June 1993

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Letter to

Miss Margaret Masters

South Hadley Canal, Hampshire Co., Massachusetts


Martha Lapeer White, Michigan

June 9,1833

Dear Miss Masters,

After the elapse of fifteen days we have arrived at our place of destination in Michigan. We were detained in Albany two days on account of the freshet at which time North River rose higher than it has done for 35 years before. We did not leave Albany until Monday when we took the line boat (Ohio) bound for Buffalo and found good company and several from Massachusetts, Vermont, and Connecticut most of whom were on their way to Michigan. From the first of May last to the 17 seven steamboats landed at Detroit from Buffalo with 2,610 passengers and now you can judge for yourself whether you think Michigan will be settled soon or not.

We passed by many neat and beautiful villages and among them were Troy and Little Falls which constitute an object of curiosity and admiration to which the traveller is irresistibly attracted. These are rapid falls and on each side are very high mountains leaving but a narrow space for the river, canal, and road, to pass through. For three miles the canal is formed by throwing up a wall into the river 20 or 30 feet and this is said to be the most expensive part of the canal. A beautiful marble aqueduct crosses the river at this place and leads into the basin opposite where boats discharge and receive lading. Passengers that are disposed to view the place generally leave the boat at the first lock and walk until they reach the last, which are six in number, by which the boat is so much detained that a person may walk quite leisurely through the most wild and romantic scenery imaginable. We walked along slowly until it was proposed to ascend a very high hill where we could have a fairer view of the village. Accordingly five of us agreed and made the attempt which was fatiguing, it being covered with rocks and brush. After spending some time in rambling round the bubbling springs of the hill and plucking flowers to our satisfaction, we directed our course to the boat which we found ready to receive us.

Nothing of any importance occurred until we reached Utica which far surpasses anyplace I before passed. It contains one Lyceum, two banks and nine churches and many beautiful buildings most of which are surrounded by flower gardens and often very pleasant excursions are made to Whitesburough which is at the distance of three miles and is noted for its institute of science and industry. It has connected with it a farm on which the students work for three or four hours each day and by this means they are able to support themselves at school.

There is nothing of much interest for the first sixty miles west of Utica as it is generally a level and marshy country and no lock either to interrupt or amuse us.

Syracuse is the most important place between Utica and Rochester. It contains 900 buildings among which are two extensive hotels on each side of the canal and are lined with lofty warehouses. The importance of this flourishing village is principally owing to the immense quantity of salt produced in this vicinity. It is brought in bags from Salina which is about one mile distant and emptied into vats occupying 300 acres of land. The vats are covered with light roofs which are movable or immovable at pleasure. The first spring was discovered by an Indian from the circumstance of its being inhabited by deer and other wild animals. The springs and works all belong to the state to which the manufacturers pay impo[s]ts of 6O¢ per barrel of five bushels which is applied by the state constitution toward discharging the canal debt. We arrived at Rochester May 26.

This is the most extensive village in the western part of the state and has been styled the Western New York. It contains 2,000 buildings and [a] population of 13,000. In the south part of the village the canal runs parallel with the eastern bank of the river and for half a mile the canal is 551 feet above the tide waters of the Hudson and 69 below Lake Erie. The principal hotels are the Eagle Tavern Mansion, Rochester, Drexole, and Clinton houses; the public buildings, Court house, jail, eleven churches, two banks, namely, the Bank of Rochester and the Bank of Monroe. In the vicinity of the village are eleven flouring mills which are capable of grinding 12,000 bushels of wheat in 99 hours. The boat was detained here and we received a call from Mr. Theodore Chopin and Cooly who were in good spirits. The boat left Rochester about eleven in the morning and arrived at Buffalo Tuesday, where we found the steamboat (Enterprise) ready to sail for Detroit. Therefore we did not go on shore but started out immediately. The morning was beautiful and the lake calm but we had not gone far before the wind began to blow and all on board were sick We proceeded on in this manner until night when we came to Fairport and the captain thought best to stop. We started the next. The wind had ceased a little but we were all sick again until we stopped at Cleveland where the wind seemed to abate and we had a pleasant ride to Detroit where we landed after being on the lake three days.

Jonathan was on shore to receive us and accompanied us to the mansion house. After dinner we started for Lapeer and reached Pontiac the first day. Rose early the next morning, renewed our journey and about noon it began to rain quite hard but we were obliged to keep on as there was no houses on the road. Saturday about 5 o'clock were in sight of our log house which is sixty feet long. It contains a kitchen, parlour, with a good floor and is sealed up like any house. It also contains two good bedrooms, a parlour chamber and a kitchen chamber and it has eleven glass windows like any palace. Should you chance to peep in you would find us all contented and not any of us have been homesick since we came. Austin would not come back for anything. The goods all came perfectly safe and not anything was broken with the exception of a blue platter which was split in the middle. Our looking-glass hangs up in the parlour as sound as it was when we left S. Hadley and as for the broomcorn which was put up with our ironware was not a spear broken from it. We have all good things here, one barrel of molasses one and a half of sugar and so you see we live upon the fat of the land. As for Indians, snakes, mosquitoes and rats I have seen none, and flies are not an inhabitant of this region. Louise I like her very much and do not know of anyone I should like better. All the family sends love to all inquiring friends. You must write all the news as soon as possible.

Yours affectionately, Martha L White

P.S. This letter was carried by a friend to Albany and put in the Post Office. You can direct your letters to the care of J. R. White, Pontiac, Michigan.

Original letter is in the possession of the Rochester Historical Society.
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