This county, which adjoins Monroe on the south, was also a favorite ground with the Senecas. It is unsurpassed in beauty and fertility by any territory of equal extent in the State, and abounds with mementoes of its aboriginal possessors, who yielded it reluctantly into the hands of the invading whites. Here, too, once existed a considerable number of ancient earth-works, but the levelling plough has passed over most of them; and though their sites are still remembered by the early settlers, but few are sufficiently well preserved to admit of exact survey and measurement.
"In 1798," says the venerable Judge Augustus Porter, of Niagara, in a letter to O. H, Marshall, Esq., of Buffalo, "I surveyed the Indian Reservation of Kanawageas. There were then in the open flats of the Reservation the embankments of an old fort, which included very nearly two acres. It corresponded in situation and appearance with many others which I have seen in this part of the country, and which seem to bear a high antiquity." The Kanawageas Reservation embraced the township of York in this county.
Judge Porter also mentions that he knew of two other works on the "Smith and Jones's Flat," near Mount Morris, (also in Livingston county,) all of which had the same appearance.
A work also occurs in the town of Avon, not far from the beautiful village of Avon Springs, upon the flats of the Genesee River. It is described by W. H. C. Hosmer, Esq., in the notes to his poem of "YONONDIO."
Another and very similar work once existed in the northeastern part of Avon township, about two and a half miles from the village of Lima. Some portions of the lines may yet be traced, but with difficulty.
THE work here represented occurs in the township of Livonia, three miles N. E. of the village of that name. It is situated upon the summit of a commanding hill, and is the largest enclosure which fell under the notice of the author, within the limits of the State. It has an area of not less than sixteen acres. Where the lines of the entrenchment were crossed by fences, and consequently preserved from the encroachments of the plough, the embankment and ditch are distinctly visible. Elsewhere, however, the outlines can only be traced by a very gentle undulation of the ground, and by the denser verdure on the course of the ancient trench. With the assistance of Mr. Haddock, the proprietor of the estate, who knew the work before it had been materially impaired, the original form was made out with entire satisfaction. General Adams, who had often been over the grounds before the removal of the forest, states that the ditch was breast deep, and the embankment of corresponding height. Caches were formerly discovered here, and fragments of pottery are now abundant.
The enclosure had four gateways, one of which, at the northwestern extremity, opened directly towards a copious spring of water, as shown in the plan. It was thought by General Adams, from certain indications (which might have been caused by the decay of palisades), that slight parallel embankments extended down the slope of the hill, and enclosed the spring here referred to. Be that as it may, the position was well chosen for defence, for which purpose the work was doubtless constructed.
A mile and a half to the southward are remains of some old fortified towns of the powerful tribe of the Senecas, for plans and descriptions of which the reader is referred to the chapter on "Palisaded Works."
It is said that a mound, containing a large number of human bones, occurs near the head of Hemlock Lake, in the township of Springwater; but no opportunity was afforded of visiting it. At various places in the county large cemeteries are found; but most, if not all, of them may be with safety referred to the Senecas. Indeed, many articles of European origin accompany the skeletons. A cemetery of large size, and, from the character of the relics found in the graves, of high antiquity, is now in part covered by the village of Lima. Pipes, pottery, etc., are discovered here in great abundance; and it is worthy of remark, they are identical with those found within the ancient enclosures.
A number of ancient works are reported to exist higher up the Genesee River, in the southern part of Livingston and in Alleghany counties; but this entire region has been brought so thoroughly under cultivation, that it was esteemed hopeless to look for them with a view to their survey or measurement. The only information of any authentic kind which was received in addition to what is here presented, relates to a remarkable work upon a high hill, not far from the falls of the Genesee, in Alleghany county. Says Judge Porter, in a private letter dated Niagara Falls, November 18th, 1848: "Upon the west side of Genesee River, a mile or two above the falls, there is a hill, the base of which may perhaps cover two acres of ground, circular in form, and shaped like a sugar-loaf with a truncated summit a fourth of an acre in area. Upon this summit is a breastwork. The height of the hill is between eighty and one hundred feet. I visited it in 1798, before any settlements were made by the whites nearer than Mount Morris."
Mr. Moses Long, of Rochester, describes a work which is substantially the same, as follows: "About four miles above the village of Portage, in Alleghany county, is a circular mound or hill, which rises probably a hundred feet above the surrounding interval or 'bottom' lands. The acclivity is steep on all sides. The Genesee River curves around its base, describing nearly a semicircle, and then sweeps on in a tortuous course to the cascades or cataracts below the village of Portage. The top of the hill is quite level, covered thinly with small forest-trees, and its area may comprise an acre. There are appearances of an entrenchment around that part of the summit unprotected by the river.
"My guide informed me that he had been acquainted with Shongo, an aged chief and several other Indians of the Caneadea Reservation, who all concurred in saying, that they had no knowledge nor any tradition in relation to this work. Shongo remembered the invasion of Sullivan, when the Indians cut up their corn and threw it into the river, and then retreated with their movable effects a few miles up they stream to the top of an elevated bluff, where they determined to await the attack of their enemy. I came to the conclusion that the entrenchment might have been made by an advanced detachment from Sullivan's army."