Batavia is a city in Genesee County, Western New York, USA, located near the center of Genesee County, surrounded by the Town of Batavia, which is a separate municipality. Its population as of the 2010 census was 15,465. The name Batavia is Latin for the Betuwe region of the Netherlands, and honors early Dutch land developers.
Batavia is the county seat of Genesee County.
The city hosts the Batavia Muckdogs baseball club of the New York-Penn League, located at the Dwyer Stadium, at 299 Bank Street. The Muckdogs are an affiliate of the Miami Marlins. They won the 2008 championship. In 2006, a national magazine ranked Batavia third among the nation’s micropolitans based on economic development.
Its UN/LOCODE is USBIA.
The Holland Land Company
The current City of Batavia was an early settlement in what is today called Genesee Country, the farthest western region of New York State, comprising the Genesee Valley and westward to the Niagara River, Lake Erie, and the Pennsylvania line.
The tract purchased in western New York (the Holland Purchase) was a 3,250,000 acre (13,150 km²) portion of the Phelps and Gorham Purchase that lay west of the Genesee River. It was purchased in December 1792, February 1793, and July 1793 from Robert Morris, a prominent Revolutionary banker, by the Holland Land Company, a consortium of Dutch bankers.
The village of Batavia was founded in 1802 by Joseph Ellicott, agent of the Holland Land Company. Batavia, New York, was named for the short-lived Batavian Republic (1795–1806) in honor of the Holland Land Company.
The Batavian Republic was itself named for the Batavi, an ancient Germanic tribe, which lived in the area of the Rhine–Maas delta in the central Netherlands. During the Renaissance in the Low Countries (1500s) and Dutch Golden Age (1600), Dutch nationalists formed the "Batavian myth" and argued that the ancient Batavians were the ancestors of the Dutch. This region is now known as Betuwe, a Dutch word derived from "Batavia."
One of the provisions of the sale was that Morris needed to settle the Indian title to the land, so he arranged for his son Thomas Morris to negotiate with the Iroquois at Geneseo, New York in 1797. About 3,000 Iroquois, mostly Senecas, arrived for the negotiation. Seneca chief and orator Red Jacket was adamantly against the sale, but his influence was thwarted by freely distributed liquor and trinkets given to the women. In the end he acquiesced and signed the Treaty of Big Tree, in which the tribe sold their rights to the land except for a small portion for $100,000. Mary Jemison, known as The White Woman of the Genesee, who had been captured in a raid and married her Seneca captor, proved to be an able negotiator for the tribe and helped win more favorable terms for them.
In the negotiations Horatio Jones was the translator and William Wadsworth provided his unfinished home. The land was then surveyed under the supervision of Joseph Ellicott, a monumental task of the biggest land survey ever attempted to that time.
Ellicott, as agent for the company, established a land office in Batavia in 1802. The entire purchase was named Genesee County in 1802, with Batavia as the county seat. The company sold off the purchase until 1846, when the company was dissolved. The phrase "doing a land office business," which denotes prosperity, dates from this era. The office still exists and is a museum today, designated a National Historic Landmark.
Joseph Ellicott lived in Batavia for many years although he thought Buffalo would grow to be larger. Batavia has a major street named after him (Ellicott Street), as well as a minor street (Ellicott Avenue), and a large monument in the heart of the city. Batavia was incorporated as a village in 1823.
The present counties of western New York were all laid out from the original Genesee County, and the modern Genesee County is but one of many. But the entire area as a region is still referred to as Genesee Country. Thus, Batavia was the core from which the rest of western New York was opened for settlement and development.
The Masonic Scandal
A scandal erupted in Batavia in 1826, when William Morgan, a local ne'er do well was offended by the local Masonic Lodge (Western Star Chapter R. A. M. No. 33 of Le Roy, New York), and threatened to expose the secrets of the lodge. He was arrested on a minor charge, then released when his charge was paid, into the company of several men, with whom he went, apparently unwillingly. It was developed later that the men were Masons, and they carried him to Fort Niagara, where he was held captive, and from whence he disappeared. Although the Masons claimed he was only bribed to cease publication and leave the area forever, public sentiment was that he was murdered. No conviction was ever obtained. His captors were only charged and convicted with his abduction.
The event roused tremendous public furor and anti-Mason sentiment ran high. Anti-Masonry was a factor in politics for many years later, as well as religion. Many Methodist Episcopal clergy had joined the Masons, and this was one of the reasons the Free Methodist Church separated.
The Advent of the Erie Canal
The Erie Canal in 1825 bypassed Batavia, going well to the north at Albion and Medina, enabling Buffalo and Rochester to grow much faster. With the sale of the western part of the state completed, Batavia became a small industrial city in the heart of an agricultural area. It became known for the manufacture of tractors, agricultural implements, sprayers and shoes. It also was a tool and die making center for industries in other areas.
The largest manufacturer, Johnston Harvester Company came into being in 1868. In 1910, the business was acquired by Massey-Harris Co. Ltd, and became a subsidiary of that Canadian company, founded by Daniel Massey in 1847.
In recent years much of the heavier industry left for other areas of the US, or abroad, and Batavia became part of what has become known as The Rust Belt.
On the night of August 3rd, 1994, Amtrak's westbound Lake Shore Limited derailed near Batavia. Despite 118 passengers and crew being injured, and fourteen of the train's eighteen cars coming off the tracks, there were no fatalities in the accident.
The construction of the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility, a federal immigration detention center adjacent to the airport has provided more jobs in the area, as well as expansion of the airport itself, including lengthening the runway to accommodate larger aircraft in 2005. Inmates at the detention center have included terrorism suspects, such as Nabil Ahmed Farag Soliman, who embarked on a hunger strike in 1999 after two and a half years in federal detention.
Author John Gardner, a Batavia native, set his novel The Sunlight Dialogues (1972) in 1960s Batavia. Also a native is Bill Kauffman, a political writer and columnist, whose Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette (2002) is about the city. Author F. Scott Fitzgerald references Batavia in his novel, Tender Is the Night (1934), plus popular authors Stephen King and Peter Straub mention or set parts of their novel, The Talisman (1983), in the city.
Batavia was referenced in The Simpsons Season 8 episode The Twisted World of Marge Simpson, when the first order to Marge's pretzel business after securing the protection of the local mafia comes from the Meat Packers Union Hall in Batavia.
In August 2012 Muller Quaker Dairy broke ground on what is to be one of the largest yogurt manufacturing plants in the United States, expected to employee 186 people. Muller Quaker Dairy is a joint venture between PepsiCo and the Theo Muller Group.
Richmond Memorial Library and Holland Land office are good resources. richmond Memorial Library has old newspapers and pedigrees. Carlton Mason Slate was a prominent citizen there. His pedigree and family history is in the Library.