Monday, November 14, 2016

A Treasure Trove of History - Part l

Preston-Gaylord Cobblestone Farmhouse c:1846

Preston-Gaylord Cobblestone Farmhouse 1901
Recently, I was given the special honor of receiving a box full of historical information in regards to our home and the ancestors who lived in it for generations from 1838 to 1973; with the exception of about 25 years between 1925 to 1952.  One of the children of the last ancestral family that lived here; Peter Gaylord, now an adult of course, contacted me this past September and asked if I would be interested in the old photos, 1902 - 1905 newspaper clippings, hand written letters and documents of Last Wills and Testaments and other such memorabilia found in his late mother's estate.  He was aware that I kept a scrapbook of some of the history of his ancestors home and often shared this with my guests. I was thrilled, truly humbled and honored to accept such a treasure trove of historical information about his ancestors that lived in our home, the life they lived and the activities around them. I now lovingly read through each piece and reminisce about the days gone by.

Where do I begin? 

 1819 Journey from Hull, Yorkshire, England to Sodus Point, NY.


Elizabeth Swales (Swails) Preston

Elizabeth Swales (Swails) Born April 18, 1813 in Yorkshire, England. She was the fifth child to William Swales (Swails) and Sarah Harper. She died at age 90, December 1902 in Sodus, NY, Wayne County.

At age 77, Elizabeth recounts her journey to Sodus Point, New York at age six. Her father had already crossed the ocean eleven times. Elizabeth's daughter, Fannie Preston Sentell allowed The Arcadian Gazette to copy Elizabeth's account of her journey for the newspaper.

  "In April 1819, my father and mother with six children, two cousins and a hired man, left hull, Yorkshire, England for Quebec, Canada on the ship Isabella with Captain Brodie in charge. After being on the ocean for six weeks we landed alright at our destination after having had what was considered in those days a good passage.

From Quebec we came to Montreal up Lachine rapids on flat bottom boats, the boatman poling the boats along quite near the shore. At one time on the journey our boats were drawn by oxen along the shore. I remember well the large stones in the water. Our household goods were taken nine miles of he journey on one-horse carts, the names of the places along the way I do not remember. Two other families came up the river with us, our whole company numbering twenty-five people. At one place we took refuge in a vacant house near the river belonging to a farmer. This seemed a treat to us as the mothers wished to do baking and washing and it gave us all a chance to rest for our continued journey.

At Sackets Harbor we took steamer for Sodus Point this being the first steamboat plying the waters of Lake Ontario. We got into small boats first then were transferred to the large steamer. I well remember the first colored women I ever saw at Sodus Point and we children were afraid of her, but we soon got over it and I have seen her many times since. She was known as Julia Cooper. We took rooms with Doctor Lawson, he being a friend of my father who had been there about two years.

We remained at this place about three weeks during time our father bought the farm known as the old Castle farm near Geneva of 235 acres which seemed to me the garden of America. I have never seen the place I loved so well.

June 28, 1819 we moved to old Geneva, in lumber wagons over the many long ways and being rather rough there were many jolts which I well remember. During the time we lived in Geneva we frequently visited friends in Sodus and were acquainted with the many changes in clearing the heavy forests as it was heavy timbered land which showed the strong soil. My father being a locker of the broad acres preferred to own land in Sodus as it was of much less value at the time than where we lived.

In 1826 he bought in Sodus 864 acres at six dollars per acre and in 1832 sold his farm at Geneva at something less than fifty dollars per acre which was too soon as the most of the same farm sold soon after for three hundred dollars per acre. I have seen many changes and plenty of hard work at Sodus and feel I have done my share and now expect to end my days here as I am near 77 years of age and feel so thankful."


August 7, 1901 4 generations


Photo on left shows four generations. Sitting: Elizabeth (Swales) Preston,  Fannie Preston Sentell (Elizabeth's & John Preston's 9th child) Grand-daughter Mary Sentell Ewing, and great-grandson Roger Sentell Ewing.  August 7, 1901



In Part ll of  "A Treasure Trove of History"  I'll share John S. Preston's (Elizabeth Swales husband) journey from England to New York

Sources: Underground Railroad, Abolitionism, and African American Life in Wayne County, Historical New York Research Associates, Wayne County Historian's Office, Preserve New York, 2007-2009, pp 345-46

The Arcadian Weekly Gazette, September 20, 1905 - This copy of an original newspaper was given to me by Peter Gaylord.




The Arcadian Weekly Gazette September 20, 1905
Elizabeth Swales Preston's account of her journey to
Sodus Point, NY.
The Arcadian Weekly Gazette September 20, 1905
newspaper article in regards to Preston's Mill, on
Maxwell Creek in Sodus , NY