History of our Guest Room Names

 
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Joseph Ellicott 

was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania on November 1, 1760. Born the middle child of Judith and Joseph Ellicott in Bucks County PA, he had three brothers and five sisters. Joseph and two of his brothers, Andrew and Benjamin, became expert surveyors, and for the next 15 years, the brothers laid out many of the boundaries around Georgia, Pennsylvania, and New York.  They were the first to determine the height of Niagara Falls.

 

If any one man could be credited with the transition of Western New York from untapped wilderness to a thriving part of New York State, without doubt it would be Joseph Ellicott. Anytime you see Ellicott Square, or Creek, or Street, or the City of Ellicott, or even Ellicottville; you are looking at a living testimony to the man who brought Western New York into the nation.  At an early age, he had shown an aptitude for mathematics, and an independent, curious mind.

About this time the lands of Western New York had come to the attention of some Dutch bankers. They formed a coalition called the Holland Land Company and hired Theophilus Cazenove to be General Agent.  Robert Morris, the financier of the American Revolution, acted as agent for the government. The Holland Land Company picked up 3.3 million acres, from the Genesee River to the eastern shore of Lake Erie, in exchange for $100,000 in Bank of the United States stock to be paid to the Seneca’s. Holland was to pay dividends to the bank semi-annually.

 

The territory was mostly unexplored wilderness. Cazenove hired Joseph Ellicott to organize a survey party to record the rivers, streams, lakes, mountains, trees, soils, animals, and the borders for the reservations. In March of 1798, Ellicott, 150 men, with hundreds of pounds of equipment and supplies, set out to compile The Great Survey.  Cazenove promptly hired Ellicott to become the Resident Agent for the Holland Land Company. He would be in charge of selling the lands in what had become known as “The Holland Purchase.” Ellicott established the Holland Land Company’s office in Batavia.  Ellicott soon realized that in order to have complete control of the land sales, he would have to become involved in politics. Although he did not run for office, he did correspond with legislators and made several trips to Albany. This work resulted in the creation of Genesee County, carved out of a portion of the massive Ontario County. In the one political office he ever held, Ellicott became the first judge in Genesee County.

 

Realizing the advantage a canal would have on land sales, he advocated incessantly for the construction of the “The Grand Highway,” which would become known as the Erie Canal. The route he had surveyed for the canal was accepted by the state. Ellicott was appointed to the Eire Canal Commission, and later the head of construction.

 

Over 6’3” in height and around 250 pounds, Joseph Ellicott was an imposing figure.   Mercurial, short tempered, and not one to suffer fools lightly, he often alienated the very people he needed for political gains or land sales. He resigned from the Erie Canal Commission, and retired to the solitude of his palatial home in Batavia. Unmarried, lonely, and suicidal, in 1824, on the advice from his doctors, he journeyed to New York City. He traveled by the very canal he had worked so tirelessly to create. In the city he was admitted to Bellevue Hospital. One day, he escaped from the watchful eyes of his attendants and took his own life on August 19, 1826. He is buried in the cemetery in Batavia. If Joseph Ellicott’s final years and demise had not been so tragic, he probably would be remembered as one of most illustrious founders of the Empire State.

 
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Judge Samuel H. Fitzhugh

was born at the Hive, Washington County, Maryland, on February 22, 1796.  After a thorough preparation, he was admitted into Jefferson College, Pennsylvania.  In June, 1816, Mr. Fitzhugh graduated. After leaving college, he became a resident of Canandaigua. While there, he was invited by the late Judge Howell to enter his office as a student at law. The invitation was accepted, and Mr. Fitzhugh commenced his legal studies. Sometime after this, Judge Howell formed a co-partnership with the late John Gregg. Mr. Fitzhugh continued with these gentlemen until October, 1819, when he was called to the bar. Immediately after receiving his license to practice, he moved to Wheeling, Virginia, where he opened an office, and entered on the duties of his profession. His success as a lawyer was flattering, and be soon gained a very respectable position at the Pennsylvania bar.

 

Fitzhugh married Miss Mary Addison, on October 1, 1820 daughter of Judge Addison. Mrs. Fitzhugh was an accomplished and lovely woman. To the attributes of a gentle and loving wife, she added those of an attractive and agreeable leader in the society at Wheeling, Va.  Mr. Fitzhugh’s union with her was fortunate. But in the midst of his domestic happiness, she died in December, 1821, leaving one son, William A. Fitzhugh, Esq.

In 1831 Judge Fitzhugh moved to Mt. Morris, Livingston County, N.Y. Having interests to a considerable extent in lands at that place, he engaged, for a time, in agricultural pursuits. But his love for the legal profession caused him to relinquish the life of a farmer, and he returned to the practice of law.

 

In the year 1840 Colonel Reuben P. Wisner, of Mt. Morris, was appointed one of the judges of the Livingston Common Pleas. After holding the office a few days, he resigned, and Mr. Fitzhugh was appointed to fill the vacancy. The appointment of Mr. Fitzhugh was a valuable acquisition to the bench of Livingston County. His learning and experience as a lawyer were not the only qualifications which gave him character as a judge. His keen love of justice and right—his hatred of all fraud-his promptitude, and sterling honesty were still more valuable traits in his character. Under the supervision of such able judges, the Livingston Common Pleas attained a high rank as a tribunal, and at its bar the leading lawyers of western New York constantly appeared.

 

Judge Fitzhugh was for several years a partner of Colonel R. P. Wisner, and they controlled a large and extensive business. No Legal firm in Livingston County ever possessed more favorable qualifications to secure a large and remunerative practice than that of Fitzhugh & Wisner, and they succeeded in becoming one of the most successful and distinguished law firms in western New York State.

 
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Robert R. Livingston

was born on November 27, 1746 was an American lawyer, politician, diplomat from New York, and a Founding Father of the United States. He was known as "The Chancellor", after the high New York state legal office he held for 25 years. He was a member of the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence, along with Thomas JeffersonBenjamin FranklinJohn Adams, and Roger Sherman. Livingston administered the Oath of Office to George Washington when he assumed the presidency in 1789.

Livingston was the eldest son of Judge Robert Livingston (1718–1775) and Margaret (née Beekman) Livingston, uniting two wealthy Hudson River valley families. He had nine brothers and sisters, all of whom wed and made their homes on the Hudson River near the family seat at Clermont Manor.

Livingston graduated from King's College in June 1765 and was admitted to the bar in 1770.  King's College was renamed Columbia College of Columbia University following the American Revolution in 1784.

On July 30, 1777, Livingston became the first Chancellor of New York, which was then the highest judicial officer in the state. Concurrently, he served from 1781 to 1783 as the first United States Secretary of Foreign Affairs under the Articles of Confederation.

After serving as chancellor for almost 24 years, Livingston left office on June 30, 1801. During that period, he became nationally known by his title alone as "The Chancellor", and even after leaving office, he was respectfully addressed as Chancellor Livingston for the remainder of his life.

On June 11, 1776, Livingston was appointed to a committee of the Second Continental Congress, known as the Committee of Five, which was given the task of drafting the United States Declaration of Independence. The committee consisted of Livingston, John AdamsBenjamin FranklinThomas Jefferson, and Roger Sherman.

After establishing a general outline for the document, the committee decided that Jefferson would write the first draft. The committee reviewed Jefferson's draft, making extensive changes, before presenting Jefferson's revised draft to Congress on June 28, 1776.

Before he could sign the final version of the Declaration, Livingston was recalled by his state. However, he sent his cousin, Philip Livingston, to sign the document in his place.

Following Thomas Jefferson's election as President of the United States, once Jefferson became President on March 4, 1801, he appointed Livingston U.S. Minister to France. Serving from 1801 to 1804, Livingston negotiated the Louisiana Purchase.

On September 9, 1770, Livingston married Mary Stevens (1751–1814), the daughter of Continental Congressman John Stevens and sister of inventor John Stevens III.

Livingston died on February 26, 1813, and was buried in the Clermont Livingston vault at St. Paul's Church in Tivoli, New York.  Livingston County is named in his honor.

 
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William Wadsworth 

was born in 1765 in Durham, Connecticut.  William Wadsworth was a scion of the prominent Wadsworth family of Connecticut. He was a sixth generation descendant of William Wadsworth (1595–1675) who was one of the Founders of Hartford, Connecticut. In 1790, with his charismatic brother James Wadsworth, he moved from Connecticut to the Genesee Valley of Western New York State.

 

Settling in "Big Tree" on June 9, 1790, on the east bank of the Genesee River, William and his brother went from the leading pioneers of this unsettled region to one of its largest wealthiest land holders. As the settlement in the area increased, William was elected Town supervisor for 21 years. Before and during his tenure, William created and took charge of the area's local militia and eventually took command of the Genesee Valley militia.

 

Between August 20, 1797 and September 16, 1797, William Wadsworth hosted the United States delegation for the Treaty of Big Tree in his log cabin and new cobblestone house. A meadow between the Wadsworth’s cabin at Big Tree and the gigantic oak by the river, which gave the place its name, was the site of the conference.

Nearly three thousand Seneca and other members of the Six Nations of the Iroquois attended the conference. Their representatives were the Chiefs CornplanterRed JacketFarmer's BrotherTall ChiefLittle Beard and others, the Clan Mothers of the nation, and Mary Jemison. The United States' representatives were Colonel Jeremiah Wadsworth, Commissioner representing the US Government, Thomas Morris representing his father, Robert Morris, General William Shepard representing MassachusettsTheophilus Cazenove and Paolo Busti, representatives for the Holland Land Company, Captain Israel Chapin, representing the Department of Indian Affairs, Joseph Ellicott, Land surveyor, and James Rees as acting secretary. The treaty was signed on September 16, 1797 after nearly a month of sometimes heated, back and forth negotiations. It opened up the territory west of the Genesee River and established ten Reservations for the Seneca in Western New York.

 

He was an officer in the New York State militia, before and during the War of 1812. As a Brigadier General, he commanded the New York militia contingent in the American army at the Battle of Queenston Heights.

 

William Wadsworth died in February 15, 1833 and his brother James Wadsworth inherited his estate. His obituary noted that "Few officers... have been more universally respected and beloved by their soldiers."  William never married and history records no known children.

 

William P. Letchworth

was born in Brownville, New York on May 26, 1823, the fourth of eight children born to Josiah and Ann Hance Letchworth. Raised as a Quaker, Mr. Letchworth learned the values of hard work, charity, and development of the intellect from his family.

At age 15, Mr. Letchworth was hired as a clerk at Hayden & Holmes, a saddlery and hardware company. Letchworth succeeded at his tasks and in business in general, and by age 22 was a partner at Pratt & Letchworth, a company involved in the "malleable iron" business.

Mr. Letchworth's business enterprises grew to large proportions, and was very successful; but all this meant arduous and protracted labor and impaired health. He sought refuge from the business world and decided to build a retreat estate. In order to preserve the natural features of the wildly beautiful scenery of the upper Genesee from the ruthless hand of land speculators, Mr. Letchworth purchased a tract of about seven hundred acres lying along both sides of the river, and including the Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls in 1859. The water of the Upper Falls dashes down a height of seventy feet, while the Middle cataract rushes with a tumultuous roar over a perpendicular precipice of one hundred and ten feet. The current of the Lower Falls, whose descent is ninety feet, is very rapid; and its erosive action has cut a ravine fifty feet deep through the solid rock.

Mr. Letchworth hired noted landscape architect William Webster to design the grounds of the estate, and named it Glen Iris. The natural beauty of the immediate surroundings of Mr. Letchworth's home is ingeniously heightened by artistic effects, among which should be mentioned a fountain supplied with clear water from the hills, which sends up through the long days of summer a sparkling column terminating in a cloud of foam. Swiss cottages upon the cliffs nearby suggest thoughts of Alpine ranges and mountain airs. An ancient Indian council house occupies an eminence overlooking the grounds. Within doors a library, which includes an extensive collection of books relating to his special work, objects of artistic household adornment, rare lots of bric-a-brac and curios from various countries, evince the intellectual and artistic tastes of the proprietor of Glen Iris.

 

In contemplating the life work of the man and noting its results, one feels that a single, unswerving, indomitable principle must have been the mainspring of his being — the love of humanity. The inarticulate cry of the almshouse children and the silent plaint of the poor and the unfortunate reached his sympathetic heart, and he determined to ameliorate their condition. To this his personal efforts through long years of his life have been directed. Inspired by a courage born of tenderness, he has been enabled to effect some of the great social reforms of the age.

 

In 1906 he bequeathed his 1,000-acre estate to New York State. It now makes up the heart of Letchworth State Park.

 

Mr. Letchworth died on December 1, 1910 at the age of 86.  

 

Judge James Rosebrugh

was born April 24th, 1767 in Mansfield Woodhouse, Warren County, New Jersey, the oldest of five children born to Rev. John Rosebrugh (of Revolutionary War fame) and Jane Ralston. His family moved to Allen Township, in Northampton County, Pennsylvania in1769, where his father became the minister of the Allen Township Presbyterian church. When he was 10 years old, his father was tragically killed in the 2nd battle of Trenton. Without him, the family was soon brought to the brink of destitution. His mother kept the family together and, after many attempts, finally after nearly 10 years, got the pension her husband’s death entitled her to. As James grew up in the Scotch-Irish community he realized he couldn’t leave his mother, brothers, and sisters to go off to get a proper college education so, he enlisted the help of neighbors and friends and built what was later called "The Academy." Later, after graduating, he married Margaret McNair Wilson. In 1795, with his wife and young daughter Jane, he moved to the Genesee country of western New York, settling in Groveland Township.

James, in addition to being a farmer, acted as Justice of the Peace, and later became the Representative for Ontario County at the State Legislature at Albany. During the War of 1812, he temporarily left the Legislature to raise a company of volunteers, of which he became their Captain. During the war, his company, under General Smith, fought the British on both sides of the Canadian border. On one occasion, he found himself opposite his cousin John Rosebrugh, then fighting for the English Crown. After the war, he returned to the Legislature. When Livingston County was formed, James became their first Representative. He was also County Judge and later, Surrogate.

James and Margaret had a total of seven children and thirty-one grandchildren. He was preceded in death by two of his daughters, Jane, wife of William Leaming in 1833, and Margaretta, wife of Nathaniel Baldwin in 1840. James died at his home on Groveland hill on November18, 1850, at age 83. He was buried nearby at the family plot at Glenwood Cemetery, surrounded by members of his family.

 

Dansville, founded in 1795 by Daniel P. Faulkner

was born on March 1, 1763.

Taken at face value, his resume may not sound all that impressive… a few years as a storekeeper, and founder or the local militia… and his death, in 1802 at the age or thirty-eight, came barely more than a half-decade after he moved to the area. But there must have been something about the man… that led his fellow pioneer to name their fledgling settlement after him.

Descended from the “Faulkner’s” who came to America from Saxony in the 1600’s, Daniel was the fifth of eleven children; his father, John Faulkner Sr., fought in the Revolutionary War. Daniel worked as a surveyor for Charles Williamson, which brought him into the forests of upstate New York, and to a certain valley which still bore evidence of recent Seneca Indian habitation. 1796 he uprooted himself from Pennsylvania and returned to the valley, along with his brother James (another brother, Samuel, would join them the following year; he was the father of Dr. James Faulkner, another Dansville Hall of Famer). With the proceeds of the sale of his Pennsylvania property (about $10,000), He commenced to setting himself up as the embryonic village’s first store keeper, bringing in loads of goods by sleigh from Pennsylvania and Albany. The store was located on the northwest corner of Main and Ossian; he would also open a tavern across the street, and a sawmill a ways to the south. Many of the earliest settlers… some fifth-teen families, it is said… came to settle here specifically by his encouragement. Later, he would organize a local militia… one of the first in the state… a group of 30 or so men christened the “Grenadiers” which would earn their commander the title “Captain Dan”.

It is not known exactly when his fellow pioneers elected to name their town after him; but by the time of the first official town meeting, held in 1797, the name “Dansville” had come into existence. Unfortunately, not long thereafter “Captain Dan”, his store having gone under (perhaps he had been a little too generous with his credit), was forced to temporarily abandon the village, and he returned to Pennsylvania to take up tavern keeping and rebuild his fortune. He would later return to Dansville, only to die of undisclosed causes on January 12, 1802. He married Hannah Perine, daughter of Captain William Perine; their descendants number in the hundreds.

 

Nathaniel Rochester

was born on February 21, 1752 in Westmoreland County, Va., the son of John and Hester Thrift Rochester. His siblings were William, John, Ann, Phillis, and Esther (or Hester). In 1783 he began the "manufacture of flour, rope, and nails" at Hagerstown, Maryland. Rochester became active in local politics and in 1808 he was chosen a presidential elector, and voted for James Madison.

In 1788 he married Sophia Beatty and eventually became the father of twelve children: William Beatty, Nancy Barbara, John Cornelius, Sophia Eliza, Mary Eleanor, Thomas Hart, Catherine Kimball, Nathaniel Thrift, Anna Barbara, Henry Ely, Ann Cornelia, and Louisa Lucinda. There are many Rochester descendants in the United States today.

In 1800 he first visited the "Genesee country," where he had previously bought 640 acres, and in September of that year he made large purchases of land in Livingston County, New York further up the Genesee River. In 1802 he purchased the "100-acre or Allan Mill tract," in Falls Town (now Rochester), and in May 1810, he moved from Hagerstown and settled near Dansville, where he remained five years, building a paper-mill which had been named for him.

In 1815, he moved to Bloomfield, N.Y., where he conducted a banking business and served again as a presidential elector. At this time he purchased a tract of one hundred acres on the Genessee River and laid it out in lots for a town that he named Rochesterville. In 1818 he established his residence in the settlement, the name of which was changed to Rochester, by which the city into which it developed is known today.

Rochester remained an active participant in the growth of the town and county he founded, playing many pivotal roles in the development of its economy and status. He played an active role in politics, helped found churches and banks, and served as the first president of the Rochester Institute of Technology. He was responsible for the creation of Monroe County with his town as the county seat. In addition, he served in the New York legislature, was one of the founders of St. Luke's Protestant Episcopal Church, and amassed a comfortable fortune from his various business interests.

During the last two years of his life, Rochester made few public appearances, but rather spent most of his time with his now rather large family, including his 28 grandchildren still living at the Colonel's 79th birthday. Suffering from a protracted and painful illness, Rochester died May 17, 1831.

Nathaniel Rochester's greatest asset was the confidence he inspired in all who knew him, a trust he rewarded with scrupulous honesty, an industrious application of his abilities, exemplary moral conduct, and the valuable contribution of his own ingenuity. Because of this characteristic and its results, he is honored today in the four states where he resided as a Patriot, a pioneer, and a founder.