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Commerce, Manufactures Resources of Rochester, N. Y

Commerce, Manufactures Resources of Rochester, N. Y

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Excerpt from Commerce, Manufactures Resources of Rochester, N. Y : A Descriptive Review

There are few business men who find either time or inclination for the study of National Histories, and those are still more rare who discover an interest in the chronicles of any locality other than than that in which their energies center.

On the other hand none can be be found who are indifferent to such facts in relation to any important community as shall more clearly convey an idea of its industries and resources, why it prospers and developes in certain directions, and what claims it has to commercial distinction.

For such this work was designed, and to such it is dedicated.

Intended especially to convey information concerning Rochester to those unfamiliar with its chacteristics, this work will probably contain little not already patent to every intelligent dweller in this city, but will excite attention, and will prove most useful the farther it circulates from the subject of its theme.

To the present, therefore, more than to the past, we devote this sketch; our business is with living men and their daily occupations, enterprises and successes, what they are doing for themselves and others in commerce, trade, manufactures, finance, or by individual talent in the arts, sciences and professions.

To the past, however, we are not oblivious; and if only for the sake of comparison there are some salient points of historic interest relating to Rochester that should be in possession of every well-informed reader.

It is so short a period since the site upon which Rochester now stands was a fever-infected, musk-rat infested wilderness, that many now living are capable of writing from their own memories and experiences a fully detailed history of those early times.

At the beginning of the present century this locality, with the exception of such advantages as were apparent in connection with a magnificent water power, must have been considered even by the hardiest pioneers as a very undesirable locality. In fact, this is obvious, as the growth of Rochester seems to have been retarded, while other points developed with great promise, only after a time to sink into insignificance or pass out of existence altogether, absorbed by the subsequent vitality of this community.

Formerly inhabited by the Senecas, who looked with jealousy upon the encroachments of our indefatigable forefathers, the first inroads upon the territory west of the Genesee River were made by Oliver Phelps, who secured from the aborigines by special treaty, a tract for a mill yard over twelve miles square, part of which was surveyed by Hugh Maxwell, who ran the western line of the purchase.

This "mill yard" the modest and diminutively suggestive name by which the Phelps purchase was known, rather astonished the ingenuous sous of the forest when they became aware of its real dimensions, and excited their deep distrust even more, when they compared the size of the tract with the smallness of the mill which appeared about a year after the signature of the conveyance treaty, made July 8, 1788, at or near Canandaigua.

The title was unchallenged, however, but the faith hitherto held in the honesty of Mr. Phelps by the Senecas became somewhat impaired and they thereafter applied to him the rather luenphoneous name Kans-kon-chicas, which has been translated by some historians "Waterfall" but which, from internal evidence we are assured must have meant "Hossjostler," a word of great significance, and more appropriate, all things considered.

One hundred acres of this "mill yard" was shortly after the conclusion of the treaty given to Ebenezer Allen (probably for a parsley bed), who however proceeded to erect a saw mill at the Falls in 1789, which was the first structure planted upon the Genesee by our rapacious race.

Of all implements, the saw alone may be rightly called the Scepter of American civ.
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