The History of Buffalo: A Chronology
Buffalo, New York
Buffalo and US history
Geology and geography:
|1492||Columbus arrives in New World.
The Erie and the Wenro are dominant residents of the Niagara Frontier.
|Iroquois Confederacy formed by the nations inhabiting New York State: Seneca, Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Onondaga.|
|1534||Jacques Cartier, a French explorer, claims the St. Lawrence River Valley for France|
|1655||Erie Indians defeated decisively by the entire Iroquois Confederacy. Thereafter, Western New York is occupied predominately by Senecas|
|King Charles II, the British monarch, gives territory, which included Buffalo, to James, Duke of York. At the time the entire Western New York region is inhabited by thousands of American Indians of the Neuter, Erie and Seneca nations. Baron LaHonton marks the Buffalo site on his 1687 exploration map as "Fort Suppose."|
|1678||Robert Cavelier Sieur de la Salle, explores much of the land from the St. Lawrence River to the Gulf of Mexico he claims all of this land, including the area that in now Buffalo, for France. This year also marks the beginning of French rule in the Niagara region.|
First sailing vessel - a 42-ton, two-masted ship -built by white men to sail the Great Lakes. Built at mouth of Cayuga Creek which empties into the Niagara river by La Salle, Father Hennepin and two score followers. La Salle uses it to to carry goods to Midwestern Indians in exchange for furs.
|1684||The French begin construction of Fort Denonville (later replaced by Fort Niagara). Fort Denonville replaced Fort Conti, an older French fort. A portage system exists at this time that allows furs and other goods to be transported around the rapids and falls of the Niagara River to Lewiston, and then on to Quebec. A French portage station called "La Riviere aux Chevaux" is located on the Buffalo River next to the foot of what is now Court Street.|
|French and Indian Wars (1689-1763):
North American colonial wars between great Britain and France. Really campaigns in
the worldwide struggle for empire. The stakes are Canada, the American West, and
the West Indies. The British win.
Phases: King William's War 1689-97; Queen Anne's War 1702-13; King Gorge's War 1744; French and Indian War 1756-1760; Treaty of Paris 1763.
The Iroquois nation is divided; for example, the Senecas (with the British) fought the Mohawks.
On May 9, a trading post, Le Magazin, is opened by Joncaire, at the future site of Fort Niagara.
|Tuscarora Indians, exiled by North Carolina colonists, move into New York to Ohagi (Crowding the Bank) near Piffard, making the Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy the Six Nations|
|1726||Fort Niagara is built on the site of Fort Denonville. At this time, it is known as "The Castle."|
|1750s: Mostly French trappers and Native Americans inhabit the region. France had control of the area as a colony. The English colonies along the eastern seaboard are still developing but are claiming all land due west of them, even across the mountains. As English trappers and traders move into the French territory and compete, tensions grow. The French try to convince the Native American tribes that the English will take away their hunting grounds and thereby make allies of most of them.|
|1754||The beginning of the hostilities in the French and Indian Wars (1689-1763 brings George Washington into prominence as a leader of the Virginia forces, in spite of his defeat at Fort Necessity|
|1756||French and Indian Wars (1689-1763:
On July 17, the British begin firing on Fort Niagara. On July 25, the
French, under François Pouchot, surrender Fort Niagara to British and colonial
The English King, George II, appoints Sir William Johnson to govern the area, ending the French rule of the Niagara Frontier.
The Iroquois Confederacy is divided; for example, the Senecas (allies of the British) fight the Mohawks.
See also 1689.
|1758||The Frenchman, Chabert Joncaire, builds the first white settlement in the Buffalo area. This trading post consists of several buildings and is located at the foot of Michigan Avenue. It lasts for only one year.|
|The end of the French and Indian Wars (1689-1763 brings concern from the victorious English Crown about how to handle the Indians and French settlers in the western region. The Proclamation Line of 1763, which is issued by the King of England, forbids any English settlers in the area west of the Appalachians, and permits trapping only by license. The proclamation also delineates the Ohio River as the southern border of Canada. This is one of many policy decisions that is disliked by the American colonists, and that leads to the American Revolution|
|1764||Sir William Johnson negotiates a peace treaty with the Senecas conveying a tract of land to the English King. The tract is 4 miles wide x 14 miles long on each side of the Niagara River and extends from the river's edge 4 miles inland perpendicular to the river's direction. This tract provides for a carrying place (portage) around Niagara Falls.|
|On Mar 12, the Seneca Indian Otetiani (Red Jacket)
tells the elders that a recent smallpox outbreak is the Great Spirit's punishment
for their not proclaiming him a sachem. He is made one and given the name Sagoyewatha
Red Jacket, a leader of the Seneca tribe of the Iroquois federation, enthusiastically greets US Commissioner Colonel Thomas Proctor, who comes to the Indian settlement in 1791 to solicit the Senecas' help in persuading their more hostile brethren in Ohio to become peaceful.
|American Revolution (1775-1783):
Approximately twenty pioneer families live within a ten-mile radius of what is now Buffalo.
The American Revolution is disastrous for the Iroquois Confederacy. The confederacy, as such, refuses to take part in the conflict but allows each tribe to decide for itself, and all the tribes, except for the Oneida, join the British.
The Seneca Indians, as allies of the British, are slaughtered and banished from their ancestral home in the Genesee Valley. By the conclusion of the war, approximately 2000 Senecas have migrated westward to Fort Niagara on Lake Ontario and then southward through what would be Buffalo, to their final resting place along the Buffalo Creek.
|1779||Major-General John Sullivan and Brigadier-General James Clinton, sent by General
George Washington, wage a military campaign against the Iroquois who side
with the British during the Revolutionary War. The Clinton-Sullivan raids result
in the destruction of many Native American villages and the massacre of their inhabitants.
Some Native Americans, mostly Senecas who fled to Fort Niagara for protection,
perish in the cold outside the walls of the Fort.
|American Revolution: On Aug. 3, General George Washington gives Benedict Arnold the command at West Point.|
|On Jan 11, US Congress begins convening in New York City.|
|New York divides the Iroquois Confederacy lands with Massachusetts, which gets the land (preemptive rights), while New York gets political sovereignty.|
On Sept. 13, Congress schedules elections for the Presidency. New York City
is declared the temporary capital of the U.S.
Sale of Indian lands:
In April, Massachusetts sells its 2,600,000 acres of its Western New York lands, at under 3 cents an acre, to Oliver Phelps, Nathaniel Gorham and other investors.
Against the desires of Red Jacket, but with the approval of the grand sachem Farmer's Brother, Phelps and Gorham pay the Seneca 2100 pounds ($5000) in cash and trade goods, plus a $500 annual payment for Western New York lands, which become part of the Military Tract, land set aside for veterans of the Revolution.
The Onondagas accept a reservation of a few square miles.
|On Mar 4, the First Constitutional Congress meets in New York City, without a quorum.
The U. S. Constitution is declared to be in effect.
On Apr. 16, George Washington leaves Mount Vernon for New York City.
On Apr. 30, Washington is sworn in as the first President of the United States, on the front steps of Federal Hall.
George Washington hires surveyor Andrew Ellicott to help fix the southwestern boundary of the state, to settle ownership of the city of Erie. Andrew is helped by his brothers Joseph and Benjamin.
In about 1789, Cornelius Winney establishes a trading post at Buffalo Creek.
|On Feb. 11, Congress receives its first antislavery petitions.
On Mar. 1, Congress passes the Census Act, calling for a census every ten years.
|Holland Land Company:
Robert Morris (finance commissioner of the revolutionary government) buys four million acres of land lying between the Genesee and Niagara Rivers in Western New York from the state of Massachusetts: eastern boundary - Genesee River; western boundary - Niagara River; northern boundary - Lake Ontario; southern boundary - Pennsylvania.
Immediately thereafter, he sells the land to a private Dutch syndicate known as the Holland Land Company for $4 million. But before the deal could go through, extensive Indian claims on the land have to be canceled - and the "sachem" Red Jacket is opposed. See 1797
|On May 17, the New York Stock Exchange is formed beneath a buttonwood tree
on Wall Street.
Sagoyewatha, a great orator and chief of the Seneca Nation, visits Philadelphia at the request of George Washington. Sagoyewatha gives a speech that explains the reason for friction between the western Indians and the government. George Washington is so impressed with the eloquence of Sagoyewatha that he has a special medal prepared for him. The medal is large and made of silver. On the front side, President Washington is approaching a tall Native American smoking a peace pipe with another Native American further off tending crops.
Sagoyewatha is proud of his medal and in his British red coat for which he was given the name "Red Jacket." However, the outcome of this promising beginning is the defeat of the western Indians and the erosion of Iroquois Indian lands by misleading advice of the white negotiators.
See also: 1797 , 1838
|On Nov. 25, an insurrection of slaves in Albany is put down after a number of buildings have been burned.|
|First substantial house in Buffalo, built by Martin Middaugh, a Dutch cooper and the first mechanic in Buffalo, on the south side of Buffalo Creek, above the foot of Main Street. Middaugh died in this house in 1825.|
|In January, Charles Williamson purchases the slave Hans, the first black in Bath, from Rensselaer Schuyler for $250.|
Joseph Hodge is the first free African-American
to settle in the Buffalo area. He works as a trader and translator for white settlers
and Native Americans.
Settlers in Buffalo in 1796:
The English surrender Fort Niagara to the Americans.
|Sept. 15, the Treaty of Big Tree (near Geneseo) is signed with the Senecas.
They sell their 1.3 million acres of land to Robert Morris for $100,000, and
are restricted to five reservations on the Niagara frontier:
Tonawanda, Allegany, Cattaraugus and Tuscarora Reservations
as well as Buffalo Creek Reservation (a few blocks from
what would be the Buffalo harbor; by 1850, Buffalo Creek Reservation will be abandoned
and cleared for development.).
Red Jacket is paid a $600 signing bonus and guaranteed $100 a year for life.
Former Indian captive Horatio Jones (Handsome Boy) acts as one of the interpreters.
Land around the area of the future Letchworth Park is ceded to Mary Jemison, over the protests of Red Jacket.
Morris's sale to the Holland Land Co. is now completed.
The present path of Main Street in what now the Parkside neighborhood is cut through the wilderness in 1797.
Stage coach houses are set every five miles. This route is used by settlers traveling from the village of Buffalo to outlying settlements such as Williamsville. In the early 1800's, the Parkside area will be known as Flint Hill. It will be the site of an army encampment in 1812 and hundreds of soldiers will be buried in the present meadow of Delaware Park. When the City of Buffalo is incorporated in 1832, this area north of the former village becomes known as Buffalo Plains.
Main Street will be paved in the 1830's and a toll gate erected at what is now Main and Kensington Avenue. The land along Main Street in Parkside will be farmed by Washington Adams Russell and by Daniel Chapin. These working farms will be succeeded by the estates of wealthy landowners such as Elam R. Jewett who will purchase "Willowlawn" in 1864.
Holland Land Co. Survey (1798-1800):
The approximate year pioneer William Johnston marries a Seneca Indian and is given two square miles of land at the mouth of Buffalo Creek. He is the first title holder of the Holland Land Company. He erects a sawmill and four other buildings.
In 1798, when it was called New Amsterdam, Buffalo's populationof 20 to 25 lives in half a dozen houses.
On Dec. 17, the news of former president George Washington's death three days earlier reaches New York City.