Saturday, June 7, 2014

Studying William Darby (Part I)

This post looks at William Darby's work for contributions to our understanding of Upstate New York during the time when Palmyra was settled up to the "Reign of Rochester".
  • The emigrant's guide to the western and southwestern states and territories (1818)
    • Mentions neither Palmyra nor Rochester
    • Description of the Climate of New York in Chapter VI, where the state of Ohio is described, starting (pp.218ff)
    • Describes the then-county of Ontario and the Genesee region (pp.268-270), pointing out the fertility of the soil and the production of salt and gypsum (p.270)
    • Gives distance tables  for travel from New York and Pittsburgh via St Louis to New Orleans (pp.270ff)
    • Gives post lines and distances for the journey from Albany to Buffalo via Canandaigua (pp.279f)
    • Gives a small population table from 1810 for Ontario County (p.310f)
  • A Tour from the City of New York to Detroit (1819) 
    • Mentions neither Palmyra nor Rochester
    • Gives details of Stay in Canandaigua (pp.129-153; pp.212-214; p.224)
    • A description of the route for the Erie Canal in Addendum No 11 (pp.XXVII ff) and some general remarks on the landscape between Albany and Buffalo.
  • Darby's Edition of Brooks' Universal Gazetteer (1823)
    • The description of the goods ready for shipping at the village of Herkimer (p.713 col 2) enumerates typical goods and estimates their value at $250,000 [sic!]. 
    • Using a packet boat to drive up the Erie Canal just before it extended to Rochester (it stopped at Heartwell's Basin in Pittsford, 8 miles south of Rochester). Darby makes it clear that travel is interrupted to sleep on land overnight (p.714 col 1), even though his 40 ton boat had "elegant accommodations";  Darby staid in Palmyra.
    • Darby also notes the danger of the Cayuga swamps, were 2000 (!) men were employed to push through, many of them contracting sickness and some of them dying (p.714 col 1).
    • At the end of Note 1 (p.716 col 1), the transport statistics and tolls for the canal are given, and the amounts and the value is stupendous.
    • In Note 2, (p.716 col 2), Darby walks down the list of the locks and their drops, touching upon Palmyra.
    • In Note 3, (p.718 col 2-p.719 col 1) Darby predicts the future prosperity of Rochester, as it "is unquestionably destined to become one of the greatest inland manufacturing and commercial sites in the United States" (p.719 col 1). The canal description indicates that it passes "the flourishing villages of Palmyra and Lyons in Ontario county" (p.719 col 1).
    • Darby lists Palmyra as belonging to Ontario County of New York, and gives the 1820 population with 3724.
    • Darby describes Canandaigua as one of the most "thriving villages" in the interior of the US (p.153 col 2), as the seat of justice for Ontario County. Only gives population levels for the township, not the village proper.
  • Darby's Universal Gazetteer, 2nd edition (1827) 
    • Has the same Erie Canal discussion in New York section, pp.548 col 1-549 col 2.
    • Mentions Palmyra on p.595 col 1, but only gives population for 1820.
    • Mentions Rochester on p.679 col 2, but gives no population, mentions flourishing status.
    • Canandaigua mentioned on p.123 col 2, but gives only overall population for the township.
  • Geographical, Historical and Statistical Repository (1828)
    • Concerned with Pennsylvania, this prototype for a new publication project mentions the Erie Canal only, but not Palmyra or Canandaigua.
  • View of the United States: Volumes 1 & 2 (1828) 
    • The discussion of New York commences on p.566 (which implies volume 2 for the two-volume editions).
    • Lyons is considered the main city of Wayne County (though no population is provided for the county) on p.572.
    • Rochester is the main town of Monroe County (which equally lacks a population) (p.571), but Rochester is singled out for its rapid population rise that puts it third behind New York City and Albany only for city size in NY. 
  • New Gazetteer of the United States of America (1833) 
    • Palmyra is discussed on p.392, col 2, where it is described as having "an academy, factories, several churches" and "considerable trade".
    • Palmyra township is discussed in the same location, p.392 col 2, with having a good soil and being next to Mud creek, which provides for mill sites, but is not considered navigable; the access to the Erie Canal is emphasized. 
    • Rochester (p.476 col 2) is the most populous and important village in the state; the confluence of the head of the navigable waters of the Genesee River from Lake Ontario and of the local railroad (!). Darby specifically mentions the rapid rise of the population, how in 1812 it was a dump. The flour mills and the capital invested in these is described, and a detailed table of goods and their values provided. In addition to 100 stores the village boasts 1 daily and 5 weekly newspapers.
    • Canandaigua (p.84 col 1-2) receives another rave review, for possessing "a bank" on its straight broad street, one mile long, as well as for its flourishing female seminary. 
In our next installment, we will look at how these assessments change under the view of the final works that Darby published during his long career.
(to be continued)


The following works were ignored.

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