In 1788, the Mill Yard Tract, a parcel of land approximately 12 miles (19 km) wide and 24 miles (39 km) long, along the bank of the Genesee River stretching from present-day locations of Charlotte at Lake Ontario through the City of Rochester was purchased from the Seneca Indians by Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham. During this time, the area between the river and Braddock Bay was still used as hunting grounds by the Seneca Indians. The first hut on the shores of Lake Ontario on the west side of the Genesee River was constructed in 1791 by William Hincher and his son, who settled the land the next season with his wife and seven daughters. These early settlements preceded the later permanent settlements at the village of Rochester, New York. In 1792 the Pulteney Association purchased rights to much of Phelps and Gorham’s land in New York. Colonel Robert Troup, an agent of the Pulteney Association, arranged the first layout of the town, dividing the land into 1-acre (0.40 ha) lots. He named the area “Charlottesburgh” in honor of his daughter.
The community once served as a port for international trade. Samuel Latta established a warehouse at the mouth of the Genesee River and, in 1806, was appointed as customs collector of the Port of Genesee by President Thomas Jefferson. Samuel Latta’s brother, the frontier merchant George Clinton Latta (1795–1871), ran a successful trading company from Charlotte, operating a fleet of schooners engaging in trade across the Great Lakes.
Trade was interrupted during the War of 1812, and a less exposed port was briefly established three miles upstream at Carthage Landing. During the war, British forces were encountered at Charlotte on several occasions. In June 1813, the British fleet under Sir James Yeo landed at Charlotte and confiscated supplies of grain, flour, pork, and other stores, which the residents surrendered without further incident. In September of that year, the British fleet was again spotted offshore but was engaged and driven off by the American fleet of Commodore Isaac Chauncey.
Finally, in May 1814, the British attempted another landing. However, this time the citizens who had become aware of the British and Indian massacre at Lewiston, NY, and the recent attack at Oswego, NY, dispatched the local militia to refuse to land. After a brief exchange of cannon fire, the fleet departed. In 1816, Colonel Caleb Hopkins was commissioned as a brigadier general for gallant service during the war, including defending the Port of Charlotte against the British. After the end of the war, trade began to increase rapidly. Some early settlers believed that Charlotte would become the central city along the Genesee River until the use of the waterfalls to provide power to the mills and the arrival of the Erie Canal in 1823 later resulted in the dominance of the settlements at the City of Rochester, NY.
To improve navigation, a stone lighthouse was constructed in 1821 on the west bank, replaced later in 1880 by an octagonal light on the west pier. On August 25, 1852, the ground was broken on the Rochester and Lake Ontario Railroad (later part of the New York Central Railroad), making its first run on May 12, 1853, in about thirty minutes. The railroad provided a convenient route for Canadian passages to reach New York City. However, lake trade from Charlotte began to decline from increased competition from the Erie Canal and the railroad lines in Rochester. EZ Rochester Junk Removal
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