Great Genesee Road
As westward expansion began after the American Revolution, the only central New York pathways west of Fort Schuyler (Utica, New York) were rivers and a footpath called the Mohawk Trail or Iroquois Trail. The land companies which began developing large tracts of land for settlement started clamoring for the state to make better roads for their customers.
In 1794 the state legilature authorized a road from Fort Schuyler to Canawaugus to help settlers reach the New Military Tract. This area was set aside as 500 acres of bounty land to compensate each New York Revolutionary War veterans for his service. The new road followed the route of the old Mohawk Trail. An extension to Buffalo was authorized four years later.
However, the road construction was spotty and in places incomplete. In 1800 the legislature chartered the Seneca Road Company to charge tolls for improving the road. High quality toll roads were called turnpikes and this one was called the Seneca Turnpike, 157 miles (253 km) from Utica to Canandaigua, longest such road in New York. The road was macadamized to reduce pot holes. In 1805 the western extension to Buffalo was turned into the Ontario and Genesee Turnpike. In 1806 the Seneca Road Company began developing a more northerly alternate route from Seneca Falls across more level terrain in Elbridge, Geddes, and Fayetteville before rejoining the old turnpike at Chittenango. In time this became the more popular route.
The construction of the Erie Canal in 1825 reduced traffic on the turnpikes. Later railroads began to compete for traffic. Reduced revenue on the turnpikes made the road companies unprofitable. In 1852 the Seneca Road Company was dissolved and the turnpikes became public roads again.
The counties along this migration route (east to west) were as follows:
Settlers and Records
- Wikipedia contributors, "New York State Route 5" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_State_Route_5 (accessed 28 June 2011).
- Compare the more northerly route to Fort Niagara in Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 849, WorldCat entry, FHL Book 973 D27e 2002 with the more southerly route to Buffalo described in Wikipedia contributors, "New York State Route 5" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_State_Route_5 (accessed 28 June 2011).