TRAVELING THROUGH ONONDAGA COUNTY IN 1810

Submitted by Kathy Crowell

The following excerpts appear in the Diary of the Journey of Maj. Abel M. Grosvenor and Family, Abby Grosvenor and Heman B. Potter who depart by wagon and coach from Hudson, NY for Buffalo, NY. on Saturday, October 20, 1810.   After crossing the Hudson River by water-carriage, all hands are called to meeting on the following day on the west bank of the Hudson.  Grosvenor notes, "see ten thousand (or less) great coaches and little coaches and coaches of various descriptions" readying themselves for westward journeys.


Explanations are in parentheses.

(At 9 a.m. Thursday, October 25, the group reaches New Hartford, Oneida Co. where they stay overnight to visit Maj. Grosvenor's sister in this "delightful village and a most heavenly country," four miles west of Utica.  Departing after an early breakfast on Friday morning, October 26,  the Grosvenors and Potter travel 30 miles from New Hartford to the foot of Brinkerhoff Hill in Chittenango, Madison Co.  In 1800, the Seneca Road Company was charged with improving the Old Genesee Rd., and by 1802 had taken out most of the curves up the hill, and climbing it was an arduous trek, indeed.  Near the summit, on the north side of the road, and just a few hundred feet east of Onondaga Co. is the inn of Thomas Clark, father of the first president of the Onondaga Historical Association, Joshua V. H. Clark.   Clark moved here from Cazenovia in 1805, when Joshua was two.  This old tavern where the party stays overnight is currently over 193 years old, although the exterior has been modified by siding and a storm door.  About 500 feet to the northwest is the Deep Spring, a State historical site known as Te-ungh-sat-a-yagh, or fort at the spring.  The spring still exists, although the water pressure has decreased considerably over the years.  In his journal of July 6, 1800, John Maude notes:  "Visited the Deep Spring, great curiosity; situated some feet below the general surface of the earth, in a cavity formed like a tunnel, probably by the Spring itself; it enters the earth at the bottom of the tunnel; the spring being about mid-way down, comes out with great violence; is well tested; surrounded with large fine Beech and other trees, their trunks fully covered with the carved initials of visitors' names.  Excellent place for a Bath, Springhouse, and summer-house."  The spring, which Joshua must have visited frequently during his childhood, is well-described in his history of the town of Manlius.)

"We got thirty miles from N.H. and all at once run butt against a long, winding, slow-moulded, amphibious beast of a Hill-three miles in length.  We halt short-ponder and pause and chit-chat a little together, whether it be good policy to encamp where we are, it being now twilight-or whether we anxiously attempt an ascent, at length the result of all this deliberation was signified and became manifest-and up the hill we went with true Yankee resolution-about two miles came to Clark's Inn-a large and good house-here we took our night's rest-Our supper was inevitable.  It consisted of fresh salmon trout cooked in stile, and a great variety of everything-at it we all went like five thousand houses on fire-The remnants were very trifling I'll warrant you.  32 miles Thursday-we are now 4 1/2 miles from Manlius Square-all to bed in good season-all had good ones but Mr. G. and Lady."

(The following day, the party passes through Manlius Square, as the village of Manlius was then known, and proceeds to Olmsted's tavern at Sinai (Jamesville), a village then in the town of Manlius -- now the town of Dewitt.  The Olmsted tavern farm is run by the Olmsted family, including Col. David Olmsted, a Revolutionary war veteran, son William who runs the kitchen, and his sons-in-law, Benjamin Sanford and Coleman Keeler.  In his history of  the town of Dewitt, Joshua Clark notes that in 1806 this tavern was considered the best west of Utica.   Departing the inn the next day, the group travels through Onondaga Hollow  to Onondaga Hill, where Potter, a lawyer, meets Daniel Moseley, after which the group travels onward through the towns of Marcellus and Skaneateles.  The Kellogg reference may be to Samuel Kellogg, who settled in the town of Skaneateles in 1803 and was the father of noted attorney and businessman, Daniel Kellogg.  The reference to Leonard is not known to me.)

"Saturday morning Oct. 27.  Rose early again-Clark's bill exhorbitant-cleared out again as quick as possible-rode on 10 miles to Olmsted's in the town of Manlius to breakfast-this house afforded everything in best abundance-stands in a horrid, rough place-but considerably improved-we have already passed thro' the village of Manlius, a place of much business and rapidly settling-stands on a side hill houses new and tasty-at this place came up with Brown and Peck, full of fire-find the roads wretchedly cut up yet we are now 67 miles east of Canandaigua and forty five west of Utica-it is now one week since we left Hudson-from here passed on 10 miles to Leonards in Onondaga-here we only bailed and drank cider-we are now at the half-way milestone from Utica to Canandaigua-56 miles each way-have now passed thro' Onondaga Hollow a most delightful place and fertile land.  Abby here left the carriage and travelled on and Potter took her seat and carried the child-In leaving this hollow we ascend in truth a most mammoth hill-but we stop not a trifle, we soon found the top of the hill and in doing so came to another part of the town where stands the Court House.  Potter called on Daniel Mosely, old classmate-attorney at that place-here we left the waggons again-Abby this time walked three miles, some distance ahead of the carriage and in going thro' the village everybody's mouth was wide stretched and their eyeballs stuck out like two cabbage heads, marvelling who in nature that could be.  Nota bene-At our breakfast this morning at Olmsted's we had preserved carrots, a most delicious novelty-from Leonard's, we passed on thro' Marcellus, a pleasant growing place to Kellogg's, two miles from Skaneateles.  Here we encampt again-small, plain looking house-bought no supper here-but put ourselves between the sheets in a hurry-or rather would have done so, had there been sheets on the beds-"

"Sunday morning Oct 28 were on the wing about peep of day-budged on thro' Skaneateles a delightful village at the head of the lake of the same name-The meeting house equal in magnificence and beauty to any I have ever seen-called at Hatch's and took breakfast-two miles west of the village-fared well here-had fowls for breakfast, boiled instead of broiled-tarried here two hours-started well refreshed-road grows a little more passable-went on thro' Auburn, this is a village like the last, the best I have seen."

(On November 2, having left Abby and her child at Capt. Cotton's inn near Buffalo for a few days, Maj. Grosvenor and Heman Potter reach Buffalo where they "here like to remain-Amen!"  There is no doubt that travel was heavy in the latter part of the 1700s and early 1800s:  "In the winter of 1795 twelve hundred sleighs, loaded with furniture, and with men, women, and children, passed through Albany in three days; and five hundred were counted between sunrise and sunset of February 28 of that year.  All of them were moving westward."  From "Annals of Albany," reported in the History of Oneida County.  Philadelphia: Everts and Ferris, 1878).



Thomas Clark Tavern

Clark purchased the property in 1805.

Picture from Kathy Crowell.


Joshua V. H. Clark

Born in Cazenovia, N.Y., February 6th, 1803;

died in Manlius, N.Y., June 18th, 1869.

Published his History of Onondaga County in 1849.

from Pioneer Times in the Onondaga Country, by Carroll E. Smith, LL.D., C. W. Bardeen, Publisher, Syracuse, N.Y., 1904

 


Submitted 21 August 1998
Updated 22 August 1998