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By Obed Edson
Historian, Author of “The Eries,” “The Fish That Gave Us the

Name Chautauqua" in THE CHAUTAUQUAN, etc.
T the beginning of the year 1800, no person dwelt on the

shore of Chautauqua Lake, nor in the County of Chautauqua. The nearest settlement to the Lake, was the newly garrisoned town of Presque Isle, now Erie, Pennsylvania, then but little more than a military post, where at the foot of the flagstaff on Garrison Hill, rested the remains of that old warrior Anthony Wayne. A little earlier, Wayne had defeated Little Turtle and his Miami and Shawnee braves, in the battle of Fallen Timber, on the Maumee; ended a long period of border war; and in 1795 established a permanent peace with the Indians by a treaty at Greenville, Ohio, making it possible for the emigrant from the East to bring his wife and children into Western wilds that had known no other conditions than continued, relentless and savage strife.

CONDITIONS IN THE YEAR 1800 With the peace of Greenville, travelers began their long and weary journeying, some on foot, and some on horseback, from Connecticut and Eastern New York, to the Western Reserve in Ohio. They traveled wilderness paths, nearly the whole distance to New Amsterdam, now Buffalo, then a frontier settlement at the east end of Lake Erie, having scarcely fifty inhabitants; thence they journeyed westerly, through the uninhabited woods of Chautauqua, near the southern shore of Lake Erie, following the old Indian trail that had been worn broad and deep by the tread, for a century and more, of the moccasined foot of the Seneca and the Erie.

In 1800, Pittsburgh, one hundred and twenty miles southward, was the nearest large settlement to Chautauqua Lake. It had, by the census of 1800, 1,565 inhabitants, and was the most important inland town in the United States. It even then gave promise of its future manufacturing greatness: a glass works and a paper mill had already been

established there, and small vessels had been constructed for the use of the Government, in the then pending naval war with France. Forty-seven years before that date, in 1753, Washington had visited the site of Pittsburgh, which he found densely covered by a wilderness: He was on his way to the frontier post, Le Bouef, now Waterford, Pennsylvania, where he remained for several days, negotiating with the French, but thirty miles from the Chautauqua Institution Assembly Grounds.

We now can scarcely realize the change that the last century has made in the country in which we live. In the year 1800, New York City had but 60,000 inhabitants; Philadelphia but 40,000; Boston 25,000; New Orleans 10,000, and Chicago had no existence. The Capitol of the United States had not until that year been moved to Washington; it had but one good house of entertainment, and a few other houses mostly small and poorly constructed. It was only in the previous year that the Legislature of the State of New York had passed the first act for the gradual emancipation of its slaves; and in the previous month George Washington had died.

Settlement, however, in 1800, was making its slow approach to our secluded lake. The boundaries of the Erie Triangle, which gave to Pennsylvania the port of Erie, had just been defined, and the shore line of Chautauqua County bordering on Lake Erie had just been surveyed. The Holland Land Company had procured by purchase its large tract of lands in Western New York, which included Chautauqua County, and had by the treaty of Big Tree, in 1797, made with Cornplanter, Red Jacket, Governor Blacksnake and other chiefs of their nation, extinguished the title of the Indians thereto; and the company had surveyed its lands into townships six miles square, preparatory to settlement.

CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY IN 1800 The solemnity of the forest that spread around Chautauqua Lake, had not, however, been broken by the sound

of the chopper's ax, and the county in which it lies was still far from the haunts of men. Chautauqua is the most western, and among the larger counties of the State, having an area of about 1,075 square miles, exclusive of its lakes, ponds and larger streams; a territory greater in extent than the State of Rhode Island, and some of the famous states of ancient Greece. In the narrow strip of territory that extends between Lake Erie and the Upper Allegany, in the heart of which lies Chautauqua Lake, some ages ago, great continental ice sheets battled with the south wind, and were each time compelled to retire before the warm breath of centuries of summers. They left as relics of this elemental war, remarkable morains, composed of huge irregular heaps, and windrows of earth and stones, and thus prepared the cradle for our lake, where it was born. Time and the elements have rounded those earthy piles into the symmetrical hills, which now mark the scenery of the county ; filled the deeper chasms with lakes, and made the marshes the fertile valleys as we see them now, especially fitting them for the flora and fauna of this latitude.

It was seldom that east of the Mississippi trees grew so tall and large and so perfect of their kind as here. Animal life in this wilderness region was always abundant and various. The mastodon and mammoth once inhabited this region, as their remains found in this county abundantly attest. The buffalo had not been extinct many decades when the first settler came, and the dams of the beavers were still to be seen. The fur-bearing otter, and martin or American sable, and the mink were plentiful. The solitary wild turkey, admired by white man and red for his graceful form and stately tread, stalked the forest, and the wild pigeon visited the woods in enormous flocks. The brook or spreckled trout populated the streams, and the Virginia or white tailed deer was common in all the woods.

In 1795 the Wapiti, or American Elk, the largest, strongest and fleetest of the deer kind, were abundant in Northern and Western Pennsylvania, and undoubtedly nu

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Gy-ant-wa-chico, the Cornplanter, Seneca Chief.

See page 196.

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