Buffalo in 1798

Edited by Stephen R. Powell

-Mr. Ellicott's clerk in the Transit Storehouse at that time was James Brisbane, who thus described the settlement he then saw at "Buffalo Creek, or New Amsterdam:"

"There was the log house of Middaugh and Lane-a double log house -about two squares from Main Street, a little north of the present line of Exchange Street. Capt. Johnston's half-log and half-framed house stood a little cast of the main building of the present Mansion House, near Washington Street. There was a two-storied hewed log house, owned by Capt. Johnston, about where Exchange Street now is, from six to eight rods west of Main Street, where a tavern was kept by John Palmer. This was the first tavern in Buffalo. Palmer afterwards moved to Canada and kept a tavern there. Asa Ransom lived in a log house west of Western Hotel. Winne had a log house on the bank of Little Buffalo, south of Mansion House. A Mr. Maybee, who afterwards went to Cattaraugus, kept a little Indian store in a log building on west side of Main Street, about twenty rods north of Exchange Street. There was also a log house occupied by a man named Robbins. The flats were open ground; a portion of them had been cultivated. Such was Buffalo-and all of Buffalo-in 1798."

Palmer's Inn is referred to in a public record (1802), regarding the road leading "from Batavia to the mouth of Buffalo Creek, near John Palmer's house." Palmer was appointed one of the seven pathmasters west of the Genesee river in 1801, and it is supposed that he left Buffalo in the next year. The Mr. Maybee referred to by James Brisbane was probably Svlvanus Maybee, whose niece married John Palmer. Maybee did not remain long, removing to Cattaraugus creek "soon after 1800." William Robbins was a blacksmith. "He had a shop on the west side of Main Street in 1806;" whether that was his original location does not appear.


This text is Copyright 2001 all rights reserved by Stephen Powell and buffalonian.com. This electronic text may not be dupicated or used in any manner without written consent of Stephen R. Powell or buffalonian.com

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Roads Opened

-Previous to 1798, all travel from the East to Buffalo was along the old Indian trail which ran from the valley of the Hudson, crossed the Genesee at Avon, ran through Batavia, and down the north side of Tonawanda creek, crossing into Erie county at the Tonawanda Indian village. The State Legislature in the winter of 1797-98 had authorized the cutting "of a State road from Conewagus (Avon) to Buffalo Creek, and another to Lewiston," the Holland Company agreeing to contribute $5,000 toward the cost of such work. Charles Williamson was appointed commissioner, "and proceeded with his task during that year, generally adhering to the Indian trails."


"...There was a two-storied hewed log house, owned by Capt. Johnston, about where Exchange Street now is, from six to eight rods west of Main Street, where a tavern was kept by John Palmer. This was the first tavern in Buffalo. "


It appears, however, that Joseph Ellicott did not wait for the Commissioner to carry through that much needed improvement. "The first roadway passable for wagons on the Purchase was opened by Mr. Ellicott with the help of a party of Indians, early in that season, as preliminary to beginning the survey." Also, "he so improved the trail from East Transit to Buffalo Creek that it was reasonably passable."

Excerpted from the book: Hill, Henry Wayland, Ed. Municipality of Buffalo, New York, A History. 1720-1923. Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc. New York. Chicago.

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This text is Copyright 2001 all rights reserved by Stephen Powell and buffalonian.com. This electronic text may not be dupicated or used in any manner without written consent of Stephen R. Powell or buffalonian.com