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
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