December 19, 1998


As Christmas and the end of the year approached in 1797, the people of New York may have rested a few minutes and recalled the various events and innovations that the past year had brought. Daniel Faulkner might have been a little too eager to take advantage of any of the year's transportation improvements. During the past January he had made three trips from Albany to the Genesee Valley, by sleigh, over snowy winter landscapes, bringing in the supplies he'd need to settle a new homestead, at a place that would be named Dansville. In September a stage line began operations between Utica and Geneva along the Genesee Road. The road would soon be called the Seneca Turnpike. Now it's Route 5. At Schenectady construction began on the first bridge across the Mohawk River, but high winds put an end to that plan. It wouldn't be revived successfully until 1803. This year our old friend Charles Williamson, along with Thomas Morris, Joseph Annin, John Harris, and Wilhelmus Mynderse, incorporated the Cayuga Bridge Company to contract for a span across the swampy northern end of Cayuga Lake. Swartwood & Deman of New York City handled the construction.

Williamson managed to keep busy; never a problem for him. His outpost at Williamsburgh continued growing as Charles Scholl built first a grist mill, and later a distillery, on a creek flowing down to the Genesee. The Seneca, his nearby neighbors at Big Tree, signed a treaty with the state, selling their lands for $100,000, and promising to remain within a reservation of less than 200,000 acres. Land around the area of the future Letchworth Park was ceded to Mary Jemison. At another Williamson site Lucius Carey began publishing the Geneva Gazette and Genesee Advertiser, using the first printing press in Ontario County. Troy also began a newspaper, its first, the Farmers' Oracle .

Albany continued extending its political control westward, passing a law in June to regulate salt production and control saltwork leases in the central part of the state. William Stevens was appointed the first Superintendent of Onondaga Salt Springs.

A new settlement was established at Indian Landing, at the then south end of Irondequoit Bay. Named Tryon Town, it occupied the now landlocked site which is Rochester's Ellison Park. (The bay's receded since 1797). Across the state, carpenters and boatwrights found work. Construction would soon begin in Albany on a repository for state archives, to be known as the State Hall. On a smaller scale, a dwelling was built at Kinderhook, along the Hudson to the south. Martin Van Buren would purchase the Federal-style home in 1841. And, at the mouth of the Genesee River, Eli Granger launched the 30-ton vessel Jemima. It was the first schooner built in the U. S.


For Classical ninety-one five, this is David Minor


© 1998 David Minor / Eagles Byte