is a wet alluvium mixed with muck.
The depth at which these deposits of drift cover the surface varies
; accumulating in some places above fifty feet, while in others, tile rock
is reached in one to two feet. The northern towns, however, seem to have
a much deeper deposit than those in the middle and south.
The following table may be interesting as giving the depths to which
wells have been sunk. in the various places indicated. With few exceptions
the sinking has been continued until the rock was reached, and the materials
through which the boring was carried, are noted
From the foregoing it is evident that the clay and soil which cover
the county are mainly derived from the drift deposit, as, with the exception
of the Seneca limestone, and tile Marcellus shale, the other beds are covered
so deeply as to have little influence on the soil. Tile amount and nature
of that influence will be mentioned when treating of soils.
The hill deposits generally present their greatest slope to south,
and their bluff end, or shoulder, to the north. The eastern slope is
more abrupt than the western in the majority of cases, from which it
is inferred that the
current which bore them came from the north by one point cast, which
is the general line of their direction.
The deposit of drift in the northern towns is especially derived
from some locality farther north. In the southern towns, it appears to
be made up, in great degree, of materials derived from the centre and south
part of the county itself. The great abundance of limestone gravel may possibly
have been derived from the limestones over which the water passed.
Viewing the drift as a deposit from which the soils of the county
are chiefly derived, it becomes a consideration of importance; but viewing
it simply as a deposit of drift, whether of clay, gravel, or boulders, it
is of very small amount in the eyes of those who are acquainted with a well
characterized drift region.
In two instances masses of timber have been
found as low as thirty-eight feet below the surface, imbedded in the
sand and gravel. The wood was apparently white ash, and in good preservation.
The period of the deposit of this drift is very far subsequent to
that of the bed of rocks upon which they lie. A long lapse of time
must have in-tervened sufficient to deposit all the limestone, and coal
formations in the adjoining state of Pennsylvania, and tile later secondary
rocks of New-Jersey.
The tertiary beds were then deposited, which are mostly fine clays,
such as those of Lake Champlain, and of the Mohawk valley.
Whether these beds may be classed among the latest of the tertiary
de-posits, or whether they belong to the post tertiary deposits, or whether
they belong to the past tertiary period is doubtful. Some of the British
sands and gravel can be referred to the post pliacene period of Sir C.
Lyell; but there is little evidence in this region and its clays to justify
a like conclusion in regard to them.
This material may only be used for research and personal use.
COPYRIGHT 2002 BY WILLIAM HECHT
Union Springs, NY