The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Syracuse Daily Star (Syracuse, NY), Thursday Aug. 24,1848

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Western New York--Buffalo--- Interesting Reminiscences.

Thaddeus Joy, of Albany, who was long years ago a resident and extensive business man of Western New York on a recent visit to Buffalo made a brief address tot he business men of that city if reference to the early history of Buffalo. Mr. Joy's acquaintance with Buffalo commenced in 1812, and soon after that period he became interested in business there. We make an extract, which gives an idea of what Buffalo then was:

I never can forget how difficult it was for anybody to get entertainments, for the want of building in every shelter in. There was now and then a little farm house for boarders, where you could get food, if you did not go all at once; but lodging was out of the question- it could not be had here for love nor money. I found a man here, however, from my own country, who had a little shanty, called a store, where he was retailing such things as he had. He had a little narrow counter about 8 feet long, which he slept on nights, and I made a bargain with him for 4 feet of his counter to sleep on myself; and then by both using the same pillow and letting our heads lap by each other in the center, with the use of Buffalo skins we made pretty good fare of it. At any rate I liked it so well that I became very much attached to Buffalo, and I have always liked it ever since. And however splendid you can entertain people now, that was Buffalo and Buffalo fare, in the winter and spring of 1815- thirty three years ago. In process of time, however, I bought a lot on the west side of Main street, just above where Pratt & Co.'s Hardware store now stands- The lot is 30 feet long and some 70 to 75 feet deep. I paid one thousand dollars for it which was about $33 per foot front. But I made the man promise not to tell anybody how much I gave for it, because I was afraid of being laughed at for paying so much.

During the season of 1825 I became interested in a couple of small schooners on the lake and had a canal boat built; and as the canal was to be finished that autumn, I determined to contribute something to increase the interest of that auspicious event.

I therefore resolved to collect from the borders of these accessible lakes, specimens of what that land produced- and I engaged Capt. Ransom, who owned a schooner with me, to perform this service. We therefore procured a good up freight of government and fur companies stores to Mackinac and Green Bay and the Captain put off with the vessel for Lake Michigan. On his return he landed upon my wharf the produce he had collected. And that portion of it which came from Lake Michigan, consisted of a birch bark canoe, some mococks of maple sugar, with a few Indian moccasins and other trinkets procured of the Aborigines of that country. There said the Captain, is some of the produce of the country bordering on Lake Michigan, and whenever you want another cargo from that wild tomahawk country, you must go after it yourself, for youÂ'll never catch me there again while my name is Ransom. He brought me from the State of Michigan a few sticks of red cedar, and a few half barrels of white fish. But as he came down the coast of Ohio, he brought me some of the more staple articles of agricultural produce, such as bags of wheat, barrels of flour , barrels of pork, kegs of butter and kegs of lard. From Chautaugue Country in this State, he brought a few black walnut boards and some very handsomely sawed pieces of birdseye maple. All these articles I carried to New York, in the first canal boat that ever passed from the lakes to tide water.

So I believe I may say without being charged with egotism, that I descended the combined locks at Lockport, from the Lake Erie level unto that of the Genesee, with the first boat that ever went through their gates. And I may say in this connection, that I carried the first barrel of flour and the first barrel of wheat, that ever went from the State of Ohio to tide water on the Erie Canal..

This boat was called the "Seneca Chief," and left here on the 26th of October 1845, amid the roar of cannon, and the shouts of a vast multitude from the town and surrounding country, who had assembled to witness the event, as well as to make public expression of the heart-felt joy and gratitude, at the completion of so important a work. The Noble Patriot- that great Statesman- the master spirit, Gov. Clinton, was on board and in his expedition he fulfilled a prophetic expression which he once made on the floor of the Senate of this State, while advocating the construction of this canal-and before a spade full of earth had been raided upon it, he said, "I have no doubt, if I am no prematurely cut shore in this life, that I shall yet ride in a canal boat from Lake Erie to tide water."

And this he did do, to my certain knowledge, for I carried him in the Seneca Chief every inch of the way.

It is not my purpose gentlemen, to detain you here with a detailed account of that grand glowing celebration; indeed if I was disposed to do so, my powers of description are altogether inadequate to the task, suffice it therefore to say, that this boat with its distinguished guest and the various committees on board, passed through the canal amid the roar of cannon, the sound of music, the wavering of flags and banners, the shouts of the inhabitants-as well as bonfires and illuminations by night and by day, until by the aid of steam on the Hudson river, she was towed out on to the broad Atlantic, where the water of Lake Erie, which had been carried down in casks were mingled with the briny deep, by the hand of that illustrious benefactor whose energies had caused the accomplishment of this great work.

The water of the Atlantic was then dipped up, put into casks, and the boat returned to Buffalo and mingled the water of the Atlantic with that of Lake Erie, which closed the ceremony, and the navigation closed the same night . The Common Council of New York City, for the purpose of preserving from the ravages of time a faithful record of this great celebration, appointed a committee to superintend a compilation of the facts and to have them printed and bound in the form of a book. This was done, and a sufficient number of volumes issued to furnish each of the members of the various committees with a copy, as well as some for presents to such distinguished statesmen both at home and aborad, as they might desire to distribute. And here the publication ended. They were never published for sale and of course there is at this day but few copies to be found.

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Thursday Aug. 24,1848
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Richard Palmer
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Syracuse Daily Star (Syracuse, NY), Thursday Aug. 24,1848