1700’s The First White Settler of the Niagara region was John Stedman one of a few men to escape from the 1763 Massacre at Devil’s Hole. He laid claim to all the land that lay between Devil’s Hole and Gill Greek. He pastured his goats on an island in order to protect them from wolves and other predators that were abundant in this region at the time. This island is now know as “Goat Island”.
1788 The first permanent settler of the Landings located at the foot of the escarpment (now known as Lewiston) was Martin Middaugh. He resided is Joseph Brant’s former home located at Creek & Ridge Road with his Mohawk wife. They operated a tavern at the Landings.
1792 Robert Morris was repaid for financing the Revolutionary War with the territory west of the Pre-emption Line (this included all of what is now referred to as Niagara County).
1793 Morris sold 3.6 million acres to the Holland Land Company whose intention was to survey the land, establish roads and villages and sell plots to new settlers.
1798 The Principal Surveyor, Joseph Ellicott and his surveying team which included Augustus Porter, began the arduous task of measuring every foot of the land, while driving off wolves and other predators and hacking down up to fifty-foot-wide clearings of trees that stood in the way of their surveying equipment.
During this process, Ellicott laid out his plan for the new area in detail. He laid out roads running from Batavia to New Amsterdam (now known as Buffalo); this included a portage trail from Niagara Road to the Landings (now known as Lewiston). He kept a square mile along the river for a future village (now known as Lewiston).
1800 The Holland Land Company advertised land for sale on the western frontier for the cost of $2.25 to $2.75 per acre! Unfortunately little was sold due to the challenges of traveling to the area and later that year the square mile was occupied by about a dozen landowners.
1801 US Government ordered the construction of a road to connect Old Fort Niagara with local communities. This road was later called Military Road, as it is still named today. By 1803 a formal department of highways was formed with overseers Martin Middaugh (who had left the area in early 1803 after he was accused of being a squatter) and Benjamin Barton, Timothy Hopkins, Orlando Hopkins and William Blackman.
1804 Tuscarora Reservation purchased 4329 acres of land.
1805 Benjamin Barton originally came to the Niagara Frontier in 1787 to aid his father in driving cattle and sheep to the Fort. He returns in 1805 with surveyor Joseph Annin to lease from the state the old ‘carrying places’ of the portage route. Shortly thereafter, Barton, Annin and Porter form a transport company (P&B) with the express ability to move freight through the Lakes, up the Niagara River and over land up the escarpment (using their leased portage route). Annin completes the village layout. Streets would run from first at the river, ending at ninth one mile east. There would be a Commons between fourth and sixth on Center Street. The streets running north south would be named after the Sixth Nations of the Iroquois: Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora Streets.
25 February 1805 The Landings is officially renamed Lewis Town after Morgan Lewis, a Colonel on the Niagara Frontier in 1776 and eventual Governor of New York State in January of 1805.
26 February 1805 Lots for sale at Albany public auction. Land from the Mile Reserve running from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario (excluding Lewis Town’s square mile), with a starting price of 90 cents an acre! Porter, Barton and Company (P&B) purchased four lots at the brink of Niagara Falls for the exuberant price of $18.00! Gus Porter intended on building the village of Mancester and therefore felt the price to be reasonable.
With this purchase the portage and hauling company thrived. Hauling goods across Lake Ontario, up the Niagara River to the Landings, portaged up the escarpment, across Lake Erie and continued down the waterways to their given destinations.
1806 Lewis Town provides its first school with Mr Watson as its first Scottish schoolmaster. By 1807, the school was established in a two-room cabin located on Center Street.
1807 More settlers to Lewis Town having been lured by the prosperity of the P&B company.
1808 The 78 mile Indian Trail with elevations of up 160 feet above Lake Ontario and ran below the escarpment between Rochester and Lewiston was surveyed and laid out. It was named Ridge Road. March 11th Niagara County was created consisting of Cambria, Clarence and Willink. April 5th the first Town Meeting was held. Attending members were Joseph Hewitt (Supervisor), Benjamin Barton (one of three commissioners of highways), Lemuel Cooke and Silas Hopkins (two of three assessors) and Enoch Hitchcock and Thomas Hustler (overseers of the two school districts).
By 1811 Manchester had become an industrial powerhouse, however Lewis Town remained the center of commerce giving rise to major settlement. In 1811 with the Port of Entry for customs being moved from Fort Niagara to Lewis Town, the Landings received numerous merchant vessels and other types of crafts. All the way from the river to Fourth Street docks and warehouses were strewn.
With the Embargo Act of 1807, P&B were beginning to feel the economic consequences. Gus Porter decided he would do all possible to end the Embargo Act, as well as England’s rule of the seas. He took his plea to US Congress to declare war upon Canada and turn its Provinces into states. As many of the people of Lewis Town had friends and relatives across the river most were against the idea of war.
May 1812 Lewiston settlers knew war was coming so many of their men joined the 163rd Regiment of the Fifth Brigade. They left their wives, elders and children behind in order to train in Black Rock. The town was defenseless, so Gad Peirce (a tavern owner) rounded up all the elderly men and boys and had them march up and down River Road with any weapons or anything that would like a weapon from a distance, over their shoulders so as to appear as though the town was impenetrable.
18 July 1812 President Madison declares war upon Great Britain.