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flag  History of Geneva, New York, USA

Journey back in time to Geneva, New York, USA

Visit Geneva, New York, USA. Discover its history. Learn about the people who lived there through stories, old newspaper articles, pictures, postcards and ancestry.

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Geneva, New York, USA - Seneca Street from Main Street

At the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, Lt. Col. Seth Reed, who had fought at Bunker Hill, was one of many pioneers who moved from Massachusetts into Ontario County. By trade with the Seneca, he bought a tract of land eighteen miles in extent. (This was illegal, as only the US government was authorized to make land deals with the Native Americans.) This occurred in 1787, while his wife Hannah stayed in Uxbridge, Massachusetts with their family. "Seth Read moved, his wife Hannah and their family to Geneva, Ontario County, New York in the winter of 1790".

The settlement at Geneva was not yet permanent; the Seneca continued to harass European Americans on the frontier. In 1795 Read and his family removed to Erie, Pennsylvania, where they became the earliest European-American settlers there.

The "Village of Geneva" was incorporated in 1806, 1812, and 1871, formally separating it from the surrounding area of Geneva Town. Later the village became a city.

There is MUCH more to discover about Geneva, New York, USA. Read on!

Geneva Nostalgia: Vintage Photos, Ads, and Postcards

Seneca Street from Main Street
Geneva, New York, USA

Seneca Street from Main Street
Fay & Bowen Motor Boat Factory
Geneva, New York, USA

Fay & Bowen Motor Boat Factory
A Picturesque View, Seneca Lake Park, Geneva, N.Y.
Geneva, New York, USA

A Picturesque View, Seneca Lake Park, Geneva, N.Y.

Discover Geneva: History, News, Travel, and Stories

Add informationAdd History/News/Story
It becomes our painful duty to record, in connection with the festivities of the fourth, one of the most melancholy accidents which has for many years befallen our village. In the evening after the usual ceremonies of the day were over, a large and dense assemblage was collected at the head of Seneca St., and in front of the Bank, extending themselves in both directions along Main St., in order to witness the fireworks which, as report went, were to be of an unusually brilliant and effective character.

Rockets had been provided, some of them of a very large kind, weighing, as was said, six pounds; as also, serpents and other exhibitions of the Pyrotechnic art, and the eager curiosity of the multitude drew them very closely around the staging erected for the purpose of exhibition.

Not more than four or five of the rockets, however, had been discharged, when a spark of fire accidentally communicated with the box or basket containing the fireworks, and the whole were in a moment in ... Read MORE...

1849 - January 23 – Elizabeth Blackwell is awarded her M.D. by the Medical Institute of Geneva, New York, thus becoming the United States' first woman doctor.
January 23, 1849
1854 - Geneva
Geneva, a post-village of Seneca township, Ontario county, New York, is beautifully situated at the north end of Seneca lake, on the Auburn and Rochester railroad, 50 miles E. S. E. from Rochester. It is handsomely built, and contains about 10 churches, 1 or 2 banks, 2 or 3 newspaper offices, and a medical college. The Episcopal church is a fine- stone edifice, in the Gothic style, built at a cost of $25,000. Steamboats ply daily be tween Geneva and Jefferson, at the head of the lake. Population, estimated at 6000.
A New and Complete Gazetteer of the United States: Giving a Full and Comprehensive Review of the Present Condition, Industry, and Resources of the American Confederacy ... Thomas Baldwin (of Philadelphia.) Joseph Thomas January 1, 1854 Philadelphia : Lippincott, Grambo & Company 1854.
1871 - Large Fire in Geneva - A Large Flouring-Mill, Elevator and Malt-House, the Canal Collector's Office and Other Buildings Destroyed - Twelve Horses Burned to Death - Loss Over $100,000 - Insurance $76,250.
ROCHESTER, Feb. 6. - The Democrat of this morning gives from a correspondent an account of a disastrous fire which occurred in the town of Geneva early on Saturday morning. The fire was first discovered in the hay-loft of a barn near the Canal Collector's office, and there being a heavy north-west wind at the time, it spread with great rapidity, and quickly destroyed this barn and another near it, both on the west bank of the canal, the Canal Collector's office, and the large monster building of Messrs. FIELD & AFFLECK, comprising an extensive steam flour mill, elevator and malt-house, under one roof, were completely enveloped in flames. The office and ice-house of Messrs. CONGER & MCKAY were also destroyed. From thence the fire spread to the lumber and shingle piles of the same firm, and here, by persistent efforts of the firemen, together with the assistance of many citizens, the further progress of the fire was arrested.

The main losers by this fire are Messrs. FIELD & AFFLECK.... Read MORE...

1884 - Secretary of the Treasury, Chas J. Folger, died suddenly in Geneva, N. Y., on Thursday, in the 67th year of his age. He had been in ill-health for sometime.

St Joseph Herald
Saint Joseph, Michigan
September 6, 1884
Syracuse, N. Y., Nov. 19. - At 5 o'clock this morning flames were discovered issuing from the upper story of the old library building at Hobart College, Geneva. The building is between the two dormitories, and there was a wild scene as the students and Professors, almost panic stricken, rushed from their rooms. The college bell was on the roof of the library, and a student had to run to the engine houses, a mile away, to give the alarm. The flames spread rapidly, and when the fire companies arrived the two upper stories were burning fiercely, and it was feared that all the college buildings would be destroyed. The students, led by President POTTER, rushed into the building and saved many valuable books and papers, but in the upper rooms thousands of old and valuable books that cannot be duplicated were burned. A marble bust of DR. HALL, formerly President of the college, was also destroyed. Many of the college papers were removed from the library a few days ago. The total loss is... Read MORE...

1888 - Prof. W. R. Brooks, of Smith Observatory, Geneva, N. Y., discovered a comet on the 7th.

St Joseph Herald
Saint Joseph, Michigan
August 11, 1888
1895 - Geneva
Geneva, a beautiful town in Geneva township, Ontario co., N.Y., at the N. end of Seneca Lake, about 16 miles (direct) E. of Canandaigua. By railroad it is 26 miles W. of Auburn, and 50 miles E.S.E. of Rochester. It is on the Auburn Branch of the New York Central Railroad, the direct line of the Lehigh Valley system, and of the Fall Brook system. It is finely situated on high ground on the W. shore of the lake, and contains many handsome residences. Geneva contains 10 or 11 churches, the Geneva Classical and Union School for boys, 2 national banks, and a water-cure, and is the seat of Hobart College (Protestant Episcopal), which was organized in 1824 and has a library of 13,000 volumes. Five weekly newspapers are published here. Steamboats ply daily in all seasons of the year be tween this place and Watkins, which is about 36 miles distant. Here are 8 large nurseries of fruit-trees. Geneva has also optical-works, bending-works, and manufactures of engines, boilers, and steam... Read MORE...


Geneva, N.Y., Feb. 26. - A carriage containing seven persons was struck by an express train on the Lehigh Valley Railroad at Tuttle's crossing.
The dead - MRS. AMY SMITH, 48; BERT SMITH, 23; MISS MIRANDA SMITH, 20; GLEE SMITH, 15; CATHERINE SMITH, 8. The injured - PORTER SMITH, husband of Mrs. Smith and father of the other victims; GARDNER SMITH, 21.

The family had spent the evening at a friend's house near Tuttle Corner's crossing, and started home a little before midnight. The carriage in which they rode was a three-seated affair. PORTER SMITH and his son occupied the front seat. Before reaching the crossing the carriage was stopped and MR. SMITH listened for the train, but did not hear it in the howling gale.

The horses had just crossed the track in safety when the engine of the express crashed down upon the carriage and its occupants. GARDNER SMITH, who was the least injured, crawled to a station nearby and secured assistance. The... Read MORE...

Geneva, a city of Ontario co., N.Y., at the N. end of Seneca Lake, 26 miles W. of Auburn, on the New York Central and Hudson River and the Lehigh Valley Rs. It is finely situated on high ground on the W. shore of the lake, and contains many handsome residences. Geneva is the seat of a state agricultural experiment station and of Hobart College (Protestant Episcopal), which was organised in 1824. Steamboats ply daily in all seasons of the year between this place and Watkins, which is about 36 miles distant. Here are large nurseries of fruit-trees. Geneva has also optical-works, bending-works, canning-factories, and manufactures of stoves, engines, boilers, and steam heating-apparatus. Pop. in 1900, 10,433.
Lippincotts New Gazetteer: A Complete Pronouncing Gazetteer Or Geographical Dictionary of the World, Containing the Most Recent and Authentic Information Respecting the Countries, Cities, Towns, Resorts, Islands, Rivers, Mountains, Seas, Lakes, Etc., in Every Portion of the Globe, Part 1 Angelo Heilprin Louis Heilprin - January 1, 1916 J.B. Lippincott - Publisher
2023 - Geneva, New York, is a charming town with a lot to offer. Here's a list of places to visit and things to do to make the most of your time in this lovely town:
Seneca Lake: Start your journey with a visit to Seneca Lake, one of the Finger Lakes. You can take a leisurely stroll along the shore, rent a kayak, or even go on a scenic boat tour. The lake is not only beautiful but also offers a serene atmosphere.

Seneca Lake Wine Trail: Geneva is at the heart of the Finger Lakes wine region. Explore the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, where you can visit numerous wineries and vineyards. Don't miss out on tastings of the region's renowned Rieslings and other varietals.

Belhurst Castle: This historic castle, located right on the shores of Seneca Lake, is a must-visit. You can tour the castle, dine in its restaurants, and enjoy the stunning views of the lake.

Smith Opera House: If you're a fan of the arts, check out Smith Opera House. This beautifully restored theater hosts a variety of performances, including concerts, plays, and films.

Finger Lakes Welcome Center: Get acquainted with the Finger Lakes region at the Welcome Center in Geneva. You... Read MORE...

Discover Your Roots: Geneva Ancestry

Ancestors Who Were Born or Died in Geneva, New York, USA

We currently have information about ancestors who were born or died in Geneva.

View Them Now (sorted by year of birth)

female ancestorBridget CASEY (January 1830, , Ireland - 23 May 1910, Geneva, New York, USA)
female ancestorClara VANGORDON (1847, Geneva, New York, USA - 2 August 1869, Jackson, Michigan, USA)
male ancestorThomas J. CALLAHAN (1849, Geneva, New York, USA - 13 April 1878, Monroe, Michigan, USA)
female ancestorKatherine Ida ROBERTS (7 August 1855, , Massachusetts, USA - 9 March 1931, Geneva, New York, USA)
male ancestorCharles B MCDOWELL (5 September 1869, Ledyard, New York, USA (Aurora) - 23 February 1953, Geneva, New York, USA)
female ancestorHattie L LEE (21 March 1878, Geneva, New York, USA - 18 October 1967, Interlkaen, Seneca, New York, USA)
male ancestorWalter Dorman CAMPBELL (16 April 1880, Benton, New York, USA - 23 March 1947, Geneva, New York, USA)
female ancestorSusan MORRISON (August 1888, Geneva, New York, USA - 17 July 1926, Junius, Seneca, New York, USA)
male ancestorClaude Thomas LEE (12 July 1894, Benton, New York, USA - 22 January 1949, Geneva, New York, USA)

Ancestors Who Were Married in Geneva, New York, USA

We currently have information about ancestors who were married in Geneva.

View Them Now

male ancestorElijah Roberts WILLIAMS (22 December 1883 - 18 November 1951) and photo of Anne Wanamaker SHARPE Anne Wanamaker SHARPE (3 November 1892 - 17 February 1995) married 3 September 1913

Genealogy Resources for Geneva

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Updated: 10/11/2023 6:12:20 PM