Place:Buffalo, Erie, New York, United States


NameBuffalo
Alt namesNew Amsterdamsource: Encyclopædia Britannica (1988) II, 607
TypeCity
Coordinates42.905°N 78.849°W
Located inErie, New York, United States     (1600 - )
Contained Places
Unknown
Holy Family Church
Cemetery
Forest Lawn Cemetery
Municipality
Blackrock
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Buffalo is the second largest city in the U.S. state of New York and the largest city in Western New York. , the population was 256,902. The city is the county seat of Erie County and a major gateway for commerce and travel across the Canada–United States border, forming part of the bi-national Buffalo Niagara Region.

The Buffalo area was inhabited before the 17th century by the Native American Iroquois tribe and later by French settlers. The city grew significantly in the 19th and 20th centuries as a result of immigration, the construction of the Erie Canal and rail transportation, and its close proximity to Lake Erie. This growth provided an abundance of fresh water and an ample trade route to the Midwestern United States while grooming its economy for the grain, steel and automobile industries that dominated the city's economy in the 20th century. Since the city's economy relied heavily on manufacturing, deindustrialization in the latter half of the 20th century led to a steady decline in population. While some manufacturing activity remains, Buffalo's economy has transitioned to service industries with a greater emphasis on healthcare, research and higher education, which emerged following the Great Recession.

Buffalo is on the eastern shore of Lake Erie, at the head of the Niagara River, 16 miles south of Niagara Falls. Its early embrace of electric power led to the nickname "The City of Light". The city is also famous for its urban planning and layout by Joseph Ellicott, an extensive system of parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, as well as significant architectural works. Its culture blends Northeastern and Midwestern traditions, with annual festivals including Taste of Buffalo and Allentown Art Festival, two professional sports teams (Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres), and a music and arts scene.

Contents

History

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Prehistory and European exploration

The first inhabitants of the State of New York are believed to have been nomadic Paleo-Indians, who migrated after the disappearance of Pleistocene glaciers during or before 7000 BCE.

Around 1000 CE, 1,000 years ago, the Woodland period began, marked by the rise of the Iroquois Confederacy and its tribes throughout the state.

During French exploration of the region in 1620, the region was occupied simultaneously by the agrarian Erie people, a tribe outside of the Five Nations of the Iroquois southwest of Buffalo Creek, and the Wenro people or Wenrohronon, an Iroquoian-speaking tribal offshoot of the large Neutral Nation who lived along the inland south shore of Lake Ontario and at the east end of Lake Erie and a bit of its northern shore. For trading, the Neutral people made a living by growing tobacco and hemp to trade with the Iroquois, utilizing animal paths or warpaths to travel and move goods across the state. These paths were later paved, and now function as major roads.

Later, during the Beaver Wars of the 1640s-1650s, the combined warriors of the Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy conquered the populous Neutrals and their peninsular territory,[1] while the Senecas alone took out the Wenro and their territory, c. 1651[1]–1653. Soon after, the Erie nation and territory was also destroyed by the Iroquois over their assistance to Huron people during the Beaver Wars.

It was Louis Hennepin and Sieur de La Salle who made the earliest European discoveries of the upper Niagara and Ontario regions in the late 1600s. On August 7, 1679, La Salle launched a vessel, Le Griffon, that became the first full-sized ship to sail across the Great Lakes, eventually disappearing in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

After the American Revolution, the colony of New York—now a state—began westward expansion, looking for habitable land by following trends of the Iroquois. Land near fresh water was of considerable importance. New York and Massachusetts were fighting for the territory Buffalo lies on, and Massachusetts had the right to purchase all but a one-mile (1600-meter) wide portion of land. The rights to the Massachusetts' territories were sold to Robert Morris in 1791, and two years later to the Holland Land Company.

As a result of the war, in which the Iroquois tribe sided with the British Army, Iroquois territory was gradually whittled away in the mid-to-late-1700s by white settlers through successive treaties statewide, such as the Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1784), the First Treaty of Buffalo Creek (1788), and the Treaty of Geneseo (1797). The Iroquois were corralled onto reservations, including Buffalo Creek. By the end of the 18th century, only of reservation territory remained.

Founding, Erie Canal, and railroads

Early settlers along the mouth of Buffalo Creek were former slave Joseph "Black Joe" Hodges, and Cornelius Winney, a Dutch trader from Albany who arrived in 1789. The first white settlers along the creek were prisoners captured during the Revolutionary War. The first resident and landowner of Buffalo with a permanent presence was Captain William Johnston, a white Iroquois interpreter who had been present in the area since the days after the Revolutionary War and was granted creekside land by the Senecas as a gift of appreciation. His house was built at present-day Washington and Seneca streets.

On July 20, 1793, the Holland Land Purchase was completed, containing the land of present-day Buffalo, brokered by Dutch investors from Holland. The Treaty of Big Tree removed Iroquois title to lands west of the Genesee River in 1797. In the fall of 1797, Joseph Ellicott, the architect who helped survey Washington D.C. with brother Andrew, was appointed as the Chief of Survey for the Holland Land Company. Over the next year, he began surveying the tract of land at the mouth of Buffalo Creek. This was completed in 1803, and the new village boundaries extended from the creekside in the south to present-day Chippewa Street in the north and Carolina Street to the west, which is where most settlers remained for the first decade of the 19th century. Although the company named the settlement "New Amsterdam," the name did not catch on, reverting to Buffalo within ten years.[2] Buffalo had the first road to Pennsylvania built in 1802 for migrants passing through to the Connecticut Western Reserve in Ohio.

In 1804, Ellicott designed a radial grid plan that would branch out from the village forming bicycle-like spokes, interrupted by diagonals, similar to the system used in the nation's capital. In the middle of the village was the intersection of eight streets, in what would become Niagara Square. Several blocks to the southeast he designed a semicircle fronting Main Street with an elongated park green, formerly his estate. This would be known as Shelton Square, at that time the center of the city (which would be dramatically altered in the mid-20th century), with the intersecting streets bearing the names of Dutch Holland Land Company members, today Erie, Church and Niagara streets. Lafayette Square also lies one block to the north, which was then bounded by streets bearing Iroquois names.

According to an early resident, in 1806 there were sixteen residences, a schoolhouse and two stores in the village, primarily near Main, Swan and Seneca streets. There were also blacksmith shops, a tavern and a drugstore. The streets were small at 40 feet wide, and the village was still surrounded by woods. The first lot sold by the Holland Land Company was on September 11, 1806, to Zerah Phelps. By 1808, lots would sell from $25 to $50.

In 1804, Buffalo's population was estimated at 400, similar to Batavia, but Erie County's growth was behind Chautauqua, Genesee and Wyoming counties. Neighboring village Black Rock to the northwest (today a Buffalo neighbourhood) was also an important centre. Horatio J. Spafford noted in A Gazetteer of the State of New York that in fact, despite the growth the village of Buffalo had, Black Rock "is deemed a better trading site for a great trading town than that of Buffalo," especially when considering the regional profile of mundane roads extending eastward. Before the east-to-west turnpike was completed, travelling from Albany to Buffalo would take a week, while even a trip from nearby Williamsville to Batavia could take upwards of three days.


Although slavery was rare in the state, limited instances of slavery had taken place in Buffalo during the early part of the 19th century. General Peter Buell Porter is said to have had five slaves during his time in Black Rock, and several news ads also advertised slaves for sale.

In 1810, a courthouse was built. By 1811, the population was 500, with many people farming or doing manual labor. The first newspaper to be published was the Buffalo Gazette in October that same year.

Fears of a second British war were stoked in 1812, when on June 27 a small craft carrying salt was captured by two boats on the Niagara River. There were several skirmishes on the water in the following months. On December 18, 1813, Fort Niagara was overrun with ease by 500 British troops and Native American soldiers. Soon after, General Amos Hall ordered two thousand unskilled and drafted troops to march from Batavia to Buffalo, arriving December 26. After the British crossed the Niagara River the night before December 30, Buffalo and the village of Black Rock were burned in a frenzy the next day in the Battle of Buffalo. The battle and subsequent fire was in response to the unprovoked destruction of Niagara-on-the-Lake, then known as "Newark," by American forces. While many residents were warned to leave,[3] those that did not escape were tomahawked and scalped in the ensuing battle.[4] Though only three buildings remained in the village, rebuilding was swift, finishing in 1815.[3]

Until April 2, 1821, the village of Buffalo was part of and the seat of Niagara County, until the legislature passed an act separating the two.

On October 26, 1825, the Erie Canal was completed, formed from part of Buffalo Creek, with Buffalo a port-of-call for settlers heading westward. At the time, the population was about 2,400. By 1826, the 130 sq. mile Buffalo Creek Reservation at the western border of the village was transferred to Buffalo. The Erie Canal brought about a surge in population and commerce, which led Buffalo to incorporate as a city in 1832. The canal area was mature by 1847, with passenger and cargo ship activity leading to congestion in the harbor.



The mid-1800s saw a boom in population, with the city doubling in size from 1845 to 1855. Almost two-thirds of the city's population were foreign-born immigrants in 1855, predominantly a mix of unskilled or educated Irish and Germans Catholics, who began self-segregating in different parts of the city. The Irish immigrants planted their roots along the railroad-heavy Buffalo River and Erie Canal to the southeast, to which there is still a heavy presence today; German immigrants found their way to the East Side, living a more laid-back, residential life. Some immigrants were apprehensive about the change of environment and elected to leave the city for the western region, while others tried to stay behind in the hopes of expanding their native cultures.

Fugitive black slaves began making their way northward to Buffalo in the 1840s, and also settled on the city's East Side. In 1845, construction began on the Macedonia Baptist Church, a meeting spot in the Michigan and William Street neighborhood where blacks first settled. It also functioned as an important meeting place for the abolitionist movement. Buffalo was a terminus point of the Underground Railroad with many fugitive slaves crossing the Niagara River to Fort Erie, Ontario in search of freedom.

During the 1840s, Buffalo's port continued to develop. Both passenger and commercial traffic expanded with some 93,000 passengers heading west from the port of Buffalo. Grain and commercial goods shipments led to repeated expansion of the harbor. In 1843, the world's first steam-powered grain elevator was constructed by local merchant Joseph Dart and engineer Robert Dunbar. "Dart's Elevator" enabled faster unloading of lake freighters along with the transshipment of grain in bulk from barges, canal boats, and rail cars. By 1850, the city's population was 81,000.[5]

In 1860, there were a plethora of railway companies and lines crossing through and terminating in Buffalo. Major ones were the Buffalo, Bradford and Pittsburgh Railroad (1859), Buffalo and Erie Railroad and the New York Central Railroad (1853). During this time, a quarter of all shipping traffic on Lake Erie was controlled by Buffalo citizens, and shipbuilding was a thriving industry for the city.

Later, the Lehigh Valley Railroad would have its line terminate at Buffalo in 1867.


Rise of heavy industry, decline, urban renewal

At the dawn of the 20th century, local mills were among the first to benefit from hydroelectric power generated by the Niagara River. The city got the nickname City of Light at this time due to the widespread electric lighting. It was also part of the automobile revolution, hosting the brass era car builders Pierce Arrow and the Seven Little Buffaloes early in the century. At the same time, an exit of local entrepreneurs and industrial titans brought about a nascent stage that would see the city lose its competitiveness against Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit.

President William McKinley was shot and mortally wounded by an anarchist at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo on September 6, 1901. McKinley died in the city eight days later and Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in at the Wilcox Mansion.[6] The Great Depression of 1929–39 saw severe unemployment, especially among working-class men. The New Deal relief programs operated full force. The city became a stronghold of labor unions and the Democratic Party.

During World War II, Buffalo saw the return of prosperity and full employment due to its position as a manufacturing center. As one of the most populous cities of the 1950s, Buffalo's economy revolved almost entirely on its manufacturing base. Major companies such as Republic Steel and Lackawanna Steel employed tens of thousands of Buffalonians. Integrated national shipping routes would use the Soo Locks near Lake Superior and a vast network of railroads and yards that crossed the city.

Lobbying by local businesses and interest groups against the St. Lawrence Seaway began in the 1920s, long before its construction in 1957, which cut the city off from valuable trade routes. Its approval was reinforced by legislation shortly before its construction. Shipbuilding in Buffalo, such as that of the American Ship Building Company, shut down in 1962, ending an industry that had been a sector of the city's economy since 1812, and a direct result of reduced waterfront activity. With deindustrialization, and the nationwide trend of suburbanization; the city's economy began to deteriorate. Like much of the Rust Belt, Buffalo, home to more than half a million people in the 1950s, has seen its population decline as heavy industries shut down and people left for the suburbs or other cities.[7]

Recent development

Like other Rust Belt cities such as Pittsburgh and Cleveland, Buffalo has attempted to revitalize its beleaguered economy and crumbling infrastructure. The trend of back offices opening in the area began in the 1980s.

Research Tips

  1. Preparing for the Genealogy Visit to Buffalo
  2. NYERIE Mailing list at Rootsweb is an online community of folks helping each other out on topics related to researching family in Erie County.

External Links

A number of excellent external web pages exist to support family history research about Buffalo, NY:

  1. BuffaloResearch.com -- How to Research Your Buffalo, New York ABCs: Ancestors, Buildings, Companies, and more
  2. Buffalo Cemeteries
  3. Buffalo East Side Neighborhood contains a variety of resources for those researching the "old east side" (a predominantly German neighborhood in the 19th century).
  4. Outstanding guide to Buffalo family history and genealogy resources (FamilySearch Research Wiki). Birth, marriage, and death records, town histories, cemeteries, churches, newspapers, libraries, and genealogical societies.


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