Thursday, July 23, 2015

Early History of Roads in Cazenovia

By Jabez W. Abell
(Published in the Cazenovia Republican, June 24, 1925)

 In a treaty made by the Iroquois Indians with Governor George Clinton, September 12, 1788, at Fort Schuyler, the central part of the state was ceded by the Indians to New York State. 
  This enormous tract of land when it became the property of New York State had boundaries which were reasonably well known but as to the land itself few white men had knowledge of what it contained. 
 With a view of selling it the state caused an immediate survey to be made dividing some of it into townships, with an idea of selling to land jobbers, or companies as the opportunity should offer. That is to say, the State wished to wholesale the lands in large quantities to individuals or companies who could raise sufficient money to make large cash payments. 
   In the history of Cazenovia we are told that Mr. Lincklaen examined some of the lands which the state had offered for sale, and spent a considerable of his time in the new country during the summer and autumn of 1792. 
  The result of these explorations was the purchase for the Holland Land Co., of the "Gore," or Road Township and one of the twenty towns, (Nelson).  The "Gore" or Road Township, took its name from the circumstance of its being sold by the state to lay out and open the great Genesee Road from Utica to Canandaigua. This would indicate that the sale of this land in the town of Cazenovia produced money to build the first road in the County of Madison. This is the earliest record we have of raising money for road building. 
 The gore was about four miles wide from east to west extending from the military tract on the west which is the county line, between Madison and Onondaga Counties to the town of Nelson, and extending as far south as the town of German, a short distance southeast of Cincinnatus. 
  This tract of land contains approximately one-hundred thousand acres and its north boundary is the Petersburg Line running through Seminary street. At the time of the purchase, 1793, the Oneida Indians owned all the land north of Seminary street. 
   A little side show connected with this deal is amusing and perhaps instructive. 
During the first few years, one or two perhaps, Mr. Lincklaen was so thoroughly occupied with the business of selling land and locating settlers that he did not observe that his town had a tendency to work toward the Petersburg Line and encroach on the Oneida Reservation but a neighbor of his did. Peter Smith knew a good thing when he saw it. The land was for sale and Mr. Smith bought it as he had a perfect right to do and said nothing about it. He was also a land jobber. He and Mr. Lincklaen were on the best of terms and visited back and forth. 
   When more land became an imperative need in order that his City could expand in the direction it seemed inclined to go Mr. Lincklaen applied to what he thought was the proper authorities and was told that Peter Smith was now the owner. 
   In an interview with Mr. Smith soon after, he informed Mr. Lincklaen that be was in the land jobbing business to make money and that the land was for sale, "at a price," all he wanted of it. 
  In a letter which Mr. Lincklaen wrote to one of his friends he said: "I bought 2,684 acres of land of Peter Smith and settled for it at a round price, $10,000."  (It probably cost Smith half this sum). 
  The earliest record we have of any road in this section was in 1790 when William and James Wadsworth with an ox-team passed through the county going to the Genesee country where they planted a Colony. 
  They followed an Indian path known as the Great Trail which entered Madison county at Oneida Castle, passed through Lenox by the way of Wampsville and Quality Hill, through Sullivan by Canaseraga and Chittenango leaving the county at Deep Spring. In 1797 this Indian trail became a state road extending from Fort Schuyler (Utica) to Geneva. 
   In 1793-4, the beginning of settlements at Cazenovia, most settlers followed the Wadsworth trail to Chittenango, but as this route extended through swamps and low ground it became about impossible to travel it with any wheeled conveyance. Naturally the New England settlers began to look for a better route which would keep on high ground and avoid swamps and streams as much as possible. 
   Next to the Wadsworth route no trail was of any more importance than the one commencing at Herkimer and extending west to the Skaneateles Outlet, passing through Cherry Valley, Bridgewater, Madison, Morrisville, South of Nelson, Delphi, Tully, Otisco Lake and then to Skaneateles outlet. 
    Herkimer being the county seat at that early date, all of the town of Cazenovia was a part of Herkimer County, deeds and valuable papers had to be taken there for recording. Rough and difficult as it was, being mostly on high ground rains had little affect on it and the first axmen through made a path which could be traveled by animals and wheeled vehicles. Such was the beginning of the Cherry Valley Turnpike. Many changes in location took place, but essentially the same route has been maintained even to the present day. 
   If we read the papers and letters of Sir William Johnson pertaining to his dealings with the Indians as Indian Agent for the English Crown, we will learn of many messages sent to the western tribes among which are mentioned the Senecas, the most warlike, also of many personal visits to the Onondagas and Oneidas, the most intelligent tribes of the Confederacy. 
    If a message were to be sent to any of the western tribes by runner, would it not be reasonable to assume that this route would be considered-starting on the Mohawk and leading west to the Skaneateles Outlet. 
  Evidence is not wanting to show that this trail was well defined when the earliest settlements were started. Such is tradition. 
  In the beginning of the settlement of Cazenovia the Holland Land Company opened the following roads. 
  • From Cazenovia to Chittenango.
  • From Cazenovia to Manlius Square.
  • From Cazenovia to Brackel Land Office which had been established twenty-six miles from Cazenovia, now in the town of Pitcher.
  • Through the first and second townships easterly to Utica via. Paris and New Hartford.
  • From Cazenovia to Pompey Hollow.
  • From Cazenovia on the east side of the lake, to intersect the Genesee Road near the Deep Spring.
      The road from Manlius to Cazenovia was first opened as a matter of necessity. Captain Jackson's saw mill being at Manlius, the boards for finishing the first log houses were brought from there, a distance of fifteen miles. 
   At about the same time the west road was laid out and cut through from Cazenovia, commencing at a point east of Cazenovia at what is now the Cherry Valley Turnpike, extending over Stone Quarry Hill and continuing south to the Brackel land office, and ending at German, the southern boundary of the Holland Land Company's purchase.  Mr. Lincklaen designated it as the "west road" as it extended near the west side of his tract.  Later a similar road was laid out on the east, running parallel to the other near the east boundary of this purchase. 
    The west road took a direct course to Sheds Comers, Quaker Basin, Pitcher and Brackel, bearing to the east slightly to avoid Crumb Hill, but in all its distance maintaining a southerly direction, finally reaching German some twenty-six miles from Cazenovia.  The road was on high ground thus avoiding swamps and streams, going over some hills, which at a distance seemed impossible to negotiate.  The only streams of any size necessary to cross were the Otselic at Pitcher and the Chittenango a short distance south of Cazenovia. 
    The construction of this road over steep hills, and along high ridges seems to us of the present day a big mistake, now that the country is cleared of a large share of its timber, and the valleys are open, dry, and furnish routes for roads of easier grades.  But with dense forest covering all of the country, the valleys containing the water courses were swampy and unfit for roads, much less for habitation.  When a road was cut through it had to be mainly self sustaining.  We often see the marks where roads have been and wonder why they were ever used, but they were doubtless needed and only abandoned when a better route was established. 
    While this road was laid out as the west road and so designated on early maps, it has been known to many as the "Joe Road" especially that part extending from Quaker Basin, (east of DeRuyter), south to German.  As few people who use the name know just what it means, an explanation may not be out of place. 
    Hammond's History of DeRuyter [1872 History of Madison County, pages 248 to 249] states:
  •    Joseph Messenger and Samuel Thompson settled in DeRuyter in 1795.  The former located on lot No.20 and built the first tavern in town.  It was a large, double log house and stood but a few rods from the present dwelling of George Lewis who now occupies the farm (1872). 
  •   The Messenger Tavern was for many years the famous stopping place for the numerous immigrants corning in to settle the Lincklaen purchase and many a wayworn traveler had cause to remember with gratitude the kindness of the proprietor. 
  •   Mr. Messenger was employed by Mr. Lincklaen to cut through the west road, (which runs on the ridge east of DeRuyter) to the town of Lincklaen, and which the older inhabitants remember to have long born the name of the "Joe Road." 
  •   Upon the farm that he took up, cleared, and cultivated Joseph Messenger died and was buried.  Upon the head-board above his remains the following epitaph was written, which, although not transferred to the marble his family reared in affectionate memory was never the less true.
    • Here lies the remains of old Uncle Joe, 
    • A messenger here a long time ago. 
    • Pioneer of the woods and worker of the way, 
    • He did a great deal of work for a very little Pay.
    The road from Cazenovia to Manlius spoken of as being laid out first as a matter of necessity was a convenient way of reaching "Salt Point" as it was called. 
    This necessary article was made in large quantities at the springs and the settlers came from far and near to obtain it. (Syracuse). 
     The road laid out through the first and second townships to Utica, via. Paris and New Hartford, often spoken of as the Utica road, was of vital importance in the beginning of qie settlement of Cazenovia.  The Mohawk river had been so improved that large bateaux or boats propelled by poles could carry merchandise from Albany to Utica, which was the nearest market for what little produce the settlers first had to dispose of. 
    One of the persevering and finally successful farmers in school district No. 9 said "I have drawn loads of wheat to Utica over the roughest kinds of roads and sold it for fifty cents a bushel." 
    The road on the east side of the lake connecting with the Genesee Turnpike near Deep Spring was a convenient way for these who wished to reach the turnpike by the shortest route, but it was not popular as the gorges and woods about Green Lake were said to be the rendezvous of road agents, horse thieves and other gentlemen of a shady character who did not care to have their records looked into by an officer of the government. 
   As the settlement increased and something was raised which could be marketed there was an insistent demand for better roads.  In 1803 the Cherry Valley Turnpike company was chartered. It was several years in building extended from Cherry Valley to Manlius. When completed, a good road was available to Albany. 
   At about the same time the Peterboro Turnpike was completed and this opened facilities for marketing and travel for the second tier of towns. 
  In 1811 the Hamilton and Skaneateles Turnpike was chartered starting from Plainfield, Otsego County, through Brookfield, Hamilton, Eaton, Erieville, Now Woodstock and ending at Skaneateles. 
    Joseph Morse, of Eaton, took more interest in this road than any other one man.  He had at one time $30,000 of stock in the road which but for him would never have been built.  His son, Ellis Morse, was also largely concerned in the enterprise.  It was a source of benefit to the town, but not to the stockholders. 
   While these turnpike roads were a great improvement over the former roads, - "which were very little better then paths through the woods" - still, they were muddy in wet times and rutted easily.  There was a desire for improvement in the condition of travel and the plank road came into existence. Timber was plentiful and the laying of plank comparatively easy. 
   Between the years of 1848 and 1852 plank roads crossed the country with a network of highways.  During this period a plank road was built from DeRuyter to Oneida Lake, through New Woodstock, Cazenovia, Chittenango and its depots, a distance of thirty-one miles.  It was completed at great cost as a portion of it passed the difficult descent at Chittenango Falls, which required expensive grading (the Horse Shoe). 
   The hill of eight-hundred feet in height was made an easy grade of no more then six feet rise to the hundred. 
   The construction which followed the plank road from Cazenovia to Lakeport was a grand improvement having a better route and a broad, handsome, roadbed of stone extending to Lakeport through the marshy "Vly" where the plank so speedily rotted away. 
  Over this boulevard enormous stage coaches drawn by four horses and accommodating ten or twelve passengers making the extraordinary speed of twelve miles per hour, made regular daily trips between Cazenovia and the New York Central railroad at Chittenango Station. 
   In 1873 the Syracuse and Chenango Valley railroad having begun operating between Syracuse and Earlville the stage business began to wane and finally disappeared. 
     The good old days of the stagecoach are gone and the last stage driver on this route lived to see horses as a means of travel on the roads of the country superseded by automobiles. The squawk of the automobile horn is far more frequent than was the peal of the stage coach horn, that musical announcement that the mail would soon be in.
     There were no traffic lights at the junction of Albany and Lincklaen streets and the tanking places were the hotels.  It was unnecessary to practice neck movement exercises until one could turn the head two and one half times around like a screech owl in order to see where the greatest danger lurked.  The stage coach was orderly, and moved deliberately and could be depended on to go through about the same maneuver every time it came to town.  But this is 1929.  We must come out of the past and step lively or we may be ran over and injured or at least called old fashioned and out of date, "Antediluvian." 
     Let as get in step once more and go for an automobile ride.  I wish to start at Chittenango and follow the creek road to Cazenovia as I enjoy this trip the most of any in the country.  But isn't this strange, right in Chittenango Village where the road was frequently muddy is a cement road, literally a boulevard.  We ride along the edge of Chittenango Creek just as we used to, minus the jolts.  It rained last night and the creek is running full and sparkles in the morning sun.
    Did you ever see the frees leafed any heavier then they are this year?  Aren't the lights and shades wonderful this morning?  Here we are at the White Sulfur Spring two miles from Chittenango.  How strong it smells this morning.  Yes, I always stop and drink some of the water.  If it tasted as it smells I can never swallow it.  There, it isn't so bad after all.  Try another glass, doctors say germs cannot live in it.  What a beautiful view of the falls!  Yes, you are looking in the park now.  The falls are wonderful and such a fine view of them sitting right in the car. 
        The park is nice too. Let us drive in front of "Ye Old Mill."  Yes, you may leave your car here while you walk around, and would you like a lunch of hot waffles and maple syrup?  It is so near noon we decide we will have our noonday meal right now.   My! aren't the waffles good, and all you can eat, with plenty of maple syrup.  How natural the store looks at the Falls.  The road certainly has improved things.  But what are we doing at Bingley?  We are going up in front of the Mill and back of the house.  We view the scenery from higher ground and avoid two bridges. I guess it is all right but doesn't it seem queer to be riding through Mr. Atkinson's field.  Look out for these curves.  We are approaching Cazenovia and there are several before we reach the electric light plant.  What a fine ride, would like to go over it again if I had an opportunity, nothing easier.  Farnham street ends at Albany street, which is the cherry Valley Turnpike.  If you travel much in the state you sure know how it connects up with other trunk lines. 
        The history of the early roads of Cazenovia is told, in so far as I can relate.  Some of it is written from memory as told me by my grandmother.  Other data has been taken from old records and some has been copied from Mrs. Hammond's History of Madison County.  In these records we have an opportunity to compare the present with the past and judge for ourselves which are the good times in which to live. 

Stagecoach Days in Cazenovia

 Cazenovia Republican
April 12, 1906
Some Recollections of George Shute - A Driver.
A Paper Read by Professor George D. Bailey at the Exercises of the Madison County Centennial Celebration held in the M.E. Church March 21, 1906 at Cazenovia, New York.
    Of course the first roads throughout our whole great country were the trails of the Indians. These the pioneers followed and straightened and widened as suited his necessity. Probably the most noted of these paths was the Great Trail which entered Madison County at  Oneida Castle passed through Wampsvllle and over Quality Hill through Chittenango and on west to Geneva. William James Wadsworth developed this trail into a road in the year 1790, while on his way to the Genesee Country, where he founded s colony. In 1794- the State improved the road which then was dignified by the name of the Great South Genesee Road.
    Two years after this about $14,000 raised by a lottery legalized by the State for that purpose, was applied to the improvement of this road. There being much need of further improvement, the Seneca Turnpike Company was chartered for that purpose. It was then known as the Great Genesee Turnpike.

Truxton Coaching Club poses in front of the New Woodstock Hotel during one of its famous outings in the early 1900s. Madison County Historical Society collection.

    A Mr. Landon carried the first mail through the county on horseback in 1797-8. He was succeeded by a Hr. Lucas who soon found the increasing mail so heavy as to require a wagon to carry it. In connection with the mail business he maintained a two horse hack which paid well. This is probably the first stage ever driven into Madison county.
   To Jason Parker belongs the honor of driving the first four-horse thorough-brace stagecoach into the county. This was in 1803. In 1804 it ran twice a week from Utica to Canandaigua. This run was to be made in 48 hours, barring accidents, This, Mr. Parker was compelled to do by statute law.
    In 1804 the Peterboro Turnpike which extended through Peterboro from Vernon to Cazenovia was completed. In 1803 the Cherry Valley Turnpike was chartered. This made the third great trade route through Madison County,  all extending from east to west. Over this road, constant droves of cattle, sheep, pigs, geese and turkeys were driven to market at Albany from all along the route as far west as central Ohio. The Hamilton and Skaneateles Turnpike was commenced in 1811, extending from Otsego County through Brookfield, Hamilton, Eaton, Erieville and New Woodstock to Skaneateles.
    By the middle of the century there were many plank roads extending in all directions. One extended from Hamilton to Utica, another connected Oriskany, Hamilton and Madison, and still another connected Morrisville and Canastota, long since superseded by the fine stone road. A very important plank road extended from DeRuyter through New Woodstock, Cazenovia, and Chittenango to Lakeport on Oneida Lake. These roads were all stage routes with the possible exception of the Peterboro Turnpike. Cazenovia is most concerned with the great stagecoaches that ran between here and the New York Central at Chittenango and between here and Syracuse.
    Mr. Shute recalled:
   "I began driving in the fall of 1859.  I left Cazenovia at 5:30 A.M., arriving at Chittenango at  7 A.M. The return coach left Chittenango at 8:30 and arrived in Cazenovia at 10:30. The second coach left Cazenovia at 10:30 arriving at Chittenango at noon and returned to Cazenovia at 4:30. The third stage left at 2:30 P.M. and returned at 8 P.M. There was one Syracuse coach which left Cazenovia at 7 a.m.  and returned at 7 p.m.  Thus it will be seen that there was as good connection with the New York Central Railroad then as now.
    "One could reach it at Chittenango in an hour and a half and it takes fully that length of time to reach the great railway today. There was one stage from DeRuyter and back each day. Passengers passing through Cazenovia for the east, were met by a coach from that direction.
  "In those days of staging there was more excitement than today with the railroads. when a coach came into a town the driver blew his horn , and people rushed out to see the coach and the people who had arrived. I have seen the steps and the walk in front of the Lincklaen House black with people. The times were better and livelier in this town than today. It was quite common to come into town with two four horse coaches loaded down. We have driven away from the seminary with 20 or more passengers in each of two coaches going to Chittenango, when school closed. All were having a good time. There were more scholars then than now. The fare to Chlttenango was one dollar, while the fare to Syracuse was $1.30.
    "The years 1861 to 1865 witnessed lively times here. The Civil War was going on; soldiers were going and coming all the time. The boys had plenty of money and it made business good. There were  many good boys who never came back. They lost their lives in war, fighting for their country. They left many a mother and father mourning here. I missed them too, when the boys came back with me on the coach many were not there.

George S. Shute commenced running a stagecoach between Cazenovia and Chittenango in 1859. Madison County Historical Society collection.

   "I have been running the buses new for 30 years, the 18th of next November. In all that time I have never had an accident, but have had some pretty close calls. It may be interesting to know who operated the Stage lines that came into Cazenovia. I can remember of only two parties, who owned the Syracuse route. The first was Loyal Eggleston, uncle of Charles Eggleston, who sold out to the Anderson Brothers, of Syracuse. The Chittenango route was owned by Hubbard and Keeler, Hubbard and Webber, and Hubbard and Judd. The only two men I can remember of owning the route to Morrisville were a Mr. Moore and Eber Pete.
    "The coaches that rolled through the valleys and over the hills in the old days were slow, compared with the Twentieth Century or the Empire State Express, but probably there was no more complaining of the slow travel or of the coaches being behind time than there is today about the express trains of our great railroads."

 Cazenovia Republican
 February 24, 1916

                      Veteran Bus Driver Celebrates Seventy-Fourth Birthday Today
    George S. Shute is celebrating his 74th birthday today. He is a very active man and looks much younger than he is. Mr. Shute is an authority on events that happened in Cazenovia 40 and 50 years go and never tires of telling of the interesting happenings of the past, and makes himself highly entertaining. 
    Mr. Shute was born in Chittenango, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Shute. His father who was a teacher died in 1842, when Mr. Shute was but three months old.
    His father died in 1842, when Mr. Shute was but three months old. His mother later married Mr. Charles Law and the family moved to Cazenovia occupying the Fuller house on Nelson Street. 
     In the fall of 1859 Mr. Shute commenced driving the stage to Chittenango, a distance of 12 miles, to connect with the New York Central trains. There were three regular stages and he drove on making one trip a day.  This stage line was controlled by Keeler and Hubbard. An immense amount of teaming was done over this route, for aside from the trips of the passenger coaches, the entire farm products of the country south of Cazenovia as well as the products of the factories in the town, including the woolen mill, tannery, paper mill, distillery and brewery were carted to Canastota. In return the freight and groceries were brought in from the surrounding country. Two hundred more teams were in use in the town than there are today, for many did their own driving back and forth.
    There were three toll gates between Cazenovia and Chittenango to keep the plank road in good condition. One was below the woolen mill property, one at Chittenango Springs, and one at Chittenango Landing. The charge was 16 cents a team or eight cents for a single horse. The late Mr. F.C. Phelps was at one time treasurer of the Plank Road Association and Mr. Shute well remembers bringing up the money collected at the toll gates.
     The first part of 1861, Mr. Shute drove on the Syracuse-Manlius line owned and controlled by H.J. Mowery of Nelson. This was at the beginning of the war. Mr. Shute drove many of the soldiers to Syracuse and met upon their return from the war, though many never returned. Mr. Shute remembers taking 23 young men who had been drafted and who were going to Oswego to enlist. Substitutes could be hired for $300.
    In the spring of 1865, Mr. Mowery sold the business to Smith and Sweet and Mr. Shute again drove on the Chittenango route until the Cazenovia and Canastota Railroad was built. This was built by the Fairchild brothers and Cazenovia was the terminus until 1876. Then Mr. Shute  drove a stage to the tunnel on the west shore of the lake, which was the terminus of the West Shore Road, the Temperance House at Manlius being the first terminus. Passengers and freight had to be taken that distance to meet the trains and the charge per passenger one way was 35 cents.
    None realize more than Mr. Shute that wages have increased considerably since the good old days. In the latter part of 1860 he was receiving $10 a month and his board. However upon his marriage, Mr. Shute's salary was handsomely increased to $18 a month and his dinners. Later it was increased to$30 per month. 
    Mr. Shute has a fine collection of old pictures taken at different times of the Tally-ho, buses and sleigh, which has been frequently seen in our streets late years. Some of these pictures include parties of the Syracuse Camera Club, which came here for outings, and later driving to Chittenango Falls; another  is of the big bus which used to run from Manlius to Syracuse and later was bought and used by Mr. Shute.
    A large link wooden chain, which was carved by a prisoner in Auburn Prison, and which was presented to Mr. Shute by Mr. Edward Jewel, one-time owner of the Cazenovia House, is a relic highly prize and one well remembered in connection with his pictures.
    In January, 1911 Mr. Shute sold his business in Cazenovia, which he had conducted for over fifty years to Blodgett Brothers, and since has been enjoying the fruits of his hard work. We congratulate Mr. Shute upon his good health and his good fortune in attaining these seventy four years.

Cazenovia Republican
Thursday, May 12, 1921

      Stage Driver Dies At Age of 79
    George S. Shute, the veteran stage driver, died at his home Saturday, at the age of 79 years. For three weeks he had been suffering with asthma, but was down town the Monday before his death.
    The funeral was held Monday afternoon from his late home, Rev. R.D., Stanley, pastor of the Methodist church, assisted by Rv. E.A. Peck, officiating and burial was made in Evergreen cemetery beside his wife.
    Complete arrangements for his funeral had been made by Mr. Shute before his death. These instructions, partly written and partly told to his family, were changed by him from time to time as conditions changed. Horses, his faithful friends during his entire life, drew him to his last resting place. He had requested that a horse-drawn hearse be used, a black team and John Miller on the box. The bugle and whip used for years by him on the stagecoach, were buried with him. His bearers were his four sons, his grandson, Phellix Chelot of Rochester and his nephew, Sidmond Poole of Syracuse.
    Mr. Shute was born in Chittenango. At the age of seventeen he left school sand started driving the stage and continued in the business in January, 1911. In the fall of 1859 Mr. Shute commenced driving the stage from here to Chittenango. He later drove on the Syracuse-Manlius line and after the Lehigh Valley and West Shore railroad were built, continuing the business in the village, starting November 18, 1876. and continued it successfully for thirty-four years, selling it to Blodgett brothers.
    At the age of twenty-one(on August 22, 1862)  Mr. Shute married Miss Hattie Rogers of Chittenango. They lived together over fifty years, until the death of Mrs. Shute nine years ago. Mr. Shute had been a member of the Chittenango Methodist church over forty years. He had a remarkable memory for dates and was an entertaining talker on Cazenovia history of half a century ago.

    Mr. Shute is survived by five children, E.S. Shute, Charles L. Shute and Mrs. E.E. Callison of Syracuse, F. P. Shute and George R. Shute of this place; two sisters, Mrs. Nettie Abel,  and Mrs. Carrie Poole of Syracuse and seven grandchildren, all of whom attended the funeral.

During the winter months coaches on runners replaced regular stagecoaches. Madison County Historical Society collection.