||The author of the R. R. Guide finds fault that the name of a Greek
Sage, Seneca, has been applied to the Seneca Lake, which he says the Indians
called Honeoye or Hemlock Lake—a strange confusion of names. Honeoye Lake
is farther west than Seneca, and still retains its Indian name. The original
name of the Seneca was Canadesaga Lake.
While complaining of the classic names he finds in the Lake country, he says it is refreshing to find such short aboriginal sounds as Penn Yan. This name, it is well known, is not of Indian derivation. The same writer locates Sullivan’s Indian battle at Elmira, in front of the bridge, and speaks of the Indian embankment extending to the left as far as the high mountain westward of the town, and at the base of which Newtown Creek flows into the Chemung. It is at the base of the mountain East instead of West of the town where Newtown Creek flows to the River.
The tribe of Senecas have long been known by that appellation; and there is not doubt they are the same tribe spoken of by De Laet, who, in his journal of a voyage up the Hudson, speaks of "the right or eastern bank as inhabited by the Manhattaes or Manathanes, a cruel nation, and enemy of our people; while the left shore, he says is possessed by the Sanhikans, mortal enemies of the others, a better and more civilized nation; they live along the rivers and bays in the midst of the country."
In the State Library in Albany, among the maps in the Warden collection is a map of Nova Anglia, by Joh. Baptista Homann, which represents "Senne-cans Lacus" extending E. & W. with Great Esopus River, running from the Erie to the Hudson.
The position of this lake is some 60 miles from Esopus.
Another old map, no date, places Sene-ge East of the Salt Spring. In D’Auville’s map of 1755, the Senecas are placed along the whole borders of the Lakes Ontario and Cayuga.
It is doubtless true that the Senecas are the same people called Sennakins in the ancient maps. The Lake defined as the Seneca on these old maps, may once have covered that extensive tract of wet land at the sources of the Esopus, Kill and Rondout Rivers called the "Drowned Lands".
The location of the battle ground has never been mistaken among the old settlers; all agree in fixing it at the same point as do all the soldiers who were in the Expedition. But there is an authority from one of the officers in Sullivan’s Expedition, which should settle the question if it admitted of dispute.
Col. Proctor commanded the artillery in that expedition, and was in March 1791, sent by Gen. Washington in company with Capt. G. M. Houdon, a French officer of reputation, who also served in the Revolution, and Capt. Waterman Baldwin, on a mission to Corn-planter’s village. In his journal of that expedition, in my possession, I find the following note:
Sunday March 27. Dined at Mr. Isaac Baldwin’s and halted for the night and reviewed the ground on which the British and Indians were entrenched for better than a mile against the forces under Maj. Gen. Sullivan, Aug. ‘79. I also saw many traces made by our round and grape shot against them, and a large collection of pieces of 5 ½ in. shells, which I formerly had the pleasure of causing to be exploded among them."
This pile of shells lay at the northwest corner of the old dwelling house of Col. Isaac Baldwin. And the writer well recollects having often seem them when a boy.
Many of the early settlers, John McHenry, John Fitz Simons, the two Baldwins (above named) Daniel Van Campen and others, all unite in describing the scene of the battle-ground as here indicated, and they were engaged in the battle and could not be mistaken as to the locality.
The following note to one of the village papers may not be uninteresting as to the growth of the village since 1798:
Messrs. Editors—I observe in your paper of this morning that you state
the census of the village of Elmira to be as follows:
Curiosity induced me to compare this statement with an old document in my possession, being a "particular list or description of each dwelling house, &, owned, possessed and occupied on the 1st day of October 1798, in the second sub-division, being within the 6th assessment District in the 9th Division in the state of New York." comprising the list of the buildings within the corporate limits of the present village of Elmira, to show the change since 1798, which may interest your readers.—
The paper to which the above allusion is made in as Assessment Roll or Descriptive List of the houses, lots, etc. in the 6th Assessment District of the 9th Division of the State of New York, comprising the entire of Tioga, and comprising the present counties of Broome, Chemung and Tioga, made under the Act levying a direct Tax, under the administration of the elder Adams, as they existed on the 1st Oct, 1798, made by Guy Maxwell, principal assessor, aided by John Miller, John Konkle, Samuel Tinkham, Isaiah Sluyter, and George Harper, which shows the names of all the property holders in the now County of Chemung:
|Vincent Matthews||Daniel Sullivan||Nathaniel Dunn|
|James Irwin||Henry Starrett||Samuel Drake|
|Guy Maxwell||Benjamin Scoonoven||John Durham|
|John Sly||Ebenezer Sayre||George Gardner|
|Joseph Miller||James Sayre||Asa Gildersleve|
|David Griswold||John Tenbrook||John Hendy|
|Jonas Bellows||David Van Auken||Samuel Hendy|
|Caleb Fulkerson||Clark Winans||Stoddard Conkling|
|Amos Park||Thomas Whitney||Thomas Layton|
|Nicholas Gale||Aaron Whitney||Harmon Lutkins|
|Christian Scott||John Winkler||Jacob Layre|
|Lemuel Churchill||John W. Watkins||James Lounsbury|
|Nathan Teall||Francis Sneckenbarger||James Latta|
|Jos. Hinchman||David Bailey||Christian Minier|
|John Nicholson||James Broderick||Hugh Miller|
|Wm. Osborn||James Bower||Daniel Middaugh|
|Brinton Paine||John Brees||Peter Mead|
|Amos Rowley||John Cortright||Gershom Livesay|
|Joel Rowley||Joshua Carpenter||John McConnell|
|Ezra Rowley||Phineas Catlin||Mathew McConnell|
|John Rickey||Daniel Coryell||Joseph McConnell|
|Adam Sly||Francis Conoway||Samuel McConnell|
|Moses Depuy||James H. Wilson||Abram Brewer|
|Thomas McClure||James Brown||Thomas Burt|
|Dennis McLaughlin||Cornelius Lowe||John Hillman|
|John Miller||Wilkes Jenkins||Abiel Fry|
|Jacob Lowman||Timothy Smith||John Squires|
|Frederic Cassell||John Shepard||Benj. Burt|
|William Wynkoop||Jacob Stoll||Even Green|
|Johnson Miller||Peter Barlow||Abijah Batterson|
|Elijah Buck||James Bailey||Israel Parshal|
|Daniel McDowell||Benjamin Bailey||Samuel Kress|
|Joseph Bennett||Jos. Drake||Christian Kress|
|Enoch Warren||Jno. Wilson||Samuel Westbrook|
|Enoch Warren, Jr.||Abel Pease||Christian Hart|
|Robt. Surrett||John Vorse||Adam Hart|
|Thomas Baldwin||John Budd||Elijah Griswold|
|Abrah Middaugh||Jos Benight||Justus Bennett|
|Abram Miller||Isaac Baldwin||Gideon Griswold|
|Samuel Tubbs||Henry Wells||Iona Griswold|
|Elijah G. Wheeler||Gershom Bennett||David Burt|
|John McHenry||Josiah Hammond||Ashahel Burnham|
|Roswell Goff||Benj. Drake||Kinney Burnham|
|Henry Shriver||John Dakin||Iona Rockwell|
|John Gregg||John Jennings||Iona Rockwell, Jr.|
|John McKenzie||Michael Sly||Thaddeus Bennett|
|Peter Masterton||Andrew McDowell||Hamilton Tubbs|
|John Konkle||James Green||Abner Kelsey|
|Selah Matthews||Enoch Kenyon||George Charles|
|John Stoner||Peter Vandeventer||James Mitchell|
|Henry Baldwin||John Green||Wm. Jenkins|
|Peter Loop||Abner Wells||John Mitchell|
|John Briggs||James Matthews||Conrad Smith|
|Jeremiah Hasbrouck||Mathew Carpenter||David Bennett|
|Wm. VanGorder||Daniel Cooley||Josiah Reeder|
|Samuel Middaugh||Samuel Seely||Gamaliel Townsend|
|Lebeus Hammond||Timothy Smith||John Kinney|
|Joshua Moss||Caleb Seely||Samuel Bydelman|
|Solomon Bovier||Caleb Smith||Saml. VanGorder|
|Green Bentley||Caleb Baker||John I. AcMoody|
|Selah Matthews||James Seely||James Cameron|
|Adam Seely||Samuel Edsall||Jacob Miller|
|Israel Seely||Samuel Tuthill||John Bovier|
|Abner Hetfield||John FitzSimins||Thomas Hendy|
The first settlers of the Chemung and Susquehannah Valleys were composed of emigrants from
Orange County, and the counties of Northampton in Pennsylvania, and Sussex in New Jersey, on either side of the Delaware River, together with many families who had originally settled near Wyoming, in Pennsylvania, under the Connecticut title, who had been driven from their settlements by the authorities of Pennsylvania, who asserted the prior and better claim of Wm.
Penn to the territory in controversy, as they alleged. Those from the Delaware frontier had been engaged in controversies with the Indians in their irruptions into the frontier settlements during the Revolutionary War, and very many of them had accompanied the expedition of Gen. Sullivan into the Indian Country in 1779, thus becoming acquainted with those rich valleys.
They were men of great energy, perseverance and far-seeing sagacity; there were no pigmies among them; they were stalwart men, and it might well be said as of the men of old, "there were
giants in those day". The settlements commenced in 1788, and the greater portion of the pioneers were here as early as 1790. Very few of us in this age of luxury and refinement can appreciate the toils and sufferings of these hardy pioneers, or what they gave up in leaving the old settlements from which they emigrated, surrounded by every earthly comfort, where schools were abundant, and the sound of the "church going bell" familiar to the ear, to face the privations
to which they were subjected in forming a new settlement in a wilderness, inhabited by the wild beasts of the forest, or the more terrible red man of the woods.
Those who first located near Tioga Point, found no mill nearer than Wilkesbarre, a distance of ninety miles. To float down the Susquehannah in a canoe loaded with grain, and return with it after being ground, poling up stream, required about a week’s labor. The active spirit of the American would not permit the wilderness to remain long unpeopled. The pride of a New Englander is to be a freeholder. The early marriages in the country led the younger to seek homes, and with the axe and the rifle on their shoulder, they sought them in the wilderness. The Indian Clearings on the rivers soon enabled them to raise corn and potatoes in abundance. Fish, fowl, and game of every kind were plentiful, and the first settlers were expert in their capture. The rifle was their greatest reliance in procuring provisions, as well as their protection against their savage neighbors. Good fellowship prevailed among the, and to see men going twenty or thirty miles to assist at the raising of a log house or barn, was an incident of frequent occurrence. universal kindness and hospitality prevailed and all comers wee welcomed to the humble but abundant fare with which their tables were loaded. Selfishness had then no sway among men; every one was willing to share his substance with his neighbor, and was ready and willing to aid him in his pursuits,--and thus good offices went round. The man who was ready to help his neighbor was equally sure of aid when his necessities required it; the call was cheerfully made and as cheerfully responded to.
With the increase of population, however, these generous and noble impulses ceased, in some measure; but for a long time they were the peculiar characteristics of this contented and happy people. As the country became more densely populated and land became more valuable, selfishness began to creep in—controversies about division lines began to take place. The settlement of difficulties between neighbors, made by "leaving it out", as it was then termed, to one or two neighbors in whom each had confidence, became less prevalent. Lawyers began to come in—but fortunately, they were men of peace, and with the steady efforts of the influential citizens tended to prevent litigation, and the good old system of arbitration long maintained its ascendancy. School-houses began to be constructed and were well patronized; and house of public worship, of a simple style or architecture, it is true, but sufficient for a humble and unpretending people, were scattered around, and filled with devoted worshippers.
It may well be doubted whether among the older settled portions of the country there could be found a race of men in every vocation and every profession, who were superior to these pioneers. In the profession of the law the old county of Tioga numbered the names of Vincent Matthews, John Wickham, Nathaniel W. Howell, David Jones, Peter Masterton, Mason Whiting, William Stuart, the two De hearts of Binghamton, and many others whose talent would do credit to any country.
Among physicians, the names of Joseph Hinchman, Amos Park and Stephen Hopkins are well known and highly appreciated. Among the settlers generally, a great amount of sound judgment, plain practical common sense and an astonishing degree of general information was conspicuous everywhere. Nor was the gentleman of the old school wanting among them. Very many names could be given who, for politeness, and the noble and true bearing of the finished gentleman, were unsurpassed in any quarter of the Republic. Their intelligence and sound sense is abundantly demonstrated in the fact of their selection of a country for a home, so rich in all the facilities for extensive internal improvement, and the impress of their sagacity remains in the rapid manner in which these great resources have been developed.
These hardy, self-sacrificing men have passed away. The soil once honored by their stately tread of conscious manhood, now covers all that was mortal of these fearless patriots. Their descendants may well boast of their virtues and feel their hearts beat at the recollection of their noble achievements. A few short years had only passed on their arrival here, since the Federal Constitution had received the assent of the American people, and the earliest settlers came in the same year. The hardy pioneers had rallied around it as the anchor of hope, with a determination to sustain it as the bond which was to unite the "Old Thirteen" in the brotherhood of love and union; and with an equal determination to frown down the man who should dare to raise a parricidal hand against it; when a doubt of its stability, or of the honesty and patriotism of the venerated men who united in its formation, was considered nothing less than High Treason against the common weal, and he who dared to express it would have found the neighborhood too hot for his comfort. It was the government of their choice, and they were determined to uphold it. If party lines began to be drawn, no one doubted the patriotism of his neighbor, and the public good alone was the object of all, though they may have differed as to the process of reaching and ensuring it. All were influenced by the absorbing object of advancing the public
welfare. Scarcely half a dozen years had passed since the fearless men who had pledged "life, fortune and honor" to sustain the immortal Declaration of Independence, had fully redeemed their solemn pledge, and the thirteen Colonies had assumed their rightful place among the nations of the earth, as free and independent States, and with the assent of Great Britain.
A majority of the pioneers themselves had battled for the right, in the defence of home and fire-side, and had been distinguished for their bravery and sacrifices in the common cause. Then, there was no North, no South, no East, no West; but a band of brothers, everywhere, alive to the necessity of sustaining their infant institutions as the germ of a great nation, destined to spread over the entire continent, in which they firmly believed. In how short a period ha their most sanguine expectations been realized. In that day, no man dared to sit down and calmly calculate the value of the Union. It was considered a fixed fact; and none entertained a doubt of its perpetuity. It was formed in the spirit of compromise, and with a full view of the various interests of the Confederacy, and with a design to protect them all. Such being its design, they had a right to expect its perpetuity, and to see the entire continent covered with teeming and happy millions, in a very short period. Their fathers, through a long series of years, had tested the capacity of man for self-government, having been left by the mother country to govern themselves. In no part of the globe could a population of the same number be found where human rights were better understood, or had been more thoroughly canvassed.
Had any one then ventured to doubt the stability of this Government, or the honesty and patriotism of its founders, he would soon have been served with a "notice to quit," by the hardy pioneers. Numerous instances can be cited by those yet living, where early settlers, who had disregarded their word of honor—had refused to redeem the plighted pledge—or been guilty of acts of glaring dishonesty in their transactions with their fellow men, received such a notice, coupled with a pledge that teams should be ready at the appointed day to aid in their removal. Go they must, and go they did. The man who refused to do right by his neighbor, was compelled to seek refuge elsewhere. "Be just, and fear not", was their motto. They lived up to it themselves, and forced its observance by others. How much more then would such an offence against the common weal, as they deemed the doubting of the justice and wisdom of the common Union and the Constitution, have required the notice, and compelled the observance of its terms. One only instance, it is said every occurred, and the individual endured for years the frowns of his fellows, and nothing was ever permitted to atone for the offence. It is gratifying to look back upon this primitive community, and to dwell upon their simple and rigid virtues.
Their wants were few, and were readily supplied in the abundance of the country. No one need want if possessed of a modicum of industry. In their transactions with each other they were rigidly guided by the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would that they should do unto you". And this too, without the intervention of lawyers, magistrates, or courts, who, as yet, had found no place among them.
Their dependence upon each other induced and perpetuated kindly feelings, and in such a community but few causes of controversy would arise. Neighborhood difficulties, if unreconcilable by the parties, were submitted at once to the arbitrament of discreet persons in whom the whole community had confidence—and there were hosts of such men among them—whose decision was final and without appeal. In a community where so much common sense prevailed, dissatisfaction seldom ensued, and the awards were quietly submitted to.
"Asking nothing but what was right, and submitting to nothing which was wrong", the protest against wrong made on the threshold, without waiting for a repetition of the offence, the community soon settled every controversy in accordance with that strong vein of common sense which so remarkably characterized these early settlers. Ideas of Justice and equity prevailed everywhere; a violation of them in one instance was made the business of all, as all felt the same interest in having them carried out and sustained, lest they themselves might be the next victims. The English common law was as well understood here as in any part of the continent, and there were plenty of intelligent, strong-minded and determined men to advise and direct in every emergency.
Tedious litigation was then unknown and not permitted. Occasional resorts to fisty-cuffs took place. Fair play governed in every instance, and there were plenty to enforce and require it. The universal manliness compelled the vanquished to acknowledge the prowess of the victory, and, the battle over, they drank in friendship, and it was rare indeed that the controversy was renewed. Once settled, in either way, it was settled forever.
The Bible, the Declaration of Independence, Poor Richard’s Almanac, and later, Washington’s Farewell Address, composed the family library. These lights, and their desire to do justice, coupled with their generous and friendly dispositions, enabled them to exhibit the spectacle of a contented and happy people.
The County of Tioga was organized by the Legislature of 1791. It was taken out of territory previously embraced within the limits of Montgomery, which bore the name previous to, and during the war of the Revolution, and until the year 1784, of Tryon County—in honor of one of the English Colonial Governors, who unfortunately, proved himself during our National struggle, the uncompromising enemy of the American cause. The name had become so odious to the people of the State that, by Legislative enactment in that year, (1794), it was changed to Montgomery, in honor of the Irish soldier and patriot, who fell at an early period of the war of Independence, in the gallant attack on Quebec, while leading his troops on that occasion—the 31st December, 1775.
At the date of the organization, it embraced its present limits and the Counties of Chemung, Broome, and Chenango. It was bounded by Otsego on the East, the Military Tract and Herkimer on the North, Ontario on the West, (from which Steuben was taken in 1796), and by Pennsylvania on the South.
Its Towns, commencing at its westerly limits, were, Newtown, Chemung, Owego, (none of whose territory was where it is now, all of it lying west of the Owego Creek, and then embraced what is now Tioga). Spencer, (except that part of it lying west of Cayuta Creek), Barton and Nichols, in Tioga County, and Caroline, Danby, and Newfield, in Tompkins.
The town next easterly of Owego Creek was Union, which then included within its limits what is now known as Owego, Newark, Berkshire and Richford in Tioga, and the territory now known as Union, Vestal, Lisle, &, in Broome, and the westerly portion of what is now Chenango County. The town next east of Owego was Chenango; the next, easterly and northerly, was Jericho, which covered territory then lying in the easterly part of Chenango County as now located.
Thus it is seen, that the six old towns of Chemung, Owego, Union, Chenango and Jericho, then included territory which the fifty-two towns of Chemung, Tioga, Broome and Chenango counties and the three towns of Caroline, Danby and Newfield in Tompkins now cover, numbering in all fifty-five.
The first loss of territory which old Tioga sustained in the organization of other counties was in 1798, when the northeasterly corner of her ancient domain, and a strip from the westerly part of Herkimer, were taken to form the County of Chenango then erected; which in its turn was found large enough, in 1806 to admit, Madison to be taken from its northern Half. Next, in order of time, 1806, was the organization of Brome County taken from Tioga, and so named in honor of their Lieut. Governor, John Broome. It embraced when first organized, the old towns of Chenango, &, and territory now called Newark, Owego, Berkshire and Richford in Tioga.
The next change in the boundaries of Tioga County took place in 1823, the year subsequent to the burning of the courthouse at Spence Village; at which time the territory now included within the four towns of Owego, Newark, Berkshire and Richford, was taken from Broome and restored to Tioga, and the then town of Danby, Caroline and Newfield before that date comprised within Tioga were annexed to Tompkins. At the same time Tioga was divided into tow jury districts, Owego and Elmira becoming the half shires, in each of which a new courthouse was erected. This was the preliminary step to the establishment of Chemung, which was doubtless then contemplated, and resulted in 1834, in a complete severance of the connection and mutuality of interests which since 1791 had bound the territory comprised within the present limits by that flourishing county to the ancient name and honors of Tioga. After a union of forty-five years the final separation took place, and a new geographical line since then has been interposed between them an imaginary barrier however, as it has since 1798, been between Tioga, the mother, and Chenango, Broome, and the three towns in Tompkins, the daughters. The old Settlers in Chemung, as now organized, struggled manfully for the cherished name of Tioga, endeared to them by a thousand fond recollections, and the still stronger one as they claimed, that the river Tioga from which the ancient name of the county arose, still remained in the boundaries of Chemung, and none of it in the newly formed county of Tioga. They thought and claimed that they should retain the old name, while the other should have more appropriately been named Susquehanna, as that majestic river passes through the entire territory. it is true that the river after its junction with the Chohocton at Painted Post, is now called Chemung, but anciently it was called Tioga its whole length and to its junction with the Susquehanna at Tioga Point, now Athens, in Pennsylvania.
In the minds of the surviving pioneers and their descendants, however, no modern lines of demarcation can separate their pioneer fame, nor obliterate cherished memorials or ancient landmarks upon the page of truthful history; their wondrous story will ever be found united and indivisible, as certainly and as naturally a the waters which sweep the vallies of the Chemung and Susquehanna unite in one volume. Tioga Point—the name Tioga, or Ta-ya=o-gah, as the Indians pronounced it, means the forks, or a point formed by the junction of streams, or perhaps more poetically "the meeting of the waters". It very name indicates a point, so that the addition of "Point", made by the early settlers was tautology and probably originated in their ignorance of the Indian language. it was a favorite addition to many localities, and like the Indian names, was descriptive of the locality—as Chenango Point, Tioga Point, Olean Point, &.
From the date of the first infant effort at internal improvement, commencing with the issue of the first commission in 1797, to Phineas Catlin and Mathew Carpenter, (the latter of whom was succeeded by John Hendy) "to lay out the road leading from Catskill landing, upon the Hudson, to Catharinestown in the County of Tioga:, to the projection and completion of the New York & Erie Railroad, through "the Southern Tier",--that crowning triumph of this triumphal era—the pioneer struggles, and patriotic efforts of their inhabitants have been encouraged and strengthened by a sympathetic and heartfelt mutuality. Their hopes and fears have been in unison; their defeats and victories shared in the kindest brotherhood—coequals in public spirit, and in its substantial and enduring rewards.
Chemung County being taken from Tioga by Act of 29th march, 1836, dividing the old County by a line beginning on the east bank of the Chemung river, on the Pennsylvania line; thence up the river by its banks, at low water mark to a Sulphur Spring near the center of the lower Narrows; thence in a direct line northeast to the southeast corner of Lot No.153; thence north along the south line of Lots 153, 201, 202 and 203, to the south line of the town of Erin; thence by such line to the Cayuta Creek; thence up the center of said creek to the south line of the town of Cayuta; thence east by that line to the east line of Cayuta; then north by such line to the line of the county of Tompkins.
All that part lying west of this line now forms the County of Chemung. The Act erecting the County of Schuyler, took from the boundaries of Chemung two of her towns, Catharine and Dix, and part of Cayuta, leaving the remained, to which the name of Van Etten was applied, still in Chemung.
Big Flats was taken from Elmira April 16, 1822. Catlin taken from Catharine, April 16, 1823.
Cayuta taken from Spencer 30th March 1824, part now in Schuyler, remained in Chemung by the name of Van Etten. Chemung organized Feb 16, 1791. Elmira taken from Chemung by name of Newtown, April 10, 1772, changed to Elmira in 1811. Erin taken from Chemung, March 1822.
Southport taken from Elmira April 16, 1822. Veteran taken from Catharine 16th April, 1823.
Horseheads taken from Elmira, act of 1854.