Script No. 84

Title: Surveyors Heyday

U. S. Postmaster-General Timothy Pickering, had already negotiated three peace treaties with the Seneca and concluded a fourth in November of 1794. The tribe was now limited to the extreme western part of the state. But this year of 1794 had already seen a great deal of activity as land speculators labored to nail down their claims.

Surveying teams spread out across the state. Counties were laid out in the Military Tract in central New York, that had originally been set aside for the veterans of the Sullivan campaign. The agents of Sir William Pulteney were quite active, from the Finger Lakes to the Genesee River. The most enterprising, Charles Williamson, arrived at the northern end of Seneca Lake and laid out a village green on the hilltop to the west. It continues there today as Pulteney Park, center of Geneva's South Main Street Historic District. Thpey interests also bought a mill site on the upper falls of the Genesee from Benjamin Miller. The same year free black Asa Dunbar established a settlement nearby, which would one day become Rochester's Corn Hill neighborhood. Land west of the Genesee was being developed as well, as the Philadelphia office of the Holland Land Company hired surveyor Joseph Ellicott to mark out its recently-purchased land. Another speculator, Judge William Cooper, who operated in the eastern part of the state, was elected to Congress this year. He'd purchased lands in the Otsego Lake area in the 1780s and labored to improve the town he had established there and named after himself.

Civilization continued trickling into the survey areas in 1794. As the salt springs around Onondaga Lake began to attract local entrepreneurs, a public storehouse was erected for the protection and regulation of the new trade. Minister Thomas Streeter, a member of the Strict Baptist sect, settled in the area to the south, around Bath.

Two events that would change the face of transportation in the state and around the world were taking place in the lower reaches of the Hudson River. John Stevens demonstrated a crude working model of a steamboat. And in Port Richmond, on Staten Island, Cornelius Vanderbilt was born. He would make his fortune by turning the steam devices of land and water into major transportation industries.

Meanwhile Manhattan continued growing. Journeymen printers of the city formed the Franklin Typographical Society, the city's first permanent labor association. Designer Duncan Phyfe began manufacturing furniture in his shop near South Street. And a pest house or quarantine station that had been built to cope with the plague was converted into a hospital. It was given the name Bellevue.

For Classical ninety-one five, this is David Minor.

© 1998 David Minor / Eagles Byte