Manataka American Indian Council

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The following unedited article appeared in the Canandaigua Daily Messenger on Thursday, December 31, 2009.



Canandaigua Indian

Village Destroyed

By R.W. Henry, Canandaigua Daily Messenger

A missing historical marker has been found. After many years, an historical marker is being reinstalled, and this time, in a more appropriate place.

A New York State historical marker at one time welcomed the traveler to the City of Canandaigua.

The sign was located on the eastern end of the City of Canandaigua on Lakeshore Drive which was Routes 5 & 20 before the construction of Eastern Boulevard. For more than 30 years the location of the sign has been unknown since the reconstruction of the Lakeshore Drive. Residing in a maintenance barn, the sign was forgotten for many years.

Rediscovered and under the management of Eagle Scout candidate Phillip Tyrell of Canandaigua, the sign is being (has been) installed in a more appropriate place on West Avenue Extension, just into the Town of Canandaigua west of the City. It was near this location that it is believed that the original Seneca village was situated.


General John Sullivan

In the spring of 1779, General George Washington assigned to Major General John Sullivan, a “scorched earth” campaign to cause the ruination of the villages and crops of the Iroquois nations, thereby breaking the backbone of the Iroquois who sided with the British.


Leaving Easton, PA on the Susquehanna River on June 18th, the army very effectively accomplished their mission as they proceeded north through Central New York and the Finger Lakes. They arrived in Canandaigua on September 10th. “Crossing the outlet and continuing along the foot of the lake, the trail wound up the hillside in a northwest direction to what General Sullivan called “the elegant town” or Castle of Kanandarque. This village consisted of some 30 houses, which like those at Kanadesaga (Seneca Castle), together with the vegetable gardens near by and orchards in the vicinity, were “immediately burned” (1911 History of Ontario County & Its People, by Charles F. Millikan)




Sullivan’s soldiers wrote that after leaving the lake, they traveled in a northwesterly direction, up a hill to the Indian village which they subsequently burned before marching on to Honeoye for the same purpose































In 1934, Dr. William Ritchie, a state archeologist with the Rochester Museum and Science Center, and under the supervision of Dr. Arthur Parker, conducted archeological digs in this same area on the Sackett (Ault) farm in an attempt to locate a stockaded “Owasco” Indian village (Research Records of the Rochester Museum of Arts and Sciences, No. 3, A Prehistoric Fortified Village Site at Canandaigua, Ontario County, New York, by William A. Ritchie, Assistant Archeologist, Division of Anthropology, July 1936).


The Owascos, a culture that reportedly predated the Senecas (Iroquois) that was assumed to overlap and influence the Iroquois culture by some 300 years in the period of 1200 to 1650 AD. Whether the Iroquois developed from the Owascos or were a separate culture that migrated into Western New York is a point of contention in recent archeological studies (i.e. Hart and Brumbach, 2003). In any case, there is no doubt pertaining to the existence of the remains of a stockaded village on the north side of this major trans-state highway originally used by the Native Americans.


The following is an excerpt from Dr. Ritchie’s Research Records:

“Hardly had the digging started when a dual occupation of the site became evident, for the upper eight or ten inches of plow disturbed topsoil produced articles of the late Colonial Seneca period. Subsequently hundreds were found scattered thinly across the whole area of the site and even, in lesser numbers, on the high ground to the west. Among the finds were scraps of cut sheet brass, brass rings, bracelets, and brooches, buttons, gun flints and locks, pipe fragments, glass beads, and English pennies of 1739. . . . . . . From this, and historical evidence, presently to be cited, the Sackett

Phillip Tyrell - December 2009

site (the Ault farm) would appear to be the location of the Seneca Town of “Kanadaque” or “Kanandaigua”, which was burned under the command of General John Sullivan on September 10, 1779.” (pages 9, 10 of said report).

In any event, due to the strong evidence of Native American presence in this area, there can be no more appropriate place to install this historic sign.

Phillip Tyrell of Boy Scout Troop 32, St. John’s Episcopal Church, has been working for the past 3 months on his Eagle Scout service project. Completion of a community service project demonstrating leadership has been the capstone of the Eagle Scout requirements for generations. Philip has organized groups of scouts and leaders from Troop 32 to hand brush, repaint, and mount the old marker to its new location. He will also arrange for a re-dedication of the marker.  By R.W. Henry, Canandaigua Daily Messenger, 12/31/ 2009.


Submitted by: Lark Eagle