Histories of Western New York

April -2004




(04.12.04) The Chiefs of the Seneca Nation of Indians lately held a Council in this village, (Batavia) and requested several of the citizens of this place to attend; when their celebrated chief and orator, Red Jacket delivered the following eloquent address. The publications which lately appeared in the Niagara Journal, and several other papers, signed by five Indians of the Christian party, Jasper Parish and H. Jones, it appears called forth from Red Jacket the following justification of himself and nation. He addressed himself particularly to Judge Ross, of this village, who happened to be present:--
My Brother and Friend--The Great Good Spirit who governs the world ...more>>

Beginnings - The Village of Buffalo - 1801 to 1832

By J. Henry Priebe Jr. The Village of Buffalo was originally surveyed and laid out for the Holland Land Company in 1804 by Joseph Ellicott. The Holland Land Company had purchased Western New York bounding on the Genessee River to the east, Lake Ontario to the North, the Niagara River and Lake Erie to the west and Pennsylvania to the south. The 1832 City of Buffalo Directory states...more>>

The City of Buffalo - 1832 to 1840
by J. Henry Priebe Jr.
The great steamers of the era included the Vandalia, the Great Western, the Western World, the United States, the Plymouth, the Queen of the West, the Empire and the Hendrik Hudson. These were but a handful of the great lake steamers. ...Within 10 years the railroads would woo passengers away from the canal and lake boats in numbers great enough to start the decline of water borne passenger traffic through Buffalo.

The City of Buffalo - 1840 to 1850
by J. Henry Priebe Jr.
In 1840 Buffalo was a city of over 18,000 souls. Erie County residents numbered over 62,000. The brief slowdown in population growth due to the epidemics and economic slump of the 30's was over. As trade through the port city of Buffalo swelled so did the population.

NEW!! The Complete History of the Mayors of Buffalo, N.Y.
"Through the Mayor's Eyes" by Michael Rizzo
This giant and very detailed work profiles every mayor this city ever had. A much needed work that has added to the wealth of history to be found here. The author, Michael Rizzo has allowed us to post this document in full text to help us all develop a greater awareness of Western New York's Heritage. "Through the Mayor's Eyes" is valuable to historians, teachers, and history buffs alike. Names long forgotten are brought back for to us to learn about. We can learn of the challenges this city has faced and overcome, all at the touch of a fingertip.

--Who was Buffalo's greatest mayor? -Write us and tell us what you think!

Buffalo's Cemeteries
The First Burial Place in Buffalo-Its First Occupant-Capt. William Johnston's Burial-The Old Franklin Square Burying Ground-Who Established It-Its First Tenant-Other Prominent Interment...

THE EARLY HISTORY of the BUFFALO FIRE DEPARTMENT (to 1884)* The Fire Department of Buffalo is older than the city itself; its conception dates back to the very early history of the village. The first record that has been found of anything like an organization to furnish protection from fire, relates to the year 1816.  ... more>>

WAR YEARS AND RECOVERY and the Buffalo Guard
The struggle for the preservation of the Union in 1861-5 determined largely the currents of public thought in local as well as national affairs, not only while it was going on, but for many years afterward. ... more>>

UHF History in Buffalo -The Race for Second
The novelty of television still was mighty fresh as Buffalo viewers luxuriated in the summer of 1953. For the preceding 5 years, TV in Western New York has been simply WBEN-TV (Channel 4). A splendid array of inventive local programming, as well as top network offerings from CBS, NBC. ABC and DuMount ...more>>

Buffalo's East Side and the Livestock Trade
The history of the Buffalo Stockyards is a part of the progress and development of the livestock industry in the United States and Canada. The then New York Central and Hudson River Railroad with its subsidiaries, the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern and the Big Four Railroads served America’s most rapidly developing agricultural territory. Full Text excerpt of Chapters I & II from the upcoming book about the History of Buffalo's East Side.
By Fred Jablonski


A History of Brewing in Buffalo 1789-2001 by Stephen Powell Copyright 1996-2001 all rights reserved

Buffalo's Forgotten Champions
By Jeff Miller The Story of Buffalo’s First Professional Football Team. "...Upstate New York enjoyed a surge in the popularity of semi-pro football in the late 1910s, with two viable teams playing in the post-World War I era: the Rochester Jeffersons and the Buffalo Prospects. The Queen City had had semipro teams since the early 1900s..."A Full Text excerpt of Chapters I & II from the upcoming book about the History of Buffalo Football Before the Bills.

Brewing in Buffalo -Rushing The Growler
A History of Brewing in Buffalo 1789-2001 A Full Text excerpt of the book: Chapters I. III, and Appendix B
by Stephen Powell

"...Buffalo had a track which was dignified by the name of railroad as early as 1834, and two years prior to that, two railway companies had succeeded in obtaining a charter with Buffalo as part of their respective corporate names. The two companies were incorporated on the same day, April 14, 1832, one becoming the Buffalo and Erie Railroad Company."

"Whereas it is thought of great use to the British interest to have a settlement upon the nearest part of the Lake Erie near the falls of Niagara you are to endeavor to purchase in his Majesty's name of the Sinnekes...

The Lake City Our Central Terminal History Site
A massive archive of Buffalo railroad history materials. Part of the larger railfan.net site which is possibly the largest site of its kind in the world with over 100,000 images!!!. Created and hosted by the Guys at Bluemoon.ne

In January, 1834, William Wells Brown, a mulatto youth about nineteen years of age, escaped from slavery in Missouri and settled in Cleveland, Ohio. There he began working, educating himself, and reading antislavery newspapers. ... more>>

Possibly the first history website in Western New York's first! Lots of Western New York History essays and images.




Articles Written on
Area History...

Organized by era

ERA: To 1800

The Ezekiel Lane whose birth date was in 1786 cannot have been the man of that name who accompanied Martin Middaugh from Lewiston to Buffalo, there to settle, for all records show that that Ezekiel Lane was the more>>


"...in 1786, when there was only one other house besides his father's, and that belonged to a Negro, who kept a little shop to trade with the Seneca Indians." more>>

Joseph Hodges Alias"Black Joe" Buffalo's First Settler?
Hodges Tavern was (arguably) the first of tens of thousands of taverns, bars, and saloons to be built in Buffalo Hodges was quite possibly the first permanent non-Indian settler in what is now Buffalo around 1789. More>>

Buffalo in 1795
"We at length arrived at the post on Lake Erie, which is a small collection of four or five houses, built about a quarter of a mile from the lake." more>>

"...Ten thousand dollars, which was the sum Morris paid to the Indians for relinquishment of title, could buy much liquor; and the Indians had hitherto had little use for money for aught else."More>>

"...There was a two-storied hewed log house, owned by Capt. Johnston, about where Exchange Street now is, from six to eight rods west of Main Street, where a tavern was kept by John Palmer. This was the first tavern in Buffalo." More>>

BUFFALO IN 1799 -Settlement Spreads
"...We set out towards the Falls. About another mile brought us to the head of the rapid, and a short way further we came to a mill Mr. Birch has lately built; it appears to me a very elegant piece of workmanship, and is to be both a grist and saw mill." More>>

"... Brothers: As you are once more assembled in council for the purpose of doing honor to yourselves and justice to your country, we, your brothers, the sachems, chiefs, and warriors of the Seneca Nation, request you to open your ears and give attention to our voice and wishes." More>>

"When the bargain was concluded Phelps asked for a present of a lot west of the Genesee upon which he could place a mill to grind corn for the Indians comprising some 200,000 acres. When the Indians learned that an acre would have been sufficient for mill purposes their amazement was indescribable." More>>

"...Almost as soon as the earliest white man-possibly preceding him-the irrepressible African made his advent in our country; for in 1792 we find 'Black Joe,' alias Joseph Hodge, established as an Indian trader on Cattaraugus Creek, and from the way in which he is mentioned, we infer that he had already been there a considerable time." More>>

ERA: 1801-50

Path: [buffalonian.com][history][articles][1801-50]

The Burning of Buffalo
"...Mother was standing in the door and Mr. Seth Grosvenor came along with a white flag on a walking-stick. He said if he could only gather citizens enough to assist him, he could drive the enemy back; as he had sent the contents of that gun among them with the effect of mowing them down."More>>

The Location of Anomie
by Dr. E.H. Powell. The Location of Anomie: a culture case study of urbanization: Buffalo, NY, 1810-1910. Powell asserts: "The city embodies the profound contradictions of our time...More>>

It is generally known in Buffalo that my business transactions have been of an immense amount and various in their character. Extensively engaged in the building business in all its various branches, the improving of real estate, merchandising on a corresponding scale, dealing in lands, manufacturing railroad cars ...foil extent, having no opportunity of getting at the facts. ... Continued here

"one American woman was casting bullets in her own home "from a mould that ran sixty at a time." Forty soldiers were reported to be marching the streets of Rochester with drum and fife; and "seven-eighths of the people at Buffalo" were for the Patriots."

On December 29th an event occurred which almost involved the United States in war with Britain. Traffic was increasing between Navy Island and the American shore

" ...The death carts would patrol the streets, and when there would seem an indication of a death in a house, the driver would shout: 'Bring out your dead!" more>>

By Elwin H. Powell -2001*
"... through Jonson we re-experience subjective world of an abolitionist in a daily struggle to dismantle the institution of slavery. In l843 GWJ lives and boards at the home of Douglas Williams in a small frame house at the southeast corner of Church and Franklin Street but later in the year moves to the American Hotel at Main and Pearl Street. He maintains a law office on...

Drunk for a Penny Dead Drunk for Two
“...Even our fledgling democracy was corrupted by Alcohol. The very sanctity of the right to vote was violated by drink. When election time came around, votes were often bought with liquor.” More>>

Editor Jailed (03.24)
By Dr. Elwin H. Powell. Nichols printed what others only whispered... Everyone knew a clique of leading businessmen had conspired to defraud Benjamin Rathbun. Like his contemporary P.T. Barnum, Nichols was jailed for liable. "June 18, 1839: It was about twelve o'clock, when an officer of the court escorted me from the court to the jail..." more >>

Shoot-out at High Noon (03.03)
One thing that has not changed much over the years is drinking and violence. "Aside from games of One O'Cat, people just got drunk at the bar inside." More>>


ERA: 1851-1900

Path: [buffalonian.com][history][articles][1851-1900]

After a long meal and a sleepless night, Gaffney had a breakfast of poached eggs, toast and coffee. His wife and the children came to visit, with other relatives and bartender Sweeney. And then it.... More>>

In the late 1800’s many Vaudevillian type variety shows appeared in and around the Eastern seaboard. One of the major stops was Buffalo, NY, a rising industrial metropolis....

CANAL STREET IN '57 [1857]
Cronk saw the original Kitty O'Neil, a beautiful young girl with a lithe body, dance on a 12-inch pedestal an acrobatic routine for 1 hour and 20 minutes, in the nude. .... More>>

On Oct. 13, 1894, the Buffalo Express sent a reporter to get an account from a Great Lakes captain of his schooner's battle with a storm. The reporter got much more than that; he got an account of the Canal District ...More>>

ERA: 1901-50

Path: [buffalonian.com][history][articles][1901-50]

Buffalo, NY the Birthplace of Air-Conditioning
Who would have thought that 100 years ago this week, air conditioning as it is known today was invented in Buffalo,NY. After graduating from Cornell University, Willis Haviland Carrier a native of Angola, NY found a job at the Buffalo Forge Company in Buffalo, NY.

Africans, Darkies and Negroes:Black Faces at the Pan American Exposition of 1901, Buffalo, New York
Originally compiled and organized for the Paris Exhibition of 1900, the Negro Exhibit and its history make an intriguing story. W.E.B. DuBois, one of the...

Memmingers Saloon Trashed
"...Memminger did not know what to make of the proceeding. He felt he was being given more than was his due, but he did not have the presence of mind to remonstrate, until with one fell swoop the three men had wiped every decanter and glass off the side-board, and on to the floor..."

1908 - The Rise of "FINGY" CONNERS
The Democratic State Boss of New York, who "looks like a prize-fighter and talks like a tough" -Dock scrapper, freight contractor, millionaire. The record of how he split the scalp of a Pole laborer, and jumped from cowhide boots through brogans to spats -Bruised but victorious. WILLIAM J. CONNERS ...more>>

Class War in Buffalo, 1910-1920* All institutions have their ultimate foundation in consensus, a shared commitment to a conceptual scheme or value system.' The Catholic press was strongly anti-Socialist but mildly, and occasionally vigorously, pro-labor. Little remains of the Socialist press. The Arbeiter-Zeitung had a long history in the community and early connections with the De Leonite Socialist Labor party. ... more>>

William J. Donovan (a.k.a. "Wild Bill") Takes on Buffalo and Loses
Probably one of the more notable events in Buffalo History were when then District Attorney William J. Donovan executed a couple of raids in Buffalo on prominent Buffalonians during Prohibition. Both of these events backfired and made him so reviled in Western New York that it eventually cost Donovan the Race for New York State Governor in 1939, where he lost in Western New York by a wide margin.
What did he do to make people hate him so much? He touched the untouchables and conducted raids on two exclusive speakeasies and in a separate case charged the Mayor of Buffalo with trafficking liquor (bootlegging). ...more>>

The Following is a very rare 1924 list of an alleged list of the full Ku Klux Klan Membership roster for Buffalo, NY and surrounding towns. This list was posted in Buffalo's City Hall by Mayor F.X. Schwab and generated quite a stir. See it for yourself: ...more>>

1924 Mayor Schwab in his New Year's message to the City Council introduced the program he advocated as follows:
Having in mind the aim to make the year 1924 a period of accomplishment for the Council and a year of service to the taxpayers of Buffalo, I take the liberty of calling ...more>>

1945 -WHEN THE CITY SHOOK Startled Buffalonians, when they felt their beds shaking and saw pictures dancing on their walls last September 4 [1945], wondered if the city was being rocket-bombed. One thousand telephone calls flooded police and fire headquarters, but the switchboard operators there were as bewildered as anyone. Even the FBI was . . .more>>

Illegal Holiday Cheer
"...The establishments raided last night and the amount of intoxicating liquors alleged to have been seized were as follows: Place run by Michael M. Schwarziner at No. 644 Jefferson street. Seven bottles of whisky, six bottles of wine and four jugs of whisky were said to have been found." More>>

ERA: 1951-now

Path: [buffalonian.com][history][articles][1951-now]

Behind the Scenes of Buffalo's 165th Birthday
Buffalo was born in a tavern. The very idea for establishing Buffalo as village was conceived in a tavern over strong drink. Did you know that our school system was established during a meeting in a tavern? more>>

The 1960s Antiwar Movement in Buffalo
"... Nov. 10, 1969. Saturday night heard Abbie Hoffman in the Fillmore Room. Marvelous. Overflow audience ‑ 2,000... March 5, 1970. For nine days the conflict has been escalating toward chaos. On Feb. 24 Blacks and white radicals stopped a basketball game, literally ran on to the court ..." more>>

1967 Riots in Buffalo, N.Y.
Prelininary Report on the Disturbances in Buffalo June 26 -July 1. 1967. In 1967, riots that rocked the East side of Buffalo from June 26th through July 1st of that year, virtually shutting down the city. In one night (June 28th) of Violence over 40 people were hurt, 14 with gunshot wounds. ...more>>

In 24 hours, 35.4 inches of snow fell from 6 a.m. Thursday December 27th, 2001 to 6 a.m. Friday December 28th, 2001. That amount ranks as a 2nd place finish for the greatest snows dropped in any one day on Buffalo. 82.3 inches of snow fell in a period of one week (from Monday December 24th, 2001 to Friday December 28th, 2001)... more>>


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