Friday, January 21, 2011

What stories should we tell?

As we dig deeper into the history of Western New York we find that the geographic area we want to explore becomes harder and harder to define.

Western New York, in truth, did not exist under that name until sometime after the Revolutionary War. Until that time it was just a wild, unsettled territory that was the location of many competing interests.

Early - Is the story of the Jesuits and their encounters with the native Americans appropriate? Was their motivation religious or political? How about the fur traders, was the pursuit of beaver pelts an adventure or an economic effort. Then, of course there were the French including DeNonville who frequented this area skirmishing. Was their effort for Country?Louie XIV? or personal gain? Who was right?, The Indians who believed that the land was there to pass aolng to future generations or the Europeans who saw the forest as something they could sell?

Mid - In the mid 1700s the story of The Sullivan Campaign must be told. But, from what persoective, George Washington's; Oliver Phelps's, the Seneca nation or those that wanted to escape the issues of land and freedom in Connecticut, Maryland, or other established New England colonies, now states in the Union? How did Robert Morris the Financier of the Revolutionary War influence our area? Why did he have to send his son, Thomas to negotiate with the indians?

1800s - Treaties led to poineer settlement which led to conflict. Did money rule? Why did the Dutch want to invest in Western New York? Why did the Holland Land Company select Charles Ellicott to be their representative and land agent. Why did Oliver Phelps go bankrupt and die in debtor's prison? Who owned the property over which the Erie Canal was dug? Why did Ellicott fight so intensely to divide Ontario County into many new counties. Why did Canandaigua oppose the new political subdivisions of the state.

Was Greed the sourse of all this conflict? Maybe. But Greed is funny. It seems that few individuals claim to be greedy. It always seems to be the other person who is the greedy one....

We will be asking the public what they think in a series of focus groups starting in February. We are anxious to hear their take on motivations.
We promise great stories .

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