November 10, 2001

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New York State got a new governor, its eighth, on the first day of January, 1823 - former Schenectady mayor Joseph Christopher Yates. Within five weeks a new Finger Lakes county had been named for him. It's just as well it happened quickly. He'd only get a single two-year term. The other new county, Wayne, carved out of Ontario and Seneca counties, was named for Revolutionary War general Mad Anthony Wayne.

The two new counties would get a rather windy baptism on Easter weekend, at the end of March - a storm with hurricane force winds would blow up from the south and bring heavy snows all the way from Pennsylvania to Maine. But York Staters eat snowstorms for breakfast, spit on their hands, then go out and do what needs doing. And there was a lot that needed doing across the state. Young Millard Fillmore passed his exam and was admitted to the Buffalo bar association. Batavia became a village and got a new tavern, the Eagle. The village on the Genesee was jumping. A new horsecar railroad joined the main business area of Rochester to the downstream river landing. The total value of shipments out of the Genesee River would reach $807,000 by year's end. St. Patrick's, the first Catholic Church in town was built and construction begun on Washington Street for the home of Colonel Nathaniel Rochester. Presbyterians up toward the St. Lawrence, in Cape Vincent, also got a new church. Today it's the United Church. Albany got a Lyceum of Natural History, courtesy of local physician-scientist Theodoric Romeyn Beck. And out on the northern shore of Long Island's Suffolk County a keeper was hired for a new lighthouse to be built at Old Field Point.

But one topic above all else interested just about everyone, all across the state. Canals. The Champlain Canal was completed. New York chartered a Delaware and Hudson Canal down near the Pennsylvania border; a route was explored for a Baltimore-Conewago Canal. The first would be built, the second would not, even with De Witt Clinton endorsing the project. His own "ditch" was nearing completion. It wouldn't reach Buffalo for another two years but Brockport would fill in as western terminus until then. Contracts were signed for engineering work at Tonawanda. And, in November, the canal boat Mary and Hannah arrived in New York City with a cargo of Finger Lakes wheat, brought from Seneca Lake by way of the Erie.

Two months earlier a farm boy from near Palmyra named Joseph Smith, was visited by an angel who introduced himself as Moroni and lead Smith to a nearby hill he called Cumorah, where tablets containing the history of the lost tribes of America were buried. The experience inspired the young man to found a religion, and the Mormon Church was born. Two other 1823 upstate men were to find their lives linked to Smith's in the near future, one quite closely. A young lawyer moved from the New York village of Florida to Auburn to become a junior partner to Judge Elijah Miller. He would marry the judge's daughter and his generous father-in-law would give the newlyweds a large brick house he'd had built six years before. If legend is to be believed, a mantle over a fireplace in the front parlor was built by a young apprentice carpenter who was working on the house. That young man was off to Port Byron this year where he would repair furniture and paint canal boats. His name was Brigham Young. The young judge was William H. Seward, future U. S. Secretary of State.

For Classical 91.5 and 90-point-3, this is David Minor




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FOR THE RECORD
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Regarding last week's script on New York City in 1823, alert subscriber Walter Greenspan points out that, "Huntington, like Brooklyn prior to its becoming a city, was a town, not a township. And, Walt Whitman came from the Hamlet of West Hills, Town of Huntington, Suffolk County."

 

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URL OF THE WEEK
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William H. Seward is best known for two things, he bought Alaska and he was the victim of an intended assassination by John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators. If you'd like to learn about Seward the best way is to visit his home in Auburn, New York, a real treasure house of historical goodies. But if the real thing is a bit beyond your geographical reach you can get a peek at the house that young Brigham Young (was he called young Young?) carpentered in. You'll learn a bit about Seward, and see some views of the house. (the page isn't easy to find using site links) you can find a timeline of Seward's life. For those who can get to see the house in person, there's a map and directions at the site as well.

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IT STILL FLIES ! !
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©2001 David Minor / Eagles Byte


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