Joseph Ellicott - LINKS
Andrew Ellicott, Joseph's older brother about 1790
Holland Land Co,. Office, now a museum
Joseph Ellicott's house in Batavia, NY. Demolished.
The text below is reprinted from
Genealogical and Family History of Western New York,
ed. by William Richard Cutter, 1912, Vol. I, pp. 1466-1467.
Ellicott: This is a name distinguished in more than one of the original states.
- From one branch of the family, Ellicott City, a suburb of Baltimore, takes its name
- Andrew Ellicott, one of the third generation in this country, was surveyor-general of the United States.
- Benjamin, one of the third generation also, was member of congress from New York.
- Joseph Ellicott, more especially referred to herein, was the surveyor, and is considered the founder of Buffalo, the second city in importance of the Empire State.
- Others of the family were of note in Pennsylvania. In Maryland they were prominent as millers, founders, builders and inventors.
- In Buffalo the name is perpetuated in one of the central business blocks.
First generation: Welsh immigrants
The first of the name to settle in this country, were Andrew and Ann Bye Ellicott, natives of Cullopton, in Wales, The wife was a member of the Society of Friends, or "Quakers," as they are more commonly called. For marrying Andrew, a non-member, she was disowned by this people and the couple came to this country in 1731 They landed, with an infant son in New York.
Having some means they bought land and settled upon it, but up to 1760 little is known of their progress except that they lived in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, and had four sons, the elder of whom was engaged in business.
These four sons of Andrew Ellicott were by name Nathaniel, Joseph, Andrew, John. About 1770 they purchased a tract of land on the Patapsco river in Maryland province, and built there the mills long known by their name
Joseph, of this second generation, was a skilled mechanic and something of a scientist in a practical way. He constructed a clock of much ingenuity, of astronomical character and playing twenty-four tunes.
The sons of this Joseph, the first, were Joseph, our subject, Andrew, Benjamin, David.
Andrew devoted himself to surveying, and was the man above referred to as surveyor-general of the United States.
Benjamin was assistant to Joseph in the service of the Holland Company, an association of merchants of Amsterdam, Holland, owning large tracts of land in New York and Pennsylvania. He rose later to be judge in Genesee county, and as aforesaid an M. C. David, youngest of this third generation. was a surveyor under Joseph, for a time, then went south and disappeared.
In the fourth generation in this country we have record only of the sons of Andrew: Andrew A, John B. and Joseph, nephews of our
subject and residents of the Holland purchase in New York state
Joseph Ellicott, founder of Buffalo, was born, as we have seen, in Bucks county, Pennsylvania. He was fourteen when his father, the first Joseph, moved to Maryland, and what schooling he had was received in the common public schools. Surveying he learned under his brother, Andrew, with whom he served in the survey of the capitol city, Washington,
In 1791 he ran the boundary between Georgia and the lands of the Creek Indians for the war department of the National government,
Then he surveyed the Holland Company's lands in Pennsylvania, and after a time in business with his brothers in Maryland was engaged about 1797 by the Holland Company for work in New York.
The active life of Mr. Ellicott covered about thirty-one years. from 1790 to 1821. He passed about twelve of those years surveying in what was still the border country, then gave up that employment for the scarcely lighter task of land agent for the company.
In that position he was, Uncommonly successful. He was a practical man of great industry and method, with a high degree of executive talent These qualities are illustrated in his correspondence and his journal.
He was identified. not alone with the settlement of Buffalo and with that of Western and Central New York, but with such large enterprises as the Erie canal, of which he was one of the early promoters. He opposed Governor Clinton's proposal to send to England for engineers, declaring that there was abundant home talent.
His was a life of great activity and usefulness. Sad to relate his end was tragic. He had been subject to periods of great depression and melancholy, and this settled into a confirmed hypochondria. He was unmarried, lonely, had suffered disappointments, and in 1821, realizing his condition, he withdrew from the land agency and this practically closed his career.
In 1824, upon medical advice, he went by canal packet to the city of New York. Here a council of medicos upon his case decided Bellevue Hospital the best place for his treatment. There he failed to improve, and in August, 1826, he escaped from his attendants and took his own life. His remains were interred at Batavia