Until recently, transportation to and from Sodus Point in its early days (before 1850) has been sketchy. New information has now surfaced that fills in some of the details of those early days. As you might expect, early transportation seems to have centered around ships coming into our harbor and merchants trying to establish transportation that will get customers to and from their establishments. It was also used as part of the Underground Railroad. Here is what we now know:
A special Thanks to Richard Palmer for this article:
Aug. 14, 1816
The subscribers will run a TWO-HORSE WAGGON, for the accommodation of Travellers, to and from Geneva to Troupville, on Sodus Bay, once a week, viz. leave Troupville on Wednesday the 28th of August, inst. at 3 o’clock, A.M. and arrive at Geneva in the afternoon; leave Geneva on Thursday the 29th, at 3 o’clock a.m. and arrive at Troupville in the afternoon. – The Fare for each passenger will be Two Dollars – Way Passengers, six pence per mile.
Troupville, Aug. 6.
Historical Note: William Wickham was Sodus Point’s (then called Troupville) first merchant. He ran a general store which was burned down by the British during the Battle of Sodus Point on June 19, 1813 and was subsequently rebuilt. From this account, we can deduce that he is experimenting with setting up a wagon ride that will connect Sodus Point with Geneva. The most likely path would have been using Geneva Road which was one of the first roads in our area. The path would have taken it from Sodus Point thru Wallington (then called Arms Crossing) next thru Lyons and then into Geneva. We also know that wagons remained an important transportation method to Sodus Point through the 1850s. In Arch Merrill’s book The Underground (Freedom Road) he talks about a Quaker Man named Gideon Palmer who transported fugitive slaves to Sodus Bay hidden in the back of a wagon.
1817 Schooners and Steamboats
Geneva Gazette (Geneva, NY), 17 May 1817
Wickham’s Marine List
PORT OF TROUPVILLE.
ARRIVED – April 24 – Sloop Geneva, May, from Kingston, 2 days, with passengers. Schr. Sachem, Masters, 24 hours from Sacket’s Harbor, bound up the bay. Capt. Masters reports that the Ice left Sacket’s Harbor yesterday.
25 – Schooner Julia, Whitney, 1 day from Kingston, in ballast. The elegant new Steam Boat Ontario, Malaby, with 8 or 10 passengers, arrived at the wharf at 11 o.clock A.M. Left Sacket’s Harbor yesterday at 6 o’clock A.M. but did not clear the ice until 9 A.M. Arrived at Oswego at 3 P.M. Left Oswego early this morning. The Steam Boat will proceed to Genesee river this evening.
27 – New schooner Woolsey, Rounds, 1 day from Sacket’s Harbor, in ballast. Schooner Olive Branch, Johnson, from Kingston, bound to Yorkwith 56 passengers, which are part of a large number from New-York, who are proceeding to settle in Upper Canada, in consequence of grants of land from the British Government .
28 – Schr. Oswegatchie, Holmes, from Genesee river, in ballast. Capt. H.. reports the Steam Boat carried away one of her water wheels and put into Genesee river. Schooner Laura, Fish, from Niagara, bound up the bay.
29 – Schooner Bull-Dog, Hollister, 12 hours from Sandy Creek, ballast.
CLEARED – April 26 – Schr. Julia, Whitney, for Kingston, cargo Flour and Pork.
Geneva Gazette (Geneva, NY), 21 May 1817
WICKHAM’S Marine List
PORT OF TROUPVILLE
ARRIVED –May 9- Schr. Sachem, Masters, 4 days from Kingston, touched at the wharf, bound to Niagara. Capt. Masters reports the tonnage duty was taken off American vessels in the Upper province. The Sachem was surrounded by new ice in the Lake this morning. Several vessels in the offing.
10 – Schr. Farmer’s Daughter, Ingalls, fromSacket’s Harbor, 3 days with 12 passengers. Schr.Julia, Whitney, from Kingston, in ballast. Schr. —, from Sandy Creek, 3 days, for Genesee river, with lumber. Schr. Appalonia, Allen, fromHenderson’s harbor, 1 day, in ballast. Schr.Minerva, Snow, from Ogdensburg, in ballast. Schr. Northern Trader, Burr, from Sacket’s Harbor. Two British 8 oar’d Barges arrived last evening, engaged in a survey of the Coast. After taking the bearings and distances in the Bay, they proceeded up the Lake.
11 – Sloop Geneva, May, from Oswego, in ballast. Schr. Laura, Fish, from PulteneyVille, in ballast. Schr. Lady Washington, Katen, 7 days fromPrescott, in ballast. Schr. Sarah-Ann, Rogers, 2 days from Oswego. The Capt. of the Sarah-Ann has brought a copy of an official decree of the Court of of King’s Bench, dated Montreal, 19th April – wherein it is adjudged, that American property coming through the Upper province is not liable to seizure. The prospect for markets at Montreal was flattering, but the navigation had not opened. Schr. Olive Branch, Johnson, from Kingston, in ballast.
List of Vessels in Port, Monday, May 12
Schr. Laura — Fish.
Northern Trader, Burr.
Olive Branch, Johnson.
Lady Washington, Katen.
Sloop Geneva, May.
12 – Schrs. Levantia and Nancy put in last night, and went out this morning.
CLEARED – May 8- Schr. Olive Branch, Johnson, for Kingston, with flour.
10- Schr. Farmer’s Daughter, Ingalls, for Kingston, with flour.
13 – Lady Washington, Katen, for Genesee river. Schr. Olive Branch, Johnson, for Genesee river. Schr.Sachem, Masters, for Niagara.
Historical Note: William Wickham was not only a merchant but also a Captain in the US Navy. As such he acted as the Harbor Master and dutifully recorded ships coming and going in and out of Sodus Bay. This Wickham’s Marine List was published weekly in the Geneva Gazette in 1817. These two weekly entries show a couple of significant pieces of history: On April 25, 1817 the first steamboat on the Great Lakes in regular service (Steamboat Ontario) stopped at our village on its maiden voyage. Secondly, it was not unusual to have a dozen schooners in port on a given day. This is a surprising amount of ship traffic for so early in our village’s history.
1845 The Stage Coach
Historical Note: Sylvester P. Johnson was a savvy businessman and the owner of the Johnson House which was one of the earliest hotels in Sodus Point. He knew that if he was to have a successful hotel he would first need to get customers to his hotel and then have them stay for a few days. He hit upon the way to do it as seen in the above 1845 ad. So now thanks to S. P. Johnston, in 1845, Sodus Point had a regularly scheduled stage coach route which connected to Geneva and also to packet boats on the Erie Canal at Lyons!