First Boat on Lake Ontario
James L. Barton, Esq., in a letter recently delivered to the Young Men's Association of Buffalo, gives the following account of the first American Boat that ever floated on the waters of the Great Lakes.
In 1789, John Fellows, of Sheffield, Massachusetts, started from Schenectady with a boat, its cargo mostly tea and tobacco, with a design of going to Canada to trade. On reaching Oswego, the commanding officer refused him permission to pass that place. Fellows returned with his boat and cargo up the Oswego River to the Seneca River, up that into the Canandaigua Outlet as far as where Clyde is; here he built a small log building (long known as the blockhouse) to secure his goods in, while he was engaged in bushing out a sled road to Sodus Bay on Lake Ontario.
He then went to Geneva, and got a yoke or two of cattle, hauled his boat and property across, and then in this frail conveyance embarked with his goods and pushed across the lake. he met with a ready sale for his tea and tobacco, and did well. he crossed in the same boat, and landed at Irondequoit. The boat was afterwards purchased and used by Judge Porter in traveling the shore of Lake Ontario, when making the survey of the Phelps and Gorham Purchase.
This was the first American craft that ever floated on the waters of the Great Lakes, now covered with magnificent steamboats and sail vessels, fully employed in carrying on the immense commerce which passes over them.