Gazetteer of New York, 1860 & 1861 page 494
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By the terms of the charter of the colony of Mass., the region between its n. and s. boundaries,
from the Atlantic to the Pacific, was embraced; and the title to this territory was claimed by Mass.
after the Revolution. The subsequent charter of the State of New York intervened and conflicted
with this claim,—from which difficulties arose, which were finally settled by commissioners at Hart¬
ford, Conn., on the 16th of December, 1786. It was there agreed that Mass. should cede to N. Y.
the sovereignty of all the territory claimed by the former lying within the limits of the latter, and
that N. Y. should cede to Mass. the property of the soil, or the right of the pre-emption of the soil
from the Indians. This agreement covered all that part of the State lying w. of a line running
from the “82d milestone,” on the line between N. Y. and Penn., through Seneca Lake to Sodus
Bay. This line is known as the “Old Pre-emption Line.”1' In 1787 Mass. sold the whole of this
tract, containing 6,000,000 of acres, to Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham, for one million dollars.
In the following spring Mr. Phelps left his home in Granville, Mass., with men and means to
explore the country thus acquired. He collected the sachems, chiefs, and warriors of the Six
Nations at Kanadesaga, and in July, 1788, concluded with them a treaty of purchase of a tract
containing 2,250,000 acres, bounded
e. by the pre-emption line, w. by a line 12 mi. w. of, and run¬
ning parallel with, the Genesee River, s. by the Penn, line, and sr. by Lake Ontario.2

The portion of the tract to which the Indian title had not been extinguished, constituting about
two-thirds of the original purchase, was abandoned by Messrs. Phelps and Gorham and reverted to
Mass. It was re-sold by that State to Robert Morris, in 1796, and subsequently formed what is
known as the Holland Land Purchase. In 1789, Mr. Phelps, at Canandaigua, opened the first
regular land office for the sale of land to settlers ever established in America. The system he
adopted for the survey of his lands by townships and ranges, with slight modifications, was adopted
by the Government for the survey of all the new lands in the U. S. When organized in 1789,
Ontario was the first co. set off from Montgomery, and embraced all that part of the State lying
w. of the
e. line of Phelps and Gorham’s Purchase, including what was called “ The Genesee

The first settlement was made on the site of the Indian village of Kanadesaga, (now Geneva,) in
1787. Soon after the land office at Canandaigua was opened, and several settlements were com¬
menced in different parts of the co. From this period the progress of settlement was rapid, immi¬
grants being attracted by the beautifully rolling character of the surface and the unsurpassed
fertility of the soil. Few incidents of general interest have occurred to interrupt the steady and
continued progress of peaceful industry. The most notable of its later historical events is its being
the scene of the birth of Mormonism. Joe Smith resided for many years in Manchester; and his
pretended discovery of the golden plates of the Book of Mormon was made on the 22d of September,

Major Hoops had discovered the precise points of deviation to
the westward. It had commenced soon after leaving the Penn¬
sylvania line, gradually bearing off until it crossed the outlet of
the Crooked Lake, where an abrupt offset was made, and then
an inclination for a few miles almost in a N. w. course; then, as
if fearful that it was running w. farther than was necessary to
secure a given object, the line was made to incline to the e.
until it passed the foot of Seneca Lake, when it was run nearly
x. and s. to Lake Ontario. All this will be observed upon any
of the old maps. It will at once be perceived that the site of
Geneva—the 16,000 acres of Reed and Ryckman—had caused
more than a usual variation of the surveyor’s compass. Judge
Porter’s explanation is as follows:—“Geneva was then a small
settlement, beautifully situated on the Seneca Lake, rendered
quite attractive by its lying beside an old Indian settlement in
which there was an orchard.”

The Old Pre-emption Line terminated on Lake Ontario, 3
mi. w. of Sodus Bay, and the new line very near the center
of the head of the bay. With the exception of the abrupt varia¬
tions that have been noticed, the old line, parting from the true
meridian about 5 mi. s. of the Chemung River, bears off gradu¬
ally until it reaches the shore of Lake Ontario. The strip of
land between the two lines was called “
The Gore.” In addition
to the patent granted to Reed and Ryckman, the State had pre¬
sumed the original survey to be correct, and made other grants,
and allowed the location of military land warrants upon what
had been made disputed territory. As an equivalent to the pur¬
chasers of this tract, compensation lands were granted by tho
State in the present towns of Wolcott and Galen, Wayne co.

2 The w. boundary of this tract was a line “ beginning in the
northern line of Penn., due south of the corner or point of land
made by the confluence of the Genesee River and the Canaseraga
Creek; thence north on said meridian line to the corner or
point, at the confluence aforesaid; thence northwardly along
the waters of the Genesee River to a point two miles north of
Canawagus Tillage; thence running due west twelve miles;
thence running northwardly, so as to be twelve miles distant
from the western bounds of said river, to tho shore of Lake On¬
Tu/rnefs Phelps and Gorham Purchase.


The history of this Pre-emption Line is interesting. Of
course, it was mere conjecture where the line would fall as far
N. as Seneca Lake, and parties were interested to have the line
fall w. of Geneva, leaving that* place and a considerable tract of
land between the Military Tract and the Mass. lands. Seth
Reed and Peter Ryckman, both of whom had been Indian tra¬
ders, applied to the State of New Tork for a remuneration for
services rendered in some previous negotiations with the eastern
portion of the Six Nations, and proposed to take a patent for a
tract the boundaries of which should begin at a tree on the bank
of the Seneca Lake and run along the bank of the lake to the s.
until they should have 16,000 acres between the lake and the e.
bounds of the land ceded to Massachusetts. Their request was
acceded to and a patent issued. Thus situated, they proposed
to Messrs. Phelps and Gorham to join them in running the Pre¬
emption Line, each party furnishing a surveyor. The line was
run which is known as the “ Old Pre-emption Line.” Messrs.
Phelps and Gorham were much disappointed in the result,—sus¬
pected error or fraud, but made no movement for a re-survey
before they had sold to the English Association. Their suspi¬
cions had at first been excited by an offer from a prominent
member of the Lessee Company for “ all the lands they owned
east of the line that had been run.” They were so well assured
of the fact that in their deed to Mr. Morris they specified a tract
in a gore between the line then run and the w. bounds of the
counties of Montgomery and Tioga, those counties then embracing
all of the Military Tract. Being fully convinced of the inaccu¬
racy of the first survey, Morris, in his sale to the English Com¬
pany, agreed to run it anew. The new survey was performed
under the superintendence of Maj. Hoops, who employed Andrew
Ellicott and Augustus Porter to perform the labor. A corps of
ax-men were employed, and a vista 30 feet wide opened before
the transit instrument until the line had reached the head of
Seneca Lake, when night signals were employed to run down
and over the lake. So much pains were taken to insure correct¬
ness that the survey was never disputed; and thus the “New
Pre-emption Li ne” was established as the true division line be¬
tween the lands of the State of New York and those that had
been ceded to Massachusetts. In examining the old survey,


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