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.
THE STORY OF CALEDONIA, NEW YORK
Compiled by Thomas McIntyre
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.