Words To Remember

"The truth is this--genealogy is our living, and we are busy every minute, [and we] could use more hours." --Jane Wethy Foley, 1942

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Holland Land Company Purchase

The Holland Land Company was a group of thirteen Dutch investors in Amsterdam, who placed funds in the hands of certain trustees in America, for the purpose of investing in land in central and western New York State and western Pennsylvania. The Holland Land Company was a purchaser of the western two-thirds of the western New York land tract known as the Phelps and Gorham Purchase. This tract was known thereafter as The Holland Purchase. These investors hoped to sell the land rapidly at a great profit. Instead, for many years they were forced to make further investments in their purchase; surveying it, building roads, digging canals, to make it more attractive to settlers.

In 1789 the Holland Land Company sent a general agent, Theophile Cazenove, to keep them informed. He was located in Philadelphia, to oversee land sales. This became the basis of what would later grow into the Holland Land Company.

The tract purchased in western New York was a 3,250,000 acre portion of the Phelps and Gorham Purchase that lay west of the Gennessee River. It was purchased in December 1792 and February and July 1793 from Robert Morris who had purchased it from Massachusetts in May 1791. Morris' purchase from Massachusetts was for some 3,750,000 acres, but Morris kept back some 500,000 acres for himself in a tract 12 miles wide and running the breadth of western New York from Lake Ontario to Pennsylvania. This 500,000 acre tract was known as the Morris Reserve. The town of Mount Morris just northeast of Letchworth State Park is named after him.

Map of the Holland Land Company Purchase

Before Morris could give the Holland Land Company title to this land, however, it was necessary to extinguish the Indian title. This was achieved at the 1797 Treaty of Big Tree. Big Tree was a place on the Gennessee River near modern-day Geneseo, south of Rochester, NY. Representatives of the Holland Land Company, of Robert Morris, of the Indians, and a commissioner for the United States, gathered at Big Tree in August, 1797 and negotiations began.

Chiefs and Sachems present included Red Jacket, Cornplanter, Governor Blacksnake, Farmer's Brother and about 50 others. Red Jacket and Cornplanter spoke strongly against selling the land. They held out for "reservations," that is, land which the Indians would keep for their own use. After much discussion, the treaty was signed 15 Sept. 1797. The Native Indians were to receive $100,000 for their rights to about 3.75 million acres and they reserved about 200,000 acres for themselves.

In 1798, Joseph Ellicott was hired and he, along with his brother Benjamin and 130 men, surveyed the purchase for the next three years. In November 1800, Paolo Busti (Paul Busti) succeeded Cazenove as General Agent. Busti was an Italian from Milan, Italy, who had married one of the syndicate member's sister. He would serve until his death in 1824.
Holland Land Company stone marker

The Holland Land Company's main land office was opened (1801) in Batavia, NY. Batavia was selected because the Holland Lands were all located in Gennessee County and Batavia was the county seat. Busti also appointed local agents at other offices in different parts of the Purchase. Subagents were located in Mayville, Ellicottville, Buffalo, Meadville, Instanter, two districts in Eastern Alleghany, Lancaster, Cazenovia, and Barneveld.

Holland Land Company Vault at Mayville, NY

From the very beginning, the agents were urged to keep the records in stone fireproof safes or else deposit them with banks. By 1840, all the land in Western New York was sold off to local investors and settlers. In about 1846, all the affairs of the company in the United States were liquidated and the company dissolved.  The town of Holland, NY, bears its namesake.

Holland Land Company Vault Inscription

The village of Mayville is in the town of Chautauqua and is the county seat of Chautauqua County. The first settlement in the county was at this location in 1804 and the village of Mayville was incorporated in 1830. A noted incident in the community's early history came on 6 Feb. 1836 when local residents rioted against the Holland Land Company and broke into its office, destroying furniture and papers. After the land office was destroyed, it was thereafter re-opened and kept at Westfield.

No comments:

Post a Comment