Learning About New York Part XX

Buffalo, city, port of entry and capital of Erie county, is situated at the east end of Niagara River. It is 338 miles by railroad, and by the canal 364 miles from Albany, 195 from Cleveland, 290 from Detroit, 72 from Toronto, U. C., and 597 E. by N. from Chicago. Its business facilities are very great, being at the western extremity of the Erie Canal, at the terminus of important railroads, and at the eastern termination of the navigation of the great lakes. It is regularly built, partly on low ground intersected in the southern part by Buffalo creek. The site rises gently from the water's edge, and at the distance of two miles becomes an extended plain fifty feet above the level of the harbor. Main-street, two miles long, 120 feet wide, is the finest in the city, having lofty buildings on each side. There are three public squares, all of which are planted with shade and ornamental trees. The harbor is formed by Buffalo creek, and is protected from storms by a breastwork and a pier which extends 1,500 feet from the south side of the mouth of the creek; upon the end of the pier is a light-house forty feet high. The commerce of Buffalo is immensely large, far surpassing all other ports on the great lakes. Ship building is largely carried on, and its manufactures are extensive and varied.

Buffalo is distinguished for her public schools, which are under the direction of the City Council, and open to all classes free of charge. Among the benevolent institutions are the Orphan Asylum, the City Hospital, the Hospital of the Sisters of Charity, and the Female Orphan Asylum. It has forty churches and in 1860, 81,541 inhabitants.

Buffalo was originally laid out in 1801, by the Holland Land Company. From the time of the foundation of the place to 1812 it increased slowly. In that year it became a military post, and in December, 1813, every building save two were burnt by the British and Indians. Many of the inhabitants were taken prisoners to Montreal. The place was soon rebuilt, and by 1817 it contained 100 houses, some of which were large and elegant. It was incorporated as a village in 1822, and as a city in 1832.

The Indian chief Red Jacket, so celebrated for his wonderful oratory, lived on the Seneca Reservation, about four miles from Buffalo. A church was erected here in 1829, at the expense of the Indians. Red Jacket was buried by the church, and his cabin was about eighty rods distant. He remained with the Pagan part of the Senecas, while his wife and children embraced Christianity. His wife, who would attend the religious meetings of the Christian party, was opposed by her husband on this account. On his death-bed, he expressed his sorrow that he had persecuted her--that she was right and he wrong, and as his dying advice said to her, "Persevere in your religion, it is the right way."

Fort Erie, nearly opposite Buffalo, on the Canada side, at the outlet of Niagara River from Lake Erie, was an important post in the war of 1812.

In the Niagara campaign of 1814, during the months of August and September, the British, under Gen. Drummond, invested the port for about fifty days. On the night of the 15th of August, while the fort was under the command of Gen. Gaines, the enemy attempted to carry the works by storm. They were most gallantly met and repeatedly driven back, but one of their columns had gained some of the outworks, when an explosion of a small stone building, containing a quantity of cartridges, ensued, which threw them into confusion, and they were repulsed with a loss of 905 men. The American loss was but 84. On the morning of the 17th of September, Gen. Brown, having recovered from wounds received at Chippewa, and having assumed the command, made a sortie from the fort. and after a desperate conflict carried the British batteries and spiked their guns. So great was the loss of the enemy that four days after they abandoned the siege as hopeless Thus ended the Niagara campaign, one of the most brilliant in American history.

Geneva and Canandaigua are two beautiful villages in this part of the state. Geneva is at the north end of Seneca Lake, on the Auburn and Rochester Railroad, 50 miles E. S. E. of Rochester. It is the seat of Geneva College, Hobart Free College, and a Medical Institute liberally endowed by the state. Canandaigua is on the Canandaigua Lake and line of the Central Railroad, 88 miles from Buffalo. It has a male and also a female academy of high repute. The beauty of its private residences, with their elegant surrounding grounds, has long given this place a pleasing reputation. Canandaigua was laid out by Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham, who opened here, in 1789, the first land office in western New York for the sale of lands. These gentlemen had the year previous purchased of Massachusetts its pre-emption right to the lands now comprised in the counties of Ontario, Genesee, Wyoming, Niagara, Cattaraugus, Chatauqua and Alleghany. It was at the Canandaigua Academy, founded by these gentlemen, that Hon. Stephen A. Douglas received his education.

Genesee Falls, formerly Portageville, Wyoming county, is a village of 600 inhabitants, on the Genesee River, about 50 miles E. S. E. from Buffalo. The Buffalo and New York Railroad crosses the Genesee river, a mile from the village, over a bridge 800 feet long, 230 feet high, 75 feet wide at base, and 25 feet at top, containing 1,062,000 feet of timber and 108,862 lbs. in iron bolts, etc. It is regarded as one of the greatest specimens of engineering skill in America; it was eighteen months in building, and cost over $140,000. The river here falls about 300 feet in two miles, principally in three perpendicular descents, and in some places is bordered by almost perpendicular precipices 400 feet high, affording bold, striking and picturesque scenery.

Elmira, the capital of Chemung county, is on the New York and Erie Railroad, 274 miles from New York and 275 from Philadelphia. It is connected by canals and railroads with the interior of Pennsylvania and Seneca Lake, 20 miles distant. Since the construction of the railroads, Elmira has rapidly increased. Ten million feet of boards and plank are exported annually from this place. A bridge, seven hundred feet in length, crosses the Chemung River. Population about 9,000.

This section of country became known to the whites in the revolutionary war. When Gen. Sullivan was penetrating into the Indian country, in Aug., 1779, the Indians and Tories under Brandt, Butler and Johnson made a stand at a bend of the river near the site of the town. An action ensued, called the "Battle of the Chemung," in which the enemy were defeated by the superior numbers and skill of the Americans.

Binghamton, the capital of Broome county, is at the junction of the Chenango and Susquehanna, where the former is crossed by the New York and Erie Railroad, 215 miles from New York and 80 from Syracuse, by railroad. It is connected with Utica by the Chenango Canal, and also by railroad with the coal regions in Pennsylvania, and has a large trade with the neighboring towns: it is surrounded by a rich agricultural country, and exports a large amount of lumber. Population about 10,000.

Binghamton was formerly called Chenango Point, and derived its present name from William Bingham, a munificent benefactor of the town in its infant state. He was proprietor of a large patent of land lying on both sides of the Susquehanna, including the site of the village. Mr. Bingham was a native of England, and came to this country when a young man; he went into the mercantile business in Philadelphia, and was a member of congress for some years. He died in London in 1804. His daughters married the celebrated London banker, Henry and Alexander Baring, one of whom was afterward created Lord Ashburton. The New York State Inebriate Asylum, designed for the medical treatment and restraint of inebriates, is situated here. It was founded in 1858. The building is on a beautiful elevated site east of the town upon a farm of 250 acres: it is three hundred and sixty-five feet long, eighty-two feet broad, built of stone and brick, in the Tudor castellated style of architecture; and presents an imposing appearance.

New York State Inebriate Asylum

Situated in Binghamton, and the earliest institution of the kind ever established.

This institution owes its origin mainly to the energy of Dr. J. Edward Turner, and is the first of the kind ever established in the world. It is founded on the theory that inebriety, like insanity, is a disease, requiring like that, for its cure, medical and moral treatment. The want of such an institution has long been felt. "The late Dr. S. B. Woodward, of the Worcester Insane Asylum, in an able essay on the subject of establishing asylums for the inebriate, says: 'My connection with the insane asylum for twelve years, convinces me that the importance of an inebriate asylum has not its equal among the hospitals of the day; and if such an institution could be founded, it would be a great public blessing, and nine out of ten of the inebriates who could be brought under its control and treatment would be radically cured.

Among the petitioners to the legislature, for an appropriation to this Asylum, were more than sixty leading judges of the courts; more than six hundred leading lawyers; more than five hundred leading clergymen; more than fifteen hundred leading physicians; more than two thousand leading merchants; and more than three thousand leading farmers and mechanics of the state. The petitioners to the legislature, for an appropriation for this institution, and the subscribers to its fund, represented more than fifty per cent of all the property of this great and prosperous state."

The first white man who made a permanent settlement in what is claimed for the village vicinity was Capt. Joseph Leonard, originally from Plymouth, Mass. He first emigrated to Wyoming, Pa., from whence he removed to this place in 1787, with his wife and two children.

Ithaca, the capital of Tompkins county, is situated upward of a mile south of the head of Cayuga Lake, partially upon the flats and upon the hills, rising to the height of four or five hundred feet, which Enclose it on all sides but the north. It is distant from Albany 163 miles, and 40 south-east from Geneva, and is regularly laid out and handsomely built. It is connected by canal and the Cayuga and Susquehanna Railroad with Owego, on the New York and Erie Railroad. Fall creek, which enters the lake at this place, furnishes great water power, and is used for various manufacturing purposes. Population about 7,000.

Dunkirk, at the western termination of the New York and Erie Railroad, 461 miles from New York, is the most important port on Lake Erie between Buffalo and Cleveland. Population about 6,000.


Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: Learning About New York State Part XX
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Our whole country; or, The past and present of the United States, historical and descriptive. In two volumes By John Warner Barber ... and Henry Howe ...Cincinnati, H. Howe, 1861.
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