Saturday, June 7, 2014

Toward an Ecology of Upstate New York

This post discusses the the ecological impact of the pioneers---according to the Turner History of the Pioneer Settlement of the Gorham-Phelps---in Upstate New York in the 1800s. More work is needed here.

  • The settlers would eliminate whole packs of wolves to keep their sheep flocks safe, as when Asahel Sprague killed ten in one expedition and thus pacified Bloomfield. (p.191).
  • The pioneers for Farmington Township, later Manchester, brought apple, plum and peach pits with them (p.221). They also brought wheat, and whoever lacked wheat would exchange labor for seed with his neighbors (p.221); e.g. Nathan Aldrich got 13 days of Welcome Herendeen's labor for 2.5 bushels of seed wheat (ibid).
  • Farmington and Bloomfield apple products---cider, apple sauce, etc.---were very popular (p.221) and people came from remote neighborhoods to purchase some; and enterprising tavern owners would load up their sleighs and take them to the environs.
  • Already the indians had established fruit orchards (p.247).
  • The settlers would mix up the fish stock from the lakes to get the fish they wanted. "Speckled trout were plenty in the Genesee river, and in all the tributary streams. There was no pickerel, or pike, above the Genesee Falls, until 1810, when William Wadsworth, and some others, caught pickerel in Lake Ontario, and other Lake fish, and put them into Conesus Lake ; and pickerel abound there now; have been taken weighing 20 lbs. As the pickerel came down from the Lake into the Genesee river, the trout disappeared." (p.375)
  • Even to the settlers, such as the pioneers of Avon, it was obvious how they were changing the environment. "The crow, the grey squirrel, the quail, came in with civilization. New species of birds have been coming in almost yearly. The opossum is a new comer." (p.381)
  • The inhabitants of Monroe county would preemptively kill off the rattle snakes, either when they left their wintering dens in the Spring (p.412), or when they were just heading into hibernation (p.425), since they were at those times the most sluggish. Enos Stone even felt they had a film over their eyes in the fall before hibernation (p.425).

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