THIS ROAD WAS LAID OUT SO ONE COULD TRAVEL FROM WASHINGTON D.C. TO LAKE ONTARIO.
THE STATE OF NEW YORK, IT APPEARS THAT IT WAS LAID OUT TO BE ONE STRAIGHT LINE. EVIDENTLY THIS DIRT ROAD WAS BUILT TO TRAVEL NORTH, IN THE SHORTEST DISTANCE TO LAKE ONTARIO.
PARTS OF THE ROAD IN NY STATE DO NOT EXIST TODAY. THE PICTURE THAT YOU VIEW NOW HAS BEEN TAKEN IN OR CLOSE TO YATES COUNTY LINE.
Massachusetts sold to Samuel Brown and 59 associates lands for L1000 lawful money of New England. These lands were sold, traded, swapped many times to several different people throughout the times of settlement. Too much is recorded about the actual divisions, but this article is on the Pre-Emption line. (This information being taken from the Gazetteer of New York State.)
The Following is from articles that were copied from clippings at the Montour Falls Library. The clipping was printed in the early part of the 1900’s.
The Area of the Military Tract--The old and the New Pre-Emption Lines--Article II (as soon as I can locate the Article I, I will place it here)
The Schuyler County map is placed before the readers of the Chronicle again this week, from the fact that its town boundaries are portions of the great lines of land divisions in the days of settlement in Central New York. The lines that divides Hector and Reading from Dix, Montour and Catherine, was the south boundary of the Military Tract. The west boundary of Reading is along the “Old Pre-Emption Line.”
Schuyler County for nearly a third of its area, was originally of the Military Tract which was granted by the Legislature of New York as gratuity to the officers and soldiers of the line of this State, who served in the American Revolutions. It included a million and half of acres, and was divided into twenty-five townships containing 60,000 acres each, which were again subdivided into lots of 640 acres each. It was bounded west by the Counties of Ontario and Steuben the Genesee county; on the north by Lake Ontario from Sodus Bay to Fort Oswego River; thence on the north by the Onondaga River and part of the Oneida Lakes on the east of Oneida and Chenango Counties, and on the south by Tioga County. It was sixty miles in general length, and fifty-five miles in breadth. Under an Act of 1782, a lot of 400 acres was to be reserved in each Township of the Military Tract for the support, of the gospel, and two lots of 200 acres for schools.
The “Old Pre-Emption Line” was the first survey in Central New York in 1786. It w as run by two surveyors, one of whom was employed by Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham, who had purchased lands to its westward in 1787, and the other employed by Seth Reed and Peter Ryckman. The latter were Indian traders, who for services rendered in the negotiations of the State and the Six Nations, had been granted a patent to 16,000 acres east of the lands ceded to Massachusetts. The survey began at the 82nd milestone on the Pennsylvania border, but deviated to the westward from the true meridian about five miles south of the Chemung River, and terminated at Lake Ontario three miles west of Sodus Bay. Its course is marked in Schuyler and Yates counties to this day, by the west bounds of the towns of Reading and Starkey. There are two traditions as to the cause of the variations of this pioneer lines one that (slipping was cut off or broken off from being so old and brittle)--------------------------------- the site of Geneva, and the other that it was but the results of imperfect surveying instruments in an unbroken wilderness.
The New “Pre-Emption Line” was run in 1792, the year the territory of Steuben county was surveyed into townships. It was performed with great care under the superintendence of Major Hoops, who was assisted by Andrew Ellicott and Augustus Porter. A corps of axe-men were employed, and a vista 30 feet wide was opened through the wilderness before the transit instrument. Night signals were used in carrying the course over the waters of Seneca Lake, and the termination of the line was very near the center of the head of Sodus Bay. The strip of land between the old and the new surveys was called “The Gore,” and extensively figures in the real estate records of the time. The State assuming the old line to be correct, had disposed of holdings it did not possess, for which compensation lands in Wayne County were afterwards granted. The true Pre-Emption Line is the meridian of Washington, which in New York State separates the counties of Steuben and Chemung, and Ontario and Seneca, extending through the counties of Schuyler, Yates, and Wayne. The townships it divides are Southport, Big Flats and Catlin of Chemung, from Caton, Corning and Hornby of Steuben; Dix and Orange in Schuyler; Waterloo and Junius of Seneca from Geneva and Phelps of Ontario, and Galen, Rose and Huron from Lyons and Sodus in Wayne. It is the distinction of Schuyler County that within its limits, is the meeting place right angles of the Pre-Emption Line and the south line of the Military Tract, the exact point being the northwest corner of the town of Dix.
Schuyler County to the westward of the Pre-Emption Line was originally included in the Phelps and Gorham Purchase, and as the map contains a full delineation of the area of the towns of Orange and Tyrone and the western strip of Reading once embraced in this territory, it is again placed at the head of this concluding article of the series. It may be mentioned in this connection, that the remaining portion of the town of Reading was really in the southwest corner of the Military Tract when that body of land was laid out, but it was never surveyed into lots and granted to soldiers of the Revolution as was the case in Hector.
The Pre-Emption is one of the greatest historical events in the settlement of Central New York. Massachusetts as a colony had a charter, which embraced the region extending between its north and south boundaries from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and the title to this territory was claimed by the commonwealth after the Revolution. The charter of the colony of New York intervened and conflicted with this claim. And the land title questions which threatened to arise in consequence were finally settled by a commission at Hartford, Conn., in December 1786. It was there agreed that Massachusetts should cede to New York the sovereignty of all the domain claimed by the former within the limits of the latter, and that New York should cede to Massachusetts the property of the soil, or the right of its pre-emption from the six Nations.
New York by this agreement relinquished the right of pre-emption to what was then known as the Genesee Country, all that portion of the State to the westward of the line-running north from the 82d milestone on the Pennsylvania border. Massachusetts in 1787 sold the whole of this territory estimated at 6,000,000 acres, to Oliver Phelps and Gorham for one million dollars. A treaty with the Six Nations at Kanadesaga in July 1788, a confirmed the title of Phelps and Gorham to 2,250,000 acres of this area. The northern portion of this purchase became the county of Ontario in quent to its sale to Robert Morris, who conveyed it to Sir William Pulteney and others of London. The remainder of the Pre-Emption Tract reverted for a time to Massachusetts. The Phelps and Gorham Purchase in round numbers, was nearly an oblong square of 80 miles in length from south to north, and 42 miles wide east to west.
The Genesee Country settlement in its Ontario portion began in 1789, and in December 1790, there were 1,047, inhabitants who had located within its borders. An old chronicle of that periods states as follows: “Besides these settlers who actually occupy the Genesee Tract, there is an establishment of Quakers, called the Friends Settlement, situated on the eastern ridge of the grant, and at the outlet of the Crooked Lake, consisting of 260 person, who are very industrious, and have already made considerable improvements, having completed an excellent grist and saw mill some time since. To the northward of this settlement, at the northwest corner of Seneca Lake, is the town of Geneva, in the neighborhood of which there are many settler, and so on northerly to Lake Ontario and in different directions for about 30 miles. About 20 miles south from the Friends Settlement, near the head of the Seneca Lake, is the village of Culvers, and four miles further on is Catherines Town.
In the neighborhood of these villages, there is a district of country bounded by the Pennsylvania line on the south and ----------------------- (broken off paper from age)
----- 20, 1824. Parts of Catherine and Erin, Chemung County, were annexed in 1854. Schuyler County territory to the south of the head of Seneca and the Military Tract, and westward to the Pre-Emption Line, was included in the Watkins and Flint Purchase; to the westward of the Lake as far as Reading extended, to the James Watson purchase, and west of the Pre-Emption Line, to the Phelps and Gorham Purchase. The commissioners of the Land Office of the state of New York, in pursuance of an act of the Legislature passed march 22, 1791, sold to James Watson a tract of land, to-wit: “Beginning at the southeast corner or Ryckman’s Reservation on the Seneca Lake, and running thence southerly along the shores of the said Lake to the south end of the same; from thence in a west course to the Pre-Emption Line; thence northerly along the said Line to the south west corner of Ryckman’s Reservation aforesaid, and from thense to he place of beginning”, at the rate of three shillings and seven pence per acre. James Watson also bought some land in the southwest part of the Township of Chemung, the whole purchase aggregating 60,000 acres.
Southern Schuyler in major portion, was included in the following; “The application of John W. Watkins and Royal Flint, for the purchase of all the unlocated part of the following tract of land to-wit: Beginning at the northwest corner of the Township of Chemung; thence running easterly along the northern boundary of the said Township of Chemung, until it strikes Owego River, being the west bounds of the ten townships added to Massachusetts; thence northerly along the said bounds to the Township of Dryden, being one of the Military Townships appropriated for the use of the troops of this State; thence westerly along the southern boundary of the Townships of Dryden, Ulysses and hector, to the southwestern part of Seneca Lake; thence west until a line strikes the Pre-Emption Line (which line is also the southern boundary of a tract sold this day to a James Watson) and then southerly along the said Pre-Emption Line to the place of beginning, at the rate of three shillings and four pence per acre; the one-sixth part of the purchase money to be paid, with lawful interest, in six months from the date hereof, and the residue in two equal installments, the one in nine months and the there in eighteen months thereafter; being read and duly considered. Accepted. Acres, 3000, 000;