May 1989

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Will Celebrate 200 Years


Bill Treichler

The people of Middlesex will honor the 200 year anniversary of the purchase of the area by Arnold Potter with celebrations this summer. Events will begin with an Open House at the Middlesex Bicentennial Headquarters on May 27th from 3:00 to 6:00pm. with exhibits of pictures and historical items. Kay Foster Wilson will be on hand to autograph copies of The Times of Middlesex.

Festival Week begins July 8th with a flea market and auctionheld at Middlesex Airport. Most of the events will be held there.

Several of the Middlesex churches are sponsoring a Church Sunday and Town Picnic on July 9th.

On July 10th the Allegany River Indian Dancers will perform an authentic Seneca presentation. The next day will feature the history of the Senecas in the locality of Middlesex.

On Wednesday the 132-year-old Rushford Concert Band, the oldest town band in the United States, will play at a large Ice Cream Social. Thursday is the time for a gathering of local folk musicians and their expression of the music of the past on all kinds of instruments.

The Middlesex Fire Hall will be the location for the Middlesex Bicentennial Costume Ball on Friday July 14th, with many people wearing period costumes.

July 15th is the actual birthday of the area and will be recognized as Middlesex Founders Day beginning with a breakfast and continuing on through reunions and events to a square dance.

A Bicentennial Music Festival will be held on Sunday, July 16th, at Middlesex Airport.

On July 15th, 1789, Thomas Maxwell of Chesterfield, Massachusetts,. deeded to Arnold Potter of South Kingsley, Rhode Island, a tract including 35,000 acres. This land had been a part of the Phelps and Gorham purchase. Oliver Phelps that same year quit-claimed an additional 7000 acres to Potter because of some question about the validity of Maxwell's title.

In 1797 this tract became the town of Augusta in Ontario County. However, it was commonly called Potterstown. The official name changed to Middlesex in 1808. Then in 1823 the town became a part of Yates county. The eastern section became Potter in 1832 and later in 1856 more territory was added to Potter from Middlesex.

Most of the early settlers came from New England or eastern New York.

One early group of settlers came to the Potter purchase in 1789 with Michael Pearce who may have been in the area before as a surveyor. He brought his family and his sister Lucy and her husband John Walford and the Benjamin Tibbett family.

They came up the Mohawk river by boat to a portage near Rome, carried their boats and supplies to Wood Creek, then boated down to Oneida Lake and, following the Seneca Rive,r eventually got to Seneca Lake. They landed at the Indian settlement at Kashong.

After paying a fee to the Senecas there they left the lake and picked up a trail that led them westward toward their destination.

Michael Pearce built a log house close to the present highway 245 where the county road goes up hill to Overacker's Corners. In 1806 Pearce built a frame house above the log house. It still exists today. Michael Pearce lived until 1843 and is buried in the Pine Corners Cemetery

Go to the celebrations at Middlesex this summer and learn more of the history of the settlers and the Indians before them. Kay Foster Wilson has written an informative history titled The Times of Middlesex tthat begins with the geology of the area, continues with with Indian lore, colonial and early settler history, and then recounts more recent times in Middlesex with entertaining text, maps and pictures.

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