Saturday, May 23, 2009

Visiting Scipio - Then and Now

Without fail when I hear from someone who is seeking information about their ancestors, they also want to know more about where they lived. What was it like? Did they have a log cabin, or a stick built home? What were the roads like and how did you find your way from place to place? Were there bears? Wolves?
Often, maps provide our best picture of the area and conditions at a given point in time, especially of transportation routes for the movement ever westward. Occasionally, local Historians or newspapers add some detail to that picture. I found one such article in an 1877 edition of the Auburn Journal.
The article describes the summer of 1825 in Scipio. 1825 was 26 years after Scipio was set off from Onondaga County, and 8 years before Ledyard and Venice were set off from Scipio. On a lot just east of Scipioville, where today Center Road leads us to Scipio Center, the news article states that a large number of Onondaga Indians set up an encampment.
During that summer they traded with Scipio’s early settlers by exchanging their handmade moccasins, brooms, baskets, and beadwork for farmer’s produce such as flour, butter, meal, lard, meat, vegetables etc.
When it became time to leave, the Indians simply cut down a large elm tree and made it into a canoe. Two neighboring farmers drew the canoe to Cayuga Lake, a distance of about 5 miles, with their teams of four horses.
The Indians launched it down Cayuga Lake; rowing until eventually they entered the Seneca River and moved on.

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