Saturday, May 31, 2014

Palmyra's Earlier Settlers

In 1843, Western Presbyterian Church in Palmyra received a new minister, one Eaton Horace, a former jeweler and watch maker that had studied theology at Union Theological Seminary School at Dartmouth (1835-1839), and a staunch and avowed abolitionist.

In 1858, Dr Horace published a thanksgiving sermon that he had held in 1857, called The Early History of Palmyra, in Rochester. The sermon was held after the publication of Orestus Turner's History of the Pioneer Settlement of Phelps & Gorham's Purchase, Buffalo (1851), and probably used some of the material there. But the writing was also close enough to the events that some of the second generation could still be interviewed and at any rate might have been present. 

Horace divides the "different currents of immigration" (p.4) by the origin; but the basis for all these immigrations was the sale of the "Massachusetts Reserve" of the Iriquois nation territory (p.4) to Oliver Phelps and Nathanial Gorham for $100,000 in 1788. 
Phelps and Gorham the same year [i.e. 1788, RCK] opened a land office in Canandaigua. (p.4)
The military tract, which New York had received, for settling revolutionary soldiers, formed the eastern part to the Phelps & Gorham purchase (p.5), barely touching what was then, in 1858, Wayne County.

The Connecticut Settlers from Wyoming Valley

The first current of immigration were the Connecticut settlers from the Wyoming valley along the Susquehanna, in northeastern Pennsylvania (p.5), a land contested between Connecticut and Pennsylvania. The Connecticut company, based on the carter of James I for the Plymouth colony, had John Jenkins survey the land in 1750, then settled there in 1762 (p.6), but had to abandon the valley when the Indians attacked. When the Connecticut company retried in 1769, the Pennsylvania company was already there, using the 1681 Charter of Charles II given to William Penn (p.6). Wyoming became Westmorland Township in 1774 and was attached to Litchfield County, Connecticut.

After the Massacre of Wyoming during the Revolutionary War,  the parties settled the dispute in Trenton, New Jersey, December 1782, by leaving the Pennsylvanians in jurisdiction (as landlords) and the Connecticut settlers in possession (as tenants). This compromise dissatisfied some Connecticut settlers (p.7), who moved into the wilderness instead. Revolutionary War soldier John Swift, 22 at the end of the war, teamed up with John Jenkins, the surveyor, who had helped survey the Genesee county for Phelps and Gorham, and became land agents for the dissatisfied. They went to Canandaigua in 1789 and contracted for Township No. 12, and surveyed lots along Mud Creek. The alteration with the Indians while surveying there caused Swift to spend the summer of 1790 forming additional companies in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island (p.8). Other Connecticut settlers include Enoch Sanders, from Warren, Litchfield County, and Silas Stoddard from Groton. (p.14)

The Rhode Island Settlers

The Rhode Island Colony most notably contributed the large Durfee clan to the settlement of Palmyra (p.9). Their down payment for sixteen hundred acres in hard coin allowed Swift to meet his engagement with Phelps and Gorham (p.10).

The Long Island Settlers

The next current was a company of settlers from South Hampton, Long Island (p.10), formed in 1788, whose agents struck out to settle on the Ohio, founding Turkey Bottoms, where now lies Cincinnati. However, when the agents returned to fetch their compatriots, William Hopkins redirected their interests to the Genesee country (p.11). They drew up a contract to purchase Phelps and Gorham land in September of 1791 (p.12),  then made down payment for five thousand five hundred acres with Phelps at Canandaigua (since Swift had not yet paid Phelps). In April of 1792, the company built a sail boat and used it to convey their parties' families via Albany (p.13), Schenectady, up the Mohawk to Rome, and over land to Wood Creek, which took them via Oneida Lake, Oswego River, Seneca River and Clyde River to Mud Creek, which finally allowed them to land at Saw-mill Creek, 28 days after their departure. The trip was repeated multiple times to bring all the companies from Long Island.

The Cummings, Massachusetts Settlers

Famous Palmyrians like Lemuel Spear or Dr. Gain Robinson, as well as Noah and William Porter came from that rocky little town, settled by a Scotsman, McIntyre, in 1770 in Hampshire County (p.13). The first physician, Reuben Town, hailed thence (p.14). [The tavern owner, RCK] Asa Lilly, hailed from Athol in the same state, Salmon Hathaway [after whom the road is probably named, RCK] from Adams.

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