Mount Morris Town

Livingston County, New York

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Mount Morris Town Hall is located at 103 Main Street, Mount Morris NY 14510.
Phone: 585‑658‑2730.

Beginnings [1]

Mount Morris takes its name from Robert Morris of Revolutionary memory, who in the spring of 1792, purchased the great farm of Ebenezer Allen, which embraced the village site and many a broad acre of the flats. The town was formed from Leicester, by an act of the Legislature on the 17th of April 1818. Its surface is greatly diversified. On the eastward between Canaseraga creek and the foot of the table lands spreads a broad alluvial plain of unsurpassed fertility, two miles in width. The ground then rises abruptly to the first terrace, along the edge of which runs the Genesee Valley Canal, traversing the town from north to south. Stretching riverward with a uniform grade the western border attains an altitude of several hundred feet above the flats. The territory of the town is singularly free of waste lands, as scarce an acre can be found that is not already under cultivation or capable of a high degree of culture. The farms are to an exceptionally large extent, the property of actual occupants, and the farm houses and buildings which exceed in number those of any other town in the county, rate above the average in quality, a fair index of the thrift and comfort that generally abounds. Nature, too, has bestowed her favors liberally. The scenery from every point of the extended plateau is rich and varied, a vast park-like landscape, picturesque in its highlands and bottoms, and diversified by the winding river and sinuous creek. The uplands bordering the flats in the neighborhood of the river were a favorite haunt of the Indians, and also of the fort-builders. Though the principal villages of the Senecas in later times were located on the western side of the Genesee, yet there was a considerable town known as Big Kettle's village, near Mount Morris. No sooner was the Genesee country opened to settlement than the advantages of this region attracted capitalists from New England and Pennsylvania. Ebenezer Allen, the "Blue Beard" of the border, had secured a large donation in lands from the Indians and had opened a store near Damon's Run in 1790, first exhibiting his wares under the great council Elm. He replenished his stock in Philadelphia, and took every occasion afforded by his visits to that city, to make known the advantages of this locality. That city was then the seat of the general government, and Colonel Trumbull, an officer of the personal staff of Washington, whose artist brush has preserved some of the most interesting subjects of Revolutionary history, formed the half romantic notion of establishing his home in these beautiful wilds. He purchased a section of land, planted an orchard, made some preparation for building a residence near the site of the late Judge Hastings' house, and changed the name of the spot to Richmond Hill. For some reason the purpose was abandoned by him and the property passed from Allen into the hands of Robert Morris, who it is quite certain designed making the place his home. Its name was changed to its present designation.

Ebenezer Allen was the pioneer of the whites. He settled first near Mt. Morris in 1785. His career, the more notable portion of which is associated with the town, forms a curious episode in early annals. He was one of those daring characters, without conscience or patriotism, who thrive best in troublous times. A native of New Jersey, he took the tory side in the Revolution, and was forced to quit his home, finding an asylum toward the close of the struggle among the Indians along the Genesee, where he worked Mary Jemison's land until the return of peace. He defeated soon after, by a characteristic trick, a plan of the frontier Indians and British to renew the border troubles. Just before an expedition was to start he procured a belt of wampum and carried it as a token of peace to the nearest American fort. The act was wholly unauthorized, but so sacred a thing was the wampum, that the Indians determined to bury the hatchet, resolving, however, to punish Allen for the cheat. He was pursued for months but eluded their clutches by hiding in the woods. When pursuit ceased, Hi-a-ka-too replaced his tattered garments, and Allen settled down near Mt. Morris, marrying a squaw named Sally. The following spring he purchased at Philadelphia a boat-load of goods, which were brought to Mt. Morris by way of Cohocton, and bartered for ginseng and furs. After harvesting a large crop of corn and wheat he took up a farm near Scottsville at the mouth of a creek that bears his name. The next season Phelps and Gorham gave him a hundred acres of land on the west side of the river where Rochester now stands, on consideration that he would build a grist and saw-mill there. In 1791 he asked the Senecas to grant a portion of the Genesee flats to his daughters Mary and Chloe, born of his Indian wife Kycudanent or Sally. The Indians disliked him, and showed no haste to comply, but he made a feast at which more whiskey than meat was served, and thus secured a deed of four square miles, including the site of Mt. Morris, which took the name of Allen's Hill, and the adjacent flats to the east. Thither he returned in the summer of 1792, built a house and planted a crop. Agriculture alone did not suffice him, and he prepared to add a store-house to his log mansion. The Indians warned him that timber collected for such a purpose would go into the Genesee. He persisted, however, and the Senecas, when all was got together, headed by Jim Washington and Kennedy, took the timber, carried it to the river and threw it in, and saw it float away. But Allen got out more, built a saw-mill at Gibsonville to supply lumber, and erected a store-house where Judge Hastings' residence now stands.

  1. Edward E. Doty, editor, A History of Livingston County New York, Geneseo, 1876

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