September 1993

Home Index Museums Blog Authors Site Map About


The Williamson Road


James D. Folts

excerpt from account about prepared for the Corning-Painted Post Historical Society. Reprinted by permission of the author.

In the spring of 1793 "Muckle" Andrew Smith, an emigrant Scot, superintended some of the more experienced Germans in constructing the road from Painted Post up the Conhocton River to the newly-founded village of Bath. (Williamson spent $19 to keep the workers supplied with whiskey.) The road was completed to Williamsburgh on the Genesee by August 1793.

The new Williamson road was a rude highway. A traveller in 1794 remarked that "[we] pursued our journey through bushes, swamps and deep mudholes; the road so bad that with hard pushing, we could make but three miles an hour." Williamson himself admitted that many visitors to the Genesee Country returned home exhausted and discouraged after travelling 170 miles through the woods. Williamson soon established taverns to accommodate travellers at Painted Post (the Patterson Inn), Mud Creek (Savona), and the Eight- and Twenty-two-Mile Trees north of Bath (now Avoca and near North Cohocton respectively), Soon the Williamson Road was bringing in many settlers from Pennsylvania and places further south, helping ensure that the new county of Steuben (established in 1796) would be less heavily "Yankee" than other counties of western New York.

There was not just one "Williamson road." Many roads in Steuben, eastern Allegany, southern Livingston and Yates, and Wayne counties, all part of the Pulteney Estate, were opened up with Charles Williamson's encouragement and (usually) financing. Parts of the original Williamson Road were abandoned within a few years. The abandoned

sections were often the ones where Williamson surveyors had departed from the course of old Indian paths, and struck out in straight lines across the hills despite the difficult grades.

© 1993, James D. Folts

Further Reading

Helen I. Cowan, Charles Williamson: Genesee Promoter—Friend of Anglo-American Rapprochement (Rochester: 1941), chap. 4.

"Journal of William Berczy," ed. A. J. H. Richardson and H. I. Cowan, in Publications of the Rochester Historical Society, 20 (1942), 139-265.

Charles C. Webb, "The Williamson Road," Now and Then: Quarterly Magazine of History, Biography and Genealogy [Muncy, Pa.], 10 (1953), 190-205 (has map of Pennsylvania portion of the road).

Kline D'A. Engle, "The Williamson Road," Proceedings of Northumberland County [Pa.] Historical Society, 12 (1942).

Guy H. McMaster, History of the Settlement of Steuben County, N. Y. (Bath: 1853; repr. 1893, 1976).

[Charles Williamson] Description of the Settlement of the Genesee Country (New York: 1799), repr. in Documentary History of the State of New-York (Albany: 1849), vol. 2, pp. 1127-68.

CLR Blog | Site Map | Contact CLR