Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: The Great Central Trail Becomes The State Road

Bookmark and Share

Previous: Pomp, Circumstance, Before Lunch In Geneva

The Cayuga Bridge helped improve travel times on the Great Genesee Road, which eventually became Routes 5 & 20. Source: Barber, John W., and Howe, Henry, Historical collections of the state of New York, S. Tuttle, New York 1842, p. 79

As General Dwight D. Eisenhower led the Allied effort into the heart of the Nazi regime, he couldn’t help but notice the transportation infrastructure that strengthened the defense of his opponent. Hitler began construction of his Reichautobahn in the 1930s. Although designed primarily for civilian use, war reports during the Eisenhower’s push into Germany in 1944 and 1945 repeatedly referenced the autobahn, “Hitler’s Superhighway.”1

Impressed by these autobahns, Eisenhower proposed an interstate highway system once Continue Reading “Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: The Great Central Trail Becomes The State Road”

Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Pomp, Circumstance, Before Lunch In Geneva

Bookmark and Share

Previous: How Commonality Saved Captain Williamson And Western New York

Geneva a generation after Lafayette’s visit. Source: Barber, John W., and Howe, Henry, Historical collections of the state of New York, S. Tuttle, New York 1842, p. 52

General Lafayette rose the morning of Wednesday, June 8, 1825, shortly after sunrise. At 7 o’clock that morning, the French entourage bid John Greig adieu. They climbed aboard their waiting carriage and a military escort led them onto the old Genesee Road (and then the Seneca Turnpike). About ten miles down the road, at Ball’s tavern, they’d meet the committee from Geneva and transfer their precious cargo to them.1

For the good citizens of Geneva, the largest settlement in the Greater Western New York region, Lafayette was a long time coming. A couple of weeks before, the village appointed a committee of eleven upstanding men to invite the Nation’s Guest to visit their fair village. They drafted a letter dated May 28, 1825, for that purpose. Appealing to his sense of Continue Reading “Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Pomp, Circumstance, Before Lunch In Geneva”

Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Canandaigua Anxiously Waits Before Jubilation And An Elegant Supper

Bookmark and Share

Previous: John Greig Lives The American Dream

Canandaigua Hotel, not the original one that Lafayette visited, but the one that replaced it after the one once owned by William Blossom burned down in 1851. Source: History of Ontario County, New York With Illustrations, Everts, Ensign & Everts, Philadelphia, 1878, Plate X

The young boy was no different from anyone else in the town of Canandaigua. Anxious, fretting, full of anticipation, on the morning of Tuesday, June 7, 1825, they all waited for the word they knew was coming but feared it might not.

Located on the northern tip of the lake that bears its name, Canandaigua housed the first land office in Western New York. This former Seneca stronghold sat on the old Genesee Trail, or Central Trail, that cut through the heart of the Iroquois Confederacy. Today we know it as Routes 5 & 20. Back then it had various names, from the Great Genesee Road to the Seneca Turnpike to the Ontario and Genesee Turnpike. Whatever you called it, it was the road everyone heading east or west traveled on.

Lafayette would soon be one of those travelers.

Or would he?Continue Reading “Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Canandaigua Anxiously Waits Before Jubilation And An Elegant Supper”

Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: John Greig Lives The American Dream

Bookmark and Share

Previous: Dispelling Mendon Myths

Portrait of John Greig. Source: Milliken, Charles F., A History of Ontario County, New York and Its People, Lewis Historical Co. Vol I, New York, 1911, p.225

The sun rose on Tuesday, June 7, 1825, signaling the start of a new day. For John Greig, it would prove among the most momentous days of his life—so far. It would prove anyone can attain their American dream.

By that morning, Greig had lived a tad more than a quarter of a century in his adopted home country. Born in Moffat, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland on August 6, 1779,1 he immigrated to the United States in 1797 after attending the Edinburgh High School.2 Only eighteen when he sailed to America, no doubt like many his age, Greig sought to make his mark.

He certainly did.

But not immediately.

Greig spent his first few months living in New York City before moving to Albany. He relocated to Canandaigua in April 1800. It’s likely this move Continue Reading “Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: John Greig Lives The American Dream”

Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Dispelling Mendon Myths

Bookmark and Share

Previous: Timothy Barnard, A Soldier’s Story

Lafayette’s probable path from Rochester to Canandaigua, 1840 Map of New York State by Henry S. Tanner. Source: oldmapsonline.org

By 1825, the road from Rochester to Canandaigua was a well-travelled road. Samuel Hildreth saw to that, although he didn’t live long enough to see it first-hand.

Hildreth might be considered a first generation Western New Yorker. He was born on March 20, 1778, in what would become the town of Phelps in Ontario County. His parents had moved there from New Hampshire.1 He moved to Pittsford in November 1814. There, he quickly established himself as a mover and shaker. He ran a store, rented to others, and operated a tavern. More important, he set up the Continue Reading “Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Dispelling Mendon Myths”

Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Augustus Porter Could Have Danced All Night

Bookmark and Share

Previous: Breakfast At Black Rock Then On To Tonawanda

Judge Augustus Porter, Source: Orsamus, Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York, Jewett, Thomas & Co., 1849, p.358a

Anna Spencer Foster loved the Genesee Country. Born in East Haddam, Connecticut in 1777,1 by the time she was nineteen in 1796 she was living in Palmyra (then in Ontario County) with her first husband Moody Stone.2 The young couple traveled freely through the challenging frontier of Greater Western New York. That year, the young couple forded the Genesee River above the falls to visit her sister and brother-in-law. On the way, they passed through Irondequoit and Rochester (where “there was but one house”).3

Late in the fall of 1796, Nathan Harris hosted a “husking frolic” at his home in that growing settlement.4 In general, these social events allowed neighbors to gather to work on a particular task, then party upon the completion of that task. The tasks could range anywhere and included “husking bees, raisings, quiltings, and pumpkin pearings.”5

Harris, known as “Uncle Nathan,” as the jolly newcomer soon became known as, had Continue Reading “Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Augustus Porter Could Have Danced All Night”

Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Peter B. Porter’s Home Sweet Home

Bookmark and Share

Previous: Regal Reception In Buffalo’s Blossoming Queen City

Residence of General Peter B. Porter, overlooking the Niagara River, near Ferry Street (Black Rock). Built 1816. Many years residence of Hon. Lewis F. Allen, and for a short time of his nephew, Grover Cleveland. Torn down in 1911. Source: Hill, Henry Wayland, Municipality of Buffalo New York A History 1720-1923, Volume I, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, New York, 1923, p. 100a

Peter Buell Porter woke up early that morning. Yesterday, despite all its pomp and circumstance, was just a prelude to today. For it was on this day, Sunday, June 5th, 1825, the General would host the General. General Porter would soon entertain General Lafayette for breakfast at his Black Rock house.

For nearly a quarter of a century, Peter Porter had lived in the Greater Western New York Region. During the last fifteen years, he had fought—both literally and figuratively—for his beloved home of Black Rock.

Born in Litchfield, Connecticut in 1773, Peter B. Porter graduated from Yale College before studying law in his hometown with Judge Reeves (who, incidentally, was the brother-in-law of Aaron Burr)2. He couldn’t, however, resist the lure of “the far famed ‘Genesee Country’ — of its fertile soil, its genial climate, of its beautiful lakes and rivers.” In 1793, he and a Continue Reading “Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Peter B. Porter’s Home Sweet Home”

Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: The State Of Greater Western New York In 1825

Bookmark and Share

Previous: Lafayette Prepares To Enter The Greater Western New York Region

WNY portion of 1825 map published by H.S. Tanner, 177 Chestnut St. Philadelphia.

Remember how excited you were when you began a new school year, started a new job, or moved to a new place? Life fills you with promise and anticipation. You can’t wait to wake up and start the next day. Everything is sunshine and roses.

Then reality inevitably interrupts. Things get overwhelming. Despair and sometimes desperation set in. It seems as if you’re trapped. You can’t see a way out.

But, somehow, you find a way. You get over that hump. (Because, when you get over things, what once seemed like an overbearing mountain now appears as nothing more than a mere bothersome bump.)

Again, you look forward to tomorrow with an enthusiasm you thought you’d never again have.

Such was the state of Greater Western New York. It began as an enthusiastic rush into the Continue Reading “Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: The State Of Greater Western New York In 1825”

The Day Lafayette Touched Mendon

Bookmark and Share

His full name was Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de La Fayette. For short, he’s called the Marquis de La Fayette. If that doesn’t speak “wealth,” then what doesn’t? At least in his native France.

In traditionally egalitarian America, we know him simply as “Lafayette.” Coming from a family with a strong military tradition, he came to the New World in 1777 at the age of 19. Seeing the American Revolution as a noble cause, he joined the patriots and was immediately commissioned as a major general.

The title reflected more a sign of respect than of actual duty, for he was given no troops to command. Lafayette understood in America, one isn’t born to status, one must earn it.

And earn it, he did. He received his red badge of courage at the Battle of Brandywine. There, though wounded, he led an orderly retreat. His brave actions in the Battle of Rhode Island Continue Reading “The Day Lafayette Touched Mendon”

Brighton’s Council Rock Primary School Must Change Its Name Immediately!

Bookmark and Share

This is not the kind of column I like to write. Still, there’s an obligation as a journalist to sometimes cross a line your mother would not like to see you cross. Alas, this is one of those times.

Our story begins where most stories begin: at the confluence of two well-worn travel routes. No one knows the origin of these two intersecting paths. Most likely, they began as something equivalent to a deer run, a track blazed by animals as they wandered from one watering hole to another in search of food.

It was only a matter of time before man followed those beasts, hunting them down for Continue Reading “Brighton’s Council Rock Primary School Must Change Its Name Immediately!”

You cannot copy content of this page

Skip to content