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Canastota Village

Canastota Village Hall is located at 205 South Peterboro Street, Canastota NY 13032; phone: 315-697-7559.

Beginnings [1]

During the first decade of the nineteenth century, the area which today is encompassed by the boundaries of the incorporated village of Canastota in the town of Lenox was a low, swampy forest with a small clearing along the Cowaselon Creek west of the core of the present village. The area was a small portion of the Canastota Tract, a large expanse of land extending from Oneida Lake to within one-half mile of the Seneca Turnpike, an important east-west Colonial thoroughfare (Route 5). The tract, comprised of ninety-one lots, had been purchased by the State of New York from the Oneida Indians in 1795. Parts of the tract were subdivided and settled shortly thereafter, with fertile land and abundant water power supporting lucrative agricultural and industrial activity. Among the earliest settlements in the area were Quality Hill along the Seneca Turnpike in the southwest corner of the town of Lenox, which had been the original hub of commercial activity for the surrounding region before Canastota emerged as the business center, Oneida Valley in the northeast corner of Lenox, Wampsville in the southeast corner of Lenox, Lenox Furnace, an industrial center in the northeast corner of the present-day town of Lincoln (formerly, until 1896, the southern section of the town of Lenox), and Merrillsville and Bennetts Corners, industrial and commercial centers, respectively, also in Lincoln.

In 1810 Capt. Reuben Perkins obtained a state patent for the Canastota Reservation, a 329.5-acre portion of the Canastota Tract on the north side of the heavily travelled Seneca Turnpike. Perkins was a prominent pioneer who had settled in Quality Hill in the late eighteenth century and who subsequently became a land speculator, the founding father of Canastota and the first superintendent of the Canastota section of the Erie Canal. At this time a few Indian families were living in the swampy lowlands. There were no roads serving the Reservation, only an Indian trail leading north from the turnpike towards the early settlement of Oneida Valley. Within a few years, Perkins began selling off sections of his purchase and several settlers had arrived. By the mid-1810s, four residences and a flourishing wheat field marked the early settlement of Canastota. There are no known material remains of this earliest period of the village's history.

The single most important event in the history of Canastota was the creation of the Erie Canal, the Canastota section of which was begun in 1817. The canal was opened for traffic through Madison County in 1820 and completed across the state in 1825. The canal had a tremendous impact on the development of Canastota, as it did on all other settlements along its route, determining new patterns of land use, changing locations of trade centers and altering established economic bases. Canastota emerged as an important commercial center providing lodging, goods and services first for the canal planners and surveyors in the early- to mid-1810s, then to the construction workers in the mid- to late 1810s and finally to the canal travellers and workers in the 1820s and subsequent decades.

  1. Todd, Nancy, N. Y. State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, Canastota Village Multiple Resource Area, nomination document, 1986, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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