Atwell's 1928 Cazenovia, Past & Present
A Descriptive and Historical Record of the Village
Chapter II      Roadways
pages 11 to 19
Daniel H. Weiskotten
11/14/1999
 
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Atwell, Christine O., 1928, Cazenovia, Past & Present, A Descriptive and Historical Record of the Village. Florida Press, Inc., Orlando, FL
 
Some spelling corrections have been made and a few notes to update or clarify the text are added in square [  ] parentheses.  Atwell's Footnotes and my Comments and Notes follow at the end of the text.

            I Founding & Settlement
            II Roadways
            III Waterways
            IV Industries and Institutions
            V Religion
            VI Education
            VII Culture
 

Chapter II      Roadways

pages 11 to 19

        <:11> 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 rout~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 (Comment).
        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, <:12> was laid out in 1804 (Comment).  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:

        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.
 
[woodcut of stage and horses running]
 
Journal Steam Press
April 10, 1860.                                                       H.J. Mowry, Prop'r.
 
 [penciled in at bottom = "Dwight Eggleston and George Shute, Drivers"]
 [this is reformatted slightly from Atwell's text]
 
Click here to see an image of the actual table, still to be found at the Cazenovia Public Library

        A new coach was put on the Syracuse-Cazenovia route in 1864, which <:15> 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 (Comment).
        The following interesting article written by Mrs. Roy D. Armstrong of West Winfield, N.Y., is reproduced here by permission (Comment):
        "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.
        <:16> "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 (Comment), 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.

        "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!  (Comment)  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 <:18> 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.

 
Comments and Notes by Daniel H. Weiskotten
November 1999
 
II Roadways, page 11 II Roadways, page 12 II Roadways, page 15 II Roadways, pages 15 to 18 II Roadways, page 16 II Roadways, pages 16 to 17
 Proceed on to Chapter III      Waterways