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1860 Gazetteer of New York
(Livingston County)

Historical and Statistical Gazetteer of New York


J. H. French

This county was formed from Genesee and Ontario, Feb. 23. 1821. A portion of Allegany was annexed in 1846, and another portion in 1856. It occupies a nearly central position in the w. half of the State. It is centrally distant 205 mi. from Albany, and contains 655 sq. mi. Its surface is an upland rolling in the N. and hilly in the S. The hills upon the s. border are 1,000 to 1,200 ft. above the valleys and 2,000 to 2,200 ft. above tide. From their summits the surface declines toward the N. , the extreme N. border being 500 to 800 ft. above tide. The slopes are usually smooth and gradual, except along the banks of the streams; and nearly every acre of land in the co. is arable.
The streams generally flow in deep ravines. They are usually bordered by steep, and sometimes precipitous, hillsides. The principal stream is Genesee River, flowing N.E. through the W. part of the co. In the S. its course is between steep and often precipitous banks, but further N. it is bordered by broad and beautiful intervals. Its tributaries are Conesus Creek, Fall Brook, and Canaseraga Creek, from the E. and Beards, White, and several other small creeks, from the W. Coshaqua Creek is a tributary of the Canaseraga. Hemlock and Honeoye Outlets flow along the E. border, and a few tributaries of the Susquehanna take their rise in the S. part. Conesus Lake, near the center, and Hemlock Lake, along the E. border, occupying long, narrow valleys, are the only considerable bodies of water.
The underlying rocks, commencing upon the N. border, are the waterlime of the Onondaga salt group, the Onondaga and coniferous limestones, Marcellas and Hamilton shales, Genesee slate, and Portage shales and sandstones. The limestones of the N. are extensively quarried for lime and building stone; and the sandstones of Portage group furnish excellent building stone and flagging. The soil, derived from the disintegration of these rocks, in all the elements of fertility has no superior in the State. Until the commencement of the ravages of midge, wheat was the staple production; but it has been principally supersede by the spring grains. Broomcorn is largely cultivated along the Genesee Flats; and considerable attention is paid to cattle and sheep growing and dairy in the S. part.
The county seat is located at the village of Geneseo. The courthouse is beautifully situated upon a fine lot in the N. part of the village. The jail, in the rear of the courthouse, is an old building, without means of ventilation, and it is impossible properly to classify the prisoners. The clerk's office is small fireproof building upon the courthouse lot. The co. poorhouse is located upon a farm of 118 acres about 1 mi. E. of Geneseo. Its average number of inmates is 107, supported at a weekly expense of 75 cts. each. The farm yields a revenue of $2,000. A school is taught 9 or 10 months in the year. The house is well constructed and very well kept.
The Genesee Valley Canal extends along the valley of the Genesee from the N. bounds of the co. To Mt.Morris; thence it turns S.E. to Coshaqua Creek and up the valley of that stream of Nunda, and thence S.W. to the Genesee at Portage, where it cross the river upon a wood aqueduct supported by stone piers. The Dansville Branch Canal extends from Mt.Morris S.E. to Dansville. The Canandaigua & Niagara Bridge Branch of the N.Y. Central R.R. extends through Caledonia. The Buffalo & N.Y. City R.R. extends S.E. through Portage and Nunda. The Buffalo, New York & Erie R.R. extends S.E. through Caledonia, Avon, Livonia, Conesus, and Springwater. The Genesee Valley R.R. extends S. through Avon, Geneseo, and Groveland to Mt.Morris.

Five newspapers---one daily, three weekly, and one monthly--are now published in the co.

Before the advent of whites, this co., was the seat of several of the principal villages of the Seneca Nation. Considerable advances had been made in the arts of civilization, and a large quantity of land had been cleared and was cultivated. Corn, apples, and peaches were extensively produced. The orchards were destroyed, and the whole region was laid to waste, by Gen. Sullivan, in 1779. The co. Was included in the Phelps and Gorham Purchase, and in the Morris Reserve. The latter tract was subdivided into several tracts, generally distinguished as separate patents.
In Sept. 1797, a treaty was held with the Indians at Geneseo, at which they ceded all their lands in this co. to the whites, except several small reservations. The first settlements were made about 1790, previous to the extinguishment of the Indian title. The most prominent of the early settlers were James and William Wadsworth, of Durham, Conn., who located at Geneseo, June 10, 1790. They were large land owners, and by a wise and liberal policy they greatly facilitated the settlement of the surrounding region. The greater part of the early settlers were immigrants from New England. York and Caledonia were settled principally by a colony of Scotch.

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Monroe County section of Gazetteer


[intervals] The Genesee is a subject to an annual overflow, the water often covering the entire flats which border upon it. This frequently causes destruction of property; but it is a source of constant fertility to the soil. (back)

[village] The first co. Officers were Moses Hayden, First Judge; James Ganson, County Clerk; Gideon T. Jenkins, Sheriff; and James Roseburgh, Surrogate. (back)

[Dansville] The highest level of the Genesee Valley Canal within this co. Is 622 feet above the Erie Canal at Rochester and 1,132 feet above tide. (back)

[newspapers] (back)

[Morris Reserve] The W. boundary of the Phelps and Gorham Purchase was a line extending due N. from the Penn. Line to the junction of the Genesee River and Canaseraga Greek, and thence northerly along Genesee River to the N. bounds of the co. (back)

[reservation] The Indian Reservations within the limits of the co. were: Cannawagus, containing 2 sq. Mi. On the W. bank of the Genesee River. W of Avon; Little Beards Town and Big Tree, containing 4 sq mi. On the W. bank of the Genesee, opposite Geneseo, N. of Mt Morris; and the Gardeau Reservation, of 28 sq mi., lying one half in this co. S. of Mt Morris. The Indian titles to these lands have since been extinguished. (back)

Monroe County section of Gazetteer