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The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
The Family Tree - February/March 2005
The 1st Presbyterian Church in Caledonia


I would like to inform you of a historic event in Caledonia, Livingston Co., New York, USA.  The 1st Presbyterian Church in Caledonia this year is celebration its 200th Anniversary.  It was founded in 1805 by Scottish immigrants.  Surnames of the original founders were Anderson, Calder, Cameron, Campbell, DeNoon,  Fraser, Gillis, Keith, McColl, McIntyre, McDonald, McKenzie and McDougall then came Carmichael, Blue, Walker, etc. 

This Church is one of the oldest Scottish Church west of the Genesee River.  Decendants of these settlers travelled west as America expanded.  They contributed immensly to the growth of the United States.  Becoming Legislators, Doctors, Teachers, Lawyers expanding trading and farming in the United States. Mamy travelled to Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin.

For further infomation ragarding this Church and its activities please visit http://www.cal-mum.com/fpc/index.htm. and for further information regarding the Scottish Families that settled in the area of Caledonia, New York please refer to Caledonia Highlanders at www.gencircles.com/users/oatkamac/1.

 
Sincerely;
 
Thomas McIntyre
oatkamac@cox.net

THE STORY OF CALEDONIA, NEW YORK
Compiled by Thomas McIntyre

In the last years of the 18th century there was a large emigration from Scotland to America caused by economic conditions; excitations of land owners, and dangers of impressments into the Army of the British Government, then waging war against France. Finding wool was wealth the great land areas of Scotland were being reduced to sheep ranches, the humble cottages were being torn down, the tenants driven out and disposed.

In 1796, a party of such emigrants from Perthshire landed in New York and came as far a Johnstown, Fulton County, New York. They halted there to determine some permanent location.

Col. Charles Williamson, a Scotsman who had long been here and was a land agent for the Pultney Track hearing of the arrival of his countrymen made a journey to Johnstown from the Genesee County area.  Mr. Williamson offered to be there benefactor.  He offered them a favorable location in the Neighborhood of Big Springs (Now Caledonia, New York) at $3.00 per acre to paid off in wheat, at some future date and besides offered to furnish them provisions until they could help themselves.

Four of their number were sent out to view the land.  The Genesee River flows North from Pennsylvania to Lake Ontario and was long considered the border of the civilized world, that area to the west of the river controlled by the Iroquois, (Seneca’s). The path from Johnstown to Big Springs was a narrow trading route for these Indians through thick forest many times no wider than the width of a man.  These four early Scottish Scouts were pleased with the land after traveling some 200 miles that separated these two areas.

On their return they met Col. Williamson between Geneva and Canandaigua, New York and there on the trail the writings were drawn.  They agreed to purchase some 3,000 acres.  So extensive was the purchase that he agreed to grant them an additional 200 acres, a donation for support of a minister together with an additional 2 acres to build a church and a schoolhouse.

The first group to leave was Peter Campbell and his wife Catherine, Malcolm McLaren, his wife, John McNaughton & wife, Donald McVean, Hugh McDermid, John McPherson, John and Donald Anderson and Alexander Thompson.  Peter Campbell relates the story of leaving for Big Springs in 1799 in a sleigh pulled by oxen stopping many times to widen the trail for the oxen.  It had to be in winter since the ground was to soft and in many places to swampy the rest of the year.

Accessions were made yearly to this small colony by their countrymen from Scotland and Johnstown. Among the early settlers were John Christie and family, Major Isaac Smith, Finlay McKercher and sons Peter and John, John MacKay and family, Alexander McDonald, Duncan McColl, Lachlan, Daniel, James and Neil McLean, Archibald Gillis, Archibald McLachlin, William Orr, John McKenzie and John McIntyre.

In 1797 Northampton was an area that included all property between the Genesee River and the Niagara River. In 1802 Genesee Country was setoff from Ontario and Big Springs became included in the town of Southampton.  In 1806 the name of the village was changed to Caledonia.

These pioneers of Caledonia, Livingston County, New York brought with them Scotland’s vigor, its customs and Scotland’s names.  The region in its early days was called New Inverness.  Their descendents eventually spread across the United States bringing trade, farming, government, many became Doctors, Lawyers, etc.  You can certainly see their impact in Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, and New York.

Information on the above was obtained from “History of Livingston County” by James H. Smith and an article in the LeRoy Gazette, LeRoy; Genesee County, New York dated Sep 2, 1936.


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