Thursday, July 23, 2015

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.

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