Toll houses such as this one preserved at Genesee Country Village at Mumford, N.Y. were located at the entrances and spaced every 10 miles along turnpikes and later plank roads. Tolls collected not only gave people a livelihood but provided funds for road maintenance and, once in awhile, a dividend to the stockholders. Usually the toll keeper and his family lived in these small structures. This one is from the Rochester & Hemlock Lake Plank Road, dating to the late 1840s or early 1850s.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
(From: Travels Through the United States of North America, The Country of the Iroquois, and Upper Canada, in the Years 1795, 1796 and 1797 By the Duke De La Rochefoucault Liancourt, London, 1800. Vol. I. pp 270-171).
At Canandaigua, June 14, 1795 - Our dissatisfaction was greatly increased, when we were shown into the corn-loft to sleep, being four of us, in company with ten or twelve other men! But sleep, the great balm of human uneasiness, soon calmed our mines.
My rest, however, was ere long interrupted by a circumstance, which I shall mention, as it may serve to illustrate the habits of this country. This was the arrival of two guest, who soon entered our loft; an old man, and a handsome young woman, who, I believe, was his daughter. Three rows of beds were placed in this large apartment, which half filled it; and there were two empty beds in the same row with mine.
In one of these the good old man lay down without undressing himself; and the young woman, thinking every one about her fast asleep, fell to stripping, which she did as completely as if she had been in a room by herself. No movement on my part interrupted the business of her toilette, although I could not fall asleep again until the candle was put out. This little anecdote, at which European coyness will no doubt scoff or laugh, shews (cq) in advantageous light, the laudable simplicity and innocence of American manners.
Posted by Richard Palmer at 5:44 PM
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
(From: History of Cherry Valley by John Sawyer [Cherry Valley], Page 81, 1898)
In 1815 Cherry Valley had reached its greatest relative importance. It continued to grow in wealth and size, but its growth, in the latter respect especially, was slow and it was soon left behind by the rapidly growing villages of Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo and many others.
The great ability and reputation of its many citizens continued to give it, for many years, a prominence far greater than the many places greatly exceeding it in population. The rapid growth of the country to the west also added to the business and wealth of the place, as the greater part of the travel, to and from that section, passed through it. How great this traffic was, is shown in the fact that, at this time, there 62 taverns between Albany and Cherry Valley, - a distance of 52 miles.
That this place must have benefitted enormously from, and had been a great center for, this trade, is clearly indicated by the fact that there were fifteen taverns and ten retail liquor stores in the town. In addition to these there were four distilleries - on the present Thomas Wikoff (P. 82) farm, at Flint's, on East Hill, and art Salt Springville, - and one brewery on the Wikoff farm.
There were eight blacksmith shops, giving employment to from four to eight men each, and at one time 110 stage horses were kept in the village. In addition to the through stage lines from Albany and New England States to Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo and the West, local stage lines connected Cherry Valley with Albany, Schenectady, Catskill, Canajoharie, Burlington, Monticello, the Worcester towns, Cooperstown and Utica.
Stages were usually drawn by six horses, though eight, even ten, horses were used at times. Regular freight transportation lines were also run between Albany and Buffalo. Huge wagons capable of drawing from three to four tons, drawn by seven horses, were used on these lines. They moved slowly, the journey from Albany to Buffalo often taking two weeks.
These wagons had tires six inches wide and were allowed to pass through the numerous tollgates free of charge, owing to the fact that their wide treads were of great benefit to the roads by filling in the runts made by ordinary wagons. This enormous traffic caused a great demand for horses and the price of those animals, which had been from twenty-five to thirty dollars, in 1800, had risen to from $75 to $150 by 1820. Much above the price which ordinary horses now command in this section.
The Town of Winfield By Byron A. McKee, Papers Read Before the Herkimer County Historical Society, Vol. 3, P. 47, Herkimer, 1914. (McKee's paper read March 14, 1903).
When the Cherry Valley and Manlius turnpike was laid our it traversed the more central part of the town, and thereafter the tendency of the population was to locate upon or near the turnpike. It was also called the Third Great Western Turnpike, the First Great Western leading from Albany being north of the Mohawk; the second being south of or near the Mohawk and the third being generally located on the high land south.
In my recollection, the turnpike was much used, great loads of all kinds of produce being being drawn over it to Albany, and goods for merchants in the interior being drawn back. It was customary for teamsters to carry their own provisions and provender for their teams. The charges for such, at the taverns being very moderate, not more than one shilling and six pence for lodging and hay. Great droves of all kinds of animals, required for the city, cattle, sheep, swine and even turkeys were frequently to be seen.
Turkeys in large flocks were not bad to drive, except that in the after part of the day, if they neared an orchard, the turkeys were apt to take to the trees and no one could stop them; their day's march was ended. However, they were early to start in the morning and probably accomplished a fair day's journey in the day.
The Third Great Western Turnpike, leading out of Albany, was laid out for rods wide, and six rods wide through the villages. This was necessary from the frequent droves and the large amount of travel. The road was "worked" the full width, that it all might be used.
One of the most interesting and exciting sights in those days was the passage of the great four horse stages, usually loaded with passengers and at full speed. Then, as now, the roads in that part of the town were good, being well gravelled and not very hilly; and it was the custom to 'make up' time, on the good roads in that section, loaded inside and out with its four or six horses coming down the road at a full gallop, a sight well worth seeing at the present day.
Then the drivers would pull up at the post-office with a flourish and within a few inches of where they intended. I spell Driver with a capital D, for to us they were as much heroes as is the engineer of a fast train. Many and interesting exploits, and the safety of their valuable cargo was always uppermost with them, an d they had to make time if possible, in all kinds of weather and all conditions of the roads.
Time was valuable then as now, and when the old Pioneer Line of Stages from Albany to Buffalo, "through in six days," had made that time for some years, a new line established, the Telegraph Line, "through in four days," and "passing the principal points of interest in daylight," just as the Twentieth Century Limited now advertises the time from New York to Chicago reduced to twenty-four hours.
(P. 51) Before the turnpike was abandoned, it was well cared for, being divided into divisions as railroads are divided in sections, each division being in charge of a superintendent, and he generally performed his duty faithfully and well. Two men and two horses and a cart, plough and scraper and necessary tools were kept on the road all the time, going over the division, from one end to the other, and doing such work as was best for the maintenance of road and keep it in good condition at all times. After the building of the Utica and Schenectady Railroad some travel was diverted to the Mohawk Valley, but not enough to make any appreciable difference in the travel over the turnpike.
Otsego Farmer, Cooperstown
October 2, 1914
A THOROUGHFARE OF THE PAST
The guide on the "Seeing Boston" car points out "the longest street in New England." New York State has one that is of equal interest. As the suburbanite drives out Western avenue, Albany, he finds himself on a street that leads to Buffalo, known sometimes as the Western Turnpike, and to others as the Cherry Valley Turnpike, and still elsewhere as Genesee Street.
About fifteen miles from Albany, after many low hills have been ascended, and innumerable streams crossed, the road mergers with the old State road. This was built in 1812, from West Albany to the fort at Oswego. The soldiers, making a path through the wilderness, felled trees, and made a road-bed of the trunks. Until a few years ago, these old "corduroys" occasionally worked to the surface during the spring upheavals.
More than half a century ago, this Western Turnpike was the great thoroughfare toward the west. In those days people spoke of a trip to Onondaga or Genesee country as going "out West," for Chicago was still a stretch of uninhabitable land; and the region beyond the Mississippi was the vast unknown.
So it was that emigrant wagons took this route to their new homes beyond the borders of the state. Throngs of men, women and children, too poor or too thrifty to pay the price of passage by the Erie Canal, tramped their way, with bundles slung on their backs, toward the land of promise. A few paid, in money or work, for their meals at the farmers' houses, but most of them begged of the hospitable people, who were ashamed to turn away even one hungry one. Many found a weeks' work among the farmers and stopped to earn a little before continuing the westward way.
But the travel was not all to the west. Many people had settled in the rich valleys of southern New York, or on the hills of Schoharie and Delaware counties. There as no market nearer than Albany. So as summer ripened into autumn, the farmers began their trips down the Turnpike, with droves of cattle, sheep, and hogs. Along the road were numerous taverns, especially in a day's journey of Albany.
Here the drovers stopped for the night, and sat telling yarns and comparing notes in the big hall, while their cattle fed in some farmer's field. If the grass had all been eaten by the early comers the farmers brought hay from his barns. Occasionally a flock of turkeys, a sore vexation to the driver, came down the pike, roosting on convenient fences at nightfall.
Sometimes the children were awakened at night by the voice of some rough stranger, who, finding the taverns full, had sought shelter with a farmer. Perhaps he found lodging by the kitchen fire, but oftener on the hay in the barn loft.
Later in the season, as the snow-flakes began to fly, great wagons rattled over the frozen ground, ladened with meat and poultry for the holidays. Twelve miles from Albany, one December day, from day-light till dark, one man counted eleven hundred sleighs loaded with pork. Many drivers stopped for the last night ten or fifteen miles from the city, returning to spend the next on the homeward way, but others traveled the whole night through.
Sometimes a wife or daughter, afraid to trust a masculine shopper, had without the resources of her grand-daughter by mail and express, braved the long, cold ride for a glimpse of city "stores," and the latest styles.
At the time when rural boarding schools flourished, dozens of these sprang up in the valleys of interior districts. Not only the sons and daughters of the sturdy farmers, but many from the eastern part of the sate, flocked to them in great numbers. The academy at Charlotteville housed at one time nine hundred students. There were no railroads by which these schools could be reached, so the students, the furniture, the pianos, and all such provisions as tea, sugar, and even flour, must be carried by wagons and sleighs from Albany, at enormous expense.
Four-horse teams struggled over the hills with provisions for the small villages. That the condition of the roads was such as to make travel a struggle is attested to the fact that the great-grandfather of the writer many times rose from his bed, took rails from his fences, and helped pry loaded wagons from the mud. It was said in those days that the road was so straight the wind blew through it as through a tunnel, making it bitterly cold.
As time passed, Sharon Springs and Richfield Springs became noted as summer resorts. Then, in the early summer, the residents along the Turnpike saw fine carriages and livered footmen pass, and said, "There goes someone to the Springs." These gay people, too, were dependent on the humble fare of the taverns for their meals.
At one time, half the road was was planked for eleven miles out of Albany, to make travel easier, and numerous toll-gates were erected for the collection of rates. About sixty years ago, a gate-keeper two miles from Albany took toll, within twenty-four consecutive hours, for 2,700 teams on their way to the city.
Here and there one sees farmhouses that were once taverns, little changed inside or out. But the successor of the farmer who once drove his cattle to Albany, owns stock in a cooperative creamery, or sends his milk to New York, by way of a railway built for him and his neighbors. His eggs and poultry go by express to New York or Philadelphia. The telephone and the rural mail carrier keep him in touch with the outside world, his provisions are often brought to the door by a grocery wagon, and his family shop in New York or Chicago. The old Turnpike, so great a boom in days gone by, is well-nigh deserted.
July 9, 1917
Madison County Times, Morrisville
June 19, 1925
Richfield Springs Mercury
Thursday, December 22, 1966
Posted by Richard Palmer at 12:16 AM
Monday, October 24, 2011
July 13, 1813
Madison Observer, Morrisville
October 20, 1858
Remembering Turnpike Days
The following is an excerpt from the text of a speech given by Amos Osborn (b. 1811), resident historian, lawyer and Renaissance man, of Waterville, to the Oneida County Historical Society, as published in The Waterville Times on October 1, 1886.
On the 30th day of March, 1801, an act was passed by the state legislature to open and improve a certain road from the dwelling house of Benj. Wilson, in the town of Oxford, Chenango county, in the nearest and most direct route that "circumstances would admit of," thru' the towns of Norwich, Sherburne, Hamilton, Sangerfield and Paris, to intersect the Genesee turnpike, near the house of Jedediah Sanger in Whitestown.
Three thousand shares were subscribed for at $20 each, making a capital of $60,000. Amos Muzzy of the Huddle, was one of the two directors in the town, and David Norton at the Centre the other - both tavern keepers. It was at first expected that the road when it reached Sangerfield, would run through the Centre on the east side of the swamp because it was really the nearest, most direct and level route through it; but Mr. Montgomery, an active and energetic settler of much wealth and influence, lived and had a tavern on the road starting from the east part of the Huddle and running westerly two or three miles out of the way, which was already made.
This passed by the village stores, was handy to the taverns of Messrs. Muzzy and himself, and although leaving David Norton out in the cold, would be on the whole very fine for the stronger parties concerned in the new turnpike. Of course these circumstances and the superior influence and power behind, clearly admitting of no other route, the road was opened and gates erected on the longer, hillier and poorer one. It had been used only a year or two as a turnpike, when the entire line was thrown up and surrendered to the town as a failure. Nobody would travel on it and David Norton was pleased. It is still often referred to in conveyances describing land on its line, as the "Oxford and Chenango turnpike, formerly so called".
But a really important element in the prosperity of the town from 1808 to the opening of the Erie canal in 1825, and a success, was the Cherry Valley Turnpike. This was chartered in 1803 as the "Third Great Western Turnpike Co." Its first organization was made at a meeting in Sangerfield, at the house of Ebenezer Hale, November 16, of the same year, when the electors chose John Lincklaen president, Samuel Sidney Breese secretary, and James Green treasurer. November 14, 1804, another meeting was held at Mr. Hale's in Sangerfield, when the first election of directors was held.
Among the persons chosen were Aaron Morse and Oliver Norton of Sangerfield. At a meeting held in Cazenovia, April 9, 1805, it was voted that stockholders might pay the greater part of their subscriptions in labor in constructing the road; also that additional stock should be issued, already increased to $95,000, and at a meeting 4th February, 1806, $15,000 of stock was appropriated, to be expended under the direction of John Diel, Benjamin Gilbert, grandfather of B.D. Gilbert, of the Utica Herald office, and Calvin Smith, in making the first ten miles of the road west from Cherry Valley, which appears to have been the first section completed. At a meeting held in the house of Uri Beach, in Sangerfield, August 6, 1810, it was voted that wagons with tires more than six inches broad might pass free of toll.
Many of our older inhabitants yet remember when there was a public house at every mile or two on the road; and it was said that the odor of tar, a bucket of which was carried under every wagon, could be perceived all along the road to Albany. Among the inn-keepers on the turnpike in Sangerfield were Theron Norton, Elias Montgomery, Samuel Duncan, David Norton, Uri Beach, Ebenezer Hale and Christopher Young. The charter was finally given up, and the road abandoned in 1856, when after a century of varying prosperity it ceased to be valuable. Its greatest season of prosperity was in 1815, and least in 1852.
[From: Cazenovia Past & Present By Christine O. Atwell, published in 1928, pp 11 to 19]
When the first settlers came in there was not a road in the county. There were two principal routes by which they came, the north and south water routes - the former, the Hudson and Mohawk rivers; the latter, the Susquehanna; and the most navigable streams were the most frequented highways for some years after they arrived. Many, however, compassed the entire distance from the far New England states on foot, bringing nothing with them but an axe. Those who came with their families generally came with ox teams drawing sleds, sometimes wood- shod, or covered wagons, often performing the entire journey in this manner and frequently driving a few sheep, cattle and other animals before them. Many, however, resorted to this mode of conveyance only to and from the termini of the water routes. The winter season was generally selected as then they could reach points in the wilderness which were inaccessible to their rude conveyances at other seasons.
Many who came by the northern route threaded forests unbroken from Whitestown, except by the few scant, rude clearings made by the Indians. Blazed trees were the forest guide boards, and by their aid the forests were traversed from one locality to another. But these human denizens could not prosper in their isolated settlements; they must needs open communication with each other, and to this end roads were indispensable and of the first importance. The pioneers first followed the Indian trails and from these branched off into routes indicated by marked trees. The earliest authentic representation of these trails indicates one extending southwest from the Mohawk at about the locality of Utica, through Oneida to Cazenovia Lake and thence westward. It need not excite our wonder that in those days people were anxious for better and speedier means of communication, a better means of getting from and to the new settlements. As a turnpike road at that day was regarded as furnishing the best possible facilities for postal and commercial intercourse, turnpike companies were early formed to afford the desired relief. The turnpike fever was as virulent in its day as was the plank road fever at a later day.
Our first settlers came in by the Genesee Turnpike north of us, so our first roads ran north to connect with it. To unite the inhabitants of the more northern portions of the county, to make easy their communication with eastern friends, and to facilitate their market journeyings, the Peterboro turnpike, extending from Cazenovia, through Peterboro to Vernon, was laid out in 1804 ). A road was soon built to the older settlement of Pompey Hill.
Local roads were rapidly opened in the various towns. The Holland Land Company opened the following roads at the commencement of the settlement, viz:
- 1. From Chittenango to Cazenovia.
- 2. From Cazenovia to Manlius Square.
- 3. From Cazenovia south to the branch office in Brakel.
- 4. From Cazenovia through the first and second towns, eastwardly to go to Utica via Paris, and New Hartford.
- 5. From Cazenovia to Pompey Hollow.
- 6. From Cazenovia, on the east side of the lake, to intersect the Genesee Road near the "Deep Springs."
The necessities of other towns, however, required for them a more direct communication with the outer world, so the "Third Great Western Turnpike" or the more familiar name of "Cherry Valley Turnpike" was the result of these needs. Col. Lincklaen, who was the president of the turnpike, was the principal person in causing it to be built from Cherry Valley to Manlius Square. The turnpike has proved to be a most important benefit to the country through which it passes, but was unfortunate for the original stockholders.
A coach road, begun in 1799, from Albany to Cherry Valley, had been completed. The enterprising prime movers in the grand scheme of constructing a good wagon road from Cherry Valley to Manlius, through towns and counties of dense forests, over the most hilly country known outside of veritable mountainous districts, with no rich towns along the route to bond, or even to aid them by subscription, formed a company, went courageously into the work, obtained a charter in 1803 and completed the grand enterprise in 1811 at a cost of over $90,000. Cazenovia men were foremost in the great work, devoting their time and investing their capital without prospect of full compensation. The turnpike brought Cazenovia into special notice and placed it on an equal footing with towns of established reputation further east; no village in the county had greater consequence and influence than this. All roads, such as they were, then led to Cazenovia - Cazenovia was on the great highway to the west; it was in the public eye. It has become a strong trading center; it had more business, more manufacturing industries and a greater population than any other village in the county. The selection of Cazenovia as the county seat in 1810 and its continuance as such during seven years doubtless also contributed in some degree to the business importance of the village.
When the Cherry Valley Turnpike was completed to Manlius where it connected with the Genesee turnpike, the embargo was raised and everything <:13> thing desirable in facilities for travel seemed to be accomplished. It was not at that time supposed that better facilities for travel could ever be provided. A line of stages was run, "Four Horse Post Coaches" they were called by the Postoffice Department, and no one was allowed to carry the mails without means for conveying passengers. When a turnpike had a line of stage coaches run upon it it seemed that improvement in that direction had found its utmost limit. But some thought the world was being turned upside down and that all the wealth of the country would be in the grasp of aristocratic stage proprietors and the bloated turnpike stockholders, insomuch that the liberties our fathers "fout" for would be seriously endangered. Some considered the turnpike a nuisance, as letting an undesirable class of people into the country, besides opening it to the importation of all the foreign knickknacks and they had no doubt there had been as much as a cartload of crockery brought into town. The outlook was appalling.
A stage passenger was considered to be above the common herd and was charged double price for what he had at the tavern. Those who used to sit in front of Hickok's tavern (now Cazenovia House) during intermissions of the meeting Sunday noon saw Jerry White, who drew the reins over the foaming steed for many a long year, drive up with prolonged toot of horn and crack of whip. The landlord would open the door of the coach, let down the steps and assist the exhausted people, who were sufficiently wealthy to afford a ride in a stage coach, into the sitting room, the wonder of the gazing crowd of children of all ages from ten to four-score years. Then might be seen the obsequious landlord with a salver containing goblets of prepared beverages to renew the flagging spirits of the aristocratic, but wearied stage passengers.
Meanwhile the "lackeys" that always hung around the tavern, would bring water for Jerry to water his team of which he would allow each one a prudent share, rubbing their noses with it first, adjusting their headstalls, and portions of the harness that seemed misplaced. Then a boy would bring the Great Western Mail from the postoffice nearby which he would toss up to Jerry to be deposited under his seat. When "all ‘board" would ring out in stentorian tones, the refreshed passengers would resume their seats in the coach, Jerry placing the four reins properly between his fingers, the long lash of the whip would crack like a horse pistol, and away with dashing speed would go this most brilliant equipage, the stage coach. How boys used to crave and aspire to be elevated to the position of stage driver! Two days and nights were required to reach Albany, one hundred and thirteen miles distant.
Toll-gates were established every ten miles, so when the traveler had made the trip from the western to the eastern terminus and responded to the many money demands of the toll-gate keepers on the way he had paid <:14> a good round sum for his passport Yet the old highway was traversed daily by a motley throng of people and every conceivable type of vehicle common to those days.
Population increased with wonderful rapidity and the public means of transportation were inadequate to meet the demands upon them. They were supplemented by private freight wagons, which carried to Albany the surplus productions of the farms and returned laden with merchandise. A caravan of teams from a neighborhood would go in company and assist each other, by doubling teams up steep hills and through the deep sloughs. These long journeys, the round trip often occupying two weeks, were thus cheered by mutual aid and sympathy, and were rather interesting episodes in the routine of early farm life. At the hospitable inns, which arose by the wayside every few miles, these hardy and happy teamsters would pass a noon, or night, as cheerfully as any modern traveler in the pretentious hotels of today. Besides these farm teams, heavy transportation wagons were run, often drawn by seven, sometimes nine horses, and carrying a proportionate load. The wagons were massive, with very broad-tired wheels, to prevent them from penetrating the road bed. It was no uncommon thing to see long strings of these farm wagons, laden with produce, approaching some central and important mart, to the number of fifty or a hundred. In 1804 the settlers sent cattle to Philadelphia in payment for land. A pair of oxen brought $64 and it cost $5 to send them. Farmers along the road profited from the pasturage of droves of cattle. It was worth $2 per hundred to transport goods to Albany.
One of the veteran stage coach drivers was George Shute of Cazenovia, who drove for over sixty years, his route being to Manlius and return. The Syracuse stage met him at Manlius to transfer the mail. His stage coach is in existence and will doubtless become a part of Henry Ford's collection.
A timetable for the Cazenovia-Syracuse route, dated April 10,1860, reads:
CAZENOVIA, MANLIUS, AND SYRACUSE.
- A DAILY STAGE (Sundays excepted) WILL LEAVE CAZENOVIA at 6:30 A.M., for SYRACUSE, passing through the following
- places: Oran, Manlius, Fayetteville and Orville. Leaving Manlius
- at 8 A.M., and Fayetteville at 8:30 A.M., arriving at Syracuse at
- 10 A.M., in time for the EXPRESS TRAIN GOING EAST,
- without fail.
- RETURNING, will leave Syracuse at 3 P.M., arriving at Manlius
- at 5 P.M., and at Cazenovia at 6:30 P.M.
- THE STAGE will connect at Manlius with stage for Delphi, on
- Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
- OFFICE. --- Brintnall's Hotel, Syracuse; Fox's Hotel, Manlius;
- Jewell's Hotel, Cazenovia.
Journal Steam Press
April 10, 1860. H.J. Mowry, Prop'r.
Dwight Eggleston and George Shute, Drivers
A new coach was put on the Syracuse-Cazenovia route in 1864, which excelled in beauty, convenience and comfort anything in the stage coach line. The body was hung on thorough braces, and finished with great elegance. It cost $1,000. The road to Chittenango was built to give us an outlet to the canals. In 1866 a stage line was run from Cazenovia to Chittenango Station and another one to DeRuyter.
Present day motor traffic demands the best possible roads. The United States Government is mapping out transcontinental routes. The Cherry valley Turnpike, formerly a part of route 7 in this state, becomes a section of route 20 of the transcontinental highways.
Route 20 starts at Boston, passing through Massachusetts to Albany, thence along the Cherry Valley Turnpike to Cazenovia. There on to Auburn, passing south of Buffalo and directly across country to Chicago. From there the route crosses Nebraska and passes on to Yellowstone National Park. In passing over the Rocky Mountains it becomes a part of route 30, eventually following the course of the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean. Route 20 is the only transcontinental route passing through New York State. It was doubtless the intention at the start to run the Cherry Valley Turnpike over the hill at the foot of Cazenovia Lake, into Pompey Hollow, over the continuous hills and into the intervening valleys, that might well discourage even a more energetic class of men and it would have rendered the road at that time and for the immediate purpose wanted, nearly worthless. The work of completing the unimproved stretch from Cazenovia to Auburn was begun in the Spring of 1927.
The Cherry Valley Turnpike Association was formed in September, 1926. Its purpose is to exploit the historic turnpike, to protect and advance the interests of it as the most attractive motor route between Albany and Syracuse as to distance, running time, freedom from congested traffic and scenic beauty.
Concrete roads radiate north, east and south of Cazenovia. During 1926-1927, a concrete road was built on the Chittenango Falls road from the High Bridge to the village, the course of the road being changed from the west side of the creek to the east side, from the bridge to the top of the Falls, through the State Park. This road affords a much more beautiful view of the Falls than the old road did. "Hiawatha Trail" has been suggested as an appropriate name for the new state road. Hiawatha was the father of the first League of Nations, the Iroquois Confederation of Indian tribes.
The following interesting article written by Mrs. Roy D. Armstrong of West Winfield, N.Y., is reproduced here by permission:
"Hush! Listen! Look out of the window and listen! Perhaps the old Cherry Valley Turnpike has a message for you. I'll try to tell its story as it has seemed to tell it to me.
"I'm an old, old trail awinding from Albany to Syracuse, called the Cherry Valley Turnpike. I like that old word "Turnpike." It means a road on which are toll-gates, but tho' the last toll-gate has long since been torn from my side, the old flame still lingers, for which I am glad. I am also known as Route No. 20. When I was young I was called the Great Western Turnpike, but as more roads were built to the west and perhaps also to distinguish me from my neighbor, the Skaneateles Turnpike, I was called the 'Cherry Valley' and that is the name I prefer. What memories that name brings to my mind, the saddest in all my long history.
- ‘Hark! Hark! Methinks I hear some melancholy moan,
- Stealing upon my listening ear,
- As though some departing spirit were about
- To soar, amid the horrors of a massacre!
- Yes, the savage fiend, with glittering knife
- And tomahawk, reeking with infant blood,
- Stands in awful prospect before my vision.'
"November eleventh is now celebrated as Armistice Day, but to me it has another meaning, for it was the morning of November 11, 1778 that I saw the Indians and Tories steal down from the wooded hilts, where they had hidden during the night, and begin their terrible slaughter. I was only a road and helpless to aid what had been my most prosperous settlement. How well I remember it! The enemy had learned from a scout which they had taken, that the officers of the garrison lodged in private houses outside the fort, as the settlement had thought itself secure.
"Col. Alden and Lieut. Col. Stacia, with a small guard, lodged at Mr. Welk's. A Mr. Hamble was coming on horseback from his house several miles below and when a short distance from Mr. Wells' house was fired upon and wounded by the Indians. He rode in great haste to inform Col. Alden of their approach and then hastened to the fort. The Rangers stopped to examine their fire-locks, the powder in which had been wet by the rain. The Indians, improving this opportunity, rushed by. The advance body was composed principally of Senecas, at that time the wildest and most ferocious of the Six Nations.
"Col. Alden made his escape from the house and was pursued toward the fort by an Indian who threw his tomahawk and struck him on the head and then rushed up and scalped him. Lieut. Col. Stacia was taken prisoner. The guards were all killed or captured. The Wells family were all killed, leaving one son who was away at school. A Tory boasted that he killed Mr. Wells while at prayer.
"Mrs. Dunlop, the minister's wife, was killed in the doorway of her home, but Rev. Samuel Dunlop and a daughter were saved by a friendly Mohawk, though Mr. Dunlop died about a year later as the result of the <:17> shock of that day. Thirty-two inhabitants, mostly women and children, were killed, and sixteen Continental Soldiers. Many were taken prisoner and others escaped to come creeping back a few days later to a desolate scene, as every building in Cherry Valley had been burned.
"But my memories are not all sad ones. In 1798, I was considered very popular as there were twenty four-in-hands each way going over me every day and inns were placed at my side a mile apart. In my early days, what is now Guilderland, eight miles from Albany, was known as 'The Glass House' in memory of the fact that Alexander Hamilton once established there the manufacture of glass. Here was ‘Sloan's' a famous tavern. In its low barns was stabling for three hundred horses and the inn could accommodate a like number of guests, but of not one bath room did it boast. Those were the days of the ‘Covered Wagon.' How many families have I seen pass over me on their way to form a new home in the Genesee Valley, or to journey farther west. They took with them all of their worldly goods and how strange would look theft oxen drawn vehicles if they were to appear on me today.
"As I see cattle riding over me in comfortable trucks, I recall the droves of other days and the tired cattle and their drovers who had walked many weary miles for many days perhaps. Each night a farmer must be found who would rent a pasture, but that was not difficult as that was a regular business with the farmers who lived beside me.
"Droves of sheep there were also, sometimes a thousand, a slow-moving, compact, bleating mass. And the flocks of turkeys! Imagine if you can several hundred turkeys being driven two hundred miles or more to Albany. The driver rode in front on a horse and from a bag of corn, scattered a frail of kernels, which the turkeys followed unerringly all day, but as soon as it began to grow dark all would fly to the nearest trees and no amount of persuasion could induce them to go a rod farther until morning.
"Many were the loads of produce that went to Albany. Butter in wooden firkins, bundles of wool, a little flax and cakes of tallow, while the returning load brought molasses, codfish, some calico and sometimes a piece of silk for the wedding gown of the daughter of the household.
"Many were the horseback riders and often a lady fair rode behind on the horse. But the stage coaches and their four shining horses were the admiration and excitement of the day. How fast they traveled eight miles per hour. How little I thought then that I would see the time when automobiles would rush over me at sixty miles per hour, but no Pierce Arrow nor Marmon of today causes the thrill that did the passing of the stage coach in those bygone days.
"Many old roads have outlived their usefulness, but not so with me as I never was so popular as at the present time. A score of years ago I feared that I had seen my best days; in some places grass was growing in my midst, but with the coming of the auto all this has changed. Now that an Association has been formed to do me honor, I can but feel proud and happy and look with hope toward even better days to come.
"Time has indeed wrought great changes. I have seen the ox-cart give place to the horse and carriage and later replaced by the automobile. Inns came and went and now have sprung up again twenty fold. The hitchingpost has been taken down to make room for the gasoline tank. The blacksmith shop has become a garage. And when I think of the ‘Hot Dog' stands I sometimes wonder what a road may come to.
"The covered wagon belongs to the past, but the spirit that in it moved westward with the sun, still finds expression among people, to whom new lands are no longer possible, in trying to make better the land in which they dwell."
THE OLD TOLL GATE
It stood about two miles west of Morrisville on the old Cherry Valley turnpike, which was at that time the only correct route to Cazenovia. Recollections of it date back to the early forties before the California gold fever had struck the United States or the railroads or telegraphs had struck the world; and the dirt roads were the only avenues for climbing about the country. Just how the old toll house looked and the old toll gate and all of the surroundings is engraved in memory as distinctly as a photograph and as indelible as a blot of axle grease on a parr of white duck pantaloons.
- "There is a memory comes from the dim, distant past,
- When the world and its people didn't travel as fast
- As they do in these days of lightning and steam;
- When everything goes on a gallop, it would seem.
- Then railroads and telegraphs were unknown in the land,
- And people who traveled had to travel by hand.
- They jogged and they jolted over rough rocky roads,
- On horseback and in wagons made for carrying loads.
- Then light running buggies and fast trotting teams,
- Were things never dreamed of in our most fanciful dreams.
- The lumbering stage coach with its thorough-brace springs,
- Was considered the acme of elegant things.
- And the long lines of travel to the east and the west;
- Went over the dirt roads that were shortest and best.
- The old fashioned turnpike was a thoroughfare then,
- For long droves of cattle and of migrating men.
- And along down the line were stations and gates,
- Where travelers paid toll at the advertised rates.
- How the old toll house looked to my mind now appears,
- And the old man who had tended for a long line of years.
- With his broad brimmed felt hat and his old fashioned clothes,
- And his massive steel spectacles astride of his nose.
- The old man was peculiar, but an honest old soul,
- As he stood by his gate post and pulled in the toll.
- And each one that came by most certainly knew,
- That be must come down with the dust or he couldn't go through.
- But the lordly old stage driver made his every day trip,
- He was proud of his team, but more proud of his whip.
- The gate would fly open when the stage would appear,
- He wouldn't stop for the toll for he paid by the year.
- And the long droves of cattle, of sheep and of swine,
- Couldn't go with a rush, but must march through in a line.
- He would not leave the score number to a guess or surmise;
- But he counted them all with his spectacled eyes.
- When he took in a shilling, or a dollar or a dime,
- It went into the cash box for the road every time.
- The old man had been there so many long years;
- That his habits were fixed as firm as his ears.
- When the sunset occurred as it did every day,
- One could see him come out in his habitual way,
- With his watch in his hand and his almanac by his side,
- To observe if his watch or his almanac lied.
- And be knew without fail when he looked at the sky,
- If the next day would be wet or would it be dry.
- He would stand there in the twilight at the close of the day,
- And gossip with any travelers that were passing that way.
- And if he felt like it he would kindly unfold
- All the news in his paper a week or two old.
- The old man went to Heaven many long years ago,
- And the toll gate went where such thing always go.
- And those who travel that road with their hurrying ways,
- Have no thought of those tolls of those long ago days."
By Russell A. Grills
Nineteen year old Lincklaen Ledyard, the eldest son of the richest man in Cazenovia, set out for Albany on a political errand for his father, Jonathan Denise Ledyard. The elder Ledyard was a regional power broker in the Whig party and the message his son bore needed to reach Albany as quickly as possible.
Among the many financial interests of the father was the presidency of the Third Great Western Turnpike Road Company, commonly known as the Cherry Valley Turnpike. With its western terminus in Manlius it wended it way eastward sortie seventy miles to the village of Cherry Valley where it joined another section of the Great Western Turnpike that reached the state capitol in Albany.
The road was begun more than two centuries ago and opened in 1811 under the leadership of Ledyard's brother-in-law and foster father, John Lincklaen, land agent of the Holland Land Company and founder of the village of Cazenovia. From his elegant mansion, Lorenzo, he could was the daily passage of wagons and droves of cattle, mentally calculating the shower of nickels and dimes collected from the passers by. The turnpike was an important link in the state's budding transportation system remaining in private hands long after most other privately owned highways had thrown their gates open to public maintenance.
But that was before the construction of the Erie Canal and the primitive railways of the 1830s had sapped the life-blood from the road companies. The macadam pavement had become rutted, bridges needed shoring up and grass grew in the roadway. It was under these somewhat benighted circumstances late in December of 1839 when young Ledyard set out for Albany aboard a stage sleigh.
Arriving in Albany, Ledyard wrote to his father on January 1, 1840, and detailed his journey. "I arrived here at half past 7 o'clock! rather glad I was alive; performing the journey in one night and 31/2 days;- think of that once and give us an apostrophe to speed!"
When young Ledyard reached Morrisville, he noted that the road was snow filled and that as he was the only traveler, proposed to the driver to change to a lighter open sleigh in order to make faster time. They reached Madison "in tolerable season," and again took a covered sleigh as two more passengers were added, a distiller and a dyspeptic "yankee schoolmaster who was returning to New England after two weeks of teaching the Dutch of Pennsylvania.
The stage sleigh proceeded to Bouckville "without any other interruption than getting out occasionally to lift out a horse which had got upset in the snow and unable to get up alone." A mile east ofRichfield Springs they were "brought up in a drift, through which the horses were unable to draw the sleigh." The horses were unhitched and Ledyard and the distiller proceeded on foot to the Springs with wind and snow blowing hard at their backs. Reaching the village at 4 in the morning the travelers waited for their luggage to be brought in before starting out again at 7:00 in an open sleigh with two drivers and a snow shovel for emergencies. The distiller declined to travel further.
They traveled to within three miles of Cherry Valley "after having shoveled out some drifts of minor magnitude, when the turnpike for full a half mile was filled with snow all of six feet in depth; the drivers shoveled an hour or more to get through, and finally turned out into the lot, the horse floundering to their backs in the snow."
In the meantime, Ledyard and the dyspeptic schoolmaster sought more comfortable quarters which was in the form of an "antiquated Dutch house" about a half-mile ahead. Finding it impossible to wallow through the turnpike or the adjacent field they altered their "hitherto direct course to the zigzagging of a rail fence, which we hugged closely for full an hour [before] we reached the house, my companion all the while complaining bitterly of being starved..."
Reaching the house first, the schoolmaster "bolted in and begged for something to eat, sometime before Ai came up and in fact continued eating til I got warm and everything in the sleigh ready for another start" we thought he would never be through. I could not bring my appetite to agree to anything I saw there."
The stage proceeded onward about a half mile and into another drift "worse, if possible than it 'illustrious predecessor.'" As the drivers tried to beat their way through the drift a "tremendous yelling and hallooing" was heard from the other side, coming from a group of "15 or 20 proprietors and drivers of stages from Cherry Valley on horseback and in a double sleigh drawn by four horses who had come out in hopes of meeting the western stage."
Rescued and escorted by "this cavalcade of horsemen" the travelers arrived in Cherry Valley "Amidst continued cheers and shouts... as if some great national victory had been achieved...," at about 4 o'clock have achieved fourteen miles for the day.
The next morning dawned colder and the wind blew harder but no new snow fell. The stage made 16 miles to Carlisle when it was unable to continue farther. "On Tuesday morning we started once more in a stage sleigh. It had only just stated when three more passengers were taken on. At that point young Ledyard let his grievances flow. "This I protested against roundly; but all I could do could not prevent their getting in without force. Thinking, however, that more than likely as not we should be able to get along without them, I made no further resistance, and they got in, a lady and two men. I told them and the driver, if they got into limbo they should take care of themselves.
We started again, and continued at a slow walk about a mile, where we were stopped by the snow- the horses being unable to draw us. The driver ordered us out-'they can't draw it'-'we must shovel.* The passengers all turned out but the lady and myself; I told the driver that when I got out it would be after I was fully satisfied the horses could not draw me-he began [to] whip the horses, but it was no go- they got down and he was obliged to unharness. I then got out and delivered myself on some of my feelings towards him, in such a manner that he will, probably, hold me in affectionate remembrance some time- and wishing him a fortnight's sojourn in that drift-started on foot for Sloansville, five miles and was the first one through since the storm."
The stage sleigh arrived three hours later it having turned over and "spilt out the lady." The stage eventually arrived in Albany with all of its passengers "except our knight of the spelling book having deserted us." Concluding his narrative of his journey, Ledyard wrote: "But I am here, at the American Hotel, and when I go home again it shall be by some other route than the C. V. road. If I owned any stock in it even I should not wait till I got home before I sold it, if I could find a purchaser who would give me anything for it."
Ledyard's father, president and principal shareholder of the turnpike, did not find a buyer and the road struggled on until 1859, when it was finally thrown open to public ownership. It's usefulness to the upland villages along its route had succumbed to the shorter "plank roads" running north built to reach the Erie Canal and the ever-lengthening tracks of the railways.
Posted by Richard Palmer at 11:27 PM
(From: Historical Sketches of Bridgewater by Eleanor Louise Porter
Bridgewater, N.Y., 1914)
P.69. In the days when the great stagecoach rattled along our highways Bridgewater was a very important center and it is indeed hard to imagine that was far more important commercial center than Utica. People came here from many miles around to trade. The Cherry Valley turnpike was a great transportation highway between Albany and Syracuse and most of the traffic between these points went through here. Also it was the direct stage route between Utica and New Berlin and the lines intersected here, making it a transfer point.
Stories of the old stage days are numerous. There was the same bustle and excitement, and even more so, when the covered, four-horse coaches, containing sometimes as many as twenty passengers, arrived and left than there is now at our railroad stations. The tooting horn announced the stage's near approach and all was hurry and excitement. One or two incidents will reflect something of the manner of the drivers and the stagecoaches of those days.
Usually when the great top-heavy coach was loaded and everybody was packed in, the driver came out with a great flourish, gave a leap to the seat and with a snap of his lashed whip and a yell the horses moved off with a jump. This was all a part of the procedure and the stage driver who lacked any of this enthusiasm was not considered fit for the job. On one occasion it is related, which was one of similar occasions, the driver gave a yell too soon, or at least had not got old of the reins and the horses, darting forward, made the turn to go north to Utica and turned too short and the stage toppled over. It was loaded inside and out to its (P. 70) full capacity and many were injured. They were mostly Quakers from the West, who had been in attendance at a great meeting of Quakers at Morris. On another occasion the stage started up so quickly as to precipitate a man was sitting in back of the driver. He fell over backward, striking the ground on his head and shoulders and sustained injuries from which he died.
It is hard to convey to the people of this generation anything of the activity along the Cherry Valley Turnpike. Men who are now living relate that when boys they sat on the steps of their homes and saw droves of cattle, horses and sheep pass by for many hours. Until 1843 all stock for Eastern markets was driven over this turnpike to Albany. After that date stock was usually transported over the railroads that became the New York Central.
Every tavern had its stock yard located where the stock was fed and cared for in every way. Eighteen stage horses were kept standing in Bridgewater barns all the time for substitutes when other stage horses had traveled their limited stretch. Taverns were numerous about Bridgewater. The highway which is now a state road north to Utica and which extends south to New Berlin was known as the old Utica-Bridgewater Plank Road Company and for many years was planked. When the new state road was constructed north of the village several of these planks were unearthed.
Most goods roads were private enterprises at that time and the toll gates, which still remain a memory to many of this time, were then an established institution. One was located at North Bridgewater where the railroad crosses the highway; another just south of the village, just below the farm of Giles Scott; one near West Winfield and another west of the town near the Bellfield district. These toll gates were stationed at all entrances of the town. The toll was about four cents per horse, six cents for one horse and carriage, a shilling a pair, two cents for sheep, two cents for horseback rider and some commutation to regular patrons who lived inn the vicinity.
It is related that back in the early days, as well as later days of the toll system, that now and then travelers delighted in beating the toll gate keepers. A frequent method used was to pass through and promise to pay when returning and the traveler took occasion to come back by some other way. (P. 71) Stories are also told where drivers have rushed at break neck speed through the gate, pulling on the reins with all their strength, seemingly attempting to pull the horse to a standstill. The harder the driver pulled the faster the horse ran for he had been trained to do so.
Taverns were located all along the route and were important factors in the life of the day. The Harrison Briggs house which burned a few years ago was formerly a hotel and kept by Moses Ward. When the Center church was in existence the people came for all day services and before the church was heated, the people were accustomed to seek the warmth and glow of this tavern fireside and replenish their foot stoves for the further services of the day. The Tuckerman house was also a tavern. The Rising store was originally a tavern and the old original floor is still in the building underneath the upper floor.
The house where Eugene True now resides was at one time a tavern but at a later date the structure was lowered and made into a private residents. The old hotel which stands by Byron Murray's on Hackley street was at one time located on the road to West Winfield, west of Frank Murray's present farm.
Posted by Richard Palmer at 8:53 PM